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July 8, 2004

Open thread 25
Posted by Teresa at 10:08 PM *

Meph.: Why, this is RASFF, nor am I out of it.

Comments on Open thread 25:
#1 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 10:32 PM:

Oh my, I get to be first. Here's hoping that your move made it possible to find some things that were missing before.

On the home front, I received a contract for an ebook sequel that isn't complete yet. I guessed that was a hint that the ebook it's a sequel to was doing well in the publisher's eyes. Today the publisher posted a page at their site showing the ranking of their ebooks. That particular ebook was fifth out of just over 200 the ebook publisher has published. I just might have to retry approaching some print publishers since I still hold that right.

#2 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 10:35 PM:

Are aliens stealing our sleep? I sometimes find myself wondering if it's just me, or is insomnia a growing "epidemic". I know I've got it fairly bad, but it seems like it spreads or something.

#3 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 10:55 PM:

If this was rasff, you'd be deciding whether this:

was real or not, and if it was real, whether the boy was mistreated or the school was poorly run.

Oh, and Marty Helgeson is going on about abortion again.

My post on wishbones has drifted without many answers. I saw a comic that had two people holding the wishbone with the two ends up. I've always held it with the two ends down. Y'all?

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 11:04 PM:

Thinkst thou that I who saw the face of Bhob and tasted the eternal joys of corflu am not tormented with ten thousand RASFFs at being once deprived?

#5 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 11:27 PM:


1a) I'm inclined to think Bryan's situation is real, because of a combination of the pictures, and because I know my own school would have reacted that way. My high school days are not far behind me. I'm less confident that Bryan reacted as he reports. Few high school students are that cool, even with advance planning.

1b) I think Bryan is right on his free speech issue, and the school is disgusting. The signs are trash, I hardly need add in this company.

2) Wishbone ends down.

#6 ::: Mary Messall ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 11:55 PM:

I think the same thing would have happened if he'd been posting left-leaning, anti-war posters -- because my brother did try to post some at his high school, and they got taken down too.

(At his school, they had a required stamp... This story makes me see the wisdom of that policy. Funny story: my brother photoshopped the stamp in, and the teacher told him she knew it was fake because it spelled the school's name incorrectly, "Hiil" for "Hill." But he'd scanned it from a real stamp, on another poster.)

#7 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:19 AM:

Wish bone ends down, here too. And, ummm, held by pinkies.

#8 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:34 AM:

For where we are is fandom, and where fans are, there must we ever be. If you're cool widdat.

#9 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:41 AM:

Wishbone ends either up or down. I don't do it any set way.

On another topic, I wonder what people think about the piece in this morning's NY Times about the decline in American readership.

One salient point from the article was that the number total number of readers has not changed in 20 years, but since the population has increased by 40 million people, the percentage of readers has dropped.

I've been quoting the interview PNH has online where he states that, despite all the cocktail talk, more people are reading than ever before.

Am I wrong in thinking these are contradictory studies? Maybe I'm missing something.

Just wondering what you think.

#10 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:47 AM:

Marilee -- ends down, but held as close as possible to the branch point, because whoever holds the wishbone closes to the branch get the long piece. If you wish to avoid this and have a more random result, you should swap wishes so that whoever gets the short end wins.

#11 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Josh - I'd be happy to know what keeps happening to that 10 minutes between 8:05 am and 8:15 am.

One minute I'm eating my breakfast, the next I'm realizing I'm running late, and making a mad dash up the stairs to brush my teeth.

And may I just say, recent cereal + immediately brushing teeth = yuck.

As for the wishbone question, would you believe I've never held to that tradition?

I think we figured the cat would eat the bone and get it stuck in its throat if we left the bone out to dry. Or something.

I can understand the ends-up theory, though - horseshoes were believed to have all the luck run out if hung ends down, right?

#12 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:57 AM:

For where we are is fandom, and where fans are, there must we ever be. If you're cool widdat.

The fans shoot the breeze that cools them.

Alice-- OJ + toothpaste = even worse.

#13 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:07 AM:

Harry, along similar lines, I was disappointed that this year the National Science Foundation's biennial study of "public understanding of science" didn't continue their 2002 questions about science fiction.

Been meaning to write something about this, haven't gotten around to it.

They did take an interesting look at science books, though.

In a recent survey, most respondents (75 percent) said that their use of the Internet has not affected the amount of time they spend reading books, newspapers, and magazines. About 20 percent said they spend less time reading because of the Internet, and 6 percent said they actually spend more time reading because of the Internet. Books rival the Internet as a very or extremely important source of information: almost identical numbers of respondents, three of five, made this claim. In addition, books were second only to television as a very or extremely important source of entertainment.

I think the Internet has eaten seriously into my own book-readin' time in the past decade and a half, though.

#14 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:08 AM:

Totally off topic, but I suppose that's what these threads are for, anyway.

I have a quote I've been unable to place, even with google. The terms are too general and I think I may be paraphrasing it, so I thought you good and literate people might be able to help me.

It's something like
"In the game of love the one who is loved wins."

And if no one here can place it, perhaps I can safely pretend to have made it up myself.

#15 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:26 AM:

The Internet has stolen my tv-watching time, but not my reading time.

And here's a new link, for those of you with Quicktime on your computer and a fast connection:

Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus... in Legos.

#16 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:36 AM:

Wishbone ends up, for my family. If we can be bothered. Not massively into wishing - more into wistful hoping.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:05 AM:

Mice on Ice . . . the other, other white meat!

#18 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:23 AM:

Langston Hughes said, according to an essay by Arnold Rampersad in Voices & Visions: The Poet in America, ed. Helen Vendler [New York: Random House, 1987]:

"Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books -- where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas."

One refreshing thing about Making Light (and my blog and domain) is that we keep referring from movies, TV, newspapers, and our interior worlds BACK to the world of books.

On the net, that is swimming against the tide.

I'm one of those whose use of computers for 38 years has resulted in less TV, and less sleep. But, almost surely, the internet has driven to me read more books, books of which I might othwerwise have remained ignorant.

#19 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:38 AM:

Andy & Alice - there's an issue of sequence here.

Cereal just before toothpaste = yuck

Toothpaste just before OJ = yuck

So, for best results, watch your order of operations!

As far as that missing 10 minutes goes, I frequently have whole hours disappear!

#20 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 03:03 AM:

Josh: I don't need aliens to steal my sleep. I have two three-month old kittens, they have the sleep theft thing down cold.

#21 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 05:41 AM:

I've been waiting for an open thread for a while to ask for the collective wisdom of Making Light readers - I'm trying to put together a mix CD for a friend of mine who is hoping to visit New York next year. (His savings have been drained by needing to help support an elderly, ill aunt, else he would have gone long ago. He's a great guy, needless to say.) Can anyone offer relevant songs? I've got a few obvious ones - NYNY, NY state of mind, Fairytale of (in?) NY - but any other suggestions are warmly appreciated. Thanks.

#22 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:54 AM:

Dorothy - "Autumn in New York" - my preference would be for the Singers Unlimited version, but I'm a close-harmony geek.

Bill Humphries - what, no photos of tiny sleep-thieves?

#23 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 07:16 AM:

Well, let's see. Bernstein alone wrote three musicals about the city, though not every song is a "New York" lyric. There's "Ohio" ("Go home/Go west/Go back where you came from!") from "Wonderful Town" and "Come Up to My Place" from "On the Town" come to mind.

"Guys and Dolls," oddly enough, doesn't have a New York song as such in it -- "The Oldest Established" is the closest, though if you changed the lyric to ". . . crap game in East Lynne" it would still play about the same.

And there's "42nd Street," and of course "Lullaby of Broadway." "Take the A Train" (which is no longer subway-accurate, but who cares). "Birdland" (I like the Manhattan Transfer version, but that's me) is about a very NYC joint.

#24 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 07:55 AM:

You might also include--if you don't mind a radical shift in tone and/or genre--Nena Hagen's "New York New York."

#25 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 08:00 AM:

Oh! And I know where the time goes. It all drains out through a hole in the wall of an apartment down in the Village, at Bleecker and MacDougal.

#26 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 08:29 AM:

My basic rule of fandom and such:

There ain't no such thing as a free weekend.

That's where the time goes....

#27 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:00 AM:

Very minor glitch I've been meaning to ask about. When I click on the comments of a Making Light post, the comments will fully display for less than a second, and then end at the end of the adds on the left. Refresh doesn't fix this, but hitting the back button and clicking on the comments again does fix it. Following a link in the comments and returning via back restores the bad behavior, which is again fixed by popping up and down.

This doesn't seem to happen on Electrolite. I'm using Windows XP and Internet Explorer. Do other people see this behavior? Is there some setting I can change?

Having to use my workaround is a very minor annoyance, I'm mostly just curious.

#28 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:20 AM:

Oh, love those New York medleys.

Let's see, you'd have to include something from "West Side Story".

"The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" from the good old days of Genesis.

"New York Groove" by Kiss. The Rolling Stones' "Shattered". Flash and the Pan's "Hey St. Peter".

That oughta wake 'em up.

Topic-hopping, I don't know about the American public at large, but more of my reading time has been stolen by driving than by the Internet. Until four years ago, I either lived within a 15-minute walk of work, or commuted by train and used the time to read.

The Internet doesn't take away from reading. The Internet IS reading. I don't know why people are calling it a competitor to books instead of a companion.

#29 ::: eleanor rowe ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:28 AM:

A public service announcement for anyone who can get BBC2: here's a link

Oh, and wishbone ends down.

#30 ::: Ann ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:42 AM:

Longtime lurker, thankful for the open thread.

Last night on the Daily Show, I caught a bit about retired military band members being called back into service, due to the large number of funerals. I was only half-paying attention, and thus missed all the info that would point me to the source.

Oh great Internet researchers, can you find the story for me?

#31 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:47 AM:

Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

#32 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 10:02 AM:

I use IE and Win2k. My wierd symptom is when I click on the comments here, scroll-down will get stuck until I click the button to either maximize or un-maximize the window.

Wishbone ends down or sideways, never up -- that's just wrong. :)

#33 ::: Randall P ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 10:09 AM:

Am I the only one who has been unable to understand the threads for the last week or so? Is anyone here making sense? Are you all commenting on bizarre posts on other threads or some grand inside joke?

I just want to be involved. That's all. Feel pity for me.

#34 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 10:30 AM:

Another data point: the net has cut into my book reading time and pretty much eliminated my recorder-playing time.

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 10:44 AM:

I have two three-month old kittens

Did someone enrage or appall you with some news?

I'm pretty sure the wishbone ends went down in our family, but as there were six of us my parents suppressed the whole custom rather early, to avoid giving us another excuse to draw blood on one another. Also, if I recall correctly the allegedly-drying wishbone was soaked in vinegar as a joke one time, resulting in a rubbery wishbone that would have torn up the middle had the pullers been able to grip the slippery thing at all. The other six of us thought this was terribly funny, though my parents pretended to deplore it.

Dorothy - if you want a song that depicts what it's actually like to live here, "Another Hundred People" from Sondheim's Company can't be beat.

#36 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 10:50 AM:

Hey ! For once I can stop lurking from the shadows and actually be useful: try Wake Up In New York by Craig Armstrong and Evan Dando, pretty nice one... maybe a bit mood problematic ?

#37 ::: james h ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 10:57 AM:

Dorothy: 'New York' by Ryan Adams, off the Gold album. Lovely wry, elegaic Never been to the city, but always imagined playing this as the plane comes in to land.

#38 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:05 AM:

I suppose the net has cut into my book-reading time, but not nearly so much as the baby has; and if it weren't for the net, I would be going rapidly and noisily insane due to insufficient talking to other adult human beings who aren't my husband.

I think I'm still doing 3-5 books a week on average, so I'm okay. Right?

#39 ::: MsMolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:16 AM:

You can't beat "New York City" by They Might Be Giants.

I also like "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" and "Bleecker Street" by Simon and Garfunkel.

#40 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:24 AM:

And "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," which I have always thought of as a NY song.

#41 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Those with the IE problem: as PNH and TNH have noted, f11 twice (fullscreen/unfulscreen) generally solves it.

#42 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:31 AM:

And, of course, one of the Oyster Band's versions of "New York Girls" is essential....

#43 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:53 AM:

There's always "New York Minute," which was quite tastelessly played on store Muzak on 9/12/01. Not a cheery NY, that one.

I sang TMBG's "New York City" constantly when we were in the process of moving back from California. Only I had to change the lyrics a bit so that they rhymed with "Minneap'lis" instead of "New York City." "And everything looks beautiful when you're young and hapless" is probably less appealing than "young and pretty," but possibly more accurate.

I had a repertoire of actual home-going songs without substitute lyrics, but none of them made reference to the Cities. I also had many that made reference to getting out of California. Go figure. I haven't noticed a similar trend for NY songs. It's just California people sing about fleeing, mostly.

"You'd better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee...."

#44 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:53 AM:

Ann writes:

Last night on the Daily Show, I caught a bit about retired military band members being called back into service, due to the large number of funerals. I was only half-paying attention, and thus missed all the info that would point me to the source.

Asking Google News for "euphonium" should provide you what you need.

#45 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Surprised to be the first to mention this: Lou Reed's "NYC Man" (to pick out maybe the most obvious from his extensive ouvre).

Also, Jim Infantino's "Somewhere Over NYC," if you're lucky enough to find a copy of The World of Particulars.

#46 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:07 PM:

in re internet and reading habits:

I find that I read just as many books but the internet replaces news papers and magazines. (I no longer buy on paper the newspapers I read on line)

This fact would be interesting to Jonathan Tasini and co. who are concerned with contract disputes about whether the Boston Globe will pay them again when it re-posts their writing as web content. (This is old news. I am not sure whether they have resolved the issue.)

#47 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 12:58 PM:

That Spider-Man lego thing *rocks*. Thanks, Harry. :)

#48 ::: David D. Levine ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Those with the IE problem: as PNH and TNH have noted, f11 twice (fullscreen/unfulscreen) generally solves it.

I have the same problem. Actually, any change in the window size (not just maximize/restore) will do the trick.

But this doesn't help if you click on a link that points to a specific comment. In that case you only see the first few comments in the thread, rather than the specified one; changing the window size displays all the comments but leaves the window positioned where it was. There is no way to determine which of the comments the link was intended to point to. I'd really appreciate a fix!

#49 ::: Ann ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Bill, I bow before your greatness.
I never even knew about google news. Thank you!

(Returning to lurkdom, as I clearly have more to learn...)

#50 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:19 PM:

You can't beat "New York City" by They Might Be Giants.

You can get extra cred by using the Cub original, though.

The album Gravichords, Whirlies and Pyrophones (a compilation devoted to experimental musical instruments) has a version of "New York, New York" played entirely on car horns.

Godley & Creme, "An Englishman In New York"
East River Pipe, "Times Square Go-Go Boy" (or the very nice Alice Despard version--if you like the mp3 at that link as much as I do, you'll want the whole record)
Ferron, "Snowing In Brooklyn"
The Favorite Color, "Go Back To West New York"
Stew, "North Bronx French Marie"
Anything by the New York Dolls

Or go to, search for "New York" under Songs, and stand back.

#51 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:20 PM:

And how could I forget:

Robert Fripp, "NYC3"

#52 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:30 PM:

Surprised to be the first to mention this: Lou Reed's "NYC Man" (to pick out maybe the most obvious from his extensive ouvre).

Or "Romeo Had Juliette," with the cheery stanza:

"I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag
with Latin written on it that says
'it's hard to give a shit these days'
Manhattan's sinking like a rock
into the filthy Hudson what a shock
they wrote a book about it
they said it was like ancient Rome."

"Dirty Blvd." is a real toe-tapper, too. My favorite Lou Reed reference to The City is probably in "HookyWooky," where he imagines throwing his girlfriend's exes off a roof "down into the streets to die/ Under the wheels of a car on Canal St." The last line is then picked up by a gospel-type chorus, and repeated a dozen or so times. It's brilliant, in its own twisted way.

Lou has some Issues.

#53 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:41 PM:

There is also Ani DiFranco's "Cradle and All," which contains many NYC lyrics such as:

i live in new york, new york
the city that never shuts up

#54 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:13 PM:

Dorothy--I like The Bowery and Harlem Nocturne. Separately. Together, they're like toothpaste and cereal.

#55 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:30 PM:

There's also Sly & Robbie's New York, sung by Michael Rose, now that I think of it. And I'm pretty sure there's a Jef Gibson track about New York also, except he was creative enough not to put the name of the city anywhere near the title, so I can't remember it... Hope it still will help.

#56 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:46 PM:

"The Only Living Boy In New York", either the original Simon & Garfunkel version or the cover by Everything But The Girl. Or both. Somewhat elegiac, perhaps, but it speaks of what the city has come to mean to me.

A quick iTunes library search for "New York" lists:
A Heart In New York - Simon & Garfunkel
Englishman In New York - Sting
Fairytale Of New York - The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
New New York (Previously Unreleased) - The Cranberries
New York - U2
New York City - They Might Be Giants
New York Mining Disaster 1941 - Bee Gees
New York Minute - Don Henley
New York Minute (Live) - The Eagles
New York State of Mind - Billy Joel
The Boy From New York City - The Ad Libs
The Only Living Boy In New York - Everything But The Girl
The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon & Garfunkel

The U2 would be another one I would add to the mix disc.

#57 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:47 PM:

The Spidey Lego thing can be downloaded too from the animators:

Spite Your Face Productions Ltd

(Have to watch it at home where I can get the sound to work--but even silent, it was fabulous!)

#58 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 02:55 PM:

"Love Song/New York," Lucy Kaplanski
"Southern California Wants to Be Western New York," Dar Williams
"Englishman in New York," Sting


#59 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 03:09 PM:

The first song I heard, on the first day upon moving from New York City to Los Angeles (well, Pasadena) at age 16 to start at Caltech had the opening lines:

"I used to live in New York City;
Everything there was dark and dirty.
Outside my window was a steeple
With a clock that always said twelve-thirty."

["Twelve Thirty", lyrics by John Phillips, by The Mamas And The Papas]

Then I looked at a clocktower, It was 12:30. I felt that I'd just stepped into the Twilight Zone.

Also hear:

"We can try to understand the New York Times' effect on man."
["Stayin' Alive" by The BeeGees]

"She's pure as New York snow. She's got Bette Davis eyes."
["Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes]

"New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody talk about pop musik"
["Pop Muzik" by M]

"I've been walking Central Park, singing after dark"
["Miss You" by The Rolling Stones]

"Meet me baby down at 45th street, where the peppermint twisters meet."
["The Peppermint Twist" by Joey Dee and The Starliters]

"I laid a divorcée in New York City, I had to put up some kind of a fight"
["Honky Tonk Woman" by The Rolling Stones]

"I'm back, back in the New York groove "
["New York Groove" by Ace Frehley]

"We have problems on the North, South, East and West, New York City, Saint Louis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles"
["Elected" by Alice Cooper]
"Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don't mind the maggots"
["Shattered" by The Rolling Stones]

"Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me."
["The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel]

"And I dreamed I was flyin, far up above my eyes could clearly see The Statue of Liberty"
["American Tune" by Paul Simon]

"Manhattan Spiritual" by Reg Owens

"Boogaloo down Broadway. Everybody in your town is gonna be boogaloo and Broadway bound"
["Boogaloo Down Broadway" by Fantastic Johnny C]

"And he called out to a taxi cab take me down to Central Park."
["Fine Fine Day" by Tony Carey]

"The eyes of a New York woman,
are eyes that hold a man.
She swept me up off my feet,
Made my world seem so complete."
["Eyes Of A New York Woman" by B.J. Thomas]

"Zip code, make it get there better,
10036 on the letter,
it happened in New York City"
["Zip Code" by The Five Americans]

"There is a rose in Spanish Harlem.
A red rose grows up in Spanish Harlem"
["Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin]

"All over Manhattan, and down Doheny Way."
["Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys]

"They're dancin' in Chicago, down in New Orleans, up in New York City"
["Dancing In The Street" by Martha and The Vandellas]

"Last exit to Brooklyn, gonna keep these wheels of mine covering ground."
["Last Chance To Turn Around" by Gene Pitney]

"When you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do, is fall in love."
["Arthur's Theme" by Christopher Cross]

"From Central Park to Pasadena's such a long way, I feel so out of it walking down Broadway."
["New York's A Lonely Town" by The Tradewinds]

Today, Physics fans, there's an article entitled "Global Team Of Physicists Upends Standard Model With Discovery Of Neutrino Oscillation, Mass" on
which confirms the theory that neutrinos oscillate between electron-neutrino , muon-neutrino, and taon-neutrino. It's a big deal, confirmed by an international team of about 100 people, because the "Standard Model" in Physics insists that neutrinos have NO mass (per John Updike's famous poem), whereas only if they have mass can these oscillations take place. The "related" story on "electron fission" is interesting, too.

#60 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 03:26 PM:

A little late to the New York party, but a couple more suggestions: "New York Shuffle", Graham Parker and the Rumour; practically anything by Luna, particularly "Chinatown," "Great Jones Street," and for general mood, all of Penthouse.

#61 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 03:27 PM:

Gotta include "NYC" by Interpol. (Now I too shall return to lurking.)

#62 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 04:04 PM:

Andy Perrin (Open Thread 24, July 08, 2004, 07:40 PM) made a very clever extended joke about Fibonacci Numbers and Phi (the Golden Ratio) which is only funny to people to whom it need not be explained. he also comments to me:

"JvP: I think people make too much of phi. It isn't nearly as special as people make out."

My reply is taken semisatanically from the updated page on "Beast Number":

Phi =
- [sin(666 degrees) + cos(6 x 6 x 6 degrees)]

(J. Recr. Math. 1994, Livio 2002, p. 23).

Fot the pure computer geeks on Making Light, that same page points out that:

"The number 666 can also be found in a number of words an [sic] phrases. For example, summing the ASCII character codes for INDONESIA gives 666."

And for John M. Ford and divers film fans, "666" is the combination of the mysterious suitcase in Quentin Tarantino's film Pulp Fiction.

#63 ::: Jim Flannery ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 04:33 PM:

It's the devil in me that makes me point to Fear's "New York's Alright, if You Like Saxophones"

#64 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 04:43 PM:

Oh, Jim, no. If the devil were really in you then you would have said "NYC" from Annie.

#65 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 05:25 PM:

OK people, I know there's a music thing going on right now, and that's fine. But there are over 60 posts now, and not ONE commenting on how adorable my son is! (Top billing in particles).

Well, anyway. Did anyone mention Leonard Cohen "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin"

#66 ::: Arwen ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 05:35 PM:

NYC songs--well, everyone else already mentioned most of the ones I was thinking of, but I haven't seen Lenny Kravitz's "Mr. Cab Driver" mentioned yet. IIRC, the only NYC-specific mention in it is something along the lines of "he thinks we're all 165ers", referring to cabbies passing by black men because they fear they'll have to take them to bad neighbourhoods. W165th has been getting better, though (again, IIRC).

Oh yeah, and Bernstein's "Times Square" from "On the Town" is just plain great.

#67 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 05:55 PM:

I can't resist throwing in a few more New York song recommendations:

- "Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side" by the Magnetic Fields from _69 Love Songs, Vol. 1_

- "53rd and 3rd" by the Ramones from _Ramones_

- And, while I agree with Tom Whitmore's suggestion, I have to go with Steeleye Span's version of "New York Girls" from _Commoners Crown_, if only because it features Peter Sellers on the ukelele.

I also enthusiastically second the recommendation for Nina Hagen's "New York New York", particularly the German version. And, for an amusing variation on "The 59th Street Bridge Song", track down DJ Wally's "Feelin' Groovy" from his album _Genetic Flaw_, where he plays havoc with the original by relentlessly looping the line "I've come to watch your flowers growing" and adding a heavy beat. It's a hoot, and you can dance to it.

#68 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:05 PM:

I add a vote for "Mary's Place", on Bruce Springsteen's album The Rising.

#69 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:06 PM:

And another from da bruddas - "Sheena is a Punk Rocker".

"New York City really has it all. Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah".

#70 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:19 PM:

Security flaw in Firefox for Windows XP, and its patch:

#71 ::: james h ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:19 PM:

Damn you Phil Lee. I knew there was a Magnetic Fields song with an oblique NY reference and I couldn't think what it was. BTW, I saw MF at the Lyric Hammersmith (London) last month, and it was the best live gig I've ever attended, and I am extraordinarily difficult to please. Travelled up from Cornwall, and it was well worth it. I'm currently trying to find a Rufus Wainwright song about New York - there must be one, surely.

By a strange coinkidink, my current fave things are the new David Sedaris book, the 'i' album by MF and 'Want One' by Rufus W. I'm not gay, and I've never been to New York, but clearly something over there is calling me....

Never heard anything by Nina Hagen, but will be looking out for her now.

#72 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:31 PM:

Ooh! Ooh! Rufus Wainwright, I can do this one.

I've always assumed that "14th Street" is about, you know, that 14th Street; "11:11" is about NYC; "Poses" has that line about being 'drunk and wearing flip-flops on 5th Avenue'; and I've always assumed that "In A Graveyard" is about Green-Wood Cemetery although I can't prove it.

I bet there are others, too, but I'll stop there. Rufus is one of my big idols these days. And now you all know it, I guess.

#73 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:38 PM:

And there are several cuts from Black 47 (Funky Ceilidh for one), but I don't have my copy of their first disk handy.

#74 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 06:40 PM:

The happiest, craziest, most wonderful rendition of "New York, New York" has to be Wendy Mae Chambers playing the Car Horn Organ she created.

Fortunately, this is online here, so if the server is up and Real Player is working for you, you won't need to take my word for it.

I heard a tape of this at Phil Foglio's, who suscribed to Bart Hopkin's newsletter on weird musical instruments, many years before Gravikords, Whirlies, & Pyrophones came out. I still love it.

I see she's got a Christmas album out. Perfect gift for the weird-Xmas-tunes collector in my life.

#75 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 07:00 PM:

Andy, I think the entire thing is faked, with staged pictures. Did you notice the person in the "history teacher" picture is also the person taking down the signs? That that person let him take pictures of her? I checked, and the edress he listed for the principal is valid, so I emailed to check last night. Haven't heard back.

#76 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 07:37 PM:

Hmm, in addition for more props to the TMBG version of New York City, consider:

The Beastie Boys' No Sleep Till Brooklyn and
Soul Coughing's Janine and True Dreams of Wichita

#77 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 08:03 PM:

I don't know you from Adam, but your son is adorable! It was a bright spot in my day when I visited that fabulous gallery.

#78 ::: sean bosker ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 08:45 PM:

Thanks! I'm a happy dad, pure baby geek.

#79 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 08:52 PM:

Marilee, WRT the pictures, you might be right. On the other hand, many of the pictures are from the rear, and may not have been taken with permission. Or the teacher might have thought, "OK, let him take pictures. So what." Like with Tootsie Roll Pops, the world may never know. (As far as TRPs are concerned, research is ongoing.)

JvP: Thanks for the Satanic connection. As an engineer and Rocky Horror fan, I hope to study Satanic Mechanics.

Here is another fun fact about the Perrin-acci numbers (see my original post for many other astonishing properties, including their influence on pop culture).

If a rabbit, genetically engineered to be parthenogenetic, is placed on an island, and such rabbits reproduce once a year, then the total number of rabbits on the island after the nth year will be the (n+1)st Perrin-acci number! (No rabbits die, of course.)

#80 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 08:58 PM:

My current favorite find of the day: syntactic foam.

It's apparently a fun variant of normal foam with favorable properties for many applications.

Syntactic sugar, now syntactic foam.

#81 ::: Kylee Peterson ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:09 PM:

I'm astounded and grateful that someone else posted about Cub's "New York City" being the original. Thank you, Tim Walters.

#82 ::: Debbie Roggie ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 09:16 PM:

New York songs: Nathan Lane singing "The King of Old Broadway" from The Producers comes to mind. Also from the same play, Matthew Broderick singing:

I wanna be a producer,
with a hit show on Broadway.
I wanna be a producer
lunch at Sardi's every day...

Also, has anyone mentioned Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue?" That's always sounded like New York to me.

#83 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:01 PM:

There's also the Demics (Canadian punk band) with their one minor hit, "(I wanna go to) new york city". Great tune. Voted the best Canadian single of all time.

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:12 PM:

"New York City rain,
"I don't know if it's making me
"Dirtier or clean...."

from "American Jerusalem" [can't remember from whom]

"Outside the dirty Harlem streets
"The dirty buy and sell..."

-- Jack Hardy [symmetry, I can't remember the name of the song

#85 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 11:26 PM:

Debbie, "Rhapsody in Blue" always reminds me of Paris.

#86 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 12:41 AM:

Randall: Much action has taken place elsewhere this week. I'm not sure I've got it all down myself. Here is my best reconstruction.

P+T's basement flooded. Lydia Nickerson posted on rec.arts.sf.fandom (rasff) about it. Much commenting ensued on both rasff and ML by people who frequent both. The effects of the flooding turned out to be less awful than initially feared. On the issue of rescuing wet paper, freeze drying was enthusiastically recommended, but abandoned in favor of paper towels. (This may offer insight on those who frequent ML and rasff.) T recovered enough to post again.

#87 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 01:44 AM:

Has nobody mentioned "Lullaby of Broadway" yet? It's been stuck in my head all week.

Tom, the Black 47 songs would probably be "Rockin' the Bronx," "Banks of the Hudson," "40 Shades of Blue," "New York, NY 10009," "Sleep Tight in New York City / Her Dear Old Donegal," "Livin' in America," and definitely "Funky Ceili!"

"Fanatic Heart" mentions walking through New York "like a grey silhouette/trying hard to remember what I'm supposed to forget," too. Not a happy song, that one.

Oh, and somebody melted my brain back there with the phrase, "because it features Peter Sellers on the ukelele." Iiiiiy!

#88 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 01:45 AM:

It has been claimed that Gershwin was inspired to write "Rhapsody in Blue" by the sounds of a subway ride. I can believe that, if "inspired" is not taken in too strong a sense.

#89 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 01:55 AM:

Delurking for a moment to suggest that people interested in the RASFF thread might check it out through the new Google Groups beta. Already I like it a lot better than the old version.

All right, back into the shadows I go...

#90 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 02:04 AM:

More for the NYC song catalog:

John Gorka's lovely, melodic "Stranger in My Driver's Seat" doubles as a useful cautionary tale about NYC auto theft.

Aimee Mann's "Fifty Years After the Fair" is from the point of view of somebody who grew up within sight of the old World's Fair grounds in the Bronx--the ones put to amusing use in Men in Black. Any connoisseur of classic science fiction can appreciate this ode to antiquated visions of the future. How beautiful it was tomorrow.

Ani DiFranco's "Rockabye," from one of her earliest albums when the whole show was just the girl and her guitar, follows a cheerful love triangle through NYC's subway system, with a refrain that's "in tune with the symphony of south Brooklyn."

#91 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 02:35 AM:

Well, I would certainly include the Trade Winds and Fear, previously mentioned, as well as Lou Reed's "I'm Waiting for the Man" ("up to Lexington, 1-2-5/Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive") and the Fugs' "Slum Goddess" ("from the Lower East Side"). Seems like there ought to be something by Bronx natives Dion & the Belmonts, and perhaps "The Bridge Is Over" or some other rap saga of the battle between Queens and the Bronx. I'd also probably include the lovely instrumental theme from "Midnight Cowboy," and perhaps a tune from legendary midtown street musician Moondog--but no one has mentioned what i consider the greatest NYC song of all time, Jackie Wilson's "No Pity in the Naked City" ("Millions will watch you as you fall down to the ground").
--Robert, on the LES

#92 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 03:43 AM:

"Aimee Mann's 'Fifty Years After the Fair' is from the point of view of somebody who grew up within sight of the old World's Fair grounds in the Bronx--the ones put to amusing use in Men in Black."

The fairgrounds are in Queens (Flushing Meadows-Corona Park). And the pavilion used in "MiB" -- Philip Johnson's NY State "Tent of Tomorrow" -- is from the '64 Fair (on the same site as the '39).

--JMF, fair and exposition obsessive

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 04:30 AM:

So, has Marty been railing against all those Catholic politicians/judges (e.g. Scalia) who don't actively oppose capital punishment?

Didn't think so.

#94 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 07:31 AM:

They Might Be Giants have a song called 'I'll sink Manhattan'.

Rhapsody in Blue specifically reminds me of New York because it's the music behind the first few minutes of Woody Allen's Manhattan.

"Chapter One: He adored New York City..."

#95 ::: Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 09:33 AM:


At first glimpse, my addled brain translated your quote from above as:

"In the game of love, the one who wins loves twins."

Which, upon further reflection, didn't sound like too bad of advice, actually ...



#96 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 09:41 AM:


I also had many that made reference to getting out of California. Go figure. I haven't noticed a similar trend for NY songs. It's just California people sing about fleeing, mostly.

I don't know if one song constitutes a trend, but there's always Jim Croce's "New York's Not My Home"...

"Although the streets are crowded
There's something strange about it
Lived here 'bout a year and I never once felt at home
Thought I'd make the big time,
I learned a lot of lessons awful quick, and now I'm telling you
That they were not the nice kind
It's been so long since I have felt fine

"That's the reason that I gotta get out of here
I'm so alone
Don't you know that I gotta get out of here
'cause New York's not my home"

Going from memory here, of course, so there may be some typos, inaccuracies, or just plain made-up shtuff.

And of course, on a related tangent, there's Neil Diamond's "I Am I Said": "L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home / New York's home but it ain't mine no more."

Oh, hey. RASFF related, maybe sorta kinda. Here's a story about something that ought to be science fiction, but increasingly turns out to be fact. I suppose I had better be careful which WIP that I take on my flight to Medford come August. Do we have this sort of trouble on trains now, too?

#97 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 10:53 AM:

Re: Rhapsody in Blue. It was a train of some sort, if not a subway. The quote about hearing the middle section of the piece in the rattley-bang of the wheels on the rails used to be included in the notes for every recording and concert. My favorite recording will always be the Gershwin solo (overdubbed, apparently) piano roll.

I was thinking of a great NYC tune, but I can't come up with the particulars. It's part of a beer ad from the 50s, a local beer, and the stop-motion animation shows a parade of bottles marching past various named (and numbered) streets. I have it on a VHS tape of old commercials.

#98 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 10:55 AM:

If we're quoting New York in lyrics, don't forget Erasure's You Surround Me, which goes like so:

I love you with all the joy of living
'Til the lights go down in New York City

So...until last August?

#99 ::: Heather Lin ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 11:08 AM:

This is terribly late on the OJ side-topic but:

OJ (acid) + toothpaste (abrasive) = damaged enamel

So it's a better idea to:

OJ + .... + breakfast + toothpaste = sparkly whites

#100 ::: Zoe ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Josh - I misread your post as "are aliens stealing our sheep" and had a lovely few minutes thinking that if aliens wanted to guarantee widespread insomnia, the logical thing to do would be to steal all the imaginary sheep.

Patrick - thanks for the Semolina help a few open threads ago, great site, very happy now.

I've come to do more shameless cadging from the SF hive-brain that lurks in these shiny, non-scroll-downy pages. My friend has been given the job of updating (creating?) the science fiction section in her secondary school's library, because she teaches physics. However, she doesn't read science fiction, so she passed the job onto me. Now, if I could do the same to you, a beautiful reading list would suddenly materialize out of the ether. So: what do you think they should buy? School language restrictions please, same with explicit sex stuff.


#101 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 02:06 PM:

It's an Open Thread, so...

next sobriquet:
Gag Order Gorge and his Jackals... [needs an adjective with the j sound instead of "his"...]

The Edmonds stuff is sickening--a judge,probably a Gag Order George and Abominable Ashcroft partisan, threw out Ms Edmonds' lawsuit on the basis that it would make public sensitive information--information that Ashcroft RETROACTIVELY classified.... She was fired from the FBI after refusing to accede to previous mistranslations and marking of documents as unwarranting of translation by a translator who it turns out had some VERY dubious associations, and instead kept reporting the situation higher and higher and being told to not make waves... There seem to be foreign interests being protected, against the interests of the integrity and well-being of the USA and its residents. One wonders just what country or countries were/are being shielded, organizations, and just -how- compromised the US Executive Branch is, anyway. I've been wondering that for many months now--Bush pulled an Executive Order which shielded the FBI from investigation just how far up the FBI chain went the corruption involving Whitey Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi's licenses to kill and the FBI shielding them, even to the extent of allowing three men to be sentenced to death with the FBI KNOWING that Bulger and his associates, not the men sentenced to death row, were involved in committing the murder... [that stuff is all documented with on-line material that ran in the Boston newspapers. It's extremely ugly stuff. And Bulger is still on the loose. It wasn't until one of Bulger's former buddies decided he'd been stabbed in the back by Bulger and started singing for revenge, that any headway got made into investigating Bulger and his closets murderous buddies, and certain FBI people were out of the picture, either retired or deceased (from natural causes).

#102 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 02:21 PM:

Just up on AP:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida elections officials said Saturday they would not use a list of people believed to be convicted felons to purge voter rolls, acknowledging a flaw that left off some Hispanics.

The problem in compiling the list was unintentional, said Nicole de Lara, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Glenda Hood.

"Nevertheless, Supervisors of Elections are required to uphold their constitutional obligation" and will find other ways to ensure felons are removed from the rolls, Hood said in a statement.

etcetera, etcetera...

In other news, th pentagon admitted "accidently" deleting the records that prove that G. W. Bush was guilty of dereliction of duty. "The problem in compiling the list was unintentional..."

And Rosemary Woods accidently deleted those 8 minutes from the Nixon tapes.

And the Library of Alexandrioa was 'accidently" burned...

#103 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 04:15 PM:

Terry, Marty pretty much only argues about abortion. He's been told that the natural methods of contraception are better than artificial methods, but he doesn't know what the natural methods are.

#104 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Zoe, what *are* the secondary school language limits? And how explicit the sex? I know the kids in the local IB program read _A Hundred Years of Solitude_ and one parent has tried to keep any of them from reading it (there are alternate books his daughter could read).

#105 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 04:56 PM:

The marching beer bottles:

"My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer . . ."

Rheingold had what was, for its time, excellent advertising (which means, by modern standards, it was brilliant).

One of these days I'd like to do a book/DVD on Great Television Commercials (it used to be a book/cassette, of course). First thing after my stuff is unpacked at Clavius Park West.

#106 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 05:51 PM:

Marilee -- Rhapsody in Blue reminds me of An American in Paris, but that's different.

#107 ::: Jim Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 06:26 PM:

A few more NYC songs: Ellington/Strayhorn, "Take the 'A' Train;" The Drifters, "On Broadway;" Celtic Thunder, "When New York was Irish;" John Sebastian, "Summer in the City."

#108 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 06:31 PM:

According to: Rheingold Theater (dramatic anthology):

Theme: "Rheingold Beer Jingle (theme, based upon Estudiantina Waltz)"
[aka: "Estudiantina Valse, Opus 191, No. 4 (The Students' Waltz)";

The Beer jingle with a lyric by an unknown ad agent, used
the melody of this famous light-classical waltz tune. The
lyric was, "My beer is Rheingold the dry beer. Think of
Rheingold whenever you buy beer. It's not bitter, not
sweet, it's the extra dry treat -- Won't you try extra
dry Rheingold beer?" The melody of this old European
waltz tune was the memorable part used as the TV THEME...

Ironic that this melody, which some may remember as the
quintessential German Beer Hall tune (images of people with
swaying cups all singing in unison) is actually of FRENCH,
rather than German, origin; and was known as a French student
song at first, then became famous as a piano duet, before
it ever was heard in its now-familiar orchestral setting;

The tune was composed by a pair of obscure French composers,
but is often incorrectly attributed to the man who arranged
it in a rollicking Strauss-like arrangement for two pianos --
named Emile ("Emil") Waldteufel;

Waldteufel included it in a set of tunes arranged for 2 pianos,
published under his own opus number, which blurred the issue
of authorship right down to the present day;

Waldteufel's arrangement was later orchestrated, and it is in
that form, that it is most well known to modern ears -- often
played on pop symphony orchestra concerts.]

Composers: music by Paul Lacome (1838 - 1920) [not affiliated]
French lyric by J. de Lau Lusignan [not affiliated]

2-piano Adapter/Arranger: Emile Charles ("Emil") Waldteufel
(1837 - 1915) [not affiliated]

Orig. Publisher: Enoch Frères et Costallat, Paris, France

2001 Publishers: [in the Public Domain]

Original French Copyright Date [by Lacome & de La Lusignan]:
Dec. 22, 1881

2-piano French Copyright Date [by Waldteufel]: April 14, 1883


My favorite jingles, as a poet, also include: "Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun," with its punning ending "Buy Beechnut, by gum!"

Jayne and Joan Boyd of Hammond, Indiana, were two identical twin spokes-models who appeared in a series of 12 Doublemint Chewing Gum commercials from 1959 through 1963 playing tennis, riding bicycles, and sliding on toboggans as they touted the company's jingle "Double your Pleasure, Double Your Fun With Doublemint Gum." When Joan became pregnant in 1963, the Boyd Twins were dropped from the W. M. Wrigley Jr. Company advertising campaign. In later years Joan worked as a receptionist in Chicago, while Jayne lived in Beverly Hills with her TV producer husband, Al Schwartz. [People Weekly 21 July 1997, p. 95]

and, best of all (though local to New York):

"Who was the first to conquer space?
It's incontravertible

that the first to conquer living space
is Castro Convertible.

It conquers space with fine design
and saves you money every time

It's top in the convertible line,
Castro Convertable."

One of my short stories deals with a smart child confused by the assumption that Fidel Castro was involved in the space race...

#109 ::: Jim Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 06:55 PM:

I remember thinking that "the first to conquer space" ought not to have been a sofa. I can still sing the darn song, though, and it's a fine earworm that I'll be hearing for a while. I understand Rheingold is back, with some non-PC, anti-Bloomberg ads; I don't get the NY stations, so I wonder if they have revived the jingle, with its eminently singable tune.

One more NYC song: the ancient classic, "The Bowery."

#110 ::: Joanathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2004, 08:21 PM:

The short story I referred to with the Lyrics of the Castro Convertible song:

When I Grow Up

As to the Castro of Castro Convertible, there's a Horatio Alger story behind the name:
Bernard Castro
"Bernard Castro, an Italian immigrant, arrived in this country in 1919 at age fifteen. Although he knew no English and was a stranger in a new world, he had ambition and energy. He went to night school to learn English. He spent laborious hours working as an apprentice upholsterer and through studying in his spare time, he learned the secrets of furniture design. In the midst of the Depression, he borrowed $300 and launched his own business. Building this business was difficult but his determination and skill enabled him to conquer all problems. In 1963, Castro was the world’s largest manufacturer of convertible furniture selling directly to the consumer. The company had 46 showrooms located between Massachusetts and Florida and six gigantic factories."

For Andy Perrin et al.:

another math joke that's only funny if you don't have to explain it:

"The penchant for formulas and bounds containing a profusion of nested logarithms has led to the following joke. What sound does a drowning analytic number theorist make?
A: log log log log..."

[Havil, J. Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 115.]

Eric W. Weisstein. "Nested Logarithm." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

#111 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 12:08 AM:

Indie movie to watch out for:

_Napolean Dynamite_.

I'd call it a "loveable nerds versus shallow beautiful people" film set in a small city in rural Idaho, but the lead is an abrasive, talentless, socially clueless dork who is far from loveable.

Jon Heder is just wonderful as Napolean; he's either genuinely aspergerish or a great actor.

#112 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Dan, that's what makes me think of Paris for "Rhapsody in Blue," too. If you want New York, you want _On the Town_ (also starring Gene Kelly).

#113 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Jonathan Vos Post should realize that the Beach Boys were singing about Manhattan Beach, California, not the island in New York.

For extra points, can anyone point out the science fiction connection to Doheny Drive?

#114 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 12:51 AM:

Allan Beatty:

Larry Niven is heir to the Doheny fortune, you know, the family that caused the Teapot Dome scandal...

You're right about Manhattan, of course.

#115 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 01:04 AM:

Good secondary school SF, with no bad language that I can recall:

Steven Gould's _Wildside_.
John Cramer's _Twistor_.
The Philip Pullman _His Dark Materials_ trilogy is arguably SF.
Diane Duane's _Young Wizards_ series -- again, arguably SF because she has a real-physics background for much of what happens.
Hal Clement's a bit dated, but safe on both science and sex -- and I have a great fondness for his storytelling.
Eric Frank Russell is safe on sex, deadly on politics.
James Schmitz ditto. _The Witches of Karres_ is incredibly readable, subversive, and recently reprinted in hardback (though I have not checked whether Eric Flint's revision has eviscerated it as I fear it might -- there's no reason to revise classics!).
I'm quite high on Benjamin Oppel's _Airborn_ (another mix of fantasy and SF: if the kids can figure out the major physics hole I noticed about bouyancy, they've learned more physics than either the Brit or US editor!) and Philip Reeve's _Mortal Engines_ (Priest's _Inverted World_ for a younger audience).

And that's the short version, without feedback or looking at what we have on the shelves at OCH, and avoiding fantasy that has no physics at all. This is at least a two-hour conversation, with feedback.

#116 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 02:27 AM:

The Pullman books are safe enough in terms of language and graphic sex, but by the standards of itchy conservative parents, the theology is incendiary. A fundamentalist Christian parent on the lookout for books to censor would probably find many passages highly objectionable. If the librarian in question is hoping to start the collection with controversy-free books, she might want to wait before acquiring His Dark Materials.

#117 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 02:52 AM:

Zoe--by secondary school, do you mean about 6th grade to 8th grade? (about 11 or so to about 14 or so)? My daughter just finished 9th grade, I'm reading a lot from the library.

The tone of Diane Duane is about right for this age group, a bit juvenile for the grades 9-12 (who are moving into reading adult literature)

Anything published before about 1965 would probably be OK in language and sex content.

OK, science fiction as opposed to fantasy

Cherryh's "Foreigner" series (linguistics, release of tech, ethnography). Interspecies sex, but no details--less racy than the average "Friends" episode.

Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar"--comments on the science?

I devoured Heinlein's young adult fiction in 7th grade, and (though I haven't reread it in the last decade) some may stand up well. Podkayne of Mars, for example. (more reviews here:

House of The Scorpion--Nancy Farmer (I think, can't find it)
Lois Lowry's The Giver and Gathering Blue
Ender's Game-Orson Scott Card

For younger children (5th-6th grades) The Silver Crown Robert O'Brien--it has really stuck with me in a mysterious way, although it may flunk the science test.

#118 ::: Ashni ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 03:54 AM:

I suppose in this day and age it's no longer fashionable, but I still like Billy Joel's "Miami 2017." (A New York song, in spite of the title).

As for kids' books, Cooper's The Dark is Rising trilogy is good (fantasy, though). I'll happily second the Diane Duane recommendation--I started reading it as an adult and still love it. I love most of the Heinlein juveniles, but Podkayne is one of the few books I would consider preventing a kid of mine from reading (realistically, I'd let them but sit them down for a serious talk afterwards). I think I actually did throw that one across the room. Have Spacesuit Will Travel, or The Rolling Stones, I'd put forward as much better alternatives.

#119 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 05:56 AM:

I got to the NYC songfest late, but I dee no-one's mentioned Elton John's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" or "Empty Garden" yet, nor Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel."

#120 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 07:06 AM:

Well, Ashni, fashionable or not, I like "Miami 2017" a whole lot. It's just gone from being SF to alternate future history. (For those wondering what the heck we're talking about, the song is better known as "Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway.")

When I lived in NYC, I was once walking through the long subway concourse around Rockefeller Center, just faintly humming that to myself -- not loud enough for anyone else to hear -- and realized that the person approaching me was also humming it, out loud.

This may be significant of something, but I hope not.

#121 ::: james h ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 09:09 AM:


This is going to be a more fantasy-skewed list, but I used to run kids/SF section in Canterbury bookshop in UK. Fave part of my day was when teachers would come in and say 'the kids love Harry Potter - have you got anything in a similar vein?' (never been a Potter fan, but it leads kids onto some brilliant writers). Assuming this is the same age group (9-14ish) here's a few I always recommended:

Wyrd Sisters/Terry Pratchett (particularly good if they're also looking at Shakespeare)
Charmed Life/Dina Wynne Jones (Chrestomanci being the coolest, most English wizard there has ever been, and thus a fabulous role model)
Neverwhere/Neil Gaiman (Not a children's book per se, but nowt rude in it, and a rollicking adventure for the older kids)
Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block (plenty in series and great for any kids who wears just a bit too much black)

More SF-ish:

Only You Can Save Mankind/ Terry Pratchett again - great for kids who practically live inside their PS2s.
Hitchiker's guide to the Universe series/Douglas Adams
Dune/Frank Herbert

Apologies if most of these are pretty obvious, but always got glowing reports back on each one. Obviously I loved these books, or I never would have recommended them. Managed to arrange reading events with some of the above authors as well, which reminds me that on some days, I had the coolest job in the world...

#122 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 09:46 AM:

"He's been told that the natural methods of contraception are better than artificial methods, but he doesn't know what the natural methods are."


#123 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 10:04 AM:

Both DUNE and STAND ON ZANZIBAR have a certain amount of implicit sex, and particularly homosexuality (in both cases) -- unfortunately, in many parts of the US this could still cause problems! The Heinlein juvies are all very good to recommend (CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY hasn't been mentioned yet); also DOUBLE STAR, not published as a juvie but still a very powerful book. Not great for teaching physics, though! I'd have made several of the fantasy recommendations myself, but they seemed outside the scope of the remit. As I said, at least a two hour conversation.

#124 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 11:26 AM:

I learnt a lot about special relativity from a couple of Heinlein's juveniles. :-)

#125 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 11:30 AM:

Re updating a "secondary-school" (7-12? 9-12?) library: I agree on STAND ON ZANZIBAR pushing the envelope, not to mention being a mosaic novel (which makes it more difficult for light readers). Positive suggestions:
* I like Cherryh; MERCHANTER'S LUCK and FINITY'S END are good adventure stories with principle; TRIPOINT is closer to the parental edge but, like FE, is about a juvenile without being a YA book.
* The MacDonald/Doyle Mageworlds books -- again, good stories with relatively little to excite concern (outside of parts of the country where anything \hinting/ of fantasy is condemned as Satanic).
* From Heinlein, TUNNEL IN THE SKY is also recommendable (again, outside of the Bible Belt -- the lead's religion involves a Flame instead of a Cross).
* They should get \some/ fantasy, if only to show that it's possible for fantasy to be good instead of yard goods; consider THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD (McKillip) and THE LAST UNICORN (Beagle), and maybe THE FACE IN THE FROST (Bellairs) for fun.
* Clarke's THE CITY AND THE STARS is another good YA lead; EARTHLIGHT and A FALL OF MOONDUST are both good reads, the latter also being a good science-problem story. (It has one row of asterisks -- one of the few in Clarke -- but you'll probably see something racier on Saturday morning TV these days.)

#126 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 11:30 AM:
James Schmitz ditto. _The Witches of Karres_ is incredibly readable, subversive, and recently reprinted in hardback (though I have not checked whether Eric Flint's revision has eviscerated it as I fear it might -- there's no reason to revise classics!).

I e-mailed Baen about that, thinking that the changes might be substantial given that Flint had cover credit. The answer I got wasn't terribly clear but implied he had just been correcting typos and the like.

If anyone reads the new edition who's read it before, I'd be interested in knowing if that's in fact all he did.

#127 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 01:32 PM:

Dr. David Brin runs an organization that compiles such a list of young adult science fiction, and gives awards. Look for his official website.

Essentially any Isaac Asimov fiction is okay for older children. It was intentionally written to be clear, scientifically correct, with violence ocurring off-stage, and with no sex. Sexually, with, he joked, the exception of "The Gods Themselves" which had very alien reproduction, not prurient to humans, and one touch of hand to face in "The Robots of Dawn" where people are so agoraphobic that this touch was, in context, shockingly intimate.

The Nielsen Haydens chide me for name-dropping, but I can't resist this one, in context:

I dated Podkayne of Mars.

#128 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 02:00 PM:

For the math-challenged: It will confirm your deepest suspecions that Mathematicians are all nuts if I quote:

"CLOPEN: A subset of a topological space is called clopen if it is both closed and open."

Eric W. Weisstein et al. "Clopen." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.
This entry contributed by Mohammad Sal Moslehian
© 1999-2004 Wolfram Research, Inc.

Oh, and for the Math-enabled:

Reciprocal Fibonacci Constant
continues our thread on Fibonacci and Lucas Numbers:

Where F(k) is the kth Fibonacci Number, the reciprocal Fibonacci constant is defined as:

Sum(from k = 1 to k=infinity) of 1/F(k)
= 3.35988566...

Where L(k) is the kth Lucas Number, the reciprocal Fibonacci constant is defined as:

Sum(from k = 1 to k=infinity) of 1/L(k)
= 1.96285817...

The latter is almost worth memorizing if you're born in 1962.

Want to know the cube of your birth year, without having to calculate the cube? Load the 400K text file:
Table of Polytope Numbers, Sorted, Through 1,000,000

and scroll down to the part beginning:

6859000000: the Cube C(1900)

6869835701: the Cube C(1901)

6880682808: the Cube C(1902)

6891541327: the Cube C(1903)

6902411264: the Cube C(1904)

6913292625: the Cube C(1905)

6924185416: the Cube C(1906)

6935089643: the Cube C(1907)

6946005312: the Cube C(1908)

6956932429: the Cube C(1909)

6967871000: the Cube C(1910)


#129 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Since this *is* an Open Thread, I'll pass along this link to an article about a multiply-tattooed, hip knitter for Teresa:

New York songs? On my one and only visit, 20+ years ago, I discovered just how appropriate the Spoonful's "Summer in the City" really was. For someone more used to San Francisco, the place seemed inside-out: "foggy" cool indoors, hot/humid outside. Very odd!

#130 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 02:19 PM:

JVP wrote:
Want to know the cube of your birth year, without having to calculate the cube? Load the 400K text file:
Table of Polytope Numbers, Sorted, Through 1,000,000

Hmmmm, do I fire up a web browser to take something to the third power, or do I, heaven forbid, use a calculator....

#131 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 04:35 PM:

Australian Brian Caswell has a number of science fiction books for young readers - the Alien Zones series is apparently very popular. I've read just one novel of his and loved it--sadly its title is on the tip of my tongue and staying there.

#132 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Tom, Wildside has teens having first sex, although it's not explicit. That's why I was asking. If that is okay, then so are Gould's other books, as well as James Alan Gardner's books.

#133 ::: Mark Shawhan ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 05:19 PM:

WRT New York songs, I don't think anybody's mentioned "Chelsea Morning" yet. On the secondary school SF front: Norton's _Time Traders_, perhaps? What about _Falling Free_, or perhaps _Growing Up Weightless_?

#134 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 05:37 PM:
Essentially any Isaac Asimov fiction is okay for older children. It was intentionally written to be clear, scientifically correct, with violence ocurring off-stage, and with no sex. Sexually, with, he joked, the exception of "The Gods Themselves" which had very alien reproduction, not prurient to humans, and one touch of hand to face in "The Robots of Dawn" where people are so agoraphobic that this touch was, in context, shockingly intimate.

That was in The Naked Sun. The Robots of Dawn has actual sex in it, such as it is.

#135 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 05:58 PM:

I know it's not a fight everyone wants to have, particularly teachers who have many, many other battles to fight, but I think it's good for secondary school kids to read about sex. That's junior high and high school, right? Not in the letters-to-Penthouse sense, but I think the average level of explicitness in most genre books is about right: some without sex at all, most with it occurring mostly offstage, some onstage moments; a few bad relationships but mostly healthy (but variable!) patterns.

Am I the only one who thinks this? I think I'd have been much more screwed up without sex in SF and fantasy when I was 12-16.

#136 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 06:00 PM:

Dan Blum:

You're right again, on Asimov. Also, his 3 books of limericks are sometimes intentionally filthy. I stand by my record of often being wrong in a nearly right way. The way that I grade my students' exams, that means an awful lot of half-credits.

Bill Blum:

"Hmmmm, do I fire up a web browser to take something to the third power, or do I, heaven forbid, use a calculator...."

Well, that's my obsessively executed joke. The MTV generation has brought us some VERY lazy students. They would rather use a calculator than think, and rather cut and paste from the web than actually research a paper, as per our thread on plagiarism. I wondered if they'd rather browse my web site than use a calculator.

#137 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Along the lines of books like The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Robin McKinley's Beauty is a lovely book, and just fine for the younger set. Her latest, Sunshine could be considered rather (sexually) edgy, but very much in the Buffy vein (pun intended), so it might seem familiar to teens...

#138 ::: Mark Shawhan ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 06:38 PM:

And of course, McKinley's _Hero in the Crown_ and _Blue Sword_...

#139 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 09:02 PM:

All the talk here about New York-related songs triggered a long-buried memory of the one time I attended a Broadway opening. The poet and playwright Eve Merriam was my aunt, and when her book The Inner City Mother Goose was made into a musical, Inner City, in 1971 she invited us to the first performance.

Alas, I no longer remember any of the songs except a fragment from the closing number:

I'm a city woman
I'm a city man
And on this rock I'll make my stand...

I don't know if anyone else remembers that show, although it ran for over a year, and was apparently revived (in updated form) in Britain a few years ago. (I'd also forgotten that Inner City Mother Goose was, when new, the most-banned book in the U.S. Ah, the joys of Google and the Web.)

#140 ::: Aiglet ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2004, 11:05 PM:

My favorite NYC song is "Bleeker and Broadway" by Eddie From Ohio (a sadly less-well-known-than-they-should-be folkie group).

Oh the ground makes a sound
In central New York
Like it just might suddenly ope'
A hunk of metal in the air
Touching down
Among the skyscrapers
Who'd have thought
That metal could fly?

#141 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 01:14 AM:

"Hmmmm, do I fire up a web browser to take something to the third power, or do I, heaven forbid, use a calculator...."

led me immediately to think of:^3

or similarly, to avoid shilling excessively for my employer, for those who disdain improperly encoded URLs, or who prefer Fortran notation and more mathematically-named search engines:**3

#142 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 02:17 AM:

I'd like to suggest Bruce Coville as a good author for young people. He's written a number of books both sci fi and fantasy, definitely for kids. His books have unexpected endings and often have good, but not overly preachy, lessons of cultural tolerance.

I'd also like to bring up Patricia C Wrede in the Fantasy category. Cimorene is one of the best role models for young girls I can think of.

#143 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 06:06 AM:

Tomorrow's headline:

Ridge Seeking Volunteer to Burn Reichstag

#144 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 06:28 AM:

And on page three following . . .

Matt Welch has noted that, at a particular bar in Prague, saying the word "blog" to the bartender will get you a free beer.

The obvious question is, where is the bar where saying the word "beer" will get you a . . . wait, I'm sorry, this isn't RASFF, is it?

#145 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 06:47 AM:

I thought Reichstag = WTC et al, so we're awaiting the equivalent of the assassination of the diplomat to spark Kristallnacht (the other 9/11 on the long winter night of November 9th), which, having been sparked by rage at the laws & treatment following the fire, sparked the next round of ill-treatment & laws giving more power to The Party ...
(At the risk of incurring Godwin's wrath. You could probably find other examples, and it's instructive to see how the same trick is used many times in different ways, but one does tend to go back to the best-known & most-studied examples.)

#146 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 06:57 AM:

Oh, and
"He's been told that the natural methods of contraception are better than artificial methods, but he doesn't know what the natural methods are." (wherever that's from)

What is definition of "better" here? Less liable to result in pregnancy? Lesser chance of passing on venereal disease? Less side-effects for the same results in above categories? Or something else; or some other combination of above?

What is line between artificial & natural? Are condoms &/or diaghphrams natural (non-chemical) or artificial barriers? What about the barrier method using a squeezed half-lemon?

#147 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 08:59 AM:

Okay, since I'm home being sick today, I indulged in the research. I put the animated commercials tape on and waited with the patience of one who can't find the remote and wants to lie quietly in bed. Luckily, the Rheingold ad showed up within a half hour, otherwise I'd have had to keep enjoying the crazy old 60-second spots.

This one uses "East Side, West Side" as a basis, with what sounded like original bits as well. I know that the song is longer than the six or eight lines that get quoted in oldies books, but it sounded like they were taking off in their own direction. They covered the NYC area pretty well, seems like. If I had the remote, I'd take down the words, but laziness prevails today. It's a great ad, with marching bottles, glasses, steins, and beer bottle blimps and more. Technically, they might be zeppelins, but I liked the alliteration.

I did get ambitious enough to update the attributions for "Estudiantina" in two of my waltz collections. After checking with Fuld, of course.

#148 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 09:34 AM:

Two wonderful links:

A Dr. Fun cartoon showing the value of a good editor

Ursula K. LeGuin's speech at BookExpo

On songs: I don't have original ones to suggest, but I'll strongly second Cub/TMBG's wonderful "New York City" and the Pogues' version of "Fairy Tale of New York" as two of my all-time favorite songs. Also, Steeleye Span has a likeable cover of "New York Girls."

#149 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 10:35 AM:

Epacris -- ow! I think you get a squink award for that. The squeezed half-lemon sounds like it would mess up some delicate chemical balances, to say the least. I may be wrong, but it still made me go ow!

Probaly natural methods are "better" because they are acceptable to certain religious leaders. And "natural" doesn't include artificial barriers like condoms or diaphraghms or foams. What do you call a woman using the rhythm method? Pregnant...

#150 ::: MsMolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 10:50 AM:

Here are a few good sites with book lists for high school SF readers:

And, of course, librarians use a series of books called Genreflecting to give reader's advisory for various genres with which they're unfamiliar. Here's the SF one:

#151 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 12:01 PM:

D______ may have had a good editor, but Dr. Fun needed a proofreader.

#152 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 12:33 PM:

JvP, I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would need, or even want or care about, the cube of my birthyear. Does that prove I'm not a mathematician?

#153 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 01:31 PM:

Jeremy Leader and Xopher,

You both have good points. Having good points is what people do in geometry. People who do geometry are mathematicians.

Actually, Jeremy Leader is right to suggest use of Google's built-in calculator. I've used it while writing math research papers, as it is often handier that opening my Python (for programmable infinite precision arithmetic).

Xopher is right to say "I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would need, or even want or care about, the cube of my birthyear." Here was my scenario. My father was born on 23 February 1923. I was reminded of this when he recently snailmailed me a xerox of the front page of that date's New York Times. Sample headlines:





and my favorite, about which my wife's drafted a short story:


I thought it might be a nice joke-gift for my Dad to tell him some amusing property of the number 1923. But I didn't have one in my online Table of Polytope Numbers, Sorted, Through 1,000,000. So now I, as only a mathematician would do, set out to find some cute property of 1923. After only 2 false starts, I stumbled on:

1923 x 1923 x 1923 = 7111117467

I liked that sequence of 5 aces in the middle, and the 3 sevens. Seemed like a "lucky" number in some sense. So now, to make the admittedly not very funny joke complete, I calculated 100 more cubes of numbers from 1900 through 2000 and put them on my web page.

Xopher is right, as I say.

Another difference between Mathematicians and "normal" people (what should the term be? Mathmundanes? Mathgoyim?) is this:

Normals, when asked a question, assume that there's an answer, and try to find it.

Mathematicians, when asked a question, first ask themselves another question: "does an answer exist?"

This answering a question with a question is sometimes prejudicially attributed to Jews. For Making Light Literary folks, this is very much what poets and fiction authors do. As Theodore Sturgeon emphasized (and invented a typographical symbol for): "Go to the Next Question!"

#154 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 01:46 PM:

JvP: you never cease to astound me.

In other news, Jeff "The Frugal Gourmet" Smith has died.

#155 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 02:36 PM:

Re: Jeff Smith - how sad, and unfortunate that his memory will always be haunted by unsettled questions.

He's on the short list of people who have changed the way we eat. Not as influential as, say, Julia Child, but he did make a fan of my mother. Well after she was set in her culinary ways, The Frugal Gourmet got her back in the kitchen to try new things. I still use his method for poaching chicken, especially when it's hot outside.

I once went to a book signing of his. He was much shorter than you might have imagined, only about 5'6" or so - the apron made him look taller, and his assistant was truly tiny.

#156 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 03:16 PM:

For an interesting bit of the back and forth of SF, and this list (which is, as it says, rasseff).

Miami 2017 is, IMO, based on a Philip Wylie story, Los Angeles, 2017 (so we can tie to the LA/NY song theme).

#158 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 04:24 PM:

Via one of my students:
Pentrix-- A Pen Spinning Revolution

"The mission of Pentix (and Pentrix as well) is to teach people how to spin their pens."

#159 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 05:23 PM:

I was wondering what had become of Smith just last week. Messing around with da youths is a sure-fire way to scrag your career, but I always found his show entertaining and accessible and hoped he'd find some way to redeem himself.

It's a shame that Food Network didn't find a niche for him, perhaps as a guest cook or commentator on another show. The "Biblical foods" mentioned in the obit would have made for an interesting special.

#160 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 06:32 PM:

"Miami 2017 is, IMO, based on a Philip Wylie story..."

Say what? Wylie wrote an episode of the old "Name of the Game" TV series, titled "LA 2017," about a future Los Angeles that's sealed underground because of if-humans-keep-pissing-in-the-creek ecological collapse. (The whole thing turns out to be a dream Gene Barry's character is having after a car crash while thinking about Environmental Issues.) It was advertised by NBC as Wylie's first TV script, and was directed by a new kid on the block named Steven Spielberg. There are a couple of good skiffy elements -- everyone tells jokes they already know by repeating their numbers, as in the old prison joke, including the "27, 4." "You didn't tell it right" bit (an indication of life locked in a box that probably went right past most of the viewers). It wasn't particularly good or imaginative in SF terms; compared to "Make Room! Make Room!" it's weak tea indeed. Though I suppose the fact that I remember it after thirty-three years means something.

Wylie then novelized the story as "Los Angeles: AD 2017," but it was still an ecological-disaster story; Billy Joel's song is about almost everything but, and since at the end of the song we're all "living here in Florida," it seems kind of unlikely that the atmosphere has become unbreathably toxic. The same year showing up may be significant, but if it is I'd guess that Joel had seen the show, or the book, and borrowed the number more-or-less at random.

#161 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 08:34 PM:

Epacris, Marty means natural contraception is better *as contraception* than artificial contraception. The Church told him so. The reason he doesn't know what the natural alternatives are is because he's a bachelor.

#162 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2004, 09:22 PM:

Nifty number tricks are great, but applications are better. :)
My current favorite thing to play around with: image reconstruction from projections. It's got applications in computed tomography, as well as synthetic aperture radar (SAR)...
There are so many ways to approach this: convolution/back projection... Fourier Inversion... someone tried wavelets once...

It can get hairy very quickly, and there are sooooo many tradeoffs to be made, depending on the eventual application of the image (looking for a tumor, or just mapping blood flow? looking for a tank, or just mapping ground cover?)

#163 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 01:52 AM:

The last time I saw Jeff Smith was in the video for Cake's Love You Madly.

He appears as a judge in an Iron Chef style competition, alongside Phyllis Diller and Rick James.

See the video here:

#164 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 01:59 AM:

Ashni: I'm curious, having just recently read the book -- what was your objection to Podkayne?

In re the whole stocking a SF/Fantasy section -- Ray Bradbury's books Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles are definitely must-haves for any High School library. Ditto Madeline l'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels. Both are quite clean, though Bradbury's books are very definitely best for older readers, dealing, for example, with the destruction of several human expeditions to Mars and then the entire Martian race. They're thought-provoking reading, not "feel-good" reading.

#165 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 06:56 AM:

Re Dr Fun cartoon: If Dickins had lived in the time of DVDs and Director's Cuts (or ?Directors' if it's plural?) would we have one of the famous lost scenes of the dancing bear on the raft? Or would it be on an atoll far out in the Pacific?

Marilee: Ah, I had to go right back & find the scattered 'Marty' references to see where that was coming from. Don't know the name, but can infer from context what it was about.

The quote gave me an impression of a young person, exposed to slanted teaching (see example), trying to work something out when it comes to how they'll cope with life. Seems I was wrong. (Something to do with trying to keep up work & non-blog life leaving me with less time to read through all the comments/threads (see also sad situation with Billmon at Whiskey Bar)

#166 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 07:44 AM:

And just throwing this in here, rather than searching through other thread. Perhaps would fit into "Cancelled Contract", but that's already rather sprawling.

Haven't any further references to the story yet - busy tonight. The US-based people might have better ideas of where to search, haven't managed it on Google News.

"an incredible example of political pettiness"
US bans scientists from International AIDS conference

XV International AIDS Conference - Bangkok, Thailand | July 11 -16, 2004 (see and many other places)

#167 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 07:58 AM:

Definitely THE LAST post tonight!
An Amazone review of Podkayne of Mars
No option for "negative" numbers of stars, sadly, December 5, 2003

Remember the old "Ms." magazine and how they used to do articles about how various women had a "click" moment where their sensibilities about feminism snapped into place? Well, PODKAYNE OF MARS was my click moment. It made me a feminist. The year was 1963, and this was a brand new book by one of my favorite sci fi authors and it was about a girl! A girl who wanted to be a starship captain! I had to wait weeks for the book to come in, and rushed home to read it.

Imagine my disappointment! I could literally spend all day just pointing out the bad spots -- the lame characterizations, dull expository, lecturing, etc. But of course the worst thing here is that the book is utterly demeaning to young women.

So what is the point? Just to slam the ambitions of young female readers and point them firmly towards motherhood? Even worse is the treatment of Poddy's parents, who get a firm talking-to, courtesy of Uncle Tom (as mouthpiece for Heinlein himself), letting them know they are awful parents because they allow a 16 year old girl to travel with her brother and uncle and presumably don't keep her at home with a full time mom. ... Poddy's mom's wonderful career is built up and then largely made fun of or dismissed.

#168 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 09:46 AM:

Bill Blum: not entirely related, but have you tried doing spectral analysis on songs? You get people (like Aphex Twin) hiding his face in there, so it only shows up if you run the song through the correct filter. :-) That appealed to my sense of mischief, I must admit. He must have been waiting *ages* for someone to get bored enough to find it.

#169 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 10:09 AM:
As Theodore Sturgeon emphasized (and invented a typographical symbol for): "Go to the Next Question!"

Wasn't that actually "Ask the next question?" I think your version is from the alternate universe where Sturgeon gave up writing to be a BASIC programmer.

#170 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 10:57 AM:

Dan Blum,

Yes, you're right. Structured Sturgeon evolved from the famous paper "Go to the Next Question Considered Harmful!" by Edsger W. Dijkstra
[Communications of the LACM, Vol. 11, No. 3, March 1968, pp. 147-148. Copyright © 1968, Association for Literary Computing Machinery, Inc.]

Bill Blum:

I do think that your work is interesting. My mother's father, Alfred "Curley" Vos, was the #1 salesman of x-ray machines for Picker. He was also an inveterate tinkerer. For instance, he invented the high-volume bubble-machine (as in Lawrence Welk). He spent a lot of time with the fellows who invented the first CAT scan, as the applied practical x-ray equipment technician, and family legend has it that he should be considered a co-inventor. Mildly supporting this, he was the only non-M.D. ever admitted to the New Jersey chapter of the AMA. Perhaps unrelated, but showing his unschooled intelligence, he was also once New Jersey Checkers Champion.

I begged my mother's brother, Curley's son Joseph Andrew Vos, who runs a top-end travel agency in New York, to dig up the documentation while a particular History of CAT scans was being written, but Uncle Joe didn't come through.


Podkayne's mom, as originally intended, was a composite of Herman Kahn's wife (her job title at the Manhattan Project was "Computer") and Virginia Heinlein, whom Robert Anson Heinlein always claimed was a far better engineer than he.

#171 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 11:16 AM:

IIRC, Andy Breckman's "The Dollar Bill Song" is about NYC.

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 01:47 PM:

Which version of Podkayne have y'all read? I prefer the original ending, but RAH's editors insisted it be changed to the ending most people know. The original ending was only published a few years ago.

#173 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 02:27 PM:

What I hated most in Podkayne...oh, God, how to choose? Trivially, you don't give your main character a nickname that means toilet. You just don't. (Yes, I know, it's a d, not t. How many Americans enunciate that well?)

I think my least favorite snippet was when Podkayne got the lecture about how women should feel lucky men aren't raping us, because that's what "biology" demands. Yes, that was a fun part.

Oh, and the "women are built for having babies" thing: does that mean that men have to carry heavy objects, run down prey, or gather nuts and berries, depending on their body type? Because, all joking about geek body types aside, I never once met a guy who was built to be an engineer or a programmer or a science fiction writer. Or a starship captain. "No, I'm sorry, sir, you can't be a doctor; the breadth and musculature of your shoulders indicate that you are built for pulling a plow when the oxen are sick."

I always get upset with people who claim Heinlein is a sexist for having curvy young women characters who like math and men; at the very least, I think they should look carefully at the people they're talking to, in case a listener falls into such a category. But "built for babies and therefore disallowed from starship captain duties," uff da, no, that I won't take.

#174 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 02:46 PM:

What I hated most about Podkayne wasn't in the novel itself--it was in the comments to the two-ending version. At least one of the commenters preferred having Podkayne die because it was really Charles' story, and her death made him grow up. Now, *that's* sexism.

I wonder if the story looks any better if it's viewed as somewhat dysfunctional people in fairly interesting situations rather than as a definitive statement about how women ought to be.

I can see being highly disappointed (or even enraged) if one were looking forward to a story about a girl who wants to be a spaceship captain and gets to be a spaceship captain and ends up with a story about a girl who settles for department head because she has an implausible liking for babies.

I'd like to see that novel about the girl who does become captain, but Poddy's rather plausible. She wants to be a spaceship captain, but it's a pretty vague ambition--she doesn't seem to be nuts about spaceships, iirc dining with the captain is a social thing for her rather than a chance to pump him for information, and she isn't good at getting people to do what she wants.

#175 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz wrote,

"I can see being highly disappointed (or even enraged) if one were looking forward to a story about a girl who wants to be a spaceship captain and gets to be a spaceship captain and ends up with a story about a girl who settles for department head because she has an implausible liking for babies."

I was extremely annoyed, felt cheated, etc. "I think I'll be a wifey-poo and have babies and live vicariously, through my husband, instead!" YUCH, YUCH, YUCH!

#176 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Wow. I'm almost sure I read that book when I was a kid, and I don't at all remember that stuff. Of course, I'm male. Maybe I read some other book? I read one about a family that moves to Mars; I remember there was a lot of stuff about honor in it, and a baby Martian named Willis. Was that Podkayne?

#177 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 04:11 PM:

Terry — I thought you might like to know that I keep getting virus payloads sent to me "from" your e-mail address. Needless to say, the likelihood that your computer is actually infected, and sending out these e-mails, is pretty damned small; what has probably happened is that some other computer has gotten infected and either harvested both of our addresses from here (for values of "here" which include electrolite, of course), or had both of our addresses in its address book (in which case, it may well belong to someone else who reads these blogs).

Anyway, on the off chance that it is your computer (or someone else's around here), I figured I'd mention it.

#178 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 04:16 PM:

Marilee: The reason he doesn't know what the natural alternatives are is because he's a bachelor.

Bachelors don't know the rhythm method? Tell that to a friend of mine who tried it and got caught; he used the common phrase "playing Vatican Roulette". There are also words for people who aren't having sex now and people who have never had sex, but in this time/place the right epithet for a male who doesn't at least know of the rhythm method could be "ignorant swine".

Xopher: That sounds like RED PLANET; the family is already on Mars but migrates with the seasons; the son has a "pet" named Willis (with the sort of hidden heritage of the Star Beast). If you try to fit the juveniles into RAH's Future History, Podkayne could be a generation or so later; RP involves a revolution, and P mentions her father (?uncle?) losing a hand (?eye?) in a revolution. And it is \awful/; even Anne McCaffrey (who wrote a number of fragile flowers to go with Lessa and Menolly) called Podkayne an unsufferable minx.

#179 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 05:07 PM:

Ray: I've been getting a series of infected email messages from the address of another regular Making Light poster.

The real sender on my virus spam appears to be:
Steve's Shoes, Inc.
11333 Strang Line Road
Lenexa, Kansas 66215
United States

Registered through:
Created on: 17-Jun-99
Expires on: 17-Jun-07
Last Updated on: 30-Jan-04

Through SMTP server

Wirkin Law Group SBC066141240152031224 (NET-66-141-240-152-1) -

#180 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 07:26 PM:

Can anyone spot the difference in these photos at ?

#181 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 07:48 PM:

Hmmm. I just got another "Terry Karney" message; I suppose I should pull it out of my "deleted" folder (which I havn't emptied yet) long enough to dump its headers and see if I can trace it.

#182 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 08:16 PM:

Here's the abstract of a short paper worth looking at if you'd like an introduction to imaging radar. Only two references--- the Jakowatz (et al) book is WELL worth a look, if you can get it via interlibrary loan.

There aren't really any "good" online examples or demonstrations of how tomography works-- but hopefully, I can change that.

#183 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2004, 10:06 PM:

I hope it's okay to loop back to the thread about the decline of reading. I saw the headline : REPORT SHOWS BIG DROP IN READING IN US first on Common Dreams. Beneath it was another headline: WHITE HOUSE MOVES TO PROTECT RIGHT TO SPY ON READERS...

Do you think there might be any connection?

I will not buy books from, in part because I don't want my purchases to be tracked. I feel reasonably secure checking books out of the local library, because I know once I've returned a book, the electronic record disappears. But it is chilling to me to think that Ashcroft and company might decide I "hate America" because I read Al Franken and Michael Moore and Molly Ivins.

#184 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 12:31 AM:

CHip, he is a devout Catholic, never married, so therefore a virgin. Incidently, today's WashPost has an article on how women who are fairly regular can use a bead necklace for the rhythm method:

Ray, Lenny, I've been getting a lot from Jill Smith, who I correspond with regularly anyway, and today I got three bounces for things sent with "my" name. Rude people.

#185 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 07:26 AM:

Yep - and I've been getting stuff from someone who calls themself "Dark" (I don't know anyone who styles themself thusly). It links back to a blog at which I had no knowledge of before getting these e-mails, so somewhere along the line they've gotten sloppy as to who posts where.

I suspect the octoberpeople may be as innocent of mischief (at least of the e-mail variety) as the rest of us. I don't have any of the e-mails any more, but I'll check the headers next time I (inevitably) get another. I think I got four yesterday - for some reason, my Mac Mail program snagged some of them and put them into junk and some of them made it into my inbox. Annoying.

#186 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Dave K --
That was emphatically not funny and my (previously) sleeping spouse didn't appreciate it much either.


#187 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Yeah, Dave K., the "Not Work Safe" warning might have been nice...

#188 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Yo, Dave! Keep it up, man! I knew it was coming and it STILL got me. Haha! Isn't that the girl from Fright Night (a classic of eighties cinema)?

#189 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 02:28 PM:

The IP address does appear in my love letters from "Dark." strikes again?

#190 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2004, 05:35 PM:

Eddie From Ohio (a sadly less-well-known-than-they-should-be folkie group)

Aiglet: My respect for EFO dimmed significantly when they needlessly cancelled a concert here last year - the more so because Mike would have been their opening act.

Oh well. At least I got to see Murray in his new role the year before.

(PS to Aiglet: Yes, that Mike and that Murray.)

(PS to everyone else: I'll decrypt if requested.)

#191 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 01:38 AM:

Hmm... about Podkayne: now that you folks mention it (and Gardener Dozois said something about it in an anthology I just started), that seems to be kind of a pattern with a *lot* of Heinlein's books -- Friday for sure, and there's some of it in Stranger and Job, too. The Heroine is a strong, tough woman, but her primary aim is still to settle down with the man of her dreams and have lots of kids. I'd vaguely noticed it, but hadn't really connected it up as a trope of Heinlein's, maybe because I had always heard Heinlein associated with strong female characters and never looked closely at exactly what that association was. Can anyone with more exposure to Heinlein's works than I shed some light on this? (ie. was this really his view, or was is something his editors forced on him, or what?)

For that matter, are there any Heinlein works that *don't* fall into this trap?

/me reminds himself to beg, borrow, or otherwise acquire a copy of Podkayne with the alternate ending for comparison purposes.

#192 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 02:22 AM:

Marilee: virgin is plausible; my point was that bachelor doesn't mean either virgin or ignorant. And while I can understand some religious not having much knowledge of what they might consider profane matters, IIRC rhythm was officially approved by the Vatican, so it's not automatically a mystery to the faithful.

Kevin: some of that slant in Heinlein was probably cultural; getting married and having a family was \the/ socially-approved goal in his early years, and he was writing a lot of socially acceptable fiction -- first for Campbell, who asked for stories that could appear in the Saturday Evening Post in the future, and later sometimes for slicks directly. I've also heard it argued that his childlessness was more and more aggravating to him, slanting his characters; you point to later works that I'd say are more egregious, although attitudes shading towards John Norman show up as early as Beyond This Horizon

#193 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 07:49 AM:

_Glory Road_ is a Heinlein novel which has a strong woman who'd rather have her career than her marriage. This is portrayed as the right thing to do.

Does it take any of the curse off the pro-domestic novels to point out that the men also want to settle down and have a bunch of kids?

IIRC, there's *no* interest in having kids in a lot of early Heinlein--frex, "The Unfortunate Profession of Jonathan Hoag".

#194 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 10:10 AM:

Even when not focused on having kids, there's a subordination (very different from Norman's slavery IMO!) that's obvious in frex DOUBLE STAR, still one of the great Heinlein novels. It's much less obvious in the tales where women don't have major roles. In many, kids are completely irrelevant ("Goldfish Bowl").

CHip, I wouldn't have said that Campbell required "socially acceptable" fiction -- he leaned toward "humanity uber alles" but was in his own way as radical as Gold or Goldsmith in including a significant number of stories that made people think. "The Cold Equations" was acceptable in one set of people; "A.W.F. UnLimited" in another; and EFRussell's subtly subversive multicultural stories in yet another. And then there's the fact that he published a lot of Sturgeon, much of it culturally challenging. He also needed to publish a mag that people would continue to read, so on the average it had to be "culturally acceptable" -- but it wasn't a requirement for individual stories, unless you're defining "culture" as what JWC liked.

#195 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 12:55 PM:

This is really cool:

"New York Songlines: Virtual Tours of Manhattan Streets."

I read the listings for Bleecker and 6th Avenue, and nicely evoked memories of the area. They didn't list the former location of Fugazzi's, alas . . .

#196 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Nancy, wasn't that "The Unpleasant Profession..."?

#197 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Along with The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer I recommend Star Split by Kathryn Lasky. Both books have interesting science/ethics questions.

#198 ::: Taper ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Referring back a ways to Paula Lieberman's comment -- "American Jerusalem" was written by Rod MacDonald, though I'm only familar with the cover by Garnet Rogers on his "The Outside Track".

(Garnet was in the band of his better-known brother, the late Stan Rogers, but is quite a fine musician and singer in his own right. Have a listen, if you can possibly do so, to "Summer Lightning" on the album of the same name.)

#200 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2004, 07:35 AM:

Just read the Writing a Book link in the sidebar. (Pardon if my comments reflect those of anybody else--I'm supposed to be running out the door and hitting I-40)

The thing that leapt to mind was how he kept harping on how you couldn't make a living as a writer, and he knew of no industry where it was the case that most of the people who produce the works in that industry made so little money. (I know, I know. "Don't quit your day job" IS burned into my head as a mantra.) And all I could think was comparing that to the art world, and its cherished image of the starving artist. This image is the reason my grandfather kept trying to keep me from going into graphic design and attending art school, etc. He said, "Do something that will put bread on the table," by which he meant, anything but art. And I ignored him, became a graphic designer, and sadly with my near bottom feeder salary, still manage to make more than most of my cousins. (It's quite enough though, depending on where you live.) My boyfriend who is also into art makes three times what I do and trounces the rest of the family into the ground. I'm pretty certain there are parallels in the writing world for the jobs that we do: technical writing, reporting, creative writing courses, etc. etc. I can hear Mr. Blowhard now, saying, "I meant very few people make a living writing books that they want to write." And I can truthfully say that very few artists make a living painting and drawing their own personal interests--ROI in plain financial terms is limited. (But of course, the personal pleasure is not, so that's why I keep both writing and drawing.)

I wanted to expand more on this theme, but I'm going to be late for work otherwise. Maybe I'll come back to this later.

#201 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2004, 11:02 AM:

Agreed about technical writing. I still get a kick out of getting paid steadily to write and edit, even if it's not the stuff I write off-hours.


#202 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2004, 05:49 PM:

John Schilling mentioned in rasfw that Patrick is extensively quoted in the LA Times, but you have to *pay* to get the article!

#203 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 02:14 AM:

Not to get all political, but here's a guy who was hassled by the cops because he was taking pictures of the Ballard Locks (in Seattle). So were a lot of other people, of course, but this guy has a dark complexion.

#204 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 09:11 AM:

I looked at the 2blowhards piece on "Who Would WANT To Write A Book", read some of the early comments (the piece is a year old), then skipped ahead to the most recent comments.

Owch. Somewhere in the interim, word apparently spread elsewhere on the Net that this was a site that could help aspiring writers. Some of the later comments seem to be from people who didn't actually bother to -read- the blowhards piece, but came merely to post pleas for help in getting agents, publishers, fame & fortune, etc.

And some of these pleas are so desperate, so clueless, so badly written, spelled and punctuated, that I -cringed- reading them. Sad. Sad, sad, sad.

#205 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Bruce said: And some of these pleas are so desperate, so clueless, so badly written, spelled and punctuated, that I -cringed- reading them. Sad. Sad, sad, sad.

I see this in posts elsewhere from people who've been mixed up with scammer agents and vanity presses. With some of them it is all too clear why the only people who would touch the manuscript are scam artists. It's also all too clear that they have no idea that there is a difference between their prose and the prose that gets published with money flowing towards the author. They genuinely believe that their writing is wonderful, and it's heartbreaking watching their dreams being shattered. The one good thing is that some of them are posting because they had the sense to do a little research before handing over the money, and they're grateful that they've been warned about a scammer.

#206 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 03:45 PM:

A question for classicists: how many months each year does Persephone spend in the underworld? Edith Hamilton says "four," web sources say "three" or occasionally "six," and I remember being taught "five" as a child.

Is there a correct value, or at least one more easily understood in an allusion than the others?

#207 ::: abby ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 04:29 PM:

Tim, my Metamorphoses says (at the end of the story when she's eaten the pomegranate seeds and basically been doomed and Ceres is running around wreaking havoc on the world), "Jupiter, however, intervening between his brother and sorrowing sister, divided the circling year in equal parts, and now the goddess whose divinity is shared by two kingdoms spends the same number of months with her husband and with her mother". So, six. The interesting thing is that when I was a kid I read several versions where the amount of time she must spend in the underworld is directly related to how many pomegranate seeds she ate. Here, though, she ate seven seeds but stays for six months, and that only cause Jupiter felt bad for Ceres.

Not that I know anything about the story beyond that.

#208 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 04:40 PM:

I always heard it was six pomegranete seeds--given to her by the little lizard boy that Demeter squashes in her search for Persephone.

#209 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 05:28 PM:

I live in Minneapolis. Seph was really hungry.

#210 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 06:33 PM:

The ancient sources disagree. Some have half the year, some a third, some specifically six months.


#211 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 06:50 PM:

It's what I call a "theomathematics" problem.

Which reminds us:

Is Math a Sport?
And what about target shooting, Skee-Ball, and standing on one foot?

By Jordan Ellenberg

Posted on
Thursday, July 15, 2004, at 2:20 PM PT

"Last week, the first contingent of U.S. Olympians arrived in Athens. The five men and one woman, survivors of a merciless selection process, stood ready to test themselves against the strongest competitors in the world.
Sunday, they go home."

"Their competition, the International Mathematical Olympiad, is already over. The math Olympiad may not attract a worldwide broadcast audience or demand traffic-jamming last-minute infrastructure fixes like the Olympic Games per se. But it's a contest as rigorous and rarefied as anything you'll see on NBC this August. Could mathletes someday compete alongside track stars and basketball players under the aegis of the five rings?...."

There is a discussion of this right now on

I believe that math is a Sport, AND an artform.

Math is a breathmint AND a candy.

Discussion here?

#212 ::: Thel ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2004, 09:12 PM:


For almost two years I lived just downstairs from Ian Spiers, the gentleman referenced in the Stranger story. I was astonished to see his story on the local news the other night just before reading it in the Stranger Thursday. He and Mary were the best neighbors you could imagine. Every time in the last two years I've started to feel "outrage fatigue," damned if something else hasn't come along to spark it up again.

He's chronicling his story online as well, at Brown Equals Terrorist.

You know, I don't think I've ever had a positive interaction with any member of the Seattle Police Department under any circumstances. Ian's story doesn't surprise me, but just reading about those cops' insatiable power trips makes me mad again.

#213 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 04:17 AM:

I'm not a classicist, but I've been pressed into service to play one in a classroom. I'll defer to any real live classicist who feels like speaking up. That said, here's what I have lying around about Persephone's annual schedule:

I'd be inclined to go with Ovid on this one, if only because his version is the most influential on us, now. I went looking for a more definitive answer in the version of the myth that's probably the most representative of what the worshippers at Eleusis believed, and struck out.

The English translation I have of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (Helene Foley, ed., Princeton UP, 1994), says three months in the underworld and nine among the immortals above. But then if you look at the Greek on the facing page, the relevant lines on how long Persephone's under are full of brackets to indicate that the mutilated condition of the manuscript makes reliable conjecture impossible about what the words actually are. Parsing out the Greek in those lines made it clear that the information you're looking for was in the mutilated part of the manuscript. So three months is the best guess of a person (not me) who had access to the most complete known manuscript as well as a bunch of papyrus fragments of other copies, and who has probably forgotten more Greek than I will know in this lifetime.

The cool thing I can't resist passing on about the Homeric Hymn to Demeter is that the only nearly-complete manuscript was found in a stable in Moscow in 1777. Nobody knows how it got there. Until then, the only bits of the text that scholars knew about were papyrus fragments and quotations in other, later classical works. The Hymn as a whole was assumed to have been lost to the dark ages in the usual way. Of all places for the thing to turn up! Why a stable? Why Moscow? Who left it there? So many stories to make up.

#214 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 10:08 AM:

JVP writes:
Math is a breathmint AND a candy.

Well, then, the quality control needs some work, since math leaves a bad taste in so many people's mouths.....

#215 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Bill said to JVP: Well, then, the quality control needs some work, since math leaves a bad taste in so many people's mouths.....

I think it's just that not everyone likes mint. (My mother, for example.)

#216 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 11:30 AM:

More sidebar comments--Love's Heaving Bosoms: This is why I adored Elizabeth Peters' novel, Die For Love, a mystery set at a romance writers convention. Peters opened half the chapters with overblown physical description and alluded to Prisoner of Zenda right and left. (I really would have enjoyed reading Jacqueline's finished novel. Sigh.)

One of my favourite exercises in romantic improbability involved two sets of twins in the Revolutionary war, both disguised so that nobody knew there were any twins at all in the vicinity. Naturally one of the male twins was the high-and-mighty local aristocracy masquerading as a Tory sympathiser while his counterpart ravaged the countryside, stealing from the Tories that his brother would pick out. And the female twins did exactly the same. One was disguised as chaperone to the other, but would sneak out in the guise of The Scarlet Temptress (or something like that). Needless to say, the Scarlet Temptress robs one of the male twins during his own masquerade as a Tory, and whacky hijinks ensue. Of course, the entire time, everybody talks like Valley Girls imitating Elizabethan England, so the dialogue is really really really bad, hitting nowhere near the intended period.

My best friend and I wrote three chapters of a Really Bad Romance(tm) in eighth grade. It was partially intended to be really bad--that's how you get a sarcastic heroine named Storm York Tremonton and her dashing archaeologist lover, Rory Hawthorne. They fought Russian spies in the Pitcairn Islands. (Norfolk Island, to be precise. It had a tiny airstrip at least and a population slightly larger than a house party at Agatha Christie's.)

#217 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 12:04 PM:

NPR just broadcast a story on how Hollywood got it wrong with "I, Robot." To my delight, they played audio clips of comments by Harlan Ellison and Geoff Landis, and quoted Janet Jeppson Asimov. That is, NPR got it right on how Hollywood got it wrong. I was one of the two who recommended Harlan's screenplay of "I, Robot" for a Nebula Award. Shortly afterwards, the other did the same: Isaac Asimov!


Do they grow mint on Norfolk Island? Good thing that Demeter didn't eat 10 pomegranate seeds; that would be the metric Demeter. Isn't the population of a a house party at Agatha Christie's a monotonically decreasing function?

#218 ::: abby ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 12:24 PM:

JvP said, "math is a Sport AND an artform."

Like dance, only different. Then again, I used to try to explain to people that I liked ballet class in the same way that I like math. I'm still surprised at the number of my friends to whom that comparison made sense.

#219 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 12:26 PM:

Michael Berube (whose blog you should all be reading) has a post up asking for readers to recommend pop songs whose lyrics were obviously written by space aliens. This sounds like something readers of Making Light would be very good at. So go read the post and make your nominations.

#220 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 12:42 PM:

I second PiscusFiche on Die for Love (and all other Elizabeth Peters books). The sequel, Naked Once More, covers some of the same territory and is among Peters' best writing.

#221 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 01:02 PM:

JvP: Ooooo. Is the NPR clip online? (Alas, I usually end up listening to NPR while at work, so I missed it.) I'm afraid I, Robot is my new favourite bee-in-bonnet. My boyfriend sits tensely through all the trailers now, fearing that the I, Robot trailer will appear and launch a monologue from me about Isaac's revolutions per second. Bill Shunn also recommends spending the money you would have spent on movie tickets and purchasing the Ellison treatment instead.

Not totally sure what monotonically decreasing function is, but depending on the book, the graph would descend rather steeply. (Ten Little Indians, for example.)

#222 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 01:04 PM:

BTW, just curious:

Ten Little Indians or And Then There Were None?

#223 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 01:29 PM:

The ancient sources disagree. Some have half the year, some a third, some specifically six months.

I guess I can take my pick then. Thanks to all for the info.

#224 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 01:48 PM:

monotonically = always falling or always rising

#225 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 07:47 PM:

Oh, and back to I, Robot: It did well in the box office. A head honcho at Fox had this to say about Will Smith:

"My God, this guy opens movies," said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution at 20th Century Fox, which released "I, Robot." "He's just so likable, he takes something like science fiction, which can be a little cold, and he makes it warm and entertaining."

I hate Hollywood sometimes.

#226 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 07:56 PM:

At the risk of being overly pedantic, a monotonic function is one that never increases or never decreases; it does not necessarily always decrease or increase. Frex, [1, 1, 1, 2] is a monotonically increasing sequence. The first derivative will never change sign, but can be zero.

#227 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 09:04 PM:

True 'nuff, Alex.
I think mathematicians have ugly jargon. What could be more boring than monotonically? The physicists have crunchier descriptives, like color, charm and spin. Also, the delicious "Principle of Least Action."

Question to all: What are your favorite jargon words or phrases?

#228 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 09:23 PM:

"Catastrophic self-disassembly."

"Excursion," as in, "Let's take a trip to see the reactor core."


Oh, heck there must be a pleasant one out there. "Synesthetic" is nice. "Orbital resonance" is pretty neat. "Triboluminescence" is only fun if you know what it is, but doubtless most of the people here do. (Peppermints. Pliers. Pitch black. I'll wait till you get back from the closet.)

#229 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 09:48 PM:

mechanical engineering, general:
nutation, self-excitation, whirling, buckling, fatigue

fluid mechanics:
vortex tubes, "The Law of the Wall", viscosity, tortuosity, immiscible
I heard wintergreen flashes brighter than peppermint. I've only tried wintergreen, though.

#230 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 10:01 PM:

'scattering centers', 'synthetic aperture', 'clutter tuning', 'grating lobes'

Math: Skew Hermitian

Signal Processing: colored noise

#231 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 10:10 PM:

I forgot to add:
screw theory

#232 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 10:29 PM:

Mathematical terminology can be intriguing, restricting myself here to just to some alphabetically in "A" described on Eric Weisstein's [Eric and I each got two degrees from Caltech, but his web domain is far more useful than mine: he's got over 19,000 pages about Math! I find minor errors in some of them. Proofreading Math is much harder that proofreading fiction slushpiles]. Anyway, from the top of "A":

Abnormal Number
Absolute Moment
Absolutely Fair
Abstraction Operator
Accidental Cancellation
Agnesi's Witch [good fantasy title]
Ahlfors Five Island Theorem [Travel Channel]
Airy-Fock Functions [Adult Math?]
Alexander's Horned Sphere
Algebraic Gadget
Algebraic Unknotting Number
Alhazen's Billiard Problem [ESPN]
Alias Transformation [good Mystery title]
Almost Complex Structure
Almost Perfect Number
Alternative Denial [Psychiatry?]
Ambiguity Function
Amicable Numbers
Ampersand Curve
Anarboricity [a town in Michigan?]
Anger Function [Psychiatry again]
Angel Problem [Theomathematics]
Annihilator [Thriller title]
Antimagic Square [Fantasy title]
Antisnowflake [part of a snowball in Hell?]
Antoine's Necklace [Romance title]
Apocalypse Number [Thriller title]
Apollonian Gasket [use Algebraic Gadget]
Archimedes' Revenge [Thriller]
Aristotle's Wheel Paradox [Travel Channel]
Arnold's Cat Map
Arrow's Paradox
Art Gallery Theorem
Ass and Mule Problem
Asymmetric Propeller Theorem
Atomic Statement
Attraction Basin

Off the top of my head, if I started beyond A, I'd have such as "Ham Sandwich Theorem."

Yes, I agree that Mathematics is akin to dancing in a hard-to-describe way.

I got pretty far this weekend on a paper about factoring Polynomials with Fibonacci, Tribonacci, Tetranacci, Pentanacci, Hexanacci, Heptanacci, Octanacci, and Lucas Number coefficients. I finished a paper on Semiprime Figurate Numbers.

And boy, are my dancing legs tired.

#233 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 10:41 PM:

From computer science: thrashing, spin-locks, alpha-beta pruning, "minimum cut/maximum flow," shift/reduce error, race condition, mutual exclusion (or "mutex").

In my head, I always conflate the Emperor from Return of the Jedi and programming language designers: "Now, witness the Turing-complete power of this armed and fully-functional battle language!"

#234 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 11:07 PM:

Heh. Y'know, Piscus, "something like science fiction" as a description of the I, Robot film strikes me as a classic bit of unintentional honesty.

#235 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2004, 11:30 PM:

There's no "Making Light Lemma" or "Nielsen Hayden Homomorphism" that I know of, but there is, on

Nielsen Generalized Polylogarithm

Nielsen-Ramanujan Constants

Nielsen's Spiral with a pretty graphic



(vaguely reminding one of the Stud-finding Bodger sort of home repairs):

The Lights Out Puzzle

If you put the pieces together, you might have a Mathematics paper entitled:

"The Nielsen Hayden Spiral and Making Lights Out Puzzles"

#236 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 12:52 AM:

Mike, we used to do it in caves with our mouths, not pliers. We always used peppermint Lifesavers, though, because wintergreen makes me throw up. We'd take the teens in far enough so it was really dark, hand out the Lifesavers, then have them turn off all the flash/headlights. After they got used to the dark, we'd start biting the mints. The cave would ring with laughter.

#237 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 03:01 AM:

I've always been fond of the butterfly curves of catastrophe theory. And A. T. Winfree's THE GEOMETRY OF BIOLOGICAL TIME, a lovely book that I read for fun years ago.

#238 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 11:10 AM:

Fave jargon: 'disambiguate', 'interstratal discrepancy' (including 'anataxis' and 'composite realization', among others), 'coarticulated'; 'valediction', 'chthonic', 'psychopomp', 'pathomnemonic', 'hunter'/'farmer' (in their special uses), 'hyperfocus'/'attenuation'; 'force majeure', 'ex parte'; 'hydroscopic', 'lypolysis'.

There are some other words which aren't necessarily favorite jargon per se, but which are fun because people who don't know the jargon think you're talking dirty. The only examples that come to mind right now are the stratificational semantics terms 'semon', 'sememe', and 'semology'.

In the gutter, but looking at the stars,

#239 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 11:12 AM:

Argh. There should be a semicolon, not a comma, after 'psychopomp'.

#240 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 12:27 PM:

Oh dear, one of those Synchronicity things again: I've just been reading back thru' the comments I've missed & seen Norfolk Island mentioned. (Has anyone seen a Norfolk Island Pine, Araucaria heterophylla, - a large & attractive species?)

You may have heard something about there being an unsolved murder on it in 2002 - the first murder recorded there since the 1856 settlement. After a $50,000 reward offer raised to $100,000 & much other stuff, the coroner's inquest was held only recently, inconclusively.

Now tonight the news comes through that a prominent citizen (Ivens "Toon" Buffett, a descendant of the original settlers) has been shot dead.

Connection? Because a line was crossed? Who knows. The islanders must be feeling quite stunned.

But their story does point out the fictionality of Agatha Christie style mysteries. Not a particularly clever stabbing, yet no Poirot nor Miss Marple solves it all. Now this seems to be a sad & simple shooting, with someone arrested at the scene.

Ms McCulloch will probably be sought out again for comment, which is a sort of link to the publishing world.

#241 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 03:17 PM:

From libraryland: Deaccessioning. (A euphemism for "weeding"). Cuttering. Actually, as a profession we seem to run more to acronyms than interesting words and phrases.

So -- any big Frank Lloyd Wright fans out there? We just stayed here over the weekend: One of the very few FLLW (that weems to be the official abbreviation) vertical buildings, and one of only three FLLW creations worldwide you can stay in overnight. Floors 7-14 have been renovated as 21 hotel rooms, several of which are two-story suites. The furniture and general room design is lovely. Floors 15-16 are a restaurant and bar, and you can tour the old Price family apartment and office are on floors 17-19. At ground level there's a museum. An addition planned by Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid is in the works, and will house a museum and achitecture study space. Now the view of glorious downtown Bartlesville OK is not that illuminating, and while the room rates might seem reasonable in New York, they are rather high for the heartland, but hey, it's still uber-cool.

#242 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 08:06 PM:

"Synesthetic" is nice

As a word, perhaps. As a condition, not so much.

#243 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 11:35 PM:
"There are some other words which aren't necessarily favorite jargon per se, but which are fun because people who don't know the jargon think you're talking dirty."

From computer jargon: finger. As in, to finger somebody. It has just always seemed wrong.

#244 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2004, 11:45 PM:

Re: synesthetic. The Empire of Ice Cream is a nice read.

#245 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 12:51 AM:

Marilee writes:
John Schilling mentioned in rasfw that Patrick is extensively quoted in the LA Times, but you have to *pay* to get the article!

For those who can't resist puzzles, Google News makes it possible to give this the Dead Sea Scrolls treatment. A sketchy attempt:

A sci-fi shy Hollywood
- Jul 13, 2004

... by a robot, simply "takes its inspiration from Isaac Asimov's vision of a ... for properties, says Patrick Neilsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor Books, a major ...

... film, which stars Will Smith as a detective investigating a murder that may ... for properties, says Patrick Neilsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor Books, a major ...

The film, which stars Will Smith as a detective investigating a murder that
... a murder that may have been committed by a robot, simply "takes its inspiration from Isaac Asimov's vision of a robotic future," says co-producer John Davis.
... You'd hardly know it from a lot of what appears on screen, which tends to ape either "Star Wars" space opera or "Alien" slime thing horror, but current ...
... which tends to ape either "Star Wars" space opera or "Alien" slime thing horror, but current literary sci-fi is concerned with issues of race, gender, sex ...
... with issues of race, gender, sex, religion and technology's effect on humanity.
... humanity. Which is not what Hollywood seems to be interested in. "Science fiction can be awfully abstract," says Hayden. "It's more ...
... Science fiction can be awfully abstract," says Hayden. "It's more conceptual than filled with big colorful cinematic imagery.". ...

... even though 15 of the 25 top-grossing films of all time are works ...

... I don't think Hollywood thinks of print science fiction" when it looks for properties, says Patrick Neilsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor Books, a major ...
major publisher of science fiction and fantasy titles. ...

... Then there's Philip K. Dick, the current "it" boy of sci-fi (even though he died in 1982
Certainly, Ray Bradbury has long been a cinematic favorite. Then there's Philip K. Dick, the current "it" boy of sci-fi (even though he died in 1982), whose obsessive novels and short stories about the nature of ...
... even though he died in 1982), whose obsessive novels and short stories about the nature of consciousness have been the basis for "Blade Runner," "Total Recall ...
the basis for "Blade Runner," "Total Recall," "Minority Report" and other films. ...

Dick's current popularity, says author Greg Bear, stems from the fact that most of his ...
stems from the fact that most of his works are set in the present or near future, so "they're not that ...
... most of his works are set in the present or near future, so "they're not that expensive to make and the ideas are about paranoia and loss of self, which have ...
paranoia and loss of self, which have always been a Hollywood staple ...

When it comes to sci-fi projects, the studios seem to prefer original ...
... When it comes to sci-fi projects, the studios seem to prefer original visions like "The Matrix" or "Star Wars," comic book adaptations or films based on ...
comic book adaptations or films based on popular video games. ...

and Dick are simply planetoids in a very large literary universe. ...

... But Bradbury and Dick are simply planetoids in a very large literary ... of cable TV's Sci Fi Channel, which has been aggressively pursuing literary properties ...

... How do you pare that down?". "The stories are complex," adds Bonnie Hammer, president of cable TV's Sci Fi Channel, which has been aggressively pursuing ...
... Hammer, president of cable TV's Sci Fi Channel, which has been aggressively pursuing literary properties like "Dune" and Le Guin's "Earthsea" for adaptation as ...
... of cable TV's Sci Fi Channel, which has been aggressively pursuing literary properties like "Dune" and Le Guin's "Earthsea" for adaptation as miniseries. ...

... Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter ("A Beautiful Mind") who has co-written the "I, Robot" screenplay with Jeff Vintar, believes another factor ...
...screenwriter ("A Beautiful Mind") who has co-written the "I, Robot" screenplay with Jeff Vintar, believes another factor affecting sci-fi adaptations is that ...
is that "science fiction has a tendency to be less than conventional in terms of narrative. ...

It's not that these works aren't being optioned. Hayden estimates 20% of his top titles are picked up, but almost none make it to the local multiplex. ...
says Bear, who has had several of his futuristic works optioned but never ...
Simply put, "it's tough to turn a novel into a movie," says Bear, who has had several of his futuristic works optioned but never produced....

... And for all too many of them, there's simply a lack of brand-name recognition. ... Adds Tor Books' Hayden: "It seems Hollywood always lags behind print science ...
... And for all too many of them, there's simply a lack of brand-name recognition. "Studios love pre-sold titles," like famous comic ...
... Studios love pre-sold titles," like famous comic characters, "because it takes the risk out of making a movie," says "Robot" producer Davis, "and it's easier ...

and it's easier to market ...
"and it's easier to market them.". ...

... Adds Tor Books' Hayden: "It seems Hollywood always lags behind print science fiction by a generation or so, but it does seem to be progressing. ...
... it does seem to be progressing. The quality of stories that Hollywood has tried to screw up recently has improved considerably.". ...

#246 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 01:01 AM:

Geez, after all that, they spell the first bit of his last name wrong, and leave it off most of the time. But I like that last quote.

#247 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 10:34 AM:

Today marks 35 years since Neil Armstrong's "one small step for [a] man." See this NASA site (Flash) and this one (no Flash) for good pics and stuff. One small complaint: why is the video that they've promised not up TODAY, when they'll surely be getting the largest number of visitors to the site, rather than waiting for tomorrow?

Best tribute ever, though, still remains Leslie Fish's song Hope Eyrie (lyrics, mp3).

Let's get a competent Adminstration in place, and then go back, and then further!

#248 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 11:21 AM:

Alex: At the risk of being overly pedantic, a monotonic function is one that never increases or never decreases; it does not necessarily always decrease or increase. Frex, [1, 1, 1, 2] is a monotonically increasing sequence. The first derivative will never change sign, but can be zero.

At the risk--or perhaps the hope--of extrapedantificication, I'll note that careful writers would call your sequence monotonically nondecreasing, and reserve monotonically increasing for sequences or functions that neither decrease nor remain constant (nor pass through incomparable elements of a partially-ordered set, should that arise). To make the distinction explicit, we often call the function strictly monotonic.

The first derivative has no relevance to your sequence, but I'll mention that in the continuous case, the derivative being zero does not preclude strict monotonicity. For instance, the function f(x)=x^3 is strictly monotonic, but f'(0)=0. I seem to recall there's a name for a function whose derivative is positive everywhere, but I don't remember it.

#249 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 11:55 AM:

While not as much fun as stringing together small sentences, you could try which has a login and password for the LA Times.

#250 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Nevermind! (sigh) They still want you to pay for that article.

#251 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 12:35 PM:

Dan Hoey: I bow to you. Your kung fu is greater than mine.

#252 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Alex Cohen and Dan Hoey:

Some introdctory (i.e. White Belt) loose definitions.

A bowl shape (term here for the math-challenged) goes along with the second derivative being positive. The shape is called concave upward (or we say that the function is concave up). A simple modification of the last example will give us an example of a function whose second derivative is negative everywhere. Such a function is concave downwards.

An analytic function is one whose derivative is the same in any direction, such as any function formed by combining elementary functions.

A critical point or stationary point is a property of the first derivative of a function, namely it is an x where the first derivative is zero. Likewise an inflection point is a property of the second derivative of a function, namely it is an x where the second derivative is equal to zero. So it only makes sense that the first thing to do with many problems is to find the first and second derivatives of f(x).

And then you have to find the color scheme and locate the studs.

#253 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 03:01 AM:

"The quality of stories that Hollywood has tried to screw up recently has improved considerably."

Wonderful line, Patrick!

And thanks, Bill, for the "Dead Sea Scrolls" version.

#254 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 09:32 AM:

Yeah, Bill -- I'm impressed. Did you come up with the notion of Dead Sea Googling? It's strangely compelling.

#255 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 11:30 AM:

technical terminology....

inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR, as opposed to SAR)
a constellation of satellites
compander, compressor/compression expander/expansion [I still want to eviserate whoever are responsible for the abomination of calling an expansion algorithm a "codec" -- codec stands for [en]coder-decoder and is bidrection, COMPANDER is compressor-expander !!!!! dimwitted illiterate morons who weren't interested in looking up EXISTING technical definition. Then there's "video" which is utterly ambiguous, because often one can't tell if the person is about NTSC television signals, the display output from a computer, production of dynamic imagery content, a surveillance camera, PAL, etc. It's all "video."

#256 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 12:49 PM:

Hawking: Black Holes Mangle Matter, Energy
By Shawn Pogatchnik
Associated Press Writer
posted: 10:35 am ET
21 July 2004

"I'm sorry to disappoint science fiction fans, but if information is preserved, there is no possibility of using black holes to travel to other universes," he said. "If you jump into a black hole, your mass energy will be returned to our universe, but in a mangled form, which contains the information about what you were like, but in an unrecognizable state."

... and the colors will no longer be in style.

#257 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 12:57 PM:

I would say that there's already enough confusion between dynamic range compression and data compression without overloading "compander" as well.

I don't mind "mike" and "miking" as slang for "microphone" and "putting a microphone in front of something," but I do mind that they're usually spelled "mic" and "micing" in audio engineering articles.

#258 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Tim - They are? Ick! 'Micing' sounds like either a) subjecting to some kind of torture involving mice or b) some kind of chopping, like 'dicing' and 'ricing'.

#259 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 01:31 PM:

There's a kind of chopping called "ricing?"

I thought that was only a term used for crappy car modifications!

#260 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 02:01 PM:

Ricing? It's something you do to potatoes--you put the cooked ones in a little press [imagine a percolator basket with a piston to ram down into it] and squeeze, and you get potatoes smushed down into [ideally] little rice-like bits. This is supposed to make smoother mashed potatoes than mashing with them with the traditional implements of destruction. I'm sure there are other uses of the tool*, and other foods you can use it on, but potatoes are the most common. The tool is probably available wherever fancy cooking gadgets are sold. As the powerful intellects that gather here have no doubt deduced, it's called a ricer.

*Dumpling processing comes to mind. You wouldn't want to process too much batter at once, though.

#261 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 02:10 PM:

See, to 'da yout's nowadays, a "ricer" is one of the characters whose cars might be featured on RiceCop or Beaterz or any of the other sites of their ilk.

Ain't linguistic diversification a hoot?

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 02:27 PM:

Hmm. Could be related. A "chop shop" is a place where stolen cars are made ready for resale. A "chopper" is a modified motorcycle. Since ricing is 'chopping into bits' perhaps the extreme, silly, or destructive mods are called ricings too?

More likely, of course, it's related to 'rice burner', which is a derisive term used by Harley riders to describe riders of Kawasakis etc. An offensive anti-Asian term.

#263 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Ricing can also be used to make baby food or other soft food for people with chewing problems. My mom used to do it when my grandmother was staying with us. (For some reason Grandma couldn't use her false teeth at the time. I was about 8 and am fuzzy on the details now.)

Teresa: there's an op-ed piece about book editing in today's (Wed. the 21st) USA Today. I thought you might want to read it.

#264 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 03:45 PM:

It seems ricercars go back to the sixteenth century. And micing has been the cats' job even longer than that.

#265 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 03:48 PM:

Mousing, usually?

#266 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 03:55 PM:

You can kill your enemies by ricin 'em.

#267 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 04:32 PM:

Xopher: Mousing, usually?

Usually, and perhaps always. Google finds one Usenet message from a gardening person who plans to turn her kitten into either a micer or a moler. But perhaps she and I are both mistaken. Mouser it is.

#268 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 04:37 PM:

Dan Hoey writes:

Usually, and perhaps always. Google finds one Usenet message from a gardening person who plans to turn her kitten into either a micer or a moler. But perhaps she and I are both mistaken. Mouser it is.

It's a gray area.

#269 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 05:04 PM:

Ricing? It's something you do to potatoes--you put the cooked ones in a little press [imagine a percolator basket with a piston to ram down into it] and squeeze, and you get potatoes smushed down into [ideally] little rice-like bits. This is supposed to make smoother mashed potatoes than mashing with them with the traditional implements of destruction.

We never bothered with turning the riced potatoes into mashed potatoes. We just put the riced potatoes into a casserole dish, added butter and salt, and put the dish into the oven while the rest of dinner cooked.

#270 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 05:15 PM:

Kip W. writes:
Yeah, Bill -- I'm impressed. Did you come up with the notion of Dead Sea Googling? It's strangely compelling.

Uh, I guess so. Seems a natural thing to do when you're curious about the hidden article, and reluctant to go through the hassle of paying for it. It quickly becomes a game.

Publications will probably evolve defenses against a Dead Sea Googling attack. My brother's magazine disappeared from Google News a couple of weeks after the service began. Now I can only see what he has to say when he gets quoted in a Googlespheric publication, unless I shell out $189 a year.

#271 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 05:36 PM:

The drinking game for the Republican National Convention is already up, and it's good that we've got about a month to go. I'm going to have to lay in serious supplies to play this one.

#272 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 07:00 PM:

I should have added that, after my Dead Sea Google of the story quoting Patrick the other night, somebody posted the text of the whole thing to a Usenet newsgroup. So we have the plaintext available, and can see how well I did.

Not very well, not too badly. I found about half the text. I entirely missed several paragraphs dealing with Orson Scott Card and Ender's Game. I also missed a chunk where Akiva Goldsman says that Hollywood taps into a vein of ore.

Cribs are very important. Guessing that "robotic" or "robotics" or "screenplay" or "screenwriter" might appear in the story was helpful in extending my reach.

An entertaining road-rally-type game might be played by competing to find the smallest set of Google News queries that reproduces the entire text of a hidden article in the fragments quoted among the hits.

#273 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 09:36 PM:

My favourite quote:
The quality of stories that Hollywood has tried to screw up recently has improved considerably.

#274 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2004, 11:32 PM:

Higgins! A gray area indeed!! Next you'll be telling us in the dark all mousers are gray.

#275 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2004, 12:07 AM:

'Ricing' is what my grandmother did to Idaho spuds before turning them into the miracle what is gnocchi.

#276 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2004, 03:31 AM:

Epacris, Norfolk pines grow all over Hawai'i. There's a particularly nice stand of them on the hill I drive up to get home, in fact. I don't think they're indigenous; I suspect somebody brought them in because of their beauty.

#277 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2004, 05:36 PM:

"King Arthur in 15 Minutes"

DAGONET: Hey, I just found the girliest kid ever over here!
THE GIRLIEST KID EVER: *luffs Dagonet*
TRISTAN: We got another one over here!
ARTHUR: Oh my God! Look how thin she is! They’ve been starving her to death!
GUINEVEIRA [rasping]: No, just . . . small-boned . . .
ARTHUR: *lifts Guineveira into his arms*
GUINEVEIRA: *swoons*
ARTHUR: We need water!
GUINEVEIRA: Hey baby, did you catch that swoon? I can do it again.

© 2004 Cleolinda Jones. All rights reserved.

#278 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2004, 09:57 PM:

In a blatant attempt at being fair and balanced, Scott just put up the drinking game for the Democratic Convention. Same site as the one for the Republicans, just a later post.

#279 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 01:31 AM:

Those with a weakness for the psycho-ceramic may want to check out this album.

The Ark of the Covenant, more accurately The ARC, was powered by two Leyden Jars; static-electric capacitors. Notice in this Encarta photo the large "U" shaped conductor to the left which carries the charge: on either end of the metal covered box were known as the "cherubim". A "Smoke Screen" was then generated by an incense burner (Exodus 25, 30, 37, 38, 39) and the entire unit would have functioned as a portable television into which the Lord would have broadcast his voice and holographic image. It generated a field with a dangerously high charge and killed Aaron's sons; they were not properly trained, got too close and it discharged (Leviticus 10: 1-2). Exodus 34: 34,35 suggests that the radiation from the signal was so strong that Moses' face was slightly burned whenever he "communicated with the Lord".

To save you looking it up, Leviticus 10 says:

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Exodus 25:

And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

#280 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 07:08 AM:

Fun terminology that sounds dirty: 'thrusting in beds', 'cleavage', 'orogenous zones' (I am indebted to Keith Morrison for these). Just plain fun terminology: 'supercell', 't-rays', which just sounds so ... pulpy!, as does 'Minkowski space-time' and 'Hilbert space', 'shake', and 'barn'.

#281 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 10:19 AM:

Grand Theft America, the story of Katherine Harris and the Bush Campaign.

This site plays music - those at work with speakers on high should probably turn it wayyyy down. :-)

#282 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 11:34 AM:

[Foodie alert, passed along by columnist Leah Garchik in SFGate/The San Francisco Chronicle]

"Postcard from Scotland: Edinburgh's version of fusion cuisine, which accordion princess Big Lou says is served at a restaurant called the Reform, is haggis moussaka. (In related developments, the Winter Wine News reports that innovators in Fife, Scotland, have produced haggis-flavored potato chips, which they call a gourmet product.)"

Personal response: aargh! Isn't the growing prevalence of acid green (see Colors thread) bad enough?

#283 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Next up: shit-flavored shingles. The new craze; a must for the up-and-coming fashion slave.

#284 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 04:30 PM:

Faren Miller, I'd call that a load of, um, tripe.

#285 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2004, 06:12 PM:

Faren Miller:

When in Glasgow (though I do prefer Edinburgh, ya take yer Worldcons where ya kin get em):

Try the local specialty: deep-fried haggis and chips, washed down with Irn Bru, and deep-fried Mars Bars for dessert.

I've had Edinburgh fusion food. Some of the best Italian restaurants in Europe are in Edinburgh, as well as Indian (try the Turkey Tandoori at Lancers!). Techniques and ingredients and chefs circulate between these. For instance, venison curry, followed by superb icecream and fresh green figs in brandy.

Meanwhile, we await Teresa's reports on the trendy fusion restaurants of Brooklyn, blending (for instance) Middle Eastern and Afro-Cuban...

#286 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 01:20 AM:

At the risk of becoming tedious on the subject, I'll point out that after an exchange of messages here, I decided to write up Dead Sea Googling on my Livejournal, incorporating a few of the paragraphs from this thread. Several hackers have commented favorably.

#287 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 03:57 AM:

Tim Walters wrote,

"I would say that there's already enough confusion between dynamic range compression and data compression without overloading "compander" as well."

Er, um, something was firing in the neurons about calculations for signal to noise ratios or some such, involving adding up dBs of gain from sources that included the Effective Isotropic Radiated Power, transmit antenna size, receive antenna size, and Processing Gain, where processing gain involved encoding and digital signal processing or some such--so there was both dynamic range compression AND data compression mixed in, at the same time [QPSK encoding].

Again, the stuff is hazy, as I've not used it since the 1980s [there were also losses, a fraction of a dB here for signal strength loss though the cabling, etc.

I don't see what the big deal is regarding data compression versus bandwidth compression. The old stuff I seem to recall was a bit per 10 Hz for digital data over analog signals without gettig involved with digital signal processing. Add that in and forward error correction and convolutional coding and such and the bandwidth efficiency for carrying data went a lot higher.

Basically, modern telecom and data communications involves pushing on both the digital technology and the the analogy technology, and that's what the founder of Analog Devices had all that money he donated to MIT from the companies revenues from "mixed signal" integrated circuits, which convert between analog and digital, including setting the audio standards that contemporary Windows PC use for converting between analog and digital and audio signal processing.

The really amusing/disgusting stuff involves POTS [Plain Old Telephone Service] and telephony codecs.... backward compatible to literally Victorian era technology, of the signalling and audio to electrical signal to audio signals conversion technology invented and implemented in Boston by Alexander Graham Bell back in the 1800s, our friend the "voice-grade 3 kilohertz phone line. Telephony codecs had digital signal processing built into them, to try to stuff as much digital data through a voice-grade nomimal 3 kHz phone line as possible to do with a component that sells for the order of a dollar or two or less. The telephony codec digitizes at 13 bit and compresses the data down into 8 bit. By the marvels of modern digital signal processing it then squeezes data rates of up to 56 kilobits per second out of that garbagey noisy Victorian era standards copper cable. And there's DSL, which takes the crappy noise corrosionp-and water-susceptible copper cable and pushes even -more- data per second over it, up to 8 megabits per second, IIRC (not bidirectional at that rate). These involves more tricks that corseting someone down five sizes....

But my point is that the processing is going on in both the analog -and- digital domains. And for doing system design, there are always those decisions about what gets done on the analogy side versus what gets done on the digital side. The overall calculations and performance and such work a whole lot better is they get looked at "end to end." There's usually signal conditioning that gets done on the analog side, too (some of the stories I heard about logarithmic compressors, for example, to handle the bandwidth... when number of bits of accuracy and precision ["it's 14 bits of data converter and six bits of marketing for that 20 bit claim" said one engineer [that's not the direct quote, which I don't remember anymore for the numbers of bits] started increasing, that meant being able to handle greater bandwidth directly, without Interesting Math Tricks like shifting the "noise" around or I forget what else and without having to use logarithmic compressors. The conversion factor was 6 dB per bit, so a 16 bit data converter between analog and digital had a 96 dB bandwidth, and 24 bit supports 24 X 6 = 144 dB.

So what's the big deal, about multiplying or dividing by a factor of six for conversion?? The better the digital technology and conversion technologies gets, the less compression had to be done in the analog domain, and the less nonlinear effects and jaggies/staircasing/aliasing there is.

"I don't mind "mike" and "miking" as slang for "microphone" and "putting a microphone in front of something," but I do mind that they're usually spelled "mic" and "micing" in audio engineering articles."

It's shorter and takes up less space? And for those who are spelling impaired, "mic" short for "microphone" is more consistent with the spellling of microphone. ...

#288 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 05:18 AM:

Purely speculative (what else?) but as the "mic" abbreviation is very commonly found on equipment labels, I'm not surprised that it's used in print. "Mike" is the only reasonable pronunciation thereof.

Yours, &c.,
J. Acoustic Transducer

#289 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 08:12 AM:

I don't see what the big deal is regarding data compression versus bandwidth compression.

I think we're talking about totally different situations. My modest complaint is that the phrase "compressed audio" has two completely different meanings: (1) audio that has had its dynamic range reduced for practical or aesthetic reasons, and (2) audio that has been converted to a format (either lossy, like MP3, or lossless, like FLAC) that uses fewer bits than the original representation. The former is intended to change the sound; the latter strives to be as transparent as possible. In context the distinction is usually clear enough, but not so clear that I haven't had to read a sentence or two explaining the difference in every article about MP3s written for musicians.

Referring to the MP3 or FLAC codec as a "compander" would add to the confusion, since "compander" is used in audio engineering strictly for dynamic-range-manipulating devices (dbx noise reduction, mu-law, etc.)

I know squat about telecom, so I wasn't thinking about that at all.

Purely speculative (what else?) but as the "mic" abbreviation is very commonly found on equipment labels, I'm not surprised that it's used in print. "Mike" is the only reasonable pronunciation thereof.

I'm sure that's the origin, but despite having seen "mic" on the back of mixing boards several thousand times, I still trip over "micing" (or worse, "mic'ing"). My brain processes the C as soft at some level lower than comprehension, and I have to go back and read it slowly.

If someone referred to weight as "lbage", I could figure it out, but why should I have to, unless I'm reading Riddley Walker or Feersum Endjinn?

#290 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 11:42 AM:

I'm not responding the the interesting analog/digital discussion, having spent a couple of years in a web video startup with John Sokol --the man who invented the word "webcam" and was arguably the first to send video by internet. Instead:

Poetry world shocker!
A muckraking website aims to blow the lid off the cozy practices of contemporary poetry.

By Stephen Burt | July 18, 2004
The Boston Globe

DOES POETRY NEED muckrakers? The secretive operators of the website Foetry (, a self-described "American poetry watchdog," certainly think so. They promise, from behind a cloak of anonymity, to uncover scandals among the publishers of contemporary poetry, dishing dirt on "fraudulent `contests,"' as their homepage has it, "tracking the sycophants," "naming the names," and generally cleaning house.

The site has poets talking. Since its launch on April 1, Foetry has racked up almost 600 comments and questions, from the laudatory to the outraged, at one point receiving 1,000 page views in a single day -- quite a crowd for gossip about new verse. The site has prompted vitriol elsewhere in cyberspace, on various blogs and message boards: Poet and publisher Janet Holmes of Ahsahta Press in Boise calls it "repellent," California poet and blogger Eileen Tabios describes Foetry as "the dark side of the poetry world," while poet, critic, and publisher Kevin Walzer of WordTech Communications in Cincinnati complains that "these guys see conspiracies everywhere, and it's causing needless harm."

[Rest of article truncated, but worth reading, and offly parallel to some Making Light commentary]

#291 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 01:48 PM:

JvP wrote: ... having spent a couple of years in a web video startup with John Sokol --the man who invented the word "webcam" and was arguably the first to send video by internet.

You give Forest Gump a run for his money, JvP. :-)

Paula: "it's 14 bits of data converter and six bits of marketing for that 20 bit claim" said one engineer.

Reel Good Quote.

On another topic, you may choose to peruse this fine site, by Cleolinda Jones (of "— in 15 minutes" fame).

It's a multi-layered sendup of Victorian serializations. Very funny. I haven't finished reading it yet.

Favorite quote so far:

Honestly, Mr. Bennet, you can tell me that young readers enjoy this "Jenny Sunshine" nonsense, but I refuse to believe it. I am barely older than your readership myself, and I know that I nearly developed cavities after reading that one isssue of your magazine. Nevertheless, I will do what I must.
God help us all.

#292 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 08:01 PM:

Time Walters wrote,

"I think we're talking about totally different situations. My modest complaint is that the phrase "compressed audio" has two completely different meanings: (1) audio that has had its dynamic range reduced for practical or aesthetic reasons, and (2) audio that has been converted to a format (either lossy, like MP3, or lossless, like FLAC)

Sigh. They're both compressed digital data formats, which are digital audio data formats, one's lossy, the other isn't lossy. The intent with both of them is to reduce the -size- of the files, because the bigger the file, the more expense and effort is involved in storing it, copying it, distributing it, etc.

Formally, the process of recovering the original or as much of the original as possible when dealing with a lossy format, is called "reconstruction." I forget what the process of doing the conversion the other direction is....

"that uses fewer bits than the original representation. The former is intended to change the sound; the latter strives to be as transparent as possible. "

Sigh. The intent with both is to make file handling, storage, and distibution easier and less expensive. There are also data formats that have a very high degree of error correction support in them, and in fact there is much higher levels or error detection and correction and a much lower "bit error rate" on CD-ROM than on audio CD, it's something like [again, trying to remember data I knew once but haven't much used in years] 10 to the minus sixth for digital audio CD files, versus ten to the minus nine for CD-ROM data files. The actual amount of digital data written to an audio CD is higher for the same capacity disk than for a CD-ROM, because the CD-ROM is using a different encoding scheme which involved more redundancy and a lower "information rate."

MP3 files are more highly compressed, and one of the ways of increasing compression ratios, involved losing literally some of the data. E.g., most JPEG algorithms for picture compression are lossy--though IBM invented one twenty years ago that was lossless. Nobody really used it commercially except maybe IBM, becaus e third parties weren't interested in the licensing conditions that IBM wanted for using it, assuming they even knew it existed. The advantages of JPEG are that the file are a -lot- smaller than the original files, meaning that if you are on a dialup line the picture won't take an hour to load and/or crash your connection because it's too large. MP3 tosses data, to make the files smaller and get more music on the same device--especially, the memory cards used like CompactFlash, SD/MMC, Memory Stick, etc., used to be a lot more expensive for a lot lower capacity. So the smaller the files, the less expensive.

" In context the distinction is usually clear enough, but not so clear that I haven't had to read a sentence or two explaining the difference in every article about MP3s written for musicians.

Referring to the MP3 or FLAC codec as

Just what are you referring to here? Are your referring here to the bidirectional software operations which are two-sided, which do the conversion into MP3 or FLAC, on and the other side from MP3 or FLAC into something else, and just -what- formats? The digital audio format on audio CD? Analog audio wherein there is a microphone or microphones transducing sound into analog electrical signals, or a line or lines with analog signals, going into a hardware device which converts analog audio to digital MP3 or FLAC files on the signal acquisition side and conversion back into audio output or into line signals for feeding into a speaker or amplifier and speaker on the other side? Are you talking bidirections, or just the -reconstruction- as is what most of t/h/e m/o/r/o/n/s/ populace is doing? That's my biggest gripe, the use of the term "codec" to refer to something that is NOT bidirectional! [en]co[der]dec[oder] denotes, is defined, by being bidirectional, and supporting both encoding and decoding. A pure playback software module is NOT a "codec" of any form, except that a bunch of clueless ignoramus tech aliterates don't know the differences amoung simplex, half-duplex, and duplex, and don't care about them -- it's like claiming a one way street is a two-way street.

[simplex -- unidirectional. duplex -- like a street with one lane going in each direction. half-duplex -- a one lane street with traffic control making sure that at any given time, the traffic on the street is in the -same- direction -- that is, the "channel" is bidirectional, but traffic/data can flow on it only in one direction at a time. Simplex the channel is unidirectional only, for all time]

a "compander" would add to the confusion, since "compander" is used in audio engineering strictly for dynamic-range-manipulating devices (dbx noise reduction, mu-law, etc.)

Except for the fact that a lot of compression and expansion these days is done in the digital domain, for that dynamic range manipulation! That is, there is NO ACTUAL DIFFERENCE, because the way the frequency bandwidth is being messed around with, is in the time/digital domain, not in the frequency domain! It's digital audio processing, and what's being played around with, is digital/digitized data! So really, it's esentially the exact same thing! It's only in people's minds that there is a difference, the reality is that most audio equipment is doing digital signnal processing to do the audio processing, and it's being done in software, so it IS software compansion!

Dolby creates a certain format of compressed digital audio file, ulaw or alaw or whatever they are create -different- format encoded compress digital audio files.... they're still digital audio files, and created with digital signal processing techniques and operations, and having different processes to best reconstruct them.

Yes, there is still analog equipment out there, but the digital audio equipment is less expensive and more precise and repeatable generally. And the last I heard, it was beyond the abilty of people with "golden ears" to hear the difference between processing audio in the digital domain and processing in the frequency [analog] domain when there digital audio files have gone to 24 bits per channel.

#293 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2004, 10:21 PM:


Let's try this one more time. The overloading of the word "compression" has nothing to do with anything you just posted (including analog vs. digital--how did that get in there?). It has to do with the way the word is used in professional audio. If you ask an audio engineer to compress or compand something, the result will not have a lower data rate than the original. Instead, it will have a different sound. This usage long predates MP3, FLAC, etc., and is used whether the process is analog or digital.

The file on my hard drive called an "MP3 codec" allows my main application (Pro Tools) to encode and decode MP3s. When people talk about the Frauenhofer codec, they mean specifications for encoding and decoding. I don't see the problem here. It's far clearer to an audio person than referring to it as "compression" or "compansion."

#294 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 03:18 AM:

I think there are a lot more IEEE members than AES members out there, by a -very- large number. T

That is, audio engineers are a very tiny minority...

compander is purely and simple com[pressor][-ex]pander, see NIST definition below, for example, which is MECHANICAL, not even electronic!

[google abstracts]

" Instead of applying the compander non-linearity in the pixel domain of the raw input
image, and the inverse non-linearity on the decoded image ... by definition. ...


"... of each of these pollutants have been established and must be attained in each defined
air basin. ... Compander, A compound machine with an expander and compressor. ...

" "

"With no domain assumptions, [script d] and [script d sub delta] are unbounded. This may create algorithmic difficulty (or at a minimum inconvenience). Thus converting these metrics to bounded forms may sometimes be useful.

"The simplest way in general to effect a bound is to compose the metric with another function which acts as a range compander such that the combination still satisfies definition 1. One well known example of such a function that bounds any metric to [0, 1] is: ..."

"Closed-Cycle Air Refrigeration Technology: Economic Case Study

"6. Glossary"


"Com)pressor and Ex(pander) mounted on the same
shaft; part of the power requirements of the compressor is provided by expander and part from an electric motor, geared to the common shaft"


Glossary of

"Networks including a non-linear device for decreasing the amplitude range of the signal applied to the device, and a nonlinear device connected to receive the wave having the decreased amplitude range for increasing or restoring the amplitude range of the signal, and long line transmission lines in combination with such networks.

(2) Note. This subclass does not... Neither does this subclass include the combination of a limiter or clipper and an amplifier which cuts off the higher amplitudes and then amplifies the remaining portion of the wave energy so that the output wave does not contain any variations in wave form above a certain amplitude level, and is not therefore a function of the input wave energy.

(3) Note. In the compressor portion of the compander, the input waves of smaller amplitudes may be increased in amplitude while the input waves of larger amplitude may be increased by a smaller ratio or decreased. All amplitudes of the wave may be decreased, the larger amplitudes being decreased to a smaller extent. The expander portion may operate in a similar manner except to increase the amplitude range."

Translation, the reconstructed signals do NOT have to have a change in "sound," note the term "restoration of the [original] [compressed] signal," for example, above. Amplitude corresponds to signal intensity, not frequency of the signal--but again, note that there is signal reconstruction after the processed signal gets received.

"178 (Telegraphy ) Subclass 45 , for loaded lines in combination with a compander.

"327 (Miscellaneous Active Electrical Nonlinear Devices, Circuits, and Systems ) Subclass 309 + for a miscellaneous limiter with an amplifying circuit.

"330 (Amplifiers ) Subclass 96 , 123 and 129+ for amplitude range compressors or expanders of the amplifier type where the input signal is applied to a control grid of an amplifier tube whose bias is controlled in accordance with the signal intensity to produce the necessary compression or expansion, and wherein the output signal is abstracted from the plate of the amplifier tube. Subclasses 143 and 144+ for compressors or expanders where a variable impedance element is included in the signal path and the variable impedance is controlled in accordance with the signal intensity. The combination of an amplitude compressor and expander (i.e., a compander) one or both being of the amplifier type is classified in this class, (333) subclass 14. However, where such combinations involve correction only of an amplifier condition and not a condition of the transmission line, classification is with amplifiers Class 330. Combinations of an amplifier and a limiter where the output more substantially conforms to the input wave form are classified in Class 330. See Class 250, subclass 27, above."

"On the other hand, Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation (ADPCM) is a well defined, precise standard algorithm. It is a speech compression method which can be used to compress speech buffers before they are transmitted and decompress them after they are received. ... With voice signals the actual signals themselves tend to remain relatively low. As such, the ADPCM compander provides higher resolution to the quantisation intervals near this level. When the current level changes, the step size used also changes, the ADPCM adapts to the changing conditions [30]."

"DS0-DS3 - Digital Signal Services Available
over T1, T2, and T3 Signaling Systems

"D2 Channel Banks - 1969..."

"D2 channel banks are capable of converting 96 channel banks into four independent 24-channel DS-1 Signals. They use a single coder and compander for all 96 channels. The sampling is done in two stages. The 96 individual channels are organized into eight groups of 12 channels. Each channel in a group is sampled sequentially. The samples from each group are interleaved to form a 96 channel signal. After forming the 96 channel signal, four DS-1 signals are created. Each DS-1 signal will contain samples from two of the original groups.

"D2 channel banks also introduced the Superframe Format. This groups 12 DS-1 frames to provide a better signal to noise ratio. Only frames 6 and 12 in the Superframe are used for signaling information, allowing the remaining 10 frames to transmit 8 bits per channel...."

#295 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 05:09 AM:

Oh dear. I'm hoping I won't need to know any of this for some while to come, if ever. If, as Sherlock Holmes thought, there is a limit on what one can store in one's brain, this will definitely overload mine.

OTOH, that's why we have address books, computer storage for news articles and photos, etc. So, if I do need to expatiate on the subject soon (synchronicity may bring it up), it'll be right here
Cheerybye all :)

#296 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 09:07 AM:

Ummm...Paula, as far as a poor mech E can tell, you and Tim were discussing the signal processing usages of "compander." Why are you bringing in the (AFAIK) unrelated mechanical usage? The fact that two disciplines have devised the same neologism to replace the same two words seems like it might be a coincidence. If you agree that it is a coincidence, then would you argue that because there are only 120,000 ASME members but 360,000 IEEE members, the IEEE usage "wins?"

#297 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 01:12 PM:

I think there are a lot more IEEE members than AES members out there, by a -very- large number.

If I were arguing for some kind of normative definition to apply to everyone, you might have a point. Instead, I'm just pointing out that audio engineers have a reason to prefer "encoding" to "compression." and "codec" to "compander." I've never denied that "compander" is accurate.

Glossary of telecommunications terms.... Translation, the reconstructed signals do NOT have to have a change in "sound,"

I'm not talking about telecom, mechanical engineering, or haberdashery. I'm talking about audio engineering. Compression is used in recording studios to change sound every day--to make drums sound bigger, to even out vocal lines, to make the kick drum audible over the bass guitar. When an audio engineer creates an MP3 from his beautifully compressed 24-bit 96kHz master, he's going to think of that process as "conversion" or "encoding", not "compression." That doesn't make him a "/m/o/r/o/n."

If that doesn't cut any ice with you, fine. I'm done.

#298 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 06:19 PM:

Andy Perrin ::: July 24, 2004, 01:48 PM:


"JvP wrote: ... having spent a couple of years in a web video startup with John Sokol --the man who invented the word "webcam" and was arguably the first to send video by internet."

You give Forest Gump a run for his money, JvP:-)

If you mean that I am stupid, run fast, and meet many amazingly interesting people -- hey, I object. I can't run very fast at all.

David Brin blogged on about casting for the Beatles' Lord of the Rings (which we've discssed on this or a related thread recently). He and slashdot were remarkably flamed for this. Strange. I'm not sure why.

He and I, plus Greg Bear, Harry Harrison, Harry Turtledove, Kevin J. Anderson, many other fine authors, Jude Law, Keanu, and about 90,000 (really) others jammed the San Diego Convention center this weekend for International Comic-Con. Pretty good coverage by Western newspapers, such as L.A. Times and Arizona Central. I might recount some highlights if anyone asks. And, for the first time, someone introduced to me looked at my nametag and said "Oh, I know you from Making Light!"

#299 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 08:41 PM:

List of Jewish Superheroes

So don't comment if you don't feel like it. I understand. But can't you at least eat a little more spinach?

#300 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 09:28 PM:

JvP: If you mean that I am stupid, run fast, and meet many amazingly interesting people -- hey, I object. I can't run very fast at all.

No stupidity involved, JvP. I was referring to your amazing luck in meeting celebrities. I wouldn't know about the running part.

#301 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:27 AM:

My point is that audio engineers don't own the terms compander and codec, they're a particular niche, and EEs are a larger percentage of the world regarding technical types and terminology (also, I suspect that a higher percentage of audio engineers are in AES than the percentage of telecom/networking/digital design/analog design/etc. engineers are in IEEE... only a small percentage of the people I've known who were eligible for IEEE joined. I've never been a member, nor has my sister, for example, even though we both doing engineering covered by IEEE societies. )

It bugs me to see the term "codec" applied to plugs for Windows Media Player, etc., that are pure simplex expansion decoding routines, because it perverts and limits the meaning of the term "codec" into simplex sofware decompression facilties, instead of the more general "anything which is a bidirections encoding-decoding capability." Compression and expansion refer only to encoding and decoding which involve copression and expansion, and not to e.g. tarring and untarring files, which doesn't do compression and expansion, just transcoding.... transcoding doesn't have to involve -any- copression or expansion.

It just irks me to see that level of inaccuracy, imprecision, and -misleadingness- when the journalism community mindless and arrogantly decreed that a "codec" was a "compressor-decompressor" when the definition since sometime in the 1800s of "codec" was [en]cod[er-]dec[oder].

It literally is an issue of Improper and Misapplied Semantics to me, that confuses the topic of discussion because the terms have had their consistent meanings quite literally, debased [as in there is a base of definition historically, that the Idiot Journalists were totally averse to bothing to know anything about or care that the term already had a specific meaning].


On a totally different topic, I've seen a painted lady butterfly in my yard (may or may not be the same butterfly] on three different days, and I've seen a yellow swallowtail fly around about 15 feet off the ground in my yard, also. I think I got videotape footage of the painted lady, but the swallowtail has evaded me.

#302 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:48 AM:

About that whole thing...

Contemporary poets have no acquaintance with Sturgeon's Law.

Right now, it's not just that the poetry scene has so little money that might flow anywhere in the first place, let alone toward the author. It's that the real prize isn't actually publication, but rather is the tenured job a publication credit might get them. Their ability to get a day job in academia is contingent on publication in precisely those venues too prestigious to dirty their hands with money.

Until I escaped from academia (quite recently), I was aiming to teach literature and creative writing at the college level. On the Modern Laguage Association's online job list, entry level professor gigs with a creative writing focus typically required, as a minimum, 2 published books. Most presses that publish poetry will only consider a first book if it's submitted with a $25 reading fee for a first book competition, and all the MFA prorgram graduates (and the few PhD-survivors like myself who stubbornly keep writing poetry while dissertating) are desperate to get those publication credits so they can start bowling for tenure. A typical poet who intends to find a professorial position and, to that end, seeks to publish a first book through the first-book competitions, shells out at least $200/month on reading fees. (And, of course, most poets are not wealthy people.) Even extraordinarily successful new poets like Matthew Zapruder, quoted in the article cited above, typically submit their manuscripts to more than fifty first book competitions before achieving book publication. That's just the way the game is played these days.'s posting of unverified accusations is ethically dubious, and I'm not defending it. That said, there's a reason some poets bother to read and post there. People who are shelling out $200 a month for a chance to be read and considered on their merits want to know that the judge has not cashed the press's honorarium check (paid for out of the reading fees) with the express purpose of granting publication, a cash prize, and a ticket in the tenure lottery to his/her own pre-selected longtime student. One wants to come by one's rejection letter honestly.

My own pet peeve about competition rejection letters is the standard sentence implying that one ought to be overjoyed at having lost. Nearly all of the form rejection letters in my poetry filing cabinet say things like: "We received 1085 entries, and sent a dozen finalists on to our judge, [Big Name Poet]. You will be delighted to learn that [New Poet Who Isn't You] has been awarded our [Ostensibly Prestigious Prize] for his volume, [Cryptic Title]." To which I would usually respond by shaking my rejection letter as if it were the person who had written it, saying, "No, I am not delighted to learn that. Bully for him, and I'm sure the book will be very fine, but no, no delight about it for little me." Why it is that publishers of poetry feel it necessary to gloat to people who have forked over $25 in trade for a rejection letter, I do not know.

It's very easy to say that there are more people who want to publish their poetry than there are people who want to pay to read somebody else's, but once I started sending my manuscript around in the manner appropriate to my place in the poetry game, my poetry-buying budget was completely displaced by my reading-fee budget. (And yes, to my husband's dismay, I had been spending about $200/month on buying poetry, up until it was time to go bowling for tenure.)

Such a relief to be out of that game and writing, just writing.

#303 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:51 AM:

I tend to agree with Paula Lieberman on the codec concern, from my days learning Communications Theory from Solomon Golomb, hanging out with Claude Shannon, and handling spacecraft transmissions from the Uranus-bound Voyager spacecraft.

On a totally different topic, I missed the exit for Tommy Burgers while entering Orange County, and wandered until my starving wife spotted Ali Baba Restaurant in Anaheim. It turned out to be the first Persian restaurant in greater Los Angeles, and we had astonishingly good Kashkeh Bademjan (tender baby eggplant blended with seasonings and the milk culture kashk, served warm), and Chelow Khoresht Fesenjune (puree of walnut in rich pomegranate sauteed with chicken), all home-made (as was the Doogh). The daughter of the cook gave us her critiques of Iran-related films, 'Days of Sand and Fog' being highly overrated in her opinion. Nice postscript to Comic-Con.

My magicdragon2 LiveJournal blog is currently in temporary suspension, over an alleged copyright violation by an anonymous poster. Live and learn.

#304 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:17 AM: perverts and limits the meaning of the term...

Paula, what's wrong with letting 'codec' have different meanings in different contexts? You can't strip a word by jamming in the wrong definition. Nor must a word remain true to its roots. Words can even have contradictory definitions, like peruse:

Main Entry: pe·ruse
1 a : to examine or consider with attention and in detail : STUDY b : to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner

(Merriam-Webster Online)

I've been scratching my head over that one all week.

#305 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 03:20 AM:

FWIW: aren't the same Windows "codecs" used to play/decode video and audio also used to record/encode it? The PCM, MP3, and MPEG codecs that allow Windows Media Player to decode multimedia are also used to let Sound Recorder and other applications record soundfiles and write the information to WAV, MP3, and MPEG formats.

#306 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 07:15 AM:

Paula Lieberman wrote:

> Sigh. They're both compressed digital data formats...

> Sigh. The intent with both is...

That was a very interesting and informative post, but it would have been a whole lot nicer to read without those "sigh"s.

#307 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 10:58 AM:

JVP wrote:
My magicdragon2 LiveJournal blog is currently in temporary suspension, over an alleged copyright violation by an anonymous poster. Live and learn.

I've pretty much given up on my livejournal, for various and sundry reasons...

#308 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 11:05 AM:

Nor must a word remain true to its roots.

Very true. My favorite example is the word 'template', which used to be 'templet', a small temple (influenced by 'plate'). (Not quite as bizarre as it sounds; the "temple" in question was a guiding doohickey in a loom.)

Then there's the old word 'grom' ("groom"), which meant pretty much what it means as a noun today, a guy who takes care of horses (maybe that 'today' goes back a century; forgive me if I'm old). Since wine to a wineseller is like a horse to a horsetrader, only smaller, a wine merchant's servant got tagged with 'gromet', a little groom. This was influenced by 'gourmand', meaning a lover of fine food, and became our modern (again?) word 'gourmet'.

I wrote about this a couple of decades ago in a LOC to one of Patrick's fanzines;* my point was about the fannish word GAFIA (Get Away From It All), and its derived verb 'gafiate', which had completely reversed its original meaning, which was to get away from the mundane world by going to conventions! Quite the opposite now, of course.

*Not sure whether it was Epater or Flashpoint. It was the last issue of whichever one it was.

#309 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 11:47 AM:


And now "gourmet" is a null-content buzzword in the marketing of supermarket food, as in: "Gourmet Organic Squid Icecream" and the like. That devalues the term to oblivion. CMG suggests Gourmet Colors for your wallpaper, with throw-pillows in Decorator Colors.

Vaguely related to Gromet is "Rivet" -- which OED traces to a doubtful 1400 A.D. Morte Arthur. A French Academy of Engineering study catalogged (say) 28 basic Machines, of which Da Vinci invented or drew 27, missing only the rivet.

Thank you for clarifying GAFIA (Get Away From It All), and its derived verb 'gafiate.'" As a 2nd generation Science Fiction Professional (and my son 3rd generation), I've been confused about this. Folks have said "I didn't see you at the last Worldcon" and I reply that I've been gafiating, for which I was never corrected.

OTOH, I spoke with Harry Harrison this weekend, and he insisted that I'd been at his New Year's Eve penthouse party at Brighton, where he also claimed William Gibson crashed the party but I'd been invited. True, my wife and I have been at private parties of his, but I missed Brighton.

In response to a series of emails from controversial New Zealand Physics Phiilosopher Peter Lynds, I just emailed him a reference to John Cramer and the late Charles Sheffield's paper on branching Alternate Pasts as well as alternate futures, which paper came from a Con green room conversation in which I (unusually) mostly listened. Gafiation is Relative.

LiveJournal Abuse folks email you a warning before suspending your blog. They autoresponded then actually responded to my email about my having been out of time without internet access during process, and asked me to email a request for a specific time period of temporary suspension revocation to remove the allegedly offending posting, but warned that their response to that might not be timely. Hmmmm...

I've been reading the literature of "MD": Math Learning Disorder, sparked by my teaching experience and some interesting comments from y'all on Making Light. Some counterintuitive (to me) results on MD are known. Others are exactly what I've observed first-hand.

Warning: math ahead.

I think I'll touch up my current draft of "Semiprime Triangular Numbers" now. Triangular Numbers are T(n) = n(n+1)/2 and Semiprimes are products of exactly two (not necessarily distinct) primes. I've been investigating the numbers that are both of the above, such as:

n T(n) = p x q
___ ___________

3 6 = 2 x 3
4 10 = 2 x 5
5 15 = 3 x 5
6 21 = 3 x 7
10 55 = 5 x 11
13 91 = 7 x 13
22 253 = 11 x 23
37 703 = 19 x 37
46 1081 = 23 x 47
58 1711 = 29 x 59
61 1891 = 31 x 61
1453 1056331 = 727 x 1453

I'm still trying to prove that there are an infinite number of these, with always after n=10 having "n" be double a prime or n being of the form 4K+1 for positive integer K. The sum of the reciprocals of Trinagular Semiprimes:

1/6 + 1/10 + 1/15 + 1/21 + 1/55 + 1/91 + 1/253 + 1/703 + 1/1081 + 1/1711 + 1/1891 + 1/2701 + 1/3403 + 1/5671 + 1/12403 + 1/13861 + 1/15931 + 1/8721 + 1/25651 + 1/38503 + 1/49141 + 1/60031 + 1/64261 + 1/73153 + 1/108811 + 1/114481 + 1/126253 + 1/158203 + 1/171991 + 1/188191 = 0.418820474

The series is converging towards some constant

#310 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Andy said: Nor must a word remain true to its roots.

My least favorite example of this phenomenon occurs when a word becomes tainted by a homophone or a near-homophone. 'Niggardly' seems to be suffering this fate. Will 'homophone' be next?

#311 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:49 PM:

Hey, I got yer homophone right here!

Motorola with Verizon service.

Seriously, I don't think so. 'Homophone' is rarely used outside the language-obsessed community; 'homograph' is hardly used except by linguists. Unfortunately the stupid word 'homonym' is used in schools, but I've ranted about that elsewhere.

When I finally write my long-threatened book, I will use the terms 'look-alike' and 'sound-alike'. It's more important that the readers be clear on the concepts than come up with the right Greek root.

#312 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:37 PM:

"Paula, what's wrong with letting 'codec' have different meanings in different contexts? You can't strip a word by jamming in the wrong definition. Nor must a word remain true to its roots. Words can even have contradictory definitions, like peruse:"

The problem is that when reading articles in e.g. EE Times, the writer uses the term "code" and it's impossible to figure out reading the article, if the writer meant

a) software-only expansion-only feature,
b) hardward-and-software expansion-only capability
c) bidirectional compressor/expander software feature,
d) bidirectional hardware-and-software compressor/expander capability,
e) software-only feature which does other types of decoding than just expansion of selected data formats,
f) hardware-and-software feature which does other types of decoding than just expansion of selected data formats,
g) software-only feature which does other types of encoding/decoding than just expansion of selected data formats,
h) hardware-and-software feature which does other types of encoding/decoding than just expansion of selected data formats.

I have actually -had- that exact problem, when I was doing data converter market research, I couldn't tell which of the above the article was discussing, talking about a product. The writer obviously felt that saying the product was "a codec" was necessary and sufficient information--it was not. And that's not the only occasion that confusion reigned in that fashion for me with the term "codec" used.

As for personal computers.... the AC97 or whatever it was spec that Microsoft has for audio was developed with/by Analog Devices. Analog Devices makes hardware analog to digital and digital to analog data converters, and products that include tthat functionality. It makes telephony codecs, wwhich the are billions of in the world--every pphone line that's analog and terminates at a digital switch terminates at a telephony codec -- the things the telephony codec is doing include following:

1. converting the analog signal on the 3 kHz voice line to 8 kilobit per second digital data samples, at 13 bits per sample

2. Compressing the 13 bits sample down into 8 bits

3. Sending the data stream forward into the switch for the switch to deal with.

If I knew where and what the encoding was that converts the dialing information into information about call destination and such, I've forgotten it. The switch has the responsibility for making the connections with the recipeint/call terminus

4. heading in the other direction, the codec receives a stream of digital data intended for delivery from the switch via the codec and analog phone line the codec's interfaced to [gotta throw in the word "interface"...] to whatever device(s) is/are at the other end of the phone line.

5. The codec takes each 8 bit data packet and expands it out to 13 bits

6. The codec then converts that into the next piece of analog signal to send over the phone line....

Part of the coding that the codec is doing is the data conversion between analog and digital heading from line to switch, and another piece is the data conversion between digital and analog heading from switch to out the phone line.

The key term in "telephony codec" is "telephony" which denotes that the device is doing data conversion/coding from analog to digital signal, encoding at 13 bits, compressing to 8 bits, and doing the reverse procedures for full bidirectionality. The devices comply with formal telecommunications specifications for data conversion, quantization, signal analysis, signal reconstructon, etc.


The digression about telephony codec's purpose was to describe what is essentially a rather stupid [in the sense of "intelligent" versus "stupid" protocols where the "stupid" protocols aren't "adaptive" and don't have all sorts of options in them and programmability and such], dedicated. pedestrian device that's generally known as a "codec" and the bottom of the barrel as regards device sophistication goes.

Analog Devices and its competitors make devices that are a lot more complicated, and have on-board processing/programmability, than telephony codecs. The audio codecs that have full implementations of AC97 do data conversion from analog line input audio signals into Microsoft digital audio data formats, and are programmable to be able to work with new formats that come out--e.g., .wma audio files weren't around back when AC97 was formalized, but the codecs have a digital side in them that's programmablecan deal with the .wma format nonetheless. All that stuff is "transparent" to the people who don't have to do the programming.

The "audio codecs" that comply with AC97 are bidirectional--they convert audio line input to digital audio, and take digital audio and convert it to signals to send to speakers, amplifiers, analog recording equipment, etc.

There are also unidirectional audio data converters, "analog to digital converors" (ADCs or A/Ds), and "digital to analog converters (D/As or DACs.) The same is true for video handling. And it gets more noticeable in video--computer analog video output going to a tube display monitor starts off as digital data and gets converted inside the computer to analog video display signals. The hardware that does that today, generally has two parts -- the hardware that converts digital to analog, and some todayd-quite-impressive digital processing features and functionality, the chips gets called a "graphics processor" or "video processor" which combines both sophisticated digital processing for things like cursor handling, and data conversion. The graphics processor is where games designer focus on having polygons handled--that's why the graphics cards can much such a difference in performance, because the graphics processor is doing the graphics/video handling, not the main processor in the computer (x86 for Windows, PPC for Macintosh).

If you want to create digital video files out of your old analog VHS or 8 mm videotapes, though, you need a specially equipped computer which has analog-to-digital conversion built-in, or a graphics card which has the A/D conversion on it. The ones that say you can do "video capture" or "video editing" with analog camcorders, have the A/D capability. The others don't. Doing digital video editing doesn NOT mean the product supports "capture from analog." A DV camcorder, such as my increasingly old JVC, records directly in digital video format, and has a digital data output to computer/input from computer capability.

[wonderful, not, I am off on something of a rathole here, about "video" is a nithing term, because the context doesn't tell you -what- type of "video" is being discussed, and there are dozens of different formats, with variable outputs. That 25 year old TV set is NTSC in the USA, and the NTSC output from an NSTC camcorder or VCR will play back on the TV set provided you have the right cables and connectors. That nice big new HDTV panel can take in NTSC and HDTV, but HDTV consumer camcorders and such aren't common items--presumable HDTV is a digital data format in the USA.]

Anyway, the condensed point is that you can't be SURE unless you can get a look at the specs and know what you're looking at, if you have output-only analog signal capability, or analog output AND analog input for audio and video on your computer system.

If your computer lets you plug a microphone in or other analog audio line into the computer and create digital audio from it, then you have either an audio codec, or perhaps a separate audio A/D in your computer. You probably have at least an audio D/A in your computer -- if you have a rack mount industrial computer, you might not even have the D/A in your machine, however!

The AC97 spec does two channels of audio -- if you want to do serious audio production, you're almost certainly going to need something -external- that is multichannel for audio capture, two channels generally are not sufficient--if you have e.g. a microphone/input for each performer and each input, that adds up to more than two if you have more than one instrument and more than one performer. Plus, the inside of a computer is not a friendly environment for doing high quality audio digitizing, the digital circuitry emits noise at frequencies that interfere with doing really high quality audio digitizing and processing.

#313 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Nor must a word remain true to its roots.

I wouldn't consider a term taking on a more specific meaning to be false to its roots. Most people use "solitaire" to refer to a specific game (Klondike) rather than the general class of solo games. But Klondike is a solitaire game, after all.

I don't see any evidence that "codec" is going that direction, though. Just because the "MP3 codec" is both a codec and a compander doesn't mean that those who call it a codec think all codecs are companders, any more than someone who calls Pride And Prejudice a book thinks that all books are novels.

Paula, if you can produce an example of some "idiot journalist" explicitly defining a codec as requiring compansion, I'll have some sympathy for your irritation. If it's just someone saying "codec" when he or she could have said "compander," I don't see the problem. A compander is a codec.

I suspect that a higher percentage of audio engineers are in AES than the percentage of telecom/networking/digital design/analog design/etc. engineers are in IEEE...

"Audio engineer" is itself an overloaded term--it can mean the people who design audio equipment, or the people who use it to record stuff. The latter aren't really engineers at all--they're craftsmen, really, down to the apprenticeship system--but that's what they're called. (Steve Albini is on a quixotic crusade to change this--he insists that his credit be "recorded by"--but for now, "engineer" is the accepted term.) I don't know what percentage of the first class are AES members, but I don't see any reason to suppose that it's higher than IEEE. In the second class, virtually none are AES members.

(I know, I promised I was done. Sorry.)

#314 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:49 PM:

Simulpost... I think I understand your complaint better now. Obviously, there are situations where maximum specificity is called for.

#315 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 03:35 PM:

Xopher: Seriously, I don't think so. 'Homophone' is rarely used...

Seriously, I don't think so either. I was attempting a self-referential joke. Since I used the word 'homophone' to describe the problem, I thought it would be amusing to suggest that it might meet the fate it metes to others...

Tim quoting me quoting myself: Nor must a word remain true to its roots.

I don't have a problem with the addition of more specific meanings to a word. It's when the word gets contradictory definitions that I start to worry.

#316 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Tim, here's a consequence of what I meant:

"> Canopus software DV CODEC (Playback only)
This free software CODEC will allow machines without DVRexRTPro, DVStorm, DVRaptorRT, DVRaptor, EZDV, or RexFX cards to play Canopus DV CODEC AVI files. Playback performance depends on CPU speed."

"> Free Utilities
Various small free utility downloads including our playback-only Canopus DV CODEC, and profile test applications which check your existing system's compaibility with our DVrex, DVRaptor and EZDV digital video non-linear editing packages."

Note that "our playback-only Canopus DV CODEC." Journalists started doing that sort of thing years ago, and other people copied them, including in this case, a product manufacturer....

Canopus' product line includes software transcoding systems converting from one digital video format to another, hardware/software systems that do conversion between analog and digital, and digital and analod, video editing products, etc.

DV is the digital video format used in DV camcorders, based on MPEG-2. AVI is format which Microsoft developed originally for encoding digital video and digital audio for playback on Windows systems. The software I have which "captures" DV onto hard drive, creates .avi files. Those can be played back directly on the computer, or converted over to any of .mov, .asf, .wmv, .fli, etc., and those formats can be converted provided one has the software "transcoding" capability, to one another, since they are all data formats and are file formats for files stored on hard drives, etc.

Canopus'a "DV playback-only codecs" are -purely- unidirectional. They support playing back Canopus' apparently proprietary Canopus DV format
on on the computer, as opposed to having a Canopus product that will do the playback--and perhaps also encode content into Canopus DV.

But anyway, it is NOT a "codec" given that it is playback-only....

Another oddity, which is something however that is irrelevant to using a personal computer and anyone not involved in internal electronic guts design of satellite TV receivers, is that that business refers to the conversion of satellite signals into signals that feed into a TV refer to is as "encoding," not "decoding" -- they're referring to the encoding into NTSC or HDTV or such signals, as opposed to focusing on "decoding" the satellite downlink signal.

Again, that is something that stays inside that industry, because it's inside an essentially sealed signal reception box. What the subscriber sees it the antenna, the cabling, the satellite TV reception box, and the cables out of it to the TV sets(s). All issue of "encoding" or "decoding" are transparent to them, unless something breaks, whereupon they're supposed to pick up the phone and call customer service, not out out on the Internet looking for "playback-only" "codecs."

#317 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 10:12 PM:

I know this topic trailed off earlier in this thread, but since this is still an open thread: for a list of Brooklyn-specific songs you can look at the track listing of a spiffy CD my husband (then boyfriend) made for us when we moved to Brooklyn a couple of years ago.

For the person who was talking about tattooed knitters, here's a website. (It's a swell knitblog, too)

#318 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 11:32 PM:

This is unacceptable. I think what we have here is a coming attraction for November.

MIAMI, July 27 - Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizen's group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

Also, "Seth Kaplan, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade elections division, said on Tuesday that the office had put in place a daily backup procedure so that computer crashes would not wipe out audit records in the future."

In other words, someone initially designed an electronic voting system without a backup! Do these people use computers?

#319 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 01:03 AM:

Completely changing the subject - I'm quite fascinated by the appearance of a paid ad on Electrolite and Making Light for a book published by PublishAmerica. Talk about getting your market research almost but not *quite* right...

#320 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 01:12 AM:

Julia, I thought the "Sci-Fi Genre Bender" bit was a scream, too. You think her name is really Mooberry?

#321 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 01:14 AM:

"Do these people use computers?"

Define "use."

#322 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 01:34 AM:

Define "use."

'To use a computer' - To put into a computer such data as one hopes to reliably retrieve at future dates (starting from the time of input) in the course of one's everyday life.

#323 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 02:03 AM:

No. That is to -operate- a computer. -Using- a computer is to achieve an end with the machine as an instrument. Virus dweebs operate computers (even the least competent script kiddy does that), but they use them in an attempt to mung other people's systems. Is the meaning clear now?

#324 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 02:16 AM:

I thought you were asking me what I meant by 'to use' in that particular sentence.

Did I step on a pet peeve?

#325 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 03:07 AM:


If I may, I think what Mike is asking back to you is: "perhaps that non-backup was a feature, not a bug."

People who write code so that election machines can steal elections untraceably are *using* computers, even in the sense you mean; they just have different goals.

#326 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 10:33 AM:

Ah. Thanks Stefanie. I'm relieved that I don't have to scrape peeve off my sandals.

It's possible lack of backup was intended as a feature, but I think it's more likely to be incompetence. Else, why let it come to people's attention now?

#327 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Overheard on NPR Radio Times just now:

Andrew: blah, blah, blahblahblahblah—
Marty Moss-Coane (hurriedly): Okay. That's enough.
Andrew: blablablablah—
Marty Moss-Coane (more hurriedly): We're running out of time.
Andrew: blblblblah—
Marty Moss-Coane: I'm turning you off now, because you've called in under several other names already.

#328 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 12:26 PM:

I agree that "playback-only codec" is an error. It reminds me of "ATM machine," "the hoi polloi," or "with au jus," although the analogy isn't exact.

The problem in each case is that the semantic kernel is encrypted, so that the naive speaker treats the expression as a block.

But journalists for the EE Times should know better.

#329 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Tim Walters wrote:

"'ATM machine,' 'the hoi polloi,' or 'with au jus,' although the analogy isn't exact."

I'd like to add these examples where the "the semantic kernel is encrypted" by being in non-English:

"Mount Fujiyama," "The La Brea Tar Pits." Anyone know more of that type?

I also wonder about the Los Angeles street called "Los Feliz." I don't known Spanish, but doesn't this literally translate into "The Happies?"

#330 ::: Bruuuuuce ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 02:36 PM:

The Particle about Warner Brother et al claiming the "shiremail" domain is a hoot though I think I'd heard about it before. What I especially liked about this article was the historical documentation, espcially this letter from Groucho Marx to Warner Brothers refuting their issues with the title "A Night in Casablanca." In classic Groucho style, he notes that the company's use of "brothers" might have been an infringement, so leave him alone (We’ll fight him to the highest court! No pasty-faced legal adventurer is going to cause bad blood between the Warners and the Marxes. We are all brothers under the skin, and we’ll remain friends till the last reel of “A Night in Casablanca” goes tumbling over the spool.). (Yes, I'm sure many of the folks here have seen that letter. I never had; call me uncultured and poorly read. I'm still trying to get educated, and finding each day how much further I'm falling behind.)

#331 ::: Bruuuuuce ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 02:40 PM:

JVP: How about the eternal "pizza pie", or, IIRC, "Sahara desert"?

#332 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 05:52 PM:

The Nutbar Anti-Catholicism links are sort of wild. The IHS on the Communion wafer stands for "Isis, Horus, and Seb, the gods of ancient Egypt."

Now I did not know that. Why, I thought it was a stylized representation of a Latin attempt at the Hebrew name of Jesus, myself.

Nor did I know that Isis, Horus, and Seb were the gods of ancient Egypt. Gosh, I thought Amon-Ra was kind of big. Not to mention Osiris, Anubis, Hathor, Nut, Sekhmet, Thoth, Geb, Ma'at, and Bastet. (No dis intended on Isis and Horus. I think Seb may be a name of Setesh.)

They are right that telling people they'll go to hell if they don't do what you say is an effective method of social control - and one of which Jack Chick and his ilk are at least as guilty as the RCC. It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

#333 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 05:54 PM:

JvP: this mess is all your fault. You put in a big long thing with no spaces, for no obvious reason. And now Making Light comes out all fubar on my browser screen.

Please don't do it again. This thread will be screwed up forever now. Unless TNH decides to edit in some spaces or something.

#334 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 06:50 PM:

JvP: I second Xopher on the subject of big long things in posts. When you write a series on the blackboard, do you write out that many terms? You only need to write enough for us to see the pattern, and if we don't, we'll ask for clarification. My browser is acting screwy now too.

#335 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 07:43 PM:

wrt "ATM machine", etc.: there was once a claim that "the I Ching" was an example; I've also seen a counterclaim, or at least a claim that it's too uncertain to argue.

Most of the examples cited are recent, but "the hoi polloi" shows up in Iolanthe (1880); I wonder how much further back it goes?

Xopher -- is there a more specific word than "tautology" for this kind of linguistic malfeasance?

#336 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 08:03 PM:

Xopher, I certainly hope you weren't expecting facts from a Chick Tract.

I mean, aside from actual Bible quotes, Chick Tracts are as much fiction as the book I'm editing right now.

#337 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Spaces. Got lots. Still, it's better when y'all put them in yourselves. JVP, I'm looking at you meaningfully while I say that.

#338 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 11:44 PM:

My copy of _The Damned Engineers_ arrived today. Thanks to the folks who recommended it. It's a compelling read.

#339 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 12:59 AM:

Dear Teresa, Andy Perrin, and Xopher:

I'm honestly sorry. [blushes] [scrapes shoe-toe on floor] [hangs head]. That's what I get for cutting and pasting from Google used as a calculator. Makes me look impolite AND bad at Math etiquette.

The latter reminds me of 3 silly story ideas I had at Comic-Con:

(1) The Mafia tries to muscle into the Science Fiction game. They threaten their way into getting a bunch of stories and novels published, but can't win any Hugo or Nebula awards. They switch tack, and try to monopolize the Math Professor racket... My wife thinks there's only enough here for a Saturday Night Live sketch.

(2) I was explaining to an artist who loves player pianos how that figures into Hedy Lamarr coinventing and patenting spread-spectrum communications. My wife says: "If she's only married Arthur C. Clarke next, we'd have had portable satellite phone in the 1950s; would have ended the Cold War early."

(3) Iraq on TV, and I misread "1st Infantry Division" as "1st Infinity Division." I called out: "Sergeant Strange of the 1st Infinity Division." I was thinking "Sergeant Rock" or the like, but my wife took it as a Police thing. Sort of CSI meets Sliders. Dr.George Hockney suggest as title: "The World of Aleph-Null."

Back to blushing. Lurking now...

#340 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 01:22 AM:

For those interested (there's at least one): my new album is out. Follow the link for shameless hype and free samples.

#341 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 01:49 AM:

[Taking advantage of Open Thread to throw in "something completely different" related to publishing, and recent stories like the reporter(s)? who filed false stories (Jason Blair?)]

Re Norma Khouri / Bagain / Toliopoulos
Has there been much around in your local publishing scene about this story, broken over last weekend? ( Bestseller's lies exposed) It's about the falsity of a popular book telling the story of an 'honour killing' in Jordan. The paper has been filling a page or so every day since with follow-up stories, and the radio commentators have fallen on it as a gift, with several discussion points in it.
Other parts of the story include Pictures - Cracks in Khouri story, and Trust on the line, today's one FBI hunted Khouri over scams (someone is bound to make a joke about the name Bribie Island). The book was published here as 'Forbidden Love' - Australian cover. It looks like the USA version was 'Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan' (Amazon page).

As one of the Amazon reviewers said, it would be a bad result indeed if the fact that this particular book, apparently fiction told as truth, would be seen to justify some people saying that the whole subject was untrue, when I've seen a number of documentaries & reports on the acceptance of 'honour killings' in several countries, with examples. A woman from the Jordanian women's group to which she claimed to be sending the profits from the book, has similar worries.

Several people in the news have called the book a 'hoax'. It's not what I'd mean by that word, but perhaps the meaning has been moving around.

#342 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 02:11 AM:

Math Warning; equations ahead.

Then there are some Semiprime Triangular Numbers I've found in the past 2 days with this kind of pattern, where
T(n) = n(n+1)/2 = the nth Triangular Number:

T(T(639)+1) = T(204481) = 20906341921
= 102241 x 204481

You also get a Semiprime Triangular Numbers if, instead of 639 above, you use 159, 240, 264, 344, 375, 399, 495, or 560. And there are much bigger examples. Again, a semiprime is a whole number which is the product of two primes.

Some of these are even more nestedly weird. For instance, of the above examples, 560 = T(33)-1
so we can write:

T(T(T(33)-1)+1) = 12337298821 = 78541 x 157081

This all goes back to my computing T(T(T(n))) and the like on 2-3 Jan 2004 and starting a string of 30 math papers. And not writing any science fiction or fantasy, except the pastiche/homages on Making Light.

#343 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 02:30 AM:

Heading right back to an earlier digression by JvP about finding a Persian restaurant called Ali Baba ... it's probably a common name for places related to that area, but it rang internal bells. I suspect this isn't related, but I've always wanted to try their stuff. Alas, all the stores are in places where I get driven past & seldom can get the (male) drivers to stop: Ali Baba (32 stores in Australia and 3 in New Zealand)
( - links to )

#344 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 10:17 AM:

I loved the German language tube map in particles. Strangely evocative of Philip Dick's famous alternate world novel, _The Man at Elephant and Castle_.

#345 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 11:33 AM:

CHip: I'd call them bilingual redundancies rather than tautologies; 'tautology' tends to be a logic loop like "I'm glad I don't like onions, because if I liked them, I'd eat them, and I hate onions." I agree that we need a specific word for these. I don't know of one offhand.

I don't think 'the I Ching' is an example; as far as I know Chinese has no articles. Correct me, anyone who speaks Chinese?

Tina: heavens, no. Just pointing out some factual howlers that some might miss. And btw that same tract praises Martin Luther: the Lutheran church where I did my adolescent dabbling in Christianity had 'ihs' on the altar.

I remember a Jack Chick tract that claimed that the peace sign was an inverted broken cross - i.e. that everyone who was against the Vietnam War was "objectively pro-Satan." Does anyone know if these people are just conscienceless liars, or if they've simply got tumors in the part of the brain that distinguishes between fact and invention?

#346 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 12:36 PM:

I prefer the movie of the Philip K. Dick novel The Man in Kafka's Castle, but I agree with Teresa about alternate World War II. At the fine Comic-Con panel "What If? Looking at our world's alternate history", with S. M. Stirling, Harry Harrison, John Ringo, Steven Barnes, Steve Saffel, and Harry Turtledove (or, as Turtledove called it, "The Steve and Harry show, with one John"), the emphasis was on writerly craft. Should a novel have a prologue? How much research is too much?

Harry Harrison said that he was reading a novel that hinged on an alternate outcome to the reelection campaign of Jefferson Davis. He said "the Confederate Constitution mandated a single 6-year presidential term," and threw the book across the room. "If I know more than the author, why am I reading this?"

Math Warning.

By the way, he wrote, sipping his morning coffee after aliens stole his sleep:

T(T(800)+1) = 51328560601 = 160201 x 320401

This is the sum of 2 squares in two different ways:

21860^2 + 225501^2 and
49251^2 + 221140^2

That's no coincidence; I've proven a theorem that, after T(4)=10, every Semiprime Triangular number is either not the sum of 2 squares, or is the sum of 2 squares in two different ways.

#347 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 12:53 PM:

Francis Crick died, news just out now. He helped change our world, perhaps (in the long run) as much as Einstein. Facinating article in the latest "New Scientist," namely "Quantum Rebel, by Marcus Chown." It explains a clever experiment performed by Shariar Afshar that seems to disprove Niel's Bohr's "principle of complementarity" that a photon can be a wave or a particle but not both at once. It also disproves the Many Worlds theory (speaking of Alternate History). There are extensive quotes from John Cramer. "He used to believe that experiments could never distinguish between quantum interpretations" but Afshar has an interpretation of interpretation in the lab, and maybe kills the whole notion of a photon. "Einstein was right to doubt Bohr's complementarity... but was right for the wrong reason."

#348 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Xopher, I think that Chick & friends honestly, genuinely believe everything they say. To give them some modicum of credit, I believe they genuinely, honestly believe they have to tell you these things so you don't go to Hell, too; they're loonies, but they're well-meaning loonies.

#349 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Bilingual redundancies from Starbucks: café mocha, chai tea

#350 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Thanks Steve, I almost missed the London U-Bahn map. My favorite bit is the swap of Opel for Vauxhall. Trying to imagine an NYC equivalent, perhaps Zweiundvierzigte Strasse - Zeitsplatz. Thankfully, a very alternate universe.

#351 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 02:46 PM:

Dr. George Hockney, JPL expert on Quantum Computing (which is very "many worldsy") comments offline:

The Confederate Constitution mandated a single 6-year presidential term in *this* reality. That means there's a reality where Harry Harrison told the story of throwing the book across the room because the author didn't know the Confederate Constitution mandated 4-year presidential terms with no limits on a person succeeding herself.

Andy Perrin:

Good catch in Starbuck's. In a much earlier thread, there was reference to newbies saying "ISBN Number." I've also seen people write: "Social Security Number SSN#123-45-6789" and the like. I've also heard "ROM Memory."

I did just stop in at a local Starbucks, with a cup of law office coffee in hand, to get free sugar, free chocolate powder, free cinnamon, free nutmeg, free half-and-half, and a chance to read a leftover copy of The New York Times. TANSTAAFL? TOIAEIA!

#352 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 03:09 PM:



#353 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 03:21 PM:

I forgot example that usually most grates on me: "$XXX dollars". I see it enough that I wonder if this has become an official part of style sheets.

Xopher: my recollection from English class in 1966 was that "tautology" could also apply to simple repetition, e.g. "solar star"....

#354 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 03:29 PM:

CHip: I don't deny that it can. That's just not how it's been used IME. YMMV and all like that.

#355 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 04:16 PM:

Xopher, TANSTAAFL you probably already know: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

TOIAEIA took a little digging in Google Groups, after various search engines revealed nothing useful on the web. Think Of It As Evolution In Action.

#356 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 04:20 PM:



"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."

"Think Of It As Evolution In Action."
[Niven & Pournelle]

I also, as a mathophile, am irked by:
"X amount of..."

"X dollars" is okay, "X furlongs per fortnight squared" is okay. "X amount of...," with no unit, offends me also as a Physicist.

#357 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 04:26 PM:

Thanks. Couldn't remember TANSTAAFL, and had never seen TOIAEIA.

JvP, I expect you'd rather people went back to "so much" or "such and such an amount"? Can we say "X blivets of..." (i.e. a made-up "local variable" kind of unit) without offending Your Physicality (or should it be "Your Physicistness"?) unduly?

#358 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 05:17 PM:


You're welcome. For some reason, "X blivets of..." doesn't bother my Physickness. Can anyone find the great spoof by Donald Knuth in Mad Magazine, when he was in High School, of tables of units? Mixed Yiddish, Mad jargon, and cubic units of halvah.

Does Time Travel change the meaning of "Times Square?" David Langford's recent collection is entitled "He Do The Time Police in Voices," with a nod to T. S. Eliot. Or have I gotten the title wrong?

Math Warning.

T(T(839)+1) = 62086360771 = 176191 x 352381

T(T(1215)+1) = 272854727281 = 369361 x 738721

#359 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 06:54 PM:

Tina -- the numbers wouldn't be spelled out (inefficient, you know) but, well, Sudfähre, Schermerhornstrasse, Jägercollege, Königinsburg, Boerumplatz, Rockefellerzentrum (though its original name, Rockefellerstadt, might be better).

I should probably fix up the map I did some time ago of Pulp New York (with the zeppelin mooring sites, the Clark Savage Sr. Medical Center, the D. D. Harriman Intersolar Trade Complex, the Paul-Robida Wing of the Metropolitan, the Staten Island Hoverferries, and of course the Flatiron Building). Isn't time right now, and it's too late for the Worldcon Art Show. Maybe Glasgow.

#360 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 07:25 PM:

Mattel goes BDSM:

#361 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 07:40 PM:

John M. Ford:

Got to see that map! Belongs on book cover and website! Or in a mockumentary in the style of "L.A. Plays Itself..."

#362 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 07:47 PM:

John Ford wrote:

> I should probably fix up the map I did some time ago of Pulp New York (with the zeppelin mooring sites, the Clark Savage Sr. Medical Center, the D. D. Harriman Intersolar Trade Complex, the Paul-Robida Wing of the Metropolitan, the Staten Island Hoverferries, and of course the Flatiron Building).

You should, you know. Please.

#363 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 10:31 PM:

John Kerry is, right now, giving one hell of a speech! Any thoughts on it?

Math Warning:

T(T(1344)+1) = 408464728561 = 451921 x 903841

T(T(1415)+1) = 501823158931 = 500911 x 100821

#364 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2004, 10:34 PM:

John Kerry is just too impressive -- made me miss a key. "The future does not belong to fear; it belongs to freedom!"


T(T(1415)+1) = 501823158931 = 500911 x 1001821

#365 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2004, 02:24 AM:

"And in discovering and creating new mathematics, mathematicians do base themselves on intuition and inspiration, on unconscious motivations and impulses, and on their aesthetic sense, just like any creative artist would. And mathematicians do not lead logical mechanical 'rational' lives. Like any creative artist, they are passionate emotional people who deeply care about their art, they are unconventional eccentrics motivated by mysterious forces, not by money nor by a concern for the 'practical applications' of their work."

The Quest for Omega
by Gregory Chaitin

Gregory Chaitin has devoted his life to the attempt to understand what mathematics can and cannot achieve, and is a member of the digital philosophy/digital physics movement. Its members believe that the world is built out of digital information, out of 0 and 1 bits, and they view the universe as a giant information-processing machine, a giant digital computer. In this book on the history of ideas, Chaitin traces digital philosophy back to the nearly-forgotten 17th century genius Leibniz. He also tells us how he discovered the celebrated Omega number, which marks the current boundary of what mathematics can achieve. This book is an opportunity to get inside the head of a creative mathematician and see what makes him tick, and opens a window for its readers onto a glittering world of high-altitude thought that few intellectual mountain climbers can ever glimpse.

#366 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 02:24 AM:

Getting back to commenting on particles here: that bit on Shire makes me a bit nervous about our store name, but I think we can claim significant precedence before it was trademarked.

The Other Change of _Hobbit_ -- can you imagine them not trying to say we were trading on their name before the idea of a film ever happened?

#367 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 04:19 AM:

Tom Whitmore:

It would be a bad precedent to harass The Other Change of _Hobbit_ for the name. What next? The Paris bookstore "Shakespeare & Co."? Sea World having to pay royalties for referring to Orca? Disney paying for Sleeping Beauty's 7 significant others? Extra charges for downloading Ring Tones?

#368 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 09:49 AM:

I'm waiting for someone to try to make trouble for my friend Dave over our email domain name.

#369 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 11:22 AM:

As The Register suggests, there are a fair number of British county councils that are going to be very peeved if a US film company tells them that they may no longer use their own names. And I'm sure the Yorkshire Cricket Club will have a thing or two to say on the matter.

And then there's my University, whose administration offices are located in a building known as Old Shire Hall...

#370 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 11:44 AM:

And let's not forget Worcestershire sauce. Shire madness.

#371 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 12:44 PM:

Okay, I just found two short poems, by Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick, that seem to me to say roughly the same thing. They similarly prefigure the Pre-Raphaelite and 1960s theory of fashion, and thus relate our threads (pun) on CMG and Ms.Coulter/Ms.Moss:

by Ben Jonson

Still to be neat, still to be dressed,
As if you were going to a feast;
Still to be powdered, still perfumed:
Lady it is to be presumed,
Though art's hid causes are not found,
All is not sweet, all is not sound.

Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:
Such sweet neglect more taketh me
Than all the adulteries of art;
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.

by Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction,
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher,
A cuff neglectful and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly,
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat,
A careless shoestring in whose tie
I see a wild civility,
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

(1) lawn: a scarf of fine linen
(2) stomacher: bodice

I've been following John Sirley's guestblog on Boing Boing, and like his introduction to Dr. Rudy Rucker, who has gone farther as a mathematician/professor than I, and much farther as a writer as well. "Strange and powerful mind" and all...

Math Warning:

Not belonging here, but someplace to put them until my LiveJournal is restored from temporary suspension:

((2055 * (2055 + 1)/2)+1) * (((2055 * (2055 + 1)/2)+1)+1) / 2
2231415794611 = 1056271 x 2112541

((2526 * (2526 + 1)/2)+1) * (((2526 * (2526 + 1)/2)+1)+1) / 2
5093163259003 = 1595801 x 3191603

#372 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2004, 11:09 PM:

I've been looking at the selection of ads currently running on your blog. I'm impressed and/or jealous (I've followed the link to buy ad space on the blog and looked at the prices, is why I'm impressed, or was that the jealous?). Nice going! And perhaps a well-done to the agency handling the ad sales?

#373 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2004, 02:06 AM:

I really just have to draw everyone's attention to this research.

Dr. Deegan found that if he takes a suspension of cornstarch in water and shakes it at various frequencies really weird stuff happens. At certain frequencies, the (liquid!) mixture can retain holes poked in its surface. At higher frequencies the mixture squirms like an orgy in talcum powder.

Here is a direct link to the movie (4 MB, Windows Media Player). The best part is near the end.

#374 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2004, 01:35 PM:

There's a largish chunk of southern Sydney called the Sutherland Shire - divided off by the world's second-oldest National Park - which thinks of itself as rather separate from the rest of the city. It's frequently called just "The Shire". (I wondered at the time when Lord of the Rings got all its recent publicity if the inhabitants felt an extra frisson at that 'The Shire' being held up as such an ideal place.)

For some reason, tho', like the UK, we are divided up into parishes, shires, counties & the like, very few of these names are used in normal speech, and this is pretty much the only Australian one known to most Sydneysiders or New South Welshmen.

There might very well be some local papers, shops, businesses, websites & so forth using the term, so we might see some similar legal moves. Unless they get some sense.

#375 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2004, 09:59 PM:

Andy - I think I'm switching from cornstarch to arrowroot; that was creepy.

#376 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2004, 11:03 PM:

Larry-- Believe me, I know it is. If someone had shown that clip to Mary Shelley, she'd have written a different book. Thing is, arrowroot would probably behave about the same; the key thing is to have a suspension of tiny particles. Dr. Deegan got glass microspheres to do similar things.

#377 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 09:55 AM:

A yellow swallowtail finally got itself into camcorder range for me to image. I've been seeing what looked like yellow swallowtail butterfly flitting around about 20' feet off the ground in the vicinity of the butternut tree, especially when I didn't have the camcorder to hand. Yesterday, though, it had alit on marjoram or oregano [whichever is the perennial that -spreads-] flowers conveniently when I had the camcorder to hand.

#378 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:13 AM:

I told you that Mathematics had a lot in common with writing fiction!

Researcher Links Storytelling And Mathematical Ability

Source: Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council
Date: 2004-08-02

"Math and storytelling may seem like very different abilities, but a new study by University of Waterloo scientist Daniela O'Neill suggests that preschool children's early storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability two years later. The study has just been published in the June 2004 issue of the journal First Language."

"In the study, three-and four-year-old children were shown a book that contained only pictures and were asked to tell the story to a puppet. None of the children had seen the book before the study. The children were not prompted in any way and were free to say as much or as little about each page as they wished."

"'Children were told the puppet had never heard the story before, and so this made it a fun thing for children to do. They really enjoyed telling the story to the puppet,' explained O'Neill, a professor of developmental psychology."

"'Having children tell the story on their own, without any adult prompting, also allowed us to better see what they were able to accomplish on their own and to get a more sensitive measure of their storytelling ability,' she said."

"O'Neill looked at several aspects of children's storytelling ability. Some aspects captured grammatical complexity, such as children's use of relative clauses or the length of their sentences. Other aspects involved more perspective-taking on the part of the child."

"'In the story, a child brings his pet frog to a restaurant and lots of funny things happen as the frog begins to jump around and cause all sorts of mayhem,' O'Neill said."

"'This made it possible to see how well children were able to talk about the feelings or thoughts of the characters in the story and how well children were able to talk about the different actions of the various characters and switch clearly from talking about one character to another,' she said."

"Two years later, the children were brought back to the laboratory and were given a number of tests of academic achievement that included a test of mathematical achievement. What O'Neill found was that those children who scored highly on the mathematics test had also scored highly on certain measures of their storytelling ability two years earlier."

"'It was only certain aspects of storytelling that were related to later mathematical ability. Most strongly predictive of children's mathematical performance was their ability to relate all the different events in the story, to shift clearly from the actions of one character to another, and to adopt the perspective of different characters and talk about what they were feeling or thinking,' explained O'Neill."

[follow hotlink for the rest of the story]

#379 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:42 AM:

Those are some lovely panoramas from T. Dixon!

I took my own panorama of the Portree Harbour on the Isle of Skye when we were there on holiday. Gorgeous country, Scotland!

#380 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:55 AM:

I enjoyed the "Bring back complete sentences" site so much that I "borrowed" the button to use as an icon on my Live Journal, and the bumpersticker to illustrated my user-info page.

#381 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 12:37 PM:

For all of you Subservient Chicken fans out there (and really...who's not a fan?), here's the latest version:

Subservient President

Not as flexible as the original, but an amusing concept, nonetheless.

#382 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 12:47 PM:

Another answer to an earlier thread (text by Rudy Rucker):

How Does One Obtain the Ability to "See" in Four Spatial Dimensions?

This also shows you one of my favorite Saldvador Dali artworks: "Crucificion: Corpus Hypercubus."

#383 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 02:32 PM:

Funny, the Subservient Chicken couldn't find any WMD either....

#384 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 03:32 PM:

You took a panorama of Portree Harbor too? That's a lovely place. Ken Macleod looked at our photos and pointed out the historic first pub in which he'd had a drink on a weekday.

#385 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 03:44 PM:

Subservient Prez: Try "magic trick."

By way of boingboing:
DoJ orders public libraries to destroy law books explaining how to get back items the government has confiscated during an investigation.

Then the order was mysteriously reversed.

#386 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 03:54 PM:

Indeed. That was actually the view from our hotel window at The Bosville. I highly recommend the place. My wife was quite ill while we were there and they took especially good care of us.

There's quite a few pics of Skye at the second link I gave above...really, that may be the most beautiful place I've ever been. It was certainly one of the most photogenic. That it's the ancestral homeland is just icing...

#387 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 02:35 AM:

Andy, the order's reversal was hardly mysterious to me. There was a huge uproar among librarians, especially those who work in Federal Depository libraries. Complaints were made to the appropriate officials at the Government Printing Office -- which runs the Depository program -- who then discussed the issue with the folks at Justice, who finally realized that the destruction of the docs was, ur, overkill.

Yours truly is, among other things, a Depository librarian, so I got to read all the discussion of the issue on the GOVDOC-L list. My library was not affected because, first of all, we didn't receive those particular documents and, secondly, I'd taken a few days vacation (Confluence and days before and after) which happened to overlap the situation. The news of the order apparently came in the first day of my vacation and by the time I got back and caught up with my e-mail the situation was well in hand.

#388 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:02 AM:

Re Norma Khouri / Bagain / Toliopoulos - continued
Here's today's New York Times article about the story:

#389 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 11:50 PM:

The national arm of the (Australian) ABC- our public radio - is broadcasting a week of programs commemorating the 90th anniversary of the start of World War One. To get into the mood I quickly checked digital versions of WWI recruiting posters in the online database of the Australian War Memorial ( to use as computer wallpaper and/or screensaver images for the week.

We are used to seeing some of the more colourful images, like Lord Kitchener pointing and saying "Your Country Needs You!" (used with Uncle Sam after 1917). How startling to see the image of a recruitment leaflet with the text in bald black and white:

"To fight in a just cause, and for one's Country's Glory, is the Best Office of the Best of Men.

Chairman State Recruiting Committee

( ID No. RC02277 [Leaflet call number: 5/5/9] State Recruiting Committee of South Australia )

It reminded me immediately of Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est (link at, with its denunciation of "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/Pro patria mori"

(One very good book of many about the buildup to & earliest part of this war is The Guns of August, by the late Barbara W Tuchman (Ballantine Books, TPB, March 1994, 0-345-38623-X) or
or (Presidio Press, PB, August 2004 0-345-47609-3). [Funny how they bring out new printings every 10 years.])

#390 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 12:31 AM:

I once heard this:

Dulce et decorum est,
Pro patria mori.
If you die for fatherland,
That's just hunky-dory.

sung to the tune of "Good King Wenceslaus."

#391 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 09:36 AM:

Lois: Andy, the order's reversal was hardly mysterious to me...

I had a feeling it was something like that. ('Mysterious' was intended semi-sarcastically. I figured there must have been an outcry. My experience of librarians is that they don't let books go gently etc., if they can prevent it. For extra credit, add your own tale of librarian courage in the face of the barbarians.)

#392 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 04:46 PM:

The Particle on Robot Theology could not help but remind me, of course, of the Red Dwarf episode "The Last Day," where the android Kryten explains the concept of silicon heaven to his (mostly) biological shipmates:

Kryten: Oh, it's not the end for me, sir, it's just the beginning. I have served my human masters, now I can look forward to my reward in silicon heaven.
Lister: Silicon what?
Kryten: Surely you've heard of silicon heaven?
Lister: Has it got anything to do with being stuck opposite Bridgette Nielson in a packed lift?
Kryten: It's the electronic afterlife! It's the gathering place for the souls of all electonic equipment. Robots, calculators, toasters, hairdryers - it's our final resting place.
Lister: I don't mean to say anything out of place here, Kryten, but that is completely whacko, Jacko. There is no such thing as "silicon heaven."
Kryten: Then where do all the calculators go?

Which, of course, reminds me of the Treephort song "Death of a Calculator."

Which, of course, reminds me that I'm the geekiest geek I know. Damn.

#393 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 05:01 PM:

Tim, that's absolutely horrible. Are there words for the rest of the tune? Can I make up some? Can I, huh, can I can I?

#394 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 05:25 PM:

Doesn't Kryten then quote:

"The iron shall lie down with the lamp."

And how about Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort?

Geek Warning: Math Ahead.

This morning, when I typed keywords "science fiction" into Google, it told me that my site The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide was #3 in the world. I've never been higher than #4 before, and haven't actively updated in at least 2 weeks. Is that #3 due to my nearest regional Google, or is that what you elsewhere see?

Yesterday I snailmailed the requisite number of copies in requisite format of my paper "Fibonacci Semiprimes" to The Fibonacci Quarterly. I emailed a 36-page draft of "Semiprime Triangular Numbers" to my coauthor Dr. Geoffrey Landis. Then today, when I should have been doing other things, I calculated and wrote a 14-page paper entitled "Concatenated Semiprime Numbers."

ABSTRACT: This Recreational Mathematics paper describes Concatenated Semiprime Numbers. The Nth Concatenated Semiprime Number C(N) is the concatenation of the decimal digits of the first N Semiprime Numbers. For instance, C(1) = 4 (since 4 = 2 x 2 is the first Semiprime), C(2) = 46 (since 4 is the first Semiprime; 6 = 2 x 3 is the first Semiprime; and 46 is the concatenation of 4 and 6). The table of factorizations here for the first 50 values of N reveals that C(N) is itself semiprime for N = 1, 2, 3, 6, and 43. It is conjectured that there are an infinite number of such numbers. This work is related to Smarandache sequences, most specifically to the concatenation of the first n primes, which gives 2, 23, 235, 2357, 235711, ... sometimes called the Smarandanche-Wellin numbers.

#395 ::: Serge sees swimmy spam on ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2009, 11:01 AM:

Can't spell very well either.

#396 ::: Jon Meltzer sees luncheon meat ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2009, 11:01 AM:

A Making Light video on YouTube?

#397 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2009, 11:24 AM:

Please, everyone, when you see spam, use the word "spam" in your header. When I search the last thousand posts for things I missed, I search on spam.

#398 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2009, 12:22 PM:

The very understandable urge to avoid overusing a word, laudable in writers, is in this case disadvantageous to the purpose at hand.

#399 ::: Serge sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:32 PM:

"Klytus, I'm bored."

#400 ::: spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2010, 09:05 PM:

[ spam from ]

#401 ::: Lee sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2010, 02:18 AM:

@ 405-406

Smaller type (our default)
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