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August 25, 2004

Open thread 27
Posted by Teresa at 09:57 PM *

Let us mark the achievement of a 500-comment open thread by starting a new one.

Comments on Open thread 27:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 10:17 PM:

Incrementally spectacular!

#2 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:16 PM:

Evolutionarily Spectacular Times

By the way, not that I want to argue politics, but certain disemvowelular statements on another thread remind me of what's addressed in this essay, important to us in this dirty election season:

THE UNPOLITICAL ANIMAL
by LOUIS MENAND
How political science understands voters.
Issue of 2004-08-30
Posted 2004-08-23
[The New Yorker]

"Skepticism about the competence of the masses to govern themselves is as old as mass self-government.... [The] political scientist Philip Converse, in an article on 'The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics,' published in 1964... claimed that only around ten per cent of the public has what can be called, even generously, a political belief system."

"He named these people 'ideologues,' by which he meant not that they are fanatics but that they have a reasonable grasp of 'what goes with what'—of how a set of opinions adds up to a coherent political philosophy. Non-ideologues may use terms like 'liberal' and 'conservative,' but Converse thought that they basically don't know what they’re talking about, and that their beliefs are characterized by what he termed a lack of 'constraint': they can't see how one opinion... logically ought to rule out other opinions..."

On a Math subthread, I wrote a paper yesterday [#39 of the year] on "Semiprime Smith Numbers and Some Conjectures." Just as I am now published [try Googling] on "Emirpimes" [semiprime spelled backwards], this paper analyzes Htims Emirpimes [Semiprime Smith spelled backwards]. Then today I wrote a paper [#40] on Xaoh, which are Hoax Numbers which, when reversed, become different Hoax Numbers. Someone before had commented on what goofy names mathematcians give to things, and I'm endeavoring to make things goofier. Being in the Land of Disney, after all...

And, to complete a thought on the 500-comment thread [Auden, btw] consider "The Fall of the House of Usher" as a story where the setting is a character.

#3 ::: Sandra McDonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:31 PM:

Favorite bumper sticker of the day: Change how you see, not how you look.

Just thought I'd share.

(And p.s. I sent that file, but I'm not sure you got it--what is it about me that entices spam filters so?)

#4 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:33 PM:

Just so everyone knows, I have read every single book they recommended. It was a large task, but I managed to finish every single one, AND have a baby this weekend.

And yes, I was the one who had the baby. It wasn't my wife. It was me. The hard work fell upon me. She just laid there and pushed.

Anyone here going to the Toronto Film Festival? Let's hook up! I'll ditch my wife and new baby and we'll go watch artsy flicks!

#5 ::: Sara E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:47 PM:

500 comments? Wow.

Since the kind people here helped Randall with recommended reading, I was wondering if y'all could help me out and point me in the right direction.

I am currently researching some areas for my novel and need help finding basic texts and/or websites on warfare/tactics. Also some good sites or texts that would be a good introduction to physics as it relates to space travel.

Google is wonderful, but when faced with pages upon pages of things to choose from, a part of my brain goes "eep!" and faints.

I've started reading New Scientist.com, but would be happy to add more book marks and books.

Any suggestions?

#6 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:57 PM:

"A girl and her tractor" reminded me of the "Men Plow, Women Weave" exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum; I think at least one of those pictures was part of the exhibit. Sorry, the exhibit ended in May, but some of the description is still online:

"The Peabody Essex Museum’s exhibition, Men Plow; Women Weave centers on the 46 prints of plowing and weaving created in the Kangxi imperial workshops, and various Chinese art objects that demonstrate the lasting influence of these themes. The rice farming and silk production motifs celebrated in the Kangxi imperial prints are also apparent in later examples of Chinese embroidery, porcelain, paintings, and lacquer on display in the exhibition. These themes also appear in an eighteenth century English engraving book, and twentieth Century posters from China."

Neat thing for folks interested in China who may be in the Boston area in the future (hint hint), though: a real Qing Dynasty Chinese house you can walk through.

#7 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:59 PM:

Sara E.: Sun Tzu's The Art of War is of course the classic book on warfare, and gives good epigram.

#8 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:12 AM:

And yes, I was the one who had the baby. It wasn't my wife. It was me. The hard work fell upon me. She just laid there and pushed.

Anyone around here ever heard of couvade syndrome? Apparently in some cases men can literally "feel pregnant," complete with cravings, weight gain and mood swings.

#9 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:13 AM:

And yes, I was the one who had the baby. It wasn't my wife. It was me. The hard work fell upon me. She just laid there and pushed.

Anyone around here ever heard of couvade syndrome? Apparently in some cases men can literally "feel pregnant," complete with cravings, weight gain and mood swings.

#10 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:27 AM:

Randall P - any suggestions on what to watch at the film festival? [and if you're in Toronto, you probably know that the busking festival is on this weekend, by the St. Lawrence Market]

#11 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:33 AM:

Sorry for inflating thread count. Stop. Will change name M. Stewart. Stop. Bad connection. Stop.
---
Also some good sites or texts that would be a good introduction to physics as it relates to space travel.

If you don't mind (some) math, try John Anderson's Introduction to Flight. We use it as the text for the sophomore Intro to Flight class. There are meaty and well-researched sections on history of flight/space travel in addition to good quantitative and qualitative explanations of how stuff works. I'm TAing the course again this semester, so I may come across more good books shortly. Stay tuned and feel free to email.

#12 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:39 AM:

There's a lot to see at the festival this year. If you want a really complete list of what might be good, go to David Poland's website The Hot Button (http://www.thehotbutton.com). I, personally, would love to see Bad Education, I (Heart) Huckabees, The Motorcycle Diaries, Gunner Palace, Sideways, and Undertow, which is a film by a man named David Gordon Green. He did one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen, which was called All the Real Girls (and for those of you who haven't seen it, I highly recommend it).

And being the vaguely boring pervert that I am, I would love to see Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, which is about a couple that has sex and goes to concerts (yes, that's the plot). However, the controversy has to do with the fact that this is one of the first mainstream films where the actors REALLY have sex (or at least the first where it's quite obvious and they acknowledge it). In my mind, there's not enough real sex in movies nowadays. The bad part about this film is that everybody and their best friend is going to want to see it.

That's why I don't look at porn. I've just been waiting for a mainstream movie that is almost like porn.

#13 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:59 AM:

Ok, I've been waiting to get onto an open thread early enough to ask this question. Why am I not supposed to say "Sci Fi?" A while ago I started using "skiffy" around my younger (18-29) SF fan friends, and they either had no idea what I was talking about or thought I was being strange. I told them that it was considered a better way to say it in the established SF community, but then couldn't explain why.

So please regale me with tales of the history of the SF community and terminology! Thank you.

#14 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:23 AM:

Jill Smith, if you turn up here, please advise about the population of wolf spiders on the East Coast (DC?). We have lots of them in Hawai'i, but I've never heard of them inhabiting temperate climates (ok, Washington isn't temperate in August; I used to live in Annandale). Was this guy unusual?

#15 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:25 AM:

Leah Miller:

Definitions of Science Fiction

Be patient while it loads. It's also a mini-encyclopedia of Themes and Subgenres in Science Fiction.

For the origins of "sci fi" you might google the word's inventor: Forrest J. "Forry" Ackerman.

As to Base 26 (last time we looked at Base 36), where Math meets Silly words:

"Keith (1999) considered the set of letters obtained by writing to base 26 with digits 0=A, 1=B, ..., 25=Z, so that

pi = D.DRSQLOLYRTRODNLHNQTG...

Then the sequence of the first Webster-sanctioned n-letter words in this expression is given by o, lo, rod, trod, steel, oxygen, subplot, .... Additional 6-letter words are: prinky, Libyan, and thingy. The positions of the starting letter of the first n-letter words are 6, 5, 11, 10, 6570, 11582, 115042, ...."

excerpted from the rather poetic:

Eric W. Weisstein. "Pi Wordplay."
From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PiWordplay.html

[which is how he prefers the citation to be given]


#16 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:27 AM:

Randall--It's by no means the only nor the first film where actors actually have sex. Two recent ones are the French film Baise-Moi (Coralie and Virginie Despentes, 2000) (quite trashy, but kind of fun, though it's too much like porn to be real art and too arty to be good porn), and the upcoming Vincent Gallo film The Brown Bunny, about which I'll withhold judgment till I see it. There's also Intimacy (Patrice Chèreau, 2001), with Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave), which I haven't seen, and the quite dull Romance (Catherine Breillat, 1999)--a bored schoolteacher with a dull boyfriend engages in edgy hijinx with Italian stallion Rocco Siffredi and others. Don't bother to bring your raincoat to this one.

All these films, whatever their flaws, are serious attempts to deal with strongly sexual material.

Supposedly Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland actually did it in the love scene in Don't Look Now, but that may be apocryphal. I think we'll see lots more of this in the near future as art and porn tenderly reach out to touch each other.

#17 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 03:36 AM:

Sara E: Good, hands-on book on (small-unit) combat: Chris McNab and Will Fowler, The Encyclopedia Of Combat Techniques. Covers only infantry and related arms - but has close combat, firearms, support weapons (mortars, artillery and close air support), demolitions, sniping, fighting in "extreme terrain" (mountain and arctic), urban combat, anti-armor techniques, hostage rescue, and more, all in a very hands-on manner, with lots of real-world examples - so well worth the $21 + shipping it'll cost from amazon.com, in my opinion.

#18 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 04:34 AM:

Andy Perrin: Oh, yes, the couvade. First I heard of it was in Intro Anthropology, undergraduate, where the particular teacher I had (male) covered it extensively. I even recall that there are tribes in which it is the norm.

I also seem to recall that I learned of it within a year or two of seeing Billy Crystal in Joan Rivers' anti-masterpiece Rabbit Test (probably two; the movie was released in 1978, my first year of failing to complete a full year at, um, the school I didn't finish at, and I didn't get to the other school until summer 1980 or so).

I didn't get to experience it firsthand in either of my children's deliveries, but that's probably because I was too busy having my normal cravings, weight gain, and mood swings :-)

#19 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:31 AM:

Sara E wrote:
I am currently researching some areas for my novel and need help finding basic texts and/or websites on warfare/tactics.

I second the recommendation of The Art of War.... but what else to read? Hmmmmm.

Some suggestions (may not be germane to the areas you're thinking of, but they're all I can think of at the moment)


  • 'Top Gun-The Navy's Fighter Weapons School', by George Hall (out of print, check library -- came out about the time the movie did, and is an accessible overview of fighter tactics, and why Top Gun became necessary)
  • 'An Army At Dawn', Rick Atkinson
  • 'Meeting the Fox: The Allied Invasion of Africa, from Operation Torch to Kasserine Pass to Victory in Tunisia', Orr Kelly
  • 'Bogeys and Bandits- The Making of a Fighter Pilot', R. Gandt
  • Chuck Yeager's biography
  • 'Skunk Works', Ben Rich/Leo Janos (Ok, it's not about warfare/tactics per se, but it's a good look inside one of the most important organizations in the history of the US military-industrial complex. These are the people that brought us the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117)

Also some good sites or texts that would be a good introduction to physics as it relates to space travel.

What Andy Perrin said, above....

#20 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:31 AM:

The word on "sci fi":

The term was coined by Forrest J Ackerman in the early fifties, as a riff on "hi-fi". It got widely applied to the kinds of 1950s science fiction flicks (think The Blob) that many devotees of written SF resented being associated with. As a result, for decades, SF insiders have earnestly insisted that our beloved genre is called science fiction, or SF, or speculative fiction, or spec fic, or any number of other things, but never, ever sci-fi. Visitors to SF conventions or club meetings who inadvertantly speak the forbidden term are roundly shamed.

Meanwhile, in the world of actual booksellers, libraries, and readers, people frequently call it "sci-fi" and mean absolutely nothing bad by it. People speak enthusiastically about the latest "sci-fi" book they read by John Crowley or Ursula K. Le Guin. For them, it just means science fiction, nothing more.

As you might have guessed from the above, the whole thing is tied up with the SF world's decades-long cultural cringe, our sense of being kept below the salt by the gatekeepers of art and literature. In recent years, there's been move toward deliberately mispronouncing "sci fi" as "skiffy" and using the mispronounced term to refer to the SF works that the speaker considers to be the modern-day equivalent of The Blob. Personally, I think it's all extremely tiresome, in-groupy in the most annoying and unuseful way. Mind you, I will argue very strongly in favor of in-groupishness in many contexts, but all this "sci-fi"/"skiffy" thing does is underline how defensive we feel, how rude we are to well-meaning newcomers, and how much we delight in being deliberately obscure. It's time to get over it, embrace the term, and get on with life.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:34 AM:

John Keegan's The Face of Battle is well-thought-of as a book about what being inside a battle is actually like.

#22 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:38 AM:

Linkmeister - she wasn't particularly unusual. When I wrote my blog post about nature's incursions on our house, I Googled up "'Wolf Spider' Maryland" and came up with a bunch of hits. The page describing the spider and her habits that I linked to in the original post came from the Virginia Cooperative Extension (we live just miles from the VA border).

#23 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:40 AM:

John Keegan's The Face of Battle is well-thought-of as a book about what being inside a battle is actually like.

I've read several of Keegan's books (though, oddly, not that one), and they're all pretty good. I don't have enough independent knowledge of the subject to know how accurate they really are, but they're engaging reading and fairly comprehensive.

#24 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:51 AM:

Linkmeister: Is that Annandale in Sydney? That's where I live, and we do have plenty of wolf spiders, and huntsmen which are similar in appearance.

#25 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:54 AM:

Goodness gracious me, you guys are prolific. A few thoughts and comments arising from the past x-hundred posts, plus a couple of unrelated questions of my own.

Xopher: I borrowed On the Psychology of Military Incompetence from my local library the other day, and finished it by the following evening. I found Dixon's writing style very easy and engaging, with just the right amount of waspish humour to leaven an erudite treatment of a serious subject. Thanks for the recommendation.

Sara E.: Air, space, sea, or land warfare? For contemporary equipment, the federation of american scientists (fas.org) has a great deal of info on weaponry, plus some training/tactics stuff (although this is better hidden; google is your friend).
As a propellorhead, the best single book on air combat is Bob Shaw's Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering, which will give you all you need to know for fighter tactics within an atmosphere (and to a lesser extent, a gravity well).

A good website for air combat is the Finnish Air Force's Fighter Tactics Academy (http://www.sci.fi/~fta/index.htm), although their website can make it hard to find the information.

For aerial strategy, John Warden's The Air Campaign is online at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/warden/warden-all.htm . This is much touted as the doctrinal inspiration for Desert Storm, but it is to be read with a slightly jaundiced eye - he is a proponent of the 'airpower defeats all!' school of thought.

Also, try the various websites of the various military academies, training facilities, war colleges and the like (try a google restricted to .mil domains). They often have a surprising amount of stuff freely available on the web.

These are all fairly in-depth and detailed resources; if this is not what you're looking for, let me know.

Finally, my two questions:

Was the halo as an artistic signifier of divinity of Christian origin? I was in the Louvre a while back, and saw a 3rd-4th century AD mosaic of what I thought were two saints with haloes. It turned out they were in fact Neptune and Venus. As Christian art was already producing be-haloed icons and the like at the time, were they influenced by an older Roman tradition, or vice versa?

And the question the second:

I managed to get a copy of our beloved hostess's Making Book at the (wonderful) Fantasy Bookcentre here in London, I was interested to see that in the magisterial essay 'on copyediting', the comment was made that proofreader's and copyeditor's marks were distinct. What is the difference? Here in the UK, the British Standard (BS 5261-2) would suggest that proofreader's marks are simply a subset of copyeditor's marks. Is this simply British perversity, or can someone enlighten me?

Ta,

-Jakob

#26 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 08:15 AM:

Sara E. -

Let me throw in "The Defense of Duffer's Drift", by Ernest Dunlop Swinton. How to not get your platoon killed in the early days of the age of smokeless powder, available in many editions and on the web.

It's intended for beginners, so it might be especially helpful.

#27 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 08:45 AM:

Yet more recommendations for Sara E on warfare references:

Anything by James Dunnigan (who often writes with various co-authors) is a good beginner's guide to the practice of warfare in today's world. I find his writing style to be quite enjoyable, casual while still being thorough. He breaks up complex subjects into easily digestible pieces.

Some books of his that I've read and enjoyed:

How to Make War: A comprehensive guide to warmaking, broken out into easily digestible sections and subsections. For example, there are sections on air, sea, and land warfare, and the land section discusses infantry, armor, artillery, etc. Important non-combat aspects such as communications, intelligence, and logistics are also discussed. This book is updated periodically; my copy is several years old, but Amazon lists a recent fourth edition.

Shooting Blanks: This was published in the mid-90s, and discussed the many types of mistakes that have been made in running a nation's military, planning wars, and fighting them. There is a more recent book called Getting It Right: American Military Reforms After Vietnam and into the 21st Century which I haven't read, but would probably make a good follow-up.

A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Briefings on Present and Potential Wars This seems to be out of print now, but several editions were published in the 80s and 90s. The book looked at the regions of the world (Europe, Americas, Middle East, etc.) and discussed the historical background for warfares in each, the conflicts that were going on at the time, and the potential for future flare-ups.

There are also several books of his published more recently that I haven't read, but I'll recommend them anyway. Just do an author search at your favorite bookseller or library.

#28 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:14 AM:

"Andy Perrin: Oh, yes, the couvade. First I heard of it was in Intro Anthropology, undergraduate, where the particular teacher I had (male) covered it extensively. I even recall that there are tribes in which it is the norm."

I've read that in Russia (Smolensk) they had a practice where, during labor, the father would lie on a shelf above the mother, with a string tied around his peepee. Whenever the mother had a pang, the midwife would give the string a good tug.

I suppose it would have been far too dangerous to have the wife do the tugging herself.

#29 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:48 AM:

Well, one book I just finished and highly recommend is Gale Christianson's 1995 bio: Edwin Hubble, Mariner of the Nebula. Not only is it a first rate take on Hubble's considerable accomplishments at Mount Wilson, but it also reveals what a vain, egocentric and surprisingly crass social climber he was (to say nothing of his fanatic wife). Indeed, if you set aside his technical accomplishments, Hubble comes across as about the worst kind of Depression-era Republican stereotype you can think of (except thankfully that he wasn't an isolationist).

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:09 AM:

The word on "sci fi": (and what follows)

Bravo. And I will now hastily reexamine my own practices...my only slight reservation is that I think the SciFi channel, as a purveyer of trashy monster movies, is aptly named if the pejorative use is preserved; but that wouldn't give them a chance to reform without changing their name, and in any case is just a tiny pet peeve of mine...

Xopher: I borrowed On the Psychology of Military Incompetence from my local library the other day, and finished it by the following evening. I found Dixon's writing style very easy and engaging, with just the right amount of waspish humour to leaven an erudite treatment of a serious subject. Thanks for the recommendation.

Uhhh, not me, I don't think. xeger, maybe?

#31 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:32 AM:

Xopher said :my only slight reservation is that I think the SciFi channel, as a purveyer of trashy monster movies, is aptly named if the pejorative use is preserved

But....But... They play MST3K don't they? I love MST3K! Our next DVD splurge will probably be on MST3K episodes.
(panicked look)
Does this mean MST3K is trashy and bad? I mean, besides in the obvious way?

#32 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:33 AM:

(And Patrick spells Forry's name correctly, where JVP doesn't, I notice -- this just an excuse to yank JVP's chain so he'll spend a great deal of time figuring out the difference...)

#33 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:53 AM:

At the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention, the local paper came out with a big article titled "Please Don't Call It Sci-Fi." You could tell the reporters had gotten an earful from the convention's press relations office. Just below the headline, they ran a picture of an attractive woman looking at a bank of televisions, under a huge sign advertising the launch of the SCI-FI CHANNEL.

#34 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:56 AM:

JVP, as far as I'm concerned, Menand is arguing from a whopper of a false premise. I might -- might -- on my more cynical days be willing to accept the argument that being informed on the issues is a necessary precondition for being competent to vote. But coherent political philosophies are highly overrated, and possibly even a handicap.

#35 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Tom & Patrick,

Forry Ackerman, a.k.a. "4e Ackerman" has indeed explained to me that his middle name is akin to that of Harry S Truman. He is also Dr. Acula, and has other pseudonyms, many listed among the roughly 20,000 human names annotated on my web pages. I honestly don't know how many book titles I've listed, surely in excess of one per author.

When he coined "sci-fi" (also known as "sci fi") there was nothing pejorative. Forry loves movies, and makes no judgments as to what other consider trashiness or cheese.

The gap between Science Fiction and Sci Fi, to many people, is deeper than the gap between Science Fiction and Fantasy. This is due to the willful ignorance of Hollywood, which sometime hires consultant who know Science and Science Fiction, and then intentionally ignores them, as happened in "The Core" for instance, or in rejecting much of the advice of Jaron Lanier in "Minority Report."

Peter Jackson has shown the right way for Fantasy to be filmed. Does that mean a split between Fantasy and Fan Fi?

If you google "Emirpimes" (a simple enough concept that I've taught it to about 65 Intermediate Algebra students yesterday) you'll find that Making Light scooped the two great encyclopedists of Mathematics, Dr. Eric Weisstein, and Dr. N.J.A. Sloane. What I write in Math is sometimes strange and silly, but if it passes peer review, then I am not alone in how I think. "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Excerpt from what I mentioned in an earlier post, on a sequence which is NP hard to compute:

Semiprime Keith Numbers
by
Jonathan Vos Post
25 Aug 2004

A record: the largest known Semiprime Keith Number is
36899277593852609997403
= 50143690321 x 735870801643

We do not know if there are or are not an infinite number of Keith Numbers. But these are the first few Semiprime Keith Numbers, up through the 84th Keith Number, which approaches 10^26:
Keith(1, 10, 15, 17, 19, 23, 26, 36, 34, 39, 42, 55, 68, 76, 78, ...). I conjecture that, if there are an infinite number of Keith Numbers, then there is an infinite subset of Semiprime Keith Numbers.

#36 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:01 PM:

Michelle: Do they still show MST3K? Point in their favor, then.

But most of what they show on, say, a Saturday afternoon would have been ripped to shreds by the MST3K gang. And they show it as if it were entertaining. Which it probably is, to someone. Just not me.

#37 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:02 PM:

Sara E., I'm not sure what type/era of warfare you're most interested in, but books I've find helpful include:

Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare (focuses on Western warfare), ed. Geoffrey Parker

I haven't finished this one, but it came very, very recommended, and I'm liking it a lot so far for pre-modern:
Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army, Donald W. Engels

And just for kicks, this one's fun:
Battling the Elements: Weather and Terrain in the Conduct of War, Harold A. Winters w/ Gerald E. Galloway, Jr., William J. Reynolds, & David W. Rhyne

(Caveat: I'm not a military/historian; I just read this stuff for fun/writing-research.)

Also, I've always been puzzled by the "with" designation when listing authors. Like, books that have two full? coathurs plus with withs, e.g. by John Doe and Jane Schmoe, with James Flunky--is this another layer of hierarchy beyond name-order in coauthors? Are there more sublayers? (I'm still waiting for books to show up with subsubtitles.)

*shuts up before she reveals greater incoherence, and takes notes on all the suggestions*

#38 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:08 PM:

Yes, Forrest J Ackerman claims many things.

#39 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:08 PM:

And then there's "wi fi", or wireless fiction, a genre of fiction about wireless computer networking, pioneered by Cory Doctorow.

As time went on, the term wound up being associated with snazzy but implausible marketing scenarios (think AT&T's "You Will" ads, or Apple's Knowledge Navigator), leading genre aficianados to sneer at the term, which they derisively pronounce "whuffie".

#40 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Avram's post above is deeply evil, because it's just about plausible. Well done.

#41 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:10 PM:

An update on my disaster cloud:

1. The same repair guy came today and put a different clamp on the hose that decoupled. No charge, and I'm on the third load of wash.

2. The manual-manual de/install didn't work, so now they want me to install via Add Printer. I'm gonna take a nap first.

#42 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Sara E, you might also try:
Strategy by B H Liddell Hart and
the old classic
On War by Von Clausewitz
anything by John Keegan
Thirteen Days by Bobby Kennedy (on war averted, just barely)
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

#43 ::: Sarah Skwire ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Avram

Actually, someone's written a novel that is only available as cell phone text messages.

http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/004878.htm

The problem with modernity is that it parodies itself so much faster than I can parody it.

#44 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:31 PM:

It Sounds Like Sci-Fi But It's Not Department:

Scientists Report First Observation Of An 'Atomic Air Force'

The first sighting of atoms flying in formation has been reported by physicists at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) in the Aug. 13 issue of Physical Review Letters.* While the Air Force and geese prefer a classic “V,” the strontium atoms—choreographed in this experiment with precision laser pulses and ultracold temperatures—were recorded flying in the shape of a cube....

It Sounds Like Dyslexia But It's Not Department:

Semiprime, Xaoh, and Andrew Hoax Numbers
by
Jonathan Vos Post
24 August 2004

Abstract:

The intersection of the known integer sequences "Hoax Numbers" and "Semiprimes" is nonempty, and conjectured to be infinite. Numerous (conjectured to be infinite) Hoax Numbers become different Hoax numbers when reversed: we call these "Xaoh." Numerous (conjectured to be infinite) Andrew Hoax Numbers become different Hoax numbers when the reverse of all prime factors are multiplied together (which is not necessarily the product of primes, until refactored).
** end abstract ***

Really, Google "Hoax Numbers" and "Jopke Numbers" and "Smith Numbers" ...

#45 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:42 PM:

"Smith Numbers" are of course the number of Smiths on the planet. Smiths are currently seeking to achieve the very achievable x > infinity equation where x=Smiths on-planet. (Otherwise known as the Smith-Borg effect.) I personally have contributed to the Smith-Borg effect by marrying a Smith.

Off-planet Smiths are x=?

This equation was, of course, pioneered by the great, if partially imaginary by virtue of his uber-Smith name, John Smith. John is my husband (and in that capacity a very real person). I am married to John (just in case the connective reference was not observed), and have coauthored numerous papers with him. We will be writing a book and taking over the Universe, known and unknown, shortly.

[/JVP chain-yanking]

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Those of us not actually named Smith can help by learning metalworking. Many arrests for "forgery" are actually efforts by the anti-Smith faction to suppress this essential activity.

The patron Goddess of Smiths is Brigid; in her Saint form, she's also the patron Saint of blacksmiths (but there are five others) - but not tinsmiths, oddly enough.

And while looking for that I find that there's actually a patron Saint of bi- and multi-racial people, Martin of Porres. And of bicyclists, La Madonna di Ghisalo.

Really, google for "patron saint smith" and see what you get.

[/piling on, though all in good fun]

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:24 PM:

'And then there's "wi fi", or wireless fiction'

Early examples of which were published in "Thrilling Ether Stories" and "Modern Boy Wireless Wonder Stories" and even "Racy Hotspot Tales."

#48 ::: Smith of Borg ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Hat off to the new Smith.

[/trying to pun, knowing that Xopher's got me beat there every day of the week and twice on Sunday]

#49 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:35 PM:

Let's see...

Sara E. - I'll echo the recommendation of Sun Tzu's Art of War as a great book on warfare, though it deals far more with concepts and theory than practice. Likewise with Tai Kung's Six Secret Teachings. While we're talking about Chinese military classics, I'd like to recommend One Hundred Unorthodow Strategies. It's vastly more specific than the other works and cites examples, which is good. Its forty-second "Unorthodow Strategy" is, in fact, called "The Orthodox," which is just fun.

From a western (European) context and a book that's tremendously detailed, with examples, is Archer Jones' The Art of War in the Western World. I highly recommend it. But it only covers the changes in warfare up until Vietnam, so depending on how you go it might not be too helpful to you.

Oh, and though I've heard the history behind the SF/Sci Fi/skiffy thing dozens of times before, I still don't get it. More to the point: I don't see what's bad about "The Blob." I love movies like that.

#50 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:35 PM:

Sara E, people have alreay recommended Sun Tzu (as Christopher Davis said above, "gives good epigram" and can be applied to just about anything from love to war), Keegan, Tuchman, and Liddell Hart. Let me toss in Victor Davis Hanson, especially _Carnage and Culture_, but also _Ripples of Battle_ and _The Soul of Battle_. You can get the Sun Tzu online at blackmask dot com (search by title, since spellings of the name vary).

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:46 PM:

Someone who apparently works on the technology side on cube-shaped spacecraft wrote:

Hat off to the new Smith.

[/trying to pun, knowing that Xopher's got me beat there every day of the week and twice on Sunday]

I bow, hatton hand.

#53 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:00 PM:

Re: the "atoms flying in formation" article

So, if the atoms fly around in cube-shaped clusters, is this evidence that God is playing dice with the universe?

#54 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:09 PM:

Stefan Jones writes (quoting Avram):

'And then there's "wi fi", or wireless fiction'

Early examples of which were published in "Thrilling Ether Stories" and "Modern Boy Wireless Wonder Stories" and even "Racy Hotspot Tales."

You could be merely ancestor-grabbing, the way advocates of a new genre invariably do in attempting to increase respectability.

But consider this and this. A conversation in a bookstore, surrounded by these kinds of books, triggered the creation of the Heterodyne Boys.

Given the intertwined destinies of radio magazines and SF publishing, maybe Avram is on to something!

I can't resist mentioning Jeff Duntemann's Drive-By Wi-Fi Guide, the first of his many books in which Jeff (two of whose SF stories were Hugo-nominated) has become a brand name.

#55 ::: Rachel Brown ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:21 PM:

Randall, if you read all the books recommended here, can you tell us which ones you most enjoyed?

#56 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:23 PM:

Xopher,

We are cable free, so I don't know what the Sci Fi channel shows on a regular basis, but I know I've seen it when I've been over at my parent's.

So you could be right that they have now removed MST3K from their schedule, shame on them, as I have no current knowledge of when and where MST3K runs.

#57 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:32 PM:

Sarah E -

I'm somewhat surprised that no one else has yet mentioned Donald Engel's, Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army. He uses the science of logistics to sort through the historical accounts of Alexander's exploits and make judgements about the reality of them. In the course of this exercise, you learn an enormous amount about what is and isn't possible for armies dependent on human and animal transport. This is also a good book for anyone writing a quest story.

#58 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:56 PM:

We're quite proud of The Blob around these parts. Have a yearly Blob festival and everything.

However, the SciFi Channel's unpardonable sin is cancelling Farscape. The fact that they're bringing it back for a mini-series this fall does not make up for it, since I already cancelled our subscription. Now I have to find someone who'll tape the danged thing for me.

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

I'll add Martin van Creveld to the military-authors list, particularly TECHNOLOGY AND WAR and SUPPLYING WAR.

Geoffrey Parker's THE MILITARY REVOLUTION, which is a discussion of how "Western" mil-tech became dominant by about 1800.

Edward Luttwak's THE GRAND STRATEGY OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (very useful if you're doing a space opera with a you-know-what in it) and ...OF THE SOVIET UNION (same, if you're doing a post-MacLeod space opera). Luttwak's COUP D'ETAT is highly valuable if there's . . . you get the idea.

An obscure but very interesting book, which you might be able to find at a library, is SMALL UNIT TACTICS, a US Army publication that gives detailed accounts of five small-scale battles in WWII. Warfare on the squad/company level isn't usually covered very well in general histories. (For those who are that interested, it's still in print, and can be gotten from the GPO for $12 or so.)

And now we segue smoothly to MST3K . . .

As far as I can tell, Le Canal Sciffe hasn't shown MST for at least a year; before that, it was running in an early-Saturday-morning slot.

The show didn't start there, of course. It was originally a local show up here in Minneapolis, on goofy local independent Ch. 23. (23 has since changed hands, and is No Fun Any More.) After one season, it was picked up by one of the two cable comedy channels that launched simultaneously; ironically, it was on the one our cable system didn't carry, so we had a show produced locally that wasn't locally viewable. Then the channels merged into the current Comedy Central, and we got our own back. (I note that I am in possession of MST3K Fan Club Membership Card #259.)

MST stayed there for five or six seasons before moving to SFC. The main difference in programming (aside from cast and format changes) was that SFC, being, you know, a sci-fi channel, had them stop running the fifties Rebellious Teen and Psycho Beatnik pictures, in favor of more Ed Wood, who hardly needed the treatment.

Backing up a bit, SFC had an interesting first year or so, when they didn't have any "original" programming and weren't Your Direct-To-Video Movie Specialists. They had a late-night "Retro-TV" segment, with stuff like X Minus One (which had started on radio) and Tales of Tomorrow, and aired sorta-rarities like "Isaac Asimov's Probe," which, while not having the most felicitous title one might ask for, was a halfway interesting attempt to do a science-mystery-adventure show that had something approximating science in it. It suffered mainly from having a girl sidekick who was supposedly a kick-ass investigator but was actually the same empty vessel for explanations as per usual. (If our beloved wossname ever really makes it to the big time, this will be an Oscar category.)

Eventually, SFC decided that anybody who wanted to watch interesting old stuff could buy home videos, and what we really needed were movies about giant fauna devouring people the producer offered five bucks a day and a boxed lunch to be iguana bait. And, of course, the sequels to these pictures, because it is inherent in making "Hellbudgies over East Lynne" that one must make "Hellbudgies over East Lynne II: The Chirping."

I sometimes think "Six Feet Under" originated when someone said, "The stuff we're seeing is doo-doo. A show about dead people would be more interesting."

#60 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 03:53 PM:

Austrian filmmaker travels to rural Midwest, asks questions, tosses a great honking big wad of fat on the sociopolitical fire:

http://movies2.nytimes.com/2004/08/26/movies/26hear.html

Most folks'll never lose a toe,
but then again some folks'll . . .

#61 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 04:31 PM:

That NY Times article starts: "It's called shooting fish in a barrel." Indeed. It is easy to get people to look like fools; however, exactly how they make themselves look foolish does depend on their natural tendencies. From the sound of it, this Horvath fellow didn't have to look hard to find folly.

#62 ::: Sara E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 04:34 PM:

Whee! I have quite the list going now! Thank you all very much. Have gone out and gotten "The Art of War" and will start it today.

As for the rest, I have a feeling the local library and I will quickly become good friends once again. Which isn't a bad thing.

Again, thanks everyone. This helps so much.

If anyone ever needs recommendations on children's books or texts on teaching reading and writing to elementary school aged children, I'll be able to return the favor! (Or for that matter, advice on how to choose a kindergarten. That I taught for five out of the 12 years I was a teacher.)

#63 ::: Derek Lowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 04:44 PM:

On the military front, a good book on the experience of battle itself (and the experience of it as seen from the home front) is Paul Fussell's "Wartime". His classic "The Great War and Modern Memory" shouldn't be missed, either.

The most unvarnished account of 20th-century combat I'm aware of is E.B. Sledge's "With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa". But it's so intense that it has to be taken in small, difficult doses. How people take the real thing is another subject altogether.

#64 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 04:46 PM:

Oh yeah, Wartime is terrific.

#65 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 04:55 PM:

Jill Smith, well, shows what I know about arachnid habitat. I've always thought the wolf spider was a local product. Thanks.

Jonathan Shaw, no. Annandale, Virginia. Suburb of Washington DC, about ten miles out.

#66 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 06:54 PM:

Mayakda, you appear to have a non-active edress in your info. Email me at mjlayman@erols.com and we'll discuss taping The Peacemaker Wars.

#67 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:22 PM:

If we can go back to making love, not war, for a moment: I've seen I am Curious (Yellow) (and previously read the script-with-stills book, without which the print I saw would not have been particularly intelligible). Older participants may remember this one -- IIRC, the year when U.S. Customs tried to block it from entering the country was 1968. It is entirely serious in intent (even where it's playing film-within-a-film games) and has a fair amount of non-simulated sex; the sex isn't the core of the movie but it's one of the things the two principals do. Swedish films had a ripe reputation in the 1960's; I don't know how many others were frank as a part of the story rather than as simple pornography.

It also occurs to me that the political content may not have helped the film with U.S. Customs -- that was back when people though Vietnam was winnable, and supporting non-violence would not have been appreciated -- but probably weighed in its favor in court, judging by what I remember of the chunks of the decision that were published in the book.

#68 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:59 PM:

CHip - Isn't it a bit odd how these two threads seemed to intertwine? I guess the link between sex and violence is further rooted in our brains than I thought.

Hey Robert, I know of the films you mentioned, but they seemed to be more about shocking the audience or dulling the senses regarding sex. I'm interested in 9 Songs, because supposedly it tells the story of a whole relationship through sex. And Michael Winterbottom is a great filmmaker.

I also read somewhere that Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange were actually doing it on the table in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

#69 ::: MaryR ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 09:03 PM:

To continue a thread I took notes on in the other open thread: The building of bookcases. Will be building a big one soon, but the current task is to paint one I already own. Any tips on good paint for bookcases?

And to add to the simple-to-build knowledge, the current one in my home office is made from MDF/Medium Density Fiberboard, purchased from Home Depot. We made the mistake of being cheap and buying longer lengths to cut. Do not do this, it is evil to saw. However, it has survived four years with a four-plus foot span, stuffed with computer manuals showing NO SAGGING!!

But it is pink and the room it lives in is now purple. Paint tips please! Thanks.

#70 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 09:14 PM:

Most of my best suggestions on military books have already been taken -- but here are some additional ones that you might find useful or interesting.

Once you get past all the writing about strategy and tactics, you need to read about logistics. Martin Van Creveld has already been mentioned, I believe, but I would like to specifically recommend his Supplying War : Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton as an excellent historical survey of military logistics. Gus Pagonis' Moving Mountains is much less forbidding, but you have to deal with Pagonis' own rather substanial ego.

Vietnam is still a current issue (especially lately). I have a particular soft spot for Bernard Fall's Steet Without Joy, and Hell in a Very Small Place as the best studies about the French Indochina war and insurgent warfare in general. And there is always People's War, People's Army by Vo Nguyen Giap. From the American side I would suggest Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie, Frances FitzGerald's Fire in the Lake, and Michale Herr's Dispatches.

#71 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:06 PM:

I haven't seen "This Ain't No Heartland," but it is my understanding that there are fools everywhere, and that many of them are available for filming, so I am not surprised that the filmmaker found some.


#72 ::: Sara E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:28 PM:

Logistics? :blinks: Hmmm, hadn't thought of that. (Which is why I'll have to read up on it after I get through the other suggestions.)

Painting book shelves: I say go for the simple and traditional solution. Strip the paint, sand, prime, paint the color you want. There are some good non-toxic paint strippers out there, but I have no clue as to where I put their names and I didn't keep the containers for them.

The last time I was in Home Depot I checked out the Trading Spaces books on decorating and such and they seemed to have some decent tips. And they work with MDF and fiberboard on that show all the time, so they should know how to paint the stuff.

#73 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 01:54 AM:

Installing via Add Printer didn't work, and the reply email to that was to do what they told me in the first email. I'm getting pretty close to returning the machine.

#74 ::: ben ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 07:29 AM:

This turned up via Metafilter yesterday:

How to write a best selling fantasy novel.

...Seems appropriate here, though I won't be surprised to discover that it's been a topic in the past.

#75 ::: Michi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 09:03 AM:

By the way "Insanity Set Mappings onto DSM-IV" is a plausible-sounding topic for a mathematical paper. (You think authors are crazy? Check out mathematicians.) (from the insane authors thread over half a year back)

As a budding mathematician, that kind of title sounds way too sane to be a serious title for a mathematical paper.

But then again, you probably could apply cohomological methods to the specific problem of finding all plausible mappings from a list of insanities to DSM-IV. We only need to prove that for any map from a specific set to DSM-IV, we can deduce another map from any set including this set to DSM-IV. We probably ened more sanity conditions as well. Given that, we can define simplicial cohomology sufficiently well.

#76 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 09:59 AM:

Any tips on good paint for bookcases?

Last set I painted I just used the same semi-gloss I used to paint the room the bookshelves went it. You can put a coat of clear coat if you're using a light color and you care (I didn't, but I've used clear coat for other projects. It's a latex clear coat, and I think my Lowe's had it in the "crafty" area of the paint section.)

Another thing I did, was to leave some the bookshelves unpainted, and to sponge paint flowers on the surfaces that would be visible when the shelves were full. This had the advantage of not having to wait for the paint to dry very long before books could be put on the shelves. (I also did the same thing with a bookshelf I painted white.)

Michelle

#77 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 09:59 AM:

MaryR -

As a general rule, paint on bookcases -- for most values of paint which can be applied without a kiln -- isn't a good idea, becuase it will scuff, stick to the books, and so forth.

If you simply *must* brush on paint, thorough cleaning (citrus cleanser is great for degreasing) then roughing up with fine sandpaper and applying a modern, non-toxic 'playroom paint' -- coloured waterbased urethanes -- and letting it cure hard (3 days) will do ok.

Interior latex paint has the wear resistance of chalk and should be avoided.

Alternatives to paint include iron-on laminate (tough, impermeable, easy, range of colours) and just not painting the thing in the first place; since you've already got it painted, though, that's not going to be an option.

(Side note -- MDF outgases nasty formaldehyde compounds. Filling a room with MDF bookcases is something I would disrecommend.)

There's always Tremclad -- sticks to anything, and tough enough that I've used it on gas pipe clothes rods with no scuffing problems, an epoxy paint, which should be applied outside but which will neither scuff nor stick to the books. Polyester table top binary mixtures are plenty tough enough (and frequently really shiny) but you need to do something about the pink, and they don't generally come coloured.

#78 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:26 AM:

Sarah S: the novel only available as cell phone msgs is a direct equivalent of DAY EAST RECEIVED aka INFORMED SOURCES by Willard Bain, originally published as single sheets distributed in the Haight-Ashbury in the late 60s by the Communications Company (Chester Anderson and others). But the inventors probably didn't know of the prior approach.

#79 ::: Metropolitan ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:42 AM:

In response to something waaaaayy up the thread, my favorite bumper-sticker of late:

Yes, it's my truck.
No, you can't use it to move.

#80 ::: Sarah Skwire ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Tom--

That's fascinating.

There's nothing new under the sun.

Though, the Haight-Ashbury project did center on hard copy, while the cell phone novel is entirely and intentionally evanescent....That seems, somehow, important--like a pop culture version of the sand paintings that are made in order to blow away.

MaryR--

I decoupaged a set of bookshelves with the horrible Norton Shakespeare when the publisher sent me 2 free copies. Kept one, used the other to paper the shelves. Heretical, I'm sure, but somehow cathartic.

#81 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Scraps Of Prehistoric Fabric Provide A View Of Ancient Life

Photo: "This fabric, found at Etowah Mound, in Georgia, is part of a much larger textile made from either nettle or milkweed fibers. Researchers think it may have been part of a mantle, and are investigating whether or not it was dyed. Photo courtesy Kathryn Jakes."

Michi:

"But then again, you probably could apply cohomological methods to the specific problem of finding all plausible mappings from a list of insanities to DSM-IV." The last time I had a long social conversation with a psychiatrist (over whether Math Disorder is properly diagnosed), she castigated DSM as out of touch with the real world, suggesting that this encyclopedia of insanities was itself insane. This suggests your kind of analysis, or maybe Godel-numbering of DSM syndromes.

Real Sex in Science Fiction Movies: This has not been brought up to date, but:
X-Rated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Videos
[at over 600 Kilobytes, takes a while to load, or shoot its load as the case may be]

Military Books: I'm looking for my copy, without which I'm not recalling the title, of a book where battles are dissected with frequent pauses to ask the reader which option said reader would choose if a general (flank to left, right, retreat?) and then show which actually happened. I've been co-authoring a paper for over a year about greatest military intelligence mistakes of all time, analyzed mathematically.

Last calculation completed last night:
[as supplement to]:
"Semiprime Kynea Numbers"
by
Jonathan Vos Post

ABSTRACT:

We find a sequence of semiprime values of Kynea
Numbers, with indices
4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 22, 36, 38, 39, 44, 45, 48, 49,
60... Previous researches have emphasized Kynea
Primes. I conjecture that there are an infinite
number of Kynea Semiprimes.
*** end abstract ***

the calculation, given that:
Kynea(k) = 4^k+2^{k+1}-1 = (2^k+1)^2-2.

Kynea(150):

2 037035 976334 486086 268445 688409 378161 051468
396520 431636 048060 211470 953238 662326 978948
890623
= 2 044468 501555 860291 320687 x
996364 568485 296798 890910 384430 845218 955460
701071 430238 670261 206129

Factorization complete in 0d 0h 30m 41s
ECM: 128851169 modular multiplications
Prime checking: 171398 modular multiplications

Number of divisors: 4

Sum of divisors: 2 037035 976334 486086 268446 684773
946646 348267 287430 816066 893279 166933 698778
594121 509501 417440

Euler's Totient: 2 037035 976334 486086 268444 692044
809675 754669 505610 047205 202841 256008 207698
730532 448396 363808

Moebius: 1

Sum of squares: a^2 + b^2 + c^2 + d^2
a = 947 354704 798476 595079 924574 086032 934837
280661
b = 930 301371 424865 421662 607368 404965 091004
260695
c = 453 813425 983573 604712 260264 869883 785136
184121
d = 261 051282 993865 986099 383613 108502 733297
698494

[note how long numbers are broken up with spaces to avoid jamming Making Light readers' browsers, as I once accidently did before]

[my PC is now trying to crack Kynea(170)]

#82 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:35 AM:

Re outgassing & MDF/fibreboard, etc.
A long, long time ago when that stuff was very new, I was sent to do a sorting job in the cupboard under the stairs at school, where they'd just installed a bunch of shelves in the fancy-shmancy new construction material.
Not very long after that, I was really sick & headachey & laid up for the rest of the day (if not the next, can't remember).

I still have full recall of that smell, and how it penetrated & permeated everything for a while - not unlike a later experience with dissecting a rat over several weeks ...

#83 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:40 AM:

Xopher: Indeed, 'twas Steve Taylor and Dan Blum. No offence intended to anyone by misapportionment of thanks, it's just that... well, a mind like a thingy... you know... with the holes and whaddjamacallit...

#84 ::: Michi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:50 AM:

JVP: Gödel-numbering of DSM-IV just cracked me up. Completely. You made my day (otherwise characterised by a dull headache, and a desperate run at getting my advisor to, you know, actually advise me in face of my pending master's thesis defense next week) -- thanks!

Is there a definition somewhere on semiprime Kynea numbers (and for that matter semiprime Keith numbers)?

#85 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Apologies to Teresa and readers for 2nd post so soon, but I neglected to link to a coherent answer to the thread on Science Fiction vs. Sci-Fi:

'I've seen things...'
Our expert panel votes for the top 10 sci-fi films
by
Alok Jha, Simon Rogers and Adam Rutherford
Thursday August 26, 2004
The Guardian

Panel of 60 top scientists rate films. #1 will surprise some. They also rate fiction authors and other categories, and provide definitions. Apparently a special Science Fiction issue.

The war of the words

The world's best scientists nominate their favourite authors
by
Tim Radford, Simon Rogers and Adam Rutherford
Thursday August 26, 2004
The Guardian

"Magic equals science, and science of the future equals magic": Phillip K Dick

"1 Isaac Asimov
As predictable as the human race eventually being enslaved by robots, Asimov, the founding father of modern science fiction, tops the poll. Despite an astonishingly prolific career, he has never been regarded highly for his prose. 'Asimov was not a stylish writer in the way that say, Philip K Dick was, but he was very rigorous scientifically, and thoughtful about how he projects scientific ideas into the future,' says Philip Ball, a writer of popular science books...."

[nitpickers please note middle initial of Dick, a la Ackerman and Truman]

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 12:57 PM:

Why is NOTHING stinky sticking to Bush? Talk about Teflon.... No wonder he's in the oil business, the dirt just rolls off him...

Latest uncovered bit of Bush BS....

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=132&topic_id=675299&mesg_id=675299


Official Bush National Guard picture, with Bush wearing a ribbon for a medal he wasn't entitled to wear....

==============================
Jettison Gag Order George....
==============================

#87 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 01:01 PM:

[In response to the Military books thread earlier]

Sara E:

By all means, read a book on military logistics. There is a quote (which I cannot attribute right now, shame on me) that says "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics".

In the real world (and in better wargames), battles and even wars can be won and lost with logistical planning (or lack thereof). If you can't manage to keep your troops supplied with food, ammunition, replacement parts, etc., they will eventually lose to a force that can maintain those supplies.

Emphasizing the importance of logistics is a tactical operation (sometimes called "deep strike") that directly targets the opponent's logistical chain. These attacks can, when properly employed, decimate an enemy's logistical resources and communications and cut the front-line troops from critical resources, reducing or even neutralizing their combat effectiveness.

We now return you to your reguilarly scheduled thread...

#88 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 03:49 PM:

Avram wrote:

As time went on, the term wound up being associated with snazzy but implausible marketing scenarios (think AT&T's "You Will" ads, or Apple's Knowledge Navigator), leading genre aficianados to sneer at the term, which they derisively pronounce "whuffie".

... which was a shame, since "wuffie" had previously been used as an affectionate nickname for Whitfield Duffie, a well known and loved household hero...

RandallP - I'd probably be willing to see any of those, provided that they fall on a reasonable day :)

Sideways, I'm profoundly impressed by sensible old technology, with gears and cogs that tends to Just Work - or if it fails, fails due to obvious things, like a spanner in the works. It's so much easier when you can just machine a piece, slap it in, and things start right back up again. None of this "is the chip okay" or "maybe you should reload" crap.

#89 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 04:39 PM:

In response to a post up near the top:

I heartily second the Peabody-Essex Museum recommendation. Take either the Rockport or Newburyport train from North Station (in Boston, orange or green line T stop) and get off at Salem. The PEM is within walking distance, and the Chinese house is fascinating. You can almost see the ghosts of all the generations of ancestors who lived there.

Plus, they have a painting by my great, great, great grandfather in their collection, which is pretty cool.

#90 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 06:00 PM:

The Peabody Essex museum's unique items include an ivory [ALL ivory...] writing desk, a bed which is wheel-rim shaped (my father, who worked as a cabinet maker for much of his life, was -very- impressed by it), and one of three full-sized Hawaiian religious idols still known to be in existence--all except two out of the thousands that had been in Hawaii and remained there, were destroyed in process of Christianization. The one at the Peabody Museum got there due to ties between Salem, Massachusetts. Among other things, native of the Salem area was married to a member of the Hawaiian royal family.

#91 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 07:52 PM:

Bus today, there was this guy, white tshirt, large black lettering -- "From a distance", quoth the tshirt.

Below that, in yellow lettering, "you're face looked much better."

Didn't tell him not to make any bets with boxes of rocks.

#92 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 08:11 PM:

"... which was a shame, since 'wuffie' had previously been used as an affectionate nickname for Whitfield Duffie, a well known and loved household hero..."

And whose name is Whitfield Diffie, unless the one I've met was a spoof address.

#93 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 08:55 PM:

Perhaps 'Duffie' is the (south) Welsh version of the name.

#94 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:16 PM:

Paula: "The one at the Peabody Museum got there due to ties between Salem, Massachusetts. Among other things, native of the Salem area was married to a member of the Hawaiian royal family."

That sounds like the setup for a Lovecraftian story.

Salem-based sailor travels in the mysterious Pacific, marries a native princess, brings her home, along with some eldritch carvings of otherworldly beings.

#95 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 12:00 AM:

Paula, NBC today had video of a couple being arrested for being at a Bush rally with anti-Bush t-shirts (looked like they made them themselves -- BUSH in black with the red no-circle over it). The police were very apologetic, but they'd been ordered by the Secret Service to arrest the couple. Their tickets had been revoked (once the t-shirts were seen) and therefore they were trespassing. I can't believe Bush is stupid enough to do this. The ACLU is taking the case for the couple.

#96 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 12:53 AM:

Hey, I can actually add something...

Sir Basil Liddell Hart's book Strategy is both a good early examination of the possibilities in high-tech mobile warfare and of historical significance itself. It was one of the crucial inspirations for the German strategists who developed the Blitzkrieg. Wikipedia has a good entry on Liddell Hart.

Which of the cyberpunk authors pointed at "the street has its own uses for things" as the essence of the genre? In any event, Michael Lewis' Moneyball is in that sense very cyberpunk, and highly relevant reading on modern strategy in an unusual context. It's about how a money-strapped baseball team put better statistics and better analysis to work in building a competitive lineup, and suggests the kind of edge that wise use of information can give by example. I'm very much uninterested in baseball, but found it fascinating.

#97 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 03:12 AM:

I didn't realize "Diffie" really was his [last] name at first, given the propensity that there has been sometimes at MIT for handing out oddball names, he was introduded to me as "Diffie" by a a different member of MIT's Class of 1965 at the 1990 Alumni Weekend and I was thinking "Diff. E," not realizing that there are people with the [last] name of "Diffie."

#98 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 03:16 AM:

Ooops. I did not graduate from college in 1965. Diffie did, and the person who introduced me to Diffie, was from the same class.

#99 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 09:42 AM:

Geez, Paula, and I was about to say how well preserved you are--or maybe unchanged would be nearer the truth. I was gonna tell you to toss all your rings in the fire...

#100 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 09:55 AM:

Whit is a fun guy, and an occasional customer at Other Change. I got to send him to Rob and Avedon as nice folks, and they've gotten on well for years since.

Maybe my real secret power is to introduce odd people to each other....

#101 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Michi:

Thank you for the mathematicoaesthetic reaction. For both Keith Numbers and Kynea numbers, my interest this week is in finding the intersection between those integer sequences and the semiprimes, which are the set of integer which are the product of exactly two (not necessarily distinct) primes. Keith Numbers, Smith Numbers, Kynea Numbers, all defined and referenced on the amazing Dr. Eric Weisstein's mathworld.com, the greatest of all math domains, and then also on N.J.A. Sloane's Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, the most compendious interactive work of its kind. Both are priceless.

Semiprime Kynea Numbers
by
Jonathan Vos Post
Version 2.0 of 27 Aug 2004

ABSTRACT:

Kynea Numbers are of the form 4^k + 2^(k+1) – 1
= (2^k + 1)^2 -2. We find a sequence of semiprime values of
Kynea Numbers, with indices 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 22, 36,
38, 39, 44, 45, 48, 49, 60, 72, 74, 75, 89, 92, 96,
99, 105, 110, 111, 113, 116, 131, 138, 143, 150...
Previous researches have emphasized Kynea Primes. I
conjecture an infinite number of Kynea Semiprimes.

Also this week:

"Iterated Sum of Squares of Prime Factors"
by
Jonathan Vos Post

Version 2.0 of 26 Aug 2004

ABSTRACT:

We define the function on natural numbers SPF2, Sum of
Squares of Prime Factors, and find complexity in the
behaviors that emerge when this function is
recursively iterated. This leads to novel conjectures.

*** end abstract ***

Is anyone with a PC faster than my AMD K6 interested in programming this and seeing
how long the trajectories can be, before hitting a prime and then swooping up to infinity on doubled powers of that prime, and if there are
other cycles besides 16 mapping to itself? Of course. I'd credit you in the paper when I submit it for publication.

More on how I connect to Math at:
http://magicdragon.com/math.html

I just mailed "The Sacred and Profane Ikon of Our Lady of the Paradox" to the newly revived Amazing Stories. In Hollywood, I'd pitch it as "Girl with a Pearl Ear Ring meets Timeline." And I mailed the signed permission form for Basic Books to publish a pair of letters about poetry and Physics between me and Richard Feynman in his Collected Letters, April 2005. But then I got distracted picking my 15-year-old college Junior son from the busstop on his way home from campus when I saw someone fling open his SUV's door and have it ripped away by a passing car. So I drove to the metrorail stop instead. Absent-minded professor...

#102 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 12:28 PM:

The APS's "What's New" page is worth reading for physics news, anti-pseudoscience, and the latest governmental scientific idiocies. In the latter regard, this item caught my attention:

SPACE STATION: WILL U.S. ASTRONAUTS HAVE TO FLY TOURIST-CLASS? The Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 makes it illegal to pay Russia to take US astronauts to the ISS. Astronauts have been getting free Soyuz rides since the shuttle grounding, but that deal ends in 2006. After that, Russia says they need the seats for paying passengers (WN 26 Apr 02) . I called Ada Parvenu, who handles billionaire relations for NASA. "We’re being shut out of the ISS," I shouted, "after investing $35B." "Calm down" she soothed, "it’s actually a terrific deal. It cost $500M to fly a shuttle to the ISS. Russia takes tourists there in a Soyuz for $20M. So we’ll call astronauts ‘tourists’." I was yelling now, "the law won’t let us pay Russia for tourists either." "We’ve thought about that," she said calmly, "we’re recruiting billionaires to be astronauts. They’ll be able to pay for their own tickets."

I hope that's a joke.

#103 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Will someone please get Mr. Vos Post a blog of his own?

#104 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 01:58 PM:

Argghhhh! That's what I get for having all of my vowels on one side of the keyboard. The finger slips by one key, and I'm red-faced in front of a plethora of authors and editors. Damn!

#105 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 02:03 PM:

Jimcat Kasprzak:

Sorry. I'll try to keep the Math on my livejournal blog, unless asked otherwise by multiple people here (not asking for a vote).

I was so charmed that I'd pleased Michi that I may well have overlooked your patience. Apologies to Teresa as well, as she's bent over backwards to be an attentive hostess, including warning me about this bandwidth-selfishness before. Don't hold this against her or Michi, please. I do try to converse politely with others here, but have sometimes shown ... ummm ... imperfect judgment.

#106 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 02:30 PM:

JVP - How about posting an offsite link when you feel that a math-rant is relevant?

Quite frankly, I often just blow by your comments without reading them and therefore miss your contributions to the conversation. You have a lot to say, much of which I find interesting, but I can't always invest the time to dig it out of the number theory games.

I also think that shorter comments are more likely to be read, although TNH has built a community that reads pretty much everything attentively. (Which is part of the reason I feel welcome here and post using my full name.)

Sorry for the Larry-centric post, but I suspect I'm not alone.

#107 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 03:36 PM:

Andy Perrin writes:

The APS's "What's New" page is worth reading for physics news, anti-pseudoscience, and the latest governmental scientific idiocies.
[...]
I was yelling now, "the law won’t let us pay Russia for tourists either." "We’ve thought about that," she said calmly, "we’re recruiting billionaires to be astronauts. They’ll be able to pay for their own tickets."

I hope that's a joke.

I have no doubt that Kindly Old Doctor Park (as he's known around here) is joking.

#108 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 04:42 PM:

JVP wrote:
a bunch of stuff not read by others in this thread.

I think it'd be more appropriate to keep the extensively math oriented posts to your livejournal, JVP.

#109 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 04:49 PM:

"I have no doubt that Kindly Old Doctor Park (as he's known around here) is joking," said Bill Higgins.

"That's as may be," darkled Andy, "but NASA?"

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 06:56 PM:

Sorry for the Larry-centric post, but I suspect I'm not alone.

I feel that way too. The interesting things to say that I don't have the energy to dig out of the math stuff, all of it.

JvP, I think the idea of a math link is a good one. Then if I'm feeling mathy (as I sometimes do), I can follow it, or if not just read the main text of your comment. I'd read a lot more of your comments that way.

#111 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 07:18 PM:

JvP, I think the idea of a math link is a good one. Then if I'm feeling mathy (as I sometimes do), I can follow it, or if not just read the main text of your comment. I'd read a lot more of your comments that way.

Thank you for saying it for me, Xopher. I agree to abide by same. Actual math (as opposed to discussion about math) plays havoc with blog readablity.

#112 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Cool link to that prehistoric textile picture and article. I've played a little with both nettle and milkweed fibers, but only to the extent of making some crude twine. Nettles, of course, must be handled with care. It helps to have them very dead.

#113 ::: james - Comment spam above ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 08:25 PM:

And pretty egregious comment spam as well, I should say.

#114 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 08:37 PM:

Larry, Bill, Andy et al.:

Readers having spoken, I make a writerly bow to acknowledge their rightness. And thank you, Anne Sheller, for grasping the nettle -- not to be confused with the Thistle, iconic flower of Scotland and thus the 2005 Worldcon.

Science Fiction is Where You Find It Department:

In his Thursday 26 August 2004 syndicated column, George Will, in praise of the NASA Center down the street from me -- JPL -- suddenly quoted some Poetry by a Scientist, which as I say overlaps Science Fiction:

In quite uncertain times and places
The atoms left their heavenly path,
And by fortuitous embraces,
Engendered all that being hath.

The poet/scientist? James Clerk Maxwell (who happened to have been engendered in Edinburgh, Scotland).

This, to me, reads like Lucretius, well-translated.

#115 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 08:43 PM:

Merilee,

Was it the couple arrested in WV, or a different couple?
See:
http://www.wvgazettemail.com/static/stories/2004071346.html
and
http://www.herald-dispatch.com/2004/July/15/update.htm

Also, did you see this:
Nick Lucy, a 64-year-old veteran and Democrat, said he was turned away from a May 7 rally in Dubuque, Iowa, at which President Bush spoke even though he had a ticket given to him by a local Republican leader. Lucy, who was not asked to sign a form, said he has seen every president since Ronald Reagan, but he was denied access because he is not a registered Republican. He is a Democrat and a past commander of the American Legion in Dubuque who plays taps at veterans' funerals.
''They asked the police to escort me out of there," Lucy said.

#116 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 08:51 PM:

Very icky bad comment spam-- Although I was surprised/amused to see "knee pain" listed. (Modem connection. Took forever to get past that post.)

The more time I spend on the internet, the more I discover that I am really very naive.

#117 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 10:52 PM:

Question for Teresa--

Is the increase in posters and lurkers here causing you any problems? Are you incurring fees or overloading your server or something?

Five hundred posts in three weeks....

#118 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 02:26 AM:

Grumble. I've just watched _Outfoxed_, which I would strongly suggest all here _listen_ to.

The DVD I watched had a synchronization error of between a tenth and a half second on most of the talking-heads shots -- which I estimate were much more than half the whole film. Which means I was continuously dropped out of paying attention to what was being said.

This is like using a sans face for body text that wasn't designed for same (or many that were so designed, but incompetently). It's a question of minimal competence at communicating with naive readers. Most folks won't notice, consciously -- but it enervates the message unnecessarily.

Difference between lightning and lightning bug, thank you Mr. Clemens.

#119 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 02:54 AM:

Michelle, it was the WV couple -- I didn't see the back of their t-shirts. I had heard that people were being asked to sign loyalty oaths, which again, just seems strange to me.

#120 ::: Henry Wessells ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 10:54 AM:

Department of literary-industrial archaeology:

Sarah Skwire wrote:
>Actually, someone's written a novel that is only available as cell phone text messages.

Back in 1986 I wrote and produced (with musical accompaniment) a dozen episodes of The Novel-in-Progress as thirty-second thrillers, the length determined by the outgoing answering machine tape. I probably have the typescripts in the attic, but I am quite certain that I did not save the cumulation tape I made.

HW

#121 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 12:19 PM:

... and speaking of musical acompanyment, there's A Shoggoth on the Roof! for Graydon's enjoyment.

#122 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 12:28 PM:

Ben, apropos how to write a best-selling fantasy novel, I should like to note that about two years ago I sat down to cold-bloodedly write a BSFN. Whether it BS's successfully is in abeyance -- it's not due out for another few weeks yet -- but by some eerie coincidence, my personal unwritten rules for how to go-about it were almost exactly the opposite of Ian MacFadyen's (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) rule set. Which just goes to show that I haven't yet written a bestseller. QED, anthropic reasoning applied to sales figures.

For a similar but more comprehensive set of guidelines see also, "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland".

What this has to do with military tactics, mathematicoaesthetic logic, US politics, or NASA's space shuttle replacement is left as an exercise for the demented.

(Real purpose of posting: anyone up for a beer at Noreascon?)

#123 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Charlie Stross:

Is the beer offer good through the Worldcon in Glasgow, where my Edinburghian wife and I plan to attend?

Science Fiction Is Where You Find It Department:

"[T]he generations of man come and go and are in eternity no more than bacteria upon a luminous slide, and the fall of a republic or the rise of an empire -- so significant to those involved -- are not detectable upon the slide even were there an interested eye to behold that steadily proliferating species which would either end in time or, with luck, become something else, since change is the nature of life, and its hope."

Gore Vidal, Washington, D.C.: A Novel
[Random House]

Does this remind you, as it does me, the opening of "War of the Worlds"? Of course, Vidal IS a science fiction novelist of great merit. Due to poor health, he is selling his Italian villa and moving full-time to his California home.

#124 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 01:03 PM:

JvP: yeah, and I can probably provide better guidance to drinking in Glasgow than in Boston. If my liver survives that long ...

#125 ::: Magenta ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 01:13 PM:

For Jill Smith, on a comment a ways back:

I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of DC, and there were wolf spiders, alas, since I am a arachnephobe, and those are BIG spiders. I once almost touched one that had decided the living rooms curtains would be a good place to rest. I was about to pull the curtains aside to look out. Ooops!

I remembering hearing that they were coming into peoples' houses more as their usual habitat, the woods, were cut down to build, you guessed it, the suburban houses like the one I lived in. I suspect that they are less common now, but Maryland is certainly in their range, to the best of my knowledge.

#126 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 02:23 PM:

Xeger --

There are some things man was not meant to know.

That appears to be about twelve of them.

#127 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 03:33 PM:

Call me foolish, but can anybody here tell me why they say "zed" instead of "zee" for the letter "z" in their alphabet?

Also, why in the U.S. do they spell it as "labor" while in Canada they use "labour"? I'm looking for the specific reason.

Just wondering.

#128 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 04:04 PM:

Randall P. : colour, honour, etc. are because a certain upstart Mr. Webster decided he wanted to differentiate American English from the King's English, and decided one way to do this was by rationalising the spelling of certain words. The fact that he then compiled a moderately successful dictionary helped propagate this grievous wound to the language...

;)

As for Zee/Zed, I haven't the faintest idea. As a Brit, Zed just sounds right.

#129 ::: Jeff Allen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 04:42 PM:

Bruce Baugh - William Gibson said "The street has its own uses for technology," probably what you were going for. Felt sure someone'd beat me to that one.

#130 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 05:43 PM:

Just a quick note to say that the good ol' girlie-pink Nutbar Conspiracy T-shirt got a couple of smiles this afternoon at the big NYC March ;-)

Harriet
with the very tired feet

#131 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 06:15 PM:

Jill - Odd that you should mention large spiders. We've found a web-spinner by the back gate that's somewhere around the size of a dollar/pound coin, and speckled, rather than furry, like the wolf spiders that I'm used to seeing.

My attempts to photograph it and identify it have failed miserably - it's the perfect colour for blending into the surroundings.

Graydon - this, this and this are things not meant for man to know. The shoggoths are merely entertainment ;)

#132 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 07:05 PM:

Zed also makes more sense when you have a last name like mine. Spelling my name over the phone leads to weirdness unless I pronounce it 'zed.'

#133 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 07:54 PM:

Or we could just call that last letter Izzard instead -- that's smaller and more frequent, right? (Old NH joke)

#134 ::: james ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 08:37 PM:

Randall P --

Colour, honour, etc. are derived in English from the Middle French forms which give us couleur, honneur, etc., whence the u in the suffix. The 18th century produced a set of classicists who wanted to go back directly to the Latin roots in -or, -oris.

As for zed, I don't know the details of the origins of the two terms, but there is an explicit zed in Shakespeare -- _Lear_: "Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter". I expect the difference is dialectical in origin.

As a Canadian/Ontarian , zed seems entirely natural to me, and _zee_ as clear a marker of foreignness as the American pronunciation of lieutenant.

#135 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 09:11 PM:

I don't know the details of the origin of the Brit/Canadian 'z' = zed either, but merely observe that the French also pronounce it as zed. I suppose we should count ourselves fortunate that we did not also acquire their pronunciation for 'y'...

#136 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 09:20 PM:

Ms. Keezer, my couple of years as a Navy radioman gave me two skills; enhanced typing ability and the international phonetic alphabet. The latter has come in super-handy over many a telephone over the past twenty-five years or so.

After learning that, "zed" just doesn't sound right.

#137 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 10:25 PM:

One of my college buddies, a kiwi, describes his bafflement on seeing a guide for novice strummers titled GUITAR MADE E-Z.

"Eeee-Zed? What the hell does that mean?"

He's since become an editor at Scientific American, so presumably he's adapted to the colloquialisms.

#138 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 10:33 PM:

Or we could just call that last letter Izzard instead -- that's smaller and more frequent, right? (Old NH joke)

You may be interested to know that the only time Teresa ever came to my house, she promptly fell over at the sight of my African ritual shield, which has stylized critters on it that look just like her Izzards.

I used to know someone whose first name was 'Z'. That's 'Z', not 'Z.' and it wasn't short for anything; it was on his birth certificate. I've since met people named Zed, but they spelled it out. 'Z' was pronounced Zee; I don't know if he bothered to correct them furriners...I'm pretty sure my old buddy Maurice didn't correct his now-wife's family when they called him MOR-iss.

#139 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 11:36 PM:

Charlie: I would be happy to get together with you, though I don't drink beer myself.

We went to the Peabody Essex Museum yesterday, actually...we wanted to see Havana: Photographs by Robert Polidori and Treasures From Chatsworth.

The latter is extensive and wonderful and highly recommended. The former is no slouch either.

Linkmeister: I have encouraged all of my staff to use the NATO phonetic alphabet for reading off computer serial "numbers" and the like (aggravating registration codes, etc). Extremely useful, and can be used in other situations (machine acting odd? Say "whiskey tango" really loud!).

#140 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 01:10 AM:

Mr. Davis, if you add "foxtrot" to that "whiskey tango" phrase you mention, you can express a common sentiment in terms mixed company can abide. Myriads of uses, that alphabet.

#141 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 03:33 AM:

"Zed" derives ultimately from "zeta", the Greek name of the letter Z. And, before someone else mentions it, "zeta" in turn is related to the Hebrew "zayin" and Arabic "zay", all descended from a Phoenician letter that, apparently, originally looked like I, complete with the top and bottom serifs.

I suspect the "zee" pronunciation, being used solely in the U.S., is another one of Noah Webster´s improvements to the language, but I can´t find anything to substantiate that. Or it may simply have developed in analogy to Bee, Cee, Dee, Gee, etc.

#142 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 04:12 AM:

Uhhmm, you know, what's that song you guys play?

I read a novel 25+ years ago wherein the public is polled for their opinon on a given issue, whether or not the individual knows anything about the issue.

I believe this (the process, not the novel) was called the Delphic Project.

So today I was reading BoingBoing about a journo loathing the Wikipedia process:

---the Fasoldt says Wikipedia is "dangerous" discussion:

http://www.boingboing.net/2004/08/28/journalist_wikipedia.html (report)

http://www.chuggnutt.com/2004/08/29/fasoldt_again.html (report + comments)

http://joi.ito.com/archives/2004/08/29/wikipedia_attacked_by_ignorant_reporter.html (report + comments)

http://invisiblelibrary.blogspot.com/2004/08/fear-of-open-source-world.html (reports, long commentary, + comments)

Somehow, the discussion brought clearly to mind a scene from this novel. But I can't bring to mind title, or much of the plot. Does anyone know the novel to which I refer?

#143 ::: JM Kagan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 04:29 AM:

liz---
John Brunner's SHOCKWAVE RIDER?
I'm sure the book you're looking for was one of John's but at this hour I'm not sure of the title. I trust someone here will correct me if I'm wrong.
Cheers, Janet

#144 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 06:34 AM:

SHOCKWAVE RIDER is indeed the book with the Delphi polling. The technique of that name was invented at dear old RAND Corp, in the late 50s or early 60s, and is still in use. The central idea is to present a series of questionnaires which are refined over time, without revealing any intermediate results to those polled. (It's been a long time since I studied this sorta thing.)

It's probably at least as accurate a method of predicting the future as getting really wasted on volcanic gas while up close and personal with a python.

SHOCKWAVE is also the book that ought to settle the question of who invented cyberpunk, but it's probably way too late for that.

#145 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 06:58 AM:

Nit-pick: IIRC, the copyright date on SHOCKWAVE RIDER was 1975, implying it was written in 1973-74 (given that the estimable Mr Brunner wasn't noted for sitting on manuscripts in those days). However, wasn't DR ADDER originally written in 1971-72? Yes, yes, I know it wasn't published until reality caught up with it in the early 80's, but 'm just trying to make a case here ...

(In reality, as Any Fule Kno, Cyberpunk was invented by Bruce Bethke, to his detriment.)

#146 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 07:05 AM:

Who knew the big spider was going to be such a hit?

She was immobile (on the outside of the house, thank goodness) while we photographed her (link to photo in open thread 26), but that may have been because of the gigantic egg-sac she was toting around. Spider Prada, perhaps?

Apparently, she will be transporting all of her metric gazillion babies on her back when they hatch.

Our little corner of Maryland seems to be spider heaven - we get a lot of them, both inside and outside the house (though luckily the inside ones -- that I have seen -- have not been so big).

#147 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 09:22 AM:

By golly, this is a scary thread. It makes me wonder: am I more afraid of spiders or of math?
I think my mathphobia trumps my arachnophobia. I can actually kill small spiders, but have not found an adequate defense against anything above trigonometry, alas.
(I'm currently attempting to read The Cartoon Guide to Statistics, sort of as a desensitization exercise.)

#148 ::: priscilla ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 09:24 AM:

Just a short note to say that George Flynn has died.
He will be missed.

#149 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 09:25 AM:

Linkmeister: indeed, but I usually save that for the really wacky situations. Normally, "foxtrot" is merely implied.

We've also had our range of invective extended by the addition of a British member of the group; it's amazing how many pieces of software "design" are "totally pants".

#150 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 09:42 AM:

Don't worry, mayakda, you will be assimilated. The Cartoon Guides are a nice place to start. When you get around to special relativity, can I recommend Einstein for Beginners? I like the artwork in the "— for Beginners" series more than the Cartoon Guides'.

#151 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 09:59 AM:

Priscilla -- thanks for the info. I agree, George will be missed.

If an author writes a book and nobody reads it, Charlie, does it make a difference? SHOCKWAVE RIDER didn't create cyberpunk (took someone coming up with the name to do that!) but it paved the way, just as many paved the way for Gernsback's creation of scientifiction. Which led to science fiction, SF, etc. The search for origins is always long. Dirac angesung gesept.

#152 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:34 AM:

BTW, those of you who have been waffling on purchasing a "Republicans for Voldemort" shirt should check this out. When you purchase one right now, they'll donate $1 to MoveOn.

The same deal applies to their "Jesus Loves Dick" shirts, should that do more towards floating your boat.

#153 ::: Ted Kocot ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:37 AM:

Uh, outside of marketing, doesn't the thing have to exist, or at least be concieved of, before it can be named? I mean I can declare the next big literary movement will be called, "Glibersnortz" and apart from pointing and laughing no one is going to pay much attention.

Bruner did a great job of predicting the internet. Pitty he didn't predict that it'd be done with computers.

_The_Stars_My_Destination_ was full of cyberpunky goodness in 50s, but I wouldn't exactly call it cyberpunk.

#154 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 11:36 AM:

Back at 10:46AM (your time) on my birthday (along with Goethe, Tolstoy(ish) & Donald O'Connor), JvP mentioned, near the end of the post, an incident involving a car door.

Skipped ahead here to mention a memory I have of hearing long time past that there was a brilliant young British mathematician (scientist?) bicycling through Oxford/Cambridge as so many did, and some still do, when he was knocked over by a carelessly-opened car door & killed. This story was told in the spirit of "what might he have done, had he lived?", though I have used it as a cautionary one about checking doors - rather like The Death of Alcan by Bookcase.

(Lagging a bit here, due to assorted celebratory distractions.)

#155 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 11:46 AM:

Christopher -

I'm still amused by the lovely gentleman at the border who mentioned that they have Charlie Foxtrot situations and occasionally exclaim Whiskey Tango Foxtrot as well. I do find the idea of a Foxtrot Umbrella (or Uniform, depending on your version) highly entertaining - it reminds me of the huge dance numbers in golden age movies.

On a related note, I once discovered that the perfect way to drive certain folks (often ham radio, sometimes ex-military) crazy is to use never-duplicated approximations for the P-as-in-Peter, Harry, Otto, November, Edward, Thomas, Izzy, Charlie, ... A-as-in-andrew, Larry, Paul, Hamilton, Alice, Bernard, Eustace, Ted ....

#156 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Randall:

What, you read all of them already? I thought you'd be buried for years.

Congrats on the new arrival, hope it wasn't too strenuous and that all three of you are recovering nicely.

Oh, what else... the alphabet thing. I'm grown in canada, and for a short time in my youth thought that zee had to be the real one because it made the end of the song rhyme. I was carefully corrected. Zed has a cleaner, more final sound. Or something.

And as marvelous as the film festival would be, I don't think I'll make it. I'm on vacation in the other end of my country at the moment (godz bless the greyhound), and I can't go gallivanting off again immediately after my return. I will have to go back to work. Or something. Everyone else go have a good time, i'll be in my cubicle plotting world domination.

(And I'm on a functioning keyboard for once! Capital Letters! Exclamation marks! The number 1!)

#157 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Dirac angesung gesept.

Alle menschen werden Brunner.

To be a bit clearer about my view (and perhaps wave the bloody ox), I'm mainly just tired of reading the phrase "William Gibson invented cyberpunk" -- often exactly that phrase, indicating that it has merely been transcribed from a previous iteration -- as if NEUROMANCER simply emerged ex nihilo. There were, indeed, all kinds of antecedents; Schmitz's "ComWeb" system at one point has a description of something very like LANs.

I sometimes think (I may be wrong) that a reason so many of the c-word writers resent(ed) the label was not just that they did not consider themselves a "movement," they were irritated by the implication that they were all, uhm, er, inspired by NEUROMANCER. (I've seen essays that claim that book to be stylistically original, at which point a man should come through the door holding a gun.)

And I'm very sorry to hear about George. While I'm sure this will be a topic of conversation next weekend, was this unexpected?

#158 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 02:42 PM:

See also Algis Budrys Michaelmas (~1977, based on earlier short stories) for pre-net, pre-cyberspace precursors.

#159 ::: JM Kagan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 03:33 PM:

Pish-tosh. Murray Leinster invented cyberpunk. Reread "A Logic Named Joe" if you don't believe me.

Happy birthday, Epicris! Happy baby, Randall P. Family!

Mike---Thanks for confirming the Brunner title for me. I've been wanting to reread that. Now I've got a better idea where in the stacks (vertical) to look.

#160 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 05:12 PM:

Appropos of absolutely nothing upthread, but related to any number of typographic posts, is Cooper Black. A true story.

#161 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 05:37 PM:

Please, everyone knows Mary Shelley invented cyberpunk. (I fondly recall the CHEAP TRUTH columns she used to write in persona as Dr. Frankenstein...)

#162 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 06:35 PM:

The sci-fi channel, obviously isn't all bad. I for one eagerly anticipate the debut in January of the new Battlestar Galactica series and the Farscape miniseries in October.

It's been far too long since their was any decent Science fiction TV shows. Ever since X Files started to become bogged down in their own mythology, it's been a disapointment. I cringe to even mention the lackluster hobgoblin that is Enterprise. If it has anythng at all to do with scince or fiction (besides T'Pol's breasts, which are both fictional and the reslut of science gone wrong), I've yet to see it proven.

#163 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 06:42 PM:

Claude, that was a wonderment. We're type geeks here (at least Jim and I are -- him more, me less).

#164 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 07:10 PM:

thanks for letting us know, priscilla. i barely knew him, but i thought well of him.

#165 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 07:16 PM:

I can't imagine I'm the first person to mention this -- dark chocolate is good for your blood flow:

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1187820.htm

Chocolate makes me think of Mary Kay, and I was surprised today when a copy of the Globe at the grocery checkout said "Mary Kay Pregnant Again?" I thought "Mary *Kay*?!" but it turned out to be Mary Kay LeTourneau.

#166 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 09:34 PM:

Paula: Have you read Bringhurst's "The Elements of Typographic Style"???

It's the first book I point to when coworkers ask about my fascination with typography.

#167 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:01 PM:

Bill, I think we own a copy... it's somewhere. I know that we own a number of typography books/design books. It should be downstairs, but we still need to rearrange the laundry drying area that's taken over the non-fiction/humor library... (I also learned in high school how to create type/proportions and hand-lettering.)

#168 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:03 PM:

Keith - My theory re: T'Pol's, er, unnatural endowment is that, despite indications to the contrary, she's really from the planet Rackulon.

I'm also going to assume that your typo was not a Freudean slip.

#169 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:17 PM:

What's local opinion on The Mac Is Not A Typewriter?

When I got my first Mac at thirteen, my dad lent me his copy. It probably saved him from the worst of excesses of PrintShop.

#170 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:21 PM:

...and while I'm thinking of it, the actual title is The Mac is Not a Typewriter.

#171 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 11:09 PM:

"Down-jazzed, Up-tight, Side-souled Dad", by Jonathan Vos Post, California Tech, Pasadena, CA,
29 Jan 1970, pp.7+10; arguably the world's first published Cyberpunk fiction, featuring "street" use of high temperature superconductors, neural reprogramming, pop music of 1999, and swimming pools programmed to thermally code music for the mind-altered...

Today I received this rejection letter in the mail from A Major Market:

"WAR BETWEEN THE NUMBERS is kinda cute, but I'm afraid I couldn't convince enough of our readers it's really science fiction. Thanks for letting me see it, and good luck in placing it elsewhere."

Not complaining, mind you. It was a personal letter, signed by the Editor in Chief, who does have a valid point.

Car door versus "brilliant young British mathematician (scientist?) bicycling through Oxford/Cambridge": Professor Oliver Selfridge told me that his good friend Alan Turing, who rode his bike all over greater London as well, while wearing a gas mask, was ALMOST wiped out a few times in that manner. Imagine the world with no Turing Machine, due to a defunct Touring Machine...

Honest, not likely to offent the Math-phobic: I gave this homework assignment today to my 65 Algebra students:

These syllogisms [Logic problems] are from a collection written by Lewis Carroll.
1. Find the conclusion for the following syllogism.
a. No ducks waltz;
b. No officers ever decline to waltz;
c. All my poultry are ducks.
Conclusion:

2. Find the conclusion for the following syllogism.
a. The only books in this library that I do not recommend for reading are unhealthy in tone.
b. The bound books are all well-written.
c. All the romances are healthy in tone.
d. I do not recommend that you read any of the unbound books.
Conclusion:

3. Find the conclusion for the following syllogism.
a. No shark ever doubts that it is well fitted out;
b. A fish that cannot dance a minuet is contemptible;
c. No fish is quite certain that it is well fitted out, unless it has three rows of teeth;
d. All fishes, except sharks, are kind to children;
e. No heavy fish can dance a minuet;
f. A fish with three rows of teeth is not to be despised.
Conclusion:

But I've lost my set of answers. Any suggestions?

#172 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 11:47 PM:

Ah, there they are:

Sets of Concrete Propositions, proposed as Premisses for Sorites.
Conclusions to be found
from
Symbolic Logic

Part of the Lewis Carroll E-text Collection, compiled and maintained by Cathy Dean
Created: June 15, 1997

#173 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 12:37 AM:

I bought The Elements of Typographic Style after getting it from the library...after seeing it mentioned in a Making Light comment thread.

Typography, yay.

As for the Mary Kay confusion, the fact that they're both in the Puget Sound area probably makes it even more so.

#174 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 06:24 AM:

Chris, et al - I also discovered Bringhurst from this blog, and my life has been deeply enriched by same - it's now a standard Christmas gift to anyone I think will appreciate it.

And to all Type Geeks here: Cheshire Dave (of Behind the Typeface: Cooper Black fame) has a new movie coming soon!

#175 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 09:07 AM:

Apropos of comments on Sci Fi Channel: Melinda Snodgrass announced at Bubonicon this last weekend that Sci Fi Channel will be developing WILD CARDS as a series. (Cool!)

#176 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 10:31 AM:

A catch all post, since this thread is up to 175 comments already.

Andy -- On Einstein for Beginners. Hah! That should be IF I get around. But thanks for the suggestion. I'll keep an eye out for that series.

Marilee -- Another excuse to indulge! I eat so much dark chocolate I swear my blood is deep brown. Though I do have great cholesterol numbers. [preens]

Bruce -- Wild Cards? Wow. I'm spreading the word on the local GRRM list.

JVP -- I'm tempted to post those exercises on my blog. I think I would've liked math if Lewis Carroll had been my teacher.

#177 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 11:12 AM:

I appear to be nearly alone in all the world in thinking that the Xindi arc on Enterprise has been the best Trek work done since TNG went off the air. Well acted (for Trek, and for the most part), a minimum of formulaic plots in a *long* story arc, and genuine issues and questions of ethics tackled. Plus, T'pol's hot. Damn hot. Damn.

I have to say I'm looking forward to Battlestar Galactica more than I am Enterprise, though. The original show was one of my formative SF experiences, but a friend gave me the original 2-hour pilot/movie...it doesn't stand up so well, particularly when compared to last year's Sci-Fi mini. Plus, Number 6 is hot. Damn hot.

#178 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 11:40 AM:

I must say that every time I see "Cooper Black," I flash back to our last house-hunting enterprise, two years-and-some ago. John and I found some of the typos in the real estate listings irresistibly funny. One house we looked at boasted "shoes like a model," (sounds uncomfortable, and indeed, the house was one of those all-white walls, white carpets, and many-things-covered-in-plastic type houses).

The point? The "Cooper Black" point? We still preen ourselves on the fact that, according to the literature, our house has "Cooper Pipes."

#179 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 12:48 PM:

In case y'all haven't seen this yet, there's an Otter Pup on the way.

#180 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 12:51 PM:

Maybe everybody already knows about these mind-roasting optical illusions, but if not, they're well worth checking out.

#181 ::: Sarah Skwire ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 12:56 PM:

A _Wild Cards_ series?

Oh *boy*

*finger poised over the Tivo buttons*

#182 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 10:53 PM:

Jill Smith:

"Cooper Pipes" -- shouldn't that be Caper P**ps?

#183 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 07:43 AM:

Excrement from the pickled buds of a Mediterranean bush?

#184 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 10:42 AM:

Bruce Arthurs: Sci Fi Channel will be developing WILD CARDS as a series.

Wow. Good news/bad news, all in one statement. Love the idea, wish it were being done by almost anyone else.

Tim Walters: Thanks for the optical illusions. I've always loved them; the motion ones are especially cool. (And the warning on the page is both true and apt.)

#185 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:04 AM:

I've finally been catching up on the Wild Cards bits I hadn't read, and they're still fun (the two Baen books and DEUCES DOWN).

And now I'm off to catch an airplane (quicklime, much better than nets) to go to Boston!

#186 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:20 AM:

I looked at the writhing-snakes illusion too long. I couldn't read the text on my monitor, and my left eye was going nuts for about half an hour.

I went for a walk, looked at the NYC skyline (so peaceful, it was hard to imagine the chaos in midtown, or the concentration of monstrous and/or deluded people in MSG), and it went away. It's a cool illusion, but I'm not looking at it any more.

#187 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:40 PM:

It's a cool illusion, but I'm not looking at it any more.


The peaceful NYC skyline, or the writhing snakes?

#188 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:58 PM:


p.s. the first bit of my last post was supposed to be in italics, but they weren't working. of course they work fine now...


#189 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 02:06 PM:

Covered my face.
Mine eyes dazzled!
Pretty cool, though.

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 02:46 PM:

Why the snakes, Elese. The only time I was disinclined to look at the NYC skyline was right after 9/11, and even then I couldn't help it. Staring and staring.

#191 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 03:05 PM:

Sorry, I didn't mean anything bad by it. Just you were talking about the optical illusion of the moving snakes, and then how you calmed down by looking at the NYC skyline, which is so peaceful it belies the energy and busyiness of the city, which to me sounded a bit like an optical illusion in itself :)

#192 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 03:24 PM:

No, I took it as a joke. You actually meant something much more poetic than I gave you credit for. Glad you explained. More of a mental delusion (the skyline), but I like your analogy.

#193 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:14 PM:

:)

I love the view of the NYC skyline from Brooklyn. I live in England though so I don't get to see it too often.

Which leads me to one of my favourite rants "Life would be so much better if we had Star Trek style transporters".

Although, I'd probably be too scared to ever use one. The idea of separating my molecules, flinging them through space, and then sticking them back together gives me the willies.

I'm rather attached to my molecules, and thankfully they're rather attached to eachother.

#194 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:24 PM:

I've decided it reads better:

I'm rather attached to my molecules, and thankfully they're rather attached to me.

I'm annoyed I didn't write it this way the first time, so I'm making myself re-post the line.

(the continuing story of my life-long struggle to use the perfect word in the perfect place: one of the many reasons I love Neil Gaiman and well-written Haikus)

#195 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:37 PM:

"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

#196 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:46 PM:

Andy, that's one of the worst haikus I've ever seen.

:p

#197 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:58 PM:

Xopher, a quotation that made me cry 'Yes, yes, that's exactly what I mean', and then lead to an interesting train of thought: perhaps the culmination of my life-long ambition will occur when I'm struck by lightening.

(freudian slip intended - p.s. is it a freudian slip if it has nothing to do with sex?)

#198 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 05:23 PM:

Skwid, I don't think it even qualifies as a haiku. Wrong number of syllables in each line. I was inspired by the Webster commentary. (I think the original is by a different Webster, though. And my version is on a very different subject.)

#199 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 05:40 PM:

The "In Quite Uncertain Times and Places" song (from Jonathan Vos Post, upthread) can be sung to the tune of "High Above Cayuga's Waters"

#200 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 05:44 PM:

Elese - I'd call it a pun, and a good one.

#201 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 06:28 PM:

Erik: Thoroughly entertaining, though my preferred alternate lyrics to that song are of the "there's an awful smell" variety. Singing it frequently is one of the highlights of an Ithaca/Cornell marriage.

#202 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 08:14 PM:

As a kid from Brooklyn, I feel compelled to add that the only correct way to view the NY skyline is from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or from the deck of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The view from Jersey is just plain wrong. All backwards or something.

#203 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 08:34 PM:

Erik Nelson:

You say: The "In Quite Uncertain Times and Places" song (from Jonathan Vos Post, upthread) can be sung to the tune of "High Above Cayuga's Waters." Wonderful discovery! James Clerk Maxwell, when he was a schoolboy, was meanly called "Dafty" -- which translates to the the Anglo-American-Disney "Daffy." He has the last laugh!

Elese:

Definition: a Freudian Slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother.

Larry Brennan:

Having grown up in Brooklyn Heights, less than half a block from the Promenade, I heartily agree. The last line in last week's "The Entourage" on TV has a daffy guy on the beach at Malibu, looking West. He refers to the sunset as being in the East. He's corrected, "That's the West." He says, with George W. Bush blithely-oblivious-to-the-truth self-righteousness, "Yeah, I mean in New York it's East."

#204 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 08:55 PM:

JVP - One of the weird things about living in California is that the ocean's on the wrong side, so the sun sets over it rather than rising, hence an opportunity for east-west confusion. Of course, here on the SF Peninsula, you actually have to go over the hills to see the ocean, assuming that they aren't on the receiving end of heavy cloud cover. (When crossing those hills, there's often a change from bright sunlight to solid overcast and a temperature drop of up to 30 degrees.)

#205 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 09:17 PM:

Larry Brennan:

Can anyone find the reference to the recent book on the psychology of how people get lost? Some people never do -- they have "a bump for direction." The author, if I recall correctly, was from California, but moved to Boston. He had to leave Boston after a few confused years, where he always got lost because, as you put it, "the ocean's on the wrong side."

#206 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 10:38 PM:

re military books: I've read about 2/3rds of those, and would add "The Mask of Command" by Keegan and "Weapons and Warfare" by DuPuy.

I also commend "War" by Gwynne Dyer (who was a Col. in the Canadian Navy). It was written to accompany a PBS series.

TK

#207 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:09 PM:

I had a funny experience a couple of years ago traveling in LA with a friend. I should add that we both have good senses of direction and seldom get lost.

I was driving north on a major freeway (the 405, I think) and got stuck in the HOV lane, with a CHP cruiser on my tail so I couldn't just create my own exit from the lane. By the time I was able to get into the regular traffic lanes, we needed to double back to get to our exit. We were at a rather complicated multi-freeway interchange, so I decided to continue on to the next surface street exit where I thought it would be easist to turn around.

At this point, my friend freaked out, yelling, "We're leaving the valley!" So I took one of the many freeway-to-freeway ramps and did a series of totally random, longer-distance things to turn around.

Over the course of this trip, we figured out that I (a city kid) carry street maps in my head as a mental network that I use to navigate by. My friend, from western North Carolina, uses geographical landmarks. The two systems are not compatible. When I'm driving, I don't even notice the hills, but I do know the names of the major streets. My friend can barely tell you what street he lives on, but knows how far he is from, for instance, Mt. Diablo or Mt. Hamilton. But neither of us gets lost. We just can't play navigator for each other.

#208 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:14 AM:

Well, that's it, folks. The end of (truthful) Caller ID is at hand.

For $19.99 a month and as little as 7 cents a minute, customers can go to the company's Web site (www.star38.com), log in and then type the number that they want to call and the number that they want to appear on the caller ID screen of the recipient's phone.

For an additional fee, they can also specify names that can appear along with their telephone numbers.

"This product would be beneficial," Mr. Smith, the bill collector, remarked. "I'm going to look into it."


#209 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 04:41 AM:

Marilee, very much upthread you mentioned that there was a rumour of loyalty oaths being signed at the Republican Convention. Was that a joke? Or was it a real rumour? Or perhaps it even happened? Because random people from Catch-22 have been turning up in my head while I watched what little coverage we get here (Holland) from the convention, and loyalty oaths... Oh boy.

#210 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 08:31 AM:

The end of (truthful) Caller ID is at hand.

That does it. I'm getting rid of caller ID and saving myself $8 a month. I barely use it anymore anyway, since most people call our cell phones anyway, this is the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.

#211 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 10:28 AM:

Since it bears so strongly, I would think, on editorial interests, as well as topics which have been discussed here in depth such as proofreading abilities and reading speeds, I thought I would post the following fascinating article from, of all places, Microsoft:

The Science of Word Recognition

It's interesting to me that anyone ever seriously pursued the idea of serial letter recognition as a general model...it seems self-evidently *not* how reading works for this adept speller/proofer, at least. Thoughts?

#212 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:14 AM:

Skwid, could you please repost the link? It doesn't seem to work for some reason.

#213 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:22 AM:

What the hell? I went back through my browser history, and I had the correct link and the correct markup on it, but the preview window is linking to a different link, and the post itself is linking to yet another.

The Science of Word Recognition

OK, the preview link is working on this one...

#214 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:22 AM:

Could "In quite uncertain times and places/ Atoms left their heavnely path" really be a line written by Maxwell? It sounds like an allusion to the Uncertainty Principle, which was formulated much later than Maxwell's time.

#215 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:36 AM:

A horrid meta-ness is a play here. I read the sentence:

This model is consistent with Sperling’s (1963) finding that letters can be recognized at a rate of 10-20ms per letter.

as

This model is consistent with Spelling’s (1963) finding that letters can be recognized at a rate of 10-20ms per letter.
#216 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:54 AM:

Erik - maybe Maxwell was referring to the beginning of the Universe: the idea that at some point atoms must have come into existence and begun to form matter.

I agree though, it does sound like a plug for the uncertainty principle.

#217 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 12:26 PM:

Something it just occurred to me to wonder about:
What is the first occurrence of the cliche of aliens arriving and saying "take me to your leader" ?

Does anyone know?

#218 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Typing "take me to your leader" into Google gets about 26,000 hits. Most seem to be music related.

#219 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Michelle - Why not just get rid of your landline and go VoIP (assuming you have high-speed internet). You get all the features for a lot less money. I'm super happy with it, plus I got to tell SBC exactly what to do with their crummy service.

Of course, if you need to have a phone that works during a blackout, keep the landline. (Nothing's perfect.)

#220 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 02:15 PM:

More verse by Clerk Maxwell (with illustrations)

http://www.jcmax.com/vampyre2.html

Methinks a few years ago I found a treasure trove of Maxwell verse posted on the website of a company that made antennas. I am looking and not finding it again, though.

#221 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Larry,

We still have a dial-up connection to the Internet, so that's right out.

And I'm not really comfortable with changing to VoIP for two reason:
1) We do have occasional power outages here. (My parents live 15 minutes away from me and often have outages that last for several hours)
2) We have VoIP phones at work, and although the connection is usually pretty good, it's not always that great. I prefer the option of a very clear connection when we call our grandmothers, who are, as is wont to happen, becoming slightly hard of hearing.

Besides, in this area, the cable people (who provide high speed internet access) are far bigger bandits than the phone company.

AND I'd have to get cable. And if I was paying for cable, I'd feel obligated to watch TV...

So I'll stick with the land line, at least for now.

#222 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 03:33 PM:

The end of (truthful) Caller ID is at hand.
My husband will be so smug about this. For years he's vetoed getting caller id. When the phone rings but no one leaves a message, he says that's just the phone company trying to psyche us into getting caller id. (He's excellent at conspiracy theories).
We just screen calls the old-fashioned way-- start talking at the tone, and if we like you, we'll pick up.

As for sunsets, I rather prefer the ocean variety. Although mountain sunsets are good too. I grew up on an island, so they both feel right.

#223 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 05:16 PM:

I just had an awful thought. People are already sending me spam with phony email addresses, purporting to be people I know (most notably TNH and Jane Yolen). How long until I start getting calls from people I don't want to talk to, by using the numbers of people I do want to talk to?

BTW, is there a simple way to disguise one's email address from spam robots, when posting on blogs like this one? Most of the spam I get seems to come from old posts here--which is why I don't post all that often any more.

#224 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 06:30 PM:

Typing "take me to your leader" into Google gets about 26,000 hits. Most seem to be music related.

Insert obligatory "take me to your lieder" joke here.

#225 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 07:13 PM:

The loyalty oaths are real.

Bush has been doing most of his speaking at Republican fund-raisers (which the press has been ignoring, treating them as open rallies... and pretty much ignoring all the tax-payer money [both local and national] being spent on them).

Since they are private functions, they make people sign pledges before entering.

There have been reported cases of people being denied, because they weren't registered Republicans (one of them the president of the local VFW) and of course, if they make any protest they get kicked out. The protest can be so small as wearing a t-shirt. I say so small, because the wearer of one says he was told to remove it, which he did, and then kicked out a few minutes later.

There are towns which claim they have not been paid tens of thousands of dollars in expenses to provide services and security for the events. When they tried to bill the party, they were told to bill the Secret Service, which means Bush/The Republican Party are expecting the Feds to pay for their fundraising.

Puts the whole issue of phone calls from an office in a different light, don't it.

TK

#226 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 08:04 PM:

marrije, I read about it in the WashPost, but it's too old to look up for free, so I found a similar account in the Albuquerque Journal:

http://www.albuquerquejournal.com/elex/205176elex07-31-04.htm

They're saying the rallies are *private*, so they can limit who comes to them, but they're not spending Republican money on them.

#227 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 09:07 PM:

Erik:

As someone once remarked to Schubert,
"Take us to your Lieder."

(sorry about that.)

#228 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:38 PM:

On getting lost:

I moved from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to western North Carolina. People ask me whether to take I-26 east or west, and I blink and say, "I-26 runs east-west?"

This comes from growing up on the Cape surrounded on all sides by ocean, and thereby finding it impossible to be THAT lost. The roads don't go east, west, south or north on the Cape - they go towards Hyannis, towards Provincetown, towards the rotary or towards the bridge. There's Route 6 and Route 28. Nobody can tell which way it's going. Especially because, at one point, you WILL be driving on Route 28 North and you'll be going south. And vice versa. People have tested this with compasses.

So I'm about the worst when it comes to giving directions. I've figured out the whole south-north thing, but I'm STILL not sure which way east is. Despite the sun glaring into my window every morning (when we're not in the midst of hurricane season, anyway).

#229 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 03:24 AM:

Marilee, Terry Karney, thank you for the information on loyalty oaths. The mind boggles. On to multiple loyalty oaths several times a day! And anthem singing! Oh, wait, I guess that one may be happening already.

#230 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 07:53 AM:

I popped into the LJ/blogger party at Worldcon last night/this morning. The wall over the couch featured this in big rainbow foil letters:

ll yr vwls r blng t s

I expect local billboards next. :-)

#231 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 09:37 AM:

JVP--OK, now you've got me racking my brain. I've read the book you mention--it's recent--but I can't remember the title or author! He talks a lot about the psychology of getting "turned around"--maybe I'll think of it later.

#232 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 10:29 AM:

Here's a photo from Worldcon, courtesy Cory Doctorow:

ll yr vwls r blng t s

#233 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 10:30 AM:

Mark Wise wrote:

II yr vwls r blng t s

That -so- wants to be on a t-shirt, preferably in blinky colours!

#234 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 10:48 AM:

That -so- wants to be on a t-shirt, preferably in blinky colours!

It IS on a t-shirt

I've even got one, though no one around here seems to get it.

#235 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 03:47 PM:

And the good news from Writers Weekly at http://www.writersweekly.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2835 is that Janet Kay and George Titsworth are in jail.

#236 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 05:45 PM:

Michelle -

Clearly I'm dense - I didn't make the connection until I saw Mark's posting with the spaces. It's a nicely blinky version, too!

#237 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 05:51 PM:

In case anybody doesn't recognize the people in Cory's picture, that's Patrick leaning over, Teresa in the middle, and Jo Walton on the right.

#238 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2004, 12:47 PM:

The Caller ID spoofing story has twisted. The owner decided to sell after getting death threats from hackers (who apparently did not leave their names at the beep). Sometimes there is justice.

#239 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2004, 09:45 PM:

Replying to something a bit up the page: the "The ocean is on the wrong side" problem in navigation baffles me rather a lot.

It most particularly baffles me because I grew up in the western end of Virginia, some hundreds of miles from the ocean. This concept that what side the ocean is on should have some relation to my navigation seems very strange to me.

And yet, for at least a couple of years after I moved to California (on the west side of the S.F. Bay, to be precise), I kept getting tripped up by the ocean being on the wrong side.

Baffling, I say.

Now I just get tripped up by the fact that in the south-bay area the street designers used a spinner from a game of Twister in place of their compass, but I gather that confusion is normal even for locals.

#240 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2004, 11:26 PM:

Ditto what Brook said.

I've been on the west coast long enough to have forgotten the confusion of adapting to a sunset ocean, but during a recent trip back to NY I found myself mixing up east and west _verbally_.

I knew in my head the way to NYC from my parents' home upstate, and from the Garden State PW to my friends' home in central Jersey, but I kept screwing up my descriptions of where'd I'd been and how I'd gotten there.

#241 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2004, 11:57 PM:

Someone asked me if they wanted I-26 east or west the other day. I managed, "Well, we're SOUTH of where you are . . ." I gave them 3 landmarks and, when that proved to be no help, I passed to phone to someone who'd lived here his whole life.

Roads do funny things when there are mountains to go around.

#242 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 12:23 AM:

Brooks Moses considers:

Now I just get tripped up by the fact that in the south-bay area the street designers used a spinner from a game of Twister in place of their compass, but I gather that confusion is normal even for locals.

Nah. All you need to do is remember that logical north has nothing at all to do with the compass...

[I've never forgotten the absolute bafflement I encounted from a visitor after explaining that they needed to take 101 North to Fair Oaks North (right hand turn), and then turn (right) North ... ]

#243 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 03:59 AM:

My equivalent to the Ocean on the Wrong Side syndrome is Sun in the Wrong Part of the Sky. Whenever I travel to the northern hemisphere I just give up on ever knowing where any of the points of the compass are to be found. Street signs in Seattle saying "No Parking North of Here" baffle me totally -- there's no way I'd dare drive, even if the traffic was on the right (that is to say, the left) side of the road.

#244 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 07:00 AM:

I'd always find it confusing to travel somewhere, only to discover all the constellations where upside-down. I was supposedly an astronomer at the time too, but I could never rid myself of the feeling that something wasn't quite right when Cassiopeia was on its back.

#245 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 09:52 AM:

I get They Moved The Water, too. (Can't say 'ocean', because it works with lakes and rivers.)

In Ottawa, the wet is (nominally) north; in Kingston and Toronto, it's (pretty solidly) south. That took a couple of years to adjust to.

In Vancouver, water is ubiquitous, but the big wet is west, and seven months wasn't long enough for my brain to adapt.

#246 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 12:11 PM:

>Street signs in Seattle saying "No Parking North of
>Here" baffle me totally....

Don't feel bad. Those dang signs confuse the locals, too.

#247 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 12:56 PM:

RE Sun in the Wrong Part of the Sky:

There's a bit in The Histories by Herodotus where he describes a claim that some sailors travelled _all the way around Africa_.

He discounted the story, because the account included the claim that the sun moved to the northern sky . . .

#248 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2004, 07:15 PM:

It seems that this group might find this interesting. I expect Jordin Kare might knock out B-F in a week or so...

The Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form.

#249 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2004, 01:44 AM:

I too have read the book about how people navigate, and I too have managed to forget the author and title almost completely.

However, I remembered the author's first name was Erik. Google did the rest ("navigation book Erik").

Inner Navigation: Why we Get Lost in the World and How we Find Our Way by Erik Jonsson.

Funny story from my experience:

My dad was visiting, and he was driving the rental car (I usually don't drive, we don't own a car; I walk, use the T, or get a Zipcar if I need an actual vehicle). We wanted to go from Charles Circle to I-93 North. Because my father was around, I went into "Puget Sound area navigation mode" -- water is west -- and thought "we want to be closer to the water, take the Storrow Drive westbound ramp" and told him to proceed accordingly.

Oops.

I don't normally do that--I've adjusted to "water is east" most of the time, since I've now lived in Boston longer than in western Washington--but his being in the car whacked out my sense of direction. Context is everything and my cues were scrambled.

Side note: enjoying Worldcon immensely. Wish more of you were here.

#250 ::: Xopher (at NorEasCon) ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2004, 02:16 PM:

Oddly enough, I saw the posts about th ll yr vwls r blng t s while wearing my ll yr vwls r blng t s t-shirt. Standing here at the public internet terminals in the Concourse.

Just thought that was interesting. My judgement may be impaired, however; doing without sleep isn't as easy as it used to be.

#251 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2004, 04:36 PM:

In Hawai'i we confuse people all the time by using the terms "mauka" for directions toward the mountains (inland), "makai" meaning toward the sea, "Diamond Head" meaning towards the volcano and "Ewa" meaning the opposite of Diamond Head.

You say N,S,E,W to a resident and he/she will be completely baffled.

#252 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2004, 05:40 PM:

It looks like the shuttles made it through Frances. The VAB has some sides panels missing and they haven't checked the roof yet. The Tile facility will need some mending as well.

#253 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Linkmeister, it sounds like Hawai'i might be navigable by a Boston native ("Inbound" T destinations vs. "Outbound").

Pause to savor the East/West connection....

#254 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 02:44 AM:

I haven't read anything in this thread, I just thought this would be a good place to mention I have a buttload of gmail invites, if anyone's interested. Where buttload = 12.

#255 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 02:47 AM:

Now I have read some things in the thread. I just want to say that Brooks' explanation for the street layout in the South bay makes a lot of sense to me, and that I, too, suffer from Big Water In Wrong Place (except I'm from next to a lake, not an ocean) syndrome, which I am solving by moving.

No, that's not why I'm moving, but it is how it will be solved...

#256 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 04:24 AM:

Just recording An Odd Thing that might appeal to those interested in story-telling and the state of the media. Over the years, for a number of reasons, there's been slippage of episodes of regular long-term shows between Australia & the USA. In the bold new globalized world, this Simply Will Not Do, so intellects vast and cool have drawn up plans:

Daytime Soap's 'Great Leap Forward'
... Channel Nine and Ten are planning the 'Great Leap Forward', it's being called. Four years of 'Days of our Lives', 'Young and the Restless' and 'Bold and the Beautiful' - that's 2,000 episodes - are going to be condensed into two 1-hour specials ...

If, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, there is "L-space" -- strange distortions in the time-space-consciousness continuum created by a high concentration of books -- what astonishing disruption to 'reality' might be caused by showing all these in a single bloc? [Possible question for discussion: how close to Fantasy are these shows? A Fantasy of Manners, perhaps? Or are they perhaps closer to some of the ancient myths, full of the interpersonal matings & bickerings of beings above ordinary mortals?]

#257 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 05:42 AM:

Christopher, JVP--Yeah, that's the book I read. It didn't tell me as much as I hoped it might, but did have some interesting ideas. I'm fairly good at navigation, and just how I manage it is still sometimes as much of a mystery to me as how I occasionally get lost. One thing I remember from the book: Q. How does the desert dweller find his way across miles of trackless waste to his destination? A. Not sure, but one method may be to keep the breeze blowing across his face at the same angle.

#258 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 09:03 AM:

Tina mentioned: she has extra Gmail invites.

I've got three left, if anyone else is interested.

#259 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 09:09 AM:

Apropos of nothing, I'd just like to mention that I'm starting grad school today ( MS Engineering, at the local State School ) and I'm rather chipper about it, despite the fact I'm starting out in a class where the professor waived the required prerequisites so I can sign up...
---
EE501 Circuit Analysis I (meets with EE301, the undergrad version) -- because I was a physics major, and therefore didn't have Proper Exposure to the LaPlace Transform, or something. ( Doesn't count towards my graduation requirement, regrettably )

EGR703 Computational Engineering Analysis
This, scarily enough, qualifies as the "math" course for the MS in Electrical Engineering. I feel like I'm going to get my butt kicked by this course. The professor didn't think I'd have any problems, since I "majored in physics of my own volition-- anyone that nuts should do well here."

#260 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 09:32 AM:

Congrats, Bill. I took our local equivalent of EE301, and it does teach some useful stuff beyond Laplace. There were algorithms for solving circuits that go beyond random application of Kirchoff's laws (method of nodes, method of loops), lots on op-amps, how ADCs and DACs work, Spice, etc. I enjoyed it. You might (read: probably) have a better background in this stuff than I did when I took the course, so YMMV.

#261 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Mark Wise: the credit for putting that up on the wall goes to "Charles Dodgson" of the blog Through the Looking Glass, who had the inspiration while helping with setup.

#262 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Thirty Years of Video Soap, Concentrated:

She is cheating too.
Who killed evil What's-His-Name?
Friday, plots will move.

Okay, it omits much of "Dark Shadows" and the mad-scientist plot on "General Hospital." Still.

#263 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 04:13 PM:

shuttle - more
estimated 40,000 square feet of metal siding blown from the walls of the Vehicle Assembly Building ....
The space agency will attempt to resurrect a previous tile shop at Boeing Co. facilities in Palmdale, Calif.....
Efforts to power up the humidity control equipment aboard Discovery, which is slated to fly the first post-Columbia mission in March, was unsuccessful.....
"My initial feeling is we dodged a bullet," Jim Kennedy, director of NASA's Florida shuttleport said.

#264 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 06:18 PM:

Considering that where I am, it's about an equal distance to ocean on either side, I've never been able to use that as a directional point.

My mental directions invariably list South as "Up", which is, of course, the opposite of how maps have it. Going north to me, though, is equivalent to going downhill. I don't lose track of the actual compass points, though -- but then again, I have a lot of sky to check.

I could probably handle living by an ocean (either one), as I love endless views over the lake (Where the "other side" is past the horizon, or at least nicely fogged away) more if anything than endless fields/low woods/bits of tallgrass, but keep me away from mountains. Horizons should only be seriously blocked by large buildings, letting you know you're downtown.

(My thought a few days ago, travelling on the highway under deeply low cloud was "wow, if we had any hills, those would be touching the tops...")

#265 ::: Kathy Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 06:31 PM:

Notes from another traveler.

On getting lost, mostly I don't when I use natural features as my markers. The tall buildings of downtown confuse the noodles out of me. It might help if all of downtown was not 45 degrees to the compass.

Having had mountains to the west for many years, I get a bit disoriented when the mountains are elsewhere. Flat land baffles me completely, but I have no trouble navigating at sea, where there are no visible landmarks except in the sky.

#266 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Navigation - some say Island Time is a function of navigation time and space - we'll be there when we get there - finding the place isn't that hard bearing in mind that an island subtends a bigger angle than the area tapes out at but knowing when you'll see signs and then narrowing it down can take a while.

Or the reason I don't ask directions is I'm not lost I'm just building my map. Easy to do land navigation in say South Park or south Texas where the stars at night are big and bright but surprisingly hard at 30,000 feet where the stars are overwhelming.

#267 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 10:11 AM:

I've found the worst kind of traveller disorientation is as a pedestrian in England. As a driver, I can cope with being on the wrong side of the road. As a pedestrian tryng to cross the street, I am never sure which direction to look for oncoming cars (when cars are not actually driving by).

#268 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 01:00 PM:

Per Dan R.'s comment above: Fourteen years ago, I returned from a semester in London. I had a bit of disorientation crossing streets, but nothing horrible. I hadn't driven in the UK, so upon my return home driving U.S.-style was no problem for me. Then I took a bus from Duluth to Minneapolis. I dozed off during the bus ride, and woke with a shock - I was immediately certain that we were going to die, because we were on the wrong side of the road.

I had ridden a lot of buses during my time in England...

#269 ::: Djutmose ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 02:01 PM:

I have been hearing reports that certain booksellers want shorter novels, and thus publishers have to cater to this. Tor was mentioned in one of these reports-- someone said something came up at a panel at Worldcon that they only want novels under 125K?

I know this has come up on rec.arts.sf.composition recently but I never saw any definite answers from anyone in the industry, wondering whether this is true, and does it apply to paperbacks as well as hardback novels -- anyone here know or have inside info.?

--Dean (panicked writer of 140K novel)

#270 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 02:36 PM:

If anyone feels the need for current events and H. P. Lovecraft, check out the Official Blog of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill. All sorts of people are Shrill these days, it seems.

Cut and paste to find out if you might be Shrill:
http://shrillblog.blogspot.com/2004_09_01_shrillblog_archive.html

#271 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 02:52 PM:

Clark E Myers - 30,000ft either puts you on top of Everest or in an airplane?

#272 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 06:41 PM:

Is science fiction finished?

Whereas sales of a science-fiction title used to average 100,000 copies in the early seventies, they're now about one-fifth of that. Meanwhile, Analog Magazine, the essential sci-fi mag of North America, which has been around in some incarnation since the twenties, has seen its circulation drop to 40,000 issues a month from 120,000 a month 20 years ago.

Discuss.

#273 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 06:59 PM:

In an airplane - learn to spot stars on the ground maybe in haze and then go flying - more and better guideposts can become confusing which was sort of the point. One water tower or one grain elevator is a landmark - 10 or 100 is a mass of confusion.

#274 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 07:12 PM:

Ah, I see, 30,000 feet is not land navigation? you're quite right (Everest or K2 and I suppose you know where you are?) - originally meaning I can strike off on foot cross country or on a bicycle (night vision - fun to creep up on the elk, they usually react to me about the same time I smell them, we are both pretty rank) on more or less unknown roads in parts of Colorado down the 285 corridor toward Fairplay and stay oriented by the stars and even keep time with no particular direct attention to the arc of the big dipper around Polaris - but go up a little higher with even better visibility and it gets harder not easier.

#275 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 07:24 PM:

Aren't there many more science-fiction novels being published now than the seventies-- especially if you count all the media tie-ins? The drop in sales of each title could be just the obvious result of a glut.

As for the decline of the magazines, that may be more a matter of form than of content. The market for short fiction is not what it used to be in any genre.

I'd point Sawyer to Gardner Dozois' annual Science Fiction Is Still Not Dying article for his best-of-year anthology.

#276 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 07:38 PM:

As to the death in SF, math works in mysterious ways. Maybe there's really just a bigger bunch of people buying different books rather than a smaller bunch of people buying all the same books.

#277 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 09:34 PM:

I get nervous in flat areas - you got nothing to hold the sky up, you know? I don't need actual mountains, but I want to be in hill country at least.

#278 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 10:12 PM:

Congratulations on your induction:

http://shrillblog.blogspot.com/

#279 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 11:16 PM:

I've been observing fewer of the magazine titles even sitting around being available -- even in big-box stores with lots of room.

And they're never advertised or placed in the same section as the SF books, which would just make sense to me (And is the way used book stores of my acquaintance do it for back-issues).

Casual readers of SF might not even know the magazines are available if they aren't on the shelf at all, or aren't in the section where they're looking.


Was just in another discussion of the shortening of first novels and/or midlist. I find it depressing, but only because I've just pared down a book to 140K (Ultimately from 180K, though this last revision only lifted about 5-6k words), and between the number of top agents who saw an earlier, less ready draft (When I sincerely thought it was as good as it might get - even the version of half a year ago now looks to me to have been less than it could be) and this sudden shrilling about the length dropping, it's looking like I'm basically holding a lump of coal.

Ah, well, there are other books, in me head and in me computer. I'll get one there, and soon (soon geologically speaking if by no other measure).

#280 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 12:23 AM:

I have finally managed to get back from Worldcon, and will catch up later -- but I need to mention here about having a dream inspired by JvP's post of Carrollian logic problems ("If the pig walks away from the linguist, anything might happen" and "If anything might happen, this must be a quest" leading to throwing linguists off the top of a building while releasing pigs on the street below in order for the linguists to be instantaneously translated to another spacial location -- an odd form of space drive). How to write down enough key words so I'd remember the dream was Another Problem....

#281 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 12:38 AM:

Anne - in NYC and Chicago, the buildings hold the sky up. In the midwest, the sky periodically hits the ground with spectacularly destructive results. (There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.)

#282 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 03:43 AM:

Dean and Lenora, I've been hearing, too, about the Demise of the Doorstopper. An agent to whom I'd pitched mine said, "Get it down to 200K, and we'll talk." I don't know whether he's excessively optimistic, to propose such a high target word count for the next draft, or whether he's right to think there's that much flexibility left in the market at the moment.

#283 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 07:30 AM:

delurk

Just dropping in to try to make another b3ta.com meme go viral...

http://mushroom.nosox.org/b3ta/choosebushposter.png

Thought it may be appreciated


/delurk

#284 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 08:23 AM:

From the reader's point of view, shorter novels might not be such a bad thing. If I see a new book with 300-400 or fewer pages, I'll be inclined to take a chance on it. If it's a 500 page or longer doorstop, it had better be by an author I already like, or have a very good reputation. If you write a doorstop and I've never heard of you, you're asking me to gamble a bigger investment of time, money, and shelf space on what could turn out to be a dud.

(What's the conversion factor for "K words" to "pages"?)

#285 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 11:06 AM:

Tom W, remind me to stay away from you when there are pigs in the vicinity...not a major issue, probably, but as a linguist...

#286 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 11:06 AM:

From The Shrill Blog:

For this and many other services, let it be known that the Nielsen Haydens are now Throne and Domination in the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill.

Congratulations. Now which of you gets to be Domination, or am I too young to know that?

#287 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 11:18 AM:

"Anne - in NYC and Chicago, the buildings hold the sky up."

There is power in a union.

Jimcat -- the "typical" mass-market paperback has roughly 450 words to a page, so 200pp is about 90Kw, which usedtabe a common length for genre novels. A similarly set hardcover page will be, as you might guess, in the same arena, though large-format trade pb is often laid out with *mumble*creative*mumble use of white space. If you're really curious, just take a few minutes to count one page of the book in question (or even a half page) and multiply.

Word counts, to revive an antique topic, are not as precise in publishing as some folks think (particularly the people who sent in mss. headed "7642 words" in the days before that was an automatic process). Word count is intended to determine how much paper the ms. will occupy when printed, not to determine how many 3c pieces the author will get; an accepted method for doing this is to determine the line length (say, 65 characters for 10-pitch typewriter), multiply by the number of lines per page (six per inch, double-spaced with good margins, 35-oid), and divide by six (five characters plus a space) to get count per page, and then multiply that by page count.

#288 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 11:48 AM:

i live in the twin cities of minneapolis/st. paul minnesota, and here, the water is firmly in the middle. i now live on the west side of the mississippi, and i grew up on the east side of it. i don't think i've lived farther than twenty miles from it in twenty years.

i just get confused when other cities only have one downtown.

#289 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 12:46 PM:

On the San Francisco peninsula, the major roads run northwest-southeast - the futher south you get on the peninsula and into the Silicon Valley/San Jose area, the more they swing towards east-west. Nonetheless, everyone refers to the San Francisco-bound direction as North. This leads to utter confusion at a few interchanges marked with correct geographical designations. ("I want to get on Northbound whatever street - but I have to choose east or west?")

#290 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Oliviacw, I think the real problem is lack of consistency in the labeling. I have to ignore the signs and follow my instincts whenever I encouter Central Expwy. If I try to process the directions printed on the signs, I get all turned around. West usually means North in the Valley (unless the road goes into the Santa Cruz Mountains, in which case West is West, unless it's really South), but it is more confusing than it needs to be.

Now, if the signs told you where the road went, (e.g. Central Expwy - Palo Alto) things might be easier.

#291 ::: Kathy Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Clark - the "too many markers" thing applies at sea, too. The first time I saw a harbor full of lobster trap buoys, I knew nothing about aids to navigation and couldn't imagine how someone could pick a course through what looked like waterborne confetti. I know better now. It is a lot like "not seeing" all the debris on the road, except to avoid hitting it.

We see more stars here in the mountains than we saw at sea. This surprised me. I have lived in dry climes all of my conscious life and did not understand what effect humidity has on visibility. The sea haze makes the fainter stars disappear, especially at dawn and dusk when you are trying to shoot them.

One summer evening in Colorado, a high school friend brought his Boston born and raised fiancé out to see the Royal Gorge. Afterward we visited another friend of mine on his small farm nearby. As night fell, the two astronomers started picking out the stars, until the Boston girl lost the familiar stars in the background. A few minutes later, even the Colorado native had trouble finding the constellations. We stood and marveled until full dark. I think that was when I first realized how full the night sky is.

#292 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 02:23 PM:

betsy - do you get confused by people who think that "Uptown" should be North of downtown?

#293 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 02:32 PM:

OK, this is making the rounds, but I figured with this blog's particular interests the combination of typesetting trivia and conservative ne'er-do-wells is a natural, so I'm bringing it to y'all's attention especially:

New Bush Guard documents a possible forgery

The chief evidence is the use of a proportional font in a routine memo like this one, with lovely bits like curly quotes and superscripts. There were typewriters made then that could produce such results (although there's some people saying that these don't look the same)...but whether they would have been in use in an ANG office of the time for a routine memo seems weird to (not just) me.

#294 ::: Paul Walker ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 02:39 PM:

It looks like people are still reading the thread, so I'm going to jump in with a total change of subject. :-)

I've just noticed that Worldcon next year will be in Glasgow, which is actually close enough to be feasible. (Well, it's the same country at least.) So, having read all the good things about cons on here, I'm very tempted to attend - despite never having been to any cons before, and having serious feelings of SF inadequacy when reading most of the posts here... ')

Basically I'm just looking for any comments of "do it", "don't do it", "you're loopy", that kind of thing. Although maybe not *too* many of the last one.

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Do it. Especially if you're loopy. Come to think of it, if you're not loopy when you go to WorldCon, you'll be loopy by the third day.

#296 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 03:15 PM:

Paul:

You might try a local regional con to get an idea of the flavor without investing a significant amount of money or time. I'm sure some of our UK based participants could recommend something that's smaller than a Worldcon but big enough to be exciting. Or, you could just plunge in with both feet. If you make it through the Worldcon, you'll make it through any con.

If you insist on a concise answer, I'll say "Do it!" I can't judge your loopiness, but as Xopher suggests, being loopy will be either an advantage or an unavoidable side effect in a Worldcon environment.

#297 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 03:48 PM:

" http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition.aspx "

Aaarghh.

For a long time, I had a rather strong memory of when I first started reading, I started by letter pattern-matching inside of words generalizing to word recognition with the letters-- that perhaps looks muddled--I recognized individual lettrs grouped together or sets of letters and got to other words generalizing out, matching subsets of letters -- I was not doing Word Shape or Letter Shape, it was a -synthesis-.

Grrr/aargh [Mutant Enemy merely copies what I presume people have bee saying for generations...] it is not word shape OR letter recognition, it is for me at least, -gestalt-. There is -some- amount of shudder phonetics in it... but.... there are times when words don't -look- right to me, and sometimes it is because of a -font- issue, particularly when I am writing something. The font can majorly interfere with my spelling of word or especially names that I have seen only in limited contexts and/or never heard spoken aloud. Also, there are words like "prerogative" that I misspell because of the audio confusion--that's one that I think I have heard more than I've seen so when I was trying to type it today on something I was trying to type is the way it sounds to me, which turns out to be wrong, when I ran the spellchecker and then went to an on-line dictionary.

When I'm misspelling something and "know" it, it's because the word -looks- wrong, and the wrong shape is because the letters in it are the incorrect letters and the shape consists of -letters- and the -gestalt- just looks wrong. It's the letter shapes and sequencing of letters within the word, not the word shape in general, that looks wrong--the details don't pattern match correctly. But I can get fooled by fonts, because the shapes of letters can vary substantially with different fonts, and with the letter shapes differing substantially, the -word- looks wrong because its constituent parts don't map congruently to most of the fonts which I have met/am neural-net-pattern-match-trained to "
recognize."

There are some jokes about me and fonts in NESFA, regarding what I view as "readable font" -- call it an aesthetic if you will, but it's a -functional- aesthetic for me. Fonts which make letter distinction difficult and annoying for me make me cranky because that makes words difficult to read for me and has poor legibility for me. Yes, Times Roman may be boring but it is about the easiest common computer font for me to read/unambiguously and quickly discern/accurately recognize -letters- of. Arial I consider an abomination and blot upon the face of a computer display or printed page, and yearn for the day I can exorcize it from my computers. Among the reasons I prefer serif fonts generally for body text is that there is more redundancy for distinguishing letters -- consider lowercase c and e. Both have outr arcs about the same size [ignoring the type of e which is very rare which is has two stacked arcs which overlap in a small loop in center of the letter) and are distinguished by the e having a horizontal slightly slanted line segment cutting across arc and creating an enclosed bounded area, which the c is an open arc with no area-enclosing line segment. A serif font will have a whatever-the-thing-is-called at the top arc end and maybe also the bottom arc end. The e does not have such arc embellishments, at least not at the upper arc termination point. So, that is a situation of disambiguation because the decoration at the upper arc end of the c, isn't there on the e. It might seem odd to say that that is more of a discriminator and positive ID aid than "is there or is there not a line segment enclosing area and provining the letter is/is not a c or an e, but some fonts make the horizontal line difficult to positively identify/discern.

Anyway, the article seems not to consider the equivalent of mixed metaphor and use of mixed mode. Also, thre was no consideration of dyslexics versus those who don't have that or at least not a strong case of it. Research that Jerome Lettvin did indicated that dyslectics read differently than those who aren't, that they focus on adjacent letters rather than directly at the particular letters.

#298 ::: Kathy Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 04:42 PM:

"A serif font will have a whatever-the-thing-is-called at the top . . ."

I thought all those little hooks were "serifs," regardless of where on the letter they occur. At least that was how they were referred to in the calligraphy classes I took.

#299 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Taking the original 35 Postscript fonts as common I have a distinct personal preference for Garamond over Times Roman for laser printer type - I'll switch things when I print them for myself.

I've always heard that Times (although itself a relatively late creation) has a tradition of robustness in the type for press and hot type high speed press rather than legibility.

In any event I used to distribute things in Times hoping for some familiarity even gravitas to rub off on my product - for sure everybody has been trained to read Times under mildly adverse conditions - wonder to what extent that might be the origin of a preference for Times over other similar faces (from Garamond to Bookman?)?

#300 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 05:34 PM:

A typeface I'm really fond of for use in printed materials is The Sans. Aside from a slightly goofy capital Q, I think that it has astoundingly good readability, even at small point sizes. The lower case p, d, q and b are particularly elegant. It's one of those typefaces that I wish were freely distributed, but am happy to pay for when necessary. It works equally well as a display typeface and for body copy.

I think that Times and its variants are too tall, and have displeasing proportions. But, they're one of those fonts that everyone has on their computers in some form or other so it makes a good default when a serif typeface is called for.

For screen based copy, nothing beats Verdana. It's a little chunky when printed though.

#301 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 05:42 PM:

Fonts are the most fun typographic element to talk about, but In my experience (and of course, everyone's experience is different) they have the smallest impact on readability, if chosen within reason (i.e., text fonts). I have books in Galliard (a relatively florid font) that are perfectly readable, and at least one book in Caslon* (the ultimate "safe" font) that I find very difficult and unpleasant to read because the lines are a mile long, the paper is grey, and there's hardly any leading. (This book, by the way, comes from a small press that's often praised for its book design. Takes all kinds. To be fair, the other books of theirs I have are well enough designed, albeit riddled with typos.)

The best single thing one could do to improve the legibility of computer documents is to ban 8-1/2 x 11 paper. Everyone feels obliged to use most of the page, and as a result the lines are usually far too long for comfort, especially with 10pt type.

*There are a lot of fonts with "Caslon" in the name that have nothing to do with William C. The book in question uses either Adobe Caslon or something of equal authenticity.

#302 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 05:46 PM:

Is there some kind of natural law that says every piece of writing that complains about typos will contain at least one?

#303 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:07 PM:

It's a special case of a more general law.

#304 ::: Paul Walker ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:13 PM:

Xopher/Jimcat - thanks for the replies :) I do keep half an eye when reading Ansible for local things, but there don't seem to be any nearby for some reason.

#305 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:14 PM:

Tim - Agreed. Layout and whitespace count for as much if not more than choice of typeface. I don't think that paper size has much to do with it, though. I've seen both Executive and 11x17 equally jammed with type. This is why I tend to pick through the many editions of books that are off copyright for readability.

My old business used to use letter size paper in landscape with two columns offset to the right for most correspondence. Our customers really seemed to like it.

Of course, readability isn't everything. I'm still fond of David Carson's work on RayGun which was often totally unreadable, but beautiful nonetheless. The same applies to early issues of Wired.

The latest Tom Peters book was way over the top, though. There was just way too much marginalia, too many colors and text boxes. If he was trying to say something, it got lost in the over-designed layouts.

#306 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:18 PM:

WRT to the forgery accusation:

--I myself used a proportional-spacing typewriter in an Army personnel office in 1980. It had clearly been around for a while. A quick Google shows that the model I used (an IBM Executive) was introduced in 1947, and that changeable fonts were developed in 1962. Was proportional spacing as common as monospacing? No. Is it, in itself, proof of forgery? No way.

--The superscript does not look like it was created in MS Word. Word creates superscripts by shrinking the standard letters, and as a result the letters' strokes are noticeably thinner. In the Bush memo, on the other hand, the superscripts aren't shrunk in this way--they look as if they were created properly, with special characters. I admit that I would need a higher-resolution scan to be sure.

#307 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:20 PM:

WRT to

I'm on a roll!

#308 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:43 PM:

Fairly sophisticated proportional spacing was widely enough available on IBM Selectic/Executive systems that a version of it was created (IBM Selectric Compositor) for use as a typesetting system. You entered the text with control characters on a fairly standard selectric machine, which stored the content on a tape cassette. You could print the text out without special formatting for editing, or put a special type ball on the machine and print your story as a column of type. From there it was the standard process of razorblade and hot wax to paste up your copy on blue line sheets for photolithography. One of the first good sized projects that I remember being done that way in the late 1960's was the original Whole Earth Catalog, which had a section showing how it had been done.

One problem with some of our young conservatives is that they think information technology come into existence around 1990, unless they are a bit more knowlegeable, and can remember the introduction of the Mac. I, unfortunately, can remember being introduced to an IBM 1401. (It was quite well mannered, but it was noisy and it did not sing "On a bicycle built for two".)

#309 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:51 PM:

Oooh. The font identifier at Identifont (the site Larry pointed out) is extremely cool. Sort of like a Field Guide to Western Typefaces: what shape are the serifs on the capital T? How many loops in the lower-case g? et cetera, until it figures out whatever you're looking at.

While I'm here, I'll take this opportunity to go tangential to myself and express my deep love for Goudy Old Style.

#310 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:51 PM:

Appropos of nothing, but this is an open thread , , ,

I just ran across The Fiction Bitch. (There are authors, I am sure, who would like to run across her themselves. With a Chevy Suburban. Several times.)

Any ideas on who this benefactor of literature and friend of starving authors might be?

#311 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 07:03 PM:

I've seen both Executive and 11x17 equally jammed with type.

Sure, but (assuming the same type size) the line length of the latter will be considerably greater, making it that much harder to jump to the beginning of the next line.

Check out the photo book Full Moon for a really heinous example (amazing photos, though).

#312 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 07:18 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

"... I need to mention here about having a dream inspired by JvP's post of Carrollian logic problems ('If the pig walks away from the linguist, anything might happen' and 'If anything might happen, this must be a quest' leading to throwing linguists off the top of a building while releasing pigs on the street below in order for the linguists to be instantaneously translated to another spacial location -- an odd form of space drive)...."

That was delightful! Right up there with the onstage penguin gun dream by another dreamer on another thread of Making Light.

It might be prudent to email the Science Fiction linguists (listed in another thread) such as Shiela Finch and Suzette Haden Elgin, to say that no actual linguists were harmed in the filming of this dream. Plus the inhabitants of Ankh-Morpork.

Your dream also has the virtue of a pre-emptive strike on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (in which no linguists but all SF authors apparently believe), parallel to Greg Benford's solution to the Grandfather Paradox: first, murder all your grandchildren.

Did the circular polarization of the pigtails figure into the logic?

And did this relate to Isaac Asimov's lost first short story, "corkscrew?"

Just wondering.

We'll be driving to Coppercon tomorrow (Friday). They have a nice web page, with a serious effort to have photos of all attending panelists.

And, a little late for the Chronology Page in early January 2004 (and not really Math, just arithmetic):

2004^6 = 3959307^3 + 1393389^3 + 1494^3
= 3848682^3 + 1980119^3 + 27889^3

[the above found by Yasutoshi Kohmoto and available along with " the first and only 8x9 french grid" (word puzzle) at:
Computing Minimal Equal Sums Of Like Powers

#313 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 07:35 PM:

Your dream also has the virtue of a pre-emptive strike on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (in which no linguists but all SF authors apparently believe),

I am remembering the famous quote about the Kepler Conjecture, "While many mathematicians believe, and all physicists know, that the density cannot exceed..."

Of course now that the KC has been proven (right? right?), all the mathematicians know too.

#314 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 09:29 PM:

JvP - here's one linguist who believes in Sapir-Whorf. My problem with Suzette Haden Elgin is that she applies it inconsistently.

#315 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 09:38 PM:

Anyone who has learned to program in both C and Lisp (or FORTRAN and Prolog, or Java and Forth, or any number of pairs of programming languages) knows in their bones that Sapir-Whorf is real.

The problem in applying it to actual human languages is that no two human languages have cognitive models as different as programming languages. So while I am a firm believer in the general case of S-W, I'm less convinced that it has made a difference in the specific case of human linguistic cognition.

#316 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 10:00 PM:

The forgery thing is likely to prove embarrassing to both sides. To CBS for not being ready to produce a credible defense immediately (except, apparently, to Kevin Drum), and to the Right-bloggers for embracing it so quickly and uncritically: "no proportional-font typewriters in 1973" (ask any veteran secretary), "no way they could have matched Word's kerning" (kerning is off by default), "Times New Roman wasn't around" (well, not the TrueType version, that's true), etc.

My favorite, though, is the garbled quotes from the typeface expert which make him sound like a complete buffoon, insisting that only digital-era Times New Roman has a "4" with a closed top and no foot. It's obvious what he was trying to say, but even after updates they've still got it wrong.

I think the real story is going to end up being about a hand-written memo that was transcribed by the author while assembling his memoirs, sometime before his death in the Eighties.

-j

#317 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 10:19 PM:

Doesn't Sapir-Whorf come in various strengths? I seem to remember a study that confirmed some aspects of the weak version (language influences thought) a few years back.

The strong version (which may just be a caricature of the theory, but it seems to turn up in SF), that you can't think of something you don't have a word for, has always seemed self-evidently silly to me. English doesn't have a word for the sensation caused by eating habañero peppers; instead it makes do with "hot" or "spicy." But that doesn't mean gringos can't tell the difference between hot tamales and hot tamales.

Likewise, I don't see any evidence that English speakers are immune to Schadenfreude.

#318 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 10:21 PM:

Well, it makes a difference within a single language. Whorf's classic case, the "blowers" that started a warehouse fire where "exhaust fans" did not, demonstrates that.

I've always felt that SW was also demonstrated in the use of the term 'language' to describe the highly constrained logical instruction sets used to program computers. It's a misnomer, or at least a gross exaggeration. No, it's a metaphor, but it causes terrible misconceptions.

C, or Lisp or whatever, doesn't HAVE a cognitive model at all. It's a set of constraints. Translate the lyrics to "The Age of Aquarius" into C for me. (You may come up with something amusing, if you're clever, but it won't be a translation.) It's not surprising that programs written in C and in Lisp are very different in structure and approach. 12-tone music is very different from 16C motet writing too, but neither of them is a language, or has a cognitive model as such.

#319 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 10:40 PM:

Re: Sapir-Whorf (as a starting point...)

A while ago, I asked some friends (all of whom were at least bilingual) what language they did math in. The answers varied widely, but most people agreed with my theory that they tended to use the language that they were taught in. The most striking example came from a Chinese student who did arithmetic in Mandarin and calculus in English. She took calculus when she came to the US for college. She'd find herself unconsciously shifting back and forth even within the same problem.

Thing is, one could also argue Sapir-Whorfishly that she found Mandarin to be a more efficient language for thinking about arithmetic and English convenient for calculus. I guess the only way to resolve the issue is by experiment.

----------
Anyone who has learned to program in both C and Lisp...knows in their bones that (- Sapir Whorf) is real.

Yup.

#320 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Hmmm...I'm rethinking things in terms of Xopher's point about lack of a cognitive model in computer "languages." It's a sharp point, but I thought S-W was all about the effect of constraints on the cognitive model. Since programming languages are a means by which people instruct computers, isn't it reasonable to compare the very different solutions the same person would produce for the same problem in LisP and C to the effect of language on interpersonal communication? (*chokes*)

#321 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 11:41 PM:

It's an interesting analogy, but it's not really S-W. Again I bring back the example of 12-tone music vs 16C motets. Highly constrained systems, cause different types of creative thinking in their different users, but present no general model, nor do they provide any insight into human thought in a general way.

Geeks like us are used to the computer model for human interaction, and even human thought. I myself demonstrated human-language processing stack overflow to a group of people this past weekend. But that doesn't mean it's how it works; the reason we use the metaphor is that it SIMPLIFIES reality to make it easier to understand.

#322 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 12:07 AM:

Xopher: I will note that I do detect an "accent" in my coding if I switch languages. I wrote some awfully Pascal-esque C back in college (this was probably a feature), and still have a bad tendency to write Perl-flavored Python (not a feature).

This doesn't mean full S-W by any means, but...well, I'm not really sure what exactly it means. Too tired.

#323 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 01:22 AM:

The version of Sapir-Whorf I believe in is the one that says it's *much simpler* to think about things one already has concepts for. Which is pretty obviously true. It's very clear also that people can think of concepts they don't already have words for, or why would the word "neologism" exist? Combining Sapir-Whorf and George Lakoff shows how much of the word-creation happens: people use metaphors that approximate the new thought they've had. Then the metaphor gets translated into (in English, most of the time) a dead language like Latin or Greek (see the adrenaline/epinephrine comment several months ago).

#324 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 02:29 AM:

Interesting confluence of ideas:
*"too much sky" in the flat lands (for the mountain dwellers) vs. "not enough distance" (for the flatlanders)
*navigation by rules (I-26 for 3 miles then n. on X st.) vs. navigation by landmark
*navigation where the map conventions don't match the territory (example=San Francisco peninsula);
*navigation of print via various letterforms (fonts);
*navigation of ideas via metaphor

......

I grew up near Stanford University, up in the hills. I learned to read maps pretty early (3rd grade, navigating for my Dad), so knew that the ocean to the west and San Francisco to the north was only notionally true.

I was a grown woman of 39 before I discovered that not everyone had a sense of direction. This I discovered by driving around England with a friend who was always lost. How could you lose track of which way was North? But she did, and she had a terrible time lining up the landscape with the map.

The first time I went to a flat landscape with no variation (Kansas) I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I knew where north was, but there was something else wrong. After a week, we drove back towards Colorado. As soon as the Rockies hove into sight, I had an amazing "ah-Hah!" experience. My discomfort was not having the mountains in sight. (Oddly enough, I did not have this sensation on the open sea, which pre-dated the Kansas experience. I am guessing that the sea is "supposed" to be flat, whereas dirt is "supposed" to be lumpy.)

When I worked in a phototype shop in the late 1970s, I got really good really quickly at type identification. It was a game the boss played, and we got bonuses--$5.00 per correct face. I cannot now remember the heuristics I used, but I do recall shapes of descenders being really diagnostic. BTW really gnarly things like equations we proofread upside down.

As nearly as I understand the reading research, most people first acquire a sound/symbol association (the reviled phonics) but also quickly acquire a sight vocabulary, which is probably processed as a whole (the shape of the word). Jury is still out on dyslexia, but I am betting that it turns out to be a bundle of things (slow name recall, spotty memory, and maybe some timing thing.)

I know that in typing, a mistake "feels" wrong.

#325 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 06:40 AM:

And, just to add some mud to the clarity of thought on the language, debate, this research was just released. (It's not direct research on S-W, but interesting and possibly relevant.) To summarize, researchers have shown that dyslexia in Chinese affects a different portion of the brain from dyslexia in English because the skills used in learning a symbol-based written language are different from those required to learn an alphabet-based written language. But, the researchers go on, prior research has shown that bilingual people process all language in one area of the brain, and they have not yet determined if someone dyslexic in Chinese will be dyslexic if s/he learns English.

(Note: I have not read the original work, and am relying on mainstream news reporting of the results. However, most of those reports are pretty consistent about what was found; it's the experimental setup of which I am ignorant beyond what's found in the reports.)

#326 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 09:18 AM:

Just to jump back to something that was being discussed earlier, namely the number of words in novels.

To satisfy my own curiosity, I took John Ford's advice and did a rough calculation of the number of words in a few well known books. This I did by counting the number of words in a few sample lines, getting an average number of words per line, counting the number of lines on a page, and doing the obvious math from there.

My estimates may be a bit high because I counted words in lines that went all the way across the page, and didn't account for partially filled pages. But this will at least be in the near vicinity.

So here are the word counts for some familiar novels, both science fiction and other:

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman: 76K
Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement: 87K
The City and the Stars by Artur C. Clarke: 93K
Neuromancer by William Gibson: 98K
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: 104K
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: 108K
Kim by Rudyard Kipling: 109K
Ringworld by Larry Niven: 123K
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: 124K
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein: 125K
Emma by Jane Austen: 141K
Watership Down by Richard Adams: 158K
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad: 168K
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: 198K
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevski: 210K

Looking back up the thread, I see people talking about being asked to shorten novels of 180K or 200K words length. If you've written such an ourtpouring, you might do well to compare that to the length of the books above, and then ask yourself whether you have as much to say as those books do, and whether you need that many words to say it.

#327 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 11:12 AM:

liz mused:

I was a grown woman of 39 before I discovered that not everyone had a sense of direction. This I discovered by driving around England with a friend who was always lost. How could you lose track of which way was North? But she did, and she had a terrible time lining up the landscape with the map.

I grew up knowing that some people had no sense of direction at all - my mother had a habit of haring off down interesting roads in the country until she realized that we were late for something, at which point I'd be handed the map, and told to get us back to known territory... since she had no idea at all where we were.

Speaking of known territory, there was a mention at the start of this thread that people might be interested in going out to some of the films at the Toronto film festival. Have there been any plans made?

#328 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 11:25 AM:

Navigating the Ocean of Fontana
by
Jonathan Vos Post
Copyright © 2004 by Magic Dragon Multimedia
[Grateful acknowledgment to “Type Technology---The Four Revolutions “ in History of Typography” by Thomas W. Phinney; and to Liz on Making Light for “Interesting confluence of ideas”]

Chapter 1: Gutenberg (ca. 1450-1480) & The Impact of Printing

We see the ancient continent of Scriberia fall behind us, as we steam away from its black shores. Behind us lie the many monasteries, and, sprawled upon the beaches, vast herds of lay copiers who, since the 12th century, served the university market). Note the overdevelopment of the writing hand of each lay copier. Writing out an entire book by hand was terribly labor-intensive, and led to evolutionary hyperdigitation.

We have set sail from the very spot from which the Great Navigator Johannes Gutenberg set forth, in his perfected vessel, “The Movable Type.” Some historians insist that the Chinese sailed this same route it several centuries earlier, and a Dutch gentleman named Coster may have attempted the same voyage on a leaky and crude ship a decade earlier. Ironically, the visionary Gutenberg failed to profit from his great journey. He toiled for more than ten years with borrowed capital. Finally, his business was repossessed by the investors before the first mass-produced book was successfully printed in Mainz by Fust and Schoeffer: the Gutenberg Bible of 1454.

Writing itself can be traced back over thousands of years to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions. Modern letter forms have their most immediate heritage in Roman inscriptions [ 50-120 AD], such as on the base of Trajan's Column in the Roman Forum [114 AD, digital version by Twombly for Adobe, 1989]. But you have not paid for a tour of the Middle East, nor of Rome. Please do not lean too far over the ship’s rails. Thank you.

Gutenberg's basic shipping process remained unchanged for half a millennium. A steel punch, with a raised mirror image of a letter or typographical symbol, is struck into a piece of softer metal. Molten metal is poured into this mold, and one has type. The type is placed into a matrix to form the page of text, inked, then pressed against paper. This typesetting technology rapidly spread across Europe, and the Scriberian Empire rapidly crumbled. Within five decades, over a thousand printers set sail in over two hundred European cities, carrying in their holds typical print runs of two hundred to a thousand books.

Some of the followers of The Great Navigators were artisans; others were crassly commercial adventurers in hot pursuit of a quick lira, franc, or pound, often through pornography, which flooded the seas, unchecked by General Ashcroft (considered by many a mythical figure based upon Canute). The artisans and plunderers alike established the first mass medium, freely spreading ideas in an unprecedented and anarchic network. The Protestant Reformation would never have started, or would have been quickly crushed, without the ability of fast vessels creating thousands of copies of Luther's Theses for distribution.

Reactionary groups from the rump-state of Scriberia sought to control this new technology. Scribes fought bloody battles against the introduction of printing, because it could cost them their jobs. Uneasy bedfellows, religious and secular, established authorities attempting to control the content of what was printed. For hundreds of years in parts of Europe, books could only be printed by government authorized printers. Nothing could be printed without explicit approval of the Church. Printers were held responsible (rather than authors) for the spread of unwanted ideas. Some were even executed, after show trials. This proved a doomed struggle. Resistance was futile as restraints were smashed across the western world.

Coming Soon:

Chapter 2: Steam-punks of the Industrial Revolution, Line-casting & Automated Punch-cutting [1870-95 to 1950-65]

Rotary steam presses, photo-engraving, line-casting machines [first Ottmar Mergenthaler's Linotype (1889), and then the Monotype]; 1885, Linn Boyd Benton (then of Benton, Waldo & Company, Milwaukee) invented a pantographic device; optical scaling; American Type Founders and the trigger-happy Agents of ATF.

A tour of the Points Archipelago: the colorful islands of Brevier, Petit Texte (as the French called it, until taken by Italians and rechristened “Testino.”) , and the French Colonies of Pierre Simon Fournier, and Francois Ambroise Didot.

Chapter 3: Photocomposition [Intertype et. al., 1950-60 to 1975-85]

The Photocomposition Battleships (the French “Photon'” and Intertype's Fotosetter) which first set sail as early as 1944, but didn't really catch on until the early 1950s.

Chapter 4: Early High Digital [1973-83]

Conquistador Post and his PostScript, the Apple Laserwriter and Macintosh, and PageMaker.

What-you-see-is-what-you-get: WYSIWYG topples the old Empire. The Empire Strikes back: PostScript, HP PCL, Postscript Type One, Multiple Master, Truetype and Truetype GX. The drama of the desktop.

Chapter 5: Flashback to Blackletter

Dark dreams of the first printed types, which exemplify what most people think of as medieval or “old English'” lettering, with ornate capitals, approximately diamond-shaped serifs, and thick lines. These typefaces, called “blackletter,” evolved from the Carolingian by a gradual movement towards narrowing and thickening of lines. The general kind of blackletter used by Gutenberg in his first Bible is called Textura (a shareware digital version of Gutenberg's bible face is available, called “Good City Modern”).

Don’t miss the delicious Italian-Caribbean cuisine of island paradise: San Serif!

We stop at various ports in the old blackletter archipelago, including Fraktur, Bastarda and Rotunda. Probably the most common blackletter revival typefaces in use today are Cloister Black (M.F. Benton, 1904, from J.W. Phinney) and Fette Fraktur. Fraktur was part of Germany well into the 1900s, though it was gradually being superseded by Roman typefaces. The Nazis at first fostered a return to Fraktur, then outlawed it as a “Jewishtypeface” in 1940. Pass the chopped liver. Thank you.

Let us now gave at the scenic Old Style Typefaces: Centaur, Bembo, Jenson, Garamond, Caslon. Soon we shall dock at the Modern ports of Didot, Bodoni, and Walbaum.

Whoops! Icebergs ahead! And what is that horrifying howling? Oh no! The Hound of the Baskerville...

*** the end (of this rough first draft ***

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 12:02 PM:

liz: where in the hills? I grew up in Los Altos Hills, right near Gardner Bullis School (which didn't exist when we moved there).

#330 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 12:03 PM:

JVP's mention of San Seriffe reminds me of the travel advertisements that the Guardian used to run for that island in the late 1970s.

#331 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 08:30 AM:

"Writing itself can be traced back over thousands of years to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions."

What about the Phoenicians/Canaanites, who had a true alphabet, and Semitic alphabetical scribbling found in the past decade or so in Egypt, which dat back roughly 4000 years?

"Reactionary groups from the rump-state of Scriberia sought to control this new technology. Scribes fought bloody battles against the introduction of printing, because it could cost them their jobs. Uneasy bedfellows, religious and secular, established authorities attempting to control the content of what was printed. For hundreds of years in parts of Europe, books could only be printed by government authorized printers. Nothing could be printed without explicit approval of the Church. Printers were held responsible (rather than authors) for the spread of unwanted ideas. Some were even executed, after show trials. This proved a doomed struggle. Resistance was futile as restraints were smashed across the western world."

Please then explain the existence of books printed in Hebrew in Europe from Jewish printers early in the print revolution....

"Conquistador Post and his PostScript, the Apple Laserwriter and Macintosh, and PageMaker.

What about Xerox, which was there first, and had typographical systems before Apple was in existence that were digital??? Apple got a lot of credit that it didn't really deserve, Xerox was there long before with desktop publishing. Ventura Publisher was the direct descendant of a Xerox product, and Xerox was doing laser printers and other printers with graphics before Apple ever existed -- ever hear of the Diablo which could also draw along with print? For that matter, HP was in the plotter business long before Apple existed, and the LaserJet and HP's later color ink jet printere, have been far more successful than any printer ever sold by Apple.

#332 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 10:05 AM:

Paula Lieberman:

I'm pleased to agree with you on every point.

"What about the Phoenicians/Canaanites, who had a true alphabet, and Semitic alphabetical scribbling found in the past decade or so in Egypt, which dat[e] back roughly 4000 years?"

I should really trace back to the clay balls containing clay 3D icons; back further to scratches on bone which included lunar calendars from about 30,000 years ago. Phoenicia/Canaan surely had the FIRST true alphabet. Semitic connection important to me, a direct descendant of Rabbi Aharon Eliakum Wertheimer.

I'd like to know more about the history of "Please then explain the existence of books printed in Hebrew in Europe from Jewish printers early in the print revolution..." as I have been reading some translations of medieval Hebrew books of Philosophy, printed in Europe. Some countries obviously did not let the Church into the authorization loop for books; some may (speculation) have allowed Jewish authority over Hebrew books.

You are right also about HP. I've seen a Dolphin, know of their first in the world laserprinting (starting with a single black pixel), had friends at Xeros PARC, and I was in a beta test for Boeing in Seattle, which bought some Xerox STAR, with which I was producing an astounding 80 pages per day of final internally published text.

Even in a parody, I have the responsibility to get my history correct. Thank you! Would you like to be more involved, at the coauthor level?

#333 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 10:19 AM:

jill smith: i don't much have a problem with that because map directions don't make sense to me. uptown isn't south of downtown in my head (and i just had to think about that for a minute; you said it wasn't north, which leaves us with three possible directions), it's over there. [points]

#334 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 02:32 PM:

Sure.

Don't forget the forays into excursion areas such as Lenin and Stalin and Trotsky as masters of the hectograph and the role of that in the Russian Revolutional what a gellid affair, and all the Swiss cheese of Helvetica and friends. And then there's the arabesque, the use of pretty font and words for decoration, another excursion, and one not so common in the western world before print.

For that matter, there's getting the lead out and taking the lead [did I just type that? Yes.... happily in phosphor no one can reach out and physically whack one for such appalling word play!] by going to direct-to-digital print output, bypass the plates puh-leaze! [And laissez the fare for the ferryman with the slugs]

Xerox and Avery-Dennison and Olympus with their imaging technologies (they divided up a particular technology with under 60 page per minute printer of that technology--not laser, something else but I can't remember what, electron imaging? The Xerox and Avery-Dennison ones cost $300,000 in 1994 dollars and they'd write whatever printer driver for whatever computer system the buyer wanted--sold by Olympus, 60+ pages per minute handled by Xerox and Avery-Dennison) kept the paper flying at high speed and the junk mail printing and financial services business in hard copy, where quite a number of other companies have gone sliding down by the wayside (Afga with its font system, and others). If you can't paper it all over....

==============

My mother's a descendant of scholarly families supposedly, but the research my mother's British relatives had done, I don't know any details (also have scientists in the family, including someone a century or two back hung up on trying to invent a perpetual motion machine or some such)... got a cousin who graded physics papers during his brother's wedding....got a relative on my father's side who's been at MIT for 60 or so years now, and have had other relatives who graduated from there, one who matriculated at Caltech long ago, and my sister went to RPI. All Ashkenzai Jews supposed are descended of the same relatively small group of people two thousand years ago....

#335 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 02:58 PM:

[googling, because a hard drive crash left my URL list bitbucketed]


http://www.jewishgates.com/file.asp?File_ID=110

"Italian Jews were aware of the powerful revolutionary potential of the printing press very early, especially the Soncino family. The first mention of Jews in connection with printing is found in Avignon around 1444 (before Gutenberg) when a Jew, Davin de Caderousse, studied the new craft.

"The first Hebrew books were printed at least within 35 years after the invention of printing. The first dated ones being Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch and Jacob b. Asher's Arba'ah Turim of 1475 . This new and wonderful invention was called the "crown of all science," and its practice, like that of writing sacred books, "melechet shamayim, a heavenly labor" or melechet haKodesh, a holy labor."

"It was regarded as a means to realize Isaiah's prediction (11:9) that "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.""


http://www.jerusalembooks.com/jap/bookb1.htm

"Here are a few landmark dates and events in early Hebrew printing:
"1475 - First dated Hebrew work is printed in Reggio di Calabria
"1482 - First Spanish Hebrew book printed in Guadaljara
"1492 - Expulsion from Spain and destruction of Hebrew books
"1503 - David Nahmias begins printing in Constantinople
"1512 - Beginning of Hebrew printing in Salonika
"1475 - 1530 The Soncinos print in Mantua, Naples, Brescia, Cassal Maggiore, Barca, Fano, Pesaro, Ortona, Rimini and Constantinople
"1513 - Press of Gershon Solomon Cohen in Prague prints prayer book
"1520 - Daniel Bomberg of Venice prints the first complete Talmud edition. The Venice community sends a copy to Henry VIII of England as a gift
"1533 - Hayim ben David Schwartz moves his press from Prague to Augsburg Germany
"1542 - Beginning of censorship of Hebrew books by the Roman Curia...."

See also

http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/cajs/exhibit1996/Geography.html

http://aix1.uottawa.ca/~weinberg/hebraica.html

#336 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 08:14 PM:

Paula Lieberman:

You may give Google credit, but I give you credit.

Now I have to write a second draft, and dub you a coauthor. If some magazine or webzine buys it, that even means snailmailing you a check!

If.

Thank you!

Seems to me I asked once before about "... Caltech long ago, and my sister went to RPI" and said that I was glad to get into Caltech, because I only made the Waiting List for RPI.

#337 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 11:58 PM:

The googling was for early Hebrew printing presses.

There are still a few places around where one can actually see really old-fashioned pre-industrial revolution printing technology in operation, such as in Old Sturbridge Village.


For that matter, a contemporary in high school worked for a local paper which was still doing lead type production! And there still seem to be weekly papers doing actual physical pasteup around rather than electronic composition!

====

Checks are nice things, yes.

=====================

Caltech sent me an application, but I didn't apply (my mother said she and my father wouldn;'t let me go that far away to college, anyway. Me, I was unimpressed by the crossed out printed tuition and fees with emendations stamped in in red ink). Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I'd applied to and gone to Harvard--but I didnt' want to have to have to take a Freshman Composition. [#3 in my high school class went there, I was #1, and Harvard didn't tend to turn down close relatives of people with four degrees from there who also had a relative who endowed a chair...]. I wound up at MIT, barely graduating, but I did graduate.

Odd that Caltech took you but RPI waitlisted you.

#338 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 12:34 AM:

Paula Lieberman:

I wonder what my brother Andy might have done if he'd applied to Harvard -- his father having gone there -- instead of wandering from Case Western Reserve to U. Michigan Ann Arbor in Film History and production, supporting himself by playing bass in rock bands. Oddly, Andy went from running an Art Film house to commercial art to the Philadelphia Art Museum to Director of Communications at 2 Business colleges to Director of Corporate Communications for a multibillion dollar electronics firm. Or if my next brother, Nicky, had he not been born profoundly deaf. He might not have been as good a visual artist, if so. Next brother is the nonintellectual in my family. Navy. Postal Service. 3 kids. Last of the 5 is my sister, B.S. Math, now a QA Engineer.

Oddly enough, I know why Caltech took a chance on me, my perfect 800 Math level II and 800 Physics AP test scores catching their eyes. It was the interview by Victor Wouk, brother of novelist Herman Wouk, and his going out on a limb for me even though I was technically in the bottom half of my VERY competitive high school class by grades. RPI simply filtered me out because of grades, in an entirely rational way. I think that Caltech accepting me was the greatest stroke of luck I've had since conception/bith/life. Since then meeting my current wife at the Worldcon in Melbourne 19 years ago was the luckiest, and then my amazing son's conception/birth/life.

As to "barely graduating, but I did graduate," I toy with the notion, if I ever make the big bucks, in endowing a scholarship at Caltech for whichever student has the lowest grade point averge, but still passes, in an given year.

Sometimes those who just squeak by do so because they are expending their energies in nontraditional but interesting ways.

Would you change anything in your past if you could (not that most Physicists believe that the Past can be changed even if you had a Time Machine)?

#339 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 12:51 AM:

Would you change anything in your past if you could (not that most Physicists believe that the Past can be changed even if you had a Time Machine)?

Yeah, I'd have gone straight to a small, quality liberal arts college instead of screwing around with engineering school. I went to RPI for all of one semester, and I hated it. As far as I could tell, the freshman year was a hazing ritual containing very little that could credibly be called teaching. (I understand that the program has been changed and that the quality of instruction has been substantially improved since then.) It took me years and years to get myself back on track academically.

That, and I'd have bought and held Microsoft as soon as it was listed...

#340 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:19 AM:

JVP wrote:
Seems to me I asked once before about "... Caltech long ago, and my sister went to RPI" and said that I was glad to get into Caltech, because I only made the Waiting List for RPI.

I applied at four schools-- got rejected by one (Rose Hulman), and accepted by four.

( yes, you read that right. Interesting story there. )

#341 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:59 AM:

In Tucson, navigation (in the daytime, anyway) is based on which mountains are in front of you. It's also difficult to drive far without intersecting with one of the main N/S or E/W arteries, except south of 22nd Street, where you can drive for hours (okay,minutes) and dead-end on dirt next to an industrial park or a Davis-Monthan guard station. Scary.

The fun thing about the mountains in Tucson is that you can sometimes watch sunset colors reflecting off the Catalinas to the north.

And this is as good a time as any to state my claim that if you are on any James Street in the country, and know how to do it, you can soon find yourself on any other James Street of your choice. (Corollary: go into any Denny's, and come out of any other Denny's.) Unfortunately, I've never came up with an actual plot to go with this fun premise.

Change of subject....

I couldn't go to Worldcon, didn't bother with Coppercon and have no patience with TusCon, but I am planning to go to the World Fantasy Convention in Phoenix. Anyone else?

#342 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 09:08 AM:

Quoth Larry Brennan, fellow escapee from RPI:

Would you change anything in your past if you could (not that most Physicists believe that the Past can be changed even if you had a Time Machine)?

Yeah, I'd have gone straight to a small, quality liberal arts college instead of screwing around with engineering school. I went to RPI for all of one semester, and I hated it.

Out of curiosity, was your first semester in 1986 or '87? I seem to recall your name from *Forum.

I knew that I wanted to go to school in upstate New York. Syracuse University really wanted me to go there. But I opted for RPI, the science and engineering school, because I thought it was what I wanted at the time. Since then I've often thought that I might have had more fun, and been more academically successful, at a large university with a more broad program of studies.

But then I think of the people I met, the connections I made, and how the events of my eight years in Troy shaped everything that came after. If I hadn't gone to RPI, I wouldn't be me. And I like being me.

As far as I could tell, the freshman year was a hazing ritual containing very little that could credibly be called teaching. (I understand that the program has been changed and that the quality of instruction has been substantially improved since then.)

Like all colleges, it's gone through phases. It was a pretty dismal place from the late 80s until the mid 90s. During the Cold War, the school's priority was getting research grants from GE and the DoD, and teaching undergraduates was regarded as an annoying side effect. When the wall came down and the recession hit, there was no money coming from anywhere except the undergrads' pockets, so they were treated as ATMs rather than students. Shirley Jackson's leadership as President, and the boom economy of the late 90s, helped improve the place considerably.

#343 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 10:16 AM:

Jimcat - bravo to you for taking a pass on the Syraversity Unicuse. I went there for an appallingly long 3 years (1987-90), graduated early (in absentia) and never returned. It was a place that, for the most part, seemed to be a warehouse for spoiled rich kids. Education was optional (and, for my part, was something I sometimes needed to fight the system to get). Ecchhh.

(Other SU grads: YMMV)

#344 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Jimcat - I arrived at RPI in 1981, as a rather naive 16-year-old.

One of the most characteristic memories of the place was the slog to take the early-morning "F-Tests" (entire Freshman class standard exams in Calc, Chem and Physics, with an appallingly bad name) and passing a crime-scene style chalk outline on the ground, with a cartoon speech bubble proclaiming "I'm a vector!" This was referring to a probably-apocryphal tale of a student who screamed those words as he jumped off the Johnson Engineering Center to his death, rather than take the Physics F-test.

In my travels, I've met quite a few fine people who attended RPI, and even a few who graduated. It just wasn't the right place for me. I think it was a combination of my age, and lack of a support system for choosing a college. Heck, I'm from the first generation of my family to finish High School the normal way - who know anything about college, except that it was where you went to get training to get a striver's job.

#345 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 02:51 PM:

Karen -- I'll be at WFC; maybe findable after the banquet helping sell memberships to next year (Madison).

#346 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 01:12 AM:

Karen: I tossed out a similar premise (the Law of Similarity and the Law of Contagion mean that chain stores/restaurants are actually mana-efficient ways to get from place to place) on USENET many years ago, as a throwaway gag.

It may have been used in an RPG or two, and brought about a nice rejoinder from Jo Walton, but I don't know if anyone else has done anything with a similar concept. (Rick Cook's Mall Purchase Night included.)

College? Well, I went to Boston U because they bribed me more than that engineering school across the river would have. (Might have saved my life; I probably would have gone ROTC to pay for it.) Worked out okay; I did a management degree so I could goof around in the computer center, and it has led to far more interesting jobs than the degree ever would have. (Another move that may have saved my life; there are three people who attended BU's management school when I was there who worked in the WTC and died there.)

#347 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 09:27 AM:

Jill Smith:
bravo to you for taking a pass on the Syraversity Unicuse.

Sounds as though I may have had as many frustrations there as I did at Rensselaer Instipoly Technitute, just of a different kind. Had I gone there, the person I became would no doubt have wondered how his life would have been different if he'd attended RPI.

Larry Brennan:
I arrived at RPI in 1981, as a rather naive 16-year-old.

Now that I think harder, it was a Dave Brennan that I remember from '86. Well, it's a common name.

the early-morning "F-Tests" (entire Freshman class standard exams in Calc, Chem and Physics, with an appallingly bad name)

Ah yes, the F-Tests. Good reason to view freshman year at RPI as a hazing ritual. They were still around when I started. They had them in computing as well, which led to one semi-amusing exchange on an early Monday morning. As a physics major, I took CFS (Computing Fundamentals for Scientists) rather than CFE (Computing Fundamentals for Engineers). There really wasn't much difference between the courses, but the F-Tests were held on different days.

So on the morning of the first CFE test, I was curled up snugly in my bed at 7:45AM, when suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 'Twas in fact my next door neighbor, fresh from hours with books and paper, having crammed unto exhaustion without sleep the night before.

He was concerned that I was sleeping through the F-Test that I didn't have, and wanted to make sure that I got up. Summoning all the wit available to me at that hour, I said: "Go away."

"The F-Test is in fifteen minutes!" he said.

"I'm not going to the F-Test."

"You're gonna flunk CFE!"

"I'm not an engineer, I don't take CFE."

"Oh..."

Silence, blessed silence for a whole hour as most of my dorm-mates shuffled off to their doom. I was, of course, awakened by their lamentations as they returned an hour later, but I'd expected that.

One side note: why do college students (including myself at the time, I must admit) think of 8AM as unreasonably early to begin working? When I was in high school, my classes began at 8AM (and in the early years I had a paper route that required me to leave the house at 5:30). In the working world, I'm usually in the office by 7AM or earlier. Is there something in the metabolism of 18-to-21-year-olds that shifts their internal clock to La-Z-Time?

Christopher Davis:
I did a management degree so I could goof around in the computer center, and it has led to far more interesting jobs than the degree ever would have.

Similar to my experience. One good aspect of RPI in the 80s was that it gave the ordinary student, regardless of year or major, access to quite impressive computing resources. It was amazing what you could get just by asking nicely. I spent more time in the computing center than in classes, wound up working for the computing center for a few years, and when I emerged, found that the skills I'd acquired there were actually in demand.

Never let your schooling interfere with your education, that's my motto.

#348 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Is there something in the metabolism of 18-to-21-year-olds that shifts their internal clock to La-Z-Time?

Yes.

See: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthnewsfeed/hnf_1089.htm

#349 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 12:35 PM:

Jimcat Kasprzak: Is there something in the metabolism of 18-to-21-year-olds that shifts their internal clock to La-Z-Time?

Not lazy, just Differently Timed. Seriously. When we're teen-agers our biological clocks tend to make us night people. As we get older, the biological clock resets itself to earlier and earlier until we're 80 years old sitting in our easy chairs nodding out at 6 pm.

I read this in a magazine somewhere so it must be true.

#350 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 01:13 PM:

"[W]hy do college students (including myself at the time, I must admit) think of 8AM as unreasonably early to begin working? When I was in high school, my classes began at 8AM ..."

I think that question answers itself. "I'm in bleeping COLLEGE now, not in beyond-bleeping HIGH SCHOOL! Even if the same cave trolls are running the lunchroom."

#351 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Jimcat: Is there something in the metabolism of 18-to-21-year-olds that shifts their internal clock to La-Z-Time?

Hmmm. I guess my clock never reset, and I object to the term "La-Z Time". Through my 20's I was blessed with a job that officially started at 9:30. Since I was salaried, well respected, and worked late a lot, I often rolled in at 10. Certainly I was there early if need be - I was just more effective if I could fit my work to my circadian.

Despite my routine late arrival, and there were lots of early people at my company, nobody ever accused me of being lazy.

I used to go bicycling before work at about 6:30 AM. That was easy - no thinking required. Just don't invite me to 7AM meetings, unless pillows are provided and there's a turn-down service.

#352 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Okay, I'll grant the non-laziness of the people who start later in the day, if they'll grant my non-laziness when my brain is too tired to be useful after 5PM.

It's frustrating working with people who get up on the other side of the clock. At one former job, cow orkers used to razz me about leaving the office promptly at five. My response: "I didn't see your sorry @$$ in here when I came in at 6:30!"

#353 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 02:06 PM:

Jimcat - that's just bad culture. I worked for a dot-com consultancy for a while. (One that survived, and where I still have friends, so it'll go unnamed.)

The culture there required maximum face-time. If you got to work after 8 AM, you'd get comments like "Out partying all night?" and if you left before 9 PM, the typical line was "Half a day today?" Very little was tied to what you actually did. And we billed by the man-day, not by the man-hour, so my clients paid the same if I did my work and went home, or I did my work and then sat around for five more hours looking busy.

That's why I quit and went to work in the much saner (really!) software industry.

#354 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 03:14 PM:

You don't have to name it, I'm sure most of us know a workplace like that.

#355 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 06:30 PM:

Another slant on Jimcat's question: leaving aside phase-shifting, most people's circadian rhythms appear to cycle over a bit more than 24 hours if not forced to the clock. Combine this with a lack of any authority demanding that you turn off the TV, get home from the movie/dance/..., or otherwise stop what you're doing and go to bed, and I'd expect people to stay up late and wake up only when they had to. I'm looking at this from somewhere in the middle; in college I was a curvebuster, one of the estimated 14% who actually ate breakfast out of the semester-paid cafeteria instead of grabbing it from wherever -- I was usually in almost at closing (9am freshman, 9:30am later) but I was almost always there. It may have helped that I was the sort of unsocial geek who didn't party much and practically never dated, giving me less motivation to be out late (although I did manage to oversleep one of my first exams...).

#356 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2004, 06:38 PM:

CHip - Cool! Maybe I'll find your somehow, or you'll find me.

Christopher Davis - I'm glad somebody got the idea out there, even if you did predate me by decades (grumble). I think it's probably, as you say, a throwaway gag, not something on which one can hang a story. Unfortunately, it's totally incompatible with any of my current writing projects.

Re Syracuse University - I don't blame the University for the B.A. in English and film that I didn't get in 1979. I blame myself, mostly, plus one English prof who wouldn't let me make up a Chaucer exam, and a passle of American Realists. Doesn't matter - I'm about to get a B.S. in accounting instead.

Re Night Travels of the Elven Vampire - I must have missed any discussion of this here, but I notice you have a link to the LiveJournal review of the book. The writer of this has developed a bit of a persecution complex in response to the online feeding frenzy that's been tearing apart her prose. She's pulled the book off Amazon and elsewhere, and is muttering darkly about bad karma for her "stalkers." Her web site is here, and my journal discussion of it is here, should anyone care to take a look.

Karen

#357 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 12:54 PM:

On a personal note: when I was younger, I was proud of being a night person. It made me feel like an iconoclast, in that way that foolish people often feel like iconoclasts by dressing, looking or acting in the same way that all the other people who think they're iconoclasts are dressing, looking and acting.

Now, I wish I could wave a magic wand and become a day person, because it seems like all the stuff I want to do now is happening in the day or evening, rather than the night. And yet I have to struggle to make myself go to bed early every night, and struggle to get up out of bed in the morning.

#358 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 03:56 PM:

I followed Karen's link to the LJ review, and also found this review of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Now why didn't Lucas put that on the supplements disc for the DVD set? Heh, heh...

#359 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 04:07 PM:

assorted: the idea of teleporting from one chain restaurant to another predates Usenet; the MITSFS was claiming when I showed up (1973) that since all IHOPs were identical to 19 decimal places, flipping the syrup lids in the right order would get you from any IHOP to any other (even if your name wasn't Gilbert Gosseyn, they said).

#360 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 12:02 PM:

Mitch Wagner:

On being a "night person":

Body clocks 'hinder' space travel
"...Research has shown the average human body clock has a period of 24 hours and 11 minutes, which is then corrected each day by the onset of dawn and dusk. The low levels of light in space are not able to reset the body clock properly which disrupts sleep patterns...."

#361 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 02:06 PM:

JVP: whoo! Daylighting in space station design! Just what we need.

...only the other sorts of E-M radiation might be a bit of a problem...

#362 ::: lirik ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Hello. And Bye.

#363 ::: Lee sees peculiar maybe-spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2010, 12:26 AM:

... or maybe not, but I still think it's worth a mod taking a look at it. @362

#364 ::: mcz sees spam? ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2010, 05:44 AM:

#364 looks like linkspam to me.

#365 ::: Renatus tests for spam... ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2010, 06:28 AM:

And #364 is a positive. Webcam/salacious celebrity pictures site judging by the headers (all NoScript didn't block).

#366 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2010, 07:21 AM:

Renatus @366:

It was clearly spam without you risking your computer or your eyeballs.

Extensive scientific analysis of generic "interested in your website" text on an old and inactive thread reveals that it is generally made up of pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite.

On the plus side, although it is not vegetarian-friendly, kosher oor halal, it is apparently allergen-free.

#367 ::: Xopher sees SPAM identical to spam previously spied ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Stupid assholes.

#368 ::: Stefan Jones sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:57 PM:

Chinese gearbox link spam!?!?

#369 ::: Serge sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Gearilla fighter making cog-ent comments on the fly-wheel?

#370 ::: Earl sees spam at 375 ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 03:28 AM:

Smite it, plz.

#371 ::: TexAnne sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Coherent as ever.

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