Re: "Funny Thing About Permission...

1

"You're a lot more likely to get it, if you've already done what you want to do."

That's not what they said in the sexual harassment training.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:00 AM
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"Well son, a funny thing about regret is that it's better to regret something that you have done than something that you haven't done."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:05 AM
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In a similar vein, a devoutly Catholic friend of mine likes to say: "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission."


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:09 AM
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on preview, pwned by 3: Shades of "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission," attributed to Grace Hopper, or maybe the Jesuits.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:11 AM
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2: Oh and son, if you see your mother, tell her SATAN SATAN SATAN!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:12 AM
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I'm reminded of this two-minute video clip of potential Supreme Court nominee Harold Koh, who uses a simple analogy about his son borrowing the car to argue that we shouldn't have a rule for when preemptive war is OK.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:13 AM
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1: Doesn't work for adultery either.


Posted by: Warren G. Harding | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:13 AM
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3, 4: Christianity valorizing the easy over the difficult generally, of course.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:13 AM
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7: Or punching people in the face.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:18 AM
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9: Asking permission usually doesn't work for punching people in the face either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:20 AM
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It's better to regret punching somebody in the face than to regret not punching somebody in the face.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:22 AM
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No, but if it worked like the map example, you wouldn't get permission if you asked first, but would if you asked after doing it.

Sadly, with adultery, sexual harassment, punching people in the face, and public masturbation, it doesn't matter when you ask.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:23 AM
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10: or adultery. Or sexual harassment.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:23 AM
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11: Better for the puncher, anyway.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:23 AM
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I wonder which of these we're going to be called on for being "not funny."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:24 AM
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12, 13: If you ask first, it might not be sexaul harassment, depending on how you asked.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:24 AM
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The version of 3 that I learned was "it's easier to apologize than to ask permission". This from my undergrad research advisor, who had was talking about sneaking into a zillion-dollar experiment and installing new electronics without informing his hundreds of collaborators first.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:25 AM
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5: "Sweatloaf" is a great song to play on a first date.

One of the many times I saw BHS live, Gibby changed that little monologue up so that it kind of mirrored Morrison's bit in "The End". I can't remember the exact storyline but there was lots of "walked on down the hall" in it.

At the end, the father says, "Son, I'm feeling a little constipated. Could you go down to the store and get me some RAISINS! RAISINS! RAISINS!"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:25 AM
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17: "it's easier to apologize than to ask permission" works better in physics experiments than, say, medical testing on humans.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:27 AM
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19: That's not funny!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:28 AM
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Doesn't work for adultery either.

Ongoing and open, sure. But people stay in marriages that have all kinds of defects, much to everyone's surprise.


Posted by: Francois Mitterand | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:28 AM
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It's easier to get the bank loan approved if you've already gotten the money


Posted by: OPINIONATED WILLY SUTTON | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:28 AM
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For the record, 15 isn't funny either. You suck, rob.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:28 AM
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19: Closer to "while we were removing your appendix, we decided it couldn't hurt to do some breast augmentation, so..."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:33 AM
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It's easier to get persiflage than it is to get foraminifers. (At least around here. Might be different in the ocean.)


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:33 AM
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medical testing on humans

There are hundreds of kilos of Henrietta Lacks in labs all over the world.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:33 AM
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What does that have to do with medical testing on humans?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:36 AM
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27: Women are humans too, Ned.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:53 AM
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Ahym. Womyn are humyns, Mytch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:09 AM
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I'm wrapping up drawings for a garage for some people. Originally it was just going to be a detached garage, maybe with a roof deck. Free and clear, permitted by the zoning code. Then they mentioned that they'd like to have the option, in the future, of adding an apartment on top. By my reading of the code, we could not build this as a 2 story garage/apt. But I'll bet that, once the garage is built, they'll have an easier time getting a variance to put the apartment on top.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:11 AM
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30: What does that have to do with medical testing on humans?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:13 AM
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30: Tell them to contribute to "Luke for Mayor" if they want a variance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:16 AM
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I'll admit that 30 is completely unfunny. I apologize for responding in good faith to the OP.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:16 AM
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32: Yeah, whiskey and cigars don't work as well as they used to.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:17 AM
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31: It's "a garage for some people", M/tch. For storing subjects instead of cars, obviously.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:17 AM
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Yeah, whiskey and cigars don't work as well as they used to.

I blame Big Pharma.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:19 AM
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An apartment is just a garage for living, as Le Courvoisier once said.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:23 AM
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I'll pass on Le Courvoisier.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:25 AM
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38: Your loss.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:26 AM
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39: Awesome.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:39 AM
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Just explain that it's a parking garage.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:39 AM
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39, 40: Unfortunately, here at work clicking on that link results in "category Social Networking and Personal Sites is filtered". Description?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:43 AM
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http://www.apostropher.com/blog/img/arch-pj-le-courvoisier.jpg

Funny that that site is blocked but Unfogged isn't.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:46 AM
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I've found this advice wanting w/r/t "Can I come in your mouth?"


Posted by: cowardly lion | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:52 AM
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It's not an apartment. It's a manhole.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:53 AM
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43: Agreed.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:55 AM
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I'm that way (don't ask permission) about apartment improvements. Which also tend to involve paint. I put some lovely orange stripes on the wall in the last place, just two, staggered behind a wall hanging. In the current apartment I painted a chalkboard on the kitchen wall. That's what they get for not charging me a security deposit.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:56 AM
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45: Sexist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:56 AM
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Not needing permission, I inject an asinine self-involved comment about trolling here, cryptic, incomprehensibly recursive, and definitely not funny.

Carry on.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:44 AM
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This from my undergrad research advisor, who had was talking about sneaking into a zillion-dollar experiment and installing new electronics without informing his hundreds of collaborators first.

Ah, so that's what happened to the Large Hadron Collider.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:14 PM
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I was expecting 9 to be from Sifu. I'm not sure what that says about helpy-chalk.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:20 PM
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I think I chased rob helpy-chalk away.

Now I'm sad.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:29 PM
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51: rob is a surprisingly tough little punk.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:36 PM
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OT bleg: Anyone in the NoVa/DC area know of a high speed internet provider with a store I can just drop by to pick up the relevant modem and get set up on the same day? Verizon is now in the fifth day of telling me everything is fine with my phone/DSL (alternating with assurances that they are aware of the problem and have dispatched a service team to fix it). Needless to say, neither DSL nor service team have made an appearance.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:40 PM
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Beg. "It's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:52 PM
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54: 3G data card from AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon? I'm pretty sure you can't get DSL turned up same-day no matter who's selling it to you.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:57 PM
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Coach Carter taught ninth grade geography

Is it a red state thing that athletic coaches who are also teachers are called "Coach [Name]" even in the classroom, as if it were an honorific? Like all my school peers, I followed this practice, but it struck me as fucked up even when I was a junior high naif. I sort of assumed it was a rural/urban thing (on the assumption that bigger towns or schools would be more likely to have dedicated coaching jobs, and that the non-athletes would be less acquainted with the coaches), but heebie's post casts doubt on that theory.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:59 PM
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49 is quite funny.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:02 PM
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Sprint turned on a 3g data card in a day for a friend when they first introduced the service.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:02 PM
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My mom wanted me to repaint my apartment: she said I would be able to let it for more money if I painted the sitting-room white.

I declined, because I liked the warm color on the walls and ceiling, and have always felt that white is dull and cold.

My mom took advantage of having a spare set of keys, and had it repainted anyway. (I found out when she called me and let me know how much it was going to cost me, paint and labor.)

In fact - with the perspective of years - she would probably have done better to have it painted and then ask permission, than ask permission, have it refused, and then do it anyway. It was the precise combination of her having asked, my having refused, and her having decided to go ahead knowing I didn't agree, that got me quite as mad as it did.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:06 PM
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57: I'm not sure the answer to your question. We had coaches who taught non-p.e. classes at our highschool in Austin. Those classes seemed to be limited to geography, driver's ed, and health (a joke of a class that you took in 11th or 12th grade and that covered nutrition, as envisioned by the Meat and Milk Council, plus teh sexx.)


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:09 PM
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Heh. My mother did a similar thing to me once, and I'm still annoyed when I think about it. (I was in the Peace Corps in Samoa, she came to visit, noticed that there was some mildew on the walls of my house, and asked if she could bleach them. I said, "Really, please don't" and she did anyway, and I really wasn't happy with her. Don't ask if you're not going to listen.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:11 PM
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59 - Yeah, that was my point. If you get one from a cellular store, it'll be active within the hour (if not by the time you leave the store). DSL has to be provisioned in a multi-step process that likely includes somebody actually having to connect wires together at some point.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:14 PM
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52: You didn't chase rob off. He's been in class.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:19 PM
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64: I didn't really think I had, I was just goofing. But thanks for the reassurance.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:20 PM
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54: Two or three weeks ago we were having some similar kind of problem, also with Verizon. My roommate resorted to tailing a car with the Verizon logo on it and bribing the technician for a router which my roommate installed himself and later arranged for the technician to come by the following day to sign off on it. I'm not kidding.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:23 PM
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60: By far the worst part of all that is sending you the bill. WTF?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:25 PM
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health (a joke of a class that you took in 11th or 12th grade and that covered nutrition, as envisioned by the Meat and Milk Council, plus teh sexx.)

Don't forget teh drugs. I also had a health class taught by the football coach to the most indifferent group of future dropouts ever to grace a classroom. I'll never forget the class session where the teacher asked if anyone knew street names for marijuana, and this one guy kept answering long after the discussion was done and dusted. Classmate: "Hey, hey, I've got another one: wacky weed! Teacher/coach: "That's enough, Cliff!"


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:25 PM
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68: Heh. I remember watching numerous drug awareness films in junior high and high school that were probably made in the early 60s. They all had an authoritative male voice narrating and included many obviously archaic street names for drugs: "If someone stops you on the street and offers you some "Big H" or "Horse", beware!"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:36 PM
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Speaking of permission, CraigsList says, "Shut up, hooker."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:37 PM
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69: I love archaic names for street drugs. It leads to hilarious confusion when you offer people tea.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:39 PM
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Is it a red state thing that athletic coaches who are also teachers are called "Coach [Name]" even in the classroom, as if it were an honorific?

My AP US History teacher was also a coach, and I don't think we called him "coach" in class. But maybe we did. "Coach Pend/eton" or "Mr. Pend/eton"? Maybe Ezra knows; he's younger than I am.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:39 PM
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Almost all of my teachers also coached a sport. We didn't call them Coach.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:41 PM
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Maybe Ezra knows; he's younger than I am.

And so successful!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:41 PM
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I know. That fuckface. His food blog sucks, though.

Only my incredibly strong irenic instincts have prevented me from inaugurating a "Shorter IFA" feature here.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:42 PM
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We never called coach/teachers "Coach" in class. Or outside of class. Well, the people actually coached by them did.

Except, of course, the football coach. You see, there was already a "Mr. D", so he had to be "Coach D".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:43 PM
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Only my incredibly strong irenic instincts have prevented me from inaugurating a "Shorter IFA" feature here.

Oh dear me. That would be funny, wouldn't it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:44 PM
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Possible entries included "I ate scapes and didn't care for them" and "I am ignorant of the most basic bread-freezing techniques".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:45 PM
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All the teacher-coaches at my school were addressed as coach, but this was in Oklahoma, where football ranks near Jesus in importance.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:45 PM
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Now that I think about it, my excellent chemistry teacher also coached the tennis team. And we didn't call him coach.

But the ones teaching geography/health/driver's ed were all called coach.

Speaking of calling people coach, has anyone else been watching the latest iteration of Survivor?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:45 PM
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78: "My go-to meal is spaghetti."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:45 PM
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We never called coach/teachers "Coach" in class.

Coaches got called Coach [Lastname] in the classroom by everybody in my central NC experience.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:45 PM
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I have no idea who coached the sports teams at my high school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:46 PM
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"I ate scapes and didn't care for them"

Whoever wrote the longer version of that is a fool, I say. A fool!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:48 PM
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I have some acquaintances whose slang term for going to smoke some weed is "I've gotta go talk to the coach".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:49 PM
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The football coach at my high school is now in his 15th year as the running backs coach at UNC, currently under his fourth head coach there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:54 PM
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In my rural red-state experience, teacher/coaches were always addressed as "Coach".

In fact, both principals my school had during my time there were addressed as "Coach".


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:54 PM
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86: I posted that because I know everybody here would be interested.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:55 PM
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We definitely called the coaches "Coach", even in the classroom.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 1:55 PM
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I sort of assumed it was a rural/urban thing (on the assumption that bigger towns or schools would be more likely to have dedicated coaching jobs, and that the non-athletes would be less acquainted with the coaches), but heebie's post casts doubt on that theory.

I'm confused as to whether I'm presumed to have grown up in a big urban school or a small rural school.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:00 PM
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71: For some reason that made me realize that we need to come up with a cocktail called The Brahmin Fratboy.

An obvious route to go would be a boilermaker made with Natural Light and a shot of expensive single-malt scotch, or maybe cognac.

But I think we can come up with something better.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:02 PM
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Jeremiah Weed's Sweet Tea Vodka should be involved. Just mix that with Brass Monkey, and death.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:03 PM
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I'm assuming I don't need permission to link to 35,000-year-old porn.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:06 PM
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91: I don't think you can get Natty Light in Boston. At least, nobody drinks it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:06 PM
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Oh, Boston. Never mind.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:08 PM
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91: Old Armagnac and Rolling Rock. The Gnac 'n' Rock.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:10 PM
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66 is awesome. I may have to try something like that.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:10 PM
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I sort of assumed it was a rural/urban thing (on the assumption that bigger towns or schools would be more likely to have dedicated coaching jobs, and that the non-athletes would be less acquainted with the coaches)

I should have added to my previous response: my school district had nine high schools, and due to the way the boundaries had been drawn as the city grew there were a few "suburban" districts that immediately bordered it (so, not rural by any stretch). If any of the coaches at my school weren't also "teachers," I couldn't tell you who they were (mmmmmaybe just the varsity head coach, but I think even he "taught" something).

But few of the football coaches were actually good teachers. I had one for state history, and he definitely was teacher first, coach second. There was another one, though, who "taught" a math class that sometimes amounted to "put your heads on your desks and keep quiet."


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:11 PM
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66 is awesome.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:14 PM
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94: What's the equivalent fratboy beer then?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:14 PM
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Maybe some fine old sherry + Jaegermeister?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:16 PM
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Single malt scotch through a beer bong.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:22 PM
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The geography/health/driver's ed formulation is a slur upon the noble science of geography. At my HS, for part of our history final we had to draw a map of the world freehand, and it is still very useful to me in remembering the history and politics of obscure places.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:28 PM
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I once saw Al Franken draw a map freehand of the United States, including the outlines of every state, in something like 60 seconds. Maybe 90 seconds. Anyway, it was very impressive. He said he and a friend came up with the idea as a way to win bar bets.

I'm pretty sure it was Al Franken and a friend of his. If not, then it was Penn and Teller.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:32 PM
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I can draw Wyoming freehanded.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:33 PM
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A guy I knew chewed the outlines of the states from a loaf of sliced bread at a party. IIRC, at the end he threw crumbs on the floor and called it Hawaii.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:37 PM
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106: All 50? That's a long time to stand around watching a guy chew bread.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:40 PM
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104: I saw the YouTube of Frankin doing that. It was pretty cool, so I've been practicing it myself, as a way of killing time during meetings.

I'm actually getting pretty good at drawing the states freehand, but no where near as good/fast as Frankin. The western states are actually pretty easy because there are a lot of straight lines, but getting the proportions right in the East is tough.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:42 PM
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107: But it's faster than Sufjan Stevens' project.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:43 PM
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So, is 104 the blackest sentence ever seen on Unfogged?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:45 PM
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108: I remember at the time thinking "M/tch, you should learn to do that!"

One of these days . . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:46 PM
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I switched to FIOS, so have a functional Verizon DSL router. I work in MD on top of a red line metro station. If you just need the device, you can have it.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:46 PM
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111: Yeah, its a good trick for geography nerds with moderate drawing skillz and unlimited access to boring meetings.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:51 PM
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112 - Thanks, but I already have a Verizon DSL router. What's missing is a functioning connection from my phone jack to Verizon's switches. OTOH, if I don't have service restored soon I'll switch to some other provider and we'll both have unwanted routers. Perhaps we could form a club or something.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 2:53 PM
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Back in late HS and college I could draw the 50 states - it was a useful way of keeping track when someone was trying to name them all. I don't think I was at all fast, and not especially accurate (although better than Heebie's coach, to be sure).

I was in the Geography Bee in 7th or 8th grade. It was a team effort, and I still recall the 2 answers that knocked us out. On the one (world's tallest mountains not part of a range), my teammates rejected my correct answer; on the other (body of water between Africa & Asia, I think), I still think my answer should have been acceptable.

Frustratingly, my area of focus for the team was Africa, but it was too much, too fast, and virtually none of it stuck.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:03 PM
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116

world's tallest mountains not part of a range

Mountains plural? Kilimanjaro is the only thing that comes to mind. Mount Kenya, maybe?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:05 PM
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So, is 104 the blackest sentence ever seen on Unfogged?

The thread linked in LB's comment following the quoted comment is quite funny.

I miss SCMT, and I had forgotten that LB was a Smiths fan.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:05 PM
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115: Gotta be Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, no? Or does an archipelago count as a range?


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:06 PM
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115: But can you correctly identify the state with the lowest highest point?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:06 PM
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My friend Ali somehow suckered her friend into betting that Ali couldn't name all 50 states in one attempt. It became clear that it was all a hustle when Ali started listing them alphabetically.

I would lose that bet. "California! Then, um, somewhere else."


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:08 PM
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118: Elevation above mean sea level is the standard measurement, I think, so Mauna Kea loses its advantage. Kilimanjaro would be my guess.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:14 PM
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on the other (body of water between Africa & Asia, I think), I still think my answer should have been acceptable.

The Pacific Ocean is between Africa and Asia, as is the Atlantic Ocean.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:21 PM
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My friend Ali somehow suckered her friend into betting that Ali couldn't name all 50 states in one attempt. It became clear that it was all a hustle when Ali started listing them alphabetically.

Didn't everybody learn the 50 States song in elementary school? It's sometimes useful for pub trivia night. I'm incapable of going through the list without using the cadence of the song, it turns out.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:24 PM
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122: Also the Mediterranian Sea and the Arctic Ocean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:25 PM
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The answer to 119 can be found in the last link here, or I could just tell you if anyone cares.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:26 PM
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There's a 50 States song? Is it the one created by Animaniacs?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:26 PM
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Didn't everybody learn the 50 States song in elementary school?

Yeah, that's right. If you want to impress, you need to be able to recite all the vice presidents.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:27 PM
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125: Florida, right?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:29 PM
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125: Florida, right?

Space Mountain!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:33 PM
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Florida, right?

That appears to be correct, but it isn't the answer given in the song. Assuming you trust the information here

yeah, they kind of messed up. the Trivial Pursuit card they got it from asked "Which US State has the lowest mean elevation?" X does, at 60 feet, beating out second place Y's 360.

so the card was correct, they just stated the question wrong (but in a way that kind of made more sense to most people and made for a better improv - "Lowest Mean Elevation" doesn't have nearly the same tone or rhythm to it :)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:34 PM
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listing them alphabetically.

There's a Fusco Brothers cartoon in which one of the characters is asked to list the days of the week: "Friday, Monday, Saturday, Sunday, Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday." I think that was the whole joke, but it still cracked me up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:38 PM
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X does, at 60 feet, beating out second place Y's 360.

Also appears to be incorrect.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:41 PM
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116, 118, 121: Sorry, didn't mean to leave that hanging so long. Kenya and Kilimanjaro is correct (I got this right because of my clear memory of how they stood out on a particularly aggressively-scaled relief map in my 5th grade classroom).

I think they wanted the Red Sea, and my answer was the Arabian Sea. I was pointing whinily to a globe, but did they care? No, they did not care. I suspect they stuck to a narrow answer to avoid nihilism like neb's 122.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:43 PM
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124: bzzt! There is no Mediterranian Sea.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:44 PM
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Appears to be correct, to me.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:44 PM
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listing them alphabetically.

Kirsten Dunst's beauty pageant entry question (plus spelling them) in Drop Dead Gorgeous. At 1 minute in here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:45 PM
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Nihilism? Listen, pal, you can draw a straight line from Africa to Asia that passes through the Atlantic, and if that isn't a criterion for betweenness I don't know what is.

If what they meant was "starting in Africa, going east in a straight line, and not going further east than the westernmost part of Asia", then they should have said so.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:46 PM
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When I was in 6th grade, we took a field trip to Key Biscayne, the highest point of which is 6 ft. above sea level. Funny thing was that we got winded running up it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:46 PM
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135: Nuh uh. Second place is two states at 100 feet.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:47 PM
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Also appears to be incorrect.

True, though the list you give doesn't allow us to tell whether FL or LA would have the second lowest mean elevation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:49 PM
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Second place is two states at 100 feet weeks in Philadelphia.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:51 PM
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Lowest high point is a bit tougher. For only five states is this over 1,000 feet.
3300
3000
2800
2000
1800

(The third on the list often surprises people.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:51 PM
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Apparently the Trivial Pursuit card itself was also wrong.

How did anybody get anything right before there was Wikipedia?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:51 PM
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141: Two weeks anyplace else tied for first.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:52 PM
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Haven't we talked about that? There's an entire class of conversations -- extended disagreements about what actor played X in movie Y, or whether a lemur is one of those little monkey-looking things or more of a yak kind of animal -- that just doesn't happen any more. The question gets stated, and someone googles.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:54 PM
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And another thing, nobody writes e-mails any more, with these new-fangled Facebooks and Twitters.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 3:56 PM
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I've noticed that email volume is way down, but I have not gotten a Facebook, so I'm simply out of the loop.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:03 PM
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142 - You mean the highest low point?


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:05 PM
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Apparently the Trivial Pursuit card itself was also wrong.

The answer to the "H" question on that card is hopefully Dick Tuck.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:06 PM
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I've noticed that email volume is way down

Post a Craigslist ad requesting NSA sex. That should get the ole' inbox filled again.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:07 PM
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Haven't we talked about that?

Let me google and find out.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:07 PM
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148: Yes I do mean highest low point. FML. ... Come and get me Chino! Write the script that blocks my comments, I'm waiting, Chino!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:11 PM
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FML

deprecated.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:12 PM
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Possible entries included "I ate scapes and didn't care for them" and "I am ignorant of the most basic bread-freezing techniques".

Heart this, so much.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:13 PM
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My facebooking has been bursty. immediacy and terseness. Exchange of photos is powerful, but limited. How much of this is aging-- if there are any young people here (under 25) do you send multi-paragraph emails ever?

The asymptote seems terrifying-- googleable flirting via badly-written facebook+iphone interfaces. I am a coffee+suet flavored yogurt, by the way.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:13 PM
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Good thinking, pp.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:16 PM
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153: BMC - Block my comments.

Another homophone misspelling, BMC.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:17 PM
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Country with the highest low point is tricky as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:23 PM
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158: Is it Bhutan?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:30 PM
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149: Yes.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:31 PM
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Country with the highest low point is tricky as well.

First thought was Nepal or Bhutan. Bhutan's tiny, so it seems plausible it's all pretty high, but on the other hand it's wedged between the very high and the very very low, and I don't know if the elevation of northern Bangladesh is high at all. I'm pretty sure southern Nepal is getting low-ish. So I'll guess... Andorra?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:32 PM
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149: Yes.

Via wikipedia, I see he was also responsible for this classic:

In 1968, Tuck utilized Republican nominee Nixon's own campaign slogan against him; he hired a very pregnant African-American woman to wander around a Nixon rally in a predominantly white area, wearing a T-shirt that said, "Nixon's the One!"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:33 PM
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Looked it up. I think En Vogue wrote a song about the likelihood of anyone figuring this out.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:34 PM
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Huh. I was sort of close. Never would have guessed, but I'm not surprised by the right answer. The #2 really surprises me, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:38 PM
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Anyone know who invaded Spain in the 8th century?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:52 PM
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ME


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:54 PM
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Let me try that again. Tariq ibn-Ziyad.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:55 PM
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166, 167: I'm sorry, that's not correct.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:55 PM
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Wikipedia says otherwise!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 4:57 PM
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Wikipedia isn't the governing authority in this situation. They have no jurisdiction.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:02 PM
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165: The moops, obviously.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:09 PM
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146, 155: I too mourn the disappearance of multi-paragraph emails. The friends who remain willing to generate them have become dear. Don't stop, baby, don't stop! And yet it's as though they're embarrassed when they do it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:10 PM
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I write multi-paragraph e-mails. Roberta writes actual letters on paper and sends them through the mail.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:19 PM
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Wow, Roberta is a hippie.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:21 PM
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I haven't written an actual letter on paper since November, but when I do write them I seal them with wax. 'Cause I'm a dork.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:24 PM
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Wow, Roberta is a hippie.

Yes.

I seal them with wax.

So does she.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:25 PM
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164: The #2 really surprises me, though.

Yeah, neither it nor Lesotho are in notable mountainous areas. Small helps. Bhutan and Nepal both extend down into the Ganges-Brahmaputra lowlands. I believe Tibet would be the higher by about 500 feet if it were still a country.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:34 PM
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The Post Office doesn't like it when you seal letters with wax. Bulks up the envelope and messes up the machines. In fact, they prefer that letters be sent with a barcode for the address. It occurs to me that we've become a joke unto ourselves, but a gentle joke.

Speaking of trackability, I got mugged the other day, and am still vaguely musing over whether I should have reported it, for lo, there may well have been a camera with a view of the whole thing. But then I think: nah, if the guy wants the money that badly, let him go with it. Possibly the wrong reaction, but I'm sure he can't be caught, and I'm having a mixed response to the proposition that he should be.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:37 PM
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I've never gotten a hassle about wax. Weirdly folded own-rolled envelopes occasionally, but even those make it through the system no problem. (It is possible to make them too small.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:39 PM
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When I was in Bhutan, Tibet was uphill. In unrelated news, Chinese border guards are not to be trifled with.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:44 PM
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Speaking of trackability, I got mugged the other day, and am still vaguely musing over whether I should have reported it, for lo, there may well have been a camera with a view of the whole thing. But then I think: nah, if the guy wants the money that badly, let him go with it. Possibly the wrong reaction, but I'm sure he can't be caught, and I'm having a mixed response to the proposition that he should be.

Sorry, but, what?!

[And commiserations too, of course]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:50 PM
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I'm having a mixed response to the proposition that he should be.

Sorry you got mugged and all, but if you're feeling charitable then write a check to Oxfam or something.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:51 PM
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179: That's cool. The P.O. is so strapped and fretful that they've developed bizarre rules about a lot of things lately.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:52 PM
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180: did they roll rocks at you?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 5:57 PM
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181, 182: Yeah, I know. I'm a little puzzled by my mixed reactions. I yelled at the guy ("Fuck you! FUCK YOU!) after he walked away, but then it was over, money's gone, and I'm not going to suffer incredibly for it. It sucks ($100) but it's not going to kill me, let's be realistic.

I thought a bit about how if he hadn't taken from me, it would have been someone else who might not have been able to afford it. But of course it's a habit on his part, and he'll presumably do it again, probably to a woman again.

I don't know, should I be really really angry and vengeful about it? I was really angry. Matt F, the police department is not exactly going to be able to launch a manhunt for the guy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:03 PM
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Sorry you got mugged, parsimon.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:04 PM
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Possibly the wrong reaction, but I'm sure he can't be caught, and I'm having a mixed response to the proposition that he should be.

I have a related story that's about two years old. I should write it up. It was an odd experience.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:09 PM
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A friend in Japan used to enjoy testing the permissiveness of the postal system by sending random things back home with no wrapping or boxing, just stamps and addresses. Mannequin head, large dried fish, whatever, no problem.

Sorry about the mugging, pars.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:10 PM
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Large dried fish?!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:12 PM
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Well, large-ish, like maybe the size of a legal pad, and flat. Stamped, addressed, delivered.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:14 PM
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I'm amazed the stamp didn't fall off.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:16 PM
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A friend of mine did that in Hawaii. She managed to send a coconut, shaved in one place with an address written on it in Sharpie. It arrived!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:18 PM
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I would be pleased to receive dried fish in the mail. I was pleased yesterday when UPS brought me a gallon of maple syrup from my mom. A gallon of pure pleasure!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:20 PM
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187: I have a related story that's about two years old. I should write it up. It was an odd experience.

Do that, write it up. It was an odd experience I had the other day as well. The guy broke the rules of society: what do you mean, "Give me that?" And in fact I just said at first, "Oh, you're kidding. No."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:24 PM
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Condolences, parsimon.

I write multi-paragraph e-mails. Roberta writes actual letters on paper and sends them through the mail.

I sometimes get ribbed by the young'uns because while I rarely send text messages, when I do, I can't help but use full spellings, sentences, punctuation, the works. Apparently scrolling is a big hassle for whippersnappers.

The moops, obviously.

Sorry, foolishmortal, but you're banned. No Seinfeld references are allowed.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:35 PM
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193: >I was pleased yesterday when UPS brought me a gallon of maple syrup from my mom.

Have you heard that the maple syrup business in New England is troubled lately, Jesus? I'm forgetting the whole story. Climate-related, I believe. That's sad. It may have been linked here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:35 PM
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Here's my story. I've been thinking about writing this up as an "Ask The Mineshaft (what would you have done)?" Almost nobody that I've talked to would have had the same reaction that I did. I would still be vaguely curious to make an "ask the mineshaft" out of it.

----------------------

The story occurs on a day in which I've found out that I'm going to have to work in the evening so I decide that I'll go home for lunch.

I get home and notice that there are some clothes and a glasses case sitting on my bed. I am not a neat person, but nothing else appears to have been moved.

I live in a half of a duplex, and my brother lives in the other half. We'd gone out to see a basketball game the night before (not a common occurrence; the only game we saw that season) and I assume that he'd lost his glasses and looked around my half of the duplex to check for them.

That seemed rude, I'd prefer that he not stop by uninvited, but not unreasonable, so I give him a call at work. He says, no he didn't go into my space.

While I'm on the phone I notice that there's a book of poetry open on the couch. I start to think this is very odd. I then take another look around, and see that someone removed the screen from the window over the kitchen sink. I mention this to my brother, and he offers to come over (he works about 10 blocks from the duplex).

I hang up and continue to look around. I notice in the other room that I can see what looks like a pair of legs sticking out from behind a box of stuff that was in the corner.

I say in a loud voice, "hello." No answer, no movement.

I'm a little worried at this point, and the one thought that goes through my head is, "if it is an intruder, don't corner them. That's when there will definitely be a fight."

So I pick up something small and throw it at the legs. I see a twitch when it hits. I say, "look, I'm not calling the cops, but you are going to have to leave."

Eventually someone stands up. They're young, mid-twenties, 5'9 or 5'10, extremely skinny, and wearing a pair of my pants and shirt and shoes.

My goal at this point is to stall until my brother gets home so that there can be two of us to deal with the situation.

I end up talking the intruder out onto the porch where I close and lock the door behind us. He just sits on the porch, hunched over, rocking slightly, and doesn't say anything.

I sit there and quietly ask him if he can tell me anything. Eventually he starts to talk, and he says that he's from California, that he ran away. That he's also a computer programmer and gamer and that part of why he stayed in my house after breaking in was that he recognized the gaming books on the shelf and that it made him feel comfortable.

He says that he had found the poetry book and was reading it because it made him feel more stable while he was reading.

Now, I've known at least three computer programmers that have gone somewhat insane while I've known them, so this all feels like a recognizable personality pattern to me. I haven't know anyone who's ended up breaking into people's houses, but I take as someone who ran away, has been living on the street for a while, and just can't figure out what to do.

It also seems to his credit that he hasn't taken anything from my house (other than the clothes that he's wearing), and basically didn't touch anything.

When my brother shows up, I ask him to call a place that's close by that I believed handled social service referrals for people with mental illness or drug addictions.

My brother goes inside for a while to make the call, I continue talking to him. Eventually my brother comes back and confirms that my sense was correct, and that, in fact, the center close by is specifically for people with mental illness.

I decide that he qualifies.

I have to go back to work, but my brother offers to escort this person to that center, and make sure that he gets some attention.

I let him keep the clothes, and give him the book of poetry and half a loaf of fruit & nut bread.

I talk to my brother later in the afternoon and he says that the guy seemed to think that help would be good and made an appointment to come back tomorrow.

I begin to have the adrenaline drain out of me.

That's the story. There's a bit of a follow-up, but that's what happened when someone broke into my house.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:37 PM
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can't help but use full spellings, sentences, punctuation, the works.

You should have seen the text message I sent Sybil.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:37 PM
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198: How do you know I didn't?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:41 PM
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Assume the italics tags in 196 are correct.

And everyone, condolences and commiseration for the mugging are appreciated! But mostly I thought to puzzle through my mixed responses to it.

195: I like people who use full spelling and punctuation in text messages, M/tch, but don't tell anyone that, for god's sake.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:42 PM
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Good point.

Nick, it seems to me that you behaved pretty damn decently (if riskily). What did other people say?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:42 PM
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197: Thanks for telling, NickS; very coolly handled on you and your brothers part. I think lots of people would have just freaked the fuck out and started yelling, or ran out and called the cops, or something like that. I really don't know how I would have reacted in that situation.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:43 PM
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201 gets it pretty much right. That was a very nice thing to do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:43 PM
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201: Yeah, incredibly damned decently, without a doubt.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:44 PM
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197: Nick, that's excellent.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:46 PM
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See, that guy's instinct that he was at home among people with computer gaming books was absolutely correct. Although he's lucky he didn't happen upon one of the libertarian technogeeks.

Good job!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:46 PM
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I felt pretty good about it at the time.

In retrospect it would have been good to get some identifying information from him, just in case, but I still feel like it was basically a correct reaction.

The one follow-up is that it turned out that he had stolen an extra copy of my credit card that was sitting around and, when he tried to use it two days later the credit card fraud protection caught it.

I also noticed that he had clearly prepared a backpack with some stuff that he would have stolen (not much, an electric razor, a pocket knife, a pair of portable headphones).

I still felt good about my reaction, but it did make me think that I should have checked his pockets before letting him go.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:47 PM
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Also, if it isn't clear from 207, he never did go to the follow-up appointment. Which made me sad but, really, it wasn't my call. That was up to him.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:48 PM
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196: I hadn't. My mom said that conditions this year were supposed to have been very good, according to the sugarers she knows, but I don't know if that's just where she is (the NE Kingdom) or if it was true generally. Seems like good years are the exception.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:51 PM
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Finally, I'm glad you guys think I was being reasonable. Most of my coworkers said that they would have called the cops. But (a) they have children which probably makes a difference and (b) they tend to have a little more machismo than I do.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 6:54 PM
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Nick that is a really awesome story. I suspect that you reacted better than most. I'm also glad that the nerd trappings made him think that he was in a reasonably safe haven. Even if it was all a lie, it's still a really nice one. (Him lying, not you)


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:00 PM
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Besides I suspect it's more probable that someone would have called the cops suggesting that if he tries it again the cops will be called.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:01 PM
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When I've come home to people asleep on the couch on my porch, I've not disturbed them. They're always gone by morning.

Odder, though, is that last year when I was renting out my house to friends, my tenant called one day. He was near certain someone was sleeping in the crawl space under my house nightly. He called his handyman buddy. They re-secured the fence, bundled the stuff in the crawlspace and put in in front of the house. My tenant never told his wife.

I think having someone live under my house would have been outside my (fairly wide) limits. On the other hand, if I hadn't noticed for a while, what harm was it causing? The part that still catches my thoughts is that my cat must know if someone lived under my house (I left her at the house for a month before I brought her to Oakland.). Were they friends?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:02 PM
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(b) they tend to have a little more machismo than I do.

I'm SO MACHO I would've called the PIGS!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:03 PM
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210: Most of my coworkers said that they would have called the cops.

Be the change you want to see, or something like that? Having children would make a difference, of course.

Seriously, I know people who live in places where, when people lose their shit and respond by breaking in to others' places for food and books and clothing, everybody tries to help out. Law enforcement, if it's sensible, can help, but in urban areas it doesn't. It just cracks the whip. Which doesn't help.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:06 PM
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213: He was near certain someone was sleeping in the crawl space under my house nightly.

Years ago when my VW camper bus was on longish-term hiatus for a couple of months, waiting for repair or trouble-shooting, it was parked in front of a downtown warehouse, and it became apparent at some point that someone was sleeping in it at night.

We didn't worry about it, since the person couldn't actually steal it, and wasn't fouling it in any particular way. It was decked out with blankets and things for camping trips. I can't fault anybody for taking advantage of the hospitality.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:15 PM
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On the other hand, if I hadn't noticed for a while, what harm was it causing?

My partner's neighbor told me that they'd had someone sleeping under their porch. They only discovered it when the person apparently passed out drunk, with a cigarette, and set fire to the place. Moderately serious damage: the porch was a loss, but the house was okay.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:22 PM
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Yeah. Fire is the conspicuous risk.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:23 PM
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My friends in Cleveland quite often woke up to one of various vagrants sleeping on the floor in their room. They never did lock that porch window. Usually, they'd just wake up, ask for a cigarette, and leave. I don't think anyone ever stole anything.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:27 PM
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Also, if it isn't clear from 207, he never did go to the follow-up appointment. Which made me sad but, really, it wasn't my call. That was up to him.

That's where I just don't know what's right. My strong inclination is to put a high value on respecting others' autonomy, but that runs smack into the equally strong belief in helping those who need it. It's aggravated by my belief that there's a category of people who shouldn't always be allowed to make their own decisions (young children, some mentally handicapped people, etc.).

So I think I approve of laws allowing people to be involuntarily committed for evaluation, but since the cops around here are famous for killing - and being killed by - people with psychiatric problems, I wouldn't want to call them. On the third hand, I'm certainly not qualified to judge whether someone is immediately dangerous to self or others, nor do I know about all the possible emergency assistance available. So it's a connundrum.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:40 PM
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What about the opposite situation? Where the permission is denied outright, such as large, strategically placed signs on medical office walls and doors, which say:
Please Turn Off All Cell Phones
Yet people glibly chat away with their friends about their plans for the day or their choice of breakfast cereal on their stupid cell phones. No one confronts them. The staff acts like it is completely okay, and these idiots talk on and on....
These must be the parents of the kids who stand on the bus and cut in line.
Makes me want to sing a vigilante song and grab the phones out of their hands and drop them in the fish tank...
But they are doing what they want to do- even if it is obviously breaking the rules.
And who the hell cares? Me, who obediently turned off my cell phone (not for lack of friends who are dying to know what I ate for breakfast) and no one else. Not the receptionist, not the nurse, no one.

Is this what Coach Carter was talking about? Is it good?


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:40 PM
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Nick, you behaved with remarkable compassion and calm. I'm very impressed that you didn't react out of fear. Did you have a moment when you decided you weren't in physical danger? What was that like?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:41 PM
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222: Damn. Maybe Nick can answer that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:47 PM
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Change of topic, but this

Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos

seems both wrong and a stupid move.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:50 PM
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224: yes, it does.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:50 PM
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Comity? So soon??


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:52 PM
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FUCK YOU GUYS
COMITY IS FOR PUSSIES


Posted by: OPINIONATED OBAMA | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:53 PM
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While we're on the comity tip, I just purchased some Aviation gin. We're going to have our third annual Third Coast Martiniad this weekend. Contenders this time are Junipero, Plymouth, Aviation, and Hendricks. I'm pretty sure Junipero will once again be my favorite, but the taste tests will be double blind, so who knows?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:56 PM
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Also: I'm not really much of a fan of rum, but Pusser's Rum is both outstanding and remarkably cheap.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 7:58 PM
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228: exciting! Liveblogging it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:02 PM
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Did you have a moment when you decided you weren't in physical danger? What was that like?

I felt safe once we were both on the porch. It helped that his body language was very non-aggressive. Wheh he got up and let me direct him out the front door he didn't say anything, his head was down, he didn't make eye contact, and his movement was hesitant.
As I said, my fight-or-flight reaction manifested as "don't make sudden movements, don't provoke, and don't corner him."

It was definitely scary, but it became less scary very quickly.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:09 PM
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230: Most assuredly not.

Say, when we going to have this gin meet-up we've been talking about?

Also, not that I'm presuming we're invited or anything, but have you and Bluuuuuume set a date? And/or a location?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:12 PM
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Also, not that I'm presuming we're invited or anything, but have you and Bluuuuuume set a date? And/or a location?

We have done both, yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:15 PM
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233: Excellent.

Might you reveal said info?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:16 PM
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Gin meetup is totally key. I have no idea where it should be. On a British Navy vessel?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:17 PM
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I'm really only asking because Sir K and I will be up in MA for a wedding this coming August.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:17 PM
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Gin, sodomy and the lash?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:18 PM
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234: what if the ToS crashes the ceremony?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:18 PM
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235: On a boat? You sure that's not too trendy these days?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:19 PM
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The other funny bit about the whole thing was the book of poetry. I didn't recognize it at first, I think it was a school copy that I got from someone else and hadn't read. The poem it was open to was by Blake, IIRC, and had a line underlined that read, "I have returned to this cruel home."

Now, I was working my way through Buffy at the time and it fit the faux-gothic feel of the show so well that I both felt creeped out and wondered if it was a prank by someone I knew.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:19 PM
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236: ah, yeah, we'll be married and off being Honeymoony by then. But if you're curious about details, you could ask Kraab.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:19 PM
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Makes me want to sing a vigilante song

Now I kind of want to *hear* a vigilante song.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:20 PM
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I was thinking more in terms of month and city or state as opposed to atomic clock reference and GPS coordinates.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:20 PM
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241: Dammit! I'm always the last to know!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:21 PM
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July, kinda near Boston, Mr. Nosy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:22 PM
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Sifu and Blume are getting married?

240: The poem it was open to was by Blake

No wonder you were sympathetic to the guy. Rightly so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:27 PM
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245: Thanks. Just as I hit Refresh and saw your comment, Sir Kraab came through with the info too.

You sure you guys don't want to get married in August? The, um, feng shui is much better in August. Yeah.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:29 PM
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We could just tell everybody to hang out until you guys got there. Shouldn't be more than a few weeks, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:30 PM
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248: With your dj skillz, I think it's definitely doable.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:31 PM
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"You hold down the turntables honey, I'll be sorting out all this china we just got."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:36 PM
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People have been talking about a gin meetup without me?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:37 PM
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250: yes, that's exactly what I'd say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:37 PM
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251: well, where were you?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:38 PM
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Nosflow should definitely be at our gin party.

Sifu and Blume are getting married?

Yes. In fact, they already have a wedding album! Did you miss that?

I believe it's on the Flickr pool. Also on Sir Kraab's website. But I've got to get off line now so can't provide a link. Surely another kind fogga will step up?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:41 PM
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Maureen Dowd: Rogue Diva of Doom

Not a memoir?!?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:43 PM
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In fact, they already have a wedding album!

I saw that!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:47 PM
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224-5: Not to turn this into a politics thread, but - leaving aside the admin's recent decision - I feel like the wars we're still involved in aren't getting nearly the attention in the news they should. And that if something goes really wrong, it's going to come as a complete shock and surprise in a way that would be worse than if there were more of an effort to keep some significant segment of the public informed.

That said, I haven't been seeking out much info on my own, so I'm part of that problem.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:49 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:51 PM
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Nosflow should definitely be at our gin party.

And so should I. I propose Portland, and will sweeten the proposition by offering to arrange tours of both House Spirits (where Aviation is made) and Clear Creek Distillery.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:54 PM
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254: Yes, but did they ask each others' parent for permission before becoming engaged.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:57 PM
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257 -- Well, there has been plenty of coverage of firing the commander of forces in AF, and bringing in a new guy to run the show. You've seen that, right?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 8:58 PM
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261: Yes. I mean more along the lines of the conditions on the ground than about U.S. leadership.

And I should add, I was thinking of this in terms of coverage before the firing. I'm a few days behind the news right now, so maybe the kind of overview I'm looking for is there and I haven't gotten to it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:08 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:10 PM
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I follow Yemen more closely than AF, but I think it's all out there if one wants to try to keep up. Changing generals is about implementing the new plan, and there's been some discussion of that, certainly.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:25 PM
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I probably should just set up a search feed.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:29 PM
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259: Clear Creek? It's a deal!

(not that we wouldn't want to have you participate regardless, you understand)


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 9:41 PM
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On the OP: There were elections yesterday where I am, and I wanted to get pictures of a polling place, but there was some rule about that - apparently photography is banned as a potential form of intimidation. (My friends had thought it would be let slide, but not this time. Very tense election cycle around here.)

After a fruitless discussion with the police on duty, we decided they shouldn't mind photos from quite a long way away, and it was possible to get out of their field of view to shoot the polling place from a distance. I snuck one shot, but the policeman belatedly followed us - maybe saw the shot, maybe didn't, but definitely saw my camera out - and confronted. I apologized vaguely and we were not pursued when we walked away quickly.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:06 PM
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On muggings: I read a story a while ago about a guy who got mugged, and actually managed to engage his mugger in a conversation about why he was doing it. Sat him down, bought him a cup of coffee, found out the guy was homeless and desperate, gave him some money and sent him on his way.

A laudable story -- and quite a trick, it's a story that could have gone in a much worse direction -- but I'm not so sure I could be that guy. Parsimon sounds like she has a similar spirit, and that's a wonderful thing that further endears her, but... fuck. You know? Fuck.

Nick's story about the break-in is another "good soul" story. Reminds me of a meth dealer story I have from a few years ago... but a story for another day, I think. You know, when there's a meth thread going.

In the meantime, I'm a bit disappointed at the tameness of the Unfoggedtariat's "better to ask forgiveness than permission stories." I can't help but think that maybe people are holding back just a tad. Can we do better, or do the really good stories just tend to sound skeevy?

* Checks mental databanks *

Yup, all my good stories probably sound skeevy. Carry on.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:22 PM
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In the meantime, I'm a bit disappointed at the tameness of the Unfoggedtariat's "better to ask forgiveness than permission stories." I can't help but think that maybe people are holding back just a tad. Can we do better, or do the really good stories just tend to sound skeevy?

Skeevy, you say? That's no excuse for failing to post them. For example.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:28 PM
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I could imagine engaging a solitary mugger in conversation, but the scenario I've always feared involves two muggers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:29 PM
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You know, when there's a meth thread going.

Be the change you wish to see, Slack.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:31 PM
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I haven't even told my really skeevy stories here. Even the mildest skeeve results in feces-flinging.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:36 PM
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270: Then it would need to be a game of Twister.

271: Yeah, see, I could try to start a meth tangent, but then it would be one post from me asking "Hey? Anybody love meth as much as me? Meth: Maybe Just Once. Am I right or am I right?" and then nosflow would take issue with my punctuation and there'd be a thousand comments about the merits of the diaeresis, and that would totally suck.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:39 PM
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272: We need a "too hot for Unfogged" blog. That's what we need.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:40 PM
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Let's talk meth!

Not so fun as they make it out to be, in my experience.

But I've sure seen some good music produced under its influence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:41 PM
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270: Yeah, I'd like to imagine there might be some opportunity for engagement, but when I think of people I know who have been mugged, the ones who come most readily to mind are the guy who was knifed in the cheek and the guy who was shot.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:41 PM
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273: Plus, a meth thread could get really wordy.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:43 PM
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I've sure seen some good music produced under its influence.

This surprises me for some reason.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:55 PM
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Yeah, I know a lot of great music has been made on heroin and cocaine and marijuana, but I'd have never thought of meth as a creative stimulant.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:57 PM
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278: agreed. You wouldn't think the creativity would be there. Eventually it all fell apart, of course, but while the people involved were on the upswing, goddamn they did some cool stuff.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:57 PM
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I don't think the creative stimulant part was the key, necessarily, so much as the willingness to devote endless hours to practicing and fine-tuning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 10:58 PM
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Surprise here too. Examples? (Though I feel like I'm saying "The Beatles smoked pot?!")


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:11 PM
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Um, not that I could really link without fucking up their anonymity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:18 PM
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without fucking up their anonymity

Dude. The Residents were/are tweakers?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:39 PM
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284: have you seen their eyes?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:41 PM
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284: have you seen their eyes?

How could you miss them?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:47 PM
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Not explicit enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:50 PM
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You certainly couldn't miss them if you ever read Standpipe's blog.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:54 PM
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286: That image makes them look entirely too much like Blue Man Group.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:56 PM
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289: oh man, you think it's the same people? I bet you're right! Damn, that solves it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:59 PM
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Yeah, well, uh, I just didn't want anyone to miss the, um, reference.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:09 AM
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I can't be the only one who keeps reading the title of this thread as "Funny Thing About Parsimon."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:11 AM
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Funny Thing About Parsimon . . She Drives A Hummer and Loves Glenn Beck.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:12 AM
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292: I did too, and then I switched to "Funny Thing About Persimmons."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:14 AM
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Funny thing about Pemmican...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:15 AM
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294: yes, I've been at "persimmons" for a while. And indeed, there are many funny things about them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:19 AM
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The people I know who have been mugged were mugged by people who either physically attacked them, or threatened them with a knife. When my grandmother was mugged, for example, they broke her arm. In those kinds of circumstances I can't imagine taking it with the kind of equanimity described above. People taking other people's shit with violence, or the threat of serious violence don't really get much sympathy.

I can think of circumstances where I wouldn't have called the police -- when I was much younger I lived in the kind of area where things might have been dealt with 'extra-legally' -- but those circumstances don't apply anymore.

Luckily, no-one's ever seriously tried to mug me. I've had a bit of aggressive begging tried on me by homeless guys, but that's about it. I don't imagine I'm in the core 'mugee' demographic --- although I've told the story on here before of how two guys tried to mug my friend J, which seemed quite incredibly stupid on their part, since J is significantly over 6ft and weighs in at a non-obese 250lbs or so. The outcome of that prospective mugging was a court appointment for J for hurting them both.

I have been in similar circumstances to NickS above, though. A friend and I once went to see a flat that a business acquaintance wanted to rent to us. While we were there we found a guy inside who had broken in and had been living there*. We told the guy [who we could partially see hiding behind some furniture] that we were going to back off and give him a few minutes to get his stuff together and leave before we came back in.

The shocking part is that the prospective landlord offered us some money off the first month's rent if the friend and I went back in and fucked the guy up. Needless to say, that was the last dealing I had with the guy.

* amusingly he'd obviously been spending his time trying to tunnel into the off-licence (liquor store) next door.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:43 AM
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* amusingly he'd obviously been spending his time trying to tunnel into the off-licence (liquor store) next door.

That's industrious. Maybe he was a laid-off sandhog. Or whatever the UK equivalent of "sandhog" is. Chunnel-yob?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:49 AM
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re: 298

He'd been slowly removing bricks from the wall, going in via a cupboard. As far as we could tell when we eased one of the loose bricks out [he'd stacked them back in place], he had completely removed all of the bricks and all that was between him and free booze was a thin layer of plaster that he was ready to go through.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:54 AM
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299: it seems like there must be an easier way to get free booze. Maybe he was on meth!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:56 AM
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re: 300

I don't know, he had obviously been living there for a while and the (literally) thousands of bottles of hard liquor must have been a temptation.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:01 AM
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Everybody needs a hobby, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:03 AM
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I got mugged once when I was nine. Me and my friend were going to get gefilte fish and on our way back a couple of kids tried to jack us. My rich friend's mom had given us twenty bucks, which seemed like a lot of money to me, so I said, " Leave us alone, you ... fuck!" and got up in his face. He knocked me out cold in one punch, and I've got an asymmetrical dimple to show for it. But we kept the money and the gefilte fish, so I call it a win.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:06 AM
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303: they tried to jack you for gefilte fish? Where the fuck was this? Some kind of juvenile offender kibbutz?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:08 AM
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I've been mugged, three times! Once at knifepoint and twice at gunpoint, with one of the gunpoint muggings a truly horrible situation where I was forced to drive to an ATM and take out cash and then left out in a deserted parking lot. Didn't exactly turn me into a conservative, but I'm pretty much over romanticizing the criminal or maintaining empathy with them.

NickS's guy sounds kind of sweet, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:12 AM
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Didn't exactly turn me into a conservative, but I'm pretty much over romanticizing the criminal or maintaining empathy with them.

Yeah, there's a difference between on the one hand, advocating dumb draconian conservative policies on law and order and, on the other, recognizing that a lot of criminals are vicious pricks.

Your situation sounds hellish.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:17 AM
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My dad, having been mugged once forty years ago, has ever since carried a second wallet, with a couple dollars and some expired credit cards in it, just in case he got mugged again.

He has not been mugged again. Maybe that's why!

"Yo, man, don't fuck with the guy with two wallets. He's probably not stable."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:23 AM
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I've never been mugged, really. When I was a teenager, there was a separate category for "rolling" which was when bigger kids essentially tried to mug you for your cigarettes or your spare change... but they'd usually back off if you challenged them or convinced them you weren't worth the effort.

I had curious "relationship" in HS with one girl who would walk up to me in the halls, always with a large guy in tow trying to look intimidating, and aggressively "ask" me for money. I adopted the practice of saying "no" in the most disdainful, prickish fashion I could muster and then looking at the guy in a sort "I dare you to beat me down" way. And nothing ever happened. I've never been able to figure out what was going on there; I was far from physically imposing and couldn't fight, they could have rolled me if they really wanted to. Probably I just didn't look rich enough to bother.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:58 AM
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When I was a teenager, there was a separate category for "rolling" which was when bigger kids essentially tried to mug you for your cigarettes or your spare change... but they'd usually back off if you challenged them or convinced them you weren't worth the effort.

Yeah, some older kids tried that on one of my younger relatives, once. He hit one of them in the face with his roller-blade. I don't think they did it again ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 2:57 AM
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Yeah, neither it nor Lesotho are in notable mountainous areas.

Lesotho is all mountains. They're not big-ass exposed rock massifs (due to being geologically very old), but they're mountains. The baseline elevation is also quite high because it sits on top of the East African escarpment (nearby Johannesburg, for example, is higher than Denver). The inhospitability of the terrain explains why Lesotho was never incorporated into the Union (later Republic) of South Africa. Once the whites figured out that fresh water was a scarce resource, they started to look at Lesotho more covetously.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:18 AM
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268: DS, did you see the story a few years back (it was discussed on a thread once) about the family in DC who foiled an armed robbery by inviting the intruder to sit down for a glass of Bordeaux? Not a tactic I would generally recommend, but it was a pretty amazing story.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:28 AM
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I think the moral is that a percentage of American criminals are pistol-enabled pussies, whereas UK criminals are consistently hardcore.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:33 AM
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The thread.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:37 AM
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I wouldn't be calling anyone with a gun in their hand a pistol-enabled pussy...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:41 AM
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Not to their face, sure.

Seriously, whatever you'd call someone who can wave a gun around but be dissuaded by the victim being nice.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:50 AM
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By stereotypical-criminal standards, of course, not by human-being standards.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:04 AM
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I've never been mugged, so have nothing to add. On the torture photos release, I'm surprised to find myself mostly sympathetic to the administration's position. We pretty much know what's in the pictures, and we've seen this sort of thing before (I was on my honeymoon in Rome when the Abu Ghraib photos were suddenly on every newsstand everywhere). That is to say, I don't feel like *I* need to see them nor particularly want to at this point, and I'm not sure what purpose is served by having them plastered across the internet like so much torture porn.

Who does need to see them, however, is a grand jury. Making the photos public is a damn poor substitute for prosecutions.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:04 AM
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I've told my story about the time I looked into the barrel of a gun in the hands of a reputed killer. It wasn't really a mugging, though, so much as an armed friend request. I didn't have what he wanted, so we shared what he had (lime flavored vodka). At maybe 9 am. Breakfast of champions.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:06 AM
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IIRC, the earlier decision to release the photos came in response to the likely loss in a FOIA lawsuit. Now they'd rather lose the suit and have the release be someone else's fault, than own up to what happened. I'm not impressed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:09 AM
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319, if true, makes me feel better. My understanding was pretty much the opposite: that the administration didn't want to concede the principle that they could be forced to release the photos in response to a judicial order (i.e. they wanted to preserve the primacy of the national security exception).

OTOH, the White House's recycling of Bush-era rhetoric ("would hurt the troops") is disgraceful, and mitigated only slightly by the fact that Robert Gibbs was visibly uncomfortable saying the words he had been instructed to say.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:14 AM
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Bad taste in my mouth, apo. (/lhf) To think "pictures like these already exist so they won't change anybody's mind" is to intellectualize away natural responses. As long as nobody important will be prosecuted (as it still seems), the effect of suppression in perpetuating the memory-hole is far more harmful than any Middle Eastern backlash.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:16 AM
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320 -- You may well be right. I'm not paying very close attention . . .

What fails to impress me is the invocation of the troops, as if that's the point of a democratic government.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:17 AM
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What fails to impress me is the invocation of the troops

Agreed. Total bullshit.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:22 AM
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Yeah -- lost in the Second Circuit. Last fall. The petition for rehearing was denied in April. The question is whether to go for cert or not. Now I think it's a dumb idea: why go up with a bad case on the issue? Because the defense/intelligence apparatus fights back and fights dirty. But letting them roll the WH isn't a good move in the long term (although if you're asking me to trade my interested with the Apparatus for these pictures, I'd take that deal).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:29 AM
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(rehearing denied March 12. Mandate issued April 27).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:36 AM
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317: I've never been mugged, so have nothing to add.

I've never been jumped for my money. I've certainly been jumped.

Making the photos public is a damn poor substitute for prosecutions.

Disagree, staunchly. It's a poor substitute, but that's where the evidence is - in the pictures. Without the pictures, people can wave torture off as 'harmless hijinks' and 'isolated incidents'. With the pictures it's, 'OH! You mean TORTURE!' Getting that reaction is the only way to keep unwinding this thing and get the grand jury you desire.

This is a game of inches, so: Keep. Taking. Ground. I'm sorry they didn't release them. Let's see if that'll change.

max
['They keep missing big open holes.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:42 AM
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303: gefilte fish. Every year I see the jars and say "This year, I try them." And every year I pass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:43 AM
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I've been reading the opinion. It's pretty good, and maybe if the government takes this up and loses, we'll end up in a better place.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:50 AM
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if the government takes this up and loses, we'll end up in a better place

If it turns out that Obama is just being crazy like a fox in that way, I'll sing his praises. But I'm not prepared to give him that benefit of a doubt just yet.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:58 AM
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327: Get that man (woman?) a gig at IFA!


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 6:58 AM
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329 -- Me neither. All indications are that they are being rolled by the Apparatus, day after day. The Uyghur debacle with Germany, for example. Anyway, I have to go visit the belly of that beast. See y'll later (insh'allah).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:00 AM
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330: Man. What is IFA and what do they pay?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:01 AM
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With the pictures it's, 'OH! You mean TORTURE!'

Well, maybe. The usual suspects are still waving off the original Abu Ghraib pictures off as hijinks and the official line is that these are less gratuitous than those (I realize this may or may not be true).

I dunno. I'm not strongly wedded to a position on this, and I understand where y'all are coming from. I suppose I'm just doubtful that releasing these 21 photos will actually move the ball forward on holding anybody accountable.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:07 AM
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I've never been mugged, but I have always hoped I would keep my cool and try to talk to the mugger. Recently, however, there was a terrifying story about a young woman in NYC---a white, blond aspiring actress, no less---who yelled at her would-be mugger and got shot.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:12 AM
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The outcome of that prospective mugging was a court appointment for J for hurting them both.

This is absurd. I realize that it's hard to implement in practice, but I think there's something to be said for a legal principle that once you initiate violence against someone you don't get to bitch if they put you in the emergency room. The morgue may be a little much, but a light tolchoking can do a thug a world of good.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:16 AM
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re: 335

It got thrown out of court, eventually. But it's not unknown for people to be charged for excessive force. In this case he didn't kill someone or anything that bad. I think he broke an arm and a couple of ribs (between the two attackers).

I suspect his size and appearance -- big flamboyantly dressed long-haired Scottish guy, built like an extra from Highlander -- may have contributed.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:21 AM
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But it's not unknown for people to be charged for excessive force.

Like the guy somewhere in the southeast of England who shot an intruder or two in his home, and went to prison for it (don't remember the details, but this was all over the papers about 10 years go). I'm no fan of U.S. gun-nuttery, but I'm cool with the fact that our doctrine of self-defense does not include a "duty to retreat" if you are threatened in your own home. Some states make that right more explicit than others (the so-called "make my day" laws), but even the blue states are pretty permissive on the use of lethal force against an intruder in your home.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:27 AM
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334: If it's the case I'm thinking of, she said, "What are you going to do, shoot me?"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:28 AM
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I think the moral is that a percentage of American criminals are pistol-enabled pussies, whereas UK criminals are consistently hardcore.

The UK does have a welfare state, so fewer reluctant criminals.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:29 AM
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re: 337

That particular case is complicated. He shot someone in the back, who was running away, didn't report it to the police and hid the gun. The jury in his case were convinced 10-2 that it was murder [they did have the option of returning a manslaughter verdict but did not].

He was convicted but only served three years after his sentence was changed on appeal.

It's pretty far from being the clear-cut travesty that the US pro-gun lobby portrays it as.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:33 AM
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The UK does have a welfare state, so fewer reluctant criminals.

Except that the UK welfare state is not especially generous, and the populations of criminals and welfare recipients in the UK are not free of overlap.

In some thread of bygone days, the thesis was discussed that scuffles in the UK might escalate into severe violence more frequently because guns are so rare; you end up in the hospital because you have less fear of ending up in the morgue. That's getting perilously close to Glenn Reynolds territory ("an armed society is a polite society"), but there might be something to it.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:35 AM
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I was on my honeymoon in Rome when the Abu Ghraib photos were suddenly on every newsstand everywhere

I strongly, strongly suspect that they were on "every newsstand" a heck of a lot more in Europe than they were in the U.S.

Even what was published in the US was a pretty small (albeit iconic) sample.

Re: muggers, my general experience is that there is a group that might loosely be called "psychopaths" (in the sense that they want to hurt you, or at least are totally uncaring of your physical and emotional well-being), and then there is a group that might loosely be called "lost souls."

Both of those groups can end up breaking into your property, taking your belongings, and/or accosting you. One of them can be addressed on the human level, as NickS did so memorably, and occasionally can be helped. The other is not ready to acknowledge you as a fellow human being, and thus you are best served to run fast and far in the other direction.

If there were a surefire way of telling these groups apart, there'd probably be a lot fewer dead people in the U.S. (N.b. I am including police shootings of people with mental illness right next to naive people who get murdered by hitchhikers.)

I actually just witnessed an incident that at first set off my "uh-oh, dangerous" vibes and then, a few seconds later, morphed into concern. In that case the defining feature was that the skinny guy loitering next to the passed-out woman was holding her handbag by its straps over his wrist. Foolproof tell? Probably not, but I relied on it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:36 AM
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The "excessive force" makes more sense if you think of it as being applied in a context where it's not clear whether what's going on is self-defense in response to an unwarranted attack, or participation in a bilateral fight. (I'm not sure that it's applied like that in the UK, but if it was, that wouldn't bother me.)

When we're talking about a home invasion (and I recall the outrage about the UK guy, but not the details of the story), OTOH, I'd think that should give rise to an awfully strong presumption of legitimate self-defense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:36 AM
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343 crossed with 340: Yeah, I was wondering if the story was something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:38 AM
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legitimate self-defense

Ah, but your home is not yourself. Combine that with the fact that property is theft, and it seems like a wash.


Posted by: Es-tonea-pesta | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:38 AM
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340: You can convict someone of murder on a non-unanimous verdict? Was that one of Jack Straw's innovations, or has it always been that way? The US criminal justice system has its flaws, and the Bill of Rights has been whittled away in a lot of respects, but we still do a reasonably good job on the right to trial by jury (notwithstanding the fact that prosecutors routinely use plea bargains to persuade/browbeat defendants to sacrifice that right).


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:39 AM
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re: 346

10-2 verdicts are allowed. The minority cannot be larger than 2. The judge can press for unanimity but if it can't be achieved, then a majority verdict is OK.

I don't know much about this, so am getting this largely from Wiki. Anyway, that has been the state of affairs since the early 70s. I don't know about before that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:46 AM
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341: Has anyone done empirical work on the politeness/gun carrying correlation? I can quickly think of countries that occupy the four basic combinations:

Unarmed, rude: France
Armed, rude: The U.S.
Unarmed, polite: Japan
Armed, polite: Canada.

I'm really not seeing a pattern here. Although it is odd that the people most likely to say "an armed society is a polite society" come from the country that is biggest counter example to the claim.



Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:53 AM
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the people most likely to say "an armed society is a polite society"

...tend to be woefully short on social skills themselves.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:57 AM
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348: Also...

Armed, rude: Israel
Armed, polite (within limits): Afghanistan

I would also submit that the French reputation for rudeness is largely (though not entirely) a function of foreigners misinterpreting French mores and encountering hostility for inadvertently violating them. Politesse is a celebrated virtue in the entire French cultural realm.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 7:59 AM
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...tend to be woefully short on social skills themselves.

Yeah, but people are polite to them nonetheless. Just like Uday Hussein.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:01 AM
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I've no idea where the "French=rude" thing comes from. I've always found them very courteous. A bit earnest, yes, but not rude. But then I haven't really found any rude Americans either - the worst they've been is either terribly humourless in a wire-rimmed-glasses sort of way or else weirdly, stalkerishly over-friendly. But never rude.

I must just drift through the world in my own little bubble of politeness, I suppose. Or maybe I'm just insensitive enough not to notice any but the most direct insults. (Early exposure to British NCOs, I suspect, has calloused the sensibilities.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:02 AM
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352: I was about to write something very like your first paragraph. So it's not just you!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:05 AM
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Yes, to 352. Both re: the French and re: Americans.

I do find Germans pretty rude, but that's generally a clear case of different standards of politeness rather than any intention to cause offense.

Londoners -- specifically referring to born and bred Londoners rather than 'immigrants' into London from elsewhere -- seem pretty rude as a group.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:06 AM
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352: "I've no idea where the "French=rude" thing comes from. I've always found them very courteous. A bit earnest, yes, but not rude. "

I don't know enough French people to say, but replace 'earnest' with 'alarmingly animated' and you'd have my impression of New Yorkers. My dad started a heated argument at a subway platform just by asking the best way to get somewhere. I (about 12 or so) was thinking "If this is what you get from people being helpful, I'd hate to piss-off somebody here."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:08 AM
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Roberta's experience in France (I've never been) was that Paris lived up to the rude stereotype, but the rest of the country was unfailingly charming and courteous.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:10 AM
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I've no idea where the "French=rude" thing comes from.

Polly Platt (American expat in Paris with an...errr...interesting biography) has some plausible theories in this book.

One of her observations, which I have seen confirmed over and over, is that the French simply do not do the forced smile to indicate non-hostility. For Americans raised to believe "Smile, and the world smiles with you", the nonresponsiveness of French people to this gesture comes across as unfathomably rude--almost as if you extended your hand to shake hands and the other person ignored you.

The book can't be taken as gospel, but it contains some truly keen observations.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:11 AM
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I don't get the "rude French" stereotype either. It often seems to come from the same people who think New Yorkers are rude, which baffles me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:11 AM
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352-3: My experience of politeness/rudeness in a society varies along:

1. How familiar I am with what constitutes "rudeness". I suspect that in most parts of the American South I have visited, I have been seen as unforgivably brusque and disinterested in personal chitchat, not to mention intolerant.

2. How closely I am aligned with what the local community considers a "desirable" visitor. If I walk into a 7-Eleven looking for directions, I'm unlikely to be hassled by police or locals who think I am a troublemaker or "illegal." Similarly, I'm almost always dressed in clean, professional clothing, and I look like a person of enough means that I don't get treated badly by wait staff or other service workers.

In short, I don't fully believe there is such a thing as a polite society or a rude society. The experience of different subgroups is just too varied. I trust that pain perdu has found France to be polite, but I bet he would have had a very different set of experiences if he were an African immigrant.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:12 AM
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"Rude" in these claims means "rude to strangers". Even LizardBreath is rude to strangers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:14 AM
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358: I was going to say, I think there's something similar in the mores (in my limited travel to France (last there in 1989) I thought the French were generally very polite and helpful, even to a non-French speaker horribly mangling bits of phrasebook French). I think what Americans respond to in both the French and in NYers as horrendously rude is fairly subtle body-language stuff; what pp said about social smiles, a tendency not to make eye contact unless you're really engaged in a personal, social interaction, that kind of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:16 AM
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360: Again, baffled. I don't see how LB's comment there can be interpreted as rudeness toward strangers at all. It's the sidewalk-blockers who are rude.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:16 AM
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So French people's default mode of communication with strangers is to act as most Americans do when we are trying to send an unsubtle message that we want someone to go away. Yes, that definitely might be it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:17 AM
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re: 363

Not my experience, fwiw.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:19 AM
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My only beef about the French is that I seem only to have met white bourgeois Parisians, who can be total dicks about how stupid, fat, religious, and loud less-wealthy people are. But that's true of white bourgeois New Yorkers too. I'm sure spending time in France would cure the assumptions I've gained from only meeting people from France who visit New York.

I've said this before about something a German friend told me: Americans only think of Europeans according to stereotypes they get from the kinds of Europeans who visit the US. Not all Germans are uptight spectrally thin multiple-doctorates who never smile. Not all French people are skinny snobby atheists who cannot conceive of the purpose of pop culture. Not all Irish people spend their mornings in Midtown drunkenly propositioning people on their way to work. That's just what we see here.

Likewise, NYers as a group get represented to the world by what? Seinfeld? It's pretty obnoxious that every tourist you steer in the right direction crows about how shockingly friendly NYers are. Listen, I learned how to be calm in public and kind to strangers in NY. The city really doesn't work if everyone acts like they do on Seinfeld.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:19 AM
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I do find Germans pretty rude, but that's generally a clear case of different standards of politeness rather than any intention to cause offense.

Actually, I think having low standards for politeness is precisely what being rude, as a culture, means. The French are rude because they don't do forced smiles. Thais are polite because they not only do forced smiles, but have an elaborate system of signals embedded in their forced smiles. (I saw a list once. The author alleged that in Thailand there was a specific smile that indicated "I am agreeing with you, even though I believe your plan is stupid and will ruin us both.")


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:20 AM
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re: 366

Well, yes and no. I think some groups are just fucking bastards; and really do not give a shit if they cause offence. Other groups just aren't aware that they are causing offence at all.

I was grouping 'Germans' in with the latter. Londoners -- sorry to say -- seem to tend towards the former.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:22 AM
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A German person once told me "you know, you seem much more European than American". When asked for explanation: "you don't act like you're someone's friend before you even know them. Most Americans do, and it makes me uncomfortable".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:27 AM
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And yeah, NYers don't really smile at strangers, even when we're listening to them and helping them out. My mother, however, had this magical ability to make NYers fall in love with her. She'd start chit-chatting with strangers on the subway or at a cafe, and they'd be transfixed, smiling like loons and asking her question after question. I left her in a coffeeshop for an hour once and came back to find her holding her third baby of the hour, the mom acting like my mom was putting some kind of blessing on it.

My mom is a startlingly lovely obese short woman with a faint deep-southern accent and a nice combination of neurotic and talkative. Her type doesn't get up here much.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:30 AM
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Actually, I think having low standards for politeness is precisely what being rude, as a culture, means.

This is not all there is to it, though. In some places, moving efficiently is seen as the ultimate in politeness. Don't stand on the wrong side of the "walk left, stand right" escalator, don't hesitate overlong at 4-way stop signs and wave random other drivers through, lift up a stranger's stroller as you sprint through the subway turnstile because it will help the whole mass keep moving if you do that "helpful" thing. Don't be rude by wasting someone's time; be as short and crisp as you can in written and oral messages.

In other places, building personal connections is much more important than doing things efficiently. So: don't hurry someone through their bank-teller transaction; ask about their family. Don't honk when the person in front of you doesn't quickly start moving as the light turns green. Don't be rude by being brief or curt; take the time to say "Good morning" and ask how a person is before getting to the purpose of your call or e-mail.

Low standards for politeness are in the eye of the beholder, in some cases.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:31 AM
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366: But 'different standards' aren't lower standards necessarily. Look, I'm a New Yorker. I think an interaction with someone selling me something should generally be accomplished with a minimum of eye contact and a minimum of unnecessary speech -- the polite thing to do is to maximize the speed of the interaction, because everyone's busy. I told a story here once about buying ski-lift tickets in Taos, and the kid selling them looked me in the eyes, and smiled, and said something chatty, and figuring that "I'm on vacation, do as the Romans do" I started chatting. And then his smile got all glazed and weird, and I realized that he wasn't inviting me to converse, he was trying to conduct an impersonal transaction just like a non-speaking New York sales clerk.

Now, the ski-lift kid was (I assume) being New Mexico polite. If he'd done that in NY, it would have been terribly rude, first for wasting time, and second for suckering people in to thinking he was being personally friendly and then cutting them off when they responded.

It's not higher or lower standards always, it can be just different standards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:31 AM
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The author alleged that in Thailand there was a specific smile that indicated "I am agreeing with you, even though I believe your plan is stupid and will ruin us both.")

I need to learn how to smile at people like this. I suppose I could just say it out loud, but the smile is probably a better idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:33 AM
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second for suckering people in to thinking he was being personally friendly and then cutting them off when they responded.

Rrg, yes, this drives me nuts. Every time I visit my parents and we go out to dinner, I'm half-convinced that the waiter is going to chase me out of the restaurant for my phone number. Clearly, this boy is in love with me. It's very disconcerting.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:34 AM
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311: Yeah, that was a great story.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:37 AM
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Actually, I think having low standards for politeness is precisely what being rude, as a culture, means. The French are rude because they don't do forced smiles.

This is shockingly provincial coming from you, rob. The whole point is that what is perceived as polite or correct behavior is culturally contingent. That some aspects of Thai behavior overlap with northeast Ohio notions of politeness does not change that fact. Yours is an understandable reaction--I at first found myself disgusted by Chinese people smacking their lips while they eat--but it is nonetheless wrong.

From a French point of view, stereotypical American gregariousness comes across as contemptible insincerity. This is not an uncommon perception (cf. essear in 368).

You can define a "polite society" in many ways: hospitality, willingness to assist strangers, adherence to rituals of courtliness, etc. The gestures by which you commicate any of those qualities are a kind of language, and therefore culturally contingent.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:39 AM
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I've said this before about something a German friend told me: Americans only think of Europeans according to stereotypes they get from the kinds of Europeans who visit the US.

Well indeed. But it goes both ways. When I taught in Germany, my 11th graders were stunned that I was not fat, loud, or militaristic. We had a very fun class comparing stereotypes.

Doughnuts!
Hassenpfeffer!
Blue jeans!
Lederhosen!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:41 AM
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376: This is all too often accompanied by the backhanded compliment, "You're OK. You're not like most Americans."

I still haven't figured out the right response to that one. It's offensive in an almost "you're a credit to your race" kind of way.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:44 AM
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You're not like most lost bread, pain perdu. I could easily see someone finding you and appreciating what they had found. Please, stop associating yourself with that rabble.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:45 AM
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Hassenpfeffer!

Schlamiel!
Schlamazel!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:45 AM
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Now, the ski-lift kid was (I assume) being New Mexico polite.

It's been [garbled] decades since I was last skiing at Taos, but I think the odds are quite high that (a) the kid was from somewhere far from NM; and (b) spent the days interacting with, and thus being trained by, people from far away.

Or, what Witt said in 359. And 375 is exactly right.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:46 AM
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Who is the author of 375? That's a very good comment.

My "theory" (if I can call it that, but I suppose it's more a vague notion) about New Yorkers is that they require/demand more personal space in public places precisely because they regularly spend significant amounts of time in crowded public spaces, rubbing elbows with anonymous strangers and so on. They also tend to live in less private spaces (an apartment in even a small apartment building is not nearly as private as a single family home in the suburbs, e.g.).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:47 AM
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377: In NYC, I quite often get the "Wow, you're awfully smart for a blond fat midwestern woman!" One of my exes (bourgeois white NYer) quite often reminded me that I "look stupid" so I have to be patient with the NYers who act like I'm performing a magic trick when I open my mouth and don't say "Jesus rode dinosaurs!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:49 AM
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311: A Gate-Crasher's Change of Heart


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:51 AM
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"You're OK. You're not like most Americans."

I still haven't figured out the right response to that one.

If it's not someone I'm worried about offending, I like, "You, on the other hand, are quite typically German."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:53 AM
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Now, the ski-lift kid was (I assume) being New Mexico polite.

Ski-lift kid was almost certainly baked off his ass.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:54 AM
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A helpful (bear with me) analogy for Americans is if you've ever spent a lot of time around Australians. Australians take the underlying American principles of politeness (to which helpy-chalk seems to ascribe universal significance) to an extreme. They're informal, egalitarian, quick to engage in conversation, they take pride in not standing on ceremony (though this, too, has its limits; the beer-buying ceremony has its own rigid set of rules), and make a virtue out of cheerfulness whatever the circumstances.

Even for Americans, who are trained to appreciate those values, Australia can come across as unpleasantly shallow and coarse. The allowable threshold for sexual and scatalogical humor in polite company, for example, is astonishingly low. But I wouldn't therefore go and conclude that Australia is a "rude society". They have their own ways of communicating non-hostility and concern for others.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:54 AM
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381: it was I.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:56 AM
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Once, in the deep south, my mom and I got pedicures at a salon full of upper-middle-class women exchanging really vulgar pussy jokes and cock jokes. It was sort of mind-blowing. Mom was shocked and sort of offended---she grew up poor enough to be paranoid about appearing "trashy." I thought it was awesome.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:58 AM
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Sort of, sort of. I kill sort of.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:58 AM
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375 is very good, if anonymous.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 8:58 AM
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I still haven't figured out the right response to that one. It's offensive in an almost "you're a credit to your race" kind of way.

Ugh, yes.

I also concur with the usefulness of the analogy in 386.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:01 AM
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I still haven't figured out the right response to that one. It's offensive in an almost "you're a credit to your race" kind of way.

Seriously. A French fellow thought that telling me I was "si peu americaine" was a good pickup line. "Si peu americaine" apparently means "thin, dark haired, and smart." I countered by insisting that I was in fact "assez americaine." A cab driver in Paris asked me where I was from. I said I was American. He asked where in particular and I told him NYC. He then threw his shoulders back in perfect Gallic fashion, exclaiming "Ah! Vous n'êtes pas americaine! Vous êtes new-yorkaise!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:10 AM
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Hmm, everyone thinks I'm wrong--"shockingly provincial," even. Let me try to reformulate my claim and if it still doesn't work, I'll drop it.

Since the signals of courtesy are arbitrary and vary across cultures, it is extremely difficult to call one culture "more polite" than another. Rather than worrying about whether you should slurp you noodles, a simpler substitute is to measure the amount of effort you have to put into being polite. Societies are more polite if they make you work more at it, with long ceremonies, small talk, etc.

I'm not putting any moral value here on politeness. I'm simply saying that if you put more effort into it, and sacrifice other goods for it, such as efficiency, you value it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:18 AM
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measure the amount of effort you have to put into being polite

By that standard, the U.S. is not even in the same league as France, with its rules of savoire-faire and précédence and elaborate rituals of "Excusez-moi de vous deranger, Madame...", etc.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:23 AM
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"Ah! Vous n'êtes pas americaine! Vous êtes new-yorkaise!"

I sentiment I've often heard in the rural mid- and southwest, though usually not expressed in exactly those words.

... a simpler substitute is to measure the amount of effort you have to put into being polite.

But what you are habituated and accustomed to do will seem effortless, while different symbols will be difficult to pronounce and cumbersome


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:23 AM
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||

Anyone having trouble with gmail today? I can't get it to load.

Also creepy cat lady roommate strikes again. I just ran into her as she was leaving for work. I'm so glad that we're all being forced to move out.

I said something to her abot it raining and that I was caught out without an umbrella, So it was good that she was prepared. I had the key to get into the office, and she squeaked, "Pourqoui est-ce-que vouse entrez dans le office?" I looked at her in disbelief, and she said, "Ehh, why are you going into the office in her highpitched voice?" I said, "I don't have my computer here, and I just wanted to check my e-mail. Is that okay?" "Enhhh, I guess so," was her reply.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:33 AM
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|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:34 AM
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396: Confluence! I just got a note from my friend Véronique: "Google est mort. C'est la fin du monde."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:40 AM
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"Ah! Vous n'êtes pas americaine! Vous êtes new-yorkaise!"

In fairness, he undoubtedly makes a similar distinction between française and parisienne.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:45 AM
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396: I', having difficulty logging in to Gmail, too.

On the housemate question: Is this her personal office or a shared one or what? I missed the previous episode(s).


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:45 AM
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"Aujourd'hui, Google est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:48 AM
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Also no YouTube, so I can't watch Stanley's said-to-be-catchy video. There was a similar episode of Google death a couple of days ago, or maybe yesterday, I don't know.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:53 AM
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I can't tell if it's rudeness or just a weird obliviousness, but some percentage of the population seems to have no concept of "inappropriate time to ask a cop a question."

For example, you've been called to a public intox, and drunken Indian warrior man is obviously getting worked up and thinking that maybe he's going to fight you. So naturally you're trying to talk this guy down while simultaneously positioning yourself, in the case that he decides to rush you, to knock him the fuck out use that force which is reasonable and necessary to take him into custody.

That, of course, is when you hear "Excuse me? EXCUSE ME, I need to talk to you."

You glance over your shoulder and seem some guy looking impatient with a parking ticket in his hand.

Me: "Uh, I'm kind of busy right now."

Parking Ticket Guy: "Could I talk to you after you're done? How long is this going to take?"

Indian Warrior Man: "Take me to jail, motherfucker! Fuuuuuuck Yoooooou!"

Me: "I might be a while."

It happens all the time. I need some go getter of a psych or sociology student to ride along and survey these people. I'd like to know if there's some common thread that makes them the way they are.


Posted by: Teddy Roosevelt | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:54 AM
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Late to the thread, but 196: Maple sugaring is interesting because it depends on changes in temperature. The sap gets pulled up or down through the tree by freezing and thawing and the sugarmaker siphons off some of that into a bucket or pipe. The're a late winter/early spring season when it consistently gets below freezing at night and above freezing by a comfortable amount - say, 40 degrees Fahrenheit - during the day. That's sugaring season. So, in theory, global warming might help sugarmaking if it makes that season start earlier or last longer. It's basically impossible to predict, though.

As for politeness, it's amusing to see London get mentioned in 354 and 367 and otherwise ignored. Apparently UK residents (one of them, at least) agree with Americans and the French: the nearest major metropolis is full of assholes.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:57 AM
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It happens all the time. I need some go getter of a psych or sociology student to ride along and survey these people. I'd like to know if there's some common thread that makes them the way they are.

A pound to a pinch of shite they are middle-class....


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:58 AM
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396
I looked at her in disbelief, and she said, "Ehh, why are you going into the office in her highpitched voice?"

She said all that? You're right, she's weird.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 9:59 AM
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as NickS did so memorably

The thread has moved on, but I was thinking about that after I posted my story.

I'd been wanting to post it here for a while, since it is a good story, and I've quite a variety of responses to people that I've told in person.

But I'm interested to realize, now, that it is a memorable story and so it's going to be a story by which will feature somewhat prominently in the way I am remembered by 1000 strangers on the internet (or however many are reading this).

It isn't bad. Just a "hmmmm" moment.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:00 AM
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So naturally you're trying to talk this guy down while simultaneously positioning yourself, in the case that he decides to rush you, to knock him the fuck out use that force which is reasonable and necessary to take him into custody.

What's the Paul Newman movie where he plays a cop who talks an aggressively crazy guy down by acting nonthreateningly insane himself -- sticking his tongue out and going "booga booga"? On my theory that all practical problems have been solved by Hollywood, you might rent it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:01 AM
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An acquaintance of mine once related to me a study that mapped perceptions of a culture's friendliness or aggression onto both the physical distance between people engaged in conversation and the length of the pause between conversational partners. So a Swiss person might find a German to be very rude and imperious because the German stands ten centimeters closer and starts her sentences .3 seconds quicker.

Point is, these things are very subtle. No one in conversation would say "ah ha, that .3 seconds"; they'd just conclude that the Swiss were passive or that Germans were rude.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:04 AM
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This, from Fort Apache, the Bronx.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:05 AM
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re: 409

That's a related but different phenomena.

As a Scot my personal space is pretty large, so I do sometimes find myself thinking 'fuckoffuckofffuckoff' as people get too close, but that's quite a different thing from verbal politeness, eye contact, and so on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:07 AM
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Usama ibn Munqidh wrote regarding courtesy and the male gaze (after a couple of paragraphs mocking loose Frankish women):

Another illustration: I entered the public bath in Sur [Tyre] and took my place in a secluded part. One of my servants thereupon said to me, "There is with us in the bath a woman." When I went out, I sat on one of the stone benches and behold! the woman who was in the bath had come out all dressed and was standing with her father just opposite me. But I could not be sure that she was a woman. So I said to one of my companions, "By Allah, see if this is a woman," by which I meant that he should ask about her. But he went, as I was looking at him, lifted the end of her robe and looked carefully at her. Thereupon her father turned toward me and said, "This is my daughter. Her mother is dead and she has nobody to wash her hair. So I took her in with me to the bath and washed her head." I replied, "Thou hast well done! This is something for which thou shalt be rewarded [by Allah]!"

Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:10 AM
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My French ex-boyfriend used to give random tourists long, precise, extremely helpful directions with the serious expression of a brain surgeon or a funeral director.

I've forgotten what the exact statistic is, but it's something like 20 million tourists a year through a city the size of Manhattan, most of it concentrated in, say, Midtown.

Germans, on the other hand, totally crack me up with their standards of bluntness. They'll just say things to you that, if you take the personally, would sometimes be considered incredibly rude, but if taken properly are really just a very direct way of interrelating. I guess I never got used to it enough to stop finding it hysterical.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:11 AM
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It is different, but I also think that it's relevant here, because it helps form impressions of why a place seems to be friendly or rude. It wouldn't surprise me if there are similar small differences in lengths of eye contact, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:11 AM
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I've forgotten what the exact statistic is, but it's something like 20 million tourists a year through a city the size of Manhattan, most of it concentrated in, say, Midtown.

Exactly. I was trying to explain this to someone doing the "French people are rude" thing. "Imagine that you lived and worked in Disney World . . ."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:14 AM
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414: Right -- it's not so much that differences like that constitute politeness or the reverse, but that your reaction to someone who's violating your expectations is often going to be very negative (viz. "fuckoffuckoffuckoff"), and it'll feel as if they're being rude to you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:15 AM
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... perceptions of a culture's friendliness or aggression onto both the physical distance ..

see, e.g., Edward T. Hall, "A Silent Language"


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:20 AM
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And in language it's all 'phatic' stuff that signals politeness.

I think this is why Germans always sound the way they do to native English speakers, since, by British standards at least, they don't seem to use any.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:24 AM
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A pound to a pinch of shite they are middle-class....

Wait, hold on, who gets what if you're right? This seems like a bet where I want a lot of clarity of terms.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:24 AM
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in language it's all 'phatic' stuff that signals politeness. I think this is why Germans always sound the way they do to native English speakers, since, by British standards at least, they don't seem to use any.

More precisely, German has phatic expressions (mal, oder so, denn, freundlicherweiseetc.) that don't have direct English analogs, so they lose meaning or disappear entirely in translation.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:40 AM
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She said all that? You're right, she's weird.

No, she didn't, Cyrus. My punctuation was off.

Togolosh,

I've lived in a house that's owned by a church, the first floor of which is still used for some administrative stuff. Creepy lady has devoted her whole life to this poor failing church and lived here for 20 years. She only works part time so that she can do the bulletin and other admin tasks. I was helping them with some quickbooks stuff--to get their records up to date, but it was impossible, because they were so bad. At that point I got a key. Nobody else cares if I use the computer in there. Obviously I get off right away if the treasurer comes in.

Frowner was freaked out (fearing that she might come off as creepy herself) when I mentioned roommate P's meowing tendencies. I said that that would be fine if she just meowed at cats, but she meows mousily at people.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:40 AM
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419, I think he means a £, not a pound of shite.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:42 AM
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I've had lots of French people smile at me when I got help from them. Airline people may be especially trained to model American mannerisms or something, but the Air France woman I spoke to was super nice as soon as I said, "Excusez-moi de vous deranger, mais..." She started asking me about my French when she saw my American passport, and I explained that although my last name is French I am a native American. We chatted a bit about different Parisian neighborhoods.

Italian men are way too friendly. The woman I stayed with was always worried about the innocent pretty Japanese girl who was also staying with her in Rome.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:44 AM
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a story by which will feature somewhat prominently in the way I am remembered

I don't know whether it's evidence for or against your thesis, but I still vividly recall a story with a similar theme that I read in an anthology called The Friendly Story Caravan when I was nine or ten. Maybe it's a rare enough situation (potential mortal danger + unusual behavior = safe outcome) that there was some evolutionary advantage in remembering it. Back on the veldt.

403 is absolutely hilarious, not only because I've witnessed it, but because I've been subject to it, albeit under much milder circumstances.

Contra ttaM, though, I think it's a particularly severe and specific kind of social tone-deafness and cluelessness, perhaps more likely to be found among the middle class because they haven't had the opportunity to have it knocked out of them by life, but often manifested by people of other class backgrounds.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:53 AM
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422: See, that's just what I mean.

Maybe a pair of vitrines, clearly labeled with who gets the contents of which.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:53 AM
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People seem very willing to say "Oh the French (or Australians or Germans) aren't rude, they just have different customs," but no one has argued that the Japanese are actually extremely rude, they just have a different way of expressing it.



Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:55 AM
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426: I'm willing to argue that their norms are sufficiently different from middle-class American norms that you won't necessarily know when you're being seriously insulted and/or treated rudely.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 10:58 AM
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...she meows mousily at people.

If she starts barking, run! Also try to avoid dressing like a piece of string.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:00 AM
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427: That's too easy. I was hoping for something like "The Thais are so rude, they have a special smile just to indicate that they think your plan is stupid and will be the ruin of everyone."

I'm not exactly sure why I want someone to say this.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:02 AM
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I'm simply saying that if you put more effort into [politeness], and sacrifice other goods for it, such as efficiency, you value it.

You're providing yet another example of the problem here by pitting politeness and efficiency against each other. As someone pointed out above, there are places where efficiency is an expression of politeness.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:07 AM
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you won't necessarily know when you're being seriously insulted and/or treated rudely

Who was it who quipped that the definition of a gentleman is someone who is never unintentionally rude?


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:07 AM
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Also, I'm having trouble buying a value-neutral use of 'polite', especially as it's being set in contrast to rudeness.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:09 AM
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Oscar Wilde. Brown wedge, please.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:10 AM
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429 and 432 to 393.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:10 AM
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430: Yeah, I guess I'm going to have to give up my thesis.

Really, I was just enjoying classifying countries as "unarmed and rude" "armed and rude" "unarmed and polite" and "armed and polite," and was desperately looking for ways to continue playing the game.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:12 AM
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430: Also once you have an ingrained set of polite habits there is little to no cost in being polite, whereas being efficient at the expense of politeness makes large demands on other people. Even though the interaction is shorter it is potentially much more demanding.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:13 AM
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426: Sorry if this has already been said, but AB would not hesitate to tell you that the Japanese are rude as hell. Not always and everywhere (obvs.), but there are plenty of behaviors that seem to be normal there that are rude and intrusive by American standards.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:21 AM
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no one has argued that the Japanese are actually extremely rude, they just have a different way of expressing it

A few years ago, I worked closely with a Japanese drug company who was preparing a submission to the FDA for one of their products. I'm prepared to state that the Japanese (at least the ones working for this company anyhow) are extremely polite in their infuriating passive-aggressiveness.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:23 AM
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334: Recently, however, there was a terrifying story about a young woman in NYC---a white, blond aspiring actress, no less---who yelled at her would-be mugger and got shot.

334: If it's the case I'm thinking of, she said, "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

Ah. I considered saying something like that to the guy who mugged me, and figured it wasn't a good idea.

The thread's moved on, but just a clarification on what I'm calling a "mugging." It didn't occur to me to call it that until a short while later; it actually felt more like being (getting?) "rolled" as DS explains upthread.

Anyway, it was at an outdoor ATM. The guy just sidled up to me, said, "Ma'am, don't look up, don't do anything, but I'm going to need you to give me that [the money the ATM had just spit out]."

When I slowly said, "Oh, you're kidding me. No." he repeated the bit about not looking up, told me not to look at him, and as I continued to hesitate, he switched (in a rising, higher-pitched voice) to "I'll blow your fucking head off. I'll blow your fucking head off!" (Here's where I wanted to say, "oh, please, no you won't.")

So I gave him the money. Here's what I figure: he called me "ma'am." He could very easily have taken my wallet, which I was holding in my hand. He frankly seemed someone who was rather new at this, had rehearsed and steeled himself to do it, and was starting to get freaked out that I might not give him the money.

Yeah, so, there was no flashing of a knife or gun, and I didn't feel physically threatened (except for the "I'll blow your head off" bit, which I think was just to compel me to do what he wanted, and I doubt he actually had a gun). I decided he really needed the money.

I mean, I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm an irredeemably flaky bleeding heart, or anything.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:26 AM
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Question, inspired by Rude Rob: is hospitality a better, because more objective, measure than politeness? It's pretty obvious that New Yorkers don't consider each other rude as a matter of course, and the same goes for more or less every society/culture. But it strikes me that hospitality is something that would vary according to time or place, and I don't think you can argue that refusing a traveling stranger comfort and rest is simply a different way of being hospitable.

Now, famously, more isolated peoples are more hospitable, because they're hungry for company/news/&c. But can we point to comparable societies with varying levels of hospitality, and do we think it means anything?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:27 AM
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cluelessness, perhaps more likely to be found among the middle class

The whole world is my living room, since the only places I go (workplace, shops, restaurants) are fairly clean and filled with people just like me. When I drive, I am always in my own driveway, and don't need to think about getting the fuck out of the way.

Being rich introduces contrasts ( I guess, no yacht or obsequious servants for me ), being poor forces high attentiveness.

I think one point not mentioned yet is the possible existence of inflexible, widely understood social roles. The interaction between a young elite guy and an elderly labor-class woman is pretty scripted in a lot of places, less so in much of the US.

Rob, maybe "friendly vs chaste" for the other axis. Mexico or Canada?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:30 AM
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439: I think that's getting mugged. He threatened to kill you, and while if you didn't get the sense he was serious, you're probably right, you took it seriously enough to comply. That's a step up from getting rolled. A grown-up version of getting rolled would have kept the threats implicit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:32 AM
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But can we point to comparable societies with varying levels of hospitality, and do we think it means anything?

Sure, to the former. The Bedu and ancient Greeks (and, if testimony is to be believed, rural modern Greeks) are more hospitable than New Yorkers.

(Bedu offer may not apply to some religions.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:41 AM
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"I'll blow your fucking head off. I'll blow your fucking head off!" (Here's where I wanted to say, "oh, please, no you won't.")

Oh, yes, he might well have. Saying ma'am might just be how he works his gambit; sometimes people (perhaps little old ladies) just reflexively obey a command given to them in a polite, firm voice, so why not try that first?

I suspect you weren't his first, since he's rehearsed. (And then again, maybe you were.) In any event, he wouldn't necessarily needed to have shot you, just punched you in the kidneys and then taken the money.

max
['Totally with LB.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:41 AM
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As for whether hospitality is a better measure than politeness, well, measure of what? Hospitality?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:43 AM
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I'd have gone to the police about that -- an outdoor ATM probably had some cameras on it, so there's some slight chance that reporting the crime might prevent it from happening to someone else.

Personally, I'd be a lot more upset about having my life threatened than I would be about losing the money.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:44 AM
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Mugging is an example of where asking permission works better than asking forgiveness. You don't want to just bash the person over the head, that might cause a scene and lead to trouble. You want to make the person afraid to do anything conspicuous like resist.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:44 AM
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sometimes people just reflexively obey a command given to them in a polite, firm voice, so why not try that first?

Funny thing about asking permission...


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:46 AM
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"The Thais are so rude, they have a special smile just to indicate that they think your plan is stupid and will be the ruin of everyone."

Bless their hearts.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:48 AM
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443: Ben, if you think that the ancient Greeks and modern New Yorkers comprise "comparable" societies, you've got an idiosyncratic sense of that term.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:52 AM
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451

They can be compared as to hospitality.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:54 AM
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Or maybe I just glossed over "comparable". Whatever!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:54 AM
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446: I'd say that unless you are in BFE an outdoor ATM almost certainly has cameras. All the ATMs I use certainly have them. They aren't obvious, but if you know what to look for they are all over the place - behind oddly placed mirrors or otherwise useless little holes in trim and the like.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:56 AM
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439

I mean, I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm an irredeemably flaky bleeding heart, or anything.

Then perhaps you should keep this story to yourself.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:56 AM
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446: Yeah, maybe I should have gone to the police. It just seemed that it would be completely fruitless. And yet, as you say, preventing it from happening again would have been the key. That bank does have a security guard near the outdoor ATM during business hours, but I can't expect they'd post one 24 hours a day.

The camera on the ATM was a factor in how it went down; the guy was very clearly staying out of its line of sight. But yeah, I screwed up and should have called the cops.

I was more upset by the invasion of personal space/property than by the loss of the money per se, yes. Broke the rules, that guy did.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:57 AM
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450: They are very comparable. For instance, in ancient Greece it was acceptable for a hero like Odysseus to engage in piracy, or to plunder a village if he needed supplies. Similarly, in NYC, it is acceptable for a member of the economic elite to work for a hedge fund.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:59 AM
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unless you are in BFE

Bumfuck Elebeme?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 11:59 AM
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458

For the record, none of the kids in high school or junior high ever threatened to blow my brains out.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:05 PM
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458: Okay. That's good. I guess you didn't report them to the principal either.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:10 PM
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460

Egypt, neb, Bumfuck Egypt.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:12 PM
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This conversation is reminding me of one of the few Garrison Keillor sketches I really like. It's called "Do me a favor." A person asks the same favor in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and New York. The Minnesotan is full of Minnesota nice, very polite, but won't do the favor. The Angeleno is laid back, friendly, but won't do the favor.

The New Yorker is rude. She heaps verbal abuse on the person asking the question. And then does the favor.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 12:49 PM
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Saying ma'am might just be how he works his gambit; sometimes people (perhaps little old ladies) just reflexively obey a command given to them in a polite, firm voice, so why not try that first?

Doesn't anyone remember the monologue by the charming rogue played by Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise? His basic point was that armed robbery works best when the victims don't freak out, so the robber should be calm and polite.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:00 PM
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Bless their hearts.

Seconded. I came to love the nuance of phatic communication in Japan, which (in Tokyo at least) is often extremely efficient. And when I experienced anything I'd call actual rudeness, it was generally forthright—not unlike London, IME.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:04 PM
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462: I remember the hot charming rogue played by Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise. He had lines?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:15 PM
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"I'll blow your fucking head off. I'll blow your fucking head off!" (Here's where I wanted to say, "oh, please, no you won't.")

I'll second 306.

A lot of muggers are junkies and you really don't want to be betting on their rationality and/or self control. And yeah, report that stuff. There's a good chance it's not the first time that guy has done it, maybe even not the first time at that ATM.

I decided he really needed the money.

Yeah, to get high.

I'd stay to make fun of your flaky bleeding heart but my shift starts in a bit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:22 PM
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462 + relevance to original post = 447

Should I point out the slip of pseudonymity?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:30 PM
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466: If I understand you, it's not a slip unless it's pointed out as such.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:34 PM
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There was a thing on This American Life about how many people who got shot had dared the person with the gun to shoot them; apparently the last thing you want to say is "no you won't" or "go ahead".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:35 PM
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469

Or "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dis-"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:36 PM
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As for politeness, it's amusing to see London get mentioned in 354 and 367 and otherwise ignored. Apparently UK residents (one of them, at least) agree with Americans and the French: the nearest major metropolis is full of assholes.

I promise I wasn't ignoring an Unfogged thread! I've been out, honest!

But yeah, Londoners are rude. (And I are one.) The further you get from London, the nicer people are.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:47 PM
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He had lines?

Sure. Parallel ones across his abdomen.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:47 PM
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apparently the last thing you want to say is "no you won't"

And I didn't. gswift's point is taken. Yeah, I know, babe, and I'm sorry I'm such a freaking bleeding heart, but I don't want to manufacture outraged indignation or vindictiveness when I don't feel it. I was very angry, yes. I raised the topic chiefly for any feedback on whether I was terribly wrong not to call the cops to report it, and I have my answer (which I kind of knew anyway), and will respond differently in future.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:48 PM
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Why not report it the the cops now?

Culture w hospitality: The middle east, to an extreme extent.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 1:53 PM
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468: That's actually not surprising. A small-time criminal with a gun is afraid to pull the trigger, but an added push could be just what he needs. Where would professional sport be without a blend of encouragement and challenge?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 2:06 PM
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466: Cryptic Ned mugged Parsi? Cryptic Ned is Brad Pitt? Cryptic Ned is determined to blow his own pseud because he is high on all the drugs he bought with Parsi's money and Angelina is out of town and so can't restrain him?

Inquiring minds...


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 2:11 PM
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While I was out and about this afternoon, someone managed to behave in such a way as to offend me, perhaps because I was thinking about this thread.

With my walkman on and my arms full of groceries, battling a ferocious headwind, I see this middle-aged Eastern European-looking woman veer towards me, the only white person on a sidewalk where plenty of other people are loitering. She stops me; I pull off my headphones. "Subway!?" she says. "It's right over there," I say, pointing at the big old sign behind her with "subway" written on it. "Or you can catch it inside that building across the way, but this should work...." and she's walking away without thanking me.

That's just rude. I'm sure that if you can learn to say "subway," you've also learned "please" and "thank you."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:04 PM
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walkman: rolling old school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-09 5:37 PM
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As a Scot my personal space is pretty large, so I do sometimes find myself thinking 'fuckoffuckofffuckoff' as people get too close

Especially a problem with, for example, Italians, who seem to have rather small personal space. Some colleagues of mine watched me talking to an Italian guy at a reception and apparently doing about three quarters of a circuit of the room, backwards, without either of us noticing. He'd move forward a little, I'd move back a little, he'd move forward a little...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 2:43 AM
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re: 478

Yeah. I am now used to people being touchy/feely/kissy, as long as they then move back to a normal distance when talking, otherwise I'm just subtly unsettled for the entire conversation.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 3:28 AM
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476: I was the very last person in the security line at LaGuardia last year and the couple just ahead of me were flipping out. Their two kids were running wild, the line was very long, and they, apparently, were cutting it extremely close on actually making it to their airplane. So the kids run off again, the dad runs after them, and the mom continues to freak. I then say to her, "You know, you have kids, you're really close to your flight time -- if I were you, I'd go to the (very, very short) first-class line and explain the situation. I'm sure they'll let you through." She turns and stares at me blankly -- in that "How dare you address me" way. She says exactly nothing. OK, so I am completely ignored. But Dad is now back with the kids. Mom says, "You know, honey, I bet if I go to the first-class line and ask, they'll let us go through there. I'm going to go see." Off she goes, and is quickly back waving her family forward to catch up with her. They will let them through the first-class line. Dad gathers the kids and says, "Come on! Mommy had a *really* good idea! Isn't mommy smart?!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 5:58 AM
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re: 480

That would be a cue for a family introduction to proper swearing ...

Similarly, when you hold doors open for people and they just breeze past ignoring you, the temptation is to stick a fly foot out.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 6:04 AM
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Oh, man. People. I think my head might have imploded.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 6:12 AM
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480: She must have thought you were a physical manifestation of her own thought processes. You know, like usually there's a good one and a bad one at the same time, and they kind of appear up in the air and argue, but this one was just some woman in the line.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 6:26 AM
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I like Nakku's explanation. I can kind of understand the blank look - when you have so much going on in your head and someone else tries to tell you something, sometimes it takes a while to process the new communication. (I know I do this all the time with the kids when trying to have 3 conversations at once.) But then not acknowledging it at all is pretty low.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 6:30 AM
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The only possible excuse I can think of for that is that she might have been so close to the end of her rope that she just lost track of your existence -- she heard your suggestion, went blank while her last two functioning brain cells tried to evaluate it, and when she decided it would work locked on to solving her problem and forgot about you. Normally, forgetting the existence of other people is the definition of rudeness, and probably she was just excruciatingly rude. But going-to-miss-your-plane-with-two-screaming-kids freakout is one of the few circumstances where I can imagine it non-culpably.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 7:22 AM
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481-485 fall apart when you learn that as she was leaving the checkpoint she pointed to oud and said, "Check that one closely, she's been talking some smack".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 9:27 AM
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