Chatological Humor (Updated 8.31.07)

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 12:00 PM

DAILY UPDATES: 8.29.07 | 8.30.07 | 8.31.07

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On Tuesdays at noon, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is updated regularly throughout the week, 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.

This Week's Polls: First, everyone please take this one. Then, if you are 34 or under take this one. If you are 35 or older, please use this door.

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" and co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

P.S. If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality. I haven't the time to edit them out. -- Liz


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Shortly after my column on Turtle Boy came out, in which I suggested that the next idiot Internet sensation would be something like a video of a hamster eating applesauce, Barb Armour e-mailed me to say that her hamster, Frankie, (Armour Frank!) eats applesauce our of bottle tops. Barb supplied proof. I told her that if she could get a video of Frankie actually EATING the applesauce, we could launch a viral campaign on the shoulders of the great army of the humor impaired. So Barb spent yesterday trying to coax Frankie to eat applesauce in front of a video camera, with no luck. So, Frankie will not be an Internet sensation.

However, the Dumbest Blonde On Earth is now an Internet sensation, having supplanted Turtle Boy. This morning The Dumbest Blonde On Earth was interviewed on the Today Show, a painfully solicitous and condescending interview that revealed several things:

1. She isn't THAT dumb.

2. But she's still pretty dumb. She's got that dippy rising inflection statement-as-question thing working real good?

3. Despite having delivered the most asinine response ever delivered in the intelligence and poise portion of a major beauty pageant, she finished fourth overall, a fact that is explained by a clip of her competing in the juggs and jiggle portion of the major beauty pageant. I'd like to know how the various portions are weighted by the judges. It's probably scored on a curve. Haha.


Important breaking medical news: During a trip to the pharmacy yesterday, I noticed that, after some 40 years of having the most refreshingly straightforward product name in America, Anusol hemorrhoid cream decided it had to change. It is now called Buttholeum.

Ha. No, sadly, it is now called Tucks.


Meanwhile, on the subject of theology, I am receipt of a communication from my friend Horace LaBadie, who reports the following incident: A few days ago, he was watching a program called "A Brief History of Disbelief," extolling atheism, when his house was struck by lightning. Minor electrical havoc ensued. As proof, he offers this compelling evidence.


Please take today's polls.

I agree with the vast majority of you that the snuffing of Opus was a mistake, the sort of knee-jerk oversensitivity that is becoming too common. Sadly, what you see is only half the offense -- The Post and many other papers also yanked NEXT week's strip, in what I believe to be a similar overreaction. Breathed showed me next week's, which is even better than this week's. We'll talk more about this later.

I know the second poll isn't funny. It's connected to a subject I am researching, and to the following Important Announcement:

At the close of the chat, I would like to hear from some people in the Washington area who answered that they eat all kinds of meat, and who might be willing to work with me over the next couple of months on a project. If this might be you, send me an e-mail at , with "MEAT" as the subject line. Tell me your age, ethnicity, occupation, and (briefly) your views on eating meat.

The CPOW is... Sunday's Baldo. First Runner-Up is Friday's Speed Bump. Honorables: Monday's Frank and Earnest and Monday's Baby Blues.

Can anyone tell me the small error of judgment that Trudeau had in Sunday's Doonesbury, reducing it to a merely excellent strip, as opposed to totally brilliant?

Okay, let's go.


Gene Weingarten: Ooop, almost forgot our new Special Feature.

The Googlenope of the Week, from, is "pirouetted into the men's room."

Mine is "hymen glue."

Gene Weingarten: By the way, I'm happy to take submissions for Googlenope of the Week.


Alexandria, Va.: I have observed a direct inverse correlation between the my e-correspondents' frequent use of LOLs and ROTFLs and their genuine sense of humor in real life. Enough, people. I prefer Gene's simple honest and more vivid, "I'm laughing, here."

Gene Weingarten: Another problem is that 99.9 percent of the time, LOL and ROTFL are lies.


Santa Barbara, Wa: What's new in the comics world, Gene? Nothing ever happens on this side of the country.

Berkeley B.

Gene Weingarten: Same old same old, Berkeley. Sad to say.

Interesting poll results, eh?

Gene Weingarten: As I read it, not only to nine out of ten people believe the Post was wrong to pull your strip, but only eight percent of the readers believe you are a pornographer.


Austin, Tex.: I heard you on XMPR this morning and I really enjoyed the interview. It was a great finale to Bob Edwards' week of interviews on liberalism. Any thoughts on your experience over at "The Eck"? I think Bob Edwards played a great straight man.

If anyone else is interested in hearing Gene's interview and doesn't have XM, The Bob Edwards Show is available at

Gene Weingarten: Bob Edwards is the most laid-back interviewer on the planet. He actually slumps in his chair so he seems to be falling asleep. He's a real gentleman. I haven't heard the interview; I hope they edited it well, because I definitely said some stupid things.


Power to Injure: Insults that tap into a bit of truth are powerful, for sure, but ridiculous ones without a bit of truth can hurt. Here's the thing: When somebody says your mom is a fat whore, and in fact she is a skinny librarian, the particulars don't matter. The subtext, the meta-fact, is blazingly true. It's "I want to hurt you." For women in particular but for approval-seekers of all kinds this is a pretty sharp kick in the teeth. The message is "I don't like you and I don't care about your feelings." That's rough even from a stranger.

Gene Weingarten: Here is the dynamic, as I see it:

Stranger on street, to me: "Your mother's a fat whore."

Translation: "You are weak looking, I am strong, you're not gonna punch me or dis me back because you are afraid of me."

My reaction: (Smile.)

Translation: That was a stupid thing to say. It has no power over me, but more significantly, it shows you are a moron, and I am amused by that. The fact that you are larger and stronger than I am is an irrelevancy, because you are a dolt. I make more money in one year than you will for the rest of your life, probably. Chicks do not dig mindless brutes, at least not the sort of chick anyone but a mindless brute would be interested in. Your women are pathetic. They're all you can get. Have a nice day.


Taylor, Pa.: Regarding the discussion of a unatttractive child, I was reminded of this quote, the authorship of which I have forgotten, the ugly can be beautiful, the pretty never.

Gene Weingarten: Why can't the pretty be beautiful? I've known some beautiful pretties.


Trapped In the Closet: Gene -

Did you see today's Post story on Sen Larry Craig, busted for "lewd conduct" in an airport bathroom? Am I the only one who thinks this is absurd? Since when does "foot tapping" constitute lewd behavior? And the undercover officer was said to be "monitoring the restroom" - um, apparently from inside a stall? How's that working out?

Look, Craig's homophobic politics are execrable, and I'm sure he's a bitter old closet case, and maybe he was trolling for some action in the men's room. Come on though, tapping his foot? Brushing a hand against a partition? That's just sad, that's nothing to get all panicky and arrest a guy for.

And this is the crux of my rant: While I've never liked Craig, it seems to me that arresting him was homophobic. God forbid any red blooded American male feel like one of those...those DEVIANTS might just be looking at him that WAY...that WAY that they LOOK...and they don't even have to use their EYES...they can ogle you with...with...their FEET...

Come on folks, get a grip. Maybe he was just looking for the toilet paper. And even if he wasn't - he NUDGED you with his FOOT, from the NEXT STALL...Inappropriate, maybe, but arrest-worthy? Sheesh...

Gene Weingarten: I totally agree with you, point by point. America shouldn't have morals police. And this seems pathetic.


Falls Church, Va.: Sorry to hear that you're browsing the hemorrhoid aisle, but Tucks have been around a long time. Could it be that the store was just out of Anusol (or, as I call it, Ol'Anus)?

Gene Weingarten: Nope. Big sign on the package: NEW NAME! FORMERLY ANUSOL.


Doonesbury: Less is more. The Rev in the last frame overstates the case.

Gene Weingarten: Exactly. He stepped on his own joke. Very rare for Trudeau. But it still was a terrific strip.


Mixed, up: Hi Gene,

I'm curious to have your opinion on this matter.

You are married. You go on a trip and meet someone with whom you have no chance of having a relationship, but you fall madly in love with her/him. You don't cheat on your spouse, but the experience causes you to recognize things in your relationship that are unsatisfactory.

You return to your normal life. You haven't fallen out of love with your spouse, but you realize that you could be better matched.

What do you do?

Gene Weingarten: Interesting question. You have to work at a marriage. Part of that means being realistic and not leaping into the what-if territory.

There is ALWAYS a more ideal potential mate, somewhere.

Now, if your realization exposes a terrible emptiness or something, then things get complicated. I would say if there are young children involved, the above principle holds. If there are no children, or adult children, think it through carefully and weigh options. Husbands and wives have obligations to each other, but they don't own each other.


Today Show: That interview was painful, but the worst part of the show came earlier when Matt Lauer asked if some Democrats are sad Gonzalez is quitting because they "won't have that pinata to hit around anymore."

And I think Tucks was always a brand, no?

Gene Weingarten: People are telling me that Tucks has been around a long time. I dunno. I saw the package, and wrote it down for 800 number purposes, and it definitely said NEW NAME.


Laurel, Md.: Don't know how far you want to push this, research-wise, but you stated that FDR was not a nice man.

FDR was TOO nice, in that he couldn't stand inter-personal unpleasantness. He was one of those people who'd always act like they agree with you; then do exactly the opposite of what you'd thought had been decided.

His four kids all grew up spoiled brats because he wouldn't discipline them. They were married a total of 18 times; of which 16 ended in divorce and two in suicide.

Gene Weingarten: He undercut people with impunity. He'd tell you one thing and do another. And then there was that Jew thing.

I consider him our second greatest president.


Baltimore, Md.: So you're OK with people having sex in public bathrooms?

Gene Weingarten: No. There are health concerns, among other things. But this was not the crime.


Theophyla, CT: On the poll: I'm a carnivore, but ethically speaking, I can't really justify it. In fact, I know it's environmentally bad as well, because it takes so much more energy to produce meat than it does for grain. Evolution accounts for my taste for meat, but evolution isn't a moral justification for anything.

If I could eat Indian food all the time, I'd become a vegetarian immediately (yes, I know you hate it, but you're simply wrong); but Indian food is incredibly labor-intensive to prepare, and, as much as my wife and I love to cook, it's simply too time-consuming. And no other non-meat cuisine has ever been satisfying to me on a full-time basis. Indian vegetarian food is the result of thousands of years of practice at getting it right, and Moosewood or Greens simply don't hack it.

So I'm at a moral standoff between my philosophy (which tells me that history will look upon meat-eating as we now look upon slavery) and my taste buds, which tell me that I really don't like that phony vegetarian stuff -- most vegetarian dishes are substitutes for the real thing and as unsatisfying as decaf coffee and artificial sweeteners.

That makes me a guilty carnivore. But I still hate those self-satisfied PETA yahoos and the ALF terrorists.

Gene Weingarten: At the risk of tautology, Indians manage to eat Indian food all the time. How do they find the time?


Chicago, Ill.: I hope Eric Shansby gets paid extra this week, since he contributed all of the humor to the column. Dang.

A Reptile Dysfunction, ( Post Magazine, Aug. 26)

Gene Weingarten: That's so unfair.

The headline writer also contributed some humor.


Fairfax, Va.: To be honest, I don't usually eat ANY meat. However, since Frankie was such a bust (no pun intended relative to your dumbest blonde observation), I might make an exception and put him on the menu tonight.

Barb Armour

P.S. I'm blonde, so might I be considered for dumb/dumber/dumbest for spending an evening trying to coerce a hamster to eat applesauce?

Gene Weingarten: You're my hero.


Virginia Square, Arlington, Va.: Happy anniversary wishes to you and the rib!

From your "twin family" that share many important dates...

Gene Weingarten: Wow. You just reminded me, and I called The Rib. Thank you.

She's out of town. She had forgotten, too. We tend to mutually forget our anniversary. It's a tradition.


Shandeh, DC: I was just listening to [an] NPR report that Latinos are very embarrassed by the resigned Attorney General. So if embarassing Jews are a shandeh for the goyim and on this very chat it was decided that the Representative from Florida was a Foley for the gays, is the Attorney General (former) a "Gonzales for the gringos"? I think he should be. What a complete loser.

Gene Weingarten: I like "Gonzales for the gringos."

From Slate:

"Even Bush won't be able to find a worse attorney general than Gonzales."


North McLean, Va.: I don't find most vegetarians obnoxious, but I have problems with PETA because they throw such a huge net of indictment. For example, I have no problem with intelligently administered animal research, but I do with raising animals for fur. I have no problem with farm raised fish and shrimp, but I do with pigs. Chicken bothers me much less than beef because of the greater ecological impact of the latter. It's the "you're either with us or against us" attitude of PETA that I fine alienating.

Gene Weingarten: Interestingly, animal advocates will tell you that if you have to eat only one kind of meat, make it a cow. Much less death and horror involved in the life of farmed cattle than farmed poultry. MUCH less. To satisfy his meat craving, the average American eats something like one third of a cow a year, but dozens of chickens.


Frankfurt a. M., HE: I hate to nitpick, but I am a hot young fan of the chat so I think you will forgive me, here it goes: The correct spelling for the Spanish expletive for gay people is maricon (accent in the o). There are also: Marica and mariquita, which is a diminutive. However, neither of this would be the strongest word to profer an insult in this sense, that would be "Puto".

Sorry for the grammar but I speak Spanish and live in Germany so I am constantly confused.

Gene Weingarten: That is correct. I misspelled it, which is why people couldn't find it in slang dictionaries. Sorry.


Fish, HDs: Hi Gene -- I'm one of those "I'd prefer not to think about it/I feel guilty about it" types -- I LOVE meat, BUT I like it pre-packaged, without knowing where it came from. When I'm in a restaurant, I will go out of my way to order fish fillets. I never eat organ meat (gross).

What has really driven home my dislike for eating meat is living overseas where I cannot get pre-packaged, clumps of unidentifiable meat. When living overseas, the meat is REAL meat -- you pick it out, they chop it up from pieces that like it came from the animal. Yuck. It was almost enough to push me over the edge into quasi-vegetarianism (I like fish albeit without heads). Now that I'm back living in the States, I like my clumps of meat.

I think if most Americans were forced to eat meat that was not pre-packaged, unidentifiable clumps of meat, there'd be more semi-vegetarians...

Gene Weingarten: Right. Or if we had to behead our own meat.

There is a lot of subtle hypocrisy and euphemism in this subject. You are refreshingly honest. You WANT them blinders on.

You know, there is a reason that beef is called beef and now "cow," and that we eat "pork" and not "pig." I've never quite figured out why no one ever came up with a euphemism for chicken. Maybe because they're just, y'know, chickens.

When PETE guy Bruce Friedrich is asked why he is a vegan, he turns the question around: " Well, I'd think it's obvious. A better question is why you choose to eat animal corpses."

When put that way, it's a little startling, no?

Gene Weingarten: Make that PETA guy.


To the man who wants to live: I think you might be my husband based on what you wrote, and the conversation we had last night. And if you are, please know that I would rather live with you in our first ratty apartment with hand-me-down furniture and no more fancy cars or swanky restaurants, than think for a second that you had considered ending your life to make mine more comfortable.

Gene Weingarten: To the man who wants to live: If this is your wife, you have something very special to live for, mister.


Alexandria, Va.: I have spent a lot of time thinking about vegetarianism. There are lots of issues involved that need to be addressed. If one's motivation is to protest cruelty to foodstock, then boycotting is far less effective than to create a market for "humanely" raised meat. If one objects because of the assertion that additives, hormones and the like are unhealthy, then, again, market forces to support organic meats are the most powerful way to change things. And the notion that meat is inherently unhealthy simply doesn't stand up to objective analysis. I know several short-winded vegetarians who could use to lose a few pounds.

The only rational argument for vegetarianism is that it is inherently evil for one to kill and eat another creature. While this is an entirely defensible position, realize that it flies directly in the face of looking to the natural world for moral guidance. Indeed, it suggests that nature is actively evil.

Gene Weingarten: I'm not sure why you would look to the natural world for moral guidance. Aren't we, perforce, more civilized? If we looked to the natural world for moral guidance, and happened to contemplate the mantis, our wives would be biting off our heads after sex.

Also, I'd say there are other rational arguments for vegetarianism, among them the environmental one.


Florida: You don't write your own headlines?

Gene Weingarten: I write some of them. I wrote that one.


This chat makes me smarter: I just looked up the word "tautology". Great word.

Gene Weingarten: It's from the Greek word for redundancy. I just looked that up, for the comic strip my son and I are writing.

The title of the strip is Barney and Clyde. This is the first time I'm mentioning that.


ROTFL: How do you know that isn't what I am doing? I have to wash clothes several times a day because I get so dirty reading jokes.

Gene Weingarten: LOL.


RE: Larry Craig: Yeah, his actions were fairly benign. But he plead guilty!! He, by his own admission, was trolling. And frankly, I don't believe the "wide stance" defense that led to foot brushing. Judging the guys that splay their legs on the Metro, their feet are not spaced widely enough to come into contact with someone in the next stall in a regularly-sized restroom. He's closeted, and he's a reprehensible hypocritical bigot.

Gene Weingarten: I don't CARE that he was trolling. That's my point.


Bowie, Md.: I have no ethical problem with meat-eating because, at least in America, we almost exclusively eat animals that are themselves eaten in the wild -- cattle, pigs, fish, and small birds all have their own non-human predators.

I suppose if I lived in certain parts of Asia, I could rationalize eating dogs; but here we don't eat cats, dogs and other food-chain toppers.

Gene Weingarten: Wild cows?


Baltimore, Md.: Gene,

I rationalize my meat-eating this way:

If I bump into a hungry lion on the savannah, he's not likely to worry about my pain and suffering, or the family I'll leave behind, or my inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So really, who am I to question the food chain? Okay, the next time you come -- unarmed -- on a cow in the Savannah. That's the food chain. Not a air gun to the brain 12 times removed from your table.

Gene Weingarten: Touche.


Gaithersburg, Md.: I just wanted to thank you for the column on Turtle Boy. I thought there was something wrong with me for not thinking it funny. But Gene says I'm right so I feel ok now.

Gene Weingarten: I wrote it for you, specifically.


Washington, D.C.: Larry Craig, accused of peering into men's room stalls, says, ''In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty.''

Gene Weingarten: Hahaha.


Anonymous: Of course Berkley Breathed draws pornography. Haven't you noticed how Opus always gets the sexiest women in all comics?

Gene Weingarten: The sexiest women in all comics might be in 9 Chickweed Lane, an otherwise reprehensible comic. But Berkeley is close.

I was hot for Calvin's ma, but I'm a little weird.


Tucks: I just did a quick Web search on this. It appears that Tucks previously was a brand name only for medicated wipes. Anusol was the brand name for the cream, but made by the same company. It looks like the maker decided to consolidate everything under a single brand name, since they are all for the same condition.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. We needed to know that.


Poll: I didn't answer the why-I-eat-meat question, because my answer isn't on there. My husband and I want to be vegetarian, particularly when we are in industrial-farming countries. It's nearly immoral to ignore what meat does to our environment and how industry treats animals.

We live in an Asian country where people happily eat live octopus. It's nearly impossible to not eat meat if you go out to a restaurant. At home, we are vegetarians -- not even fish. But for work and social gatherings, there's little choice. There are places like this throughout the world. It's not only Americans that insist on meat at every meal.

Gene Weingarten: Interesting.

LIVE octopus? Like, it's moving?

Gene Weingarten: Actually, I once ate a live lobster. Lobster sushi. It's eyes were looking at us as we ate the tail. Disconcerting.


Fake, ID: Oddly enough, "Senator Larry Craig (R) pirouetted into the men's room" is not a googlenope.

Gene Weingarten: LOL! LOL! ROFL! WMPLMAO!


Gene Weingarten: That was Wetting My Pants Laughing My Ass Off. I just made it up.


Arlington, Va.: Wow... You actually worked at the "National Law Journal?" I read it in an old bio and thought it was a joke.

What the heck were you going in a place like that?

Gene Weingarten: Yep. Three years, from 1979 to 1981. I had been a writer at the Detroit Free Press, and taking the job at The National Law Journal accomplished two things. In increasing order of importance:

1. I wanted to become an editor, working on complex stories. Wasn't going to be allowed a move like that within a paper as large as the Freep.

2. It got me to New York, where resided the Rib. We were married there.


Falls Church, Va.: GW: You know, there is a reason that beef is called beef and now "cow," and that we eat "pork" and not "pig."

I'm sure a million people are jumping on you for this, but the reasons for the different words go back to the Norman Conquest, which was not a time when people were squeamish about food preparation. The analogous term for "chicken" that you're groping for, by the way, is "poultry".

Gene Weingarten: Well, there's a reason that it stuck, no? Would you be as happy ordering ground cow? How now ground cow?

Poultry includes ducks, guinea hens, squab, etc.


Meat Gui,LT?: Man. I had no idea so many people had meat guilt. Its worse than poop shame!

I eat meat. I eat all kinds of meat. I even eat grasshoppers when I get the chance, and it doesn't really bother me where it comes from.

We are supposed to eat meat, which I imagine is why I like it so much? Whats the big deal?

The only time I refrained from eating meat was while living in Africa, when most of the people I worked with couldn't afford meat on a regular basis, and to tell you the truth, it was pretty poorly cooked anyway.

I know I sound like some crazy red-blooded American, but I am actually pretty liberal in every way (except apparently this one).

But don't worry Gene. This doesn't cause me any concern. After all, I just finished a delicious hamburger.

Gene Weingarten: So you'd decapitate your chicken yourself, and it wouldn't bother you?


Buttholeum: is the funniest thing you've written all year.

Gene Weingarten: I hope not.


Gene Weingarten: Okay, the Opus poll.

This strip is mocking a whole bunch of stuff. It is mocking the fact that American culture is trashy, and Americans are fad-obsessed. It is mocking American men's desire to control their women. And sure, it is mocking the enforced submissiveness of Islamic women.

So what? Breathed (and Trudeau, and Darrin Bell, etc.) make much more barbed fun of Christian extremism. This is satire, and it's gentle satire, and the only excuse to pull it is the rather patronizing attitude that if you so much as whisper anything mildly satiric about Islamic society, "those people" will go nuts.

Islam is big news. It's fair game, so long as you are fair and not promiscuously cruel or hateful. This was neither.

Oh, and the sexual argument is totally bogus. That's mild innuendo. I mean, Trudeau, whom no one has ever accused of being lewd, had a Sunday devoted entirely to the healthful benefits of masturbation.

I just disagree strongly with the decision to pull this strip. As you do.

Next week's Opus is better than this week's; it's a parable, and it ends with a hilarious visual gag, and it's also mostly critical of America and gently mocking of Islamic customs, and you also won't see it in The Post. We'll look at it next week.


Dumb blon, DE: Watching the Today show interview I was increasingly sympathetic to her -- until she said, "Well, MY FRIENDS and I know where the U.S. is...", implying that only someone who doesn't Love Her Country as Much As She Does could possibly be ignorant of geography.


Gene Weingarten: That was, in fact, her worst line.


Arlington, Va.: Gene, I gave up on your poll because you make the assumption that I, as an individual, control my own diet. I do not. I eat what my wife prepares. Although I might be tempted to become a vegetarian, it simply isn't practical without causing a massive domestic firestorm that I don't wish to deal with. There are enough things to fight about as it is.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, there is one answer I wish I'd put in there: Because it's easier.

It is easier to eat meat. It's easier to cook a great meat meal than a great veggie meal, and when you are a vegetarian, you can cause inconvenience for others.

Expediency is no more justifiable answer than any of the others, IMHO. When you get right down to it, these are all excuses and rationalizations, not explanations. The ethics and morals of the situation are fairly clear -- from the standpoint of cruelty, environmentalism and (probably) health, a vegetarian diet is the only justifiable one.


I will miss: Wash Post radio. You and me both.

Gene Weingarten: I think Liz killed it.


Wow...: I'm surprised by how many meat-eaters are either clueless, heartless or in denial. Here's what I always want to ask: Would you feel comfortable watching your meal be slaughtered? And if the answer is "no," do you imagine somehow that your hamburger is produced by magic, if you just don't think about it too hard? Because the slaughter still happened, whether you were watching or not.

Gene Weingarten: Speaking for myself, it's not denial, exactly. It's "I'd rather not think about it just this very moment, thank you."


Re: Larry Craig: I'd normally agree with you Gene that it doesn't matter whether he was trolling. However, in this case, if he was, screw him, he's a complete hypocrite. This guy votes against gay rights every chance he gets.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, but you just can't think that way. Much as it's tempting, "he deserved to die" isn't usually a good defense for murder.


Takoma Park, Md.: It seems foolhardy to avoid any broad, nutritious class of foods, including meat. Some meats may contain nutrients that humans do not produce effectively from vegetables. I know vegetarians claim that science says you can get everything from vegetables, but consider that science is always progressing. Maybe scientists haven't identified every single chemical interaction that takes place in the human body yet.

Gene Weingarten: Excuses, excuses.

C'mon, vegetarians have been living healthily for millennia. They actually have longer life spans, though it may be related to non-dietary reasons. But the point is, they don't die any earlier, and are no sicker.


Arlington, Va.: I am a 30-year-old white female. Would it be disrespectful or inappropriate for me to wear Negro League Baseball apparel to Nationals games?

Gene Weingarten: Why would it be either?


The Poll: Okay, the next time you come -- unarmed -- on a cow in the Savannah. That's the food chain. Not a air gun to the brain 12 times removed from your table.

-cough- needlessly confrontational -cough- Like 80 percent of the submissions to today's chat, many of which I am the only one here lucky enough to see.

Gene Weingarten: Liz protects me from seeing things that might upset me. Hey, she's like the Post editors, who wouldn't let you see Opus!


Nation of . . . zombies: Was your use of the dreaded three-dot pause (in the latest BTB) meant to convey irony, or have you lapsed into the void???

Gene Weingarten: It was a pause.

I shall repeat: Ellipses IN A QUOTATION mean words were omitted. Outside of quotes, it's a more fluid application.


Towson, Md,: On July 17, Genius Weingarten opined thusly:

Ahem. The Yankees are seven games back as I write this. No one is predicting anything for them. They are going to win the World Series this year. I am sure. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Care to revise and extend your remarks?

Gene Weingarten: No, I will just leave that out there to fester and marinate in its own stench.


Arlington, Virginia: Gene, have you heard of The Brights? Are they a legit group? Would you consider joining them?

Gene Weingarten: I know nothing of them. This website seems pretty straightforward and earnest, though I do detect a certain, ah, disingenuousness. They take great pains never to use the word "atheist," which of course is what they are.


Hot Day, MN: This week's Date Lab had a quote that was apropos to last week's discussion on journalist's quoting habits: "Erik's a good-looking kid: Rapier build, [Pabst Blue Ribbon] belt buckle, gold Puma sneakers and hair that was up in a Jimmy Neutron swoop."

Because of the brackets, I assumed the girl must have said "PBR belt buckle." When I hear "PBR," I may think Pabst Blue Ribbon, but when I hear "PBR belt buckle," I definitely think Professional Bull Riders. All the early results on Google are for the professional bull riders buckle. So it made me wonder if, much like the your Tesla coil, the reporter incorrectly assumed she knew what the girl meant by PBR or whether she actually verified this important fact and it was Pabst.

Maybe wormylegs can check this out for us? It's at least as important as what TomKat is up to these days... Date Lab, ( Post Magazine, Aug. 26)

Gene Weingarten: See, that stopped me cold. I had no idea what she might have said. I hate brackets. They always add confusion.

Gene Weingarten: A quick google search suggests that Pabst is much more likely, though.


There's a Wash Post radio?: Who knew?!

Gene Weingarten: I think that was the problem.


Tom the Dancing Bug: Hey, Gene. What do you think about the latest Tom the Dancing Bug strip?

Gene Weingarten: I like it.


Alexandria, Va.: In last week's chat you suggested to a person who wanted to commit suicide that they see a therapist. Later on, you argued for a right to commit suicide. What state of mind is proper to be in to commit suicide? Do you have to have a terminal illness? Just trying to follow your logic.

Gene Weingarten: I think it is possible to be at the end of one's rope; without any hope of happiness. The man who wrote in had not obtained therapy. He had not talked about his troubles with anyone. He was at the end of no rope at all. He was, I thought, showing evidence of disordered thinking, of the sort where therapy might be of enormous benefit.

The second post was from a woman whose son had committed suicide after a lifetime of therapy that hadn't worked, the support of a devoted and loving family, etc. Entirely different scenario.

Yes, I believe we all have the right to take our lives. I think that it should only be done after all other options have been tried and eliminated. I don't think someone is obliged to continue living in unendurable pain, whether physical or mental.


Pic with and without Flash: Here.

Just for Gene.

Gene Weingarten: Very nice.


Meat Eater: I eat meat without guilt because of the whole we-are-carnivores deal. But I do not, to this day, eat veal because of a pamphlet I got in college (Cornell - hope you like it Molly!) on how they treated the baby cows.

So I do think that I have some guilt over how animals are treated before they are eaten. I still will eat general cow without guilt, but now I will start thinking about chicken breasts (that seem way bigger than they should be) a bit differently.

Do you feel raw oyster guilt?

Gene Weingarten: I feel no oyster guilt. Oysters and clams are the only animals that deliver me no guilt when I eat em.


Ick: gene,

I heart you. I'm so liberal I'm practically socialist. But sex in a mulit-toilet public bathroom goes beyond health concerns. What if a young kid walked in? What if anyone walked in?

There are places to have sex and places not to have sex, but it's not a "moral police" issue. There is a difference between morals and decency/courtesy.



WMPLMAO: Google it. You didn't make it up.

Gene Weingarten: REally???? Crap. Googlenopes are a stern mistress.


Washington, D.C. : I am a 30-something professional who reads you religiously (at least as much as your doctrine will permit). I am well educated, good looking (as are all of your readers), and have a great sense of humor. However, I don't like the Wizard of Oz, in that I have tried many times to watch it from beginning to end and have failed. I want to scream about 20 minutes in.

I love movies. I have watched thousands. I also love musicals and Judy Garland. I just find that movie disturbing.

So, knowing this flaw, am I still allowed to chat? Yes, and if you're so inclined, you can quickly read the actual L. Frank Baum book and join me on Wednesday at Noon for an hour of discussion devoted entirely to the story.

Gene Weingarten: Ah. Cool.

Disturbing? Well, that's one of the reasons I like it. There is a nice subversive overtone to that movie. I even think the very end, the moral, is intended ironically. It has to be.


Arlington, Va.: A few chats ago you said a guy named Poole at the dot com said "Let's videotape Josh Bell."

But in the chat for the story, you said it was Phil Bennett's idea.

S who are you giving credit to today?

Gene Weingarten: Phil Bennett suggested we take a few surreptitious video grabs. John Poole said, nah, let's tape the whole thing from a secret camera. That was a very wise decision.


Noises, ON: When I go to bed, just before falling asleep, I think I hear a radio playing in the distance. It is as though the stereo has been left on in another part of the house, so I can hear but not quite make it out faint music. Mostly, it seems to play Big 80s Hair Bands (which I survived and didn't like) or sometimes music from the 40s and 50s (which I have never listened to). If I get up, or try to zero in on the sound, it goes away. I believe I am experiencing the auditory equivalent of looking at a rocky cliff and seeing faces -- my brain is imposing patterns on the random noises from an air filter, ceiling fan, and street traffic. Is there a term for this? Can I make it stop? It started in my early 20s, and I'm now 36.

I throw you heart-shaped panties.

Gene Weingarten: This, I never heard.


Anyone identify with this?


Baltimor, ON: I think I've narrowed down what I find wrong with your atheistic evangelism.

I was raised by an Episcopalian mother and a father who was raised as a member of the Religious Society of Friends -- i.e. the Quakers. One of the tenets of the latter religion is that the relationship between a person and his/her "Maker" is just that -- a relationship, intensely personal and one-on-one,even if it's active rejection. Evangelists would ask my father if he believed in God, and his calm, reasoned response would be "Your God, or mine?" It was an answer guaranteed to peeve off hard-nosed Bible literalists, but in actual retrospect, it's a brilliant, thought-provoking response. There is no way, for example, that I will have the same relationship with, say, your wife, daughter, best friend, etc., as you do, and you cannot have the same relationship, views, etc., I have with my wife, my sister, or even the bus driver.

It happens that, by and large, I share the same views as you do. If I were to describe Christianity in wholly neutral, unflattering terms -- worship of a dead messiah, ritual representative cannibalism, awaiting a resurrection of a late religious leader -- it would neatly fit the category of a cult. I reject superstition just like the best of scientists. However, there's a certain arrogance in presuming that science, and man, has all the answers. I know many scientists that, although probably rejecting the literal words of holy books, came around in later life to understand that their chosen field will never catch up with the mysteries of Nature/Universe/Cosmic Space Muffin. It seems as one mystery is unraveled, another is revealed. As one said to me, "You swear, after 30 years, that the Maker is mocking you." They're reduced in later years to a degree of humility they didn't have as young, arrogant atheist/agnostics deeming that "science has all the answers." They may not turn to the Bible, but they still end up respecting, and revering, whatever it is.

You appear to be dancing a fine line between honesty (answering within the context of your belief system) and outright arrogance. Your pompous "know-it-all" act irritates me (it can work in live acts or film/video, but bombs in the written word), and similarly, so does your apparent and empathetic antitheism. Seriously, how would you react if, say, some political commentator whose writings you liked shifted to shadowy evangelism?

It's a personal relationship, dude.

Gene Weingarten: A personal relationship with Whom?


Arlington, Va:"Gene Weingarten: I feel no oyster guilt. Oysters and clams are the only animals that deliver me no guilt when I eat em."

Are you a vegan? Why eat animals if you feel guilty?

Gene Weingarten: Because I am a hypocrite, the same as so many of you. Something like 20 percent of the polltakers gave their main reason as "don't wanna think about it."


Arlington, Va.: I am just amazed to learn that foot tapping is the international sign for public bathroom boinking. Who knew? What else don't I know? Have I been unintentionally sending out gawdonlyknows how many other signals? Life is a minefield, huh?

Gene Weingarten: It's scary, isn't it?


Virginia Beach, Va.: I have lots of meat guilt, but I am still a "carnivore of convenience." I was a vegetarian off and on for years, but when I started dating my husband, who is a dedicated meat eater, it just became easier to eat meat. Trying to cook every night for two lifestyles was too painful. I still won't eat most types of meat- any type of seafood, veal etc., but I will eat chicken and beef. And the guilt is worse because I love beef. Really, really love the taste. But I need all meat to be sterilized- it can't have bones, or skin, or blood vessels, and so forth. Man, the guilt is getting to me now- I hate thinking about it. Gee, thanks Gene.

Gene Weingarten: I think we all should think about it, maybe. If I won't eat Murphy, I see no good reason why I should eat a pig.


Arlington, Va.: As I get older, I find myself moving away from meats that have bones to things that are boneless. It seems less animally that way. In other words I am getting more squeamish (though I will still eat tongue and kidneys and liver).

I brood about moving toward a more vegetarian diet and do eat vegetarian a couple of times a week, but I am ashamed to say I like meat too much despite being squeamish. What I AM doing though, is moving much more toward organic and locally raised meats and trying to avoid factory chickens, mass raised cows and pigs etc.

I would of course never knowingly eat dog, cat or horse.

Gene Weingarten: Are you people LISTENING to yourselves? You are getting by through ludicrous self-deception.


My brain is imposing patterns on the random noises from an air filter, ceiling fan, and street traffic: Yes! I hear that at night too! (although it's vague enough I can't ID the musical genre). Thanks for giving me the answer, I always wonder if it's a radio a few house down or what. But you're right, it's my brain filling in the blanks of white noise and interpreting it into something it knows. Like when you think you see a monkey in the room and then realize it's the chair.

Gene Weingarten: Interesting!


Hypnagogic Hallucination: Google it for the hearing things as falling asleep answer.

Gene Weingarten: I will trust you.


Alexandria, Va.: I've always disagreed with you on the usage of fiance, but I could never argue why very well (I'm a math person - me no talk so pretty). If you take your argument to the extreme, why introduce anyone as your girl/boyfriend? Or wife/husband? Why is it anyone's business that you're emotionally and sexually (and possibly legally) connected to this person? I'm not one to be all "But people who are engaged just want to tell everyone how much they're in leeeerrrrvvv", but I think most people see an engagement as a serious step. That is all.

Gene Weingarten: Well, see, that's sort of my point. I don't see it as a serious step. Get married, then we'll talk.

Or not. I don't see marriage as a serious step. Absent kids.

Also, fiancee is not only a French word, but a French word that must be pronounced with frippery. It is ... twee.


West Palm Beach, Fla.: I thought of you immediately when I stumbled upon this Wikipedia entry.

Gene Weingarten: This makes the brain hurt. But when you get through it, if it doesn't buffalo you, I think you are still left unconvinced. I don't buy the bracketed "that." I think you need that word to make the sentence work, and that kills the perfection of the sentence.


Pig vs Dog: Maybe dogs don't taste as good as pigs do. Would that be a valid reason?

Gene Weingarten: Dogs taste great. Ask the Koreans. They sell deep fried dog.

(I hope I am not slandering Koreans -- I just read this. If it's wrong, someone correct me.)


Gene Weingarten: Oh, speaking of help-seeking. I have a new computer with Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Word. Can anyone tell me how to "clean" type, since there is no Tools menu that I can find?


Spokane too soon: Gene - looks like you spoke too soon about the quality of Youtube-fueled humor. Just when it was looking bad, we get Miss South Carolina... the champagne of Youtube clips. A clip to be savored, to be meditated upon, to be passed down to our children and our children's children.

Gene Weingarten: Oh, SOME internet phenomena are definitely worthy.


I beg to differ:"Even Bush won't be able to find a worse attorney general than Gonzales."

Two words: Harriet Miers

Gene Weingarten: She would have been better.


Wizard of Oz: Gene, could you please ask Liz whether we should still come to the Oz chat if we aren't followers of "Lost"? I'd like to talk about the Winkies and the Quadlings. Absolutely -- "Lost" viewreship is not a requirement. You may have to ignore lots of show refs, but there should be plenty Winky, Quadling and Munchkin to go around.

Gene Weingarten: I totally understand this, yep.


Worst Excuse: I hate this excuse for eating meat: I like meat too much. Come on! I know this is an extreme comparison, but it's like saying, I just like the thrill of killing people too much too stop. Or, I just like the high of heroin too much to stop. I LOVE meat. When I was younger cheeseburger and steak were my favorite foods. I didn't become a vegetarian because I don't like meat. And I don't think many do.

Gene Weingarten: There's a lot of pretty good soy-based mock meat. Some is awful but I have tasted mock duck that is almost indistinguishable, except by texture.


Nas, AL: Has anybody ever tried to make human milk cheese?

Gene Weingarten: Good question. Why would we give our kids something we wouldn't eat?


Rockville: Meat-eaters Unite! PETA's nuts--they use misinformation, inaccurate statements, crazed rants and offensive statements much of the time. If they stuck to facts every now and then, maybe people wouldn't hate them so much.

There is nothing wrong with eating meat, poultry and seafood. Most doctors and nutritionists recommend it, such as.

Gene Weingarten: Your argument simple accepts as a given that there is "nothing wrong" with consigning sentient beings to nightmarish lives.


Buffaloes: Okay, I read this, and understood it. But what I don't understand is why, after reading a particular word over and over, it begins to look like it's misspelled. Does anyone else experience this, and what causes it?

Gene Weingarten: And it's only certain words, and the words tend to be common ones. "Enough" is one. Yeah, what is that all about?


RE: Craig: Where is your Senator Craig double-dactyl?

Gene Weingarten: Oooh. I shall start tomorrow's update with a Craig dactyl.

Speaking of which ....

See you all through the updates, all week. And thanks. Huge number of questions today.


UPDATED 8.29.07

Gene Weingarten:

Higgledy Piggledy

Larry Craig, Senator

Went to the bathroom and

Sat on the seat.


Needs notwithstanding, he

Simply was doing a

Pol's greet and meat.


Gene Weingarten: Bruce Friedrich of PETA writes in with the following response to the woman who wrote that her doctor advised her to eat meat, for reasons of health:

Every once in awhile, someone will tell me that their doctor suggested that they eat meat, or that their doctor says there's no link between eating chicken and getting cancer. I suspect they're making it up, since any doctor who said that would be offering advice that is contrary to every nutritional body in the world. There is not a single prominent medical or dietetic group that will tell you eating meat is essential to good health. On the pro-vegetarian side, we have an array of prominent medical groups and physicians, including Doctors Andrew Weil, Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, and the list goes on. On the pro-meat side, there is literally one guy (seriously, just one) -- Robert Atkins, who keeled over dead at 260 pounds in 2003, and whose company went bankrupt shortly thereafter.

The American Dietetic Association, the world's largest organization of nutrition professionals, performed an extensive review of all the scientific studies about vegetarian diets. They found that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity than meat-eaters, and wrote a position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets which concludes that vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for all stages, including infancy and pregnancy, and that in fact they have, quote, "health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases," unquote.

So on the side that says you should eat some meat, we have not one medical or dietetic group in the world, but one guy who dropped dead at more than 260 pounds (and he was less than 6 feet tall, by the way). On the other side we have some of the most prominent doctors and nutritional researchers in the world, and all the scientific and medical bodies that exist. So if your friend says that her doctor told her to eat meat, if it's true, she really needs to find another doctor.


Washington, D.C.: Re: Arlington, Va.: I am a 30-year-old white female. Would it be disrespectful or inappropriate for me to wear Negro League Baseball apparel to Nationals games?

Gene Weingarten: Why would it be either?

Hi, Arlington, Gene, and other people with white skin and white skinned-ethnicities: The reason this woman asked the question is presumably because she wants to know if she'd offend Black people by wearing the Negro League. The answer is that some might be happy to see her wearing it, and others will think she is crazy or trying to be what is called a wigger. Let me just say that Blacks folks don't need White folks to uplift Black pride and speak for us. All we ever wanted was for White folks to stop speaking AGAINST us. Thank you.

Gene Weingarten: I don't get this. I just don't. I happen to think that the fact that baseball was segregated until 1947 is a significant shame to this country. I know a little of the Negro League stars, and the things they had to put up with; I once edited a story by an 80-year-old former star who talked about how they needed to play in clown regalia sometimes to attract crowds.

So I am wearing that cap just as a gentle acknowledgment. You gonna bust me for trying to act black? Or being condescending?


Baltimore, Md.: With regard to veganism: it is my understanding that the only natural sources of vitamin B12 are animals (and humans do not synthesize it internally). Since lack of B12 is lethal, veganism (i.e. excluding eggs and dairy products) is unnatural and lethal. In the modern world, one can also take products of a chemical factory. Better living through chemistry!

Gene Weingarten: Lethal? So both my daughter and Bruce Friedrich are dead, I guess.

You, um, take a B-12 supplement. You got a problem with that? I don't.


Googlenope: "startlingly unnoticeable"

Gene Weingarten: I like it.


Mountain Dogs: My girlfriend wants another Beagle puppy to add to our menagerie of a dog and two cats. I'm amenable to the idea, but I'd like a different breed (maybe one a little smarter). I think the Bermese Mountain dogs are really good looking dogs with a great temperment.

But when I did a little research online about them, the median lifespan is 7 years. I'm not sure I am ready to deal with the heartbreak of losing a pet after only 7 years (yeah, I know it's median and not mean).

Is this an irrational thought? It's not quite the same, but it's kind of like having a kid who has a 50 percent chance of dying before age 45.

Gene Weingarten: Bernese. They're from Berne, Switzerland, not Burma.

I think they're gorgeous. Molly says they've been overbred and can be crazy. Doesn't recommend the breed.

And yes, the larger the dog, the earlier they die. Great Danes who hit 8 are a rarity.


It wasn't just foot tapping: Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see "an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall."

The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig.

"I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, 'fidget' with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes," the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia's and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

"My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall," Karsnia stated in his report. "From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me."

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

"At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area," the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that "I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider."

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, we do stipulate that this is repulsive.


UPDATED 8.30.07

Falls Church, Va.: Gene,

Why is it important that we be able to decapitate a chicken's head before we eat it? Why is it important to know how ground chuck becomes ground chuck? Why did you bring this up?

Gene Weingarten: Why is it important to know if the watch you are buying is stolen? Why is it important to know if the clothing you are wearing was made by slave-labor eight-year-olds in the Third World? Why is it important to know whether the car you are driving is wasting fuel and polluting the air?

Because morality matters.

Gene Weingarten: WE are responsible for our decisions.


Not Guilty, ID: It bothers me that the Senator is claiming that he was innocent but pled guilty to "make it go away". You are a U.S. Senator. If someone has arrested you for a crime you did not commit, stand up for yourself, expose this ridicullousness for what it is. Do not perjure yourself by pleading guilty. Or he was being honest in the pleading and lying like rug now? Either way the guy is a liar.

Gene Weingarten: Of COURSE he is a liar. He was soliciting for sex. But ... should propositioning someone really be a crime? Adult to adult?


Where meat comes from: I had an enlighting conversation with a friend regarding what types of meat we would or would not eat. I started by questioning if the kidney in the famed British steak and kidney pies referred to the kidney bean or the actual organ. My friend had lived overseas and confirmed that it was the actual organ, to which I replied that I didn't agree with eating actual organs, just the muscle. My friend then agreed with me on the organ stance, and stated she didn't eat the muscle either, just the meat part.

This statement struck me as, well, completely false since we had just been out to lunch where I watched her eat copius amounts of chicken. I pointed out to my friend that ALL meat not of the organ variety was muscle, and she argued no, it wasn't. The meat that she ate was between the skin and the muscle. "The fat, you mean?" and she replied no, the other layer. "The MEAT layer," she said, to clarify her position. I was then forced to explain to my friend that indeed all meat was muscle, including hamburgers (ground up muscle) and chicken breast fillets (not just a silly name, but the part of the anatomy the meat was derived from). My friend was horrified. Granted, she never really thought about WHAT exactly meat was, other than it used to be a living animal, but I couldn't believe she had really never thought about it.

"Haven't you ever looked at a Thanksgiving turkey?" I asked. When you can still recognize the animal after it's been cooked and it's joints still work, to me that makes it pretty clear what meat is. Apparently my friend just never looked at it that way, preferring to believe all evidence (the head, internal organs, and muscle) that it had once been a living thing had been removed, leaving just the "meat layer."

She has been a vegetarian ever since.

Gene Weingarten: This made me laugh out loud. This seems like an opportune moment for Meat! Meat! Meat!


The pageant ditz...: So, she totally botched her answer to a question about the lack of awareness and intelligence in American youth. Is this irony? Or is there another, better, word to define this situation?

Gene Weingarten: A friend of mine observed that she actually answered the question. Wouldn't it have been great if she was a brilliant parodist, and that was an act?


Oh yeah?: Well your argument assumes that cows are sentient beings?

You may point to scientific studies to back up your claim, but I say it's all just PETA propaganda.

Gene Weingarten: Sentient -- adj. Capable of perceiving by the senses; conscious.

Any questions?


Gene Weingarten: This speaks for itself. A bunch of conservative young men, giggling


UPDATED 8.31.07

Gene Weingarten: Here at Chatological Humor headquarters, we are getting some blowback about Bruce Friedrich's claim that meat-guru-doctor Robert Atkins died obese and probably as a result of his fat-guzzling diet.

The truth is actually elusive. Officially, Atkins died of cranial injury from a fall. However, the coroner's report also stated that he'd had at least one heart attack, and at least one instance of congestive heart failure; the Atkins corp., with a huge financial stake in the matter, rather lamely claimed these were not related to his diet. There is no question that his weight, at death, was 255 pounds, and that he was under 6 feet tall, making him, by definition, obese. However his family said that much of that avoirdupois was from edema -- excess fluid in the body cavity -- caused by late-stage kidney failure in his final few days. They quoted a hospital admissions document saying that he weighed 195 pounds -- still substantially overweight. The accuracy of that document has been called into question.

Sixty pounds of edema would be gallons of fluid, and would probably constitute malpractice if allowed to build up to that extent, even in a dying man. Edema is routinely drained.

So, we don't know.


Silver Spring, Md.: Give "The Wizard of Oz" a chance! It's truly a great movie, and tons of earnest work went into the making of the film, from all areas. And, no, the ending is NOT intended to be "ironic," or whatever. The ending is intended to convey the message that there's no place like home -- your family, your friends, your roots, your own home. That's it. Nothing more. And the message is there because she was a teen who had a string of bad luck and ran away -- only to discover she never should have run away, and her real place in the world was at her HOME, on the farm. There's literally nothing more complicated than that. Just enjoy the movie, folks!

Gene Weingarten: I disagree. Enough has been written about the movie so there is probably an answer out there. But a movie that has an intellectually enslaved population under the thrall of a total fraud -- there's some bite to that movie. And I find it hard to believe that the moral, straightforwardly, is to be satisfied with what you have and not dare to find adventure or seek a place over the rainbow.


Sentient Nightmares: While I won't argue that meat eating is morally defensible, I will argue that we should focus on making sure other human beings are not living nightmarish lives before we spend all our time and energy on animals.

And yes, I do get that we're all intertwined and animals were here first, etc. But a little kid living in squalor, or dying for lack of appropriate protein in his/her diet seems so much more important to me than how a chicken lives or dies.

And yeah, I'm definitely a "don't ask/don't tell" carnivore.

Gene Weingarten: So then may I presume that you are a foreign aid worker, or that you donate a third of your income to alleviate hunger and poverty?

Being a vegetarian is something anyone can do, at no tangible cost, to help alleviate tons of suffering. You can also help people, okay? It's not either-or. Good.


Capitol Hill, Washingto, D.C.: Anchor and weather guy re-enact Senator Craig's bathroom sex solicitation live on-air.

And btw, love the sandals with the suit.

Gene Weingarten: This is excellent. I like this guy. BUT NOT IN THAT WAY. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Gene. Slate also did a reenactment. It's a bit more "produced."


Globalizati, ON: Gene,

I've been thinking quite a bit about your diagram from a couple of chats ago and why it has been bothering me so much. Your colorful little visual aid reeks of Social Darwinism. You mention that, "EVERYTHING had a mystical explanation. That's because people were fearful, ignorant, and desperate to give meaning to life." Past tense. What about the millions of indigenous peoples around the world for whom everything still does have a mystical explanation? Do you believe they are fearful, ignorant and desperate? That your way of life is superior to theirs because you have been educated in the ways of Newtonian science? Not to mention that traditional local knowledge, which is in many ways a combination of knowledge, practice and beliefs, has been informing Western scientists about ecosystems and biodiversity for years.

The beauty of this life is the incredible diversity of cultures and beliefs and yet somehow, at some level we are all still fundamentally the same. Why would you want humans to become part of one boring culture based on Western science? Blah. I'll take a pluralistic world where people can believe in what they want.

Give me rain goddesses, ironic ancestor spirits, channukah fairies, whatever. It makes life much more interesting. Even if it's not your truth it doesn't make it inferior.

Gene Weingarten: There you go. You finally revealed yourself in that last line.

Even if it's not MY truth? How many truths are there? Do you acknowledge the possibility of truth?


Washington, D.C.: What would be your perfect Peter Principle job: The position at the Post that you might rise to, where you would be the most incompetent?

Gene Weingarten: Hm. Well, the job I would be least competent at would be dance critic. But it's not the job I would do the most damage at. That would probably be editor of the business section.


Washington, D.C.: What is your least masculine trait? Will you own up to one or more?

Gene Weingarten: Yeah. I like to ask directions. I am directionally impaired, and if I just followed my instincts or tried to follow a map, I'd be perpetually lost.


Submit your meaty rants to next week's chat.


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