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The Comedian

This quote usually gets used in a shorter form, from Robert Heinlein's Friday, on what a loss of civility means about a society.


What are the marks of a sick culture?


I think you have missed the most alarming symptom of all. This one I shall tell you. But go back and search for it. Examine it. Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms as you have named... But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.

This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health but as proof of his/her strength.

jeff angus

Back when I worked at the early, pre-Redmond Microsoft, about half the company worked in a single building that was very parking-strapped and ill-served by transit.

When Charles Simonyi, the asshole who went on to become quite a bigwig, bought himself a trophy sports car to attract a trophy girlfriend or five, he was so fearful of anything happening to it, he would park it across *three* spots -- an unforgivable act in such a fragile environment.

I used to take pride in taking my 12-year old beater Datsun 510 with the pitted paint and bicycle-clip hood latch surrogate on days there were no spots left by wedging him in, clearing his car by no more than a quarter-inch, in a way that negated any chance he had of getting out.

I also liked ignoring his occasional "all" e-mail messages ordering the lout who had parked behind him to move ;->

The last time I collided with him, many years ago but many years later, he was still one of the biggest cloacæ on the face of the planet (and perhaps beyond). Perhaps he's evolved since.


My good friend Karl typed up a document that reads:

Ignorance or Arrogance - Doesn't matter. The next time you park like this you WILL be Punished.

So we keep a few in our cars to put on the offenders' windshields. Don't know if it influences a behavior change but it sure makes us feel good. E


When I see cars like that, I park right next to them -- I mean really close -- in my beater car. I'll climb out the window. Since my car has no real market or aesthetic value, I'm pretty well-protected from reprisal behavior from this sort of person.

Christopher L.

While your friend that takes pride on taking up two spots certainly fits the description of a jerk, remember that when you see a car like that, you might not have all the perspective.

Imagine that the lot is really full, and more than one person has parked less than perfectly. It would cause YOU to park imperfectly just to fit. If other drivers left before you did, you would look like the jerk.

The morale is, don't be too judgmental when you might not understand the bigger picture.

Frank Roche

Another great example of Asshole Behavior. I have a few pictures on iPhoto that I can add to their gallery. I have to believe that it's both being an asshole and being totally dismissive of others. (Hmmm, I guess those are the same thing.)

John Hunter

Great post. It is amazing the amount of selfish behavior you see now. And these are the same people that get the most offended when someone else is selfish and it impacts them.

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