Friday, March 19, 2010

Terrorists, vasectomies, and March Madness

The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a long-running feature called "Bulletin Board," where folks call or email anecdotes, cute kid stories, dumb-things-my-spouse-just-did, and other little ditties about daily life. It's a forerunner of the blogging community. They even have memes. Like for a month people will send in lists of "simple pleasures," before moving on to "strange foods our family used to eat."

A really big deal is when somebody gets a certified B-M. It stands for Baader-Meinhof, and more specifically the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. If you never heard of it before, maybe you will again, really soon. Which means you'll have had a B-M of your own!

Translation: Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon refers to hearing about something noteworthy and previously unknown to you, and then encountering it again very soon, from a completely different source. The newspaper's Bulletin Board feature is moderated, so someone decides whether your reported phenomenon truly qualifies for B-M status or whether it's just a coincidence.

Tonight, a local TV station reported on 10 babies born all about the same time in a local suburb. One of the new moms said, "I wonder whether there will also be a boom in vasectomies, just in time for March Madness." Huh?

Two minutes later I was reading my newspaper and there it was: it seems that a lot of men choose to schedule vasectomies (presumably they were going to get them anyway) during the NCAA basketball tournaments so they can get a pass to watch college basketball!

Eureka, I thought. A clear case of B-M. Then I had second thoughts. If the TV story was taped just today and the woman simply saw this story in the morning paper, then we have a coincidence, not a B-M.

Short of calling the station, I have no way to know. Sigh.

The name of the phenomenon comes from the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a media term applied to the Red Army Faction, a violent German left-wing terrorist group active from 1970 to 1988. There. If you never heard of them before, watch to see how soon you come across their name again. The Pioneer Press says a second occurrence must come within 24 hours to qualify as a B-M. Their rule, not mine.


Lo said...

I had real doubts that you would be able to tie up the disparate elements in your headline, but, by Gum you did it!
And very interestingly, too.

Emma said...

I love a good Baader-Meinhoff OR coincidence! BTW, I definitely know a few men who would view the tournament as the perfect spoonful of sugar to get through the "procedure." Anything for another day or two on the couch. :-) said...

Now I'm going to be on the lookout for B-M's!

Far Side of Fifty said...

BM's huh? Learn something new everyday:)

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow, that was a really interesting topic. I will be on the lookout for this in the next 24 hours.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Blissed-Out! I have a dodgy photo on an old University ID, where I have long hair and a moustache. I always jokingly refer to this as my Bader-Meinhof period. This doesn't qualify as anything, but I'd not thought of it in a while. Thank you! Indigo

Jeanie said...

I had just heard about the increase in vasectomies during March Madness on Friday.....and here it is again today. More than 24 hour though.

Coll said...

Does Baader-Meinhof apply when you see an episode of a show you've never watched before and then, several months later, you're flipping through channels and catch the SAME episode?

If so, then I experience B-Ms all the time.

Allyson said...

Does it count that as I read this, it was just last weekend when I heard that same story on CNN? I thought, that's absurd...and then I thought no wait, that is genius. And it actually seemed a little too smart for a guy to come up with all on his own. Unfortch, Neal doesn't watch sports, or I would keep that little gem of an idea handy. Everybody wins.

I think I've had a B-M before...but can't remember when. Do dreams count?

Ronnica said...

Never heard of the B-M, but I find that I see that often with new vocabulary...but perhaps it just stands out now that you know what it means.


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