Chatological Humor: UPDATED 2.8.08

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Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 5, 2008; 12:00 PM

Daily Updates: 2.6.08 | 2.7.08 | 2.8.08

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: I LEAN DEMOCRATIC| I LEAN REPUBLICAN

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

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Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Long after we are all dead, when cultural historians of the future are researching the early, fitful stages of the Internet, today's chat is going to be immortalized as the source of the Greatest Insta-Poll Ever Conducted ( MEN| WOMEN)

This was occasioned by a bewildering response to my disclosure last week that one of the Mystery Method's tricks for getting women to let you touch them is to run the "finger routine." This is where you demonstrate how women's pointer fingers are usually longer than their ring fingers, whereas with men, it's usually the reverse. This is supposedly caused by differences in testosterone levels.

This holds true for me and my wife and a small sampling of other people with whom I checked. I never researched it much further. However, the chat received dozens of anguished posts from women who reported having longer ring fingers, and wondered mightily if they might be wanting in the femininity department. (Interestingly enough, we received NO posts from longer-pointered men worrying about their masculinity. )

So, today, through the magic of Insta-poll technology, we will have a definitive answer.

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Nothing is more boring and self-indulgent that the self-satisfied ravings of some knucklehead sports fan after his team wins The Big Game. You will hear none of that from me today, no rants about how the discounted Giants with no starting pro-bowlers thrashed the anointedly greatest team in the history of the universe and its prettyboy quarterback in what may be remembered as the best Super Bowl ever. However, as a service to those of you who may have missed this, I am going to link to the best play in Supe History.

This play, which came on third and five with one minute remaining and the Giants driving for the winning touchdown features:

1. The greatest escape since Steve McQueen.

2. A man catching a football with his head.

Here's the link.

Just FYI, so y'all understand the insidious dynamics of inherited obnoxiousness: as of this morning, THIS is Molly's screen saver.

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I know I predicted that today, we'd be talking about Tom Lehrer, but that's a long discussion and I need to save it for a day when Breaking Sports News doesn't erupt and when Insta-poll history must not be made. Or when it doesn't become possible to finally explain a piece of otherwise inexplicable human behavior, such as why Liz Kelly produces this chat pantsless.

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Next, thanks to my old friend Jeremy Weiss, we have irrefutable evidence of the world's stupidest dog. This is a pants-wetter (Lizzie, protect your upholstery.)

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Next, courtesy my son, we have this.

Which leads inexorably to this, which might possibly be not safe for work.

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Please take TODAY'S POLL ( I LEAN DEMOCRATIC| I LEAN REPUBLICAN). The results so far are fascinating, for two reasons. The first is how much everyone hates Romney, even the Republicans. They'd vote for Obama over Romney! I'd like to hear an explanation from some Gopers. The second remarkable trend: The Dems are much more angry and vindictive and Machiavellian than the Repubs. By a much greater percentage, Repubs are choosing the person whom they think would be the best Democratic candidate. Many more Dems are choosing the Republican they think they can best beat.

Good comic week. The Comic Pick of the Week is Sunday's Candorville. First runner-up is Monday's Rhymes with Orange. Honorables: Thursday's Get Fuzzy, Thursday's Speed Bump, today's Doonesbury, and today's Candorville.

Special mention goes to Thursday's Single and Looking for being really excellently vulgar. It does raise a question though: Don't women pee in the shower as much or MORE often than men? Answers accepted here.

Finally, Thursday's Dennis the Menace might be as bad a cartoon as that worst-ever Beetle Bailey from a few weeks ago.

Okay, let's go.

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Subway Rider, Washington, D.C.: Gene,

I am a 27-year-old white male who has recently started an MBA program. Because of this, I have begun riding the Metro to work a few days a week, something I have never done previously. Recent comments from pregnant women and others have led me to start my Gene Weingarten experiment; I have started offering my seat to a woman each time my car fills up.

Wonderful you say, except that women won't take my seat. I'm 0 for 9 so far. At least three times, I got strange looks as if they were wondering why I was talking to them, and at least one started digging in her purse. I was afraid I was going to get maced; it turned out to be chapstick. I finally got fed up after being rejected for the 9th time. I looked at the woman and said "Ma'am, you should know that what I'm offering you is more valuable that a diamond." She got a confused look on her face, so I explained "There are probably fifteen women standing in this car right now. I'm sure some of them have diamonds on their fingers, but how many of them have seats?" I thought this was brilliant, but she said no a second time, then scooted further away from me. I guess I've lost my touch.

I posted my age and race because I apparently fit the mold of those least likely to offer their seats on the subway. I should also mention that I run/lift and have no physical disabilities, so it's not as if these women should feel bad for taking my seat from me; visually I appear perfectly capable of standing, which I am. Anyway, I'm done with being polite, it doesn't seem to work. Maybe if I ever see a pregnant woman on the subway, I'll give this experiment another shot. And sorry to disappoint, but I'm not flinging my virtual boxers at you.

Gene Weingarten: You are withholding a key piece of information, and because it doesn't seem important to you, I am guessing you blew this experiment HUGELY.

How old were the women to whom you offered your seat? Because if they were anything other than post-65, or handicapped, or severely burdened by packages, your experiment was doomed from the get-go.

A young woman is going to assume you are a creep with ulterior motives, or a sexist. A middle-aged woman is going to think you are calling her old.

Right, ladies?

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You inspired, ME: I travel by plane several times a year and never gave much thought to the airplane seat reclining dilemma until this chat became obsessed with it. Now I find myself irritated beyond belief when the person in front of me reclines! I am (hot) 5'9 woman and riding in coach is miserable enough, but when the petite woman in front of me on my last flight reclined her seat fully the minute we reached altitude, I couldn't bear the idea of a 3 hr flight with my legs all crooked crammed in and I also didn't want to confront her, as you rightly pointed out. So instead I took the passive agressive approach of knocking my knees into her seat repeatedly until she finally turned around and asked me to stop. My response was to grimace as if I was sooo sorry to trouble her, and then I told her, "I'm sorry but as long as your seat is reclined, my knees are going to keep knocking into it." Period. She huffed a little, un-reclined her seat, and I felt quite victorious the rest of the flight. I am actually looking forward to my next trip so I can try the technique again!

Oh and this experience made me realize that your chat and the debates we have on here actually are AFFECTING MY LIFE. Scary.

Gene Weingarten: Hm. I wonder if this problem could be solved without hostility.

What if, when you travel, you carry with you a note that you could pass to the recliner in front of you. It would say this --

"I don't mean to be rude, and you do not need to acknowledge this if you don't want to. This is not your fault -- it is the fault of the airlines that insist on cramming us into unreasonably small spaces. May I ask that you not recline your seat, or recline it only a little? It is very uncomfortable for the person behind a fully reclined seat. Feel free to pass this on to the person in front of you."

I bet that would work 95 percent of the time.

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Re: Why is Obama just "Black"?: Eugene Robinson answered this question in one of his chats, I believe. (Searched diligently but couldn't find it- maybe Liz can do better.)

His answer made a lot of sense, and was that Barack Obama is black because that is how he is perceived by others. The people who will judge you based on race are not going to investigate your heritage before they make their assumptions. Wearing a shirt that says, "But my mom's a white lady from Kansas" is not going to get you hired or keep the cops from pulling you over. As long as it matters what color you are, he will be "black".

Gene Weingarten: I had suggested to Gene that he address this issue, but I guess I missed it when he did.

This argument makes a lot of sense.

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Why is Obama "black"?:"Obviously, he is black because he identifies himself as black, but that only goes so far. Like Derek Jeter, Barack Obama is the product of a black father and a white mother. Why, like Jeter, isn't he simply thought of as half and half? And why can't each race claim him as their own, in their heart of hearts?"

I think this has everything to do with what he looks like, and how his looks affect the way he's treated by members of each race. Derek Jeter doesn't particularly look "black." He looks ethnically indeterminate. I would bet that two people of either race would treat him the same way.

Barack Obama looks black. Maybe not "black enough" to be fully embraced by the black community, but certainly black enough to be the target of white bigotry.

I've seen a similar phenomenon first hand. I have two stepbrothers (they have the same parents - a black father and a white mother). Because of a genetic coin toss, one looks decidedly more black than the other. They each identify themselves with the race that they physically resemble, and by this self-identification they encourage others to pigeonhole them into one group or the other.

The "whiter" of the two strongly identifies with white people, has a white wife, and white friends. The other brother is, well, a brother. He has mostly black friends, and considers himself a part of black culture. It's pretty fascinating, actually, to see two people who share the same genetic input have completely different cultural identities.

Gene Weingarten: Interesting. It confirms the Robinson Paradigm.

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Washington, D.C.: OK, I'm so sick of hearing "Obama isn't really black; he's just as much white as he is black." My husband and I are both of mixed race. We consider ourselves black or African American. It's not a mathematical construct; it's culturally who we are. We aren't ashamed of our racial heritage, and our children understand it and embrace it, but we don't have any problem checking the "African American" box on the forms. I have plenty of "biracial" friends (and that's what they call themselves) who seem to feel that by identifying themselves as one or the other, they're betraying one parent or another. We have no such confusion in our family, and I daresay Barack Obama doesn't have any either. He's not ashamed of his white heritage; it's just that culturally, he is African American. Just what the hell is "multiracial" anyway? I can tell you one thing, when some 9-year old called my brown-haired, blue-eyed kid a "n---er", my kid wasn't confused at all. He knew exactly what was going on because we have discussed the issue of race, and he identifies himself as an African American. Frankly, I think that all this talk about Obama being as much white as he is black is only because he might become President. I doubt white people would be rushing to embrace his as one of them if he was a brother from the hood.

Gene Weingarten: Hey, anthropologically, we're probably all from Africa anyway.

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McLean, Va.: Hey Gene - Have you made the switch to compact flourescent light bulbs in your house? If so, what's your opinion of them. I actually don't mind the quality of the light once they get warmed up, but it's a nuisance waiting for that to happen. Drives my wife nuts so we're only using them in selected locations at this point. I think we're going to be incandescent bulb hoarders as the deadline nears.

Gene Weingarten: You are bothered by a one-second delay?

I have em in all the lights in my house that aren't decorative, which is most of the lights.

Gene Weingarten: Liz informs me that some of these bulbs take a minute to work up to full strength. Not true of mine.

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Women peeing in the shower: Yes, I do, all the time. (I'm a 24-year-old female.) The one time I'll hold back is when I'm in there with another person. Notable exception was with a high school boyfriend, who at one point asked me to pee while we were in the shower together. He'd never seen a girl pee before, and wasn't really sure how it worked.

Gene Weingarten: Getting lots like this.

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Insta-Poll Proof: Gene, am I a possible explanation for Feminine Dichotomy? I'm a female and my ring fingers are a good sized longer than my pointers, probably by a solid centimeter or so. I have a very healthy sexual appetite and I vehemently dislike certain girl-bonding activities, such as discussions about the relative attractiveness of males, problems in relationships and shopping in groups. I despise romantic comedies, Grey's Anatomy and Victoria's Secret.

Having said that, I'm obsessed with Marc Jacobs purses, shiny hair and manicured toes, because, ew what am I, a heathen? Men are disgusting.

Gene Weingarten: I think what we are seeing so far is a minor refutation: Clearly males have longer ring fingers, but women seem divided.

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Finger Length: No option for me in the insta-poll - I'm a man and my longest finger is the middle finger. So genetically I'm flipping the bird to the world.

Gene Weingarten: You misread the directions, dude.

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SI question: Did you help the Empress choose the winners in this past week's SI contest, about improving air travel? Because there were several Seat-Reclining Vendettas in there.

washingtonpost.com: Style Invitational, ( Post, Feb. 2)

Gene Weingarten: I was not responsible.

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Figured you would know...: Leonard Shapiro, in a chat yesterday, said he had visited with Mike Wilbon, and "He looks great, he sounds great and he's got the exact right attitude to make a spectacular comeback." Len did not answer my question: Comeback? From where? Why was he gone? Do you know ???

Gene Weingarten: Wilbon had a heart attack. He wrote about it eloquently a few days ago. Liz, can you find?

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Hen3ry: (You said we were going to talk Tom Lehrer this week!)

Make me regret my vote next Tuesday (I live in Virginia). Every candidate has a weakness or character flaw that will come to dominate his or her term in office. I think the troubling signs about Bush and Gore were there for all to see by this point in the 2000 race, and Bush and Kerry by this point in the 2004 race. Tell me those flaws for the five remaining major presidential candidates.

In your copious free time, while you aren't poisoning pigeons in the park.

Gene Weingarten: Gladly.

Romney: He is a competent, soulless android. He has no people skills. No one likes him. To quote Dave Barry (describing John Glenn, once) "He can't electrify a crowd. He couldn't electrify a fish tank if he threw in a toaster." Romney would be a colorless president, like Carter or Coolidge, and lack the skills to unite people or project a vision. Of all the candidates, he is the one most likely to be the Antichrist.

McCain: A likeable, principled but worrisomely mercurial man. People on the campaign trail see this more than the public does: He can be charming, cordial, and funny one minute and icy and vindictive the next. I like McCain, and he gave me one of my favorite 30-second interviews ever. The entire thing took place as he stood at a urinal. I respect his willngness not to become a demagogue on immigration. I'm not worried about his age so much as I am worried about his temperament COUPLED with his age. If he gets any crankier, we're in trouble. As president, he'd be most like Andrew Jackson. This may not seem like a bad thing, but ask the Indians.

Hillary Clinton: Read Richard Cohen today; he says it better than I could. I would vote for her against either Republican candidate, though. A Clinton presidency would resemble the Clinton presidency, right down to sex in the White House. Though not by the president.

( Hail to the Chief of Staff, Richard Cohen, Post, Feb. 5)

Barack Obama: He is young and inexperienced and untested in anything big, and if America votes for this guy, they are rolling the dice. It's a bet I'd make, though. He is decent, brilliant, eloquent, inspiring, reaches for the big ideas, and has a capacity to be a transformative cultural figure, which we desperately need. Experience is overrated: When FDR was elected, his experience was assistant secretary of the Navy, unsuccessful vice presidential candidate, recovering invalid, and all of two years as governor of New York. An Obama presidency would be like the Kennedy presidency, right down to the sex in the White House. Only the sex will be connubial.

(I am saving Lehrer for a week when it can be the whole intro. It will not be short.)

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Brigadoon: So how come you didn't include Ron Paul in your list, huh? Could it be that, like all the rest of the MSM, you are AFRAID of him?

(Or perhaps you are just afraid of all his supporters.)

Gene Weingarten: I didn't include Ron Paul because I'm terrified that mentioning him in this chat might be just enough to put him over the top.

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washingtonpost.com: A Life-Changing Turn of Events, ( Post, Feb. 1)

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Washington, D.C.: Bedroom revelation: I recently realized that I have the ability to "tickle" my husband when we are being intimate without using my hands. We find it hilarious (and like I have a female-only super-power). Do you know what I am talking about? Is this common?

Gene Weingarten: It's not that uncommon.

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Fingers: I have heard that lesbians have ring fingers that are longer. I believe this to be true. My left ring finger is longer while my right one shorter than the respective pointer fingers. And I'm a bisexual woman.

Gene Weingarten: Wow.

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Assassi-Nation: Re the discussion on Candorville last week. It's an interesting assumption that if a Black candidate were nominated, he would have a higher risk of assassination, due to hordes of right-wing nuts. Let's review some of the actual and attempted assassinations in the U.S. over the last 50 years:

- John F. Kennedy killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald objected to Kennedy's hard line on communist Cuba.

- Malcom X killed by other members of the Nation of Islam for being insufficiently radical.

- Martin Luther King killed by James Earl Ray, the only case that fits the profile.

- Robert F. Kennedy killed by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian who objected to Kennedy's support of Israel.

- George Wallace, a right wing nut killed by Arthur Bremer. Bremer also stalked Richard Nixon. No known political motivation. Bremer wanted to make a splash.

- Gerald Ford was the subject of two attempts by Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme and Sara Jane Moore. Despite the cute nickname, both were followers of Charles Manson, and were probably not Republicans.

- Ronald Reagan wounded by John Hinckley Jr. Hinckley had also stalked Jimmy Carter and was probably trying to impress Jodie Foster rather than make a political point.

- John Lennon killed by Mark David Chapman, also with no known political agenda.

Previous victims included Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley, all Republicans. An failed attempt was made on Harry S. Truman by Puerto Rican separatists.

The record suggests that conservatives have much more to fear from the left-wing wackos than liberals do from the right-wing variety.

Gene Weingarten: Very interesting. But I think you are mis-casting the issue. This is not about right-wing nuts killing a lefty person. This is about people so wildly racist that they cannot face the notion of a black person in the White House; that's beyond politics, that's into insanity, and that fits with most of these cases.

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Greenbelt, Md.: Gene, today I found my first googlenope: "the dog ate my tempeh." It is a very sad googlenope, you see, because it is true. My dog is an idiot.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. When this chat is archived, it shall be a Googlenope no more. And you, madam, and your little dog, own a small piece of history.

You know what is so not a Googlenope? "My dog is an idiot." Sixteen thousand hits.

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The Empress of The Style Invitational: Not incredibly surprisingly, a number of Style Invitational contestants read this chat.

Gene Weingarten: Indeed.

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Washington, D.C.: So how many offers to help that girl in Britain from last week lose her virginity did you end up getting?

Gene Weingarten: Seven.

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Columbia, Md.: Gee, you asked me to email you in last week's chat and I have twice, with no reply. What's up with that?

Gene Weingarten: Really?

I am guessing the post spam filter caught it. Can you send me your email address, to the chat, and I will try to find it in the spam box. We won't publish your email address... it's just for me to know what to look for.

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Marriage without kids?: Gene:

I have been thinking about this for weeks. Sparing the ugly details, my spouse, who I have been married to for 10 years, is suffering from a mental illness, which he/she refuses to treat -- even though i have been exhorting to do something. The refusal stems from... well, stems from the mental illness.

For the first five years of our marriage, my answer would have been simple. If this had shown up then, well, God helps those who help themselves. If my spouse refuses to get help, what is my responsibility to maintain a losing partnership? Break up could be a very real possibility.

However, since the birth of our twins five years ago, breaking up has been taking out of the equation. My responsibility is keeping the family together, even if I have to Brittany Spears my spouse into submission.

Without kids, I had many more choices.

Gene Weingarten: Sorry about this. And yes, it makes the point beautifully, if painfully.

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22046: OK, so after last week's Scrabble puzzle that had "Buttsex", last Saturday's Crossword (in the print edition, not the online edition) had a clue like "Repulse". The solution was Beat Off. What's going on with the Post, and how can I get a job there?

Gene Weingarten: Wow!

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Ashes, ashes: Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Is there anything funny about this?

Gene Weingarten: Yes!

Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the year, because I never know it's coming and the first person I see with a smudged forehead makes me laugh, until I remember. You just ruined it for me.

I've always felt Ash Wednesday is unfair to women. Much harder on them.

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In Sickness: Gene,

My live-in boyfriend and I are both in our mid-20s. We're in this for life and will get married when it's time to have kids (after grad school). We're both really liberal, atheists, etc., and see eye to eye on just about everything, down to music and movies. However, I've started to feel like I do everything around here. I make dinner, clean the bathrooms, pick up the clutter, etc. My comps are coming up in two months and I have to defend my thesis two weeks after that, and I'm getting nervous about all of that. To add to that, I've got some weird illness that we're waiting on a diagnosis for. Could be type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroid, or some mysterious ailment the doctors haven't thought up yet. I can't keep weight on, I can't keep my energy up, and I've had to give up my beloved running. Nonetheless, I'm doing all the work around here. I know my sweetheart, whom I really love dearly, has a lot of homework to do, and he gets anxious about that, so I try to make things easier for him. Still, though, I don't want to start resenting him for this when, after doing all the cleaning and walking of the dogs, I'm too tired to study. I've barely done any homework this week, and I have TA responsibilities, which exhaust me. We're in a difficult grad program so I can't really get away with this, and I have to meet with my advisor today, who is surely going to scold me for falling behind. What do you think I should say to my boyfriend? I want to be kind and not alienate him but I don't like feeling that I'm doing all of this because it's "woman's work." It's not even that I mind doing it, it's that I mind doing it when I'm about to fall over and have other things I have to be spending my very limited energy on, when he's healthy and could perhaps pitch in a bit more. Is this just an assertiveness issue on my part? Thanks, Gene.

Gene Weingarten: You need to address this and here is how: After the chat, show him this post, and my response. Deny that it is yours. Just explain that this poster has a situation REMARKABLY like yours. NEVER, even years later in what is bound to be a happy marriager, NEVER admit that it was your post. Make sure he reads my answer, too, but NEVER ADMIT you wrote it.

This will work. I know it will because I was once your guy. We blind slobs in love need to have our eyes opened.

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Poll Results, Va.: Gene, I thought I was weird because I lean Republican but if McCain doesn't get the nomination, I'm voting for Obama. Appears many others feel this same way-but really, the two are very, very different. Can you explain this?

Gene Weingarten: They are the only two really likeable, authentic-seeming candidates.

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Red State: Gene-

Great poll today. I have been a registered Republican since 1984 and have never voted for a Democratic candidate. I am actively supporting Barack Obama, because, for the first time in my life, I actually BELIEVE IN a politician. His ideology is not as important to me as the fact that I trust and admire the man. I would vote for him above any possible Republican.

I would never vote for Hillary Clinton, even if my party nominated Satan himself. She strikes me as the ultimate political opportunist, her first elected office being Senator of a state she never even lived in. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I have never despised a candidate on either side more than I despise Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama inspires me.

Gene Weingarten: Interesting. A uniter, not a divider?

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. W: Glad you have resolved your latest medical issue. Have you settled on one bulky item to hold between your knees so you won't cross your legs?

washingtonpost.com: Lord knows there's nothing bulky there now.

Gene Weingarten: Some lines are so good they should not be responded to.

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Bethesda, Md.: I lean Republican. By "lean" I mean I am in the center and just lean toward the Republican side. I am very moderate and I though I admittedly was for Bush in 2K I can't believe he got re-elected. I also don't blame him singly for the situation the country is in right now. I blame the fact that through most of his administration he had a Republican congress. There were NO checks and balances. He was allowed to do anything he wanted.

That being said, and you being a Democrat, tell me why you think it is a good idea to have a Democrat in the White House with a Democratic congress? Don't you think Obama or Clinton are going to do the same things Bush did? Won't they have an administration with little or no oversight?

Gene Weingarten: Because neither of them is a blind ideologue. The closest Clinton comes is in an arguably paternalistic view in favor of mandatory socialized medicine, but she's not going to have a lot of luck ramming that through even a Democratic congress, if the national mood is no.

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The WP, Washington, D.C.: Dig this: There's a absolutely stunning blond (an HB, is what the kids these days are saying?) who works in the building across the street from me. We take the same train in the morning and at night, we walk the same path back to the Metro, where we typically stand about five yards from each other and ride home. After about a month of seeing her for those wondrous 10 minutes every day, I've developed a pathetic little crush on her. I'd like to take the relationship to a speaking one, a notch above the old "I kinda recognize you" nod.

With the Mystery Method in the back of my mind, and my fear of being labeled a creepster, I asked a female coworker how I could innocently initiate a conversation without appearing to be a stalker. A negative encounter would make my commute infinitely more awkward. I was taken for a loop when my coworker suggested some of the lamest, most hackneyed lines--"What's your name? You kinda look like somebody I know...what perfume are you wearing? etc." I cringed, picturing how dorky I would come off trying these clunkers out on such a beautiful woman. Also, I'm not sure initiating a conversation based on odor is such a hot idea. I asked my coworker if they would work on her in a similar situation. "Probably not," she chuckled, and walked off. I mulled it over, and decided to can the whole thing and hope maybe she'll give me a sign. I'm not holding my breath. I'll just sit here at my desk daydreaming, hoping that maybe one day I'll have the guts to do something about it.

Point is, I don't think women get how much of ourselves we're laying on the line when we approach them at the club, or in any situation. Our most basic sense of self-worth is at stake. Most guys aren't out there with horrible intentions like the Mystery Method advocates. Maybe we can make it a rule of thumb that you can only shoot us down with the same amount of tact that we used to try to pick you up? Just a thought.

Gene Weingarten: You seem very much like the nice guys who take the Mystery Method course. They just need to be told what to say and do.

If I tell you what to say and do, will you screw up the nerve to do it? If you promise you will, I will tell you what to say, right here in the chat.

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Gene Weingarten: Okay, wait a minute. Liz is telling me that when she thinks of the "ring" finger, it is the middle finger. She is alone in this, right? No one made that mistake, right?

Also, it is clear that we are not asking which is the "longest" finger, but which is longer between ring and pointer. Yes?

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Shower Relief: I guess I'm in the minority here, but as a 31-year-old female, I've NEVER peed in the shower. Not once. I've thought about it, I've even been tempted on occasion... but each time I get skeeved out and hop, dripping, out of the shower to use the toilet.

Of course, I also have a mild case of OCD which includes an extreme aversion to touching ANY form of bodily fluid (potty-training my son was loads of fun), so that may have something to do with it...

Gene Weingarten: I just don't understand an aversion to this. You are IN THE SHOWER.

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The Wilds of Limpopo, South Africa: I was a regular reader of you chat back when I was living in D.C., but have struggled with getting reliable internet access in South Africa, where I'm living in a village where I spend "rush hour" watching a herd of cows jogging to their kraal instead of sitting on the Beltway for hours. Now that I've figured out the mysteries of using a cell phone as a modem, I've been reading your chat archives and will gratuiously share my comments and experiences that I find relevant for the past few months (whether or not you find them relevant is a whole other matter). First, South Africa is all agog over 2010, when they will theorectically host the World Cup for soccer. And here, it's nothing but twenty-ten, twenty-ten this, twenty-ten that, twenty-ten will be better than the second coming. And yes, twenty-ten is fun to say! Much more than two- thousand and ten. Also, this former vegetarian has been experiencing the trials and tribulations of eating chicken feet and chicken heads on a daily basis. Since you have eaten almost everything over the sun and highly rated food that I'd only eat at gunpoint, I was wondering if you've ever had the pleasure and what you thought. For the record, you're supposed to bite off the toenails first, spit them out, then start sucking on the toes and go from there. The best I've been able to do is poke around and eat the one sliver that is not skin, tendon, or bone. Also, living in a country with 11 official languages has had a sadly dampening affect on my English. I haven't learned how to say much besides "hi, are you here? I am here!" in three different languages, but this has pushed out much more than their equivalent of my native tongue. For example, I know the correct cliche is "under the sun," not "over the sun" but that is what came out of my head, so there it stays. Maybe you can have a contest! How many stupid mistakes can YOU find? I used to be a very good writer, but now... I was hoping that the intellectual caliber of this discussion would help me (you ARE smart, after all), but I mainly spent hours reading about people's reactions to one very disgusting video. I have no one to blame but myself.

Gene Weingarten: Hi. You can use a cell phone as a modem??

I have eaten chicken feet dim sum. Also duck feet. Good.

Gene Weingarten: Also, the rib uses chicken feet to make turkey gravy. Swears it is the best possible ingredient for same.

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You misread the directions, dude: that just proves he's male since he refused to read the directions

Gene Weingarten: True.

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Washington, D.C.: I feel badly for the apparently large number of women who wrote in to you last week expressing that they cannot achieve climax through penetration. (I am a woman who does, regularly.) My feeling is that if "most women" really can't, they're just not doing it right. I know the trick, and I would like to share it. Because I'm afraid Liz won't like it, I'm going to submit it in a separate post. If you can't post it, and people want to know, perhaps I can email it to you and you can distribute it that way?

Gene Weingarten: Sure.

My belief has always been that there is a physical, neural distinction between women who can and women who can't. No?

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Alexandria, Va.: You didn't ask who we're going to vote for in the primary. You asked who we want as the nominee, which isn't the same question. I'm voting for Hillary but I secretly hope Obama wins. I just can't not vote for her, but he's more likely to win the general election. I recognize that this is irrational and apologize for perpetuating a female stereotype.

Gene Weingarten: It's not only irrational, it's anti-feminist.

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Oakland, Calif.: Two delightfully unintentionally hilarious moments last week in The Post (well, one less delightful than the other): First, in Michael Wilbon's very touching column about his heart attack, when he talks about taking Advil when he started feeling pain, Advil was hyperlinked. Second, in one of the political chats, when there was a discussion about whether women will vote for Hillary and black people for Obama and what will black women do (as a side note, as a black woman, I'm thrilled that someone is finally paying attention to us), someone chimes in with "This is why I'm happy to be a Republican. We vote for people and issues, and don't pay attention to race and gender." Hahahahahaha. Oh, Republicans.

Now I go off to vote.

Gene Weingarten: Indeed.

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Sondheim, Va.:"George Wallace, a right wing nut killed by Arthur Bremer."

It should be noted that Wallace took a long time to die.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha. True enough.

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Re: Ash Wednesday: Why is the day much harder on women? Keep in mind that I didn't even know that Ash Wednesday was a Catholic day until I was in my 20s, and I still don't know the significance of the ashes. (Sure, I could Google it, but that's beside the point.)

Gene Weingarten: Cause women are much more concerned with how they look, smudges, etc.

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Falls Church, Va.: GW: "An Obama presidency would be like the Kennedy presidency"

And the Kennedy presidency accomplished what? Admittedly, it was cut short, but can you point to -any- policy success attributable to JFK? Would we remember JFK affectionately at all if he and his wife hadn't been pretty?

Gene Weingarten: He changed the thinking of America about America. He was a bridge to a new generation.

I'm not saying he was a great president.

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Liz and fingers...: Does she also think of Thursday as the day right before Saturday?

washingtonpost.com: Eff you. I know which is the ring finger. I was just assuming gene was after the longest finger of all.FWIW, I pee in the shower. There. You can all go suck an egg.

Gene Weingarten: Oooh. Methinks Liz got more than one little chiding post. She only passed this one on.

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Austin, Tex.: Show your District pride with this aptonymicly crafted D.C.-shaped coffee table.

With understated irony, there is also a formica version that is White on the outside and Black on the inside.

As noted by commenter no. 8, tho, you could instead show your D.C. pride with a coffee table shaped like "D.C. between 1790 and 1847".

Gene Weingarten: It's not only stupid ... it's ugly.

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New York: I am the opposite of a hypochondriac. I go to my primary care physicians for regular checkups, and take their advice about follow-up care. I don't panic when I need follow-up testing, and am able to wait patiently for results, without fantasizing about all the people who will cry and be sorry at my funeral. However, what happened to me recently is enough to turn me into a hypochondriac.

I don't own a car, so I rarely go away. I spent a total of 3 days in the country in New England and the Atlantic states last summer, most of which was spent indoors or in cars. Over the summer, I began to experience hot flashes (not unexpected for a woman in her late 40s), and because I have a child, I am chronically sleep-deprived, so I didn't think much of it when I started to feel tired a lot of the time. I also used to have migraines (which I thought I had gotten rid of through acupuncture about 10 years ago) but had a couple of headaches accompanied by nausea. Finally, I am a regular exerciser, but began to experience stiffness in my lower back and hips. At my last physical, I commented that I had experienced some hearing loss in one ear. My internist sent me for further testing, and the otolaryngologist he recommended is young and thorough. I had four different kinds of lengthy, involved electronic testing of my auditory and related nervous systems, and about 12 blood tests. Everything was normal, except that the blood came back positive twice (I insisted on a re-test) for Lyme Disease. This was shocking to me: although I was tired, I was not horribly fatigued, and I did not have a characteristic bull's-eye mark, where the tic entered my body. Apparently, I have been walking around with Lyme for months. It is easily treated with common antibiotics, and it is not the horror it was before accurate blood tests were developed. However, untreated, it is a nightmare, and can result in serious neurological and/or cardiac damage, even death. All of the symptoms I noted above can be caused by Lyme. I'm glad I mentioned my hearing problems to my doctor. I have told everyone I know about this, and now plan to get tested regularly. If my idea of going to the country involves entering Van Cortlandt Park, imagine how many of your readers may have it and don't even know.

Gene Weingarten: I waffled about posting this, and am probably making the wrong decision.

Why?

Because Lyme disease is one of the most common things that hypochondriacs fear they have. The symptoms mirror the symptoms of growing old and tired.

I understand that you have it; but now a lot of people who don't will recognize the symptoms.

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Tony's Pizza: Gene, I am eating the last slice of Tony's from my Super Bowl splurge and thinking of you... can you tell me why? - Maureen

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I can.

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Washington, D.C.: You are both rational and medically knowledgeable, and thus perfectly suited to answer this question. Many handicapped parking spaces are significantly wider than the non-handicapped spots.

Are there any medical conditions for which a wide parking spot would be helpful to the individual, but yet not endanger other drivers/pedestrians when the person isn't actively parking the car? Maybe it is because the person might have to get into or out of a wheelchair while getting into or out of the car?

Gene Weingarten: It's the second reason.

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Toled, OH: Regarding the grad student whose boyfriend isn't helping keep house: Along with the idea of alluding to, but disclaiming, the story, I would also suggest that laying off some of the less-critical housework for a little while, at least until after the thesis-defense, and see what happens. Maybe even have a few nights where you're "too busy to make dinner."

If nothing else, you'll learn exactly what tolerance the love of your life has for crud before he starts dealing with some of it himself, compared with how much of it you can stand before you start climbing the walls.

Gene Weingarten: He will be able to accept WAY too much crud.

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Whatt,HE??: Tickle without hands?:

Am I missing something? Am I missing something

because I wax??????

....or do I just lack female superpowers?

is this a kissy thing?

WHAT?

(p.s. I'm 24 and so's the man with whom i live...will I

develop this skill later on?)

Gene Weingarten: I believe this was a reference to a tickle administered from within.

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Huckabee?: Where was Huckabee in your list of candidates and reasons to support or not?

Gene Weingarten: He is not a viable candidate. No chance.

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Ash Wednesday: As a Catholic woman, this area is so much more difficult! The priest need to lighten up with the ashes. At home (Phila.) the ashes barely lasted an hour. Last year (in DC) I had flakes falling onto my nose and it looked like I got attacked by a thick sharpie. It took two days to come off (technically you aren't suppose to wash it off).

On a side note, I always thought if anyone was really anti-Catholic, Ash Wednesday would be a great day for them to pick us off.

Gene Weingarten: Right! It's a bullseye for a head shot.

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ring finger versus pointer: On my right hand, my ring finger is clearly longer, while on my left hand my pointer finger is longer (though just slighly). I am a woman. What does this say anout me???

washingtonpost.com: That you can't spell!

Gene Weingarten: Right!

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Gene, you missed the obvious answer for the best running mate for John McCain: Joe Lieberman. He's already endorsed McCain, and it seems like the Dems have abandoned Old Joe. They'd make a good ticket.

Gene Weingarten: You're right. It would be an interesting choice. But you would have a ticket with the combined age of 139. I'm not sure that flies.

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Your response to Alexandria: Why is it anti-feminist to vote for Hilary when the only reason you want Obama to get the nomination is that he is more electable? She's not saying Hilary's a bad candidate, just less electable.

Gene Weingarten: She is not voting for the person she wants to vote for because she is burdened by the anti-feminist notion that she HAS to vote for someone because of gender. That's how I read it.

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Anti-shower peer: This is another 31-year-old woman who has never and will not ever pee in the shower. Ewww! Then you're temporarily standing in your own pee!

Of course, I don't take baths, because then you're sitting in your own dirty water.

I never said I didn't have issues.

Gene Weingarten: Haha.

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Palo, Iowa: My wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed, asked me to post this comment from my blog.

"What bothers me most about a Hillary ticket is precisely the predominant issue at the heart of the Obama campaign. It is about unity and about coming together. And I can't imagine a Hillary candidacy or presidency ending the bitter partisanship that has undermined American unity. It is hard to imagine a spirit of cooperation in Congress let alone civil discussion on talk radio or in editorial content across the country under a Clinton presidency. And more than that, I'm just tired of the we verses them mentality that exists between the red state/blue state division that exists today. And when Obama speaks of all of his supporters not transferring their vote her way if she wins the nomination; I am beginning to wonder if he is talking about me. Even with the all important probability of a Supreme Court Justice nomination being a likely probability in the next presidential term I am not willing to say Hillary would receive my vote. Because more than anything I believe political divisiveness is responsible for much of why I seek a "change" candidate. All of the candidates are talking about change but none outside Obama are talking about what that means.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I published this post not because it is interesting or good or worthy of utterance, or profound or original or important -- it is none of those things -- but because it reminded me of an insight I had some years back. I put it into my hypochondria book.

"She who must be obeyed" is of course a line from John Mortimer's "Rumpole of the Bailey." I suspect he has at some time acknowledged this though I cannot find evidence of it, but the genteel and proper Mr. Mortimer created a protagonist whose name is a homonym of Rump Hole.

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New York: In the updates someone asked something about women who dye their hair or wear colored contacts.

How do you personally feel about that? Do you have a tiny bit more respect for women who refuse to jump through hoops to change their appearance (on principle, not just because they've given up)?

Gene Weingarten: I like it when women don't look like they are wearing makeup. I have learned that this doesn't mean they are not wearing makeup. It means that they are wearing makeup very, very skillfully. For years I told people that my wife didn't wear mascara, which came as a surprise to her when she heard that.

You know what I categorically reject: Eye shadow, when you can see there is eye shadow. Always looks crappy to me.

Hair dyeing and colored contacts doesn't bother me at all. Butt padding, for example, would. Hair dyeing and colored contacts are fashion choices. Butt padding is a lie.

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Toxic waste house: flourescent bulbs? I cannot believe that the switch has been so agressively pursued by those who claim to be "environmentalists"! These things are extremely toxic, and that little old fashioned light bulb just has glass and a small piece of metal. I will be a horder for as long as I can. To pass a law forcing flourescent on us is one of the stupidest things we as a nation have done in a while.

My roommate in college worked in a flourescent bulb factory (chemical engineer)- - you would not believe how bad these things are. And here we are FORCING them on the country.

Gene Weingarten: They almost never burn out. For that reason alone, they are environmentally good.

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Re: Ash Wednesday: Former Catholic here: The ashes are last years palms from Palm Sunday. They represent the time of sober reflection and sacrafice that are supposed to be a dim mirror to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, fasting and being tempted by Satan.

Gene Weingarten: Wait a minute. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert but Mo and the Jews had to spend 40 YEARS? How fair is that?

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Button Fly: You are wrong about so much, cilantro, chocolate, thongs, I could go on, that it pains me that I may, may, be forced to concede on one point. Given the durability of Levi 501s, I had not had occasion to purchase a pair recently, not since certain aspects of middle age had more forcibly asserted themselves. Suffice to say that middle age, a tendency toward decreased bladder capacity, doctors who yammer on and on about water consumption, and brand spanking new stiff as a board Levi jeans with the button fly inject a whole new level of excitement into life if one gets stuck on a long phone call between bathroom breaks. On the other hand, I get fewer occasions to dance these days, so any excuse is welcome.

Gene Weingarten: I wore 501s for about a year, and found the button fly so annoying that when I was home, I only buttoned the top and bottom button.

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This week's column: Hahahaha!! My husband did something similar. He was having bad knee pain (in his late 20s). After six months of doctors appointments the nurse finally figured out that it was being caused because he hooks his feet under his chair all day at work. He then had to do six weeks of physical therapy to stretch out the muscles properly so that the pain would stop. Even better: I had told him well before that sitting like that was bad for his legs.

washingtonpost.com: Sick Humor, ( Post Magazine, Feb. 3)

Gene Weingarten: Pat the Perfect, who is a small person, when at her desk, sometimes sits on her feet. I find this impossibly adorable. I admit it. Who knows what havoc she may be wreaking on her nerves?

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Colorado Springs, Colo.: Are you talking about the length of the finger, as measured by a ruler, from web to tip? Or just how the look when you hold out your hand? There's a difference. My pointer finger LOOKS longer, but if I actually measure down to the web, which is lower on my ring finger, they're just about the same. Oh, and I'm a guy. (So do I LOOK more feminine, but if you measure... never mind.)

Gene Weingarten: It's the look.

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1661 miles west: I just found out that a friend eloped recently--would a copy of "I'm With Stupid" be an appropriate gift?

Gene Weingarten: Yes. Twelve copies would be better.

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Alexandria, Va.: A previous poster mentioned Abraham Lincoln being a Republican. History notes however that 150 years ago it was the Republicans who leaned left and the Democrats who leaned right. Lincoln was only a Republican on paper. If he were alive today he would be a Democrat - hands down.

Gene Weingarten: True, more or less. Grover Cleveland, the lone Democrat for a bunch of years, was a mammoth fiscal conservative. I think things didn't really change until the early 20th Century.

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Aptonym: The D.C. coffee table is made by Justin Couch.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.

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Glad to hear you don't like the visible appearance of make up on women: I still can not understand how a man can stand to kiss a woman who is wearing lip stick? It tastes horrible, and would leave the man's lips red, covered with lab produced chemicals. We don't drink Drano, but are expected to put toxic chemicals on our lips. Ugh. I don't understand why anyone likes it. Needless to say, although I do not wear lipstick, I am still a hot woman.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I am going to say something weird now. I never thought about this because I believe in my whole life, I have never kissed a woman who was wearing lipstick. Is that odd?

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. W: Hard as it may be to believe, when I sent the e-mail asking about what bulky item you were now putting between your legs, I didn't realize the "spin" Liz could put on it. Does this mean that I, a 65 year old man, am totally out of it as far as risque humor is concerned?

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, I think so.

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Bulbs: What's up with all the references to "flourescent" bulbs? Do they produce flour? If so, is it bleached, whole-wheat, all-purpose, or what?

Oh, wait, ... could they mean "fluorescent"?

Gene Weingarten: Flourescent bulbs save you a lot of bread.

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Sexual Ethics: Which is the bigger lie: faking an orgasm or fantasizing about another person? A lot of us are in the boat where it's either one or the other.

Gene Weingarten: Good question!

Faking an orgasm is probably worse, and I have done that in my life. Never done the other.

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Teen-Queen Residence:"You know what I categorically reject: Eye shadow, when you can see there is eye shadow. Always looks crappy to me."

Were you able to communicate this opinion effectively to Molly when she was 15 years old? Did it work? What was the secret? I have been unsuccesful about this fashion issue with my daughter thus far.

Gene Weingarten: I don't think Mol ever wore eye shadow, or if she did it was faint enough so it didn't skeeve me.

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To Women Who Do All the Cleaning: Don't clean so much. Problem solved.

Report back when/if your guy ever complains.

Gene Weingarten: It'll be a LONG time. Too long.

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The Wilds of Limpopo, South Africa, again: I just discovered that I'm more popular than "cow rush hour."

But just barely. Sigh.

Gene Weingarten: Haha.

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Northern Virginia: So Gene, it's clear from today's chat that you get criticized a lot by people who don't actually know you, and you don't seem to care. My problem is that I do care what people say and think about me. Knowing someone is "mad" at me ruins my whole day, and I dwell on it even more if they're mad for a stupid reason. Please tell me how not to care.

I'm guessing you already know this, but I'm female, mid-twenties.

Gene Weingarten: My situation is different from yours. Anyone who writes for the public - particularly a columnist, who is always saying things with which people disagree -- must develop a thick skin. We learn to dissociate our public selves from our private selves. When people call me an idiot for what I have written, I don't ignore it because that would be folly; sometimes, they're right, and it's good to learn from your mistakes. But I learn to accept it in a detached way. It's not really about ME so much as it is about the robust, freewheeling and sometimes savage nature of public discourse. This view is confirmed all the time in an interesting way: I try to answer all my mail, even insulting mail. And whenever I respond to someone who has been extremely uncivil to me, even if I give no ground in my response, the result is almost always the same: an appreciation for getting a response, and an apology for having lost their temper. In other words, for a moment, the Roman Circus of savage public discourse yields to actual interaction between two actual people, and the letter writer feels ashamed of himself.

When I am just ol' Gene and not That Idiot in The Post, and I am dealing with people I know for things unrelated to what I have written, I am bothered a lot when people get angry with me, and try to resolve it when I can. Where you and I differ is in your last point; if they're angry for no good reason, I am less inclined to care. Life's too short, and pettiness bothers me.

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Abraham Lincoln: Yeah, I always love it when the Republicans refer to themselves as "the party of Lincoln." If Lincoln were alive today, he'd take one look at the current administration and run screaming.

Gene Weingarten: All Linc would have to hear was George Bush trying to use the English language.

Hey, you know Lincoln was not only our greatest president, but one of the best writers this country has ever produced.

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Rockville, Maryland: Fluorescent lights or the old style. Hate to say so but technology is about to ruin another divisive issue. The best lights will be LED. OK. The fluorescent haters can go back to sleep

Gene Weingarten: Okay.

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RE: Lipstick: So the Post columnists you ran into at The Mystery Method bar party were not wearing lipstick then?

washingtonpost.com: Nope. In fact, Mirapex didn't work for me.

Gene Weingarten: They weren't post columnists. The were just hot women.

Hm. I'm not sure! Maybe they were. One of them might be reading this chat and can tell me.

These were not romantic kisses; I may have not noticed the lipstick.

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Washington, D.C.:"I also have a mild case of OCD which includes an extreme aversion to touching ANY form of bodily fluid (potty-training my son was loads of fun)"

How did this woman ever CONCEIVE her son?

Gene Weingarten: Haha.

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Light bulbs: Slate just did a lengthy article debunking the statement that "compact flourescents are extremely toxic."

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.

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Sarasota, Fla.: What happened with the calico kitten you were seeking a home for last week? You promised an update... or did you adopt her yourself?

Gene Weingarten: She has a new home. Photos to come.

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FBOFW Question: Ummm... how to put this delicately? Have Anthony and Elizabeth "done it" yet? I am unsure. Thank you.

Gene Weingarten: Of course they have. For what reason do you think they haven't?

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Slylock Fox: I'm surprised you made no mention of the appearance of Rat (from Pearls Before Swine) in this past Sunday's Slylock Fox. I am assuming it is either in retaliation for Pastis's brilliant send up of Slylock a few weeks ago, or the two cartoonists worked out a reciprocation. If it's retaliation, it's not really very good. Of course Rat would hit someone with a stick.

washingtonpost.com: Slylock Fox, ( Feb. 3)

Gene Weingarten: I missed this! Excellent.

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Okay, sweetheart...: I hate to be the one to break it to you, but yes, you have kissed a woman wearing lipstick. Just like when you were so sure your wife didn't wear mascara.

I'll grant that you may not have kissed any women wearing clown-make-up quantities of lipstick.

Gene Weingarten: Uh, you ... guarantee? Hm. This is intriguing.

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Arlington, Va.: I'm in a similar situation with a mini-crush on a woman who works in the office next door to mine. I tend to see her in the parking garage and the hallway, but I don't know how to initiate a conversation. I'd love to see the solution here if that other guy doesn't write back.

Gene Weingarten: It's not the same. He has an advantage over you, in that there is something funny in their constant accidental meetings. He can use that to his advantage.

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Dennis the Menace: You do realize that's an utter ripoff of an old Calvin & Hobbes, right? Calvin misbehaves as usual, the dad says something like "dear, your kid has -insert mischief here] again", mom yells back "MY kid?!? C'mere, lemme explain something to you!"

Gene Weingarten: Now THAT'S funny, because the joke is implied, and sexual.

Dennis was just using the oldest punch line in the world, unimbellished.

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Elizabeth and Anthony:"Of course they have. For what reason do you think they haven't?"

Um, because it would require Elizabeth to be sexually attracted to a complete dork?

At least he's ditched the cheesy 'stache.

Gene Weingarten: They are DATING.

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Wide handicapped parking spaces: The wide handicapped spaces are to provide enough room for a side opening wheel chair ramp.

Gene Weingarten: Or just the maneuvering of a wheelchair, in general.

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Reston, Va - Why is the press not covering...: The fact that Huckabee still thinks the Earth is only 9,000 years old? He doesn't believe in Evolution and thinks the Earth is only 9,000 years old. This goes beyond religious beliefs and says that this man has no belief in common science. Does he not believe in gravity either? Chances are he doesn't believe in dinosaurs if he believes the Earth is 9,000 years old.

Why is this not the lead sentence in every story about him? Until he drops out of the race I would like this tagged on to the end of every story about him. God this blows my mind, and I am a Catholic Republican!

Gene Weingarten: If he were a more serious candidate, you'd see this all over.

What about that woman on The View who isn't sure that the world isn't flat? Course, she's not running for president.

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LED Ligh, TS: The problem with LED lights is that they don't work in "bulb" equivalents that can go in existing fixtures.

LEDs will be much better than fluorescents, but switching to LEDs will involve replacing all your light fixtures.

Gene Weingarten: Well, that'll take some time to be accepted.

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Stupid dogs!: Hey, Gene. Since Dave Barry is a friend of yours, I can't believe you didn't remember this, but one of the funniest columns of his I ever read was right after Hurricane Andrew tore through. He still had Ernest and Zippy, and Andrew had destroyed the screened porch on the back of his house. All that was left was a concrete slab and a door frame with a door in it-- you could step off of the slab into the yard. When he would let the dogs out, they would run to this free-standing door and sit, waiting until someone opened it for them so that they could go out into the yard. If no one opened the door, they would relieve themselves on the porch.

I love dogs!

Gene Weingarten: I knew Earnest and Zippy. Earnest and Zippy were friends of mine. And God were they dumb.

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"If Lincoln were alive today, he'd take one look at the current administration and run screaming.": Take a look at some of the measures Lincoln had to take to win a war that was being fought on US soil...not unlike the current war on terror. Like Bush, Lincoln recognized that an enemy within could be even more lethal.

It's easy to be smug when you're ignorant of history, like the person who made that comment.

Gene Weingarten: Please.

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On the slovenly partner: Do NOT stop cleaning and wait he decides things are messy enough to get around to lifting a scrub brush.

Trust me, your own level of irritation or even outright anger at what doesn't bother him will push you to a bad, bad place.

I tried this approach and ended up with strange org chem experiments in the fridge. Tumbleweeds of cat hair. Laundry piles in several rooms.

We hired someone. I understand this may not be financially feasible for two grad students. I'm sorry that I have no suggestions on how to fix this other than outside help.

Gene Weingarten: Exactly.

My solution will work. He loves her.

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Gene Weingarten: They are DATING.: They're dating in a chaste, unreal world.

You're just testy because I dissed Anthony's 70's-porn-star 'stache.

Gene Weingarten: No, that's a pretty real world. People act like people. People lose their minds to strokes.

They're doing it. I guarantee it. I have emailed Lynn to ask, but I'm sure of it.

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Gene Gene Gene: She who must be obeyed is used in Rumpole of the Bailey but it comes from She by Rider Haggard, I believe

Gene Weingarten: REally?

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Halfti, ME: What'd you think of Tom Petty's performance at the SB?

Gene Weingarten: I'm a fan, but I thought it was really subdued. Almost phoned in.

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Gross: Well I hope you two scrub the shower floor yourselves. I've read about every chat and this is the first time I've been truly disgusted. Toilets are for urine. Shower stalls (I can't even imagine that two functioning, intelligent people would pee in a bathtub so I won't suggest it) are not. Dried urine. How nice.

washingtonpost.com: Dried? It's going down the drain with the rest of the water. What do you shower with -- sawdust?

Gene Weingarten: I am amazed at how many people find this reprehensible.

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Cream Ridge, NJ: If Carolyn married Dan she'd be Ms. Hax-Balz

Gene Weingarten: Indeed!

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Light Bore: Is there anything more boring than a light bulb? I haven't learned anything useful in this chat today, and you're holding back on the tickling secret.

Gene Weingarten: I'm not holding back. You're just not getting any. I mean, getting it.

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To the two guys with office/commute crushes: How about just saying "Hi." Then the next day say "Hi how are you?" Then the next day say something about the weather. Etc. Then soon you are not a stranger. Then you can speak longer. Then let it just develop from there.

Gene Weingarten: This is not bad advice to the second guy. The first guy has a powerful tool he can use, if only he begs me for it.

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Levi 501s: I am a woman and I wear men's Levi's 501 jeans everyday. They fit me better then woman's jeans and the buttons may take a little longer to button but don't take any longer to unbutton which is the important part. I never wear zipper jeans. And one good thing is that you never have to worry that your zipper is down and for men, don't get caught in the zipper.

Gene Weingarten: No guy gets caught in a zipper. That's something about Mary mythology.

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Kissees:"They weren't post columnists. The were just hot women."

One of them is a coworker of mine. I can formally confirm for you that they do not work for The Post.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.

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Gene Weingarten: Okay, we're done. Thank you all. It looks like the discussion group starts next week. Meanwhile, updates as usual.

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UPDATED 2.6.08

Gene Weingarten: Okay, we have to begin with a slight clarification about some assertions I made yesterday, notably that 1) I have never kissed a woman who was wearing lipstick, and 2) that I dislike eye shadow and would not be attracted to a woman who wore it. I can now correct the record after an important post-chat interview with The Rib.

The Rib: You have kissed a woman who was wearing lipstick.

Me: I have?

The Rib: Hundreds of times.

Me: Really? Doesn't it smear?

The Rib: I just wipe it off.

Me: Oh.

The Rib: Also, I will often wear eye shadow.

Me: What? YOU?

The Rib: Yes. Often.

Me: Okay, but I said the kind where you can SEE there is eye shadow.

The Rib: It's a brown shade. Everyone can see it but you, apparently.

Me: Oh.

The Rib: Also, why don't you tell the chatters how it is that I learned that you went around saying I wear no makeup.

Me: I don't remember.

The Rib: I do. It was on the day that I first met Gina. She looked at me and said, "You wear makeup!" And I said .... "uh, what?" She told me that you had told her I wear no makeup, and said that she was expecting to meet Heidi, child of the forest.

Me: Oh.

The Rib: I wear mascara and foundation and eye liner, too.

Me: Oh.

The Rib: Also, you told her I only had six or seven pair of shoes. You apparently forgot the enormous box under the bed with about 60 pair.

Me: Oh.

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Gene Weingarten: Here's an interesting piece in today's Style section, about a planned protest by cartoonists-of-color.

I sympathize with these guys, and many of them produce good strips that are victims of a de facto quota system. But there's a difficult truth that undercuts their argument. In devastating economic times, newspapers are (unwisely, I believe) ruthlessly squeezing the life out of their comics pages. So there is plenty of pandering going on in all directions -- a naked, desperate effort to appeal to every possible perceived constituency -- and that has nothing to do with racism. With limited space, there are quotas for everything. Believe me, the only reason newspapers run the painfully bad Prickly City is that they feel they need to offer a conservative voice on the page, to counterbalance the lefty Doonesbury, Candorville Nonsequitur, etc. The only reason newspapers run Dennis the Menace and Beetle Bailey and Classic Peanuts is to appeal to the oldsters who they believe would feel lost without these mild, mealy things. Family Circus is for very, very young readers, and preposterously stupid adults, and lovers of camp humor. This appeal-to-all-demographics impulse leaves very little room for ANYONE to break into a newspaper.

There is another factor undercutting their argument: For some, the despicable quota system has worked splendidly. The only reason The Post runs the weak Baldo is that the pandering alternative is the weaker La Cucaracha.

It's a pretty bad situation all around.

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Gene Weingarten: Those of you trying to access the chat once it was archived might have noticed that the link to the Great Super Bowl Play had been taken off Youtube, along with every other link to film from that game, due to objections from the NFL. It happened shortly after the chat closed. I don't know this to be true, but am wondering whether the surge of hits to that site alerted the NFL that it had a problem.

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Gene Weingarten: I thank Chris Manteuffel for this fabulous link to a presidential candidate we have tragically overlooked. I don't want to give away anything about Mr. Mercer's platform; you'll want to navigate around this well designed site by yourselves. There's gold on every page.

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Gene Weingarten: Mary Bloodworth got this great bit of scamspam. It's definitely a new wrinkle ---

I am very sorry for you, is a pity that this is how your life is going to end as soon as you don't comply. As you can see there is no need of introducing myself to you because I don't have any business with you, my duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL you and I have to do it as I have already been paid for that.

Someone you call a friend wants you Dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money on this, the person also came to us and told me that he want you dead and he provided us with your name ,picture and other necessary information's we needed about you. So I sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation on you, and they have done that but I told them not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is Important to you or not since their findings shows that you are innocent.

I called my client back and ask him of you email address which I didn't tell him what I wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using it to contact you now. As I am writing to you now my men are monitoring you and they are telling me everything about you.

Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? As someone has paid us to kill you. Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your life, $30,000 is all you need to spend You will first of all pay $15,000 then I will send the tape to you and when the tape get to you, you will pay the remaining $15,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will carry on with my job straight-up.

WARNING: DO NOT THINK OF CONTACTING THE POLICE OR EVEN TELL ANYONE BECAUSE I WILL KNOW.REMEMBER, SOMEONE WHO KNOWS YOU VERY WELL WANT YOU DEAD! I WILL EXTEND IT TO YOUR FAMILY, INCASE I NOTICE SOMETHING FUNNY.

DO NOT COME OUT ONCE IT IS 7:PM UNTIL I MAKE OUT TIME TO SEE YOU AND GIVE YOU THE TAPE OF MY DISCUSSION WITH THE PERSON WHO WANT YOU DEAD THEN YOU CAN USE IT TO TAKE ANY LEGAL ACTION. GOOD LUCK AS I AWAIT YOUR REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL CONTACT

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Gene Weingarten: And we owe Kate Rears for this fine link.

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Durham, N.C.: If Courtney Cox married Bob Uecker, she'd be Courtney Cox-Uecker.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.

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Eloquate: Note this brief from Peter King of Sports Illustrated, as part of his coverage of the Super Bowl:

Quote of the Week III

"We don't really conversate.'' --The real words of New England wideout Randy Moss, on his relationship with coach Bill Belichick.

Sanitized Quote of the Week

"We don't really converse much.'' --Moss, according to the quote sheet produced by the NFL, on his relationship with Belichick.

Gene Weingarten: BOY was that a bad edit. Moss's original quote was much more poetic. Reminds me of Chuck Berry's Maybelline:

As I was motivatin' over the hill

I saw Maybelline in a coup de ville.

A Cadillac a-rollin' on the open road,

Nothin' outrun my v8 Ford. ...

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UPDATED 2.7.08

Anonymous: I love the "Hypochondriac's Guide to Life and Death." The alcoholism test still makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. That book convinced me that I was not a hypochondriac (as my mother claimed). Rather, as a unhappy child, I was more a garden variety malingerer who would take advantage of minor or imagined sickness to lounge in luxury watching the Hollywood Squares. Especially when the option was to go to school and be teased.

Gene Weingarten: I know I onced published this before in the chat, but I'm gonna do it again. This was the single most outrageous thing in the book; so outrageous that the publisher told me he was probably going to cut it for reasons of taste and sensitivity and in the name of civic responsibility. Then he forgot.

The chapter began with my assertion that the standard test for alcoholism, which is written by AA, has waaay too low a threshhold. Asking AA whether you are an alcoholic, I said, is like asking your kid if you need a puppy.

Example: A typical question from the AA quiz is, "Do you ever drink alone?" Another: "Have you ever felt guilty after drinking too much?" According to AA, answering "yes" to both those questions means you are probably an alcoholic.

So here was my Replacement Test, with a scoring guide at the end:

1. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking? Did another drink help?

2. Do you ever drink alone? Are you drinking alone right now? Directly from the bottle? Standing naked in the shower in case you vomit?

3. Do people sometimes criticize you for your drinking? When you attempt to punch them in the face, do you fall down?

4. When you drive drunk, are you generally sober enough to keep one eye closed, so your vision is not double? Good for you!

5. Have you ever "eaten the worm," only to discover that it was not, in fact, the worm, but something else wormlike that happened to be in the vicinity of the bottle, such as an egg sac from a cockroach?

6. Have you ever wakened in an intensive care unit, with uniformed police officers all around you, arguing with doctors who were saying you could not be questioned until you were "out of the woods."?

7. Are you ever slightly embarrassed to discover you have one alcoholic beverage in your hand, one on the table, and a third in a hypodermic syringe you are about to inject straight into your stomach for a better "rush"?

8. Do you sometimes find that you have been made the butt of a sucker bet among your friends, such as whether you will actually drink from the toilet with a flavor straw, for a quarter?

9. At times when no alcohol was available, have you ever consumed other substances because you thought they might contain alcohol, such as naphtha or Massengill Sta-Fresh douche?

10. Have you ever urinated into an empty beer can to avoid having to negotiate your way to the bathroom, and then forgotten you had done this and ... you know? Has this ever happened more than once in the same night? Do you think it might have ever happened and you did not notice?

----

Scoring: You are not an alcoholic.

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Wipe Out: I'll make this as delicate as possible. I have a wiping issue. No matter how much I wipe, I do not see clean white TP. I must return to the scene of the crime later on to complete a wipeout. Is this a medical condition?

Gene Weingarten: I love this chat.

I think this is, indeed, a problem with sphincter flaccidity. I am not sure if there is a cure. Perhaps there is a proctologist within the reach of this phosphorus.

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Gestation, AL: From an article in Metro today on proposed legislation in D.C. mandating paid sick leave. This woman is truly deserving of sick leave.

"Raquel Mack, a 21-year-old security guard, spoke nervously before the crowd while wearing her Allied Security uniform. Her black sweater was stretched to cover her stomach. At 29 months pregnant and with a sickly 3-year-old son, Mack said she needs some assurances that she can take time off to care for herself and her family."

Gene Weingarten: Several alert readers found this.

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Durham, N.C.: Hey Gene, thought you might find this piece of street theater amusing: Frozen Grand Central video.

Check out "Suicide Jumper" also.

Cheers!

Gene Weingarten: This is elegant. But Suicide Jumper is hilarious.

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Birmingham, Ala.: Happy Super Tuesday! I enjoyed the poll, even though it wasn't about humor. But it moves me to write my political confession: I research the positions of the candidates on all the issues, but when push comes to shove in November, I will always vote for a pro-choice candidate (usually the Democrat). Even if that candidate is someone I don't particularly like (such as Hillary). Because the bottom line for me is that I think the most far-reaching impact of any president is the ability to appoint Supreme Court judges, and I cannot abide the thought of another Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia on the highest court in the land. Do you agree with my assessment of the importance of the power to appoint judges?

Gene Weingarten: Observation -- I believe Roe v. Wade will never be overturned. It is in the conservatives' best interests to have this issue unresolved forever, to energize their base. If they actually succeed, the country will hate them. They will lose big time.

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Speaking of candidates: I was reminded by Richard Cohen this morning that Hillary co-sponsored the anti flag-burning bill. For me, that's an automatic disqualification.

Gene Weingarten: That was the thing in that column that spoke best to the Problem With Hillary.

She also voted to keep Terry Schiavo "alive."

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UPDATED 2.8.08

Aptonym: The following appeared Friday on Reg Henry's blog in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, under the title "A great moment in journalism":

...a story written for The New York Times published last Tuesday. The story concerned a bitter dispute that had student journalists at Montclair State University jousting with the student government. Their weekly paper was forced to stop publishing after the student body president, Ron Chicken, froze the paper's financing.

And so it came to pass that the reporter got to write the following sentence, one that a person could spend a whole lifetime in journalism and not have the blessed opportunity to write.

"Mr. Chicken did not return several phone calls seeking comment."

Gene Weingarten: I love this.

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Finger Looking Good: I have gone around my 7-man, 28-woman office with the finger theory. While every man had a longer ring finger, only about a third to a half of the women had longer index fingers.

I got to touch the hands of about 10-15 of the ladies I work with, and that's the most action I've had in over a year.

It works!

Gene Weingarten: Indeed. And this was about the breakdown in the Insta-poll.

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Washington, D.C.: We are frogs in boiling water and your chat is a thermometer. What else should we be annoyed at besides seat recliners?

Gene Weingarten: I love this analogy. Thank you.

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Ugh!: Am I wrong, or is "MSM" the most eye-roll-inducing acronym in alarmingly increasingly common parlance? Please, people who use this acronym, understand that our potential esteem for you falls with each usage.

Gene Weingarten: It bespeaks a certain wide-eyed paranoid lunacy.

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No guy gets caught in a zipper. That's something about Mary mythology.: Uh-huh. Maybe no grown man gets caught in his zipper. One my favorite childhood memories is of my old best friend getting caught in his zipper, tugging, bleeding and not wanting to tell him mom. SInce I've always been terribly helpful, I decided to put toothpaste on it, cuz its what my dad did when he cut himself shaving. But there was no toothpaste, only Listerine.

Good times.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, several guys wrote in to say this is a kid thing. I'll accept that.

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Nairobi, Kenya: A delightful aptonym:

Former council manager Tom McNeil, 52, is claiming at a tribunal hearing he lost his job after revealing two colleagues were involved sexually.

Witness Pat Fraser said she could hear then director of leisure, Brian Woodcock, and a female employee having sex behind a partition screen. Full Story

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.

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Gene Weingarten: I am reliably informed by two seemingly reliable citizens that contrary to what I wrote in yesterday's update, Hillary did NOT vote to keep Terry Schiavo "alive." I was confused, as apparently many others were, by the initial report that the vote was unanimous. It was, but it was unanimous among three people -- the only ones present for the vote -- including the odious Bill Frist. (I originally mistyped that as "idious," and though I changed it I like the new word -- which may be used to describe an odious idiot. However, I changed it because Frist is not an odious idiot. W is idious, however.)

Anyway, sorry, Hillary. My mistake. But I still support Barack.

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Questions? Comments? Direct them to Next Week's Chat.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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