Ask Alex - April 7, 2017
Welcome back to "Ask Alex", where I answer all of your stupid questions with even dumber answers. Have a question you need answered? Tweet it, email it or submit it here and I will get to it (maybe) next week.
This week, we will be fielding questions about names that sound like vowels, etiquette with asking about pregnancy, subway stories, Susan Rice, gambling and baseball, and White Russians.
Submitted by: KDJF
Would my life be better if I never spoke to anyone whose name is homophonically a verb?
Hugh Ken Nat Bea Sirius, Guy!!! Yule Mike Yurislav Effie Cray Xena!
There are, quite literally, hundreds of first names that are homophonically verbs, so this would be a pretty big deal. Also, it would require some sort of arbiter to determine if words like Barry (bury), Claude (clawed), Perry (parry), Shelby (shall be) are actually homophones of verbs.
And, let’s not forget the truly unique case of Dwayne, which is a homophone only when spoken by someone with a speech impediment. Would you not speak to them if you have the speech impediment or if he has the speech impediment? Or if it were any of his sweet ladies… we need some rules here...
If you stopped speaking to these people, I am going to estimate that you have cut out something like a quarter of US names (Bob, Rob, Bill, Will, Frank, Harry, Mark, Mike, Mary and Pat are all really popular names), and you’d also spend a lot of time trying to process everyone’s name before speaking to them. And think about this...I just came from a meeting with people named Allison, Bob, Emily and Dave. How would I go through that without talking just to Bob? And if Allison goes by Ally, then her name is an actual verb, but pronounced differently. Frankly, I think these rules would get way too confusing.
Point of interest: my name, at least the shortened version that my friends call me, is a noun. Also, my kids, who have decided that we are on a first name basis...
So, really, this comes down to how much you hate people...would you be better off if you just stopped speaking to half of humanity? You might...there are a lot of really terrible people out there.
Submitted by: Timothy E. Miller
What is your opinion of the Susan Rice thing?
I think this is one that is worthy of a whole lot more digging. On the surface, the National Security Advisor asking to unmask names in a SIGINT report isn’t particularly noteworthy...that is kind of her job. Asking for those names when you know that the names belong to people involved in a Presidential campaign is a little more problematic, but it is still not inherently wrong. Trying to know who may be influenced by, or could be in danger from, a foreign government is entirely her business.
The suspicion, obviously, is that she shared those names with other people, which is quite specifically against the law. There is not hard evidence of that yet, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if it turned out that she had. It certainly doesn’t help that she flatly denied unmasking any names at all, even for legitimate reasons.
The bigger problem is Susan Rice herself. America first met Susan Rice as the woman who took to the Sunday Morning shows in September of 2012 to peddle the Administration’s intentionally bogus story about a bad YouTube video after Benghazi. Then we met her again as the woman whose throwaway “honor and distinction” phrase in regards to Bowe Bergdahl set off a chain of events that cost her boss any chance of selling the Bergdahl exchange and likely will end up costing Bergdahl a lot of otherwise unnecessary penalty.
The second season of Serial was not nearly as interesting as the first, but the most fascinating part was, far and away, the way that Susan Rice’s being a moron ruined the Bowe Bergdahl swap for Obama and for Bergdahl. What almost certainly would have been handled quietly and without fanfare turned into a national shitstorm because she was simply too fucking stupid to know what her own words meant. Obama suffered immense political damage, and Bowe Bergdahl may well spend time in jail entirely because of her inability to keep her mouth shut.
Her incompetence extended to her time at the NSA, and her lack of professionalism is pretty well-documented. Combining that with her history of being a point person for ridiculous Obama political missions, it is pretty easy to see where she would be feeding names to political operatives during the campaign.
So, for now, it qualifies as “nothing yet”, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it turned out to be a whole lot more.
Submitted by: CC Hayes
When is it an appropriate time to ask and/or assume a woman is pregnant?
Goddamnit, CC, I told you I have been stressed a little bit lately and my thyroid is acting up. Lay off already!!! I’m not that fat...
I can think of a couple of very limited scenarios when it would be ok to ask. Like, imagine that you are out with a close girlfriend or family member and you order a drink and she, out of the norm, orders water or club soda or something. If you know that she has been thinking about getting pregnant or may fit the profile, then it is totally acceptable to ask her if she is pregnant. But this better be a really close friend that you can ask without making either of your feel weird…
Or, you are a medical professional and a woman has passed out or been in some kind of an accident. It is possible that the way you treat her would be impacted by her being pregnant...in that case, yes, it is totally appropriate to ask her if she is pregnant. There are other situations where you may need to advise someone or warn someone who is pregnant about something. If you would ask the question of any adult woman, then it is fine to ask. If you are asking because she looks like she has chunked up a little bit, then you better bite your tongue.
I can only think of one time when you might have to assume someone is pregnant: the un-navigable social swamp of the subway… Imagine you're sitting on the subway, and a 30-ish women gets on, wearing a winter coat and you suspect she may be like five months pregnant. Or maybe four months in summer. Do you offer your seat? You gotta make a decision and you're rolling the dice either way...if you ask and she isn't pregnant, your called her fat, but not asking if she is makes you an asshole. There is no right answer here: just make a decision and go with it.
Unrelated, I will absolutely shame seat-hoggers on the subway. Like, the 25 year old guy who's sitting on a full train and pretending not to see the old lady standing next to him? You're gonna get a “Do you think you could give her your seat?” that makes it clear that I know you saw her just fine. And I don't even like old people!!! And I'll be even less pleasant if it's a mom with a kid under 7…
Story time! I have a friend who met her husband on the subway. She was on a train that got stranded for AN HOUR because of a broken track, during which time she randomly started talking to a guy standing in the stairwell with her. I can't think of a less pickup-friendly scenario, but for some reason they hit it off. She gave him her number before she got off the train, and about three years later I got bombed drinking White Russians at The State Room!
By the way, “Alex got bombed drinking White Russians” is the new “Happily ever after”.
Submitted by: Anonymous
This is the start of the baseball season, so I want to give you a baseball question. Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?
We kicked this one around the Misfits DM a little bit, with some differing answers ranging from “Yes, there are a lot worse people in the Hall of Fame” to “No, he broke the rules, he knew it at the time and he has never shown contrition.” I also consulted a very trusted baseball nut of a friend for some input here. And after all of that, I have reached my decision.
No, he should not be in the Hall of Fame, and he should never be allowed in.
There is only one rule that permeates every professional sport played in every country on every continent of the world: you can’t bet on your own games. It is posted in every Major League Baseball clubhouse and would have been drilled into every player from his first day in the minor leagues. It is the most important rule.
There are all sorts of definitions of “the integrity of the game”, and those came up in our discussion, but to me it comes down to one simple idea. It is really the only idea that threatens to destroy the very game itself: every guy, on every play in every game, has to be doing his honest best to win as many games as possible. If fans begin to doubt that, then there is no sport.
And this is what separates gambling from the various cheating violations that it is compared to often. Sure, steroids and sign stealing and amphetamines and corked bats may distort the game and give some teams or players unfair advantages, but it doesn't attack the core of the athletic competition in the way that gambling can. Barry Bonds may be artificially enhanced, but his only motivation when he is at home plate is to try to hit the ball, and the pitchers only motivation is to try to get him out. Fans need to be able to trust that.
Gambling ruins that dynamic. If Pete Rose has $1,000 on his own team to lose today, or he has $1,000 on his team to win tomorrow and nothing on them today, then he has a motivation that runs counter to his trying to win today’s game. It is the only unforgivable crime against a fan. There is a reason that attendance and interest across the league plummeted after the 1919 Black Sox gambling scandal in a way that it never did during or after the steroid years or the peak seasons of amphetamine usage. Fans can tolerate (I would argue that fans actually want) players cheating to try and win a game. They won’t tolerate the idea that some of the players are not interested in winning.
Quite simply, gambling can destroy baseball. There is no amount of steroid usage or off-field moral failings that can destroy the game in the way that gambling can. When the ball goes through Bill Buckner’s legs, there can’t be a shred of doubt that he was trying to catch it, or else the whole enterprise fails. Players who violate the cardinal rule are conspiring to destroy the sport.
The Hall of Fame exists to promote the sport of baseball by honoring and preserving its past. No sport should ever honor a person who conspired to destroy it.
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