Four Persian drivers arrive simultaneously at an intersection

Tarof is the Persian etiquette of deference, wherein one must both yield to others (you first!) and decline the offer (no, you!). One may not insist or accept until the end of the line--at least in this hilarious parody by Simon Garshasebi--so what happens when a circle forms?

There are similar norms of recursive politeness in Britain; perhaps that's why there are so many roundabouts there. Read the rest

Florida man goes ape over $4 bundt cake coupon, may lose $204,000 job

Richard Salamon, the city planner for Sunrise, Florida, apparently got so nasty after a bundt cake store wouldn't honor his expired coupon that his job is up for review with city commissioners. Read the rest

How to bow and exchange business cards in Japan

Ojigi, or bowing, is an important part of Japanese social life. I don't know how to do it. Here's a video shows the three main ways to bow and how to use them in different situations. The video also shows how to exchange business cards in Japan. Read the rest

On Trolling

Zoe Williams examines the difference between trolls and the merely bad-mannered. [The Guardian via The Awl] Read the rest

Empirical manners: towards a science of harmonious norms

"Rewilding Etiquette," Karl Schroeder's guest-post on Charlie Stross's blog, looks at a future where social contracts, not social control, are used to keep things running. As Larry Lessig wrote, the three forms of governance are law, technological constraint, and norms, and while activists and science fiction writers focus on the first two, the third is the most important (the reason your neighbors don't break into your house has more to do with being "good" than fear of arrest or difficulty defeating your locks).

Manners--etiquette--are little studied these days, which is ironic considering that arguably, we need them more than ever. After all, at no other time in history (except maybe during the hegemony of Rome) have so many diverse people being jostling elbows the way they are now. These days, any big city has people from every corner of the world living in it; in my city of Toronto, more than 50% of the inhabitants are from somewhere else. (And it works magnificently; we have 1/10th the murder rate of any comparably-sized American city.) We need to get along with one another, and good manners are an essential tool.

So, what if we didn't shave everybody's head, stamp a number on it and put them through brainwashing classes; or breed them for docility; or drug the water supply. What if, instead, we started a new movement in manners, one directed at conflict resolution, collective problem solving, and the cohabitation of diverse kinds of people? And simply presented it as a movement, like open source software, not run by a social engineering elite but by anybody who's willing to use the publically available code: i.e.,

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