STUMP » Articles » How Not to Be a Dumbass, Take N: It's Okay To Not Know Something (or Somebody) » 7 January 2017, 03:44

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

How Not to Be a Dumbass, Take N: It's Okay To Not Know Something (or Somebody)  


7 January 2017, 03:44

It’s also okay to split an English infinitive if you know what you’re doing.

But first, let me thank my referrers for 2017!

I see some people have gotten to me through my UConn page – just one more week til the semester begins! And others coming from twitter and facebook.

And nice try, Hot Russian Brides, to get me to link back. Not happening.

And now to the super-important announcement:


Meet the Death Star:

I bought that for Stu in 2011, because I had to take over the minivan he was driving for my new job. Also, because I love Stu and I knew he’d like to have a truck after all those minivan driving years (also, his VW bus had spectacularly died some years before, and the less said about having a car fire at a gas station, the better).

Here we are at the dealership right after we bought the truck:

We don’t really need a truck, but we’ve hauled sheep (and manure):

Here’s me & my son, hanging out in the back of the truck, for a Memorial Day parade:

Now you can say you know somebody who owns a pickup truck. I live in Westchester County even, and work in Connecticut. I used to work in Manhattan, in midtown and on Wall Street.

But let’s suppose you didn’t know me.


Jon Gabriel explains what went down:

John Ekdahl asked a simple question Tuesday night:

This not at all complicated query should generate one of two answers: yes or no. Instead, Ekdahl got hours of contempt, confusion, and rage.

[skipping over dumbass tweets]

Ekdahl never mentioned guns, immigration, country music, race, or “real Americans,” yet a flurry of journalists and other progressives tried to shame him with each for daring to ask this non-political question. All because they didn’t want to admit that they live in a bubble.

Many Americans, left and right, live in monochrome cultural enclaves. Many of my friends at DC think tanks and my relatives on the farm don’t interact with many people who live different lives than themselves. Admitting this isn’t a black mark on either group; it merely helps us understand our limited perspective.

Since I live in the Phoenix suburbs, I know plenty of people in both groups. The economist PhDs make me feel dumb and the ranchers make me feel wimpy, so I learn a lot from both. Humility is a requirement if you want to learn or write about the many subjects outside your ken. Journalism would be a lot better if our media accepted this truth.

The reason Ekdahl asked this question was because of an unintentionally funny article from the New York Times.

I’ll link to Legal Insurrection to explain.

NY Times goes on safari to Texas, struggles to understand natives’ love for their “trucks”

I remember traveling to Texas when I was in private practice, meeting a lawyer who was investigating a possible investment fraud case who wanted me to get involved.

I’m pretty sure it was in San Antonio.

What I remember most about the trip was the lawyer’s “truck,” or as we say in more refined circles, pickup truck. It was yuge. I don’t recall the specifications on it, but I’m guessing it had as many cylinders as could be had, had a full backseat with its own doors, and was yuge (but I repeat myself). Pretty sure I needed a ladder to get into the vehicle, though my memory might be a little hazy on that part.

The other things I remember is that while we were driving, it began to hail. Not hail like we have in the Northeast. Hail the size of f-ing golf balls. He quickly headed for a parking area under an apartment building, and we waited it out.

I never got involved in the case. And I don’t think I’ve been in a “truck” that yuge since.

That’s a long way of getting me to an article in The NY Times which is something of a cultural perspective on how little liberal northeast media understands about the country.
The NY Times went on safari to Texas, and it has an article about a peculiar love of the natives for trucks, Rodeo Offers a 90-M.P.H. Glimpse of Texans’ Truck Mania:

‘Tim Spell has noticed a peculiar condition that affects Texans’ mental, physical and automotive well-being.

‘“I call it ‘truck-itis,’” said Mr. Spell, the former automotive editor for The Houston Chronicle. “People in Texas will buy trucks even if they’re not going to haul anything heavier than raindrops. I was interviewing one guy. He had a 4-by-4. I said: ‘You live in Houston. Why do you have this 4-by-4?’ He said, ‘Well, I own a bar, and 4-by-4s are higher, and I can climb up on the cab and change out the letters of my marquee.’”

‘Whether for high-up urban letter-switching or more rural and rugged purposes, pickup trucks are to Texas what cowboy boots and oil derricks are to the state — a potent part of the brand. No other state has a bigger influence on the marketing of American pickup trucks.’

Having diagnosed the symptoms and named the disease, the Times tried to understand by taking a safari to the Texas Truck Rodeo:

‘This year’s rodeo, held in October at the Longhorn River Ranch here in Dripping Springs, in the Hill Country outside Austin, left me with a new appreciation for the word truck-a-thon….

‘At the outdoor awards ceremony, everyone gawked at the two-handled Truck of Texas trophy. In the end, it went to the 2017 Ford Super Duty. A mere five voting points separated the Titan from the Super Duty. John Rieger, Ford’s Super Duty brand manager, gave the trophy a long kiss in the glow of the headlights.’

In the Legal Insurrection post, you’ll see some truck-loving responses, but what’s funny is there are so many fluff lifestyle pieces in papers like the NYTimes and Wall Street Journal that showcase some fad/fashion in New York City that pretty much nobody anywhere else is sharing. That’s fine, too, but it is frickin hilarious how provincial Manhattanites are (which I noticed when I lived there 20+ years ago).


I wrote about this last year when the NYT tried to take a swipe at Ted Cruz.

One thing I noticed about the “native” NYers, though, was how provincial they were. They were some of the most geographically and culturally ignorant people I have ever met.

Part of it is that they really don’t have to learn other people’s cultures. Don’t know Christianity? That’s okay in NYC. What would you need to know that for? You only need to know the religious holidays inasmuch the parking rules are suspended and/or adjusted, and maybe some of the more observant people won’t show up for work, but the only time I saw someone embarrass themselves over that was when they scheduled an important company event during High Holy Days. That’s a noob mistake.

But that’s just administrativia. You don’t need to know what people actually believe to keep up with that.

Anyway, I had fun needling my NY colleagues with Dumb Yankee jokes. I don’t remember anybody getting mad about it, esp. since they could do Dumb Southerner jokes if they wished.

The funniest convos I had with Yankees, though, is about how Southerners are so fake in their supposed niceness. Hahaha, just because we smile a lot doesn’t make us suckers, rubes. For supposedly paranoid sophisticates a la Seinfeld, you sure are simple.

But I’m a New Yorker now, too, as are my Westchester neighbors. Loads of people in my neighborhood alone have pickups, and no, not all really need to haul stuff. We haul sheep only a couple times a year. We’ll help some neighbors, but again, we don’t really need a truck. Some of our neighbors use their trucks for business purposes, but many times they just want a 4WD vehicle for the winter.

And Stu just really likes driving a truck.

Just like some people really enjoy watching sports, and I really love thinking about mortality trends. We each have our own preferences.


Williamson is from Texas (though, well, I’ll leave the second part of that thought alone):

What the pick-up truck signifies

John Ekdahl set off an amusing storm on Twitter by noting that the three best-selling vehicles in the United States are pick-up trucks and asking journalists the seemingly anodyne question of whether they personally know anybody who owns one.

The responses were predictable: The sort of smug progressives who are proud of their smugness scoffed that pick-ups, pollution-belching penis-supplements for toothless red-state Bubbas, are found mainly in the sort of communities where they’d never deign to set foot; the sort of smug progressives who are ashamed of their smugness protested that it is a silly question (which it is — that’s part of the point) and made strained connections with pick-up-owning childhood friends back home in East Slapbutt; conservatives mainly said “Har har stupid liberal elites.”

Living in Texas, I have a rarefied point of view on this. Because I have decided today to be an unbearable cliché, I am writing this column at a Starbucks (America’s leading psych ward and homeless shelter, with pretty good coffee), about five feet from a Ford F-150 and with seven other pick-ups in my immediate field of vision.

But there are pick-ups and there are pick-ups. In the nothing-but-mansions Houston neighborhood of River Oaks (Molly Ivins grew up there after her family moved to Texas from California; her salt-of-the-earth act was developed at the yacht club), the residential streets are clogged during the day with white pick-ups bearing largely Mexican work crews who keep the sprawling faux-Tudor country houses and Rococo palaces spruce and spiffy; inside the garages are more pick-ups, $60,000 and $70,000 specimens that are never used to haul anything other than grass-fed steaks from Whole Foods and never go farther off road than the gravel trail leading to the weekend “ranch,” which is what rich Texas oil guys call their country homes.

Our politics is less and less about using the clumsy machinery of the state to try to mitigate the effects of this or that problem, and more and more about what kind of people we are, what kind of people we aspire to be, and — not least, never least — what kind of people we hate: effete Santa Monica liberals who don’t know where their food comes from, small-minded prairie bigots who shop at Walmart and have never visited Europe. We have a keen understanding for the vices of those who are unlike us. Their virtues, less so. But the farmers and the bankers need each other.

And in Westchester, the bankers are the farmers.

I’m not joking about that, by the way. I went to one of these farms to check on the sheep once, and the hedge fund millionaire owner of the farm who allowed the 4-H Club to use some barn space came rolling by on his tractor. Nothing special about the tractor, just a regular old thing. Not souped-up.

I asked Stu about other people in town, because he’s the one hanging out here while I’m working in CT, and he told me about times he’s seen some of the local guys hop out of their BMWs, in their Armani suits, to help get a vehicle unstuck [I made a comment about being able to afford the cleaning bill], but that usually they wear the same old Carhartt stuff and mucky rubber boots when having to deal with the stalls and other stuff. Yes, this is hobby stuff for them.

We have loads of horse “farms” around here. And while some of the horse farms are like Old Salem Farm, which is the hoity-toity place where Bloomberg’s daughters ride, we’ve got some scrubby farms where people put their fox-hunting horses. Yes, we do fox hunting up here (well, not me, but you know what I mean.)


Amusingly, I see Ekdahl’s twitter feed still has the idiocy going.

We definitely didn’t spend even $37K on Stu’s truck. It was used when we bought it (2005 model, I think, but I forget). It’s a bigass truck, I will not deny. But I buy only used vehicles to begin with.

A different National Review person sticks her oar in:

Could this 875-word article have been replaced with “Hey, a lot of Texans really like trucks”? Perhaps. Would the New York Times display a similar wide-eyed innocence when profiling an acclaimed off-Broadway performance in which the main characters are an old sock and an immobile, day-old rotisserie chicken? Probably not.

Hmmm, sounds like an interesting show… which one is that?

Maybe it was this one.

I went to a lot of Off Broadway shoes back in the day, mainly because I got in free through NYU tickets. Or I was an unfortunate friend of someone in the production. (Or, worst of all, I knew the person who wrote it.)

In any case, I think it’s fine if you don’t know something or somebody and you go out to ask questions about it. But you gotta realize that if it’s something that loads of people know about and enjoy… they just might make fun of your ignorance. Just suck it up and move on.

I didn’t understand how men’s underwear worked til I was an adult. That’s half the population right there knowing something I didn’t know. That’s a far greater percentage than truck owners. To be fair to me, I didn’t have any brothers.

Boy did I have a laugh when I realized what that was all about. And other people laughed at me, too. It’s okay.

[and one of my friends, my age, just found out what “down with OPP” means, and a bunch of us are having fun laughing about that]

Just because you don’t know something that’s really commonly known doesn’t mean your ignorance is a serious failing; also, even for a highly-credentialed person, it doesn’t mean that the piece of info is necessarily unimportant.

Let it go.

Because if you don’t, you’ll look like a humorless, self-important dumbass.

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