Small Talk Ammo for April 3, 2009

Small Talk Ammo for April 3, 2009
In any social setting, you're going to need to relate and carry on a conversation with people you've just met and know nothing about. We've got the ammunition to back up your quick wit, full of notable news not from the front page, as well as other goings-on from around the web that will likely come up in conversation.

In any group comprised of informed, opinionated young gents or ladies, the probability of finding yourself in the midst of a spirited discussion on current events is considerably high – especially as the night matures and the blood alcohol levels rise. There's nothing more embarrassing then finding yourself in such a situation and being too informationally bankrupt to chip in your two cents or even follow along.

As a courtesy, we've rounded up a few topics to brush up on to avoid becoming a deer in the conversational headlights, as well as a few tips to spice up your talking points.

Nobel Naysayer.

File under: Economy.

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist, was on the cover of Newsweek at the end of this March. A vehement detractor of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner's “zombie ideas,” for fixing the economy, Krugman is the foremost wielder of the pejorative “lemon socialism,” though he may not have coined it. It just goes to show that the “liberal media ” isn't as infatuated with Obama after all, in spite of what Fox News says (speaking of which, see below).

Get the edge. If anyone argues that Krugman is only stirring the pot for publicity, you may want to direct them towards his prescient comments in 2005, when he predicted a “rough ride ahead for the U.S. Economy” due to the housing bubble and trade deficit.

Dissident Voices on the Rise.

File under: News and Opinion.

While a leftist West Wing (and House and Senate) may hint towards doom for right-leaning pundits, it turns out that Fox News is doing even better than when we had a conservative commander-in-chief. Rush Limbaugh is also enjoying some extra clout, too, though it seems to have only encouraged everyone to throw him under the bus – that includes the left, the right and the top.

Get the edge. Discuss the previous administration's straw man tactics. Or maybe Iran‘s.

Caveat Emptor.

File under: Health.

Smokers fume over the biggest federal tax ever, galvanizing possibly the biggest nationwide cigarette run in history. And all for the love of health: for kids and, it seems, for some soon-to-be ex-smokers.

Get the edge. Bring up the sad fact that, although most people rushed to the store on March 31st, it was too darn late by that time.

News to Amuse.

These hodgepodge news of the weird bits may come in handy for filling lulls with “Hey, didja hears…”

Get the edge. Yawn. Say, “April Fool's ain't what it used to be” and cite the BBC's Swiss Spaghetti Harvest spoof. You could discuss April Fool's days origins, if you'd like, but you'll probably lose everyone as soon as you utter the words “Gregorian calendar.”

So, there you have it. That should keep your mouth moving coherently for at least one night. But until next time, you may want to subscribe to some good news feeds and tune-in to some podcasts. Here are some starters:

Jack Busch

Jack Busch lives in the Pittsburgh area where he writes and edits for fun and money.