Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Mar 13, 2012

Every Tuesday, Gene publishes weekly updates to his chats.

Gene's latest 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.

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.

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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.

 Well, my column on Sunday examined the provocative question of whether the deaf find farts funny.   Many people wrote in with their own views on this subject, but one letter stoood out. 

Someone far smarter than I once noted that most lives can be summarized by a handful of Major Moments.  Sometimes these are simply things observed by one who happens to be in the right place at the right time, and has the perspicacity to appreciate the significance of what one is seeing.

A moment such as this, from a woman of the cloth:

Your column about the deaf and farting reminded me of an incident some years ago when my then-preschool granddaughter was attending the School for the Deaf in St. Johns, Newfoundland.   As I was waiting for my granddaughter to be done with something or other, I happened to observe an active group of teenagers, sitting in a circle with a teacher, energetically conversing in American Sign Language.  As is not uncommon among hearing and deaf teens, several loud farts punctuated the conversation.  Seizing the moment, the teacher signed to one teen "I heard you fart!"

"NO!" exploded the teen increduously.  (You didn't have to know ASL to have interpreted his reaction.)   He turned to the others and signed "Did you know that?  She heard my fart!  With her ears!" 

Around the circle went this incredible news, as the teens struggled, accompanied by much laughter and rowdy signs, to assimilate this new information about their bodies and about their interaction with the deaf and hearing words.   Thanks for reminding me. 

-- Rev. Maureen Killoran



Wait, you hover with the seat down? Woman up and go seatless!

I have been conducting chats for nearly ten years, and discussing women who hover and sprinkle for nearly as long.   This is the first time this practical solution has been offered.  I declare it sound.   Anyone want to whine why it is no good?

Because it is an age-appropriate way to develop patriotism and I think a little patriotism is a good thing. But I also think that as kids get older, their teachers should engage them in discussion about the pledge so that by the time they are adults, they realize that putting a flag pin on your lapel does not, in fact, prove that you are patriotic nor does not wearing the pin mean you are unpatriotic.

But it is forcing kids to say something that HAS to be incomprehensible to them.   Allegiance?  One nation indivisible?   

I like the idea of loving one's country, assuming one's country is worthy of love, as ours surely is.   I do not like the idea of the ritualized, enforced love of country, which is what "patriotism" usually involves.   It's nationalism The most patriotic country of the 20th century was certainly Germany circa 1933-1939.  

Please define 'expensive' - ie, what do you shell out for your average smoke?

I spend about $2.50 for my everyday cigars, which are, literally, once a day, on my nighttime walk with Murphy.  The big splurge is that every Christmas the rib gets me a bunch of nice ones that I parcel out to myself over the next few months.    And even with those, we have an understanding:  Nothing over $8 apiece.  

The reason is that I am not a connoisseur.  I can't really tell the difference between a good cigar and a super cigar, the way I can distinguish betwen beers, food, writing.    My other blind point, obviously, is clothing.  


I am pro-pledge and for reasons that, paradoxically, would justify my being called a "liberal elitist" rather than a staunch conservative. So have at me. FWIW, I'm uncomfortable with holding this opinion, but I can't talk myself out of it. As evidenced by the volume of Fox "News" viewership, the way so many minds can be so easily manipulated by the talking heads (especially on the right) and the state to which our our political process has been reduced, I feel that the vast majority of Americans need some indoctrination in order to create a sense of community and pride in the place where they live. The Pledge is one way to do that. It's probably the only time that a child in your average American family is called upon to actually think about citizenship and what that means. Although I am an atheist, I believe religion serves the same goal as it relates to morality: Although I firmly believe that you do not need "God to be good," I think too many people do not reflect on ethics or even care about right and wrong, and just need to be told how to behave beyond mere laws (to ensure good behavior when no earthly person is looking and have some fear of some kind supernatural retribution if they don't). I figure that good, smart people eventually see past the tyranny of a Pledge (and God), and so, no harm done to folks who don't "need" it who have to go along with the daily ritual for the better good of society.

A fine and reasoned answer that, in my opinion, would make sense if children spent one second thinking critically or philosophically about those words they are robotically parroting. 

In the last chat, someone raised an interesting point about which I had never thought:  Why every day?   Can there be no more eloquent statement about the overweening, overbearing tyranny of the pledge that it is a DAILY chore?   What, since yesterday we might have let our patriotism flag a little?  We need a booster shot?

How about it gives kids an opportunity to think for themselves and stand up to mindless conformity every day, even if very few ever catch on to that?

Okay, you win.    The good side of the pledge:  It builds cynicism and mistrust of authority. 

Gene: Women are attracted to abusive men for the same reason men fall for the crazy stalker woman who slashes his tires--sexual excitement. As much as intellectually we know the stable man is a better partner, the animal side responds to the total jerk. Those men are, unfortunately, oftentimes very sexy.

Many women have written in to suggest reasons why so many women turn out to be attracted to abusive men.   This response, to me, was the most disturbing; because this is an anonymous forum, I feel I can say what I am going to say:

I read into your response a dangerous pathology; I suspect you are a women highly susceptible to being abused, because you are making assumptions about people that don't jibe with reality.  The jibe with YOUR fractured reality. 

Men are NOT attracted to the tire-slasher type.  Men are REPELLED by the tire-slasher type.    "Totally sexy" is an extremely subjective judgment, and I think I can speak for most men in saying that the hottest woman around becomes a homely pimple when it begins to become apparent that she is emotionally needy and temperamentally volatile.  

Likewise, you define the male, violent cad as "sexy."   I think that's you, kid.    Once you figure out WHY you feel this way, you'll be en route to solving the problem.   

The consensus from many women who wrote in, by the way, is that these crappy guys tend to groom their victims; at the beginning, they are extremely attentive and extremely focused on you.   The attentions are flattering and overwhelming, but they are designed to isolate you; by the time you realize this, he has managed to persuade you that you lack worth and that he is the only person willing to put up with you.  It's insidious. 

You don't mind scratching another person's bumper when parking, is that different from dinging a neighboring car door when you open yours in a crowded parking lot?

Yes.  It is totally different.   The purpose of a door is not to withstand dings.   Moreover, it should never be necessary to ding a door.   There are times in the big city when tapping a bumper is necessary. 

But you knew all this.  You are just trolling. 

I'm sorry, I don't laugh at the idea that Santorum is actually challenging for the nomination. While I do agree with you that he could not win a national election, the idea that even the small, extreme wing of any party could possibly even consider him for nomination saddens and scares me. These are actual people who live in this country. They have the right to vote, and in most of their states, the right to carry concealed weapons. They have no ability to think critically or reasonably. So I don't find it humorous at all. Sigh.

Well, here's what you have to remember.   You are looking at the results of tiny elections involving very small crowd samples.   Republicans number 36 percent of all American voters.  Republicans who vote in primaries are maybe half of that.     Now split that 18 percent of the total voting population among three candidates.  You are getting six percent of all voters voting for Santorum.    

That's about right.   Six percent bigoted, silly-ass easily courted  wackjobs.   Nothing to be too upset about. 

I think only extremely lucky or ignorant people can believe that a brand-new blastocyst is something that can and should be protected. I've had three confirmed pregnancies that resulted in four "babies" lost before 8 weeks, and who knows how many just didn't latch on to the wall and emit the right chemicals in a timely fashion. We can talk about how wonderful that first child would have been, but my current, much-loved child wouldn't be here if her older brother or sister had stuck around, and she probably wouldn't be the strong and healthy baby she is if the two other triplets' tiny hearts hadn't stopped. And I would have had selective reduction to bring the number down to two if nature hadn't taken care of it for me. The thing is, I'm not bringing more than a couple children into this world, and there are a lot of eggs that are going down the toilet either way, a lot of unique individuals that won't see the world. Given that fact, why wouldn't I do my best to make sure that the two who make it start without a lot of unnecessary impairments?

Okay, we end with this because it summarizes my feelings 100 percent, more eloquently than I have expressed it.   Thank you.  

UPDATE: Okay, actually one more thing ...

Yesterday, in the mail, arrived an object my son and I ordered a month ago from China after we wrote this installment of Barney & Clyde.    For those of you who have never seen this amazing perpetual motion machine, we present a 30-second video of the Drinking Duck, taken this morning.   It had been running all night, and is still going strong.   The only think preventing it from being a true perpectual motion machine is the need to replace water lost to evaporation.  Enjoy. 

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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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