Chatological Humor update

Oct 17, 2017

You asked for it and you got it. Gene will now be holding weekly mini-chats, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country -- and anything else you want to discuss.

Gene will still have regular monthly chats, for a fuller chat and poll experience. The next one is Tuesday Oct. 31 at noon.

Good afternoon.  

We begin today with an important Instapoll I ask you to take seriously.  Here it is:

Constitutional issues aside, who would you rather have as president of the United States?  

Donald J. Trump

Vladimir V. Putin

(You can assume that Putin would take the job seriously, not be a secret agent of the Russian government.)



I am glad to see the #MeToo movement, on Twitter and elsewhere.  I think it is raising awareness of a problem that is deeper and more endemic and more insidious than some men understood.  I am glad that women are interpreting it broadly -- not focusing only on physical assaults, but also on just plain casual, creepy, harassing behavior.  Women endure far too much casual creepy, harassing behavior.  

I have one reservation that I am going to express at some personal peril.  Please don't kill me, ladies.  

The Wapo today has a good story on the #MeToo phenomenon.  It contains several examples of egregious male behavior, including a forced kiss, catcalls from strangers, romantic overtures from the boss.    

It was good to see all of that in print.  My problem was with the headline: "Is #MeToo asking too much from survivors?"

It's the "survivors" that bothers me.  The term is used in the story as well, and I've seen it elsewhere, on the same topic.  

I think "survivor" is  a powerful word.  I don't think it should be diluted by being used loosely.    I think you "survive" rape or assault.  You "survive" cancer.   You "survive" domestic abuse.  You don't "survive" harassment.  You overcome it, perhaps, or endure it, or rise above it.  Not "survive."  

It's a cruel world. Let's be careful out there, journos.   

Okay, we start at noon. 

Agree w you on the use of survivors in this instance -if you experience low grade harassment (which I have encountered many times during my career) its infuriating and frustrating, but not traumatizing-at least for most of us.

Good point.  You said what I was trying to say.  The issue is "traumatizing." 

What other word would you suggest besides "victim"? I think that's the issue. The choices seem to be "survivor" or "victim" and labeling them (us) all as victims doesn't exactly help, either, given how so many have worked hard to move beyond the actual events.

Victim is closer, no?   I have no problem with that. 

Does he fit? Loud-mouthed bully/hard-nosed negotiator is a stereotype. But sexual predator isn't.

I initially thought no, but Pat the Perfect persuaded me yes.  Reason? He is the powerful head of a studio, and a Jew.  That's the stereotype, and any negative beyond that attaches to the stereotype. 

You know who he is?  Louis B. Mayer, another powerful perv scumbag who got away with it.   Er, that was Mayer, right?  Perv?  I didn't just libel a dead man, did I?

I know this has been hashed, but can't men simply be offended because of the (extremely) egregious behavior of men like (but certainly not limited to) Harvey Weinstein? If it is somehow necessary to prove standing for such outrage (a dubious proposition), I prefer the much simpler "As a man" or, if one wants to leave out gender, "As a human being." But I think "As a man" carries more weight. I don't have daughters, and I'm horrified. I don't think the fact that my Y chromosome won a few coin flips makes my outrage any less potent.

I am proud to say that I first made this point maybe five years ago.  

While Puerto Ricans have little water, food or electricity, and Trump is playing golf and lying (again ) about Obama, is it too early to make Weinstein jokes? With all the disasters going on, I feel the need for some levity. Bashing a fat, ugly sleaze ball of a sexual predator would feel good right about now.

It's difficult.  The way to do it is to make fun of him mercilessly.


Higgledy Piggledy

Weinstein of Miramax

Terror of ingenues  

Quite a bad egg. 



Save in the bedroom -- he's  

Basically Fido who's 

Humping your leg. 






Knowing your stance on tattoos, I thought this story about a guy getting random ink in support of his dog was amusing. 

I'll bet he didn't know what the tattoo meant.  He says he did, but I bet he didn't. 

Last week in the chat you dissed the idea that anyone should get upset about the tweet from Trump showing him hitting a golf ball into Hillary's back. Here's a good response. My response is that you have never walking down a street at night and worried about a man attacking and raping you. You've never been worried when your date wanted to drive you home that maybe he wanted more from you than a good night kiss and might force more. You have never been the target of misogyny.

I don't disagree with anything Christine is saying about it being boorish, uncouth, unpresidential, disgusting, absurd, etc.   I just think it was too ludicrous and cartoonish an image to be literally interpreted as condoning violence against women.  There is so much actual evidence around us about real violence against women, horrifying real stuff,  that this seems like unfortunate overreach that will make conservative eyes roll.  I will concede I may be wrong about this, and am prepared to be spanked online.  Violence against me. 

Thought experiment: one of the cast members of "Hamilton" decides that from now on, she will wear her favorite "Hillary for Prison" T-shirt during the curtain call (not during the show itself). Would people be supportive?

I think they would not.  But I think there is a difference.  Kneeling for the anthem is a much broader, less partisan statement.  It's arguably not even political.  It's humanitarian. 

Gene, like many people, I am appalled at your attack on those who solve word-search puzzles. I am a big fan of crosswords, and solve the NYT puzzles every day. There are times, however--like when I'm sitting brain-dead on a plane--that a simple word-search takes all the mental horsepower that I can muster. In accordance with the rules of civilized society (revised and abridged), you must immediately apologize to everyone who may have been harmed by your callous words. Everyone deserves to live their lives to the best of their abilities, and not suffer the wrath of some intellectual snob such as you. Everyone, of course, except those who play Candy Crush. They are pathetic.

Noted.  Great kicker.  

I trust you know enough about baseball to realize that he's not having a particularly good season, yes?


You may be able to write well but you don't know baseball.

I advise people who don't like baseball to avert their eyes.


According to Bleacher Report (from a piece before Judge's season) the candidates are Mike Trout, Tony Oliva, Albert Pujols, Fred Lynn, Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio, Dwight Gooden, and  Ichiro Suzuki.  I love Ichiro but eliminate him because he was a rookie in name only; he'd been playing for years in Japan.  And we have to eliminate Gooden because you just can't compare a pitcher with a position player. 

Judge finished the year with a .284 batting average, 52 home runs, and 114 RBI.   He also scored 128 runs.  

Home runs:   His is the highest total by far.  The next most is Pujols at 37.  DiMaggio had 29.  Trout, 30.  

Runs Batted In: Williams had 145, Pujols 130.  Then Judge.  Trout had ... 83.  

Runs:  Judge was fourth, just 4 runs separating him from the top three: Williams, DiMaggio and Trout.  Pujols had 112.  

Batting average: Judge is near the bottom of the list. 

Finishing first and third in two of three traditional categories, and inches from the top on the fourth -- only Williams beats that of the guys on the list  - has to put Judge's name in contention for best ever.   I'll admit it's debatable, and I'll even say, in reconsideration, I'd pick Williams.  .327 31, 145. 

Oh, and yes, I am well aware that there are more modern and useful statistics to use, but I don't have access to them for most of these players.  I am sure someone is going to use WAR or OPS to demonstrate Judge had the worst season ever except for Garagiola.  I welcome it.  

Guys, he had 114 RBI.  128 runs.  His WAR was 8.1 or 8.8, depending on whose figures you use.  That's superstar level.  As a rookie! 

He's going to be the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, and will probably finish second to Altuve for MVP, though oddsmakers give him a one in four chance of winning it. 

And you think he's not in the competition for best rookie year ever?   Really?







Well, but that's a bit disingenuous, isn't it? I mean, she's spoken approvingly of gun control laws in places like the District of Columbia, and questioned whether the First Amendment really gives people the right to own guns, and talked approvingly about allowing victims of crimes to sue gun manufacturers. But she's never actually said "I'll take your guns away," so that's what you're basing that on? I still remember Bill Clinton and Barack Obama running on marriage being between one man and one woman. Then the law changed, and some of us pointed out, as we were being called bigots for saying that maybe federalism could be used to let us experiment a bit further, that the Democratic party used to have the exact same stance we did. And I was told that we all knew President Obama really believed the right way, he'd just said that because it was necessary to get the rubes to vote for him. And there were no consequences. Hillary never used the words, "I'll take your guns." But she gave off all the right clues to her supporters about all the ways she'd try to restrict their ownership and use. And if she'd been elected and managed to change the law, not a single Democrat would have minded at all that she'd lied to the rubes to convince enough of them to vote for her.

I'm sorry, but I think your position is a little paranoid.  All Democrats understand the passion, and numbers, behind unrestricted gun ownership.  They are not coming for your guns. 

Excuse me, it was Abigail Adams who referenced their little boy. And if your assumption that it was John doesn't reinforce an unfortunate stereotype, I don't know what does, to quote the great Dave Barry.

Hm.   Yeah, you are right.  She recited her letter to him.   I am a horrible misogynist. 

If you don't mind - can I ask you and the chatters something? All other things being equal if you were choosing where to live in the DC metro area by where it's most effective to vote, where would you choose? I guess criteria would things like voter ID laws, "bang" for your buck (as in my Reps and government gets things done), and how much my vote matters.

Northern Virginia, no?  Anyone disagree?

I agree with you, Gene. As a woman (#metoo) I am starting to wonder about the inclination to embellish one's experience in order to... validate it? Make it relevant? Many of the stories coming out now are vague (as they should be, for anyone who doesn't want to share details) but the language leaves a lot of areas for interpretation. For example, today Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted at 16. We can agree that no one should experience sexual imposition of any kind-- but there's a world of difference between a groped knee (or even, dare I say, a groped breast), and a penetrative sexual assault. And in the anonymity of this chat, I will say that they are not "equally valid"-- those people who have survived an actual rape ARE entitled to more of a say in this entire issue that those who had a boob grabbed. (Again, #metoo, but not raped.) I kind of wish (joking-ish) that we could have folks designate their sexual assault issues by degrees-- e.g., my boss once pulled a 3rd degree sexual assault on me (groped knee); my college professor did a 2nd degree (boob grab); my domestic partner perpetrated a 1st degree sexual assault (rape). Does it make me a bad person that I don't see them all as equally awful?

I am going to cop out here and ask women to comment on this.   I mean, I feel like a male panelist on a Fox News discussion of women's issues. 

By the way, this is a wonderful video making the rounds.  I cannot speak to its authenticity, and it is a little telegraphed, but it is excellent.  It does seem a wee anachronistic. 

I think your reluctance to attribute "survivors" with people who overcome harassment includes the justification for the headline. It's not asking too much for victims of harassment to speak up with #MeToo, but it might be too much to ask rape/assault survivors to come forward with their stories. The headline may merely be directed toward a narrower set of victims, particularly the ones that you have identified as survivors. Though I'm not sure exactly where the line between survivors and overcomers should be... some of the harassing behavior I've heard could rise to the level of assault.

Okay, thanks. 

Of course *your* fans would rather have a Communist as our president...and yet Trump is still ahead at this writing. You want to make it interesting? Sub in, say, Macron for Trump.

The answer would be 95 percent Macron. 

I happened upon your book about Hypochondriacs at our local used bookstore and picked it up for my 12 year old son, who is a big fan of yours. That night, long after he was supposed to be in bed, I heard him laughing out loud at the book. He loves it and has been reading passages to me, while laughing so hard I can hardly understand him. He especially loved the footnote about condescension. Thanks so much for writing it. He can be an intense kid, and it's nice to hear him laugh with such glee.

Aww, thank you.  That book was an astounding commercial failure, so your copy might be worth at LEAST the cover price. 

I chose Trump... it's hard for me to say that and it's a tough choice. They both have serious autocratic tendencies. I chose Trump because he's so incompetent, I don't think the same can be said of Putin.

So you'd rather have the incompetent at being an autocrat?  Interesting.  I'd choose Putin because of our checks and balances.  At least Putin is not an idiot. 

Like you on the subway trying to engage a woman about your book? The fact that you still don't realize that was creepy, harassing behavior makes it really easy to believe just how many women are victimized. When someone that actually respects women does it, imagine how easy it is for men who don't.

So would I have triggered a #MeToo?  

I also appreciate the #MeToo hashtag but wish it wasn't necessary. I want there to be awareness but I wish it didn't require a collective opening of shared wounds to make it so. Lindy West says it better: “I wish women didn’t have to rip our pasts open & show you everything & let you ogle our pain for you to believe us.” Also as a 2 time cancer survivor I agree with your sentiment on surviving. That word is sacred in some ways.

Yes, and yes. 

Yes, a vote in Northern Virginia would probably be better (Fairfax, not Alexandria), but if you really wanted to throw yourself on a sword move to southwest Virginia, where Northam will need all the help he can get. While we're on the topic, Northam is a great candidate but...well he's really really boring, isn't he?

I think, as a nation, we're ready for boring, no?  

Upon reflection of the #MeTo movement, was how easily I'd shrugged off some harassment that was really pretty horrifying. When I was a teenage cross-country runner, men sitting in their cars in "safe" neighborhoods during daylight sometimes made it clear that they were jerking off as I ran by. The first it happened, I was shocked; every time after that, I thought "eww, men are gross" and kept going. I'm not traumatized, far from it, but I was still surprised to realize that as a teenager I just accepted that some men would think it was okay be aroused in public and to show it off to me.

Good God. 

Putin would be more dangerous. He's not the chessmaster that his admirers make him out to be, but being more cunning than Trump is a low bar to clear.

Yeah but, see, this is not Russia.  He could not be an autocrat.  And he's competent. 

Tom The Butcher just sent me this IM:

wouldn't it be great, if countries could trade, like baseball teams
We'll give you Trump and two senators to be named later for Putin


I had to vote for Putin 'cause I think he'd be less likely to get us into an accidental nuclear war.

Right. He'd also know EXACTLY how to deal with Russia. 

I was locked in a radio booth with a man who had 100lbs and a foot on me, trapped against a wall of records while he stuck his tongue down my throat and rubbed his crotch on me. We were both fully clothed. When I told him never to do that again, he told me that I would never get anywhere at the station and no one would believe me. I was terrified and wound up switching schools. I still can't smell the brand of cologne he wore without feeling nauseated. I was traumatized. I was a very naive 18-year-old. I don't know where that puts me on the spectrum. Not rape but much more than a hand on the knee.

If it has affected you since, I'd have no trouble calling you a survivor.   That's appalling.  And on behalf of my gender, sorry. 

It seems to me that my friends who are survivors (truly) of rape are having a harder time writing "me too" than people like me who have been the target of a file-room grope-and-run or easily fended-off amorous approaches. They feel like just those two words "me too" give people an opening into their souls and their lives, while I don't feel like I'm revealing very much-- because I"m not. I walked away from a job I liked o.k., and always felt uncomfortable around a boss whose advances I rejected, but I didn't have my foundational confidence in the world shaken. All that said, it's NOBODY'S BUSINESS and if I choose not to share the details, it doesn't mean it didn't amount to much.

Well said. 

I see a guy staggering down the street; I infer that he's drunk. I say, "Had one too many, buddy?"; I imply that he's drunk.


A grad school acquaintance was caught a few years ago soliciting nude photos of a 14 year old girl online. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail. I agree what he did was horrendous and terrible, but it frustrates me that this offense gets 15 years, but Brock Turner gets 6 months. And he wasn't an anomaly. I'm not saying that this acquaintance shouldn't have received 15 years, but why does that get such a harsher sentence than rape?

I have deeply conflicted feelings about child porn laws, particularly -- unlike this case -- where the crime involved buying photos or videos.  Typically, the punishment for that is 7-10 years in prison.  Many killers get lower sentences. 

I get the philosophy behind it -- you are contributing to a market that encourages rape of children.  I see the need for punishment.  I just have a hard time reconciling the crime with the degree of punishment.  I think it is influenced by moral revulsion.  I see it as a bit ... middle eastern. 

Anyway, I am obnoxiously certain about many things, but this is not one of them.  It sounds like your acquaintance was actively soliciting pictures from an actual person, and that's a degree worse.  He's coercing a minor. 


Sounds like a counter-culture Disney animated film, but the inability to visualize is aphantasia

This is an excellent piece.   It's a fascinating disability and so subtle most people who have it didn't discover it until their late teens or twenties.  They just adapted to not having a "mind's eye."

I'm a good lefty who comes from an extended family that includes a lot of gun owners and, presumably, Trump voters. Their votes are indefensible, awful, stupid, unpatriotic, wretched, cowardly, etc., but they're also predictable. While it's true that the Democrats don't actually "come for anybody's guns," we don't do ourselves (or anybody else) any favors, either. The nutters are fearful that a lot of people who don't know how guns work will pass a bunch of stupid-ass laws that save no lives and make gun ownership harder. They're not wrong. Laws like the Assault Weapons Ban and current suppressor rules probably saved no lives at all, but they inconvenienced the ever-loving hell out of a lot of gun owners and probably boosted gun sales. Most of the gun owners I know would be comfortable with wider gun control, and most understand that it's pretty ridiculous to have a system in which deeply mentally ill people can buy whatever, whenever. What they don't want is stupid, aesthetics-based laws of the type that Democrats frequently support. These guys aren't hard-core Republicans, either. They'd vote for a smart-on-guns Democrat. We should stop shooting ourselves in the foot on this stuff.

How do you contend that the Assault Weapons Ban probably saved no lives?  Who the hell needs an assault weapon other than a cop or a person contemplating serial murder?  School me on this. 

It's like the difference between catching and pitching. Not the same thing, right? If you explain it that way, people might get it.

The cause is useless.  We have lost.  The dics have caved.   Not all of them, but most.  This is Merriam-Webster, on "infer."  Definition 4 is the killer:



1:to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises
  • we see smoke and infer fire
  •  —L. A. White
— compare imply
  • your letter … allows me to infer that you are as well as ever
  •  —O. W. Holmes †1935
3a :to involve as a normal outcome of thought 
b :to point out :indicate
  • this doth infer the zeal I had to see him
  •  —William Shakespeare
  • another survey … infers that two-thirds of all present computer installations are not paying for themselves
  •  —H. R. Chellman
  • are you inferring I'm incompetent?

Ok, stupid person here. What's BLM besides the Bureau of Land Management?

Black Lives Matter 

I kinda feel sorry for him. I mean, power and money is all he has. Otherwise, the man is an ogre. Bathrobe erection is his only move. It's sorta pathetic.

I've observed this.  He is revolting and should be reviled, and punished and all that.  I don't really feel sorry for him.  But what I do find astonishing is that this powerful successful talented man is also ... pathetic.  Laughably pathetic. 

This is a man with zero romantic moves.  He has NO game. He is appalling to women, all women, every woman.  He is like the biggest dweeb on Earth. 

I thought the purpose of the #MeToo campaign was to publicize the pervasiveness of inappropriate behavior that women endure in the workplace, not to "outdo" each other with our stories. I've been on the receiving end of two very inappropriate sexually explicit comments, unfortunately when I was 17 and 24. I don't feel like I survived or was a victim, it was just some crap that I had to put up with because I was a young woman. And that's the frustrating thing about this whole thing, (be it Hollywood, a small town grocery store or at an industry conference) that it happens to young women trying to establish themselves in the workforce.

And that's exactly why it happens.  You seem coercible.  Doing this to a woman in her 30s, with some career standing, is far more dangerous. 

This is apparently what we men are expected to say, but I refuse. I see no reason I have to apologize for Weinstein just because I have the same genetics and genitals. Similar to the way Muslims feel every time they are expected to speak out against every violent act by a Muslim.

Yeah, but I have a Social Responsibility. 

you're generally a good speller, right? So am I, but for me it is entirely a matter of seeing a word in my mind and noticing visually if a letter is wrong. Similar, I guess, to hearing a bum note in a piece of music. But if you can't visualize in that way, how do you remember the right spelling and notice a misspelled word?

Yeah the story actually deals with that.  It's harder. 

I didn't realize Woody Allen was on the chat today.

Woody has extraordinarily bad judgment.  He is the last person on Earth who should say publicly that he is worried about a witch hunt. 

Well he'd be less likely to get us into accidental nuclear war, but Gene, you'd likely be dead by now.

Well, I didn't say I'd LIKE Putin as president. 

If I am passing a vehicle that displays a "Trump. Make America Great Again," bumper sticker, is it ethical for me to flip off the driver?

Ethical, but unwise. 

Here's a question that troubles my daydreams: What percentage of Americans would support a dictator who would do away with our democracy, as long as they believed he would also act against the other Americans that they hate? It's not 50%, but I bet it's over 20%.

Good poll question.   

Why didn't the article include opinions of scout leaders/scouts/parents who oppose girls in Boy Scouts? While it's not the same, the Post bent over backwards to "see both sides" with Trump/Clinton, winding up with a false equivalence with his bombastic puffery of presidential skills and general skeeviness vs. "but Bengazhi and emails and constant investigations that yield nothing".

That's quite a comparison, friend.  Talk about inequivalencies. 

I think you raise a reasonable point, though the story didn't ignore conflict, mentioning the objection of the Girl Scouts.  Are you aware of significant parental objections, on either side? 

How much longer will the Post be able to hold on to Dan Zak before someone else makes him a Godfather offer?

I know Dan Zak.  Dan Zak is a friend of mine.  Dan Zak would not succumb to a threat to blow his brains out.  

Me: male college student, 19. Her: Wife of the Head of the Chemistry Department, 40-something, attractive. And ticked off that her husband was once again locked in a bedroom at the end-of-Spring-semester Departmental party with other "cool kids" smoking weed and engaging in some heavy petting. What happened: I was playing video games with some of the other geeks when she hopped into my lap, dropped her top and started nibbling my ear. Certainly not welcome at the time, but in the grand scheme of things far from the worst thing that's happened to me. So am I a victim, a survivor, or something else...

Easy answer, thanks to a previous poster: Were you traumatized?

Here is one of my Me Too moments: The summer I was 21, I had a major case of poison ivy, which I would have just lived with, except that it was on my face, and my brother’s high school graduation was coming up and I wanted it gone by then. I went to a dermatologist, the same guy who had been treating my father’s skin cancer. In the examining room, I was wearing one of those paper robes while he looked at the poison ivy on my face and arms and then told he to take the robe off. I said that the poison ivy wasn’t on my body. “I have to see,” he insisted. I took of the robe and he had his gawk. He gave me a prescription and told me to come back in two weeks. Two weeks later, I dutifully went back and went through the same routine – that is, he told me to take off the robe and I again said that the poison ivy hadn’t been on my body. “I have to see,” he said, and I complied. I didn’t complain, but I was livid – at myself as much as I at him. I was complicit in my own degradation. I was embarrassed that it had happened, and embarrassed that I had let it happen. But here’s the thing – it had never occurred to me that I shouldn’t do what a doctor told me to do. My mother was not happy that I had gone for the second appointment, which was totally unnecessary. I myself thought it was, but really, I never thought to question him. Not only did I have an appointment that I didn’t need, that I allowed a middle aged man the chance to ogle a much younger woman, I paid (or actually, my parents paid) for this. I didn’t want to deal with the situation, so I didn’t tell my parents what had happened. Every time the subject of sexual harassment or abuse comes up, I think of that doctor and wish that I had handled things very differently. If I had it to do over, I would have refused to the first request and told him that he was not going to enjoy himself at my expense. Or I would have kicked him in the balls.

I think this is a perfect example of what #MeToo was designed to address: A casual exercise of male privilege at your expense.   

(Apologies in advance if this is a little muddled. I've felt this way for a long time but never verbalized it.) As someone who's been raped twice and harassed countless times, I find the term "survivor" troublesome. I was, in fact, a victim in the literal definition of the word--"one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent." The literal definition of the word survivor on the other hand--"to remain alive or in existence"--seems so one-sided and passive to be almost patronizing. I was absolutely adversely affected. Still am, decades later. But my life was never at risk. Calling me a "survivor" takes the brutality away from the experience and instead pats me on the head for the fact that I didn't just curl up and die. (You survived! Well done!) A victim requires an active perpetrator; a survivor is someone who kept breathing on her own, with no indication that another party was involved. (Note: I don't judge people who use the word survivor. This is a deeply personal thing that I would never preach about or criticize. Just wanted to put it out there in the world and see what folks think.)

Well, you feel what you feel, and it is perforce valid.  It seems to me if you are functioning well and have, well, survived the ordeals intact, you are a survivor in the very best sense of the word. 

Is it worth talking to those who argue against NFL players taking a knee? I regularly attend NFL football games and I've been seeing this season many people around me (those I've gotten to know and like over the years) are yelling for the players to stand up. What I can't seem to understand is how they don't understand what the NFL players are doing is part of what makes America great. Whether or not I support what the NFL player are doing (I won't tell you how I feel), but I 100% support their right to do so. Yes, the NFL (as a private organization) can punish/fine/fire them, but when they say the government should force them to stand is 100% un-American. So, is it worth trying to have this conversation or is it a lost cause?

It occurs to me that the National Anthem -- which celebrates our freedoms, including the freedom to protest -- is the PERFECT time to kneel in protest. 

He was not a serial harasser. Your point would be better if you used Darryl Zanuck or Harry Cohn. Of course, you can't libel a public figure. (Slander, maybe.)

Ooop.  You sure? 

For the person who feels he has nothing to apologize for, fine. Maybe you don't. But please conduct this thought experiment: What did you do, say, yesterday, throughout the day, to avoid being sexually assaulted? List everything you did. You know what I did? I scanned every parking lot I entered for loiterers. I parked where I could see a clear path to the store door. I went for my afternoon run in a busy neighborhood because I don't run in the park alone. My husband wasn't home in the evening, so I locked the house (something we don't do until bedtime usually). What did you do? THIS is what "me too" is about, also-- so even if you don't want to apologize, maybe you could think about this, and maybe you can say "I believe you." Do yo think you could do that?

Well said! 

I was perplexed by your statement a few weeks ago that the Post Magazine's Second Glance was less intellectual than Word Find, the puzzle you've said is for stupid people, and which was "not your favorite part" of the magazine. I was perplexed because I also remember your chat from May 19, 2015 where you recount your phone conversation with Bob Weber, describing yourself as a "devotee" and "disciple" of Slylock Fox, and asking why there were seven differences instead of six in that week's find the differences puzzle. Second Glance and the differences part of Slylock Fox seem pretty similar to me; why the greatly different opinions on them?

Because Slylock Fox is deliciously childish.   You enter that world and you become six years old. You love it for its dopiness.   You read it as you used to watch Ackroyd's "bad art." 

Second Glance presents itself as adult entertainment. 

I need to back off and qualify: Second Glance is VERY popular.  It's a successful feature.  Many smart adult humans love it. If I were the editor of the magazine, I would retain it.  It's just not my thing.  Maybe I'm a snob.  Okay, I'm a snob.

Yeah, exactly.  The fruit ripen in the trucks.  

I have basically stopped buying commercial tomatoes.  They're ruined.  Even the farmer's market near my home has tomatoes with skin like ear cartilage and the insides like pebbly sacs of pus.    Today's twentysomethings  have no idea what good tomatoes taste like. 

When I was 14, a guy literally pinched my butt. He didn't try to hit on me; didn't make eye contact, speak, or even look at me. Just pinched me as he passed by. It really made me feel like a piece of meat. But, no, I wouldn't call myself a "survivor" for that (or other incidents of sexual harassment I have experienced).

It's a really powerful word.   

I will probably be classified as a true Commie, but I just don't get all the hub-bub over the flag and other "sacred" symbols. They are merely symbols, things that represent a greater concept but have no meaning themselves. Which is why I don't care about the flag. That's not what our soldiers are fighting for. It is why I refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag. My allegiance is not to the flag, its to my country. I can't understand religious symbols either. I am not praying to statues, I am praying to God or Jesus Christ or Allah or Buddah, etc. If these symbols are destroyed, so what? If whichever God lives in my head, heart & soul, isn't that the ultimate point?

You are not so much preaching to the choir here, you are standing beside me IN the choir.  (I lip synch; my voice is awful.) 

The reason conservatives are all over symbols is the same reason conservatives are conservatives: they are peddling self-serving crap, and so they need to lurch from substance to symbolism, from logic to emotion.  Hence, the gigantic conservative issues of flag burning, standing for the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, pols not wearing an American flag pin, etc. 

But you knew this, my choirmate. 


Just wanted you to know you are missed. So much good fodder in the news this week!

This is in reference to my having been gone last week.  Apologies.  The next few months are going to be rough with a book deadline looming, but I will try to be here on schedule. 

I love that the Nobel-winning economist is Richard Thaler, after the Bohemian silver coin that later become "dollar".

Thank you, professor.  A highly sophisticated aptonym.  I accept it into the canon. 

After decades of living in a central city and relying almost exclusively on public transportation, I now live in the suburbs and find myself in the car a lot, because the transit options to my town are limited, particularly at night. I’m appalled at how bad, careless and dangerous many drivers are. There is a law in this state requiring that headlights are turned on when windshield wipers are on, yet so many people do not do that. They don’t understand that by putting on their headlights (Daylight Running Lights are not enough because the tail lights don’t go on), they are more visible, particularly from behind. It’s vital for safety in the dark, in fog, in mist, to have the lights on. I’ve concluded that people are too stupid or distracted (or something) to put on their headlights, even though the law requires it and they can get a pretty hefty ticket if caught. I propose we start a campaign with the car makers and the EPA and everyone else who regulates cars that the headlights go on whenever the ignition is on. Period. No more giving the option to the driver.

I suspect environmentalists would object.  That's a lot of squandered energy, no?

from twitter - does this pass muster? (or pass the mustard, or whatever) There is an old fellow named Pence Whose hobby is taking offence. He does it some days In gimmicky ways As well as at public expense. (dunno author, retweeted by Joe Scarborough)

Yes, it's excellent.  Pass muster, cut the mustard. 

Your defenses of mocking other people's names -- especially foreigners -- suggests that you have a lot more in common with the President than you'd like to admit. Your biggest fans -- us, here, in this chat, today -- keep telling you you're wrong. What will it take for you to consider the idea that have a point? Or will you just dig your heels in deeper and say everyone else is wrong? For Pete's sake, what do your editors think?

Oh, my editors definitely agree with you.  But I bet Faboon Forbonatickanoditty would not.  I think we are taking offense on behalf of other people, which is often a mistake.  

Both the Juice and Denny Hastert are out of jail. An unbeatable combo for 2020 for President and Vice.

I missed the Denny thing.  Wow.  He didn't serve all that long. 

Never had it, but always meant to - and the local grocery finally had some beets today! (yeah, I live in the middle of nowhere) Which reminds me of one of the things you said a while back - about city people being more sophisticated that country folks. That bothered me at first, seeing as how I live in the country now. And it got me wondering - what do you consider sophisticated? Is it a look? I wouldn't do so well there, but then, you probably wouldn't either. An exposure to culture? Or ideas? Or diversity of various kinds? Yeah, I do go into the city for some of those - but I don't have to live there. I'm just not sure you city folks have the edge there anymore -

It's not about who they are -- their character or intelligence or anything like that.   It's about the fact that if you live in the boonies, you are exposed to much less -- particularly in terms of diversity.  You may not know a gay person.   And if you don't know a gay person, you might make assumptions you wouldn't otherwise make.  I don't think it's coincidence that big cities are socially liberal and big square states are socially conservative.  

Do you support the repeal of the Second Amendment?

I probably do, in theory.  But it will never ever happen, so it's sort of a pointless debate.  If I were a national politician, I would not publicly support the second amendment.   It's like decriminalizing all drugs; I probably support that.  I wouldn't publicly because it would be pointless, and doom my other, attainable policies. 

Sure about libel? Yes. Sure about Mayer? I'm not going to say categorically that Mayer NEVER harassed a woman, but there's far less smoke about Mayer than Cohn and Zanuck, who left a revolting trail of torn clothing around their casting couches. See this collection of statements, gathered by an admittedly biased source.

Okay, thanks.  I apologize, Louis. 

I ended up picking Trump over Putin. For many of the same reasons I'd (very) tentatively take Trump over Pence. It's heavily influenced by LGBT identity. Putin would terrify me.

Good point.  He wouldn't be great for the Jews, either, as someone else pointed out. 

What do you mean that you'd choose Putin over Trump because of our checks and balances? Our checks and balances are the ONLY reason I'd choose Trump. They've already stopped him from making an awful lot of autocratic moves.

Yeah but he is a moron and a powderkeg.  Liable to do anything.  Putin is neither of those things.  

Gene, I am a lady and this may be unpopular but I don't think the subway move of yours was that creepy because the intent was clear, albeit after the fact. As an example of intent that was creepy: this weekend I went to a wedding where the bride and groom had a Polaroid camera for guests to take pictures with and place in their guest book. Later in the evening a male guest (whom I didn't know) approached my friends and I as we took a picture with the camera. He grabbed the camera and acted as if he wanted to join the group, but then grabbed me and steered me away and snapped a pic of only the two of us. It was already weird, and then I watched as he walked away, pocketing the pic for himself. Inappropriate. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to cause drama at my friends' wedding, but I felt gross and exploited.

This is also a great example of a valid, subtle, non "survivor' #MeToo. 

They are saying "refutes" because they are vaguely aware of the word "rebut" but can't remember it.


Also, while we are on the subject of language, it is "bingeing," not "binging." And "singeing" not "singing."  Also, it is "the fridge," not "the frig."   I tweeted this yesterday and some people ... disagreed. 

"One of the only" makes me crazy! It's like saying "some unique things are..." It's "one of the FEW," dammit, "one of the FEW."

I share your pedantry. 

Wouldn't Trump be the answer as the popular vote difference for him was the largest negative vote count in elections.

I like that. 

Gene, The Assault Weapons Ban, signed by Clinton - designed by Feinstein, did not result in a lowering of any crime statistics. The reason, as the poster stated - by referencing the term "aesthetics-based laws" was that the law targeted guns with certain features (such as a bayonet holder, or a place for a laser sight, etc). All you had to do was manufacture the same rifle, but without that feature, and yep, you passed the law. The same can be said about bump stocks. They are a direct result of someone reading the very fine detail of the law surrounding the prohibition of manufacturing and/or transferring automatic weapons, and knowing the loophole. Anyone who has ever shot a rifle or shotgun (or pistol) knows about recoil. Some very smart person just figured out how to use that recoil to their advantage, and use the physics as a workaround to the legal prohibition. It's maddening, I know (I worked at ATF for 2 years), but what needs to be done is restricting ammunition clip size, taxing ammunition, and eliminating the protection that gun manufacturers have against personal injury lawsuits.

Okay, thanks. I appreciate it. 


I don't think so.  I think he is very deliberate.  Dangerous, but deliberate. 

Slander is spoken defamation. Libel is written defamation. One can libel/slander a public figure, but the threshold of "actual malice" must be met. New York Times v. Sullivan. However, you're safe on Louis because one cannot defame the dead. Or more correctly, the cause of action dies with the deceased.

Yes, I am aware of all of this. 

The beauty of the question is that we don't have to choose - both are leaders of America.

Haha.  Okay, we'll end on that. 

This was a busy, exciting chat.  I loved it.  Thank you all, and see you next week. 

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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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