Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 487354 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1890 on: March 06, 2018, 12:36:56 pm »
Tell you what. This has got tiresome, and I'm done. I have no interest in discussing/debating cultural constructs across cultures, and I think it's only a minority that is partly there already, and the rest of us are under no obligation to follow, especially in formal writing.

Also, it looks to me that to say the AP stylebook accepts singular they is to tell only half the story. Yes, it does, but apparently as of last year/2017, the complete entry is: "They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always preferable."

AP acceptance is certainly newsworthy, but the guideline is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1891 on: March 07, 2018, 10:19:22 am »
Tell you what. This has got tiresome, and I'm done.

That's fine. I like talking about language. But you've stated your views on "they," and I've stated mine.

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I have no interest in discussing/debating cultural constructs across cultures,

I don't even know what that debate would be, because I never did understand what you meant. The ways that gender is understood or performed, the expectations for how genders are expected to behave, certainly differs across cultures, with some cross-cultural similarities. Maybe that's what you meant. But what you said is, "gender is a cultural construct," which sounds as if the whole concept exists only in a cultural sense. That doesn't sound like something you would believe, which is why I kept asking. But if you do, I was curious to hear why.

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and I think it's only a minority that is partly there already

You're mixing up my take on the two meanings. Many if not most people already use "they" in the "your doctor" sense in casual ordinary speech. Hardly anybody uses "they" to refer to gender-non-binary people, because many don't even know what that means.

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, and the rest of us are under no obligation to follow, especially in formal writing.

Pretty sure I never said anyone is under an obligation to follow!  :laugh:

And I'm pretty sure I explicitly did say I myself would not use it (in the "your doctor" sense) in formal writing .

My own formal writing has never involved gender non-binary people. But if it did -- and of course it already does for psychologists and the like -- I would use "they." Using "he" against the person's wishes would sound insensitive to much of your audience (professionals who work with non-binary people or the people themselves -- not the general population). It would sound like insisting on calling trans people by their biological, rather than preferred, gender identity. (Also, I wonder what you'd do if you were talking to my coworker about his non-binary kid?)

Let's take something in between: a newspaper story. If I were writing about a non-binary person, I would say something like "Jordan does not identify with either male or female genders and prefers plural pronouns." Then I would use plural pronouns.

Side note: This may be changing faster than you thought. When my son attended Occidental College, a left-leaning liberal arts school based in LA, everybody at orientation was asked what pronouns they prefer. And professors' pre-set email signatures would say things like, "Frank Smith, who prefers male pronouns."

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"However, rewording usually is possible and always preferable."

No argument there.  :)

Look, Jeff, you don't have a smartphone, you're not on Facebook, you don't have DVR, etc. Not only because you haven't gotten around to it but because you steadfastly decline to succumb to widespread cultural change. I don't want to psychoanalyze you, but it has been my impression that you pride yourself on sticking with established ways. I'm different in those respects.

So it doesn't surprise me that we have different views on how accepted language usage should evolve.





Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1892 on: March 07, 2018, 10:23:09 am »
This has got tiresome

Not to open a whole new can of worms, but do you always use "got" for past-perfect or whatever that tense is called? I grew up always using "gotten." Then I noticed that the New Yorker uses "got." I'm still figuring out if that's one of the New Yorker's language idiosyncrasies or if it's a regional thing or if it's s just standard correct usage I didn't know about.

Maybe I should consult my AP stylebook!



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1893 on: March 07, 2018, 11:49:31 am »
Not to open a whole new can of worms, but do you always use "got" for past-perfect or whatever that tense is called? I grew up always using "gotten." Then I noticed that the New Yorker uses "got." I'm still figuring out if that's one of the New Yorker's language idiosyncrasies or if it's a regional thing or if it's s just standard correct usage I didn't know about.

Maybe I should consult my AP stylebook!

No, I don't. I think I go back and forth on that, especially informally. In this case, I wanted to suggest a reference, and I felt I needed  a past tense, because in context "Gets tiresome" wouldn't work, and "got" seemed closer to "gets" than "gotten" would be.  ;D
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1894 on: March 07, 2018, 05:27:15 pm »
I don't even know what that debate would be, because I never did understand what you meant. The ways that gender is understood or performed, the expectations for how genders are expected to behave, certainly differs across cultures, with some cross-cultural similarities. Maybe that's what you meant. But what you said is, "gender is a cultural construct," which sounds as if the whole concept exists only in a cultural sense. That doesn't sound like something you would believe, which is why I kept asking. But if you do, I was curious to hear why.

Why wouldn't I?

It occurred to me this morning that my views might be heavily influenced by my work, and it seems they are (I've been on my job for 16 years now). Unfortunately I'm now at home (see my blog), so I don't have the book in front of me to quote, but our standard at work is the American Medical Association's style book. The AMA uses sex as a matter of biology, whereas gender relates to how society views a person and how that person self-identifies and lives. That says to me that the AMA regards gender as more of a cultural thing.

Seems sensible to me.

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You're mixing up my take on the two meanings. Many if not most people already use "they" in the "your doctor" sense in casual ordinary speech. Hardly anybody uses "they" to refer to gender-non-binary people, because many don't even know what that means.

Thank you for clarifying that.

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Pretty sure I never said anyone is under an obligation to follow!  :laugh:

No, you didn't, but that sounded to me like the implication of "the rest of society had better catch up."

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My own formal writing has never involved gender non-binary people. But if it did -- and of course it already does for psychologists and the like -- I would use "they." Using "he" against the person's wishes would sound insensitive to much of your audience (professionals who work with non-binary people or the people themselves -- not the general population). It would sound like insisting on calling trans people by their biological, rather than preferred, gender identity.

Hmm. I suppose if we all just used trans that would be one way around the whole transgender/transsexual usage issue. And I'm not trying to be funny.

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(Also, I wonder what you'd do if you were talking to my coworker about his non-binary kid?)

I'm assuming the kid wants "they" used and the parent is OK with it? I'd use the kid's name, even at the risk of sounding awkward or stilted at times, and if I were asked why I was doing that, I would reply (I hope in a way that didn't sound belligerent) that I don't wish to be insulting but I won't use a plural pronoun top refer to an individual.

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Let's take something in between: a newspaper story. If I were writing about a non-binary person, I would say something like "Jordan does not identify with either male or female genders and prefers plural pronouns." Then I would use plural pronouns.

Does Jordan prefer (insist?) on using plural pronouns for everyone, or only for Jordan?  ;D

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Side note: This may be changing faster than you thought. When my son attended Occidental College, a left-leaning liberal arts school based in LA, everybody at orientation was asked what pronouns they prefer. And professors' pre-set email signatures would say things like, "Frank Smith, who prefers male pronouns."

I guess that says a lot, doesn't it?

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Look, Jeff, you don't have a smartphone, you're not on Facebook, you don't have DVR, etc. Not only because you haven't gotten around to it but because you steadfastly decline to succumb to widespread cultural change. I don't want to psychoanalyze you, but it has been my impression that you pride yourself on sticking with established ways. I'm different in those respects.

No, you shouldn't. You're not a psychoanalyst, and your impression is mistaken. Pride has nothing to do with it. To an extent stinginess probably does. It seems that in this I'm very like my father to the point you might think I was raised right next to him in the Depression. I just don't believe in giving up something that works perfectly well for me until whatever that something is no longer works for me, or needs to be replaced. I've got a perfectly functioning 1990s TV (great picture, great sound--better than the flat-screen I got at work). Why get rid of a perfectly functioning appliance just because I can't hook it up to my PC? When I no longer had the use of a PC at my job (because the job was eliminated), I got one of my own. When it became difficult if not impossible to make long-distance phone calls from hotel-room telephones, I got a cell phone.

Here's where the stinginess comes in. I simply don't believe in spending money on new technology just because it's new. I realize lots of people are perfectly fine with that, otherwise they wouldn't stand in line all night whenever Apple comes out with a new iPhone. But I'm not the kid who has to be the first on the block to have the latest toy. That's just not who I am.

But I'll also say this. I know I've said before that just about every time I bring myself to the point of going on Facebook, I hear another horror story about Facebook (usually related to flaming--I believe that's the word?). But it appears that Facebook is rapidly becoming something necessary for my life. I see that. It gives me no pleasure to admit this more or less publicly, but if I'm honest with myself, I believe what is really holding me back is lack of self-confidence that I can set up an account without somehow screwing it up, especially with regards to security.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1895 on: March 07, 2018, 06:50:07 pm »
I guess we went a bit OT, didn't we?  ;D
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1896 on: March 07, 2018, 10:19:47 pm »
Why wouldn't I?

Because the notion is seriously logically flawed, and I credit you with common sense.

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It occurred to me this morning that my views might be heavily influenced by my work, and it seems they are (I've been on my job for 16 years now). Unfortunately I'm now at home (see my blog), so I don't have the book in front of me to quote, but our standard at work is the American Medical Association's style book. The AMA uses sex as a matter of biology, whereas gender relates to how society views a person and how that person self-identifies and lives. That says to me that the AMA regards gender as more of a cultural thing.

Well, that helps explain your remark. (I think in real life, most people these days use "gender" to mean "sex" so they don't confuse "sex" with "sex." But to avoid getting into another battle over terminology, let's humor the AMA and follow suit for the moment.) You no doubt know more about the AMA's contention and the thinking behind it. But to me it seems extremely bizarre.

Let's go though it. They feel -- I mean, it (the organization) feels that sex is, to put it crudely, the difference between penises and vaginas (plus different body shapes, body-hair patterns, hormones, chromosomes, reproductive systems, etc.) And gender is everything else?

So the parents see a penis and raise the kid accordingly -- blue clothing, short haircut, trucks and baseballs as gifts. Vaginas get pink clothing, longer hair and dolls. The kids take the hint and model their behavior after other kids with similar hair and clothing. And so it goes, not only with appearances and pastimes, but also behavior and everything else, including deep-down feelings of gender identity? At some point fairly early in the process, the kid understands which thing s/he is, based entirely on external environmental signals?

That is really far-fetched. For example, studies show that kids feel a strong gender -- excuse me, sexual -- identity very early, like by age 2 or so. And typically they aren't confused about it even if they don't like baseball or dolls, even if they're wearing purple, even if their parents raise them in a more sex-neutral way. It also doesn't explain transgender people, who intensely believe they're of the opposite gender despite outward signs -- not just clothing, etc., but genitalia -- also very early on (I've seen Barbara Walters interview 7-year-olds who insist they're the opposite sex). It hardly even explains homosexuality, because if you simply followed what the culture tells people of your sex to do you'd have settled down with a nice girl years ago.  :)

Sexual expression varies widely from culture to culture (e.g., hijab vs. bikini), but there are cross-cultural similarities in gender behavior that suggest the concept goes deeper than that stuff. I'll keep coming up with examples and explanations if you like, but I figure I got my point across.

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No, you didn't, but that sounded to me like the implication of "the rest of society had better catch up."

Again, it depends on which "they" we're talking about. For the "your doctor" kind, you can refuse to use it for the rest of your life and scoff when anyone does -- you could even correct their grammar in conversations, for which I'm sure they'll be very grateful!  :laugh:

As for non-binary "they," then yeah, I think society will have to catch up, or risk offending people. The way they've caught up to "developmentally challenged" vs. "moron," or "black" vs. "negro." Of course, there are far fewer non-binary people than there are people in those groups, and their existence is far less well known. So the catch-up process may take longer.

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Hmm. I suppose if we all just used trans that would be one way around the whole transgender/transsexual usage issue. And I'm not trying to be funny.

People use "trans" all the time in casual contexts. In formal ones, you'd probably go with transgender at this point. Even the AMA would be pleased, right? Because they're identifying with the opposite gender, in AMA terminology, not the opposite sex.

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I'm assuming the kid wants "they" used and the parent is OK with it? I'd use the kid's name, even at the risk of sounding awkward or stilted at times, and if I were asked why I was doing that, I would reply (I hope in a way that didn't sound belligerent) that I don't wish to be insulting but I won't use a plural pronoun top refer to an individual.

Yeah, it would be insulting. People would interpret that as you saying that traditional grammatical rules are more important to you than their feelings. Which I guess is exactly what you are saying.

Using the person's name, often multiple times in the same sentence, would sound more than stilted. "What time does Terry's plane get in, and where should we take Terry for dinner -- do you know what kind of food Terry likes? I think Terry said years ago that Terry is a vegetarian but I don't know if Terry still is."

In my coworker's case, I imagine it was hard to grapple with at first, but at this point the dad seems fine with it as far as I can tell (I don't know him that well). I have another friend whose stepdaughter had her breasts removed at age 17 and became "they." My friend didn't outright object -- it wasn't her place; the kid lived with the mother in a different state -- but my friend did seem to harbor reservations about someone who wasn't even old enough to vote removing whole body parts.

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I guess that says a lot, doesn't it?

Yes, but everything but the "LA" part was almost redundant. Many if not most liberal arts schools are left-leaning. And since I'm left-leaning, I have no problem with that.

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You're not a psychoanalyst,

I just play one on TV.

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To an extent stinginess probably does. It seems that in this I'm very like my father to the point you might think I was raised right next to him in the Depression. I just don't believe in giving up something that works perfectly well for me until whatever that something is no longer works for me, or needs to be replaced. I've got a perfectly functioning 1990s TV (great picture, great sound--better than the flat-screen I got at work). Why get rid of a perfectly functioning appliance just because I can't hook it up to my PC? When I no longer had the use of a PC at my job (because the job was eliminated), I got one of my own. When it became difficult if not impossible to make long-distance phone calls from hotel-room telephones, I got a cell phone.

Here's where the stinginess comes in. I simply don't believe in spending money on new technology just because it's new. I realize lots of people are perfectly fine with that, otherwise they wouldn't stand in line all night whenever Apple comes out with a new iPhone. But I'm not the kid who has to be the first on the block to have the latest toy. That's just not who I am.

Well, you won't see me in line at the Apple store, either. I think my phone is at least two old by now. But the wireless company lets you upgrade every couple of years if you extend your contract.

That said, most of the new devices you refer to here aren't just shinier than the ones they replaced.

I was a late adopter of smartphones -- "that just seems kind of sad," my son said when I got my last flip phone -- but when I did it changed my life. Now when I have to go somewhere in an unfamiliar area I just go, knowing that with GPS I won't get lost. If I need a ride, I contact Lyft and someone drives up, usually within 5 minutes. If I get bored and don't have a book with me, I have a whole internet. If I want to text someone, I don't have to laboriously hit the same key three times to write a C. If I need to do some quick banking, it's right there. If I can't remember what actor played so and so, the answer is available in moments (my sons can look up stuff like that without even pausing the conversation). If I want to know the temperature or what time it's supposed to start snowing, I look at my phone. I'm just now discovering how convenient it makes travel, in a lot of ways. And if I need an alarm clock, a flashlight, a mirror, a price comparison ... they're all there. I like to sleep with white noise, so I used to have to pack this bulky heavy battery-operated thing when I traveled. Now my phone can provide it.

As for DVR, I can only imagine what a nightmare it would have been to try to watch Vietnam or The Roosevelts, for example, without it. You'd have to sit there for two hours a night, for eight or however many nights in a row! If you wanted to make dinner or use the bathroom, you'd have to miss a part. I watched those shows an hour at a time, some nights but not others, some time after they were first broadcast. And for other shows, if you miss an episode in an ongoing plot, you're out of luck.

So I guess what I'm saying is, there were probably people who insisted that those sink scrubbers like Alma used got clothes just as clean as an electric washer would. And that a horse and wagon would get you to your destination just as effectively as one of those newfangled horseless carriages. But new technology actually offers conveniences lacking in the old stuff.

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But I'll also say this. I know I've said before that just about every time I bring myself to the point of going on Facebook, I hear another horror story about Facebook (usually related to flaming--I believe that's the word?). But it appears that Facebook is rapidly becoming something necessary for my life. I see that. It gives me no pleasure to admit this more or less publicly, but if I'm honest with myself, I believe what is really holding me back is lack of self-confidence that I can set up an account without somehow screwing it up, especially with regards to security.

Flaming isn't really a thing on Facebook. (That's more a Twitter thing.) On FB, you connect with your friends, and only they can see your posts, so unless they turn against you, you're safe. Or even if they did, you'd delete their comments, just like you can on this blog. Setting up an account is really easy. And I'm trying to imagine what kind of security risks might be involved. What would you put on there that you would worry about?



Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1897 on: March 07, 2018, 10:20:45 pm »
I guess we went a bit OT, didn't we?  ;D

We've practically written a whole New Yorker article by now!  :laugh:


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1898 on: March 07, 2018, 11:25:12 pm »
Because the notion is seriously logically flawed, and I credit you with common sense.

Obviously, I disagree. And this is coming close to being insulting.

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Well, that helps explain your remark. (I think in real life, most people these days use "gender" to mean "sex" so they don't confuse "sex" with "sex." But to avoid getting into another battle over terminology, let's humor the AMA and follow suit for the moment.) You no doubt know more about the AMA's contention and the thinking behind it. But to me it seems extremely bizarre.

It's. A. Style. Book.

If it means that much to you, go take it up with the AMA. I'm not here to defend the AMA. I just happen to agree with it's choice of style.

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Even the AMA would be pleased, right?

I'm sure the AP would be pleased to know you follow its style.

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Yeah, it would be insulting. People would interpret that as you saying that traditional grammatical rules are more important to you than their feelings. Which I guess is exactly what you are saying.

Is this supposed to embarrass me, or what? If it is, it ain't workin'.

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In my coworker's case, I imagine it was hard to grapple with at first, but at this point the dad seems fine with it as far as I can tell (I don't know him that well). I have another friend whose stepdaughter had her breasts removed at age 17 and became "they." My friend didn't outright object -- it wasn't her place; the kid lived with the mother in a different state -- but my friend did seem to harbor reservations about someone who wasn't even old enough to vote removing whole body parts.

As well he might, especially if he was expected to contribute to the cost of it.

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That said, most of the new devices you refer to here aren't just shinier than the ones they replaced.

I said nothing about appearance.

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As for DVR, I can only imagine what a nightmare it would have been to try to watch Vietnam or The Roosevelts, for example, without it. You'd have to sit there for two hours a night, for eight or however many nights in a row! If you wanted to make dinner or use the bathroom, you'd have to miss a part. I watched those shows an hour at a time, some nights but not others, some time after they were first broadcast. And for other shows, if you miss an episode in an ongoing plot, you're out of luck.

See, here this reads to me like you think that because it would have been a nightmare for you to sit through Vietnam or The Roosevelts, it had to be a nightmare for everyone else. Clearly it wasn't.

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Flaming isn't really a thing on Facebook. (That's more a Twitter thing.) On FB, you connect with your friends, and only they can see your posts, so unless they turn against you, you're safe. Or even if they did, you'd delete their comments, just like you can on this blog. Setting up an account is really easy. And I'm trying to imagine what kind of security risks might be involved. What would you put on there that you would worry about?

Well, when I say "security," I'm just thinking there are parts of my life that I prefer not to share with everybody. For example, I would be fine with communicating with other Bettermost folks, but I'm not interested in sharing my activity (such as it is) within the gay male leather community with everyone else, even people from Bettermost. (Remember TNY interview with Zuckerberg where he didn't seem to comprehend that not everyone wants to share all of their lives with everyone else?) If you can have only one account, can you pick and choose who can see what, and how difficult is it to figure out how to do it? That's the sort of thing that concerns me.

Incidentally, I did visit the Facebook web site this afternoon. Looks easy enough to open an account. It's what comes after--managing the account maybe you'd call it?--that concerns me.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1899 on: March 08, 2018, 11:37:39 am »
Obviously, I disagree. And this is coming close to being insulting.

Sorry. Didn't mean to be rude.

Note that I credited you with common sense. And yes, I think the AMA's notion, as you stated it, is seriously flawed. I guess by criticizing the AMA, I am by default criticizing anyone who sees the situation that rigidly. So by inference, I guess I did insult you. Sorry.

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It's. A. Style. Book.

Actually, as you know, the AMA is an organization (as are the AP and the APA; not sure where the Chicago Manual comes from). So I assumed the style book reflects the association's official position on medically related topics. If that means nothing beyond style and the organization's views are more nuanced, fine. But what you said was "gender is a cultural construct," which I interpreted as meaning gender is a cultural construct. Not, the use of the word "gender" in writing refers exclusively to external expression and cultural norms.

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I just happen to agree with it's choice of style.

Ahem.

(Sorry -- I normally don't do that but in this situation I couldn't resist.)

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I'm sure the AP would be pleased to know you follow its style.

This is taken so out of context I didn't even know what you were talking about. I didn't even say anything about "you." But yeah, I suppose the AP style writers are pleased about how many people and organizations follow their guidelines. If nothing else, they sell more books.

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Is this supposed to embarrass me, or what? If it is, it ain't workin'.

Well, I'm glad it isn't, because that wasn't the intent. It was a simple description of how I see the situation.

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As well he might, especially if he was expected to contribute to the cost of it.

No, I don't think she was. But geez, Jeff, do you really feel like the worst part of that situation is its cost?

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I said nothing about appearance.

Sorry. I assumed you would understand that "shiny" was a figure of speech in that sentence. Would "newer and fancier" or something like that help clarify the meaning?

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See, here this reads to me like you think that because it would have been a nightmare for you to sit through Vietnam or The Roosevelts, it had to be a nightmare for everyone else. Clearly it wasn't.

Well, you mentioned missing parts, and I thought you seemed to regret that. I didn't miss anything. In fact wasn't until you wrote about watching Vietnam without DVR that I started thinking about what a pain it would be. Nightmare would be an exaggeration -- sorry, there I go with a figure of speech again. But I normally don't watch more than an hour of TV a night. Some nights I don't watch at all because I'm going out or something. It would be a huge pain to sit there for two hours night after night. And I like being able to get up and go into the kitchen or whatever -- if a show has commercials that makes it easier, but Burns' documentaries don't. And, as I said, I don't like missing parts.

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Well, when I say "security," I'm just thinking there are parts of my life that I prefer not to share with everybody. For example, I would be fine with communicating with other Bettermost folks, but I'm not interested in sharing my activity (such as it is) within the gay male leather community with everyone else, even people from Bettermost.

I have tons of Bettermost friends on FB, including old-timers like Barb and Sheyne. Most of them never talk about Bettermosty stuff these days anyway. Occasionally they might slip a subtle Brokieism into a comment, but that's about it. If they want to go full BBM, they go to a group page called "Bluebirds and Whiskey Springs" that's private and by invitation only, so only BetterMost people can see it. Diana Ossana is a member and posts or comments occasionally. It's where I first saw Phillip announce his plans to revamp this site.

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f you can have only one account, can you pick and choose who can see what, and how difficult is it to figure out how to do it?

Yes, and not very. When you post something, there's a little icon with a dropdown box next to it. You can post it publicly -- meaning anyone in the world can see it -- or just to your FB friends, or just to specific FB friends, or to all your friends except so and so. I've done the last thing, for instance, when asking for recommendations for a gift for my niece. I posted it to everyone but my niece and her parents.

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Incidentally, I did visit the Facebook web site this afternoon. Looks easy enough to open an account. It's what comes after--managing the account maybe you'd call it?--that concerns me.

Well, there are privacy settings for this or that, and they can get complicated. There are articles out there that can guide you. I don't pay that much attention to them, though. I just never say anything on FB that I wouldn't say in real life anyway. As an MSM journalist and someone with a public byline -- who in fact partly uses FB as a place to promote my own work -- I have to be a bit careful, but I've never had a problem.