Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Mar 20, 2012

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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.

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Welcome, update readers.  It is with great regret that Chatological Humor hereby concedes the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney, and gives up on the wonderful prospect of Barack Obama facing, for re-election, a man whose official political stance is that having sex for fun is a bad thing.  From around 1812 on this Santorum interview:    "Contraception's not okay.  It's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. ... if it's not for purposes of procreation, then you diminish that very special bond between men and women..."   He then adds: "I know most presidents don't talk about those things.."

Right!  Wonder why? 

Shouldn't a women be allowed to drink whenever she wants? It's either a unborn child who should be protected from harm or it is fetus that can be aborted .... right? Or do you want to have it both ways? I'm pro-choice but it's a disturbing road you walk down when thinking about these things.

Well, now we have a fascinating question.  ISN'T a pregnant woman allowed to drink, even to get drunk, as awful as the fetal consequences might be?   By what law can society seize her and imprison her, or whatever, to stop her drinking?

I think in this sense -- perhaps without thinking about it mch -- society DOES acknowledge that the baby is not yet a baby.   Hang on.  Gonna go research.  Stay right here. 

Okay, here is a great article on the subject of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.   Basically, there is mass hysteria on the subject, but (I am summarizing mightily)  it's pretty hard to impair your baby by overdrinking.  There's a lot of evidence that moderate alcohol use by the mom actually helps the baby, and that even occasional binge drinking doesn't usually hurt.  The truly dangerous behavior is chronic alcoholism through the pregnancy.    Until the 1980s, there were no laws that compelled societal intervention in these cases, however:

"Since the late 1980s the issue has become of increasing concern to the US legal system. Cases of physicians facing damage suits for failing to advise that alcohol could affect the foetus have been reported. Since 1987 mothers who use alcohol...during pregnancy have become subject to increasing legal controls, compulsory treatment and may even face imprisonment. If their child shows positive signs of damage they may also face charges of child abuse."

So, we are starting to push our noses into these cases.   I'm not sure I disagree with that.   And I'm not sure I disagree because this is not behavior that terminates a pregnancy early (which I do not define as "killing a child," this is a behavior that creates an injured baby, in the care of someone too irresponsible to care for it. 

Complicated!

OK, I'll bite. Nationalism is extraordinarily important for a democracy to function. We need people to not only believe in the system, but have an emotional investment in it such that we cringe at the idea of rule-breaking (like running a red light at an empty intersection for example). We also need a willing an eager military to defend the country if we ever needed it again. The pledge is an easy way to start kids down this path.

That's like saying we can start kids down the path of becoming Einsteins by making them memorize by rote, at 7, all the formulas in Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.   They'll learn numbers, not their meanings.  And it will be a chore they will resent. 

When I was little and asked about circumcision, my father explained that he had planted my foreskin in the back yard to grow a penis tree. Hadn't I ever noticed them dangling there in the late spring? I was mortified, and kicking myself for being so unobservant.

Haha. 

There is a tall skinny tower in Northern Manhattan that can be seen at a distance from the West Side Highway.  It was kind of creeopy; looked like something out of Arabian Knights.    When I was a kid, and we were driving past it, I once asked my Uncle Irving what it was.  He told me he didn't like to talk about it or think about it much, but it was The Tower of the Man Who Hates Children. 

That was it.    I never knew whether to take this seriously, but I remember gauging distances and imagining rifle scopes, and thinking we were safe.  I was pretty sure. 

I am reading the book "1861," about the start of the Civil War, and it gave me some insight into why the pledge exists. Although slavery was the defining disagreement, it led to a conflict about whether someone could leave a democracy just because they didn't like how it was going. The flag came to symbolize that no matter how much Northerners disagreed about slavery, no matter how bitter the disputes, they agreed to see it through together. The Union coalesced around that. For that reason, I"m o.k. with kids learning the pledge-- as long as they also learn the reasons for it-- that they don't have to agree with everything the country does, or that their fellow citizens do-- we're in it for the long haul with each other, and democracy means we're going to sort it out together no matter how difficult it is. And the flag stands for that, to me.

So you are okay with kids being made to parrot a pledge that last had meaning during the waning days of Reconstruction, and whose meaning requires a historian to explain?  

Okay.  But when I see a bunch of bored fourth graders rolling their eyes saying these words, I am thinking that they're thinking:  My country makes me babble.  

I HATE how people automatically start praising you when you lose weight. At one point in college I had people telling me how great I looked, what was I doing? I had freaking mono. But that positive attention is addictive, and I, like a lot of women, have fallen into real food pathologies over the years. And that's probably why you see food mentioned so much in women's twitter bios--acknowledging you like food--no, love food--is signalling that you are sensual, that you break taboos, almost that you are attractively reckless. It's way twisted.

Wow.  An interesting analysis.  So it is saying "I dare to eat.  I am a WILD woman."   I am guessing here, but it also might suggest you are not overweight, because you are willing to even DISCUSS food. 

I feel your pain about this.  

The Twitter phenomenon is really interesting, by the way.  Do an experiment:  Find a way to look at, say, 100 random bios.   (Looking at a list of one person's followers is a good way to approach this.)     Where you find food mentioned, 10 to 1 it's a woman.  And that's regardless of the nature of the mention.  "I hate cilantro" will be a woman.   "Yumm bok choi" will be a woman.   

Sorry for not providing links, but I don't have time to look them up. The sibling of someone with Down's Syndrome is far more likely than anyone else to abort a fetus with the disease. This is not because they don't love their brother or sister with the syndrome, but because they know that such a child with require all the parents' time and money. But, what is even worse, now that medical science has made it possible for such children to live deep into adulthood, they have a 50% chance of developing early-onset Alzheimer's disease. I would never presume to judge anyone who chose to abort such a fetus. On the other hand, I wouldn't presume to judge anybody else, either.

There is another factor you are diplomatically not saying: The sibling of the Down person is also likely looking at having to be the one to take care of him/her in his/her old age.  The parents, in choosing to have the child, are also choosing to burden the siblings with the child's care. 

I do not judge abortion in these cases even a little bit.   

So in his world before the pill no one had sex outside of marriage. Unless you were the King of England and got a special papal dispensation. Then all hell broke loose when the pill gave women control over when they had babies. His motto ought to be "Proudly leading America into the 19th century."

There is an interesting story in today's Post about Santorum and Opus Dei.  

You know, I dont want a president who describes himself as being "head and heart intoxicated with God."   Call me anti-religious, which I am not, but if you insist on that, call me anti-religious.  But I find that thought deeply disturbing; I want a person more grounded in logic than in blind obedience to his concept of a deity.  

I am also deeply disturbed in this line, from a speech he gave during the height of the Catholic Church - rape scandal:

Santorum said that Satan has used “the great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality” to corrupt universities, politics and even most Christian churches, except one.

“You say, ‘The Catholic Church?’ No,” Santorum said, explaining that Satan aimed at the country’s Protestant roots. “. . . If you look at mainline Protestantism in this country, it is in shambles. It is gone from the world of Christianity.”

Um. 

 


We can recognize the moral right of Catholic institutions to not pay the share of employee insurance costs that covers birth control at the same time we recognize the moral right of Quakers to not pay the share of income tax that goes to the defense department.

A very interesitng point.  As is the next one. 

My cousins and I were overjoyed to see your mention of the Japanese fart scrolls in Sunday's column. Please tell us we were the ones who brought it to your notice on Facebook! Of course, if you've set your Google reader to bring you any and all fart-dates, we understand too.

At least 200 people alerted me to fart scrolls. 

Gene, Do people really, frequently ask the same questions today as they did waaaayy back in 2005? Whatever happened to the "new FAQs" effort? Seems like we'll have a Republican President again before these things get updated!

Okay, Okay.  Fair enough.   The intro to next week's full chat will be a revised, and eccentric, FAQ.    See you all next week.  

To submit questions to Gene's next chat, which will take place March 27 at Noon ET, click here.

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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.
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