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February 3, 2004

Open thread 18
Posted by Teresa at 12:00 AM *

“Things were stirring. Strange metallic things; things that were alien to the soft green grass of Earth. Terrifying things, steel things; metal things; things with cylindrical bodies and multitudinous jointed limbs. Things without flesh and blood. Things that were made of metal and plastic and transistors and valves and relays, and wires. Metal things. Metal things that could think. Thinking metal things…”
Comments on Open thread 18:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 12:57 AM:

Doc Fanthorpe, the Man of Bronze!

#2 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:18 AM:

Isn't that another of the metal men?

#3 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:32 AM:

Don't be silly. All of the Metal Men were elemental metals. They'd never let an alloy in, due to the terrible drop in property values that would result.

(Don't talk to me about post-Crisis fictitious-metal additions, if you please.)

#4 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:35 AM:

" ... things wearing parachute pants and Carmen Miranda hats. Things listening to early Elton John Albums (Caribou, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [disk 2, not disk 1]), things mixing exotic, fruity drinks in metal shakers shaped like penguins.... "

#6 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 02:37 AM:

Hey! That beautiful alphabet is missing the letter K! It's got several Qs and X and Z. But it has no K. I protest!


#8 ::: tomb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 03:53 AM:

"Based on a short story by Franz Kafka, the video explores the consequences for human interface design of the fact that people are more adaptable than machines. Kafka himself wrote the best summation of the story: Leopards break into the temple and drink up the sacrificial wine; this is repeated over and over again; eventually it becomes predictable, and is incorporated into the ceremony. Many questions are left unresolved in this dark, troubling video: Is there any sequence of actions that will not come to seem to users the normal way to get a task accomplished, if they repeat it often enough?"

#9 ::: Ann ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 04:34 AM:

I should have realised how bad the rabbits would be when I saw the breed was Angora.

#10 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 04:56 AM:

Is there any sequence of actions that will not come to seem to users the normal way to get a task accomplished, if they repeat it often enough?

mousepress swipe release
Damn! shuffle shuffle mouseclick
Control Alt Delete

#11 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 07:35 AM:

Mary Kay: Indeed, yes. Obviously "K" is the letter of the devil, hence to be used with extreme caution in Latinate works of a Godly kind.
Perhaps if a "K" were there, they would have an exact grid fully filled, which, like a perfect Persian carpet, would be impious.

Rabbits: Oh good grief. The combing! The shampooing! The heatstroke in summer! Why do we do it to poor helpless fellow-creatures? Probably would look cuter if they had big (visible) eyes. (Rabbits do have a rather bad rep in Terra Australis Incognita, so I do tend to be prejudiced agin them.)
Does anyone have a tradition of saying "rabbits, rabbits, rabbits" quickly the first time you see someone on the First of a Month?
Happy February, all.

#12 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 07:38 AM:

On the menu page from that alphabet, there's a really fun thingy that follows your mouse pointer around like discs on an elasticated string.

#13 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 10:22 AM:

So, what was in the Fantasizing about Dick Cheney link that caused the site to go away? Was the site run by CBS or something?

#14 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 10:54 AM:

"Obviously "K" is the letter of the devil"

That would explain the strange attractiveness of Krispy Kream doughnuts, I guess . . .

#15 ::: rbrazile ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 11:24 AM:

"What about those cowboys?"

What, he got edited? In Texas-speak, this is
usually uttered as "How 'bout them Cowboys!"

Either that, or he was asking about some other cowboys.

#16 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 11:29 AM:

I'm under the impression that Angora rabbits are rasied for fiber. My friend Becky used to raise them for that, she would make yarn and knit cool things. You don't clip them, you wait until they moult, which they do once a year, and you gently pull the loosened hairs off of them. Wonderfully, awesomely soft if you aren't allergic ...

#17 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 11:58 AM:

Epacris --

The version I was told as a child goes, "Pinch-punch, first-of-the-month. White rabbit! No returns!", accompanied by pinching and punching, of course. And you had to say it quickly to get to "No returns" bit before retaliation.

#18 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 12:10 PM:

My crowning glory was when Orycon asked me to appear in a *play* written by Robert Lionel Fanthorpe, who was ont only in attendance but in the cast as well. "Help! I am a character in a Fanthorpe story!"

It's really about time I...revived my piece "The Robert L. Fanthorpe Revival" by posting it to my website. As soon as I find my copy. (I mailed a copy to Fanthorpe, actually, then at a convention handed him an extra copy of that issue that I had run across. I hope he apprecited the sentiment.)

#19 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 12:50 PM:

Oh, thank you. I've been wanting that quote for years, but I couldn't remember enough of it, or who wrote it, to be able to find it. Hee hee hee. *beam*

#20 ::: jon ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Over in Particles, that's one lucky robot, I must say. Must be a California thing.

#21 ::: Ab_Normal ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Is that from the same one that had "strange because they were frightening; frightening because they were strange"? Love it, in an "ow my head my head" sort of way.

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Elric: By golly, look at that. The Cheney thing's disappeared. Here, courtesy of Google's cache, is:

Excerpt from TRANCE Formation of America

The Most Dangerous Game: Revisited

George Bush was highly active in the Lampe, Missouri and Mount Shasta, California retreat compounds. Just like Lampe, Shasta's cover was country music. According to everyone I knew, singer and songwriter Merle Haggard supposedly ran the show at Lake Shasta, diverting any and all attention from the nearby Mount Shasta compound. Shasta was the largest covert mind control slave camp of which I am aware. Hidden in the wooded hills, military fencing corrals an enormous fleet of unmarked black helicopters and more mind controlled military robots than I saw in all of Haiti. This covert military operation served its own agenda, not America's. I was told and overheard that it was a base for the future Multi Jurisdictional Police Force for enforcing order and law in the New World Order. In the center of the high security compound, was another well-guarded military-fenced area that was regarded as a "Camp David" of sorts for those running our country. George Bush and Dick Cheney shared an office there, and claimed the outer perimeter woods as their own hunting ground where they played "A Most Dangerous Game." Predicated on conversations I overheard between the two, it was this world police military background that earned Dick Cheney his cabinet appointment as Secretary of Defense with the Bush Administration.

Houston stayed at Haggard's Lake Shasta resort while Kelly and I were helicoptered to Mount Shasta for our scheduled meeting with Bush and Cheney. The helicopter pilot directed our attention to the military fencing surrounding the outer perimeter of the compound. Rarely did pilots ever speak to either of us, but this one smiled wickedly as he told us we would need to know the outer limits for A Most Dangerous Game.

As soon as we arrived at Bush and Cheney's inner sanctum, noticed George Bush, Jr. was with them. It was my experience that Jr. stood by his father and covered his backside whenever Bush would become incapacitated from drugs or required criminal back up. It appeared that Jr. was there to serve both purposes, while his father and Cheney enjoyed their work-vacation.

Hyper from drugs, Cheney and Bush were eager to hunt their human prey in "A Most Dangerous Game." They greeted me with the rules of the game, ordered me to strip naked despite the cold December winds, and told me in Oz cryptic to "beware of the lions and tigers and bears." Kelly's life became the stakes, as usual, which resurrected my natural and exaggerated programmed maternal instincts. Tears silently ran down my cheeks as Bush told me, "If we catch you, Kelly's mine. So run, run as fast as you can. I'll get you and your little girl, too, because I can, I can, I can. And I will."Cheney, daring me to respond, asked, "Any questions?"

I said, "There's no place to run because there's a fence -- the kind I can't get over. I saw it."

Rather than physically assault me, Cheney laughed at my sense of "no where to run, no where to hide" and explained that a bear had torn a hole in the fence somewhere, and all I had to do is find it. He lowered his rifle to my head and said, "Let the games begin. Go."

Wearing only my tennis shoes, I ran through the trees as fast and as far as I could, which wasn't very far at all. Bush was using his bird dog to track me, the same one that had recently been used with me in bestiality filming as a "Byrd-dog" joke on my owner, Robert C. Byrd. When caught, Cheney held his gun to my head again as he stood over me, looking warm in his sheep skin coat. Bush ordered me to take his dog sexually while they watched, then he and Cheney ushered me back to their cabin.

I pulled on my clothes and sat in the office part of the cabin awaiting instructions. I had no idea where Kelly was, nor do I in retrospect. Bush and Cheney were still in their hunting clothes when the programming session began. Bush said, "You and I are about to embark on a most dangerous game of diplomatic relations. This is my game. You will follow my rules. I will have the distinct advantage of hunting you with my Eye in the Sky (satellite). I'll watch every move you make. As long as you play the game by my rules and make no mistakes, you live. One mistake and I'll get you, my pretty, and your little girl, too. You die, and Kelly will have to play with me. I prefer it that way. Then it will be her most dangerous game. The cards are stacked in my favor because, well, it is my game! Are you game?"

There was no choice. I responded as conditioned, "Yes, Sir! I'm game." The parallels to the Most Dangerous game that had just occurred in the woods were deliberate and intended to make retrieval of memory "impossible" due to crypto-amnesia scrambling.

"Good. Then let the games begin. Listen carefully to your instructions. You have no room for error." Cheney flipped his "game timer" -- an hourglass. Bush continued, "This game is called the King and Eye, and here's the deal. You will be establishing stronger diplomatic relations according to order between Mexico, the U.S., and the Middle East. Your role will require a change of face at each new place. I'll chart your course, define your role, and pull your strings. You'll speak my words when I pull your strings. There is no room for error."

Cheney was half lying across the plain military issue style desk in an apparent drug stupor as Bush talked. Still wearing his hunting coat and hat, Cheney aimed his rifle at me from the desk and threatened, "Or a-hunting we will go." Bush finished Cheney's threat by singing, "We'll catch a fox and put her in a box and lower her in a hole."

Bush looked at Cheney and burst out laughing. The sight of him dressed in his hunting clothes with a huge bore double-barreled shotgun to his shoulder inspired Bush to tell him he "looked like Elmer Fudd." Cheney, imitating the cartoon character, said, "Where is that waskily wabbit?"

Operation The King and Eye would involve Reagan's #1 envoy Philip Habib (who cryptically played the Alice in Wonderland role of the White Rabbit with slaves such as myself) and Saudi Arabian King Fahd. So when Bush referred to the two as "Elmer Fahd and the Waskily Wabbit," he and Cheney laughed until they cried. Since both were already high from drugs anyway, they had a great deal of difficulty maintaining composure long enough to complete my programming.

#23 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:28 PM:

... I value the two rejection letters I received.

Further proof I need to stick to doing physics.

#24 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 01:49 PM:

Bill Blum: can you share some Phys Rev or other journal referee horror stories?

People who don't publish in scientific journals usually do not know that, not only don't you get paid, but that you must pay the publisher!

And the referee business differs significantly from the editor business.

#25 ::: Wednesday White ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 06:20 PM:

Aw, man.

I read the Myrtle story linked over in Slushkiller. And got very into the idea of a publication called Little Baby Bunny Stories.

And, now, now you talk about angora bunnies.

And, elsewhere, there is Oolong and Post-Oolong fandom.

Result: I've been spending a lot of time today with beloved plushie Annie Bunny on my lap. Stupid regressive habits. Now I want Kraft Dinner and cute bunny cartoons. Instead, I will probably watch DiGi Charat. It's not the same, I assure you.

#26 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 06:49 PM:


I'm not a practicing physicist, by any means...

I was just silly enough to decide I had enough of driving forklifts and making sandpaper... so I went back to school to complete a bachelor's degree. ( I'll be 31 when I graduate this May, with two kids )

I was fortunate enough to land an internship at a nearby school, in their graduate electrical engineering department. When I'm not busy writing MATLAB code, I spend my time going over the journal articles my boss has going in the review process.

Case in point:

An article submitted to an IEEE journal by my supervisor's last PhD advisee in 1999 took three years to get comments back from the first reviewers.

Yes, that's right. 3 years.

The author and his boss made some changes, sent it back-- and waited another two years to hear back... from a different set of reviewers. The first reviewers are no longer available.

Where do I fit in?

I've had to move the paper from WordPerfect to LaTeX... I've had to use the MATLAB code supplied by the original author of the paper to regenerate the original graphs in camera ready form... I've had to edit stuff for flow, and track down additional references to help prove the point...

What do I get?

I'm now named as Third Author.

#27 ::: Hil ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 07:23 PM:

Re strange metallic things, are you familiar with Boilerplate and the History of Robots in the Victorian Era?

#28 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 08:02 PM:

I did NOT order the thirteen inches of snow that arrived here today. One minus.

I did NOT sign up for the Deep Space Planet Future Shovel Action workout that ensued after I'd stuck the dumptruck while plowing and had to dig it out... thrice with the digging. (Yes, it does have 4WD. You try turning a dumptruck with plow around on a lane-and-a-half dirt road in a foot of snow. Let me know how you do. Also. Road is non-level, icy, and has a 3' ditch on the downhill side. This is a nontrivial operation.) Three minuses for shovel action.

I did not sign up for wet pants, wet boot-liners that turned my socks blue, or wet mittens. Two minuses for wet, because turning my socks blue is disturbing. (I think the felt boot-liners are made out of blue. Just blue. They're not new, and they still make my socks blue every time I wear them.)

Ah, well. So that's six on the down side, but we're not done counting yet.

All the equipment (besides the dumptruck, the equipment includes a bulldozer and a bucket loader) is not-broken, not-stuck, and safely parked for the evening. This is a definite plus.

I have dry clothes on and I'm warm. Add two to the plus side of the equation. (If you think these do not count as pluses, try wearing wet clothes in the cold.)

I have fresh coffee and I just ate dinner. Two more to the plus side.

The mittens and boot-liners are drying on the mantle of the fireplace, which contains a warm and toasty fire. They'll be dry in an hour or two, so that I can set them aside for the morning. Two more points to the good... one for dry gear in the morning and one for a toasty warm fire right now.

The driveway has been shovelled (this is my own personal driveway, not the road out to the paved road) with room for parking both vehicles. Both vehicles are cleaned off and ready to use. There's a clear path to the woodpile and also one to the birdfeeder. Two more points for addressing these home front items.

It is NOT SNOWING NOW and the temperature is above freezing. Two points for suddenly-cooperative weather.

I'm going to declare a win, here. Tomorrow is another day.

(How is this related to anything? It isn't, but I wanted to share.)

#29 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 08:16 PM:

One of my favorite literary tangles has been the process whereby the cover art that was (presumably) created by Emsh and others specifically for works by Philip K. Dick, Andre Norton, James White, and others was re-sold to Badger, where Fanthorpe apparently wrote a completely different story around it. See, for example, Fanthorpe's Hand of Doom, written around the cover of John Brunner's Slavers of Space, in the magnificent cover gallery on collect the whole set! (If you can find them...) And who knew Fanthorpe had so many German editions? Take that, Perry Rhodan!

#30 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2004, 10:03 PM:

Mrs. Nielsen-Hayden:
That excerpt of the now-vanished site is simply incredible. I love internet conspiracy theories.

#31 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 06:56 AM:

To diverge slightly from one of the topics, I have -- somewhere -- a letter from the BBC turning me down for the post of Director-General. (I was unemployed and tired of being rejected for more mundane jobs.)

Maybe it's time to apply again....

#32 ::: adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 09:02 AM:

Re: the emotional lives of turkey decoys.

Coffee. Up nose. Ow. But totally worth it.

Color me juvenile, but the "three-position hen" makes me giggle like a schoolgirl.

#33 ::: Joanna ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 11:07 AM:


Reading the triffic "Fabric of the City" post, I noticed this:
"It’s no accident that so many fantasies have been written about underground New York."
I was wondering if anyone could suggest a few, or any New York-based urban fantasy. I can't think of any, unless you count Jennifer Toth's "Mole People" (and I do). Any suggestions at all would thrill and amaze and make my day.

#34 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 11:28 AM:

Any suggestions at all would thrill and amaze and make my day.

Oh yeah?

Ghostbusters II!

#35 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 11:33 AM:

Just a bit of info: "Three things, pony, and dog" is a filk of the filksong "Threes" by Mercedes Lacky (who was an active filker before she became an author); the original song is a sword-and-sorcery tale.

This version is by Duane Elms (as credited at the bottom of the second link) and, IIRC, his title is "Threes 2.0" I'm pretty sure it dates back considerably farther than 1994; somewhere in the mid-80, I think.

It feels very odd to see a song I liked nearly 20 years ago show up here...

#36 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 11:47 AM:

Then they fared on without ceasing
till they drew near the city and behold,
it was as if it were a piece of a mountain
or a mass of iron cast in a mold
and impenetrable for the height of its walls and bulwarks;
while nothing could be more beautiful than its buildings
and its ordinance
-- The City of Brass (date unknown)
translated by Sir Richard Burton

For New York genre novels, see:

Science Fiction/Fantasy Genre: Cities

Page takes a while to load, but includes list of some New York Fantasies, as well as other cities, including:

"Ariel", by Stephen Boyett (1983): New York

"Animal Planet", by Scott Bradfield (1995): New York

"The Passion of New Eve", by Angela Carter (1977): New York

several novels, by Jerome Charyn: New York

"Little, Big", by John Crowley (1981): New York

"Funny Papers", by Tom de Haven (1985): New York

"So, You Want to Be a Wizard", by Dianne Duane (1983): New York

"The Wizard of 4th Street", by Simon Hawke (1987): New York

"Winter's Tale", by Mark Helprin (1993): New York

"Falling Angel", by William Hjortsberg (1978): New York

"The Werewolf's Tale", by Richard Jaccoma (1988): New York

"Down Town: A Fantasy", by Tappan King & Viido Polikarpus (1985): New York

"The Game of Thirty", by William Kotzwinkle (1994): New York

"Freddie the Piegeon", by Seymour Leichman (1972): New York

and others

Many Fantasies are set in a fabulous alternative London (Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterson, the art of Gustave Dore), New York (as Superman's "Metropolis" and Batman's "Gotham City"), Baghdad or Cairo, but the
City as such is rarely the theme in these cases. The above analysis draws
significantly from "The Encyclopedia of Fantasy" by John Clute & John
Grant, New York: St.Martins, 1997, pp.975-976.

John Clute explicitly gave me permission to quote from his encyclopedia, and kindly says that he uses my online one to assist his work.

#37 ::: David D. Levine ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 01:48 PM:

This has nothing to do with any of the above, but I had to share it with the Making Light crew.

Are you troubled by Arachibutyrophobia (fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth)? Or Dextrophobia (fear of objects at the right side of the body)? How about Zemmiphobia (fear of the great mole rat)? Well, The Phobia Clinic can help.

"The Phobia Clinic's 24-hour Zemmiphobia and Fear of the Great Mole Rat program offers guaranteed relief. ...each year, this surprisingly common phobia causes countless people needless distress. To add insult to an already distressing condition, most zemmiphobia therapies take months or years..."

Just go to and click on any of hundreds of phobias, and you can see the EXACT SAME PAGE promising to cure you of your fear of whatever.

Ah, the joys of ASP scripts. Thanks to Jay Lake for pointing this one out.

#38 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Nice of them to be “particularly focused on” every possible problem.

So would Arachnibutyrophobia be fear of spiders sticking to the roof of the mouth, or fear of peanut butter sticking to spiders? My Greek is rusty.

#39 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 06:16 PM:

That Fanthorpe quote reminds me of Miles' (unwritten, sadly) "Lots. Squishy. Green." report in

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 07:06 PM:

New and improved GMO mice, now rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids!

#41 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 08:05 PM:


Jack Finney's "The Third Level" is probably the best known Underground NYC fantasy story, set underneath GCT. Finney also wrote TIME AND AGAIN, a well-known (and quite good) time-travel story set mainly in 1882 NY. There's a sequel, FROM TIME TO TIME, which is worthwhile if you liked the first one, but not, I think, as good.

DOWN TOWN, by Viido Polikarpus and Tappan King (with whom some of you may well be acquainted), is a swell story about a mythic/fantastic NYC; it's technically a YA book, but don't worry about that.

I would also recommend Mark Helprin's WINTER'S TALE.

Oh, and JVP: Kotzwinkle's GAME OF THIRTY isn't a fantasy novel, no matter what list you found it on. Good book, though a long way from the author's best, but not fantasy.

#42 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 09:04 PM:

New York Fantasy: Also, Rosemary Edghill's The Sword of Maiden's Tears, the only decent book in a series planned as twelve, but only three actually published (Thankfully - when you catch an author lifting paragraph-long character descriptions WORD FOR WORD from one book to the next, they're doing something wrong). It's good because of the setting; the city feels real. (The others move into the fantasy world, and it's.... generic. in the worst possible way.)

As for Threes, Rev. 2.0, I have the album it's recorded on, and it was recorded 1990. Always possible the artist was performing it earlier than that, however. (Sigh... one of these days, I'm going to try and talk Cat into letting me do that Filk omnibus review...)

David Moles: "So would Arachnibutyrophobia be fear of spiders sticking to the roof of the mouth, or fear of peanut butter sticking to spiders? My Greek is rusty."

I think there should be a special penalty for people who try to make me snort apple juice into my salad... That said, if the French is anything like the Greek, 'Arachi-' is the 'Peanut' part of the term... so spiders-to-mouth it is.

#43 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Teep: Yeep! We're having a gross plumbing problem here (our house to main sewer line collapsed, good news is 1) plumber/contractor thinks they can dig it all up and fix it in two days... sans total repair of driveway which they simply cannot do until the temps get over about 30...

On another thread, anyone who was at World Horror in KC, MO, or knows Dee Willis -- SHE GOT A NEW HEART YESTERDAY! (she was the chair... had to take a back seat to cochair due to health). It's a modern miracle, apparently she's sitting up and eating solid food, and probably feeling better than she has since she was a child, I think the start of the damage was rheumatic fever and she was supposed to not live to 21... she's made to early 40s! We in KC have a lot to be thankful for, she's a good friend and great fan.

Anyone who knows her, and wants to pass along good wishes, email me at

#44 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 05:58 AM:

The title is actually "Threes, Rev. 1.1". According to the author's lyrics page it's copyright 1988 (I thought I remembered hearing it earlier, but I must be mistaken).

And, because it's late and I'm free-associating filk and large words about behavioral disorders, here's Rhinotillexomania (by Michael Longcor, who's well worth hearing despite this song :-)

#45 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 10:16 AM:

The Slushpile thread is getting so long, I hesitate to add to it, and this is ever-so-slightly off-topic, so I'll post it here instead. Even when books have passed the test and been published, they can form a kind of slush pile for reviewers. "Wrote the wrong book" translates into "I just don't like [insert subgenre here], so why did the publisher send it to *me*?" Faced with an author I've never heard of but is not a first novelist (I try to be kind to those unless "wrong book" syndrome kicks in on page 10), I have a tendency to skim if not immediately captivated, and put things to languish on the Maybe pile for a month or so. Writers I've read and liked can still end up as Maybes if I'm bored by page 50 (though this can be due to temporary reviewerly burnout, and the next try will have me turning those pages like mad and utterly involved in the text all the way through page 500-plus).
As an inveterate reader of other people's reviews, I also notice how much responses can be a matter of taste.

All the more reason to rejoice when good books *don't* vanish without trace, while bad ones inevitably leap onto the bestseller lists with very little interference from editors or reviewers. I'm awed by the hard work put in by great editors like Teresa; by comparison, we reviewers have it easy (even if the "Ugh" or "Not My Thing" galleys do sometimes form tottering heaps in my back room!).

#46 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Paula Helm Murray: It's not all that bad. I live a very rural life on purpose. On the whole, living out in the sticks is enjoyable, relaxing, and mental-health-positive. Like with most things, though, there are drawbacks. The local (grocery) inavailability of sushi rice, udon noodles and dried black beans is one such drawback. (Fortunately, there's mail order...) Plowing the road during snow events is another.

For your world, plumbing work is horribly expensive and disruptive... I hope they get it fixed. Indoor plumbing is one of the world's great inventions and in a choice between water/sewer and electric, I'd vote for 'no electric' any day.

#47 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 12:33 PM:

Yep, Teep. We've had to cadge showers from friends and familiy, a book-dealer friend is coming up from Wichita this afternoon for an estate estimate (we think, he's originally from CO and doesn't think this snow is much....) so we'll go visit his nice hotel room once he gets here.

We're city mice, we live in one of the nicest neighborhoods close to downtown KC, MO, Hyde Park. And I'll take a city sewer line over septic tank any day, I've lived with one of those.

They did put disinfectant and air freshener down in the basement, the house smells much better now. But water won't run out until the line is replaced, which they can't bet started today, because we're having a fairly heavy snowfall for our area (apologies, NY, y'all are going to get it on the overnight/tomorrow....straight from the midwest/southwest)

#48 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 12:57 PM:

MK: I chose "Kells" for an art project years ago, involving an illuminated initial, which logically would be K. I'm a K fancier anyway. I looked through our book of plates from the famous book and realized they didn't use any Ks in it.

So what the heck. I based it on an H. Or I should say an "h" as there were no upper cases (if memory serves). My illumination showed the monks looking apprehensive as a ship of devil-horned Nord punks looms off the coast. Yeah, I understand the horned helmets are now as inoperative as dodos with thumbs.

That reminds me, here's a tip for folks with unusual names: you can cut your name off your old credit cards to make tiny vanity plates for toy cars. Enjoy.

#49 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Speaking of strange place names in the US (the UK list is priceless Teresa, thanks) my favorite has long been Drain, Oregon. With all the rain, you just knew there had to be one somewhere . . .

#50 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 01:43 PM:

Short version of three plumbing horror stories.

(1) After my mother died of ovarian cancer at age 46, I cooked a 17-course Thanksgiving dinner for my grieving father and siblings, at my New Jersey apartment. 5 minutes before they arrived, vast quantities of sewage backed up into the house and overflowed from all toilets, sinks, bathtubs... "That doesn't smell like turkey" said my brother as I opened the front door...

(2) Immediately after I moved into the 11-room 1930 home in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the flaws concealed by the seller and missed by the inspector began to rampage. I'd moved my boxes of most precious papers, including the letters from said deceased mother, onto the floor of one particular room. But the hot water tank for the solar-power water-heating system was cracked, and that room started filling up with water, destroying the bottom-level boxes of papers. And, oh yes, my most precious cache of science fiction magazines from the 1920s-1940s, including excellent quality Fantasy & SF #1, and other goodies. Literally turned them back to pulp.

(3) Have a nice cleaning lady who comes in once or twice a month. We watch her children sometimes, meet her husband, nice family. One day she brought a new assistant, who clumsily knocked glass-paned paintings from walls, and did other things. Suddenly the ladies were shrieking "Meester Post! Meester Post!". Vast cascades of water were pouring through the light fixture in the ceiling of the dining room, among other things ruining the autographed first editions of some Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein books on the dining room table. The assistant kept saying "I deedn't do nothing." And would not tell me what she'd been doing in the bathroom on the second floor. Hence, I had to assume a leaking pipe, and shut off all water to the house for about 4 days, during which we had no working bathrooms, and had to get take-out meals. A couple of weeks later I got the story that, as the cleaning ladies had driven away, the clumsy assistant admitted to the supervisor that she HAD done something to "that place where you brush your teet." She didn't know the word "sink" (and I don't known the Spanish word myself). To this day, water sometimes comes through the lighting, filling up the globe that surrounds the lightbulb, and peels paint from the ceiling.

Remember that Three Stooges episode where Curly, Larry, and Moe are plumbers at a mansion, and get the plumbing so messed up that Curly can't get out of the bathtub, light comes from the showerhead, and water bursts from the lights? Not so funny to me anymore.

But, at least I have a house. For someone who grew up in a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn Heights, New York, that's wonderful. I do know what it is to be homeless. I lived in an airconditioning duct for months, once.

#51 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 05:08 PM:

Anything I can do, Lenora.

In re “Thankful Sherman” — Thankful doesn’t really trip off the tongue, but it’s a shame we don’t run across names like “Azariah Bliss” more often these days.

#52 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 03:29 AM:

Jonathan--Next time some softcover, or even hardcover, gets soaked like that, put it in the freezer and leave it there for, say, 2 months or so (how long depends on the freezer temp.). The water will gradually sublimate and the book will be relatively undamaged--at least much less so than if you just let it dry out. An old friend who worked for the NYPL conservation dept. taught me that one, and it's worked reasonably well when i've tried it.

#53 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 05:57 AM:

"Thankful Sherman". Sounds like a spammer to me, David.

Some choice favourites from the last month's pack of spammers' names:

Queen Carrier
Hench H. Dissembles
Sammy Money
Extent L. Misused
Socorro Sloan
Abraham Yu
Constance Ponce

And my absolute favourite:

Raffle S. Resonantly

See what you miss by having an efficient anti-spamming service?

#54 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 06:48 AM:

Glancing at the slushpile thread again and reading of coffee (and other) stains, I suffered an awful paradigm shift: I realised that "manuscript" /still/ meant an actual sheaf of paper. Somehow I took it for granted that authors submitted their work these days as .txt or .doc files, on a floppy or CD if not as e-mail.

#55 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 02:28 PM:

Okay - since many are sharing weird websites in this thread, and since I've been dying to share this in the same spirit as the patriotic nipple jewelry and fowl follies links, please forgive me if I offend by sending you to:

After all, there is something about store-bought versus homemade, don't you think?

#56 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 03:12 PM:

Robert L: Thank you for a wonderful method to save wet books! Of course, since I'm a professor, I prefer dry reading.

NelC: the paradigm shift on "manuscript" (bleached smoothed pressed finer/wood pulp vs. machine-readable data) has a fractal border, slowly moving. Some places took mss by file as early as 1973, in my experience. Others still don't.

I lost about $5,000 on a co-authored business book once because I was delivering my chapters on time, digitally, and the recipient didn't consider that actual delivery, held up my checks, and went nuts over the standard clause in Writers Guild contracts that say that if either coauthor dies, the remaining one can finish it, and split all royalties %50/%50 with the other's estate. He read that as license for me to murder him!

He tried to finish the book himself, completely blew it, and then burned his bridges with the prestigious publisher by misunderstanding their letter to him.

At least I got a great lunch at a very expensive restaurant for my son and I, to sign with the ex-co-author the Mutual General Release and Settlement.

IEEE Computer Magazine not only accepted email attachments of all drafts of my Jan 2000 Cover Article on Computers and Science Fiction, paid timely, gave me many free copies, but they even put the article up on some web sites, for me to link to.

By the way, I just finished reading Cory Doctorow's "Eastern Standard Tribe" this morning. Yay, Tor, for buying the hardcopy! What a fun and clever and fifteen minutes into the future novel! Please see his cover art, links, etc. on Boing Boing, folks. We're talking Nebula Recommendation here.

#57 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 09:14 PM:

Since we're talking about books and strange links, here's, one I came across this evening.

At this point, in light of recent conversation here, I have to wonder how long this thing sat on the slush pile... ;)

#58 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 09:15 PM:

Urk. That should read "strange books and strange links." Apologies.

#59 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2004, 03:22 AM:

Kip W wrote:
MK: I chose "Kells" for an art project years ago, involving an illuminated initial, which logically would be K. I'm a K fancier anyway. I looked through our book of plates from the famous book and realized they didn't use any Ks in it.

So what the heck. I based it on an H. Or I should say an "h" as there were no upper cases (if memory serves).

The Book of Kells is written in insular half uncial, which had only one "case". ("Case" is an anachronism though, since it refers to the technology of printing presses. As would "font" be.) There are no K's because it's in Latin and Latin seldom -- never is too strong, but almost never -- uses K.

I also did a college paper on a page from Kells. Mine was the Chi-Rho, page, which is dominated by the X, which looks sort of K-ish -- it's very kicky; it looks like someone dancing! -- so you could have used it.

I still love this page!

#60 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2004, 03:21 PM:

In mid-December 2003, on another thread, there was a MakingLight reader enquiring about Mathematical Science Fiction. I was one of several who replied. As a result, I have continued to explore, and have posted on the web an annotated list of 42 books and stories, and 5 movies:

Science Fiction and Fantasy About Mathematics

Warning: loads slowly (over 450 Kilobytes) because the new material is an anchor within an encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy by subgenre/theme.

There are likely to be errors and omissions (I don't have all pub dates), which I will be happy to have corrected.

"Happy to have corrected" should be an operative phrase for dealing with rejection letters. All they cost you is postage and waiting; they may have invaluable advice from dedicated professional editors!

Does anyone know a good, free, online calculator for Gamma Functions of complex arguments?

#61 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2004, 03:48 PM:

I didn't want to stick my neck out and mention uncials, because I can only get about three quarters of an inch into the subject before I run out of knowledge entirely. I figured "k" was rare in Latin, but I searched the whole thing to see if I could find one anyway; no luck.

Oh yeah, I went ahead and borrowed the whole thing from myself for a Christmas card that year. I used a large "h" for happy, and continued the sentiment inside, where it could be different happy things for different recipients. If I didn't have the newsy letter on the back, we could have saved it for a birthday card.

#62 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2004, 10:49 PM:

The name Thankful Sherman reminds me of Elizabeth Pope's Peaceable Sherwood.

#63 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2004, 12:26 AM:

Hilde and I were at Bookman's this afternoon, and the helpful young lady at the info desk had a number of books lined up face-out on the ledge behind her.

Glancing at them, I saw that one bore the title THE ART OF MEDIEVAL SPAM.

Say what? I shifted my position a bit, and saw that glare from the front window had obscured the last word of the title. The book was actually THE ART OF MEDIEVAL SPAIN.

*whew* For a moment there, I had a mental image of a tunic-clad guy with a paint-pot and a dead horse, writing THOU TOO MAYST BE AS HUNG AS THYS HORSE on the animal's side before catapulting it over a castle's walls.

#64 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2004, 03:44 AM:

There was a huge crowd for William Gibson's reading at book signing at Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena earlier today (or yesterday, technically, Saturday 7 Feb 2004).

I had Dr. Geoffrey Landis and Dr. Mary Turzillo meet me at Vroman's to say hello to Mr. Gibson. But is was beyond a line. It was individual rows of seated people with harcovers in hand being called up to wait in the line.

So I, the lowest-ranking SF person, asked a store assistant manager what the protocol was for Nebula and Hugo winners to say hello to the star, without disrupting the autographing. We were whisked ahead of the line of lines, chatted for about 40 seconds each, then peeled away.

Mr. Gibson was good natured, but somewhat shellshocked by the magitude of his publicity tour, I thought.

As with Terry Pratchett or J. K. Rowling, and perhaps Neal Stephenson, Bill Gibson is reaching some people who might not read any other book this year.

Hugos and Nebulas are very nice, but achieving the level of 2nd richest woman in Great Britain (JKR), or books sell in stores that sell no other books (TP), or New York Times Bestseller (NS) or cover of Rolling Stone (WG) are extremely important in affecting the wider culture, which is the didactic propaganda self-fulfilling prophecy agenda of Science Fiction, as H. G. Wells taught us.

On the other hand, someone in the audience at the reading asked Mr.Gibson if he was an effective prophet.

"Are you kiding?" he asked, in a self-depreciating tone. "In Neuromancer I had all the isolated people. No cell phones!"

That's what happened on the ground today in one of the Caucuses that matters.

#65 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2004, 05:58 AM:

Jonathan: Hope it helps someday. It's not perfect, but it's the best thing I know. At the very least, it will keep mold from forming, which is what can do a lot of the damage when a book gets wet. Anyway, it was nice for once to know I didn't need to explain what "sublimate" means.

NelC: Since no one else seems to have addressed your question: There are various ways books are submitted these days. (I'm talking entire books, now, not shorter stories or articles.) When they are submitted originally, they are usually still in hard-copy format, i.e., an actual MS. When a final copy of a book that is under contract is submitted, it is often sent in both electronic and hard-copy format. But even if it is sent entirely electronically, it will still be as a hard copy that the editor, copy editor, and proofreader will deal with it.

Sometimes a printout of the original electronic file gets so marked up, revised, and/or added to that it turns back into a manuscript, and the book is set directly from the marked-up printout. At a house where the rule is to write queries and comments onn the MS. rather than on separate flags or sheets of paper, the margins can grow to resemble a bathroom-wall dialogue.

Someday sooner or later we'll probably be doing it all on some giant server with PDF files and electronic blacklining programs and all that. But not yet.

#66 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2004, 08:45 AM:

Robert L: Anyway, it was nice for once to know I didn't need to explain what "sublimate" means.

Or that you had readers who realized you were talking chemistry and unconsciouly translated "sublimate" to "sublime"....

#67 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Clever webmasters! I like the new (view all by) function you've added to the comment headers.

It should be noted, however, that clicking on the link returns a list of the commenter in question's postings to Electrolite, not to Making Light.

#68 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2004, 01:22 AM:

Bloody hell! You're right.

I'll address it after getting some sleep. If I try it right now, all our posts will come out in Chinese.

#69 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2004, 02:15 AM:

I could make some comment about the side effects of them appearing in Hebrew (w/r/t Vokalsentfernung*) but as you say, it is late.

*in the academic argot, Selbstlautsdurchsuchung und Vernichtungsmachen.

#70 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2004, 10:44 AM:
So I, the lowest-ranking SF person, asked a store assistant manager what the protocol was for Nebula and Hugo winners to say hello to the star, without disrupting the autographing.

There wasn't anything like that when he read up here at UW, but maybe there weren't any Hugo or Neb winners in the room. I wonder if that means anyone could have nominated themselves "lowest-ranking SF person" and demanded an audience?

#71 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2004, 06:18 PM:

No better place to put this, I suppose--I'm blogging up a storm at today's O'Reilly Digital Democracy Conference--the interested can see for themselves.

#72 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2004, 08:00 PM:

David Moles: Yes, I was the lowest-ranking SF quark of the Landis-Turzillo-Post Baryon, as well as of the Gibson-Landis-Turzillo-Post Tetraquark, and was trying to facilitate the Nebulon-Neubulon and Nebulon-Hugon interaction...

If UW = University of Washington, then you guys probably see more of Gibson, as he lives up in Vancouver. Also, is "China First" still on about 45th & U? One of my favorite Chinese Restaurants, mentioned in my Nebula Preliminary Ballot story "Stop-It-Now.". And the Blue Moon bar? Both my wife and I have been keynote speakers at the UW Computer Faire. Does that still go on? If UW =/= University of Washington, never mind

#73 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2004, 01:48 AM:

UW does stand for University of Washington, and I've seen the Blue Moon bar, but I can't speak to either China First or the UW Computer Faire, I'm afraid. I'm not affiliated with the U — just a guy who lives a couple of miles up the road and occasionally shops at the University Bookstore.

#74 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2004, 09:25 PM:

I had a mental image of a tunic-clad guy with a paint-pot and a dead horse, writing THOU TOO MAYST BE AS HUNG AS THYS HORSE on the animal's side before catapulting it over a castle's walls.

Damm Bruce, I'm going to be thinking about that image for hours . . .

#75 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Claude, I'm about to do something bendy to your brain...

#76 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2004, 04:51 AM:

I do hereby state and aver that never no more shall I be reading Slushkiller.

MKK--somebody let me know if anything good happens

#77 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2004, 07:14 PM:

WOOOO HOOO IN KCMO!!!! Lake Poohbegone is out of the basement, the holes dug for new trap and line filled in, floor washed, and the driveway filled in (awaiting driveway repair, it's too wet and mucky for the aggregate fill they put to even tamp down right now). Hot showers and flushing toilets for all here this morning! All that's left is finishing a repair in the downstairs bathroom (the old toilet is now buried in the trench....) that the plumber didn't want to come in house in mucky shoes, so will do it tomorrow.

#78 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2004, 10:50 PM:

Found poetry in Particles:

What's worse than form rejections?
Piratical bath room supplies.
Non-Standard Units of Measurement.
A gallery of secret writing.
Getting Jesus to appear.
Tacos with legs.
#79 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 06:08 AM:

"Last 300 comments" on Electrolite was a sort of minimalist poetry for a while:

Everybody knows
What happened
Everybody knows
What happened
What happened
What happened
Everybody knows
Everybody knows

...or something like that.

#80 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 10:04 AM:

I am thinking of going to Boskone (since I live nearby) and am trying to figure out whether to do a whole weekend or one day only. If one day only, which is the best day? Can anyone recommend some of the best parts and what day they are on so I can make more of an informed decision and less of a shot in the dark?

#81 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 10:31 AM:

Erik Nelson: Saturday has the most panels, but here's the preliminary schedule so you can see what looks interesting to you:

#82 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 11:37 AM:

China First is gone, replaced by a thai place (I think). The Blue Moon is still there and probably will be for a long while. There's a Drinking man sculpture out front now -- a takeoff on the big hammering man downtown.

#83 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 01:48 PM:

RE: Sidebar links- Dunno if you guys saw this but I thought it made an interesting addition to the Barbie Universe getting weirder and weirder. Apparently Barbie and Ken are breaking up.

#84 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 01:54 PM:

I blame “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If not for that, Ken could just be open about his committed, long-term relationship with G.I. Joe.

#85 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2004, 05:36 PM:

Oh...another random side note on the Barbie tangent, before I forget: I once turned my sisters' Barbies into Klingon's with Silly Putty. And I still have a plan to buy full size GI Joes to strip them for their clothing so that I can make Tank Girl Barbie and Jet Girl Barbie. *wiggles fingers*

#86 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2004, 10:10 AM:

Claude Muncey wrote:

"Damm Bruce, I'm going to be thinking about that image for hours . . ."

Well, thank you, Claude. I'm always pleased to plant a disturbing image in someone's mind.

(If I ever get a website of my own set up, I'll have to reprint the "oral birth" cover I did for an old AZAPA mailing.)

#87 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2004, 10:20 AM:

re the Particles link for "Beautiful Manuscript Pages":

"We are returning your manuscript unread. Please follow standard manuscript-format guidelines for future submissions. Thank you."

#88 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2004, 01:56 PM:

I WANT a pair of Powerskippers.


#89 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2004, 10:54 AM:

The latest packet from Quality Paperback Book Club offers a volume titled KNITTING FOR THE FIRST TIME.

I'm wondering, "Should I?"

#90 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2004, 11:25 PM:

Although (following up on my previous post above), after a browse through Amazon, a book that might be better for first-time knitters might be STITCH 'N BITCH by Deborah Stoller.

(If nothing else, you gotta love the attitude that lets one give one's book a title like that!)

#91 ::: Sue Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2004, 08:14 AM:

Oh, look, a Linotype machine!

My Dad, and my maternal Grandad, both worked at the Lino at Broadheath in Altrincham for donkeys years. Dad was a clark but Grandad, Perseverance Skinner, was a forman on the shop floor.

You knew when it was midday and when it was five o'clock when the horn went and all the dads came out on their bikes.

I have a couple of matrix (matrices?) still here somewhere.

The works survived up until the eighties, repairing and replacing parts for Linotype machines still in use in India and China.

Sadly all gone now, even the football pitch has been built on.
I would go and watch the Lino team when they played at home (if it wasn't a Saturday when Dr Who was on, some things were sacred, even my Dad came home early to watch Dr Who with me) as Dad was their treasurer and if it rained, would go play in the bomb shelters with the other kids.

#92 ::: Sue Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2004, 08:15 AM:

Oh, look, a Linotype machine!

My Dad, and my maternal Grandad, both worked at the Lino at Broadheath in Altrincham for donkeys years. Dad was a clark but Grandad, Perseverance Skinner, was a forman on the shop floor.

You knew when it was midday and when it was five o'clock when the horn went and all the dads came out on their bikes.

I have a couple of matrix (matrices?) still here somewhere.

The works survived up until the eighties, repairing and replacing parts for Linotype machines still in use in India and China.

Sadly all gone now, even the football pitch has been built on.
I would go and watch the Lino team when they played at home (if it wasn't a Saturday when Dr Who was on, some things were sacred, even my Dad came home early to watch Dr Who with me) as Dad was their treasurer and if it rained, would go play in the bomb shelters with the other kids.

#93 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2004, 09:15 AM:

On learning to knit (Bruce Arthurs) -- I picked up the basics this past weekend with the following website:

It doesn't require a whole book. It should take you maybe three hours to learn to cast on and get the knit/purl thing going at a modest rate. From there on out, it's a matter of practice.

Is it fun? Pretty much, yeah. Clickit, clickit, clickit go the needles. Kind of neat, really.

#94 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2004, 09:40 AM:

I want a USB version of the keyboard that Linotype operator in the pictures was using. (And I want a word processor that actually does Unicode, as opposed to pretending to do Unicode, so I have a fighting chance of being able to use things like ligatures.)

#95 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2004, 01:28 PM:

I guess comments on Particles go here?

"Philosophical basis of Yes, Minister" is really just a glossary with some philosophy hidden in it (especially the concept of "going native" which is at the heart of the show, and yes it's a real term in British politics).

There are a few inaccuracies, however. The writer is a little confused about the relationship between the overlapping concepts of ministers, cabinet ministers, and secretaries of state. Also:

Backbenchers are members of any party, not just the governing party, who are not party or government spokespeople;

The Deputy Leader is NOT first in line to become Prime Minister (or party leader if the party is out of office), but merely becomes acting leader if the office is vacated suddenly (e.g. death of the Labour Party leader in 1994) until an election for the office is held. Which will almost invariably be someone else (as it was in that case);

Lord President and Lord Privy Seal are not necessarily "useless non-jobs" though they can be: they're usually the official titles of people like the chief whip and the floor leader, which are not themselves official titles.

Thank you. We now return you to our regular chatter.

#96 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2004, 11:43 PM:

I'm not sure which of these is closer to the interests of making Light, but both tickle me.

Scientists are finding that, after all, love really is down to a chemical addiction between people

Odd, this explains Love with analysis of Vole biology, without (unless I missed it) pointing out that VOLE is an anagram of LOVE. Or of making a Darwinian abbreviation of EVOL. I like such multiple anagrams of related words, such as PARENTAL and PRENATAL and PATERNAL.

Second, as Cory Doctorow gasps at on BoingBoing:

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine is obscene in Michigan?

I'd guess that either of these is more interesting to you than that I can now represent all whole numbers from 1 through 625 out of four copies of "pi" plus some math symbols...

#97 ::: adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2004, 07:57 AM:

Nothing to do with the PM or obscene SF but back to an earlier crafty thread--

Interesting wool and fractal rugs. Granted, the latter is more a cool idea than actual rug--but the possibility is pretty cool.

#98 ::: AnneG ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2004, 12:49 PM:

I have a question about yarn-related program activities. My mom has a Fair Isle sweater she got in Scotland probably 50 yrs ago. It's in excellent shape except for an incipient hole. It looks like one stitch just gave out--the yarn ends are tapered, so I don't think wildlife was involved. Is there a way to fix it?

#99 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2004, 03:44 PM:

I note that Chaos Magicians are either mysteriously absent from the Pagan Heirarchy, or (perhaps more likely) all over it.

#100 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 11:45 PM:

A sidesaddle bicycle. Oh, my. Sure, it can go both ways (though that sounds like another topic altogether!) but you aren't facing the direction you're traveling *either* way!

Where's Ralph Nader when we need him?

#101 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Either I just went and had a look at Scotty the Blue Bunny's site, or I've been taking acid and listening to Antony and the Johnsons again.

#102 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Just thought I'd point to the /. review of Making Light regular Charlie Stross' book "Singularity Sky."

In part just because it's fun to watch Slashdotters twitch in all the expected ways when people start reviewing sci-fi with one typical bias or another.

#103 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 11:19 PM:

What are these Blogads that have suddenly appeared on Making Light and Electrolite? Do you need advertising revenue to pay for the hosting? Did you decide there was too much blank space on the page? Are they evidence of some kind of parasite that has attached itself to my computer? (Does anyone else see them? Am I crazy?)

#104 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 11:36 PM:

Just a hunch, but given the amount of bandwidth that Slushkiller alone has commanded lately, I'm not surprised that our Gracious Hosts are looking for ways to make a bit more self-sufficient.

Upon further reflection, the very nice (and not untrue) things said about Teresa's work in the Koufax Awards announcment probably didn't hurt either.

#105 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 11:41 PM:

Didn't hurt the demands for bandwidth, I mean.

You know, by lessening them. The demands. For, um, that bandwidth.

(Note to self: new rule. Always hit "preview" one more time than you think you actually need to.)

#106 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 01:41 PM:

Something about either the ads or the code with the Meyer-for-Congress ad on Slushkiller is doing odd things in Opera (I'm using 7.20) — it loads the whole page but then won't let me scroll below the position of the ad. I can (fortunately) tell Opera to ignore CSS and so read the comments at the bottom, which makes me suspect it's a <div> issue.


#107 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 01:46 PM:

Further data: it's not happening on this page, tho' when I posted the above there was no ad here, nor on the front page. It's still happening on Slushkiller, tho'. Opera don't like it's size? Dunno.


#108 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Regarding Opera: I'm afraid it's all I can do to make sure the increasing complexities of render reasonably on the many fine free browsers out there: MSIE, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, Camino, Galeon, etc.

Supporting the eccentric requirements of for-pay browsers like Opera is not really something I can manage. (And no, I don't regard Opera as free just because you can use an ad-infected version without giving them money.)

I will note that Opera is increasingly the despair of webmasters everywhere.

If it's any consolation, Electrolite now has a full-fledged alternate version (jokingly referred to on my front page as "ElectroLighter") that uses a single-column layout for its front page and for all individual-entry pages. So far Making Light's somewhat simpler two-column structure, with all the sidebar stuff following the main body text in the actual HTML, has meant we didn't need a "Making Lighter", but if it proves to be the case that we really do need one, well, having now sweated out one of the most badly-written sections of MT's documentation, I now know how to do it...

#109 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2004, 06:11 PM:


It's too early for me to give results to the Slushkiller thread, but I've been submitting Mathematics papers to journals at, for me, a record-setting pace.

I was up to 2:00 a.m. last night cutting back and forth between two papers in progress, typing text for one while the computer was running Python to grind out numbers for the other.

Fueled by fresh-ground Trader Joe's Columbia Supremo arabica coffee, and Hot & Sour Soup (not in the same cup), I managed to finish, proofread, and print both papers today, for snailmail submission tomorrow.

Today's output:

(1) "Triangular Dodecagonal Numbers", for Mathematics Magazine;

(2) "Dodecagonal Squares from Fibonacci Numbers", for Fibonacci Journal.

These two follow on the heels of the others I've submitted this month and last month:

(3) "Triangular Carmichael Numbers: The First 22 Identified", submitted to American Mathematics Monthly on Friday;

(4) "Iterated Triangular Numbers", submitted to Mathematics Magazine in early January (as I'd posted on this blog, it literally came to me in a dream);

(5) "Iterated Polygonal Numbers", submitted to Mathematics Magazine, mid-January 2004

and the three I'm presenting at the 5th International Conference on Complxity Science, Boston, May:

(6) "Imaginary Mass, Momentum, and Acceleration: Physical or Nonphysical?" coauthored with my wife and son, submitted January 2004;

(7) "The Evolution of Controllability in Enzyme System Dynamics", a polished-up fragment of my unpublished 1977 dissertation;

(8) "Adaptation and Coevolution on an Emergent Global Competitive Landscape"
Author #1 = Professor Philip Vos Fellman, Southern New Hampshire University
Author #2 = Professor Jonathan Vos Post, Woodbury University
Author #3 = Roxana Wright, Southern New Hampshire University

And, at the same time, my work-in-progress for papers #9 and #10 are online as my web pages for "The Four Nines Puzzle" and "The Four Pi Puzzle."

I'm not just using this blog as a soap box to boast. Rather, I am reporting the first time that I have experienced the mathematical equivalent of a writer's frenzy. There have been times where I was writing one or more poems a day, and submitting many, and publishing some.

There have been times where I wrote two short stories in a week.

I knew of a writers workshop in Seattle that has students write a short story every day for a full month.

There is an addictive euphoric effect in such hyperproductivity. It may distort the critical faculties. I'll need to pay CLOSE attention to referee and editors' comments.

Artur Rimbaud wrote about this experience, as he stayed up all night smoking hashish and writing revolutionary symbolist poetry and prose poems, and feeling elated as the sun rose after the allnighter.

Have other authors felt the same kind of rush? And is the expected upside of what becomes a writers block at the downside, for those tending towards manic depressive cycles?

The good news is, my wife is a scientist and author also, so she is supportive and congratulatory, which keeps me going. As is my son.

My dog could not care less. She wonders why I've been less responsive than usual to pawing at my lap while I'm typing frantically on the PC.

"Math is hard. Let's go shopping."

#110 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2004, 08:13 PM:

I'm having the same problem with "Slushkiller," but I figured it was a weird thing in the comments itself, not the post, so didn't bother to bring it up.

I'm sorry to hear that Opera is an annoyance to webmasters, because as a user I find it much more flexible than other browsers I've tried (yes, that includes Firebird, or whatever it's been renamed to).

Anyway, thanks for Electrolighter and the rest of the user-friendly efforts on the site.

#111 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2004, 12:12 AM:

Another Opera user checking in here. The scroll-down problem only seems to occur with comment threads of a certain extreme length (such as Slushkiller), and I've been able to work around it by toggling over to ignoring CSS for the occasion.

I have to admit that I'm not real clear on why Opera's far-from-excessive cost should make it any less deserving of consideration than the various free browsers out there, since presumably the people who are using the for-pay version find something in it worth the price.

#112 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2004, 10:22 AM:

Good to hear that, Debra. I was going to investigate further but got sidetracked.

I still use Opera (instead of Fire[fox,bird]) because it's the only current browser that runs with any reasonable speed on my old and creaky W95 PC. And even v7 was a performance hit over v6. Size matters.


#113 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2004, 11:32 AM:

Another Opera user; the reason I use it is mostly because it can be set to open with all the tabs that were open when I closed it. Also mouse gestures. And inertia (I've gotten used to the UI).

#114 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2004, 06:44 PM:

"We have had people who have painted peanut butter on kids faces so the bear will come up and lick the peanut butter off the child's face and get a picture of it," says Bryant.


That is probably the most horrifying thing I've read in the past year.

Terry K

#115 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2004, 06:52 PM:

When I was in high school I was taught to run a LinoType. I liked it.

The seperate key sets for upper and lower case, the easy toggle of the keys (with a layout that made two-finger typing fast as blazes. There were a couple of printers who were but a blur of flickering wrists) the clicks of the dies sliding into the trough, those would have been enough.

Add the hiss of the lead, and the drop of the arm, followed but the clattering of the dies sliding along the roof, to fall into the sets, and it was more than enough.

Then the matrices, the dull gloss of the slugs and the "fun" of playing pressman, fitting them all together, reading them, in reverse; grey on grey, printing a test, proofing it, adjusting the leading (with 1 pt. strips of lead) and after it was all done, locking it down, running the page and sending to the photographer to be shot.

Heady stuff.

And almost as dead as the dodo.

Terry K.

#116 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2004, 01:34 AM:

This post is not for everyone here, only for those who are WSFS members (i.e., members of this year's Worldcon or last year's).

A modest proposal:

Hey -- wanna help create a WSFS constitutional crisis? I am about to suggest a Terribly Evial Thing from reading tonight's SMOFS digest. There's been a lot of discussion there over whether something like Making Light is actually a fanzine. Well, why don't we see how many nominations we can actually get for Making Light as Best Fanzine?

If you've got five other nominations that you like better, by all means use them; but if you're not using up all the nominations, consider using one for this forum. Personally, I find it much more interesting than most of the fanzines I see (not that many these days, unfortunately) and of the quality of many fmz that have deserved prior nomination.

This concept is being put forth with neither the knowledge or consent of any other person. I'm not completely sober when putting it forth. But overall, I think it'll make for interesting discussion both here and in the SMOFfish community if there are actually significant nominations.

Please state any opposing views. I'm hoping to expand discussion rather than incite flames.

#117 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2004, 12:43 PM:

Right On, Tom Whitmore!

This is, IMHO, a necessary crisis. If Web-published stories can win Nebula or Hugo, why not open up the Fan and semipro categories to this 21st Century Way Of Life? Or "Best Dramatic Presentation"?

I'm willing to vote for Making Light as best fanzine.

It is the only fanzine that I still read first thing in the morning or last thing before sleep!

But don't expect commenters to blogs to thereby gain entrance to First Fandom for quite some time...

#118 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2004, 01:00 PM:

On another subthread, for all writers: Read All Submission Guidelines Carefully!

To continue my tale from 22 Feb 2004, I was actually at the Post Office with my 3 copies of
"Dodecagonal Squares from Fibonacci Numbers", in a 9x12 envelope correctly addressed to the Editor of what I thought was Fibonacci Journal. I walked across the street to a university library, and double-checked.

(1) The journal was actually named Fibonacci Quarterly.
(2) The address had changed since the last issue I'd looked at.
(3) The new submission guidelines said that one MUST include the AMS 2000 Mathematics Subject Classifications at the end, or after the references.
(4) It also said politely that failure to observe ANY detail of the submission guidelines would result in mss being returned unread.

Yipes! So I went online to search on AMS 2000 Mathematics Subject Classifications.

Now I classify my own paper as:

11B39: "Fibonacci and Lucas numbers and polynomials and generalizations"

11B83: "Special sequences and polynomials"

11Y50: "Computer solution of Diophantine equations"

11Y55: "Calculation of integer sequences"

Not that this style of structuring Genre manuscripts is feasible...

Now I've got to slightly revise, laserprint again, and mail 3 corrected copies.

Saved myself a very frustrating rejection slip!

Nonmathematical writers, take heed.

By the way, for my own reference, I love "What is Special About This Number" as Making Light has pointed to. That's why I've sent Erich about 130 new "interesting" numbers, some of which he's added to his page. But, for the purposes of my current research, that web page has too much fun stuff, and I can't keep from browsing through it. Further, it is incomplete in Figurate Numbers (Triangular, Pentagonal, Hendecagonal, Truncated Octahedral, and so forth).

So I built Yet Another Web Page to compile my notes and results. I shall keep updating it, but here it is:

Table of Figurate Numbers, Sorted, Through 10,000

it still has lots of {to be done} notes to myself, but it also goes way past 10,000 when I had the data and whim...

#119 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2004, 01:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore: There's been a lot of discussion there over whether something like Making Light is actually a fanzine. Well, why don't we see how many nominations we can actually get for Making Light as Best Fanzine?

Hmmm. Well, this is my first year as a WSFS member, so doubtless there's a lot of history that I'm unaware of. But, after putting on my "statutory/constitutional interpretation hat" and looking at the relevant sections of the Constitution, I'd say that Making Light isn't a fanzine, primarily because of:

3.3.12: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.

(Emphasis added.) I think that fanzines are clearly being set up as a separate category than "generally available electronic media," which would be Making Light. There are other provisions that also support this conclusion, but this is the main one.

I have no opinion on whether any blog should be nominated for a fanzine, mind. I do think there's a very good argument to be made that blogs don't fit in the WSFS Constitution's definition of fanzine.

(But, TNH for Best Fan Writer!)

#120 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2004, 04:20 PM:

Kate: ...I'd say that Making Light isn't a fanzine, primarily because of:

3.3.12: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.

I see that the Fan Writer definition admits the possible existence of electronic media that aren't fanzines. I'd have to reach pretty far to take it as ruling out the existence of fanzines in electronic media.

It's much harder to figure out whether Making Light has published at least four issues in its history. I know issues are discussed, but are the discussions published in issues?

As for Best Fan Writer, I'm certainly not going to lobby against Teresa, but I might note there is a bit of a tradition there. Perhaps it's time for the tradition to end, but it could make winning more difficult. And something of an admission of failure for WSFS to give up before filling up all his mantelpieces.

But I suspect we digress. As I read it, Tom is more amused by stretching the fanzine category than interested in who wins Hugos. Forgive me if that's reading too much into the "constitutional crisis" presentation.

#122 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2004, 04:37 PM:

I'll add to Dan's answer to Kate that somebody smart may have put in that "or" specifically to end-run around any committee sufficiently stodgy to insist (a) that fannish writing is that which appears only in fanzines, and (b) fanzines appear only on paper; it moots any such argument rather than rule on the validity of the definition.

Note that I'm not wholly up on the N signs of unfannishness (that cause a fannish zine to be declared a semiprozine because it's too ]big[ to be fannish) and how they would be adjudicated; I can see people arguing for days over Making Light's circulation, for instance, although it's clearly not paying its contributors or providing a substantial fraction of anyone's income. But nominating is a neat idea....

#123 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 08:05 PM:

Utter nonsequitor (but isn't that what an open thread is for?) but I just finished reading Peter Blayney on The First Folio of Shakespeare (which accompanied an exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library many years back) and thought you might appreciate it. Much of the book goes into how publishers of the period printed books, and... oy!

Books were printed in six-sheet quires, yielding twelve pages when folded. Since they didn't have enough type to set the pages in order, they'd start by "casting off" -- estimating what text would end up on pages 6 & 7 (the center pages), and setting those first. After they were printed, they'd work forwards and backwards, setting pages 5 & 8, 4 & 9, and so on. Pages 6-12 were set in order, but 5 - 1 were done backwards. Problem was, they didn't always estimate correctly, so you'd sometimes get pages with lots of whitespace or (worse) lines crammed really close together.
Really impressive when done right, but looks really difficult to master...

And then it provides details like "The pages set by Compositor E are confined to the Tragedies and the last of the Histories, so he cannot have started working on the Folio before March or April 1623. One of his most striking characteristics is his extreme lack of skill: errors of every kind are far more frequent in his pages than in any others. ... On 8 November 1622 William Jaggard took on the first apprentice he had bound since 1614. There can be little doubt that Compositor E was that same apprentice: John Leason, son of..." I feel somewhat sorry for the guy. He will be remembered throughout history solely for the mistakes he made as a teenager on his first job.

At any rate, the book is just full of nifty technical details on how Shakespeare's First Folio was actually printed and I thought you might enjoy it. Were you in the Boston area (and interested), I'd lend it to you... As it is, you may want to look around for a copy.

#124 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 08:28 AM:

Blatantly promoting his own web site:


Now ranks #6 in the world of "Science Fiction" according to Google, and #2 in the world of "Science Fiction" according to Yahoo.

#125 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 02:45 PM:

The Logos Magpie says, "My shiny new word for the day is proctalgia. Awk!"


#126 ::: JMKagan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 03:20 PM:

This goes so far back into the past I can't even find the original link but here goes anyhow and please blame my Lyme-disease-fried memory if I get this wrong.

Jane Yolen---? I think you were asking about Rebecca Harding Davis?
Here's a good place to start:

Edited, with a critical introduction by Jean Pfaelzer
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995

It's still in print, I see from a quick google. Don't let the price deter you: it's huge (fiction and essays as well) and I certainly got my money's worth...!

(Psst! I think her writing was a major influence on Theodore Sturgeon. Let me know what you think once you've read a few of her stories, ok?)

#127 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 07:13 PM:

For all you knitting fans out there, this was sent to me by my pal Gecko today. Remember the LEGO animated ad? He says it's the same director. This one's a music video.

Let's just tell ourselves they had a good reason for giving the group a misspelled name. It's, uh, wittier that way.

#128 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 09:04 PM:

I keep a copy of the katana video on my hard disk for when the more vicious side of me needs a smile.

Anyway, it's a great example of why many stainless steel alloys are bad choices for blades -- too brittle and cracks way too easily.

#129 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 09:40 AM:

Perhaps this has been posted to Making Light before, but I haven't seen it. Here's a company that will, for only £180.00, "identify your ancestral clan mother."

They send you a DNA sampling kit, and when you return it, they analyze it and, based on the mitochondrial DNA, tell you from which of the "Seven Daughters of Eve" you are descended.

#130 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 12:51 PM:

About Gene Wolfe's rules for writers:

"No one is clinically sane if you know them well enough."

Uh, did he mean 'sane'? Or 'insane'? It might be true as written, but following on from the 'villain' rule, it seems as though it should be 'insane'.

#131 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 01:15 PM:

I'm guessing it's meant to read as written - a variation on "A normal person is someone you don't know real well."

I don't think it contradicts the villain rule so much as counterpoints it: Nobody thinks they're the bad guy, but nobody's 100% together either (given an exacting enough lens).

Wolfe's advice on writing rings truest to me of any I've read recently.

#132 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 02:04 PM:

Gene's rule is correct as written (though several other things in that piece, including the man's name, are mistyped). It does not violate the villain rule at all; the rule is that no one is a villain -in his/her own mind,- not that no one is a villain, period.

My ancestral mom appears to be Standard Oil.

No, wait. That's the Seven Sisters.

#133 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 02:17 PM:

I love the Unst Bus Shelter. Particularly the proclamation from the Queen allowing the Hamsters to wear Royal Regalia.

#134 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Idiots with katanas:

Knifemaker Bob Engnath used to make pretty decent Japanese blades the traditional way, and kept several finished swords on display at his shop. One day, a guy came in with a friend and, proclaiming his mastery of kenjutsu, offered to demonstrate a perfect chopping stroke with one of the katanas.

Unfortunately for Our Hero, Bob's blades were more curved than the ones he'd been practicing with, and as he raised his arms over his head, he stabbed himself in the ass.


#135 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 04:52 PM:

Xopher: I love the Unst Bus Shelter. Particularly the proclamation from the Queen allowing the Hamsters to wear Royal Regalia.

You saw a hamster proclamation? I found a proclamation that she had sent the crown jewels in lieu of her personal presence.

I wonder if there's a law against forging royal proclamations. It sounds like lese majeste, at least.

#136 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 04:54 PM:

J -

That's almost better than the video.

I am utterly blanking on who Custer LaRue sings for -- Boston Consort? -- but whoever they are, they have a CD out with a song on it. Well, many songs, but this one contains the memorable and obviously insufficiently repeated lyrics

It has become a proverb, taught in schools
There can be no jesting with sharp edge tools

#137 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 05:05 PM:

Dan, you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page and "click here" a couple of times. If you didn't see the hamsters, you also missed the Suggested Activities, which are also great fun.

#138 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 06:52 PM:

That must have been some eedjit, as all of the Ken-do/jitsu I've studied doesn't have the tip of the blade far enough down to do that.

But the number of people I've seen who are, "expert," with various weapons, and failed basic common sense tests is legion.

Terry K

#139 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 08:44 PM:

I'm convinced that there's a certain variety of geek that should never be allowed near a katana, just as you'd never hand a speed freak the keys to the meth lab.

Give this same person a trenchcoat as well, and they'll actually start looking for new ways to be moronic.

#140 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 04:44 AM:

From the way he told the story, I suspect Bob knew exactly what sort of person he was dealing with, and just made sure that no one else was at risk. He gave a fool the opportunity to learn from experience.

At least this guy got the point, in the end.


#141 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 10:23 AM:

Pat Holt's latest column (#382) includes an explanation of why it's been some time since her last column. In it, she uses a term that I hadn't seen yet (though i see through Google that it's not unique): "San Francisco's Winter of Love."

She says that she has always been "critical of the pressures that corporate owners have brought on mainstream journalists to take either a safe middle-ground with bland reporting or to sensationalize routine events" and worse, "a persistent caving in by the media and book publishers to email and phone campaigns from the Christian Right."

"But this time we've seen almost none of that. Media coverage of same-sex marriage has separated legal from religious opinion, has not sensationalized the few protesters who come and go (usually go), has viewed the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling with fairness and balance, has shown the end-of-ceremony kiss as it would with heterosexuals, has followed the Constitutional amendment story without bias (I looked for "Bush: What an Idiot" headlines without luck) and has let California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hang himself with comments predicting "riots" and "protests" and "dead people" everywhere (ha ha, Arnie, you can't teargas San Francisco's Winter of Love.)."

She goes on to speculate on why the mainstream media has been respectful in their recent treatment of gay marriage, saying:

"The larger reason, I think, is that everything the Christian Right has accused journalists of being is true. They're a bunch of social liberals, the sinners!"

You can find her archives at:

#142 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 06:43 PM:

In re "Signs and Blunders"

One of my best friends was once a Baptist pastor. Years ago we went and listend to a mutural aquaintance's first sermon in a new assignment as an Episcopal priest. The topic of the sermon was David and, being quite nervous, the preacher managed to consistently confuse to very different but similar sounding proper nouns. The first time he mentioned that "David commited adultery with Beersheba" we were both simply jaw dropping agahst. The rest of the sermon required iron control as he repeated the mistake several times. I'm not sure if either of us were breathing to well by the end.

Afterward we gently pointed out that he might want to change "Beersheba" to "Bathsheba" before the next service, but we congratulated him on preaching about what had to be the greatest party in Judeo-Christian history.

And nobody else in that congregation ever gave a sign that they noticed anything wrong . . .

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 09:59 PM:

Ah, yes. Back in 99 or so, I gave a concert of my music. In my patter introducing my setting of Psalm 51, I said "This Psalm was written by David after his adultery with Bathsheba. Well, I'm a Pagan, and I don't really know who Bathsheba was...I figure she must have been a palace intern."

#144 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 12:53 AM:

Just thought I would mention this article about the world's finest wool. I especially like this bit: To grow the world's finest wool, the Goodrich brothers built a luxurious shed dubbed the "Wooldorf Astoria" for the prized sheep on their Warroo Station property in northern New South Wales state. . .So comfortable is the "Wooldorf Astoria" that the shed manager's wife is called the "wool widow, because she never sees him," Goodrich joked.

I wonder what the fleece feels like, both pre and post processing (at all levels; my dad having been a textile factory's sales rep, I had the chance as a boy both to encounter unprocessed fibers and to learn how to card them. Somehow I managed not to wind up in the textile business :-)

Estimated price of the bale in the bank vault: >$750K. Somehow I don't think I'm getting one of those sweaters next winter.

#145 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 05:28 AM:

Is the writer in your life lacking inspiration? Give him/her something exciting to write about with an Extreme Kidnapping.

"Deluxe Kidnapping... We reserve the right to decline an offer of our services to anyone for any reason. Please keep in mind that our scenarios are extreme, and very realistic. Bring extra batteries for your pacemaker, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime."


#146 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 06:29 AM:

Dan & John M. -- Ah, yes, "counterpoint" was the word lurking at the back of my mind. What with the other misprints on the page and the lack of a bridging word or phrase -- e.g. "Then again", "On the other X" -- it wasn't clear whether the sentence was counterpoint or mistyped reiteration.

On a completely other topic, I wonder if I could ask the advice of the assembled? Our studio just upgraded to OSX and at last upgraded all our other apps to match (first upgrades for about three years), so the place is ringing to the cries of "How do you do X" and "What's happened to Y" and "What does this do? ...oh!". Training was less than complete, stuff is getting missed, we don't have the time right now for catch-up meetings; so it occured to me that what we need is a kind of multi-user blog where we could write down our queries, hints and discoveries and look them up individually in our few moments between panics. *

I had a quick google, but most (all?) online blog hosts seem to be single user. Can anyone point me at a multiuser online blog host? Or suggest some software that is quick and easy to set up and administrate on a Mac, without being complicated for naive bloggers? Appreciation for any advice.

*It occurs to me that I'm really describing a newsgroup. That might be an option, if our IT guys weren't busy already, and if I could introduce newsgroup culture to the aforementioned naive users.

#147 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 09:48 AM:

My nomination for the best use of knitting in a music video.


#148 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 09:50 AM:

Claude: Did your preacher had a UK or Australian connexion? Or had he studied the Middle East campaign in WW I? Or just mixed up his geographies & biographies of the Holy Land?

I knew "Beersheba" had a resonance for me in Anzac commemorations. Quick search for it on Australian sites gave quite a few hits, here are a couple which may help: Beersheba [Heb.,=seven wells or well of the oath], city [now in] S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert ... Beersheba is an important rail and road hub for S Israel. The city was one of the southernmost towns of biblical Palestine; ... It is especially connected, in the Bible, with Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah. A well believed to have been dug by Abraham when he made his covenant with Abimelech is in the city [Genesis: 21: 25-31] ... Beersheba is the seat of the Arid Zone Research Institute and the Ben-Gurion University... The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition Copyright ?1994, 1995 Columbia University Press. 31 October 1917
History's last great mounted charge ... was hastily organised in an atmosphere of urgency. Dwindling supplies of water demanded that the water wells at Beersheeba be taken at once. Any delay ... would only lead to demolition of the wells by the Turkish defenders. Without water, the whole Sinai-Palestine campaign would be halted perhaps for months, and the Gaza-Beersheeba line would remain unbroken. A victory here over the Turkish defenders would help avenge the disasters of Gallipoli.
Historic Battles and Military Engagements - The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba
... The 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments drew up behind a ridge. From the crest, Beerhseba was in full view. The course lay down a long, slight slope which was bare of cover. Between them and the town lay the enemy defences. The 4th was on the right; the 12th was on the left. They rode with bayonets in hand. Each drew up on a squadron frontage. Every man knew that only a wild, desperate charge could seize Beerhseba before dark. They moved off at the trot, ... Almost at once the pace quickened to a gallop ...
The Desert Mounted Corps watered at the wells of the patriarchs and in the pool.

Perhaps it was the name that gave them the enthusiasm, though, and the troops were a bit disappointed that all they found was water :)

A film called "40,000 Horsemen" was made during WW II that re-enacted this charge on the sandhills not far from Botany Bay (The director was a Chauvel, not the same as the Chauvel who commanded the charge). It was remade as "The Lighthorsemen" in 1987.

#149 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 10:21 AM:

One more for the morning: a purity test for people with large vocabularies.

This ought to go over well on LiveJournal.


#150 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 07:23 PM:

No particular connection, Epacris beaides being Anglican; he was a Southern California native.

And I have seen "The Lighthorsemen" and enjoyed it -- a ripping yarn indeed.

#151 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2004, 02:55 AM:

About a dozen notes upstream,
Graydon was musing about Custer LaRue - -
you were thinking of the *Baltimore* Consort.

Do you happen to recall the name of the song?

#152 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2004, 01:44 PM:

I had a few odd moments while eating lunch a few minutes ago, and dipped into the Making Light archives. And found, in the Feb 2002 entries, Teresa's list of favorite odd names for rose varieties.

Looking over the list, the thought that came to mind was, "This looks like a list of titles for fanzines, or blogs."

I especially liked "Mad Dog Road Tea". Dibs!

#153 ::: fidelio says: Achtung! Spam ist hier! ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 09:25 AM:

Yo, it's spam.

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