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May 20, 2004

Open thread 23
Posted by Teresa at 07:54 AM *

Show me shoyu.

Comments on Open thread 23:
#1 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:06 AM:

currently both Todd James Pierce threads have the same number of comments in them. Let's not mess this up. Altogether I think TJP might eclipse Mary Sue at some future point.

#2 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:21 AM:

I watched the Disney TV movie of _A Wrinkle in Time_ the other night, and while I wasn't entirely pleased with it, it did make me want to go back and reread the book, which I did. Which led me to a question:

Does anyone know if the idea of tessering and the tesseract pre-dated the book, or if M. L'Engle created it?

#3 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:29 AM:

The idea of the tesseract (4-D cube) predates the book by a considerable amount, but I don't know its actual origin. "Tessering" was invented for the book.

#4 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:39 AM:

No clue on the tesseract thing. I was marvelling (again) at the thread heading, which amused me as much as the "Tlak..." one ("Talk amongst yourselves", but jumbled). That one impressed me a lot.

This one appears to be bilingual, in English and... Japanese? (We've seen kabuki prints and other Japanese art often enough that Japanese is plausible. I guess it could be something else, but my gut says Japanese.) My computerized Japanese dictionary informs me that 所有 (read しょゆう, romaji shoyu except it'd have that long-vowel line overtop the u or you could write it shoyuu if you were into that system of romanizing Japanese) means 'one's possessions'... so this could well be seen (okay, free hand with it, but I'm allowed) as "Show me what you've got".

Er. If I am right, do I get a cookie? If I'm wrong, dead wrong, can someone else offer an explanation of how I was *supposed* to read it?

#5 ::: Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:40 AM:

In reference to queries about what the dog may or may not have done in the backyard, we've come up with a shorthand designation at our house: "Number Three." This, of course, encodes success for both "Number One" and "Number Two," which are themselves bits.

A completely unproductive session is "Number Zero."

#6 ::: silversmoke ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:42 AM:


M. invented tessring, to the best of my knowledge.

#7 ::: silversmoke ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:50 AM:

I'm pretty sure the thread heading is a reference to the Kikkoman flash what-not linked to from the front page.

Translation of the lyrics

"Show you" is also a pun, as shoyu (show you) means soy sauce in japanese.

#8 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:58 AM:

Gotcha. I didn't get the Kikkoman flash connection because I hadn't gone to look at it (I'm on dialup at home) yet. Thanks -- makes more sense now.

#9 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:02 AM:

Perhaps if shoyu means "one's possessions," a non-literal translation could also be "Show me the money."

[/random pop culture reference]

#10 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:04 AM:

A nice tesseract story is "And he built a crooked house" by (I think) Martin Gardner... No, no, Google reveals to me that it is by Heinlein. An architect designs a house which is an unfolded tesseract, and builds it in the desert near Los Angeles; while he is showing it to his clients there is a tremor, which causes the house to fold back up. Fun ensues as they try to get back into the third dimension. (This is my memory of the story from long ago and could be off; also I really think the story was by Gardner so it may well be that I have the wrong title.)

#11 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:32 AM:

Besides A Wrinkle in Time, my favorite tale of the fourth dimension is William Sleater's The Boy Who Reversed Himself. Anyone else read that one?

#12 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:41 AM:

So *that's* what editors do...

I've just read the expanded/unedited version of Heinlein's _The Puppet Masters_, a cheery tale of mind controlling slugs, eternal vigilance, and compulsory nudity. I hadn't read it for a decade or so, but since I'd read it about 50 bazillion times as a teenager, I had a good feel for deviations from the previously published text. Comments:

i) I'd seen people talking about the book as a thinly veiled attack on communism, and taken the comment with a grain of salt. I can only think of one or two mentions of the USSR in the previous version. In the expanded version, comparisons are brought up ad nauseum.

ii) The expanded version contained a bit more in the way of hard boiled private eye talk, and it didn't fly. The hero wakes up next to an anonymous blonde and occasionaly wonder what happened to 'the blonde'. Lukewarm Mickey Spillanism - doesn't add anything.

iii) Main point: The damned thing was *flabby*. The whole book needed to cut down on fatty deserts - maybe have fruit instead of cheesecake - and take a long walk after dinner every night. Most of the material I noticed as new I also noticed as being an unnecessary digression, an attention breaker, an irrelevance.

Interesting to read, but I'm left thinking the original editor knew exactly what s/he was doing. Rating: educational.

#13 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:49 AM:

Jeremy, you've got the correct story title, and it is by Heinlein.

#14 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:52 AM:

That restoration particle reminded me of this guy's Victorian house restoration project. Very graphics-heavy, but a fascinating read.

#15 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Both my father and my brother were cured of a lust for shoyu by being given a cup of it to drink, after nagging for more shoyu one too many times.

#16 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:57 AM:

What the hell is the Swedish flash animation about? The one that starts with a voice cpeaking German, and then goes into a bouncing Thatcher/rabbit sequence. I can translate the Swedish, but it still doesn't make much sense at all. Is it, I wonder, related to the immortal Docktor Nårton's advice on defragging your hard disk with a brillo pad?

#17 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 10:13 AM:

Thanks Elric, yep -- here is a link to the text. The house is built not in "the desert near L.A." but in Laurel Canyon.

#18 ::: matt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 10:28 AM:

With sf readers, writers, editors, etc. sitting around here, I've got a request-- to ID a novella I read many years ago, but whose author and title have hazed out in the mists of finite cerebral capacity...

-- Took place on Titan
-- Intelligent characters on Titan are prescientific, main Titan character is a female 'princess (?)'
-- Earth scientists sent a probe to Titan, problem is long time needed to send signals back and forth between Earth and Titan
-- Climax involved probe's 'self-defence' mechanism.

I suspect that this is a well-known story, and would very much like to find it and read it again.

#19 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 10:33 AM:

Never mind 'behold the power of self-publishing', if you look at the Amazon page for the Elven Vampire you will witness an extremely well-Lit page:

Customers who shopped for this item also shopped for these items:

* The Stolen Election by Lloyd Robinson (Author) (Rate it)
* A Fine and Pleasant Misery by Patrick McManus, Jack Samson (Photographer) (Rate it)
* Making Book by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, et al (Rate it)
* Life As We Know It by Michael Berube (Author) (Rate it)
* The Paths of the Dead (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 1) by Steven Brust (Author) (Rate it)

#20 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 10:34 AM:

Totally Self-serving Cross-ref:

For anybody who was waiting for the other (and final, -really-) two bits of "Harry of Five Points," they're hiding in the "It Came From Beneath the EETS" thread, afraid to stick their snouts out in daylight.

For anybody who wasn't, what did the Kikkoman kitty do to deserve -that?- And where was Bad-Badtz Maru when it happened?

#21 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 11:10 AM:

Really final? Really? I shall cherish what you've graced us with so far, then, and try not to pine for more--at least, not publicly.

#22 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 12:48 PM:

Besides A Wrinkle in Time, my favorite tale of the fourth dimension is William Sleater's The Boy Who Reversed Himself. Anyone else read that one?

Yup. Mucho fun, as are Sleator's marvelously creeptastic children's books House of Stairs and (less obviously) Interstellar Pig. I just got Into the Dream out of the library a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed it (I think the darkness of the ending escaped me when I was 9). Sleator's brother, Tycho (that Tycho), has a copy of Sleator's childhood memoir, Oddballs, up on the web.

#23 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Neither shoyu nor ukiyo-e: Tiger having eaten professor


#24 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 02:16 PM:

He comes from the stars of the soybeans?!

Wow. That's ...really messed up. Also funny.

#25 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 02:17 PM:

Dragonfly in progress...

brand new

about half done

probable finished product (I had to go to work so couldn't stay to watch how the one I was photographing came out, but this was what was emerging all over the place.)

No dragonflies were harmed in the production of these pictures. Pictures were taken with a Canon Powershot S400 using the built-in macro and the for-dummies autofocus. It is better at taking pictures than I am, so I let it do its thing.

#26 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Okay, how about I depress the lot of you here. Anyone here think that this could realistically happen? And if it did happen, how would you react?

If you find this type of discussion depressing, we can continue talking about soy sauce. I, personally, wish the discussion would turn towards reruns of the kid's television show called The Electric Company. But that's just me...

#27 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 02:40 PM:

As a Mexican jumping being once said, "Yo soy."

#28 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 02:40 PM:

I thought the Math Teacher thing was particularly good. I looked at the rest of the site, too. His "Save Us, Davis" game is pretty funny. I emailed him and told him so.

Also, he's cute as a bug.

#30 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 02:50 PM:

... shoulda mentioned, i'm the guy on the left in the picture. We had 6 physics majors graduate in a class of 491.

#31 ::: Pat ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 03:00 PM:


There's a picture of a tesseract in Carl Sagan's _Cosmos_ (basically, a cube within a cube which might make a nice end table).

Pat, longtime lurker

#32 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 03:26 PM:

Do remember that "pictures of tesseracts" are distorted representations of four-dimensional objects -- the six truncated pyramids (or, as Heinlein put it, "whatchamacallems -- prisms") are actually dead-on cubical in the thing itself. It's an approximate view, like the fact that you can stick your noggin inside a Klein-bottle hat and still, like, breathe and stuff.

#33 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 03:49 PM:

Randall P:

Hey, EverybodeeeEEEE!

#34 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:01 PM:

Jill, wasn't the line
  Heyyyyyyyyy Youuuuu Guyyyyyyyyyyys!!!!
? I've always wondered what Rita Moreno thinks about how, for all her long and varied career, there's a whole generation out there that still remembers her as holding that director's megaphone...

#35 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:04 PM:

FWIW: My take on the giant bunny/Margaret Thatcher animation is that it may be intended as a PETA-like condemnation of meat eaters.

#36 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:10 PM:


I've always thought of The Electric Company as "that show after '3-2-1 Contact!' " Curiousity strikes (somewhat belatedly)--what was it about?

#37 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Andrew Willett is right about the Electric Company's opening -- Jill Smith is thinking of what lovable, furry old Grover says.

Not just Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman. And a young David Letterman. (I'm lying about that one.) And songs from Tom Lehrer ("Silent E" and "L-Y"). Giants walked the public airwaves in those days.

#38 ::: Julia L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:39 PM:

There was a wonderful Electric Company archive I discovered recently with MP3s, but they appear to have received a C&D, forcing them offline. Ah... nostalgia. When I realize the number of people who probably looked at the recent "Spiderman" movies and thought of it first as the Electric Company program, not as the comic book.

#39 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:41 PM:

You're right! And just Jill is fine, thanks Chris!

Somebody had some video clips up recently of old Electric Company skits. Unfortunately, they are no longer there, as the hosters have apparently been on the receiving end of a nastygram from CTS...

#40 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:43 PM:

Ah, the joys of simultaneous posting.

#41 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:47 PM:

Since the thread starts out with soy sauce, I thought I'd add this horrible story of Human Hair Shoyu. Oishii des, ne?

Oishii des, ne?

#42 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Since the thread starts out with soy sauce, I thought I'd add this horrible story of Human Hair Shoyu.

Oishii des, ne?

#43 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 05:02 PM:

"Hating Freedom" Banners

Selected further suggestions (from Wonkette):
• We're taking your guns away.
• I voted for one world government so that you don't have to.
• Proud parent of a guy who's married to another guy.
• I'm a citizen of the United Nations.
• Redistributing wealth since 1913.
• My other car is a black helicopter.
• Terrorists are people too.
• Free abortions for everyone.
• Don't mess with taxes.
• Ask me about the homosexual agenda.
• In the event of the Rapture, this car will be doing a 150 down the center lane.
• Soft on crime, soft on the causes of crime.
• These colors run.

#44 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 05:57 PM:

I posted this on my own blog after I cribbed it from metafilter, but here you go. Remember the "pinball" song from Electric Company. Someone remixed it...

The link to the remix video is here, and the link to the mp3 is here. Here's a letter from the guy who wrote it.

#45 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 06:48 PM:

Andy Perrin: Besides A Wrinkle in Time, my favorite tale of the fourth dimension is William Sleater's The Boy Who Reversed Himself. Anyone else read that one?

Sleator, isn't it? But yes. I've been haunted by the thought of reversed ketchup (catsup? other? toe-may-toe-maw-toe-mayn't-toe?) ever since.

I remember trying to get my hands on an animated? short film? of slices of a hypersphere by Banchoff? to convince my Integrated 3 Math (~= Algebra II) kids that hyperwhatevers could too be conceptualized by mathy peoples. Alas, I had to settle for showing them two-dimensional renditions of three-dimensional slices of four-dimensional cubes from some Ivars Peterson book or other. I still want to see that film before I die.

#46 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 07:05 PM:

Followers of the Spritualist movement were fascinated with notions about tesseracts and a fourth spatial dimension around the turn of the previous century.

They believed that the "other planes" that scientists and mathematicians speculated about were the dwelling places of passed-on souls.

It added a bit of scientific rigor to a belief system that . . . well, ultimately turned out to be based on teenage girls who learned how to snap their toes.

Maybe I'm stretching a bit here, but L'Engle's three spooky old ladies could be based on eccentric Spiritualists, and the time & space travel in the book a fanciful spin on these beliefs.

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 07:10 PM:

I adopted a dog last weekend. A big burly Belgian shepherd.

I've noticed a behavior I've never seen in a dog before:

After I've thoroughly wiped her out with a four mile evening walk, and satisfied her back-in-the-apartment yen to have her belly rubbed, she -- right before collapsing for the night -- vigorously bats and rubs at her muzzle with both front paws.

Any guesses?

#48 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 07:41 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee:

It is indeed Sleator, not Sleater. A tip of the slyping fingers. The reversed ketchup was a brilliant touch. How many authors would think to themselves that (a) not all molecules are symmetric, so (b) if you flip them in 4d then drop them back into 3d, there might be some peculiar biological side effects?

As for visualizing hypercubes/spheres etc., one could probably write a quick OpenGL or Matlab code to project them into 3d, then view them. The students could "steer around" with the arrow keys to see various 3d cross-sections. Something like this may already be out on the web somewhere, or it might make a nice project for a student.

#49 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 07:48 PM:

Andy Perrin: Alas, this was during my student-teaching (and I'm not currently teaching and probably will never again be doing so), at a high school where the computer lab was forever tied up either with morning C programming classes, or with keyboarding and basic word processing/computer literacy, and the only computers in the classroom were two functional but old Macs (not connected to internet) with nonfunctional mice (balls removed). I don't know any OpenGL and my Matlab is so rusty it ain't even funny, even had the computers had the latter installed. If I am ever again in a math-teachy way with computers, I will remember the suggestion, though. :-) Thanks!

#50 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:03 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee: To satisfy your curiousity, here is a 4d viewing utility written in Java. It takes a while to load, so be patient. Unfortunately, hyperspheres aren't supported.

4d surface viewer

I wish I had 3d glasses! [Just to be clear-- this is not my work. I googled it.]

#51 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 08:30 PM:

The Electric Company was created by The Children's Television Workshop and was, basically, an attempt to cater to an older audience than Sesame Street. It focused on reading and numbers. It had some spectacular songs and some very memorable characters. It was also the introduction of Spider-Man for a number of kids ("Spider-man/Where are you comin' from?/Spider-man/Nobody knows who you ahhhhhhhhre!"). Morgan Freeman used to play a vampire on the show (and Rita Moreno was on it as well).

I have this grand idea (patent pending) of taking all of that old Electric Company music and making a Broadway show out of it. Basically, we'd just recreate sketches from the show on stage. No kidding, that would make me a million bucks. Anybody out there got the financing for it?

And remember, it was Randall P. Girdner's idea first! It's MY idea! Broadway show! Electric Company! Randall P.!

BTW, Julia...I downloaded all of the songs from that site. If anyone wants any of them, please let me know and I'll post some on my site for you all to download (not all of them, but some of them, like, "Spider-man/Where are you comin' from?/Spider-man/Nobody knows who you ahhhhhhhhre!").

Lots of love,
Randall P.

#52 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:09 PM:

Morgan Freeman may have trafficked in the occasional vampire, but probably fifteen of us are tripping over our keyboards to assert that he is forever Easy Reader in our memories. But who played Fargo South, Decoder?

#53 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:10 PM:

Oh, the joys of remembered juvie books. Sleator and L'Engle were two of my favorite authors in elementary school. Anyone read Caroline B. Cooney? The Fog, The Snow, and The Fire scared me out of a year's growth in 7th grade. I made my mother swear solemn oaths that she would always believe me if I told her someone was doing something evil, even if it seemed impossible.

Right now I can't get enough Diane Duane and Tamora Pierce, even if I am a little sheepish to be shopping in the 'tweener' section of the bookstore. I loved So You Want To Be A Wizard and the Song of The Lioness quartet when I was younger, so imagine my joy when I discovered that both authors are still turning out absolutely fantastic books.

Stefan: my parents' foxhound does that, too. I don't know why they do it, but I don't think it's a sign that the warhead is armed or anything. Considering dogs tend to sneeze when they get excited, maybe she's got that about-to-sneeze tickle in her nose?

#54 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:12 PM:

rams: According to IMDb, Skip Hinnant was Fargo North, Decoder.

#55 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:54 PM:

Randall: Thanks.


I read the Fog/Snow/Fire trilogy at summer camp (in Maine!) when I was thirteen. One rest period, as I was nearing the end of The Fire, I decided to hell with it, I am going to finish reading this before I do anything else. Including scheduled camp activities. After rest period we were supposed to play soccer, so I hid underneath my cabin. (The cabin was on stilts, and the ground was sandy, so this was not uncomfortable.) I caused a stir at the pre-game head count. After some searching, the camp director eventually saw my foot sticking out from under the cabin floor. By that point I was thoroughly enraptured and had become careless.

The camp officials were very understanding, particularly in light of the panic I caused. They let me sit out the rest of the game and finish the book.

#56 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 09:58 PM:

cyclopatra: By the way, yesterday was apparently Diane Duane's birthday, so you might wish her a happy one over at Out of Ambit.


#57 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 10:38 PM:

For a while, the Noggin channel was running Electric Company episodes, first in the afternoon and then in the middle of the night for old folks like us. They also ran some first season Sesame Street shows as "Sesame Street Unpaved." Lately though it's been mid-nineties Sesame's and Daria instead of EC.

Those sketches were just as funny as I remembered though. Bill Cosby too, though he wasn't unknown back then.

I was in my twenties before I got the Fargo North, Decoder joke. Almost drove off the road laughing.

#58 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 11:07 PM:

Andy Perrin notes "How many authors would think to themselves that (a) not all molecules are symmetric, so (b) if you flip them in 4d then drop them back into 3d, there might be some peculiar biological side effects?"

I can recall two earlier uses of the idea. The first is Roger Zelazny's "Doorways in the Sand", written in (I believe) the mid-70's. The second is a Spider Robinson story (title of which is eluding me now) set at Callahan's saloon. I'm fairly certain that Robinson's story came after the Zelazny novel.

I'm very fond of the Zelazny work, in part because the hero is a perpetual student (ah, bliss!), and in part because Zelazny chops up the narrative in an interesting way.

Each chapter (after the first few) begins with the protagonist in a cliffhanger. The rest of that chapter is his recollection of how he got out of the cliffhanger at the start of the *previous* chapter and how he then got into the predicament that opened the chapter you are reading. Now that you know how he got into this mess, you turn the page and *viola*, it is the next chapter and he hanging from a new cilff.

Hummm - gives the Zelazny a publication date of 1975. Does anyone know of an earlier use of this "reversed foods" notion?

Best, Jim

#59 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 11:18 PM:

Jim, thanks. I ought to have known that this bunch would actually know the answer to my rhetorical question. :-)

#60 ::: Jesse ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 11:50 PM:

Stefan Jones writes that his new dog vigorously bats and rubs at her muzzle with both front paws. Both of my dogs, also very large, do this all the time. I don't know exactly why they do it, but it's normal. If I had to guess, I'd say that it was an attempt to scratch an itch or reset her whiskers. Also, sometimes my dogs do it before sneezing.

Congratulations on the new dog.

#61 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Cyclopatra, I buy most of my books from Amazon, and they seem to think I have children. (Currently reading Diana Wynne Jones' The Year of the Griffin.)

#62 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:23 AM:

BTW, Skip Hinnant also portrayed Schroeder in the original off-Broadway production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Bill Hinnant, who I assume is related, was Snoopy. And who played Charlie Brown?

Gary Burghoff.

#63 ::: thatwhichfalls ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:25 AM:

Jim: Does anyone know of an earlier use of this "reversed foods" notion?

Technical Error (1946) by Arthur C. Clarke.

#64 ::: Jeff Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:54 AM:

And what about Naomi?

#65 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:40 AM:

Randall P - Thank you! The pinball song rescued my day. Makes me pine for the 70's and my lost youth. OK, maybe my youth is merely misplaced, but I'm pinin' nonetheless.

#67 ::: Vanessa ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:11 AM:

That Flash animation is called "Ja Da," and it's been around for a few years. The song ("Ja Da," since you asked) comes from a Swedish kid's TV show.

David Stevenson did the original Flash animation -- here's the link to the animation from his own site.

Via Google I tracked down an article from The Register that provides explanatory links to not only to the song lyrics but also a short bio about the animation artist.

One thing I hadn't known till I read the Register article was that Stevenson said he was influenced by the work of Neil Cicierega, a 15-year-old homeschooled kid who does Flash "animutations" with found images. Neil won international acclaim with his animutation Hyakugojyuuichi (I'm giving this link rather than the link from Neil's site to help spread the bandwidth around). B3TA did an interview with Neil a while back. And here's Neil's own site. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

I hope y'all don't mind the core dump -- Ja Da and Hyakugojyuuichi!! are in my bookmark list as two things I can count on to cheer me up.

#68 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:51 AM:

Stefan Jones, I have a 12-year-old medium-sized pointer who has been doing the muzzle thing all her life. I've concluded that as much as she hates cats, she shares some tendencies with them.

#69 ::: Vanessa ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:51 AM:

Whoops, I left out that first link, to David Stevenson's version of Ja Da.

Here it is:

#70 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 04:04 AM:


Your novella is "Eyes of Amber", by Joan Vinge. You'll find it in the story collection of the same name, or as the cover story of a late-Seventies issue of "Analog" whose details I don't recall.

(Remember when Joan Vinge was the famous one?)

#71 ::: Therese ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 04:10 AM:

Andrew Brown, Vanessa:

I wrote a short explanation about the show the flash animation is from yesterday. It's buried in the last open thread, so I'll just copy it here.

'I clicked the link where you wrote "I have no idea what's going on here" in the Particles.

I'm happy to be of service!

The song, except maybe for the first parts in German, is from a Swedish TV program for children.

Lasse Åberg, a prominent artist and B actor with a Mickey Mouse fixation, was asked to do a winter holiday morning show 1976. It featured him as Trazan ("trasa" in Swedish means rag) and Klasse Möllberg as Banarne, a monkey. It got immensely popular, and even had 100% coverage, something that has never happened before or again.

When the show was up for reruns, it was discovered that the tapes had been overwritten. New episodes were recorded, and the Electric Banana Band was added to the cast.

I'm a few years too young for the mass hysteria, but can still sing their song about how the Phantom should be very warm in his pyjama, and that he should do better in a skirt...'

#72 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 07:23 AM:

On extradimensional stories: I always loved (and am still disturbed by) "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett.

On The Electric Company, part I: some video clips found here (best to visit on Tuesday); lyrics to the songs can be found here. This was an excellent site, but apparently CTW didn't like the extensive archive of video they had up. (Glad I pulled it all down before they C&D'd.)

On The Electric Company, II: There is a spiritual descendant of the show, called Between the Lions, currently running on PBS, which I highly recommend. Oriented on teaching phonics, with all sorts of cool recurring sketches ("The Adventures of Cliff Hanger" and "Gawaine's Word", for example) and guests (Dr. Ruth "Wordheimer", Faith Prince), as well as a core story around which each show revolves. (Some of these have been really especially cool: Abiyoyo and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble are two that really stand out in my mind.)

See what lovely things you learn when you have young kids? :-)

#73 ::: Matt ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 07:49 AM:

Sam-- that sounds right. Thanks mucho.

#74 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 08:07 AM:

Randall P:
The Avenue Q folks would probably be cross with you -- it was probably a joke, but the one who is an Alum from my current school mentioned that their next project (assuming that the recent Muppet-movements don't allow for Kermit, Prince of Denmark) is EC done up in the Avenue Q, CTW-with-bad-behaviorr, style.

#75 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 08:45 AM:

"Faster than a rolling O, stronger than silent E, able to leap capital T with a single bound!

It's a word... it's a plan... it's Letterman!"

Those were good days.

#76 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 09:01 AM:

Actually, "Ja Da" is an American song, copyright 1918. Dad probably still sings it around the house.

Speaking of songs, I've been trying to find some of the work of one of our great American songwriters, Jimmie Dodd. I expected to find a fan site, but all I can find are some pictures here and there (and most of those are from a UK photographer with that name). Where are the songs? There should be a book of them; a tribute album; a Broadway show. The man was a sincere genius, and we deserve to have his stuff available. Heck, never mind "we." I deserve it.

#77 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 09:02 AM:

Bruce A:
Thanks so much for reminding me about "Mimsy Were the Borogoves". My aging mind kept thinking it was written by Sturgeon, but I can't ever forget the story. I've often thought of making an installation/maze of tissue paper, slimy rocks, etc.
I'm afraid I'm a hair too old for The Electric Company, but can identify with Beany and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent, Kukla,Fran and Ollie, and a show where you put a piece of filmy plastic on the 10" TV screen and used a crayon to follow along with the program. I'm forgetting the name of it, though.....

#78 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 09:24 AM:

Hey, everybody, I got a strange piece of email in my Yahoo bulk folder this morning. The filter read it as spam, but it came from Jane Yolen's AOL address ( The subject line says "read it immediately" and there is a text file attached, but I'm reluctant to open it because there's no real reason for Jane Yolen to be sending me cryptic email. The only connection between us (that I know of) is this blog, in fact. So Jane, be warned you may have a virus, or somebody is piggybacking off your email address.

#79 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:33 AM:

As an aged child, can I express my profound disappointment at the lack of really imaginative environments for first-person shooters? A decade-and-a-half ago, as a mature (graphic arts) student, I eagerly anticipated VR games set in free-fall, variable gravity, 4-D spaces and other, weirder environments I couldn't predict. But, no. All the games I see are stuck in the same old Aristotelian-physics-one-gee-flat-space model.

Admittedly, I'm a couple of years behind the curve, since I only buy bargain bin games, but the latest I'm playing (No-one Lives Forever) couldn't even get free fall right. I wonder if I'm too old to learn to program....

#80 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:37 AM:

Does anybody who remembers the electric remember seeing a few years ago an ad. for some sneaker that was a direct parody of the standard Electric Company sketch in which two silhouetted faces would appear close to each other and each say part of a word?

In the commercial, the two silhouettes came together and said "Buh" -- "oing" -- (together) "Boing!". The background music was possibly a rip from the original - if not, they copied the style flawlessly.

Isn't it fun to be part of a target market?

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Holly, it's spam. Delete it.

#82 ::: Julai Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Holly wrote: So Jane, be warned you may have a virus, or somebody is piggybacking off your email address.

Most likely scenario is that someone else who has both your addresses in their address book is infected - modern viruses typically forge the address to look as if they come from somewhere else. You'd need to check the headers and trace the IP address the virus came from.

#83 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:46 AM:

I too've started to get spam e-mails with from headers of people who post on blog comments. My theory is that somebody built a robot for harvesting e-mail addresses from comment threads and putting the name of another poster on the thread in the From field, on the theory that people are more likely to read the spam if it comes from a name they recognize.

#84 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:50 AM:

Diana Wynne Jones' Year of the Griffin...

Fans of Ms. Jones' work may be excited to know that Hayao Miyazaki (director of Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and many others) is adapting Howl's Moving Castle to the screen. Last I heard, it was due out in Japan in late 2004.

#85 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:58 AM:

As for tesseracts, I remember writing something that would show a wire-frame image of a tesseract cross-section at all sorts of strange angles back in high school. (no perspective, so it always looked a bit flat, and it was all in Turbo Pascal 5, the old dos-based version)

This was after having pulled a muscle in my brain working out what those cross-sections would look like if a hypercube were to pass through our universe corner-first. (Analogous to a cube looking like a triangle or a hexagon to residents of flatland if it intersected flatland corner-first)

It's odd that over a decade later I don't think any of the programs I'm writing professionally or for fun involve a tenth as much math as that one did, even though I have two big fancy pieces of paper on the wall that ought to mean I'm now much more acquainted with matters mathematical. (I assume a BA and an MA both in math aren't sufficiently unrelated to computer programming to win me any prizes in the "schooling that has nothing to do with job" thread)

#86 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Julai Jones: Most likely scenario is that someone else who has both your addresses in their address book is infected - modern viruses typically forge the address to look as if they come from somewhere else.

Yes modern viruses forge the address, but not necessarily out of the infected machine's address book. I doubt that getting sender&receiver addresses out of the same web page or newsgroup is not beyond the state of the art.

You'd need to check the headers and trace the IP address the virus came from.

In particular, the "Received:" lines describe the trail that the message took from the last non-lying host. It's not beyond a virus to put in extra pebbles to lead you off the track. I've been tracing e-mail spam since 1994, and it just gets trickier.

#87 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:05 PM:
I too've started to get spam e-mails with from headers of people who post on blog comments. My theory is that somebody built a robot for harvesting e-mail addresses from comment threads and putting the name of another poster on the thread in the From field, on the theory that people are more likely to read the spam if it comes from a name they recognize.

That is my theory as well - I've gotten spam similar to Holly's which ostensibly came from Patrick, Teresa, Beth Meacham, and Kate Nepveu, and the chances of anyone having all of them and me in their address book are lowish.

#88 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:10 PM:

Refreshing Michael's memory:

Winky Dink . . . and you!
Winky Dink . . . and me!
Mumble mumble mumble together!

The show had a short revival in the early 70s, and a DVD / VHS version is available now.

* * *

There were parts of The Electric Company I liked as a kid, but it was kind of sparse compared to Sesame Street. Also, but the time TEC was on, I was already a pretty good reader.

I caught an episode or two of Between the Lions. A very neat show with appealing characters. I like the way the kid-lions beg mom for hunks of meat for snacks. Go carnivores!

#89 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:16 PM:

Oh . . . if you have a big sturdy dog, get a "Gentle Leader."

The instruction copy for this head harness claims it calms them down by pressing on pack dominance related pressure points, but I think that's cover for something else, like nano-probes that sink into and paralyze the "pull master's arms off" lobe of the dog's brain.

Now I need something that will stimulate her "pee now rather than in the last five minutes of a four mile walk" lobe . . .

#90 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:17 PM:

Dan Blum: indeed, my only address book is in Eudora Light 3.0.6 (very old version, that is [*]), and I don't have you or anyone else in that list in it.

[*] I haven't upgraded because it keeps my mail in plain-text mailboxes, with a separate file that puts them in order. I don't trust any program with important mail if I can't get to that mail in a text editor.

#91 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:26 PM:

Stefan Jones: What a great picture! I wanted to say earlier congratulations on adopting an adult dog, but the comment previewing timed out. We adopted a ~1 year old dog nearly a year ago, and besides her general wonderfulness, it is so nice not to have to housetrain a puppy.

We thought about getting a Gentle Leader for our dog (she's about 50 pounds, so I think smaller than your dog), but after some training we managed to get her to (basically) understand the concept of loose-leash walking. It would've been our next step (though if our trainer had pulled out "pack dominance pressure points," we probably would've rolled our eyes and moved on).

(PSA: if generic-you are thinking of using pinch collars, please talk to a trainer first. Behaviorally, they may do more harm than good depending on your dog's issues, and it's important to get the right fit.)

According to our trainer, you can get dogs to pee on command (because service dogs have to). We didn't cover it in detail, but she recommended saying "Hurry up" just as the knees bend in that characteristic way.

Enjoy your dog--she sounds like a charmer.

#92 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Ahhh, Winky Dink! I have very fuzzy, toddler memories of getting in terrible trouble for coloring on our 19" B/W tv screen at Winky Dink's urging, early, early one morning.

I think you were supposed to put heavy plastic over the screen first, but that was just too much for my 2-ish brain to parse.

All my friends with sub-5-year-old kids treat crayons and markers as a controlled substance. Heaven forefend that there should be any coloring on unauthorized surfaces.

I agree that kid's programs have changed, and not for the better. My best friends' au pair, who's from Sweden, said that she didn't like any of the kid's programs here. They're either total junk, like Pokemon, or too dilligent about teaching and not enough fun, like Dora the Explorer. (My niece adores all things Dora. I think she said "Dora" before she said "Mama" or "Dada.")

#93 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:46 PM:

NelC, if you haven't already, you should take a look at the original Unreal Tournament. It has a fantastic "low-G" effect, used brilliantly on a level featuring three skyscraper peaks jutting into the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere. Vertigo-inducing, and really, really beautiful.

There's also a space station in Martian orbit-- when you stand on one of the outside edges of the station and look up (or down, or across, as you see fit) at that huge, revolving red planet, you'll want to grab something so you don't fall into your monitor.

It's also one of the best first-person shooters I've ever played, to boot.

#94 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:54 PM:

My favorite shows (in no particular order) were:

3-2-1 Contact!
Mr. Wizard
Reading Rainbow
You Can't Do That On Television

All Goofy and Donald Duck cartoons
All Scooby-Doo cartoons; all Batman cartoons (and all Scooby-Doo and Batman cartoons)

Key childhood movies:
Back to the Future
Freaky Friday (endless reruns on Disney channel)
Escape to Witch Mountain (endless reruns on Disney channel)
Ghost Busters
Adventures in Babysitting

All Pippi Longstocking movies

Now calculate my age.

#95 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 12:55 PM:

Having a two year old, I can say that Dora the Explorer is evil. The animation is crap and cheap. However, there are some excellent shows out there for kids. The Wiggles are good (before they got bought out by Disney), Bear in the Big Blue House is good (before they got bought out by Disney), and here in Canada, we have a show called Big Comfy Couch that my daughter just adores. So, I'd say there are some good shows out there. Unfortunately, Sesame Street is not one of them (and trust me, I've seen them all in my constant search for something worthwhile on television). I don't know when it happened, but Sesame Street became all about famous guest stars that have nothing to do with kids.

For instance, they had Edie Falco from The Sopranos on one morning. Why would they have Edie Falco? What good would that do for a kid? Kids watch The Sopranos? Have I missed something here? They have such a desperate desire to be "hip" that they've lost touch with a lot of what made them popular in the first place. Elmo? I'm sorry, but give me and my daughter Oscar the Grouch any day. They rarely use the original characters anymore. Bert is non-existent, yet Ernie has his own stupid, poorly animated segment with Big Bird (who is ineffective as a character anymore, as his "puppeteer" sounds tired and old).

IMHO, Sesame Street was never broken. They didn't need to fix it. Bert and Ernie were fine characters. Did they need to be updated? No. Did they need to tell fresh stories with those characters? No. Why? Because Sesame Street doesn't grow up with the kids. The kids grow out of Sesame Street. You could tell the same story a hundred times on Sesame Street, because your audience is constantly two to three years old and constantly changing. Marketing experts and idiot television executives have ruined wonderful shows because they're trying to hook us (meaning you and me) and not the kids. Shows like Sesame Street aren't for us and never were. They're for kids.

As a side note, thank God I live in Canada, because we have two children's networks without any commercials. I don't know how much longer that will last, but I was down in the States for Christmas and could not find one kid's channel without evil commercials directed at kids. I fear for the future generations in the States.

Finally, a subject in which I'm an expert! (I'm also an elementary school teacher). Any questions about children's tv? Please direct them to me.

#96 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:01 PM:

Okay, I have to add to this. Favorite shows:
Electric Company
You Can't Do That on Television
Super Friends
The Flintstones (every day after school on TBS)
All of the Warner Bros. shorts
All of the original Disney animated shorts
Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
Dungeons and Dragons (the terrible Saturday morning animated version)

I also had a favorite Saturday morning cartoon called "Galaxy High", which was only on for one season. I haven't seen it since then, but I remember loving it.

There was another show on at night called, "It's Your Move" with Jason Bateman. I worshipped that show and had all of the episodes on tape (Beta, no less). Anyone else ever watch that?

I will refrain from posting now, as I have embarassed myself.

#97 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:18 PM:

I used to love the old cartoons, like Bullwinkle (esp. Fractured Fairy Tales), Underdog and all the Looney Tunes stuff. I also used to like (swallowing hard before admitting it) Josie and the Pussycats (esp. the In Outer Space variant) and (gulp) The Far Out Space Nuts. With Ruth Buzzi and Jim Nabors. Shudder.

I think I'm right on the borderline for Sesame Street, but The Electric Company hit me square between the eyes, as did Zoom. Like most Americans my age, I clearly remember Zoom's mailing address. I wonder if they got the same box and zip code for the new show.

I don't worry too much about my niece's Dora problem. Her TV access is tightly controlled and I'm sure that Dora will be rudely ousted from hear heart by something even worse. Thankfully, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony only resonate in the irony-prone psyches of aging Gen-Xers.

Of course, there are the current cartoons designed to appeal to 30-something parents, written, no doubt by 30-something writers, like The Fairly Odd Parents, Rugrats, and the short lived and much missed (at least by me) Sheep in the Big City. I would pay far more than I can afford for a SitBC DVD. Now that's animation with the power of an ox!

#98 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:39 PM:

Larry, my sister tortured me with Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. Also Rainbow Brite. I had to sit through the Strawbery Shortcake and Rainbow Brite movies more times than I want to remember. My sisters room was all pink, with SS sheets, wallpaper, and a particularly dreadful lamp shaped like a giant strawberry. It was revolting.

#99 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:44 PM:

Kip: Was the Jimmie Dodd you wanted to find this one?

#100 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:47 PM:

Andy - you're younger than I am, but not by a whole helluva lot: I would say 5-7 years younger (I'm 35).

Am I close?

I adore Rocky & Bullwinkle (went to a wonderful R&B film-festival in Minneapolis years ago - good thing the fire marshal didn't show up, becase a bunch of us ended up sitting on the stairs, it was that packed). Also love Looney Tunes.

Rocky: Bullwinkle, is that you?

Bullwinkle: I dunno - got any other friends with antlers?

#101 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:49 PM:

Speaking of My Little Pony, everyone's seen the web page for My Little Justice League, right?

#102 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:56 PM:

Andy -- I am going to guess you are about 30, or slightly younger, but not less than 28. (I am 34.)

My own childhood TV appreciation is complicated by the fact that my folks did not have one -- I only watched at friends houses or at my grandparents', and only after I was too old to really get Sesame Street. I watched Electric Co. and Mr. Rogers once in a while but they never really got me going either -- but I loved the experience of being in front of the box, being *entertained* -- despite that I did not really dig the show content. Go figure. The same was true in my teenage years of lacksadaisickally watching reruns of Three's Company, The Jeffersons, etc. -- they did not move me to laughter or emotional response but it was great just to be able to *watch*. I blame my parents of course.

#103 ::: d ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Life of Chair!

My mom said the best thing about Electric Company was that it was super funny for her too - we all loved that show. Thanks for all the good memories of it, dang, I'm grinning.

Andy, you are maybe 30?

#104 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Wow -- I see Jill posted the same age estimate for Andy as mine, while I was typing.

#105 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:03 PM:

As long as we're going on about tesseracts, etc., here's ample reason to wish you were in LA in a week:

Daina Taimina and David Henderson are mathematicians at Cornell University, and co-authors of Experiencing Geometry, a classic text on euclidean and non-euclidean space. In 1997 Daina worked out how "hyperbolic" space could be modeled in crochet. Since then, she and David have used her woolen models to further explore this peculiar topology. Here, David and Daina will talk about crocheting the hyperbolic plane, the geometry of lettuce, and the architecture of the universe.
Crocheting The Hyperbolic Plane
A lecture presented by The Institute for Figuring
Thursday, May 27, 7:30PM
The Foshay Masonic Lodge (truly a remarkable structure)
9635 Venice Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
$10, $6 members & students

There's a link with photos and stuff. Well. A photo, anyway.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Wasn't it "Love Of Chair"? I remember 'cuz there was a soap around then called "Love of Life."

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:09 PM:

An educational show to look for, at least once: "Cyberchase."

Animation is icky, characters are cliched, but the subject matter is well conveyed and unusual: It teaches kids about math and logic and problem-solving.

I saw three episodes: One was about games and probability. (What is a fair game?) Another had to do with figuring out the volume of an irregular space. Another was about the game of Nim, played out with dragons.

They kept things moving along nicely.

#108 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:10 PM:

What about Zoom? Did any one watch Zoom? Loved that show and used to sing the theme song all the time.

Loved the Electric Company too.

And no one has brought up School House Rock. God, I loved those. When I was an elementary school teacher, I used so many of those songs to teach concepts. The second graders loved them, while the fourth and fifth graders thought I was nuts! Conjunction Junction, Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here, Interplanet Janet... Heck, it's still the only way I can quote the preamble of the Constitution. (And according to some of my former students, it's the only way they know it too.)

#109 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:14 PM:

I'm 25, therefore I was born in 1978. (I'll be 26 in November.) I caught some of the movies (labeled above) as reruns. The Scooby-Doo cartoons were also (I'm guessing) reruns, although some new ones may still have been coming out in the early 80s. (?)

I also loved the live-action Batman show. I don't know if that was a rerun or not-- at that age, it was all new to me.

So. Raise your hand if you have sweaters older than I am.

#110 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:31 PM:

There was this great animated program called "Eureka!" that explained physics for the 6th to 8th grade crowd. I think it was Canadian. Wow! I was somewhat ahead of it when I saw it, but I was very impressed. Funny, with cogent explanations that were neither too technical nor too simplistic.

I *loved* Zoom and did many of the projects. Looking back, though, those stripey shirts with the ring-pull zippers that everyone wore belong in the "70's Fashions Not To Be Revived" file.

#111 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:48 PM:

Yes, Zoom has the same address. (And they still read it the same way. Although they also encourage e-contact, these days.) Which must have been really embarrassing for TV Guide when they ran a little box on the show, specifically noting the famous address -- and getting the ZIP code incorrect. (They had it as 01234!)


Come on, now -- how many here took tests on the Constitution and, to recall the Preamble, sang (quietly, or in one's head) the words? (And how many remembered to put BACK "of the United States of America"?) *raises hand*


I'll bet Jay Leno has LOADS of fun playing The Crimson Chin on The Fairly Oddparents


Mr. Wizard
Rocky and Bullwinkle

Those were days.

#112 ::: Julia L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:49 PM:

I missed out on "Zoom", but I loved "Schoolhouse Rock", mostly the history bits. "I'm just a bill" is still a favorite, along with "Shot heard round the world". I do remember watching "1-2-3 Contact" and later Square One with Mathnet and Carmen Sandiego. I've seen bits of "Behind the Lions". I mostly remember the nutty knight skits.

#113 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Sara, Interplanet Janet is a criminally underappreciated work in the Schoolhouse Rock oeuvre. Plus: it has the added bonus of (just when you think it's going to drive you out of your mind because it's been looping around in your head for an hour and a half) suddenly turning into They Might Be Giants singing "The Sun is a mass of incandescent gas / A giant nuclear furnace..." In many ways, I think TMBG is the spiritual inheritor of SR's legacy.

And Bruce, I vividly remember an eighth-grade Civics test in which you could people humming the Preamble Song to themselves all over the room. (Much to my shame, I always forget to re-insert "...of the United States of America...")

#114 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 03:00 PM:

Oops. I misremembered the title of the live-action kids show I liked. It wasn't "Far Out Space Nuts" (which had Bob Denver of Gilligan fame) but rather "The Lost Saucer." My bad.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 03:06 PM:

[raises hand] Andy, I have laugh lines older than you.

Zoom was a little too young for me, but bits of it I loved. As a budding linguist I loved Ubby-Dubby, which is phonologically fascinating -- you just turn on "ubbydubbiness" and away you go. It's almost like doing an accent.

#116 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 04:39 PM:

I think I'm going to have to come down hard in defense of My Little Pony. That was a good show, if you put aside the fact that it was designed to sell me toys. (And Dear Lord did it succeed in that.)

My Little Pony actually managed to have some neat messages, fairly subtly delivered. Sure it seems cliched now, but I remember quality episodes about not bullying and one about not judging people based on their appearances. And yes, I have seen this show in the last few years, but somehow I still enjoyed it.

And the toys themselves weren't bad. My mother was incredibly happy that I wanted magical ponies and castles rather than anorexic, half-naked blondes.

I think a lot of my emotional involvement with this show and some other similar ones from the era is that they were fun shows for girls. If you watch Saturday morning cartoons lately you'll see nothing but boys' cartoons. There might be a girl sidekick, to get rescued and cry a lot, there might not. It makes me sort of sick.

Megan from my little ponies was just a really together girl who liked horses and taking care of people. You don't see anything like that on TV nowadays. There are three girls on modern children's programming: The Brainy Bookworm, the Popular Cheerleader, and the Bossy B*tch. If you go a few years older you might get villainous vixen.

I miss Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Megan and the Ponies, and yes, I even Miss She-ra. When I was a kid we were running over the playground on our pretend horses fighting evil with our magical unicorns to save the Dream Castle. Every once in a while our She-ra friend would start ranting about swords and armor, and we would concede that perhaps we could wear armor while riding our ponies and use them to defeat the sorceress. I mean, why wouldn't the evil sorceress from She-ra attack Dream Castle? It stood to reason.

I'm not saying girls don't do this anymore, but it seems to me that they change over to boys and makeup earlier and earlier these days, and I think that's partially the fact that they aren't provided with many socially acceptable default fantasies. "My Little Ponies" was our "Cowboys and Indians." Now what do six-year-olds with active imaginations have? Lizzie Maguire? Maybe "Disney Princesses" if they're lucky? Subservient boy-crazy BS.

Damn, I'm crying with nostalgia here. Sorry.

This started out as a song of praises for the Muppet Show and Square One. I can't believe no one has mentioned Square One yet. As soon as I'm back from the library I'll reopen that text file.

So yeah. Please don't think too harshly of the My Little Ponies.

#117 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 05:00 PM:

Heinlein edited himself. He deliberately wrote long, then went through the manuscript with a red pen, just crossing out.A comparison of the two versions of Stranger in a Strange Land is instructive: from flabby sentences to terse ones. Illness kept him from doing so with I Will Fear No Evil, and it sold so well he decided not to bother anymore.

#118 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 05:11 PM:

"The Sun" was originally from a LP of educational space songs:

There were other albums in the series. Dig the trippy cover art!

My 3rd Grade music teacher played this in class. It was old then.

#119 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 05:56 PM:

Randall P.: ...As a side note, thank God I live in Canada, because we have two children's networks without any commercials. I don't know how much longer that will last, but I was down in the States for Christmas and could not find one kid's channel without evil commercials directed at kids. I fear for the future generations in the States.

Didn't they just figure out that TV is bad for kids? Maybe having ads so distasteful you won't let your kids at the automatic babysitter will save them from having it eat their brains.

Anyone with a better memory than mine can prove it by identifying the story about a scientist who figured out that VHF broadcast frequencies were causing cancer/making people stupid/[your disaster here] but couldn't convince anyone to ban it. He decided to fight it by subverting the network programming departments to pump out dreck so unwatchable that TV would be unprofitable. I forget why his plan failed--perhaps the stupidity effect worked too fast.

Finally, a subject in which I'm an expert! (I'm also an elementary school teacher). Any questions about children's tv? Please direct them to me.

Yeah! So what about TV eating kids' brains? Is that bunk? Or is there a cutoff age at which they become immune? Or has it just all been eaten?

I hope this doesn't all come out twice. I tried to post once and it vanished.

#120 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:02 PM:

In no particular order:
Rocky and Bullwinkle
The Muppet Show
Contact 1 2 3 (there was a pac-man-like math bit I think)
Sesame Street
The Edison Twins (someone else remember this please)
and others

Also a brief and horrible flirtation with the Samurai Pizza Cats. The theme song still haunts me at unexpected moments. Who do you call when you want some pepperoni?

#121 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Nine Naked Men, move over!

81 or so college students on a rollercoaster, nekkid. Brings a new face to "swinging in the breeze..."

From today's Reuters "Oddly Enough" news.

#122 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:11 PM:

This may work better

The story should stay at the top (including photo-far enough off thank Ghu!) for a while, then 'float' down the pages as newer stories are added.

#123 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:16 PM:

Sara, Interplanet Janet is a criminally underappreciated work in the Schoolhouse Rock oeuvre.

Those who are interested may well be able to track down the cover version done by the B-movie-damaged surf guitar band Man or Astroman?.

#124 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:38 PM:

Steve, I already knew about Howl's Moving Castle and am looking forward to it. I've either seen all the other Miyazaki movies or have them on my Netflix list.

Kip M., I've crocheted lots of things like that, including lettuce for a toddler's "farm." It's the basic ruffle technique in crochet.

#125 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:47 PM:

I miss Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Megan and the Ponies, and yes, I even Miss She-ra.

Me three! Or whatever integer we're up to. Except we did the wonky thing of having the horses be the Good Guys and the human figures be the Bad Guys.

Mmm, beheading Barbies. I traumatized my little sister for years with Barbie-heads left at the door to her bedroom. (Well, I only did that for a year, but it turned her off Barbie for life. Which is no bad thing, but the method leaves something to be desired.) Alas, my voodooienne tendencies were never encouraged.

Also nostalgia for Danger Mouse (?), and these oddling wind-up mechano-dinosaur robot toys. The T. Rex robot-dinosaur was supposed to be "blind, with the soul of a poet" or somesuch. I don't know why that tickled my fancy so.

#126 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 06:52 PM:

I wasn't trying to abuse My Little Pony toys. I thought that kitbashing old My Little Pony toys into superhero characters was adorable in a good, retro, geeky way.

My Little Pony (1982), Rainbow Brite (1983), and the CareBears (1983) were all things that I observed from my lofty "too old for that" perch as a junior-high student. I was twelve in 1982. (The dates I've listed are pretty much when the toys hit big, except for Rainbow Brite, where I have the date the TV show started.)

Full disclosure requires me to share what I would never, ever admit to anyone when I was twelve... I wished like hell I'd been young enough to play with them or that they'd had My Little Pony toys when I'd been a little girl. I would have loved them if there'd been any way... but there wasn't. Since my life currently includes my little pony (the kid isn't mine) and my OTHER little pony, I figure it all worked out okay in the end, even though they're not pink with stars on their butts or anything.

#127 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 07:04 PM:

I dunno about beheading Barbies, but I certainly did run our old push-mower over a GI-Joe who had been half-buried. No decapitation occured, but he did sustain some nice gashes.

I also went at his torso with a magnifying glass usually reserved for torching bugs. I made a pretty respectable molten spot, but there was no ignition or body cavity puncture.

I guess GI-Joe is (or at least was) made of tougher stuff than Barbie.

Don't get me wrong. It's not like I didn't like GI-Joe. (In fact, I got it as a gift. My mother would have never permitted such a purchase.) I just thought that a tough toy deserved some experimental tough treatment. I believe that I used my Tonka backhoe to dig the hole.

IMO, a camo-colored My Little GI-Joe would be a sight to behold!

#128 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 07:11 PM:

Square One!

As a child I was utterly in love with Square One, and I still think it's why I got As in math up to beginning calculus. Mathnet was the best thing ever.

#129 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 07:32 PM:

When he isn't trying to impress other warbloggers, James Lileks occasionally comes out with something really, really funny. Like this post that includes a hilarious take on his daughter's new My Little Pony Celebration Castle:

"Apparently the Ponies live in some sort of feudal economy in which they are the dominant class. Fine. I’ll buy that. But how do they maintain control on the serf class, exactly? They cannot manipulate objects. Granted, they have magic magnets in their hooves that activate certain items in the castle, and I suppose this sleight-of-hoof could convince a credulous population to do their bidding. I just don’t want to be around Celebration Castle when the Enlightenment hits the peasants, because it’s going to be bloody."

#130 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 08:30 PM:

I was starting to think nobody would mention She-Ra.

To eliminate the guesswork, I was born in 1978. And I was raised on She-Ra, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Herself the Elf (I SWEAR there was a movie made of it, but I've only been able to find the book so far), Mr. Rogers, Square One (I still sometimes get the palindrome song stuck in my head), Mork and Mindy, Perfect Strangers, Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Dark Shadows.

But since I mentioned movies, here are a few more that lost something as I grew older (or that I can't find anymore): Sea Prince and the Fire Child, The Last Unicorn, the Hobbit animation (though I liked the book better, even back then) and Watership Down. Meanwhile, my husband finally managed to name and locate a movie from his childhood, known as Enchanted Journey. Apparently it explains his love for squirrels.

Also, on the subject of commercials: my exposure to commercials was fairly limited. We took breaks during commercials, and usually turned off the TV. Also, reception is spotty when you rely on a TV antenna, so they often didn't even come in well enough to see what was being sold. But I do remember being indignant at a commercial for cleaning product before I'd even entered school, because what was the mother doing cleaning up after her children? Wouldn't she be late to work if she didn't change out of that ridiculous apron and get going? If not, shouldn't she be asleep in preparation for another night shift?

I still do get angry at commercials, whether it's a childrens' or adults' product. They all imply you're lacking something that only their product can fulfill, and that irks me. I've only JUST come to terms with the fact that I'm fine as I am.

I'm sure this explains why I'm not wasting $40/month of my paycheck on having this junk crammed down my throat.

#131 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 09:09 PM:

Schoolhouse Rock! I will always remember the bemused expression on my 10th grade U.S. History teacher's face when the entire class started spontaneously singing the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. In the same key, no less.

I have very dear friends who gave me a DVD box set of Schoolhouse Rock. Those are GOOD friends.

#132 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 09:12 PM:

I can't really say that I find television bad for kids. They did do a report over television being bad for kids, but I read that they did not take into account what kind of programming the kids were watching when they did the study. (Children's Television Workshop decried the study because it didn't differentiate between, say Sesame Street and Pokemon...and there's quite a difference between those two shows).

I feel that the main problem stems from the fact that, as you said, people use the television as an automatic baby sitter. They'll plop their kids down in front of the television and go off to surf the internet or clean the house or whatever. I justify my daughter's television viewing habits by the fact that I do not allow her to be a passive viewer. I watch the same programming that she watches, so she's not sitting there all by herself.

And having a degree in elementary education, I'm able to actually use the pitiful knowledge that I soaked up in university to understand what, exactly, they're trying to do on the shows. Spongebob Squarepants serves no purpose for kids other than to make them stupid. Bear in the Big Blue House is geared to help the kids learn simple skills, both emotionally and intellectually.

A blanket condemnation of children's programming is simply ignorance on the part of the speaker. There are good shows out there, one just has to find them and then use those shows to help justify your kid's education. If people got out and had a full day with their children, spending time with other kids, reading for a good portion of the day, even the simple act of carrying your child around with you while you do something, then television is not going to rot their brains. Sending your kid to a daycare all day, then picking them up and plopping them in front of the television so that you can cook dinner CAN rot their brains.

But that's just my opinion. The ads on the American stations are insidious (did I spell that right?). But that's an entirely separate topic, because, although there is good programming out there for everyone, 99.9% of it stinks.

#133 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 10:25 PM:

Teep, congrats on having two wonderfully friendly looking ponies! Their faces say they're both great friends to people. Sigh. I just wish I hadn't become allergic, I don't have the time, money or space to be WITH horses enough to go back to being not allergic (if I live with a creature enough, I stop reacting, at least I did with cats, after one month! and I haven't stopped having cats as pets since then..... 1982! Yikes!!!!).

#134 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 10:41 PM:

Teep, I'm jealous - I grew up with horses, but can't afford even to take lessons on a school horse these days.

*Sigh* Stroke their noses a couple of times from me, willya?

#135 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2004, 11:29 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee said "Except we did the wonky thing of having the horses be the Good Guys and the human figures be the Bad Guys."

That's not wonky! I always had the ponies defending their little area from the Evil Barbies. In fact, almost everyone I know who had Barbies when they were little used them as antagonists to some other set of toys. Or just tortured them.

On the other hand, I know weird people. :)

#136 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 12:11 AM:

Arthur Hlavatay: Illness kept him from [cutting flab in] I Will Fear No Evil, and it sold so well he decided not to bother anymore.

Really? The word at the time was that when he woke up from his first operation, he tossed a first draft of IWFNE. It certainly doesn't read like a break point; he had ups and downs, but self-indulgence was clearly taking hold even in the edited (first-published) text of Stranger (consider all those lectures on aesthetics), ~8 years earlier.

#137 ::: Mary Messall ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:08 AM:

A bunch of different topics:

Re: biological consquences of flipping things in 4-D: Dorothy Sayers had a short story that was (sort of) about this. A man finds his heart on the wrong side one day, and seems to have done things he doesn't remember. He thinks he may have been flipped. Lord Peter has to figure out what's really going on... It also seems to me she had one that hinged on the difference between dextro-rotary and lavo-rotary sugar molecules (which I think are mirror images of one another. Anyway only one occurs in nature, by some frozen accident, which is why it was the key to solving whichever mystery it was.) When we came to those phenomena in my polarization optics lectures, I already knew about them from Dorothy Sayers. No wonder she's so popular among SF fans.

The story "-And He Built a Crooked House" was my introduction to Heinlein, and to the idea of a fourth spatial dimension. It appeared in an anthology titled _Fantasia Mathematica_ and editted by Clifton Fadiman, which also introduced me to Aldous Huxley, Lewis Carroll, H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Eddington, Martin Gardiner, Plato, Arthur C. Clarke, Karl Capek, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, among others. Lots of good stuff about extra dimensions and crazy topology in there, along with the poetry and comedy and tragedy. I was a math-hating thirteen-year-old. Now I'm a physics grad student (23, and sure from Andy Perrin's list of movies and TV shows that he was just exactly my age. Though I also loved My Little Pony and She-Ra -- and Jem and the Holograms.) Anyway, I credit Mr. Fadiman for making me into a math person, or reasonable approximation. I see it's been reprinted...

As long as I'm recommending books, and since it is an open thread, I want to mention a book that I've been thinking about a lot more since the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light. I haven't found a natural place to put it in yet, so I'll just fit it in here... It's called "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning" and it's by former New York Times War Correspondent Chris Hedges. Well, I wrote a long review of it after I read it, and find it hard to write a short one... Let me just say that Abu Ghraib felt like a fulfillment of all his predictions and descriptions. He talks about the appeal of war, about the inevitable dehumanization it brings, about how one can come to take the unthinkable for granted, and how easy torture and mutilation become once that happens. He talks about the corrosive effect of jigoism on culture, and about the attraction of death as a source of, as the title says, meaning. I can't link to my review, because it's not up, but my friend put his notes on his website:

I wish you'd all read it. I'd like to see it become a standard text on the subject in our culture...

#138 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:07 AM:

"Except we did the wonky thing of having the horses be the Good Guys and the human figures be the Bad Guys."

Not wonky at all. Dean Swift was there first.

#139 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:20 AM:

I wonder if There Might Be Giants would list School House Rock as one of their inspirations?

Now does anyone here remember watching "Jason of Star Command" or "Electra-woman and Dyna-girl?" I loved watching those when I was a kid. And "Shazam!" and "Isis." (I cannot tell you how many fights my little sister and I had over who would get to be Isis while playing.)

And there was some other sci-fi live action show that had people traveling around in the desert in a futuristic RV bring back knowledge to people. There were three or four main characters. Darn it, I can't for the life of me remember the name of that show.

My husband just rented from Netflix the DVD's of the original Transformers. Now that was a blast from the past. Silly stuff, but he had fond memories of it.

And someone mentioned beheading their Barbies? My best friend and I played "Barbarian Barbie" thanks to some scraps of fur my grandfather gave me. (He was a furrier.) With string we tied the fur on to Barbie and Ken a la caveman style and built huts out of twigs and leaves for them. And Barbie got to "hunt" stuffed animals with a twig spear.

And my mother was afraid that once I had a Barbie doll, I'd want a Dreamhouse and all that stuff. Boy, did I EVER prove her wrong.

#140 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:21 AM:

Sesame Street is lightly amusing, but it does not teach reading, it actively harms it.
It teaches children to chant the names of the letters in sequence.
It teaches the names of letters in isolation.
It does not teach phonetically, and it does not teach blending or segmentation.

#141 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:39 AM:

Sara, the post-holocaust RV show (which featured a talking chimp) was called something like "Ark II."

The live-action shows were shown about the time I was growing out of Saturday Morning shows. I must have developed a sense of irony, because I watched them to make fun of them.

I had already read the "Shazam" comics (reprints of Captain Marvel), so the live-action show seemed kind of bland. No Doctor Sivania or villainous worm or super-powered sidekicks. Just a teen and his "mentor" driving around in an RV.

* * *

Kevin, I don't think Sesame Street even pretends to teach reading. It's strictly pre-K basic recognition stuff. Colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. You can criticize it for doing *that* badly, or for distracting kids with too much action and comedy, but it isn't a show that teaches reading.

#142 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:52 AM:

Ark II! Thanks Stefan! It was driving me nuts trying to remember the name! I was about to go surf google trying to find it, just for my peace of mind.

My sense of irony was late in developing and I never made fun of those shows until I was a little older. Then again, I have to admit I watched those live action Saturday morning shows because I thought the guys on it were cute. Which still often guides what I watch on t.v. these days...

#143 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:59 AM:

Well, way off topic, but I recommend Stapelfahrer Klaus. It's pretty darn big, and don't worry if you can't understand the German. Just wait until Klaus gets the keys to his forklift and all sorts of language-independent mayhem starts.

#144 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 05:14 AM:

Gods, what a fun thread. It makes my head throw off random bits and quarks.

All I remember of Electric Company is being mildly horrified by it, and fascinated by the horror. Maybe because it was so loud... Sad thing is, I'm older than some of y'all what've been gleefully reminiscing about it.

Square One! Mathnet!!! "My name is Thursday. I'm a mathematician." Bum-bum-bum!!!! Only it's been a few (!) years so I may have got that wrong. I got such a kick out of little Mathman. "Mathman! Mathman! Mathman!" You know, I think he was a Pokemon before there were Pokemon.

Of course my brother had all the He-Man dolls, and I had the She-Ra ones. When friends came over, we had to go steal my brother's toys to have a complete Etheria/Eternia crossover.

The thing about The Last Unicorn, the movie, was that it tried to be TOO true to the book. I remember when I finally read it being astounded at how much dialogue was taken word-for-word and sometimes simply lopped off mid-sentence to appease the Great God of Limited Amounts of Time. (Were they to make the movie today, it would prolly be a good 2.5 hours long because what with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings we're getting used to numb cinema asses. :-)

eh. that's all until the next random quark fires. What a welcome break from all the bad news in the world this is.

#145 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:15 AM:

Sara: Now does anyone here remember watching "Jason of Star Command" or "Electra-woman and Dyna-girl?"

Okay - when I was about five or six, I made a wrist-tv-communicator out of a cardboard jewelry gift box and string. I cut a (vaguely) rectangular hole in the original bottom of the box (I must have had help with this), punched 2 holes near the box's original top to thread the string through and tie it onto my wrist, and cut a slit along the side. The idea was to have different pieces of paper to slide into the box (via the slit) that would simulate the visuals in E-W's & D-G's little wrist-communicators. I also inked in little dials & knobs next to the rectangular "screen" hole.

I remember clearly that I had at least one that I made with the colorful, wiggly test-pattern that invariably appeared when they were making contact with one another.

I had completely forgotten about that until you reminded me.

#146 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:22 AM:

I was quite fond of "Electro-woman and Dyna-girl".

Does anyone here remember the show "Waldo Kitty"? In first grade, I got the teacher to let me sign my papers as Waldo Kitty (and then for a while as his girlfriend Felicia).

I know at least one person who counts the lecture on Rodin in Stranger to be one of the best passages by Heinlein. And the passage certainly made a big impression on me when I first read Stranger as a teenager.

Re: Diana Wynne Jones
DWJ's Power of Three was the first hardback I ever bought new for myself (and I had to special order it too). Strangely, I never read anything else by her when I was a kid. Also, for whatever reason, it is apparently one of her least known works (going by the order that the recent reprints of DWJ appeared anyway).

Re: Schoolhouse Rock
I think my favorite ones were the pronoun one (damned if I can remember any of those long names though), and perhaps the Fours one ("Figure eight, is double four...").

(Response to Bill Shunn waaay back at the top of the thread...)
Some friends of mine that have two dogs long ago took to reporting back with a single hexadecimal digit...

#147 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 09:49 AM:

I met someone who said she could, so I asked her how many corners a tesseract has. She looked as though she was working on visualizing, and finally said that there were too many to count. This is an interesting response, since the answer can be worked out mathematically.

Then I asked her what a hypersphere looked like, and she said, "Like an ordinary sphere, but rounder." This seems reasonable, but I'm guessing--I can't visualize in four dimensions.

Is there any imaginable way at present levels of techology of proving whether someone can visualize in four dimensions?

IIRC, there's somewhat in one of Rudy Rucker's books about learning to visualize in four dimensions.

#148 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Steve Taylor: I have a spotty memory for titles, but a very good one for text, and I read The Puppet Masters several times in my youth; so when Patrick read aloud to me the first few pages of the newly published restored text, I knew exactly where I was hearing material cut in the previous edition. When he finished, the first thing I said was, "That was a good edit." The restored material was blustery and dislikable. Worse, it didn't say anything relevant to the story that hadn't been present in the edited version. Flabby narrative's a fault anywhere it occurs, but that much of it in the first few pages of a thriller is a sin.

There are authors whose work just needs to have its teeth brushed and its hair combed, and other authors whose work would be significantly worse without heavy editing that the public never sees.

The electricians who are repairing the ceiling fan in the next room just made all the lights here dim for a second, so I'll post this now.

#149 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 12:44 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#150 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:17 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#151 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Nicole: The thing about The Last Unicorn, the movie, was that it tried to be TOO true to the book. I remember when I finally read it being astounded at how much dialogue was taken word-for-word and sometimes simply lopped off mid-sentence to appease the Great God of Limited Amounts of Time.

Heh. I saw the movie first, and loved it, and it got me to seek out Peter S. Beagle. I still have fond memories of the movie, even though ohmygod those people cannot stay on melody (whatever the actual melodies were supposed to be) to save their butts.

JVP, is the tessering story you're thinking of Kuttner & Moore's "Mimsy Were the Borogoves"? (Praying I spelled that right.) Freaky, freaky, freaky. *looks at baby in lap* Make that FREAKY, FREAKY, FREAKY.

I wish I could visualize 4d--I used to look at various hypercube diagrams and try really, really hard--but given that I can't reliably visualize 2d, it's hopeless.

#152 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:30 PM:

Elise, yes, it was. That's the man, officer!

I'm particularly grumpy, having spent several hours cleaning up old noisy LP recordings by hand (editing waveforms with the pencil tool) to get 23 short Mousekatracks onto my MP3 player, which died the next day, taking hundreds of hours of my work with it. All week long, I've had Jimmie Dodd songs in my head, and haven't been able to get to them.

#153 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:31 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee:

Yes, that's the story. I knew it too, but it was more fun to see whom on Making Light would first give the correct datum. One of the most compellingingly freaky stories ever. My wife and I surely viewed our son as someone who might do such things beyond our capacity or comprehension. And he already does some rather transhuman things. Or elven. Or Martian. or something... Wait a moment, he's making the toves slithey with udder baum and...

#154 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 03:50 PM:

Today I saw a person on an empty (but for the two of us) street corner apparently signing to himself. I'm not sure what to make of this. Have they invented video cellphones yet?

#155 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:27 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#156 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:29 PM:

Andy: Bah, I used to finger-spell Nick O'Donohoe's "Hunting Destiny" (it's, um, a Dragonlance poem, but I liked it and memorized it for school) to myself at odd moments. Including during my one and only high school detention, where one wasn't allowed to talk, but since no one in the office actually knew what I was doing with my hand and they didn't see any obscene gestures, they didn't stop me.

#157 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Yoon: That's clever. My first thought was that there was someone else some distance away that I couldn't see from where I was standing. May have been, too.

#158 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 05:51 PM:

Do neurological problems that cause people whose primary language is vocal to vocalize compulsively also cause people whose primary language is sign to sign compulsively?

I'm asking the question seriously. I suspect the answer depends on whether neural short circuit occurs in the language processing center or in the motor areas relating to speech production. In other words, is the compulsory behavior the externalization of language, or usage of the vocal cords?

There are also people for whom writing is a compulsion. I wonder how that relates to signing.

#159 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Tiger, I never had Barbies, but we spent part of the summers I was 8-11 with my grandparents in Walla Walla. There was a girl my age next door and we had some interests in common, and sometimes we'd do something I wanted (write and act out plays, usually) and sometimes we'd do something she wanted (playing with Barbies and Kens.)

I'd never seen anybody play with Barbies and Kens like she did. They were always naked, always having sex -- sometimes in positions the dolls weren't jointed for -- and the Barbies could pour milk from their breasts. It was later that first summer that I realized that Walla Walla gets uncensored Canadian TV. (My grandparents were too religious to have a TV.)

Andy, yes, there are video cellphones and I've heard them mentioned as being used by the deaf.

#160 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 07:16 PM:

plover: That was my second thought. A non-visible (real) second person still seems more probable, though. On the other hand, this took place in a very bad neighborhood in West Philly, where people who are less than balanced are frequently to be found. So...I dunno.

Marilee: Video cellphones seem like they would be very useful for the deaf community. When camera phones appeared, I wondered how much longer it would take before video was possible. What surprises me is that the frame rate is good enough for deaf people to actually talk that way.

#161 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 07:48 PM:

Marilee --

Especially when you were eight to eleven, there wasn't anything like that on Canadian TV!

#162 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 11:26 PM:

plover - are you asking about Tourette's and other tic disorders? Because from what I learned back in PSY300something was that it comes from a great buildup of tension, either in one's vocal cords or muscles. When the tension builds to a certain point, out comes an exclamation or an involuntary twitch.

And then there's the case in Dr. Sach's Anthropologist on Mars, about the skilled surgeon who had a pilot's license and a pretty bad case of Tourette's. Apparently riding with him in the car or by plane was a bit harrowing.

So yes, I suppose a deaf person with Tourette's might just sign compulsively. However, they're just as likely (if their vocal cords function) to make odd utterances that don't make any sense. Well, maybe not JUST as likely, but it could happen.

Hmm. I'd like to read some research into that, actually. Or at least a case study.

#163 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 11:46 PM:

Graydon, I watched TV there that showed sex. Some boys down the street had a "clubhouse" out back with a TV and we watched TV down there sometimes. I don't think their mother knew what we were watching.

#164 ::: abby ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:23 AM:


It seems quite possible to me that the equivalent of talking softly to oneself (which does not require that you be crazy) would be a sort of "toned-down" sign, with smaller gestures and so on. The correspondences between sign and spoken language are very interesting. For example, babies growing up in signing households babble in sign, with little gestures and so on. I wonder if kids who've grown up signing have better fine motor skills at the age of one or two than their hearing/speaking peers. There's an interesting research project...

#165 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:31 AM:

OK, this is a change of pace, but it's an open thread.

This is not sf related, but it is book-related:

[a contest for the worst Romance cover of the year]

#166 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:37 AM:

Sorry for the bad link.

Try this:

while I figure out how I screwed up the tagging.

#167 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 06:18 AM:

Sleator's brother, Tycho (that Tycho), has a copy of Sleator's childhood memoir, Oddballs, up on the web.

Um, no, it's Sleator's brother Danny who has it up on the web.

He actually had that version on the net before there was the web: I downloaded it via anonymous ftp and printed it out somewhere around 15 years ago.

The webbed version has some significant differences from the dead-tree version: some names were changed (I assume for legal reasons), a chapter that said some uncomplimentary things about one of Sleator's high school teachers was omitted, and so was a story about shoplifting.

#168 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 06:47 AM:

Jonathan, thanks for the info. Is the conclusion that people who can visualize 4D can recognize each other, but there's no reliable test that people who can't could use except for relying on the 4D community?

#169 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:47 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#170 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 01:14 PM:

Nancy, why not just have any claimed "4D-er" sketch a hypercube from some angles outside normal 3d space, but that should nonetheless be easy for someone who can actually visualize it? Then confirm with any of the java applets posted upthread.


Sketch a hypercube looking toward a corner (isometric projection), toward an edge, and face on. The last would be a nice check-- if the person did not realize it would appear to be a square, then you know for sure they can't visualize 4d (or 3d!). Obviously, don't tell her the results of each test until after all have been completed, or you will be feeding her info.

#171 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 01:55 PM:

On the Bad Baby Names link: Is it possible to be a New Age cultist and a Mormon in good standing at the same time? (I figure the Dungeons and Dragons works in there, no problem. As for liars...well.) Inquiring Yoons want to know!

#172 ::: joanna ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 05:54 PM:

As long as we're on the "Does anyone remember..." kick, there's a fragment that's been haunting me for years. I seem to remember a pompous Victorian Henry Higgins type explaining something in his study, and growing more and more agitated, wildly gesticulating with his cane. Here is the song: "It was a nonesuch, nonesuch, nonesuch, nonesuch!" Anyone? I got a shiver of recognition during the "The ice! is gonna break!!" scene in Dead Zone, but other than that I've no clues to go on. Cheers

#173 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 06:54 PM:

Teep, those dragonfly pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. If you have the time, please do tell about your walk, where you found the dragonfly, and how you managed to get so close.

#174 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 09:01 AM:

//News Update (unrelated to prior posts)//

CNN says:

A loud noise precipitated a crack in the terminal ceiling, and officials had been evacuating the area when the roof caved in.

It must have been quite a noise.

#175 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 09:04 AM:

//News Update (unrelated to prior posts)//

CNN says:

A loud noise precipitated a crack in the terminal ceiling, and officials had been evacuating the area when the roof caved in.

It must have been quite a noise.

#176 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 10:55 AM:

Maybe their spellchecker changed "accompanied" to "precipitated"?

The news gave me a flashback to our sprint down the concourse, after a very delayed late night flight arrived, to catch the bus to the train station to get to Paris. (Grief, like a tiger, is an ambush predator.) Mind you, there would have been far fewer casualties had a roof collapse happened then. One of the three people we saw in the near-dark was a friendly security guard with Alsatian who pointed us in the correct direction.

But I think the news said it was a new construction designed by an acclaimed modern architect. Hope we find what happened.

#177 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 11:14 AM:

Epacris: I think the author meant "preceded".

I hope we find out what happened too.

#178 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 12:25 PM:

Re. A History of Bizarre Mascot Incidents.

Say what you like about West Virginia, but no one messes with a mascot who carries a musket.

#179 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 01:23 PM:

So, no musket mascot messes? If they speak a South American language, is that a Mixtec musket mascot mess? If they do it an an inappropriate location, is that a misplaced Mixtec musket mascot mess? If the inappropriate location is also hidden, it that a mysterious misplaced Mixtec musket mascot mess?

There are lots of these, and they don't fall into neat categories - they're miscellaneous mysterious misplaced Mixtec musket mascot messes. But I'm going to stop now; it's already hard to say one without making a miscellaneous mysterious misplaced Mixtec musket mascot mess mistake.

Hommage a Dr. Suess.

#180 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 02:41 PM:

I'd be very curious to know when that "auto repair scam" article was written. A couple of red flags glare out, such as the use of a 20 year old car with 20K on the Odo (a rare beast, indeed!), then a reference to diagnostic machines with "switches, dials and oscilloscopes," which doesn't describe most of the diagnostic machines I've seen in recent years.

While I know for a fact that caution should be used when getting repairs (and when getting estimates on the price of repairs, especially), I also wonder about how validly this article represents modern shops, many of which are looking specifically for former IT workers who are more comfortable with the highly computerized workplace that auto maintenance has become. There's just not a lot that's "exotic" anymore about a computerized vehicle...I'd say a computer-free vehicle would be the rare exotic, nowadays.

#181 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 02:43 PM:

I do not like those Badger fans
I do not like them Sam-I-am

#182 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 03:01 PM:

TomB: This wasn't a specially-planned walk to harass the dragonfly population. It was a regularly-scheduled walk for exercise purposes. Even though I walk for exercise, I take my digital camera along in case I see something interesting. After all, you never know...

The hatching calico pennant I linked to was surprisingly easy to nab because about a gazillion (easily a hundred) hatched out last Thursday. They were littering the shore of the lake near my house, their reflective wings shining in the sun. My first impression of the scene was that someone had run over a large piece of cellophane with a lawnmower.

I have lived on the shore of this lake for my entire life (excluding college). I had never once noticed a hatching dragonfly before last Thursday. Once I found them, saw what to look for, knew what the process looked like, and had a reasonable idea of likely places for it to be taking place... then it was easy to see them. Stuff like this is a convincing argument for the "you see what you are looking for" view of how minds work. Anyway...

Veering right into too much information for normal people, members of the order Odonata spend a fair chunk of their lives as aquatic buggish things. At the end of the nymph phase, they climb out of the water onto vegetation at the water's edge and they hatch into the actual air-breathing flighted guys that most people are familiar with. When they are hatching (and afterward, while their wings are filling out and firming up) they can't fly at all. They hang onto the husk of their old nymph-form (which you should have noticed in the picture, there) and don't go anywhere. Once their wings are fully filled out and have firmed up, they still can't fly WELL for a while... they can flutter away, but they land again in short order. So that some survive this extended period of helplessness, they hatch out in large populations all at once so that there are too many to all get eaten, a popular biological strategy seen writ large in my neighborhood this year with the Brood X cicadas. (I have lots of cicadas at my house. Huzzah! Go cicadas!)

Anyway, the hatching out thing provides an EXCELLENT window of opportunity for photography... they are unable to escape, relatively motionless for huge (three, four hours) chunks of time, and doing very interesting things during all of that time. The only downside to photographing them during and immediately after hatching is that identification is sometimes tough because many of them have colors that don't match the pictures of fully-adult specimens shown in the average field guide or web-page rogue's gallery.

#183 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Huzzah, indeed.

Is THAT what noise they're making?

#184 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 10:34 PM:

Re the "Making Book" title text: Where do you get the third edition from? Amazon says it's selling the second edition; will they really ship the third edition and their database is just old? Will ordering direct from NESFA get me the new one?

#185 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 03:41 AM:

I seem to recall the solution to, "Spock Must Die" hinged on the reversal of amino acids, and that was back 1970.

Republished in '99.

#186 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 03:59 AM:

Strange things with toys:

Back when I was competing in air-rifle events, I used to practice by placing toy soldiers in trenches, so that all I could hit was their heads.

It was more fun than merely standing back 10M and aiming at a 1mm dot. Instead I stood back about 30M and aimed at a 10mm dot, but when I hit them, it was dramatic.

#187 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 04:08 AM:

Actually (and I'm sure Teresa will correct me if I'm wrong) the second edition of Making Book is to be preferred over the third. But any edition is worth having.

#188 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 07:08 AM:

Collapsing airport terminal: reminded me of the year both a bridge and a department store building went down within weeks of each other, in Seoul. Our school orchestra first-chair cellist crossed the first minutes before it went down, and we were all agog at hearing something before it hit the news while sitting in the cafeteria waiting for the Christmas concert to start; I knew someone who survived the latter by falling through the floor to land in a pile of mink coats.

I think nervously upon those whenever there are loud noises. And let's not even get into earthquaky things.

#189 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 10:58 AM:

I seem to recall the solution to "Spock Must Die" hinged on the reversal of amino acids, and that was back 1970.

By Toutatis, I remember reading that piece of...fine literature back when it first came out! Can't remember the author, though I did have all the James Blish storifications. All these were destroyed (destoried?) when Stuart Stinson's basement (where I'd stored everything that didn't fit in the back of the Pinto in which I moved to New Jersey - the back, only, because my two friends were in the front seat, and I was in the back with my stuff) flooded in about 1982.

I have only the vaguest memory of the plot, though I do recall that Spock was duplicated mirror-fashion (the cover was a mirror-dupe photo of Nimoy on an orange background - flashily ugly; the 70s had just begun); the reversed-food thing sounds right too.

IIRC Spock Must Die was an excellent demonstration of Sturgeon's Law, being firmly in the majority case of said law.

#190 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 12:00 PM:

_Spock Must Die_ was by James Blish as well.

While not great literature, Blish's let's-pay-the-rent "storifications" and novel tried hard to unsillify many aspects of The Original Series.

#191 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 12:39 PM:

Okay folks, since this is an open thread and we're nearing a large number of comments, I'd like to ask a question. Ignore me, if you'd like, but I think that this is a wise group of readers that will, hopefully, provide me with some answers.

I'm finished with my book. It's a children's novel and my attempt to make J.K. Rowling give up her throne (heh, heh, heh...). I think that my book is good and has an excellent chance to make a dent in the marketplace (don't all writers think that?).

My problem stems from the fact that I don't know how to get it published. Actually, I take that back. I know how to get it published, I just don't know the right road to take to get there. I have zero contacts in the literary establishment, I have no other work published, I have no agent, no friends of agents, no friends of friends of agents. I have no poetry published in any university magazines, no articles in any publications, and I refuse to lie in my cover letter about all the wonderful things I've done. I've got Nada. Zip. Nothing.

So what do I do? To which websites can I go to get legitimate information on how to get published? Which books are going to give me the best advice on either getting an agent or submitting to a publisher? Where can I go to find out the right formatting for my manuscript?

I'm starting from the beginning here. The only thing I have going for me is my book and I have a lot of faith in what I've written. I'm not looking for the "be persistent" advice, because I know all of that. I want concrete information on how to get the job done.

Anyone want to earn major karma points for giving me some advice? I'm trying not to be a troll, here, but I really need some help and you guys have the knowledge to help me find the answers to my questions.

I thank you in advance for your wisdom and kindness.

#192 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Take my meme, please.

One Nadia Jensen is trying to get a movement started where Americans wear red on Fridays to signal non-support of this Administration's policies, both foreign and domestic. Visibility, solidarity, encouragement in these dark times, etc.

It's simple, it's straightforward. Let's do.

Yes, there was the American Heart Association's "National Wear Red Day" in February, but that appears to have been a one-shot (in support of an ongoing campaign for women's heart health, see And there was some attempt from rah-rah militarists to have "every red-blooded American who supports our young men and women" wear something red every Friday, but that was Spring of 2003 and I really don't see that it's caught on, do you? So the field is open.

You can read a little more about it at, though they didn't start it.

And on Tuesdays, I'll wear my Girly Nutbar.

#193 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 02:39 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#194 ::: Loren MacGregor ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 02:51 PM:

We present moles. Little can be added:

#196 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 03:14 PM:

The second half of "Sea Kings in the sun" particles item just takes me to the current page. Enterprising plane nuts must know - what's the second part supposed to be?

#197 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 03:22 PM:

Math is hard. Let's go shopping.

Math is easy. Comedy is hard.

#198 ::: Jonathan Voiceover Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 03:35 PM:


I recall that deathbed reference. But who was the actor, again?

Based on years of argument with Marvin Minsky, Marvin finally published his mathematical theory of comedy. Don't remember where, though.

Others have speculated on bifurcations and Catastrophe Theory models of comedy. But good comedians do it without math. My 1st cousin, stand-up comic, Rich Vos, is a fine example. He earns 3 times as much now, since he was a finalist on "Last Comedian Standing." If he knew math, he'd probably make pi times as much.

The rigged winner, Dat Phan, did keep a detailed graphpaper database of his timing, shows, and audience reaction.

#199 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 03:48 PM:

Teresa and everyone else, I present to you:

Die Ducktomenta.

I don't read German, but it looks fripping brilliant to me.

#200 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 04:38 PM:

I was just over at grim amusements, where Iain was posting about the anti-gay shenanigans in our legislature. Then he paused at the end to refer to James Bland's "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," our State Song Emeritus, as "vile." I say he's wrong.

I've lived in Virginia long enough that I'm almost used to the place. Yeah, the lege is full of zealots. Sorry about that. For what it's worth, things are getting better. Mixed couples go about, apparently unmolested, and every group of kids I see seems to be multi-ethnic. Perhaps the next generation will be sane.

However, I don't think the song is vile. Having listened to it, and played it hundreds of times (at rest homes, mainly), I think it's a very interesting set of words in a sweet tune. It's kind of local, too: we're not all that far from the Dismal Swamp mentioned in the song, where fugitive slaves often evaded capture.

As he notes, Bland was an African American. I've also heard that he probably never visited here, but that the sentiments came directly from an old ex-slave he met in... um, NYC? Anyway, it wasn't here, and the poor old guy was nostalgic for the place. The offensive terms -- massa, darkey -- were used by slaves, especially the older ones.

You know how nostalgia works. Beans just don't taste right any more! Nobody knows how to cook greens! Everybody just runs around all the time! And the music the kids listen to -- it's just noise! His longing for the day when his back was straight and his friends were alive was so powerful he thought he'd like to be back on the plantation again, and there was no time machine to show him his error.

So what do we have? A sad song -- you can feel the sorrow -- lamenting the loss of something that was actually pretty awful. Nostalgia for a misremembered past. All the irony you could ask for: written by a black man who put burnt cork and white gloves on to pass for a white man pretending to be black. Change "darkey" to "sinner" and make it official again. Leave "massa" and "taters" and the swamp in. The song IS Virginia.

Of course, if you don't like the tune, that's different.

I'm off now, to play the piano.

#201 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 05:32 PM:

Damn! No one replied to my post. Okay, then go here: The Smell is Nigh.

#202 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 05:46 PM:

"Dying is easy, comedy is hard" is, at least legendarily, Moliere.

#203 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 11:35 PM:

I'm glad mathmeticians look after us other mortals, Jonathan, i always read your posts in awe.

I have to agree with Asimov that everyone has their own level of 'math ability,' mine petered out about halfway through first year calculus. I enrolled once I was an employee at KU and kept taking an incomplete until I got a C grade... but it always seemed that I'd understand, and on and on, and even though I did my homework and went to class, one day I'd go to class and it would be as if the instructor were speaking Inuit. It took four semesters of trying.

I'm sort of that way about football too, though I live with two absolute fanatics (they play freaking fantasy football .... Yikes). The plays make no sense to me, and I've had 27+ years of overhearing games and avid fans talk about it.

Keep up the good work!

#204 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 11:51 PM:

This is weird and fun. And a little freaky.

#205 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 01:58 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#206 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 02:04 AM:

JVP: What did you write with Feynman? Is there a copy on the web somewhere? (I have access through Penn's library to most common journals that are online. )

#207 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:27 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#208 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:40 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#209 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 04:30 PM:

I finally had enough time to at least skim this. Geez you people are young and I am old.

Miss Peggy and Romper Room. Captain Kangaroo. Mighty Mouse. Heckel and Jeckel.

Shoot, I can remember not having a televison.

MKK--must go find my cane now

#210 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 06:33 PM:

As long as I'm at work, I might as well do something work related :P
(I look up movies and find them for a living.)
"The Magic of Herself the Elf" was released by Scholastic Lorimar (on VHS in '83, I believe). It is available on VHS, but is rare and out of print. E-bay, other collectors, or specialty vendors would be your best bet. In LA, Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee would probably have it at least to rent.

Sea Prince and the Fire Child is another rare one, but this site should be able to help in your search.

The Last Unicorn you can get right now (see the SHOP box to the right of the splash on the link), or you can wait for the remake with Christopher Lee coming out in 2005.

The Bass/Rankin Hobbit is likewise available on VHS or DVD (I've personally seen it at Best Buy).

I used to wake up on Saturdays, watch the end of the farm reports (early morn TV in Ohio) and go right into "Big Blue Marble" and "Great Space Coaster". There's no g-news like good g-news...

Let's not forget "Drac Pak" or the wonderful Kung Fu Theater!

#211 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 07:01 PM:

The advent of infomercials have wiped out two entire ecosystems:

The non-network Saturday Morning and Sunday Morning schedule.

In the New York area:

Saturday morning had old cartoons (one ran George Pal Puppetoons!), monster movies, and oddball educational shows. ("Earthlab," "What's Around the Corner?," "The Big World of Little Adam.")

Sunday morning had some cartoons, hokey local religious shows, religious shows for kids ("Noah and his Magical Ark," "It's a Brand New Day," "Davey and Goliath."), and, for some odd reason, "Abbot and Costello" movies.

#212 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 09:53 PM:

Jonathan, the odd or maybe not so odd thing is that I'm very good with geometry. I've never tried to think of things in 4-D but I may go have a look at literature in it sometime (in my copious free time, she says). I very seldom get lost unless someone gives me arse-backwards directions, and I am good at imagining things and how they fit in a space.

Usually we were lucky if the guys who taught Calculus 1 actually spoke English well enough to understand them.... but I'd get to that point and whoosh, nothing they said made sense. The odder thing is that, I was allowed into an upper level biological statistics class (Calc was a requirement, but the professor waived it because I was so interested in it), and I did well with the actual application of the maths, i.e., the answers I gave after working through the forumulae were correct. (and I'm still an avid amateur field biologist).

My Erdos number is 0, I've written no scientific papers. Just short stories, and am now working on books. Heroic fantasy books.

Mary Kay, all the Romper Rooms had different leaders, the one I grew up with was Miss Virginia (Kansas City, MO, I think WDAF, channel 4, carried it!

#213 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 10:08 PM:

I had to take Trigonometry twice (does it count if the teacher you had the first time was fired for incompetence?), yet I was able to grasp complex music theory.

Fun fact: when I was a freshman at Syracuse, they comped me out of the entire year of freshman English for my score of "5" on the AP. For my "4" on the music theory AP, they only comped me out of a half-year of music theory, even though the first-year music theory text was the one I used the year prior to my AP year. By my count, Syracuse still owes me 3 semesters of music theory credit...

Funny, the stupid stuff we remember... those of you who didn't do the college route: good for you.

#214 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:13 PM:


You'd have a field day with some of the journal articles I've been given as "assigned reading" at work....

Radar's a fun field-- electromagnetics, signal processing, inverse (and ill-posed) problems, etc.

#215 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:24 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#216 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:56 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#217 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 01:30 AM:

Great rare old movies that I'd like to find again:

"The Tinderbox" classic HCA animation with the three dogs and all.

"Johnny the Giant Killer" 1950s animation that preceded Evelyn Sibley Lampman's "City Under the Back Steps" about four children who visit an ant city.

"The Magic Antelope" another full-length 1950s animation.

#218 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 02:01 AM:

Hey. Since the last time I looked for those films, new information has shown up in Google:

The version of Kipling's "The Magic Antelope" that I remember was longer than the 1986 version I found advertised at 33 minutes, but the animation style on the box cover looks familiar. I found an ACIN number for "The Tinderbox" -- B00005IBCR Tales From Europe - The Tinderbox [1959].

#219 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 09:31 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#220 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 10:01 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#221 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 10:21 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#222 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 10:58 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#223 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 11:58 AM:

What's Jon Singer's Erdös Number?

#224 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 12:11 PM:


IMdB is the best resource for finding pretty much ANYTHING. The company credits and official site links usually can give enough info to properly limit a Google search (although I like Yahoo myself. Just a preference.) Sometimes it can give you some interesting crossover fan-fic though.


Wowsers! Must... resist... being... punny...

Oh hell, I'm an addict. Math convention pick-up line:
"Six. I like six. Six four times a day which is six 24/7, but how about a little one-on-one where we can join our subsets? Your bell curves make my progression very geometric."

I'd - I'd better just stop now.

#225 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Speaking of open thread content, Boing Boing pointed me to a wonderful thing: the P-P-P-Powerbook. The Goons of Something Awful unite when one of their own faces attempted victimization from an ebay scammer with a phony escrow game. Computer literate grownups ferret out the truth, even infiltrating and photographing the drop location. There's so much more. At one point, somebody volunteers an "Owner's Letter" with such cheery advice as "Your P-P-P-Powerbook also offers the user-friendlist OS since Linux. Important tasks such as distributing kiddie porn and ordering yams are always available at the top of your screen... A glance to the top right of your screen will remind you that any time is a great time to use your P-P-P-Powerbook. With P-P-P-Powerbook nothing is beyond your reach, except Korea. Stay the hell out of Korea!"

So, anyway, it was like really funny and I laughed. Thank you, drive through.

#226 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 01:33 PM:

On the math/sex connection:

My favorite math book title:
The Joy of Sets

Not sex-related, but still a good title:
Basic Complex Analysis

#227 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 02:40 PM:


Ever buy a book just for it's title? The one that got my money was "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Psychic".

#228 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 02:41 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#229 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 04:16 PM:

Dollock: I own a copy of Basic Complex Analysis mostly for the title, and secondarily because it has a nice listing of residue formulae.

When I was around ten, I bought a guide to improving my psychic ability. It had exercises like, "Stare at a pencil in a dimly lit room. Describe it completely. Can you see its aura? Now try it with a person. The aura is much brighter, isn't it?"

After failing repeatedly to see any auras, I went back to Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects, all of which worked as described. And that's how I lost all respect for psychic "research."

#230 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 04:49 PM:

Dolloch - thank you, thank you, thank you! I hadn't known about the movie remake. Did some googles and found the official website-in-development.

I love that they're casting some of the original voice actors, but what confuses me is the decision to have Mia Farrow, the voice of the unicorn in 1982, switch to the role of Molly Grue in 2005. Maybe it has to do with switching from animation to live-action, making an actor's appearance as important as her voice (maybe Farrow looks more like a Molly than an Amalthea?), but I can't help but think that it's going to sound kind of weird.

Can't complain though! Very, very much looking forward to the film.

#231 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 05:04 PM:

From Peter David:

Got an e-mail from talented artist Arne Starr, who is planning a move to LA. Consequently, he's having a major Ebay blowout of stuff he wouldn't ordinarily sell in order to raise some traveling money.


I would really appreciate it on behalf of Arne (who has had, frankly, more lousy breaks in recent years than anyone should have, and is trying to start over) if you folks would check out his auction and, furthermore, spread word about it as far as you can. If any reps from news sites take note of it, that'd be great, too.

This seemed like a good place to mention it, so there it is.

#232 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 05:21 PM:

Just a note celebrating the 27th anniversary of The Other Change of Hobbit. Closing is not happening today, and too much stuff is too up in the air for me to say anything definite: but there's a chance the store will be around for a lot longer....

#233 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 07:04 PM:

My Erdös number is three.

Eric S. Lander (who is listed as having an Erdös number of two through Daniel J. Kleitman) and I (along with an incredibly huge number of people) shared a publication in Nature.

Precisely, "International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium. Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome. Nature 409, 860–921 (2001)".

The short citation is as by "International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium", but my name is on the full author list, way down in the supplementary information section....

So, if you count this thread, all of you have Erdös numbers no higher than four. Heh.

#234 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 07:58 PM:

Protect our critical national industrial base in... urr... swordmaking!

If we run out of fissile material, oil, gunpowder, plastic, composites, and coal, must the United States depend on foreigners to provide us with precious swords, scabbards, rabbit-fur felt, and cobra venom?

American blacksmiths, fight back! We cannot allow our shores to be flooded with foreign-made swords! (go to bottom of page)

#235 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 10:10 PM:

Mary Kay: I'm not that old, 41, but we didn't have a tv until the 70's. Some of our friends had televisions and my sisters and I would spend each afternoon at a different house so we could watch the 2 hours of kids tv that were aired every day. The pathetic part (as if that weren't pathetic enough) was that the two 30 minutes shows, Hercules and Sinbad, aired the same episodes all week long.

#236 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 09:28 AM:
Got an e-mail from talented artist Arne Starr, who is planning a move to LA. Consequently, he's having a major Ebay blowout of stuff he wouldn't ordinarily sell in order to raise some traveling money. ...

I would really appreciate it on behalf of Arne (who has had, frankly, more lousy breaks in recent years than anyone should have, and is trying to start over) if you folks would check out his auction and, furthermore, spread word about it as far as you can. If any reps from news sites take note of it, that'd be great, too.

I don't mean to sound cranky, but that would have been a lot more useful with a link to the auctions, or Mr. Starr's eBay ID.

#237 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 12:30 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#238 ::: Ann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 07:49 PM:

I know quite a few of those reading this blog are effected by this: Congress is quietly trying to pass the draft again. The ages are 18-26, and they are specifically including women--which is the only amusing thing about the whole load of bullsh*t, in a vaguely gallows humor way.

BTW, I'm smackdab in the middle of the ages, my health is not so poor as to make me a bad choice, and I'm good with computers. Europe is sounding real nice right now. Maybe Mexico.

#239 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 08:36 PM:

Ann, I wouldn't worry about it yet. did an overview of the situation, and they have some persuasive arguments for why it probably won't happen. My favorite: The army is afraid you'll break its equipment.

#240 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 09:08 PM:

I'm afraid that, when it comes to politics, isn't exactly the first outfit in which I place my trust. They've displayed a distinctly rightward tilt for a while now.

#241 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 09:21 PM:

Andy --

I don't have a clear sense of's biases, but I do have the experience of watching the current administration demonstrate its care, prudence, and respect for the opinions of the senior serving members of the uniformed military.

I'd also note that given a choice between committing an atrocity and admitting defeat, this present administration has a clearly established preference.

#242 ::: Ann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 10:43 PM:

Maybe, maybe not. I do know that if more people my age heard about this, likely more would get up and vote in November, on all the elections, not just presidential. As for breaking the equipment... I'm more likely to fix it *my* way, and get yelled at for not doing it the *army* way.

And if that draft did get passed... I'd grab my 18 yr old sister and run for a border. I don't want to back down from a fight, but I don't believe this war is just or fair, and I refuse to fight for bad armchair generals. I liked to learn I'm mortal by growing older, not by dying.

#243 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 10:58 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#244 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 11:18 PM:

Actually, I read (and I can't remember where, so don't hate me) that they planned to extend the draft age up to 32 years old. (I think I got it off of a link from Thank God I'm in Canada. I love being an expatriate.

#245 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 12:11 AM:

According to the piece:

Even if the draft started up again, it might be of a much more limited nature than in previous years, with only those who could fill specialized positions in certain fields (e.g., health care, linguistics, computer technology) being conscripted.

I'm sure that will be a relief to lots of folks here.

#246 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 01:46 AM:

Patrick (and everyone else):

Snopes may be tilting rightward (although I hadn't realized-- what did you have in mind?) but their point is that it takes time to ram through major legislation, so a draft by 2005 is unlikely. Isn't the slowness of bureaucracies a universal truth, on par with death and taxes, and beyond dispute by left or right?

I apologize if my naivety is showing. [Blushes, and covers naivety with fig leaf.] I wasn't alive the last time this country had a draft, so I'm quite prepared to listen to those who remember how it went then.

#247 ::: Zoe ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 11:31 AM:

I have utter faith there are people here who can help me with this one.

A long time ago, when I was going through my dad's old science fiction, I read a story called Semolina. It begins with a girl whose breakfast starts talking to her, because it's an alien. She's called Susan, I think, and there's a car going quite fast downhill at one point. But if I told you, you'd have to kill me.

Does anyone know who wrote it? Google just comes up with recipes, and a slice of my life is just this big old void of yearning to read it again.

We didn't have a TV either, but I caught up on The Mysterious Cities of Gold at university.

#248 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 12:25 PM:

Andy Perrin:
" takes time to ram through major legislation..."

Uh, sorry, no:
1) the US was attacked Sept 11, the so-called "PATRIOT" Act was passed Oct. 25th.
2) The US declared war April 2, 1917, Congress instituted conscription May 18, 1917.

And today, we already have the Selective Service System in place, waiting for bodies.
Our kids could be drafted and in basic training by Labor Day. (Except of course, they'd wait until after Election Day.)

#249 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 12:38 PM:

Ok, make it, "it takes time to ram through major legislation, barring panic situations." Surely those cases are the exceptions, not the rule? Of course if there is another major attack, it will BE a panic situation. In which case, I think you're right.

#250 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 12:42 PM:

That wouldn't be "Semolina" by David Langford, in Peter Davison's Book of Alien Monsters (Sparrow, 1982), would it?

(Not that I have a copy, but it's the one story called "Semolina" that pops up in the Internet SF Database.)

#251 ::: LisaJulie Peoples ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 06:55 PM:

I went to the source and asked Jon Singer what his Erdos number is. He thinks it is 2. He knows it isn't 1.

Because I know y'all were on tenterhooks wondering.

#252 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 09:45 PM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#253 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 11:59 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post, would you please take your "Erdos numbers", your Asimovian namedropping, your invocations of our old friend Jon Singer, and your incredibly boring and lengthy self-involved posts about the glorious wonderfulness of you, and ram it all firmly up your ass?

Thank you. Don't go away mad. Just go away.

#254 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 12:03 AM:

Jonathan, I'm going to give you your own open thread and move your recent posts there.

#255 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 03:26 AM:

I tend to use Bill Contento's indexes on Locus's website when looking for stories where I know the title or author -- marvelously useful databases.

#256 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 03:36 AM:

This comment moved to Jonathan Vos Post.

#257 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 03:02 PM:

Tom, Bill's indexes don't have a good interface, though, like ISFDB, and, as far as I know, he doesn't intend to reach further back, while ISFDB does. ISFDB has also started putting web & email links on the author pages.

Patrick, I just figured JVP was a friend of y'alls, since it went on so long.

#258 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 03:07 PM:

Catch the satire before the Diebold lawyers do...

The Diebold Variations.

My personal favorite: Twit Happens.

#259 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 12:49 AM:

A couple of quotes from politicians in Saturday's WashPost:

"I spent several years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, in the dark, fed with scraps. Do you think I want to do that all over again as vice president of the United States?"

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Conan O'Brien this week, notwithstanding a new poll showing a Kerry-McCain ticket with a 14-point lead over the Bush-Cheney ticket.


" Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."

-- President Bush, disclosing an unexpected similarity between himself and Sen. Bill Frist's wife in Nashville on Thursday.

#260 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 11:58 AM:

Jill, thank you for that Diebold Variations link. They are wonderfully well done.

Also thanks to others for those SF databases. I have one book & some stories I'm trying to track down from the late 1960s - early 1970s, but no names or authors, just plots. Will spend some time seeing what I can find.
I have a suspicion that the re-issued "The Sheep Look Up" (John Brunner) may have had some chunks cut. It's that or I'm mentally merging some plotlines from other places with it.

#261 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 09:31 AM:
Snopes may be tilting rightward (although I hadn't realized-- what did you have in mind?) but their point is that it takes time to ram through major legislation, so a draft by 2005 is unlikely. Isn't the slowness of bureaucracies a universal truth, on par with death and taxes, and beyond dispute by left or right?

As Bob Oldendorf points out, bureaucracies can move fast when spooked. Reinstituting the draft is not an emergency... yet. Given this administration's propensity to declare emergencies with no visible basis, who's to say there won't be one?

Even without an emergency, the draft could be instituted more quickly than many other things since the basic machinery is already in place - it's not something new. Extending it to people up to age 35 (or whatever the hypothetical new upper limit will be) would be more work, since the Selective Service presumably does not have current information on most people over 25 (certainly I have not been sending them change-of-address forms). Of course a draft bill could include measures to allow the Selective Service access to IRS or Social Security records, or something - in the current political environment it wouldn't surprise me at all.

As for Snopes, I won't swear they've been tilting rightward, but they certainly seem to have a very unsophisticated understanding of how American government actually works. For an example, take their coverage of the "Al Gore and the Internet" issue. It's been some time since I looked at it, but as I recall it boils down to "Gore didn't sponsor any of the key bills we identified, so his claims are bogus." This of course is a silly way to analyze, as it ignores the facts that

  • Who sponsors a given bill may be determined by any of a number of factors, and may or may not have any relation to who is most responsible for it.
  • Subcommitte and committee work, including hearings and the initial work on bills before they get to their respective floors, is critical.
  • Drafting the bills is also rather more important than sponsorship.
  • Finally, the people most responsible for insuring the passage of a bill may or may not be the sponsors.

I haven't researched all the relevant detail for Gore and the Internet myself, but since Snopes clearly hasn't either, their opinion is not well-founded.

#262 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 10:05 AM:

Dan Blum said:
As Bob Oldendorf points out, bureaucracies can move fast when spooked. Reinstituting the draft is not an emergency... yet. Given this administration's propensity to declare emergencies with no visible basis, who's to say there won't be one?

More or less what I said in my followup post to Bob's. I was thinking along the lines of another attack, though. I modified my original position on the issue after Bob presented his counterexamples. (See above.) I still think that the massive unpopularity of the draft would make it hard to revive with any rapidity, no matter how much the Bushies might want to (again, barring panic).

Thanks for your thoughts on Snopes.

#263 ::: Aiglet ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 12:30 PM:

I was at Balticon last weekend and struck up a friendship with someone based at least partly on the fact that he had a Making Light bag with him (hi, Dan!).

Also, I saw a large number of the ML T-shirts on various people.

I wonder if we've got enough Making Light readers to justify starting a meetup... (I'm mostly kidding here.)

#264 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 01:09 PM:

Aiglet, that's mildly dizzying news. People are wearing them at conventions? Cool.

Epacris, the way to find a story you half-remember is to describe it in a venue frequented by the SF community. This one will probably do.

Back when I worked at the University of Washington, a co-worker one day said there was this story she'd been trying for ages to remember. "Try me," I told her.

"It's about a man who's down on this planet ..."

"Cordwainer Smith, 'A Planet Called Shayol'."

And it was.

#265 ::: Mark Shawhan ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 02:37 PM:

On that note...I've been trying to locate one particular story for a while now. It's quite short, felt stylistically like Arthur Clarke, but didn't seem to be in his Collected Stories. The narrator encounters a stranger in a public place somewhere (a park, maybe?). They have a conversation about whether you can ever really know the truth about the nature or character of public figures; in particular, whether everyone who is described as evil is actually evil. The last line is "My name is Lucifer" or words to that effect. Any ideas?

#266 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 02:49 PM:

I've seen that story (or one very much like it) in the Asimov/Carr/Greenberg anthology 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories. I can't be sure, looking at that TOC, which one it is. If no one else can positively identify it by tonight I can look at the actual book.

#267 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 02:55 PM:

I was mildly surprised there wasn't more ML merchandise in evidence at Balticon. Mine seemed to be the only messenger bag, anyway.

(And where else but a con can you get away with not having to spend ten minutes explaining LL YR VWLS to someone who deosn't know any of the levels of reference?)

Aiglet, you mean that wasn't all because of my scintillating conversation and Byronic good looks? I'm crushed. Still, I'll take what I can get. Thanks, Making Light!

#268 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 03:45 PM:

Someone at Rites of Spring told me she'd seen the Nutbar Shirt at the march in Washington.

And everybody who had seen The Russians Are Coming laughed at LL YR VWLS once they puzzled it out. Which they mostly didn't, alas.

#269 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 06:17 PM:

We had a group wearing of the Nutbar t-shirts on Saturday at ConQuesT in Kansas City, MO. Tina had a couple of extras (I borrowed), others brought and wore theirs.

We also had the adventure of going to the hotel basement because of tornados on Saturday, they touched down about 10 miles north.... educational to the folks from California and elsewhere.

#270 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 10:49 PM:

I wore my Nutbar shirt in Salt Lake city last week. The people in the mall looked askance, but Sharon Lee, who one of the gohs, wanted to know where to get one.


#271 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 12:56 AM:
On that note...I've been trying to locate one particular story for a while now. It's quite short, felt stylistically like Arthur Clarke, but didn't seem to be in his Collected Stories. The narrator encounters a stranger in a public place somewhere (a park, maybe?). They have a conversation about whether you can ever really know the truth about the nature or character of public figures; in particular, whether everyone who is described as evil is actually evil. The last line is "My name is Lucifer" or words to that effect. Any ideas?

It's "Displaced Person" by Eric Frank Russell, as verified in the aforementioned anthology.

#272 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 08:11 AM:

If someone should happen to want that very cool book -- "Lee's Priceless Recipes", of which there is but the one on e-bay -- it's available new for 7.95 CDN from Lee Valley Tools, as part of their classic reprints series. Product number is 49L80.01, website is here.

This won't help you if you want the old paper, but it does have all the information in it.

#273 ::: Jen ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 08:41 AM:

There's also a copy for $5.95 at

#274 ::: Aiglet ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 09:58 AM:

Dan, your Byronic good looks are sort of irrelevant to me -- you're married. (Although there is something to be said for having decorative friends.) And yes, you are interesting to talk to, but the bag was a big "give this person a chance" marker. After that you earned it on your own.

Theresa -- where did you expect people to wear them?

#275 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 10:53 AM:

Point well taken. :)

From this, I think we may divine two lessons: First, that, in the realm of first impressions, pretention beats substance hands-down; and second, Tangible Artifacts mechandise is money well spent to this end. Go get you some Making Light stuff, kids!

#276 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 12:07 PM:

Lee's Priceless Recipes looks like a lot of fun, but I think you probably should lay off using the Kickapoo Buffalo Salve and the Cantharides Plaster at the same time. Or at least wait until the weekend.

#277 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 12:07 PM:

The eBay writeup for the recipe book includes the intriguing line "otter of roses."

"OTTER? I wanted ATTAR of roses! You fool, now my creation will be EVIL! Playful, but EVIL!"

#278 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 04:38 PM:

I normally am not a fan of Indymedia, but these are some great photos of a protestor from about a block from my office in Boston. He's protesting the Abu Ghraib torture, of course.

#279 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 07:05 PM:

on the Very Cool book on eBay: Powell's has a copy at $26, $14 less than the current eBay bid; and someone else lists it at $5.95. Check out for more info.

On books, comparison shopping helps.

#280 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 09:26 PM:

Teresa, I'm going to post that link to the really wierd collectibles to Disturbing Auctions with the caveat that it's not an auction, it's an actual commerce site.... I may get smacked (I'll report back, DA is my favorite Web time-waster, I just cannot look at it at work because sometimes the things are..... well, not work-safe. But we (DA) seem to find a lot of Craiedomonte ceramics... urk. And really bad taxidermy.

#281 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 09:56 PM:

"I just exude the stuff, as the otter exudes the precious otter of roses." -- Mark Twain

So, Stefan, your creation will certainlly be cantankerous, but not all that evil. And -its- creations . . . well, they'll probably p.o. Shelley and Byron, but these things have to be lived with.

Your friend,

#282 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 10:08 PM:

Thanks, Dan!

#283 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Andy Perrin wrote, well upstream:

Sketch a hypercube looking toward a corner (isometric projection), toward an edge, and face on. The last would be a nice check-- if the person did not realize it would appear to be a square, then you know for sure they can't visualize 4d (or 3d!).

No, it wouldn't be a square.

It would be a cube -- specifically, a cube with another cube centered within it, if you have a translucent hypercube. When you "look" at something in N dimensions, you're making an N-1 dimension projection of it. And thus, "looking" at a hypercube produces three-dimensional objects. To get down to a two-dimensional object, you have to look at the three-dimensional one from a direction that's orthogonal to the direction that produced the first projection, which really starts ceasing to be meaningful in a "looking at" sense.

#284 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 11:13 PM:

Brooks, before I posted above, I checked it with the java applet:

When you look at the hypercube in the orientation that the applet initializes to, it appears to be a square. You are looking at the hypercube face on. This is equivalent to looking at a 3d cube face on, or a square face on. Clicking the XY, XZ, XW, etc. buttons will form projections from various angles, some of which look like cubes inside cubes, others which don't. Play with the applet and you'll see what I mean.

#285 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 11:23 PM:

Tom Whitmore wrote:
On books, comparison shopping helps.

This is so true, on so many levels...

One of my most recent purchases, a reference on spotlight mode synthetic-aperture radar, normally lists for $147 at the publishers website... and that's for a Print On Demand version-- the book originally came out in '95, and went out of print in 2000.

I found it for $50 online, NEW... apparently, a few got printed without a demand for them.

#286 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 11:28 PM:

Incidentally, your post is an example of why I thought it would make a good visualization test. When you say "hypercube" most people automatically remember the cube-within-a-cube (or whatever projection was shown in their favorite book) and therefore they fail to think about what was actual asked for by the test. It takes a lot of imagination to figure out that a hypercube viewed face on will be a square (in orthographic projection). I can't do it. ;)

#287 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 12:41 AM:

Oh, hey: I work with hypercubes EVERY DAY! It's my job! The company logo is a stylized hypercube!

#288 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 01:09 AM:

Mike, I hadn't heard that Twain quote before, O I am slain ...

#289 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 01:43 AM:


Is there a way that you would prefer that I link to or excerpt, with hotlink to your Making Light Index page, or whatever, such postings as those by Brooks Moses and Andy Perrin, above?

My blog will never have a fraction of yours, in readership and elan. But I'd love to appropriately repurpose those postings that relate to mine, without causing anybody any grief.

And should I "friend" you, or just keep the hotlink to you from my initial self-posting?

#290 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 07:01 AM:

JVP wrote (originally directed to Teresa):
And should I "friend" you, or just keep the hotlink to you from my initial self-posting?

If you're talking about the 'friend' functionality, I hate to say it won't work. You can 'friend' other livejournal users.
( You probably already connected the dots between me and my LJ, 'remotesensing' )

Some other popular blogs with RSS feeds have livejournal equivalents, so that you can follow the blog on your LJ friends page... but such things don't let you follow the comment threads that develop here.

#291 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Help, oh word mavens . . . .

Now, I know I have lived a sheltered life, but I must admit I was bewildered when I received an invitation to a Parents Association dinner which is to feature a "Chinese Auction".

I had no idea what a Chinese Auction was, so I looked it up on the web, and now I know, though it seems awfully silly.

But now I'm curious about the derivation of the term, the web references I found didn't go into the history of the phrase. And I'm wondering if it isn't, well, derogatory?

Anyone know from any of this?

#292 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 01:13 PM:

Although I consider myself reasonably versed in auction methods, I had never heard of a Chinese auction either until just now.

For those wondering, it appears to be an auction method where everyone who bids pays, not just the winner of each lot. Apparently some people run it so that the highest bidder wins, some run it so that your chance of winning is proportional to your bid (you bid with tickets which each cost a quarter, or something).

This is kinda sorta similar to the "dollar bill auction" of economics class fame, but not precisely.

I can't figure out the origin of the name either. My three hypotheses:

  • As you suggest, it might be derogatory, along the lines of "Chinese fire drill."

  • It might actually be something traditionally Chinese. I wouldn't think this too likely except the only other example of an auction format named for a nationality, the Dutch auction, is named on that basis.

  • Finally, a bit of a reach - I saw a number of references from Jewish sites which refer to people doing these informally and then using the proceeds to order Chinese food. Since a lot of synagogue groups seem to hold these, this could be the origin of the name. Maybe.

#293 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Jonathan, it should be easy to link to individual comments here. Just click on the part of the header that has the date in it.

Melissa, no idea. It'll probably be like the "Australian ballot", which some Aussies have told me has nothing to do with Australia, and others have told me is an Australian invention.

Meanwhile: the best me-icon I can coax out of the "portrait illustration maker" is 16, 6, 6, 11, 1, 37, 7, 24, 13, 0, 0, 68, 20, 0, 0, 39.

#294 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Use "warm brown" or "red" for the hair.

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:03 PM:

Just read the Alex Polier piece. Do you know, I somehow missed the entire scandal?

On hypercubes: I once spent an evening with friends trying to figure out what a hypercube would look like if it passed through our universe. We pictured a cube passing through a plane and added a dimension; to make it more interesting, we pictured it entering corner-on.

Best we (non-mathematicians that all three of us were) could come up with: it appears as a tiny (infinitismal) tetrahedron, which grows to some maximum size. Then the vertices of the tetrahedron flatten out; the new faces of this octohedron then grow while the old faces shrink, until the old faces contract to points of a new tetrahedron, which then shrinks and vanishes.

Face-on is boring: a cube appears, sits there, then vanishes. We didn't do edge-on; it was getting late. I was going to put this in a story, but couldn't think of a plot. Plot without gimmick is better than gimmick without plot, as I wish certain writers of our genre would remember a bit more often.

I have no idea if this is accurate or not. I do know it was fun. Does that make me a geek?

#296 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:25 PM:

In my youth I built models of hypercubes. I may build a couple more to take to Viable Paradise this year.

#297 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:35 PM:

A+C idea: Hypercubes might make interesting mobiles. You could use toothpicks and string, maybe. It would be cool to get in a taxi one day and see a hypercube hanging from the rear-view mirror.

#298 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:36 PM:

And about Classical Music Secrets, I guess I don't think that Mozart's Requiem sounds much like "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." And I just heard bits of a Liszt mass from after he took religious orders, and while it's not on a par with Mozart's masses, I think 'trash' would be an exaggeration.

Other than that: you go, boy!

#299 ::: JM Kagan ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:36 PM:

"hell boole"
My eyes aren't what they used to be so here's I found in my compact OED while I had enough sun to read the obsolete words: "boole" is probably "bowl" or anything bowl-shaped, up to tub-sized, and "hell" refers to burnishing something like a precious metal. I deduce that son John is to take his dad's one treasure, that gold-covered bowl, and, in front of independent witnesses, mind you, melt off the gold. Do it TWICE, mind you, so you've nothing left but the wooden bowl-form. Divide up the gold and give it to the others. Oh, and John? You get to keep the wood part in remembrance of me. ("Hyl" seems to be "husk.")

#300 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:40 PM:

Andy Perrin: you're making fun of us poor math-idiots. Meanie. No stratificational linguistics for you!

(I'm kidding. I'd talk SG to just about anyone - serial killers, people who smoke in elevators, the makers of the appalling I, Robot travesty that's about to come out - anyone who isn't actually part of the Bush Administration.)

#301 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:45 PM:

Xopher, I was too sleep-deprived to follow much of the previous discussion, but what would you recommend as a reading-starting-point on SG? I don't have any formal linguistics background, but I read about it for fun. And this sounds fun. :-) *goes off to do some googling*

#302 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 02:48 PM:

Nice icon, Teresa -- but for some reason I always have "seen" your hair as being shorter. Strange.

I come out roughly as 82,0,16,20,5,51,8,71,27,0,5,70,9,4,0,31 -- the background is a current fantasy considering the current weather here.

#303 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 03:16 PM:

Not trying to make fun. (In that comment anyway...) It really would make my day to find a hypercube in a taxi. It would suit my vision of the way the world ought to work.

BTW, my one brief exposure to linguistics (in a cognitive science course) rather gave me the impression that the skill sets for linguistics and math overlapped quite a bit. Comment?

#304 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 03:17 PM:

Look, I know no one cares, but here are my numbers 33 0 4 2 0 41 4 5 2 0 9 84 7 0 0 43

Creepily accurate.

#305 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 03:38 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee: You can start with Lockwood 1972, Introduction to Stratificational Linguistics. I warn you that it assumes a fair degree of linguistic knowledge. If you don't know what a morphophoneme is, read up before starting Lockwood. It's the only textbook, so it has exercises for practice, with some of the answers in the back.

You could also try Readings in Stratificational Linguistics, which assumes knowledge of Lockwood 1972. It's harder to find, but it contains the immortal "The Transformation of a Turkish Pasha into a Big Fat Dummy," one of the few really FUNNY linguistics papers ever written. Just recommended it to someone yesterday.

Andy, I thought you meant a real hypercube, not a model of one (3D) perspective of one. Did you know that Alexander Calder, the inventor of the mobile, studied at Stevens Tech right here in Hoboken? There's a huge metallic mobile, his gift, in the Stevens library.

And yes, I think the analytics serve one well in both fields. But mathematicians don't have to make funny sounds, though in my experience most of them do anyway.

#306 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 03:56 PM:

Xopher: Getting into a taxi and finding a real hypercube-- I want to read that book. I was imagining the classic cube-within-a-cube model, perhaps dangling by its corner. In fact (googles) see here.

#307 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 04:55 PM:

Randall, I think we should also add the color information as well - in my case White, a little dark, chestnut, rose.

Soon to be seen in a post office near you . . .

#308 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 05:16 PM:

77 17 34 9 0 38 34 4 19 0 41 0 0 0 8


A little white



More or less....

The cat looks exactly like my Dash, though.

#309 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 05:27 PM:

Jill - I assume you wanted a space between the 4 and the 1 and not 41.

#310 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Mine turned out almost perfectly, except that my beard is actually red:

Yellow Brown, the White Skin, Blue, Pink.

#311 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 05:47 PM:

With what I took to be Teresa's permission, I have excerpted the wonderful recent Hypercube comments by Brooks Moses, Andy Perrin, Stefan Jones, James D. Macdonald, Xopher, and Yoon Ha Lee on my LiveJournal blog:


with a hotlink to the first of the series (Brooks Moses).

I hope that this is okay. You all get a wider audience, with some people being fed back to Making Light, but at the expense meanwhile of my bandwidth. I think the cut-and-pasted (and slightly tweaked) thread, which had to be split into 2 pieces (length limit of 4200 words on LiveJournal) is comments number 72 and 73 on my blog, at (now) the bottom of page 2.

It's so great to hear from you folks. I hope you don't mind that (to compensate from my previous over-blogging) I mostly lurk now, unlerss someone directly asks me a question that I can answer succinctly.

#312 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 05:58 PM:

JVP: For goodness' sake, you do realize you can add another post to your livejournal, right?

Have one thread going for the asimov/erdos number thing... one thread going for the hypercube thing...

Just a thought.

#313 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 06:08 PM:

Bill Blum:

As further proof that one can have 38 years software experience, yet still be a clumsy newbie, I figured that it should be easy, but couldn't puzzle it out from the LiveJournal FAQ. Can you tell me, or point me to where it is explained? Either way, thank you again!

I also find myself drawn into to pingponging back and forth with blog-keepers on their own blogs, after they post on mine, and they then email me... There was the Katie Hafner piece recently in the New York Times (last Tuesday?) on blogging addicts. I was almost afraid to show that story to my wife and son. But they excuse my compulsive blogging, so long as I get paying work done...

#314 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 06:52 PM:

Xopher: given that I've glazed people's eyes over mention Korean morphophonemes on occasion, that might be manageable with a lot of review/reading. (I have Language Files 7th ed, Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, and Payne's Describing Morphosyntax sitting on my shelves. I think I left the Fromkin  ??? intro text in storage in NY, though.) Thanks for the rec!

Turkish Pasha...big fat...oh my. That's now on my find-list, too. :-)

Want to go to a con someday to hang out with happy linguistics geeks.

#315 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 07:12 PM:

Claude - nope. Just missed another 0..

ergo -

77 17 34 9 0 38 34 4 19 0 0 41 0 0 0 8


#316 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 07:15 PM:

.... and thank you for catching that, Claude. You can be my editor any day!

#317 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 07:57 PM:

Well, I've played with that darn thing for at least an hour. The colors are right - my hair is darker blonde than that but not as brown as their browns. And my eyes are a much paler blue. But 16, 1, 56, 23, 3, 36, 6, 37, 6, 0, 0, 46, 16, 5, 0, 7
Yellow, the white skin, blue, and pink

#318 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 08:13 PM:

Andy thinks Mary Kay needs to lighten her grip on the cat. Its eyes are bulging.

#319 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 08:56 PM:

For those of us planning on watching the Tour De Lance, I'd suggest giving this MP3 a listen...

(Short mp3, Abba parody.)

He just won the Tour De France... wearing skin-tight lycra pants....

#320 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 09:59 PM:


I found these discussions of the origin of "chinese auction". No site I had access to had the answer, though I got a hint that the ALA had an explanation in their Journal.

#321 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2004, 10:56 PM:

Just to let everyone know, I'm celebrating because I turned in my papers to become a Canadian citizen today! Yeeee-hawwwww!

How a boy from rural Oklahoma ended up living in Canada by way of Shanghai, China is a long, drawn out story, so I won't bore you with it. Although, not to brag or anything, but I have lived an extraordinary life in my short, thirty-one years. Man, am I cool or what?

Sorry, I just had to tell somebody. You see, my wife is asleep and I'm lonely.

#322 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 12:11 AM:

Randall P, Congrats. If I did not have my deep love of place and my current home in Kansas City, I'd be thinking of moving to Canada or Australia. Canada would be easier, at least I'd be in striking distance if I needed to help my mom (my younger sister lives right around the corner and is her 'check every day' person). Mom is in good shape, and her mother, a 4-pack-a-day smoker until a year before her death, lived to 90 years, independent until the last couple of months! Mom quit smoking in the late 1960s, so her chances are good. Unfortunately, her brothers didn't and are long gone. Sigh.

#323 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 12:44 AM:

It's much easier to get a likeness if you don't have to worry about hair.
33 0 4 14 0 28 32 16 13 0 8 0 7 0 0 0
Virge Icon

(Wrinkles not included. May contain traces of nuts.)

#324 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 07:47 AM:

Bill: the Lance Armstrong ABBA song is HILARIOUS.

On a slight tangent, care to sign our "Ditch Kirsten Gum: she's an idiot" petition?

Virge: love it. I think we should have a "Making Light" icon page. I'm happy to put it together and host it if people want to send me their icons.

#325 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 07:48 AM:

Bill: the Lance Armstrong ABBA song is HILARIOUS.

On a slight tangent, care to sign our "Ditch Kirsten Gum: she's an idiot" petition?

Virge: love it. I think we should have a "Making Light" icon page. I'm happy to put it together and host it if people want to send me their icons.

#326 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 08:27 AM:

apologies for the double-post. I got a time-out message when I tried to post. Obviously, some server was live somewhere.

#327 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 09:37 AM:

For those messenger bag fans out there, I think that the Republicans for Voldemort bag might make for a good addition to your collection. I can certainly see using one in conjunction with the Nutbar bag, saddlebag style...

#328 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Re. Classical Music's dirty secrets: When I studied (music) composition with Donald Erb, he'd tell all his students: "FM radio invented the Italian Rennaisance."

Made my 19-year-old music mind think, anyway.

#329 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 06:53 PM:

Hey everybody!

This was how bored I was today. Go here. I'm the second guy. I'm such a bastard!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

#330 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 08:34 PM:

OOOHHHHH Teresa, the rest of the cakes on that site were gorgeous. I particularly liked the artichoke themed one

I have done some cake decorating myself and I just love looking at the wonderful pictures.


#331 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 08:35 PM:

Hmmmph. I messed up the link somehow. This is the url

#332 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2004, 08:36 AM:

I was a bit disappointed in the "Classical Music's Ten Dirty Secrets" thing. I guess I was expecting something that wasn't a collection of empty cliches.

No, Mozart doesn't all sound alike.

No, Liszt isn't trash. Moron.

The Grosse Fuge is fascinating, not ugly, and I have bought an album and a book just to have it.

I, foolishly, listen to the first three movements of the Symphonie Fantastique along with the rest -- in the Liszt version, of course.

My idea of ten dirty secrets would be things like: "Bach wrote his toccatta & fugue for an organ, not an orchestra," "Vivaldi wrote more than four pieces," "These pieces are actually more than three minutes long," "Opera isn't any more boring than what you sit through on TV every day."

How about dirty secrets of Sci-Fi? Aliens don't all speak English! Giant carrots don't want our women! Everybody hates Dhalgren! Anything in three books is stupid! Fantasy is just all elves and unicorns and stuff! It's easy to be misinformed when you don't care.

#333 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2004, 04:16 PM:

"Giant carrots don't want our women!"

To mangle a quote from Ernie Kovacs, haven't you got that backwards?

#334 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2004, 07:17 PM:

Re the cicada page: Australian Aboriginal activist and poet Kevin Gilbert wrote this poem for children (quoting from memory, but reasonably confident I've got it right):


I'm a cicada I can sing
The same old song
The same old song all day.

I am a cicada I can sing
The same old song
The same old song all day

#335 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2004, 09:19 PM:

Mr. Ford, I never mangle. And a man without a woman is like a bicycle without a fish.

#336 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2004, 12:03 AM:

To update a previous open thread threadlet, we managed to move yarn around the last two days. Julia and Jill both had intersecting other requirements, so Jill drove down to Manassas and we went out to lunch (Peruvian -- the french fries were mixed in with the meat & veggies) and I gave her her necklace and she gave me the cotton for Julia.

Then today, I arrived an hour or so late (big accident on 95) to meet Julia and her family, and fortunately, they were still there! We chatted and ate a bit and then I gave her the cotton and she gave me two *giant* bags of orlon to use in making blankets and such for the shelter.

I enjoyed both meetings, although I wish we could all three have met together.

#337 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2004, 07:28 PM:

Oh, this is a goodie:

Patrick Farley has written an outline of an essay about his brief career as a Young Republican.

The last point considerably brightened an otherwise bad-weather / sick dog / low energy day.

#338 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2004, 10:01 PM:

The problem with the "dirtiest secrets of classical music isn't just that it's nonsense -- somewhere on the level of claiming that most of classical literature is crud simply because some idiots (e.g., Bill Bennett) speak too highly of it -- but that it isn't even funny nonsense.

#339 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 12:43 PM:

Australians have a slightly special relationship with Transits of Venus.
An important part of the journey of Cook, Banks & the others on HM bark Endeavour on which they discovered & explored the East Coast of Australia (the West Coast was known in Europe, but is much less favourable for settlement) was viewing the 1769 Transit of Venus from Tahiti.

"Cook's voyage led directly to the British settlement of Australia," said Dr Nick Lomb, Sydney Observatory curator. "If it weren't for Cook and Banks coming here after watching the transit of Venus this country could have been settled by the French or Portuguese."

They occur in pairs, eight years apart, every 122 years, so the last ones were in 1874 & 1882. Consider the changes between 1769, 1874 & 2004. The next is on June 6, 2012. After then it's a fair wait until December 11, 2117. (Quick break to contemplate how history might have developed by then.)

If your place on the planet doesn't have a good view (e.g., the Americas), there are quite a few internet sites, one is I'll be at work, but am taking my small field glasses (safely viewing by projection - NOT direct), since we have a good view out northwest. Going by past experience, however, it bodes well for breaking our current dry spell. Either is welcome.

#340 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 12:52 PM:

Did you know that John Phillip Sousa wrote a "Transit of Venus March"? (And I thought it was supposed to be visible from the Eastern US, about dawn?)

#341 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Bother. Missed one tiny, but useful, phrase. In above comment, 3rd par, 3rd sentence should read:
"After tomorrow's - June 8, 2004 - the next is on June 6, 2012."

Just in case people were left, wondering, alone on the cold hillside.

#342 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 01:06 PM:


Library of Congress page on "Transit of Venus March"

That page introduces the matter, and has nice Cover Art of original publication.

* Transit of Venus Background
* Scores, Parts & Recording
* Related Venus Music
* Image Gallery
* Learn More About It
* Acknowledgements
* Copyright and Restrictions

#343 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 01:35 PM:

For visibility in anyone's particular area, since my guide to many astronomical matters ( ) is not doing anything special for this Venusian/Venereal transit AFAICT, I'll just have to say "Check local guides".

Many places have a local astronomical society or observatory, and the webpages of the bigger ones near wherever you are would probably give the most pertinent information.

It's not a particularly spectacular event, but special in our regard. Also see Shirley Hazzard's book, where you can consider other meanings of the phrase. (goodnight)

#344 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 04:55 PM:

RE: Tube Map

This is one of those things that I may have found here in the first place (although a quick check makes me think not.)

Animals On The Underground

#345 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 05:36 PM:

Here's eagerly awaiting the Tor equivalent:

Penguin uses sexy models to get men to read more books.

#346 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 08:36 PM:

The headline -I'm- waiting for is:

Flightless Bird Allegedly Linked to Dr. Stephen Ward, Film Producer Harry Alan Towers

#347 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 09:46 PM:

A question for the assembled company: can anyone recommend a high-quality, low-noise mailing list or online forum for discussing SF/fantasy/specfic/slipstream/etc.? My ideal would be a virtual version of Potlatch or Readercon.

#348 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2004, 10:28 PM:

Fun link for the day: REEMCO

I loved their Cat Mantis:
"The Cat Mantis occupies and pampers your annoying feline so you don't have to. Cats love the company of the Cat Mantis leaving you free to relax after a hard days work! Wireless Remote Control allows you to control the mantis from the ease of your favorite chair!"

#349 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 12:03 AM:

Aside from Making Light, Tim?

#350 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Yup. I'm greedy.

#351 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 10:57 AM:

Venus in Transit cont. - Just pointing to an unusual photo from our local "Newspaper of Record"'s article Telescopes pointed skywards (The photo is captioned: "Venus puts on a show for Sydney Harbour Bridge climbers. Photo: David Finlay") which I liked.

#352 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 11:01 AM:

Anyone know which Pueblo's defensive signage that is? I can't make out the logo nor do I recognize what little landscape there is. Acoma, possibly?


#353 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 11:13 AM:

Ah, got it — San Ildefonso. The words on the top of the logo fit the shape of "PUEBLO OF SAN <somethinglong>" on the top part of the logo, and the only other San is Felipe. Plus, the odd little wall & stairs thing on the left side is clearly this kiva.

Still looking for the Pueblo's logo online to confirm.


#354 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Did you know that John Philip Sousa also wrote a Transit of Venus novel?

#355 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2004, 01:47 PM:

Bill Higgins:

You're right again, Bill!

Excerpt from John Philip Sousa & The Transit of Venus
Copyright ©2003, 2004 Chuck Bueter. All rights reserved.

"Unlike 'Stars and Stripes Forever' or 'The Washington Post March,' Sousa's 'Transit of Venus' did not bring Sousa fame, nor did the novel Sousa wrote with the same title.... The 1882 transit was accompanied by enormous fanfare. Thomas Hardy worked it into the plot of a novel, and the event was covered by the press worldwide. Boys stood on the street corners of New York, offering a glimpse through telescopes for a dime. Odenwald believes the 2004 transit should receive much the same response...."

Who can tell us more about this curious novel? Should Teresa republish it?

Now, what are John Philip Sousa and Thomas Hardy's Asimov Number?

#356 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 03:11 PM:

Teresa-- the link to that Chicago Sun-Times article died. I found what I think is the article you linked to on Lexis-- it's called "Under the Gun". Here's the URL of the article:

#357 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Andy, that Lexis link requires a password.

[ignores feeling of talking to self]

#358 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 06:48 PM:

Jonathan, we kicked this around on Usenet (some of us poor benighted souls have not yet given up on Usenet) and music maven Matthew Tepper had this to say:

"Sousa wrote *several* novels. I've read one of them, _The Fifth String_, which is a deal-with-the-Devil story and is therefore technically fantasy. Good thing he kept his day job."

Which does not bode well for Transit of Venus, the novel.

In the same thread, we learned that Kip Williams and John Philip Sousa have played the same piano. Which suggests a whole new operation over which one can construct a Kevin Bacon/Erdos Number network game.

On second thought, better not.

#359 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 09:21 PM:

Here is more distressing governmental manipulation.
(This doesn't quite fit on the Abu Ghraib threads, so forgive me for posting it here.)

Scientists Say Dirty Bomb Would Be a Dud

The "dirty bomb'' allegedly planned by terror suspect Jose Padilla would have been a dud, not the radiological threat portrayed last week by federal authorities, scientists say.

At a June 1 news conference, the Justice Department said the alleged al-Qaida associate hoped to attack Americans by detonating ``uranium wrapped with explosives'' in order to spread radioactivity.

But uranium's extremely low radioactivity is harmless compared with high-radiation materials -- such as cesium and cobalt isotopes used in medicine and industry that experts see as potential dirty bomb fuels.

"I used a 20-pound brick of uranium as a doorstop in my office,'' American nuclear physicist Peter D. Zimmerman, of King's College in London, said to illustrate the point.

#360 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2004, 10:07 PM:

"file servers ... allow users to share files and programs, regardless of into what machine they are logged"

Somewhere in America, in a remote bastion of chrome and glass, the copyeditors of the ______ publishing demesnes sense a shift in the redactive ether. Their sharpened styluses become pale and brittle, chilled to a color unreadable by photocopiers. The protection offered by their cubicle dividers seems suddenly insubstantial, no shield from the spectral tendrils that probe and measure the inner grammatical engines they have crafted so carefully. Always restless and uneasy in its slumber, the shade of H. W. Fowler has finally been roused to full wakefulness. Wreathed in the tweedy vapors of its indignation, its revenants' eyes slitted Hadean em-dashes, it paws at manuscripts and style sheets, sniffs for subtle signals in the fear emanating from the paralyzed copyeditors. With a coffee-mug-shattering screech it vaults upon its prey, and both fiend and victim vanish, leaving behind only a dense fug of expensive Scottish pipe tobacco. The remaining editorial staff, relieved, stand up and glance over the tops of the neighboring cubicles, curious to see whom they have lost the company of.

#361 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 01:05 AM:

I've been training my dog. Besides lots of repetition and patience, it requires treats.

In my case, small dog biscuits snapped in half. A solid training session, or a long walk with training worked in (e.g., "dowwwwwnnn" at the curb of a busy intersection), uses up a LOT of treats. Getting them out of a pocket w/o alerting the dog that a training opportunity is coming up is difficult.

After swearing that I'd stop buying trivial dog items, I sprung today for a treat holster: A nylon fabric belt pouch for goodies. The pet store actually had a half-dozen varieties!

I've decided to make this a not-just-a-dog item by using it to sneak outside candy into movie theaters. I'll just put a layer of biscuits on top of the Skittles or whatever . . .

#362 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 01:27 AM:

Stefan - Mmmmm, Skittles and Bits! Skittles and Bits!

I just wear cargo pants if I want to bring my own food to the movies. If I ride my motorcycle and wear my Aerostitch Darien jacket, I can bring enough food to feed a small family. No theater employee wants to go through a biker's pockets.

There's simply no need to mix doggy-targeted snacks with your own snacks! Do that too much, and Fido just might accidentally get a mouthful of Reeses Pieces instead of a Milk Bone and have the king of sugar rushes. Then just try to get him to sit at an intersection!

#363 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 03:30 AM:

Just ran the unix 'fortune' program and got the following:

The eye is a menace to clear sight, the ear is a menace to subtle hearing,
the mind is a menace to wisdom, every organ of the senses is a menace to its
own capacity. ... Fuss, the god of the Southern Ocean, and Fret, the god
of the Northern Ocean, happened once to meet in the realm of Chaos, the god
of the center. Chaos treated them very handsomely and they discussed together
what they could do to repay his kindness. They had noticed that, whereas
everyone else had seven apertures, for sight, hearing, eating, breathing and
so on, Chaos had none. So they decided to make the experiment of boring holes
in him. Every day they bored a hole, and on the seventh day, Chaos died.
-- Chuang Tzu

From this, three conclusions:

i) Chuang Tzu was a bit strange sometimes

ii) Don't drill holes in Chaos

iii) I now see where the title of _And Chaos Died_, Joanna Russ's novel about telepathy came from.

Now of course, the quote's probably on the title page of the book, but sadly the book has been a resident of my to-read shelf for about 19 years. I'll be getting to it shortly.

#364 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 06:34 AM:

Steve -- yes, the quote (a shorter version of it, anyway) opens Russ's book.

#365 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 11:02 AM:

That was the first thing I read by Russ, and it nearly kept me from reading anything by her again. Not that it isn't good; it is. Not that I didn't enjoy it; I did. But it's far from her most accessible work.

I seem to have a knack for that (picking up bad first examples of an author). For example, the first Dick novel I picked up (as opposed to the first dick novel, which is another category alltogether) was The Zap Gun, which isn't a good book. Not "not Dick's best," but actually a bad book by any standard.

Or maybe I missed its subtle message. I was about 13.

#366 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Xopher said:
For example, the first Dick novel I picked up (as opposed to the first dick novel, which is another category alltogether)

You're referring to Moby-Dick, right? [ducks]

#367 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 02:06 PM:


Today I was trolling at a bookstore for something new-to-me and I saw a book which had a metallic blue cover with techy shadow font and the spine was impossible for me to read. I had to take the book off the shelf to figure it out. I think it said "Mobile Suite: Gundun" (not in the graphics area). The cover made me dizzy.

#368 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 03:09 PM:

Sara, that would almost certainly have been "Mobile Suit: Gundam," a long series of Japanese yarns, in various skeins, about big fighting machines piloted by angsty teenagers.

But your reading creates the splendid image of occasional furniture that occasionaly transforms to fight evil. "The nightstand is through our defenses! I told you the beanbag chair was a decoy!"

#369 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 03:28 PM:

John M. Ford:

Well-couched. As the Chair of this sub-thread, I decline to be a recliner. Where is the seat of imagination, at least since the Ottoman Empire?

Actually, I'm reminded of a story that my son told me, when he was 2, about how the first wild furniture was tamed.

At first, the chairs and stools and couches and tables roamed free. People offered them nice rugs to stand on, and a roof overhead to keep them dry in rainy season.

Soon, the first furniture ventured inside, and some decided to stay. They became friends with the people, and learned to enjoy being sat upon, or otherwise close to humans.

Sometimes, a shudder passes through the house. We think it's an eartquake. But really, some of the furniture is shaking itself, in the middle of a dream of running wild...

#370 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 04:00 PM:

I'm reminded of the excellent "The Tick" episode, Evil Sits Down for a Moment, in which the obligatory supervillian, The Ottoman Empress, has unnatural powers over furniture.

IIRC, she was defeated when she sat down in the world's most comfortable chair.

#371 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 07:23 PM:

Ah! (g) I suppose that explains why I couldn't find the book online. I don't trust the furniture; I'll rest on my, er, laurels.

#372 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 08:08 PM:

And Chaos Died may be my favorite Russ (and I like Russ a lot). But it's definitely the one of these things that's not like the others.

I also like Barefoot in the Head, Crash, and Growing Up In Tier 3000, so calibrate accordingly.

#373 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 08:30 PM:


Your son has a wonderful imagination. But a scary one...

#374 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 06:19 PM:

Interesting interview with seven Mpls-St. Paul female authors (Arnason, Bujold, Dean, Kerr, Morehouse, Stevermer, Wrede):

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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