Chatological Humor (Updated 9.14.07)

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 11, 2007; 12:00 PM

DAILY UPDATES: 9.12.07 | 9.13.07 | 9.14.07

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 Poll: Door 1 -- I Lean Conservative| Door 2 -- I Lean Liberal

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 or use WordPad. I haven't the time to edit them out. -- Liz


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Today's chat will clearly have a political tone, given the date and the subject of the poll. It is important on this day to remember that we are all Americans, and that we should not weaken ourselves by surrendering to petty partisan bickering. Therefore, it is without joy that I must report the solemn news of this scientific study, which reveals fairly conclusively, using scientific methods involving standard deviations, that people whose politics are conservative tend to be hidebound, pigheaded, lard-butted, bumbling idiots.

I'M not saying that! This is a very very scientific report by science people. They used ELECTRODES.

Basically, the conclusion was that liberal and conservative leanings seem to be hardwired in the brain. Persons who identified themselves as extremely conservative were so inflexible, so resistant to change in their decision-making that they persisted in doing what they were doing even when it was wrong. Liberals showed much greater capacity to consider and parse complex situations. This allowed them to make the correct decision much more often. Conservatives are Bush: Certain, inflexible, decisive, and wrong. Liberals are Kerry-Gore: wishy-washy, brooding, flippyfloppy, and right.

The link I provided gives a highly sanitized, less judgmental version of this, filled with caveats and harrumphs.But read it carefully. Reader Ashley Wilson did, and offers this analysis, which I find excellent:

They conclude that the implications are that conservatives rely on habit and liberals are more "nimbleminded," but if you look closely, it says more than that. "Respondents who had described themselves as liberals showed 'significantly greater conflict-related neural activity' when the hypothetical situation called for an unscheduled break in routine."

"An unscheduled break in routine" is otherwise known as a problem! When an obstacle is presented, liberals react more quickly and more creatively than conservatives, who "were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits 'despite signals that this ... should be changed.'" There are plenty of measures of intelligence out there, but one of the standards is problem-solving ability.


So. I'm just presenting this all as food for thought. You liberals, consider it carefully and decide whether it is right. You conservatives, feel free to ignore it and bull right ahead, the way you're used to!



Okay, then.

Quinn Cassidy Matuszek called my attention to this blog which rather charmingly explains the difference between the new and old Tampax, a subject raised here earlier.

Elsewhere on the this-chat-was-there-first front, Kate Jones provides this link. I agree with the green T-Rex, point by point, right to the end.

Andrew Hoenig directs our attention to a pretty great aptonym out of California. In July, a California appeals court rejected the challenge of a man who was sentenced to five years in prison for masturbating in public. His name is Nizameddine Chokr.

And last, here is a link to a site featuring those emotionally manipulative pro-surge ads being hawked (ha) by Ari Fleischer. The first is pallid and skippable, but watch the last four. I have two questions.

1. Have you ever seen a better example of false-choice demagoguery?

2. Why do these folks ALWAYS pronounce it "Eye-rack"?

Googlenopes of the week, from "as flaccid as I want to be," by Wilbur McGrath, and, on a related note, "is that a pack of Rolaids in your pocket, or..." by Lynn Cowan.

Please take today's poll ( Door 1 -- I lean Conservative| Door 2 -- I lean Liberal). I think the differences between the reds and the blues are predictable but fascinating, particularly on the third question. It sure goes back to that SUPER SCIENTIFIC STUDY at the top of the intro, doesn't it?

An excellent comics week. The Comic Pick of the Week is Sunday's Lio. First Runner-Up is Saturday's Pooch Cafe. Honorables: Thursday's Speed Bump, Thursday's Sally Forth, Thursday's Candorville, Sunday's Pickles, and Saturday's Frank and Earnest, for being frankly and earnestly corny.

Was Bill Keane on Sunday actually suggesting that cheating on tests is ubiquitous, cute and funny?

Okay, let's go.


Washington, D.C.: Memo to: D.C. Jail Officials has got to be the laziest thing you've ever published. Couldn't you have come up with some less predictable stereotypes? Before you turn this question back on me, or ask your readers to come up with better stereotypes, I'll remind you that you're the paid columnist and we're just lowly readers. That list could have been put together by someone who finds the phrase "I like turtles" funny. Memo to D.C. Jail Officials, ( Post Magazine, Sept. 9)

Gene Weingarten: Please. I have written MUCH lazier things.


Maryland: I got married recently and want to improve my wifely skills. So I have a couple of questions for you, the Rib's Happy Companion.

What are the three most annoying things that well-meaning wives do without realizing they are being annoying? And what are the three things that put the biggest smile on husbands' faces that it never occurs to well-meaning wives to do?

Gene Weingarten: Group one:

1) "Sending signals" instead of directly stating what is bothering you.

2) "Sending signals" instead of directly stating what is bothering you.

3) "Sending signals" instead of directly stating what is bothering you.


Group Two:

1. Initiating sex.

2. Doing that thing where you casually dangle a shoe from your toes, and acting like you don't know he knows you are doing this.

3. Something not related to sex that I cannot think of right now.


Silverman - Funny or N, OT?: Gene -

Since you're an expert on women and humor (in that order) I wanted to know your take on Sarah Silverman's Britney bit at the VMA on Sunday. Personally, I thought it was both hilarious and dead-on given the current state of Spear's career and life. Video: Silverman's Monologue (may not be safe for work)

Gene Weingarten: You know, it was startlingly vicious, which is okay, but not all that funny. Shock has a value. Imitating Britney's vulva made me snort out my beer.

But mostly, she needed an editor.


Radio Dial: This is for Liz... I was impressed last week when a mere 15 minutes after this chat I heard you on Washington Post Radio. Good job!

I'm very sorry to see WaPo Radio go. This morning I listened to David Burd talk with Chris Cillizza and thought "where else will I have a chance to hear stuff like this." It's a shame it didn't work out. Thanks. I'll be on again today at 1:20 and every day until the bitter end, which is sometime in the next couple of weeks. But, as I understand it, David Burd ain't going away and I think some of us will still pop in to his show from time to time. Not that Gene cares.

Gene Weingarten: Zzzzz.


Pri, DE: I'm not sure I could say I'm proud to be an American. I'm not ashamed of it, either. I view it as an accident of birth, not something I accomplished. You might as well ask me if I'm proud to be left-handed and English-speaking.

Do I feel lucky to have been born in the U.S. and to have all the opportunities I've had to live a life of relative success and ease? Absolutely. Do I support my country? Mostly, although I do believe we've screwed up a lot along the way and could always do better. Bottom line, though, I don't love my home because it's the U.S. -- I love the U.S. because it's my home.

Gene Weingarten: A few people have expressed this sentiment. I don't really get it. I see it as tantamount to feeling,say, proud to be Jewish because of the enormous accomplishments of Jews. I'm not saying this is true or valid, but as an example -- if one travels the world and is kinda embarrassed to be American because America is perceived as an international bully, I would say one is not proud to be an American at that time. No?


Left Right: I was very, very conservative through my teens and college years, I even voted for Reagan in 1980, my first time eligible to vote. By 1984 I didn't vote in the Presidential election. Even since I have been a raging liberal. I started smoking dope at age 18.

Gene Weingarten: I started smoking dope at 13. The real issue is when you QUIT smoking dope.


Alexandria, Va.: Being liberalish myself, I like hearing that a study says I'm better. However, I'm too smart to buy that. In particular, I'm remembering my late-60's college days, and late-night conversations with student radical types who identified themselves as Maoists or some other left-leaning sect, who were as dogmatic and closed-minded as any current political "Conversative."

Time to put a moratorium on stupid labels--the conservatives have defined the conversation by putting the labels out there. Why byy into it? Can you, Gene, come up with a way to define the issue/problem differently, so the public discussion deals with what REALLY matters, not stupid labels.

Gene Weingarten: I hate people like you.


Crofton, Md.: Hi Gene. Recently, Joshua Bell divulged (on his Web site, and in another recent news article) that he has a newborn son. The child was planned with Bell and a previous girlfriend/long time friend. He made it clear that he and the child's mother are not a couple, have not been a couple for several years, and are not likely to become a couple in the future (though they are good friends). They both wanted a kid, neither had a significant other, presto chango now there is a baby. Bell also made it clear that while he is thrilled to be a father, he will continue his hectic touring schedule while the child resides with his mom.

My question for you: given your oft stated views on marriage/children, what are your thoughts on this particular situation (either with Bell specifically, or such a situation generally speaking)?

Gene Weingarten: Wow. I didn't know this. Bell had mentioned this previous girlfriend to me; doing the math, around the general time that he and I were talking, he was in the process of impregnating her.

I think I need to know more about this situation to comment on it. It's interesting. It sounds like they planned a child with the intention of parenting the child like a divorced couple. Interesting.


Oxford, Miss: So Gene, do you hate our freedom or do you just want the terrorists to win?

Gene Weingarten: Like most liberals, I want everyone to die.


Anonymous: Who cares about the demise of Washington Post radio? Haven't you all ever heard of podcasts? I think Gene should do a podcast, but he won't.

Gene Weingarten: I don't even know what it is, exactly.


Liber, AL: So if conservatives are brain-damaged, does that mean it's not OK to hate them anymore?

Gene Weingarten: We must feel sorry for them and start diverting billions of dollars money for their care. Sadly, it will mean new taxes, but that's no problem for us.


Washington, D.C.: Sorry if this isn't funny, but the Administration's game plan in Iraq is clear. They intend to hang on until the last possible minute and then spend the next 30 years claiming that we only lost because the liberals and the media failed to support the war. You might be surprised by how many people other than Bush have made this exact claim about Vietnam. I'll go ahead and start the rumor that dirty hippies spit on the returning Iraq veterans right now.

Gene Weingarten: This is EXACTLY what they are doing. I made this point last week, but you made it better.


Washington, D.C.: Why do people ride horses, elephants, camels, etc., but not zebras?

I figured your chat was the most accomodating to a random question.


Gene Weingarten: The backbone of a zebra, unlike that of horses or camels, have a spongiform intravertebral design that would not accommodate a rider, but makes the animal better resistant to jarring front-to-back pressure. It evolved because zebras defend themselves via head-butting. It is the same reason we do not ride goats.

Okay, I made that all up. Anyone have any idea what the real answer is?


Gender Neutr, AL: Posting early as I will be in a meeting. I loved your latest column. I know exactly who the woman is who was mistaken for a man. I volunteer at a soup kitchen in D.C. and she has been a diner there for a number of years. I have to say that many of us, both volunteers and diners alike, weren't quite sure whether she was a man or a woman. She was very androgynous and even her voice wasn't a dead give away. Now that being said, one would think a strip search would put an end to any confusion but I guess some people missed that day in sex ed class. Since the "incident" I am happy to say, she has started to wear dresses more frequently. Memo to D.C. Jail Officials, ( Post Magazine, Sept. 9)

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. Liz, can we attach a photo of the inmate in question? There's a pic on this story.


Washington, D.C.: The theme of this month's Mensa Bulletin is "Voting," so much of the content deals with political matters. Appropos of this chat, and specifically today's poll, several of the articles note a correlation between high intelligence and a tendency to lean liberal. One of the pieces, entitled "Why I'm a Proud, Liberal Democrat," was written by a Jessica Weingarten. Any relation?

Gene Weingarten: No, but she sounds smart.


Not Saying: Well Bossy is wrong: the New Tampax is inferior to the old product because they used thinner cardboard, making insertion very difficult and messy. I switched, after a life of brand loyalty, to Kroger brand which still has substantial cardboard, saving myself money in the process.

Gene Weingarten: I am in possession of highly confidential information seldom available to men that there are these tiny tampons shaped like bullets that have no applicator and pop right in. What's wrong with those?


peeping tom....: So, I'm a hot mid 20's female. I was on a crowded train and there was an older man standing next to me. He kept lightly bumping me, but it only happened during stops. I suspect it was on purpose but have no proof. Anyways, a seat became available so I sat down. We happened to get off at the same stop. As we were walking, he said "Excuse me, I just wanted to let you know that you are so beautiful. I couldn't help but notice you." I smiled and said thank you and tried to speed up a little and keep it moving. But he proceeded to keep pace and continued, "From your head to your toes you are perfect. And when I noticed you had a g string on my heart about jumped out of my chest!" (Writer's note...showing of the panties was NOT intentional--I was coming from work and YES I was dressed appropriately--still can't figure out how he saw). Anyways, I was kinda freaked out at this point because this man was apparently ogling at my assests during the 20 minute train ride, so I just said "uuummm...thanks" and speedily moved towards the exit.

The more I thought about it, the more mad I got. Ok, you wanna look and get your kicks off, whatever, but don't freak me out in the process, especially if you're old enough to be my father. Just keep your mouth shut and be happy you got a quick peep show. Do you think I should have called him a dirty old pervert or left it alone as I did?

Gene Weingarten: I think what he did was utterly disgusting, tantamount to an assault. What you do about it is up to you, but I think my wife would have dressed him down, no pun intended, but good.


Calgary, Canada: Because zebras are completely undomesticatable (I just made that word up). They are wild, unpredictable, easily spooked rather unpleasant creatures that would as sooner kick you to death than let you near them.

The poster can look this up. People have been trying to domesticate zebras for literally centuries, and have had not one success.

Goats, on the other hand, are fabulous companions of whom I am quite fond.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Hallucination: Hi Gene,

Last week I had viral meningitis - not nearly as scary as bacterial, but about the worst I've ever felt. In my 103 fever I wasn't sleeping well and was in this weird hallucinagenic state. My husband said I was repeating "I have to tell Gene" and I distinctly remember trying to get to you, and you being an animated version of your drawing in the Post Magazine.

Unfortunately, I don't remember what I needed to tell you.

I heart you being in my subconscious. I'm 26 and hot (though no longer feverish).

Gene Weingarten: Actually, you called me. You told me. I will keep your secret forever, honey. It has changed my life, too.


Serious poll: and a completely un-serious question about poop shame. Say you are in a public bathroom to, um, go "number 2" -- something that couldn't be delayed, even though you wanted to. Since you are, of course, female and don't like pooping in public restrooms.

There is no one else in the bathroom. You go to the bathroom. You flush. And... nothing happens. You wait a total of 2 minutes, waiting to see if the toilet will refill enough to flush. It doesn't. Finally, you leave, feeling very guilty to leave a "mess" in a toilet.

No one walks in during the whole time, but you cross paths with someone going into the bathroom as you exit. You leave the store quickly, filled with, as it were, poop shame.

Should I (I mean my friend) gone to management to say that... well, one of the toilets wasn't working? I don't think I could have done so without blushing. I knew you would be the person to ask.

Gene Weingarten: If you were a man, the answer is simple: You just leave and don't think about it. It was just one stall of several. Coulda been anyone. You don't tell anyone, because you are a guy.

Since you are not a guy -- which you established even before you stated it outright via your assertion that you would have delayed a poop if you could simply to avoid a public bathroom -- the rules are different. The result is the same: You leave and tell no one. But in addition you are required to be humiliated, and carry with you for six days and six nights a terrible sense of shame and self-loathing.


Ring My Bell: According to Wikipedia, Joshua Bell's father was a Kinsey researcher. I wonder if that means he grew up with less-that-traditional ideas about sex and family?

Gene Weingarten: True, and maybe.


Philadelphia, Pa.: Where are hermaphrodites imprisoned?

Gene Weingarten: Within themselves.


Harrisburg, Pa.: I notice people always mention gays and then add the Seinfeldian "not that there's anything wrong with it." At first, I thought that was a good thing. Now, it reminds me of how people would mention Blacks and then add "in fact, some of my best friends are Black." Aren't such statements now almost code words for demonstrating your intolerance by trying to appear tolerant?

Gene Weingarten: I feel the same way.


Washington, D.C.: My least proud moments as an American have often been when I was living abroad. You can always spot many of the Americans--they are the ones who are underdressed for any place that deserves respect and usually complaining that they can't get a cold coke or hamburger somewhere. The thing that makes me least proud to be an American is the lack of respect and willingness to learn about other cultures and to just try to blend in when somewhere else. at the time I started noticing this, I thought it was confined to tourists. As I have gotten older, however, I realize that this attitude, on a different scale, permeates our foreign policy as well. America is the overweight tourist in a dirty t-shirt talking too loudly and often in a derogatory way in another religion's most holy building.

Gene Weingarten: I think that's a pretty broad brush with which you are painting, frankly. But it's a weakness of ours. Also, we are too fat. When Germans start making fun of our girth...


Liberal, Md.: Your poll reveals you. I hate the war. It was wrong-headed policy driven by an ego-driven, neo-conservative philosophy. The U.S. should withdraw forces and both countries should move on.

Yet, if my son (or daughter) died in the war, I would be proud of them. If my son (or daughter) served and did not die, I would be proud of them.

There is no draft. Men and women in the armed forces are there because they choose to be there. Presumably, they are there for a reason. Maybe I disagree with their choice and would have done otherwise, but it is their choice to make.

I am trying to raise intelligent children who can make good decisions; I hope I will be proud of them when they make good, informed choices. You have smart children. Would you not be proud of them for following their beliefs even if those beliefs ran counter to yours?

My answer: I would be proud of my child. I would grieve for his death. I would continue to oppose the war so other parents might be spared my pain. But always, I would be proud of my child.

Iraq is not Vietnam. No U.S. soldier is there against their will. Remember too, most of the troops now in Iraq enlisted after the war began. They made an informed decision.

Gene Weingarten: I have no problem with this. But there is an answer in that poll for you, no? Of course you would be proud of your child; but your feelings about the war being as strong as they are, surely your main feeling would be anger, no?


Alexandria, Va.: Gene, I think you have stated that you do not accept the concept of kismet (fate). I might. My husband and I own a second home in Easton MD, where we go most weekends. We often eat at a restaurant called Masons in Easton -- great place. While there this past Saturday evening, we dined on the porch, a soft breeze blew, the sun was setting - it was warm but not too warm, etc. -- it was a perfect night. After eating dinner and drinking my beer, I told my husband about the topic in last week's chat - "if you could temporarily take over Cheney's body, what would you do..?" I told him my version: I would eat as many baked beans without getting sick, then hold a press conference and fart my way, giggling, through it. Suddenly 4 or 5 large black

SUVs pulled up quickly in front of Mason's. Doors stated to open, and out poured many young men with microphones in their ears. Then we saw him. Darth Vader, aka VPOTUS, aka Cheney, and wife. After laughing hard, we opted to go as the place was crawling with secret service and they were watching us, the VP party was only a table away. I emailed this story to Amy & Roxanne, who used it on Style Page 3. I am not sure what Cheney ordered (I was asked that by the WP researcher) but I sure hope he had some baked beans.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.



Haymarket, Va.: Just want to preface my comment with the information that I am wearing a silk robe and nothing else (and yes, it's open) as I write this and I am very hot. You're welcome, Gene.

Should we laugh today? Or is it just totally inappropriate?

Gene Weingarten: You know, I've often felt that instead of prompting for a geographical location at the beginning of each post, we should ask: What are you wearing? Silk Robe, Nude, ME: would be so much better.

We can laugh today. When people are filled with grief, they need to cry. When people are filled with fear, they need to laugh. Not Funny: The Rules of Humor Changed on Sept. 11, ( Post, Sept. 18, 2001)


Not the 51st state: Here's a Canadian point of view. I watched all the 9/11 reports with horror. I stood on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and sang the Star Spangled Banner with 10,000 other Canadians in support of our friend to the south. And then I felt my support for the USA lessen, then wither and die as the horrors of that day were used as propaganda and incentive to create a war that has no business existing.

A great number of non-Americans are watching the States with about the same amount of horrified awe as we're all watching Britney's meltdown. I'd be ashamed, if I was American. (Hell, our Prime Minister is trying hard to be a Junior Bush, and I'm ashamed of that, too.)

Gene Weingarten: Sigh. Yeah.


Because who else can I ask but you....: I can never get my underarm completely hairless. I wax, tweaze, use dipilatories, shave -- nothing works. I'm wondering if it's like your face: I need straight razor and some magic shave

Gene Weingarten: Can any women advise?

Gene Weingarten: Er, a straight razor is NOT the way to go.


Boynton Beach, Fla.: Hi Gene. One thing I love about the English language is that it can be so precise. When I hear of terms that appear to mean the same thing all the time, I can usually come up with a scenario where one word will sound appropriate, and the other not so much. However, there is one saying for which I can't find a distinction. Outside of money-related issues, "due to" and "because of" are used interchangeably. I have not found a single instance where I have heard "due to" used in which "because of" can't be substituted (other than monetarily). School is closed due to bad weather; school is closed because of bad weather.

Personally, I prefer "because of," probably because it more adequately implies cause and effect relationship. Do you have any thoughts on the distinction or a preference for using one over the other?

Gene Weingarten: So, you would say "Old Faithful is because of erupt in six minutes"?


Gene Weingarten: Okay, the poll.

Obviously, the most telling result -- it's startling in its intensity, really, if predictable -- is that conservatives remain robustly proud of being Americans, despite some real doubts about our conduct in the war. Liberals are waay more likely to see extreme greys here.

To me, the default knee-jerk position on "Are you proud to be an American?" is yes, all other things being equal. Patriotism is something we all strive for. And so the "I'm not sure" is sort of a red herring answer. If you're not sure whether you are proud to be an American, something is very wrong. Two thirds of the liberals are pretty appalled at what their country has been doing.

The conservatives? Also reasonably upset, based on their other answers. But not willing to admit doubt (or honestly without doubt) on the issue of pride. Interesting.

But to me, the most interesting result is that -- as I am writing this -- zero conservatives thought it highly likely that Bush would be considered a good president, whereas a whole bunch of liberals did! What is that all about?

Can we hear from a lib who believes this? I'd like to hear your thoughts.


Virginia:" Woman With Large Breasts whom Gene Weingarten found attractive" quoted from the Celebritology blog.

What?!?! This is a drastic departure for you, isn't it?

Gene Weingarten: It can happen. If, um, she looks like she is an interesting, intelligent and accomplished woman, APART from her hooters.


Sieg Oy!: Unfortunately, "Israeli Neo-Nazi" is no longer a googlenope.

Gene Weingarten: Wow.


Non-applicator tampons: Think about why this thing is being used. In certain circumstances your hand can get pretty gross. Yeah, you wash it but the idea just grosses some people out.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, Liz is getting VERY nervous about tampon posts, and is withholding most, so I am not going to ask the question I have here. It is a question based on my understanding of the plumbing, which is that it is not like a geyser, at any time. But I won't ask it.


Tampons without Applicators: They're hard to put in! I'm no rookie. I'm middle aged and I have a devil of a time with those things. And no to the snarky woman who wrote in last time this subject was covered, it's not fear of touching myself.

Gene Weingarten: That makes more sense.


I think what he did was utterly disgusting, tantamount to an assault. : well, yes, but as a woman, I can say: you wear the g-string you deal with the disrespect. sorry, but GenXers can not go around dressing like pole dancers and then get mad when someone treats them that way. It's one of those situations wherein both sides are true: it is wrong to treat her that way, but she must accept accountability for her choices and their effects.

Gene Weingarten: It's that easy to see a g-string? I can't recall ever having noticed this.


Knowled, GE: I think Gene should do a podcast, but he won't.

Gene Weingarten: I don't even know what it is, exactly.

Gene - since when has that stopped you from doing something?

Gene Weingarten: Good point!


Virginia: Dear Gene and Liz,

I was wondering about the chat archives. There is a page for the older chats, but the list of transcripts for the newer chats only goes back to the end of last year. Why is there a gap? I've noticed that this applies to the Tell Me About It and Celebritology chats as well. Is this due to a flaw in technology, or do you not love us enough? Can it be fixed, please? A limitation of our publishing system. We're working on it.

Gene Weingarten: Okay. This is a good opportunity to mention something: Weeks of misunderstanding, miscommunication, misapprehension, misery and mistakes have culminated in peace, love and understanding. Washington Post online is graciously footing the bill for our polling software, until an in-house remedy can be found. Liz and I are off the hook and feeling good again about this place here.


Ilene Liberal: I just want to state for the record that I misread the last quiz question and mistakenly said that it was "highly likely" Bush would be remembered well.

Oops. Perhaps my brain is really conservative, what with my knee-jerk answering.

Gene Weingarten: Ah. Interesting that conservatives didn't make that mistake, considering how mistake-prone they are, ACCORDING TO A SCIENTIFIC STUDY.


Snuffy Smith: If you can ride a mule, you can ride a zebra.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Dear Dr Ge,NE: I don't know if this is something I should be concerned with or not: Since I was in my 20s (currently in my late 30s), I found that I am involuntarily aroused by having a full bladder.

No kinky stuff -- not into watersports or anything -- It's specifically the full bladder (pressing up against the prostate gland, I figure) producing almost an autonomic reaction.

I've actually got kind of mixed feelings about it -- on one side, it considerably shortens the refractory period in lovemaking, but on the other, if I'm just sitting working at my desk, I'll often find myself getting embarrassedly aroused if I haven't visited the loo recently.

It's not something that's on my mind when I typically visit my regular doctor, but oddly enough, I figured it might fit right in with the chat.

Gene Weingarten: This is precisely the same reaction many men have when they wake up in the morning with a full bladder. Yours is an interesting wrinkle. Why not just pee more often?

Gene Weingarten: Interestingly, "Morning wood" returns 332,000 google hits.


Washington, D.C.: Regarding your Canadian poster, who stopped feeling good about the - I have noticed that many countries loved and admired the USA as long as we were the victims. As soon as we fought back they decided we weren't so admirable after all. Comment?

Gene Weingarten: I think if we had fought back intelligently, there would have been nothing but cheering, except, like, among the Palestinians and Iranians.


Knoxville, Tenn.: Courtesy of a friend of mine, possibly the greatest sentence to ever appear in print, from the Wall Street Journal on Friday:

"While good trampolinists are rare, handsome dwarfs who can pull offcomplex moves with subtle grace are even more so."

(It's about two-thirds of the way through the story.)

Gene Weingarten: There's really nothing more to be said.


Shocking bias: It appears that there are a lot more liberals than conservatives taking your poll. Just more evidence that the biased liberal media elite are running things around here. Perhaps Fox or some other right-thinking media outlet should have its own online chat, called "Freedom-Lovers' Poop Jokes," or something.

Gene Weingarten: The conservative-liberal split is very consistent in this chat. It's always been roughly 1-6.


Bethesda, Md.: Gene,

Ddid you see this story in Editor and Publisher about Lynn Johnston and FBOW?

Gene Weingarten: This is interesting. For one thing, I didn't know her husband was a dentist.

It's interesting she has nothing bad to say about him here. This lady appears to have some class. I bet she finds a new beau. Just FYI to potential suitors: Under the general rule of thumb for syndicated comics, two thousand newspapers translates to about a mil a year for Ms. Johnston. Plus book royalties.


Ipane, MA: The mention of "The Girl from Ipanema" reminded me of the very funny parody by Mary Rodgers & Stephen Sondheim, titled "The Boy From...." Sondheim's lyrics easily eclipse the original's:

Tall and tender, like an Apollo,

He goes walking by, and I have to follow him,

The boy from Tacarembo la Tumbe del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas la Junta del Sol y Cruz.

When we meet, I feel I'm on fire

And I'm breathless every time I enquire,

"How are things in Tacarembo la Tumbe del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas la Junta del Sol y Cruz?"

Why, when I speak, does he vanish?


Why is he acting so clannish?


I wish I understood Spanish.

When I tell him I think he's the end,

He giggles a lot with his friend.

Tall and slender, moves like a dancer,

But I never seem to get any answer

From the boy from Tacarembo la Tumbe del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas la Junta del Sol y Cruz.

I got the blueth.

Why are his trousers vermillion?

(His trousers are vermillion.)

Why does he claim he's Castilian?

(He thayth that he'th Cathtilian.)

Why do his friends call him Lillian?

And I hear at the end of the week

He's leaving to start a boutique.

Though I smile, I'm only pretending

'Cause I know today's the last I'll be spending

With the boy from Tacarembo la Tumbe del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas la Junta del Sol y Cruz.

Tomorrow he sails.

He's moving to Wales,

To live in... Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyr ndrobullllandysiliogogogoch.


Gene Weingarten: Why Ugh? I like this.


Vegans: In your self-righteous view of meat eating (what's good for statistical health is good for everyone), you eliminated the even more self-righteous vegans.

Can you--or Ms. Liz--justify why certain vegans don't eat HONEY? C'mon. Are we killing bees for this? You can ask the same about cheese as well.

By the way, I prefer vegetarian foods. I just don't like the fundamentalism about it.

Gene Weingarten: Vegans who won't eat honey believe that humans should not use animals in anyway -- to wear them, eat them, extract things from them, use them for our entertainment.

As far as dairy: It's not just about killing animals. It's about torturing them. Dairy cows have a terrible life, worse than some of the animals raised for food. Finally when they can no longer produce enough milke for economic viability, THEN they are killed and eaten.


Mankato, Minn.: Hi Gene,

I was wondering why I received 400 hits (by noon) from The Washington Post so I clicked on the track and find it is from your page... and it is about my Burmese Mountain Dog site. This is a site that I put up in 1994... as a joke... there is no Burmese Mountain Dog. But there are submarine bases, pyramids, and an underwater city in Mankato, Minn., and a real secret government city under Central Park where the Czar Nicholas, Adolph Hitler, and the Roswell aliens lived out their lives... (And Howard Stern now broadcasts from there.)


Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha.


I love this.


Prickly City and Secularism: Over the past week, the strip has been complaining about secularists who label religious people as stupid. In my experience, only a minority of secularists engage in that offensive behavior - most of them seem to focus their criticisms on the religions. I suspect Stantis hasn't read the secularists' books or articles themselves, but is instead relying on secondhand criticism from people like Cal Thomas or Michael Gerson.

Religious people have a valid point when they complain about being labeled as stupid because of their beliefs. But I can't work up much sympathy for them, because Christian and Muslim doctrines claim that unbelievers deserve to suffer for eternity in hell. If the religious people want some sympathy from the rest of us, they should consider doing away with doctrines such as eternal damnation.

Gene Weingarten: The problem is, if you are a believer, you can't just "do away" with such doctrines. They have enormous staying power, because of the nature of faith and organized religion. It's like arguing that devout Christians should just, y'know, acknowledge that Jesus might just have been a great philosopher guy man, and not divine, and a lot of secularists might respect them more.

Faith is faith. You believe or you don't.

I don't think religious people are stupid. Two of the smartest humans I know are deeply devout Christians. I just think that the belief in God exists entirely separately from the world of logic. If you have it, you have it, and that's that.


College town, USA: Having lived in a college town for sometime I can tell you that G strings are so easy to spot that we call them whale tails (for how the g strings looks peeking over the low cut jeans)

Gene Weingarten: Hm. It gives new meaning to the term breeches! Or britches. You gotta make a homonymal connection there for the joke to work. Okay, never mind. Liz, don't post this. It's too lame.


Olney, Md.: Gene,

You are so very much on your game today. Several of your responses have been real gems, and we're barely half way through the chat. Well done.

(OK, back to my lunch....)

Gene Weingarten: Liz, don't publish this one either. It's too self serving.


Washington, D.C.:"Can we hear from a lib who believes this? I'd like to hear your thoughts."

History tends to whitewash things. FDR is still considered a great president, despite the Japanese internment camps, despite knowing what he knew about what Germany was doing to the rest of Europe, despite knowing what he knew was going on in the Pacific front. Nobody will remember Gitmo or the PATRIOT Act. They'll remember his speech at Ground Zero after 9/11, and the fact that he overthrew Saddam Hussein and liberated women in Afghanistan (for about two seconds, that is).

Gene Weingarten: Ah. A bitter, fatalistic, cynical poll response.


Annandale, Va.: It's okay to laugh today. Sept. 11 is my birthday, and has been for well over 50 years. For the last six years, people have felt awkward about wishing me a happy birthday (although the fact that I'm as old as dirt may have something to do with that.)

It was my birthday before it was "9-11". So I've already laughed several times today. Happy birthday, man!

Gene Weingarten: I bet people with Dec. 7 birthdays don't feel bad, either.


Anonymous: What did Bruce have to say about synthetic meat?

Gene Weingarten: You mean animals grown without heads? It was in the chat update. He said it would be the best thing ever to happen to the animalrights movement. He said PETA would support it.


Statesville, N.C.: The poll got me thinking... I lean liberal and answered the questions accordingly, but I am a minority in this town. I had an experience yesterday at a local paint store that reminded me how different people are. I went to the local paint store to buy some paint for the house I just bought. I'm trying to do what's best for me and the environment and buy all low VOC paint. When I asked the owner of the store if he carried this variety, he told me that even though he wants to carry the more eco-friendly paints, he does not, because people don't want or buy them. He continued to tell me that people won't think it's important to make environmentally sound decisions until it's too late, "... just like this war." He continued to say that people didn't take terrorism seriously until they blew up some buildings and boats and that it really chaps his hide that folks want to restrict the president's power and limit his ability to lead us as commander in chief. He said that he worries every day about terrorists blowing up statesville, nc, because the democrats won't let the president do his job.

The fact that there are more people who vote in this country who share the views of this paint store owner disturbs me greatly. I was, however, pleasantly surprised that this man was concerned about the environment. Has Rush Limbaugh been preaching pro-environment lately?

Different thought: I would like to see a US map with red/blue states according to how states voted in the last election. I would like to see a number on each state referring to where that state ranks according to public education.

Gene Weingarten: Someone probably has done such a comparison, if not as a map. Can anyone out there find one?


Morning Wood: Gene -- I, like many other women, like sex better in the morning (I actually read something medical about this once, and because of how your blood circulates in the morning, after being in bed all night, things, um, feel better). So, maybe there is more going on here than full bladders.

Gene Weingarten: No. Trust me, all men will agree, there is NOTHING sexual about morning wood. It's uncomfortable, mostly.


Portland, Ore.: In the women's restroom at the Ikea here, the toilets instruct you on how to flush. Push the lever down for more water to remove your waste; pull it up for less. I am usually a foot flusher (i.e., an angled down), but I am very much in favor of these toilets, so I had to decide what to do. I pulled it up, with toilet paper as a shield for my hand even though I was going to wash them thoroughly no matter what (of course). It didn't really seem like any less water than usual, by the way.

I bet most people's default action for flushing is to push the lever down, so I think these toilets should have been designed so that up is for more water and down is for less. That way people on autopilot would use less water by default.

Gene Weingarten: I never heard of this dual action flusher. I agree -- default should be less. Though if you did that, people having deposited a crumpet would tend to have to flush twice, defeating the purpose. However tea outnumbers crumpets, so.

I believe I just coined these euphemisms.


'Til Wedding Do We Part: I'm of the Weingarten school of marriage and weddings. So, after reading that nauseating article in The Washington Post Magazine about the groomzilla, I joked with my boyfriend (with whom I've been discussing that thing that rhymes with carriage) that it was a good thing we were eloping.

Instead of the expected reply, I discovered that said boyfriend was astonished that I don't want a lavish, luxurious, filet-mignon wedding. He says he wants to see me in a white dress in a fancy room with all our friends. A white dress! Fancy room! Multiple guests!

I'm willing to have a BBQ and actually invite people to celebrate (what I consider to be a huge concession), but he won't give up the idea of a big white wedding. I'm at a loss.

What can I say? Help me, oh guru Gene, and I will forever throw virtual panties in your general direction.

Gene Weingarten: Uh, there is no issue here. Your position has to be the default, since yours involves the expenditure of very little money and his the expenditure of scads of it. He cannot force you to do that. So unless he persuades you, you are the decider.


Washington, D.C.: I know you are saving your conversation with Ridley Scott for a column, but I was wondering if you identified yourself as a Post employee before asking your question. If you didn't, do you think his reaction would have been different? Give us the details surrounding the conversation. You need to build up the suspense.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I identified myself. It would have been unethical not to, in an interview situation.


Washington, D.C.: Gene, the problem is that the war is counterproductive because it's mismanaged.

I used to work in a certain five-side building across the river. At the time, my brother was serving in Iraq. Now, I'm pretty liberal, but I'm also pretty hawkish. But I hate this war because we started it wrong, we're handling it wrong, and now there's no right way to end it.

So one day in the building, I had the chance to meet with then SecDef Rumsfeld. But all of this was coursing through my mind--how much this guy and the president screwed up everything up. How I might never see my brother again because of this guy. By the time he got close to me, I was shaking with anger and was going to clock him in the face if he got closer, so I turned around and left. My brother came back okay, and hopefully he'll come back okay after his next tour. But I guess I had a taste of how it would feel if something awful did happen to him over there.

Gene Weingarten: Good luck to your brother.

Someone I know very well had a similar reaction about meeting Mr. Gonzales. She's about his height, too, so the clocking might have worked.


Washington, D.C.: Gene, I have a serious question.

My father has a recently discovered tumor. It is not yet known whether it is cancerous.

I believe he intends to use traditional methods for diagnosis and treatment. However, he has also started talking about cancer cures that the establishment doesn't want us to know about, and he is reading a book by Kevin Trudeau.

I guess there isn't really a problem yet, but obviously this is worrisome.

Is there anything I can do to get him off this track?

Gene Weingarten: Have him read this (Liz, can you link to my column on Mister Kevin Trudeau?)

I'm not sure it will help. This column is out there on the Web if you google "Kevin Trudeau" and every few months I get an email from somone who says, "Hey, I read your funny piece on Kevin Trudeau. I was wondering if you think I should follow his advice on account of I have leukemia and ..."

I don't understand people. It's Enough to Make You Sick, ( Post Magazine, Sept. 25, 2005)


Gene Weingarten: Wait, Liz said we never included Friedrich's response. In the update. I meant to. He loved the idea of headless meat. No torture of animals. He's not sure he would eat it, because he hasn't eaten meat in 20 years.


Centreville, Va.: I'd offer that any study that confirms your most deep-seated biases in favor of yourself ought to be very critically.

Moving on, though, how does the liberal/conservative study you refer to so approvingly account for me? I was raised in the classic blue-collar Dem household, and enthusiastically supported Carter, Dukakis, and Clinton, as well as the party platform. Then I started re-examining what I'd been told and now, years later, I vote and think conservative wholeheartedly. If it's hard-wired, was I just coming home? If conservatives can't think, then what happened to me? Tax bracket change.

Gene Weingarten: Precisely.


Down Under: A lot of chicks wear thongs and/or g-strings because they think they eliminate VPL. However, if they are even a millimeter too small, the outline of these types of undies are even more visible through your clothing--all clothing--than other types. Seriously, ladies, look at some butts around you. It's not even debatable.


A chick who exclusively wore thongs until she discovered this horrific truth and a life-long user of tampons without applicators

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


State of Mind: Gene, I am shopping for a new gas range (my "vintage" model decided to leak natural gas while I was out of town). I found a Frigidaire model that looks snazzy enough (anyone out there with warning bells?? Tell me now!) and it has a "Sabbath Mode." I am an agnostic Jew with nearly zero experience in observance. What, by the power of Grayskull, is a Sabbath mode?

Gene Weingarten: A timer, so you can set something to cook a day in advance without doing work????


PETA response: If Bruce's response is in last week's updates, it is extremely well hidden.

Gene Weingarten: No,actually Liz and I are having a hilarious back and forth on how we misinterpreted each other's messages about putting it in the update. It wasn't there.


September 11: Remember six years ago, when it seemed like nothing would ever be funny again? It's kind of nice, in a twisted sort of way, that we can now have a poop-jokes-filled chat on September 11 without too much worry.

I'm not saying we shouldn't pay attention to the anniversary -- I'm just glad that poop jokes are still with us. The terrorists didn't win.

Gene Weingarten: Precisely.


Santa Fe, N.M.: I heard Jeff Garlin (of Curb Your Enthusiasm) on the radio the other day and the interviewer asked him if he was offended that the show makes fun of how fat he is and he said, "No. Why would I be offended? I AM fat. If I was thin I might be offended."

Now of course I agree with you that the last part of his statement doesn't really make sense but it also helped me to pinpoint exactly why your position on this issue hasn't made sense to me either. I think the root of offense lies somewhere between what you say and what Jeff Garlin says. For something to be offensive there has to be a bit of truth to it but the offense has to be exaggerated. So, for example, if you called a really skinny person fat, it wouldn't be insulting because it doesn't make any sense at all. But if you called a slightly pudgy guy an enormous fatty, it could cause offense. Similarly, and going back to an example you used before, calling someone's mother a whore isn't insulting if the mother is not a whore but also it's not insulting if the mother really IS a whore. If the mother however, was married four times and each time married an older guy with lots of money, then calling her a whore could be insulting because it points to and exaggerates a part of her character.

So in short, yes there has to be some truth to the insult but it can't be all true or there's no insult. Jeff Garlin is so fat that calling him fat is completely barbless. Go find a prostitute and call her a whore. Ten bucks says her response is, "yes?"

Gene Weingarten: I think this is pretty good analysis.


Lunch Date: Hey Liz... about that lunch Gene owes you... Nirvana has an excellent vegetarian lunch buffet. You wouldn't be putting him in the poor house, but you'd be making him eat Indian food, which is worth a lot, in my book. LOVE Nirvana. In fact, I ate there last night with my pal Kim O'Donnel.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I will go there with Liz and report back on Indian food.


Dec. 7: My sister was born on Dec. 7, 1942-- but her birth certificate says Dec. 6. Not an accident.

Gene Weingarten: Wow!


Southern Maryland: I'm pretty sure I saw it on this chat, but I can't find it in the archives. There was discussion of bathroom art, and someone submitted a photo of a painting seen over a urinal: a familiar (Vermeer-ish) painting of a young woman looking out a window and smirking. Do you know the artist/title? It's pretty tough to identify art using the net.

Gene Weingarten: Hm. Yeah, I think it was a Vermeer or a Brugel. A young woman and an older woman looking out a window, downward. Anyone find this? The young woman, as I recall, is VERY hot.


Spongiform intravertebral design : Zebras cannot be ridden due to a bet they won with their cousins, the proto-horses, as pre-humans began to become bipedal.

Gene Weingarten: Wait, maybe it has something to do with crocs.

My son proposes that Pastis rename his strip "Those Krazy Kroks."


Paint store guy: Hello! That paint store guy is not concerned about the environment, or he would (a) stock the paint, and (b) try to sell it to people. How stupid is it, if you have a customer LOOKING for environmentally friendly paint, so say, "Oh, we don't carry that, because people won't buy it!" Seriously.

Gene Weingarten: Methinks you don't know much about retail sales.

_______________________ Bruce's reply: "It would be the best thing in the history of the animal rights movement. No second place. PETA would support it unreservedly.

We would totally support it in every way we could think of, yes. We are not opposed to "meat" for the sake of being opposed to eating flesh; we're opposed to eating beings. If it were in vitro, it would no longer be a being. Would I personally eat it? I don't know, but I'd have no ethical objection to doing so. I have not eaten meat in more than 20 years."

Gene Weingarten: Here we go. From what ANYONE would have known was SUPPOSED TO BE in lat week's update.


Sarah Silverman: She is all about shock. Do you think she is funny generally?

Gene Weingarten: She was GREAT in the Aristocrats. I think she is very cute and sporadically very funny.


NoLo, DC: Last week there was an article about investors in local restaurants. Why on earth was the word "eater-outer" allowed usage? I'm much more the descriptivist when it comes to language (I was utterly tickled a few weeks ago to hear my 70-something mother-in-law use the word "jiggy"). But this just seemed lazy.

Gene Weingarten: I LIKE eater-outer. It's funny AND suggestive.


New York, N.Y.: I chose the (currently unpopular) third response to the first quesiton in the "I lean Liberal" room of today's poll. On 9/11, I was attending my second day of school at Barnard College, Columbia University: far enough away from the towers to be shielded from the smoke, close enough to smell the smoke for several days.

I do not know a single person who started school with me who was not profoundly affected by that moment, evidenced by the spike in suicides, suicide attempts, and reported incidents of depression for students who started school in NYC in 2001.

And so I chose the third answer. I'm not pessimistic, but I know things won't ever be the same for me. I didn't lose anyone, I didn't see it happen, but I see every one of my friends in the faces of the fallen on both sides of this war and I think back to the day before it happened, my first day of college, when I trusted that the world would open up to me and offer me nothing but beauty and knowledge and when I imagined that I was in control of my future.

Gene Weingarten: Understood.


Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: That's why liberals think Bush will be remembered as a good president. The image doctors are already at work.

Gene Weingarten: Trying to polish this image is going to be like trying to polish dirt.


Tax bracket change: OK, so if liberals are so smart, why aren't they all rich? Hmmmm?

Gene Weingarten: A case can be made that it takes a degree of mulishness to really succeed.


Liber, AL: I said that 50 years from now history -- at least American history -- will remember W as a great president. I think he'll be revered as the founder of modern America, the one who led us through the horrible times after 9/11 and made this country safe again.

Of course, I also think that 50 years from now, America will be a totalitarian police state and that those history books will be written by those who, rightly, credit him as instrumental in setting up the police state. Alternative veiws, of course, will not be published.

Gene Weingarten: Haha.


Headless meat: I've been a vegetarian for almost 30 years, and I would be totally grossed out by non-sentient meat. It's still flesh, it's still a corpse. I wouldn't touch it. Liz, what do you think? I'm with you. I don't miss meat and eating it would totally cancel out the health benefits associated with a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Gene Weingarten: But all guilt would be eliminated. I'd eat it.


Sabbath Mode: And you call yourself a Jew? And a humor writer? You've been to Israel and seen Sabbath Mode elevators, haven't you? Same principle...

Gene Weingarten: How can it be the same? Sabbath elevators stop at all floors so you don't have to push buttons. How would that work with a stove?


Wonder, Ful: This has been the funniest chat ever. Unfortunately for you, I'm stoned.

Gene Weingarten: Me, too.


Err... slow your roll lady: Before you start, if you read the post, I was coming from work and was dressed appropriately and WAS NOT DRESSED LIKE A POLE DANCER. I resent the implication. I had on an untucked blouse with a nice belt and slacks. So because I CHOOSE to wear a g string to conceal a panty line you condemn me to be disrespected and subjected to inappropriate behavior?!?!? That is ridiculous.

Gene Weingarten: Wait, how did he see your undies, then?


Bowie, Md.: Gene,

You need to fire your editor. In your column on Sunday, you referred to spiders as insects. Every third grader knows that spiders are not insects - they are arachnids like scorpions and other things. Tsk, tsk.

Gene Weingarten: Hm.


Bush the Great?: What if, in 50 years, the Middle East has become a solidly emerging region like east Asia is today?

Gene Weingarten: You think Bush will have done that?


I'm with Bruce: I've only been a vegetarian for a few years, and I still salivate at the aroma of a steak. If they could grow meat without getting an actual animal involved, it'd be a very happy day.

Gene Weingarten: Yep. I mean, it would be like eating particularly tasty vegetables.


Tick-Tock: If you clock somebody, should it be digital or analog?

Gene Weingarten: Digital. I would not want to hurt an analog clock.


Re: G-String Diva: Ugh, WHAT? I'm pretty sure the woman's g-string was under her pants/skirt and not meant to seen, and that the pig in question was extra diligent about looking at her. If the woman was wearing low-rise pants with the g-string, then yes, I might agree that she was seeking to be ogled, but what we wear underneath our clothing does not reflect on us as individuals. Just because some pig made an extra effort to try to decipher her panty situation doesn't mean she was asking for it.

Gene Weingarten: I don't understand how he saw it, given her clothing. But we can stipulate that any woman participating in this chat is not slutty.


France: I agree with the analysis by another chatter of why exaggerated insults are insulting, but I also wanted to add that, in the case of Zidane - which started the whole discussion in the first place, I believe - the context was also important. It was his last game before retiring from the game, and his team was losing is a spectacularly unspectacular fashion. Plus, the Italians kept doing pulling sneaky fouls against the French and not getting caught. I would imagine that just about any insult would have set Zidane off in these circumstances. Still, he consistently is voted the most popular person in France.

Gene Weingarten: Uh, as I recall the game was tied 0-0 at that moment.


Springfield, Va.: The creep gazing at the g-string attired lass was wearing a set of those x-ray glasses that you can order from the back pages of comic books! Oh, you mean these?

Gene Weingarten: I am trusting Liz here.


St. Paul, Minn.:"In particular, I'm remembering my late-60's college days, and late-night conversations with student radical types who identified themselves as Maoists or some other left-leaning sect, who were as dogmatic and closed-minded as any current political 'Conversative.'"

I agree with this person's final point about labels, but as a liberal I have to ask, don't you think all these former left-wing nut-jobs have long since transformed into far-right reactionaries who think anyone currently to the left of center must ascribe to all of their old left-wing nut-job philosophies?

Gene Weingarten: I know at least one case where this applies.


Washington, D.C.:"OK, so if liberals are so smart, why aren't they all rich? Hmmmm?"

Hmm, I don't know about his politics, but I'm betting Einstein was never all that rich either. And W is rich as Croesus.

Gene Weingarten: Slightly related point I never made: Studies have shown that vegetarians live longer than non vegs, but that it's not because of their diet. It's because they tend to be better educated and wealthier.


Red vs. Blue: Although not necessarily a direct measure of school quality, here is a list of states ranked by per captia education expenditure and how they voted in 2004.

New Jersey $9,744 Kerry

Connecticut $8,580 Kerry

New York $8,525 Kerry

Alaska $8,231 Bush

Dist. of Columbia $8,048 Kerry

Rhode Island $7,612 Kerry

Massachusetts $7,331 Kerry

Delaware $7,135 Kerry

Pennsylvania $7,106 Kerry

Michigan $6,938 Kerry

Wisconsin $6,796 Kerry

Maryland $6,755 Kerry

Vermont $6,753 Kerry

Maine $6,327 Kerry

Indiana $6,157 Bush

West Virginia $6,076 Bush

Minnesota $6,005 Kerry

Wyoming $5,971 BUsh

Illinois $5,940 Bush

Ohio $5,936 Bush

Oregon $5,920 Kerry

New Hampshire $5,920 Kerry

Nebraska $5,848 Bush

Virginia $5,788 Bush

Iowa $5,738 Bush

Washington $5,734 Kerry

Hawaii $5,633 Kerry

Kansas $5,508 Bush

Montana $5,481 Bush

Georgia $5,369 Bush

Florida $5,360 Bush

Colorado $5,312 Bush

Missouri $5,306 Bush

Texas $5,267 Bush

California $5,258 Kerry

Kentucky $5,155 Bush

Nevada $5,084 Bush

South Carolina $5,048 Bush

North Carolina $4,929 Bush

Oklahoma $4,817 Bush

North Dakota $4,808 Bush

Louisiana $4,724 Bush

New Mexico $4,682 Bush

Alabama $4,593 Bush

Tennessee $4,580 Bush

Arkansas $4,535 Bush

Idaho $4,447 Bush

Arizona $4,413 Bush

South Dakota $4,375 Bush

Mississippi $4,039 Bush

Utah $3,783 Bush

Gene Weingarten: Oooh, interesting. I'm not sure it proves anything more than that liberals value education more, though.

Hey, time to go. I'll be updating and, with any kind of luck, LIZ WILL POST THE UPDATES.

See y'all here next week.

_______________________ Jerk.


UPDATED 9.12.07

Gene Weingarten: I received much mail questioning whether dummies voted for Bush, state by state; several people pointed out, correctly, that state-by-sate expenditure on education is probably influenced by the cost of living in each state. Good point. So several people sent in their own data.

One commonly circulated Internet document purports to show state-by-state IQs, revealing a near perfect correlation between intelligence and votes for Kerry in 2004. I reject it; the sourcing is nonexistent and the results are too perfect. Better is a compendium by Morgan Quinto Press every year, based on a number of indexes factored together. Scott Holder compared these in 2004 with the presidential vote, and reported this correlation. The ranking goes from smart to dumb:

1) Massachusetts, Kerry

2) Vermont, Kerry

3) Connecticut, Kerry

4) Montana, Bush

5) New Jersey, Kerry

6) Maine, Kerry

7) Pennsylvania, Kerry

8) Wisconsin, Kerry

Iowa, Bush

10) New York, Kerry

11) Nebraska, Bush

12) Minnesota, Kerry

13) Indiana, Bush

14) Wyoming, Bush

15) Kansas, Bush

16) Rhode Island, Kerry

17) Virginia, Bush

18) Maryland, Kerry

19) Delaware, Kerry

20) Michigan, Kerry

21) North Carolina, Bush

22) Ohio, Bush

23) Alaska, Bush

24) North Dakota, Bush

25) Utah, Bush

26) New Hampshire, Kerry

27) Illinois, Kerry

28) Missouri, Bush

29) West Virginia, Bush

30) Idaho, Bush

31) South Dakota, Bush

32) Oregon, Kerry

33) Washington, Kerry

34) Texas, Bush

35) Colorado, Bush

36) Georgia, Bush

37) Kentucky, Bush

38) Arkansas, Bush

39) Oklahoma, Bush

40) Florida, Bush

41) South Carolina, Bush

42) Tennessee, Bush

43) Hawaii, Kerry

44) California, Kerry

45) Arizona, Bush

46) Alabama, Bush

47) Louisiana, Bush

48) Mississippi, Bush

49) Nevada, Bush

50) New Mexico, Bush

Looks pretty good for the libs, right? Not so fast. Chatological Humor's own Pat the Perfect did the same ranking using state SAT numbers, and produced this top-10 and bottom-10 list:

1. bush

2. bush

3. kerry

4. bush

5. kerry

6. kerry

7. bush

8. bush

9. bush

10. kerry


41 bush

42 kerry

43 kerry

44 kerry

45 kerry

46 kerry

47 bush

48 bush

49 bush

50 bush

51 (d.c.) kerry

Much better for the conservatives. A skeptic might point out, however, that a dumb state probably has a higher percentage of students who don't go to college, meaning they don't TAKE the SAT.

So, who knows? Liberals, analyze the data and make the conclusions you feel appropriate. Conservatives, you know you're right, so who cares? Heh.


Laurel, Md.: "I would like to see a number on each state referring to where that state ranks according to public education."

I once posted this to Usenet:

From my post:

Kerry won 16 of the 20 states (counting DC) with the greatest percentage of college graduates.

Bush won 19 of the 20 with the fewest, including all of the bottom 16.

The middle 11 broke: 8 for Bush, 3 for Kerry.

Gene Weingarten: Do you think this is getting tedious? No, neither do I. Silly, yes, but not tedious.


Educated, USA: A list of states, their National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores and their candidate of choice... The scores are the average of a state's reading and math numbers -- the percent of a sample of eighth graders that scored proficient or above on a national exam in 2004. It's a rough correlation. The most embarassing score is our own, fine, District of Columbia.

Massachusetts - 47 - Kerry

Minnesota - 46.5 - Kerry

Connecticutt - 44.5 - Kerry

New Hampshire - 43 - Kerry

Vermont - 42.5 - Kerry

Colorado - 42 - Bush

North Dakota - 41 - Bush

South Dakota - 41 - Bush

Montana - 40.5 - Bush

Wisconsin - 40.5 - Kerry

New Jersey - 39.5 - Kerry

Kansas - 39 - Bush

Iowa - 38.5 - Bush

New York - 38.5 - Kerry

Virginia - 38 - Bush

Nebraska - 37.5 - Bush

Oregon - 37.5 - Kerry

Maine - 37 - Kerry

Washington - 37 - Kerry

Illinois - 36.5 - Bush

Indiana - 36 - Bush

Maryland - 36 - Kerry

Ohio - 36 - Bush

Wyoming - 36 - Bush

Utah - 35.5 - Bush

N. Carolina - 35 - Bush

Missouri - 34.5 - Bush

Penn. - 34.5 - Kerry

Michigan - 34 - Kerry

Alaska - 33 - Bush

Idaho - 33 - Bush

Kentucky - 32.5 - Bush

Delaware - 31.5 - Kerry

Rhode Island - 30 - Kerry

S. Carolina - 28.5 - Bush

Texas - 28.5 - Bush

Florida - 28 - Bush

Georgia - 27 - Bush

Oklahoma - 27 - Bush

Tennessee - 26 - Bush

Arizona - 25.5 - Bush

Arkansas - 25 - Bush

California - 25 - Kerry

W. Virginia - 24.5 - Bush

Nevada - 22.5 - Bush

Hawaii - 21.5 - Kerry

Louisiana - 21.5 - Bush

Alabama - 20 - Bush

New Mexico - 19 - Bush

Mississippi - 17.5 - Bush

DC - 7.5 - Kerry

Gene Weingarten: Okay, now it's tedious. No more.


Gene Weingarten: Thanks to the many readers who pointed out that the over-the-toilet painting we were referencing was "Girl and Her Duenna," by Murillo. Here it is.


Falls Church, Va.: Question to the girl who was ogled (and to you of course, Gene, and Liz, and whomever else) -- was it the age that creeped you out, or is the act of acknowledging you in that way? I'm 22 and I've often wanted to tell a girl/woman I saw, in a completely innocuous way, if she caught my eye -- whether she is particularly gorgeous or just if something looks great. I'm always worried it's going to come off lecherous or like I'm hitting on her when I'm really trying not to (it's not the goal, anyway -- I just like paying compliments). Is that okay?

Gene Weingarten: I understand the impulse -- the woman brightened your day, made you feel better about being alive, etc. -- but it is, ultimately, an act of immense ego. It is supposed to be a great compliment that some schlep she doesn't know thinks she's hot? Listen, she knows she's hot. Moreover, it will always be misinterpreted. Don't do it.

If some hottie disagrees with me, let me know next week.


Zidane insult: Zidane gets a total pass on this. Try running for that long and then have anyone say something to you that is less kind than "have a nice day" and you will punch them in the face. Physical exertion is mentally exhausting and mental exhaustion leads to violence and an easy solution. It's not the only reason people use violence but it's one of them. Personally, I'd have kicked him in the face.

Gene Weingarten: Personally, you are infantile, hot-tempered moron. By losing his temper, Zidane lost the World Cup for his team and his country.


UPDATED 9.13.07

Bethesda, Md.: Why are we so sure that cows and chickens are sentient and that rice and beans are not?

Gene Weingarten: Because WE are sentient.


Chevy Chase, Md.: Hey Gene, after your Joshua Bell piece I sent you an e-mail quoting Joni Mitchell's song "For Free" (circa 1969), where she expresses guilt about her commercial success while some talented street performer was going unnoticed by everyone. Seemed relevant at the time, but you never responded. What's the deal?

Gene Weingarten: In the week after that story came out, I received around 3,000 emails from around the world. I could not answer them all. About 100 of them mentioned "For Free," though.

Sorry, but thanks.


Girl from Ipanema: "The Girl with Emphysema" was a pretty good parody, too --

"And when she's walking

Each breath she's taking goes


Gene Weingarten: I remember that! That was great.


Afghanist, AN: Bush the Great?: What if, in 50 years, the Middle East has become a solidly emerging region like east Asia is today?


Gene is right. Vietnam is a solidly emerging market now, but nobody says "thank goodness for Johnson and that Vietnam War! It seemed bad then, but it sure did pay off decades later!"

While the visceral loathing of W will fade, Bushie will always be the President who started a war against a tinpot dictator and LOST. W will blame everyone else, but he owns this turd sandwich. There's no way he walks away clean.

You can argue about economic, political, diplomatic and humanitarian disasters and you'd be right. But the main reason W will remain a bottom-tier President is simple: America doesn't like losers.

Gene Weingarten: I think, historically, the failure to kill or capture Bin Laden will loom larger than it has, so far. That's a very simple fact to grasp.


Rabbi Ge, NE: Your typical oven shuts off automatically after a certain amount of time (usually 12 hours) as a safety precaution. The Sabbath Mode allows you to extend that time to keep food warm over the Sabbath (it has to be cooked before) or to cook on Holidays (such as the upcoming Thursday and Friday of Rosh Hashanah immediately followed by Sabbath). The maximum time it extends to is 72 hours, to cover this potential three-day period.

As far as Bush's view in history, he may end up being seen as the president who made the right initial decision to go on the offensive, made tremendous errors after the initial campaigns, and then tried to correct those errors too late. Maybe a Carteresque figure (as opposed to an FDR for a liberal or a Reagan for a conservative)?

Gene Weingarten: You're right on the oven. Several people sent this in.


Yankee Prank, EE: Gene,

Being the Bronx Bomber fan that you are, you might enjoy this bit of hilarity.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, this is astonishing. I hope it is real. I'm thinking 60-40 it is real.


UPDATED 9.14.07

GeneWeingarten: I now believe it (see above) is real, having watched the rest of the series of these guys pranking on each other. This will end in murder, clearly.

Here's another... Prank War 4

Gene Weingarten: This is one of the most vicious things ever done to anyone: Prank War 5 .


Gene Weingarten: Thanks to Dave Barry's Blog for this.

We cannot explain it. Can any of you?


Watch question: I've been meaning to ask this question for weeks. I regularly wear an analog watch but switch to a digital for running and when I bartend. I don't want sweat and water/beer/booze to mess up my analog. Is this okay?

Gene Weingarten: Yes. You are showing proper respect for your analog.


Headless Meat: There is, of course, another option ... the one invented by Douglass Adams in "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe." To clip from Wikipedia:

"The quadruped Dish of the Day is an Ameglian Major Cow, a Ruminant specifically bred to not only have the desire to be eaten, but to be capable of saying so quite clearly and distinctly. When asked if he would like to see the Dish of the Day, Zaphod replies: 'let's meet the meat.' The Major Cow's quite vocal and emphatic desire to be consumed by Milliways' patrons greatly distresses Arthur Dent, and the Dish is nonplussed by a queasy Arthur's subsequent order of a green salad, since he knows 'many vegetables that are very clear' on the point of not wanting to be eaten ¿ which was part of the reason for the creation of the Ameglian Major Cow in the first place."

I suspect, tho, this wouldn't turn Our Dear Liz into any more of a carnivore than she is now.

Gene Weingarten: This is lovely.


The Ethically Conflicted Paint Store, N.C.: Previously on Tuesdays with Moron:

Paint store guy: Hello! That paint store guy is not concerned about the environment, or he would (a) stock the paint, and (b) try to sell it to people. How stupid is it, if you have a customer LOOKING for environmentally friendly paint, so say, "Oh, we don't carry that, because people won't buy it!" Seriously.

Gene Weingarten: Methinks you don't know much about retail sales.

My dear Gene, as one who has repeatedly and in print espoused Kant's Categorical Imperative -- which concludes, in part, that it is our ethical duty to act only by maxims that we would desire to be universalized -- do you not believe it is this man's ethical obligation to stock the environmental paint?

Gene Weingarten: Uhhh, no I don't. I think primarily he has an ethical obligation to make money for the support of his family. If no one buys the more environmentally sound stuff, no one buys it. He can't change public consciousness all by himself.


Next week's thingy.


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