Good afternoon.

Where to begin? Not the State of the Union address, which Trump is apparently going to live stream, with a running scrawl, the names of his campaign donors. There’s really nothing that needs to be said about that suppurating sore in the Oval Office, a venue he has turned into a Clenched Circle Office.

Hey, you know what would be cool? People getting together and, under a hashtag something like BoycottTheBum, vowing not to watch the SOTU? Can you imagine how steamed The Marmalade Mussolini would be if his viewership numbers are less than his predecessors?

In my column on Sunday, retelling old science-related jokes as poems (I call them “pokes’) there was a last-minute substitution. The aspirin joke was not originally in there. It had to be shoveled in ( fear the haste shows, in questionable meter) because the original poke I had written was deemed offensive and insensitive by Post editors. You are going to get to vote on whether it was! Isn’t that exciting. I present this quesion without grumpiness or rancor. I’m genuinely curious about how the reader feels.

This was the original poke:

What mean the letters “DNA”? I asked a science guy.

“Deoxyribonucleic acid” he said, in quick reply.Then I asked my smartass friend, over a libation–With a smirk, he said: the “National Dyslexics Association.”

— So, there you have it. A one-question Instapoll.

Should this poem have been edited out?

Yes, it was insensitive and / or offensive.

Yes, probably, though it wasn’t that bad.

No, it should not have been edited out, but it does have a small taste problem.

No, there was nothing wrong with this. It should have run as is.

So remember how last week I corrected on Twitter a woman holding a #MeToo type sign with a misspelling, and caught some flak for it online and in the chat?

It was a lesson in areas not to be messed with. What could be more sensitive than the #MeToo movement?

Um. Two days ago I saw a tweet urging people to observe #HolocaustRememberanceDay. My hackles were raised, but as you can imagine, I held my tongue.

Haha. Just kidding. I righteously pointed it out as being a further affront to the dead. Not much flak this time!

And finally, I just learned something remarkable. Some history:

When my kids were still pooping in their pants, we used to go out and buy “diapers.” Period. It was not until my kids were teenagers that diaper companies began marketing two different products: one for girls and one for boys. I thought this a remarkably smart, slap-to-the-forehead idea that came decades too late. The heaviest padding was in different places, to account for you know.

I have just discovered that most or all diaper companies now have gone back to just “diapers.” No gender split. Anyone know why?

Okay, take the poll, and the instapoll above. We chat at noon.

I trust that you read the NYT article about people “buying” Twitter followers. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times has been suspended for doing so, while the paper investigates the issue. Many seem to think it’s no big deal, and he shouldn’t even have been reprimanded. I think it reflects on his credibility and, especially at this time when folks are itching to condemn even the best media outlets for “fake news,” what he did showed poor judgment and calls into question his integrity, regardless of how stupid I think most Twitter nonsense is. Your thoughts?

He will probably argue that he did it to increase his reach, and improve his “brand” and that benefits the newspaper. There may be some small benefit (but most of these “followers” are bogus and follow nothing) and it WOULD hype his brand, but it’s doing so fraudulently. He deserved the punishment. They could even have fired him.

Hey, I could improve my brand by paying people $5 to write “the brilliant gene weingarten” so it pops up at the top of search results. But it’s dishonest and I’d deserve to be punished. Same queasy deal.

Sorry, Gene, but it’s just wrong for a judge to call it an “honor and privilege” to sentence someone. It could be grounds for an appeal. In sentencing, a judge should be dispassionate, meting out punishment that pays back society, is commensurate with the crime, and (if possible) rehabilitates. “Honor and privilege” sounds like vengeance, not justice.
In no way do I think the sentencing is out of line, but when the judge says what she did, she’s opening the door to having the case retried.

This is exactly how I feel. More people agree with us than I expected. You put it very well: Justice should seem dispassionate, uninflamed, and fair. She got the fair part but screwed up on the first part two parts. There is a reason in this country that we listen to victim impact statements, but do not allow the victim to choose the sentence. That injects an element of emotion and vengeance into what should be an emotionless meting out of justice.

Yes, it might be overturned. Not the conviction, but the sentence. Probably not, though, because of politics.

I’ll bet if you took the 50 most respected judges in the country, not one would say that what this judge did was appropriate.

Hi Gene,
I’m a 38-year-old woman who has hearted you for many years, but let me take a turn as the curmudgeon and explain why you are wrong, or skirting the precipice of wrong, in your concerns about the #MeToo movement. (All credit here to Rebecca Traister and Rebecca Solnit, from whose incredibly eloquent writing I’ve learned the finer points of these arguments.)
I voted “fire him” for almost all of the poll questions, and here’s why: we are not just dealing with an issue of one individual’s actions towards another individual. We are not even dealing solely with sexual predation on a widespread level. We are dealing with economic discrimination against women as a class. This isn’t just about whether one dude makes mild comments on women’s physical appearances; it’s about the fact that he clearly does not view them as equals, and he will be involved in determining their advancement at his company. It’s not just about what four bros say at the happy hour down the street after work; it’s about the fact that these men clearly view their female colleagues as sex objects, and are therefore much less likely to foster those colleagues’ advancement in that company, whether through formal promotions or the informal networks of relationships that are proven to be crucial for career advancement.
On a level playing field, the hypothetical offenses in the poll could certainly be dealt with less harshly based on whether they might have offended or hurt a particular individual. But the whole point of this movement is that women are manifestly not on a level playing field, and this kind of behavior is one of the many reasons why. That is also why I stated in the poll that I would behave less harshly towards a female employee who committed these offenses against male employees, and I fully stand behind that decision. Absent the weight of millennia of patriarchy, the specific circumstances of each case might not warrant such a strong response – but we are staggering underneath that weight, and it does need to be taken into account in each specific scenario. I personally was sad to see Al Franken leave the Senate, but I also believe completely that it had to be done if we are going to stop tolerating sexual and economic discrimination against 50% of the population. Don’t tell me that Franken was the only person in the whole state of Minnesota capable of advancing Democratic policies. I’m sure we can find somebody who has not put their hands on other people’s butts without permission.
Another point which applies to this chat in particular is the use of language that makes the consequences to the perpetrators seem greater than it is. These men have not “disappeared,” they are not “casualties,” they have not been denied due process (a term that refers to legal issues only, not to the loss of a job), they have not been “executed without a trial,” “put in front of a firing squad,” “torn apart by a mob,” or any of the other tortured, hysterical analogies that are used to make this movement seem unfair. They have lost their high-paying jobs and had their reputations (deservedly) ruined. That’s the penalty countless women face when they find themselves sexually harassed or assaulted in a professional context, whether they choose to report and face retaliation or choose not to report and must find their own way out of the situation, often at the cost of their own careers. I love a good metaphor as much as any avid reader, but in this situation these analogies are being used specifically to push back against the success of this movement and to insinuate that these abusers are somehow paying too high a price for their behavior. I have absolutely no sympathy for the suggestion that it’s somehow a bad thing for men in the workplace to now do what women have always done, which is take responsibility for how other people will interpret their behavior. Cry me a damn river.

This is a fair and well reasoned point, but I disagree with it, as do most of the female poll respondents, based on their answers. The reason is complicated.

Yes, there is a deterrence factor in criminal sentencing in this country, but it is considered the least important factor. The most important factor is fairness to the defendant. Americans in general frown on imposing harsh sentences to “make an example of him,” because, well, it even SOUNDS unfair. I don’t think we should be thinking that way. It’s cruel.

I think the message is getting through loud and clear without firing every last perp for crimes of thoughtless insensitivity.

For the record, I would give the third choice — a reprimand in the file — to everyone in the poll. Where I differ is that I think I might make the violation known (or at least reasonably summarized) for just the reason you eloquently stated. Everyone has a right to know what sort of behavior will result in what sort of punishment. I waver only on punishment in the case of Tommy the Tongue. His misbehavior was pure and simple assault. A very serious workplace crime. The fact that he appears to have learned his lesson and is crime free for 15 years is very important, though. But is it enough to escape suspension? I think so but I am not sure. He did something very bad.

You might be surprised, but I agree with you on the gender reversal question. I’d be more lenient to the women perp for basically the reason you state: Women are more vulnerable to this sort of abuse than men are, and more badly affected by it (I am generalizing, I admit. Men COULD be badly hurt, but I think it would happen less often.) And women are the historically marginalized gender. So unless the effects of her actions were manifestly bad, I would go easier on a woman so accused.

I can attest that writing that phrase would never, ever occur to me.


Last week you asked how we can know that we all see blue the same way: “Would we even know if someone else’s blue is our green?” I dug up my philosophy textbook from 5 decades ago and it uses the same two colours in its discussion of this age-old question. I would go further: maybe the inner sensations I get from seeing something blue are the ones you get from feeling heat. So why do people uncritically accept that a six-year-old boy can know that he feels like a girl inside. How could he possibly know that? For that matter, how can you, Gene Weingarten, be sure that your internal feelings aren’t actually those of women? As I’m sure you know, not all psychiatrists buy into this transgender stuff, so we can’t say that “the science is settled”. Personally, I think transgender people may simply be people who subconsciously don’t want to admit that they’re gay, which would make them homophobes. Besides, all this stuff is based on stereotyping: women are like this and men are like that.

Hey, don’t knock gender stereotypes. I wrote a whole book with Gina based on gender stereotypes.

I accept the general psychological consensus on transsexuality. I think if a child at five can know he is gay, then a transsexual can also understand what is going on.

It seems to me that, in recent chats, you have been tying your comments on abortion to the viability of the fetus. Surely you as a died-in-the-wool lefty believe that a fetus has no rights at all until it pops out. Here in Canada our little-twerp-in-chief Justin Trudeau would excommunicate you for the way you put things and would cut off any government grants you might be receiving. You’ve blown any chance you might have had to secure the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Uh, I think most lefties like me would not approve of aborting a healthy eight-month fetus. And I am militantly pro-choice.

They stay up all night wondering if there really is a dog.

Can Nasser use her closing statement’s phrasing alone as basis for an appeal or a call for a mistrial? Though I’m happy with the way things transpired, and happier that he got the sentence he got, I can’t help but think that her impassioned words will be twisted to imply bias.

You don’t really have to twist em. Just use em.

Ten bucks. My final offer.

Too much. No one takes you seriously, anyway.

I said that they should get nothing, but only because they were not at work. If they were at work, I would say fired. Because if you can’t keep comments like that to yourself IN THE OFFICE, then you are creating a hostile work environment and you know it.

They were in public. A alcohol-greased conversation in a bar is not a private conversation.

Thanks for your polls. On the sexual harassment one, I answered most of them with the version that calls for a warning and a reprimand on the employees file. There’s a concrete reason I think documenting the warning is absolutely essential: punishments for this type of serial misbehaviour should be cumulative, not a one-off response. And typically, absent a compelling reason to share, employment punishments should be not be shared publicly. But in case there should ever again be a complaint against these individuals of the same or a more serious type, it’s crucial that their manager or HR rep have a not spelling out the details of a previous incident. A single complaint of long-ago inappropriate workplace compliments is not a huge deal, assuming the employee is capable of learning and changing his behaviour. But a NEW complaint of workplace complimenting after an initial formal warning should incur more serious penalties. Anyone dealing with a subsequent complaint needs documented details of previous complaints and the specific instructions that the employee was given. It’s in part because no such paper trail existed in an easy to access format that we are seeing so many cases where serial gropers can get away with this stuff for so long.
And by the way, on your instapoll question, I was unable to vote because my answer was that if I were the editor I would have cut this because I did not find it funny. Like, at all. It was clever but to me it was more about showcasing it’s own cleverness than actually being funny. Sorry!

I agree with you entirely on the first issue and disagree entirely on the second. I do have no patience for jokes that are clever but not funny, but I think this one passed the funny test, too.

I couldn’t answer because there was a glaring omission in the choices. In all of these instances, I would expect HR to talk to the employee so they know that it is a problem and provide training or coaching to avoid these issues in the future. None of these instances rise to the level of a mark in their employee file (unless it’s habitual), but this all or nothing BS is how we got where we are today where women continue to suffer these indignities because “it’s not that bad”. I’m a woman, for whatever it’s worth.

If you read the introduction to the poll, I SAID these all include sensitivity training.

I’m sorry, but I feel like you’re a very smart man, so your letter to the other columnist doesn’t strike me as a “legit” question, but more “making a point.” It seems pretty obvious to me that the term is chosen PRECISELY to declare a moral high ground; if it’s that obvious to me, then it should be even more so to you.
Or am I just letting my natural cynicism cloud the issue?

You are not clouding the issue, but you are merely re-stating it. That WAS my point. That “pro-life” does not belong in a newspaper because it is a politically disingenuous designation.

Actually, such things are pretty common on men’s dating requirements, although they’re usually that specific AND the combination is humanly impossible, like requiring a woman to be 5’9″, no more than 95 pounds, with a DD cup size.

This is in reference to a post in the previous chat, where someone referenced a Date Lab in which a woman said her ideal man was five foot nine to five foot eleven, which seemed oddly restrictive to the poster. I said: “Regarding the previous, what if a man said his ideal woman was a b-cup, with a 22 inch waist and beautiful calves? HOW WOULD THAT HAVE GONE OVER?”

Anyway, I like the observation above.

I don’t even understand the strategy of denying he said hole. Isn’t that what his base likes? Doesn’t pretending he didn’t say it just upset them and make them think he’s becoming part of the swamp?

More to the point, is there ANY substantive difference between calling African countries shitholes and shithouses? Is there any connotative difference?

I was quite taken aback by your insistence that you were absolutely right to tweet that picture and caption. It smacked of a stubborn refusal to consider any viewpoint other than your own. No matter the responses from those who disagreed with you, you did not budge. Frankly, it feels to this 60 year old woman who routinely corrects grammar and spelling exactly the same as all the men who condescend to women as a matter of routine. Snickering at the privileged in private is very different from humiliating the underserved in public. You should be ashamed.

The you probably hated my Holocaust tweet, eh?

I would like to remind the readers that your reaction to this — including women’s reactions — was a nearly perfect bell curve. This is not a cut-and-dried issue, IMO.

In almost all of the cases, I think that telling someone to knock it off is always the first step. You complain, boss tells the employee to stop, and that is over unless something else happens. The four guys who got caught have me somewhat ambivalent. I don’t believe that guys who would rate their coworkers in a public place don’t do other questionable things. Since I don’t believe the scenario, I was prone to be harder on them.
The idea of public vs private is interesting. I think that public means making it generally known. I do think you have to tell the people who complained that you took action.
The issue of documentation is also interesting. If the behavior stops after the stern talking to, then great! If you hear more reports, I think you have to start documenting immediately, so that you have evidence in case you desire to take a stronger action at a later date.

I agree with all of this.

I would not punish the men at all for what basically is a thought crime — if what they were doing were, say, in private emails that somehow leaked out. I’d speak to them privately and tell them to cut it the f out. But I don’t consider bar babble to be private. Someone heard. Someone always hears.

I’m a lawyer and didn’t find the judge’s comments inappropriate at all. Egotistical and self-involved, yes. But this kind of addressing an unrepentant defendant convicted of awful acts isn’t inappropriate, nor is it unusual. It’s just not usually televised.

I understand that. I was at the sentencing of the Lululemon killer (was thinking about doing a book on the case) and the judge threw the book at her and called her a skillful little liar. He was outraged on behalf of society. But he totally avoided the kind of inflamed rhetoric this judge used. he was more professional, I believe.

The “death warrant” line and so on seems completely appropriate and relevant. I don’t understand why the focus has been on that at all. There were 168 victims. She could have quoted Carl Lee Hailey and I’d be fine with that.
However, the rest of the judge’s statement seems kinda unprofessional, and I’m wondering if that’s just a weird American thing. Are judge’s statements typically folksy and personal? Is it because they are elected officials at this level? Like, why is she talking about her heritage and how she’s a soccer coach and she’s bad at math?
It also seems odd that her sentencing went above what the prosecutors recommended. Wouldn’t that have been worked out by the prosecution and defense as part of the plea deal? If judges often ignore the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations in favour of harsher sentencing, won’t that discourage future defendants from pleading guilty?

Well, you know, this whole thing was kinda moot, so to me it had the feel of a performance. The vile creep had already been given 60 years by the feds, as I recall. You serve at least two thirds of your sentence, which in his case means 40 years. He is 54 years old. You know? SHE didn’t really give him a death sentence, the federal judge did.

I worked with a guy like this. When I first started he seemed so nice – he’d always have seem treat set out for people right by his desk. It took me about a month to realize that this was just his ruse to get women to stop by his desk so he could stare at their boobs. He was pretty blatant about it. I was young, so I never said anything to management, but it made me really uncomfortable, to the point that I avoided him as much as I could. I would even look away from his desk when walking by because I figured out if he made eye contact with you, he used it as an opening for conversation. If I needed to tell him something, I would just yell at him from across the room instead of going over to him. I really wish I had said something, but it never actually occurred to me at that point that I could. I went with reprimand in his file as punishment, but think that needs to be followed with monitoring of the situation and quick increases if nothing changed. It might seem small, but it really affected me in a negative way.

Right. Well all of the cases involved sensitivity training and, presumably, future monitoring.

EVERYONE on my twitter feed defending this victim is using the argument that it’s not that easy to tell a victim to leave a situation because the perpetrator might turn violent. I feel very uncomfortable with the assumption that all men are murderers just waiting for the wrong woman to tell them no. If you really think your date might murder you, pro tip: don’t agree to go up to his apartment.

“Uh, I think most lefties like me would not approve of aborting a healthy eight-month fetus. And I am militantly pro-choice. ” Uh, what I “approve” of us is pretty irrelevant here. No, I wouldn’t “approve” of it. I still think it’s none of my damn business. I also think this woman does not exist and the myth that she does is really f-ing insulting. Even if she DID exist, I think she’d have a huge problem finding a doctor willing to do anything other than refer her to a good therapist and maybe some social programs.

Well, wait. Hang on. Is it any of your business if a woman gives live birth and then kills the baby with a knife? Is that society’s concern? Because if it is, I think you have to extend that to a perfectly viable, perfectly healthy, near-birth fetus.

Maybe not “publicly” but certainly the victims should be told that he has been punished.

Agreed. Closure and all that.

I’m curious about your thoughts on Toobin’s admittance of the media’s false equivalency during the 2016 campaign (discussed on Larry Wilmore’s podcast)?

Admission. I think he’s right.

I had similar qualms and expressed them at the time, in this chat. I talked to a high-ranking editor at the Post about it, who presented a reasonable defense of it: Basically, that it is true and interesting; that it is not the paper’s mission to worry about the effects a story will have in the political world. I somewhat agree with that, but my red flags kept flapping. I do think that if we knew much of this coverage — the leaked emails — was traced to Russia, the media in general would have acted differently. I do think this is a stain on what was otherwise magnificent political coverage by The Post and the NYT and some othter news organizations.

Also, admission not admittance.

Sorry, Gene, you and the other poster are both showing bias against this judge and, as a woman, I find it infuriating. First, there’s no “grounds for an appeal” b/c the guy pleaded guilty; this line of argument has been thrown around repeatedly as some sort of gotcha and it’s uninformed and wrong. Second, there have been *many* cases where a judge has said, “This is the worst crime I’ve ever seen” and “I wish I could sentence you to more time” and so on, but you know what the difference was? Those were *male* judges. And had Aquilina been a grandfatherly, gruff male judge, every one of those critics of hers would be Cheering. Him. On! They would be saying, “I would love to be in that judge’s position to come down on this horrible, inhumane creep!” –Aquilina was impartial during the entirety of the trial; neither she, nor any judge, is required to be an emotionless automaton during the verdict. I find any criticism of her for showing emotion–after listening to over a 100 victims talk about lives ruined and, literally, taken– as typical sexist claptrap for her being a woman unable to “keep her emotions out of it”.

Okay, I hear ya, and this is a reasonable point, though I don’t feel I am judging her based on her gender, at all. (Of course, all men would say that, I guess.)

But please note, at least in this poll, that plenty of women seem to disagree with you.

My husband is a defense attorney, and gets frustrated when the justice system sees its role as to “punish” law breakers. It is to seek justice, and hopefully reform offenders, and protect the public, but “punishment” is too vindictive and loaded a term. The judge seemed to take (understandable, but still inappropriate) delight in punishing him.

Yes. Though I think punishment is a valid goal in sentencing. I don’t think it should be the overriding goal.

I put a note in his file because if the behavior resurfaces, the manager will know it’s not the first time there have been complaints like this. I actually think that even given the 15 year gap this is the most serious offense because it is the only one where the person didn’t take no for an answer.

Oh, it’s DEFINITELY the most serious crime.

Cecil the Commenter is a clueless old fud who thinks he’s being nice. He needs to have the riot act read to him, and a record of it made in case he keeps doing it.

When you chose to nitpick the spelling for a woman, you stepped right into a millennia-long tradition of men jumping in to correct women (“Well, actually…”). Every woman has had men do this to her, repeatedly, throughout her life, even when the correction serves no real purpose. While Jewish people have faced many, many challenges over time, including many with life or death stakes, being constantly corrected and nitpicked by Gentiles is not one of them.

You seem to think you are talking to someone who has made a career out of obnoxiously correcting spelling, grammar, syntax of EVERYONE. Male and female, rich and poor, dumb and smart.

Did you help facilitate an AMA with Norm McDonald yesterday?

This is Gene 2.0 (the guy who runs our Reddit). I was the one who facilitated the Norm Macdonald AMA. It was awesome fun and it was great catching up with him.

For anyone curious, you can see the entire AMA here. It’s honestly worth a read, and he even leaked out a bit of entertainment news.

The situation of the guys in the bar, rating their co-workers got me to thinking about drug testing. I tend to oppose it b/c it shouldn’t matter if I get stoned on my own time, as long as I’m not stoned when I turn up to work. Likewise, I’m not sure how I feel about these dudes being assholes on their own time. Is it a thing for work to handle? (50 year old woman who is super bad at being employed)

yes, it can be. Bob Greene was fired years ago for having a sexual incident with a 17 year old girl in a hotel, who he had met through his column. An employer has a right to fire someone whose conduct they think does not represent the employers’ company well. There are limits, of course. You can’t fire someone for being gay if you happen to disapprove of gays. But these guys did something wrong in public.

I keep hearing (mostly from men) that MeToo has gone too far. Typical examples are Aziz Ansari, Al Franken, Woody Allen. But I fail to see the evidence. Aziz was publicly shamed, but I know of no professional consequences. Al Franken chose to resign under pressure, but I think that’s an appropriate consequence for his actions. Woody Allen might have trouble getting A-List actors for future films. This seems to be because most actors find Dylan’s account credible compared to him. This is also occurring more than 20 years after she first made the allegations, and he’s enjoyed a stellar career up til now. Do you disagree with my assessments? Are there other reactions that seem disproportionate to you? What I am seeing is plenty of people assessing the accusations and appropriately distinguishing between them based on their nature, as well as the role the accused holds. In short, I think MeToo is going just fine. Doing better than our actual justice system has, in fact.

I don’t think MeToo has gone too far. I think it is long overdue. I worry that it MIGHT go too far. The Ansari thing bothers me. It would bother me more had it appeared in a more reputable venue. But I don’t think it would have, at least looking anything like that. Franken had to happen.

These are not crimes of thoughtless insensitivity. They have very real consequences, which I think the original poster did a MARVELOUS job of outlining. Every one of these men is engaging in behavior that is having a negative effect on women’s careers and mental health.
You’ve made it increasingly clear over the past while that you are not as concerned with women’s lived experiences as you claim (case in point: your maddening insistence that your encounter with the woman reading your book on the metro was in no way problematic.)
Perhaps the polls you post continue to reflect your point of view because you are driving away readers who disagree?

Sorry, but:

Firing is a huge reaction to something. It is sometimes justified. I applaud it in many cases. None of the examples I gave rises to that level, and virtually alll of you agree.

It seems inevitable that science will continue to move the viability benchmark earlier and earlier in the pregnancy. If medicine developed to be able to incubate and grow a 1-month-old fetus to a full human baby, where would you draw the abortion line?

Let’s cross that bridge later.

Gene, I picked an answer on the poll. Then changed my mind after a second of reflection, but too late. My answer was locked in. Can your technological whizzes over there make it so we can change our answers if we hit the wrong answer or act too fast?

“Last week you asked how we can know that we all see blue the same way:”
Actually, as was shown to me in a psychology class decades ago, people with blue eyes don’t see the same colors as people with brown eyes.
The test color sheet was on the border between blue and green, and blue-eyed people saw one color while brown-eyed people saw the other color.
This is because the blue part of the eye lets in more light due to there being less pigment in the eye.
So, brown eyes make a better camera, and see the true color.

Fire the tongue guy. Reprimand in file for rest except the bros. They were on their own, after work. None of it should be made public, it all needs to stay internal.
I work in HR, and there are legal reasons for all the above.

Noted. Let me change the hypothesis a little.

What if Tony had been an alcoholic, kicked the habit 15 years ago. Still fire him?

I used to make jokes such as that until I watched a dear friend struggle and suffer humiliation when we were in a fast casual restaurant with an enormous choose-items-from-different-columns menu posted on the wall. The stress f having to choose quickly and select from multiple columns was too much for him to easily deal with. He finally asked me quietly if they just had X on the menu. It is a real disability, much more complex than just reversing letters, and not funny.

They don’t work if you don’t know the original joke and I didn’t seem to know any of them including today’s. And I’m just one year younger than you.

Wait. Why don’t they work if you don’t know the original joke? They are all self-contained jokes. You don’t get ’em?

My issue is that this joke has been done to death. My favorite is a T-Shirt that reads “Dyslexics of the World: Untie!”

Yep, the engine is old. The specific one I’d never heard before. And I was trawling for science jokes.

Science joke: Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil.

Your chat last week with the misspelling on the sign reminded me of this story from when I was in high school. Back in the day, we had 3 loose curriculum groups: college prep, general/business (to work in an office) and general/skilled (to work in a trade). Each group still had to take a core curriculum that included Math, Science, Social Studies, English, but these were more advanced in the college prep program. A girl that sat next to me in homeroom wanted to change a couple of her classes from general/business to college prep. She had to complete a form and had to put in the reason she was requesting the change. She wrote: “Because I don’t think I’m so dum.”

She should have spelled it “dumn.”

Behind The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck: Why Directors Become Harassers

It’s very well written, and insightful from the inside, but I think it might be rotten at its center. A very similar case could be made for people in my field — editors, specifically — and the vast majority of us don’t abuse the power. We were also ugly misfits with particular talents. Journalism is, or used to be, a sexy business too. Lotta smart hot wimmen. You dealt with powerful people and affected lives, and editors ruled the world. But, you know. Most of us stayed decent people.

Ever been more perfect casting?

Did his alcoholism affect his work?

No. But he got drunk at after-work parties.

Of course there is a difference between a person who gives birth to a live baby and kills it. Where is the line? It’s when a woman gives birth to a live baby.
This is not a confusing topic. We are arguing about something that doesn’t happen.

Okay, well, we disagree on this. It’s a legitimate difference of opinion.

Why would that change anything?

If you don’t see a difference, there is nothing either of us can say to change the other’s mind.

I’m really uncomfortable with the idea that Tony the Tongue should be fired for a thing he hasn’t done in 15 years. Is there no chance for rehabilitation? Should you never hire a shoplifter b/c obviously they’ll steal all your paper clips? I think a note in the file, in case his behavior resurfaces is a sound idea, but firing is insane.
(female over 40)

Well, yes.

I could understand, because of the gravity of the offense, a possible suspension. I could also imagine, as a boss, asking Tony to apologize to each woman, if he has not already done so. It would be in everyone’s best interests. Even Tony’s.

What if Tony had stolen $1000 from the company 15 years ago?

That’s probably going to be considered a firing offense, though I’m not sure I would agree. And I see what you are doing here.

“Aziz was publicly shamed, but I know of no professional consequences.” I don’t think we really know yet. A friend recently saw his book on dating (previously NYT #1 bestseller) in the clearance bin in a major bookstore. The second season of his show was widely praised and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I have to say, given that it’s a show that centers on his relationships with women (not to mention that — spoiler alert — his character stood in stark contrast to another character accused of slimy treatment women in the workplace), he’d have to be REALLY smart about his approach to the third season for me to watch. I’m sure other people feel the same.

I’ve only seen the episode where the condom broke. I thought it had its moments, but wasn’t blown away. As it were.

“So, brown eyes make a better camera, and see the true color.” Says someone with brown eyes I bet. I’d say it was the other way around. And women see colors better than men do. My father had a color palate book from his chem lab and pointed out that the women were the ones that could see a difference in closely hued blues but the men couldn’t.

In our book, Gina posits a reason this is true: In the animal kingdom — our ancestors — males are the ones with more plumage and color and such. The females have to develop the more advanced color senses to distinguish between good mates and bad.

I thought the judge’s statement you linked to was entirely appropriate. But at another point in the trial, she said, “Our constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did, I have to say, I might allow what he did to all of these beautiful souls—these young women in their childhood—I would allow someone or many people to do to him what he did to others.” This sounded very much like an endorsement of allowing Nassar to be gang-raped in prison. There is a very real possibility that that will occur, and even with the caveats, her statement made it more likely. THAT statement was highly inappropriate.

Agreed. The worst thing she said.

As Portuguese-American, I can’t begin to describe how embarrassed I am that my ancestral ethnicity is being defiled by a buffoon, dupe and demagogue as massive as Devin Nunes. He is a discredit to our national origin.

A shanda for the non-Portuguese Americans!

There is a story in the Post today about a teacher who went on an anti-military rant: The mother of the student who was the target of the rant, and many of the commenters in and on the story, are characterizing the teacher as “liberal”, apparently just because it was an anti-military rant. The teacher also denigrates people of the Middle East and Vietnam. He is reported as having other episodes of odd behavior. How can Breitbart et al. get away with characterizing this as “liberal”, especially given Trump’s comments on the military?

Because they are Breitbart!!

I have cancelled my subscription to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over this editorial. Was I justified? I have subscribed for over 40 years, but have been dismayed by recent swerve to the right by the paper. My son was a reporter for another paper until he got tired of being poor and overworked and i support journalism by subscribing to the Post, Slate, and NYT. I just can’t see paying money to support this crap. To make it worse, a group of reporters and others (including the late former publishers family) tried to stop it but the paper wouldn’t even carry their rebuttal.

I agree it is a deeply disingenuous editorial, though I consider it within the bounds of sanity. I don’t like it. I wouldn’t stop my subscription over it. But that’s just me. This is fundamentally different from the scenario in the last chat, where someone was ready to cancel their subscription because of one particular columnist.

This is not one columnist, it is the official position of the entire paper. Cancelling over that makes a little more sense.

Also I would like to add that at the last minute I realized I had written “different than” instead of “different from,” and changed it. I may be obnoxious, but am not a hypocrite. Usually.

Have you heard about the world premiere play “Sovereignty” now playing at Arena Stage? It has a lot of important things to say about Andrew Jackson and his treatment of the Cherokee Nation. Unfortunately, the writing in the first act is just an extremely awkward history lesson where actors periodically say to one another, “Do you know about this? No, I’ll explain the history of it to you” and then they go on a history lesson soliloquy. For people in the audience who already know the history, most of the actors just become annoying giving their canned history lessons. After the 1st act history lesson is done, the 2nd act is really well done. But I’ll warn you, Jackson looks really really bad, which I hope doesn’t break your heart.

I’ve heard the same about this play.

And I am not bothered in the least by a sliming of Jackson. He deserves sliming for this. He also deserves recognition for changing the nature of the presidency in a fundamentally good way. He was the first non-aristocrat president.

Journo question. When a tweet is referenced in an online story, the writer will often quote the entire tweet and then produce a facsimile of the tweet as well. Is there any good reason to do this? It seems needlessly repetitive to me.

I have never understood it, unless there are some platforms in which the tweet does not reproduce. Gene 2.0: Do you have an explanation here?

Gene, I rationalize that all people see colors more or less the same because there is also general agreement on what colors look good with others. If they were all seen differently, then it would have to be a huge coincidence that most people still felt the same regarding color complements.

I agree. BUT…

Cue Twilight Zone music:

What if people see colors totally differently, but in a way that they still go together?

Over/Under on the number of non-Fox analysts who say that this was the night he became president, again? 9.5?

One will say it, and three will agree. Do you follow @meganamram? She says it once a day, and has been doing it for a year.

I’m the one that said I didn’t “get” them. Yes, I understood the joke but your point seems to be how clever you are in making the joke into a poem and if you don’t know the original joke it’s impossible to see how clever you are. That’s what I met by saying I didn’t get them.

Ah, okay. Thank you.

I still don’t understand, though. I am biased, I admit. But isn’t the cleverness of it explained by the poem itself? As is the non-cleverness where I fail?

Deny their next promotion. Don’t tell them why. Expect them to work harder to earn your respect. Pay them 15% less than you otherwise would. On other words, men that don’t respect women get the treatment hat women have traditionall had to endure. (This isn’t half in jest. But only half.)

What software do you use to type your columns? Do you use something different for writing books?

I do everything in Word.

I’d be curious to know what the votes would be like if divided by age rather than gender … I’m sure I’m painting with too broad a brush, but I suspect a lot of the outrage about the need to fire these guys is coming from a younger generation with different thresholds for tolerating any degree of offensive behavior.

I suspect you are right.

Ooh, in the next update I am going to consider re-using the same poll, but with an age, not gender split. I like that idea.

And on that point, we’ll end! Thank you all. A nice spirited chat.

It is rather repetitive to quote the tweet and then post it. While it’s preferable to just have one or the other, sometimes a reporter might reference a tweet if it’s an important quote that deserves to be in its full context (i.e. in a tweet, with typos and images and all). But you’re right to complain that it’s rather repetitive many times, and we’ll try to do better in providing a better, smoother reading experience.