But you didn't say what type of beans are on the plate!
March 22, 2017 5:38 PM   Subscribe

 
what wait this is insane bullshit who would say Aladdin should be mad at Jasmine
(a dude who does not need to be dated by anyone within earshot, I suppose)

Anyway, cold-blooded animals can be pleasantly cool. Snakes often feel like snakeskin purses. But it's not as good as putting a Coke can on your forehead or anything.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:49 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


An ex-boyfriend once was singing Black Sabbath song. He was singing it as "a bird on the wind", and I pointed out that it was actually "a bird on the wing".

He refused to accept that "because birds have two wings."

We got into an actual screaming match over this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 PM on March 22 [33 favorites]


I remember an epic argument about whether Minnesota is "almost in Canada."
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 5:54 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


One of my best friends stopped talking to me and 3 other friends after a long, heated argument about whether or not french fries were vegetarian. Honest to god.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:55 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


Duck, duck, greyduck vs. duck, duck, goose is a dumb argument I've had too many times
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 5:57 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


French fries fried in lard not vegetarian. Most other french fries are vegetarian.
posted by reventlov at 6:00 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I could be arguing in my spare time.
posted by parki at 6:02 PM on March 22 [22 favorites]


Is it acceptable to abort the anti-Christ?

We still don't agree on this.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:04 PM on March 22 [21 favorites]


Except McDonald's french fries, which are fried in vegetable oil, but only after being coated with beef tallow for flavoring.
posted by baf at 6:04 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Mid-1990s, so such things could not simply be Googled:

My college roommate contended, dead-seriously, that the movie character's name is Hans Olo.
posted by The World Famous at 6:04 PM on March 22 [87 favorites]


A famous argument I remember having was whether or not the crust of the bread is indeed considered to be "bread" itself, or if it is in fact another, distinct product known as "crust".
posted by some loser at 6:05 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


Jainists don't hold with root vegetables IIRC because they kill tiny creatures when they are dug up, but that's a mighty deep cut for most folks.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:05 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


My parents nearly split up over whether 'Coriolanus' should be pronounced 'larnus' or 'laynus'.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:09 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


Once I was in an undergrad Old Testament theology class where two students got in a shouting match over whether God can change God's mind or not, with Scripture quotes, which escalated to standing toe-to-toe, which escalated to a shoving match about whether God can change God's mind, which escalated to throwing punches before the professor had to bodily intervene.

It was pretty great.

The two most pointless arguments I was personally ever involved in were:

Once on my college newspaper, which I was managing editor, I wanted a headline to say something like "2 killed in car accident" and my editor-in-chief insisted it be "two killed." (I don't remember the headline or story but I definitely remember the argument!) I wrote an EIGHT-PAGE MEMO over the next hour citing all major style guides and American newspapers (before google!) to prove that my numeral use in the headline was correct and her spelled-out number was wrong. She overruled me anyway. Sent her a wedding present ten years later, but kinda still mad.

Also in college, we were allowed to take one item of food from the dining hall -- a piece of hand fruit, a mini-baguette, a pastry, something like that. My roommate once cut an apple in half and they refused to let her take both halves out of the dining hall because it was two items. We argued with the dining hall exit monitors for like ten minutes (and lost) ... and then I wrote a column for the newspaper continuing the argument, using arguments from most major areas of study at the university (1/2 apple plus 1/2 apple = 1 apple in the math department sort of thing). And then a bunch of people wrote letters in response, and response letters in response to the response letters.

In the end we resolved it by stealing a knife from the dining hall so she could cut her apples after leaving. (Don't worry, we returned it on amnesty day.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:11 PM on March 22 [90 favorites]


I honestly don't know how I could even begin to try to pick a winner from my extensive history of doing this. I try to notice and avoid it when it's happening since it's...not the most flattering character trait, but it's like you wake up from a fugue right at the point that you're about to engage in fisticuffs over whether 2 AM exists on the day that you put the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time and you wonder just how you got there. I like to think I'm getting better at this, but who knows.
posted by invitapriore at 6:14 PM on March 22 [17 favorites]


My mother and father argued for years about whether Curious George was an ape or a monkey. You could shut a family meal down by bringing it up at the table. They eventually mutually agreed to accept the judgment of a librarian that they knew, who ruled that George was a monkey on the grounds that text overrules illustrations.

My father gave up the argument, but I suspect that he went to his grave harboring an unspoken conviction that George was an ape.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:16 PM on March 22 [28 favorites]


My college roommate contended, dead-seriously, that the movie character's name is Hans Olo.

Actually you know what I feel better now
posted by invitapriore at 6:17 PM on March 22 [22 favorites]


yeah, Hans is a real name, like Luke and Ben, and "Solo" is way on-the-nose for a rogue space smuggler who says he works alone all the time, so surely a real filmmaker wouldn't give a character a name like that
posted by Countess Elena at 6:21 PM on March 22 [18 favorites]


"Can light travel in a vacuum?"

I argued the pro side. Strenuously.

In my opponents' defense, we were all in middle school. But holy moly, I still remember that one.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:21 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


I almost got into a fistfight with my best friend slash roommate over the role of chance in the outcome of horse races. Neither of us cared a whit about horse racing. (Edit: I was right, obviously.)
posted by goatdog at 6:22 PM on March 22


Oh, right. The most stupid argument I have ever seen was a thirty minute fight over the term "catalyst" ("what is the structure of the active catalyst in this reaction?"), conducted between four professors. Chalkboard drawings were involved. At one point, they all agreed to disagree for about five minutes before they went back to fighting.

It was 9pm. It was funny for the first five minutes.

They all respected each other, usually. That didn't make the fight less pointless.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:23 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


My girlfriend, three years older, refused to accept that as we both got older, the age difference between us would be smaller. We shouted. It got ugly.

I still hold that the difference between 18 and 21 is much larger than the difference between 38 and 41.
posted by idiopath at 6:24 PM on March 22 [20 favorites]


Incidentally, now pooling bets on how many comments this thread amasses before a legit argument on the same topic as one of the arguments cited here begins. This includes meta-arguments about the relative merits of the bets themselves.
posted by invitapriore at 6:26 PM on March 22 [22 favorites]


I still owe Kate $50 because in Pretty in Pink Blaine tells Andi, "I believed in you, I always believed in you, I just didn't believe in me" rather than "I believed in you, I always believed in you, you just didn't believe in me." Shit! Or was it the other way around? At any rate I let myself get shipwrecked on that technicality rather than WIN on the point I was REALLY passionate about, which was that, much as I love it, Pretty in Pink has a horrible message for the kids, a "get in line and conform" message that even The Smiths (et al) on the soundtrack can't make up for.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:27 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


A close contender to that one: another ex asserted that a spider risked the same injury falling 6 feet that a human would risk falling a much larger distance (to scale). I contended that the smaller a creature is, the further it can fall without injury.
posted by idiopath at 6:27 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


I was not involved in, but did witness, a very long (pre-readily accessible internet) and eventually very heated argument over how much a cubic metre of water weighs.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:33 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Is "nothing" actually a thing in and of itself, or is it the absence of ALL things?

Sadly, we were completely sober at the time.
posted by erniepan at 6:35 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


if donut holes are not formed by lazers they Damn Well Should Be
posted by lalochezia at 6:35 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


Oh, so many song lyrics arguments in the pre-Internet days. I've looked up all the ones I can remember, and I turned out to be right on all of them. Sit on it, losers!

The one argument that strikes me as the most pointless is when my sister's and my best high school friend claimed that his Grade 2 school picture proved that he was blond as a kid. His hair was medium to dark brown in the picture. He said, "Well, Mom slicked it back for Picture Day, so it looks darker than it really was." We went back and forth on that one for years.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:37 PM on March 22


My partner and I argue about whether I am particularly prone to pointless arguments in comparison to herself, with my contention being that we're pretty much on the level and hers being that I'm worse. She's a philosophy student and I'm a tedious jerk, so you can imagine how this goes.
posted by invitapriore at 6:37 PM on March 22 [47 favorites]


Pineapples - do they grow on trees or do they grow underground like root vegetables? My sister was Team Tree. I was Team Underground. The cousins took sides. We all argued for 45 minutes until my aunt, who had been listening in the background, finally jumped in and explained how we were all wrong. She drew a picture. Our minds were blown.

In junior, my group of friends and I argued over what kind of martial arts the Ninja Turtles practiced. In our defense, this was the 80s and the Internet did not exist so didn't have that to consult.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 6:37 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


In junior, my group of friends and I argued over what kind of martial arts the Ninja Turtles practiced.

I would have thought... based on the name alone... that it was Ninjitsu, or bunjinkan budo taijutsu maybe? along those lines?

Like, kung-fu panda, surely he does some style of kung-fu right? not like Kempo Karate or something..

Or Like the guy from American Samurai: Surely some kind of Kenjutsu ? not a kali or eskrima practitioner. Not a sabre or rapier guy either. It's right in the name. What else would a frickin NINJA TURTLE be trained in? Boxing? Pankration?
posted by some loser at 6:46 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Pankration Panda is nicely alliterative
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 6:47 PM on March 22 [14 favorites]


An all-night argument with my boyfriend as to whether or not I said goodnight before I went to bed (exhausted from a long day at work, and mounting tensions with him). He contended with self-righteous indignation I didn't. I was exhausted, said I did, and went back to bed.

Dude was in his 40s, and I was in my 30s. Pointless anger is still ridiculous, in hindsight.
posted by datawrangler at 6:48 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Which is bigger, 2 or 4?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:52 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


It's Mutant Ninjitsu. Duh.
posted by The World Famous at 6:54 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


When I was about 10 I was playing Scrabble at a friend's house and her dad played "mens" to win the game. As in, "the mens room." I obviously argued that that was a possessive word requiring an apostrophe and thus it was not acceptable. He argued there was no apostrophe. This went on for a couple of hours while my other friends wandered away to have more fun.

I am now in my 30s. A couple years ago I went back to my hometown and ran into him. He brought up that Scrabble game. Neither of us has changed our minds in the ensuing decades.

I'm still right.
posted by olinerd at 6:56 PM on March 22 [53 favorites]


"are your ears part of your face"
posted by saturday_morning at 6:56 PM on March 22 [32 favorites]


I had one date end in a nasty public argument when I told him that Annie Proulx was in her 80's, and wasn't the young, glamorous, up-and-coming author he insisted that he had met at a California film festival.
posted by kanewai at 6:57 PM on March 22 [13 favorites]


In fifth grade I argued with my friend which war was more pointless, WW1 or Vietnam, and probably scared the high school student volunteer.
posted by lineofsight at 6:58 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


The ear debate took days to resolve. Peace was attained when we realized the film "Face/Off" had authoritatively settled the matter.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:59 PM on March 22 [24 favorites]


When in the earth's atmosphere, the Space Shuttle has the power to fly vs. the Space Shuttle cannot fly under it's own power, it can only glide.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 6:59 PM on March 22


My sister and I disagree about which one of us introduced each other to the Harry Potter series. She insists it was her, after a visit to our aunt's house one summer where she hung out with our cousin.

But, I insist that I'm the one that got her into the books because I'm the one that gifted the book to my cousin who in turn mentioned it to her during that summer trip. My sister has some load of crap time-line which I refuse to acknowledge.

It's so dumb, who cares. We both love these books and the films. But we refuse to budge on this. It's been going on for at least 10 years now. And we both bring it up in front of other family members who just leave the room when we start to analyze the time line.

My cousin knows the truth but has refused to enter the argument. She's a god damn coward for not being honest about this. The battle lines were drawn and she took the cowards way out.

Traitor.
posted by Fizz at 7:01 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


My husband and his dad have been arguing over whether his dad ever saw Reservoir Dogs for years.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:03 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


I was involved in a 7+ hour argument once with the starting premise "If people could fly, would there still be roads?". Seems simple enough, but crucially the argument was given extra fuel by the exact nature of their flying capabilities, and what constitutes a "road", exactly. I don't remember if there was a consensus victory, but after 7 hours there were two participants left, stubbornly defending their own imaginary built worlds and histories containing flying people, with and without roads, neither budging an inch, much like the North and South going Zaxes.

The other notable one was here, and involved vikings. I shall not link to it.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:04 PM on March 22 [16 favorites]


A roommate and I once argued for much too long over whether or not the song "Footlose" was a "rock" song or not. (I've probably had more pointless arguments in my life but they were too pointless to remember.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:07 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Another one - my family has always been kind of prone to lively debate, particularly thanks to my father, who will take the devils' advocate position for fun.

One holiday - I forget which it was, it may have been Christmas - for whatever reason we left my grandparents' early and were driving back to our house that same night, a two-hour drive. My brother and I were just out of college.

For some reason we started getting into a spirited debate about the exact scientific nature of radio waves. My brother maintained that they were a form of light wave; I argued that they were a form of sound wave. My father, listening from the front seat, would switch sides depending on which one of us made the more convincing argument in any point in time.

At the point at which this argument had actually crossed with us over a state line, my mother finally spun around in her seat and said "Okay, you know what, maybe you guys can TAKE a TIME OUT until we get home, and then LOOK IT UP."

We did. And the second we pulled in the driveway and stopped the car, my brother and I each grabbed a perfunctory thing out of the trunk (so we could say we "helped unpack" and then ran in the house, where I looked in an encyclopedia.

We were both wrong. Radio waves are their own thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


It was about Moriarty. Dude in the writing group refused to believe that Moriarty is in only one Sherlock Holmes story - introduced, and then killed off. I mean, you could bring up The Valley of Fear, but he's not really a character in that one, and if you decide the play belongs in Canon, then there's the issue of the play ending with Holmes getting for reals engaged.

Anyway, as an observer, the pointless arguments that I love the most are either about food, or, you know, vikings.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:12 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


"Is "nothing" actually a thing in and of itself, or is it the absence of ALL things?"

I once broke up a very close junior high friendship over "Which is longer, forever or never?"

I maintained never was longer, as it had no beginning and no end, whereas forever had a beginning (and no end). She maintained never never occurred so obviously forever was longer.

I seriously saw her at a 20-year high school reunion last year and she is still not speaking to me.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:14 PM on March 22 [35 favorites]


My parents met when they were teenagers. Once, shortly after they'd met but long, long before they started dating, my mother gave my father a ride to a party. Late night, dark, quiet street --- she missed her turn at one point, and realizing this, stopped the car in the middle of the road and was about to perform a three-point turn. She was stopped under a small overpass. My father, seeing her about to execute this maneuver, said it was dangerous to do it under the overpass and she should drive forward before turning around. They then proceeded to sit in the car, under an overpass, in the dark, 1/8th of the way through a three-point-turn, and argue about whether it was safe for her to go ahead and complete this turn for, oh, I dunno, half an hour.

I give this time estimate because --- and there is a bit of a knack to this --- if you bring up this anecdote in just the right way, they will proceed to have this argument again, in full, nigh on 40 years later. I sometimes used to do this to break up long car rides when I was a evil teenager. They have another number that they do on rarer occasions, "how tall was the center on my brother's 6th grade basketball team" but that's tougher to work in naturally.
posted by Diablevert at 7:15 PM on March 22 [42 favorites]


My college roommate contended, dead-seriously, that the movie character's name is Hans Olo.

In grade school, my classmate Rudy insisted that C-3PO and R2-D2 were actual robots, and the names Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker were just the names they used on contracts and such, because you couldn't legally sign a bunch of letters and numbers. Photos I dug up from behind-the-scenes books (this sort of thing, or this) were dismissed as whatever the 1977 term for "fake news" was.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:27 PM on March 22 [14 favorites]


An ex-boyfriend once was singing Black Sabbath song. He was singing it as "a bird on the wind"

Surely this song was Believer and somebody should have been arguing about whether it was, in fact, a Black Sabbath song.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:29 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Surely "footlose" would be a gore-grind song. Footloose is post-yacht-retro-rock.
posted by idiopath at 7:31 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I can't believe how wrong some of you people are. I always thought Mefites were smart.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:32 PM on March 22 [14 favorites]


2001: Whether the concept of the Matrix in Gibson's Neuromancer was 'more realistic' than the Metaverse in Stephenson's Snow Crash. Ended in a screaming match.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:37 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


I have two long running arguments with my business partner that, if one of us allows it to escalate, we say hurtful things. They are - are dumb hollywood comedies art? And is Tom Cruise a good actor and not at all creepy?
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:38 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


One thing I've learned in my adult life, is that to avoid these situations, is to not give a flying fuck what anyone thinks.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


For some reason we started getting into a spirited debate about the exact scientific nature of radio waves. My brother maintained that they were a form of light wave; I argued that they were a form of sound wave...

We were both wrong. Radio waves are their own thing.


I can't control myself, I have to at least link to this

some beans are important beans
posted by XMLicious at 7:43 PM on March 22 [30 favorites]


My husband and his dad have been arguing over whether his dad ever saw Reservoir Dogs for years.

My mother and I have spent a significant portion of my life arguing with my father over whether or not he saw Quiz Show. He did. We rented it and all watched it. He has no memory of this and it's a now routine topic of conversation.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:44 PM on March 22


Radio waves are their own thing.

Light and radio "waves" are different frequencies of an electromagnetic spectrum and travel at the speed of "light"(causality) in a vacuum while sound is a pattern of disturbance requiring a medium and travels at a fraction of the velocity.

Anyway...Does one sweat more in a dry or wet sauna? I was convinced my perspiration was constantly evaporating in a dry sauna and the "illusion" of sweating in a wet sauna was condensation. I think I might be right for the wrong reasons.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 7:46 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


I feel that having at least one of these arguments between you is one of the keys to a good marriage, and the trick is making sure that neither of you is incredibly emotionally invested in it. So my wife and I picked ours out early and intentionally, the year we started dating, and now whenever one of us thinks that the argument we are having is pointless all we have to say is "Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy is not/is too, objectively speaking, an incredibly depressing book!"

We can go for about forty-five minutes on that one, if we get into the fight correctly. Techniques include bringing up major literary critics and critical theories, citing books that everyone agrees to be depressing and then painstakingly weighing their hopefulness quotients against the memory of Piercy, and repeating 'Is not!' 'Is too!' over and over and over.

It's been seventeen years now, and neither of us has reread the thing. If either does, the other one will also have to reread it, and we've never had the desire to do so simultaneously.

Honestly, I don't really want to reread it at all because it was so frickin' depressing.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 7:54 PM on March 22 [14 favorites]


I very nearly broke up with a boyfriend of two years over the movie Her. He thought the protagonist's problems would have been best solved by deleting the AI. I thought that was literally murder.

In retrospect, I was right and i should have broken up with him.
posted by nonasuch at 7:54 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


There may have been more recent ones, but there is an argument from first grade that still haunts me to this day.

There was this girl, Aimee, who was in my class and also rode the same school bus I did. I was sitting across the aisle from her on the ride to school one morning and overheard her bragging to her friend in the seat with her: "I know what a hundred times a hundred is!"

"What is it?" asked her friend, wide-eyed at being so close to such arcane knowledge for a six-year-old.

"A thousand!" exclaimed Aimee happily.

Being the insufferable know-it-all that I was, I had to immediately lean over and tell them both that a hundred times a hundred was absolutely not a thousand, but ten thousand.

"Is too a thousand!" insisted Aimee.

This resulted in me spending the remaining fifteen or so minutes of the bus ride trying to explain the decimal system to these two girls who just weren't having any of it. Finally, we arrived at the school and started filing out of the bus. Aimee was directly in front of me in line and, when we reached the front she stopped and turned to the bus driver.

"Mr. Eagleson, is a hundred times a hundred a thousand?"

"Yeah," Mr. Eagleson replied in the most I'm-not-really-listening-to-you-kid voice imaginable.

Thirty years later, I can remember with crystal clarity the exact smug smirk on Aimee's face at that moment. Honestly, I'm getting angry again right now just thinking about it.
posted by 256 at 7:56 PM on March 22 [118 favorites]


(I thought I was bad, but you people... *hugs MetaFilter*)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:00 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: The title of the prior post could be used for this post. Do not dispute.
posted by hot_monster at 8:10 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


I remember one of the dumbest arguments I ever found myself in. It stuck with me because of how little I actually cared about the question, and how incredibly upset everyone else got.

During a dinner party with my partner at the time and a couple who we'd hung out with on and off, someone for some reason asserted that the actor that played little orphan Annie in the 1982 movie "Annie" was Shirley Temple. I commented that I couldn't remember the actor's name who played her, but I was sure it wasn't Shirley Temple.

Everyone else immediately agreed that it certainly was Shirley Temple and I was just wrong. After far too long, I did the "Ok, sure, whatever" thing which, I think, only spurred everyone to greater efforts to convince me. After that went on even a more indecent length of time, I finally offered to wager $10 on the answer and go look it up. Everyone agreed, looking forward to easy money.

When I pulled up the IMDB page and read out Aileen Quinn's name, it was met only with stony silence. The visiting couple took their leave. No one ever paid up their $10. They were mad at me for months.
posted by Lafe at 8:27 PM on March 22 [37 favorites]


A roommate and I once argued for much too long over whether or not the song "Footlose" was a "rock" song or not.

Music brings forth all manner of pointless arguments. I played in a traditional Irish music band and one song that almost made the set list was "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore," this lament about the lovely lass the singer has left behind on the aforementioned shore when he left for America. Why almost? Well, the chorus begins thus:
So fare thee well, sweet Liza dear, and likewise to Derry town,
And ______ farewell to me comrade boys who dwell on that sainted ground,
Traditional music being as protean as it is, the ______ is in some versions "twice" while in others it is "thrice." The singer had a recorded version he liked, and while the band on the record had gone for the latter, their singer's brogue rendered it as something close to "trice." Our singer could not be convinced that that was a totally different word meaning "a minuscule amount" and insisted on singing out his mistake as loudly as possible at every rehearsal until we scrapped the song. I swear, that guy could not pass a Turing test.

Same dude had grown up as a Beatles fan and every wacky Paul-is-dead thing that two generations of Beatles enthusiasts have mondegreened into the lyrics, he would cling to as if loved ones' lives hung in the balance. If you ever hear a bar band perform "A Day in the Life" (an unlikely conjecture, I grant you) and the singer bellows out "But nobody was really sure if he was from the house of PAUL!!", say hi from me.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:28 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


Man, so many people wrong on the internet are in here tonight.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:34 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Of all the pointless arguments I've had, it's the debates over free will I've had with friends and acquaintances that seemed the most pointless and annoying to me. I mean, FFS, if you really believe in your position, you already know I can't help but argue with you even if I'm wrong, so what's the point?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:42 PM on March 22 [7 favorites]


Either Airplane! is the best movie ever made or it isn't, and the rest is commentary.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:43 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


PITT THE ELDER
posted by Lorin at 8:44 PM on March 22 [7 favorites]


I've done the chickpeas vs garbanzos one. It ended in a half a lime being thrown across the room, striking me in the forehead, and squeezing itself entirely into my eyes. This happened when someone else in the room, unable to stand it anymore, informed us they were the same thing and the guy with the lime thought I'd been fucking with him the whole time.
posted by deadbilly at 8:51 PM on March 22 [7 favorites]


In junior high, some kids were arguing about what would happen if, while standing at the front end of a moving bus, you jumped straight up, would you land at the same spot or move to the back of the bus?

This began with a few students in a study hall and the debate raged throughout the school. I think some teachers heard of it and the science teacher had to explain to the dummies that, no, you wouldn't move to the back of the bus. This actually happened.
posted by zardoz at 8:52 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Radio waves are their own thing.

Radio waves are light.

(OK, radio waves and visible light are both electromagnetic radiation. They're the same thing, just different wavelengths. Colloquially, we use "light" to mean just visible light, so perhaps we can argue they're two different things in the same category.)
posted by airmail at 8:53 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


...if you bring up this anecdote in just the right way, they will proceed to have this argument again, in full, nigh on 40 years later.

My cousins and I used to do this regularly at family gatherings. I'm not sure exactly what the argument consisted of, but if you asked about the ketchup milkshake story, you got hours of entertainment. I think factors were who had started the dare to begin with, how many of them drank it, and whether it really tasted that bad. Even after they figured out we were setting them up, they couldn't quite stop fighting when reminded of how wrong their sibling was.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:59 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Salad dressing and Mayonnaise-- Same thing?
I may have posted to this very topic on MF.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:04 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


The ear debate took days to resolve. Peace was attained when we realized the film "Face/Off" had authoritatively settled the matter.

Butbutbut.... the way the identities in Face/Off were resolved was that they had different blood types. But had survived a transplant?? Thereofre Face/Off was a fake movie, no one's face got swapped and your ear debate is hearby reopened.
posted by fshgrl at 9:16 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


In my askme history is in fact one of these types of arguments. The question "Is cereal a type of soup?" will get AT LEAST an eyeroll from my partner. All I have to say thank god it wasn't deleted for being chat filter. A simpler time.
posted by Carillon at 9:27 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


All these stories are fantastic, but I'm still lost in the joy of realizing just what the argument over the color of the 'itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini' is actually asking.

The author says:

The answer is RIGHT THERE IN THE SONG!
How was there any debate?


But the big grin that broke out on my face when I re-read the song title is still there. Is the bikini yellow, or the polka dots? I cannot fathom why this question fills me with delight.

But it does.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:37 PM on March 22 [37 favorites]


"are your ears part of your face"
posted by saturday_morning at 9:56 AM on March 23 [8 favorites +] [!]


This one has great historical precedent. Muslims wash their face to be ready for prayer, and how this is done has become highly ritualized, leading to this incident in the life of Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, a famous 19th century Egyptian scholar:
“When the Sheikh returned from his trip to the Sudan in 1905, he stopped at Minia, and judges from both the Native and Religious courts, and prominent people of the town came to greet him. When they had all gathered, one of the judges from the Religious Court said to him, ‘A great many Christians are adopting Islam and are making our task more difficult.”

The Sheikh asked, ‘What task is that, Sheikh?”’

He answered, ‘Our teaching them the fundamentals of our religion.’

The Sheikh said, ‘It is enough to say: Pray, fast, give alms, and go on pilgrimage.’

The Judge added, ‘But we must instruct them in the ritual ablutions.’

The Sheikh replied, ‘Tell Him: Wash your face, and your arms up to the elbow, wet your head and wash your feet.’

The man insisted, ‘That will not be enough: we shall have to teach them the boundaries of the face, from where it begins to where it ends.’

The Sheikh exclaimed with some hint of irritation, ‘Glory be to God! My good Sheikh! Tell him to wash his face! Every man knows the extent of his own face without resorting to a surveyor!!’
via hijabman
posted by BinGregory at 9:49 PM on March 22 [47 favorites]


I am married to a professional philosopher (also a Mefite) who can tell you all about our argument about the two-box problem that degraded to name-calling.
posted by daisystomper at 9:53 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


'I remember an epic argument about whether Minnesota is "almost in Canada."'

Parts of Minnesota are almost in Canada. Other parts are almost in Nebraska. About sums it up, really.
posted by traveler_ at 10:24 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


An erstwhile roommate was convinced that a wall in my bedroom had been painted a garish shade of green BEFORE I had left on vacation, versus me being convinced it had been done while I was away. (I had expressed shock at the color upon my return, and he was convinced I had seen the finished job and expressed liking the result before I had gone on vacation.)

I reminded him I myself had scheduled the frigging painter to coincide with my absence so I wouldn't be breathing the paint fumes. Thus, I said, it was impossible for me to see the finished job before I left for vacation.

Nope, he said. Happened before you left. I showed him my notes with the date of the scheduled painter visit. Nope, he said...didn't matter. Happened before you left. I asked him, incredulously, if he thought I forgot a painter moving all of my furniture while I was in my room? Or sleeping in a newly painted room? Didn't seem to matter - no argument phased him.

I spent 20 minutes trying to rationally (and sometimes vociferously) explain the nature of time, scheduling, note taking, sensory perception, etc. to no avail. I thought he was trying to gaslight me, finally, but he was not a sophisticated enough guy to pull that off. And he had never evidenced any sort of delusion like that before...but he seemed so certain that I actually questioned my own mental faculties.

Finally, I just said whatever, because convincing him of the truth was unnecessary to getting on with my life. But ever since that day, I think back on that argument and marvel at how we could possibly believe two such different sets of events. Or how, for him, his conception of reality could be so completely divorced from the truth, yet he could be so certain of it.
posted by darkstar at 10:54 PM on March 22 [9 favorites]


About 25 years ago in the first year of grad school I got in a multi-day argument with a housemate.

A professor in lecture was proving that two operators have common eigenvectors if and only if they commute, or something like that. Say AV=aV, where A is an operator and V is a vector and a is an eigenvalue. At some point in the proof, he had aV, and said you could say that was AV. I was the one at first to raise a question--which I later disavowed but my housemate kept arguing back to me! I said, well, what if there's some other operator A' that also when applied to V, also gives the same eigenvalue a? Wouldn't that prevent you from writing aV as AV? I was thinking of it like cause and effect, an operator causing a vector to change. If you found one clue that could have multiple causes, you couldn't conclude it was one or the other cause. But that's invalid (as I vainly tried for days to convince my housemate!) If AV=aV, then by the nature of equality as an equivalence relation of course you could always turn that around and say aV=AV. "Equals" does not mean "has the unique cause". My housemate swore up and down that at every point in a mathematical proof there must never be a choice of ways to proceed... Which is bizarre.

But the irony was that he argued my own hastily ill-thought objection back to me for days!
posted by Schmucko at 11:04 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


My brother and I once got in an argument over whether it is possible to prove anything. We'd argue in the morning, then pick it up again on the way home from school. We kept it up for several days.
posted by eruonna at 11:26 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


I showed this to my wife.

Now we're arguing about whether most of these are arguments or just contradiction.

(An argument, of course, being a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.)
posted by madajb at 11:31 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


I noped out of a long-running argument with my uncle, which had been carrying on via email for over a year, after he denied that it was possible to share an objective reality.

I've also been involved in a long-standing argument at work about whether a bowl with 3 kinds of leaves is a salad, as opposed to a bowl with 2 kinds of leaves and some sort of dressing.
posted by nonspecialist at 12:07 AM on March 23


I argued with my 3 year old about vanilla cake. She wanted me to make one according to her specifications and refused to believe that I couldn't. I told her I didn't know how to make one and would have to look it up. She proceeded to give me a list of increasingly frustrated instructions.
"First, you put tomatoes. Then, vanilla."
"First, you put vanilla. Then, cake."
"First, you put the top. Then, the bottom."
She would NOT LET IT DROP.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:47 AM on March 23 [28 favorites]


About 35 years ago I got into a pretty intense, pointless argument with an older friend of my wife's family because he was about to win a Scrabble game at their house with the word 'barhand.' I shouldn't even play Scrabble in the first place, because I tend to get upset that it's not really about words, but in any case, I knew that people who work in a pub or tavern are not called barhands. And he insisted that they were.

The squabble went on far too long, but I gave up before we started screaming at or punching each other. And having won his point, he resumed his drinking.
posted by LeLiLo at 1:32 AM on March 23


Is "nothing" actually a thing in and of itself, or is it the absence of ALL things?

If I put my keys and my wallet in my pocket, does it now contain three things: keys, wallet, and nothing?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:50 AM on March 23 [19 favorites]


I can only really think of one argument that I got in which was really bad like this, and I won't describe it since I lost.

Also, I am fighting really hard not to weigh in on many of these. Luckily many of them don't say who took which so I will just assume the Mefite took the obviously correct side and the stranger took the clearly wrong side.
posted by ckape at 1:52 AM on March 23 [6 favorites]


As a former barhand I can assure you that there is no such thing as a "barhand".
posted by Chitownfats at 1:59 AM on March 23 [10 favorites]


Yesterday, my friends Slack was (slightly) consumed by a discussion that started with "Nerds will argue anything, like whether Wolverine's foreskin would keep growing back, when clearly a mid-1800s Canadian gentile wouldn't have been circumcised anyway." Of course, someone said "Right, he wouldn't have been, but..." and we proceeded to argue past each other for the whole afternoon about whether there's a "baseline" Wolverine that his healing factor tries to return him to or whether it would allow, say, muscle growth to constantly occur.
posted by Etrigan at 2:32 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]


There do seem to be barbacks, though my British-English Firefox spell-checker insists it should be "barracks".
posted by XMLicious at 2:43 AM on March 23


Got into an argument with a former roommate over a map.
A 3-D city map in like cast concrete or something. She wound up nearly screaming at me (like, "you ran over my foot with your car" level of angry) that it was a bas-relief, and not a sculpture.
I said that was like insisting that a fork wasn't a utensil, and she sort of laughed at herself for being overspecific.

I got an art teacher to yell at me in class one day because I said that violet was darker than yellow. Like, if you lay down value scales for yellow and violet next to each other on white paper, the violet one will appear darker at each equivalent level on the scale. She was using the sort of art textbook jargon definition of "dark" which talks about color value, and I was using "dark" in the more natural-language sense where like if you write your name on one piece of white paper in yellow crayon and on another in violet crayon, and then stand across the room from them, the yellow one will be almost unreadable.
"Contrast" is probably closer to describing the kind of thing I meant when I said it just "looked darker", but an eighteen-year-old who's never even heard of Adobe PhotoShop didn't have that avenue of thinking.
I didn't know how to articulate my position then, and I don't know what conclusion she came to after class was over, but when we both were in class next, she apologized for yelling at me, and said that I wasn't wrong, after all. Or something to that effect.

I watched my dad and my sister get in an argument over how to pronounce "magenta". My sister was saying it wrong ("magNETa") and my dad was getting her mispronunciation wrong ("how can you look at that and think it says 'magnetic'?") There really wasn't a resolution to that one. They just wronged at each other until the inevitable parental exasperation conversation-stopper.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:29 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Oh, one time I won a drunken ten-dollar bet with a guy over the title of Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works. He thought it was How the Brain Works.
Bizarrely, we became friends because of it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:45 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


My husband was in a 3000+ message crossposted Usenet flamewar over whether "the sky is blue."
posted by cheshyre at 3:46 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]


On radio waves - I plead to only remembering that my brother and I were both each wrong, and not to what either of our arguments or the answer actually were.

Also to my mother telling us to knock it off, which she usually never did (she would usually just roll her eyes and let us wear ourselves out).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:09 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


The dumbest argument I've ever gotten in was whether there was a 15 minute time difference between VA and NY. My father strangely insisted that because his watch was 15 minutes off when we arrived in VA there must be a 15 minute time difference. No amount of logic, math, or astrophysics could convince the man that his Rolex was JUST. WRONG. and it didn't magically know what the "real" local time was. Voices were raised, google was consulted, defensive name calling occurred. It was all very ridiculous and probably a proxy for my resentment of years of misogynistic dismissal.
posted by xyzzy at 4:22 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


Are insects animals oh my god
posted by lollusc at 4:47 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Is "nothing" actually a thing in and of itself,

I've had that one, too. The clue is right there in the word: no-thing. If it starts to seem like a thing, you broke the word or made a mistake. We don't just overthink everything, we overthink nothing, too...
posted by saulgoodman at 4:48 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


your ear debate is hearby reopened
I see what you did there.
posted by santry at 4:51 AM on March 23


Is it okay to casually refer to your apartment as a house. Like, "I left it in the house" or "we are having a housewarming party."

Is ring a subset of circle, or a different kind of shape, in common speech. Is a traffic circle a ring? Or does it include the median area? Is a ring just circular, but not a circle?

Whether or not I needed glasses. I maintained that I did, because of bad eyesight.

Are viruses alive.
posted by Nothing at 4:57 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Whether the main riff of Sweet Jane is three chords or four. I even got a guitar out to demonstrate that it's four, but was accused of making an improper argument from authority or something. I'm still not allowed to bring that episode up.
posted by Mocata at 4:59 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


"are your ears part of your face"
“When the Sheikh returned from his trip to the Sudan in 1905, he stopped at Minia, and judges from both the Native and Religious courts, and prominent people of the town came to greet him. When they had all gathered, one of the judges from the Religious Court said to him, ‘A great many Christians are adopting Islam and are making our task more difficult.”

The Sheikh asked, ‘What task is that, Sheikh?”’

He answered, ‘Our teaching them the fundamentals of our religion.’

The Sheikh said, ‘It is enough to say: Pray, fast, give alms, and go on pilgrimage.’

The Judge added, ‘But we must instruct them in the ritual ablutions.’

The Sheikh replied, ‘Tell Him: Wash your face, and your arms up to the elbow, wet your head and wash your feet.’

The man insisted, ‘That will not be enough: we shall have to teach them the boundaries of the face, from where it begins to where it ends.’

The Sheikh exclaimed with some hint of irritation, ‘Glory be to God! My good Sheikh! Tell him to wash his face! Every man knows the extent of his own face without resorting to a surveyor!!’
...I'm feeling very at one with all the other peoples of the earth right now, because by God, that's the most Jewish thing I've read in a long time.
posted by saturday_morning at 5:01 AM on March 23 [30 favorites]


The dumbest argument I've ever gotten in was whether there was a 15 minute time difference between VA and NY.

My mom and my aunt once argued over how many hours difference you have to account for when calling someone in London (i.e. Greenwich time). Five, said one; eight, said the other. Five. Eight. Five. Eight. Duck season. Rabbit season.

One of them lives in the Eastern time zone, the other in Pacific. *sigh*
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:01 AM on March 23 [30 favorites]


Boyf and I have been together just over 10 years.

Boyf and I have lived together for about 8 of those years.

Year 6 of living together we had one of only (up to now) three shouting-at-each-other arguments.

It was about what constitutes the width measurement of our back garden, and what constitutes the length.

We found and looked at land boundary maps online - no measurements just outlines.

Maps CLEARLY showed that our garden is a rectangle, rendering ONE of us incorrect.

We both ended up outside, with measuring tapes, in the deep snow.

Turns out garden is in-fact square, so NEITHER OF US was right.

So now we have a phrase that allows us to catch such discussions before they get out of control again. "Is this the garden all over again?"

We still cannot agree on what - linguistically - length and width mean though.

I love my Boyf. I'm glad he loves me right back.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:05 AM on March 23 [19 favorites]


The other notable one was here, and involved vikings. I shall not link to it.

I will go to my grave secure in the knowledge that when Ralph sleeps, he has dreams, and that in those dreams, he dreams of being a Viking.

No, I will not let go of this.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:16 AM on March 23 [18 favorites]


Also, I worked for a decade with an accountant (whom I see I mentioned mere days ago on the blue) who was curiously resistant to certain ideas. Nearly a decade ago, I also mentioned here that she insisted that mirrors do not reflect each other. "Well, how does the hairstylist show you what your haircut looks like at the back?" "That's different, because obviously the stylist can see the back of your head without a mirror."

Around the same time, I used a metaphor to illustrate a point: whatever project we were talking about had three support components so I opined that it was pretty well supported -- after all, a three-legged stool will not wobble. She corrected me on the spot: no, three-legged stools wobble all the time, I was told. It is a four-legged stool that doesn't wobble. She would hear no argument otherwise.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:19 AM on March 23 [9 favorites]


I was on the sidelines for this one, but it ended up being a 42-page thread on whether or not the needles in X-Men 3 were plastic.
posted by evoque at 6:28 AM on March 23


My wife and I both love Ghostbusters - we went as the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper for our first Halloween together. We have had to agree to disagree about whether Egon says "print is dead" to Janine or "printer's dead." It's better that we don't talk about it even though "print is dead" makes so much more sense and OH MY GOD HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY THINK HE'S TALKING ABOUT THE PRINTER??
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:32 AM on March 23 [14 favorites]


Me: I'm reading this hilarious thread on MeFi, about the most ridiculous arguments people have ever had.
She: That's a waste of time.
Me: No, it's ... (nips it in the bud).
posted by willF at 6:33 AM on March 23 [16 favorites]


Ragged Richard, my college roommate and I had the same argument. It went on for some time. His point was that Egon was working on the computer, and not really listening. I countered that there's a conversation already in progress, Janine asked Egon about his hobbies, he said he collects spores, molds, and fungus, to which she replies "I read a lot, myself" and he says:

"Print is dead."

It took sitting down and watching the movie to solve the issue, which, all in all, wasn't exactly a bad thing.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:38 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


At the record store where I worked, with a customer: Are the Pogues a punk band or an Irish band?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:50 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


On the topic of antagonizing teachers and professors, in college my astronomy professor took the class out for nighttime star-watching at the edge of town. He pointed out Mars but I was having trouble finding it, as were some other students. I said, "Oh! The kind of fuzzy yellow one." Professor whirled on me and said in a booming voice, "Mars is the red planet! It's red." I'm all, "well, yeah, but it looks yellow." A few students agree and we are subjected to a lecture on color and space and light travel and he's like apparently really pissed. I turn to the guy on my right and start to say, "but don't you think..." and he goes "please say 'it's red.'"

Also be assured that daily across the nation people are having passionate arguments over whether politics should be passionately argued or ignored.
posted by amanda at 6:50 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


I've honestly never had a pointless argument.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Is "nothing" actually a thing in and of itself,

I've had that one, too. The clue is right there in the word: no-thing. If it starts to seem like a thing, you broke the word or made a mistake. We don't just overthink everything, we overthink nothing, too...


I have a key and a coin in my pocket.
What else do you have there?
Nothing.
posted by Splunge at 7:03 AM on March 23 [16 favorites]


I feel that having at least one of these arguments between you is one of the keys to a good marriage, and the trick is making sure that neither of you is incredibly emotionally invested in it.

Our is "does a coffee date count as a date/what year did we start dating." Because, you see, the coffee date was in December of one year. The first non-coffee date was in January.

I contend that coffee dates are dates; he says they are a pre-date get-ta-know-ya over java. Luckily, neither of us really care, and just broadly declare one meal, sometime during the period spanning November to February, as our 'anniversary meal'. (To date, whenever this has come up, no one has taken his side.) Soon, our wedding will give us an actual anniversary.

In elementary school I was trying to tell a joke I saw somewhere that involved me pointing straight up, at the sky, and the joke recipient needing to say 'up'. This girl was insistent that I was pointing north.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:27 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I'm taking his side.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


The old tabs versus spaces controversy.

I found myself arguing this with a friend at a party; I really didn't want to be arguing about it -- it's so goddamned stupid -- but i couldn't let it drop without at least getting my interlocutor to meet me halfway with a "reasonable people may differ," and he would not allow that reasonable people could possibly differ on this matter.

So it went on, and on, and on.

It's by far the stupidest, most wretched argument I've ever had in real life (as opposed to the internet).
posted by edheil at 7:43 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


I used to troll my newspaper's sports department by insisting golf wasn't a sport, and then when they argued with me, insisting violin concerto competitions were.

Sports people, especially if they have macho attitudes (such that they're desperate to define out figure skating), are REALLY EASY to get going on endless, pointless arguments about what is and isn't a sport and what the criteria for sport-ness is.

After a while they knew I was trolling them but they couldn't NOT argue with me, they can not let it pass!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:46 AM on March 23 [21 favorites]


Oh man. I had a huge long argument on Usenet once about whether or not figure skating is a sport. My contention was that anything that involves judge's assessing someone's flair -- an actual word from the judging guidelines of the era -- was not being objectively evaluated and could not be considered a sport, no matter how much athletic ability was required to do it. I don't even remember anymore what Usenet group it was on, but you can rest assured it was not a group that had anything to do with figure skating.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:51 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


My best friend and I were talking about makeup one day, and she said I didn't wear makeup, and I told her that yeah, I did, so we argued about that for way too long before I finally had to rub some mascara off with my fingers to prove that I was, in fact, wearing makeup at the time. Why would I lie about that? We were probably 35 years old or so, so it's not like I was a little kid fronting about how grownup I was or anything.

Two guys I knew once got into a fistfight in a 7-11 parking lot because of some disagreement about U2. It was the 80s, sure, but those of us who had to physically separate them all agreed that U2 was kind of basic and didn't merit passionate opinions either way. It's probably good that neither of them had a gun.

I've never had a frivolous argument on the internet, though.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:59 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


The old tabs versus spaces controversy.

All programming holy wars are in this category for me. Vim vs Emacs vs anything else. Should brackets go on a separate line. Language wars. Recently, the soft-g vs hard-g gif.

These arguments are all nails on chalkboard.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:01 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Oh, gods, "What's a sport" spanned an entire deployment to Iraq. It didn't help that our supported units rotated juuust frequently enough that some FNG would re-ignite it every time we had it more or less settled.
posted by Etrigan at 8:02 AM on March 23 [13 favorites]


One time on an internet forum I got into an argument over weather the Sodastream was a useless invention and a sign of the downfall of society and making a monthly trip to a welding supply company to buy a giant take of gas to put on your kitchen counter connected to a makeshift nozzle was a perfectly reasonable substitute.

It is not a perfectly reasonable substitute. Fight me.
posted by bondcliff at 8:19 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]



I have a key and a coin in my pocket.
What else do you have there?
Nothing.


Your argument disproved by the fact that these alternate claims could be made and be equally as accurate:


I have a key and a coin in my pocket.
What else do you have there?
That's all.


I have a key and a coin in my pocket.
What else do you have there?
Just the key and the coin.


I have a key and a coin in my pocket.
What else do you have there?
Air.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


I have an acquaintance who will argue passionately that fish aren't animals.

Years ago I attended a meeting with some colleagues from other similar departments on campus. I forget what the meeting was about. But I know how it ended. Seemingly apropos of nothing, somebody I didn't know threw back their chair, leaped to their feet while turning beet red. "WRONG WRONG WRONG!" they screamed, "YOU'RE WRONG!" and with a Cartmanesque oath stomped out of the room slamming the door behind them.

Whoever had been talking had pronounced "GIF" wrong.

At first I thought maybe this was some long-standing trolling going on between these two guys, but it turned out the offender had never met this person before, either.
posted by lagomorphius at 8:29 AM on March 23 [6 favorites]


"Quarter to" or "quarter of"?
posted by lagomorphius at 8:39 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


High school Advanced English class, senior year (age 17-18). We'd been learning rhetoric and debate. Teacher assigns us debate subjects. Assigns our debate team the postulate: "God's law is infallible." (Yeah, he was Christian and this was a public high school. Sigh.) My team was assigned to defend the position, while the other team was assigned to critique it. Reminder: I was raised by evangelical fundamentalists, and had long been the proverbial thorn in the side of our youth pastors because I kept (vigorously) questioning their interpretations of Scripture. And here I was, assigned to defend the postulate that god's law was infallible. In school, where this sort of thing isn't supposed to be a debate question in the first place.

I prepared for the following arguments from the other side:
- We as humans can't know God's intent perfectly (this is also in the Bible)
- As such, what we call God's law is merely our imperfect reflection of it
- Thus, God's law may be infallible, but our human interpretation of it most certainly is fallible, and since we're humans, we must accept fallibility, otherwise we also commit the sin of hubris. I figured they could win with that.

Instead, it was this:
Opposing debate team's speaker: "The Bible says God is perfect."
Me: "Thus God's law is infallible."
Other speaker: "But there are lots of gods."
Me: "The debate subject presupposes the Christian God."
Other speaker: "Yeah, uh, it does..."
Me: "And since, as Other Speaker has confirmed, God is perfect, then his law is infallible."
Other speaker: "Uh... it might not be?"
Random kid in class: "You are so burned, dude."
Me: grumbling because I didn't want to win
posted by fraula at 8:41 AM on March 23 [9 favorites]


My people! You're my people. I am now in year sixteen of an often vicious debate with a college friend over exactly when bread becomes toast. Is it based on temperature? Consistency? Mouthfeel? Brownness/char? Is an objective definition possible? Is there one overriding factor or does a certain combination of conditions need to be met? Are we in a Zeno's Toast Paradox situation here? Sixteen years.

And I mentioned this once to a guy at work and he stared at me and said "bread is toast once you put it in the toaster." I hate where I work.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:43 AM on March 23 [26 favorites]


Electric Company had an animated sketch in the 70's where in a plumber knocked on the door and a parrot answered, "Who is it?" My brother-in-law and I had an argument for hours about whether the plumber had come to fix the sink or the pipes. Despite having shown him that the plumber had come to fix the SINK, he maintains that not only does it make more sense that the plumber come to fix the pipes, but that was the original sketch. He is WRONG.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:46 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


Your argument disproved by the fact that these alternate claims could be made and be equally as accurate:

Exactly. It's just an overly generalized version of a more specific claim, that a particular thing you're interested in isn't there. By definition, if you've found a nothing that looks like a thing, you must be using the wrong word. The very minimal thing "nothing" means, in order to have any intelligible meaning at all, is not a thing.

Wait--uh oh. This is starting to get too un-meta, huh?

Another pointless argument I can't seem to escape: are arguments inherently useless for changing people's minds? Why would you ever argue that if you really believed it? It's sort of a similar tangle in logical structure to those casual, popular free will debates, viewed at the meta level.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:48 AM on March 23


R2-D2 was played by an eight-year-old boy named Dusty.

I don't know how he got this idea, but some kid in 9th grade who styled himself as the ultimate Star Wars fan had read this "somewhere" and stuck to his guns in the face of any and all contrary evidence.
posted by lagomorphius at 8:52 AM on March 23


I have been in a protracted (~15 years long) argument with Judge John Hodgman's wife about whether or not she can, in fact, eat 50 heads of lettuce in a day. I mean, come on. Of course not. She's very, very small. She be fierce, though, I'll give her that.
posted by tristeza at 8:58 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


My mother and father argued for years about whether Curious George was an ape or a monkey. You could shut a family meal down by bringing it up at the table. They eventually mutually agreed to accept the judgment of a librarian that they knew, who ruled that George was a monkey on the grounds that text overrules illustrations.

Very disappointed that they didn't start arguing about whether text really does overrule illustrations.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:00 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


god

i remember the first time i buttoned from this goddamn site because of the sit vs stand argument where so many vile people were wrong
posted by anem0ne at 9:01 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


My bestie got extremely angry with me about referring to time. He lives in PST, I live in EST.

We were meeting up with friends in Chicago, and messaging back and forth about packing, departures, and such like. It was after midnight for me, about 4 hours until my departure, and I remarked "I'm so glad I'll get to see you today!"

He corrected me. "Tomorrow." I said no, because it was 2AM Friday, we would both arrive around 11AM Friday, so for me, it was today. He threw an enormous hissy fit, and insisted that PST was "real", and I shouldn't be rude and act like my "fake" time was correct.

He proceeded to adhere to his PST schedule, even though we were all in CST for the weekend. He still does this. Drives me mad. Everyone else rolls on local time!
posted by MissySedai at 9:05 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


The very minimal thing "nothing" means, in order to have any intelligible meaning at all, is not a thing.

Yeah, the possibility of the question hinges on what is possible in language only, without reference to anything concrete. In a sense it's much like saying "round squares".
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:09 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I once had a months long argument, in a rather civil sort of way, with a person here on MeFi about whether or not it was appropriate to describe seeking Federal recognition of same sex marriage as "radical". I argued yes, because it was a dramatic departure from the current status quo, and took the position that radical is not inherently good or bad but could be either depending on circumstances, he took the position that radical was always a bad thing and that describing a good plan as radical was (intentionally or not) subversive of that plan.

It was at the end of a thread that had terminated naturally a week or so before we started really going at it, and the last 200 or so comments in that thread are just us going back and forth.

I still say I'm right, but in retrospect we argued far, far, too long over a pointless little side topic when we were both in total agreement on the main issue.
posted by sotonohito at 9:17 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


When in the earth's atmosphere, the Space Shuttle has the power to fly vs. the Space Shuttle cannot fly under it's own power, it can only glide.

You made this bother me, so I looked some stuff up.

I assume you meant the bare orbiter and not the whole launch stack. The whole launch stack can definitely fly -- one of its abort modes was to basically turn the stack around, thrust ass into the wind, and return to KSC. I'd have to think anyone would call that controlled, powered flight in the atmosphere.

Anyway, bare orbiter means your biggest engines are the OMS engines, which put out about 6000 pounds thrust each for a total of 12000 pounds thrust. The orbiter's empty weight is about 150000 pounds, which puts it in between a 757 and 767.

The catch is that a 757's engines produce about 80000 pounds thrust. So the orbiter masses as much as a 757, except some asshole took away one engine, and another asshole made the other engine reeeeaaaaaally sick. And because it has to go hypersonic and not just immediately disintegrate like a 757 would if you threw it at the upper atmosphere at Mach 20-whatever, it's shaped differently than a 757, so its lift to drag ratio is way worse (looks to be about 4-5 instead of 15-20). Also the only reference I can easily find says that OMS max burn time is 20 minutes for one engine.

So, you have an answer: At best, it can fly badly (or maybe only "plummet more slowly") for about 10 minutes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:21 AM on March 23 [9 favorites]


(IIRC when they're actually landing, they get rid of all the OMS/RCS propellant they can in space or at very high altitude because the hypergolic fuels they use are really toxic. So a real returning shuttle would not have much fuel to burn at all.)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:26 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I once got into an argument with a friend who insisted Georgia didn't have a coastline.

Different friend and I had an argument about the pronunciation of a word - thing was he was the type to take disagreements as a personal dig or something, so it didn't end well. (I was wrong, but instead of a friendly banter he took it like I was insulting his intelligence).

this thread is amazing. makes me wish i had taken debate in high school.
posted by littlesq at 9:33 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


My bestie got extremely angry with me about referring to time.

Oh, flashback!

I was consulting at a client site, and (almost) everyone was gone at some company thing, when some guy hollered over to ask me what time it was, which led to a protracted argument about whether noon and midnight actually counted as PM and AM.

His position was that noon is 12PM and midnight 12AM, and my argument is that the precise moment of noon and midnight are actually neither, so when you refer to noon as "12PM," you're technically talking about a [given unit--a second, nanosecond, doesn't matter] AFTER noon.

We were still arguing about it 20 minutes or so later when everyone got back into the office. We never even saw each other. Just two disembodied voices hashing out what noon and midnight mean while everyone else was off probably doing inconsequential work stuff.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:37 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]


Oh, I remember a good argument I had with a coworker. She had a house in Western, MA, in the Berkshires, and we were talking about the stars one day and she mentioned how much better the stars were out there because they were so much closer.

I tried to explain about light pollution, about the distances to the stars and how an elevation gain of maybe a couple hundred feet isn't going to make any sort of difference, but she was having none of it. The stars were better because her house was closer to them and why the hell couldn't I see the logic in that? If you're closer to something, you can see it better.

Eventually I gave up. She has since moved on to another job, I defriended her on Facebook, and now I just waste my time arguing with people about how they're wrong about the Supermoon.
posted by bondcliff at 9:41 AM on March 23 [6 favorites]


My mother and father argued for years about whether Curious George was an ape or a monkey. You could shut a family meal down by bringing it up at the table. They eventually mutually agreed to accept the judgment of a librarian that they knew, who ruled that George was a monkey on the grounds that text overrules illustrations.

We presented this same issue to my oldest child when he was much younger.

"Monkeys have tails and apes don't have tails, right?"
"Yes."
"And Curious George doesn't have a tail, right?"
"Right."
"But the book says Curious George is a monkey..."
"A lion bit his tail off."
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 9:45 AM on March 23 [24 favorites]


Can't read; triggering too much remembered shame. *covers eyes*
posted by praemunire at 9:49 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I once had a months long argument, in a rather civil sort of way, with a person here on MeFi about whether or not it was appropriate to describe seeking Federal recognition of same sex marriage as "radical". I argued yes, because it was a dramatic departure from the current status quo, and took the position that radical is not inherently good or bad but could be either depending on circumstances, he took the position that radical was always a bad thing and that describing a good plan as radical was (intentionally or not) subversive of that plan.

I think that ultimately, if you end up stuck in that way, you can take the context of the usage into consideration: technically, you ARE right, but the language of the commons has (incorrectly, but powerfully) ascribed negative connotations to "radical", to the point that describing a net gain as "radical" would actually be a detriment.

so if you're talking about the exact semantic dictionary definition, you're right; but if you're talking about the more common use, you're wrong.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Is "nothing" actually a thing in and of itself

You have:
  a splitting headache
  no tea
posted by ckape at 10:09 AM on March 23 [17 favorites]


Despite being by nature and nurture allergic to arguing, I will almost always bite when my devil's advocate friend says, "that's not art!"

Some might say such arguing is a sport. Or possibly an art (they'd be wrong!).
posted by ldthomps at 10:10 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


this made me immediately think of the infamous bodybuilder how-many-days-in-a-week argument but the only one i can distinctly recall from my own life is from the first time i did mushrooms and was CONVINCED my friend's concrete patio was paisley patterned and in fact had always been so and proceeded to have a 20 minute argument with him about it
posted by burgerrr at 10:24 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


My mother and my aunt had a close but occasionally contentious relationship, which I understand was even more contentious when they shared a room as teenagers.

A couple of years ago, as my aunt lay on her deathbed, I was present as they had an argument about which one of them was the argumentative one. It kind of started out as one of those half-joking ritual arguments that is as much for the audience as the participants, but they couldn't help themselves and it escalated into an actual passionate argument.

There were some tears, some snot and a lot of fond laughter at the funeral about that.
posted by Jakey at 10:28 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]


I became disproportionately enraged when my boss's boss insisted that the "c" in Apple IIc stood for the "color" screen when I knew darn well (despite being a small child when we owned one) the monitor was monochrome. Worst part was I had to argue politely and let it drop because we were at a work function and I didn't want to be seen as unprofessional.
posted by lieber hair at 10:57 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Argued on and off for about an hour in a group of friends at a bar with one friend who insisted that the bandleader of Parliament-Funkadelic is named Bill Clinton.
posted by The World Famous at 11:16 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I've never had a frivolous argument on the internet, though.

WTH is this supposed to mean?!? hamburger
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:17 AM on March 23


god

i remember the first time i buttoned from this goddamn site because of the sit vs stand argument where so many vile people were wrong


fun fact: two years ago I found the shower peeing thread and all gleefully brought it to my spouse and went "did you know there are some horrifying people who think it's okay to pee in the shower?" They went ".....um, it's totally fine to pee in the shower!"

we have been fighting about this since October 2014.

it is not fine
posted by sciatrix at 11:19 AM on March 23 [17 favorites]


One day our director berated one of our managers for using the phrase "the pot calling the kettle black." She said it was racist and he had no business using it in the workplace. He argued that it was not a racist phrase, though at the time he admitted he didn't know the origin of it. A bunch of us who witnessed it went and googled it and, yeah, it's not racist as far as we could tell. Something to do with coal and cooking.

I guess in situations like that maybe it's better to be safe than sorry, but she was accusing him of being racist in front of a bunch of his underlings. The guy is a jerk anyway so I didn't feel too bad, but if it were me I think I would have argued more.
posted by bondcliff at 11:20 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


we were talking about the stars one day and she mentioned how much better the stars were out there because they were so much closer.


Somewhere in the annals of Peanuts I recall a strip with Charlie Brown and Linus sitting on a hillside at night talking about the stars. At some point Linus stands up, to get a closer view.

Eventually I gave up. She has since moved on to another job, I defriended her on Facebook, and now I just waste my time arguing with people about how they're wrong about the Supermoon.

It is now March, so five months until I have to explain to my aunt again that "Mars will not appear larger than the moon tomorrow night." Ninth time is the charm.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:22 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


"did you know there are some horrifying people who think it's okay to pee in the shower?"

IT'S ALL PIPES
posted by saturday_morning at 11:38 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


Your argument disproved by the fact that these alternate claims could be made and be equally as accurate:

Except the question is being asked of me. And that is my answer.
posted by Splunge at 11:45 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


"Are electrons round?"

We were playing Scattegories. My argument was that either they're particles (which are basically tiny balls) or waves (and the wave functions seem pretty round-looking to me). Or if you prefer popular visual representations those are all round too!

When put to a vote I lost the argument.
posted by heresiarch at 11:59 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


If we're including in our pointless arguments things where someone passionately believed and defending something objectively and bizarrely wrong, my husband somehow made it to the age of 35, with undergrad and law degrees from top-10 schools, without knowing Ireland and Northern Ireland were separate countries. In fact, he thought all of Ireland was still part of the UK. This came up during the Olympics when Ireland and the UK marched separately and he commented it was unfair for Ireland to get to compete separately from the UK when it was part of the UK.

I was like, a) I have news for you about Puerto Rico and the Olympics, and b) WHAT THE HELL. We argued about it for a very, very long time; he flatly refused to believe me that the Irish had revolted against the British and won independence except for Northern Ireland. I was like, "What did you think the Troubles were? What did you think U2 was singing about? Why did you think the IRA was constantly bombing shit?" "I thought they were still just mad about being conquered." And then I was like, "WHERE DID YOU THINK MY SISTER LIVED FOR FIVE YEARS?" (she lived in Dublin) He kept insisting I was wrong because he would have KNOWN if Ireland were an independent country, he wouldn't have missed something so important, and google and wikipedia were just wrong.

TURNS OUT HE DID MISS SOMETHING THAT IMPORTANT and it took me two hours to convince him of it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:23 PM on March 23 [32 favorites]


(Seriously, like 20% of the practice of law is conversations where someone very educated and experienced is insisting they can't possibly be wrong because they're a very educated and experienced person and they've been operating for years believing they're right about this thing on which they are most definitely totally wrong. See, e.g., this way too realistic scene.)
posted by The World Famous at 12:34 PM on March 23 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: When put to a vote I lost the argument.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:39 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


The old tabs versus spaces controversy.

Two spaces after a period, or just one, when using a computer with mathematically calculated kerning, a proportional font, onscreen anti-aliasing, and 300+ dpi display?

(Not, you know, a goddamn 1960s-era IBM Selectric with a worn-out ribbon and a well-used sheet of carbon paper. GAAAH.)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:50 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]




I will go to my grave secure in the knowledge that when Ralph sleeps, he has dreams, and that in those dreams, he dreams of being a Viking.

Um, doesn't it just mean he has dreams of smorgasbord?
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:54 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Two spaces after a period, or just one, when using a computer with mathematically calculated kerning, a proportional font, onscreen anti-aliasing, and 300+ dpi display?

Whatever makes you more comfortable. Spacing in the source .tex file isn't relevant to spacing in the output .dvi or .pdf.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:56 PM on March 23 [6 favorites]


Would the moderators be upset if someone started going through all these questions and explaining in this thread which answer is correct for each, despite the risk of spawning endless series of arguments with anyone who disagrees?

Asking for a friend.
posted by roystgnr at 1:01 PM on March 23 [10 favorites]


On an unrelated note, is there any support in the works for Metafilter themes with background images?
posted by roystgnr at 1:05 PM on March 23


Hey guys pretty sure I have one of these figured out and after a quick ctrl-f I don't think anyone else has said it. Pots and Pans are not differentiated by their size or depth, but by their handles. A pot becomes a pan when you take off it's two small handles and attach one long handle. Glad I could settle this.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:49 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Whether or not soup is cereal still haunts me.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:52 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


My frying pan has a long handle, opposite the small one. And a lid so you can steam fry stuff.

So much more useful than a sauce pan, which is really a small pot with a single long handle.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:57 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


flibbertigibbet: Should brackets go on a separate line.

Upon reading that, my mouth opened and I only barely caught myself from forcefully stating the correct and obious answer (ok, perhaps that might be my opinion). If I was anywhere else but at work (even standing in a line in public) my filters would have missed that and I'd be the guy arguing out loud apparently with himself. Very strong feels.

This entry was composed in vim for the same reason that I don't pee in the shower.

DynamiteToast - have you recently had severe head trauma? I have many pots with a single handle. Yes, I'm sure.

I can't remember if ms. nobeagle agreed with me or not on the "is soup cereal" issue... time to find out during tomorrow morning's coffee!
posted by nobeagle at 2:01 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


My aunts (two sisters) can still be goaded into argument about whether the older one chased the younger one with the butcher knife in childhood, or vice versa. They both have completely fully formed stories about this.

The first Passover Seder I attended, when I was in college, was hosted by a couple. He was from Long Island, and had an Old Testament name, and a big, Jewish family. She was from Marin County, CA, with kind of hippie Jewish California divorced parents. In their tiny college apartment, they had a massive yelling match about whether or not she was allowed to put an orange on the seder plate. The orange was thrown, and the party just...decrescendoed as the fight continued.
posted by linettasky at 2:02 PM on March 23


nobeagle those were just big pans
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:06 PM on March 23


Would the moderators be upset if someone started going through all these questions and explaining in this thread which answer is correct for each, despite the risk of spawning endless series of arguments with anyone who disagrees?

I'll start: Hans shot first.
posted by The World Famous at 2:59 PM on March 23 [7 favorites]


Anyway so my big pan has a long handle and one short loop handle on the opposite side.
posted by ckape at 3:01 PM on March 23


Hans shot first.

That's a weird thing to argue, of course he shot first. Takagi didn't even have a gun.
posted by ckape at 3:08 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I'm glad no one has brought up how to pronoubce "GIF" because the answer is so obvious no one should waste time arguing about it.
posted by CCBC at 3:11 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Well, yeah. It's pronounced gif.
posted by The Gaffer at 3:44 PM on March 23 [7 favorites]


When is the first day of Spring?

I, like all right thinking Irish people, think it starts on St Brigid's day, Feb 1st. My other half thinks Spring is March, April, May.

My way puts the spring equinox in the middle of Spring and midsummer in the middle of summer, but many people really struggle with August being autumn (harvest time!)

I mean, we live in Scotland, it's not warm either of those months, but it does pass the time and nowadays I can usually drag other people in via Facebook. This argument has been going on for most of our 20 years together.
posted by hfnuala at 3:50 PM on March 23


I don't know if it's pointless or not, but in the fifth grade I got into an epic, year-long fight with my English teacher about anthropomorphization when writing poetry. She kept un-anthropomorphizing my poems and turning my metaphors into similes ("flowers dance along the rim" to "the flowers seemed to dance along the edge of the pond" - actual example). This culminated in me taking white-out to a posted poem of mine after she changed the "he" pronoun for death to "it" after I turned it in. I was livid.

...still kind of am.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:45 PM on March 23 [20 favorites]


I don't even remember anymore what Usenet group it was on, but you can rest assured it was not a group that had anything to do with figure skating.

Found it.

Alt.TV.Law-And-Order

Obviously.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:47 PM on March 23 [11 favorites]


My argument was that either they're particles (which are basically tiny balls) or waves (and the wave functions seem pretty round-looking to me). Or if you prefer popular visual representations those are all round too!

I believe the more recent theory has them as probability clouds.
posted by Splunge at 5:12 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


One time when two of my brothers were adolescents they got into a huge argument about what a manatee looks like, with one brother contending it's large and bulbous, and the other brother insisting it's flat like a pizza.

Team Bulbous tends to have a smug demeanor at the best of times and therefore exacerbated the situation with contemptuous and dumbfounded laughter. Team Pizza is the typical smart kid who ALWAYS thinks he's right, because he usually is.

This escalated to a shouting match and nearly came to blows when suddenly Team Pizza was like, "Oh, duh, I'M THINKING OF A MANTA RAY, I'm an idiot, sorry" and then the argument ended instantly and everyone was on good terms again within seconds.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 5:58 PM on March 23 [8 favorites]


Um, doesn't it just mean he has dreams of smorgasbord?

I am confident that, unlike the Simpson children, Ralph Wiggums has never been to Japan.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:14 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


This may have been the most pointless argument I was involved in, and one of the shortest.

In Grade 3, our music teacher sat us down and told us she was going to teach us the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."

I raised my hand, waited to be called on, and said, " I already know the words to 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'"

She whipped her head around toward me with a face like Linda Blair in The Exorcist and shouted, "NO! YOU! DON'T!"

I started sobbing, "But... I..." and she carried on weather the class as if nothing had happened.

Granted, it's annoying to have some eight-year-old know-it-all pointlessly disrupt the flow of your lesson plan. On the other hand, is engaging in debate over what song lyrics other people do and don't know the most productive way to handle an interruption?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:15 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


"First, you put the top. Then, the bottom."

Given that you flip over the cake when taking it out of the pan, she wasn't wrong.
posted by greermahoney at 6:49 PM on March 23


Way back when I was a kid, well before the internet age, I managed to get into a giant argument with my father on the distance between the then-Soviet Union and the US --- normally I'd have either just trusted that he knew what he was talking about, or else stewed silently to myself "he's wrong, I know what's right", but for some reason this time I held my ground. No yelling involved, just two very stubborn people refusing to budge for days. It escalated beyond checking in the family almanac to a search down at the local library and finally culminated in him actually borrowing official US Navy maps from the base he was then assigned to.

Eight-year-old me was so happy to be proven right; I'm sure Dad had fun dealing with my smug little self for the next week or two.
posted by easily confused at 7:31 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I said no, because it was 2AM Friday, we would both arrive around 11AM Friday, so for me, it was today.

I can grudgingly accept that reasoning when used in a way that doesn't cause confusion, so long as you're not one of those ridiculous people who thinks that 12:01AM is "morning". Usually a tough argument, because it only happens late at night when walking home from the bar.
posted by sfenders at 7:50 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


My best friend in high school (who is now a lawyer, read into this what you will) used to walk home with me after school, and in the way of teenagers everywhere, we'd argue. The iconic debate was when he decided to argue that "planes don't fly, they fall". Naturally, I argued against this with all of my 13-year-old powers of not being a total arsehole who debates shit just to piss people off.*

Nothing would dissuade him from this, for hours. No matter what I said, he would just loop it back around to his central thesis, until I finally screamed FINE, WHATEVER and stalked home in tears. This kind of argument was a feature of our relationship until we were both well into our 20s.

He maintains that this was awesome, and that the point of arguing is not to be right, it's to win. I maintain that he's an arsehole and I'm glad he lives in a different country now.

*These were not great powers. But by every objective measure my friend was being a total dick.
posted by prismatic7 at 8:49 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Kind of late to this fiesta of pointlessness, but here goes.

My father and I have the same argument all the time over what to do about or to miscreants of any kind. This was often over the dinner table or riding in the car. The two options for what to do when some person or persons did something we didn't like were:

a) Take them out and shoot them
b) Shoot them in place

We tended to take sides kind of randomly. Whoever started the rant about the current miscreant would begin along the lines of, "Geez, would you look at these two guys arguing about Aladdin over at the other table? Better take 'em out and shoot 'em." Followed by the other offering the many virtues of shooting in place, "But if we take them out of the bar, the other patrons may not know we actually shot them. Better to just plug them right where they are arguing about a Disney movie and leave corpses in place as a warning to others."

Rinse, repeat, vary as needed and carry on as long as possible until my mom would complain about the level of violence in our discussion, "You guys! That's terrible!"
posted by Gotanda at 9:21 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


I wonder what percentage of these arguments would evaporate if there was a common understanding that words don't have fixed meanings and our perceptions of reality are subjective. All the serious ones, it seems like; the only ones left would be the ones where people stake out a side just for the fun absurdity of it, and those are the best ones anyway.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 9:31 PM on March 23


How is the word "flaccid" pronounced?

I said FLAK-sid, citing my father. A guest at a potluck dinner (a regular event in the quasi-commune where I was then living) said FLAS-sid, citing his mother.

The argument must have gone on for 40 minutes, and I stopped pontificating not because I thought I was wrong but because I suddenly grokked how poorly my intransigence reflected on my social skills.

I subsequently spent 13 years as a newspaper copy editor, for which the job description is essentially "argue about pronunciation -- not to mention grammar, capitalization, punctuation, word choice, usage, and spelling." Though I believe that my experience on the copy desk somewhat mitigated my tendency to hector
and harp, I bet my fellow veteran of the FLAK-sid/FLAS-sid wars would still cross the street when he saw me coming. And if he did, I sort of couldn't blame him.
posted by virago at 10:34 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I wonder what percentage of these arguments would evaporate if there was a common understanding that words don't have fixed meanings and our perceptions of reality are subjective.

If I put my keys and my wallet in my pocket, does it now contain three things: keys, wallet, and nothing?

It depends on your definitions of 'three' and counting. In most math, the empty set:
In mathematics, and more specifically set theory, the empty set is the unique set having no elements; its size or cardinality (count of elements in a set) is zero.
I note that you count your keys and presumed keyring as a single element (or set?), and you count your wallet and presumed contents as a single element (or set?).

Defining 'contents' as elements bounded not by the topology of the wallet but by the geometric extent of the wallet, including for example a slip of paper or card loosely clasped in the wallet, but not counting, for example, a key which may have slipped a portion or its entirety within the loose clasp of the wallet.

You would want to decide if you want to construct your definition so that when you put the keyring, with its keys, in the wallet, so that you have more than one item in your pocket, or if the assemblage was now 'one' thing.

You'd also want a clearer definition of 'pocket' and 'contains'.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:20 PM on March 23 [7 favorites]


I've gotten into kind of long arguments about:

* Whether eyebrows are body hair
* Whether cheesecake is cake or pie
* Probably some other taxonomical stuff like that
posted by aubilenon at 1:23 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


when you refer to noon as "12PM," you're technically talking about a [given unit--a second, nanosecond, doesn't matter] AFTER noon

I've noticed that for some reason (here in Europe) ovens tend to go 23:59, 24:00, 0:01, which is a very satisfying solution to this issue.

I'm the most recent person to join my team at work, a business information team. Which involves a lot of "how many people did we see in January?"-type reports. When I got there, I just blithely started calculating whether dates were in January with a >= 2017-01-01 and < 2017-02-01. I was made aware that there had been a blazing long term argument several years earlier that had finally been settled when everyone conceded that you should calculate the end of the month with a <= 2017-01-31 23:59:59.997, i.e. less than or equal to literally the last measurable time in the month, rather than the simpler before the beginning of the next month.

I am so glad I work in an organisation which is limited to a single country in a single timezone.
posted by ambrosen at 3:17 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


... What?

Please let them know they're mistaken. < 2017-02-01 is just ... elegant.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:25 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


I once got into a big fight with a dear friend over whether or not I was a dilettante and whether or not he was an asshole. We still don't speak. I suspect we were both probably right.
posted by Stanczyk at 5:31 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I think he thought I didn't know what a dilettante was and kept trying to convince me it was a compliment, which formed the foundation of my argument.
posted by Stanczyk at 5:37 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I remember arguing with an ex-girlfriend about the pronunciation of the word prestigious. Finally, I suggested we check the dictionary. It listed both pronunciations.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 6:14 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I am in a meeting right now that has been derailed for thirty-five minutes over whether if you say "9:00 Eastern Standard Time" to mean a meeting that is happening today, when the U.S. is in Daylight Time, you mean everyone else's 9:00 or 8:00. I have been trying to say Oh my god it was clearly a misstatement shut up shut up SHUT UP, to no avail.
posted by Etrigan at 6:38 AM on March 24 [10 favorites]


After forty-eight minutes, the committee reached a verdict: In the future, we are not to use "Standard" or "Daylight" in scheduling meetings at all, ever, even if the meeting takes place in a different state of Standard/Daylightness.

Mind you, this was never the point of the meeting. It was just that someone used a rhetorical flourish and things got out of hand. The actual point of the meeting was discussed and dispensed with in twelve minutes because someone else had the room at 10.
posted by Etrigan at 7:01 AM on March 24 [12 favorites]


I am in a meeting right now that has been derailed for thirty-five minutes over whether if you say "9:00 Eastern Standard Time" to mean a meeting that is happening today, when the U.S. is in Daylight Time, you mean everyone else's 9:00 or 8:00.

Shouldn't it be official policy to include am or pm, for clarity?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:25 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


If you are still in that meeting, you should suggest that in the future all times be presented in zulu.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:27 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


am and pm? Never. 09:00 Eastern (or Mountain,central, etc) local time. 12 hour clocks are for talking with friends. 24 hour time is for business/computers/anything real. I'd really rather just use 24 hour time all the time.

On the note of timezones, all of the warrants that we get for the last 5 years now have happily supplied their times in UTC. We keep our records in UTC because timezones are stupid. Occaisionally, we still get a request in for a warrant, and somehow no one involved can find if the time requested was someone's localtime or already corrected to UTC. It's incredibly frustrating to know GIGO, and to have garbage data come in, and have to give some data out. At least in most cases user login sessions are long enough that it often doesn't make a difference. Then there are the times where 4 separate users come up in the giant range I needed to use because people are idiots about time and labels.
posted by nobeagle at 8:32 AM on March 24


Back in the day before you could look this stuff up on your phone (or, for that matter, before most people had a cell phone), a grad school friend insisted that Michael Dudikoff (of American Ninja fame) played the lead role in the movie of Pet Sematary. I desperately tried to get him to put money on that. I also have a brother who still insists that, in chess, not moving until your opponent has told you that they're done with their move, rather than assuming that they've moved when they take their hand off their piece, is a common variation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:00 AM on March 24


My father, a physicist, tried to claim once at the dinner table that "hot" is an absolute term, not relative.
posted by clavicle at 9:27 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't it be official policy to include am or pm, for clarity?

But what if it's noon or midnight? What's your "official policy" on THAT?
posted by ernielundquist at 9:50 AM on March 24


Me: There are fifty states in the US.
Other: No there aren't, there are fifty states + plus Hawaii and Alaska, so there are fifty-two.

Me: Sunday is the first day of the week.
Other: Monday is the first day of the week.

Me: You don't have to use the instructions and a measuring cup to make Kraft Dinner.
Other: Yes, you do need to use the instructions and a measuring cup to make Kraft Dinner.

This was pre-internet, and basically all over the same weekend. I still get angry about it when I have trouble sleeping.
posted by tillermo at 1:52 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


I worked at a company that had a mailing list reserved for random stuff (appropriately called nonsense@).

The all-time flamewar winner in number of threads and passionate responses was about top-loading vs front-loading washing machines. The OP was a very tall guy, and he liked top-loading machines (he even made a stick-figure drawing of him loading a front-loading washer, with rays of pain on his lower back), but these were uncommon in norway, so he was wondering if anyone knew where to buy one. Literally hundreds of emails on the subject of washing machines.

The second type of flamewar was a recurrent one about nutella vs nugatti (the norwegian version of nutella). A spin-off of this was kit-kat vs kvikk lunsj, but that one was less heated, because the answer is a bit more obvious.

FWIW, i like top-loading washers because they make me nostalgic about my grandma's house, nugatti was a little too sandy for my taste but it was a perfectly good alternative to nutella, and i think kvikk lunsj is obviously the better choice, including the packaging.
posted by palbo at 3:40 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


words don't have fixed meanings

You just reminded me of another: prescriptivism vs. descriptivism in language. I say it depends: for less abstract words with clear, concrete referents (like "rock" or "shoe"), it doesn't matter if the meanings shift in subtle ways we can all adopt or at least learn to use correctly by code switching. But highly abstract words that refer to complex ideas (say, "paralellism" or similar) should be handled more prescriptively or otherwise we risk losing important and useful conceptual distinctions and corrupting the original idea in a way that can have harmful consequences (e.g. How Frank Luntz redefined "liberal" and "welfare" as dirty words, or how "liberal" and "conservative" no longer have any consistent, useful meaning in their original senses and are more about party affiliation now than about being pro or anti-reform.)

Oh also, you don't get to choose whether you're Left or Right, politically. Even if you consciously identify as Right-wing, that's just false consciousness if you aren't actually someone who's got a lot of political power. For most of history, "Left" just meant anyone outside of the ruling political power establishment. I think we lost important ideas by letting the meanings of those words drift too much. But hardly anybody agrees with me, so I've given up.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:33 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


I apologize for not contributing anything substantive here. I just want to say: this is the greatest thread of all time.
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:39 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I don't know if I tried a kvikk lunsj when I travelled to Norway, and couldn't eat one nowadays, but it is just the most awesome name for people who speak English but not Norwegian.
posted by ambrosen at 6:54 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


"Aren't action figures just dolls?" Is a question that's provoked a lot of heated and unnecessarily lengthy arguing.
posted by ardgedee at 1:46 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


"9:00 AM in the morning?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:17 AM on March 25


Pointless but amusing:

An ex-colleague (U.S. citizen) tried to convince me that calling "the wave" by another name, "Mexican wave", (what we call it in England) was racist, no matter what the circumstances by which it came to acquire this name.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 2:27 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


jacquilynne: "I can't believe how wrong some of you people are. I always thought Mefites were smart."

You are ALL wrong, but especially jacquilynne.
posted by Samizdata at 8:38 AM on March 25


So, does the one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater eat:
-people
-purple people
-flying purple people
-all of the above (which was the option I proposed to kill this stupid argument when I was in it as a young teen).


Kind of apropos, I once learned a valuable lesson about debates one year in junior high. One of our class assignments one month was to do a debate; we worked in pairs on one side of an assigned topic and then debated our opposing pair in front of the class. Anyways, I don't remember the topic we got, but whatever it was, my friend and I were put on the side of it that we disagreed with. But we were largely conscientious students, and diligent, so we figured out what strategy we would take and hit the books to get some facts to back it up.

And we couldn't find anything that really bolstered our argument. At all. So, we did something that still kind of shocks me to this day - we decided to make up the facts we needed and just go that route. Now, we were two pretty precocious, bright, high-performing kids (nerds), so this was pretty out of character, but we committed to it. And the day of the debates comes, and we're sitting there watching the other students perform, and at the end of each debate there are five judges who vote on which side won. And it's never close - it's 5-0 all the way down the line. So it gets to be our turn, and we get up there with our bullshit and lay it out, and I'm thinking we're sunk - we're obvious frauds, and we're going to get called out, exposed, whatever.

We lost 3-2, the only split decision of the day. We were both horrified at what we had done, and how close we had come to winning. We never spoke of it again.

But I sometimes look on the political scene of today and realize that I learned a really valuable lesson that day - if you look like you know what you are doing, if you sound confident, if you can lie with conviction...well.
posted by nubs at 9:31 AM on March 26 [8 favorites]


I have had a long-running disagreement with a friend about whether Kirk, Spock, etc. are behaving irrationally/suicidally when they "beam down" onto a planet. Are you deconstituted and reconstituted when you go through the teleportation process, or is a "new you" being created?
posted by Mr. Justice at 12:57 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Boy my eyes have been opened. I didn't realize you could have these kinds of arguments in a good-natured sort of way. They're all the things my parents ripped each other to pieces over. And hung onto for years. And caused all of us kids to never offer an opinion

I like y'all's memories better.
posted by ezust at 2:28 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


* Whether eyebrows are body hair

I recently clicked through, with great interest, to an article that claimed to be about some women deciding to go for some period of time without removing their "body hair," and then report on the experience. I thought this would be very interesting: how does a woman who has always shaved under her arms experience letting that hair grow? What about women with moderate-to-heavy facial hair?

Turns out the entire article was about how stressful and disturbing it was not to pluck or wax their eyebrows. I felt a little let down.
posted by Orlop at 4:10 PM on March 26


Metafilter: in retrospect we argued far, far, too long over a pointless little side topic when we were both in total agreement on the main issue
posted by mosessis at 11:38 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Wow! I'd never guessed this would be such a great thread, and now I'm late to the party.

My best friend in middle school and I had a daily argument over a place we passed on the train. I'd say "look, that's the place we went to in art class", she'd say "no, it can't be, there's no water", I'd say "it's been filled up, see, there's still that boat shed". Exactly the same words every day for three years.
Later, I've realized that while I thought it was hilarious and a joke, she was probably serious. My life in a nutshell.

Anyway, for most of my life I've been wondering about a similar argument I had with a teacher, with rather worse consequences. Maybe you guys can help me figure out what happened.

When I was a toddler, we immigrated to England, my mother and stepfather intending to stay there for life.
However, stuff happened, and at ten, I was back in Denmark and in a Danish school (we'd moved back a year before, but still hoped to go back to England so I was in international school the first year).
I was small, nerdy and my mum had no sense of what was the appropriate style of clothing, and also I had a thick English accent, and I was bullied. But one day, the proto-jocks in class decided I might be useful: they asked me to translate the words "Deep Purple", which I did. However, they wanted a second opinion, and asked our English teacher, who translated it into "Deep Red". More bullying for me. I fought back, this was ridiculous. It was like saying night was day or 2+2 was 5, but she was insistent, and since she was a native English speaker, I couldn't get help from the other teachers who didn't want to hurt her. I brought in dictionaries. As a result, I was expelled from all English classes for a year (obviously not for saying purple is purple, but for disruption). I never reconciled with school or with authority again.

But what makes a 30-somthing school teacher pick a fight with a scrawny 10yo over a color?
posted by mumimor at 2:06 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Could she have thought that "Deep Purple" referred to something specific, and "helpfully" interpolated the translation? Because the thing is actually red, or there was some sexual connotation she was trying to avoid, or something like that? Have you looked in news archives for those phrases appearing at the time?

In any case, though, it's strange that she wouldn't have given even a spurious fig-leaf explanation of the discrepancy when confronted with a dictionary. You were definitely right and shamefully mistreated.

Was she new to teaching? Here in the U.S. I had a college professor from a European country in her first year of teaching, also newly married to an American, who behaved in a bizarrely hostile fashion towards all the students for the first semester and a bit further, but during the remaining years I was there was a fairly normal and nice person. It seems as though the intersection of a variety of different majorly stressful circumstances might be an explanation, in that case.
posted by XMLicious at 3:02 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


So, does the one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater eat:

Obviously it is a large machine that eats one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people.
posted by The World Famous at 11:38 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


The blind date who insisted that jalapenos were Japanese in origin because, "HAL-a-peno" and "Jah-pan." That was the sum and total of her argument.

Last I saw of her that night she was running down the street in heels to catch the last bus to the Teste Fest.
posted by ITravelMontana at 10:03 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


First argument with my now husband, who is English. Me positing that Worcestershire sauce should be (knowing it isn't) pronounced wor-cest-er-shire. I thought it might get a "huh," or, "yeah, it's spelled weird." Instead he said, "No. It's woostershur." Me, stupidly - "Yeah, but...the letters, if it were phonetic...." Him, "No. No, double no."

Escalated quickly. Lots of grawr.

Cue big snappy fit. Me storming out. Coming back for my car keys. Going for a drive. Honestly, I don't know, to this day, why he didn't just decide I was crazy and he should run.

I call it Lea & Perrins now.
posted by routergirl at 1:48 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


My parents and I had an argument for 20 years about whether a particular 1980s game show ($1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime) existed or not. I said yes (because that big keyboard was amazing to small me) The most satisfying moment of my life was when I realized that I could look it up on the Internet, and lo and behold, I was correct! When I called my parents to crow about my victory, they said "Huh." And thus the argument was anti-climactically settled.

We also argue about whether they laughed at me when I was in distress in a hotel pool, but I don't see the Internet helping us figure that one out.
posted by altopower at 10:22 AM on March 29


Worst I have seen was my college roommates (who were debaters) arguing an entire afternoon about if lasagna would still be lasagna if you cut it in some shape other than squares.
posted by thelonius at 10:56 AM on March 29 [3 favorites]


The Bananarama song Love In The First Degree has a line in it "Guilty as a girl can be", but who first thought to sing the amusing alternative "Guilty as a glockenspiel", me or my sister? Guaranteed screaming match, even 30 years later.
posted by comealongpole at 4:34 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


While we haven't actively argued about it since a truce was called a while back, I am in a 28-year-old argument over whether or not photographs can be art.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:29 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


My parents (who are no longer married to one another) each swear up and down that they were the one who was pushing me in the stroller when a tree branch fell onto the sidewalk and nearly killed me. The only thing they agree on in this story is that they were alone -- the other spouse wasn't present for the event.

I often argued with my ex about whether fabricating while recounting an event was "lying" (me) or "telling a good story" (him).
posted by coppermoss at 3:05 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Technically, I wasn't arguing with an actual person, I was arguing with most of the people in an internet thread. For years, any mention or reminder would set me re-arguing the case in my head. And then one day, out of nowhere, I smacked my head and realized, Of course people aren't "Vikings" at doing things.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:29 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I often argued with my ex about whether fabricating while recounting an event was "lying" (me) or "telling a good story" (him).

Ah, yeah, this is a definitely a "two types of people" thing. For my part, I'm quite certain that no great storyteller ever was who wasn't an inveterate fabulist.
posted by invitapriore at 9:04 PM on March 30


If indeed there are people who really reserve confabulation for when they're entertaining others (there probably are; I think I've met people like this) then there's yet a third type of person who "tells stories" and "tells white lies" in ways and contexts that just so happen to function exactly like lying to deceive others in pursuit of obtaining benefits ranging from the pettiest, most momentary boost in social standing all the way up to the Presidency of the United States, but in at least some cases are unable to consciously acknowledge in any way that they've carried out said deception.
posted by XMLicious at 11:29 PM on March 30


Are the Pogues a punk band or an Irish band?

False dichotomy. They're both.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:23 AM on March 31



>>I often argued with my ex about whether fabricating while recounting an event was "lying" (me) or "telling a good story" (him).

>Ah, yeah, this is a definitely a "two types of people" thing. For my part, I'm quite certain that no great storyteller ever was who wasn't an inveterate fabulist.


Yeah, I kind of found this out the hard way a few days ago during a conversation with my mother. It turns out that the colorful, folksy story about Uncle Pete and the hog, that I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles I grew up hearing, was some kind of conflation of two other, rather dark, swine-related family stories I'd rather not relate here on the Blue. My childbrain must have come up with the memory of the one more cheerful story to avoid remembering the other two.

Makes me wonder what the &$#@ Mark Twain and Will Rogers were trying to cover up.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:36 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Whether or not Free Willy could actually jump over that seawall.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:07 AM on April 1


Oh, family stories (and family stories about stories) are the worst. My mother now firmly denies ever telling my sister and I anything about how my uncle thought my great-grandfather's death was tied to the mob. Both my sister and I agree she did, so I'm not sure that's an actual argument.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 11:37 AM on April 1


My 5 and 7 year old have spent the last TWO DAYS arguing over whether thumbs are fingers and whether you therefore have 8 or 10 fingers. As they are 5 and 7 they do not so much have REASON, just FIRM BELIEFS, which they shout at each other with increasing volume and frustration until one of them bursts into tears.

I'm about half an hour from selling them on ebay.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:05 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]


"Are these potholders a color."

That was last week. Of course, it was actually an argument about sympathy, mothers-in-law, forgiving vs forgetting, southern racism, symbolism vs metonymy, shopping etiquette, and meta-argument norms. But when it finished at 2am we immediately, and not inaccurately, dubbed it the "are these potholders a color" argument, and threw them out the next day.
posted by chortly at 7:08 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


My daughter's class was doing Romeo and Juliet. The only thing I know about that play is that 'wherefore' means 'why' not 'where'. My daughter told her English teacher this and they had a huge argument. At the next parent-teacher meeting this teacher told me my daughter was the most challenging student she ever had. I was so proud that night.
posted by night_train at 4:00 AM on April 3 [9 favorites]


My 5 and 7 year old have spent the last TWO DAYS arguing over whether thumbs are fingers and whether you therefore have 8 or 10 fingers. As they are 5 and 7 they do not so much have REASON, just FIRM BELIEFS, which they shout at each other with increasing volume and frustration until one of them bursts into tears.

i have the perfect script for "you're both right"

"Hey, guys, hang on a second. You know how an apple isn't an orange, but an apple and an orange are both fruit? Well, maybe a thumb isn't like a pinky, but they're both fingers. So maybe you're kind of both right."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Makes me wonder what the &$#@ Mark Twain and Will Rogers were trying to cover up.

The dark, soul-crushing realities of poverty, racism and stupidity in the U.S., mainly.
posted by darkstar at 1:46 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


"Hey, guys, hang on a second. You know how an apple isn't an orange, but an apple and an orange are both fruit? Well, maybe a thumb isn't like a pinky, but they're both fingers. So maybe you're kind of both right."

I tried that THREE DAYS AGO.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:31 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]


I have come to this thread late, but believe me, I was ready to wade in about radio waves.

I wonder what that says about me.
posted by blurker at 8:19 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Me: There are fifty states in the US.

Oh, God, I had forgotten that I had one of these. I (an American) was visiting Australia, and spent maybe 30 minutes in an argument with an Australian about the number of states in the Union. She insisted there were fifty-one, and any time I asked something like "what are their names" or "when was the fifty-first added" she would retort "How am I supposed to know, it's your stupid bloody country."

Indeed. And yet.
posted by nickmark at 10:57 AM on April 10 [5 favorites]


The dumbest argument I've had to date was many years ago with my husband who deigned to criticise me for changing the channels on the TV by getting up and walking over to it (yes, children, there was such a time) instead of using the remote. I didn't want to use the remote. This was apparently Wrong Of Me. I disagreed. A lively discussion (okay, eventual screaming match) ensued.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:21 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Stupidest argument of my life was held multiple times over a school year between myself and my walking-to-school companion as we passed by a municipal duck pond: she insisted that ducks "can get wet", as in, when they are swimming they are soaked to the skin. Obviously the term water off a duck's back meant nothing to her. I think I actually reduced her to tears thanks to my vehemence in arguing the contrary.
posted by mymbleth at 12:40 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Idiopath
In general, you are correct, but you should also be aware of the fact that a ground-dwelling tarantula can be severely injured by a fall that a similarly sized arboreal tarantula would merely shake off. ( I have a friend that collects exotic pets)
posted by ambulocetus at 6:33 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


but - to scale - even that tarantula, which is up to a foot long, is dropping it 6 feet as likely to injure it as dropping a human 36 feet?
posted by idiopath at 12:45 PM on April 20


"Any sort of arachnid will take falling damage. Even a fall from just a few feet is enough to severely damage, and in some cases kill, a full grown tarantula. This is because they’re prone to hemorrhaging (or internal bleeding) between their joints. For the most part, tarantulas and other large arachnids are ground dwellers. They’re not built to fall out of things."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:00 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


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