Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

May 08, 2012

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Isn't any of things he appeared during this campaign. Basically, the other three surviving candidates left him no constituency except Left Behind readers, so he couldn't do anything but be the most extremist right-wing nut possible.

An interesting and politically cynical interpretation, but I can't buy it.     It requires us to believe he is, essentially, not human, just a political machine.   His passion on behalf of his idiot positions was too great.   

You know what really bothers me?  Obama, waffling on gay marriage.   I have no respect for his feet of clay on this issue.  He's basically lying, saying that his position is "evolving."  It is not evolving.  He is for gay marriage, but is afraid to say it and lose the support of bigots.   Gr.  

"Feet of clay" is an interesting idiom.  It comes from the Bible, in the book of Daniel, when he is recounting a dream by the king Nebuchadnezzar, where he saw a statue.  The head was gold, the body was iron, but the feet were of clay.   It suggested self-doubt: a seemingly strong leader who was deeply flawed. 

I read somewhere vis a vis women "forcing" men into sex: "You can't spike paper without a paper spike." How could she force him to get it up if he was exhausted and/or not interested?

There are devices, or so I understand.   

Unless any of these people were forced - or coerced into doing these things, buying the drugs, blowing up the bridge, whatever, THEY ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING WRONG and should be arrested. Just because the opportunity to do so was given to them by cops does not negate the fact that they took that opportunity instead of saying no. The cops did not put a gun to perverts heads and tell them they have to read those pervy chat rooms and meet children they want to molest. They didn't steal their children and say that they would be hurt if they didn't try to buy someone else's child. I have no problem with any of these.

Thank you for sharing your extremely conservative view of crime and punishment.    I understand some people are moral absolutists.  I believe otherwise; I believe that inside our brains, we are a mess.   We are imperfect beings who are constantly teetering on the brink of failure, vice, impropriety, and thus such, facing temptations with varying degrees of fortitude. 

I do not know for certain, for example, if I could resist an enormous bribe for doing something that wouldn't hurt others and that I might have done anyway, if there were a reasonably small chance of being caught.    Warren Buffett offers me $20 million to write something true that would benefit him.    I cannot with absolute certainty say I would not do this, and I am very grateful I will never have to make such a decision. 

If I were stung in such a way, and leapt for it, and were imprisoned, I would feel very much abused and ill-used.  

My wife and I have a very clear understanding: We're married, not dead. We notice attractive people and acknowledge that fact to each other. She's also attracted to women and had a fling with one a few years ago. Was I jealous? Yes (which surprised me). Was it cheating? I don't think so. She told me before it started and I was fully aware of the situation. Consent on the part of the other partner in the marriage seems critical to me on this one.


Well, good for you both.   I agree with you on all points.   

Seems to me you have a very strong marriage.  

You are right: until he acts on his thought he has committed no crime. But there's no moral difference between committing a criminal act with damage to the victim and committing a criminal act that is phony. As far as he knows, the bribe is real, the 13-year-old girl is real. He is demonstrating that he is willing to act criminally. If he refuses the (phony but real-to-him) bribe and the (phony but real-to-him) 13-year-old girl, he is still a pillar of the community.

I agree with this, but what is the import of "he is willing to act criminally"?       Would that be a charge in a court of law?     The defendant is charged with Being Willing to Commit Arson?    There is something deeply troubling to me here. 


As a knee-jerk liberal who's worked for some time in law enforcement related fields, I struggle with this one a lot. Yes, it is a slippery slope, but on the other hand standing resolutely at the top of the hill refusing to grapple with where the line ought to be has the direct result of letting harm happen that you might have been able to stop. The line is the one at which a person otherwise able to withstand temptation is helped into wrongdoing. On one side of that line are the people like your pillar of society, who will never rape a child unless led into irresistible circumstances. On the other are the people, possibly including today's bombers, who will actively try to commit the crime whether you are involved or not but if you perform a sting, you prevent the harm. The fact that we have to struggle really hard to stay on the right side of that line doesn't mean we shouldn't try to find it. Or to put it another way: it's better to let ten guilty men go free than convict one innocent man, but is it better to let one toddler get raped for real in order to avoid entrapping a pillar who probably was only online for reasons "in his head"? I can't say I know that, can you?

Nope.  It's why I asked the question. 

You state this all very well. 

I'd suggest that the issue is part and parcel of the central conundrum of democracy.   Leaders of autocratic regimes are kind of astonished at how democracies let people run wild, when it would be so easy to keep things orderly.   Obvious murderers sometimes walk because police did some little thing wrong.    Crazy people with crazy ideas get to say them aloud and stir people up.     It would be so easy to make all of that go away. 

But that's not how we roll.  We recognize that some ideals are so important they justify the mess they leave behind.  

Could you explain where you see the distinction between these two? Looking at the horse names, I thought they were all clever; the PREMISE is to be clever, to make plays on words! They're all play's on words, and all, I thought, clever and funny. It was a really hard one to pick a "worst" for.

Glad you asked!

Yeah, it's subtle. 

I'll give an example.  Here are four results.

Cyber Secret x Liaison = eLope (Carly Ball, Rockville, Md., a First Offender)

Empire Way x Ever So Lucky = Appian Carefree (Jonathan Paul)

Discreet Dancer x One Sock Down = Amish Stripper

Diplomat x Segway = Ambassadork (Larry Yungk, Arlington, Va.)

I contend the first two are more clever than funny, and the second two are more funny than clever.  The image in your head of an Amish stripper with one sock down is funny.   "Dork" is a funny word, especially paired with a dignified word like "ambassador."

The first two don't call up funny images.  You read them and you think "I see what he did there!  That's intellectually smart."  In the case of "Appian Carefree," you also are required to know a bit of history.  I would describe them as "droll."

Both are "humor" and both are worthy.  The Empress and I are just slightly apart on their respective values. 

My parents had some old, mildly humorous books about growing up Catholic, and I remember reading in one of them that a young lady on a date was supposed to keep a dime between her knees, and if it fell, she should use it to call her parents for a ride home. To my very literal and naive young mind, this sounded like the worst date ever: How would she get out of the car to go into the restaurant? What if her leg itched and it fell while she was scratching it? I can't hear the aspirin line now without remembering that whole line of thought.

Haha.  Kids are literal.   Molly once burst into tears when I loaded her into the car and told her we were going to "pick mommy up."   She said, "mommy fell down?"

I thought the top ones were clever, but then et tu, boote made me laugh out loud and spew water over my keyboard, so it won. That was freakin' hilarious.

Yeah, precisely. 

And I give NO sympathy to parents who leave their kid in the car. I expect them to be charged with involuntary murder.

Yeah, and I'm not antisemitic and I don't like Jews. 

You're not really liberal.  Liberals have compassion and understand human error.  

It is absolutely correct that the people who create television product advertisements are trained and paid to think at all times about sex, and specifically they are trained and hired to think in minute detail about the exact quantity of sexual suggestion they put into every advertising image, directly and indirectly. Nothing is "accidental" in their work in this respect. Because this aspect of their thought process is inescapable, do you think they are morally required to dress all pubescent girls in burkhas? Or are they morally allowed to provide an appropriate and measured (i.e. very small) amount of sexual presence to females depicted as under age 18?

I think the last.   Sure.   Every second of every commercial serves a purpose.   I would love to get the director of that commercial on a witness stand, under oath, and ask about the thought / discussion process that resulted in the final three seconds of that commercial.   I guarantee you it was discussed:  How much screen time for the young lady's butt? 

I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry asks whether, when we watch Olympic gymnastics, we're "allowed to look at their little butts." In truth, adolescent attractiveness is a significant part of the culture. It's foolish to pretend that the age of consent is also the start of body-visibility. That's not to say that people should go around ogling high-schoolers, which is skeevy, but they needn't make believe that teenage actors and models are attractive in some kind of totally different, above-the-shoulders way.

Exactly.  See, that's my point, but you said it better than I just did.  This ad is FORCING you to be a little skeevy.  It is saying, okay, first we're going to tell you that this lady is young.  Then we're going to show her in a bikini, and NOW, just to see if you're paying attention, we're going to do a slo-mo out-take of her behind.... 

What did the blind man say while eating Matzah? "Who wrote this junk?!"

Thank you. 

Firestarter brick company ablaze in Schodack

Thank you.  If you look up "irony" in the dic, this is basically the example they always give: The fire station burns down.    So, this is the exact opposite of irony.  It would have been ironic if this building had NOT burned down. 

A while back, you said you taught a Post staffer how not to throw "like a girl". Do you remember how you taught it? It's really important to my niece, but I can't figure out the mechanics.

Here ya go.   The key, with the dance step, is that you are holding hands and (assuming you are both righties) you execute the throw with your left hand.    If you're lucky enough that only one of you is a lefty, you are then throwing with your dominant hand, and so is she. 

OK, I was able to get my vote in on my first attempt, but it was a difficult Captcha... I hate those things sometimes, and really struggle with deciphering them. I have a bigger question though. What is the Comic Carousel competition? Do you really have to compete for votes every month to stay in the comics page? Is there ever a point where the comic is safe for a period of time? Once you're in you should be safe for a year (or some other period of time that allows an artist to work on the comic, rather than schilling for votes). What a pain in the ass that must be for you, and other comic strip authors/artists (what is the appropriate term there?).

This is a reference to a recent poll in The Chicago Tribune about whether to retain "Barney & Clyde."  They do this all the time.   We lost 60 percent to 40 percent.   It's really annoying to cartoonists, yes.  

The problem with voting on comics -- and yeah, I'd say this even if we'd won -- is twofold:  It is easily manipulatable by persons with vested interest, and it is generally subject to undue influence by simpletons:  The people who vote early and often are probably not the people who should be making decisions for the paper.   Time and again, they reward familiarity over newness; simplicity over complexity; simple gag-a-day strips over those with nuance and storyline; kitties and doggies over everything else.  

Anyway, that probably sounds like squawking of a sore loser.    

I did send a letter to the comics editor of the Trib, pointing out how easy it was to manipulate: I confessed to having voted 160 times (the system is supposed to prevent more than one from a computer) by futzing with "cookies," closing and reopening browsers, etc. 

Since you like random facts, and since I like being a know-it-all, I thought I'd fill you in on the Re-Captcha system you complained about on the comics poll. There is an interest in digitizing books, so old books can be searched, indexed, and accessed online. You'll notice there are two words. Only one is actually the test; the other is a word from an old book that computer vision algorithms have failed to confidently read. So, by having people online do millions of these a day, they are working to digitize books! It's the idea of Luis von Ahn, whose high opinion of himself is largely earned.

Wow.  I had no idea.   They are getting slave labor. 

And yes, that makes total sense.   So, presumably, when a certain number of people agree on the second word, a note is made somewhere, and a book somewhere -- hung up on a word -- is automatically digitized?

At any point, the targeted person (the would-be anarchist, the tempted congressman, the perv, the druggie) can refuse. They don't have to participate in the act that got them arrested. They took that step entirely on their own. That's what makes it different from the child rapist fantasy guy, who keeps it all in his head.

Okay, we're gonna end with this, because it's interesting.  Let's take the child-rapist fantasy guy.   Remember the scenario: He's a 60 year old pillar of the community; philanthropist, etc.   Never done a bad thing in his life.  But after his death, in his diary, we discover that he was tormented all his life by a compulsion to rape and kill children.   Raping and killing children was the sum and substance of his sexual fantasies.   I postulated that  this was a great man, better than the rest of us who don't have to face, and face down, that temptation.  (Actually, in my formulation, we are all that man, except with more benign temptations.)

What if federal agents had stung this guy?  Put in front of him, within easy access and plausible secrecy, the chance at a kid.    



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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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