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February 28, 2012

11:29
A.M.

Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

Total Responses: 76

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Gene Weingarten

Gene Weingarten

Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2008 and 2010.

Click here for links to Gene's past chats and updates.

About the topic

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

Take today's polls:
- Shirt poll (Men | Women)
- Morality poll

About this chat:
At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

Ed's Note: If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality or use WordPad. I haven't the time to edit them out.
Q.

Gene Weingarten :

On Sunday, you saw this column, about my fighting a parking ticket.   Originally, however, you were going to see the column below.  But Tom The Butcher killed it.   He said it came off shockingly tasteless, if you can imagine.   Tom said everything was wrong about it: tone, texture, substance.   It was, he said, morally indefensible, an affront to Man and God.  

Fortunately, this is Chatological Humor, which knows no shame.    Below, my original column, intact and verbatim. 

--

Are you going to be at work on Wednesday? 

 

Yeah?   Why?

 

That was how I began a column exactly four years ago.   It was about a high school English teacher named Karl J. Savage, a very funny man who was trying to start an unusual national movement.  Karl believed no one should work on Feb 29, the  quadrennial Leap Day, unless they wanted to.  Since it was an extra calendar day, he felt it should be ours to pilot.    

 

Karl didn’t seem daunted that the two Nobel Laureates I consulted dumped on his plan, since it wasn’t an “extra” day so much as a timekeeping correction in planetary physics, and because most people are paid weekly or bi-weekly, and so are actually paid for the day.    What Karl had on his side was humor and the philosophical intensity of righteous indignation: Working an extra day every four years just seemed wrong to him.  He persuaded me to write the column about his poorly financed, haphazardly administrated “No Work On Leap Day Revolution.”   The revolution never took hold.   It was one of the few busts in my august career as a columnist.    

 

Four years have passed, and something has happened to cause me to revisit this idea with renewed interest. I am on the phone with Karl’s wife, Julie Savage.

Me: Julie, since the first time Karl and I talked, he did something really dramatic, didn’t he?

Julie:  He did.

Me:  Can you tell the readers what he did?

Julie:  He up and died.  

Indeed.   Karl died suddenly and unexpectedly two years ago at the age of 40, leaving a wife, three young children, and the grieving staff and student body of Walter Johnson high school in Bethesda, Md., where he was by all accounts a deeply admired and beloved educator. 

Me: Julie, what was the single most important thing in Karl’s life?

Julie:  Us.  His family, with some God thrown in the mix for …  

Me:   We’re writing a column here, Julie.   You have to help me out.   I ask you again, this time in italics:   What was the single most important thing in Karl’s life?

Julie:

Me:

Julie:  It was definitely the No Work on Leap Day Revolution. It obsessed him.

Me:  Good.   Now, what did Karl die of?

Julie:   Heart arrhythmia.  Usually there are warning symptoms, but …


Me:  Julie …

Julie:

Me:  You have to work with me here.   Great movements have great martyrs.   Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, Lincoln,  Joan of Arc,  Gandhi, they all died in furtherance of their great causes.   What did Karl die of?

Julie:   A broken heart.  He was heartbroken that The No Work on Leap Day Revolution never really took off.

Me:  Excellent.   I do see that the movement’s Facebook page hasn’t grown hugely in the last four years.  But, as if from the grave, it does contain a videotaped message from Karl. The video is filled with his typical humor and the typical low-budget, laissez-faire cheesiness of the No Work on Leap Day Revolution -- Karl’s message can barely be heard over way-too-loud background music. 

Julie:  Right!  He was proud of it.    

Me:  Karl only got to celebrate one Leap Day once, by calling in sick.  Did that deception haunt his remaining years?  Would he have been the first person on Earth to say, on his deathbed,  “I should have spent more time at the office?”

Julie:  No.  That day was so important to us.  We slept in.   I will never go to work on another Leap Day.   I figure there are only ten more of them in my life, so they are precious.

Me:  And of course you might not have ten, as Karl so succinctly and eloquently proved. In his martyrdom.      

Julie:  Exactly.  Seize the day!  While you still can!

Q.

Gene Weingarten :

As many of you know already, my autographed toilet seat sold for $162.50 to someone whose Ebay handle is "Todd Rocko."  I asked him why he had bid so high.   He said:

1. Bored at work. 

2. Thought it was funny. 

3. Was fully convinced an even bigger asshat than me would bid it up higher.   

Good enough!  

--

Please take the polls.   I asked the question about my shirt because it underscores my cluelessness in clothing.  As soon as she saw it on me, The Rib took one look and said, sadly, "No, no no."   My daughter had an even more extreme reaction.    Rachel Mantueffel and Caitlin Gibson, my go-to young ladies, burst out laughing.  I asked them to explain.  They say: "It looks like a seven-year-old's big-boy pajamas.  You can see your nipples.  The people who said it was fine are clearly wearing garbage bags for clothes."  

So, I think we can establish this shirt is bad, and, further, that its greatest sin is age-inappropriateness.    What fascinated me about this is that I have no understanding of why this is all true; shirt still looks fine to me. And to my son.  I expected this to be a reliable gender test, but your responses so far suggest that men are only slightly less likely than women to see the offense.   So it's me, after all.  

We'll discuss the Santorum poll in bits and pieces during the chat.

Okay, let's go.   We start at noon.  

Q.

Gene Weingarten :

An Announcement:

 

I am in receipt of an email from the poet Amy Lago, who is comics editor of  The Washington Post Writers Group, notifying me of the momentousness of this day, and telling me she expects me to give her  "a little higgledy piggledy during the chat," which got me all excited because it sounds pretty hot.

Ahem.

Higgledy piggledy
Amy J. Lago
Today fifty years ago
Entered the worl'
Sharing an age, if not
Quite the physique of one
Bobbily-boobily
Comic-strip girl.

Q.

Awkward Encounters

Gene, In the last six months I've lost over 50 pounds, and it's continuing to come off about 5lbs/week. Not trying to lose weight and I don't exercise. I didn't really notice the weight coming off at first. Four months ago I got laid off so I don't have health insurance. I'm pretty sure it is cancer (which runs in my family) but can't go to a doctor. That's background. Here's my question: when I run into people that I haven't seen for a while, everyone comments "you look fantastic. what's your secret?" Obviously I'm not going to tell the truth but I've had girlfriends get VERY disappointed when I say "portion control" or "exercising a lot" because they are actually doing those things and it's not working for them. So, can you give me a better response that doesn't make me a huge liar and doesn't make others feel bad?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Is there someone more knowledgeable than I about public policy options who can give this irresponsible but charming dufus some advice on how to save his wuthless life at minimal cost?  

– February 28, 2012 11:59 AM
Q.

Re: The Spiked Column

Jeeeeez. That's not your conversartion with Julie Savage verbatim, right? The article omits the part where you explained to her that it was, you know, in character. What pro wrestlers would call a "work." If not, then I guess I understand now what sort of testicular fortititude it requires to win a Pulitzer.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Julie and I had a pre-interview, where I explained to her what I was gonna do, and she agreed.    In case this is not obvious:  Julie herself suggested this column and was an enthusiastic participant.   You would not be reading it under any other circumstances.  But you all knew that, right? 

– February 28, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

Catholic-based organization to make birth control

The question matters if that organization is taking any government money. If so, then yes, they should be forced to offer birth control. If not, then no.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Many people answered this way.   

– February 28, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

Shirt

Gene- First off, I do love you. But. I took the shirt poll, and in the hour since the picture has continued to haunt my brain. Every time I think about it (and oh I am trying not to so very hard) it gets tighter & tighter in my imagination until you are stuffed like 10# of mustache in a 5# bag. I eventually had to re-view the picture just to satisfy myself that you weren't actually in something that skintight. It still however looked almost criminally "wrong" on several levels. While technically SFW, I wish there had been a disclaimer that once viewed it couldn't be unseen.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I apologize.  Manteuffel says she laughs out loud every time she looks at it.  

 

– February 28, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

Man parts question

Hello: I have a serious question about circumsision that I've had for the past 2.75 years, but now feel compelled to ask you given the discussion last month. My son was born 2.8 years ago. We had him circumsized, not for religion, but for convention, sort of following the "like father, like son," adage. Soon after, I read an article about how circumcision is barbaric and essentially child abuse. I can see tenets on both sides of the argument and admit that I feel like we made a decision, to which I contributed ignorantly, about my son's body without his consent. One of the arguments of the article, that a number of circumsized men vehemently agreed with, is that a circumsized penis is not as sensitive to sexual stimulation as that of an uncircumsized male. Many of these grown men who were interviewed hated their parents and were hostile and very angry about all this. I get that to a certain extent - it's their body, but it wasn't their choice. I'm terrified what my son will think/feel when he grows up. My husband, a totally laid back, "that's life, the decision was made, we'll live with it" kind of guy in most areas of his life, tells me to chill out, everything will be fine. He's a happy, sexually-stimulated, circumsized man, and assumes no less for our son. Neither of us is bitter and angry by nature so hopefully can impart this nature on our kids. Which brings me to my question. I'm pregnant now with another boy. I think it will be really hard for me to agree to circumsize this child based on what I know now, but how weird would that be for the boys, who would obvious see each other naked from time to time growing up? Would we cause more emotional harm by knowingly making different decisions about their bodies upon birth? Is it just better to adhere to "like father, like son, like brother?" I'd love your input, as well as that of any other willing male (since I understand my husband isn't the end-all-be-all of male opinions).
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I'll go out on a limb here.  (Ha ha.)

I'm with your husband.  Whenever I hear of some guy who is filled with anger or anguish about being circumcised, I think:  There's something wrong with this guy unrelated to circumcision.  (And/or he is blaming some incapacity of his on the nearest available culprit.)  Because, you know, entire civilizations have proceeded for millennia with all men routinely getting circumcised.  Why a sudden problem? 

I think this is one of those subjects where reasonable arguments can be made on both sides.  Even if it is true that sensitivity is decreased a little for circumcised men, I suspect there are premie men all over the place who WISH they had slightly less sensitivity.   Moreover, in this forum, in the past, some women have said they are a bit icked at the uncircumcised member.     

On the other hand, very rarely there IS an error made in circumcision that is truly grotesque.   And in general, I suppose an argument can be made that any unnecessary amputation is, you know, unnecessary. 

In your case, having the two brothers look alike is not an insignificant goal.   To me, it would be the deciding factor. 

Relax.   

 

– February 28, 2012 12:05 PM
Q.

"Punch" Line

Use of the word "punch" in the last panel of Sunday's strip was, shall we say, a Bob Levey touch. I think he's entitled to an apology for the way you once mocked him, no?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Actually, it was a tough call.   That joke would have been harder to get than you think, without the word there.   Not sure if it was the right call, but even WITH the word, I have some emails from people who were confused.  

Speaking of confusion, we have a really challenging strip coming up on April 1.    

– February 28, 2012 12:06 PM
Q.

Could be diabetes instead of cancer

Do you pee a lot?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I think after 6 months, had it been diabetes, he'd be feeling awful, though.    

– February 28, 2012 12:06 PM
Q.

Your Shirt is Famiiliar to Me

My ex-husband has not one but two almost identical shirts to yours. He also has your physique. Every time he wore one of them I begged him not to but he swore it was just me that found the look ridiculous, but most of the time I could convince him to change. So recently we were both at an event for our daughter and he wore one of the shirts. At least half a dozen women walked up to me and informed me that they could tell he gets dressed without my consultation anymore, based on the shirt. One of them said "That shirt screams 'I have no woman in my life with the balls to tell me how I really look'".
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Give him this chat to read. 

– February 28, 2012 12:07 PM
Q.

Nosepi, CK

Hello Gene- I am a nose-picker. I am also rather open about it, insisting that everyone does it and those who do not, are missing out on one of the true pleasures in life. I have realized however that I love nose-picking so much, I have begun to do it in my sleep-or maybe always have. I wake up with vague memories of picking and a cleaned out snout -as well as other boogery evidence. I am recently married, and while I don't think my husband has caught me sleep picking, it is only a matter of time since I cannot control the sleep picking anymore than someone can control the sleep talking or the sleep eating.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I love this chat. 

I was so praying, as I read this, that you'd turn out to be a girl. 

– February 28, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

Dogs

My dog died this morning. She was a collie, almost 12 years old. Don't know what happened. She had a restless night, and when we woke up, we found her. She hadn't been sick. The vet said it might have been an embolism. Not that it matters now. You know, Gene, for years, I really didn't appreciate her. I resented walking her in the cold, hated the occasional $500 vet bills, was annoyed by having to find a place for her when we wanted to go on vacation. I miss her so much right now. The nerve of her for making me love her so much.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

This really choked me up.   Nice writerly turn at the end there.

You know, she was a lucky one.  Lived long for a collie; didn't suffer much.    Feel as good about this as you can.  

– February 28, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

Medical Advice

So Gene--any opinions on chiropractic treatment? I have generally considered it to be quackery. My wife recognizes the absurdity of chiropractic claims to treat things other than the back/neck/spine, but feels regular "adjustments" are good for eliminating her discomfort. (Her chiro is also an anti-vaccine crackpot, but that's not necessarily relevant to the treatment/therapy at hand.) Over the last few weeks, I've had one episode of lower back spasms that wiped me out for a few days plus two occasions on which I woke up with a sore shoulder and neck after sleeping in the wrong position. (The spasms required a doctor and muscle relaxants; the sore shoulder/neck just ibuprofen and time.) My wife thinks I must have an "alignment" problem and that an "adjustment" is the obvious first step to reducing problems of this sort, and suggests . But I'm still dubious. So... do you think there's enough evidence to believe that chiropractic treatment reduces stiffness/soreness in the back/shoulders? Or is it just a big ol' placebo?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

This is one area of medicine about which I know so little that I hesitate to impose my usual level of uninformed quackery. 

My question is semantic.   Why is it "doctor of chiropractic"?   Doesn't "chiropractic" sound like an adjective?   Isn't that like saying "I am a doctor of moist" or something.   Shouldn't there be a noun form of the word, like "chiropractosophy" ?

– February 28, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

Why is Gene's flag at half mast?

A.
Gene Weingarten :

I refuse to see anything funny in this obituary. 

– February 28, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

killed column

I didn't find your spiked column to be offensive. It just wasn't all that humorous.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Tom felt that, too! 

I disagreed.  I thought the idea of it was audacious to make it inherently funny.   Possibly this was in error.  

It really mattered to me that Julie wanted the column.   She is terrific.  And Karl was terrific. 

– February 28, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Oh Shirt

I guess I have no taste but I don't think the shirt looks as bad on you as everyone else seems to think. What I did find awkward is the way you are holding your arms. You would make a terrible model. If you posed your arms differently the shirt might look better. Also, I hate to say this, but your head does not work on that shirt. If I put someone else's head on it I think it would work just fine. That sounds terrible.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I have a fairly thick skin, don't you think, folks?

– February 28, 2012 12:11 PM
Q.

Is the opening poster serious?

He or she thinks she is dying of cancer and is worried about etiquette? If it's true, it's a testament to the need for Universal Health Coverage, both for physical and mental health problems. In all seriousness, I would just go and get treatment and who cares about the cost.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I agree, but wonder if there is some solution available to him beyond reneging on payments.

– February 28, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Poll cavea, TS

Two alternate answers/explanations to questions in the poll: 1) as a kid, from a pretty early age, I would sometimes not perform the Pledge. Even, I think (though I can't remember exactly) in 4th grade - I found it creepily nationalistic and as a secular Jew, a bit like compulsory religious majoritarianism. 2) one thing that hasn't been mentioned in the Catholic bishops' hissy fit is that they are, as members of a religious organization, MASSIVELY subsidized by the government (federal, state and local) via their exemption from property and other taxes. I find conscience clauses to be the worst kind of cafeteria citizenship, and the nerve of folks who are hugely benefitted by a whole range of government policies enacted on their behalf deciding, selectively, that one thing they don't like is totally anathema is... well, that's some chutzpah.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

As to The Pledge: 

It's really disgusting, in my opinion.  A loyalty oath, particularly as required of children, is un-American.   It's totalitarian.    What I find particularly interesting is that this is self-evident, but it's something no liberal politician will EVER be honest about.

As a kid, I remember wondering why I was pledging "the legions" to a piece of cloth, and why the nation was invisible.  I also once saw a TV show ask kids what it was they were saying, and one kid felt he was pledging allegiance to "The Republic of Wishistan."    

So why won't anyone say it?   Well, you know why.   For the same reason Obama now wears a flag pin after initially correctly questioning the sincerity of such a thing.   It's just easier to kowtow to the nitwits.  

Now: Is there anyone out there who will defend having kids ay the pledge?  I'm all ears. 

– February 28, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Republican Primaries

For those of your readers who live in Virginia, the republican primary is next Tuesday. Because of complicated registration laws, only Romney and Gingrich will be on the ballot. Virginia does not require people to register by party, so anyone may vote in any election. As a liberal, I think it would be very entertaining if Gingrich were to win the Virginia primary, just to throw the primary process into even more disarray, so I am planning to vote for him and I am encouraging all other liberal Virginia residents to vote for him also. BTW, if Santorum was on the ballot, I would be voting for him.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Santorum's my man.   

Santorum thinks that contraception is "a problem."  He thinks it encourages people to have sex for fun, which is "not the way it's supposed to be. "     Have you all noticed Santorum's eyes?   He seems perpetually scared; he is cowering in fear for his mortal soul.   He thinks there are rules by which we must live to please a thundering, jealous, retributive God.   He thinks there should be laws telling people not to be gay, otherwise they might be. 

I love Santorum.  Santorum's my guy for the GOP. 

– February 28, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Re: Abortion poll

So I like to think I'm one of the few pro-life people who take a rational view on this subject. Basically I believe life begins at conception, so therefore you have two people with rights clashing against each other and you must weigh which right is more important. Right to my body is a pretty big one (I'm a 27 yo woman, btw, in case you think I'm an old white guy), of course, and I cherish it, but I just think fundamentally right to life is the most basic right we have. What good is any other right without it? If I didn't think life started at conception, I'd be cool with abortion. That's all. I don't really talk about my views, however, because I know I'm alone amongst my friends in thinking them, and while I look down on abortions (and answered so in the questions), I know they're considered legal. I also think the best way to stop abortions is by making sure everyone has good access to birth control, knows how to use it and is given full support in the case they do get pregnant on accident, versus going to rallies and shouting how evil these women are. So whatever. But what really struck me recently was when I was speaking with a friend who's pregnant. She is VERY pro-choice and was telling me about how she had to go back for another ultra sound because they couldn't clearly see the child's face in the first one to determine if the child had cleft lip. I was dumbfounded that they considered this something so important that they had figure out before birth. Is this really something women would abort for? Or was it just a way for the medical companies to get more money? I really hope it's the last. On whole, I find the idea of aborting a child with Down Syndrome highly disturbing, maybe more so than abortion in general. It's one thing to be OK with abortion because you don't recognize the embryo as a person and to decide you're not ready to have a kid (I disagree, but I understand the thinking behind it). But to abort a planned child because it doesn't fit your picture of what a child should be? Slate reran an article by Tucker Carlson (I know, I know, but this one was actually really well laid out!) from the mid '90s talking about this subject and how one adoption group always has a waiting list of at least 100 parents who want to adopt children with Down Syndrome. Just wish people would consider other choices even if they decide they don't want to raise a mentally handicap child.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

You do sound reasonable, and you make a point that I think is central to the discussion about abortion: You deeply, and viscerally, feel that life begins at conception.   That will of course, to  moral person, deeply inform all your other attitudes toward abortion. 

I feel the opposite -- that life really doesn't begin until much later in the process.   That deeply informs my other attitudes about abortion.     Seeing the situation from my eyes, I hope you can see why I'd definitely have amniocentesis, and vote to abort a Down Syndrome baby.    I'd hope you'd understand, though you disagreed with me, why that would not make me a bad person. 

This is a subject more than tinged with emotion.   I do absolutely understand why some people feel certain they would have a Down Syndrome child, particularly people who find abortion of a fetus to be, essentially, murder.   The point I would like to make is that, to me, it is better for a child not to be mentally handicapped than to be mentally handicapped; therefore, if early abortion does not seem to be "killing" a "child," the decision is a fairly simple -- if sad -- one. 

– February 28, 2012 12:13 PM
Q.

Poll and Down syndrome

When focusing on abortion and fetal abnormalities, why does everyone, you included, seem to specifically mention Down Syndrome? Most babies with Down are not aborted, and, though these individuals require a lot of care, for the most part they do fine. There are other truly horrible abnormalities, such as anencephaly (no brain, barely a head), trisomy 18 and 13(average life expectancy less than a year), maternal rubella (near-certain early death preceded by a miserable, tortured life). By placing Down syndrome front and center, you perpetuate the notion that people who choose abortion are self-absorbed people who simply don't want to provide extra care.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I did that so the answer wasn't easy. 

But you are wrong about the figures:  90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down are in fact aborted.    That doesn't mean 90 percent of all Down babies are aborted:  People who wouldn't abort a Down baby are often people who don't get amniocentesis -- which, as you point out, might not be a good decision.   There are many more scary things out there that amnio can diagnose. 

– February 28, 2012 12:14 PM
Q.

Pledge of Allegience

When I was in 5th grade, I refused to recite the Pledge in school, I just sat quietly. Lots of people upset, parents called in. When asked why, I said I memorized this a long time ago and didn't see the need to repeat something I already knew every single day. Parents said "kid's got a point." Which earned them contempt from school officials. After much gnashing of teeth, the grown ups decided I would not get kicked out of school but everyone thought I was a weirdo. And a troublemaker. Had to repeat the process when I got to high school but by then, my parents were more pissed than concerned and told the school that if I didn't want to recite the Pledge I didn't have to and if they kicked me out of school, they'd sue the school's butt off. I earned the contempt of all my homeroom teachers.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Excellent.   I hadn't actually thought of the inanity of repeating it every day.   Right.  What's THAT about? 

– February 28, 2012 12:14 PM
Q.

Posting Early

My company, with 40,000 employees in embroiled in an ethics/bribery scandal because of the actions of two employees. The company historically took pride in its ethics standard. This scandal has shaken the company to its core. As part of the reaction, the company came up with this concept of ethics 365. I am trying to get clarification, but have been unable to: if we are supposed to be ethical 365 days a year, in a leap year, is the free day on leap day or the 366th day of the year. This is important because Wed is leap day. I figured you might have some ideas.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yes, absolutely.    At your company, Wednesday is Embezzlement Day.    Hope it is prosperous for you.   (Don't mention to your bosses that I said this.)

– February 28, 2012 12:14 PM
Q.

Politics

My brother is a much better writer than I; he recently wrote: A few years ago, I would have been rooting for Republican turmoil. I would have wanted Newt Gingrich to win because I know it would assure President Obama a greater chance. I would be rooting against Republicans and for Democrats. What’s changed in me is this. Beforehand, I would have been rooting for Newt Gingrich because he would be good for Democrats. Now I oppose him, because he would be bad for America. This is the conclusion of a post about American politics as he sees it from where he lives in Ethiopia (and written about a month ago before Santorum started to rise, I'd assume he'd say the same thing about RS as he did NG). You've been vocal in your "support" of Santorum, does this line of thinking resonate with you at all? Full post

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Not in the least, because Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have no chance at all of becoming president of the United States.    Romney might have a small chance.   And if, like me, you think Obama, flawed though he may be, is very much the best person for the job of all the potential candidates, you really want Newt or Rick. 

This is not like the choice of Sarah Palin, which i continue to think was essentially an act of treason by McCain.  At the time he chose her, he was a plausible candidate, and an old one, and he picked a totally unqualified person based on a crass political calculation. 

Hey, did you all see the news story that in one of her first interviews with McCain's handlers, she responded to a question in a way that made clear she thought The Queen was the head of government of England?  When she was told, no, she asked:  Well who is, then?  

On the issue of Gingrich's initial rise, the Rib said it made her feel sad about the intelligence of the country -- but I disagreed.  You have to remember the GOP primary voter is not a cross section of the country.  It is a cross-section of a zealously reactionary wing of roughly 30 percent of the country.  

– February 28, 2012 12:15 PM
Q.

RE: SOON TO BE 30-YEAR OLD VIRGIN RE: SOON TO BE 30-YEAR OLD VIRGIN

29-year-old male virgin here. My story's similar to last month's poster: never dated, kissed a girl, etc. I'm currently seeing a cognitive-behavioral therapist, which I would heartily recommend … I'm finding that there are a lot of underlying issues involved of which I was unaware, and I'd guess that's the case for last month's poster as well. One word of caution: while there are a number of online communities for those with our "condition," I now regret having participated in them. While it's reassuring to know that you're not the only nearly-30-year-old virgin left in the world, the widespread anger and bitterness on the forums ultimately did me more harm than good. To last month's poster: find a good therapist, keep trying, never lose hope. And stay away from the forums, they'll want to drag you down with them.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Noted.   

 

– February 28, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

5 lbs per week?

Gene, your poster is clearly female. What made you think otherwise? Women don't go to men for the "secret" of losing weight or looking good. Sadly, I have no public health advice to offer but I see a pot/kettle thing in your calling her a doofus.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Hm.  Something told me it was a guy.   But I now think you are right.    Does the dufus wish to clarify? 

– February 28, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

pre-interview

Do you "pre-interview' any of the other calls you make, like the 1-800 calls you sometimes use?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Definitely not the 800 calls.   Yes, sometimes I will talk to someone about the nature of the call we're about to have -- often, it amounts to, "okay, listen, I am a humor columnist; the interview might seem really strange or hostile -- just know that I have an ulterior motive, and it's to be funny."

– February 28, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

Brothers and Circumcision

I'm a little confused and disturbed by the questioner's assumption that her sons would see each other naked. I was one of three brothers and can say I never had that experience growing up, thankfully. I think she should make the decision that is right for the second son independant of the first. If the sons ever do find out, she can simply explain her decision. They're going to have to learn about cirucumcision eventually anyway.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay.   

– February 28, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

The shirt is everything EXCEPT age-inappropriate

I don't have a problem with grown men in striped shirts, since grown women wear them all the time. But the color, fit, and style don't suit you. On the stripes, though, I have to admit that it reminded me of an old Sesame Street number in which Count von Count is singing a song about when he was "a little count" and went to his first day of school. He looks exactly like the grown Count except that he's wearing that shirt, and a beanie. Did you consider getting a beanie?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

My grandfather used to tell me stories of when he was a little boy in Russia.   His name was "Little Grandpa."   That's how his mom would call him into the house:  "Little Grandpa!!"

– February 28, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

We're not that different

You know, when you first started breaking up the polls by gender, I thought we were going to discover great insights into the way men and women think differently. But in fact in poll after poll mostly the responses have not differed much by gender, even when, as with today's shirt poll, you'd think they would. Are you also surprised that over the years the differences in our thoughts and attitudes aren't as different as you may have supposed?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I break it up when I think it will show significant differences, and you are right:  Often, I'm wrong.   Today's results really surprised me.  I figured men would say, eh, fine.  It's a shirt. 

– February 28, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

Additional Question

I think a good question to add to your abortion discussion and which makes me think about my own opinions on the topic is asking your readers if it should be illegal for women to smoke while pregnant. What say you?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

It shouldn't be.   That's pretty nanny-statish.    I do think that someone should call child protective services if one sees, say, a very drunk pregnant woman.     

Tom the Butcher suggests that I should have added a question:  Would you judge negatively someone who aborted a child because of its sex?   Wanted a girl, say, and was getting a boy?

I am about as pro-choice as a person can be, and don't think early abortion is a big deal, but I would judge that person negatively.    Is there ANYONE out there who wouldn't?  

– February 28, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

Circle of Life

My 5 year old son is a smart, sweet kid who is currently obsessed with animals. He reads every book there is, knows (in miles per hour) how fast every animal can run, and, uh, loves the idea that animals kill and eat other animals. This last point is my concern. When he plays by himself, there are exactly two games that he plays. Either he uses action figures to re-enact sports plays, or he has his predator toy (leaopard, tiger, lion, etc.) pretend to stalk, attack, kill, and devour its prey (gazelle, impala, etc). He does this everywhere--including the shower, dinner table, and Sunday school. My wife, who is so squeamish that you can ruin her dinner by telling that her chicken was once a living animal, thinks it's cute and that he has made her less squeamish. I can't decide if this is cute or early psychopath behavior. What do you think?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Cute, unless he starts pulling wings off flies.  

By the way, that behavior -- actual cruelty to actual animals, even insects -- is a shockingly good predictor of psychopathy.

– February 28, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Barney & Cly, DE analysis

My husband, who never reads your columns or participates in a chat, and whose political beliefs skew far right of yours, find the strip amusing at worst and guffaw-worthy at best. I am a member of the cult of Gene (although it's too cold to throw panties today). But, I read the strip and most of the time know where it's going (grammar, puns, animals, politics) by the second frame. I find it old and tired, because I've heard all the jokes before -- from you! Perhaps it's possible to worship you too much.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

The percentage of people who read my colum and also read B&C is pretty low, so I've felt it okay to reprise some subjects; but I'm thinking it's not that good an idea, and will be doing it less.   So bear with B&C a bit. 

– February 28, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Amnio - to do or not to do

I responded "No, I would never want or recommend amniocentesis" but I wish you hadn't included the "recommend amnio" in that answer. While I wouldn't (and didn't) have an amnio, I wouldn't be so presumptuous to recommend or not recommend it to anyone else. I was offered an amnio for two of my three children. I was asked if I wanted an amnio for the younger two children because (1) I had magically turned 35 and (2) based on the quad blood screening test at 20 weeks, my test results showed an increase likelihood in having a baby with Downs Syndrome. I didn't have this increased risk with our first child but did with the 2nd and 3rd babies who are three years apart. In both cases, my husband and I chose not to have the amnio for a few reasons. One, even if the test showed the baby having DS, I personally couldn't abort the baby. Not after 20 weeks. Two, I had a miscarriage between Baby1 and Baby2 and the increased risk of another miscarriage as a result of the amnio was enough to deter me. Three, big needles freak me out. But, that was our CHOICE. Isn't that what we're talking about? I think it's a terribly personal decision to make and I wouldn't recommend (or not recommend) it to anyone. It should be an informed decision for the patient and the patient's partner.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay, first, the "recommend" was only for men -- we were talking about your own partner.  A guy cannot force a woman to abort.  Nor should he be able to.   

As to when to get amnio:  Listen people, if you are prepared to have amnio over 35, I strongly believe you should have it at any age.   Fetal abnormalities happen at any age.  The most common age of the mother in Down  is now 30-35!   you know why?  Because women aren't getting amnio  for that age. 

– February 28, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

poll question on home schooling

Gene, I would love to hear how you personally would answer this question on home schooling... a topic that did not make it into your Santorum poll! Scenario: A couple you know made a decision to pull their three children out of public school in order to home school them. Both parents have flexible work schedules and share the teaching responsibilities. The children's mother has a PhD in computational biology. The children's father is a writer who has won major awards for the quality of his work. The children themselves were performing well in the public school, and continue to spend time with their friends in community-based extracurricular associations such as scouting and a local swim team. The parents' reason for deciding to home school was that they felt their children lost too much time in the public school waiting while other children struggled to learn material that these parents' children already understood. How do you feel about these parents? 1. They are hurting the community. Instead of spending extra time to teach their own kids, they should spend that time organizing public school improvements that would benefit all the kids. 2. They are helping the community. Home schooling allows their kids to use their learning time efficiently and receive a more intensive education than they could at the public school. The better educated the kids, the more they will be able to contribute to society when they become adults. 3. It doesn't matter whether these parents are helping the community or not. A parent's primary responsibility is to his or her own child.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

My answer is 3.   Your responsibility is to your child.   I am not big on home schooling because I think the social value of interactions is great, but I don't judge people for home schooling, unless they are doing it for bizarre reasons.   

– February 28, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Right place, Wrong Place?

Could you please define the proper usage of "right/wrong place at the right/wrong time?' I keep feeling like "right place, wrong time" is being used improperly, but I can't adequately explain why.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Uh, I think the expression is most often "at the wrong place at the wrong time," which is self-evident.   There is a confusion here because of the Dr. John song, "right place at the wrong time."   Dr. John cannot be explained. 

– February 28, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

help me find the humor again

I realize you are a comedic/satirist writer, but are there just days when you open the newspaper or turn on the news and just think there is so much that is wrong and so little that is funny. For me, this past weekend was one of those times – I could have dealt with all the mud-slinging and bold-faced lying of politics as well as the failure of my team to get its act together in Indianapolis. But instead I read about a father killing his children’s mother and then killing his children (and himself while a social worker stood helplessly by on the phone with supervisors trying to get help. It is too tragic to even comprehend such a horrible loss. Please Gene, what was in the paper/news that I missed that would make me feel a little humor?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Santorum!   He's got a shot at the nomination!  

– February 28, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

Jury duty

I have a slim but very real chance of getting selected for jury duty this week in a case that would require I be sequestered for 3-4 weeks with absolutely no access to TV, phones, computers or any other electronic devices. Not even my iPod. I also would not have any contact with my husband or anyone else outside of the trial except for one visitation every Sunday. I feel my sanity dying just thinking about it. I doubt I will be selected, but in the horrible event I am, what in the world can I do to keep my sanity (it's a very serious case, and I don't think they want someone going crazy deciding this man's future.) I can always read, but come one, there's only so much you can read before you want to throw a book at the wall. I thought about setting up a scientific experiment to study how my fellow jurors react to react to the situation but am not sure how to go about doing it. Any tips or ideas?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yes.  You are looking at it all wrong. 

You are looking at a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something you will be talking about for the rest of your life.  An amazing opportunity.   Get right with that.   

I've often felt that I'd look forward to a few weeks or even months in prison, so long as I was being imprisoned on some issue of principle, like contempt of court for refusing to give up a source.   Yes, the circumstances would be awful -- but the experience would be irreplaceable. 

– February 28, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

Re: Republican Primaries

The chatter is incorrect. The two participants are Romney and Ron Paul. Me? I'm voting for Ron Paul and I hope he carries the state because the only thing that can save Republicans at this point is a brokered convention.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

People much more knowledgeable than I tell me the chances of a brokered convention are essentially zero. 

– February 28, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Paul not Gingrich

It's Romney and Paul who qualified for the VA ballot. My guess is voting for Paul isn't going to be enough to give him a win over Romney in VA.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Right, good point. 

– February 28, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

The Pledge/Girls State

I was selected to go to Badger Girls' State my junior year in high school. It was a big deal to my dad, who had been a Boys Stater back in the day, and I figured it would look good on the college apps, all that. You want to talk about an indoctrination program?! Leave that up to the American Legion and their Ladies Auxiliary. I lost count at how many times we said the Pledge over the course of the FIVE DAYS we were there after pledge #42. They asked me to leave when I wouldn't stand up in applause over their advocacy for a flag burning amendment. I love my country, man, but the whole forced recitation of the pledge is SKEERY.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

If we saw this in a classroom in China, we would be repelled: Those poor little brainwashed Commie automatons! 

Hey, I'm serious.  is anyone willing to speak out in favor of the pledge? 

– February 28, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Weight Loss

I once had a female friend who regularly got angry with me because I maintained my weight, which was significantly less than hers, without paying much attention to what I ate (beyond non-processed food only when I was hungry) or exercising (beyond doing lots of walking). Notice I refer to her as a friend in the past tense? Yeah, chicks like that annoy the ever-loving freak out of me. I'm female, by the way.

A.
Gene Weingarten :

I recently noticed something interesting:  On Twitter, you have a very brief bio of yourself on your home page.  Like, fifty words.   I have noticed that any bio that mentions food (say, "love chocolate," or "I'm a foodie"  or "curry, please."  is almost always a woman.  Like, 96 percent correlation. 

– February 28, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

Pledge of Allegiance

In elementary school, starting quite early, like second or third grade, I would stand with the others and say "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands," and I would stop there because the rest of it was patently false. It was not "under God," not in a public school with separation of church and state it wasn't, and history clearly proved it was not indivisible because we'd already fought one civil war, and current events -- Vietnam War, civil rights, War on Drugs -- showed me that it certainly did not provide "liberty and justice for all," either. I never had any problem, even though I grew up in Pasadena, Texas, a real Southern Baptist town on the Houston Ship Channel. I also did not put my hand over my heart. I remember one teacher telling us they used to gesture toward the flag at one point but it was eliminated during WWII because it resembled the Nazi salute too much. Have you ever heard that?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

It is instructive to remember that the Pledge originated in the late 19th century.   "Liberty and justice for all"?    Really?   Jim Crow laws.   Women could not vote.     the KKK and lynchings were still rampant.  

– February 28, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

Unexplained weight loss

The writer may have an overactive thyroid. Very cheap to treat.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

A few people suggested this. 

Are you listening, dufus?

– February 28, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

the pledge

Now: Is there anyone out there who will defend having kids ay the pledge? Sure. Not only did I say the pledge before I understood it, I was taught to say prayers I didn't understand either. And I'm pretty sure that 2 and 3 year olds don't understand concepts of politeness or etiquette when they are harangued by parents to use "please" and "thank you" when first learning to speak. We indoctrinate, socialize and otherwise mold children in many different ways based on our own values. I'm okay with this so long as we also provide them the education, access to information and freedoms they need to question how they were raised and how they want to live once they are mature enough to do so.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay, that is why, to you, it is not bad. 

But why is it GOOD?

– February 28, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

Secret Attitude

OK--so here's one that's a hot potato. It took me a while to remember and realize that I have a secret belief that, like yours, would hurt and offend a lot of folks I love and respect if they knew. Basically, I believe that a lot of abusive relationships could be avoided if women--individually and collectively--had better taste in men. Yes, I know, "blaming the victim". But I can't help but look at things like the Virginia case and think that a preference for big strong lacrosse players who get drunk and violent is not good to act on. There were literally thousands of men at the university who were neither star athletes nor abusive--but the dangerous one was the interesting one.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

That is not my secret, un-articulable belief, but it is an interesting one.     A whole book and movie -- Looking for Mr. Goodbar -- was centered on the proclivity of some good women to go in search of bad men.   Bill Hicks had a great bluesy song, "Chicks Dig Jerks."   (refrain:  "Hitler had Eva Braun / Manson had Squeaky Fromme / Ted Bundy got lots of dates / Wonder what I'M doin' wrong...")

I don't think your opinion is unbroachable so long as you recognize that it's sometimes really hard to extricate yourself from the clutches of a bad guy.   Also, that bad judgment is just bad judgment -- it doesn't deserve to be fiercely punished.

Just curious: Is there a woman out there who can explain the allure of a dangerous man?     

– February 28, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

Gene Weingarten: Iranian Nuclear Scientist?

I assume someone has pointed this out already...

A.
Gene Weingarten :

I do not think this is an accident.  Chip Bok, the cartoonist, is a friend of mine.  I hired him for his first job.  

– February 28, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

OP, Brothers and Circumcision

"Relax." My husband tells me that All. The. Time. Thanks for your good advice. And thanks to the other gentleman for his perspective. I guess I see joint bathtime happening on a regular basis to save water and time. I understand we'd have to explain circumcision generally to a boy at some point, but I can't imagine a positive conversation about why Boy A was chosen to be one way and Boy B was chosen to be another. So, I like your approach, Gene. Thanks.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Cool.   Thanks for writing back. 

– February 28, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

Big n Flaccid

This revelation that some penises do not grow larger when erect has blown my mind. First of all, it makes my college swimming locker room make a lot more sense. There were several men who I assumed must have been gigantic erect because they were so large flaccid, and other men who were tiny, but may have grown to large sizes. Now I have no idea, and that makes me feel much better. This does bring up one serious question: do these large when soft men ever experience shrinkage? Can anyone weigh in?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Well.... I certainly can't.   Anyone?

(As I understand it, big ones grow a bit, just proportionally less than small ones. )

– February 28, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Re: Birth control and religious freedom

A) nothing in the bible says birth control is bad. the pope almost ok'd it decades ago. regardless, certainly it doesn't say paying for insurance the covers birth control is bad. and even still, if you decide your god opposes birth control, then: B) too bad. The organizations in question are not churches, they are businesses. If a church chooses - CHOOSES - to leave the realm of worship and become/engage in a business, then they have to follow the laws that cover businesses. If you don't like it, don't become a business. Stay just a church that can do whatever it wants and not pay taxes.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I find this one a very close call, actually.    It is certainly not onerous -- or unusual -- to expect religious institutions to respect secular laws.  That's not an abridgment of the first amendment.   But there are certain accommodations that are routinely made, including the biggie one of Not Having To Pay Taxes. 

I think the Catholic Church's opposition to birth control is awful, and medieval, and hurts some societies grievously, but  it is deeply held dogma based on moral conviction.   It doesn't seem awful to me to give them the right to take what they feel is a principled stand on this issue, in terms of their employees.  And a woman can choose not to work for them on those grounds.     

On the other hand, there is a slippery slope here, since that might, for example, result in religious discrimination in hiring:  Catholics would be more likely to work there, etc.   

I do think Obama was initially tin-eared in his approach to this.     I like the compromise. 

– February 28, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Where are the polls?

I can't see a link to the polls anywhere. It's usually somewhere in the chat introduction but I don't see any links. Can you repost them?
A.
Haley Crum :

(Producer)

Hi!  Here are the links to today's  polls:
- Shirt poll (Men | Women)
- Morality poll

Let me know if you chatters need anything else. Thanks!

– February 28, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

Todd Snider

You seem to be a man of decent musical taste - Christine Lavin, Bob Dylan, etc. I'm curious as to what you think of Todd Snider. He seem like a guy who aligns with you  Link

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Whoa.  He had me at the first Dylan harp sound.    I love what he does with beautiful, almost reluctant interior rhyme.   

– February 28, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

Your shirt

That shirt looks exactly like one my son wore.......when he was six.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Sigh. 

– February 28, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Buying into the lies

Gene, please make sure that folks know that prenatal testing can *save* lives as well. I view Santorum's position as analogous to Palin's death panels.  Link

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Right. 

– February 28, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Are you there, god? It's me, about parallel parking.

You are the god of parallel parking. Noted. So you can help me out. I am also a somewhat skilled parker. I can park leaving less than two inches fore and aft, and with none (or very little) of that bumping and rocking that seems to piss off the pissy. What I cannot do is gauge the size of the spot before starting. More than once, I've stuck out my chin and said "I can do that!" and then found that no, the space was actually much too small. A few rounds of humiliating defeat, and my self esteem is destroyed. Now I pass over spots that are two FEET bigger than my car, just in case I'm judging it wrong. This is made worse by the fact that I am a hot female, and once encountered a couple of... I'm gonna say "guys"... who, upon witnessing one of these failures, guffawed something about women being allowed to drive at all. Do you have a trick for correctly estimating the size of the spot relative to the size of your car? I've had the same car for almost 10 years. You'd think I'd've figured this out.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Interesting.  You seem to have lousy spatial perception, and yet you still are a good parker.  I have no idea?   I always know exactly where I can fit and where I cannot. 

– February 28, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

GPS

Gene, what's your opinion on GPS devices that talk to you, turn by turn, as you drive? I think they are a crutch (and also very annoying). There's something so defeatest in admitting that you need some machine to tell you where to go. They seem to be popular among older folks - maybe due to poor memory or loss of confidence in driving skills - is there something to that theory?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

What bothers me about these things is that we have lost the big picture.    We are losing the sense of where things are: No need to have a map in your head.   We're rats in a maze now.  

– February 28, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

diagnosis, please

Hi, Gene. Within the past year, the nature of my wife's (she's 34) sneezes have changed drastically. She used to have a normal sneeze, but it has morphed into a loud, violent-sounding noise that tends to make me jump, even when we're not in the same room. This can't be good, can it? How much longer does she have?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

You mean before you kill her? 

– February 28, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Why I am pro-life

Gene, I consider myself fairly liberal on the vast majority of issues: Gays should have the right to marry, a progressive tax code is a good thing, that contraception is a pretty great invention, etc. However, I can't get beyond one thing: Abortion. The fact is that I cannot in any way justify taking the life of another person. Abortion supporters will say that a fetus is NOT a person and I can even go along with that to a point: I am fairly certain that a fertilized egg is not a person, but am also fairly certain that a fetus that could be viable in the third trimester is. I don't know when that transition occurs to make that collection of cells into a person with rights but I know that I don't want to be wrong. Based on the polls, I realize that many will disagree with me, but as important as choice is about one's own body, how can it ever justify taking a life. Rationalizing it away or mistaking uncertainty of person-hood for non-person-hood does not make it okay. Does that mean that girls should be forced to have sonograms or that abortion clinics be bombed? Of course not. But I do think this aspect of the debate, the aspect of life, is often lost on the majority of pro-choice activists. Your thoughts on this are appreciated.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Wait a minute.  Very few people argue that it should be legal to abort a viable fetus -- say, seven months.   Even Roe v. Wade doesn't say that.   Even EYE don't think that.   And I'm so liberal I should be tried for treason and executed. 

I make an exception for late-discovered extreme fetal abnormality.   

– February 28, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

To the Lifetime Hoverer from the Updates

All other women hate you. We hate having to wipe off your splatter before we use the toilet like normal non-germophobe humans, and we hate when we forget and sit down on your mess. If you are really delusional enough to think that you can catch some scary illness from a toilet seat, please do the rest of us a favor and put some toilet paper or a cover down on the rim and sit, or be courteous enough to clean up after yourself. Thank you.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Noted. 

Isn't it possible to hover and not spill?   

– February 28, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

the allure of a dangerous man

C. Hax recommends Gavin de Becker's "Gift of Fear" pretty often. There's A LOT in that book about the patterns of attraction and destructive cycles that can explain why some women (and men) are drawn to jerks. I think it should be required reading before my teenagers are allowed to date...
A.
Gene Weingarten :

But I am wondering if any women out there could answer this viscerally:  Why do you think it happens? 

– February 28, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

Michigan voter

Hi Gene! Longtime lurker, poll taker, and virtual panty-flinger---first time submitter! Will you help me with a wee moral quandary? Should I cast a strategic vote for Rick Santorum in today's open primary? My fiance says that the move would be underhanded and run counter to democratic (small d) ideals, and that I would be behaving as poorly as the party I'm voting against. Is he right? Am I small person for considering such a thing? Or am I overestimating the impact of my vote?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

All votes are symbolic, of course.   No single vote ever decided any general election.   But so long as you are playing within the rules -- the rules say a Dem can vote for a GOPper -- you are fine. 

– February 28, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

Poll results?

I just took the Morality Poll, and was susprised by the current results. I don't usually get in in time to take the polls, so I'm not sure if the results usually tend to the more liberal side (especially when you don't separate out those who claim to lean to one side or the other). Don't get me wrong, I'm glad, just surprised. That said, I moved from your hood (Eastern Market) to the midwest about 6 months ago, so maybe my perception that the right-wingnuts are winning is based on location.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

The readers of this chat, from past experience, skew heavily liberal and pretty heavily female.  (The females themselves are not heavy.)    I really respect the 15 percent or so who identify as conservative.  They put up with a lot from the rest of us, in exchange for some potty jokes and whatnot.  

– February 28, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

children with disabilities

I am the parent of a child with a significant physical disability. My wife and I agre- if we knew we were having another child with a significant disability, we'd get an abortion in a heartbeat, even though I'm anti-abortion. We know what it's like, and it's much harder than anyone with normal kids appreciates and it's a huge burden on marriages, family, friends, and society. Your poll question on judging was missing an option: I admire people who decide to go through the pregnancy for being so brave and caring so much about the life of a fetus, but I also judge them very harshly because they are making a stupid stupid choice.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Thank you for sharing that.    I'd argue that your answer suggests you don't really admire them. 

– February 28, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Marriage Equality

Maybe I am being excessively cranky, but it honks me off everytime I hear or read a reporter refer to legislation to legalize gay marriage. Did we refer to the Voting Rights Act as an act to legalize black voting? Or the Fair Housing Act as legislation to legalize persons of color buying where ever they want? I don't think so, and the verbal formulation matters, I think, because it inverts common sense by making marriage exclusion laws appear to be the norm, rather than a manifestation of ingrained historic prejudice. Call it a Marriage Equality Bill unless and until one bigot steps forward and delivers a comprehendible explanation of how marriage equality threatens marriages performed under the old regime; no biblical citations permitted.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I think this is a good point.  

– February 28, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Whitney's National Anthem

Gene, Many of the Whitney Houston memorials include clips of her unforgettable rendition of the National Anthem before super bowl 25. A game that is near and dear to Giants fans but probably not Scott Norwood's favorite memory. I may be naive but I was stunned to learned that she was lip-syncing to a prerecorded performance of the anthem. Apparently it's a pretty common practice, though you wouldn't know it by the number of high profile mistakes during recent anthems. It's still her singing and she owns that anthem as far as I'm concerned but I was surprised nonetheless.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I didn't know that.   I'm shocked. 

– February 28, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Think like a man to have an orgasm

As I said in your last chat, I have never had an orgasm so I wanted to try picturing myself as a man during sex. Well, one day I was driving home in heavy traffic and started thinking about it. I began picturing myself as a man during sex and almost immediately felt my body react. It started feeling so good that I couldn't believe it. Fortunately or unfortunately I realized I was not focusing on driving and I had to stop myself from fantasizing my way to an orgasmic car accident. This is truly remarkable. I have never been so turned on in my life. I wish I had thought of this on my own but want to thank the OP for sharing it with all of us.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I hope you are not trolling us. 

– February 28, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Shirt

I'm sorry. Not age appropriate. Not that you can't look youthful, but it wouldn't be age appropriate for any adult. It's like a shirt for a seven year-old. - I say this with all the love a young woman fan of yours can muster.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I accept this.   Thank you.   I guess I look like Waldo. 

– February 28, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Unexplained Weight Loss

The writer who said overactive thyroid is cheap to treat isn't kidding. Even with great insurance, I often pay for my drugs myself because the out-of-pocket cost is less than the $10/month generic drug co-pay. The only thing insurance helps with is the annual blood test to make sure my dosage is right. So, IF that's what it is, you can afford to treat it even without insurance.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Noted.  I really hope this person is listening. 

– February 28, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

This would be so funny, if they weren't really running for President

Please re-assure me that the sane will prevail? Mandatory vaginal probes for women - seriously? College is for snobs - seriously? I am the candidate that God has chosen and our current President is just like Hitler - seriously? I think there should be a combination of chuch & state (but of course I refer only to my form of church - you know the correct church) - seriously? I drive 10 cars (all American made though) but know what it is like to struggle in this economy - seriously? What happened to the sanilty? Again, it would be funny (Jon Stewart wakes up each day with an erection) if it wasn't so pathetically sad.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Other than the Lewinsky thing, I have never enjoyed a political event so thoroughly in my life, as I am enjoying this GOP campaign. 

A close third, grisly as it was, was Terry Schiavo.   The sanctimony was great, and I knew all through it that eventually we would learn, as we did, that her brain was the size of a grape, and black.     I mean no disrespect here -- but the fact is that there never was a person at the center of this egregious matter.   Everyone was arguing, for their own political purposes -- over a corpse. 

 

– February 28, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

Old Dogs

What kind of dog is Oatmeal, p.24? He looks part real and part stuffed plush. Also, what exactly am I looking at in the photo facing the page that says The End?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

1.  Oatmeal is a stuffed animal.  A toy.   Read the piece again; it's sort of obvious. 

2.  You are looking at a dog's butt. 

– February 28, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

Kudos, for now

I have been surprised by the lack of gloating about the Super Bowl. Am I wrong to sense a dam under great pressure?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yes. 

I LOVE this team.   I love the fact that it is statistically the worst team ever to win a Super Bowl (9-7 regular season record) and the only team ever to even PLAY in a Super Bowl that had been outscored by its opponents in the regular season.   It's a perfect example of the value of hot streaks, momentum, and good coaching under pressure.   Also, sadly, the overwhelming importance of staying healthy.  The big difference between the mid-season Giants and postseason Giants is that they finally got healthy. 

– February 28, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

The Pledge

Countries like the US and China need a pledge because we are a union of squabbling states. Monocultures, like England and France, don't need a pledge.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

HAhahaha.  

You are joking.   Good. 

– February 28, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Cubans

Are cuban cigars really any better? Shouldn't American cigars have finally caught up?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

American cigars haven't, but I am told  Dominicans have.   I am a cigar Philistine: Don't smoke expensive ones.  So I can't attest to this. 

– February 28, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Losing my religion...scratch that - LOSING MY FREEDOM

Only 12% think it's NOT OK for the government to compel a religious organization to abandon its beliefs? Are you folks nuts?!? What if the government starts telling Jews no more circumcision, or no more kosher foods? How about Hindus must eat beef? Let this most basic of freedoms go at your own risk!
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yeah, as I said, I think this one is complicated. 

– February 28, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Isn't it possible to hover and not spill?

NO
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay.  Is it because of the higher distance the pee must travel?  Splashback?  Or because aiming is harder?  We need to understand the physics involved here. 

– February 28, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

To the non-hoverer, non-germophobe

I am also a hoverer. You hate me but I do wipe up the mess if I make a few splashes. However, all my friends are hoverers (so they tell me), too. Who doesn't hover? My mom. She is 66. Maybe it's older women who don't.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't understand what is so horrible about sitting on a seat?  Maybe with some TP under your rump.   Hovering seems so ... antisocial. 

– February 28, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

The Shirt

Nice man-boobs you're working on, there, Gene.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't actually have particularly prominent manboobs.  The shirt is quite unflattering, apparently.   

– February 28, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Sneezing

A male friend of mine told me that there is a direct correlation between the volume and intesity of a woman's sneezes and the volume and intensity of their orgasms. In my case, loud, body-shaking sneezes that come front out of nowhere, it's very true. Can you do a poll about it?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

No.  But thanks. 

– February 28, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Gene Weingarten :

Sorry, folks.   I am going to have to end a little early today -- mini crisis I must attend to.   Thank you all, and we'll meet up again in the updates! 

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