Chatological Humor: Proudly Typing 'Ta-Tas' Since 2001
aka Tuesdays With Moron

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009 12:00 PM

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: MEN | WOMEN

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," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

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.

I must begin with an apology. During a spirited reader discussion in The Gene Pool, the much maligned but worthy bloggish adjunct to this chat, I became aware of something disturbing. The online editorial custodians of the Gene Pool had deleted a number of posts pertaining to Ms. Scarlett Johansson because they contained a word adjudged to be vulgar, vile, lewd, libidinous, lascivious and deeply demeaning to women. At the risk of giving offense, but in the interests of journalism, I must reveal the word here.

It was "ta-tas."

First, I would like to apologize to the world at large for permitting this word to fall upon their unprotected eyes. But more important, this leads directly to:


Okay, good.

Many of the denizens of Chatological Humor know of my regard for the talents of Bill Hicks, the standup comic who died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. Here is a review I wrote about him several years ago. It mentions the fact that David Letterman and CBS had refused to air Hicks's final appearance on the Letterman show, when Hicks was dying but only he knew it. Supposedly, the set pushed too many "hot buttons."

Last week, with Hicks's ma as a guest, Letterman finally aired the routine, and profusely apologized for having withheld it in the first place. It was an amazing bit of theater. Here it is.


I think there might be a theme developing for today's chat, inasmuch as we have THIS link and THIS short clip.


Wait! There's more!

Andrew Hoenig sent this in, a truly fine aptonym: (Hint: Check the byline.)


And finally THIS article from the New York Times that many of you alerted me to.


All right. Please take today's poll (MEN | WOMEN). Only a very limited part of it is about breasts. I think we'll probably wind up discussing these results throughout the chat; I find the results really interesting, so far. Many incipient atheists and vegetarians, and (to me) an unexpected tide of judgment against the overweight.


The Comic Pick of the Week is Sunday's Sherman's Lagoon. First Runner Up is Saturday's Pooch Cafe. Honorable: Sunday's Speed Bump, Saturday's Agnes.


Gene Weingarten: Well, every once in a while we have a comics duplication that seems jaw dropping but is probably just coincidence. Check out these two comics, both of which ran in the last couple of weeks.

Liz, can you link to them?

_______________________ Brevity | Speed Bump


Anonymous: Hi Gene,

I think this might be the best commercial I've seen in a long time.

Gene Weingarten: It's pretty good. But the best ad I've seen is this one, on Super Bowl Sunday.

Liz, please link to the flower ad. Talking Flowers


Not Granny!: As a person with all my lady parts, I would much prefer Elly Clampett. Granny has bad connotations like old, shrivelled, and gray. Yeesch!

Gene Weingarten: Noted.


Land of large breasts: My favorite nickname for breasts wasn't one of your choices - the girls. You can slip it into conversation and someone not listening closely won't catch on to what you are talking about.

On a related note, my favorite nickname for a bra came from the movie "Beaches". Bette Midler sings a song that refers to the "over the shoulder boulder holder".

Gene Weingarten: Well, I was not using favorite old cliched nicknames. I was using brand new nicknames.


Rockville: No comment. You have stepped on enough toes with the poll - and a brave one at that.

I will just see who attacks first.

Gene Weingarten: It's coming up!


Baltimore: Gene,

Seriously, how is it possible to be a "racist" because you didn't vote for Obama. I didn't vote for Kerry, Gore or Clinton, either - is it possible that some people just don't want liberal presidents?

Gene Weingarten: Right here.


Arlington, Va.: Women in miniskirts shouldn't complain about getting ogled. In fact, they should be grateful.

In the words of Carolyn Hax, wow.

I don't know what's scarier: the fact the WaPo allows your garbage (as "ironic" or "funny" or "dry" as it's supposed to be) to be printed while cuts are happening to people of quality, or the fact that men seem to be agreeing with the sentiment above.

I have a friend who is wildly liberal, and most of the time I think that she is so liberal that she's swung around and become wildly conservative. I think the same can be said of you, if you believe that statement above.

Gene Weingarten: I will try to be a better person in the future.


Lagoonville, Md.: Sherman's Lagoon as CPOW? I think this is a first....

We have a week without you, and no CPOW two weeks ago, and now Sherman...? are you losing your touch? Or did the magazine cover story you've been working on deadened your sense of humor?

Gene Weingarten: This is an excellent day for Sherman. It is about the meaning of life.


Metro Center: Here we go again - even though I am on my lunch hour while this chat is happening, and can read it in real time, I am still on my office computer in my little cube. As such, I can't watch any of the video.

Seriously, what percentage of the audience can actually watch the video? The emphasis on video links lately has made this chat a LOT less fun and interesting.

Gene Weingarten: I think we have determined that roughly half the readers can do the video. I have two observations:

Does no one have head phones?


Is it not possible to watch later, at home?

This is a video friendly world.


Baltimore, Md.: Re the divorce of comics from the real world: I may be overly sensitive, having spent my working life in advertising, PR and marketing, but the rent plot development in Sally Forth has me blind, or least nearsighted, with rage. For those not regular readers, Sally was moved from being co-manager of her company's HR Dept. to being marketing manager. What?!?! No wonder American business is in such trouble -- people with no previous demonstrable experience in a pretty complex line of work are suddenly put in charge of it.

Seriously, does the guy now drawing strip know nothing about how the real world works? I swear a couple of years ago there was a storyline about HR being unprofitable. If it were profitable, that would be a miracle.

Gene Weingarten: Wow. Well, I admit this line of thinking had not occurred to me. I like the storyline, as a storyline; the dysfunctional marketers are funny.


Re: Talking flowers: Ugh, Gene, you liked that ad? Who does that appeal to? Hate the romance novel, cat cliches. Bad bad bad.

Gene Weingarten: It contained the line: "Nobody wants to see you naked."


Arlington, VA : wow. Most commentators I have seen, including the WP's Paul Fahri have come out strongly against the flower ad as needlessly cruel and stupid.

Gene Weingarten: What???

Cruel to whom? A fictional character?


Durati, ON: Gene Weingarten: I will try to be a better person in the future.

Yes, but for how long?

Gene Weingarten: I've stopped trying.


Old Dog Story: One final toss for The Dooze: Here's a pretty good <a href='">story</a> about the life of this <a href='">dog</a>.

Here's an excerpt:

Last winter, my wife became convinced something was wrong with The Dooze. She was definitely looking older, but geez, she had just turned 5, and we kept her in phenomenal shape. How could anything be wrong? Was she depressed because we had our second child and weren't giving her enough attention? The only weird part was Rufus was sniffing her a lot. (We realized later he was doing that for a specific reason. Dogs know. They always know.) One night, we noticed The Dooze's eyes looked blue. Blue? We took her in to the animal hospital and they worried it was glaucoma or even something worse. They ran some tests on her. Within a few days, we were on the phone with a doctor who told us grimly that The Dooze had stage-5 lymphoma. That led to this exchange:

Us: "Stage 5? How many stages are there?" Doc: "Five."

Gene Weingarten: Yep, I saw this. Beautifully written.


Just so you know : I asked her; she challenged you.

"Lisa de Moraes: I know, where else can you go online to discuss crotch licking?": While at work? Just Weingarten, I guess.

Lisa de Moraes: Weingarten wouldn't dare have a chat about crotch licking. You tell him I said so....

Gene Weingarten: I am sorry, but we are currently into breasts. I cannot waste time on crotchlicking.


Chicago, Ill.: Stephen Colbert and Kanye West do not belong on the same list with the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus -- especially Kanye, who revolutionized an entire genre, creating a new and extremely influential sound for hip-hop beats. Even though I disagree, I can see how you can judge Stephen Colbert, since the two of you are kind of in the same business. He may be an egotistical blowhard, but nobody who listens to hip-hop could call Kanye West talentless.

Gene Weingarten: Um. So, listen.

The majority of you DO realize that these were deliberate indefensible statements, right? Right. Good.


Mini Skirt: Wearing a mini skirt is done for one reason. To get attention. Is it right for guys to ogle? Not so much. Will guys ogle, you're dang skippy.

Do I find it gross and creepy when guys are staring down a chick in a short short skirt? Yes. Do I do the same as covertly as possible. Yes.

Gene Weingarten: This is correct.

I do think that if a woman in a miniskirt finds herself covertly and discretely ogled, she has no right to complain. Obviously, the "grateful" went too far.


Bill Hicks: I happened upon that Letterman thing. At first I thought the old southern woman was Lily Ledbetter but then I figured it out. Anyway, what was with all the gay jokes? I've heard Bill Hicks is awesome and great and amazing, and just never got around to listening to him much yet. jokes? Groundbreaking? I don't get it. Some of the set was very funny, but I don't know about that part of it.

Gene Weingarten: What was not funny about the gay joke? It was the audience that initially misinterpreted it. He was discussing a double standard. He was SHOCKED at Daddy's New Roommate, but kinda LIKED Heather's Two Mommies....


New York, N.Y.: I had the Sherman's Lagoon conversation with the wife this weekend. The disagreement in question concerned the lyrics to "Centerfield." She insisted it was "Put me in cold." I disagreed stating that 1) this made no sense; 2) even through Fogarty's accent, he clearly says "coach" a number of times; and 3) every web site with lyrics has "coach."

She agreed to disagree. YES!

Gene Weingarten: I heard it as put me in cold. He sings it, initially, as put me in cold.

And yet....

Clearly, it's coach. That's what the lyrics say.


CPOW: Not only is the link to today's comic, the drop-down menu to navigate to another day does not provide Sunday as an option. It skips from 1/31 to 2/2. Let me try that again.

Gene Weingarten: ARgh. Sorry. No wonder people were confused.


RE:The Poll: "The majority of you DO realize that these were deliberate indefensible statements, right? Right. Good."

So much so that I was unable to take the poll. I disagreed with them all, but there was a grain of truth to several, but no so much that I could bring myself to check the little button. I am a wimp

Gene Weingarten: You are! I checked many. Including ogle. Including breast feed. More on this in a moment.


W. Hyattsville: I found another great name while flipping channels Saturday. There is a 19-year-old professional bull rider named... Ryan Dirteater. It's his real name-he is of Cherokee descent and from Oklahoma.

Gene Weingarten: Holy Crap! You're right. Liz, can we link to this guy?

Gene Weingarten: And the name is real. This is his high school class. Ryan Dirteater (Professional Bull Riders Inc.)


Spelling Police: I do think that if a woman in a miniskirt finds herself covertly and discretely ogled,

I do believe the term is "discreetly."

Gene Weingarten: It is. Typo. Sorry.


Poll land: Is it possible to, say, think that Bush was both a near-great president AND a terrible president? In other words, a tweak here and/or there in him could have turned clusterfrak into clusterfun.

Gene Weingarten: And if my grandpa had a Granny Clampett, he'd be my grandma.


3 girls, 3 guys all under 35: And we all voted the flowers ad the best, because it contained the line "nobody wants to see you naked."

It's flowers sent by a loving guy but he screwed up trying to do something right (really, at least half the joke is right there) so the flowers are heckling a clearly pretty and shapely woman.

Absolutely funny.

Gene Weingarten: I don't understand any objection to this ad. Also the last line is great.


Washington, D.C.: For the one statement that I do not agree with I chose the one about gay marriage and sheep. Afterwards I wasn't sure if I read it correctly. I am for gay marriage. Just very against bestiality.

Gene Weingarten: I was surprised at the number of people who sorta agreed with this one, since its intent (in terms of being stupidly provocative) was to equate homosexuality with bestiality.

So here's an interesting question to throw out there: Philosophically, what's wrong with bestiality, assuming the animal is not being raped/injured, and doesn't seem to mind? The perp might well be sick or nuts, but is this immoral or unethical?


Richmond, Va.: I do have headphones, but my government office monitors excessive surfing and especially the visitation of video sites.

I read the chat during my lunch break and then usually come back in the morning, with my cup of coffee at home, and visit all the links to comics, articles, videos, etc.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Today's poll: Interesting poll. I thought it was funny that a statement with which I actually agree 100 percent was in there: "If you're not willing to slaughter and butcher an animal yourself, you have no moral right to eat its meat."

I actually believe this for myself (wouldn't impose the same standards on others). I don't butcher my own meat for the same reason that I don't make my own clothing or assemble my own car - specialization is a good thing. But I really, truly will not eat anything that I wouldn't be willing to kill and butcher. And I eat just about all kinds of meat.

And I'm also disturbed that people (at least in this point in the poll) are SO anti-Bush that they find him being "near great" more disagreeable than breastfeeding and pooping being the same.

Gene Weingarten: Well, you have to remember that we are not really seeking total agreement; we are seeking agreement in principle. I agree with the breastfeeding and pooping in principle, meaning that I think that women breastfeeding in public can make people uncomfortable. It forces one to look away. I think it is a somewhat rude and aggressive thing to do, unless circumstances really require it.

I am ready to be pilloried here.


The Arctic: Gene, you have to prove me right on this. My husband has appropriated one of your jokes, and claims that HE told me that joke first, instead of the other way around.

I told him, a long time ago, how one of your friends told you that "you look prosperous" as a euphemism for "you've gained weight". We both thought it was really funny. Now he is claiming that he thought of this "prosperous" euphemism all by himself. (The nerve.)

I've searched all through your archives to find this phrase in your chats, but couldn't find it.

Normally we wouldn't bicker about something this trivial, but we're both sleep-deprived zombies because we have a 2-year-old and a newborn baby, so we're constantly competing about which one of us has lost the most brain cells.

I gave up a precious 45 minutes of sleep to search your archives for this, so you just HAVE to answer me, and if you do, I promise I will purposely start wearing VPL this spring. For you.

Gene Weingarten: Yes. It was said to me by Steve Landers, my former editor at the Detroit Free Press, when he met me several years after I had lef the paper.

A brilliant euphemism. I am sure I shared it here some time back. Liz, can you find? I am not sure I mentioned Landers by name at the time. It's in the 4/25 update here.


Rockville, Md.: The inherent problem with this week's poll (and any poll containing political musings) is that respondents seem to answer politics-related questions untruthfully. I contend that they do this not because they genuinely believe those answers are the best/worst/most truthful (or whatever the poll asks of them), but because they want to believe they think a certain way.

I am especially perturbed at the number who (so far) responded that "If you ask me, Barack Obama has already proven that he's not up to the job" is not truthful. If you examine his two-week-old record, it is evident he has not proven he's up to the job. Answering that question the opposite way does not suggest you are anti-Barack or Republican in any way, but I think the typical Weingarten reader/chat participant wants to think a certain way and so does not answer truthfully. More evidence: There are far more less truthful statements listed than "It's time to finally admit that George W. Bush was a "near great" president" yet that is (as of this writing) the most popular response.

Gene Weingarten: You have pretty complicated syntax in there, kid: "...far more less truthful..." but I understand your point.

Don't agree with it though. How can anyone concluded that Obama has so far shown himself unfit for office??


Post Mortems, Va.: Gene, What did you think of this weekend's Style Invitational results, the poetry about people who died in 2008? Several were sad or sweet or poignant but not necessarily funny. Death is supposed to be funny, right? Style Invitational: Week 802, (Post, Jan. 31)

Gene Weingarten: I think these results are funny, the winner in particular. The only unfunny thing is the way the website parcels this out, in maddeningly short bits.


Madoff: I'm not hugely familiar with the ins and outs of the Madoff scandal. That said, it sounds like he just took advantage of people's greed. The people that invested with him wanted a super-duper lock-down get rich quick return. Don't those people need to take some of the blame here? It's not like they were investing in stocks/bonds/CDs. Am I way off base here?

Gene Weingarten: Yes, you are way off base. He destroyed worthwhile charities and defrauded personal friends. Among his victims was the Elie Wiesel foundation.

He is a dreadful, amoral, shameless man.

It's very easy in hindsight to say that people should have suspected, but it is the nature of investment to seek out the best deals with a firm you believe to be reputable. I don't blame the victims here.


Beastiality?: The problem is, an animal cannot consent therefore it is immoral.

Gene Weingarten: Well, okay. I mean, we are entering a speculative world here, and I do wish to repeat that I do not condone this, but, to argue the case:

The animal can consent, in a way we all understand. A dog consenst to have his belly rubbed.


The difference: Gene wrote: Philosophically, what's wrong with bestiality, assuming the animal is not being raped/injured, and doesn't seem to mind?

That's the thing --- how do you KNOW the animal doesn't mind? Just because it's not struggling or trying to get away doesn't mean it wants to be doing what's going on. Rape victims have been known to tell that they eventually submitted to keep from being injured further. It's an animal; it can't communicate explicitly with you; therefore you can't be certain how it's receiving your actions. That's not right. Let's go back to talking about ta-tas.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha.


Manassas: "Gene Weingarten: I heard it as put me in cold. He sings it, initially, as put me in cold."


I remember hearing the song when it first came out. I never heard anything other than "coach". "Cold"? it doesn't even come close to sounding like "cold".

But then again, I don't think what sounds like squat.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, Liz, can you link to Fogarty singing "Centerfield"? We are talking about the first time he says "Put me in coach." I hear "cold." Which makes sense as much as coach does.

_______________________ Video: Centerfield


Breastfeeding: I'm not grossed out by women breastfeeding. I'm a woman, I have breasts, it's nothing new to me. But I do feel like I must look away because I don't want the mother to -think- I'm paying her any more attention than I would to anyone else around me. I do not think it's "rude and aggressive"--unless she's sitting there totally topless, and no one does that.

Gene Weingarten: Okay.

Why is this something that is necessary to do? Do you realize it raises the discomfort level around you? It does.


Vegetarian?: I saw in your introduction that you believe the polltakers are "incipient atheists and vegetarians." I didn't answer the way I did about meat-eating necessitating being willing to butcher your own food because I'm a vegetarian; I answered that way because I -have- butchered my own food. Chickens, anyway. Really, everyone should do it once if they eat meat, but that doesn't mean they should just not eat meat.

Gene Weingarten: I feel like a hypocrite for eating meat.


Not cold: Fogerty want's to start the game in CF. Put me in cold implies that he's coming off the bench. I've never, ever heard it as "put me in cold."

Gene Weingarten: How do we know he wants to start the game?


Aggressive?: I was going to let someone else wade into these murky waters but it's bugging me. How is breastfeeding in public an act of aggression? Rude, I understand how you could think that... but aggressive?

Gene Weingarten: Because you have made a decision to discomfit other people for your own convenience. I don't want to make too much of this. It is a mild to middlin' discomfiture, but it is discomfiture.


Herndon, VA: The other day, I was snaking my way through the security line at Dulles Airport behind a drop-dead gorgeous woman. She wasn't wearing a mini-skirt but was no less oogleable. I suspect most men would oogle her no matter what she wore, such is the capacity of man's imagination to remove her clothing.

While I could have stared at her magnificent curves from behind without fear of reproach for several minutes, I chose instead to watch the men moving in the opposite direction as She passed them from the other side of the line.

Every man stared at her. Every man. I've since made a concerted effort not to stare at women anymore.

Gene Weingarten: The worst thing is the 180 degree head swivel after passing a woman who is walking in the opposite direction. I have done it, do not anymore. It is bad. I have known shame.


New York, N.Y.: not a native New Yorker, so this may explain it, but I just heard for the first time the word "hondle" (meaning to bargain or haggle). Is this Yiddish? I've tried looking it up online but am not finding anything definitive.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I think so. I grew up with it, and a Yiddish speaking granny.


Indianapolis: Re Bill Hicks, it's nice that Letterman admitted the mistake. Interesting to note that unlike today, they don't make the audience applaud after every joke.

Gene Weingarten: I found the routine, in general, to be good but weak for Hicks. I thought the whole "Hunt and kill Billy Ray Cyrus" didn't work very well.


Pops! breastfeeding: When I was sleep deprived in early mom-hood, I whipped out a breast to feed my daughter and my dad left so fast he practically left a dad-shaped hole in the wall.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.


Breastfeeding: So if I'm out in public with my one month old, and he decides he is hungry and starts bawling, what do I do? -- Give him a power bar? -- Tell him to wait until we get home, no matter how long that takes? -- Nurse him in a public bathroom? Would you eat your lunch in a public bathroom?

Or should I never leave the house now that I am a mother, since some infants need to nurse every 1.5-2 hours?

Gene Weingarten: You breastfeed if you must. This is a class B rudeness misdemeanor. Just don't pretend that it gives no discomfort to others.


Breastfeeding: Gene, I will only accept your discomfort at breastfeeding if you accept my discomfort at men constantly adjusting their packages in public. Do you guys not realize how obvious it is? Plus it just makes you look like perverts.

Gene Weingarten: Agreed. Deal.


Hypocrite: "Because you have made a decision to discomfit other people for your own convenience."

Like bumper tapping or taking over your small alley space to make a bigger backyard for yourself?

Gene Weingarten: Correct.

Hey, did I ever update on the backyard thing? Lawyers determined that the homeowners owned the alley. We were simply reclaiming our own property.


Similar to ogling: Boyfriend and I got in a fight about honking at people who are (usually) running on the side of the street. He only does it to females and only to people he thinks looks funny. I think this is worse than staring. you?

Gene Weingarten: I think it scares people. I think it is awful.


Greater Green Bay, Wis.: For what it's worth, my wife refers to her parts as Tom, Dick and Harry (Tom and Dick are the upper two).

Gene Weingarten: That's nice.


Stephen Colbert : is the funniest person on television.

Gene Weingarten: I like Colbert, but he does one thing. He does it very well, but I do not consider him the funniest person on television. I'm not sure who that would be, though. Maybe Louis CK, on comedy central, doing standup?


McLean: Gene,

Are you done writing the latest opus? Did it take so long because it was a difficult, complicated assignment, or was the delay more attributable to writer's block?

I have a clock question. Our mechanical generic regular type clock was running a bit fast, so I turned the hands counterclockwise to set the right time. Ever since, the hands have not kept time. Is the fix something simple that I can do? Such as, for instance, tightening the nut that holds on the clock hands? Or is this an issue for a clock shop? I have some small tools that should fit the nut on the clock.

Gene Weingarten: Finishing the Opus this week. The hardest story I've ever done.

Never, ever turn the hands of a mechanical clock backwards. You have probably done damage to the gears, and need to get it to a fixer person.


Anonymous: Sometimes it's just too easy: Weed Makes Court Appearance, (KOAT Albuquerque)

Gene Weingarten: Indeed.


cellphonebreastfeeed: How is yammering into a cell phone in public acceptable if breastfeeding quietly is not? Breastfeeding is passive. If a passerby must actively take offense. A cell phone conversation, on the other hand, can offend everyone in earshot: bystanders cannot look away or fail to notice. I'd rather be seated at a table next to a breastfeeder than a Bluetoother.

Gene Weingarten: I never said it was acceptable. I agree.


boyfriend who honks at people: That is insanely rude. And it's scary. You should break up with him. I'm not kidding.

Gene Weingarten: I kinda agree with this.


J'accuse: Gene, you are so didactic. Or dogmatic. Or something.

Gene Weingarten: It's a combination of didactic and pedantic. Not dogmatic.


Catonsville: But for a nursing mother, it raises the discomfort level in her immediate vicinity to an unbearable level to NOT nurse (in public or otherwise). The baby is crying and your Mommies/ta-tas (I forget--what was the winner?) are hurting and leaking and every single hormone in your body is screaming out to take care of the issue in the way that nature intended. How it makes other people in the vicinity feel doesn't really enter into the equation.

Gene Weingarten: Okay. Then go for it. That's an honest position.


Arlington, Va.: Wow, your readers seem to think that it's more unlikely that George W will be a near great presient than those not voting for Obama are racist. If Iraq stabilizes, and becomes an anchor for democracy in the Middle East, I think Bush supporters would at least have an argument that he was near great. Does anyone really have an argument that McCain voters are all racist?

Gene Weingarten: If Iraq stabilizes and becomes an anchor for democracy in the Middle East (I don't think many Middle East experts will give this much credence) then Bush will have avoided being considered a failure.

The remainder of his malfeasances will assure that he will never be elevated to "near great," or anywhere close.


Mini Skirts: Just checking: you don't really believe that women in mini skirts should be grateful for ogling, right? I'd be heartbroken if you did.

- A hot 27 year old woman who never wears mini skirts but hates being ogled

Gene Weingarten: I would answer yes to that question, but "grateful" is the exaggeration too far. I do contend that if you wear a miniskirt, you are trying to be looked at and should not be freaked out or annoyed if it happens.

There is also a fine line between "ogling" and "harassing."


Georgetown: Gene,

What is Sally Jenkins' relationship to The Post? I only see her columns occasionally, but I don't see them elsewhere, so assume she's a Post employee. Her column today was great - I loved the insinuation (if that's the right word) threaded throughout the story.

Gene Weingarten: Yep, she is a Post columnist, and yes, this piece had the right tone. I was making a similar point in yesterday's Gene Pool. The self-righteousness being shown in the responses to Phelps's predicament is ridiculous. He's a young person, doing what young people do. And what our president did at his age, only to have emerged not so bad.


For a Human Press Fo, UR: Ever notice that when a large, faceless, moronic bureaucracy (say, the DC tax and flogging office) puts you on hold, they'll ask you to type in some personal identification number "to expedite your case." But then when you finally get a human, the first thing they ask is for that same personal identification number -- which you can then hear them typing in! What was the point of me typing it in the first place? To make me feel as if there's some progress?

Gene Weingarten: This happens to me every single time.


Yorba Linda, CA: Last chat you gave your list of (sound) reasons for despising Ben Stein and holding no sympathy for roughing him up in print.

Having just seen Frost/Nixon, I have a similar question for you. Any sympathy for Richard Nixon? I'm 32, so obviously I'm asking as someone who did not live through his presidency. Taking into account his post-presidency isolation (which is the one thing that might begin to make me feel for him) but lack of real confession or contrition, do you feel any spark of sympathy for him?

(I'm avoiding any comment on the matter and just laying this out there. On the heels of the movie and the end of the Bush presidency, it seemed like an appropriate question.)

Gene Weingarten: Nixon is probably our most controversial president; a very smart man, a very able statesman. Even George McGovern eventually concluded that he was an effective president. But if you lived through the Watergate years, it's hard to forgive him for the way he stained the presidency. He surrounded himself with thugs and they trampled on the Constitution, which is an unforgivable sin. Also he was a bizarre paranoiac who wielded his power to punish his perceived enemies.

It's been argued that Clinton dishonored the White House, but his sin was paltry in comparison.


Gene Weingarten: So for those of you who listened to Centerfield just now: No one heard "cold"?


Silver Spring, Md.: Holy cow. you're not serious about the breastfeeding, are you? There is no way to live a normal life and not have to breastfeed in public. When the baby is hungry, he's hungry - I can't drive home, and I certainly won't BF in the bathroom - so where does that leave me? And frankly, most women can do it so discretely that no one notices or sees any breast. A low cut shirt shows more.

Sigh. Now I sound like a la leche league militant. I'm not - really!

Gene Weingarten: I know one woman very, very, very well who never breastfed in public, and who breastfed both kids.


He honks at people he thinks look funny?: Does he walk up to people on the street and tell them they look funny? BEcause this is the same thing. Seriously, break up with this jerk.

Gene Weingarten: It's not the same thing. It's much more cowardly and obnoxious to do it from the safety of a car.


Breasts: That was me. I got edited. Am I banned for life? I chose the word because I love the phrase bodacious ta-tas. I didn't realize there was a hyphen when I first posted. BTW I am a lady (well female anyway).

Gene Weingarten: No, you are beloved. And thank you. Your point about Ms. Johansson was well taken.


Put Me, IN: "Put me in coach" makes no sense. Who would volunteer to give up a first-class seat?

Oh, you meant "Put me in, Coach."

As for breastfeeding in public, my wife did this, discreetly, for both of our sons. Not for me, not for the public, but for my sons.

My job was to shield her as much as possible from view, and glower at any one who dared pay attention.

Gene Weingarten: Precisely. You were forcing people to look away.


Washington, D.C.: Did you hear about the Comcast Arizona gaffe? They apparently aired about 30 seconds of a porn movie featuring, uh, the Ayatollah, during the Super Bowl and are so "appalled" that they will pay every "affected" customer $10 for their pain and suffering.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah. I am just wondering how this happened.


Cold/coach : I've always heard cold. According to every lyrics site I have checked it is "coach."

Gene Weingarten: Oh, it IS coach. I am not debating that. I am just saying he cuts off the word so it becomes cold, at least the first time. Does anyone actually hear an articulated "coach" the first time?


You were forcing people to look away. : Isn't that the purpose of a particular Mazda 323?

Gene Weingarten: Touche.


Washington: "So if I'm out in public with my one month old"

Let's stop right there. Just don't take your one month old out. What's wrong, the baby's cramping your lifestyle. These are the type of people who take their babies to bars. Arrrghh!

Have kids at your expense, not mine. If you like breast feeding in public, then you better like me taking out my phone camera. Public domain baby

Gene Weingarten: Uh. I disagree with this totally. Creep.

Just for the record.


Washington, D.C. : The woman with the honking boyfriend (hehe) should heed the advice of the chat. Gene, you told me a few weeks ago that it wasn't going to work with the guy I was dating who was directionally challenged but who wouldn't take my advice even though I knew where we were going. It didn't work out on a lot of levels, but all roads lead to that behavior. Well done. I'll submit my next boyfriend for review.

Gene Weingarten: Happy to help.


Bestiality: How come we can kill animals, but we can't have sex with them?

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.


I don't know why I'm surprised: But did the people sending in outraged comments not read your column? Or somehow how miss the part about intentionally making ridiculously ignorant, provocative statements?

And are they just ignoring the rest of the statements they're not writing about, or does that mean they agree with them?

Gene Weingarten: It's been odd, hasn't it? People will object to one thing, and then not notice that I also said that it's impossible to be allergic to peanuts.


Breaking news: Daschle withdraws nomination. Is this really necessary?

Gene Weingarten: Wow!

His big sin was not telling the Obama team. A real jerko move.


Gene Weingarten: Okay, thank you all, and apologies to all who now believe I am a misogynist.

There will be no updates this week while I continue to obsess over my story, and then back to the normal schedule.


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