[conspire] Housekeeping, again

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Fri Feb 29 23:20:43 PST 2008

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 12:43 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Edward Cherlin (echerlin at gmail.com):
> > I find that the general principle for handling clueless geeks is to
>  > Tell Them. Ahead of time, on-site, and at the point where they are
>  > about to misbehave. Cluelessness is apparently part of the neurology.
>  > So I appreciate Being Told.
>  [...]
> > A sign would help a bit.

>  You will probably have noticed that life in general utterly lacks posted
>  documentation about how and where not to be an asshat.  E.g., cocktail
>  parties don't have signs saying "Don't spit on the floor."

Buses used have signs saying "No spitting." But chewing tobacco has
gone rather out of fashion.

There are some cities that have found that removing _all_ traffic
signs makes traffic move faster, with fewer accidents. So you may be
completely right.

I was thinking of a sign put up on meeting days only with just a few
things that newcomers might not know, like leaving bags outside. And
something put up on the Net for reference. All the rest to be taken
care of by people who are sufficiently enclued to tell others what the
house rules are as needed. As long as you don't mind the guests
pointing out to other guests, quietly, that they are being yabanjin.

>  Why, some might wonder, is that?  It's because, then, it (1) becomes
>  the _sort_ of party where there are signs on the wall saying "Don't spit
>  on the floor", if you catch my drift, and (2) creates the implication
>  that any asshat behaviour not specifically documented as verboten is OK.
>  In the current instance, to reiterate, we are not talking about a
>  boarding-house, but rather _my home_.  Although I'm willing upon
>  reflection to post signs warning people not to tap my server farm's
>  overstressed 1953 electrical circuit (because that's an error any well
>  intended and polite guest _might_ make), and very grudgingly am
>  (somewhat) willing even to post a sign warning utter idiots not to ruin
>  my lacquered wooden salad bowls in my microwave oven, I am _not_ going
>  to post signs teaching basic courtesy.
>  Because that would make my home (1) a rather ridiculous and seedy place,
>  where (2) the local cultural norm is that people aren't expected to
>  display basic courtesy unless/until they've been explicitly taught how.

Well, I don't want to do that to your house. But the point is that we
are dealing with people who don't know what basic courtesy is (I speak
from experience here) and may indeed need a Behavior for Dummies, or a
Guest in Someone Else's Home HOWTO. My other point is to keep the
method of dealing with such people unobtrusive and constant.

As I have learned your expectations, I have endeavored to communicate
them to others. It is clear to me that I do not know all of your
expectations, and I am quite sure that this is true for others.

BTW, I'm with you completely on the salad bowls.

As to the not-yet-garlic bread, their choice, their loss, nicht wahr?
But now that I know that food on that counter should be treated as not
yet served, or not yet done, I can observe it. The cake and a few
other things confused me. Let us indeed set up a larger serving area.
I'm happy to help.

On eating your food: I endeavor to bring more than I consume, and to
eat only what is set out for eating. My apologies if I have made a

On raiding your freezer: the only things that I am aware are fair game
are donated sherbets. But that could confuse people, too.

>  Basic, society-wide courtesy should be the norm _any_ time you're a
>  guest in a private home.  It's not our job to teach that.

You haven't seen the environment I grew up in. Consider yourself lucky
that you haven't seen it, and that I have overcome my early
disabilities even as far as I have to date.

In The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen puts forward the
idea that the standard for forms of politeness (from the same root as
polish) in a given society is an aristocratic invention taken up with
even greater force later on by the various middle classes (such as the
Lace-Curtain Irish), to show that they are better brought up than you,
and can afford to Do It Right when you can't. Historically, a similar
motivation (in the form Our God is better than your God, and likes us
better, or even Our God likes us because we do exactly what he says,
and you poor fools don't even have one) can be traced back at least to
the upper-class Jewish movement of Roman times, the Sadducees. It then
infected the Pharisees who founded the movement that brought us
Talmud. Christians were not immune either, of course, nor were Muslims
later on. The Chinese got theirs from Confucius in a similar
manner--Princes know how to behave, not like this rabble. I like the
Buddhist version better--base behavior on an understanding of its
consequences, not on somebody else's opinion. Although there are
certainly Buddhists who don't Get It.

Some parts of conventional polite behavior, those that go beyond
consideration for others based on common humanity into the realm of Us
expressing contempt for Them, annoy me. The part based on
consideration has my full support. But I still need to be informed of
the local rules, preferably without heat. Please don't wait until you
are thoroughly upset, but let me know before it gets to that stage.

>  > Putting the rules on the CABAL [Web site].
>  I _am_ considering an ultra-brief reminder that this is a private home,
>  where guests are espected to show courtesy befitting polite society.
>  Anyone who can't figure out what that means has a basic problem that's
>  not my job to fix, and _could_ eventually end up getting thrown out on
>  his/her tochis.

Just so. Ultra-brief being the key word. Thanks.

Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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