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March 25, 2014

10:42
A.M.

Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron (March)

Total Responses: 78

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 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Gene's latest columns, chats and more.

About the topic

Gene Weingarten chatted Tuesday, March 25 at noon for his monthly chat with readers.

See the results of the pre-chat polls:

Poll 1:
What do you think happened to Flight 370?

Poll 2 is on a completely different topic:
I was recently debating a much younger guy about which generation -- his or mine -- was more screwed up regarding sex and romantic relationships. I suggested that early access to pornography messed up his generation, because it took the mystery and awe out of sex and intimacy. He said maybe that's true, but at least his generation got early sex education, and was not, for example, weirdly guilted out by masturbation. Which, I admit, struck a nerve.

This seemed to me like a fabulous subject for a poll, split by age.

- 35 and younger
- 36 and older

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.

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.

His most recent book, "The Fiddler In The Subway," is a collection of his full-length stories. He is working on a new book, called "One Day," about the events of December 28, 1986, a date chosen at random by drawing numbers from a hat.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.
Q.

Gene Weingarten :



We take note today (in rhyme) of the death of Fred Phelps, founder of the odious Westboro Baptist "Church."

Fred Phelps, the hater, died last week.
At funerals, he oozed his pique
On signs that prompted retches, gags
By stating bluntly: “God Hates Fags.”
 
I bet at Heavens gate Fred found   
A big ol’ arrow, pointing down.
‘Twas on a gilded sign deluxe
That stated, bluntly: “God Hates F---ks.

--

I’m going to do something for the first time in Chatological Humor: Solicit you for money, during the chat. It will go to a tax-deductible organization, The American Copy Editors Education Fund, which combats writing stupidities, and awards scholarships to young journalists.  But that’s just gravy. Every $10 you send in will make the following statement: “Suck on it, soulless digitizers.” 

This is about ending the madness.  This is about respecting the written word, and saving its soul. 

Background:

Steve Buttry is a friend of mine, and a good guy.  He is a former newspaper editor who early on saw the future, embraced the Web when others feared it, and he has never looked back.  He is part of the intelligent, principled vanguard looking to convert the Internet into an efficient and profitable vehicle for delivering news and stories while retaining basic journalistic values. He was a key editor at the original TBD, the Washington-based hyper-local news site that had the right idea but feckless ownership that slithered away when instant profits didn’t arrive fast enough.   Steve now works for the aptly named “DigitalFirst Media,” where he’s doing well and doing good. He is a true believer in all ways, which is mostly a good thing.  Mostly.  He has also drunk some bitter Kool Aid.

In the frantic lurch from paper to pixels, mostly a good thing, some bad has happened.   Steve, for example is also an unapologetic proponent of “branding,” which is the process by which journalists make smoochy-smoochy love to themselves in a frenzied humping quest for ego validation and eyeballs, accomplished via shameless self-promotion across multi platforms and blah blah blah.  

(Bear with me.  There will be penis jokes later.)

You’re familiar with “branding,” I am sure.  It sets fame as a goal itself, instead of as an incidental reward for work well done.   I hate it.   I have spoken out against it

(You will notice, this is "Chatological Humor," not "The Gene Weingarten Blog, Featuring the stylings of Gene Weingarten."   There are a few other old fashioned newspaper people out there who quail at branding, among them the great Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times, who writes a blog every goddamn day.  The title of the blog is "Every Goddamn Day."  THAT is a rejection of branding.)

 

“Building a brand” has replaced “earning a reputation.”  For a look at the unsubtle mischief branding does, one need go no further than The Erik Wemple Blog, one of the best blogs out there about the media.   Erik is smart and conscientious.  He has style and integrity. He is fearless.  You should bookmark him.  But the blog is still feverishly trying to “brand” itself, and so you are going to have to wade through a minefield of self-reference like this:  “Jones told the Erik Wemple blog that Smith won’t be writing about politics anymore, which the Erik Wemple Blog confirmed in a subsequent interview of Smith conducted by the Erik Wemple Blog and published here, exclusively at The Erik Wemple Blog.”   

Another bad part of the digitization of the media is the loss of good headlines to the dumb-down requirements of Search Engine Optimization.   That is why The Erik Wemple Blog is called "The Erik Wemple Blog," as opposed to, say, "MediaLust!!" which would be better but would not be as easily horizontally findable by persons wishing to find The Erik Wemple Blog by Googling “Erik Wemple."

And now, at last, I am coming to the point: Indeed, I am brilliantly triangulating disparate threads into an exciting, single, orgasmic point of release.  Behold the magic, and be awed:  

Another soulless search-engine blog name is “The Buttry Diary,” which is Steve Buttry’s blog.  Two days ago, on Twitter,  I was needling Steve about this, and suggested that he re-name the blog “Mmm. Smooth Buttry Goodness.”  He did, for a few moments, as a joke.   When I goaded other Twitter people to urge him to retain it, Steve demanded money.  Extortion.  He said he would rename the blog "Mmm. Smooth Buttry Goodness" for one month per each thousand bucks he got donated to the Copy Editors fund. 

You see where I am going here, but you do not yet suspect how diabolical it is going to get.

The first thing that happened after Buttry made his challenge is that one of his coworkers, the graphically talented Ivan Lajara, instantly created a header illustration for the newly renamed blog.   It is here.   It is completely hilarious. And idiotic. Steve becomes a greasy pat of butter on what has to be the single worst image for any opinion blogger trying to build a brand:  A WAFFLE. 

Here's where you come in.   In the first two days, Steve has raised just over $500.  That's probably as far as it goes, without more help.  Steve promised to round up the number for every $501, meaning he now has to rename the blog for a month .  Big deal. No skin off his nose.   But if we can pop it up today by a few more thousand ... he'll be committed to the new design for MONTHS.  (e.g., $2,501 = 3 months.)

You see where this goes?  If he has to keep the butter and the waffle and the idiot name for months, he is committed forever because THAT IS WHAT BRANDING DEMANDS. We can hoist Steve Buttry by his own petard.  Once he is cemented as the host of "Mmm. Smooth Buttry Goodness" for months on end, he is forever committed to it.   All this publicity helps, too.

Let's make this happen.  I will add an incentive.  The donation website, which is here, allows you to donate under whatever name you wish.  (I gave as both myself and "Clytemnestra De Nunkyhaven.")  Just before the chat is over, I will select the funniest nickname under which you alls have donated, and send the winner a signed copy of either "The Fiddler in the Subway" or "Old Dogs" (winner's choice.)  Also, anyone donating $100 or more gets a book.

Minimum donation is only $10.    Isn't this worth the price of a venti skim latte and a scone? 

--

Penis joke: Q: What did the O say to the Q?  A: "Dude, your fly is open. "

--

A note on my column on Sunday, which was about crosswordese, those words that appear in crossword puzzles wildly disproportionately to their actual importance in life.   Because he doesn't do crosswords, Tom the Butcher hated this column and almost killed it. It seemed like gibberish to him.   (Note the bland headline online, subject to the dumbing-down of Search Engine Optimization.   In the newspaper, the headline was "A Puzzling Column -- If you don't get it, you don't get it.)  Anyway, I need to mention that in the Post crossword by Merl Reagle, on the facing page, totally by coincidence, there were two words of crosswordese that were in my column: "asp" and "epee."  Many readers pointed this out.

Okay, so please take today's polls.  I think most of you are right on what happened to the plane, at least I hope that is right.  The most likely alternative is one I don't want to think about.

--

Please take the polls.  On masturbation / porn... so far, the results are what I expected, but with far less of a disparity than I expected, which is good news for both age groups.

Let's go.  Chat begins at noon sharp, Eastern time.

Q.

Sex Ed

I'm your age and didn't have any sex education and no talk about it from my parents. When I was about 14 or 15 I asked my mother how you got pregnant. She wouldn't tell me anything. So I asked my grandmother who told me that she wouldn't tell me but that when I found out I wouldn't even let a boy touch my hand. So of course I thought that if a boy touched your hand you got pregnant. No wonder I was so terribly shy around boys all through high school. Maybe I was more screwed up about sex then today's kids.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Oh, I think we were screwed up, just in a different way.  My ma told me about sex, but in such a clinical way that it sounded pretty awful.  She never, of course, mentioned that it felt great. Or even that it, you know, enhanced being in love.

But the big deal for my generation was masturbation.  It's something we learned on our own, often very young (I was under 6, I think) and felt powerfully guilty about.  I remember wondering for a long time if I was crazy.  That CAN'T be good.

I also once found an old Boy Scout manual and greedily hunted for Good Info on the subject.  What it said was horrible.   As damaging a thing as possible: It said that masturbation was unwise but not awful so long as you didn't do it all the time.  It involved games and stuff to take your mind off it, or "a cold bath," but the evil thing was it also said this:  It doesn't mean you are sick or bad or crazy unless you had sexual thoughts while you were doing it.  That made you a "mental masturbator," which meant you were a deviant. Gaaah

I have been trying to find this book for 20 years, because I'd like to write about it than ritually burn it.   I remember only that it was by the Boy Scouts.

 

– March 25, 2014 12:00 PM
Q.

Malaysia 370

I keep going back and forth between pilot suicide, pilot/crew involved terrorism, passenger/stowaway terrorism, mechanical failure due to plane, mechanical failure due to cargo. None of these really account for everything, and there's a hole in the logic for all of them. I'd hate to think the passengers were conscious for the entire 7 hour flight though.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yes, that last thing is the nightmare.

I think we'd know it by now if there was something dark  with one of the pilots.  In my mind, I've ruled that out.  I think there was some grave mechanical problem at the time the plane did a U-turn, I think it probably overwhelmed everything by the time a pilot aimed for the open ocean and hit autopilot, and died.  A last desperate valiant effort to save SOMEONE, maybe.

To me, terrorism makes no sense in any scenario now, except possibly some struggle that took out the terrorist and the pilots both.  That's not the one I want to have happened. For obvious reasons.

I hope death was quick.  And I think it probably was.  There were plane-phones in business class that weren't used.  Very hopeful sign for the least awful scenario.

 

– March 25, 2014 12:01 PM
Q.

Moral Dilemma?

I am in my 50s, and was laid off two years ago from a regulatory/legal compliance job. In a job like that, one frequently pisses off one's colleagues (ie, the people who need to comply with the regulations.) Three people in particular, whose actions were placing the company at risk, worked to get rid of me for several years. My senior management knew what was going on and didn't get involved. My state does not have useful or applicable Whistleblower laws. One of them, an executive with my former employer, is particularly nasty and vindictive, and as she had done with several people before, went after me with a level of aggressiveness I have never seen in my many years of working. It was clear to people around us that she was affirmatively trying to ruin me professionally. The layoff was described as being part of a corporate reorganization (which is in fact a sham) and has been very costly to me. Because of the way it was timed, I was denied some significant financial incentives, as well as some very large additions to my retirement account. Had they waited a few months, I would have received these benefits. I am starting to come out of the miasma of fear and panic, and am putting together what seems like a satisfying new career for myself, which may be successful in a few years. All three of the people who lied and whispered about me for years are prospering, which rankles. I have discovered that I can provide damning information to their new bosses completely anonymously, with little possibility of anyone finding out where the information came from. Their bad acts are so widely known within that part of my former employer that there is a very long list of people who might have written such a letter to the new Board and executives above these three. What do you think? I've let this go as much as I can. Hearing that they are doing well - really well - just seems wrong to me.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay, I am posting this early because it's a fascinating question, raising some deep human themes.  I have an opinion but will wait a bit.  Thoughts?

– March 25, 2014 12:01 PM
Q.

re: D. L. Hughley

Gene, I can't imagine laughing at this, and no, I didn't listen to it because I hate this topic so much. I wish I had never read your article on it, and I did buy your book, but manually removed the pages with that essay. As a parent, it makes me literally (yes) feel sick every time I'm forced to think about it. I wish we could lay this to rest (ugh.) because it is the only topic that you routinely discuss that makes me think about no longer reading your chats. More pubic hair, please.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Uh, am I allowed to remind people what this is?

Avert your eyes.

Accidentally leaving children to die in cars.  

You literally REMOVED THE PAGES FROM MY BOOK?

 

– March 25, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Babies in cars

From CNN's website - a video of a baby left in a car but with a happy ending. What I don't understand is why the police were careful in getting the car open. It takes a hammer and about 30 seconds if you ask me.

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Wow, this is dramatic!  It suggests the baby was in there ALL DAY?   Can that be?   Had this been the summer, that baby would have been dead in less than a half hour.

Amazing video.   I think the cops were being deliberate only because it was clear the child was okay.   Smashing a window always entails a risk of flying glass.

– March 25, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Jeffrey MacDonald

In your March 11th update, you couldn't have been more positive about the guilt of Jeffrey MacDonald. While I understand that you have written extensively about this subject, could your relationship with McGinniss impacted your ability to form an opinion on this case impartially?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

No.   I know Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty because I am among the most knowledgeable people on Earth about the case.  Top 100, maybe top 30.  And the most knowledgeable people on Earth about his case all know he is guilty. 

Among those people is Jeffrey MacDonald.

– March 25, 2014 12:04 PM
Q.

A poll for men

Gene, can you make a poll for men sometime? I tried Googling to see if you had covered this topic before, so forgive me if you have. Today my coworker told me that another coworker (whom I find annoying and strange) always rips big, loud farts while at the urinal. Since I am a bathroom stall-using woman, I... do not understand this. It's one thing to fart audibly in the privacy of your own stall (I don't know much about physics of farts, but I imagine the stall walls also protect others from the smell, at least somewhat), but it's quite another thing to fart while standing out in the open, potentially making eye contact with your colleagues. I am not a fart prude. I will generally do it around my friends and I actually do it with joy around my immediate family members. But I draw the line somewhere. I just cannot imagine doing this at work. I don't care that "it's the bathroom", it's still out in the open. Like, control yourself and go in the stall where there is some degree of anonymity!!!! I need to know if most men do this. I can assure you most women do not. I bet it's a divisive issue among men, since the coworker who told me about it (a guy, obviously) was grossed out by it. I asked my Dad his thoughts and he said he would do it alone in the bathroom, but not if others were present. He said what is the point of wearing a suit and tie to work if you are then going to fart in front of others, even if it is in the bathroom? I have not consulted any of my male friends but I'm not sure I want to know if they are the kind to fart at the urinal or not.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

If it helps, most men do not do this and would not do this.  Also, all people need to agree: Farts that arise in a stall, or a private bathroom at home, did not occur.  They never happened.

– March 25, 2014 12:04 PM
Q.

Theory Flight 370

I heard a theory - unsubstantiated - that I actually think has merit. And I do not generally buy into unsubstantiated theories and reject conspiracy theories with eye rolling scorn. What if a group like anonymous hacked the plane? It could have been done to prove that it could be done, like some of their other stunts, and they likely would not have intended harm. But, once hacked, the pilots couldn't regain control and the hacker would have lacked the inability to pilot the plane. It would explain why no one has stepped forward to claim the act, which is what you would expect from "traditional" terrorism. It would also explain the weird turn. Again, there's no evidence (that I know of) to support this theory. And I don't know enough about computer systems on planes to even know if it is possible. But it just feels like the right answer.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Uh, wow. 

Well, it wouldn't be Anonymous because they wouldn't be that reckless, I think.  But it could be some rogue state or organization trying it out.  

Man, that is disturbing.  Imagine if this was a test run.

Thanks a lot for putting this in everyone's head.  Of course I didn't have to post it.

– March 25, 2014 12:04 PM
Q.

Classic Doonesbury

I'm (just barely) old enough to have read the original Doonesbury strips in the very first collection books within a few years of their being published -- in other words, I've seen these strips before but never in an actual newspaper, and long enough ago to find it fun to see them again. My questions to you are: 1) What do you think of the idea of running the very original crudely drawn strips in the paper? 2) Do you take his calling it "Classic" to be a dig at the idiotic notion of running a dead cartoonist's reruns in perpetuity under the name "Classic Peanuts"?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Don't get me started.

Okay, get me started.

I actually think that the impulse to run reruns is a really patronizing impulse toward readers.   Everything else in a newspaper is new.  Why is this different?

There are no greater fans of Doonesbury than I am.  But even I don't think this holds up.   It was perfect in its day, and very, very odd today.

– March 25, 2014 12:06 PM
Q.

Re: Last week's chat...

As a 23yo female redhead, I have always feared--possibly to a paranoid extent--any question about the carpet matching the curtains. (Yes, it does, and yes, this fear comes from being questioned by a pair of my high school classmates at the age of fifteen.) Therefore, I have always trimmed, especially during swimsuit season, with a six-month stint of going clear-cut at the request of my then-boyfriend. I like the look and feel of clear-cut, mostly because it feels clean and cared for, kind of like shaving my legs. I hate the effort I have to put in to maintain it, and I do believe this general preference is tied to porn (though my former boyfriend claims his preference was tied to a specific activity). I did hear a theory that wanting a woman to shave anything--legs, underarms, nether region--has something to do with wanting her to be childlike.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Most men would want you natural.  Especially you.  Fire down below.   Yowza.

– March 25, 2014 12:06 PM
Q.

Fred Phelps

There's a photo that's making the internet rounds, showing a group of people standing outside the Westboro Baptist Church HQ holding up a banner of their own. It says, "Sorry for your loss."
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Wow.  Excellent. 

Hey, Jessica, can you find and post a 1995 piece on Phelps in the Wapo by Annie Gowen?  It was so great.

– March 25, 2014 12:08 PM
A.
Jess the Producer :

Here's the piece you're looking for: Fred Phelps, clergyman, is on a crusade

– March 25, 2014 12:09 PM
Q.

Critical Omissi, ON

As a (barely) under-35 woman, I responded that I hadn't seen any sexy images or video before the age of 18. I was 14 or 15, however, that I discovered sexy literature, Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear" series being a notable example. I would argue that devouring books like that -- and flipping back to reread my favorite parts -- distorted my perception of what sex was and ought to be like, probably as much as pornography might for a man. In certain types of books, the women are always beautiful and busty, the men are always handsome and well-endowed, and both parties reach simultaneous heights of ecstatic climax in 3-5 pages. After that build-up, my first fumbling in-person encounters were quite disappointing.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Not to mention that I bet you've had trouble finding shape-shifters in real life.

– March 25, 2014 12:09 PM
Q.

Funny Sports Names

Gene, what do you make of the Nationals' new pitcher Fister? He faced Hand in an early exhibition game.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

You are probably too young to remember Rollie Fingers.   There is probably no reliever with as bad a name as Grant Balfour, though.

– March 25, 2014 12:09 PM
Q.

"He calls good restaurants and makes reservations as the food writer for the local newspaper. "

Yes, this is highly unethical, but made me laugh a little because sometimes I try a different tactic when I am travelling (note, I am NOT a journalist). When I go to a restaurant in a different country, a make a subtle but noticeable move that always gets their attention, and almost ALWAYS gets me better service, and the occasional freebies. I have a small note book sitting next to my plate that I will write in after few initial moments in my meal, such as sipping the wine, a couple of interactions with the server, after trying a bite or two from a dish. I never state, EVER, that I am a writer or a food critic. But I am telling you, it seems in the world where anyone can be critic (via Yelp, TripAdvisor, what have you), if they see you writing stuff down, they start stepping up their game. I never have to say a word. Works almost every time.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

This made me laugh.  It's very clever.  It's probably not technically unethical. I wouldn't do it.

– March 25, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

What am I missing?

I am straight white male in my forties. (FWIW) As abhorent as other bigotries are, I kinda get that my kind see 'those' people as some sort of economic threat. (More people looking for a piece of the pie) However the campaigns against LGBT seem to have nothing to do with the workplace nor education but all around the purely social and family issues like marriage and adoption. What can possibly motivate these folks other than hatred?

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Wait.   Isn't ANY Other group some sort of economic threat in the workplace?  Why single out gays to hate and fear?  Why not, uh, Jews?  Latinos? 

I think I may not be understanding your point.  Please explain.

– March 25, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Guns

I am pretty conservative on many issues but not gun control. It just seems to me that if you look at the other well established free societies with strict gun control, none of the bad stuff the NRA predicts seems to be happening. The most depressing thing I have come to realize is that it is really all about money: The shooters want large capacity guns and clips so that when they are paying by the hour for range time they spend less time reloading and the manufactures can thus sell them more bullets. Can't prove it by it is the only conclusion I can come to based on everything I have read.

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Well, I don't think it's economic.   I do not believe the NRA leadership believes any or much of the arguments they throw out; that's red meat for the paranoiacs and morons who make up a fair proportion (not all) of their ardent supporters.  I believe the simple truth, too difficult to sell politically, is that gun owners like their guns.  They love shootin' em.  They love the feel of [and/or illusion of) security they feel when they are packin'.   They don't want to be forced to surrender that simply because people are dying left and right in massacres and in domestics and whatnot.   When you can't politically say that, you need alternative arguments.   Such as that the government is coming for your guns so they can impose socialism on a defenseless citizenry. 

 

– March 25, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Crosswordese

After reading your latest article, the first thing I noticed Saturday was "asp" and "epee" in the crossword, but I was disappointed for no love for Asta in your column. I was nearly as upset at no mention of the Tern/Ern. But mostly, you nailed it. Tom the Butcher is uncultured.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Man, if that were his ONLY flaw I would be a much happier guy.

– March 25, 2014 12:11 PM
Q.

Dan Snyder's Letter

Did you happen to read Dan Snyder's letter that he e-mailed to ticketholders last night? He describes his 26 visits to Indian reservations and how he couldn't find a single Native American that found the term "Redskin" offensive. Native Americans must be as unified as the Soviets were when most elections were won with a 99% share of the vote. He also mentioned that social problems affecting Native Americans are far more important than the "Redskin" naming controversy and that we should really focus on these and forget about the racist nature of the name. Is this guy completely tone deaf?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't think he is tone deaf, exactly.  I think he is just a bad guy who doesn't want to go through the hassle of change.  He is exactly like the NRA folk !  He'll say whatever he wants to say because he can't say the truth:  I DONNA WANNA AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.    

I actually believe we can make him.   Does anyone know the status of the legal assaults on the trademark front?  Arguing that you cannot trademark a slur?   The minute he loses the licensing clout on the image and name, he will instantly change the name. 

He's really a lousy, lousy person.   A true shanda for the goyim.

– March 25, 2014 12:12 PM
Q.

Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation

I couldn't believe this was real. I kept thinking the Onion had leaked a story, but no. Danny is actually heading this foundation. I guess he thinks buying off Native Americans is the best approach to stifling protest to the "Redskins" name? And the rest of us are too stupid to figure it out? I shouldn't be surprised, but this is just so crass and transparent. UGH.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

He thinks buying stuff is the answer to EVERYTHING.

– March 25, 2014 12:12 PM
Q.

Spaces

In 1983, I took typing as a freshman in high school. I'm a guy, but I figured that I'd need to type my papers in college, so I might as well know how. Plus, I liked the idea of a 7:30 class that required no brainpower. For an entire year, thirty of us sat at our IBM Selectric 2s, following along as Mrs. Karakash -- an elderly Hungarian who'd fled the Soviet invasion and looked and sounded like Baba Yaga -- shouted, "Period, space, space, CAPITAL," tapping her ruler on the giant chart of the keys hanging at the front of the room to emphasize each letter. By the time I left for college four years later, I had my first computer and two spaces were already obsolete, but it didn't matter -- that habits I learned in that year with Mrs. Karakash's would last a lifetime. I can no more type a single space after a period than I can keep my eyes open while I sneeze. Thirty years later, I'm a copy editor at a technical publisher. And, yes, part of my job is reading over the copy provided by writers of a certain age and changing their double spaces into single spaces. It doesn't help. I'm really good at spotting them and marking them for correction, but I still have to go back over anything I'm writing for serious publication and do a global fine & replace of two spaces to one. Every. Single. Time. To the kids: you're right. We're wrong. But if you'd had a year with Mrs. Karakash before the world changed, you'd do it wrong, too.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Couldn't have said it better.  In fact, I didn't.

– March 25, 2014 12:13 PM
Q.

JackinWorld.com

Far better than your freaky Boy Scout book, boys today can check out www.jackinworld.com, which is dedicated to former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. I wish there were a similar resource for girls.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I've often tried to imagine what kind of pent-up, tightly-wound, guilt-soaked, self-loathing Boy Scout leader wrote that little section.

– March 25, 2014 12:14 PM
Q.

Again. . .

You once opined that one's preference for pubes may be tied to when they first saw the part in question. Perhaps that, more than porn, explains it?

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Explains ... what?

– March 25, 2014 12:15 PM
Q.

Doonesbury

I think the only redeeming value in running the old Doonesbury strips is to show how poor they reproduce at today's size. I am in my thirties, with perfect vision, and every day I have to pull the paper up to my face to read the strips. And then I feel guilty about reading it because I also feel like reruns are a sham. Oh, maybe a guilt/comic poll is in order! What's your guilty pleasure comic?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I love Mutt & Jeff.   A comic where there is no set relationship between the two lead characters! 

– March 25, 2014 12:16 PM
Q.

Guns

I don't own a gun. However, I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. I couldn't help but notice that Gene had to villify the people who differ from him and come up with bogus reasons to make people who disagree with him seem silly. That speakms more poorly about the lack of Gene's ability to think differently.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

You say this because you have a small penis.

– March 25, 2014 12:16 PM
Q.

Branding

I think you are equating Branding with Self Promotion. You are actually "branding" by creating something called "Chatological Humor". Even as I type this, there is a squiggly red line under the word "Chatological" which implies I made a typing error. But by creating a word that only applies to your chat (in most people's mind), you have "branded" the chat.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

You are saying this because you have a small penis.

– March 25, 2014 12:17 PM
Q.

Lost my virginity....

To tampax. Seriously, my mother found out I was using my sisters tampons 2 months into the start of my period (she had never said a single word to me about it or anything else for that matter, if it wasn't for Judy Blume and the bodice rippers at one of the houses I babysat for I'd know nothing) anyway, my sister must have mentioned the rapidly dwindling supply to my mom who mortified, told me they would take my virginity and made me switch to pads, the #1 worst invention in the world. So, I like to say that I lost my virignity to tampax at age 14, but then didn't have actual sex until I was 18.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Does that actually happen?  With Tampax?  I should know this, but I don't.

– March 25, 2014 12:18 PM
Q.

Re: moral dilemma

Living well is the best revenge. Plus, I think your expectation that anonymous feedback about your former coworkers will be taken seriously is unfounded. So, go ahead and ponder your revenge fantasies, but don't act on them.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay.  Any others?

– March 25, 2014 12:19 PM
Q.

Urinal Farts

Gene, there are times where one MUST release the gas to allow the flow of urine into the urinal. I'm no doctor but my guess is that the gas is putting pressure on the urine pathway which stops the flow. Now, one should try to minimize the sound but I mean you are in bathroom.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't identify with this at ALL.

– March 25, 2014 12:19 PM
Q.

Moral dilemma

Something similar happened to me. I left a toxic work environment voluntarily, and immediately the bad boss started spreading stories about how I was plotting to drive her out. I was furious and started planning a defamation suit. Then a cleric advised me, "Do you want to be her? She has to live with her lies for the rest of her life, and in eternity too. No one loves her on earth, and she's going to hell. You have people who love you, and you're going to heaven." Filter out the religious part if you wish, but the message is the right one: Their evil will be discovered and they will receive their just deserts.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Thank you for spelling "deserts" right.

This seems to be the consensus, and I agree.  Anonymous letter writers are, in general, not nice people.  Don't become one.   There's a miasma of badness around that sort of thing.   I did it once, at 22, in my first job.   And I was right about my complaint, but it took a long time for me to wipe away the stench from my mind.   You'll feel bad, too, I predict.

 

– March 25, 2014 12:22 PM
Q.

Moral dilemma

If I understand correctly, the writer has information about employees of a company who are violating laws or policies. If that is true, I see nothing unethical about helping his former company by providing that information to their superiors. The fact that it also screws over his nasty former coworkers is just a bonus. But he should be sure that he's being honest with himself. Self-deception is easy.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Violating "policies" and violating laws are very different things.

– March 25, 2014 12:23 PM
Q.

OMG

Gene, this plane stuff is disturbing. I have purposely tried NOT to think about the people on the plane, etc. because it is just overwhelming to my soul and psyche. It is all too much to comprehend, what they and/or their loved ones have gone through. And now the theories that readers are bringing up...esp. the one re. Anonymous...this is really starting to freak me out, on a very basic level...i.e. it comes down to an issue of trust...we used to be able to trust that you could take a plane, etc. and be (generally) OK...it seems we now have to worry about *everything* we used to be able to take for granted. Geez. Any positive thoughts to help?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

No.   This has also shaken my general belief that if you survive takeoff and landing, all the rest is a piece of cake.   Nothing ever happens en route. ..

– March 25, 2014 12:25 PM
Q.

MythBusters

I have no idea who the woman is in that MythBusters farting video, but I fell in love with her a little bit at the end of the clip.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Absolutely.  I would have her baby.  She is a staffer. Kari Byron.

– March 25, 2014 12:25 PM
Q.

Cell phones on The Plane

This must be a stupid question because I haven't seen or heard it addressed at all in the news. On the plane their must have been over 200 cell phones plus laptops and tablets. We know that in the U.S. you can use all these devices on a plane (even though cell phones are supposed to be off.) And on 9/11 passengers were calling on their phones in the air. During those 7 hours or so, at least partially over land, wouldn't there have been any opportunities for passengers to text or tweet or phone somebody? (I guess in that part of the world it must not be possible.) Has that question occurred to you?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

It's occurred to a lot of people, and there is no good answer.  Especially since there were plane satellite phones in business class.

– March 25, 2014 12:26 PM
Q.

Gene Weingarten :

AM I RIGHT THAT THERE'S BEEN ONLY $35 SUBMITTED TO THE MMM FUND FROM THIS CHAT???

Q.

Since we've brought up urinal farts

I have a question that can probably only be answered here. I'm a woman and, therefore, I accomplish all of my bathroom tasks sitting on the toilet. Something that often happens to me is that I will sit down to pee and then realize, mid-task, that I also need to poop. No problem -- I'm already on the toilet. I wondered if this is some sort of conditioned response to BEING on the toilet. And then I wondered -- does this happen to men, who generally pee standing up? And if so, how do you handle this in a public restroom? Do you have to finish up at the urinal and then proceed to a stall?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I have a good answer for this.   What you are describing would happen more frequently to women than to men because of the "Almost Home Phenomenon," which I wrote about a few years ago in this chat.   Jess, can you find it? I quoted one of the foremost experts on the rectum, Dr. Satish Rao, and we should have won a Pulitzer.

When ladies are on the pot, their "Almost Home" reflex would be triggered.   Men entering a bathroom only to urinate would not trigger it. 

 

– March 25, 2014 12:30 PM
A.
Jess the Producer :

The "Almost Home Phenomenon," explained. Read the first three posts to get the whole thing. 

– March 25, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

Numeracy is as important as literacy

I hate to be this guy (ok, I actually don't hate it..), but you do realize that the moment the last century and millennium changed was on Jan. 1, 2001, not Jan. 1, 2000. This drives me nuts, it is just as grating to me as "I could care less" or other completely wrong phrases. I am amazed at how this is gotten wrong a majority of the time.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I know it and it doesn't bother me at all, because it was an agreed-upon lie.  We all knew it, but also realized that iconically, 1999 to 2000 made much more dramatic sense.   Those other things are from ignorance.

– March 25, 2014 12:31 PM
Q.

Pornography

I was introduced to it at much too young an age -- 12 years old. I think being introduced to porn at such a tender age has affected me well into middle age. Raising my own son who is about that age has made me realize what a precarious age it is. Things children are exposed to at that age, I believe, become hardwired in a way they aren't either before or after. I'm still working on my demons, but the experience with my son, and this chat, I think, is helping me to overcome them.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Good.  I  believe you are being serious, and it's what I expected to hear more of. 

Can you elaborate on the nature of the demons?  My assumption is that sex would seem scary and ... ugly.

– March 25, 2014 12:32 PM
Q.

Re: Doug Fister

Good guy, good pitcher. We Tigers fans are still shaking our heads over that trade.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Good.

– March 25, 2014 12:32 PM
Q.

Farting at the Urin, AL (Part 2)

A key wrong premise in the original post to this subject is that men make eye contact at the urinal. Nope, they don't. Don't, don't, don't. Even on the rare occasion that they speak to each other there, they don't look at each other.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

It is true, and it allows me to note something else:  At first base, the fielder and the runner are allowed to talk, but they are not allowed to look at each other.  Ever.  Guy etiquette.  Watch it.  They are always talking, but each is looking at home, or at the pitcher.  EVEN if time is called.

– March 25, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

Tampax

Wait, your mom freaked out that you were using tampons but was ok with your sister doing it? Because she'd already lost her virginity? So she was upset that tampons might take your virginity, but totally cool with your super slutty sister having sex, since it wouldn't take her virginity? (I'm not really saying your sister was super slutty, just I can't imagine a person who would think tampons are able to take virginity would be ok with her other child having sex - I assume unmarried as she's living at home, or at least keeping her tampons there).
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I need to know: Do tampons ACTUALLY take virginity?  (Well, we're not really talking virginity.  We're talking hymens.)

– March 25, 2014 12:35 PM
Q.

Flight 370 hacking

I don't think hacking a plane could be done remotely. Could someone have hacked the autopilot and physically prevented the pilots from flying the plane? Yes, but the pilots could have turned off the autopilot by pulling the breakers and flown manually.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

BUT WHAT IF SOMEONE FIGURED OUT A WAY AROUND THAT? 

You know, I'll bet this question has been asked at the highest security expertise levels in the last three weeks.

– March 25, 2014 12:36 PM
Q.

Re: Dan Snyder/Redskins

It'd cost him a chunk of change to change the logo, because the team would need new equipment, etc. So that's one reason why he's digging in his heels. He's also a heel, of course.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I bet he would MAKE money from it.  People would buy and hoard the old stuff.

– March 25, 2014 12:36 PM
Q.

Cell phones on planes

I've seen this question asked like a thousand times and there is a very very very simple answer. They make devices that will jam cell phone signals. I can't speak to whether it would also work on the satellite phones, but you can make it impossible for someone to be able to use their cell phone.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

So that would imply terrorism?

– March 25, 2014 12:38 PM
Q.

Hive Mind

Gene Question for the crowd: I am participating in a photo exhibit (non-commercial - won't make money off it). Subject is DC. Other than the monuments which the world over knows signifies DC, what do you think of when thinking of DC? Unfortunately I cannot take photos with the subject as people due to legal concerns (releases, etc). Some ideas include Ben's Chile Bowl, Capitol Hill, the Zoo, Eastern Market, etc. I live in the metro area but not in DC and I'd like to take photos that a local would instantly recognize as DC (and wouldn't seem to be taken "just anywhere"). Thanks for any thoughts.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I think of the soon-to-be-destroyed-by-gentrification  Maine Ave. Seafood Market.   Also Adams Morgan.  

Anyone?

– March 25, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

Porn Poll

As a woman under 35, I answered the question about how porn has affected my life with "hasn't hurt, really." However, I can't be sure that's true - for all I know, men have been rejecting me my whole life because of the impossible standards set by pornography, and I just haven't known the reason. Or, maybe I would have achieved levels of intimacy with my partner that I can't currently imagine if it wasn't for the damaging effects of porn. So I can't say definitively that porn hasn't hurt my life, because I don't know what the experience of life without porn would have been. (FWIW, I'm happily married, and though my husband occasionally requests a porn-ish sex act, it's become a running joke between us rather than a source of tension).
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Understood.

– March 25, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

Re: Porn

Over 36 female here. On the question of seeing/viewing porn, I chose "rare, furtive, partial" as the best answer, although really it was limited to a few curious viewings of Playgirl and Playboy, plus watching a dirty movie while I was babysitting when I was about 12 (the couple had a selection of what I believe was fairly tame, Playboy-channel style porn). I mostly remember thinking the acting was terrible and the dialogue (such that it was) didn't even match the movement of the actors' mouths. I watched about 5 minutes and then got bored, but even in that 5 minutes I got the gist of the storyline (although I didn't understand it until later) - gay guy, women in brothel take turns trying to "convert" him. As an adult, I now recognize it as both a total hetero male fantasy (all of these gorgeous women wanting to sleep with him!) and totally pathetic.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

At the risk of getting busted for my lame "I love women" trope, see, this is one of the reasons I love women.  No man would ever criticize porn for the acting or plot inconsistencies.   That's not what porn is FOR, to men.  It would be like reviewing a car and criticizing it because it doesn't taste good when you lick the fender.

– March 25, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

"50 Shades: The Musical"

I went to see the play "50 Shades: The Musical", In my personal opinion, it overall was dreadful, one of the worst plays I have seen in my life. Please tell me the books are better. While wading through a play about bad sex puns, I made two observations I wish to share here: 1. The sex jokes went beyond the sophomoric "slap and tickle" jokes to some serious stuff. By serious, I mean a sex act that I recall AIDS researchers years ago blaming for the initial spread of AIDS. I don't know if you are allowed to print it, so I will state what it is at the end so you may choose to delete it or print it. Is this the sex act that women supposedly crave that they could not speak out loud about? I had no idea. Or is it that readers were more into the "slap and tickle" kinky stuff and not that far kinkier stuff? 2. The audience (as was observed in the Washington Post review) looked like the nursing homes brought the audiences. It seemed the only two people under age 60 in the audience were two foreign women muttering something about "is this Spiderman?" OK, to be fair, there were a few younger people, but 90% of the audience was easily over age 60. What does that even mean? Anyway, the sex act that surprised me that was joked about involved a fist and a body aperture.

A.
Gene Weingarten :

Why would you assume the book is better?? 50 Shades is terrible.  Dave Barry does an excellent number on it in his new book "You Can Date Boys When You Are Forty."  Book is great.  (Dave's, not "50 Shades, which reads like it was written by a 14 year old girl on her phone, while pleasuring herself.  Oooh, echo from poll.)

 

– March 25, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

You rule!

LOVE THIS ANSWER!!! No. I know Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty because I am among the most knowledgeable people on Earth about the case. Top 100, maybe top 30. And the most knowledgeable people on Earth about his case all know he is guilty. Among those people is Jeffrey MacDonald.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Thank you.  It is true.

– March 25, 2014 12:40 PM
Q.

Two spaces

Do you do this also: two spaces after the colon? I was taught this as well.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Hm.  I had to try it to know: No, I don't !

– March 25, 2014 12:41 PM
Q.

Pitchers' names

You said there is probably no reliever with as bad a name as Grant Balfour. Well, he was only a reliever part of his career but do you remember Bob Walk? Basically the same concept as Balfour, just expressed differently.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yep, remember him.    Hey, "grant ball four" is a terrible name for a starter or a reliever.

– March 25, 2014 12:42 PM
Q.

Surviving the plane

If the thought that people were alive on the plane until it crashed makes you feel weird (and it does to me, too), don't find out what might have happened with the Challenger accident. (SPOILER, TRIGGER WARNING, etc: the crew cabin was found perfectly intact in the ocean, although it's thought unlikely any survivors were conscious until it hit the water)
A.
Gene Weingarten :

That last part is also wrong.   I am also an expert on this by virtue of having edited the story, at Tropic, that broke this wide open, as it were.  It was a great piece by Dennis E. Powell.   Yes, the astronauts were most likely alive and most likely conscious.   Because they had deployed their oxygen -- at least some of them had.

– March 25, 2014 12:44 PM
Q.

"You know, I'll bet this question has been asked at the highest security expertise levels in the last three weeks."

You would win that bet.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

And I'm guessing this comment is from someone who Knows.

– March 25, 2014 12:44 PM
Q.

cell phones on planes

Cell signals won't reach planes at cruising altitudes. The 9-11 flight from which there were phone calls only happened because the hijackers brought the plane down well under cruising altitude. Most cells towers do not send a signal up into the air.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Right.  I'm more interested in the Plane Phones.

– March 25, 2014 12:45 PM
Q.

Tampax Girl Again

So, not sure what my sister was doing, we have never talked about it. She is however, 3 years older, so maybe my mother had already lost that battle. I'm not really sure how far up the hymen is/was....maybe inserting a tampon could break it, but then you have the stupid argument that only an intact hymen makes you a virgin even if you've never had sex? My mother was born in a foreign country, has only an 8th grade education and was raised by parents who sent her to a nun school (her brothers went to priest school, one did become a catholic priest). She has said the following to me "oh, that's right, you believe in Science". Do not try to make logic out of my story, there is none to be found.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Understood.  I am informed by a smart person that Tampax seldom breaks the hymen, but that other natural things, including exercise, can.   Many virgins do not have fully intact hymens when they first have sex.

– March 25, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

Kari Byron

Everybody loves Kari Byron from Mythbusters. I'm a straight, married woman, and I, too, would have her baby. And I don't even want babies. Let me also just mention that it gives me great joy in the Mythbusters intro when they say "Kari, Grant, and Tory" because I always hear the first part as "Cary Grant."
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Me, too.

Kari just seems like such a smart person and a really good sport.  She'd have to be, working with those guys.

– March 25, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

Intro to Porn

Drew McGary of Deadspin had a column a few months back that talked about his introduction to women--swimsuit edition, stolen playboy, finally watching a porn which shocked his teenage mind, etc and then comparing it to kids today with iphones and the web and the fact that one errant google search can lead to all kinds of shocking things that kids aren't ready for. Happy to be 35 and having grown up without the web.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Me too.   I think mystery is a very good thing.   Ignorance lleft me awed.  I'm still there. 

 

– March 25, 2014 12:47 PM
Q.

Gene Weingarten :

We are at $45, people.  This is hugely disappointing.  The evil Buttry is going to get a pass on this.

Man, it's hard to raise money even for a great cause.  How do the pols do it?

Q.

Original Urinal Fart Poster Here

I didn't mean making eye contact at the urinal. I mean, if you are one to urinal fart, how do you handle blasting farts in the bathroom in front of people, that you may have to make eye contact with later, such as in a meeting, for example? If it were me, all I would be thinking about is how that person was ripping farts in the bathroom before. How anyone could do this and face people outside of the bathroom later for business purposes is beyond me. To me, it would be like seeing someone naked. I know that's a stretch, but what you're doing is TOO INTIMATE FOR WORK.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Agreed.

– March 25, 2014 12:50 PM
Q.

Gene Weingarten :

Okay, I have to disclose here that I just got this private message, and followup,  from Chatwoman Jessica, in a secret private line.   She was alerting me to look for a new post:

First message:  There's a followup from the urinal fart guy at the bottom of the queue.

Second:  That might be my favorite sentence I've ever typed.

Q.

My pee stinks after drinking coffee

Hey Gene A few years back we talked about asparagus pee smell: Some people's pee stinks after eating asparagus, and some people are not able to smell it. I'm among those who can't smell it (or don't stink?) However, the few times I drink coffee, my pee stinks horribly. It's not a subject that I've talked about to a lot of people, but those few have never notice their own stink. My theory's been that everybody's pee smells after drinking coffee, and that big drinkers are so used to it that they don't notice. But maybe it's similar to the asparagus phenomenon? Some people stink, and some people can't smell it?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I believe everyone's asparagus pee stinks, but only some people can smell it.   Hang on, checking.

Yes.  This is from WebMD:

French novelist Marcel Proust famously wrote in 1913 that asparagus "transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume." And one British men's club is said to have put up a sign reading, "During the asparagus season, members are requested not to relieve themselves in the hat stand."

Depending on which study you read, between 22% and 50% of the population report having pungent pee after eating asparagus. But that doesn't mean only some people's bodies generate that smell. Researchers believe that, during digestion, the vegetable's sulfurous amino acids break down into smelly chemical components in all people. And because those components are "volatile," meaning airborne, the odor wafts upward as the urine leaves the body and can be detected as soon as 15 minutes after you eat this spring delicacy.

But only about one-quarter of the population appears to have the special gene that allows them to smell those compounds. So the issue isn't whether or not your pee is smelly; it's whether you're able to smell it. If you smell a funny fragrance in your urine after you eat asparagus, you're not only normal, you have a good nose.

--

There doesn't seem to be much of a consensus on the prevalence of a coffee-pee odor.   And I can't help.  I would simply recognize it as the odor of my own pee.   I doubt I have ever NOT had coffee pee.

– March 25, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

I am on a mission

You may be on to another topic that is seldom discussed. I have known women who share clothes. I have known women will trade wearing each other's outfit that they began wearing earlier in the day. But, do women ever trade panties? If so, did they use to? What did that ad mean that you found? Was sharing underwear a thing years ago? Is it still a thing today? Or was it a wink and a nod that some women share their underwear with their boyfriends and husbands? What did that ad infer?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

This is a reference to this thing I tweeted.   No, I think "sharing" was a discreet reference to "allowing a man to see them."

– March 25, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

Stupidity

Why is the world trying to make me stupid? I recently started using my laptop more than my tablet. I'll go in to a site to read an article and click on another one that also looks interesting and up pops a video. Since when it is too much effort to read? But then I'll find myself watching it and when it's over, I feel stupid. I want words back Gene... I want to use my brain other than just for visuals! Thank you
A.
Gene Weingarten :

That is precisely why you must contribute $10 or more to retain "Mmm. Smooth Buttry Goodness."

– March 25, 2014 12:52 PM
Q.

On other current events...

In last week's discussion, Monica Hesse stated her belief that 99% of women wearing low rider jeans that reach "the plumber's effect" that exposes the upper part of their derriere-crack are unaware that happens and would be shocked to find this out. Does this strike you and readers as correct or incorrect?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

It strikes me as incorrect, but only because, as a man appreciative of -- and susceptible to -- the female form, I have always believed that women know EXACTLY what they are showing, and how much, and when, in all places and at all times.   But inasmuch as Monica is an actual woman, who presumably is better aware than I am of what women know and when they know it, I am prepared to be told I am wrong.

– March 25, 2014 12:52 PM
Q.

Poll

A question about masturbation and you don't ask for male/female split? Really?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

 I would have and should have, but the poll was already too long.  This is from "Go Ask Alice."  The numbers seem low to me.  I suspect underreporting from women:

Based on a large-scale, nationwide survey of adult Americans ages 18 and up conducted between 1983 and 1992, 10 percent of women reported masturbating frequently (several times weekly or daily) vs. 25 percent of men. Similarly, 38 percent of women reported masturbating on a regular basis (monthly to daily) in comparison to 55 percent of men. The Kinsey Institute also published statistics about gender differences in masturbation. They were compiled from renowned sex researcher Alfred Kinsey's studies on the sexual behavior of men and women. According to Dr. Kinsey's 1948 and 1953 studies, based on detailed interviews with white American adults, 92 percent of men and 62 percent of women reported that they had masturbated.

Several reasons have been suggested to account for the lower percentage of women (vs. men) who have ever masturbated. Women are considered "good" when they adhere to their traditional sex role: to be sexually passive, naive, and dependent -- basically, to be nonsexual. Sexually experienced and independent women are frequently seen as threatening and "loose."

– March 25, 2014 12:52 PM
Q.

Maybe the rest of us don't think his blog name is a Great Cause?

Sorry, but this just doesn't occupy enough of my attention to care.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

That is because you have a small penis. 

– March 25, 2014 12:52 PM
Q.

Using a tampon for the first time probably won't break the hymen, but...

...the repeated use of tampons would likely stretch it out.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Yes, also consensus.

– March 25, 2014 12:53 PM
Q.

Hackng the 777.

That question was asked on the news shows at the beginning of this, and the answer was that it was not possible on a plane that old. Newer planes that are flown entirely by the computer could be hacked, however. It is similar in concept to hacking the computer of a modern automobile. That has, in fact, been done by benevolent hackers to demonstrate the potential harm.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

If it is really possible, that has to be changed right now.  Remember that Al Qaeda got the idea of 9/11 after Egyptair went down in pilot suicide.  If it is possible, and no one was thinking about it before, they are now.

– March 25, 2014 12:55 PM
Q.

Definition and effect of porn

Your definition of porn troubles me. Why not "Playboy"? As a teen in the early '80s, I was exposed to that. (I'm female) I babysat for a family that subscribed and kept the magazines out in the open. It shocked me! As for the effect, I don't think that porn has affected my actual marriage, but it affects the entire culture. There is ample research showing that using porn changes how we perceive victims of sex crimes, what we expect in relationships. I'm also very worried for my tween daughter, growing up in a culture where sex is so cheap and porn is everywhere. Your survey didn't capture that.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Well, it TRIED to capture that, or at least get near it, but the results don't suggest it.   I think porn has trashed intimacy and changed the way people look at sex.  I don't like it.  

– March 25, 2014 12:55 PM
Q.

Porn

I'm really one of only a handful of women who felt we've been hurt by the expectations created by porn? Wow. Now I feel extra neurotic! Thanks, Gene!
A.
Gene Weingarten :

The results shocked me.  If you read Hax, that seems to be women's number one complaint.

I have said this before, will again: I can see why women might worry about this, but I believe they needn't.  Men compartmentalize.  Sex with a women you love is in a totally different, far more exalted and exciting category than the other. 

– March 25, 2014 12:55 PM
Q.

Weeping Pooper Here

Just thought I'd give you an update -- 2 interesting developments: 1) I went on a diet for that required me to take a daily laxative (or suffer constant constipation). For 2 months I never had a formed BM, and never cried once in that time. 2) I've been dating a doctor for the last few months, and he found out about my crying poops. He said that he suspects that it is has something to do with the parasympathetic nervous system, esp. since it only happens with a formed BM.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I agree with his diagnosis.

– March 25, 2014 12:56 PM
Q.

Democrats losing the Senate

Does the Democrats losing the Senate have any practical considerations? Instead of Harry Reid vetoing the House Republicans, it will just be done by the President.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't think the president can get away with that very often, though the threat of a veto would always loom.  Hm, actually, any experts out there want to comment on this?

It did occur to me that if the Repubs take the Senate by one vote, and seem about to be led by loonies like Cruz, I'd be very interested to see what leadership posts the Dems might offer some moderate Republican, say, Susan Collins, to switch parties.   Majory Leader?

– March 25, 2014 12:56 PM
Q.

adopting 11 year old beagle

My spouse wants to adopt a 11 year old beagle in addition to our 2 other dogs. I don't want to. He/she wants to give this dog a few good years near the end of his life. I argue that the only reason we can tolerate an old dog's eventual bowel/urinary problems destroying thousands of dollars of carpeting is that we enjoyed them for the first 10 years. Am I just being a jerk in vetoing this decision?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

We'll, I'd feel the same way as you.     I'm guessing your spouse is a man, which is why you are being coy, because everyone would assume the lady is the softie.  I so assume.

– March 25, 2014 12:56 PM
Q.

Flight 370

I'm one of the first people who took this poll yesterday, choosing catastrophic mechanical failure and plane full of corpses like everyone else, and I'm having buyer's remorse. I picked this because what course data we have seems to indicate the plane was flying navigational waypoints programmed into the autopilot -- but not in a way that was going to get it anywhere. The problem is, I can't imagine anything that would kill everyone, take out the communications electronics (radio, transponder, etc.), but leave the autopilot functional and the plane capable of flying for eight hours. In retrospect, I'm thinking it's more likely the plane was taken over who weren't as smart as they thought they were. They had someone with September 11-style pilot training. They got into the cockpit, killed the crew, took over the plane. And they reprogrammed to autopilot to take them somewhere, but they did it wrong. Those waypoints are cryptic and not obviously connected to real-world locations. I don't know what the real waypoints down there are, but they probably did something like selection KELO instead of KINO and accidentally set the autopilot to fly them into the middle of nowhere. In the dark, at high altitude, they never noticed. By the time they did, if ever, it was too late and they'd run themselves out of fuel.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't want to think that  this is what happened. 

– March 25, 2014 12:56 PM
Q.

Turning Japanese

There's a major flaw in your poll -- how about "Hurts because it takes time away from more productive pursuits"?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay.

– March 25, 2014 12:57 PM
Q.

Harm from Porn

Not an option in your poll but I've submitted this sentiment to your chat before: I find porn harmful because it legitimizes an economy that provides little agency to women, objectifies women, and establishes unrealistic expectations about women's bodies and performance. So no personal harm, just harm to the gender in general. Would you want your daughter to seriously consider porn as a career option?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I wouldn't , and I agree with all points, but I wonder if feminists would strictly agree with the very first, agency.

– March 25, 2014 12:58 PM
Q.

Catastropic mechanical/communication failure?

Really? That's what most people think? I can only assume that people haven't been following this too closely. The plane makes at least two turns to change course, with the first entered into the plane's computer to make the turn smooth and automatic. The communication was fine and routine right up until the approximate time that the automatic course change is executed, which occurs around the time that the transponder is switched off. It's pretty clear that this was deliberately done, and by someone who knew what he was doing. It looks more and more like one of the pilots took control of the plane (locked the door after getting the other crew members to leave the cockpit?), and committed suicide in a way that took an entire planeful of people with him, perhaps wanting to leave behind some sort of unsolvable mystery of a vanished plane. (I wouldn't rule out that he had some other goal, but that he messed up in setting his course, and/or became physically incapacitated (heart attack?) somewhere along the way.)
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I don't think that is the current mindset of most of the experts looking at this right now.    We've had people who are good at this examining the pilots for weeks.   Don't you think something suspicious would have surfaced about someone who would do something like this?

– March 25, 2014 12:58 PM
Q.

Coffee Pee

I've always asserted that my pee smells like tuna fish after I drink coffee (I'm a woman). I've spoken about this at length with friends, and have never encountered anyone else who felt this way. Some have admitted that their coffee pee smells like coffee, but none have experienced the tuna phenomenon.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

It's on the Web -- tuna fish.  Several people compare it to that.  I remember seeing it when I was trying to get an answer.  

– March 25, 2014 12:58 PM
Q.

Bathroom surprises

Speaking of butts, I recently walked into the ladies room at work and saw a woman in only the top half of a business suit (blouse and jacket) with her trousers on the sink, she had her back to the mirror and was examining her butt cheeks. I quickly walked into a stall, did my business, washed and left. I noticed while at the sinks that she had some king of cream she was applying. Butt (hehe) really? Pants-less at the sink? FYI I work at a big international org downtown
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Wow.  That is a surprise!

– March 25, 2014 12:59 PM
Q.

We don't want to fund your pet causes.

Do not beg us for money ever again.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

I'm trying to decide if the tone is ironic or not.  Either way, it's funny.

– March 25, 2014 1:00 PM
Q.

Ohhhh

I just wondered why men have urinals in public restrooms at all when they have just toilets at home, and then I realized it's because they wouldn't life the seat at a public restroom either, thereby making other men have to sit on the wet seat. Can I get a urinal in my house?
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Nah, it ain't that.  It's that it's considerably more time efficient.

– March 25, 2014 1:01 PM
Q.

Gene Weingarten :

Okay, we're out of here.   Will Fluffybutt J. Poopiepants please identify herself to me at gene.weingarten@ washpost.com?   Thanks. 

And see you all in the updates.

Q.

Pilot friend (Captain)

His plane, when faced with depressurization, automatically turns left and descends to 14K feet (biz jet). Not far fetched that a Boeing would do similar and to 12K feet. That sounds plausible and everyone on board would be unconscious if not dead.
A.
Gene Weingarten :

Okay, but clearly if such a thing were programmed into a 777 we'd know it, no? 

– March 25, 2014 1:04 PM
Q.

 

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