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Probably heard the oral sex ones before.....

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Ophan

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Jul 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/26/97
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Okay kids I heard this one not too long ago......
Oral sex was owtlawed in Oregon, it is still considered sodomy
Anal sex was also outlawed
But we have no indecent exposure laws.....
Except for the one that says that a man cannot walk around with a visible
erection

The story behind these is that these laws were created to make it illegal
to be gay.... interesting hmmm?

"God was here but he left early"- Irwin shaw

Ophan

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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>Why is it then if "gay sex" is illegal in Oregon and Massachusetts, that
>there are so many queers living in those states? Northhampton, Ma. is a
>lesbian mecca, as is most of the state of Oregon. Riddle me that!
>
>
>
>
>

That is very true..... But, Oregon has an extremely tremulous history
between the eastern side of the state (think Texas only more religious)
and the laid back west......And. most of the gay community is in the
western part of the state

Colin McElroy

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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bi...@magpage.com (Bill D) wrote:

>-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

>In article <19970726200...@ladder01.news.aol.com> in


>newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, Ophan <op...@aol.com> wrote:

>>Okay kids I heard this one not too long ago......
>>Oral sex was owtlawed in Oregon, it is still considered sodomy
>>Anal sex was also outlawed

>Both are illegal in Massachusetts, too, as far as I know, and lots of
>other places too.

How many other places are there?

Colin


Morbidia I

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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bi...@magpage.com wrote regarding oral and anal sex:

>Both are illegal in Massachusetts, too, as far as I know, and lots of
>other places too.


I remember it once being said that in Massachusetts if you were making
love and accidentally fell out of bed you could be deemed to have
committed at least 4 felonies. In that era, of course, no book could be
considered even mildly racy unless it had already been banned in Boston.

Bob Hiebert

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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In article <5ref06$t...@mackrel.fishnet.net>, s...@fishnet.net (Colin McElroy) wrote:
>bi...@magpage.com (Bill D) wrote:

>>>Okay kids I heard this one not too long ago......
>>>Oral sex was owtlawed in Oregon, it is still considered sodomy
>>>Anal sex was also outlawed
>

>>Both are illegal in Massachusetts, too, as far as I know, and lots of
>>other places too.
>

>How many other places are there?

That's an eary thought.

Bob "nose a bad thread when he reads it" Hiebert

---
E-mail address is munged. Correct to reply.

For the full story on Urban Legends, don't miss
http://www.urbanlegends.com/

James Geren

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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Colin McElroy writes:

>>>Okay kids I heard this one not too long ago......
>>>Oral sex was owtlawed in Oregon, it is still considered sodomy
>>>Anal sex was also outlawed

>>Both are illegal in Massachusetts, too, as far as I know, and lots of
>>other places too.

>How many other places are there?

I read the figure sometime recently but don't recall--something like 20-30
states have anti-sodomy laws. Among them: North Carolina (where a man was
supposedly thrown into prison a few years ago after his wife brought up,
during their divorce proceedings, that she'd fellated him during their
marriage; is this UL?) and Georgia, whose anti-sodomy statute was challenged,
and upheld, in the notorious U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick --
perhaps the most distressing, poorly-reasoned, and mean-spirited decision to
be handed down by the Court in many years.

James B. Geren
Columbus, Ohio
ger...@osu.edu

***To reply via e-mail, remove <NO-ADS> from return address.
***Advertisements to this address are forbidden, unwelcome, resented.

Rush Strong

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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In article <gerenNO-ADS.2...@osu.edu>, gerenN...@osu.edu (James Geren) wrote:

[snip]

>marriage; is this UL?) and Georgia, whose anti-sodomy statute was challenged,
>and upheld, in the notorious U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick --
>perhaps the most distressing, poorly-reasoned, and mean-spirited decision to
>be handed down by the Court in many years.

IIRC, the court ruled that a state had the right to enact its own laws, and
that the Supreme Court had no right to impose its will upon the state - I
thought it was indeed well reasoned. [I also believe that the Georgia law is
absurd, but it's up to Georgia to change it].

- Rush "I'm not a Constitutional scholar, but I saw one on TV" Strong


Please remove [SPAMBLOCK] from my address if replying by e-mail.

Michele Tepper

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Jul 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/27/97
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Morbidia I <morb...@aol.com> wrote:
>
>I remember it once being said

....by Winston Churchill, no doubt.

People? Once again, may I remind you all, posting anecdotal evidence as
fact is never pretty. Not to pick on our friend Morbidia I here[1], of
course, and my apologies to her, but one has to start somewhere.

Michele "[1] although for future reference, Morbidia, you should
know that Judith Martin, who is most decidedly not Barbara
Mikkelson, says in _Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct
Behavior_ that the first holder of a dynastic name is never
properly styled 'Soandso I' in his or her lifetime. This does
make the current constitutional monarch of Spain incorrect, as Ms.
Martin notes, but what do you expect of some guy who lisps?" Tepper

--
Michele Tepper "I have nothing to add to this thread, but it seems to me
mte...@panix.com like you know an awful lot about what happens when you
keep a slab of beef in your shorts all day." - Bo Bradham


James Geren

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
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Rush Strong writes:

>In article <gerenNO-ADS.2...@osu.edu>, gerenN...@osu.edu (James Geren) wrote:

>[snip]

>>marriage; is this UL?) and Georgia, whose anti-sodomy statute was challenged,
>>and upheld, in the notorious U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick --
>>perhaps the most distressing, poorly-reasoned, and mean-spirited decision to
>>be handed down by the Court in many years.

>IIRC, the court ruled that a state had the right to enact its own laws, and
>that the Supreme Court had no right to impose its will upon the state - I
>thought it was indeed well reasoned. [I also believe that the Georgia law is
>absurd, but it's up to Georgia to change it].

From a states'-rights perspective (which I don't much relate to but which I
won't debate here), this seems logical enough. But, of course, the Supreme
Court does have the right to impose its "will" (i.e., the Constitution, at
least in theory) on the states. It has done so many times, striking down
state laws or upholding federal laws relating to labor relations to school
integration. The real question is and always has been who to include within
the groups of people protected by the Bill of Rights. I stand by my original
point. There might be a good argument for excluding gays from such
protection, but I haven't heard it -- certainly not from Justice Kennedy in
his Bowers v. Hardwick opinion.

Rush Strong

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
to

In article <gerenNO-ADS.2...@osu.edu>, gerenN...@osu.edu (James Geren) wrote:
>Rush Strong writes:
>>In article <gerenNO-ADS.2...@osu.edu>, gerenN...@osu.edu (James
> Geren) wrote:
>>[snip]
>>>marriage; is this UL?) and Georgia, whose anti-sodomy statute was challenged,
>
>>>and upheld, in the notorious U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick --
>>>perhaps the most distressing, poorly-reasoned, and mean-spirited decision to
>>>be handed down by the Court in many years.
>
>>IIRC, the court ruled that a state had the right to enact its own laws, and
>>that the Supreme Court had no right to impose its will upon the state - I
>>thought it was indeed well reasoned. [I also believe that the Georgia law is
>>absurd, but it's up to Georgia to change it].
>
>From a states'-rights perspective (which I don't much relate to but which I
>won't debate here), this seems logical enough. But, of course, the Supreme
>Court does have the right to impose its "will" (i.e., the Constitution, at
>least in theory) on the states. It has done so many times, striking down
>state laws or upholding federal laws relating to labor relations to school
>integration. The real question is and always has been who to include within
>the groups of people protected by the Bill of Rights. I stand by my original
>point. There might be a good argument for excluding gays from such
>protection, but I haven't heard it -- certainly not from Justice Kennedy in
>his Bowers v. Hardwick opinion.

If you relate to the Constitution, you have to relate to states' rights - it's
as much a part of the Constitution as is freedom of speech.

The question of 'who to include' was never an issue - the Georgia law was
against sodomy, not against sodomy amongst gays. As such, it wasn't
discriminatory, nor was it unconstitutional. I won't suggest that the law
wasn't selectively applied, but that wasn't an issue that the was being
decided. Would you suggest that the Supreme Court should have ruled that gays
were exempt from the law?

- Rush

s
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lines

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raise

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reply line count

Morbidia I

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
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Michele Tepper wrote:

>Michele "[1] although for future reference, Morbidia, you should
> know that Judith Martin, who is most decidedly not Barbara
> Mikkelson, says in _Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct
> Behavior_ that the first holder of a dynastic name is never
> properly styled 'Soandso I' in his or her lifetime.

Dearest Michele: I have no dynastic pretensions, the screen name Morbidia
had been used previously on my internet server and therefore could not be
reused. If this is not excruciatingly correct, let it merely stand as
being excruciating. Having said this, I will not waste further bandwidth
on explaining or defending my screen name. To clarify my previous post, I
was not posting anecdotal evidence, I was posting an anecdote that I heard
when living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Anecdotes frequently
become urban legends. - Morbidia I-

Barbara Mikkelson

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
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Morbidia I <morb...@aol.com> wrote:

> Anecdotes frequently become urban legends.

For someone new to these parts, you certainly said a mouthful. Such
insight is always welcome, as is the reminder that urban legends don't
always arrive neatly packaged up in finished form. Them as keep trying
to chase personal reminiscences off this group might well cause all of
us to miss out on either discovering where an already existing UL came
from or even being present at the birth of a new one.

In addition to remembered and misremembered news stories, deliberately
cooked up tales, jokes that over time transform into a "this really
happened" story, there's also the category of personal experiences which
later come back told as happening to someone else in another city. A fine
example is the "Green Stamp UL" -- Brunvand himself is convinced it began
as a personal anecdote of a particular Texas housewife and was such a
great story it radiated out from there.

Barbara "yes, I give stamps with that -- why do you ask?" Mikkelson
--
Barbara Mikkelson | I have no desire to debate you on the premise
bmikkels@fas. | of lemmings on my computer. Besides, they're
harvard.edu | ferrets, not lemmings. - Jim Stewart
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Had your spooning today? --> http://www.snopes.com

Lee Rudolph

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
to

bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) writes:

>In addition to remembered and misremembered news stories, deliberately
>cooked up tales, jokes that over time transform into a "this really
>happened" story, there's also the category of personal experiences which
>later come back told as happening to someone else in another city. A fine
>example is the "Green Stamp UL" -- Brunvand himself is convinced it began
>as a personal anecdote of a particular Texas housewife and was such a
>great story it radiated out from there.

Well, that's my personal favorite of the ULs I've read in Brunvand's
books, but the most that can honestly be said is that the _detail_
of the green stamps (which is peripheral to the real meat of the UL)
may well have begun with that housewife. The central situation is
classical enough to have an Arne Tale Type attached to it! To quote
the second half of my Legman Report at

http://www.urbanlegends.com/books/legman ,

--begin quotation---

I believe it is in {\it The Mexican Pet} that JHB presents compelling
evidence that the UL of {Green Stamps at the gynecologist's} actually
did happen at least once. Nonetheless (and not withstanding), it's
clearly a UL; we've recently seen a version reported on a.f.u. which
ends with the punchline of the following joke from Legman (p. 831).
``It is the striking trait of the yoking by the toilet-seat (Tale
type 571A) which has become crucial in the most common modern form
of the joke, with various rationalizations. {\it An Italian immigrant
writes a letter (in dialect verse) to `Mr. Kresge,' complaining that
he has painted the toilet-seat with a can of 10-cent-store paint,
and that it never dried, trapping his daughter on the seat. They
go to the doctor to have the seat removed, and when the doctor looks
astonished, the Italian asks if he has never seen one of those things
before. `Sure,' says the doctor, `but this is the first time I saw
one with a frame around it.'} (Printed `novelty' card, circulated
since the 1940's in America.)''

--end quotation--

Lee "IHNJ,IJLS`Tale type 571A'" Rudolph

Barbara Mikkelson

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
to

Lee Rudolph <lrud...@panix.com> wrote:

> To quote the second half of my Legman Report at
>
> http://www.urbanlegends.com/books/legman ,
<

> {\it An Italian immigrant writes a letter (in dialect verse) to
> `Mr. Kresge,' complaining that he has painted the toilet-seat with a can
> of 10-cent-store paint, and that it never dried, trapping his daughter
> on the seat. They go to the doctor to have the seat removed, and when
> the doctor looks astonished, the Italian asks if he has never seen one
> of those things before. `Sure,' says the doctor, `but this is the first
> time I saw one with a frame around it.'} (Printed `novelty' card,
> circulated since the 1940's in America.)''

I kept wondering why I'd been squirreling away various tellings of that
joke, because for the life of me I couldn't remember why I wanted to think
it had some connection with ULs. Now it all makes sense -- you'd quoted
this joke from Legman before.

Though I've a later _Playboy_ sighting of this, my earliest so far comes
from a 1951 joke book. In neither case was it told of an Italian and his
daughter -- both the versions I encountered gave it as happening at a
party held in a house with a newly-painted bathroom.

You might have something there, Lee -- there's the pudendum on display
aspect and the wise-cracking doctor. Though the stories aren't nearly
the same, I'd at least be willing to put them in the same bed in that
they appear to be of a type.

> Lee "IHNJ,IJLS`Tale type 571A'" Rudolph

Barbara "no, I use my fingers -- ten digits beats one fanny for speed
every time" Mikkelson
--
Barbara Mikkelson | I hate to see misinformation go by
bmik...@fas.harvard.edu | unpedanted. - Kevin T. Keith

Michele Tepper

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
to

Barbara Mikkelson <bmik...@fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
> Them as keep trying
>to chase personal reminiscences off this group might well cause all of
>us to miss out on either discovering where an already existing UL came
>from or even being present at the birth of a new one.

You are misrepresenting my position. I have no objection to people
posting "personal reminiscences" of encounters with ULs, relevant stories,
or even long-winded discussions of wedding etiquette. I do however fail
to see how "I remember it once being said..." brings any of us closer to
enlightenment on the roots, growth, or even travel vector of a UL without
someone having to follow up and say "really? when? where? what sort of
people said this?" Certainly there are times when it's worth doing so,
but it is also worthwhile to uphold the standards this group has long
maintained of skepticism, scholarship, and rational inquiry. If you
prefer lists of Funny Names for Songs About Sexual Acts Illegal in Many
American States and half-remembered half-baked reminiscences, there's
always misc.misc.

Michele "or the Zima web site" Tepper

--
Michele Tepper "Feel free to provide authoritative references;
mte...@panix.com in the meantime, you won't mind if we conclude
that you're simply making this up." -- Ian York


rmk

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Jul 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/28/97
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In article <01bc9a1d$661ae920$d67c...@tom.cdepot.net>, "Tom Paul"
<t...@cdepot.net> wrote:

:Why is it then if "gay sex" is illegal in Oregon and Massachusetts, that


:there are so many queers living in those states? Northhampton, Ma. is a
:lesbian mecca, as is most of the state of Oregon. Riddle me that!

Just lucky, I guess.

...rmk

--
Hamlet is the tragedy of tackling a family problem
too soon after college.
- Tom Masson (1866-1934)

Barbara Mikkelson

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
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Michele Tepper <mte...@panix.com> wrote:

> You are misrepresenting my position.

No; you are.

> I have no objection to people posting "personal reminiscences" of
> encounters with ULs, relevant stories, or even long-winded discussions
> of wedding etiquette.

I well recall your getting snarky over people posting "ways to chase the
Jehovahs Witnesses away" stories to this newsgroup for you felt the thread
was off-charter despite it being chockful of personal reminiscences and
"this is what a friend told me he did" tales. Rather than seeing those
as encounters with a UL and being relevant stories in support of same,
your arrogant directions then echo those of now:

> If you prefer lists of Funny Names for Songs About Sexual Acts Illegal
> in Many American States and half-remembered half-baked reminiscences,
> there's always misc.misc.

Whatever AFU's problems are, having people post too much folklore to it
isn't one of them.

Barbara " " Mikkelson
--
Barbara Mikkelson | What? I can't post ULs to AFU? Damn, that's
bmik...@fas.harvard.edu | what I thought it was for. - Chris Butler
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Helge Moulding

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
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Michele Tepper wrote:
> Certainly there are times when it's worth doing so,

I suppose I could carry a notebook around with me from now on, to
satisfy your demands for exacting verisimilitude of reminiscences.

Nah. Sue me.

"I remember hearing" is a perfectly valid qualification, in any
polite conversation, and AFU. So say I, AFU's official arbiter
of good taste. And the particular reminiscence to which you were
referring is hardly of a kind with "Funny Names." I think that is
a very unfair representation.
--
Helge "You, too, will be old and forgetful one day." Moulding
mailto:h...@slc.unisys.com Just another guy
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/1401 with a weird name

Emily Kelly

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
to

Helge Moulding <h...@slc.unisys.com> wrote:
>Michele Tepper wrote:
>> Certainly there are times when it's worth doing so,
>
>"I remember hearing" is a perfectly valid qualification, in any
>polite conversation, and AFU. So say I, AFU's official arbiter
>of good taste.

The real dilemma is that the problem doesn't occur with the words "I
remember hearing", et al., but with the sometimes implied message behind
them, "...and that's how I know it's true". Most of us who've been on AFU
for a while have learned to explicitly warn "M*TT*!" or "no proof here,
but..." when we're about to embark on the uncharted terrain of unvorified
memory, just to be unmistakeably clear about the nature of the content
we're relating. I think that kind of carefulness is a good thing, and
something to be instilled in new posters with both the carrot and the stick.

I *don't* think it's productive to rule out all personal observations and
anecdotes out of hand, and as far as I can tell, that's not what Misha was
trying to do. In her first post, she said (emphasis mine): "posting
anecdotal evidence *as fact* is never pretty". That's an important
qualification.

>And the particular reminiscence to which you were
>referring is hardly of a kind with "Funny Names." I think that is
>a very unfair representation.

This is true, and I do think Misha may have spoken a bit strongly. But
the areas around fact, remembrance, rumor, and legend are slippery and
sometimes hard to distinguish from one another, and without the landmarks
of facts and specific sightings that folks like Ian and Barbara and Bo dig
up daily, the discussion can lose all sense of perspective in a hurry.
Without further qualification, "I remember hearing..." becomes a danger
signal, and it's easy to become as oversensitized to it as we are to any
mention, even intelligent mention, of gl*ss fl*w. Not that we shouldn't
guard against it.

> Helge "You, too, will be old and forgetful one day." Moulding

Emily "young and forgetful, but I try not to use it as an excuse" Kelly
--
Emily Harrison Kelly "You know the type - he keeps puffing out his little
eke...@acpub.duke.edu chest and standing up straight for all he's worth, and
he's still only four foot eight." --Madeleine Page
For the AFU and UL Archive: http://www.urbanlegends.com/

Henrik Brameus

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
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But it was this thing with visible erection...
--
All opinions above are mine, but can be yours for a small fee.
(remove crap after email address for correct address)

Unknown

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
to

mte...@panix.com (Michele Tepper) cost the Net hundreds, if not
thousands of dollars writing in <5rh4oh$h...@panix2.panix.com>:

>Michele "[1] although for future reference, Morbidia, you should
> know that Judith Martin, who is most decidedly not Barbara
> Mikkelson, says in _Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct
> Behavior_ that the first holder of a dynastic name is never

> properly styled 'Soandso I' in his or her lifetime. This does
> make the current constitutional monarch of Spain incorrect, as Ms.
> Martin notes, but what do you expect of some guy who lisps?" Tepper

Shows just what Miss Manners knows about royal naming, or what
Belgians know about it (I can never decide). The previous king of
Belgium, the first one ever to be named Boudewijn/Baudwin (MOUSE[1]:
Baldwin), was sometimes called Boudewijn I/Baudwin Ier. Not all the
time, but often enough. And all that while he was still alive.

Hansje
[1] MOUSE: Most Of Usenet Speaks English
+--- Hans Derycke ---- hansderycke at mindspring dot com ------------------+
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| * * * Your Ad Here * * * |
| Low Prices - High Impact - E-mail for details |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

Vicki Robinson

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
to

In a previous article, bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) said:

>Michele Tepper <mte...@panix.com> wrote:
>
>> You are misrepresenting my position.
>
>No; you are.
>

But what am ....... Oh, never mind.

>> I have no objection to people posting "personal reminiscences" of
>> encounters with ULs, relevant stories, or even long-winded discussions
>> of wedding etiquette.
>
>I well recall your getting snarky over people posting "ways to chase the
>Jehovahs Witnesses away" stories to this newsgroup for you felt the thread
>was off-charter despite it being chockful of personal reminiscences and
>"this is what a friend told me he did" tales.

People get snarky for all kinds of reasons on AFU. I remember one
woman who really lit into other female posters because they had
college educations!

>Rather than seeing those
>as encounters with a UL and being relevant stories in support of same,
>your arrogant directions then echo those of now:
>

Arrogant? I'd have to say that I trust you to recognize arrogance.


>> If you prefer lists of Funny Names for Songs About Sexual Acts Illegal
>> in Many American States and half-remembered half-baked reminiscences,
>> there's always misc.misc.
>

However, this doesn't seem any more arrogant than most of the pointers
we've given to new posters who haven't quite got it yet. I'll admit
that it's cutsie-quotient is awfully low, but adorableness never got
too far with me. YMMV, of course.

>Whatever AFU's problems are, having people post too much folklore to it
>isn't one of them.
>

Ahh, but AFU isn't just a story froup. We've landed with many
collective feet on lots of posters who simply restate a story they've
heard. We've chided them, nicey-nicey or with condoms and wolves, to
include some information with the story - where did they hear it?
When? What was the context?

Stories are probably just the thing for alt.folklore.suburban, though;
the ULs from _The Guardian_ are usually pretty good.

Vicki " " Robinson
--
Visit our wedding at <A HREF="http://www.rit.edu/~vjrnts/wedding.html"
</A> and sign our guest book!
The alt.folklore.urban FAQ and archive can be found at
http://www.urbanlegends.com. Take a look, if you have a week to spare.

Phil Edwards

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Jul 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/29/97
to

Bracing myself for grapeshot from at least two quarters...

bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) wrote:

>Michele Tepper <mte...@panix.com> wrote:
>
>> You are misrepresenting my position.
>
>No; you are.

Bad call. Michele can rephrase, refine or even revise her position;
she can't *misrepresent* it, unless what you're talking about is a
specific position taken on a specific past occasion - and even then
them's fighting words, which (a) require a high degree of evidential
support and (b) raise the temperature, which itself needs justifying.

>> I have no objection to people posting "personal reminiscences" of
>> encounters with ULs, relevant stories, or even long-winded discussions
>> of wedding etiquette.

Er, Michele... if you *don't* object to the wedding etiquette can we
just leave it out of the discussion? (Mixing serious statements with
sarcasm for polemical purposes is often frowned upon).

>I well recall your getting snarky over people posting "ways to chase the
>Jehovahs Witnesses away" stories to this newsgroup for you felt the thread
>was off-charter despite it being chockful of personal reminiscences and
>"this is what a friend told me he did" tales.

Your interpretation of whatever it was that Michele did on that
occasion, whenever it was, doesn't have to be consistent with what
she's saying now. People don't always think or do the same things;
people don't always interpret what other people do the same way.
People can bury the past; people can agree to differ.

>> If you prefer lists of Funny Names for Songs About Sexual Acts Illegal
>> in Many American States and half-remembered half-baked reminiscences,
>> there's always misc.misc.
>

>Whatever AFU's problems are, having people post too much folklore to it
>isn't one of them.

Did someone mention folklore? I didn't notice.

Phil "let's ALL be *FRIENDLY*, dammit!" Edwards
--
Phil Edwards amroth(at)zetnet.co.uk
"With each and every circumstance
I lose knowledge and gain innocence" - Beth Orton

Barbara Mikkelson

unread,
Jul 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/31/97
to

Emily Kelly <eke...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

> I *don't* think it's productive to rule out all personal observations and
> anecdotes out of hand,

Precisely. Anecdotes have a valid place on AFU (not the sum total of it,
of course, but still a place), and I would be very sad to see them chased
off the group. I think they add both to the texture of the place as well
as to our growing knowledge about specific ULs. Let them be, sez I.
They don't harm anything, and they might well be doing a lot of good.

That's not to say that *if an anecdote is presented as fact* it can't be
questioned. But of course we should ask questions then. "Then" is the
keyword in all this -- I advocate waiting until someone has stridently
asserted the story's veracity before taking him to task over it. Reset
the default, sez I. Fire not wildly at anything that moves but rather
only at Them Wot Deserves Killing.

Let's talk about datapoints for a second -- "I heard it said that..."
*isn't* someone claiming <whatever> as fact, it's but the reporting of a
datapoint. Even without knowing when or where this was heard (although
I'll grant that would be better), you now know this particular belief was
circulating in popular culture, that this wasn't something peculiar to but
your own family. In other words, you learned something.

"I heard Carl's Junior is owned by the KKK" does not mean "I *believe*
Carl's Junior is owned by the KKK." Who on this newsgroup would mistake
one for the other if I were the one saying it? Clearly in the first
instance I would be reporting a datapoint by telling the group the rumour
had been presented to me, and in the second I would be taking leave of my
senses.

To jump the gun by assuming newcomers mean they *believe* something when
they but say they *heard* something is doing them a frightful disservice.
Beyond the insult done to the particular poster, this practice also works
to discourage others from posting what might have proved to be extremely
valuable information about particular ULs. Having seen a million too
many other newcomers who tried to do something similar get jumped on, what
kind of fools would they have to be to want to put themselves through
that?

I get notes from lurkers all the time, and the one common theme that runs
through them is a *fear* of posting to AFU. I honestly could not begin
to keep track of the emails I've written back encouraging those people to
share their stories with AFU, to write up their letter to me as a post.
Most of them do but some of them do not, and AFU is the one to lose out.
I know that because I got to see a lot of stuff that *didn't* get posted
here.

I'm not saying everyone has to stop being indiscriminately snarky (hey,
even I have my days), but I am asking people to consider the cumulative
effect this practice has on the newsgroup. In the long-run, is it worth
it? Is AFU truly gaining more than it is losing?

Barbara "choices" Mikkelson
--
Barbara Mikkelson | A number of weasels were spotted on the
bmikkels@fas. | sidewalk after they had walked under a
harvard.edu | painter's ladder. - Don Erickson

Barbara Mikkelson

unread,
Jul 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/31/97
to

Vicki Robinson <vjr...@xcski.com> wrote:

> Ahh, but AFU isn't just a story froup.

True enough -- it's not. But it also shouldn't be a story-free group.
There's room for most everything -- why act like there's not?

> We've landed with many collective feet on lots of posters who simply
> restate a story they've heard.

We might well have been wrong to do that too. Does AFU know when the ice
first appeared in the bathtub? The answer is no -- other places on the
Net knew a long time before we did, and that's because no one came here
to tell us the story.

> We've chided them, nicey-nicey or with condoms and wolves, to include
> some information with the story - where did they hear it? When? What
> was the context?

What if we did all that, changing "chided" to "invited"? Would it make
a difference? Is it at least something we should consider?

The more time I spend pondering this question, the more I see I've often
taken the wrong path. In the past I've often told people they should have
read the FAQ instead of posting a UL here. Great plan -- keeps the
newsgroup uncluttered -- well done, Barbara! Unfortunately, long-term
it's a killer. When ULs don't get posted to AFU, AFU misses out on
knowing what's happening to them.

I spent some time recently reading old DejaNews threads, looking for
recountings of the kidney theft UL. Found a handful too. Also found
double handfuls of followups, each telling the poster in their own way
(some gentle, some not so gentle) that he shouldn't have posted his story
to AFU, that if he'd read the FAQ first he would have known not to for
we've already heard it.

Each telling of the kidney theft was markedly different from the previous
yet those following up (including myself) weren't picking up on this.
The bloody thing was evolving in front of our eyes, yet we were trying
to keep people from telling us about it. And indeed, we succeeded --
we missed out on seeing some key shifts.

The kidney theft UL (guy wakes up in a hotel room one) dates back to 1991
-- it's one of the few major ULs born in AFU's time. Should have been our
nurtured and fussed-over child, yet we now know less about it than if we'd
packed it off to a babysitter and just checked in on it every weekend.

AFU doesn't have to turn into a story group. But it does, I think, need
to make more room for the ULs themselves.

Barbara "else UL be sorry" Mikkelson
--
| I, for one, can state that I have never run
Barbara Mikkelson | around aimlessly with a tennis ball stuck in
bmik...@fas.harvard.edu | my mouth and a blissful expression of total
| mindlessness upon my face. - Bill VanHorne
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Jeremy W. Burgeson

unread,
Jul 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/31/97
to

bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) wrote:

>I get notes from lurkers all the time, and the one common theme that runs
>through them is a *fear* of posting to AFU. I honestly could not begin
>to keep track of the emails I've written back encouraging those people to
>share their stories with AFU, to write up their letter to me as a post.
>Most of them do but some of them do not, and AFU is the one to lose out.
>I know that because I got to see a lot of stuff that *didn't* get posted
>here.

I'll say that I have suffered from a genuine fear of posting UL sightings
to AFU. During the summer of '94 (I believe, it was pre-Deja News), I had
a marvelous sighting of a current much-discussed legend, complete with
location (of sighting _and_ alleged occurance), and distribution of people
who believed it. Classic example of what Barbara is disturbed by. Old
news now.

Jeremy

Phil Edwards

unread,
Jul 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/31/97
to

bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) wrote:

>The more time I spend pondering this question, the more I see I've often
>taken the wrong path. In the past I've often told people they should have
>read the FAQ instead of posting a UL here.

<snip>


>Each telling of the kidney theft was markedly different from the previous
>yet those following up (including myself) weren't picking up on this.
>The bloody thing was evolving in front of our eyes, yet we were trying
>to keep people from telling us about it.

This is a very good point, which I'm largely going to ignore - the
more I thought about it the more it seemed that what's really at issue
isn't so much whether afu's a folklore-friendly environment as the
group's attitude to newbies and decloaked lurkers. (Any regular
posters hung-up about posting folklore to afu? Shame on you if so -
for feeling hung-up about posting *anything* to afu, I mean, with the
exception of offcharteria, one-line fever and, er, t-word. You're
*here* now, for goodness' sake - relax. After all, if you do put a
foot wrong you'll find out soon enough (heh)).

If we're talking about newbies, though, I think there is some room for
improvement. I must confess I've always thought newbie-flaming in
general an occasional and regrettable necessity rather than a
bloodsport (et ego, etc). It's like the approach I'd hope we'd take in
conversation. If someone posts a UL, you comment on any new features &
point the poster at the FAQ for their further edification (nicely). If
they post a UL as fact, you point out that it's known in other forms
(pointing out that it's implausible is less important), tell them it
looks like a UL to us and proceed as before. If they post a whole
stack of BTWs and IMHOs and sm*l*ys, tell them this isn't entirely
welcome. Nicely. If they make a factual assertion without sources, for
gods' sake give 'em a break and let it go.

Yes, if I ruled afu every week would be nicey-nicey week... Naah - the
point is to offer a clue *before* unleashing the full force of afu's
blistering pendantry, invitations to a TV dinner with Ewan, irritating
in-jokes and general snottiness. Again, conversational rules should
really apply: if the innocent neophyte argues that the singer from
Marilyn Manson really *is* a gerbil, Silly String really *does* flow
and we can't know for *certain* that nobody's ever had their tonsils
removed at Disney World, we can reiterate our reasons for thinking
otherwise. Nicely - oh, all right, not quite so nicely this time.

List threads, Mornington Crescent cascades, etiquette guidelines and
pointless anecdotes about common rodents can be terminated with
extreme prejudice, however.

Phil "but nicely" Edwards

Michael Doelle

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Jul 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/31/97
to

Barbara Mikkelson wrote:

> The kidney theft UL (guy wakes up in a hotel room one) dates back to 1991
> -- it's one of the few major ULs born in AFU's time. Should have been our
> nurtured and fussed-over child, yet we now know less about it than if we'd
> packed it off to a babysitter and just checked in on it every weekend.
>

It's been around for a bit longer than that, although maybe not on the
Net. I recall (m*tt* ?) first hearing it of it in 89 or 90, complete
with FOAFOAF who really ('no shit') knew the 1-kidney guy. It was going
around in Germany and the kidneys were stolen in Italy. Moral: be
careful when venturing South, and at a time when Italy received a lot of
negative press because of stolen cars, etc.

The way it was told was that a guy is kidnapped in his own car (see
above) and is later found by police looking for the missing car/guy in
the backseat minus one kidney.

Sorry, no cites.

michael, munich

Helge Moulding

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Jul 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/31/97
to

Michael Doelle wrote:
> at a time when Italy received a lot of negative press because of
> stolen cars, etc.

So, do they make The Club(TM) for kidneys?
--
Helge "And can you circumvent it by just sawing off a leg?" Moulding

Bob Hiebert

unread,
Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

In article <5rpovg$70c$2...@nntp2.ba.best.com>, bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) wrote:

Darn good case for turning down the afterburners deleted.

>AFU doesn't have to turn into a story group. But it does, I think, need
>to make more room for the ULs themselves.

Room is made for ULs though it appears to be somewhat arbitrary to me. I
fully support gang tackling any fool who vigorously defends an indefensible
tale. It's the ones where people come in and ask about a story that seem to
have a coin toss generator attached to the response bots.

I have watched never ending threads that have nothing to do with ULs. Heck,
I've participated in these. I've sorted through 200+ messages on days where
I'd be lucky to find 20 that actually were discussing ULs. This isn't
necessarily bad, though it has been cumbersome since SEPTEMBER(tm) arrived.

So what pushes the launch button when someone posts a question about ULs? Is
it so that we can spend half our time debating word origins?

It seems to me that the negative vibes come from the group memory of
previous idiots. Glass flow had been debated before, but it was only after
this last round that any thread about glass flow is immediately stomped out.
(the fact that it isn't really a UL is not really germane to my theory, and
is almost never used as a reason to call for an end to the thread). The
tragedy is that we punish newcomers for the sins of assholes long gone.

If you compound this problem by the 50+ regular posters, each with their own
past "nightmare thread" it is possible to see an endpoint that resembles
newsgroup entropy.

Bob "and the Furrian gambit failed" Hiebert

---
E-mail address is invalid. Correct to reply.

Mike Holmans

unread,
Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) treated us to:

>I get notes from lurkers all the time, and the one common theme that runs
>through them is a *fear* of posting to AFU. I honestly could not begin
>to keep track of the emails I've written back encouraging those people to
>share their stories with AFU, to write up their letter to me as a post.
>Most of them do but some of them do not, and AFU is the one to lose out.
>I know that because I got to see a lot of stuff that *didn't* get posted
>here.

>I'm not saying everyone has to stop being indiscriminately snarky (hey,


>even I have my days), but I am asking people to consider the cumulative
>effect this practice has on the newsgroup. In the long-run, is it worth
>it? Is AFU truly gaining more than it is losing?

Yes it is. And what proved it for me was this, from Harry Teasley in a
post having to explain what a m*tt* is:

>one more of those things about afu culture
>that is so rapidly disappearing in the face of the destruction of Usenet.

>Read the faq, at www.urbanlegends.com. Like anyone still takes posting to
>afu seriously enough to read the faq anymore.

What Barbara is pleading for is a kinder, gentler AFU. It's been said
before, and it'll be said again, though it's not usually said to
someone of Barbara's distinction, but it's one against the many, and
you shouldn't even try.

Too right, people are scared to post here. They damn well should be. I
certainly was. I came across this froup a couple of years ago and
realised after reading twenty or so posts, that this was a weird
place. People spell things wrong, they put weirdness in their names,
they think everything costs two-fifty. And if someone posts something
wrong, whatever wrong is in these lunatics' view, they turn on the
flamethrowers.

But I liked this weirdness. It was an endless source of fascination,
trying to puzzle it out. These *people* were so *interesting*. And I
wanted to join in. And after a couple of months' lurking, I wrote to
Barbara and got some advice, and then I went away to a sinking
building or two, and finally came up with a debut post. It went down
quite well (the main substance of it is in the archive, about Nosmo
King). I'd lost my AFU virginity, and the earth sort of moved for me,
and a few people mailed me to say that they'd liked it.

And there were other things I wanted to post now, but I waited until I
had something to say about them; I went to the library to try and find
something else out; I read the FAQ; I read the relevant bits of the
archive to see whether what concerned me was already there. And if it
was already old hat, or Old Hat, I didn't bother to post.

And after a time, I knew what I was doing. It took a while - months,
in fact - putting the odd foot wrong, getting the odd thing right,
getting to know the ropes (with help from those, especially Barbara,
who mailed encouragement, and occasional dressing-downs). Reaching the
point where, as Phil Edwards put it:

> Any regular posters hung-up about posting folklore to afu? Shame on you if so -
> for feeling hung-up about posting *anything* to afu, I mean, with the
> exception of offcharteria, one-line fever and, er, t-word. You're
> *here* now, for goodness' sake - relax.

Barbara's siren call weakens the froup's ethos.

If it wasn't for the fear of flamage, people wouldn't feel the need to
think about what they post. They wouldn't chisel away at a draft until
it read right. Even if they were really only asking a "Have you heard
this?", they'd make sure it was interesting enough to read.

I'm as interested in the stories as Barbara is, but I want more than
stories from AFU. I've had and got more from AFU than stories, as is
well known. I've gained a life partner, as has Lizz - and it's
happened to others too; Dave Hatunen recently recalled movingly the
support the froup gave when Felicia Hatunen died.

Despite appearances, AFU is a very welcoming froup to anyone who can
say interesting things interestingly, or funny things funnily. People
we'd like to meet at a party, which is perhaps why AFUisti seem to
make much more effort to meet each other than most other froups'
denizens do (with the possible exception of soc.man.WLTM.woman and the
like).

This thread's discussion boils down to quality versus quantity.
Barbara's argument, it seems to me, is in essence a version of 'never
mind the quality, feel the width'. Well, I do mind. I'd rather read
one tale told well than ten told badly. I want every post I read to
amuse me, or inform me, puzzle me, challenge me, or entertain me. I
always hope that someone out there will react that way to what I post.

I know that taking this here is to slightly twist the meaning by
wrenching out of context, but I think that Emily Kelly got it right by
saying:

> I think that kind of carefulness is a good thing, and
> something to be instilled in new posters with both the carrot and the stick.

The stick is more obvious to the public. Newbie-flaming is rarely
meant personally (personally-meant flames are earned after
*persistent* excretion on the carpet), but serves secondarily to
instruct others. The carrot is less public, because it *is* personally
meant. It's friendship, ultimately.

Mike "a fine example of personal reminiscence and anecdote posing as
evidence there, I feel" Holmans

El Sig wondered who she was, the one who looked at him so strangely
the other night


Emily Kelly

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

Barbara Mikkelson <bmik...@fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
>
>Precisely. Anecdotes have a valid place on AFU (not the sum total of it,
>of course, but still a place), and I would be very sad to see them chased
>off the group. I think they add both to the texture of the place as well
>as to our growing knowledge about specific ULs. Let them be, sez I.
>They don't harm anything, and they might well be doing a lot of good.

I wholeheartedly agree with you until your last two sentences, and then I
have a few reservations. The traffic on AFU is such that encouraging
one type of post, useful as it may be, inherently involves a tacit
discouragement of other types of posts with just as much potential value.
I agree that anecdotal posts are one of the life's blood of AFU, but
if we give them a blanket pass they begin to pose a potential danger to
the overall balance of the group. Maybe we differ as to where that balance
should lie, but that's a different question.

The other question I'm brought to ask is whether AFU really is the unique
haven for anecdotal ULs that you describe. We've always had posters who
reprinted classic and nascent UL sightings from other groups, and now with
Deja News we have an impressive, ready-made collection of net- (and
live-)propagated ULs covering the last two years at least, from a much
wider base than merely AFU.

Granted, it's hardly ready for publication (at least not without a whole lot
more thorough fieldwork and processing), but, then, let's face it, neither
is AFU. Usenet is a terrific place for bouncing ideas off one another,
but it's too self-selected a population to represent anything other than its
own tiny sample, and it's too undisciplined to progress much beyond the
brainstorming phase. AFU has the potential for both entertainment and
scholarship, but it's the nature of the medium that entertainment will always
be paramount, and that's as it should be.

>Let's talk about datapoints for a second -- "I heard it said that..."
>*isn't* someone claiming <whatever> as fact, it's but the reporting of a
>datapoint.

Well, that depends a lot on how the story's treated *after* the "I heard...",
doesn't it? A poster's credence in their story is quite often implicit
until after it's been called into question and they've been forced to retract
or defend. We've all seen examples (and I did perceive the post that began
this whole exchange as one) of posts where the poster begins with an "I
heard..." anecdote, without explicitly maintaining its veracity, but then
goes on to make assumptions based on an implicit belief in the anecdote's
truth.

In cases like that it's entirely appropriate to question both the anecdote
and the assumptions that follow it. That's what Misha did, albeit with a
little unnecessary roughness. But, again, that's a different question, one
I think Phil Edwards and Mike Holmans have both addressed well in this
thread.

>Beyond the insult done to the particular poster, this practice also works
>to discourage others from posting what might have proved to be extremely
>valuable information about particular ULs. Having seen a million too
>many other newcomers who tried to do something similar get jumped on, what
>kind of fools would they have to be to want to put themselves through
>that?

Fools like me, you, and all the other former newcomers who have found homes
here in AFU. All of us were thick-skinned or resilient enough to survive
the gantlet (or sensitive enough to avoid it in the first place). As far
as I'm concerned it's a far greater insult to new posters to assume they're
so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken its character just
for them. It's also not good for AFU.

Emily "glad fool" Kelly

Madeleine Page

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

I've been musing about this thread, and think there are two separate
issues under discussion, both of which need talking about. To me, the
first question is what afu is about, what its purpose is. The second is a
particular case of style and approach: how we treat newcomers to the
group, and how we should treat them.

Rather than post a 2ktk article [1] encompassing both, I'll just write
about the first.

Barbara Mikkelson wrote:

>Anecdotes have a valid place on AFU....


>they add both to the texture of the place as well

>as to our growing knowledge about specific ULs. ...
>Let's talk about datapoints for a second -- [an anecdote is]
>but the reporting of a datapoint. Even without knowing when or where


>this was heard (although I'll grant that would be better), you now

>know this particular belief was circulating in popular culture...


>
>To jump the gun by assuming newcomers mean they *believe* something when
>they but say they *heard* something is doing them a frightful disservice.

>Beyond the insult done to the particular poster, this practice also works
>to discourage others from posting what might have proved to be extremely
>valuable information about particular ULs. Having seen a million too
>many other newcomers who tried to do something similar get jumped on,
>what kind of fools would they have to be to want to put themselves
>through that?

Underlying the unfortunate hyperbole of terms like "frightful disservice"
and "a million...newcomers" and so on is a fairly key issue for afuisti.
From what she writes, I conclude that Barbara sees afu as the proper place
for an academic study of ULs, their origins and variants. To this end,
each retelling of the Craig Shergold story, for instance, is what she
calls a "datapoint": when he moves from Teignmouth to Toronto to Tokyo,
it's valuable information. when his brain tumour becomes a toe tumour it's
a datum.

By contrast, what seems to be to underlie at least some of the posts that
say, with varying degrees of snarliness, "We've heard that, it's boring,
go away, read the FAQ" is an implicit belief that one of the functions of
posters to afu is to be interesting, amusing, not too damn repetitive,
adequately sceptical and sufficiently informed about what the group has
dealt with in the past not to rehash the JATO story yet again, even if the
variation introduces fingernails embedded in the steering wheel rather
than traces of Darwin Award winner embedded in a rockface.

Given that the above is a fair summary of the two views of afu, here's my
two fifty's worth on the topic.

First of all, while I'm aware that we have the words "urban folklore" in
our title, I don't think that that is *all* that the group is about. It
is, at least to me, about a community of lively-minded, eclectic, broadly
educated, articulate, sceptical people, having a damn good conversation
that ranges all over the place but starts in "urban folklore" (itself a
term somewhat difficult to pin down). It is, for me, the quinessential
community of amateurs. While I'm sure there are themes and intances of
interest to the professional folklorist that crop up in the group, I don't
think this is a professional or academic forum.

What's more, I don't think that *any* open newsgroup is serviceable for
such pursuits. An example from another field. I read and used occasionally
to contribute to rec.arts.books. James Joyce's work was discussed there on
occasion, and a broad-based interesting discussion of Finnegans Wake might
crop up, joined by an equal mix of enthusiasts and wrong-headed obtuse^W^W
people who think the book is maddeningly and pointlessly baffling. Good
stuff. But rab isn't the place to discuss, say, the meanings of the
hundred letter thunder words in FW or Joyce's use of Viconian philosophy.
For that, there's a Finnegans Wake mailing list: to be moved to join it,
you would have to have a fairly academic interest in a highly specific
topic.

In sum, I don't think that afu is the place for academic fieldwork in
urban legendology. First of all, it's not "the field". Second, serious
work in the area requires a level of detail and a degree of theory that,
to me, undercuts the free ranging ridiculousness, warmth, tetchiness and
humour that is afu. Third, participation in any newsgroup is a form of
play for nearly all of us. This does not make what we do as a group either
irresponsible or without core values (scepticism is one we all share, I
think, however different our politics). But it does mean, to me at least,
that the full time study of ULs is best conducted in a mailing list, and
that a playful, sceptical approach to rumours and stories is fine in afu.

Finally, there's probably some middle ground here (Ray Depew often seems
to capture it in what he posts)

Madeleine "next exciting installment: why spanking newbies is a Good Thing
and valuable exercise to boot" Page

[1] In-joke, referring to a tendency to post a megaboss number of words
about anything, due to having A Very Complicated Brane. [2]

[2] This was a 2ktk post anyway. Sorry.

Barbara Mikkelson

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

Emily Kelly <eke...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

> As far as I'm concerned it's a far greater insult to new posters to
> assume they're so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken
> its character just for them. It's also not good for AFU.

I don't see how not jumping on people until they do something wrong is
"assuming they're so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken
its character."

Barbara "presumption of guilt" Mikkelson
--
Barbara Mikkelson | I'd dearly love to know what parts of the world
bmikkels@fas. | consider getting stuck in a cat door and having
harvard.edu | your bum painted blue a form of sex. - snopes

Barbara Mikkelson

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

Mike Holmans <mhol...@dircon.co.uk> wrote:

> If it wasn't for the fear of flamage, people wouldn't feel the need to
> think about what they post.

Which works better, punishment or reward? How about instead rewarding
newcomers with positive recognition for doing things well?

I know it's easier to slap than it is to hug -- for one thing, it takes
a lot more effort, both immediately and in followup. Yet think about
this -- which would you rather be on the receiving end of? And which
would better motivate you to put best effort into something? Fear I'm
going to wallop you? Or anticipation of a rosy note from me, mentioning
how you'd again made reading the group that day an especial pleasure?

All of the above speaks to *earned* praise or criticism -- now let's talk
about the gratuitous variety. The message I'm picking up both from Emily
and you is that it was uphill both way to school in your day but you
toughed it out. Fine. Fair enough. The group is far richer from having
both of you around, and I'll forcefeed one of my wooden spoons to anyone
who ever says different. But the mistake I think you're both making is
in not seeing that the hills have gotten steeper since then. No one
smacked either one of you about the ears for *looking* like you were
about to do something wrong -- you were at least extended the courtesy
of earning the punishment before you got it.

Punish the wrongdoers without sparing the spoons, sez I, but equally keep
them holstered when there's any doubt. My dad was a carpenter, and one
of the few lessons he tried to get through to me (didn't always succeed,
natch) was the necessity of measuring twice yet sawing once. What that
means in this sense is you can always smack someone *later* but you can't
equally un-smack them.

> I'm as interested in the stories as Barbara is, but I want more than
> stories from AFU.

So do I, luv. The point I've been trying to make is that there is room
for *all* of it. Having stories on AFU does not mean we won't have space
enough for airplane threads, etymology discussions, grocery tips, social
notes, running wars with rec.org.mensa, or anything else. The presence
of one does not threaten the existence or popularity of anything else.

Think of it as a grocery store -- everybody gets to pick up what they
want, and no two people's choices will be exactly the same.

Barbara "and double coupons too!" Mikkelson
--
Barbara Mikkelson | Don't get angry at the New Agers. Sell them
bmik...@fas.harvard.edu | something. - Stephan Zielinski
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Phil Edwards

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

eke...@acpub.duke.edu (Emily Kelly) wrote:

>We've all seen examples (and I did perceive the post that began
>this whole exchange as one) of posts where the poster begins with an "I
>heard..." anecdote, without explicitly maintaining its veracity, but then
>goes on to make assumptions based on an implicit belief in the anecdote's
>truth.
>
>In cases like that it's entirely appropriate to question both the anecdote
>and the assumptions that follow it. That's what Misha did, albeit with a
>little unnecessary roughness. But, again, that's a different question, one
>I think Phil Edwards and Mike Holmans have both addressed well in this
>thread.

But I don't think it *is*, fundamentally, a different question.
Barbara's argument was that we've missed seeing ULs develop because
afu has been a hostile environment to anecdotes. Unpack this and you
get a group of people who are intensely interested in how ULs develop
and change, who fail to notice ULs developing and changing before
their very eyes because they're more concerned with enforcing group
norms. Barbara's secondary point - that more UL evidence went unposted
because the potential posters were scared off - is pretty much
unprovable but is, at least, a hypothesis worth considering.

What I'm saying, in other words, is that we risk doing ourselves a
double disservice: not only we may scare off potentially clueful
newbies, we may overlook the intrinsic interest of folkloric material
because we're too busy yelling about the FAQ. I know, I've done it: I
recall giving a particularly vivid example of the mutated Mexican Pet
a severe roasting on the grounds that parts of it were tediously
familiar and the other parts didn't make any sense. *Wrong* answer
(and thanks to Charles for putting me right).

>All of us were thick-skinned or resilient enough to survive

>the gantlet (or sensitive enough to avoid it in the first place). As far


>as I'm concerned it's a far greater insult to new posters to assume they're
>so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken its character just
>for them.

I almost agree with this. However, I do think it would be possible -
and desirable - to apply the flamethrower more selectively; to assess
where it's really needed, as I was discussing in my last post. This
wouldn't, actually, make afu any 'weaker' an environment. It would
just mean that when we tell people, in effect, that they can't come in
here talking like that, we'd be targetting things which *actually
deserve it* (posting off-charter, arguing badly, responding to
argument with shouting - ignorance, stupidity and arrogance,
basically) rather than not knowing the group's mores (you'll gather
from this that I don't necessarily agree with Barbara regarding
Michele's post). Emily's argument is reminiscent of the arguments
advanced in defence of 'hazing' & suchlike 'initiation' practices: I
got through it, my friends got through it and we're all great guys -
if we stopped doing it we might wind up with a group full of nerds.

In this respect I think Bob Hiebert's point is particularly valuable:

>So what pushes the launch button when someone posts a question about ULs? Is
>it so that we can spend half our time debating word origins?
>
>It seems to me that the negative vibes come from the group memory of
>previous idiots. Glass flow had been debated before, but it was only after
>this last round that any thread about glass flow is immediately stomped out.
>(the fact that it isn't really a UL is not really germane to my theory, and
>is almost never used as a reason to call for an end to the thread). The
>tragedy is that we punish newcomers for the sins of assholes long gone.

I think there's a lot of truth in this - and I don't think 'tragedy'
is too strong a word.

On the other hand I thought Mike Holmans got it rather instructively
bass-ackwards.

>What Barbara is pleading for is a kinder, gentler AFU. It's been said
>before, and it'll be said again, though it's not usually said to
>someone of Barbara's distinction, but it's one against the many, and
>you shouldn't even try.

"You shouldn't even try" - well, OK, I'll see your arguments (and
raise you two-fifty). But "it's one against the many"? Is there a
majority positively in favour of snarkiness? Even if there were, would
that be a good reason for dismissing arguments against?

>Too right, people are scared to post here. They damn well should be. I
>certainly was.

< snip >


>after a couple of months' lurking, I wrote to
>Barbara and got some advice, and then I went away to a sinking

>building or two, and finally came up with a debut post.
< snip>


>And after a time, I knew what I was doing. It took a while - months,
>in fact - putting the odd foot wrong, getting the odd thing right,
>getting to know the ropes (with help from those, especially Barbara,
>who mailed encouragement, and occasional dressing-downs).

Mike felt he had to lurk for two months, then write to someone for
advice *before ever posting to the group*. That's a tough group - and
I don't think it is or should be *that* tough. Eejits like me, who
lurk for a couple of days before leaping in bedecked with acronyms,
could easily be repelled by that kind of immigration policy. (And it's
worth considering, as that quivering newbie Tyler recently pointed
out, that afu's assembled flamepower has very little effect on some
people who we'd actually like to keep out of the group).

>Barbara's siren call weakens the froup's ethos.
>

>If it wasn't for the fear of flamage, people wouldn't feel the need to

>think about what they post. They wouldn't chisel away at a draft until
>it read right. Even if they were really only asking a "Have you heard
>this?", they'd make sure it was interesting enough to read.

I don't think this argument works. For myself, I'm well aware of the
possibility of being called to account for substandard posting, but no
flame would be required - precisely because of this awareness.
(Indeed, if I were flamed I would take it personally and sulk). The
virtues of afu - the value it puts on clear thinking, serious
research, civil debate, good writing, purity of essence and a sense of
humour - can be drawn to the attention of new posters who don't
observe them fairly loudly and demonstratively, but within the group
they can't be enforced or inculcated by flamage. You "get it" because
you want to get it and you're capable of getting it.

>Despite appearances, AFU is a very welcoming froup to anyone who can
>say interesting things interestingly, or funny things funnily. People
>we'd like to meet at a party, which is perhaps why AFUisti seem to
>make much more effort to meet each other than most other froups'
>denizens do

Most other froups? That's an awfully big domain. I passed through
alt.fan.pratchett a while back, and they seemed pretty huggy.
(Besides, personally I'm much better in afu than I am at parties).

Anyway, I don't think afu is *primarily* a group of like-minded
people. Of current regulars alone, I can think of a good dozen people
who I respect for being consistently sensible, interesting and funny -
including <mumble> who I'm personally fond of. But afu isn't the place
I go to see these people, it's the place I go *because it's afu*.

>I think that Emily Kelly got it right by
>saying:
>
>> I think that kind of carefulness is a good thing, and
>> something to be instilled in new posters with both the carrot and the stick.

The question is, what kind of carefulness - what kind of offence?
Posting rumour as fact, arguing without due care and attention? Apply
the ultimate sanction - the Pendantic Rebuttal. But posting twice-told
ULs? A rap on the knuckles at most, surely. Sm*l*ys? A quiet word from
Charles should do the trick. Violating the BOA? BFD.

Phil "in short, I think there's a lot to be said on both sides"

Simon Slavin

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

In article <5rpmni$70c$1...@nntp2.ba.best.com>,
bmik...@fas.harvard.edu (Barbara Mikkelson) wrote:

> Emily Kelly <eke...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>
> > I *don't* think it's productive to rule out all personal observations and
> > anecdotes out of hand,
>

> Precisely. Anecdotes have a valid place on AFU (not the sum total of it,
> of course, but still a place), and I would be very sad to see them chased
> off the group. I think they add both to the texture of the place as well
> as to our growing knowledge about specific ULs. Let them be, sez I.
> They don't harm anything, and they might well be doing a lot of good.

I have no problem with anecdotes being posted. What I object to is
the simple posting of an anecdote with no attribution, source,
comment or illumination. There's little point in reading another
version of the 'dynamite dog runs under pickup' story if you don't
know where the poster is from, where they heard/read it, whether it
was presented as true, etc.. I don't think we need yet more faxlore
with five levels of indentation.

The one time I flamed someone over a post like this, I was very
careful to state that I welcomed such a post if some sort of
attribution or encounter details were added.

Simon.
--
Simon Slavin -- Computer Contractor. | Oh, sorry, you neglected to
http://www.hearsay.demon.co.uk | mention above that the child
Check email address for spam-guard. | was the antichrist. -- sharkey@
Junk email not welcome at this site. | ee.mu.OZ.AU (Nicholas MOORE)

Morbidia I

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

I am posting because I seem to have offered the anecdote that caused this
thread. At the end of my reply to Michele's post about the cultural
inappropriateness of my screen name and the perceived inadequacy of my
posting an anecdote as evidence (in reality I was posting the anecdote as
an anecdote) I said that I would not waste further bandwidth on the
argument (whew what a run-on). I guess that I lied. The anecdote and
resulting fallout seems to have generated a considerable amount of
discussion.

At least let me clarify my status. I have been following this newsgroup
for over a year, I have read the FAQ, I have read both the factual and
fatuous, I have posted before (although I have never generated this much
controversy), and the occasional flame does not deter me from posting. In
fact, as long as you stay out of my mailboxes (virtual and wooden) and off
my front lawn, you can flame away. Being a believer in the saying
(attributed to many sources so I can't give you a definitive cite) that
one should never argue with idiots in public -- bystanders may not be able
to tell the difference -- I rarely respond to flammage.

In my opinion, Barbara and Phil are both right in that attacking posters
for posting urban legends (whether in the FAQ or not), anecdotes that have
potential to become urban legends, and jokes that may eventually be taken
as urban legends can be counterproductive to the purpose of this group (at
least as it claims to be chartered). ULs are flexible entities that
evolve over time. The kidney UL may be the latest example (changed with
each retelling), but did anyone notice that the Scoopa Diver changed
location from California to Capri to several other places? Did anyone try
to correlate these moves to news reports of real fires? Maybe there was an
effect to be observed, than again maybe not.

To me, the adherence of some members of the old-timers of this group to
the FAQ is frighteningly reminiscent of the way that some creationists
adhere to the literal KJ bible. They like established stories cut and
dried and only want to see new things not mentioned before. The main
difference is that the FAQ certainly should not be considered divinely
inspired.

Having written all of the above, I will go back to lurking. Whether
members of the old-timers like it or not, I will post when I feel that I
have something I want to say.

Madeleine Page

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

Barbara Mikkelson wrote:
> Emily Kelly <eke...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

> > As far as I'm concerned it's a far greater insult to new posters to
> > assume they're so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken
> > its character just for them. It's also not good for AFU.
>
> I don't see how not jumping on people until they do something wrong is
> "assuming they're so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken
> its character."
>
> Barbara "presumption of guilt" Mikkelson

This is getting sort of circular.

The issue at the heart of this discussion is whether someone posting, say,
the JATO story for the umptieth time is doing something "wrong" in afu
terms or not.

Madeleine "it's not a presumption of guilt so much as a different
definition of it" Page

Emily Kelly

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
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Billy Chambless <bi...@cast.msstate.edu> wrote:

>In article <5rvf1e$e...@news.duke.edu>, eke...@acpub.duke.edu (Emily Kelly) writes:
>
>|> as I'm concerned it's a far greater insult to new posters to assume
>|> they're so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken its
>
>Argrhgghgh!!!!
>
>DON'T VERB NOUNS!!!!!

From my parents' Random House Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged):

gentle: ...-v.t. 12. to tame; render tractable. 13. to mollify; calm;
pacify. 14. to make gentle. 15. to soothe by petting.

Emily "deeply hurt that you could harbor such suspicions against me" Kelly

Bob Hiebert

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Aug 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/2/97
to

In article <5s0ije$oji$1...@NNTP.MsState.Edu>, bi...@cast.msstate.edu (Billy Chambless) wrote:

>Argrhgghgh!!!!
>
>DON'T VERB NOUNS!!!!!

Excuse me, but I think you meant "don't VERBIFY nouns."

Bob "you're welcome" Hiebert

Billy Chambless

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Aug 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/3/97
to

In article <5rvf1e$e...@news.duke.edu>, eke...@acpub.duke.edu (Emily Kelly) writes:

[ serious discussion deleted -- there's enough opinions, they don't need
mine ...]

|> as I'm concerned it's a far greater insult to new posters to assume they're

|> so fragile that we have to gentle the group and weaken its character just

David Hatunen

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Aug 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/3/97
to

In article <33e39034...@news.zetnet.co.uk>,
Phil Edwards <amr...@zetnet.co.uk.NOJUNK> wrote:

[...]

>I almost agree with this. However, I do think it would be possible -
>and desirable - to apply the flamethrower more selectively; to assess

>where it's really needed, as I was discussing in my last post. [...]

I think this whole thread is based on the supposition that somehow we can
keep everyone from getting up on the wrong side of the bed. it is *not* AFU
that flames a clueless newbie, it is one of the posters, and by that we seem
to mean one of the regulars, and we're all going to be bitchy from time to
time. If your think AFU is sometimes unnecessarily flamefulm, try some of
the others.

I have, from time to time, been a trifle more ascerbic than the situation
deserved. I've gotten some kind notes from some of the others that I ought
lighten up, and I've appreciated the gesture.

So I say, lighten up. This collective breast-beating is getting a bit
tiresome.

--
*********** DAVE HATUNEN (hat...@wco.com) ************
* Daly City California: *
* where San Francisco meets The Peninsula *
******* and the San Andreas Fault meets the Sea *******

David Hatunen

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Aug 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/3/97