Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Feb 19, 2013

Every Tuesday, Gene publishes weekly updates to his chats.

- Gene's next chat

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. 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.

Gene, I am pregnant with my first child, due in August. I am very excited. I suggested that if we have a boy, we name him Gene. My husband disagrees. I tried! Maybe next time?

Gene is not a good name, largely because everyone assumes you are "Eugene," which is a terrible name.   It's a terrible name for a lot of reasons, one of which is that when pronounced with a deep Southern accent ("you-JINE" it sounds like how you would summon your mentally retarded dog.   But Eugene is mostly  bad because means "well-born."   It is a name redolent of aristocracies.  Of inherited status.  Of primogeniture, that medieval system where the firstborn son inherits everything, a system that a cynic once applauded on the grounds that it meant every family would have only one idiot.  

You need to thank your husband.   

While doing some research I came across a great historical aptonym about one of the founders of the National Zoo. This man was also the Chief Taxidermist at the Smithsonian where he was highly regarded for his work on bison, many of which he hunted himself. His name: William Hornaday.

A worthy aptonym.   Not a great aptonym.   

Want a great aptonym?    Here is one I recently tweeted.  Please note the name of the doctor who treats brain cancer. 

Earlier, I had tweeted another superior aptonym.   Note the name of the judge who performs same-sex marriages. 

Both of these aptonyms were presented to me by my favorite aptonym wrangler, Lean Sandman.   Her name would be a great aptonym if she were, say, an anesthesioligist. 

 

A worthy aptonym.   Not a great aptonym.   

Want a great aptonym?    Here is one I recently tweeted.  Please note the name of the doctor who treats brain cancer. 

Earlier, I had tweeted another superior aptonym.   Note the name of the judge who performs same-sex marriages. 

Both of these aptonyms were presented to me by my favorite aptonym wrangler, Leah Sandman.   Her name would be a great aptonym if she were, say, an anesthesioligist. 

 

Has it ever been explained why and how Clyde ended up on the street? Is he "homeless by choice", as Ed Meese put it?

Clyde's backstory is only partially filled in.   We know he was a former grade school classmate of Barney's.   This Wikipedia entry summarizes the strip as currently explained.  There are disclosures yet to be disclosed, include a Huge One we have hinted at but probably will never outright address.  

(And you thought it was just a comic strip.)

I know you have broached this subject in the past, but I would like to know your feelings for people who do not pick up after their dogs in the city. While I think that all instances of this are disgusting and contemptible, what truly boils my blood is when people leave a dog doot in the MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK! I live and work around Dupont Circle and Georgetown, and walk as often as I can. However, the ridiculously frequent incidence of scat in the middle of the walking lanes (clearly not near-misses of planters) has ruined my ability to enjoy either the neighborhood or my own thoughts, as I am forced to be constantly vigilant for not only the initial offenses, but the secondary and tertiary results of other pedestrians not being as vigilant as myself. Can we just call out these dog owners as a**hats that clearly range from inconsiderate to sociopathic, and shouldn't have the right to own a dog? The ability and willingness to pick up any doots left on property not belonging to the dog owner (or to hire someone to do it for them), should be a prerequisite for dog ownership anywhere, and especially in a city.

You don't really want an answer.  You wanted to vent.  I permitted it.   Good. 

Some good standup comic I saw once said, "Okay, let's say Martians visit Earth and they see dogs walking around, and humans picking up their warm excreta in little bags.  Which species do you think the Martians would assume was dominant?"

Uh, not funny. Clueless. Rape isn't about sex. It's about power.

This was in reference to a complex cartoon about rape from the last chat.  I missed this observation but would like to address it. 

I have never understood the near religious insistance that rape is not at all about sex, but is all about power.   It seems to be a mantra of the good people involved in the good cause of ending violence against women.  I gather it is as important to their position as "alcoholism is a disease, not a weakness" is to the AA movement, but I find both stances to be oddly absolutist.   I've always wanted to talk about this -- both of them -- but was always a little ... afraid.    It's not that I don't want to be criticized or called names, it's that I fear I am treading on hallowed ground, violating some taboos I don't entirely understand.   Still, truth matters.  So: 

I absolutely believe that alcoholism is in large measure an illness -- for one thing, some people seem vastly more chemically susceptible to it than others -- but to deny ANY moral weakness seems wrong to me; and because it seems politically correct on its face, I'm not so sure it helps the movement.   I say this as someone who has had alcoholism in his family, and who always had an unhealthy appetite for altered states of consciousness himself; it's not impossible to resist, it requires will, priorities, etc., it entails lapses, feelings of guilt.  The very fact that AA works for so many people -- ie, that altering your state of mind helps release you from the scourge -- seems evidence to me that there is some element of will and strength involved.    Cancer is truly a disease -- it can't be willed away.    Alcoholism isn't quite the same. 

Similarly, I have no doubt that rape is a violent crime that is basically the exercise of rage /power / anger / intimidation over someone, to compensate for a feeling of inadequacy or powerlessness.   But to deny the sexual element seems to me, perversely, to belittle rape; it's not the same as simple assault -- there's another facet of it that has to do with a primal urge that has become twisted.  It's gender specific.  Rapists may hate women and want to dominate them, but they also want them physically and this overpowering physical desire has to be part of the mix; part of the reason we are civilized is that humans have learned to mediate this overwhelming urge.   The rapist has to be, on some level, a sexual primitive. 

The question remains why it is chic / necessary / strategically important  to deny the sex part of this equation.   I don't get it.   I get why alcoholism is less stigmatized if it is seen as a disease, but I don't get why rape is any less awful if it is seem as a perversion of sex.  It's still a violent, damaging, loathsome act.   I'm no more inclined, as a juror, to go easy on a rapist if I believe he was driven in part by an urge.  Hey, we all got urges, pal.  

My two cents.   

Assume you saw this: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/opinion/sunday/hypochondria-an-inside-look.html Care to compare and contrast your "genus" of this disorder with his?

Yep, I read it.   It's pretty good, but for Woody Allen it is largely phoned in.   Too many lines in there that he thought about for half a second, then went with.   

I think even Woody would agree that there is no tangible difference between a hypochondriac, which he claims not to be, and an alarmist, which he owns up to.   They are patently the same thing.      And like alcoholism,  they are a disease, not a weakness.  So just shut up about it, okay?  

Okay, that's it for today.  Next Tuesday is a full chat, with an unusual disclosure by me and a request for help. If you're there, you will have an orgasm.If you miss it, you will never have an orgasm again. The choice is yours.

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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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