Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Dec 17, 2013

Gene's next monthly chat is next Tuesday, January 7 at noon. You may submit questions here.

- Want to find out what you're missing? Check out Gene's November live chat to get an idea of how the monthly chat works.

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.

Greetings, update readers.

I said last week this update wouldn't happen, but then I realized it had to happen, for selfish reasons, because I have something important to promote:  Tomorrow at noon Eastern Time, I am holding my first ever Reddit.com  IAMA chat.    You should all attend, if for no reason other than an opportunity to hear me use the f and s words in casual conversation.  Maybe even the ~ word. 

IAMAs are forums where people let the public ask them anything -- no topic is restricted.  In my case, I am hoping it will also generate some crowdsourcing about the book I'm working on:  An examination of the events of a random date, chosen by pulling numbers out of a hat.  The date is Sunday, December 28, 1986.

So, you can either stay tuned to my social media to get the link for tomorrow, or you can be big boys and girls and find it from this here page:  reddit.com/r/iama .

Below, I catch up on some unanswered questions from the last chat.  A few of them are pretty thought provoking.

I'd like to request your feedback on a semantic hangup of mine: the use of "homophobia" when the people in question are not pathologically afraid of gay people, but rather they are bigots. I suppose there are probably some folks out there that do fit a narrow definition of homophobe. For the others whose close-mindedness leads them to oppose same-sex marriage, equal protection ordinances, and the like, I believe we let them off the hook linguistically if we use "homophobia" instead of "bigotry." Same argument goes for "xenophobia." Am I just being pedantic?

Actually I have a column coming out in a few weeks on just this subject -- not the "homophobia" thing, per se -- but on people's bugaboos on the use of English.  Everyone has pet peeves, and I hear all of them because I am such a professional English curmudgeon.  And while I agree with many (you're right about homophobe) these common ones tend to bore me.  Yes, I know "ATM machine" is redundant.   Okay?   But it's by now a TRITE correct observation.   See how much of an obnoxious connoisseur I have become?    I only want to hear your gripes if they are original and interesting.

In my column I discuss one such email I got from a reader, and my followup research.  You'll have to wait.

I hate to bead a dead metaphor, but you ought t know by now that Astrology is a way to give you philosophy in the guise of prediction. The first example is the "I Ching" and all the rest are copies. The real movement of the planets and such may do something, but who could know? I used to say the mass of the doctor had more effect than the planets on my birth, but that is irrelevant. People want predictions. Others want to push a philosophy, so they give them one and call it the other.

Well, you are implying that most astrologers are charlatans!   Even if they are doing it to advance a philosophy, and allowing for the possiblity that it is a good, helpful, philosophy, they are still doing it through a lying prism, taking advantage of the gullible. 

Actually, the best evidence that they KNOW they are lying is the lack of specificity of their predictions.  It's the same game Nostradamus played.  Be vague.  It can fit any circumstance and any person.

I once wanted to do a magazine cover story on astrology, where I would take certain very lucky or very unlucky days in famous people's lives, and work backwards to see what their horoscope said for the day.   It was completely frustrating.  For example, one of the names I chose was Don Larsen, a mediocre, journeyman 1950s era pitcher who on October 8, 1956 pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.  Alas, all of the horoscopes I could find were so bland and indistinct you could read them and think it would be a good day for him, or a bad day for him.  That's the nature of the lie. 

I'll say this at the risk of offending people: If you truly read the horoscopes not just for entertainment but because you think they mean something, you are a dope.


You know what really kills me about the use of Ms is when in a list of people they will still use Mrs for the married women but Ms for the single women. They may as well just use Miss (though I really hate that except for little girls). Why can't people understand the use of Ms as being used for everyone?

Here's a thought experiment:  What if there were a new system:  "Miss" for an unmarried woman.  "Mrs." for a married woman.  "Mr." for an unmarried man,  and Mrr. (pronounced "misterer") for a married man?    Do you think society would embrace this? 

I don't.   Because formally distinguishing people by their married status is absurd and patronizing.   Males would never have stoood for this.   It only makes sense in a patriarchal society, where women's availability, as chattel, was worth noting.

Speaking of private parts, did you hear this phone conversation between LBJ and his tailor about how he needs extra room in his trousers? http://www.openculture.com/2013/11/lyndon-johnson-orders-new-pants.html Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, you can hear a sitting President say "Bung hole." God bless America.

Yes, we linked to this years ago.  It's great.  You know, LBJ understood quite well that he was creating a lifetime memory for the folks with whom he spoke this way.   "Hey, Maude, guess who just referred to "mah bunghole."?

Go to Texas and tell me if you still think that way. I've heard basketball called a "black sport" but never football.

We were talking the NFL, where 60 percent of the players are non-white, the majority of those being African-American. 

There is a fascinating study to be done about the distribution of African-Americans in football.   It's too potentially freighted to do, though !  

  The fact is, there are certain positions that are almost exclusively filled by black men, and also other positions almost exclusively filled by white men, and in some areas, this disparity has been getting MORE pronounced, not less.  The last white cornerback IN ALL OF FOOTBALL was Jason Sehorn in 2003.     Meeanwhile, offensive linemen are largely white and defensive linemen are largely black.   Tailbacks are all black.  Punters and placekickers are almost all white.   WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?  

  It interests me in particular because sports, at this stage, is a pure meritocracy.  It's -- or seems to be -- ONLY about winning.  So if this is not attitudinal, is it a factor of which positions which races are particularly skilled at?  Or, is it possibly about hidebound assumptions, based on the past?  In high school, do coaches automatically put big white kids on the offensive line, and big black kids on the defensive line, for no reason other than that's how it's always been done?

The white lock on QB has thankfully been broken, because that one was clearly based on racist attitudes.  A pivotal moment in that was brilliantly parodied in this sensational Garrett Morris / Fran Tarkenton exchange from SNL in 1977.

We're not going to get this answered because it's a minefield, although I don't really know why it should be.  Football players, white and black, are highly skilled athletes, and in the modern complex schemes of offense and defense, all need to be smart  and quick thinking.

So, I don't get it.  But I'd like to know.

Do you find it odd that it seems like Republicans want to give out free health insurrance to everyone (via emergency rooms) while Democrats believe people should be required to pay for it? It hurts my brain.

I never quite thought of it this way.  Now MY brain is sore.

I completely forgot that I used to do that in middle school (33, btw). Thanks for making me feel like a jerk - ugh!

See below.

Wait, I'm 29 and I have no idea what offensive arm gesture you're referring to. Help!

Talk to the lady above.  She'll explain it to you, out of shame.

How was Gary Larson so much better than everyone else in single-pane comics? Who would be second place?

Speed Bump, probably.  

Wait, Gene, you surprised me: "This was the first time I have truly felt Obama was incompetent." For me, ACA probs take a back seat to sweeping NSA data collections. The ACA sign-up problems will get better, and we'll end up with a good program. On the other hand, the NSA Big Brotherisms are *deliberate* and have obvious Constitutional issues. Obama, the Constitutional scholar (not that it's necessary to be one), should know better. So, aren't you disappointed by Obama & NSA's spying? Or were you saying it isn't "incompetence"? I'm truly curious, as my political views generally agree with yours.

I'm saying it isn't incompetence.  Also, it predated him; he was continuing a policy begun by his predecessor.

Okay, we're done until the next full chat on January 7.  Please remember the reddit chat tomorrow at noon.   And think about thinking about December 28, 1986.  I need help.

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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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