Thursday, May 31, 2012

5/31 - If This Were Persuasion...

L1: LW1 would be Lady Elliot, who died at a most inconvenient time for her family, but whose judgment and conduct otherwise had required pardon only in the matter of her becoming Lady Elliot in the first place. Far be it from me to second-guess what LW1 is doing. If she can look on H1 as a sort of Sir Walter, hardly capaable of being left to her own devices, she can more readily understand his conduct in the matter. But clearly she has more pressing matters at hand.

It does not surprise me that the Prudecutor makes so much of the ironic fact that palliative care often leads to longer life than aggressive treatments. It is just the sort of thing in which she would revel. I would content myself with reminding LW1 of the advise a person of some wisdom once gave Tristan Erskine Brown when that young luminary revealed that the reason he never sucked gobstoppers was that they were bad for the teeth. All the best to LW1 for having her own terms.

L2: Now LW2 is being Sir Walter Elliot, making a detailed physical inventory of Mrs Clay, his daughter's friend, and passing his typical patriarchal judgment, as only someone born to a baronetcy can do. The Prudecutor appears to have staked a bit high on this one; surely, if LW2 were enjoying the view to the extent that she claims, he'd hardly be writing in to her about the issue as a sort of complaint. But this does not mean that he is entirely out of the woods.

If FE2's wardrobe is business inappropriate (and it is possible that I Choose My Choice reigns a bit supreme at the company, so that people would be as likely to comment directly to FE2 about her display as anyone at Equity Court would have been to tell Dot Clapton the diamond in her nose was inappropriate), then the thing to do is to demonstrate this in a clear manner. LW2 ought to arrange a conference of sorts, packing the room with men of all ages as well as other executives, male and female, both higher and lower than himself. Then have FE2 enter the room to make some contribution to the meeting. Regard carefully the reactions of the assembled company. This ought at least to clarify, and for the other executives in the company as well, whether the fault lies within LW2 or FE2.

L3: LW3 is being rather like Mary Musgrove, who certainly would have doped herself up with any and all quack nostrums on which she could have laid her hands. Fortunately for Mary, though, she at least lacked the inability to attend to the opinions of others which would have turned her into Isabella Knightley. The situation here is a bit too ridiculous. LW3 has clearly been over-socialized (presumably as a woman) to accept the word of the medical profession. If the next three therapist agree with this one, then there might be something in it.

L4: LW4 is a little like Anne Elliot, whose high regard of the navy completes her release from the value system of her father and older sister. This exemplifies itself most in what LW4 can take as a warning about his not wanting to be open with his family about his change of faith in the matter of Mrs Smith. When Anne, rather to her own regret, joins Sir Walter and Elizabeth in Bath, one of her few consolations is that she can renew the acquaintance with an old school friend who had been kind to her after the death of Lady Elliot. But Mrs Smith, who is both poor and an invalid, is someone Anne knows not to mention to her father or sister. But then comes the Joint Holiday in the form of the arrival of Lady Dalrymple, and her renewal of a severed acquaintance with the Elliots. Anne is forced to decline an invitation to visit her grand relations, being engaged to see Mrs Smith that day. Should LW4 attempt to keep quiet about his faith, he will surely face many such situations.

The Prudecutor is quite wrong, of course. There is no real harm in LW4 consulting CP4 about his conversion, but the person to help him is JR4. If LW4 is to have the best chance of explaining his conversion to Ps4 without upsetting them, the wisdom of an experienced rabbi will be of much more use.

Moral: "Let me ytell you, young Tristan, and you, too, Isolde, if you care to listen; there is no pleasure in life worth sacrificing for the sake of five more years in the Old People's Home in Weston-super-Mare."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

5/24 - 25 Minutes or Less

With no time to spare:

L1: LW1 ought to be thanking her lucky stars that she has been handed this positional advantage. How often can someone commit an offense, be it either minor or firing-worthy on the system in question, and then be vouchsafed such security? She will now get off with less than a reprimand.

The unlucky part of her lot is that the bell can't be unrung, and the co-workers who can't yet or won't mask the knowledge in their looks can't be expected to forget. They can be expected to be professional in their treatment of her, but LW1 might want to be careful not to project too much. It would be easy for her to interpret anything beyond the most bland treatment as stemming directly from the co-worker remembering What She Did.

LW1's situation recalls that of Leslie Ferrier in Hallowe'en Party. He was a minor forger of modest schemes brought into murder - with ill consequences for himself that LW1 can avoid if she uses her head and does not try to overplay her hand.

The most useful thing we learn from this is that the Prudecutor endorses ill-written novels that posit that Every Woman Deserves A (Charming and Studly) Millionaire.

L2: How could the Prudecutor or anyone flub this one? But I'll improve the suggestion - give T2 his inheritance now and let him do with it what he will. He might follow a particular Biblical precedent, but then, once he repents, Ps2 will be in an unassailable position - and it appears there isn't even an elder brother to resent his future repentance and restoration.

L3: Both the Prudecutor and LW3 are wrong, wrong, wrong. What is it with this insistence on EVERY child having to be included in EVERY outing? Although I personally do not feel any particular extra attachment to a blood relation, it does not seem crushing to allow that some people can be very loving and accepting and still have a little extra bond with one half-sibling (or, in this case, adoptive sibling) because of a particular connection, be it blood or something else. One recalls Ms Libby, who has claimed in the past to love all 70 people dearly in attendance at her family reunions, as an example of someone for whom a blood attachment is something. On the other hand, I give the Prudecutor a higher mark than usual for including "step-" in her response, which she does not always do. If LW3 and H3 are on good terms with SGD3, as appears to be the case, there seems no harm in their devoting a different time to her and herself alone, without her adoptive brother.

LW3 is more wrong, though. Blaming it on $300 - no, no, no. And trying to use the extra set of grandparents as mitigation? Way too cheesy.

L4: Thanks for the update, but the Prudecutor is both cheating and being self-serving. In other words, just a typical outing.

Moral: "Are you familiar with the phrase, Violation of Civil Liberties? And the phrase, Big Fat Lawsuit?"


Thursday, May 17, 2012

5/17 - Something Not so Nice

Today I shall be content simply to poke holes in the Prudecution.

L1: "Talk to your sister's pediatrician"? What a monstrous assumption of privilege. Do we really live in a country in which every person under a certain age can be automatically assumed to be in possession of an individual, personal pediatrician who will have known the child in question for likely a lengthy period of time, perhaps since birth or at least since locating in the area in question? Why, anyone would think that almost every person in the country actually had access to affordable and personalized health care! Even if one were to preselect only from among those who have both the privilege and the outlook to consult the Prudecutor in the first place, that is still far from a warrantable assumption.

L4: The letter is a complete softball. The Prudecutor manages not to whiff, but completely fails to go into the salient point of the letter, that the degree has taken double the usual time to acquire. Yet she provides only the standard-issue response. Clearly more care and attention was called for in this case. LW4 is clearly the sort of person prone to using events as tools with which to manipulate people, as well as being financially of a feckless disposition. That such a person is in charge of hes (gender-neutral; I prefer using hem/hes to the dual hir) finances at all, which has clearly not worked out terribly well thus far, might have given a counselor more pause.

L3: "Something nice"? LW3 specifically stated that hes present was a nice fountain pen. The word was right there in the letter, in black and white. Now clearly, either the Prudecutor does not include fountain pens on her list of Things That Can Possibly Be Nice when she plays Pyramid on her Will & Grace night or her private reaction upon reading the letter was to issue a sharply-worded memo to all her unpaid interns about the new policy change that would have such a positive effect on their careers. The Prudecutor also misses that the birthday in question was last year. B3 has been giving LW3 the silent treatment for nearly if not over six months and this has had no further repurcussions? Also, where is the evidence of what the other staffers provided in the way of B3's birthday boodle? It seems a lot to be taking CW3's drunken word for the situation without corroborration. Does CW3 have an eye on LW3's position, or a possible promotion for which LW3 is a likely candidate? Is LW3 the only person subordinate to B3? That's hardly likely. What, then, were the gifts with which the nice fountain pen was in competition and why has not the situation come to the attention of those even higher up in the company? Or are the upper executives even worse about it? While I am not making suggestions to the LWs this week, what would happen, one wonders, if LW3 were to request official corporate guidance on what gifts were appropriate and commensurate with the level of the particular executive in the case? And what, one wonders, does B3 have to buy his superiour on hes birthday? The mind boggles.

L2 "Bridge tournaments"? Has the Prudecutor ever attended a bridge tournament? Even the smallest of tournaments require considerably greater accommodation than a recreation room - although doubtless the recreation room of Mr Trump (a highly approrpiate bridge name, along with Mary Ann Singleton), as it must provide sufficient space to house his ego, could certainly accommodate a tournament. Minor points include wondering why it should necessarily be shocking for a teen to discover that hes grandparents were sexual beings? Swingers might be a bit of a problem, but the Prudecutor has come out strongly on the sides of porn-star mothers in the past, and a well-raised teen ought not to be traumatized by the fact that Sex Does Not Die At 25. If anything, that might be an encouraging point.

Moral: Rather than provide a quotation, I shall give an acrostic clue of my own devising:

"Bridge player with a void?" (5,5)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5/10 - Winning Teh Internets?

I'm not sure how long this is going to take.

L1: LW1 is in a slightly worse position than that occupied by Elspeth Scallon, who becomes Sister (later Dame) Cecily in In This House of Brede. Elspeth's mother digs in her heels and does all she can to prevent her daughter entering a Benedictine monastery, but does not quite go to such lengths as setting up fake appointments. Mrs Scallon is by far the driving force in her household, with a quiet husband who tends to give in and let her have everything her way. But Major Scallon (whose main mistake, if we recall Lady Elliot and perhaps Mr Weston, might have been in marrying a St Clair, who regarded his family as middle class and hers as good) is quietly supportive of his daughter, whereas F1 clearly lines up behind M1 and supports M1 even behind her back.

In cases with an outrageous parent, it's difficult for even the Prudecutor to gang far agley, as Rabbie Burns might have put it. All things considered, LW1 is doing rather better than all her friends who are driving themselves into anorexia or various other disorders. She appears to have taken for her role model the estimable Wendy Crump, the only person not put out when Claude Erskine Brown called her fat.

As for what LW1 can do, she can certainly try to establish ground rules with M1 - not much chance of success. If she's very lucky, she might manipulate M1 into going too far for even F1 to take - if F1 isn't really on M1's side all along and likely to become more open about it. She can find a new counselor, perhaps even having one or more joint sessions with M1 (likely if it can be presented to M1 as the fastest road to get LW1 to agree to surgery). Or LW1 can just find some way to avoid going home for the summer - probably the best option, which has the potential side benefit of nudging F1 into realizing that M1 has driven LW1 away if he really is on the fence.

L2: I like this letter because it is easy to brief oneself for almost any side except that of the LW (and, of course, the Prudecutor). Taking this point by point:

Separation/divorce devastated H2 when he was about 30 - This does not seem inherently to favour either parent. It might be used to suggest that the marriage was a happy one and the reason for cheating frivolous, that H2 was much closer to P2s than usual and that that and not F2's conduct caused H2 to take a side, or that M2 was good at applying band-aids.

Learned that M2 was cheating with a married man before the divorce - Learned from whom? I suspect that this is the key to whole situation. It's quite plausible that F2 was only too eager to punish M2 by broadcasting her infidelity. It's quite plausible that M2 was only too happy to justify her cheating by claiming that F2 drove her to it. It's plausible that a partisan for either side made the big reveal. This is a bit of a toss-up. It seems slightly more likely that the wronged party would have fewer disincentives to raise the issue, but that can be balanced by CP2 being married himself. This is a point that the Prudecutor overlooks. One can conjure sympathy for a married person who cheats under particular circumstances. One can conjure sympathy for someone cheating with a married partner, perhaps a little less easily. But a married person cheating with another married person is exponentially more likely to bear the brunt of the blame. It is a bit like believing that both Mrs Rogers and Antony Marsdon committed suicide in And Then There Were None.

Devastated F2 relied heavily on H2 for support - Again, what kind of support? Was F2 spending week after week picking over the carcass of M2's conduct? Or was he unable to get through many of the various necessities of daily life? There does seem to be a slight double standard favouring women in terms of a stricken spouse spiraling into depression - but then there is a contrary double standard favouring men in terms of speedily entering a new relationship.

Heavy toll on F2 - Again, could be spun either way. F2 was filling his ears with all of M2's misconduct and forcing him to choose between them. F2 could barely function and it killed H2 to see his father so incapacitated. Take your choice.

M2 living it up at parties with boyfriend - LW2 begins to go off the rail here. Yes, it can seem a bit unpleasant when any relationship ends if one partner, who left for another relationship, is out and about with that partner, but one may recall that Evgeny Platov and Maya Usova got more than just their own back on Alexander Zhulin and Oksana Grischuk. It may be unusual that CP2 should be equally free at the same time (and it would have been nice if LW2 had mentioned how that relationship has resolved itself if at all). This shows that LW2 is clearly taking F2's side, despite F2 having been in effect more closely related to the toll taken on H2. But that doesn't necessarily advance either side inherently.

Wounds healing, loving relationship restored between H2/M2 - How is F2 reacting to this?

Good relationship, but lost so much respect - Did H2 lose respect for M2 as well before the difficulties of F2? While H2 might not have been much up on what happened in the few years leading up to the separation and divorce, he'd know a good deal more than LW2 about how the marriage had been for many years - not that he would necessarily have been right, but he'd have a much better idea about it than she.

How to carry on with internal bitterness - Is LW2 serious? That's the whole point of "family" gatherings in the first place.

Happy ending/pressure - While the pressure is plausible to assume, we have no particular evidence that F2 ever pressured H2 into blaming M2.

Confidant - Assuming facts not in evidence.

Most importantly - The Prudecutor cannot know that H2 felt he had to take F2's side. Plenty of adult children of divorce pick a side without any prompting whatsoever. Here the prompting is plausible, but not conclusive, and there are equally plausible theories in the works.

Messy/painful/silly - Sounds as if someone is describing her own extramarital adventures, but I shan't go there...

Cordial/enjoying her company - Civility is entirely enough; cordiality will come as it can. There is no point in straining, though there are ways to arrange time spent together to be more likely to be as pleasant as possible, anywhere on a scale to suit LW2's instinct of how pleasant she wants to be.

Probably devoted/lucky to have her - There is NO FOUNDATION WHATSOEVER for assuming that M2 will probably be a devoted granny. All we know to be probable is that she has less than the usual amount of regard for the married state.

Points of interest: F2 seems to have faded from LW2's consciousness. How he fits into H2's repaired relationship with M2 (or not) would have been interesting to know. And again, I shall return to the point of who spilled the beans about the affair in the first place.

As for what to do - it's impossible to care. They all sound like rather unpleasant people.

L3: Divorce sooner rather than later. H3 is clearly more involved in maintaining some sort of parity with XW3 than he is in having a trustful relationship with LW3. And for pity's sake don't keep reproducing. Yes, XW3 sounds like a real piece of work, but my sympathy for LW3 is extremely limited, as this was, like a game of chess, an open problem at the time of the marriage.

L4: While I rarely call Fake!, here I have one of my favourite reasons for doing so - Dr Schwyzer.

One of the interesting tempests of the recent past involved the uproar surrounding Dr Schwyzer after a fairly banal interview of him by one of his friends and admirers was posted to one of the better-known feminist blogs. Comments were not running especially strongly in either direction until an anti-Schwyzer faction began to coalesce around the resurfacing of an old blog post of his in which he responded to a friend's sense of guilt at having let his dog outside to face foreseeable danger from coyotes with an account of the time he'd attempted to commit a rather white-knighty murder-suicide during a time when he was far from sober and an ex-girlfriend in dire circumstances popped back into his life.

Matters were not greatly helped when the interviewer, claiming private health concerns and lack of productivity, closed the original thread. She then posted shortly afterwards a somewhat preachy piece about redemption and forgiveness with commenting disabled. The fun began when the site's main poster started a new thread, basically stating that the original interview might have been better left unposted, there were problems with Dr Schwyzer's participation in the feminist movement, and that, despite those problems, an outright ban was not quite her version of the ideal response. (Not that he ever posted there again, but a pre-emptive ban would have been unprecedented.)

During the over-thousand-post thread that followed, one of the pursuits of some posters was to examine other writings of Dr Schwyzer. He had not long before then caused a bit of controversy by a series of posts dealing with his having some years previously acceded to the plan of a sex partner of his, who decided to marry her other sex partner after becoming pregnant, not to inform the other partner that she hadn't been exclusive at the time of conception. While this post did not raise much ire in light of the newer scandal, other side lines included his outing his second ex-wife as a lesbian.

But the point of this post and my cry of Fake! springs from the best of reasons. Someone found another post of his from about 2007 in which he'd related a source of considerable distress. He and his wife were about to give a large party, and, at the last party they'd given, most of the guests had overridden the assigned seating Dr and Mrs had so lovingly arranged for their benefit and swapped out their place cards to sit next to their loved ones. And therein lies the rub. For one thing, people who use place cards almost never sit husbands and wives next to each other. For another, what sort of moron trying to poison a DIL would risk putting her own son next to her?

As far as the merits of L4 go, LW4 was either incredibly hostile, incredibly feckless, or both. Change condiments with her husband's without telling him? What if, after all the previous instances of poisoning had passed off without anyone but the victim being suspicious, MIL4 had finally decided to go the whole hog and poison LW4 fatally? And, at the very least, she admitted to H4 that she deliberately gave him doctored food that made him ill, being of the opinion that it was highly likely to do so. Who on earth would stay married to anyone who did such a thing?

This one is a no-brainer. This couple has not earned the privilege of divorce and should be forced by order of the state to remain wedded in perpetuity. Family meals will end up looking like the famous dinner scene in the video game version of Clue, when Mr Boddy's will has been read and discovered to be of the tontine variety, with the last survivor to collect all the boodle. Fun times.

Moral: "I think Kitten should try."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5/3 - What's Really Appalling...

L4 - that LW4 had such low self-esteem that he had to marry somebody who had no chance whatsoever of meeting and besotting her particular celebrity of choice. Also, given the nature of the selections made by various celebrities in the romantic department, one might well wonder how far down the chain W4 must have sunk for the cause truly to be hopeless.

As for the actual situation, there seem to be two possible courses in play. LW4 himselfseems on the brink of stumbling upon the passive-aggressive response of shutting down and claiming to W4 that he's just no use because he can't measure up to CC4 in any way, shape or form. That might be a useful line to follow if one seeks to divorce. The Prudecutor advises a rival obsession, which would have about the same effect as might be observed if one were to direct a stream of liquid from the siphon onto some burning chops.

The Strindberg solution would be to feed W4's obsession rather than fight it. Send her off to pursue her dream of meeting and mating with CC4, and let her crawl back to base sadder but wiser. A variation on this would be to outdo W4 on the obsession front. This would require credible bisexuality, but would seem to have the highest chance of success in manipulating W4 into wanting never to hear CC4's name or see his image again.

L1 - that N1 has reached the lofty age of nineteen without having the slightest clue how to cope with a bullying former friend on a social networking site. People who make pornography ought to be able to cope with Facebook. It is moderately less appalling that the Prudecutor, who in the past has been the first to defend mothers who were major porn stars, should treat N1's chosen course as if it were universally terrible and not just something that worked out poorly for N1 herself.

Of course the Prudecutor rambles on through legal channels in her wish to castrate the pornographer. LW1 might also follow a slightly different course. It might well be possible to instill in N1 that she can face the world without any particular sense of shame over what she did. The Prudecutor would have N1 cover her tracks and then go on to be stridently anti-pornography in the future, which to these tired old eyes looks remarkably similar to the path followed by various evangelists.

L2 - ...comes from the Prudecutor. Just as likely? Just as likely?!? Quite possible - fine. Not uncommon - sure. But "just as likely" is typical prosecutorial and Prudecutorial overreach. I'll tell the Prudector what's just as likely. What's just as likely as the picture painted by the Prudecutor is that GF2 will decide LW2 is all she'll ever want in the way of a lover until after a few years of marriage when the glamour has worn off and she decides to blame him for having pressured her into the institution without sufficient comparative experience. There is minor outrage over a woman nearly thirty being called a girl, as LW2 does. Such outrage is occasionally, as here, diminished when a male LW clearly does not want to control the female in question.

The letter is interesting, as it does seem as if this creates another of those situations in which women just can't win. Shamed for experience, shamed for inexperience. But somehow this does not seem as bad as the case of the non-vrigin whose fiance had preserved his own virginity and wanted a bride of the same status. Yes, G2 would be lucky not to have to stumble through with another neophyte, but there are tangible negative aspects to being someone's first in various regards, especially at a time of life when one might reasonably expect that would not be the case. There are many more trivial reasons for not dating someone.

It's a bit like Richard Powell's novel Tickets to the Devil, set during one of the three National bridge tournaments held each year by the ACBL. Among the various amourous pursuits during the tournament is the seduction of Vicky Summers by Jake Jacobs, which progresses as far as the revelation that she (past the age of thirty) is still a virign. Not quite the same pitfalls as face LW2, but enough to send Jake scampering off in the opposite direction.

It's a simple enough situation. Why the Prudecutor thinks that the experience of Julia Child will cut more ice with LW2 than the lives of his personal friends I've no idea. But this is like many qualities subjectively deemed less than desirable. Weigh the pros and cons and then decide.

L3 - that F3 has probably suffered far more than LW3 for the latter's omission and also that it's highly likely that LW3 will come out of reparations better than she deserves. It calls forth reminiscences of the Twineham murder case, which revolved around an ill-matched married couple. The Book of Revelations met the Age of Aquarius, ending in death and interrment beneath the sitting-room floor. But, during the case, Dodo McIntosh and She Who Must Be Obeyed were nearly scared off attending their old school reunion when that year's chair turned out to be the former Chrissie Snelling, whom they had ragged mercilessly at school, and whose sudden departure had caused them both to carry a heavy burden of guilt for years. They only discovered, after being pressed into attending, that Chrissie had always found them great fun, though their conduct might in modern times have been deemed bullying.

At least there was one question that it would have been virtually impossible to get wrong.

Moral: "When he showed signs of walking out on her, she might throw fits, have hysterics, shoot herself, shoot him, yell for lawyers, who knows?"