Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Jul 01, 2014

Gene's next monthly chat is Tuesday, July 29 at noon. You may submit questions here.

Although this weekly edition provides an update between live chats, 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. 

A few people have asked me to weigh in on the case of the child who died in a hot car near Atlanta.  Initial reports have revealed some seemingly suspicious facts, such that both the father and mother had researched child deaths from hyperthermia, and that the father had been breakfasting with his son just minutes before he allegedly forgot the boy was in the car.

I can't weigh in because I know nothing more about this case than anyone else knows, and the known facts are deeply contradictory.    I will say only this:  In a year of researching this phenomenon, I have never come across a single case where the parent deliberately engineered a death this way.  There were cases of recklessness and irresponsibility, but not one of cold-blooded murder. 

My best advice: Don't leap to conclusions, here.   My very best guess is that this is not going to wind up being the dark tale police are hinting at.   It's sad enough as it is.

Facebook is hard for some of us who don't look at it very often. He's probably not ignoring you specifically, just not savvy enough to use it as a primary communication mechanism.

This is in answer to a reader who wanted advice on whether to re-approach a man whom she friended, but who did not answer further inquiries.   I have since talked to this person, who elaborated, and it does turn out that for various reasons, she knows that he read her further inquiry, and didn't respond.   So, yeah, she's gone as far as she should.  The man is a fool, though, we may safely stipulate. 

Sitting next to someone who can sing and write poetry still will not work for the metrically impaired: http://www.npr.org/2014/06/24/323710682/think-before-you-clap-you-could-be-beat-deaf  Swearing on a book you don't believe is at least impliedly a false oath. Requiring some to do so in order to testify or solemnize a document is loathsome.

Okay, this is a delightful video.   And I say that as a guy who is not always on beat.   I am afflicted by white person's disease. 

As for swearing on a book in which I don't believe: So what am I ethically supposed to do when asked to swear on a Bible?  Insist on, say, The Elements of Style instead?  Or the Bill of Rights? 


As someone who works in publishing, the way our titles feed to Amazon is as follows: We have a database, and for each book, there's a space to put TITLE and another for SUBTITLE. No exceptions. That entry then feeds online, and we're linked with Amazon in such a way that a page is automatically generated from that info. When we have a slightly unusual title that doesn't fall into the TITLE: SUBTITLE division as usual, we just have no ability to account for it at all. Nor does Amazon, on their end. It's basically trying to push square pegs into round holes. Yes, I agree this is ridiculous, but I'm not sure how one circumvents it.

RIGHT.  And this explains the ridiculous "OLD DOGS: Are the best dogs."


Gene said, "Remember, there are several states that require you to affirm a belief in God before you can take public office. " And, indeed, North Carolina is one of them. Not as bad as Pennsylvania, where you not only must believe in God but must believe in hell. This suggests to me that the whole religion thing is punishment driven.

Believe it or not, that is absolutely correct.  This is Article 1, Section 4 from the Pennyslvania Constitution:

No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.

So, if I read this right, a Satanist has a right to hold office in Pennsylvania, but an atheist does not.  Or, for that matter, a Christian who doesn't believe in a fairlyland-type Heaven. 

Thank you! Your answer makes sense. What would I do without you. Next. I was in a situation similar enough to the one you describe. I said no initially but was confused about what I did/didn't want. I think it's fair to say he was coercive but any point I could have gotten up and left. A friend of mine described it as rape, but I felt that it was an ambiguous situation in which neither of us was our best self. I never forgave him for putting that kind of pressure on me, but I also never would have labeled him a sex offender. I bear some responsibility for the outcome, even if he behaved like a cad. I have a lot of respect for how hard it is for women who are raped to come forward. I don't think those of us who bear some responsibility for unwanted sex should muddy the waters by claiming sexual assault in these types of cases. No one wins.

It's that last point that I think is really important: A guy can act like a terrible boor or cad, but in a circumstance where charging rape is clearly inappropriate or a major stretch.  We can shun the guy, and badmouth the guy to make sure other women are warned, but there is a societal cost to trying to press such a case where it's going to not only be doomed, but give a bad precedent for the rape apologists out there.   And that's why I really hated George Will's column.   It gave that toehold to people who claim rape charges are often flimsy.  Rape charges are not often flimsy.

But the whole campus should go Lysistrata on his sorry behind.

Exactly.  I like the Lysistrata approach.

Gene, I loved your exposé on George Will, and came across another wonderful takedown by an OB/GYN who also happens to be a rape victim. And, in light of the (seemingly daily) mass shootings, here is an article that expresses many of the problems that I see with our over-armed society. For what it's worth, I'm an over 50, gun owning, concealed carry permit holding, retired military man living in gun-loving Colorado. I've never carried, specifically because of many of the issues that Adam notes in his article. I've also noticed a few things about gun enthusiasts over the years: 1) most everyone thinks that they shoot better than they really do; 2) most people get target fixation when shooting and have no idea about what's in the immediate vicinity of their target; and, 3) they pull their shots quite badly when under stress; and 4) while it's easy to shoot when the only things in your field of fire are bad guys and desert, combat in a crowded Wal-Mart where many innocent people are now exposed to "good guy with a gun" bullets is a recipe for disaster. Like many gun owners, I believe that the NRA primarily supports the gun industry, and wish that something could be done to curb them and bring some sanity to the discussion.

Geez, that first article is NOT parallel to the case Geo Will cites.   This woman was in fear for her safety by a guy who was overpowering her.  The other case was a woman who basically just acquiesced because she was tired and wanted to go to sleep.  Not the same at ALL.  I have  no problem calling this case rape.  It was rape.

I love the second piece you cite.   I've often wondered about the logistics and internal checklists of those who are carrying guns.  It's a responsibility I wouldn't want. 


They're back in the news again, unfortunately. I just found out that one of the women profiled in your original article works in my department at a large university. I always thought she looked haunted and now I completely understand why. What's new in the effort to keep this from happening again? Do you know if Lynne Balfour ever offered/had that baby for Miles and his wife? Thank you for drawing attention to this issue...I'm doing my best to spread the message that this kind of tragedy is unintentional and could happen to anyone.

I have promised both Lyn Balfour and the Harrisons that I would respect their privacy.  I know things that have happened in their lives, and they have been positive things.  But I cannot and will not give details.  Thank you for asking.

And we'll end on this.

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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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