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December 12, 2003

Open thread 13
Posted by Teresa at 03:36 PM *

First one to say trskdkphb

Comments on Open thread 13:
#1 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 03:41 PM:

I have triskaidekaphilia, myself.

#2 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 03:55 PM:


Which can be bad, but not as bad as homohobobobophobia, as demonstrated by this gallery of horrors.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 04:01 PM:

Mushrooms and badgers and snakes . . . oh my!

#4 ::: Jaquandor ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 04:01 PM:

Hector Berlioz turned 200 yesterday. Just sayin'.

#5 ::: travis ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 04:44 PM:

A friend of mine and I toying with a memetic experiment. We're going to use the term "homophobe" in a derrogatory fashion around my son. We're hoping that he picks up on the term as such and uses it instead of the more popular "homo" or "gay" as the other kids use them to denote lesser things.

#6 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 05:24 PM:

Not going to work. Too many syllables. Words used for pejoratives or praise terms need to be one or two, three at most, and only when used as an epithet: gay, lame, rad (radical!), sweet, phat.

At best, you're going to get it in use in truncated form as "phobic."

"Homophobia" is a bad construction anyway. Following the classic rules, it should either mean "fear of sameness" or "fear of humans," depending on whether you're mixing your Latin and Greek. Unless you want to validate "homo" as a proper abreviation for "homosexual."

If that's the case, you could have homoocculoheteroandrophilia, an obsession with "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

#7 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 05:39 PM:

I have triskaidekaphilia too.

It was my seat number for two years running in grade school.


The link about Misha, the anti-idiotarian rottweiler, is rather disturbing. First it was, "If you don't like it, move to Canada/Cuba," and now it's "Watch your back, bucko, cuz yer gonna sleep with the fishes."

BTW, while we're on the subject of anti-idiotarians and dissent, I would like to note that
I've been mentioned on this page as an example of anti-American sentiment, or distaste for the US of A.

I'm not sure what to think really, except that if they were looking for disdain, hatred, or vitriol, they could have gotten much more pungent commentary elsewhere.

#8 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 06:08 PM:

“Misha” kind of makes me want to turn into a heavily armed paranoid survivalist nut. It’s sort of a memetic virus.

#9 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 07:46 PM:

I'm afraid that Santa will hit on me. I call it ho-ho-homophobia.

I had driving simulator #13 when I took Driver's Ed. It was haunted. The instructor was showing a film, and without me touching the gas, it was "moving forward." He told me to stop, and I told him it was doing it by itself. A few minutes later, he was a witness to its odd behavior.

I really enjoyed simulators. I was "driving" through a city, and I suddenly felt as if I was in a familiar place. A few moments later, I decided it had to be Chicago. Sure enough, a little bit later I saw the Ba'hai Temple in the background, putting me squarely in the environs of the Windy City.

Anyway, I'm a triskaidekaphile too, like Tina.

And now I'll say bhpkdksrt and vanish back to my own dimension for a whi...

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 08:31 PM:

You're right. That's not very hateful. Depending on the surrounding sentences, it could almost be perky.

These guys are just inept. I blame user-friendly computers and automatic spellcheckers. Makes it easier for them to function on the web, and harder for us to spot them.

You know why they insist on this bizarre notion? Because either we have no reason whatsoever to say that Bush & Co. are a bunch of malign fuckups ( i.e., we're only doing it because we hate America); or, we knew/know what we're talking about, in which case they're idiots for falling for Bush's line.

#11 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 09:10 PM:

Loved the Space Hijackers web site; too much like depressingly too many architect's sites. (Happy exceptions: Foster and Partners and ZGF. Eugene Tsui and Daniel Libeskind on the other hand, blow it by too much archispeak.)

The web presents real problems for architects; there's a whole panoply of on-paper presentation techniques that just do not work on the web the old trick of covering a fair-size wall with drawings demands too much bandwidth, fine-line drawings cannot be adequately displayed on any monitor I am aware of.

What does work? Ask me whe we've figured it out.

#12 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 10:01 PM:

Re triskaidekaphilia:

Oh. My. God. You mean there are others???? I thought I was the only one!

Honestly, I'm flabbergasted. It's like wandering through the rainforests of the Amazon, and stumbling onto a big amusement part. Cool!


#13 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 11:07 PM:

Jaquandor: yes. My chorus celebrated with the first original-instruments performance of L'Enfance du Christ in this hemisphere.

Teresa: stop saying who don't mean it? (Is it a site problem or has the link gone stale already?)

#14 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 11:14 PM:

I first saw the hologrammatic lollipops about two years ago. They're still bizarre! Apparently the sugar in them is fine-grained enough to allow this sort of printing.


#15 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 11:18 PM:

You know, I just explored the website that had this:

and it appears the author, Vexen Crabtree, is a Furry Goth Satanist, among other things.

Yes, Fen.

The "Why do People Hate America?" article is actually rather balanced, at least in spots. Though Vexen does quote himself at one point. But it doesn't read as a rabid right-winger on a bender about all of Bush's critics hating America; rather, it's mostly things that people in other countries don't like about America, and America's PR problem (mixed with criticism of a lot of Bush's claptrap).

I've read much more rabid right-wing nonsense in poetry forums.

#17 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 12:44 AM:

Okay, I'm willing to believe that 13 is considered unlucky BECAUSE it was a holy number to Celtic civilization (and others 2000 years ago). There were 13 lunar months, 13 sacred plants, one for each month, and so forth.

Thus, for Christianity to displace the Old Religion in parts of Europe, it had to literally demonize the sacred of the older systems.

I also think, from my own research, that 17 was sacred in old Egyptian culture (to an inner elite, including the royal families and priests). So it became hated in Pythagorean Greece. The Greeks has a silly excuse for disliking 17. They said that there were two rectangles for each of whom the area equalled the perimeter.

Pause while some struggle with elementary algebra (I know, I've taught it).

Okay, a 4x4 square has an area of 4x4=16 square units, and a perimeter of 16 linear units.

A 3x6 rectangle has an area of 3x6=18 square units, and a perimeter of 18 linear units.

And that darned 17 sits messily in the middle of those two nice 16 and 18.


I like 17 because it is a Fermat Prime.

Mathematico-pedantically yours,

Prof. J.V. Post

#18 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 01:19 AM:

I admit that I like 13 principally because so many other people dislike it. And because I'm fascinated with legends in general, and ghost stories, and those surrounding 13 and the number 13 are among my favorite.

I also like black cats. But that's just because I like cats.

#19 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 01:33 AM:

What does work [for online architects]?

Uploading the model to the client's rapid-prototyping plastic-forming unit. You can throw in scale figures of the client and his car, and send him some landscaping ground foam by messenger.

Only slightly more seriously, the virtual walkthrough (or copter-around) is a rapidly maturing artform; I'm not sure it will ever entirely replace physical architectural models -- they have a certain immanent drama, and technical advantages in some applications, like refineries and chemical plants, and of course you can plonk them in the lobby of the Old Building to get the customers psyched for the implosion.

(Semirelevant side note: I was waiting, post-We All Know What, for implosions to become public spectacles again. They never quite stopped, but they started to happen late at night without fanfare or cameras. We seem to have crossed that line, though it will be interesting to watch the idea adjust.)

And suddenly I am imagining the client watching the digital view of his potential new building, and saying, "You know, GTA Vice City looks better than this."

#20 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 01:46 AM:

"You know, GTA Vice City looks better than this."

In fact, this is one of the problems; a computer game is a finished work and an architectural model is a sketch, though it may be very detailed. There aren't, yet, worked-out ways of communicating that--nothing corresponding to the roughness of a partially-finished model.

There are, in fact, model-outputting technologies--I'm a bit uncertain as to how well they work, never having seen them in action. I think they're more used in mechanical design. Parts for physical models are often made with laser cutters, which are quite common.

Fly-throughs have the unsettling property of being harder to understand spatially than orthographic (plan and section) drawings which provide useful abstractions. Generally, fly-throughs are more for formal presentation than communication of architectural ideas.

neep neep neep

#21 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 02:30 AM:

If it was virtual, this is where you'd use non-photorealistic rendering, so the client doesn't get bogged down in pixel issues.

I think what we need is a rapid prototyping system that builds the model out of toothpicks and popsicle sticks.

#22 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 03:31 AM:

Oddly, one of the least loved buildings in Minneapolis, the US Bank building (or, as it is known, the Pie Plate building for the illuminated metal saucer on its circular roof) had a beautiful model -- it wasn't until I saw it that I could halfway understand why anyone had approved the strucure. By itself, seen from controlled angles, it's interesting and shapely -- squarish buttresses on a cylindrical tower, lots of glass. But it is grotesque in context; it doesn't fit with the buildings around it (not strictly the architect's fault), and the glowing saucer is just kind of ridiculous, like Henry Dreyfuss on bad acid.

I should note that I am exceptionally unfond of I. M. Pei buildings -- they are beautiful to look at, but they have terrible interior spaces, not least because Pei loves acute angles, and you cannot perform human activities in acute angles. The Art Museum at Indiana University is the worst I've ever been in -- book carts cannot move through the library, because it is built as equilateral triangles, and the grand atrium staircase ascends at sixty degrees to the angle of the steps, making it actually dangerous -- but US Bank is pretty grisly too. At least they have a number of Chihulys on display.

#23 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 03:45 AM:

There was a rich man who cheated and lied,
Oh I know why he cheated and lied.

There was a rich man got caught driving drunk,
Oh what a skunk, got caught driving drunk
Got caught driving drunk so he cheated and lied,
Oh I know why, he cheated and lied.

There was a rich man who went in the Guard
Avoided Vietnam but drills were too hard,
He skipped out on drills and from piss-testing shied,
Got caught driving drunk so he cheated and lied,
Oh I know why, he cheated and lied.

There was a rich man who bought a sports team,
Just think of the theme, to own a sports team.
He bought the sport team at no personal pain,
Then sold it with laws that protected his gain,
He skipped out on drills and from piss-testing shied,
Got caught driving drunk so he cheated and lied,
Oh I know why, he cheated and lied.

#24 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 03:56 AM:

The video fly-through at least allows a chance for almost anyone to see the model. Physical models are inherently limited in the number of people who can see them.

Mike -- agreed about Pei. Good visually, sucks physically. Why has the concept of usefulness gotten lost in contemporary architecture (similar to the loss of representation in modern art)?

_A propos de rien_, has anyone else here picked up and been watching the FIREFLY DVD set? I thought the pilot sucked the phone, but watching the other eps I've been very pleasantly surprised. For those of you who nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards, remember that the three unaired eps are eligible for the 2004 awards. I've only watched one (TRASH), but I know that I'm going to have to pick among them to see what's best. The pilot looked like "Wagon Train" in space -- the series attempts to bring the complexity of the 19th century to a space culture, and is probably the best Bat Durston ever done. Not to mention that I kinda like they don't have explosions make noise in space....


#25 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 09:28 AM:

Got caught driving drunk so he cheated and lied,
Oh I know why, he cheated and lied.

Crooked bastard belongs "inside."

#26 ::: Kass Fireborn ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 10:24 AM:

I propose trskdkphbphobia, which is fear of a badly typoing Pointy Haired Boss.

#27 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 11:38 AM:

A silly open thread question:

Some people have names that are often mispronounced. I know of two who put together little couplets that aided in pronouncing their names. Are there others that any of you know about? The two are:

My name is Aleister Crowley;
I dabble in things unholy.


Tell the rabble
My name is Cabell.

More? Ones that were actually used by the person named would be appreciated.


#28 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 11:40 AM:

Oh yes, I do know about the long one with all the various possible pronunciations of van Vogt, but I'm away from my references so I can't actually quote it (not the Gellett Burgess "I'll kill you if you quote it," merely insufficient memory).

#29 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 12:29 PM:

I always worry when I'm in a building with no floor 13 between floors 12 and 14. I'm not inspired with confidence in the structural integrity of a building designed by an architect who can't count.

#30 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 12:32 PM:


Not that this is what you're looking for, but I wrote this in '85, I believe:

His Friend, Upon Whitman's Return From New Orleans

So tell me, what happened to Walter?
Was he a poem, that a syllable's loss
Could cause him so to alter?

#31 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 12:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

Vladimir Nabokov used to say:

"My name is Vladimir.
Rhymes with Redeemer."

I think of him as one of the ultimate Writers' Writers, such as Borges. He did sometimes write Science Fiction. And J.M. Cotzee, who accepted his Nobel Prize in Literature today, actually has a SF novel published as such, from very early in his career.

Ummm, embarassing to say, but consistent with your off-line advice:

The creeps who got me fired used to say:

"Jonathan Post?
Jonathan Boast!"

True *sigh*

Interesting question.

Relates to such light verse as:

Sir Humphrey Davy
detested gravy
and suffered the odium
of having discovered sodium

Unrelated to the above, I wrote a web page over the past 2 or 3 days:

which extrapolated the FAR future, astronomically, and weaves in the visions of William Olaf Stapledon and his effect on H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Niven Bear, Benford, Brin...

Time for a coffee break. See you later, alligator...

#32 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 02:21 PM:

A friend of Dr. Seuss' made up this poem for him:

You're wrong as the deuce
and you shouldn't rejoice
if you're calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice.

Not that anybody ever listened.

#33 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 04:03 PM:

You Know It's Time To GO Off-line When....

misreading "Clerical baseball cap" as "Cervical baseball cap."

#34 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 08:55 PM:

not inspired with confidence in the structural integrity of a building designed by an architect who can't count.

As a former civil/structural engineer, I'm not inspired with confidence if the architect did the structural work. (See Fallingwater for an example).

#35 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 09:07 PM:

Tom--Not exactly what you called for, since its for a fictional character, but Byron begins his great mock-epic:

I want a hero: an uncommon want,
When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one;
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,
I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan,

#36 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 10:31 PM:

I have a classmate whose last name is Ickes. Her license plate frame reads: "Yikes! It's Ickes!"

Re the four pairs of saints, I was at the LA Cathedral recently. I hadn't seen it before, so we went early to have enough time to look around and see everything. The tapestries are just gorgeous -- a wide variety of saints (identified below their images) and modern "real people" mixed in. (Especially when it's a saint associated with children. E.g., St. Elizabeth Seton, the founder of the Catholic school system in the US has a group of children around her.)

Anyway, two of the saints depicted are Perpetua and Felicity. They are African looking but lighter skinned, which probably fits in with their being from the north or the continent. I was very impressed with all the tapestries. The saints chosen are a good mix of ancient and modern, well-known and obscure.

The statue of Mary outside at the entrance, in contrast, is hideous IMHO. There are two specific problems: she looks bald until you're very close when you can see the hair is either very closely cropped or corn-rowed. She has sort of African features, which is okay -- not representative of how she probably really looked but okay. The other problem with the statue is the dress. The sleeves are about elbow-length and stand up and out in a way fabric doesn't unless it's been heavily quilted or starched or something. It's just peculiar.

Oh, and inside, lining the walls are sconces (real candles) with different fairies with enormous wings. They're probably supposed to be angels, but they look more like fairies -- especially when you're coming from a science fiction convention.

#37 ::: Jaquandor ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 10:41 PM:

Chip: You were one of the performers? I am highly envious, if so!

#38 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 10:49 PM:

Nothing from TITUS ANDRONICUS on the Shakespeare Illustrated site? When it's got murder, mutilation, and Mystery Meat? I'm surprised.

#39 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 11:11 PM:

Tom Whitmore: What you remember as a couplet I recall as a quatrain:

My friends call me Crowley
because they think I'm holy.
My enemies call me Crowley
because they wish to treat me foully

#40 ::: sue ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 11:59 PM:

From the Oxford Book of Children's Verse (that's probably mangled but good enough for an industrious person to track it down; my copy arrived in 1973):

Alfred Lord Tennyson
Dined upon venison.
Not cheap, I fear,
Because venison's deer.

#41 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 11:59 PM:

In connection with pronouncing things, here's one quatrain I like:

To hear people call a
City La Jolla
Is bound to annoy ya
If you live in La Jolla.

Just remembered another couplet, from The Annotated Alice, on the parents of the original book's inspiration (Alice Liddell):

I am the Dean, and this is Mrs. Liddell.
She plays the first, and I the second fiddle.

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 02:15 AM:

Then there's Martha Soukup's

Gregory Feeley
Shouldn't, really;
We can only trust
If he didn't, he'd bust.

Robert, I could have lived a happier life not knowing that Byron pronounced it like that.

#43 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 08:39 AM:

According to the teevee, they just captured Saddam Hussein without firing a shot. Pretty good. Now what?

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 10:16 AM:

Teresa, Coleridge said "JEW-un." Still a common name on the Isle of Man, I'm led to believe, and with that pronunciation.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 10:19 AM:

Kip, yes, and apparently there's nothing else at all going on in the world. I've heard nothing else for the past 3.5 hours.

It's important. It's VERY important. It might be the most important news; possibly important enought to justify bumping many other stories. But is it more important than ALL other news put together? No, I say. Especially since they're playing the same news conferences over and over.

#46 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 10:48 AM:

Yes, Saddam just bumped a nice little photo with story link off the San Francisco Chronicle. Luckily the search engine found it for me -- check for "book collector" (it first appeared yesterday). The guy adores Serious Lit first editions, but his finder is an ex-rocker from the UK who appears to be psychic, and he's also into old SF including things by Aussies. Fun story, even if the prices make you cringe.

#47 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 11:07 AM:

Well, I can fill people in on some of the other things that have been happening.

James T. Kirk faced down Wyatt Earp. Then he got beamed onto an empty Enterprise and had hot offscreen sex. I put a bookcase together. Sarah put my gardening gloves on and I took her picture. Ducks paddled around in the rain.

The Namarie Sue thread got a plug over on rec.arts.sf.fandom. The mended leg on my old dresser (which used to be my uncle's) made a nasty splintering noise, so I moved the Predicta that was on top of it over to the new bookcase.

And soon, I'll take more time out to gleefully peruse my birthday present (given early so I could appreciate it on the weekend instead of Monday when my time will be much more limited), the Kino Video 5-DVD set of the birth of cinema, "The Movies Begin." 133 complete motion pictures. As I told Cathy, even if I only enjoy 128 of them, it's still perfectly swell.

Later today, we'll go by my workplace and buy a prelit fake Christmas tree, then come home and put it up. Sarah will take a nap. I might drink some egggnog.

#48 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 11:13 AM:

Not sure what Coleridge has to do with it--other than the fact that he was lambasted by Byron in the same poem:

And Coleridge too has lately taken wing,
But like a hawk encumbered with his hood, Explaining metaphysics to the nation.
I wish he would explain his explanation.

Teresa, I'm extremely surprised you weren't aware of Byron's hero's correct pronunciation. The explanation lies not in some obscure dialect (Xopher, I think you're pullinng our legs), but in the nature of the poem, Don Juan is a humorous work that glories in among other things, outrageous rhymes, like the famous

But O ye lords of ladies intellectual
Inform us truly, have they not henpecked you all?

though frequently rising to the sort of sublime that only lightheartedness can reach:

Of poets who come down to us through distance
Of time and tongues, the foster-babes of Fame,
Life seems the smallest portion of existence;
Where twenty ages gather o'er a name,
'Tis as a snowball, which derives assistance
From every flake, and yet rolls on the same,
Even till an iceberg it may chance to grow;
But, after all, 'tis nothing but cold snow.

And so great names are nothing more than nominal,
And love of glory's but an airy lust,
Too often in its fury overcoming all
Who would as 'twere identify their dust
From out the wide destruction, which, entombing all,
Leaves nothing till 'the coming of the just' --
Save change: I've stood upon Achilles' tomb,
And heard Troy doubted; time will doubt of Rome.

Globetrotter that he was, Byron had to have been aware of the correct pronunciation of "Juan" --but since he wanted a satiric hero, a "new one," he called him "Don [Jew-one]," much as Mad magazine might have done.

#49 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 11:30 AM:

Robert, I hadn't known that. I'm glad it was intentional, and not just that British habit of pronouncing the orthographic conventions of other languages as though they were English; viz., Nicaragua, nick-a-RAG-you-ah.

#50 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 01:50 PM:

Jeeze, this same story about Saddam Hussein being captured is repeated all over the place. Don't the media realize people want to know what's up with Michael Jackson and the Scot Peterson?

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 03:09 PM:

Robert, I was just giving an example of an appalling pronunciation of 'Juan'. I was not pulling anyone's leg, but I can no longer find the website that told me about 'Juan' being a common given maybe I was hallucinating.

BUT in my fruitless efforts to find it I did find an awful lot of references to Manx gentlemen named Juan...authors or subjects of papers on Manx history.

#52 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 03:20 PM:


Glad to see the Lord Raglan Scale listed in your Particles, but you perpetuated my mistake with my first correction and kept the misremembered d at the end (a common error on the net, and one of the problems in using google to confirm your spelling). It's just "Lord Raglan."

(My first "Ragnell" came because at the time I'd been studying it, I was also reading versions of the tale of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell.)

#53 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 04:21 PM:

Oh, hurrah, Now Milosevic has someone to play Risk with.

#54 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 06:40 PM:

T, Xopher: Didn't know about the Manx. Actually, now that I think of it, the Catalan form, spelled Joan, as in the painter Joan Mirf3, is pronounced somwhere between "Zhwahn" and "Zhu-AHN," and in the official p.c. world Catalan and Castilian are both regional languages of Spain, so Byron perhaps wasn't being as absurd as all that...

#55 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 09:10 PM:

Teresa (et al): you mean like Don Quicks-oat? (I have only one recollection of this, so it may be a scurrilous rumor.) After they were through saying "veenigh, vyedigh, vyesigh", how \did/ those less puckish than Byron pronounce Don Juan?

Jaquandor: yes, I was in it (I sing Bass II, which IMO has the best chorus part in this piece). We got an astounding audience for the out-of-the-way location, but I'm praying the recording didn't pick up too many of the glitches too obviously; as usual there wasn't enough rehearsal time, and I don't envy the instrumentalists -- period double reeds make a modern oboe sound like a paragon of proper behavior, and I never realized that clarinetists had to tie their reeds onto the mouthpiece.) No reviews reported yet....

#56 ::: Ms. Jen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 10:17 PM:

The Advice Bunny is evil. Hmph.

My question for the week is: Do the Holographic Lollipops taste good?

#57 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 01:11 AM:

I have vague memories of a story I read some time between 1998 and 2001, in a sf periodical, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. It's about (perhaps thinly veiled) Bill Gates, as the Antichrist, and had some sort of Linus Torvalds->Jesus mapping going on. It was hilarious (especially to a geek of my political sympathies). Does anyone remember this story? I could have sworn that it was in F&SF, but my searches didn't turn up anything useful -- just a few other stories making fun of Gates.

#58 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 01:25 AM:

Another mnemonic for CHip:

Caesar was right, but rather cheeky
When he said "Veni, vidi, vici."
Any schoolboy is wrong who thinks he
Said "Venivi, visi, vinxi."

The joys of a classical education.

Forte dux fel flat in guttur

#59 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 02:10 AM:

Edible holographic, kaleidoscopic, and photographic lollipops.

You don't want to know what I thought "photographic" was at first glance. I wonder if they've been done


#60 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 05:11 AM:

MKK: I'd be surprised if they haven't. It's such an obvious application...

#61 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 05:23 AM:

I've eaten holographic lollipops, and they taste just like ordinary ones.

The Raglan scale says that James T. Kirk scores 13 out of 22. Can anyone tell me which 13? 'Cause I'm just not seeing it.

#62 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 08:32 AM:

Perthshire? Neat! My Ferguson ancestors left Thornhill in Perthshire in 1790, victims of the clearances. I've been able to see a little of that shire and would love to try to find whatever that ancestral village has become. This looks like a neat site. Thanks for posting the link!

BTW--for anyone who has a chance to go to Scotland, please take it. It's a beautiful country, with some really odd and fascinating history.

#63 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 09:36 AM:

An aside, regarding two earlier topics on this thread: Saddam would have reason to be triskaidekaphobic; they caught him on the 13th (by our calendar, at any rate).

#64 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 09:52 AM:

On the subject of hard to pronounce names.

As someone who has gone through life knowing my name was being called when the teacher/professor/whoever said "Michelle.... err....." I would find it hard to believe that someone with an unusual name did NOT come up with a rhyme or pithy saying to help people with pronounciation.

#65 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 10:15 AM:
The Raglan scale says that James T. Kirk scores 13 out of 22. Can anyone tell me which 13? 'Cause I'm just not seeing it.

By stretching a lot of points I can come up with these 10:

  1. We are told nothing of his childhood [Well, not much], but
  2. N/A
  3. After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast [Lots of things could qualify here]
  4. N/A
  5. For a time he reigns uneventfully and
  6. prescribes laws but [This and the previous one refer to being Starfleet Chief of Staff, obviously]
  7. later loses favor with the gods and or his people and
  8. is driven from from the throne and the city after which [Which is to say he was demoted]
  9. He meets with a mysterious death [Yup]
  10. often at the top of a hill. [I think his actual death was on a hill]
  11. His children, if any, do not succeed him. [A real stretch here]
  12. His body is not buried, but nevertheless [Cheating by going back to his first "death"]

#66 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 10:17 AM:

Michelle, I have a very unusual surname (I have literally never met anyone with my surname who I wasn't related to) but the only solution I've ever discovered to get people to spell it right is to spell it to them. (Otherwise I've had variations from Gamel, Camel, Cornwall, Caramel, Carne, and Garn.) People rarely pronounce it right, but I've given up on that as a lost cause: I just want to make sure that when they write it down, they write it down the way it's spelled, not what their dazed brain interpreted to them via their ears which are jumping up and down and yelling "She couldn't possibly have said her surname was that!"

Yes, I did. And it is. And I've long ago made all possible puns on it.

#67 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 10:18 AM:

Whoops, messed that up (failed to break the lines in a few places and didn't realize the START extension to the OL tag wouldn't work). But you get the idea.

#68 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 10:57 AM:

The British Juan as JEW-un is as habitual as Maria as ma-REYE-a. Remember "Fawlty Towers"?


#69 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 10:58 AM:

Edible holographic, kaleidoscopic, and photographic lollipops.

You don't want to know what I thought "photographic" was at first glance. I wonder if they've been done


MKK: I'd be surprised if they haven't. It's such an obvious application...

MKK: They certainly have been done. My roommates in Sandy Eggo threw a bachelorette party where lollipops were a party favour. For some reason, we found many of them lying all about after the party, nearly untouched and in pristine condition.

#70 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 12:17 PM:


I too am related to everyone in the US who shares my last name, and I'm thinking that there are under 20 of us.

I have, however, occasionally come across someone who was able to guess the origin of the name. (Lithuanian)

#71 ::: Lenora Rose Heikkinen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 02:54 PM:

Yonmei, Michelle,

I sympathise. I've been known to go mildly explosive when people mistake me for a german beer.

On the other hand, the first name makes life easier. Back in school, the secretary once called over the PA, "Will Lenora Hei - Hi - Hih - will Lenora please come to the office?"

2000 students. No chance of confusion. i blushed all the way.

#72 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 03:11 PM:

By the way, I just had this exchange with the Advice Bunny:

Your question was:

Is this the real advice bunny?

The Advice Bunny's response is:

Are you actually relying on a blurry picture of a little bunny to give you the answer to that?

I guess that answers my question.

#73 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 03:24 PM:

Re: the earth's magnetic field flip, the 11/18 Nova episode about the subject has a great website with a full transcript of the episode.

#74 ::: Alan Bostick Wants to Know ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 11:33 PM:

Please help me find a word:

It's a dramatic or novelistic form, in which Our Hero, in middle age, goes on a journey to find the companions of his or her youth, in order to reconcile his present life with his or her youthful aspirations.

Example: The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin.

#75 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 12:54 AM:

On a slight tangent to Tom W.'s question about name pronunciation mnemonics, the noted computer scientist Niklaus Wirth had a standard answer when asked how he should be addressed:

"You may call me by name, in which case it is pronounced 'Voort',
Or you may call me by value, and pronounce it as 'Worth' "

#76 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 04:07 AM:


Recurrent Retrospective Palsies. An acute form of Folie a Crowd. Symptoms include irritable conversation and Big Chills.

#77 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 04:34 AM:

Oh, I know there are other people out there with my surname who are not immediately related to me - it's relatively common in Exeter, and I now-and-then see letters in the Guardian from someone with the same surname whom I don't know at all. It's an old, unusual, English surname. When I was visiting the Ellis Island museum I checked and discovered that 18 people with my surname immigrated to the US in the years for which Ellis Island kept records, so there are probably quite a few families living in the US who could be vague and distant relatives, but nothing easily traceable.

#78 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 10:24 AM:

I have just turned heretic: I prefer Rackham's illustrations of Alice in Wonderland to the original. Compare his Alice and Caterpillar to either of Tenniel's. Here's all of them.


#79 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 10:24 AM:

Lenora & Yonmei:

Actually, I like having a unique last name, and I'm more amused than bothered by the mispronunciation--I think it bothers those who mess it up more than me. I do wonder, however, how people with more "common" names ever get their own mail. My brother and I live in the same town as my parents, and whenver one of us moves, we end up getting at least some of my parent's mail. Last move I started receiving their bank statements. Last time my brother moved he got their gas bill and electric bill.

But I like my last name, which is why I did not change it when I got married. In fact, if not for the fact that my husband and father have the same first name, my husband had considered changing his last name. But we decided it would be way too confusing, all things considered.

And back to Tom's orginal question, my favorite name pronunciation came from the book of the same name, "Veeck, as in Wreck".

#80 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 01:16 PM:


Oh, I Like my last name. Most mild mispronounciations don't annoy me, and could amuse me. For some reason, the "Heineken" one does irk me. Possibly a bit of lingering ethnic pride - odd enough in a mongrel Canuck who's learned more Finnish from Varttina than from family.

I drop the last name from my byline and publish as Lenora Rose -- but I'd keep Heikkinen if I married. Go figure.

#81 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 02:47 PM:

Lenora: Oh, good I was right it's Finnish. It's possible that my husband's family's last name, Kare, is also. I mean, I know it's a Finnish name, but the last place they know of where the family lived before emigrating to Canada was in Russia, so they've always assumed it was a shortening of Karasomething or other. My maiden name was Flechs, pronounced flex. It is, I think, easy to see why I didn't mind changing it much. If they can spell it they can't pronounce it and if they can pronounce it they can't spell it. It's German and I've never discovered a Flechs, even googling, to whom I was not related.


#82 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 04:57 PM:

LNHammer: I'm trumping you for heresy. I like the Barry Moser Alice better than anyone else's.

#83 ::: Christopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 06:06 PM:

On the subject of Finnish last names, I just ran across this:

#84 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 07:21 PM:

An unscientific "poll" from the AFA, that will nevertheless be used badly:

#85 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2003, 11:03 PM:

I dunno, I still think the Winnie-the-Pooh Menorah is tackier than the handbag one.

#86 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 04:12 AM:

I'm with Bruce, but I have never read WtP, either as an adult or as a child. I find the characters and the things associated with then annoyingly cloying. I wish Disney would get over their Pooh fixation and manufacture (well license the manufacture of) more cool Maleficent stuff. I want to be Maleficent when I grow up.


#87 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 03:12 PM:

Disney's Pooh is a nauseating sack of hunny. Milne's Pooh is a classic character. Milne's Eeyore is also a master of memorable sarcasm, as in the scene where he comes floating down the river and one of the others asks what he's doing. Eeyore's answer (close paraphrase, I hope): "I'll give you three guesses, Rabbit. Digging holes in the ground. Wrong. Jumping from limb to limb of a young oak tree. Wrong. Floating in the river, hoping someone will pull me out. Right. Good old Rabbit. Give him time, and he'll always get the right answer."

In Disney's Pooh, they divided this speech up between the characters and made it totally stupid. Now what was I... oh, yes.

I still like Tenniel's illustrations a lot. I also like Dodgson's. In some ways, my favorite ones are the inspirational paintings David Hall made for the Disney movie. They have a frisson of spine-creeping oddness to them that pleases me. Visually, Disney's adaptation has stuck with me for years. We had a kiddie book with art by the Disney staffers, and those images of underground tunnels and doors in trees showed up in quite a few dreams.

Imprinting is an interesting thing. It took me some time to get to where I liked the real Alice better than the Disneyfied version -- which I only knew from print media and 7-inch kiddie 78s. As a rule, I tend to like Disney adaptations that I saw before I read the originals, and dislike ones that were the other way round. When I finally saw Alice in a theatre in the 80s, it was largely a disappointing vaudeville act, though I still like the scene where Alice is crying, and the shy little woodland creatures come hopping up to comfort her. Only they're these grotesque little wierdos. It's like they were satirizing a Disney movie!

#88 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 03:35 PM:

Dead-on about Pooh, Kip. The Disney film has some charming moments, but it sure isn't the delightful book my grandmother read to me when I was a wee lad.

I remember a comment about Disney that really hit home - can't recall it exactly, but it was to the effect that, though Walt loved the material he worked with, he always came to it as a conqueror. I think that pretty much sums up the route the company has taken ever since.

#89 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 03:58 PM:

I dunno, Bruce. He doesn't look Pooh-ish.

#90 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 05:28 PM:

Christopher, Interesting Link, but it's not based on derivation of names, only the final results of appearance and occasionally bad pun.

Heikkinen, for instance, is basically a variation of Henrickson/Henderson, etc - a male child of the nearest local variant of Henry. Highly boring derivation, really. It does, however, end up looking like it's derived from "heikko" - weak/wimpy.

Which would be especially funny, as a particularly effective Cannon in WWII was named after a Heikki...

#91 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 05:49 PM:

AFA's poll is not merely unscientific, it's dishonest. Once people started voting for legalisation of gay marriage in significant numbers (at one point, opposition to the legalisation of either marriage or a civil union equivalent to marriage for same-sex couples had fallen to 81%, and was still falling) they solved the problem of people voting the wrong way by removing their votes.

Here you can see a screen-shot record of the rate at which they're doing it - 21075 votes for legalisation at 10:53 am have mysteriously fallen to 17985 votes half an hour later. A perfect example of why it's important never to trust electronic votes with no paper record...

#92 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 06:27 PM:

Yonmei: There isn't anything the least bit dishonest about the AFA removing the pro-gay-marriage returns from that page. It is the moral equivalent of spam-filtering.

The purpose of that page is to harvest email addresses of people who care about AFA's hot-button issues, so that those people can be hit up with fundraising pleas with targeted messages. Since they have no intention of soliciting funds from people who disagree with them, the voting choices serve as a filter. Declare your opposition to gay marriage, and your address goes into their files. Say you support it, or even just civil unions, and your address gets piped to /dev/null.

What? You thought that this address-harvesting device was a poll? Silly you.

#93 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 06:34 PM:

Alan, the point is that AFA is claiming that it's a poll... I agree with you that it's an e-mail harvesting device: but since they have claimed it for a poll, it's worth pointing out that it's a dishonest poll as well as an unscientific one.

#94 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 06:46 PM:

Yonmei: and why are we surprised at a dishonest right-wing poll?

#95 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 06:47 PM:

CHip, who said I was surprised? Merely noting the point. Publicly, and with evidence.

#96 ::: Christopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 08:25 PM:


I figured as much, but I'll cling to the hope that somewhere out there there's a culture that really does name people that way. I'd rather live in that world.

#97 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 09:30 PM:

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot ran a correction in today's edition of their original scoop about two bicycle makers from Ohio, messing about with kites in the dunes of North Carolina.

The wheels grind slowly, but the truth will out.

#98 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 09:55 PM:

Also in today's issue (December 17, 2003 -- sorry I forgot to specify), we bid farewell to a local landmark of sorts, the Chinkee Chickee sign.

This jaw-dropping and much-photographed work of art has graced a humble eatery in the Princess Anne area for a few years. Recently, it was damaged by Hurricane Isabel, and finally, owner and chef Phillip Chan (I hope I've spelled his name right) allowed the city to buy his now-dishevelled business from him so they can get something less embarrassing in there -- like maybe a massage parlor or nude car wash.

Sic transit gloria mundi, or whatever the lady's name was. Note that the "chickee" is not her, but the young chicken wearing the conical hat on the box she is holding.

I'm glad I got a picture of it, though the one I link to got a better exposure. It just happens that the sun was right behind it the day I drove down to snap it. I couldn't take the other side due to some problem with there not being a place for me to stand that wasn't in traffic.

Chan, incidentally, told the paper he might start another business. If he does, he said, he'll probably call it the same thing. Sequel!

#99 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2003, 03:37 AM:

It seems that, finally, we don't need the Turing test anymore. The machines have surpassed human intelligence.

#100 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2003, 08:23 AM:

Who is the artist on "Hauling on Mouse Ropes"? Style looks late 19th Century; French more likely than English, if I had to guess. I'm sure I could figure it out if I were more web-savvy.

#101 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2003, 08:27 AM:

Found it.... Got the late 19th C part just fine, now didn't I, but I wouldn't have called the American part. (W. W. Denslow, for anyone else who cares.)

#102 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2003, 05:02 PM:

Could be they're filtering out multiple votes from a single IP address.

#103 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2003, 06:08 PM:

Kip W: interesting pages from the Pilot. At least all they had to correct was purple prose; I can't provide an exact cite but have read in several places that the New York Times, having derided Goddard in the 1930's(and exposed the writer's ignorance of 300-year-old physics knowledge -- "nothing to push against"!), finally published a retraction after the first manned lunar landing.

#104 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2003, 02:18 AM:

Actually, the story of AFA skewing their anti-marriage poll by removing pro-legalisation votes isn't nearly as straightforward as it looked.

2700 of the votes removed were definitely fraudulent. However, Griffen witnessed 6000 votes being removed, in two goes - as he says (which was the reason I originally linked to this, wrt all the Diebold discussion here) "If the AFA would show their raw data in good faith, that would be a step in the right direction."

(And in other news - AFA's poll is now down to 50/50 pro-legalisation/anti-legalisation. Once news it existed was out in the wider world than their own hundred thousand reliable bigots...)

#105 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2003, 08:15 AM:

Kip, that's the finest correction since Natural History corrected their story on Peary's trip to the North Pole (the correction being, basically, that he hadn't actually gotten to 90°N.).

#106 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2003, 11:52 PM:

I'm not sure if this shouldn't be on Snowday instead, but, just to continue where I left off, at the "Heavenly" ski-slopes at Lake Tahoe:



by Jonathan Vos Post

"In Adam's Fall

We Sinned All"

but Will is Free

and so I ski.

What runneth over

is not my cup;

"I've fallen down

and I can't get up."

I used to be


now I feel ike

an ee-diot.




#107 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2003, 10:02 AM:

What could be more fun than extreme ironing?

Maybe chess boxing?

Somehow, this tickles my SF bone...

#108 ::: Jacque sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 12:51 AM:

that somebody really wants to show us that URL....

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