Ask Alex - October 6, 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.
Happy Fall everyone...or, October at least, since the weather has yet to turn Fall (fine by me...I’m for never-ending summer). Daryl has apparently forgotten to ask his questions this week, which is going to make the whole thing seem weird, but we have some other contributors pitching in. Buckley Roberts has some questions about the C-bomb and Ingenious Firebrand wants clarification on some Twitter etiquette. Proper Opinion needs a new barber who better appreciates things that were cool in 1990, and three different people who are definitely NOT @sicariothrax have questions about some fictional world that I don’t know about, but that I now think I am empress of.
Submitted by: Daryl
This is kinda weird...I don’t have a question from Daryl this week. I’m not really sure how to handle this, it’s been MONTHS since I did one of these without Daryl!! Is he OK? Can someone do a wellness check?
I can’t just remove his section, though, since it is sort of a permanent fixture around here. Instead, I will use it to tell you that Daryl’s Fantasy Football team is off to a slow start, hampered by injuries to David Johnson and Derek Carr (pro tip, Daryl, you need to take those guys out of your lineup!!!), and slow starts by Demaryius Thomas and Doug Baldwin. Currently, he’s in 11th place at 1-3 and he is going to need to pick up the pace if he wants to threaten the playoffs as the season goes on.
You know who’s not struggling, though? I’ll give you hint...she’s got two thumbs, and she’s 4-0. Also, I suppose we should acknowledge that @marcannem96 is undefeated, too, but no one cares about that when we can talk about me, right? Glad to welcome Doug Martin back into the fold last night and we look forward to his contributions this week against Kayla and for the rest of the campaign. Now that Ezekiel Elliott has his unfortunate legal misunderstanding ironed out, Mariota Kart is primed and ready to compete for a Championship!
Also worth noting: the girls (me, @jholmsted, @molratty, @vixenrougue and @st55104716) have a combined record of 13-7...we’re beating the tar out of the boys!
Submitted by: Buckley Roberts
Hi Alex, I am NOT trolling here, and I mean this as a serious question --
A comment you made in your most recent column reminded me of something that has been puzzling me for a while: When did the "C-word" become so stigmatized? I can remember a time when it was just another slang term for "lady parts," similar to "snatch" or "twat," or even "pussy." (I just heard the latter term used on the new Will and Grace, so I guess that one has become as mainstream as "dick" and "balls". Good grief, network TV has gotten so crude.)
Now that I think of it, I haven't heard those other two used in decades, probably since college, grad school, and the military. Maybe that's because I've managed to grow up (?). Also, I don't think anyone I now associate with would use those terms.
Back to that other word, I recall an episode of Gilmore Girls in which Lorelei made reference to "the C-word." I had to ask my wife what she could possibly be referring to, as I had no idea that "that word" was considered to be a pejorative.
Maybe it has always been a more "nasty" word that I realized way back then and I just wasn't aware of it. Any insight you might have would be appreciated.
I’m a little confused as to why you thought I might interpret this as trolling…
I probably should have clarified that this is the worst word in American English, since it is a less offensive word in British or Australian English. And again, by that, I mean that it is the word that is acceptable in the fewest social situations and truly shocking in the most. There are lots of people who use the f-word in a lot of situations (like their regular quasi-advice columns at Misfits Politics, for example;-)) but many, many fewer that drop the c-bomb. It is somewhat rivaled by the n-word, although that remains very commonly used in a much wider set of venues than the c-word is.
It has a pretty interesting history. It is generally considered to have come from a series of German (kunte, kunto, kunton) or Norse (kunta) words referring to genitals or to female genitals, although that etymology is not universally accepted. Further, scholars are not clear on the origin of the German word, thinking that maybe it stems from Proto-Indo-European words for “create/become” (which have led to gonad, genital and genetics) and “woman” or the Greek “gune” which is the original root of gynecology. It bears suspicious similarities to the Latin word “cunnus” (“vulva”) but there has never been a linkage established to that as part of the origin. Colonel Angus could not be reached for comment...
As to when it became so stigmatized, the answer appears to be sometime near the end of the 18th century. Before that, its usage was somewhat slang, but not nearly as taboo. The first usage appears to be in a Middle English book of proverbs, translated to “Give your c*** wisely and make your demands after the wedding”.
Which seems totally backwards...if you were a woman in England in 1325, you should have made your demands before the wedding, because afterwards your bargaining position would have substantially diminished. Sure, Braveheart started a revolution because some slimy Lord wanted to bone his wife, but a more historically accurate portrayal probably would have had him gladly rent her out to every horny stable boy for a half a mug of warm mead and then beat her to death for having someone else’s baby. Middle Age men were slightly less romantic than Hollywood is telling you.
To your last question, in the public broadcast sphere, it has always been considered at least one of the nastiest words, and often the single worst. And as far as I can tell, it was always a more severe word than the other female genitalia slang you mentioned. In the BBC’s broadcast guidelines, it sits in the #1 spot of words you can not use, and it was one of George Carlin’s famous seven words. Funny thing about the seven dirty words, though, is how dated it is. On the list, two of the words (“piss” and “tits”) are barely even offensive anymore, and there are at least two words that remained as expletives long after the acceptance of those two (“bitch” and “ass”).
Two more (“cocksucker” and “motherfucker”) are amalgamations of other words. If you already can’t say “fuck”, why is there a special designation for “motherfucker”? Is it somehow worse because it has a qualifier? Do these people have no respect for mother jokes?!?!? “Cocksucker” is a combination of two words that are not even individually banned, but apparently make for a dangerous team. Frankly, if people from South Carolina can walk around with clothing that says “Cocks” in huge letters, I don’t see why we can’t say cocksucker on TV.
“Shit” made it’s way into prime-time television in 1999 on an episode of Chicago Hope, which really just leaves the c-word and the f-word as truly unmentionable words, at least among non-racial or ethnic epithets. I will admit that my opinion is potentially biased by the fact that I say "fuck" all the time with friends and co-workers and that I never, ever use the c-word, but I still think that the c-word is much less acceptable. I mean, I rarely use the p-word (only in very specific circumstances) because it is gross and icky, but I can recognize that it is not nearly as offensive or unusable as other expletives, so I am pretty comfortable that I am making an objective judgement.
But, long and short, don’t say it...chances are that whoever hears it will think less of you.
Submitted by: Ingenious Firebrand
At what point is a twitter post stale in that you should no longer respond? (Not posts directed at you, but more general stuff.)
You’ve stumbled onto one of my Twitter pet peeves...responses to tweets that are like two years old as if I just wrote them. I don’t really even understand sometimes how someone stumbled across a seemingly meaningless tweet. As far as I can tell, the “While you were gone” tweets are all within like 12 hours or so. I can’t imagine anyone is scrolling back through 40,000 stupid tweets, so I just don’t know how they even come across the Tweet they are responding to.
I get if the tweet is now timely again...sometimes people go scrolling for “Cold Takes” that have proven false, and that can be funny. The President’s habit of doing the exact things that he criticized previous Presidents for doing makes archiving his old stupidity totally worthwhile. But every once in awhile I just get a random response to a non-interesting tweet that is about 14 months too late to be useful!
The shelf life of a tweet is going to depend on the topic. As mentioned, if 2013 Donald Trump criticized Barack Obama for golfing after a hurricane, it is totally appropriate to respond to that tweet now. It has sort of renewed its relevance. And if someone tweeted that Tom Brady was washed up and should be benched after Week 3 of the 2014 season, then it is fine to mock that person after he throws for 1,400 yards, 10 TD’s with no interceptions in the first four games of the 2017 season.
But last week, I got a response to a pretty normal complaint about the MBTA Red Line...from 2014. And the response was something else innocuous like “Totally!” How did that person come across that tweet, which hadn’t generated any real interaction three years ago, now? And what possessed them to respond? I can’t even construct a scenario in my head that leads to someone sending me that tweet.
In general tweets are pretty stale after a day or two. Some expire much faster than that, and some sort of re-freshen themselves because they become relevant again. I know this usually doesn’t turn out well, but you are going to need to use your judgement.
Submitted by: Proper Opinion
My barber didn't understand my Kid 'n Play reference when asking what I wanted done. How do we rebuild trust?
First of all, you need to fire your barber, he can’t be trusted. I understand that professionals don’t need to have committed the entire body of knowledge related to their profession to memory - that is why we have reference books - but there is a certain basic minimum that we need to expect. I can’t trust his core training if he doesn’t get that reference. It is an unforgivable amateur mistake.
Imagine you go to meet with a new financial advisor and you ask him what an IRA is...if he stares at you blankly, you’re not going to hire him, right? There is just certain basic stuff that you can not be ignorant of and still be a good professional. And this is more than just technical industry knowledge, this implies that the guy is wholly detached from humanity. I was pretty young when Kid n’ Play were a thing, but I always at least knew them by the one guy’s absurd hair cut...it’s like the Hitler mustache of hip hop hairstyles, minus the genocide.
As any of you who read this regularly know, it sometimes turns into a stream of consciousness for me and questions get me off on to subjects that seem unrelated. Like, in this case, I am thinking of Kid(?) and his stupid hair cut, which brings me to the contemporaneous Do the Right Thing and Sweet Dick’s Willie’s utterly brilliant insult “What you oughta do is boycott that barber that gone and fucked up your head”. (I need to re-watch that movie, because in my memory, it was Radio Raheem that tried to lead the boycott of Sal’s, but in actuality it was Buggin’ Out.)
That leads me to Spike Lee, who has been making movies for over 30 years now, and I think is a little bit underrated, possibly because he is personally kind of insufferable. Surely, he has made some really dreadful movies (She Hate Me, Miracle at St. Anna, Bamboozled and a couple others), but the bulk of his work has ranged from solidly watchable to very good (Clockers, He Got Game, 25th Hour, Inside Man, Malcom X and my personal favorite, Crooklyn), he’s turned out two really groundbreaking films, (Do the Right Thing, which is objectively great, and She’s Gotta Have It) and a really gripping documentary (4 Little Girls). He also filmed Chiraq in what could pretty reasonably be called “Alex’s hood”, so he has that going for him...
I get that he is not everyone’s cup of tea as a person or as a filmmaker, either in the subject matter he deals with or the scripting and techniques that he uses to portray it. And his box office performance is OK, but not great (Inside Man did $180 million worldwide on a $45 million budget, and Malcom X was a big commercial success, as well, but he has had some stinkers, too). In total, though, he’s turned out a pretty big volume of work at this point and overall it is quite good. I mean, he certainly never took a $217 million budget and turned it into Transformers: The Last Knight...looking at you, Michael Bay…
What were we talking about? Oh, right, rebuilding trust because you have a bad barber… I think you just need to remember that the actions or one barber can not be held as an indictment against all barbers. Barbers are a profession of peace and historical pop culture understanding, and a single bad apple doesn’t call for any slanderous words against the many, many pop culture literate barbers in the world.
Submitted by: Mercy Festerheart
Which of the four Gods of Chaos would you worship? Slaanesh? Khorne? Tzeentch? Nurgle? Tell me truly, Reiklander, what has Sigmar done for you?
Khorne is just a total loser...blood and skulls? He’s like the patron saint of poseur suburban emo kids whose curfew is too early to take Mom’s minivan to any metal shows. If the Insane Clown Posse were loyal to any God of Chaos, it would be Khorne, and I am not hanging out with the fucking Juggalos, even in a fantasy world.
Tzeentch is basically for Dungeons and Dragons geeks. He’s also way too slimy for me...like if Littlefinger were a Chaos God. I also disapprove of the use of magic in any fantasy series because it is a super lazy form or storytelling. It bails creators out of the hard work of constructing plot points that are interesting and believable. How did this seemingly overmatched character realistically defeat an objectively stronger opponent? A good writer constructs a series of events that are reasonably plausible as explanation. The lazy one just chalks it up to magic. It also creates WAY too many plot holes...I mean, why was there even a giant quest for Frodo to destroy the ring in the fires of Mt. Doom? Why didn’t Gandalf just magic the thing there and throw it in himself? Albus Dumbledore is the greatest wizard who ever lived, but he never noticed that his new Dark Arts professor has another person’s head stapled to the back of his?! And while we are at it, wizards can transfigure themselves into cats, rats and any manner of inanimate objects, but Mrs. Weasley has to knit new sweaters and give the kids hand-me-down robes? Why not just make brand new ones? And why are they so fucking poor?! Just magic yourself up some money and stop pretending that there is nobility in poverty.
Nurgle is a complete downer, like malaria personified. I’m not getting on board with any cult that worships rickets. He also lost me entirely with the Rot Flies. I don’t even know what those are, but they sound like grosser versions of normal flies, and I despise those things enough as it is.
Was there really any doubt? Not only is it (maybe) the only female God, but if given the choice, I will always go with “lust, pleasure, desire and excess.” That may as well be the motto on my family crest. Which will get designed once @marcannem96 gets finished with the personal seal that I assigned him two weeks ago...
Speaking of...I am pretty sure I have told you all this before (I’ve told many of you privately, not sure about in this forum), but my last name is misspelled. This is probably the most white trash thing about me: my mother was so unfamiliar with my father that she had to guess at how to spell his last name, and since it is an unusual spelling, my (maiden) name was not spelled like his.
Like, imagine that your Mom was a trashy 17 year old drunk who met some equally trashy 18 year old crack addict at a party. They did what trashy addicts usually do: go on a bender together and have a bunch of risky sex. She ends up pregnant, so when she tracks him down like five months later at another party, they decide they should, like, hang out some more. Also seems like the sort of thing for which people should exchange full names, so they do. Now, imagine that his last name sounds like “Field” but is actually spelled “Pheald”, but they get high before they actually get to details like spelling.
Then, when she is maybe seven months pregnant, he disappears again. She thinks he’s in jail, but she’s not sure...whatever it is, she thinks he is coming back to her when he returns (you know, cuz they’re in lurve now) so she decides to give the totally healthy and not at all vodka soaked baby his last name. Which she things is spelled “Field”.
This presents some complications when little Baby Field grows up and goes looking for her father and combs the phone books of America’s third largest city and its surrounding suburbs looking for a deadbeat with the wrong fucking name…
Anyway, little Baby Field is now pretty proud of her name because it doesn’t belong to anyone but her, so she is ready to have that Family Crest designed, featuring the Dinosaur noted two weeks ago and the motto here. So, Marc, go ahead and get to work on that, OK?
Also, don’t call me Reiklander...I’d probably be from either Talabecland or Wissenland.
Submitted by: Theon Szeck
Can you name all the winds of magic in warhammer fantasy battles? Try not to use google or Wikipedia
Well, since I just had to use both Google and Wikipedia to answer the previous question, the cat is already out of the bag on that. I’d have probably guessed the Santa Ana, Diablo, Winds of Winter, Hamsin, Levante, Simoom, Pampero, Chinook and Zonda. Plus the Atlantic Trade Winds. Also, oboes.
Submitted by: Gotrek Gurnisson
Manling, why are yer people so bleedin smitten with elves? You should appreciate the dawi more often.
You really need me to answer that question?
10/6/2017 10:50:14 am
Yeah, elf all the way. How is that even a question? :)
10/6/2017 04:28:41 pm
Alex -- Thank you very much for the thorough, well researched, and scholarly reply. Regarding my assurance that I wasn’t trolling, well, it did cross my mind to wonder “Who asks a question like this?” and even worse, “Who even thinks about things like this?!”, so I wasn’t sure what sort of reaction I might get.
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Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.