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November 21, 2003

Open thread 11
Posted by Teresa at 07:21 AM *

Talk about Particles here below …

Comments on Open thread 11:
#1 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:58 AM:

Dr. Travis Doom? Is he Victor's son? Why doesn't anyone ever tell me these things! Do Reed and his family know?

#3 ::: Alicia ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:36 AM:

Who would go to someone named Dr. Doom? I realize this one isn't an M.D., but the thought just crossed my mind. Although, as for odd doctor names, there used to be a pair of dentists here in my town - Drs. Trippe and Pierce.

Maybe these people are destined for their careers...

#4 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:52 AM:

I vaguely recall from my grad school neurobiology courses that two of the top late 19-th early 20th century neurologists were "Dr. Head" and "Dr. Brain."

#5 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:12 AM:

Appropos of nothing, I just had to take a moment from my morning and vent about so-called editors who don't know the difference between passive and active voice, and can't understand why a posessive pronoun is more appropriate than a definite article in a given application.

And what, pray tell, is the point of having a style guide if our so-called editors feel free to discard it based on what they had for breakfast?

Grr.

#6 ::: T.L. Hines ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:16 AM:

When my wife was a youngster, her dentist was Dr. Fehr (yes, it's pronounced "fear"). Her family physician was Dr. Tiddy. Dr. Tiddy, it would seem, narrowly missed his true calling as a gynecologist.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:22 AM:

My great-grandfather was Dr. Paine.

For a while, anyway, the USAF had a Captain America.

#8 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:31 AM:

Victor von Doom used to be handsome...

"The focus of Doom's research was to construct a trans-dimensional projection device with which he could communicate with his dead mother. There was a flaw in the design which Richards pointed out to him, but Doom's pride prevented him from accepting Richards' advice and fixing the device before testing it. The machine worked perfectly for two minutes and 37 seconds, in which time Doom discovered that his mother was trapped in a hell. Then the device exploded, permanently scarring his face. Doom refused to acknowledge his own fault in the matter and blamed Richards for the accident, finding it easier to believe that Richards had sabotaged his work out of jealousy than admit to his own imperfection. "

I love wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Von_Doom

#9 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:43 AM:

Thank goodness someone has finally revealed to us what hamsters want us to do with our computers.

I have, apparently, always known this in my heart, but now my life is complete.

#10 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:51 AM:

There are an amazing number of gastroenterololgists whose names are Brown, Gutstein, and Butt..... (I'm working on a directory for an association right now)

#11 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:11 PM:

T: ... and let's keep a-following weblinks?

Cheers,
Tom

#12 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:30 PM:

And Captain Marvel served in the Army during my own time of service.

(What I'd really love to see would be a Captain Azapa, who appeared on several covers of old AZAPA mailings back in the 1970's.)

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:32 PM:

The Deseret Alphabet is suspiciously like the Initial Teaching Alphabet that warped me and my classmates in elementary school.

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:33 PM:

Just so, Tom. Patrick's been complaining that he's had "Talk about Suffering" running in his head all morning.

Generally: The godfather of American sleep/wake disorders treatment is a neurologist named William C. Dement.

Skwid, hamsters have true clarity about these things.

#15 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:40 PM:

When I was a very young child, I lived across the street from one Dr. Fink.

#16 ::: Adam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:47 PM:

I don't think Victor Doom is really a Dr. I mean, he got kicked out of school after he blew himself up, right? Shouldn't he be called "All-but-dissertation" Doom or some such?

Unless he had Latveria Polytechnic award him an honorary doctorate once he took over.

Regarding Doctor names, I'm seeing a "Dr. Chopp" for my vasectomy. I figured that with a name like that, in his area of specialty, he'd have to be very, very good at what he does.

#17 ::: --kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 01:39 PM:

Or very, very tired of a certain hearty bonhomie. --It's all become quite meta, now; we don't make the jokes, we merely assume others have made them already. "You must get a lot of jokes about your name," chuckles the patient, ill-at-ease in his open-backed hospital gown. To which, of course, there are only two possible responses for poor Dr. Chopp, at this point in his career. He can either sigh heavily, mournfully even, looking down at the bright and shiny implements with doleful eyes: "Yes, yes." Or rear up in sudden confusion: "What? My name? What on earth are you talking about? What's wrong with my name?"

--Me, I'm trying to figure out if the Deseret alphabet owes any sort of actual (if trivial) debt to Sequoyah's Cherokee alphabet, or if I'm just squinting too much at two convergently evolved examples of what you get when you add calligraphic squiggles to upright 19th c. letterforms.

#18 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 01:41 PM:

In my university days I had an Archaeology Professor by the name of Doug Armstrong. If there's a more appropriate name for an archaeologist, I've yet to hear it.

The interesting thing about Victor von Doom is that he does refer to himself as "Doctor." My understanding has always been that the title "Professor" is far more widely respected in Europe. He likely doesn't have his real Doctorate, no (unless he submitted his thesis in "why that fool Richards is a bastard"), but seriously, are you going to tell him he's not a real doctor? I wouldn't.

Fortunately, his namesake seems to have a better sense of humor about the whole thing: Doom!

I wish I had a name like that. It'd be so fun...

#19 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 03:34 PM:

After he92s done wiping it, does Jerusalem go in the milchig or fleishig dish rack?

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 03:46 PM:

Holly, I'll swap you a note from Production that uses "you're" for "your" twice in one paragraph.

#21 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 03:49 PM:

Jason, you beat me to posting that Q&A w/ Dr. Doom.

Stefan, I remember ITA! I missed it, but my mother claims that my younger sister's spelling has never recovered from spending her first two years of school learning to read ITA.

kip, IIRC Sequoyah's Cherokee alphabet is really a syllabary, so it can't be too similar to the Deseret alphabet. I read somewhere ("Guns, Germs, and Steel", maybe?) that Sequoyah first tried to create an ideographic writing system, where each symbol represented one idea/word, but gave that up as too unwieldy, and dialed the granularity down to the syllable level. The creators of the Deseret alphabet were literate in English, whereas Sequoyah I think was illiterate, though he'd seen English. The book I read ("GG&S"?) described Cherokee as the last of something like four known "from-scratch" inventions of a writing system in the history of the world.

#22 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:03 PM:

1: Cherokee isn't (and I don't recall Diamond saying it was), "from scratch."

It was more like Hongul (Korean) de novo, from outside influence. I seem to recall the three, "provably" from scratch systems are cuneiform, Chinese and Mayan, with some questions about Hieroglyphics.

In the interesting names department, my first Commander was a man named Slaughter. He is, last I checked, now Major Slaughter. I hope, for perversity's sake, he makes flag rank, thence to be General Slaughter.

Terry K.

#23 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:14 PM:

Sorry, Terry, I wasn't sufficiently precise.

You're right, I meant that Cherokee wasn't just an adaptation of some other writing system. It wasn't "from scratch" in the sense of inventing the whole concept of writing, the way the 3 you cite were.

Though Cherokee did borrow some Latin (English) letter shapes, the meanings were completely unrelated. Sequoya was illiterate; he'd seen English writing but didn't know how it worked.

#24 ::: Allan Connery ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:14 PM:

Dr. Travis Doom, eh?

Reminds me of the sinister character in Gravity's Rainbow who says something like "I have to see Doctor Spectro immediately."

The mastermind in question out to be Doctor Kevin Spectro.

#25 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:29 PM:

What I've never been able to parse about Dr. Doom (Victor, not Travis) is, what the heck was he doing at State U. down the hall from Reed Richards?

I mean . . . this is the heir to a country -- a small country, to be sure, but one that clearly has technological resources that overshadow Japan's, to go by the stuff its Benevolent Despot builds in his spare time. Now, I can perfectly understand his wanting to get an education in America -- Latveria Vo-Tech is still teaching Haywain Repair and Torchbearing Mob Systems Administration -- but a -state school?- Okay, a state school that allows students to construct power-gobbling extra-dimensional face-exploders in their dorm rooms, but, well, sheesh.

On the other iron-gloved hand, if he'd gone to MIT or Caltech, one shudders to think of the effects on NESFA or LASFS.

Yo, Lenny -- should we do a panel on this sometime? With great power comes hotel coffee in the Green Room.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:54 PM:

If you do that panel, could you please go into the question of why supervillains feel obliged to build exotic headquarters, who contracts to build them, and whether construction costs are what drive supervillains to commit supercrimes in the first place?

Is Bechtel the ur-supervillain that drives the entire superhero universe?

#27 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:54 PM:

That Q&A is awesome.

I can't think of Dr. (Victor) Doom, though, without picturing the dancing henchmen musical number from the wisely aborted F4 movie.

*shudder*

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:56 PM:

Dancing ... henchmen?

#29 ::: --kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 05:01 PM:

Whoops! I meant just the look of 'em both. The form and not at all the function. Something about the squiggles feels the same in both, but I'm pretty sure it's just two examples of the relatively narrow aesthetic set you get when draping fillips and curlicues on stern and (formerly) laconic 19th c. fontage. --I seem to recall Sequoyah had as many as 200 symbols, and winnowed it down to 80-some-odd. And Googling for Deseret and Cherokee gives us this slight overview of Deseret, Cherokee, Hangul, and Shavian.

As far as Hangul goes, I seem to remember that in addition to being based on the shape of your mouth as it makes the sound represented, there's a symbolic component related to the five elements, and the sound's relation to an element or combination thereof, but some desultory Googling doesn't turn up anything, and the Spouse is at her day job, and I really ought to be getting back to mine.

#30 ::: Alicia ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 05:09 PM:

Years ago when I was on the pro side of the tables at the comic cons, I sat next to one of the artists who swore he was going to name his children Paige and Drew. Now if I can just remember who that was...

#31 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 05:14 PM:

I'm with Teresa: Dancing henchmen?

Oh, and my guess is that the State University Drs. Richards and Doom went to was named after Dr. Michael William State, the scientific genius who first thought of putting raisins inside of bagels.

As for the exotic headquarters... well, I can't speak for the building costs, but as for "why," well, tell me the truth, Teresa: if you had the chance to live on top of an active volcano or inside a rock shaped like a giant skull or in a technological wonderland imbedded in an asteroid set in geosynchronus orbit over, say, Tahiti, wouldn't you jump at it? I know I would and I don't have any plans for world domination at all.

#32 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 05:26 PM:

Dancing henchmen? Here you go!

#33 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:09 PM:

adamsj:

Am I missing something? There were dancing *front*men, and exotic pets, but no henchmen--?

#34 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:15 PM:

Villians shop online, just like everybody else... http://www.villainsupply.com/index.html

#35 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:23 PM:

Teresa -- the reason for building Great Big Supervillain Headquarterses is probably a combination of what Dr. Peter (of the Principle, not the Daily Bugle photo staff) called The Edifice Complex and the desire to have Your Own Place to Work, especially when the urge hits to build a betatron bomb at midnight, with coffee and a nice warm Latverian palacsinta, while dressed in a fuzzy green bathrobe over full body armor with your bunny slippers four feet apart.

Oh, and Jason -- this is meant most kindly, but around these parts we call it a "Clarke orbit."

#36 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:38 PM:

It is simpler than that.

Zoning. Well, that and discounts on second-hand concrete molds.

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:38 PM:

A person with more time than I could tie together supervillains, exotic headquarters, and state schools.

* * *

If you want dancing, singing henchmen, ye need go no farther than the Terwilliker Academy fight song in "The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T."

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:42 PM:

I can't think of any funny doctor names, but a coworker of mine once had a financial advisor named Lance Cash.

Hongul is known as the most beautifully designed of the writing systems that WERE designed. The man was an absolute genius. Flexible combination of vowels and consonants, combining the best features of the alphabetic and syllabic systems. Linguists exclaim in awe and admiration.

We had a conv. here a while back, I think, about tengwar, which are hideously difficult and inefficient for humans (but pretty). Who knows if elves have similar brain morphology? Neither LOTR nor Silmarillion gives a detailed account of an elf-brain dissection, or even a detailed comparison with humans.

I'd categorize them as runes (yes, I know there are also elf-runes); that is, they're not intended to be efficient, but magical and secret.

#39 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 07:09 PM:

The subversive cross-stitch is great. I've just orderd "Happy Fucking Holidays" to stitch up for my favorite Jewish rocket scientist.

MKK

#40 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 07:17 PM:

I used to go to a dentist named Dr. Goth; he retired, and now I go to Dr. Placido, whom I find much more relaxing.

#41 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 07:42 PM:

I had a math professor named Professor Paine. I should have heeded the warning and changed classes.

There's a cherokee font in osx panther, it seems to be a mix of english, greek, and the occasional mathematical symbol.

#42 ::: Taper ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:27 PM:

von Doom went to State University mostly because it was the only place handing out scholarships for looking-into-hell-dimensions engineering. He didn't become king of Latveria until after he'd built his armor.

#43 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:27 PM:

Just want to point out that PublishAmerica is at it again. If you want some laughs, take a look at http://www.authorsmarket.net/ and also http://www.publishedauthors.net/ which are both produced by them. The first states that openly in the About Us page and the other I looked up in Whois.

#44 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:51 PM:

When I was but a wee lad and a choirboy at Newcastle cathedral, one of the clergy there was a canon Ball. I suppose he was lucky his surname wasn't Fodder...

The point about professors upthread is valid; Here in the UK, professor is an title awarded by a university to senior academics on staff as a sign of their eminence in the field. This means that they get to wear even sillier robes and hats than most staff (who mostly have doctorates) for formal occasions. Normal academic staff are just plain lecturers, researchers, senior lecturers, senoir researchers, or even readers (dizzy heights indeed!).

#45 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 09:04 PM:

And once again I point to Omniglot: A guide to written languages, which has more writing systems than you can shake a moderately-sized, or even fairly large, stick at.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 09:41 PM:

There was a Canon Luce at the Cathedral of St. John the Unfinished. He was a nasty, mean-spirited prick, too. Made the whole church look terrible.

#47 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:12 PM:

Ooh! Ooh! Subversive Cross-Stitch kits! Cool!

#48 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:16 PM:

John - consider me terminologically impaired. I'll learn, eventually. "Clarke orbit" it is.

Jakob - Glad to have confirmation. I first heard about that from a Professor I had in school who told the story of himself as a young man, making his first trip to a conference in Europe after having received his doctorate. He signed his name in the hotel register as "Dr. David Miller," on the grounds that they'd be impressed he was a doctor and give him a better room. As it turned out a friend of his got the impressive suite in that hotel, because his friend was savvy to the situation and had signed his name "Professor."

#49 ::: Adam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:33 PM:

Well, I wasn't so foolish as to crack wise to Dr. Chopp about his name. The man will be operating on my genitals, after all. I'll call him whatever he wants, at least until everything's all done.

#50 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:45 PM:

Jason, I was probably being excessively fannish hyperbolic (which is a considerable beakerful of excess) on "Clarke orbit." I tend to use it, and I know other people who do, partly out of respect for ACC and partly because there's confusion between "geosynchronous" and "geostationary." (A geosynch orbit is in phase with the Earth's rotation, so the satellite will eventually return to the same location, but it may move in between; stationary (what Clarke suggested for commsats) stands still. So stationary -is- synchronous, but not necessarily the other way around.)

I saw the term "Clarke orbit" denounced in the letter column of a British newspaper (I think it was the TIMES) by some scientist or other who was appalled and shocked that people paid all this attention to "science fiction writers" and not to, well, people like him. He noted that since stationary orbits are an artifact of orbital mechanics, anyone could have thought up the idea of hanging a satellite there, which irresistibly reminded me of Columbus and the egg.

Uh, this -is- the Open Thread, right? Good. If it were about Saints or steam-powered kitchen appliances I'd be way off-topic. Even for me.

#51 ::: Mr Ripley ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:42 PM:

There's a physician in Tenafly named Dr. Malseptic.

#52 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:59 PM:

There was, at least at one point, a payee of the University I work at named Omar Shahabudin McDoom.

(I also see an awful lot of invoices for places like Hitt Contracting and Weather Control Inc., leading me to believe that higher education and supervillainy are more closely tied than I'd had previous reason to think.)

I also heard tell of another Dr. Paine (this one a dentist) practicing in my semi-hometown of Parkersburg, WV, as well as a urologist named C. Wan Wang.

None of which is as funny as when Industrial Rubber was across the street from Industrial Erection.

#53 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 12:54 AM:

Stefanie:

If you had just received that link in e-mail, wouldn't you have taken any pretext to use it?

No?

Well, okay, so you have dignity and I do not.

Worse, I cannot find a working link to "I'm A Cow".

#54 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 03:13 AM:

Perhaps because it is very very late, I feel obliged to actually answer Mike's rhetorical questions about Vic von Doom.

First, Doom was not the heir to the principality of Latveria; he was a usurper.

Second, Latveria was not a technological wonderland until after Doom took over and revolutionized its infrastructure. In fact, it was significantly more backwards than most of its Eastern European neighbors--none of it seemed to more technologically advanced than the seventeenth century in France.

Third, if it attracted Reed Richards as an undergrad, State U. was probably a first-tier private university which happened to be named "State University"--similar to "New York Univeristy" rather than to a public school like a CUNY or SUNY. (Of course, those used to be good schools, too; perhaps the Marvel Universe New York State has managed to maintain a few superb universities of the stature of UC-Berkeley.)

The amazing document "The Unoffical Marvel Universe History Part XI" says that Empire State U is actually upstate, and that Doom went there because he was offered a scholarship. Oh, the things which are on the web.

#55 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 04:51 AM:

Mike: re the Clarke orbit thing, there was a story in Analog around 1960 or so that basically concerned Clarkw trying to patent the concept of geostationary satellites (wish I could remember title/author). The author was a real-life patent attorney, and his protagonist was apparently thiny fictionalized. The story concluded by explaining that even though the concept was clearly his, he was so far ahead of things that there was no way to assign credit to him--no working model or anything. Kind of like Leonardo trying to patent the helicopter.

#56 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 06:49 AM:

In re: the nominative determinism thingy, on one of the newsgroups I read there at least used to be a poster named Evill. No, he wasn't a doctor, but his brother was...

#57 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 09:19 AM:

Xopher --

I haven't got a linguistically talented neuron in my noggin, but what's difficult about tengwar?

#58 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 09:23 AM:

We had a GP named Peter Davidson at one point. We liked to speculate as to what had happened to the Doctor's stalk of celery....

Completely unrelated (this is the open topic, right?), except that it may offend the health-conscious, here is the breakfast my mother never even dreamed of giving me.
http://www.x-entertainment.com/articles/0744/index.html

#59 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 10:27 AM:

In eighth grade, we had a substitute teacher named Joy Ann Paine. She was more of the latter than the former, but in a room full of eighth-graders, who could blame her?

#60 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 10:32 AM:

May I suggest Omniglot to those interested in learning more about all these writing systems?

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 11:04 AM:

Dear Mike and Robert L.,

I remember it as an essay by Sir Arthur C. Clarke entitled "How I lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time." He filled in some details for me once, when I got him to co-edit a book with me and Dave Brin.

Another co-author of mine, the late Robert Forward, with that in mind, patented a device which, he proudly told me, had three components, one of which was the Earth and one of which was the Sun!

#62 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 12:13 PM:

In fact, the state of New York—the actual, non-Marvel one—does have a superb university upsate. It's Cornell. Three of the university's seven undergrad colleges are state-funded, and have commensurately cheaper tuitions. The College of Engineering is not one of those colleges, though, so scholarships are good things to have. I've always liked to think that Reed and Victor were Cornell grads.

It should be noted that last I checked, the Office of Housing and Residential Programs frowned on building dimensional gateways (to hell, or anywhere else) in the dorms. You could totally lose your deposit for that sort of thing.

#63 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 01:09 PM:

Though Cherokee did borrow some Latin (English) letter shapes, the meanings were completely unrelated. Sequoya was illiterate; he'd seen English writing but didn't know how it worked.

I find it odd that someone would refer to a man who devised an entire written language as "illiterate," simply because he wasn't schooled in the King James English. But we all have our cultural blind spots, I suppose.

Sequoya also started the first and only Cherokee language newspaper but I guess that just reinforces his "illiteracy."

#64 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 01:47 PM:

Yay! As they'd say on AFU, its a f*nny n*m*s thread!
1: Judge Learned Hand. I'm still convinced that Learned Hand is an esoteric Kung Fu style.
2: At my alma mater, there is currently a pair of freshman roomates, with names that destine them to be an evil mastermind/bumbling assistant pair: Xavier Vanegas & Saul Dingfelder.
"Dingfelder! Turn on the dimensional reciprocator!"
"Yes, Dr. Vanegas!"

#65 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 02:09 PM:

You know, if the research contracts for State U. are anything like they are for the UC system, then State U. owns the patents for "looking into hell dimension" machines, assuming Victor used any of the school equipment, which he no doubt did.

Actually, the patent office in the Marvel Universe must be pretty entertaining.

One assumes that Reed Richards pays for the Baxter Building on the basis of patents, since it's likely hard to rent out office space in the building-most-likely-to-be-attacked-by-supervillians.

Another entertaining place to work must be the major architechtural firms, competing for the bids. It also makes for some interesting moral dilemmas: Should you blow up a supervillain's lair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright?

Then there are the villains who are down on their luck and have had to temporarily relocate to strip malls.

#66 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 03:09 PM:

"I've always liked to think that Reed and Victor were Cornell grads."

But . . . that means . . . -Carl Sagan?- In the Marvel Universe? That explains a lot about the Starcore Project.

(Actually, I considered Cornell when I was going to do That Sort of Thing. Excellent biomedical engineering program, at a time when there weren't very many of those. 'Course, if I'd done that . . . adamantium . . . Canadians . . . no.)

We no longer have casuistic arguments about, you know, Hell and the transmigration of souls and stuff. We have fictional polymetaverses.

#67 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 03:21 PM:

Why would anyone find it odd that Richards and Doom went to the same school as Thomas Pynchon?

#68 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 03:26 PM:

Where Doom went to college: according to Bester (in "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed"), "State" is an alias for Unknown(?) University. A school where a random professor can throw together a time machine (even one that only affects his personal timeline) in a few minutes would probably attract all sorts of ... innovative ... students.

#69 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 03:53 PM:

Our pediatrician is Dr. Katkin, which has always sounded to me like the name of a Beatrix Potter character. Possibly a sensible duck.

#70 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 05:42 PM:

No slight was meant to Cornell; I had no idea that it was a public university. I understand that many of the State Universities of New York are also quite good; I was mostly knocking CUNY, which somewhere in the past thirty years transformed from a system of inexpensive colleges into a system of inexpensive junior colleges in all but name.

#71 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 06:30 PM:

I don't think it's particularly unreasonable to say that a writing system was invented by an illiterate man, although obviously it poses the same kind of logical puzzle as to say that the world's oldest person has died.

There's a pdf of the Book of Mormon in the Deseret alphabet here - I don't know quite who would want this, but it's kind of cool to look at that much continuous text in the script.

Incidentally, I think the information on Deseret in Unicode is out of date - it's apparently been encoded in the Supplemental Multilingual Plane since version 3.1 (March 2001).

#72 ::: Nancy C. Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 06:32 PM:

As regards names, I knew a Lutheran minister in Illinois by the name of "The Reverend Worthy Usher." And here in NH, an Episcopal priest who was "Father Child."

Hand to God.

#73 ::: ckd ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 07:16 PM:

There's also SF author Tom Cool, whose first book was published while he was a Commander in the US Navy -- leading to a Jim Baen cover blurb talking about "Commander Cool". The only biographical blurb I've been able to find indicates that he's since retired, so I guess he won't be promoted to Captain Cool any time soon.

#74 ::: Ter Matthies ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 07:20 PM:

Is Bechtel the ur-supervillain that drives the entire superhero universe?

I was a contract accountant for Barbara Bechtel in the 1980s. Very thrifty and a micro-manager of info.

Doesn't sound supervillainy compatible to me. Unless there's a Baron Bottomline somewhere in the Marvel universe.

#75 ::: Isabeau ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 08:59 PM:

My guess is Jerusalem would be treyf. (You can't eat people, can you? No hooves, no cuds, killing them on purpose is a sin, & eating the naturally dead is taboo, not to mention just icky.)

#76 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 01:08 AM:

Which of course, Isabeau, leads me to my favorite commandment (too bad it didn't make the Top Ten):

Thou shalt not eat the meat of anything that dieth of itself, but thou mayst give it to the stranger within thy gates or sell it in the marketplace.

Holy commerce, Batman!

Cheers,
Tom W, not a Biblical scholar on any level

#77 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 02:46 AM:

Keith, I didn't mean any slur by calling Sequoyah "illiterate", and it wasn't a "cultural blind spot", either. When I said he was illiterate, I was referring to his state prior to inventing written Cherokee. By the time he was done, not only was he literate, but he'd reached literacy by what I'd consider the most intellectually impressive path imaginable.

I'm sure I have as many cultural blind spots as anyone, but sometimes I'm just insufficiently precise, as in this case.

#78 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 03:14 AM:

I once knew a woman who tended bar named Allison Land. Her middle name was Wonder.

I once dated a guy named Grimm. My sister April once dated a guy named Flowers.

I always swore I wouldn't stick my kid with a name that would get hir teased by other kids. So I'm really hoping my daughter will like being Quincy Adams. If not, well . . . oops.

#79 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 05:02 AM:

I had a sneaking suspicion there was something wrong about
Dr. Iwillcutoffyourface Andsewit Toyourtesticals
; I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I thought he might have been Eastern European in descent.

Damn my nose itches.

#80 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 05:05 AM:

"Well, I wasn't so foolish as to crack wise to Dr. Chopp about his name. The man will be operating on my genitals, after all. I'll call him whatever he wants, at least until everything's all done."

ask him if his first name is Plo. That should help establish a mood of pre-surgical conviviality.

#81 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 09:36 AM:

Bryan, I can only suggest *not* making fun of a guy who is going to be jabbing you with a very sharp knife. MHO, of course. But I file it in the same file as the definition of a smart football quarterback.[1]

Apropos of nothing at all, one of my favorite reprobates (and co-conspiritor in the explosive death of a VCR -- but that's another panel) Dermot Dobson posted this on a mailing list I read.

"How to make a water rocket - take one of the big bottles from an office water cooler, attach fins, half fill with water, and start pumping air into
it. Spectacular lift off and huge noise and spray of water. This one I simply *have* to do."

The words "Oh, yeah" leap to mind. You'll need some way of holding pressure until release -- I've got several ideas in mind. First, though, I'd want to do some destructive pressure testing of the vessel -- mainly because, if I do it right, it should be Rather Loud as well.

But given what you can do with a two-liter bottle and the same method....

[1]A smart football quarterback takes his offensive linemen to dinner. Often. Religously -- as if his life depended on it.

#82 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 10:16 AM:

Erik, just as the race is not always to the swift or the fight to the strong the full enjoyment of life is not always to the cautious.

I seem to remember that Asimov made fun of his Dr. before a vasectomy.
The Dr. claimed to have laughed so hard the scalpel was shaking.
Now isn't that just the kind of wonderful story you want to be telling somebody's grandchildren someday?


#83 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 11:18 AM:

...enjoyment of life is not always to the cautious.

You did read the part about the 5 gallon water rocket and the exploding VCR, right? I can also offer the advice to not run a Van de Graff generator near your mailserver. It's amazing how far charge migrates from a potential of 400,000 volts (And, as soon as I get the terminal smoothed out, I should hit ~700kV. Whee!)

Oh, and cartoons were right. Bowling balls whistle when they're plummeting down at you.

I've been many things. Cautious, however, is not really one of them. But there's a difference between incautious and reckless -- it's about $10K in medical bills.

#84 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 11:36 AM:

There's a Pain Clinic run by Dr. Bruce Weary here in Prescott AZ. Parfaitement ennuyeux, n'est pas? (Or so my old dictionary assists my rusty memories from language class.)

#85 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 01:53 PM:

Bryan: the version of Asimov's story I'm familiar with (as he told it in one of his science columns in F&SF) is a little more inadvertent. The column was his usual format of a funny story leading into his topic, in this case hormones. He claims to have been half drunk on the pre-op medication (which fits -- he didn't drink, so he could have been more sensitive to systemic depressants) and to have been singing all the way down the hall to the theater, where he addressed the surgeon:
Doctor, doctor, with green coat
Doctor, doctor, cut my throat.
And when you've cut, doctor, then
Won't you sew it up again?

He says the doctor told him afterward that it had been a while before the knife hand was steady enough for surgery; Asimov observed that he'd thought he'd do anything for a laugh, but getting convulsions from a man with a knife at his throat was a bit much even for him. It does make a good story, though.

Erik: Skydiving formations also whistle audibly from well over a mile up if there's no other noise around.

#86 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 03:52 PM:

I remember that there was a limerick in the Asimov Dr. story, however I specifically remember the first two lines were: "DR. DR. with your knife, Dr. Dr. take my life"
however that version was not from F&SF

#87 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 04:03 PM:

Erik, I'd say the line between "incautious" and "reckless" falls somewhere between "entertaining suggestions made by Dermot Dobson" and "unquestioningly adopting suggestions made by Dermot Dobson."

#88 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 04:42 PM:

Actually, done right, bottle rockets are quite safe, and really cool. The science teacher at the middle school my daughter will attend next year includes the design and building of bottle rockets as part of the curriculum, and they did a demo for us. Way way cool!


-l.

#89 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 05:01 PM:

Just remember that the words most often repeated to emergency room doctors was, "Hey, everyone, watch this!" before said trip became necessary.

#90 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 05:12 PM:

Joy's post reminds me of a girl I grew up with, whose given name was Margaret, and who was universally known as Peggy. She wound up marrying a man whose last name, I kid you not, is Legg.

#91 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 06:42 PM:

Well, I do have to note that Dermot is still alive, even if one instance left him muttering "My God, it's full of stars", as he's standing on a beach, surrounded by fragments of burning magnesium.

However, don't expect him to make quick decisions. This is really important to know when you're the one holding the sodium.

#92 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 07:01 PM:

Elric, you prompt me to point out the name of a girl that grew up with a Scottish friend of mine by the name of Carey Hunt. Nothing odd about that, I know, but Spoonerize it and you get an unfortunately vulgar nickname...

#93 ::: Isabeau ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 07:50 PM:

I just remembered my pediatrician's nurse's name: Nurse Child. I thought it was her title.

#94 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 12:27 AM:

Hmm . . . the only decent namepreak (term used in loving memory of Herb Caen -- damm I miss that column) I can come up with tonight is from my old stomping grounds on Shattuck in Berkeley, where the Normandie Massage Parlor was two doors down from King Dong Chinese Restauraunt.

#95 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 12:39 AM:

Erik:

Other things I have learned: if iron was molten last night, and it's pooled beneath the sands, it's still too hot to touch this morning.

And the melted sand forms obsidian-like stuff with razor-sharp edges. I think your hands got cut up worse than mine did, though.

#96 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 03:38 AM:

If I remember correctly, pragmatically geosynch and geostationary orbits are really the same thing. There aren't really any truly geostationary orbits, all the geo satellites that I can remember actuall had two or three degrees of orbital inclinations, otherwise they're have be "stationkeeping" on an almost constant basis. ["stationkeeping" is doing small burns [orbital correction maneuvers, effected by using microthrusters or such] to make small correctins in the orbit]. The planet's gravity field is inhomogeneous, meaning that even ignoring stuff like the solar wind, there's a tendency for satellites to "drift" around a bit. By having a slight orbital inclination -- that is, instead of the orbit being equatorial potted directly over the equator at all time -- or two of three degrees, the tendency to drift around is less -- the north-south movement by reasons/means that I don't completely remember anymore, essentially evens out the drifting tendency, it's not the exactly same thing as "spin stabiliazation" of bullets, but has similitary effect -- putting additional movement components, in the case of a geo satellite, a relatively small small one, help make the intended flight path more stable and less suseceptible to wobblying away and such....

the "geo" in both geostationary and geosynchronous, mean tied to a subpoint on the planet, "stationary" for the geostationary, and synchronous in time for geosynch. Since that means a 24 hours zero degree inclination orbit with zero eccenticity in both cases potting in the theoretical keep-the-bird-over-that-poing-in-space-and-time, that slight inclination means the orbits are really no different from one another. A 24 hour synchronous orbit, however, isn't tied to a subpoint on the planet, it's going to trace out a figure 8 with the center of the 8 over the equator, and can go quite far north-south.

#97 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 05:26 AM:

Joy's post reminds me of a girl I grew up with, whose given name was Margaret, and who was universally known as Peggy. She wound up marrying a man whose last name, I kid you not, is Legg.

You have to really hope that no one was fool enough to suggest to her that she should change her surname to her husband's... ;-)

The school secretary at my primary school was surnamed Clerk. I remember this causing me mild but pleasant mental dislocation when I was seven or eight.

I assume that everyone's familar with The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord, but how many people know the Jack/Daniel slash version, based on the Stargate SG1 episode where Daniel Jackson turns into Dr Evil in an alternate universe? Top Twenty Tips for the Unusually Realistic Evil Overlord and Top Twenty Survival Tips for Evil Overlord's Captive Sexual Plaything, by Biblio.

#98 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 06:23 AM:

I remember a Glasgow University professor of English Language called Roland Butter.

#99 ::: hoho ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 08:17 AM:

The current archbishop of Manila is
Jaime Cardinal Sin.

#100 ::: daelm ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 08:26 AM:

article on the subject of names at:

http://www.thisislimitededition.co.uk/printversion.asp?ID=120

highlights include:

"...estate agents called Doolittle and Dalley or Crook & Blight; solicitors Wright Hassle (in Leamington Spa); and a firm of south London house-cleaners called Carter, Way and Tippett."

"...Peter Oven, the baker, Aaron W. Shadow, a detective, and the toolmaker Andrew Steelhammer."

#101 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 10:25 AM:

Other things I have learned: if iron was molten last night, and it's pooled beneath the sands, it's still too hot to touch this morning.

Amazing how well sand and glass insulates, isn't it?

Q: What do you get when you light 400 pounds of thermite?

A: 120lbs of elemental iron in one big chunk, and lots of heat. It rings like a bell. I think it's steel, others disagree with me. I'm half tempted to do it again,but line the bottom of the pit first with carbon, chromium and molybedenum, and see if we get a big chunck of stainless steel.

Important: You must not do this on top of anything you might even conceiveably care about the next day. Ideally, pick a hunk of land that, no matter what you do to it, makes it better.

The molten pool was very much exactly like the Pit of Hell is imagined. We had fun tossing things into it, until it started raining, and all of us did a little thinking about the thermal gradients -- and ran.

And the melted sand forms obsidian-like stuff with razor-sharp edges.

Acutally, that is, by every real definition, obsidian. True, the volcanic action was artifical, but the result was not.

I think your hands got cut up worse than mine did, though.

Yeah. The hand sanitzier after that was, well, An Experience To Be Missed. I gained much respect for the Mezoamerica war machine, though -- that stuff would slice you without even a pause -- or you noticing. I counted fingers before I walked away. John and Kate Ridley got a few cuts as well.

#102 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 12:30 PM:

Another trivia fact about Dermot Dobson, recalled while folding laundry:

For a time, Cotton Expressions sold a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of Dermot's brain.

This makes sense when one realizes that Dermot makes his living tinkering with NMR, excuse me, Magnetic Resonance Imaging machinery.

#103 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 12:34 PM:

I am not Not NOT NOT going to ask, no, not even once where you got 400 lbs of thermite.

MKK

#104 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 12:39 PM:

suddenly the Rise of the Novel by Ian Watt was brought to mind, in which he posits that the tendency pre-Richardson, and in those whose comedic prose is related to Fielding's, to favor descriptive surnames lessens belief on the part of readers in the novel's reality.

#105 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 01:25 PM:

OK, the dancing henchmen.

Happily, the F4 movie is something most people will never see. Having more than a touch of film masochism in my list of vices, though, dictated that once I heard of it, I must find a copy and view it.

It is, with few rivals, perhaps the worst film I have ever seen.

Sadly, the Latverian henchmen don't actually dance with Dr. Doom, although they all certainly looked like they were about to break into a Solid Gold routine at any moment. I can only assume that my hallucination of such a scene in vivid clarity was a result of my mind grasping at anything that might possibly improve that film...because it was the highlight in my memory of it. Now that I have been stripped of this defense mechanism, I have no doubt that I'll develop PTSD and suffer from violent flashbacks whenever I hear the words "It's Clobberin' Time."

#106 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 02:57 PM:

"...[obsidian] would slice you without even a pause..."

Obsidian scalpels are used for several varieties of delicate surgery, particularly ophthalmic surgery (where their lack of metal residue is also a big plus). A friend of mine who used to disarm bombs for a living mentioned that they also used them for cutting into packages that might have bad things inside, since the glass won't inadvertently close any circuits.

"Hello, ignorant native! We have brought you the marvelous gift of steel tools!"
"Did you bring a smelter and a blast furnace and a forge with you?"
"Uh . . ."
"Obsidian broadpoints. Fire for effect."

#107 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 03:48 PM:

Re: stupid movie physics. I always thought it looked kind of wrong when always showed the Starship Enterprise flying upright.

And what about Wile E Coyote et al?

#108 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 04:07 PM:

I am not Not NOT NOT going to ask, no, not even once where you got 400 lbs of thermite.


While I'd really, really, really like to say "The Internet, of course," that would be wrong. In fact, Kris Southerland, IIRC, made it. How to do it.

Get 300 pounds of Ferric Oxide, Fe2O3. This is, well, rust. Get 100 pounds of Aluminum powder. (The exact ratio is 25.3% AL, 74.7% Fe2O3, but 3 to 1 is close enough.)

Make sure both powders are clean, dry and without clumps. Mix them together throughly. Don't worry -- it's quite safe, the reaction is very hard to start.

Then, dig a hole, fill with thermite, light with a magnesium ribbon, and stand far back.

#109 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 04:22 PM:

And of course more-than-razor sharp obsidian/glass knives leads one to the Raven of Snow Crash. Is it possible to chip such knives out of easily available glass, as per the book?

#110 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 05:52 PM:

Zvi, my mother-in-law is a histotech, one of the people in a hospital who takes samples of just about anything that can be removed by a surgeon, embeds it in parafin, slices it very thinly, and mounts it on a slide for microscopic examination by a pathologist. She's told me that for cutting very thin sections (ultramicrotomy), glass knives are preferred. A quick web search on "glass knife" turned up a bunch of sites selling glass for making microtome knives, as well as the safety tips at http://www.hoslink.com/Ellis/MICKNIFE.htm, which says "never try to catch a dropped glass knife".

These knives are made by very carefully breaking a fresh edge on a piece of specially-hardened glass. It's amazing how some stone-age technologies refuse to die!

#111 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 07:28 PM:

The Asimov story reminds me of one of the great pieces of wisdom I have learned in my life: do not visit a gynocologist with palsey.

The other great truth I have gleaned from my life experience is: do not go horse back riding on your honey-moon (at least not unless you ride regularly at home,) not even if it is a life long dream of yours to ride bareback on a secluded Irish beach. (And the coda: do not under any circumstances, no matter how sore your muscles are, use ben-gay on your inner thighs.)

#112 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 08:10 PM:

There's a real estate firm here called "Fox and Roach." Really instills confidence.

#113 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 08:27 PM:

Now ... where to get that ferric oxide: get 300 pounds of fine steel wool. Burn it. (You need the black rust, not the red rust (ferrous oxide).

Where to get the powdered aluminum: melt the aluminum in an iron crucible. Stir constantly while cooling.

This is all 19th c. tech.

#114 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 08:35 PM:

Ziv --

Knapped glass is very, very sharp when fresh.

It's not at all tough or durable or straight, and we get Raven, frex, slicing cleanly through dry bamboo poles, which is just utterly bogus. (Neolithic chopping tools are thick and fairly blunt for sound material reasons...)

#115 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 12:38 AM:

Rachel:
and never assume that a horse you rode last fall is safe to ride in May (five months after you last rode it).... John Ringo was to be a special guest at Conquest this year (2003) and made that error. The horse trashed him so badly that he couldn't come...... it's okay, we made him the toastmaster this year....

I've been with my share of good, bad and ugly horses, and if they haven't been ridden in a bit should be longed or run around a paddock until they SWEAT a bit and get the idea that you are calling the shots. And THEN need to be ridden for a while with great suspicion and attention.

Because I've been spanged off a horse in just about any way you can imagine (I did it willingly, I love them and would still be riding but I've become so allergic that it's not a pleasant exercise), I could NOT imaging horseback riding as romantic. And I do NO wish to imagine putting BenGay on the inner thighs, or anywhere within one foot of a sensitive place.... even though I'm a member of the BenGay generation now.

#116 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 01:44 AM:

Now ... where to get that ferric oxide: get 300 pounds of fine steel wool. Burn it. (You need the black rust, not the red rust (ferrous oxide).

Backwards (and I've made the same mistake.) Fe2O3, Ferric Oxide, is red rust. In dense form, it's hematite. FeO is Ferrous Oxide. Fe3O4 is Ferrous Ferric Oxide, or Magnetite, or black rust -- and is the form of Iron Oxide on magentic media.

Rustoleum and the like work by converting Fe2O3 to Fe3O4 by various means.

Also -- if you burn 300lbs of steel wool, you'll have more than 300lbs of Iron Oxide (it'll pick up the oxygen from the air)

What you want for thermite is Fe2O3, which reacts with aluminum thusly...

Fe2O3 + (2) Al --> Al2O3 + (2)Fe + heat

...and we are *not* kidding about heat -- 684kJ per mole of iron reacted.

#117 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 04:45 AM:

Isabeau: I'm sorry. I am sorry. I have to do this:

*sings*
I don't eat people.
(What's the matter with the lad?)
I won't eat people!
(All the day long)
Don't eat people!
(He keeps on repeating)
Eating people is wrong!

#118 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 04:48 AM:

About the names thread, I have a friend named Anna whose boyfriend's surname is Kee. She is an anarchist.

She's also feminist enough that even if she married him, she'd never take his surname, and handy enough with weapons that I've never mentioned the potential pun to her face.

#119 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 09:53 AM:

More Prescott AZ names: The law firm (for Personal Injury & Wrongful Death) Musgrove, Drutz & Kack. ["She said 'kack'!" Anyone remember that death scene?]In the same line of business, though the sum of the names isn't as impressive: Murphy, Lutey, Schmitt & Fuchs. (Remove one 'm' and you'd have a good Junior High joke.)

#120 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 12:09 PM:

Actually James, the Al powder is easer to get than that -- just check a really good paint store. If that does not work, try a theatrical supply house. I love your approach for the iron oxide though.

The only problem is that what you really want for thermite is called coarse aluminium powder, but the fine stuff or flake will work just fine.

Of course they may look at you funny when you want 50 kilos . . .

#121 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 12:13 PM:

In my youth, there was an optometrist in Mt. Oliver named Glasser.

And there's a law firm in Albuquerque called Gresham and Lawless. Personal injury specialists.

#122 ::: Meyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 12:31 PM:

Believe it or not, there's an actual grammatical name for names like Patrick's optometrist's and Vassilissa's anarchist: aptronym. I kid you not; look it up.

#123 ::: Eloise Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 12:59 PM:

One of my high school classmates was named Malcolm DuBois Love (called DuBee for short). His father, who had the same last name as he did, was a cardiologist. No, I'm not kidding. I can only imagine the hospital intercom calls.

#124 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 04:07 PM:

The words "Oh, yeah" leap to mind. You'll need some way of holding pressure until release -- I've got several ideas in mind. First, though, I'd want to do some destructive pressure testing of the vessel -- mainly because, if I do it right, it should be Rather Loud as well.

Eric

Many moons ago I used to spend time with people who like the sorts of things you describe. More than once (esp. on Hallowe'en) we had the fire dept. come up the twisting roads of the hills above the San Fernando Valley, to see if they had caught fire from whatever the explosive was the neigbors were complaining of.

Dry ice in soda bottles. The one-liter size are best, they sound like hand grenades. The two-liter bottles are quieter.

One of our number had access (and complete liberty) to a machine shop meant to test things. He could never get a tight enough seal to measure the pressure, but once it got to about 450 psi, before the seal blew (for the purposes of explosion, the lid it comes with is just fine).

The detonation is unpredicatable (and liquid nitrogen doesn't work reliably) but rarely takes less than 10 minutes, or more than 30.

It works best with a liquid to hasten the sublimation, but never use something like, oh, PEPSI, as an idiot at the machine shop I worked in did. The gas in the soda came right out of solution and the bottle blew up in his hands.

He lost all the skin on his fingers, but this was the same guy who decided, after breaking his neck (he said the worst part was the waves, coming and going, while he couldn't move) that he was healed enough to remove the brace while he slept (shades of Joeseph Merrick) and awoke to a recurrence of his paralysis. Sheesh!

Terry K.

#125 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 08:34 PM:

I don't do dry ice bombs -- and niether should you. They fail one of my critical tests of safety -- I cannot predict with any confidence when they will go off. This is a fast way to hurt someone.


This is important. The difference between a smart person doing dumb things and a dumb person doing dumb things is the smart person will get to do them more than once.

If you don't understand why, or can't predict when, or don't know how, don't do it. Period.

#126 ::: Isabeau ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 09:42 PM:

Rachael: Nothing minty below the waist, not even Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap.

Vassilissa: I'm sorry I never heard that song before! (Oh, I've missed much, I'm sure.)

#127 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 09:59 PM:

Vassilissa/Isabeau: did you know the entire Flanders & Swann oeuvre, with extensive information, is available in a boxed set of CDs? "The Reluctant Cannibal" is indeed fun, but I've been able to quote
Our bedroom on the open plan has been a huge success;
The bloody thing's so open that we've nowhere safe to dress

to some McMansion owners of my acquaintance, and "The Hippopotamus" gets sung at the New Year's party.

#128 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 11:07 PM:

Erik V. Olson:

You say: "The difference between a smart person doing dumb things and a dumb person doing dumb things is the smart person will get to do them more than once."

On the other bloodied hand (Learned Hand?)(Burned and Hairy Hand?):

The difference between a smart person doing dumb things and a dumb person doing dumb things is that the dumb person makes the same mistake over and over (until maimed, dead, jailed, whatever) while the smart person will get to make new mistakes.

I never make exactly the same mistake twice. I am very creative, and have managed to make many ingeniously different variation on the same mistake, cross-overs between different mistakes, mutations, of old mistakes, and whole trees of evolutionary radiation mistakes.

If I were any smarter, I would be able to solve the new and bizarre problems that I get myself into. If I were any less smart, I never would have been able to get in trouble those ways. So I am exactly the wrong level of intelligence.

You know how Sodium metal comes in one-kilogram quantities, in tennis-ball-like cans, immersed in mineral oil, well ... [deleted here to protect the innocent] ...

I also did my experimenting with things that go "Bang!" decades before Homeland Security evolved to cast a dim eye on such experiments...

But, geez, the stuff we could buy that even school chem labs have trouble getting now...

*Frankensteinian sigh of nostalgia*

#129 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 12:17 AM:

I never make exactly the same mistake twice. I am very creative, and have managed to make many ingeniously different variations on the same mistake, cross-overs between different mistakes, mutations of old mistakes, and whole trees of evolutionary radiation mistakes.

There's a career in scientific research waiting for you any time you want it. (I'm a mol biologist; I tell students that mistakes are every researcher's stock-in-trade.)

#130 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 02:52 AM:

CHip: indeed I do. My father has it. One of the best things about my childhood, I think, after the picture book of the Nightmare Song from Iolanthe.

#131 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:13 AM:

Basic Physics Savvy: I got 52.5% right. Boy am I ashamed.

#132 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:41 AM:

70%, baby. Not bad for a liberal arts major. Of course, my physics instructors were named Heinlein, Brin, and Asimov.

#133 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:27 AM:

85%, and it's been too long since I looked at a basic physics textbook (7 years, but who's counting?). And some of the errors were just me being careless and not thinking things through. *sigh*

#134 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 06:39 AM:

95%, and no argument from me on the two I got wrong, the explanations given are correct. Both questions I got wrong concerned heat, temperature and heat transfer.

#135 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 06:45 AM:

Look, at In God We Trust, it's the General! But why is he no his usual happy self? Did someone do something to make Jesus cry?

http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/

#136 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 07:29 AM:

95%. Two cases of just not thinking through the consequences of exact wording -- but it's careful perception that gets you places in science.

#137 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 07:40 AM:

90% -- four wrong. Three I should have known better

I was thrown on #18 by the word "Pressure" right above it in the section title -- the pressure on the contact surface is greater, but the total force is the same.

29 was just me being silly.

38 was unexcusable, but I was thinking it was a trick question -- damn English bias!

I missed 33, because I misread it, and added a "not" where there wasn't one. Which is funny, a device I mentioned upthread works because of the very same property.

#138 ::: Meyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 09:01 AM:

60% - a little embarassing, since I went to a math/science high school. But I was always the token English geek...

#139 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 09:40 AM:

WRT In God We Trust, I'm afraid my first impression was that they'd used Christopher Lambert as the model for Jesus--something about the eyes. Which might make it a subtle piece of anti-Trinitarian heresy....

#140 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 10:42 AM:

95%, both wrong answers from careless thinking—faintly embarrassing given my M.S. Physics is only a decade old. One I definitely should have gotten, given how many times I taught Ohm's law. Dammit.

---L.

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 10:53 AM:

Graydon wrote I haven't got a linguistically talented neuron in my noggin, but what's difficult about tengwar?

They all look the same. Good alphabets have as few letters that look like each other as possible. If the letters can be distinguished at the retina (which is really a part of the brain) reading is lots quicker and easier. Distinctiveness is a plus; similarity is a minus.

I bet there are a few people who can read (as opposed to decode) and write (as opposed to cipher in) Tengwar. There will never be a lot. (Find me one person who takes class notes in tengwar...a prof of mine had a student who could take notes in fraktur, so the tengwar noter might exist.) The Tengwar alphabet is a minuscule, which is good, but it has a very narrow range of shapes.

You've noticed that children (and dyslexics of all ages) have trouble with the letters p and q? Imagine an entire alphabet made up only of p, q, b, d, n, and m, and letters made up of those shapes (i.e. another letter could be m with an ascender, or a descender). The tengwar are at least that bad.

I figure elf brains must be more like computers, which (unlike human brains) have no trouble with such things.

#142 ::: Laurel Amberdine ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 10:54 AM:

Basic Physics Savvy: 85% Made some dumb mistakes.

I don't know how basic the tested savvy is, though, as most of the questions play on the difference between the everyday meaning of certain words, and the technical physics usage of them. (Which is no excuse for my poor performance, but you could be perfectly savvy and not know the technical word meanings, IMO.)

Just posted the link to sci.physics. The quiz server will probably be overwhelmed.

#143 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 11:00 AM:

in re: In God We Trust

[B-52's]
What's that on your head?

A flaaaaaaaaaaaag!!!
[/B-52's]

#144 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 11:03 AM:

95% on the "Basic physics savvy" quiz, and I'm quite bitter about their answer for one question:

I insist that the human body percieves acceleration/gravity with the whole body, not just through the soles of one's feet: this is why people take up high-g sports, this is why zero-g makes people nauseous, etc.

#145 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 11:09 AM:

Addendum: It caused me intense discomfort to have to apostrophize B-52's (twice!), even though I knew for a fact that in this case the established usage was pretty clear.

I don't know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

#146 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 11:24 AM:

Bob -

I didn't like that one, either, nor the one about negative acceleration and slowing down; I recall being taught that negative acceleration is acceleration with opposite vector to the velocity vector. Mutter. Mumble. Brain rot. (87.5%).

#147 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 12:07 PM:

Bob, I think that answer depends on your interpretation of the question. Free fall is an example of when a person is under the full force of gravity but has no perception or sensation of it. You feel weightless, but not because there is no force of gravity acting on you.

I think "Parse tricksy questions involving basic physics" would be a better title for the test.

#148 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 12:24 PM:

92% -- The three errors are from my misreading. Interesting test.

I wonder what the correlation would be between your results on this quiz and that one Teresa posted some time back as to whether one has Aspergers?

#149 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 12:55 PM:

Xopher, tengwar may be difficult to learn for some people (and for dyslexic or otherwise challenged folks, moreso), but it is certainly not an impossible or even widely outside the margins of human written language.

There are lots of written languages where minimal distinctiveness takes a bunch of training: where letters are minimal mirror pairs, or minimal one line touching/not touching pairs. And people learn them and use them.

An example is Hebrew. The Hebrew letters Resh, Dalet, Vav, and Zayin and Khaf-sofit are all basically:

===
|
|

In Resh, the lines meet at a rounded corner. In Dalet, the downward stroke is slightly to the left so there's an overhang on the right. In Vav, the top stroke is slightly shorter. In Zayin, the top stroke is tilted. In Khaf-sofit the downward stroke extends below the line.

Similar minimal pairs exist for Mem-sofit/Samech, He-Chet, Gimel-Bet, Ayin/Tzade-sofit... and yet people learn Hebrew writing.

For other alphabets and syllabic systems that have extremely similar shapes, take a look at:
Telugu: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/telugu.htm
Especially note 'v' vs. 'p'. In one, the check touches the lower glyph. In other other, it doesn't. I had a really hard time with that one.

Devanagari, Amharmic... the list goes on.

They're all capable of being learned. Someday, someone might design a system that is easiest learned by people with reading deficits... that actually rings a faint bell in my head that some did... oh yeah, they designed a font for English that was supposed to minimize dyslexic confusion.
"Read Regular". http://www.readregular.com/. You could probably do the same for other writing systems, including even Tengwar!

#150 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 12:58 PM:

Hm, this software seems to eliminate whitespace before a character if it's at line-start. The diagram in the previous post should be replaced by:

====
   |
   |
   |
#151 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 01:39 PM:

The physics test was indeed fun, and I completely startled myself by getting 100% (all right, the clouds not being water vapor I would have missed if I hadn't seen a similar problem on another test referenced from here). Bob, the specific wording of that question is what makes it true -- one gets different acceleration/gravity effects from different circumstances, and indeed many people seek out such different circumstances.

My particular form of dyslexia, which is mild and inconstant, is an ascender-descender dyslexia which shows up both in handwriting and in typing (there's even a hierarchy: commonest is d for g, next is g for d, scarcer are both b for p and p for b). It's commoner in handwriting for all forms than in typing, but it still shows up.

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to all USians who wish to celebrate same on the list -- remember the idea of sharing which started it, and share food and good thoughts with friends and others.

Cheers,
Tom

#152 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 02:48 PM:

97.5%, one wrong because it I thought one of the words could plausibly be interpreted in either a specific physics sense or a general everyday sense, and I guessed wrong and chose the everyday sense.

It really is largely about whether you know the specific meanings physics assigns to words (force, work, energy, pressure, heat, temperature, etc.), and whether you can resolutely remember to interpret every question in that light.

Regarding "In God We Trust", I'm still trying to come up with words to express my thoughts about the piece of fabric on his head.

#153 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:17 PM:

Well, that makes two of us with 100% -- but, then, my excuse is that I've just been TAing for an intro thermodynamics course.

I also have gripes about some of the questions. Pedantically speaking, there are 100 cubic centimeters in a cubic meter; the fact that there are 999900 other cubic centimeters in there as well doesn't make that incorrect. There is a stream of electrons flowing from the positive terminal of a battery to the negative terminal; it's just inside the battery. A mole of helium has the same number of atoms as a mole of lead, but that doesn't mean same amount unless your measure of amount is counting them; amount could also be by mass or volume. I'm somewhat uncertain about rocks actually being empty space, on account that empty space is ill-defined at a quantum-mechanical level, and I suspect that the probability distributions for the electrons fill the space inside the rock fairly thoroughly, but I'd like word from a real physicist before I gripe at that one. I agree with the gripe about "negative acceleration" posted earlier; the concept of "negative" is ill-defined on a vector. And, finally, the sensation of "hot" or "cold" when touching an object is, indeed, a measure of the object's temperature; certainly, it's a poor measure of temperature in that it has quite notable error due to other effects, but then most things that we call measurements have errors caused by similar sorts of things.

Thus, to some extent, this is like the IQ tests that were recently being discussed on rasfc; it measures the ability of the test-taker to take standard sorts of tests, and this ends up as an error on the measure of physical understanding. Much like the errors in using touch sensation to measure temperature, actually....

The comment on sensation of weight depending on the force acting on one's feet, however, I think is correct. You do, of course, feel the force of gravity throughout your body, but the internal forces you feel are directly related to the force applied to your feet. If you change the force applied to your feet -- say by standing on an accelerating elevator -- you'll feel a change of gravitational force throughout your body, even though the gravitational field is unchanged. This is also how "artificial gravity" in a rotating space station works -- all it does is apply a force to your feet, and you feel a sensation of gravity even though there is no gravity present.

#154 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:48 PM:

I so want a version of “In God We Trust” with, say, the UN flag, or — opiate of the masses or no opiate of the masses — the red flag with hammer and sickle.

#155 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 06:41 PM:

Brooks, you described very clearly some of the things that bothered me about the test, that I hadn't been able to articulate.

It's all about being picky at the same level as the test's creator; if you're insufficiently picky, you get the question wrong, but if you're too picky, you realize either that several answers are "correct", or that none are.

I just took a stupid online IQ test that asked "which of these is different: coconut, grape, apple, pear, banana"

I came up with at least 3 justifiable answers: coconut, because it's not edible without tools; banana, because it's not more-or-less spherical (though perhaps pear invalidates that answer?); and apple, because it starts with a vowel. I just thought of another: banana, because you can't get juice from it. I suspect a botanist could come up with other distinctions.

#156 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 08:05 PM:

Coconut, because it has no seeds inside.
Grape, because you can make wine that isn't vile out of it.
Apple, because it has a computer named after it...

#157 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 08:16 PM:

I scored 85% on basic physics savvy.

Actually, I'd have scored lower except that by the end of the quiz I'd figured out how they were phrasing the question to lead you to thinking that the wrong answer was the right answer. Kind of like reading an Agatha Christie novel.

Only shorter, of course.

#158 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 08:20 PM:

Coconut, because it's the only one with a hard shell.
Grape, because it's only one letter off being a sex crime.
Apple, because it's the only one that inspired a major law of physics.
Pear, because it's the only one that's an obvious source of puns.
Banana, because it's the only one with a single vowel.

#159 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 09:25 PM:

re: Dr Doom and Reed Richards at Cornell:

Roger Stern, Marvel comics writer, lives in Ithaca, NY, Cornell's home.

Sometime in the 1980s the Fantastic Four authors (probably as a bow to Roger) retconned Reed Richards' cosmic-ray shields-deficient spaceship as having crashed near the Seneca Army Depot, a military base about twenty miles to the northwest of Ithaca.

#160 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 11:54 PM:

re: The A-Go-Go From River Kwai

I was already familiar with this site, which, if you explore the whole thing, contains tons of great images of album covers and a considerable number of sound files (most of them, unfortunately, only partial clips, but some remarkably weird music nonetheless). I particularly like the Moog synthesizer version of "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini." I've gotten more and more into the Incredibly Strange Music thing over the years. I even have a few of the albums he pictures...

#161 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 04:28 AM:

Is it just me, or does anyone else recognize those canned gunshots from the old Pink Panther cartoons?

#162 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 08:43 AM:

About In God We Trust, it should be changed to more accurately reflect what is going on with the current administration (and its special friends). That flag could be changed to one of those new peach-colored twenty-dollar bills....

#163 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 12:02 PM:

Joining the "testmakers wear blinders" parade:

Coconut, as the only one with "hair", and also the only one used as a musical instrument
Grape, because it doesn't grow on trees (I suspect this is the answer being sought in the test)
Apple, as the only one approved by Fannee Doolee (i.e., has double letters)
Pear, because it's the only one whose initial letter isn't part of the musical scale
Banana, as having the fewest distinct letters in its name

#165 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2003, 07:00 AM:

I stand corrected. (Botany not being my strong point.) Let's make that "Grapes, the only ones which grow on vines" -- better?

#166 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2003, 05:52 PM:

Yee-hah! http://www.trollart.com/blast.html

I recognized the Tully Monster! Go me!

#167 ::: Lloyd ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 10:18 AM:

When I worked as a graphic artist on a now-shuttered Canadian army base, the commandant was Colonel Saunders. In his shoes, I'd have stopped at Major.

#168 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 02:56 PM:

Jim: Yup! I found that site while I was trying to explain the Burgess Shale to Lydy. I'm fond of Hallucigenia myself.

Calm down, Yonmei. You have to be into technical botany to recognize that a banana plant doesn't qualify as a tree. It's like getting exercised about people who refer to tomatoes as vegetables.

#169 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 03:33 PM:

Coconut, because the rest are fruits, but it's a giant seed.

#170 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 04:01 PM:

"What you're saying then, Professor Challenger, is that this huge object is . . . a seed."
"Indeed, Sir Furnsley."
"And . . . edible."
"In parts, as indicated by that interesting native beverage, which I have named -Pannekolati- in honor of our late Dutch colleague."
"But, good God, man! Imagine the size of their parakeets!"

#171 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 04:38 PM:

Teresa and/or Lydy: I recommend Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History by Stephen Jay Gould. I've got a copy somewhere if you want to borrow it.

MKK

#172 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 04:40 PM:

Teresa: This has got to stop. I've added 4 sites to my bookmarks today alone from your particles. I've reorganized my bookmarks 2 or 3 times since you started particles. This is madness.

MKK--but a *good* kind of madness

#173 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 05:01 PM:

Mr. Ford --

That was much, much too evil to have been proper on the Sabbath.

#174 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 07:05 PM:

But he posted on November 30, i.e. today. Shabbos was yesterday.

#175 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 07:10 PM:

Calm down, Yonmei. You have to be into technical botany to recognize that a banana plant doesn't qualify as a tree. It's like getting exercised about people who refer to tomatoes as vegetables.

Hmmm... Well, I guess I can add that to my list of Things: I'm a technical botanist! ;-) Strictly amateur and acquired by cross-pollination, not the most reliable form of propagation... I recall correcting my mum that tomatoes were fruit, not vegetables, at the age of 8: I had just discovered this myself and thought she would be equally thrilled to know that tomatoes should go on the other shopping list. (Of course, she wasn't, particularly...) And mangoes are the oldest cultivated fruit in the world, and the African Blue basil can only be propagated by cutting, so that every African Blue basil plant in the world is a clone of every other one... and so on.

Coconut as seed: yes.

#176 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 08:40 PM:

The Flanders and Swann boxed set is great and a staple of out car journeys, but the track coding is highly annoying. They are mostly recordings of live performances with interlinked narrative by Flanders. The track starts are marked where the songs begin, so the introductory narrative gets tacked on the end of the previous song. If you rip them into iTunes this gets irritating on shuffle.

As for dry ice bombs, I can recommend plastic film canisters for small, relatively safe ones. The lid rarely flies more than 5 feet in the air, and I let my 6 & 8 year old sons make them.

#177 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2003, 06:46 AM:

The Fantastic Four movie. I think the image of dancing henchmen must be, in part, because the actor who plays Doom is constantly "voguing." Whatever he says, he acts out with his hands. I'm guessing he was filmed without sound and knew it, so he's trying to pantomime as he talks. "Reed Richards! (he mimes "reading") you (points to him) have (mimes holding something) two (holds up two fingers on one hand) hours (draws a circle on the back of his left wrist) to (holds up a finger from each hand) de- (makes a "D" with fingers) -cide (points at his side)..."

#178 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2003, 08:20 AM:

But the Hallucigenia turned out to have been upside down, didn't it? Anomalocaris has always been my personal favourite, but there were a lot of nifty things around then (100 or so phyla, of which 30 are around today; no new phyla have appeared since).

#179 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2003, 10:39 AM:

Great—now I'm going to have the image of Longfellow on a chopper burned in my brain all day.

Is there a word for the visual equivalent of an earworm?

---L.

#180 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2003, 05:18 PM:

Here's a item for the nielsenhayden.com/MT wishlist: a RSS feed for the particles/sidelights lists.

#182 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 01:11 AM:

Hallucigenia are upside-down?

Woe.

#183 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 01:17 AM:

I don't do dry ice bombs -- and niether should you. They fail one of my critical tests of safety -- I cannot predict with any confidence when they will go off. This is a fast way to hurt someone.

Eric V Olson


Well, we did heave them into an impassable ravine.

But that does remind me of my favorite passage from the Tech. Manual on fuses for hand grenades. The standard delay fuse has a time of, "3-5 seconds."

Which makes a big difference if one is doing an airburst, or a delayed release.


As far as alphabets go, Cyrillic has a number of letter pairs which are barely different, but can make a great difference if misread, one letter for the other.

Terry K

#184 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 01:53 AM:

Alan, you are either:

a) quite gracious in sharing your knowlege of the plumbing of MT and/or neisenhayden.com;

or

b) an exemplary wizard. Shazoom indeed!

Either way -- thanks!

#185 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 02:22 AM:

Yes, Hallucigenia as presented in Wonderful Life are now thought to have been upside-down. The spike-like "legs" are in fact spikes and not legs, while the weird stuff on the back which was thought to have been one row is now thought to have been two rows and to have been the actual legs. Gould has a followup essay on all this in Eight Little Piggies.

#186 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 02:27 AM:

I just want to note that at the moment the top Particle is about John Cramer webbing a sound file of what the Universe sounded like shortly after the Big Bang, while the top post in the blog proper is called "The initial explosion made audible" -- and yet these two have nothing to do with each other.

#187 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 07:49 AM:

Except, David, that the John Cramer piece was referred to in "The Initial Explosion..." by someone who thought that was what it was about, and T has kindly made it available for those who wanted to hear.

They're linked, it's just slightly less than obvious.

Wickedly,
Tom

#188 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 08:13 AM:

The parabola animation is nice to have running on your screen while folding clothes, I've discovered.

And I've never seen "rectum" used as a mathematical term before. (Switching into bad imitation of Beavis & Butthead: "Huh huh huh-huh huh huh. They said 'rectum.' Huh huhhuh...")

#189 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 06:41 AM:

Tom: Oh. I hadn't been following that particular thread that closely. Thanks....

#190 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 03:19 PM:

(Ok, why am I getting a "Comments not allowed on this post" error on the most recent Open Thread?)

#191 ::: Alice Keezer finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 01:22 PM:

Um . . . yeah.

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