Bridling Bride

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at

Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon, I look forward to your questions!

Q. Always Take the Wife’s Side?: I’m about to get married and am caught in an argument between my fiancée and my parents. This will be the first time in over five years that our whole family will be together. My parents want to take a picture of just them, me, and my siblings, and a family photo obviously means a lot to them. My fiancée heard this and became immediately offended. She says it’s rude to exclude her on the day she “joins the family” and any family photo should therefore include her in it. We’re not talking about taking an hour for a separate family photo shoot; my parents simply want one photograph of themselves and their children. I don’t understand why my fiancée is so annoyed and now she’s even more angry because I’m not supporting “her side.” Should I back up my fiancée on principle, even if I disagree with her?

A: Apparently your fiancée wants to be the “Where’s Waldo” of her wedding album. When the photographer calls for a shot of all the groomsmen, she plans to puts herself in the middle. Photographs take only a short time to compose and an instant to snap. Presumably, both of you want a variety of pictures of groups of people to commemorate this event. Since your family is apparently far-flung, there is nothing wrong with your side wanting to piggy-back on the big event and get a couple of family photos added to the mix. This is one of those silly little fights every couple has. Calmly tell her you understand how she may have misperceived your family’s request, but it has nothing to do with excluding her. Your parents just want to take advantage of all of you being together for this happy day to have a long overdue photo of your immediate family. Explain to her that of course all the many and traditional wedding photos will take place. If she won’t back off, then it’s important that you two figure out how to resolve an issue—trivial as this is—that has you each in opposite corners, certain you are right.

Dear Prudence: Failure to Communicate

Q. Dog Gone?: I am a fiftysomething woman preparing to move in with my boyfriend next March. I have a miniature schnauzer who is 8 years old and has always slept in my room on the floor next to the bed. My boyfriend wants me to banish my dog from our bedroom when we move. I don’t think it’s a good idea, especially with moving to a strange house, and I think the dog will do better with the transition if he can sleep in our room. Am I wrong on this?

A: Oh, your boyfriend has come to the wrong place. Some nights my husband and I can barely turn over in bed due to the arrangement of the dog and two cats around us. You’ve got me laughing at the idea of banishing my cavalier from the bedroom. No one would get a minute of sleep due to the whining and howling. You have a beloved pet who sleeps peacefully on the floor. Unless your boyfriend frequently steps on your dog on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night (if so, just rearrange the dog bed) I do not understand his objection. More than that, if he understands what your dog means to you (and you to the dog), his demand is rather cruel. I’ve had letters from people who have fallen in love with other humans who are seriously allergic to their pets. Those are very difficult situations, but—much to the annoyance of animal lovers—I come down on the side of human love taking precedence. But there is no good reason here to shut the door on a sleeping dog. You’ve got a lot of time before the move to hash this out. But I think you’re entitled to say, “Love me, love my schnauzer.”

Q. Smother-in-Law: My mother-in-law threw me a sort of family baby shower, giving us lots of stuff we don’t need even though I specifically requested not to have one because we have such a small N.Y. apartment and I was already given practically everything from my sister who just had a baby. My question is: Do I have to send a thank you note to her for the stuff she bought me even though I specifically requested that she NOT buy anything?

A: Nasty, nasty mother-in-law, wanting to shower you with stuff for her impending grandchild. I hope you understand that now that you’re having a child your mother-in-law is likely to be more in your life than ever. Maybe apart from ignoring your express orders about gifts, she’s a lovely person who will be an important presence in your baby’s life. Although your pen may be dripping poison, write the thank you note and make it sound as sincere as possible. Since you are having a child, surely many of your friends will be too, so a closet of new baby items will be perfect regifting material.

Q. Late Night Sidewalk Etiquette: I’m a young man who works late as a bartender in an urban area. I walk home usually at 2 a.m. I often find myself half a block behind women (either alone or in pairs) going home the same route. How do I act so that they don’t fear me as a potential predator? Cross the street? Slow down (looks like stalking) or greet them (equally creepy)? Help!

A: There is nothing that gets a woman’s sympathetic nervous system on high alert like hearing footfalls behind her at 2 a.m. Thanks for being sensitive to this. Since you see the woman looming ahead of you, it would be a nice thing to do to cross the street before you’re close enough so that she starts glancing behind her, clutching her purse.

Q. Re: Wedding siblings photos: We had the same battle. My view was that after we are married, all photos must involve both of us. However, before the wedding, each family got 30 minutes to get whatever photos they wanted done. After the wedding was my photos on my schedule. I got great photos with my family, and my in-laws chose to get great photos of their grandkids, family portraits, and a siblings photo. The photo in their house is their immediate family and my parents display the one of our new family. It was an easy compromise.

A: After the vows, if the photographer snapped a photo that didn’t include you, did you take the camera and smash it like Sonny Corleone in The Godfather? It’s good everyone was able to complete their photo assignments in the 30 minutes allotted.

Q. Inappropriate Contact as Children: I’m 47. My dad sexually abused me when I was young. It stopped when I was 12, and I’ve gotten therapy for it. The only lingering problem for me is what to do about my cousin. When we were younger, I remember playing with her and I’m pretty sure that it was inappropriate. She is three years younger than me, and I couldn’t have been more than eight, and it didn’t happen with anyone else that I can remember. I’ve wanted to talk to her about this, but it’s been almost 40 years. I know from counseling that I was acting out from what my dad was doing to me, and I didn’t have the understanding of it that I do now. It’s still painful to talk about, and there are some other family issues that I am dealing with that are connected with my dad’s incest, but not relevant to my cousin. We haven’t been in contact for more than 20 years because of the family issues. When I found my cousin this summer, she and her parents were delighted to see me, so there doesn’t seem to be any long-term hard feelings. My cousin has a good life, with good relationships with her brother, husband, and parents, and she has a master’s degree and is successful. I don’t know how to approach this topic with her. I want to apologize. Does this seem like a good thing to open this can of worms?






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Fed maintains strong stimulus as U.S. growth stumbles

By Alister Bull and Pedro da Costa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve extended its support for a slowing U.S. economy on Wednesday, saying it will keep buying $85 billion in bonds per month for the time being.

In announcing the widely expected decision, Fed officials nodded to a weaker growth outlook due in part to a fiscal fight in Washington that shuttered much of the government for 16 days earlier this month.

A rise in borrowing costs following hints from the central bank earlier in the year that it might soon start to ratchet back its monetary stimulus have also weighed on growth.

“Available data suggest that household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months,” the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee said. “Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth.”

The labor market has shown “some” further improvement, the Fed said, despite some recent weakening in the figures. It dropped a reference to a “tightening of financial conditions observed in recent months” from its list of risks to the outlook.

Esther George, president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, dissented against the decision as she has at every FOMC meeting this year, favoring a modest reduction in the pace of bond purchases.

The Fed shocked financial markets in last month by opting not to scale back its bond buying, after allowing a perception to harden over the summer that it was ready to start easing off on stimulus. Its caution has since been vindicated.

Consumer and business confidence has been dented by the bitter political fight that triggered the government shutdown and pushed the nation to the brink of a potentially devastating debt default, and a slew of recent data has pointed to economic weakness.

Reports on Wednesday showed U.S. private-sector employers hired the fewest number of workers in six months in October, while inflation stayed under wraps last month.

Other recent data on hiring, factory output and home sales in September had already suggested the economy lost a step even before the government shut down. Readings on consumer confidence this month have shown the fiscal standoff rattled households.

The soft tone in the data has led markets to recalibrate forecasts for a tapering in the bond purchases and has pushed rate hike expectations back into mid-2015 at the earliest.

Before the FOMC statement’s release, futures markets indicated a 52 percent chance of the first quarter-point rate hike by April 2015; that rose to 96 percent by September 2015. Yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note have fallen back to 2.50 percent, compared with almost 3 percent in early September.

In response to the deepest recession and weakest recovery in generations, the U.S. central bank cut interest rates to near zero and more than quadrupled its balance sheet to $3.8 trillion.

The response has not been uncontroversial, with some Fed hawks and many Republicans arguing there is a risk of runaway inflation or financial market bubbles.

However, core Fed officials, including Chairman Ben Bernanke and his presumptive successor, Vice Chair Janet Yellen, have argued that the threat of persistently high unemployment is the most pressing issue right now.

Data on Wednesday showed consumer price inflation at just 1.2 percent in the year through September, well below the central bank’s 2 percent target.

(Editing by Krista Hughes)

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Twitter gets more visual with photo, video previews

October 29, 2013

By Zach Miners | IDG News Service

Twitter became an Internet phenom as a tool for posting short text messages, but now it also wants to feature multimedia content more prominently.

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Previews of photos and videos will now appear on users’ timeline streams, whereas before people had to click on links to see them. The new feature is available on Twitter’s iOS and Android apps, as well as on its Web version.

The changes apply only to photos uploaded using Twitter, and to videos created with Twitter’s Vine app. People still have to navigate to an outside page to see photos or videos from third-party services.

Users can expand the photos or watch the videos by tapping them on mobile and clicking on them on the desktop.

With this feature, Twitter wants to provide a more media-rich experience for users and to better compete against big rivals like Instagram and Snapchat. “These rich tweets can bring your followers closer to what’s happening,” the company said in its announcement.

But the changes also come as Twitter faces pressure to build out its advertising business, as its public debut on the New York Stock Exchange looms.

Video ads constitute a major element of Twitter’s advertising business, which generated 85 percent of the company’s revenue last year, the company said on its IPO documents. Placing more video and photo content front and center in users’ feeds, therefore, could give marketers an added incentive to advertise with Twitter.

Twitter has already partnered with more than a dozen broadcasters and media networks through its Amplify program, which places promotional video content in users’ feeds. Some of those partners include Bloomberg TV, A&E, and BBC America.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach’s e-mail address is

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First Listen: Kronos Quartet, ‘Aheym’

Kronos Quartet’s new album, Aheym, comes out Nov. 5. All the music on this album was composed by Bryce Dessner (center) of the indie-rock group The National.

Andrew Paynter/Courtesy of the artist

Bryce Dessner is a man who slips in and out of musical guises with disarming ease. In the indie rock world, he’s known as a member of The National (along with his twin brother, Aaron) and a founding member of Clogs. But in contemporary classical circles, Dessner, who studied composition and classical guitar at Yale, hangs with the likes of eighth blackbird, So Percussion, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

And now he’s gained another group of revered collaborators: his first works written for string quartet are being played by the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet, one of the landmark groups in contemporary music and a catalyzing force for literally hundreds of composers over their nearly 40-year-long career. Four of Dessner’s works involving Kronos are being released as the album Aheym (out Nov. 5).

Aheym, which is also the name of the album’s opening work, means “homeward” in Yiddish. Dessner had mentioned to the quartet’s first violinist and artistic director, David Harrington, that his grandmother emigrated from Russia via Poland. Harrington told Dessner that the ensemble was slated to play a concert in the Polish city of Lodz, where Dessner’s grandmother had grown up, and urged her to take his grandmother’s story as a point of artistic departure. Aheym is a dense and kinetic work, stitched with nearly obsessively articulated cells of energy that are occasionally interrupted by lyrical and luminous melodic lines.

The knots of Aheym unravel in the languorous next piece on the album, Little Blue Something, in which the four members of Kronos (Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; and Sunny Yang, cello) transform themselves into a pair of dusky-voiced violas da gamba, predecessors to modern cellos. Meanwhile, Tenebre, a piece for string quartet and pre-recorded track whose name literally means “darkness” or “shadows,” is a luminous work that belies its title, its silky lines culminating in a piercing, sustained conclusion that suddenly fades to one last, nearly flickering note.

The album’s concluding piece, Tour Eiffel, is a glowing setting of a magic-infused poem by Chile’s Vicente Huidobro, scored for chorus (here, performed by the group who commissioned the work, the wonderful Brooklyn Youth Chorus), string quartet, guitar, piano, vibraphone and tom-toms. It’s a beautiful album from start to finish. Even if work like this is what Dessner wants to pursue in his “spare” time, it hardly should be taken as ancillary output. This is gorgeous and full-hearted music.

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Georgia votes for new president at watershed poll

Tbilisi (AFP) – Georgia voted in a presidential poll Sunday with a loyalist of billionaire Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili favourite to replace his larger-than-life nemesis Mikheil Saakashvili at the helm of the ex-Soviet state.

The vote heralds the end of pro-Western Saakashvili’s second and last term and a year of his painful political cohabitation with bete noire Ivanishvili, who has promised to also step down in the coming weeks.

“Today we show that we are true Europeans,” Ivanishvili told journalists as he voted. “People can truly exercise their right to make a free choice.”

Stakes at the poll in the Western-backed Caucasus republic of some 4.5 million are lower this time round as consitutional changes will see the next president hand over many key powers to the prime minister after the vote.

Voting was slow at polling stations around capital Tbilisi and official turnout stood at under 18 percent as at mid-day local time (0800 GMT), according to the election commission.

Giorgi Margvelashvili — a previously obscure university dean from Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition – was well ahead of former parliament speaker David Bakradze of Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) in pre-election opinion polls.

Margvelashvili, 44, has said he is so sure of claiming the 50 percent needed to win the first round — in which 23 candidates are running — that he would withdraw if the vote goes to a second round.

“We are confident that the country will make the right choice,” Margvelashvili said as he voted with his student daughter.

But with a combative challenge from 49-year-old former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze — and up to 20 percent of voters undecided — the poll could go to a second round.

‘Completely different type of president’

At a polling station in a university in central Tbilisi, professor Serge Tsutskiridze said he voted for “reserved” Margvelashvili because he wanted to see a new style of leader after Saakashvili’s divisive rule.

“I voted for him because he is a completely different type of person to Saakashvili. We don’t need another emotional and headstrong president,” said Tsutskiridze, 67.

Other voters said that they hoped to see Saakashvili’s party remain a force in Georgian politics despite Saakashvili’s exit.

“I voted for David Bakradze — a moderate and experienced politician – because I don’t want one-party rule in Georgia,” said journalist Ketevan Kurdovanidze, 50.

Ivanishvili, 57, wrested power from Saakashvili’s party in parliamentary polls last year, marking Georgia’s first orderly transition.

Observers from non-governmental organisation Transparency International said in a midday statement that the vote was being held in a “calm environment” but that the number of procedural violations was up on last year’s vote.

Ivanishvili’s coalition will remain in control of the government whatever the result of Sunday’s vote, but the tycoon has promised to stick to a pledge to name a successor as premier and step down.

Georgia under Saakashvili has made joining NATO and the European Union a main priority, and Ivanishvili’s coalition has pledged to press on with this drive.

They have also promised to try to mend ties with Moscow shattered by a brief 2008 war between the two that saw Georgia effectively lose two breakaway regions, where Russia has now stationed thousands of troops.

Western allies have expressed concern over perceived selective justice that has seen a string of Saakashvili’s close allies arrested since his party lost power.

Saakashvili, 45, has said he wants to remain active in politics but Ivanishvili — who denies that there has been a political witch-hunt -— has labelled him a “political corpse” and warned that he could face prosecution once his immunity ends when he leaves office.

During a tumultuous decade under Saakashvili — who came to power after ousting Eduard Shevardnadze in the 2003 “Rose Revolution” — Georgia cut corruption, built new infrastructure and revived the country’s devastated economy.

However, Saakashvili’s reforms angered many who felt left out by the rush to change and police brutality used in crushing opposition protests tarnished his image as a pioneering democrat.

Over 3.5 million people are eligible to vote in the election which is monitored by international observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Polls close at 1600 GMT and preliminary results are expected to begin coming out overnight.

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US music legend Quincy Jones sues Michael Jackson estate

Los Angeles (AFP) – Music impresario Quincy Jones, credited with producing some of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, has sued the singer’s estate for $10 million, US news reports said on Saturday.

Jones filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit in connection with Michael Jackson projects released after the singer’s death, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

The entertainment industry Bible reported that Jones filed his suit Friday in Los Angeles against Sony Music Entertainment and MJJ Productions, a song company controlled by Jackson’s estate.

Jones, a legendary producer who has won 27 Grammy Awards during a half century in the music business, produced Jackson’s biggest hits, including “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad.”

The suit alleges that Jones has not been compensated for work released posthumously by Jackson’s former handlers, citing the “This Is It” concert film and soundtrack album, Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil productions and a 25th anniversary edition of the late pop icon’s “Bad” album, Hollywood Reporter wrote.

Jones, one of American pop music’s most influential behind-the-scenes figures, a composer, arranger, conductor, and record company executive, has worked with a catalogue of recording legends from Jackson, to Frank Sinatra to Barbra Streisand.

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