Thursday, April 7, 2011

4/7 - A Bland Day

It seemed to me this year that, despite all the internet advertisement one saw, TOMS One Day Without Shoes might be on the decline or at least down from a peak. Last year there were many celebrities making videos in advance of the event. This year we seem to have gone from the Jonas Brothers to Arianna Huffington - hardly a change for the better. As I write this, Y.E. Yang has just tied Rory McIlroy for the Masters lead. Phil Mickelson is having typical adventures, but his scorecard is strange, containing only one birdie and all pars else. Quick Thoughts - L1: It's rather easy to say DTMFA, which is the obvious answer. But one wonders why LW1 didn't do so or at least ask the question a good deal earlier. It does let the odd suspicion or two slip in that just possibly she might be happier with BF1 than without him, but that might be unworthy. L2: Is it really that hard for LW2 to find and sit next to someone who doesn't pong? Befriend someone on the route and make arrangements to be regular seating companions. It's neither rocket science nor brain surgery. L4: The Prudecutor clearly is trying to pull a fast one here. After her rant against cheating in R3, she tries to sneak R4 past us when it is clearly not her own work. Everything she's been doing in the course this semester is graded lower, and this reply is far more Biblical than is her wont. Also, if it were her own work, she'd have been unable to resist making some sort of pun on Solomon. And now for L3, where the Prudecutor immediately jumps in off the high dive only to find that there is about an inch and a half of water in that portion of the pool. But there is much stuff for any proficient cross-examiner. First - exactly what comprised the cheating? This does not appear to be the sort of cheating which many of us might recall from our own youths. Who actually used the C word - the girl, or did LW3 interpret what G3 said as cheating? One might reasonably bend the cross-examination either way. It could well be that G3 reported being allowed an extra accommodation, which LW3 interpreted as cheating and G3 might not have understood as such. That certainly bears a different interpretation from the situation if G3 cheerfully told LW3 how she was able to fool the substitute on purpose and cheat deliberately. Second - what is the atmosphere at the school? It is very likely that there is what we might consider to be a cheater culture in effect, similar to the idea of rape culture, if one might be allowed the comparison. That would explain G3's readiness to be cheerfully open about getting away with something she knew she ought not to have done. In theory perhaps it ought not to matter, but what to do about it in practice makes me think of the Daria episode See Jane Run. Jane and Daria dislike gym class being transformed into cheerleading practice, and have to make up the class after school. Then Jane sees the track team star, Evan, whom she... appreciates. After seeing Evan emerge with a win against the Fashion Club, Jane, who has already been told off by the gym teacher and compared to her sisters, signs up to try out for track. Daria takes this not particularly well, even worse when Jane turns out to be good. They patch things up, and Jane, getting out of gym class by claiming her legs are a little sore after her last meet, wangles getting Daria out of class as well to keep her company. But then Jane accepts a bye on a math test, customarily offered to sports stars. Daria gets upset, but, when Evan calls Daria a loser, Jane decides that Evan and the track team just aren't a good fit for her, and she quits the team. The gym teacher/track coach threatens to fail Jane herself if need be if Jane doesn't return, but Jane outwits her. Still, however, she and Daria end up back in gym class, summarizing. Jane asks to be told she still has her integrity, which Daria claims to be a funny word. Then Jane wants to be told she's marginally less corrupt than the jocks. Daria summarizes that Jane refused to participate in a corrupt system in which good grades are exchanged for athletic performance, but she didn't try to reform the system either (for fear of ostracism, as Jane claims). So the system continues, Jane hasn't redeemed herself, and they're ostracized anyway. Then we have the comments of the Prudecutor and others. How on earth can the Prudecutor be so sure that, even if it is G3's first A, she'll be caught? This is a B-ish student in a newly demanding class, not Kevin and almost the whole football team getting 100 on a history test in the more pertinent Daria episode Murder She Snored. G3 has to be pretty consistent to remain in the Bs if she never gets an A, but she certainly ought to be capable of a lucky A or two at some point or other. In Murder She Snored, Mr DeMartino is naturally suspicious when Kevin and most of the football team get As on a test the day after he found jimmy marks on his file cabinet. It is only too painfully obvious that the last person in class who could ever earn an A would be Kevin, who, when asked what war freed the U.S. from the iron hand of imperial rule, picks up on the word iron and guesses The Golf War. Mr D threatens to fail the whole class, which is especially galling for Jane, who'd joined Mac in getting a B. When Kevin falls dead out of Daria's locker, Ms Li makes Daria the prime suspect. The Fashion Club, appearing as Upchuck's Angels, are employed to solve the case, but in the end Daria works out that Kevin was poisoned by Jane, hit with a golf club by Mac, shot with an arrow by Brittany, and stomped by Mr DeMartino. Then Daria wakes up. As to what LW3 might do, it might depend on whether she feels her loyalty to be primarily to the school, the parents, or the girl. She could possibly tell the parents and see what they do. Although the Prudecutor goes a bit overboard in insisting that LW3 cannot possibly in good conscience continue to work for the parents if they don't insist on turning in their daughter and making her take the full consequences, even if that does nothing to change or reform the cheating culture, I can see how the current climate of parents who simply want any advantage that can be ontained for any means for their child, even if it means resorting to threats of or actual violence against Little League or hockey coaches, would push the Prudecutor rather too far in the other direction. LW3 might try to scare G3 straight. If she knows that the system would be a Zero Tolerance club which would be used to bludgeon G3 even if G3 didn't entirely understand that whatever happened could lead to such a point, that might have a reasonably acceptably outcome. This would entail explaining very thoroughly to G3 what accommodation she is and isn't allowed to accept, and what beyond the strictly permissible might be considered an optional perk and what would definitely be clearly out of bounds. She can scare G3 with all the Zero tolerance horror stories she can recall, and persist in cross-questioning her about overstepping any lines on future tests. On the incomplete knowledge we have before us, a retest might be the preferred outcome. Can LW3 contact the teacher? Especially if the incident can reasonably be seen and interpreted more as a misunderstanding than a deliberate wrong act, and if the teacher has room to exercise her judgment and isn't bound by draconian Zero Tolerance policies, this could work out best all round. But my reading of L3 suggests that this likely isn't on the cards. Moral: "Kevin, can you name the principal players in the Teapot Dome scandal?" "Uh... the New Orleans Saints?" "TEAPOT Dome, Kevin, not SUPERDOME!" "Oh - the New England Patriots!"


  1. 4/13 - Extremely Short of Time

    I didn't say anything at the time, but I almost was going to give Just-Go-In-The-Closet-Dear-Around-Me-Mamma a You Go, Girl! Seriously. It would be the best thing she could do for herself to get herself into PFLAG as quickly as possible, but she's way past the expiration date for reasonable qualms and difficulties, and I am more concerned with the best outcome for the innocent. At her age and given her long history, the odds are not very good that she would make the sort of substantial improvement that would make her an asset in her son's life. She may pick up a bit of the acceptance jargon, but it won't run deep, and the end result will be, more likely than not, that her son will despair from not knowing whether to keep in contact or not. As I am almost inclined to give her a consolation point for being honest (but she's only being honest because she's deluded into thinking she's being reasonable), I'd tell her to be even more of the same and keep making her point louder and more forcefully. The effect of her doing so will be, with any luck, that her gay son is able to write her off without feeling major qualms about it, and that she will make herself so outrageous that her straight son will feel inclined to take his twin's side. Therefore, she will unify her two sons, perhaps even creating a bond between them that isn't there now, one which will serve them well long after her death.

    I am actually riding fairly high this week, having come up with the most creative solution to the vastly superiour problem in one of this week's SLLOTDs. The LW was a father who has been having an affair with a close family friend for some time. Recently, while friend was on a family vacation, they had been chatting by computer, and LW, who was on the family computer, forgot to log off his Gmail account. His 15-year-old daughter and her best friend saw the explicit email still up, impersonated him, got friend to send pictures, recognized her, and immediately fired off pictures to anyone they knew even remotely acquainted with the woman. LW set a new high for the Chutzpah Bar by asking what punishment is appropriate for his daughter, thinking that she should be grounded for a year, sent to live with her grandparents and forbidden to see her best friend, whereas his wife only wants community service if anything. I was the only one on the whole thread who thought it might be helpful to discuss the incident with the other girl's parents, and came up with by far the best deterrent - forcing the daughter to watch a series of irritating made-for-Lifetime films and writing an essay about their handling of the moral and ethical issues that arose in each. Either that or send her to juvenile FBI training camp.

  2. Quick Thoughts for the rather dull DP this week: If I were doing each letter in full individually, I'd be tempted to make a theme that the LWs are all expecting men or a man to act like a woman, a theme which might stand up to cross-examination. But I won't.

    L1: If there is another answer this week that is not the Prudecutor's own work, this one is my choice. I dislike both LW1 and F1. It at least appears that his food preferences are crowding out hers (although it would not surprise me to discover that she is projecting a bit) and that he just refuses to go along with plans that would indulge her. I don't like her because she clearly knew this before the engagement. Presumably she thought that raising the issue earlier would have made him dump her. They really seem to deserve each other's torment for all eternity.

    L2: Well, at least LW2 gets a couple of points for not asking if (s)he "is wrong" for feeling the way (s)he does. "Am I overreacting?" is at least a slightly better question. But LW2 is still being a bit pathetic. What is the point in being hurt because an invitation is declined for a frivolous reason by someone who has already refused to vist LW2 because (s)he lives in a boring city? Take a page from the son of Homophobic Mamma. He is standing up for himself and getting on with his life, not hanging about and whimpering that Mamma Doesn't Love Him.

    L4: $80 instead of her (or his - I must practise for Homocentric August!) husband's $100 is offensive? LW4 should trade FIL4 for what's behind Door Number Three. I'm sure I could produce at least a dozen people within a day who'd be delighted to have a FIL who gave them $50 as an individual birthday present, and some who would settle for a ten-spot and a Happy Meal.

  3. Now for L3. LW3 had to be treated for cancer. Very sad. And her "friend" not only never offered to help her, he never once offered to help her. And he lived closer to her than any of her other friends, yet his presence was completely lacking during her time of greatest need. Very poetic. If I ever have to take sick leave, perhaps I should invite LW3 to fill in for me. We Drama Queens have to look outn for each other.

    But now I come to a question in cross-examination that feels very much like asking Dr Pamela Gorle what happened when she conducted the test for hypostasis on the corpse of her ex-lover's wife. Dear LW3, I am so sorry you were so ill-treated by someone you considered such a good friend. And what happened, LW3, during your time of greatest need, when you asked this dear friend who lived so close to you if he might possibly assist you in coping in some small way with one of your great ordeals?

    Now, I say this as someone who, when a close friend was laid up in bed on her back for a week, loaded up with provisions and made about four thirty-mile treks to keep her fed and entertained, which was more than her children did for her. But, believe it or not, there are actually some people on the face of the planet who, although they will go above and beyond the call of duty time and again for someone, actually have to be asked first. I've no clue why. It's one of the great mysteries of life. Doubtless the world would be a better place if everyone it ran around acting at all times exactly the way LW3 thought they ought to act, but, sadly, people are different.

    And now a brief word for the Prudecutor. Abominably? That's rather a strong word, is it not? Especially when we don't know that he responded callously when LW3 asked him for assistance? (Or, of course, that LW# even requested aid at all?) If I had to pin the word abominable on anyone, it would be on the one or two female friends in whom LW3 confided (I can affirm on the highest authority that a Drama Queen of such calibre could not possibly keep such a terrible offence to herself) how hurt she was who, instead of calling XF3 and nudging him into making the gesture that LW3 wanted, sat back chuckling to themselves as LW3 wrote XF3 out of her life and they moved up a rung on her Friendship Ladder.

    I am reluctant in my comparison. It is not that it strikes me as less apt than usual. It is just that I think it treats LW3 better than she deserves to compare her to Jane Lane. But this is quite like the episode Mart of Darkness. Jane, who has discovered that Gummi Bears make a great glaze when microwaved, has sorted out large quantities for weeks while preparing a masterpiece. When the time comes, she has an empty bowl and Tom has a full mouth. As Daria and Jane scour the megamart in quest of Jane's Gummi Bears and a bootlace for Daria, Daria probes into why Jane is angry with Tom for spoiling her art supplies. Jane hadn't kept them in a particular place or labeled them Art Supplies or even told Tom that that's what they were, yet she still thought that anyone who saw the Gummi Bears sitting in an open bowl in the kitchen should have jumped to the conclusion that they were being readied for the microwave rather than being on offer to all and sundry.

    As I can't advise LW3 until I get an answer to my question in cross-examination, I jump to the moral.


  4. 4/21 - Return to Clay

    So we reach the middle of April and once again Rafa starts winning tournaments. It's very reassuring, especially now that golf has become so unsettled. And maybe the excess hype about Serena as the female GOAT will die down if she ends up missing the entire year of majors.

    Quick Thoughts -

    L1: Wouldn't it be refreshing to have a LW complaining that his or her otherwise perfect companion is too skinny to set off the attraction bell? The devious solution would be for LW1 to get her to put him into the Friend Zone. Find out one of her passions and claim something incompatible with it. From the Friend Zone one can always attempt to affect a Magical Conversion and perhaps get out if the flow suddenly goes the way LW1 would prefer. I might ask whether LW1 is the sort of person with generally fluid dealbreakers or not, but can't really care much either way. The one bad thing to do would be to let D1 think it's all about the weight if LW1 intends to hang around for a while just in case. Then D1 will lose a few sizes, LW1 will shockingly discover that he still isn't attracted, and then where are we? The one potentially useful piece of knowledge is that D1 is the sort of person who likes getting a foot in the door and then winging it rather than putting her disadvantage clearly on the table at first. LW1 may get on better with one type than the other.

    L3: If LW3 seriously wants to keep this person as a friend, then I am not going to throw good eggs after rotten ones to prevent LW3 from doing so.

    L4: A technical question. I punt. Yes, it is noted that the Prudecutor does not have the deepest affection for practitioners of the legal profession. My guess is that she's probably been sued. I so hope her daughter grows up idolizing Susan Dey (Ms Dey being my guess as perhaps the most likely crush of the Submariner to have portrayed a lawyer) and dozens of other actresses who have undertaken legal roles (modesty prevents mention of Patricia Hodge, Samantha Bond and Abigail McKern).

  5. L2: Now we come to one letter that is the closest of a meagre crop to worthwhile. It's not entirely easy to get a read on H2's family. The farm could be a sort of toy, or it could be a prime source of income and sustenance. Are we visiting the Petit Trianon or Sarn Mere? There seems to be a general consensus towards the latter, but running marathons hardly seems like the sort of recreational activity that would appeal to a farmer-for-profit.

    Precious Bane seems the most apt comparison, when all the years of Gideon's and Prue's weary plowing have finally been rewarded, friends and neighbours gather from all around to bring in the harvest. But of equal importance is the Harvest Festival afterwards, at which there is much celebration (except perhaps from Sexton's daughter Tivvy) of Gideon's approaching wedding to Jancis Beguildy and his impending wealth, thanks to the Corn Tax. Even the bedraggled Prue gets a precious spell of time alone with Kester the weaver. And even the getting in of the harvest was not all pitching or baling or strenuous physical labour for twelve hours. Not that there were many sitting on the sidelines. Everyone had a role to play, and the women who didn't indulge in farm work were kept as busy as any, as were the children and even the retirees, right up to the oldest Callard. It seems hard to believe that there cannot be some supporting role or other.

    Now LW2 seems to be fixating on the symptom rather than the disease. On some level she knows this. She has married into a family of wimp-shamers, which seems about on a par with marrying into a family of slore-shamers. H2 seems to have taken the classic role of fence-sitter to some extent, giving LW2 a little kinda-sorta support, but thinking that hay-baling properly belongs in the category of Upsucking, which, well... need I say it?

    As to what LW2 ought to do, if divorce is seriously out of the question and she doesn't care to fake a pregnancy that she'll have to fake losing or aborting (or even produce a genuine pregnancy, which might require something in the way of outside assistance), then she and her husband ought to stage a huge fight right in the middle of the proceedings, throwing around the wildest and most exaggerated Drama Queen charges LW2 can devise beforehand. This ought to feel most enjoyable to both halves of the couple, LW2 in particular. Afterwards, H2 can simulate thorough exasperation with IL2s about how they just had to keep pushing and pushing until they just finally broke her and congratulations to them. They both storm off and let the IL2s eventually cave after a period of no contact. And if the IL2s never cave, then at least they both get out of hay baling.

    Moral: "Aye, I sweated!" cried Granfeyther Callard, "I sweated proper!"