I have this situation going on in my extended family for which I was trying to convince my mother that the proper reaction was for us to be sympathetic rather than blaming. I didn't appear to be making any progress until I said, "But, Mom, if that's true, we should get sad instead of get mad." That sentence seemed to have some magical transformative effect on how my mother viewed the situation, even though the only difference between it and what I had been saying all along was that the sentence rhymed. It was at this moment that I realized that, had my mother been on the O.J. Simpson jury, she would have been unable to resist Johnnie Cochran's rhetorical charms.
Update, before I've even finished typing the original post: I just now got an e-mail from my mother. Earlier tonight she had forwarded me this magic trick. (I'll have to make it a pdf so you can see it... ok, it's here.) I asked my mother to please tell me that she was not actually fooled by this trick. Her reply:* "OF COURSE IT FOOLED ME, GIVE ME THE ANSWER, I SHOWED THIS TO DAD AND HE LOOKED BEHIND THE COMPUTER THINKING I WAS DOING SOMETHING TO THE PC ................... I DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU GOT YOUR BRAINS, ............ BUT .............. I DIDN'T LOOK BEHIND THE PC................ MOM."**
* My mother's e-mails are always in all capital letters. This is especially interesting because when I gave my mother my computer and set her up with Internet access, one of the first things I had to show her was how you make a capital letter by holding down the SHIFT key while typing the letter. She has definitely taken that lesson to heart. The thing with using 10-20 periods for ellipses is new. Update, next day: To clear up the confusion of at least one reader, the above message was cut-and-pasted, the ellipses are part of my mom's message, not added by me as a way of indicating removed content.
** My mother is the best.*** Do not be confused on this point by the fact that I sometimes poke fun at her sometimes on the weblog. I love my mother beyond anything that could possibly be conveyed within the confines of a weblog. Besides which, she is my hero (really, truly, really-truly). Besides which besides which, she just sent me an e-mail saying she figured out the trick.
*** Yes! My mother > yours. No offense.