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September 10, 2004

Open thread 28
Posted by Teresa at 01:43 PM *

I heard this great line at the worldcon. Now if only I could remember it …

Comments on Open thread 28:
#1 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 02:12 PM:

"Never moon a werewolf."

"Yeah, it'll just come back to bite you in the ass."

(Exchange between cthulhia and ??)

#2 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 02:27 PM:

"There is no starship like a book."

[my last bloated crude first draft, Open Thread 27, was inspired by the earlier version of this, with "frigate"]

I did overhear at a worldcon: "of course, I can't get the quality of drugs that Philip K. Dick had, so my fiction suffers by comparison..."

Also heard: "... last time I'll ever do THAT with a lizard!"

What was that story about William Shakespeare carrying around a pocket notebook, and writing down the phrases he heard about London and Stratford?

Or Albert Einstein being cornered at a party by a pushy guy who would interrupt the conversation to make jotting in a pocket notebook. Einstein enquired why.

"Oh, I write down all the good ideas I have, when I have them, and fill in the details later. Don't you?"

"No, said Einstein. "In my whole life, I've only had a few good ideas."

Okay, out the door NOW to Coppercon...

#3 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 02:42 PM:

I've never been a big believer in the whole jot down ideas thing, mainly because I have too many. if they are good I suppose they will stick, or come back around, until dealt with.

#4 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:13 PM:

The minor deluge of comment spam showing in the Recent Comments sidebar looks like a sampling from the Things You Can't Unsee Buffet.

(Those clever people! I sure thought I came here for intellectual stimulation and wry humor, but they knew I really wanted Free Beastiality Clips. It's like they looked right into my unconscious!)

#5 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:14 PM:

The recent spamination makes for some odd superpositions in the "Recent Comments" bar. I nominate these for their extra level of cognitive dissonance:

free rape clips on Who screwed up firstest and worstest
incest sex on Christmas, 2003

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:15 PM:

They're sleeping with the fishes. Thank you, MT Blacklist.

#7 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:15 PM:

Ah, the holiday memories.

#8 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:19 PM:

Some of that comment spam was almost poetic, in a Dada sort of way. In fact, the whole comment spam concept is kind of Dada.

And, speaking of Dada, thanks for the Inappropriate 9/11 Tribute particle! It made no sense at all!

#9 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:27 PM:

The only really good (if that's the word I want) line I remember from the WorldCon was the description of the Worst Mary Sue Story Ever. Of course, I was only there for one day.

#10 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:37 PM:

Does anyone know what happened to Jordin Kare and team's contraption from the Junkyard Wars? Although it only came second-closest to the target (by a difference of about one centimeter from the winning entry), it definitely captured the Geeks' Choice award.

#11 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:44 PM:

It occurs to me that my previous comment could be misinterpreted by some as trivializing tomorrow's anniversary of the terrorist attacks. This was in no way my intention.

I had been trying not to think about it too much, because it makes me angry. In fact, I'm just about as angry at our incompetent leaders as I am at those who lashed out at us.

I almost succeeded at not thinking about that day, but then I read Mr. Ford's poem. And looked at the quilts. And the tea service, which made me think of the photo of that poor woman, standing in the middle of the street, covered in ash and wracked with grief and horror.

So, once again, I'm on the verge of tears over something that happened three years ago. Which means that I probably needed to be thinking about it. So, thanks for reminding me to be reflective, as well as for the absurdity.

#12 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 04:01 PM:

This was my first Worldcon and my first sf con of any label in seventeen years (and that a last-day short visit to the very first Readercon). I had fun, although I would say my fun level declined each day.

I had an interesting experience. I had short conversations with two pros, and they went almost the same. I'd say, "I really enjoy your work," and they'd get this rather baffled and surprised look, and say, "Oh. Thank you," in a tone of voice that indicated that it had never occurred to them that anyone actually read their books. These were people who were nominated for Hugos, so you'd think they'd figure out that someone likes them.

One of them was Canadian, so maybe it was just polite modesty, but the other was from New Jersey, a state not known for the reserve of its citizens.

The third author I tried this on also said "Thank you," but his look implied more "I will say anything I have to to get away from you and go to sleep." Lesson: don't speak to pros on Monday.

#13 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 05:10 PM:

You missed a few remaining spammers on "housekeeping notes from all over"....

#14 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 05:32 PM:

Speaking of the insanely inappropriate salute to 9/11, is it NSFW? Or is WebSense overreacting again?

#15 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 05:59 PM:

Does anyone know what happened to Jordin Kare and team's contraption from the Junkyard Wars?

We partially disassembled it so it would fit in the back seat of a car, and one of the team members was going to take it home, but I had to leave for a panel and didn't get his contact info, so I don't know if he did.

Although it only came second-closest to the target ... it definitely captured the Geeks' Choice award.

Thank you. I know it was all in fun, and that the winners did follow the letter (well, spoken syllable) of the rules, but I still feel a bit cheated.

(For those who weren't there, the task was to deposit a Beanie Baby as close as possible to the center of a trashcan lid, starting from about 30 feet away, with the requirement that it be moved by stored power -- i.e., not thrown or pushed. Most of the teams built some flavor of catapult/ballista/trebuchet; one stuffed the Beanie in a tin can and rolled it down a ramp. The official winners found a complete toy robot base, with motors and treads, *and* some AA batteries, in the junk pile, and stretched the rules by using long wires to hand-steer it from behind the starting line.

We built a 4-foot-long cart, with wheels made from stacks of CD's glued to xerox-machine-roller axles, powered by a falling weight on a 3-foot tower. A drop-arm at the front would fall down and dump the Beanie out of a coffee can onto the target. There was *supposed* to be a trigger to brake the cart and drop the arm when it hit the edge of the lid, but we ran out of time; we managed to tweak the drop arm to fall over when the drive weight hit bottom. It all just barely worked, but it was way cool when it did, if I do say so myself.)

#16 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 06:09 PM:

What was that story about William Shakespeare carrying around a pocket notebook, and writing down the phrases he heard about London and Stratford?

"The Dark Lady of the Sonnets" by George Bernard Shaw. (Shaw and Shakespeare, incidentally, figure prominently in the production of "The Frogs" at Lincoln Center. Terry McGarry and I went a few days ago, and we both enjoyed it tremendously.)

#17 ::: JM Kagan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 06:20 PM:

Best worldcon line I heard was over the phone, while those of us who couldn't make it there were commiserating with each other over the phone. Backstory: Gardner Dozois spent worldcon having an artificial ball-joint put in his right shoulder. Yes, Gardner's right-handed...and Bob Walters offered to make him a t-shirt that read: "I'D GIVE MY RIGHT ARM TO BE AMBIDEXTROUS."

Good opportunity for the alternate t- as well. As left-handed sf fan Asenath used to say back in the early seventies, "Left ON! Get RIGHTY!"

#18 ::: Alice Keezer finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 06:46 PM:

You missed one in "Open Thread 11"

Though I'm not sure whether that's spam or some form of mental illness.

No, really.

#19 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 08:47 PM:

This item properly belongs on "Prophetable Colors," but I'm going to put it here where people will see it. And really, you have to see it.

Color is a reflection of the sun's light in all its glory and you are a shimmering facet in that light. Just as being born on a certain day under a particular sun sign offers insights into your personality, there is also a personal color that corresponds to the real you. Imagine a color that could complement your innermost nature and activate the vibrations of light to enhance your world. Please join us in exploring a world where magic is made visible, a metaphysical world in which color is your guide. Welcome to the world of colorstrology.

The Pantone people will sell you your "birth color" for "only $7.50."

#20 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 09:02 PM:

Whoops, I just noticed Marilee posted that link a month ago. Must have missed it. Sorry, Marilee.

#21 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 09:20 PM:

re: inappropriate 9-11 particle

"tragity?" O, the horar.

(welcome home!)

#22 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 11:57 PM:

Not a best line from Worldcon, but a best idea: Marci Malinowycz's idea for the first night distribution of publisher freebie books.

Give a person two copies of the same book. They get to keep one if they'll give the second to someone they don't know. All the people giving out the pairs of books developed different ways of presenting it.

Way cool community builder and flirtation creator. I hope other folks steal it.

#23 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 11:58 PM:

(And it was nice to meet some of the folks from here there. Maybe we should plan a party for Glasgow or LA?)

#24 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 02:49 PM:

Since I am too lazy to maintain a blog, I reported on the Worldcon as a series of e-mails. I've consolidated and edited them somewhat, and posted the text as one big honkin' page on my web site.

Anyone who is interested can read Jimcat's Noreascon 4 Report.

#25 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 06:52 PM:

Coppercon 24 is a Very Good Con. Small (estimates here in the Staff/ConOps room right now is 400 attending). Calm, smart, hospitable staff. Good panels. Nice -- and cheap -- hotel. Details may follow, but others await a turn on this PC. Temperature outside approaches that of Baghdad. Who was the Making Light person who is supposed to be here, that I can meet f2f?

#26 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2004, 12:02 AM:

Still recovering from Worldcon here though I'm also now recovering from the first day at our local Renaissance Festival in Kansas City (I work for a jeweler). It's a usual condition, which won't happen with Glasgow and LA.....

No notable oddities, though there appears to be an increase in ear-plugs (those lobe-stretchers....) in young people. Saw everything from open spools to frank large wood thangs in ear lobes. Yikes. Otherwise there were not too many totally-over-the-top fashion thangs, or otherwise. It was a cheap crowd, but that's to be expected the first three or four weeks, especially with one of our largest art fairs in town in Westport, Kansas City, MO.

I think we SHOULD at least get together at Glasgow for an beverage or two, alcoholic or not depending on your pleasure. Glasgow would be special because there won't be as many Americans there...

And especially LA because there will be more of us there.

I'd volunteer to try to organize. Any offers to help would be appreciated too. Ask the KC in 06/09 (yes, we're doing it again...) Bid Committee to know credentials, aside from the fact that I'm an organized person in my 'day' job.

#27 ::: Velma deSelby Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2004, 08:36 AM:

Back in March, you wrote about the Avenue Victor Hugo bookstore closing, and their list of reasons. Rik Mulholland, of the webcomic Something Positive, has apparently been there, and had much the same reaction. The sequence starts here:

September 9th

I think I'm enjoying it far too much.

#28 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2004, 03:51 PM:

Jimcat: In your report of Thursday's parties you neglected to mention the LJ/blogger party. Sob. I know you were there because I talked to you. Also if the genuine rocket scientist who works for NASA you mention in the report of Junkyard Wars is Jordin, I offer a small correction. He's done work for NASA and gotten a couple of grants for them, but he doesn't work for them in the sense of getting a paycheck every month. If not, never mind. (And where but worldcon could you expect to find a couple of rocket scientists on the same team. Okay, NASA, but.)

MKK

#29 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2004, 09:11 PM:

Well, my apologies to Mary Kay and anyone/everyone else I neglected. There was a lot that went on that I didn't get to put into the report, for a couple of reasons.

First, computer access was very restricted at Noreascon, for those of us who don't happen to own a laptop. So while I was there, I had to concentrate on blasting out a mostly comprehensive report in as little time as possible.

By concentrating on the wireless access at the expense of actual workstations, the convention divided the attending fans into technological haves and have-nots, something that goes against the spirit of fandom in my opinion. They even openly admitted that they were trying to limit people's time on the public computers by not having chairs! What a bunch of @#$%heads! This was my biggest gripe with an otherwise quite enjoyable Worldcon.

Second, if I'd included every little interesting detail of the con, I'd still be writing today, and odds are the report would never see the light of day. Time was when I could spend multiple hours writing a truly epic and all-encompassing con and travel report, but somehow those big blocks of writing time just don't exist in my life any more.

But I should probably edit the reference to Jordan, since I wasn't completely clear on his working relationship to NASA.

And just out of curiosity, was the LJ/blogger party really on Thursday night? I thought it was on Friday. The sheer number of parties on Friday night (not to mention the number of drinks I consumed then) made it hard to keep track of everything. When the evening starts with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, it's likely to end with some memory blanks. (-:

#30 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 12:32 AM:

In slight defense of the N4 decision about internet access, Mike Pins (who was managing that particular bit) commented to me that he realized after the fact that they were slightly ahead of the elbow rather than behind. By LA, many more fans will want wireless access than want wired access. That said, I spent much less time connected at this Worldcon than I did at several previous ones, because of the inconvenience. When I asked Mike if he'd mind if I used a chair at the low (wheelchair) station at a low-use time, he allowed me to -- but later said that everyone who'd pulled up a chair there had stayed for *hours*. When I challenged him with my (half-hour, approximately) use, he backed down. But the chair I used wasn't at all comfortable.

Mike had a major set of problems making it work -- the combination of consumer rather than professional grade equipment and serious time pressure is not calculated to warm the cockles of an admin's heart. From the little I know, I think he did a good job with his limited resources. And guessing wrong about which side of the tech elbow one is on is really easy to do.

#31 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 01:37 AM:

Tom: There's an interesting comparison in the USENIX conferences, which used to have huge terminal rooms and now (for the smaller ones) have the on-site registration machines doing double duty, and usually a "laptop drop" room for the non-wireless folks. (Larger conferences do have a small terminal room still.) Nearly everyone there has laptops, because of the nature of the organization. I think you're right about the tech curve, though I usually think of it as a knee instead of an elbow....

I didn't haul a laptop, but I have a WiFi PDA. There were enough problems with the wireless that I didn't depend on it or use it much, winding up doing most of my blogging after the fact instead (with notes on my PDA to help me recall events) rather than trying to do liveblogging.

This is not a criticism of Mike Pins, either. (The USENIX wireless setup is usually sponsored by a vendor of enterprise-class WiFi gear, which makes it a lot easier to get good coverage and reliable hardware.)

#32 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 02:21 AM:

I didn't have any trouble using my laptop either in the Concourse or in the hotel's lobby -- Sheraton had free wi-fi too. I'll admit I didn't use it often though. I was a busy little bee. After past Internet lounges I was really surprised to see how few terminals Noreascon had and there was always a line for them. I mean, I know a lot of folks with laptops, but the people I know aren't really a representative sample, even for fans.

MKK

#33 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 03:59 AM:

For those of you who are fans of John M. Ford's "110 Stories", and I know there are many of you here, I've taken the occasion of the third anniversary to do a brief film adaptation.

You can find it-- and the original poem-- at http://www.110stories.us.

(No, it won't take you that long to watch. Heck, Bush took longer to do something after being told about the south tower hit.)

#34 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 09:57 AM:

Best line I heard at Worldcon, which was quoted at a writing panel (I don't remember the attribution, but would love to know who said it originally) was:

"Never tell them how it works, tell them what it does."

Good advice, that, and duly filed away (-:

#35 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 10:44 AM:

from the "What Makes It an Epic?" panel at Coppercon 24, panelists Ken St.Andre, Janeen O'Kerry, Michael A. Stackpole, Vera Nazarian, Christine M. Carmichael, Alan Dean Foster.

Conan, Tarzan, Gilgamesh, Odin, Theseus, Shackleton [KSA]

Must be larger than life, many characters, many settings, and cover every important emotion and aspect of human life -- and I have read Homer in Greek and Virgil in Latin. Tolkien clearly wrote an Epic. Did J. K. Rowling? I think so... [CMC]

"Must be something big at stake.... Dune" [JOK]

"Saga is Epic Lite" [ADF]

"If you take Achilles out of the Iliad, or Frodo and Sam out of LOTR, is it still an Epic? Yes." [Epic needs MANY characters] [ADF]

"Breadth, level of characterization, and Good pays a price to defeat evil. Gone with the Wind." [MS]

"Asimov did his epic by analogy to Fall of Rome" [KSA][JVP: via Gibbon].

"Tolkien would make a great Theme Park: Six Flags over Hobbitton. Do you dare to ride Mount Doom?" [ADF]

"Robert Jordan expertly reverse-engineered Tolkien's Rolls Royce and built a stetch Yugo. I can see the weld marks." [MS]

"All of Stepehn King's novels connect in a vast epic, centered on The Dark Tower." [CMC]

"Another characteristic of an Epic is the knockoff sequels, prequels, and fan-fic later -- as was so with Odyssey, Illiad, Aenaeid." [JVP]

"Then Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek and Star Wars are surely Epics." [ADF]
[he then expounds on family structure]

[jvp]: right, expecially the part where Sauron says "Frodo, I am your father!"

"George Lucas was winging it. hadn't thought it through. I know, I have an original script. Darth Vader should have been, IMHO, Luke's brother."


#36 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 10:49 AM:

This was my (mumbles, while touching fingertips: Chicon, MilPhil, ConJose, Torcon, Noreascon4) fifth Worldcon and I'd hoped I was getting the hang of them by now, but. . . Sigh.

Two things you _don't_ want to do when preparing for Worldcon: carefully pack and 'carry-on' your laptop plus all USB accessories needed to use the ancillary wireless keyboard and mouse, plus LAN cord for use w/hotel room's broadband port, but _leave the powercord home_

and, Take the digital camera but leave the memory card home in the desktop's digital-upload-slot.

However, despite arriving at Logan just in time to hear Pataki and Bush live from the RNC during my taxi ride from Logan, and pausing only to grab some sustenance at the Mended Drum, I did manage to make it to the last 10 minutes of the LJ/blogger party (where I admired Jordin's fuzzy warthogs).

And I did meet and speak to Jo Walton, which had been a worldcon ambition since MilPhil. And having met Jo while she was minding Elise M's booth in the dealer room, I had the totally unexpected felicity of acquiring a genuine Jon Singer teacup--and having the fluorescing properties of its glaze demonstrated by the eponymous potter himself, after he located a suitable outlet for his portable black light in a niche just behind the Troll in the ConCourse.

For one whose introduction to online fandom was 'lurking on raseff', all this made for a peculiarly memorable Worldcon. [Not to mention a number of pleasant encounters with Writers and friends from other online communities.]

Now, if only I could finish the pair of socks I started knitting at Chicon. . . .

Harriet

#37 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 11:29 AM:

In some ways Noreascon did an excellent job with the internet/web presence. Like making all of the newsletters available on the web site. Which let me confirm that the LJ/Bloggers party was indeed on Thursday night, so I don't even have the "too many parties and drinks in one night" excuse. Guess I'll have to fall back on early-onset Alzheimers as my reason for not mentioning it.

#38 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Suzanne: "Never tell them how it works, tell them what it does." was from the exposition panel; according to my semi-live blogging, it was TNH reporting a comment of Steven Brust's. (Debra Doyle added that you can also tell what happens when it breaks.)

#39 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Apropos nothing WorldCon or 9/11, I'm startled to report that Wayne Alred has expanded the restaurant distribution system of purportedly humorous books outside of Utah. Samples books were on tables all along the route from Tucson to Albuquerque.

To which my reaction was, more or less literally, Glah! I'm used to seeing Peachtree/Willowtree fare in Utah, where I can write it off as Mormon in-jokes. But in the I-25 corridor?

---L.

#40 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 02:42 PM:

Mary Kay: my PDA is a lot less forgiving of low signal or the like, because of the combination of limited power and less effective antenna. However, since the whole thing is about the size of a laptop battery, it's still worth the functionality tradeoff. (I do wish there was an external Ethernet adapter I could toss in my backpack for it, though.)

#41 ::: James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 05:09 PM:

Apropos of nothing that has gone before, and related nothing that has gone before, but its to cool for me not to share somewhere:

http://www.smorgasblog.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/809

Book vending machines. Would that the CTA would get along side such a brilliant idea.

#42 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 05:20 PM:

On the Remembrance strip: After "I am confident that our President will see to it that they pay!" I was waiting for "I'm George W. Bush, and I *pant*pant* approve this ad."

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 06:16 PM:

As I suggested over in rec.arts.sf.fandom, when the issue of Internet access was raised before the con, it may not be worth the Convention providing computers, but, when people are asking where they can find Internet access, why hasn't the Convention at least put together a web page?

#44 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 08:43 AM:

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, Dave -- the convention had (and has) a quite extensive web site.

If you meant that the Noreascon web site should have had a web page containing information on where people could find Internet access, I agree that that would have been useful.

Even pointers to nearby Internet cafes would have been welcome. I was so frustrated at Noreascon that I would have been willing to pay for Internet access. But the only place the people at the information desk were aware of was Penfields in the Sheraton, which charged insultingly ridiculously unbelievably unreasonable and extortionate rates for access. (I'm guessing that most of their customers are expense-account business travelers.) I wasn't that desperate.

The con committee's justification for not providing more computers was the expense. It's understandable if they could think of better ways to spend the money, but how much did they spend on providing wireless access? (This is an honest question. I don't know what such stuff costs.) Was it as much as, say, a few more computers would have been?

Maybe my expectations were raised too high by Torcon, which doesn't seem to have had problems acquiring enough computers to satisfy the members' needs for Internet access. But I've also seen regional cons like Philcon and Lunacon providing public Internet access rooms as far back as the mid-90s, when hardware was a lot more expensive.

When all is said and done, I think that Noreascon is to be commended for devoting so much effort to their Web presence and providing Internet access -- it's just that some of their effort was misspent in such a way that more people were inconvenienced during the con.

#45 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 08:57 AM:

JvP wrote, a few days ago:

"Who was the Making Light person who is supposed to be here [at CopperCon], that I can meet f2f?"

That was almost certainly me, since Hilde and I live about five miles down the road from the hotel. We were only there for a few hours each day, and while I kept an eye on name badges, I never saw you.

(Or I may have seen you but never recognized you. The con committee printed up name badges that used a Todd Lockwood, the AGoH, painting as background, then printed names on a transparent[!] label and applied it to the badge. This rendered everything except the last three or four letters almost completely invisible.)

I'm afraid that CopperCon isn't that high a priority for me, though I've been to almost all of them. The main reason we go is to touch base with friends we generally only see at cons. I realized Saturday while driving to the hotel that I would rather have been driving the 450 miles to the Bubonicon two weeks before, again, than the five miles to CopperCon.

#46 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Re: badges: as nice as the art on the Noreascon badges was, I would have traded it for bigger name letters. On Sunday, probably too late for it to do any good, I bribed Nancy Lebovitz to make me a button just with my name on it, which I threaded through the snap-loop holding my badge. I will probably bring this to future cons, so if you see a short Asian woman with glasses, short hair, and a pale yellow button with two words on it, say "Hi, I bet I've seen you at Making Light."

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 11:03 AM:

I agree, Kate. When designing name badges, people seem to forget that we're going to see thousands of them, and don't really need our attention drawn to the same piece of artwork over and over. Enough for the gatekeepers of the convention to recognize at a glance is enough.

The person's name has to be easily findable and readable with a surreptitious glance. Convention planners seem to feel that its primary purpose is to say "I'm allowed to be here." That's definitely true from their perspective, but to the congoing public its primary purpose is to say "this is my name"!

#48 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 11:03 AM:

Bruce Arthurs:

Ah well, perhaps my wife and I will see you at World Fantasy Con in Tempe, or Coppercon 25. You're right about the badges. At most cons, there's the habitual "Hello again," [glance at badge covertly] "Professor Post" [insert other name here]. At Coppercon, there was the glance, and a "I do remember you, but not sure.." explicit verbalization.

I wasn't listed on the program, although I ended up moderating a "Prospects for Mars" and future of Solar System Exploration panel, as kick-off moderator Prof. David Williams was simultaneously programmed for SF Jeopardy, and he knew I could moderate space panels from mutual con experience.

Nor could you have easily found me through my wife, as she uses her maiden name [prefixed by Dr. or prof., as she was published thus before meeting me].

I had a great hour conversation with Alan Dean Foster, where we topped each others with stories of bizarre places the the world, insane Hollywood producers, Science Fiction perversity, and Buzz Aldrin, while the Artist GOH Todd Lockwood and his entourage drank in amused silence.

We also go to cons mostly to see friends, but we also think that Giving Good Panel is the moral thing to do for audience and staff. Once in a while, we walk away from a con with a writing contract in hand, but that's more common at Worldcons and Comic-Cons.

#49 ::: Arlen ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Jimcat asked: "I don't know what such stuff costs. Was it as much as, say, a few more computers would have been?"

Don't know how much the concom spent, but wireless access points cost about 10% of a computer.

I never had any luck with the Sheraton's supposed free wireless access, every time I tried they wanted to bill me $9/day. I managed in the ConCourse and for a few brief moments in my room, as someone nearby had setup a WAP that I could piggyback on.

#50 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 12:24 PM:

The Sheraton's free wifi was available only in the lobby area. It is possible that attending Boskones in that hotel gave some of us an advantage in knowing what was where.

MKK

#51 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 12:59 PM:

On name badges: I don't remember actually saying this, but John Hertz keeps quoting me as the source of "Fans spend too much time thinking about how something looks, and not enough time thinking about what it does."

For ConJose', I think we got the name problem right. Smaller cons spend less time thinking.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 01:23 PM:

I hate to agree with someone who dreams of throwing me at a pig, but Tom is right. Only...ConJose was bigger than NorEasCon? By how much?

#53 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Jimcat: If you meant that the Noreascon web site should have had a web page containing information on where people could find Internet access, I agree that that would have been useful.
That \sounds/ uselessly recursive; to me, a convention website is most useful for information in advance, and net access is something I'd expect people mostly to want to know about on-site -- where they won't need the info if they can get online to find it. I'm a bit surprised the info desk didn't know about other solutions; I \think/ the Kinko's a block beyond the Marriott has access for a much better price than Penfield's. (There ought to be a list somewhere of questions Info needs to be able to answer; this is largely a solved problem that needs only touchups each year. But Worldcons are governed separately, so info passing between them can be spotty.)

wrt the comments on badges, that \is/ something that is generally known -- especially after someone tried to make badge-name point size a part of the written rules in response to MilPhil's tiny type. (Note, however, that the concom, on behalf of the attendees, does have some interest in the badge's I-belong-here functionality -- "ghosting" can mean seats (e.g. in the overflowing big functions) taken by people who haven't contributed to the fund that tries to pay for enough seats for everyone.) One question is how much you fiddle the type size and style, given that the badges are only yea by so. (Would a badge with two lines of giant type and minimal decoration be too ugly? How difficult would getting the names to fold be?) ConJose's badge-in-a-pouch did allow a larger font than usual but had its detractors; Tom can comment on the relative expense of the pouches, and their labor cost. (But lamination is something a lot of people can help with.)

#54 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Take this with a grain of salt because other people may have more accurate sources, but:

The Big List o' Worldcons gives an estimate of 5300 people onsite for ConJose. The unofficial estimates that people were throwing around during Noreascon were also in the vicinity of 5300. (Source: the Monday morning edition of the Noreascon newsletter.)

#55 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:13 PM:

That's pretty much what I thought. I'm sure as many people didn't go to ConJose as didn't go to NorEasCon, if you understand me...I didn't go to ConJose because a) I voted for San Francisco, and b) I've been to San Jose and didn't want to go back...so soon, at least. I hate deserts, did I mention that?

#56 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:30 PM:

Re: badges: I've seen badges that were white cut-out lettering on a distinctive background, allowing the name to take up all the space; this is much more readable than it sounds. I cannot remember what con this was for--not one I'd been at--but someone here will know, I'm sure.

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 04:53 PM:

The exact number of people at ConJose (or any Worldcon, for that matter) is actually problematic -- how does one count one-day memberships, especially one-days held by the same person on different days? If people illegitimately share a membership, are they one person? If I were at home I could pull out the file that lists all the possible membership numbers that Kevin Standlee and Cindy Scott put together, but I don't have it here. E-mail me if you're interested. 5300 was our estimate for the Noreascon program book, but it's actually a little high.

#58 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 08:58 PM:

Wish there was a way to have avoided email at NorEasCon, but I left the office at a bad time. I opened my email Thursday morning to a minor crisis that took about three emails and a phone call to partly resolve--it wasn't totally resolved until I got back but the upshot was that it only affected about 10 exhibitors at a 1,100 exhibitor show (exhibitors, not attendees). And it I had done as much diligence as I could, the final arbiter of booth numbers had failed to double-check.... (sigh).

But the only person I heard having a huge problem had her own antenna/receiver and wasn't using the set-up system. And in the Hynes, you're in a signal-shielded building. The convention's system was sometimes slow on my OSX laptop, but not impossible, and because I knew a lot of people were using it, I limited my use to what I absolutely needed. (check/empty out email)

#59 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 09:04 PM:

The best line I heard at WorldCon was less a line than a facial expression. Fantasy of Manners panel. Jo Walton said, "You couldn't have a comedy of manners set on Beta Colony," and Lois McMaster Bujold's face just opened up, very thoughtfully, and I joined the rest of the room laughing and shouting, "Do it! Oh, do!"

Why can't I content myself with coveting books that have been written?

#60 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 09:34 PM:

Just now watching Nova on PBS, which tonight dramatizes the, um, Ex-Palimpsest of Archimedes, which TNH discussed here in December.

Though scraped clean and overwritten with a prayerbook, the manuscript's obliterated text has been restored; it contains some lost mathematics of the wily old techie.

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 09:56 PM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey:

Great story, nice web site. Isaac Newton did not believe that he was inventing new stuff. He thought that he was rediscovering the secrets of the ancients. There are other pieces of Lost Mathematics. However, the fact that humans are now publishing approximately 1,000,000 theorems per year makes it likely that almost everything we do is new. As opposed to "there is nothing new under the sun..."

Dr. Geoff Landis and Dr. George Hockney ask: how do we know that, say, ancient Chinese did NOT have spark-gap radio transmitters and receivers? I say: "no, mesoamerica. But they used gold and silver wire, and the conquistadores made them melt it down..."

#62 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 12:31 AM:

Stray thought about the Archimedes text:

If it were translated and published, would it be eligible for a Hugo?

#63 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Stray thought about the Archimedes text:

If it were translated and published, would it be eligible for a Hugo?

#64 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 12:53 AM:

Meeting Jo Walton was fun (even if it was mostly me saying "wow, I love your books" and a little Tolkien discussion). Having someone come up with a good explanation for why Bombadil is in LOTR was good.

Getting to scream "Lois!" when the Hugo winners were announced was loads of fun.

#65 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 02:59 AM:

Kate Nepveu:
Re: badges: I've seen badges that were white cut-out lettering on a distinctive background, allowing the name to take up all the space; this is much more readable than it sounds. I cannot remember what con this was for--not one I'd been at--but someone here will know, I'm sure.

Was the background a green circuit board kind of thing? This sounds a lot like the badges I've seen from plokta.con. And yes, they are very readable and nice-looking to boot.

#66 ::: Betsey Langan finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 08:02 AM:

I didn't dare click through any of the links, but given where they say they go, and the fake email address, I'm pretty sure it's canned luncheon meat.

#67 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 09:59 AM:

David Goldfarb: yes, I think the green circuit board sounds right. They were pretty neat.

#68 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 09:22 PM:

Sorry, this has nothing to do with WorldCon, but it is an open thread, so....a random thought, based on the wiki sidebar link about your new neighbourhood: The Green-wood cemetery looks kind of how I imagined the cemetery in Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place.

#69 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2004, 03:47 AM:

Bill Higgins writes:
Stray thought about the Archimedes text:

If it were translated and published, would it be eligible for a Hugo?

Sounds like the ultimate Retro Hugo.

#70 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2004, 11:35 AM:

Lois Fundis:

As much as I love the work of Archimedes, I'm still voting for Aristophanes' tale of Space War near the Moon as Best Novel, and the Trojan Horse as Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Category.

#71 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2004, 12:11 PM:

Checking the Particle showing P&TNH's new neighborhood, I see that the nearest I have ever been to their new home was when I rode the D line out to the aquarium at Coney Island. There's a station at 36th Street and 4th Avenue, which must be close.

#72 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2004, 05:07 PM:

Changing the subject almost completely, I have just received spam. I think it may well be targeted spam, because it is from a small press to the contact address on my writing persona's website. It is a 92 kb story, sent to the publicity mailing list for the press. Needless to say, it claims to be an opt-in list.

I'm still doing some digging, but I strongly suspect that what we have here is one or more self- or vanity-published authors with delusions of being a Publisher, who think that sending other authors and publishing type people large chunks of text will induce them to immediately rush over and buy the thing. Other possibilities include a small POD outfit catering to such people, with an "opt-in" list with no security checks on subscriptions, and an author merrily adding any address it can find.

I do hope there's not going to be an outbreak of "buy my POD book" spamming. :-(

#73 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2004, 05:51 PM:

Niall - when were you in NYC? The poor little D train has been rerouted so many times that it no longer bears any resemblence to its once proud Brighton Line self, and has been relegated to the still interesting but less compelling West End line, where it keeps company with, gasp, the M train. And, if you took it to the aquarium without changing, sad to say, it no longer goes to West 8th St.

#74 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 05:16 AM:

Larry, this would have been in, erm, 1990, I think.

#75 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 09:12 AM:

I only managed to catch a tiny fragment of the dregs of Worldcon after it had shut down--I met Mrissa (and some others), and we apparently arrived in some lobby-like area just in time for me to miss Neil Gaiman, and glimpse Cory Doctorow and George R.R. Martin, both of which were enough to make me squeeze down and hide in my (overstuffed arm)chair.

It's sad, but the thought of meeting the actual humans who write books I read still kinda makes me want to hide. Maybe it's just as well I wasn't able to attend! *wry grin*

#76 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 12:19 PM:

Niall - Wow. 1990. The city is more Disnified now than it was then. If you were to come back for another visit, you'd notice the difference. Less trash in the streets, police barricades to prevent people from crossing at certain sides of intersections, and a general sense of there being less petty crime. Plus, Times Square is now family-friendly, even midwestern-family-friendly with familiar national chain restaurants and big-box retail stores. A bit of a loss, I'd say.

And, the D-train ran on its old route at the time, so Atlantic Ave or Prospect Park stations were probably the closest you got to Green Wood Cemetery. Which is a shame, because its quite beautiful.

#77 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 12:49 PM:

BMT Brighton Line re: D-Train History:

"The Brighton Line began service on July 2, 1878 as the Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Railroad, between Prospect Park and the Brighton Beach Hotel as a surface steam railroad. (The Brighton Beach Hotel was owned by the railway.) It was extended on August 19, 1878 at the north end to Atlantic Avenue and Franklin St. (now Franklin Avenue), where it connected with the LIRR mainline. The LIRR, however, owned the competing Manhattan Beach RR, and terminated the trackage right agreement in December, 1883. The BF&CI was then reorganized as the Brooklyn & Brighton Beach Railroad in 1887...."

"... In 1982, work on the north side of the Manhattan Bridge caused some unusual reroutings. D trains running from the Bronx switched to the local tracks at Broadway - Lafayette. From there the train ran non-stop to DeKalb Avenue as follows: using the connection to Essex Street. D trains stopped at Essex, where a spare motorman took over and the D train motorman walked to the opposite end of the train. The train would then proceed about 20 car lengths onto the Williamsburg Bridge and reverse direction back into Essex Street where the spare motorman would get off the train. D trains then ran via the Nassau St. Loop and Montague St. tunnel to DeKalb Avenue, where travel resumed up the Brighton Line. Other than the K and KK services which ran on this part of the Chrystie St. connection, this D train routing was the only other time since then that revenue service was seen on these tracks...."

Since I lived on Montague Street (famous in the history of literature, and Bob Dylan lyrics) I especially liked remebering all this.

#78 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 01:06 PM:

JVP - NYCSubway.org is a great reference for subway lore and system photography.

I rode on some of those direction-switching D trains - fun! I'm a long-standing but relatively non-participating transit geek. (For instance, somehow I've managed to resist riding BART out to Pittsburg or Fremont.)

I rode on the first revenue train through the 63rd Street tubes, visited the old IRT City Hall station, and I've at least passed through every station in the system and used every transfer point at least once.

Plus, my great-grandfather was a motorman for the BRT/BMT, which was part of the reason he moved my family out to the relative hinterlands - he thought that the open spaces of Canarsie made a better environment for his kids than Manhattan.

I haven't been to the Transit Museum since it reopened, but it's worth the visit just to see the old rolling stock.

#79 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 01:35 PM:

Those who cycle, those who are interested in lock picking, and those with laptop locks, listen up and watch out:
Some cylinderical locks can be picked with a Bic pen!

It is shockingly easy. The original discussion, with movies, can be found here (link by way of Boing-Boing).

#80 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 01:48 PM:

Lots of cylindrical locks are ridiculously easy to pick with items at hand.

There's lots of good discussion and resources on this topic over in this recent /. article.

#81 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 02:19 PM:

You know, I says a lot for the compulsive effect of Teresa's Particles that, even though I already knew what a merkin was, I went ahead and clicked on her link to the American Merkin Company, just to see if it surpassed my imagining. Over 150 years? Really? It's nice to see an old established firm move into the 21st century, ready for all challenges.

#82 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 02:53 PM:

Thanks, Skwid. I think what surprised everyone about this particular brouhaha is that the technique apparently requires no skill or practice to make it work. (I haven't confirmed this by trying it, yet.) I've read the classic "MIT Guide to Lockpicking," but that technique sounds more involved and applies to a different type of lock.

#83 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 01:27 PM:

We've often discussed rewriting. Here's a nice quote, lifted from a recent Slashdot thread on George Lucas' digital remastering and rewrite of the Stare Wars trilogy for the new DVD edition (Han Solo shoots first):

Aldous Huxley wrote this in regard to a later edition of Brave New World:

To pore over the literary shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one's middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth - all this is surely vain and futile. And that is why this new Brave New World is the same as the old one. Its defects as a work of art are considerable; but in order to correct them I should have to rewrite the book - and in the process of rewriting, as an older, other person, I should probably get rid not only of some of the faults of the story, but also of such merits as it originally possessed. And so, resisting temptation to wallow in artistic remorse, I prefer to leave both well and ill alone and to think about something else.

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:06 PM:

A friend mentioned to me that Laura Bush conducted revenue enhancement as a marijuana pusher in college...

"That pair reminds me of Evita and Peron," I said, "No, make that, they make Evita and Peron look good!" [I was thinking of Evita's appeal to the masses in Argentina as someone who fronted for health care and hospitals for the masses, and thinking of Peron as someone who has rised to the rank of general on some actual competence as a military leader, as opposed to Bush's slimy Guard
half-rumped cut-and-run-and-have-rump-covered-up "service." Also, Evita didn't commit vehicular homicide without even a reprimand or investigation, unlike Laura Bush. Death by his vehicle to a woman cost Teddy Kennedy a shot at the Presidency, but death by her vehicle to a young man didn't cause Laura Bush to be a political liability to her husband, apparently.

They make Peron and Evita look like good rulers....

#85 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:07 PM:

A friend mentioned to me that Laura Bush conducted revenue enhancement as a marijuana pusher in college...

"That pair reminds me of Evita and Peron," I said, "No, make that, they make Evita and Peron look good!" [I was thinking of Evita's appeal to the masses in Argentina as someone who fronted for health care and hospitals for the masses, and thinking of Peron as someone who has rised to the rank of general on some actual competence as a military leader, as opposed to Bush's slimy Guard
half-rumped cut-and-run-and-have-rump-covered-up "service." Also, Evita didn't commit vehicular homicide without even a reprimand or investigation, unlike Laura Bush. Death by his vehicle to a woman cost Teddy Kennedy a shot at the Presidency, but death by her vehicle to a young man didn't cause Laura Bush to be a political liability to her husband, apparently.

They make Peron and Evita look like good rulers....

#86 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Ahhh, but George and Laura have found their savior and all is forgiven. Redemption is a necessary component of the psychodrama. (Democrats are ineligble for this accountability-relief program as it doesn't play to their base.)

BTW - Eva Peron at least had charisma. I'd trade Laura, plus Jenna, not-Jenna and a Bush-clan-female to be named later for Evita.

#87 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 08:07 PM:

Not to take attention away from all those serious posts up above this one, but has anyone else seen the whole amazon.com snafu involving Anne Rice? See the reviews for Blood Canticle and/or this commentary on it if you're not sure what I'm talking about, but to sum up: Anne Rice took umbrage at some negative amazon.com reviews of the book and ranted at the reviewers, meanwhile reminding us she's too good to be edited. Or something.

#88 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 10:43 PM:

No.

Tell me she didn't.

You know, there's a reason why arguing with the reviewer is called The Great Mistake.

(wanders off to have a look at the train wreck...)

#89 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 11:17 PM:

The MeFi commentary is marginally amusing, but the best bit is the Amazon review which is just a repost of "her"[1] screed with paragraph breaks added. (Ironic, since the screed contains a bit about how she has "no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status.")

[1] It's got a little Amazon "real name" squib under it, but I have no other proof that it's really her; I'm reserving judgment, but I note that other reviews by the same author include one of "The Passion of the Christ" with such lovely spellings as "hypocracy" and "dipiction". Someone could use an editor, or at least a spell-checker...

#90 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 11:47 PM:

There's also -- via Christina Schulman's blog -- a link to her actual web site in which she details her growth as a writer and her writing process and, yes, her refusal to deal with being edited.

It's here: http://www.annerice.com/sh_MessagesBeach2.htm

#91 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 12:08 AM:

Cool neon is deeply neat. I have a length of the blue variety that I used in a costume a while back. Perhaps I shall bring it to VP to see if it gets itself into any interesting situations.

#92 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 03:26 AM:

*Leaning Tower of Pisa Review August 6, 1350
Reviewer: Fabrizio Benatorre-- See all my reviews

Sorry, but this thing is just way off. I've been a fan of the architect for years and I'm telling you, the fucker sent the plans for this one in by heliograph. I hope the duke didn't pay in coin, because this thing's going to topple over in about five years, max.

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**COULDN'T AGREE MORE August 7, 1350
Reviewer: Jacopo di Pontera-- See all my reviews

ROTFLMAO. No shit. I'm afraid to set foot in this so-called tower. Whoever goes in there to ring the bells has some serious balls, and had best be right with the Lord Our God, because let me tell you, this sucker leans like a drunk Genoan hooker throwing up against a wall. Way to fuck up our skyline, dumbass. Ever heard of a theodolite?

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*****FROM THE ARCHITECT TO SOME OF THE NEGATIVE VOICES HERE September 13, 1350
Reviewer: Bonanno Pisano-- See all my reviews

Seldom, by God, do I deign to answer those who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career has been fueled by my ability to ignore the picayune mockery of peasants and grandi alike. However, there is something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things you've said here actually touches the fire of my honorable Pisan soul. Those of you who have posted outrageously negative comments here are examining my tower from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren't even seeing it; you project your own limitations onto it. It is not my tower that leans, it is your own sensibilities that stoop. If and when I can't draw up plans for a tower on my own, you'll know it. And no, I have no intention of ever allowing any foreman or oversight committee to distort, alter, or mutilate the clean lines of a blueprint I have drafted and re-drafted and organized and signed myself. I have fought a great battle to reach a point where I do not have to have foremen or surveyors telling me what kind of soil I will be building my towers on, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, building bell-towers is a virtuoso performance, it is not a collaborative endeavor. I was with my bricks and columns and crenellations more deeply than ever before as I drew up the plans for this tower; I experienced an intimacy with my charcoal sticks and plumb-bobs that shattered all prior restraints. When one is drawing up plans for a tower one does have to continuously and courageously fight a destructive tendency to inhibition and restraint. If my tower does not appeal to you, fine-- go put your bells in some other tower and ring them to your heart's content. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander, and rest assured of the utter enmity I bear for you and all of your kin. I bite my thumb at you, which is an insult, if you bear it. "Leaning tower" indeed. Ingrates. Curs. Neapolitan codpiece-swabbers.

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#93 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 04:07 AM:

Actually, I have to admit I'm not finding it funny -- it's kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion, or a nervous breakdown in progress :/.

I feel sorry for her.

#94 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 07:11 AM:

In the Anne Rice screed, I found this particularly ironic: "...there is something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just about anything..."

And... her accusations of slander? Where have I heard that before?

Oy.

#95 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 09:12 AM:

Regarding the Particles entry on "Shosholoza": I first encountered this powerful tune more than twenty years ago, on a 12" single by Peter Gabriel and in the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy. But I'd somehow missed the meaning. I was under the impression that "shosholoza" meant something like "go in peace", and was said as a freindly benediction to departing travelers. Turns out I was way off base all along.

Yet another one to file under "a little learning is a dangerous thing".

#96 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 10:35 AM:

Best advice ever: Never post in anger.

Not even if you're Anne Rice and you think that your readers opinions of Blood Canticle really suck.

Indeed, one might say: especially not then.

#97 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 11:16 AM:

Scott--thank you for that laugh. I really needed it.

I was just rereading reviews of another author's books where many readers said the book needed an editor (I agree, terribly long and boring). I wonder if the editorial decision to let a popular author do their own thing ever gets rescinded? Anyone know?

#98 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 01:45 PM:

I like the Internet Wandering Monster Table. So true.

---L.

#99 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 07:25 PM:

ElizabethVM, last Saturday we had our monthly SF discussion group at the library. We had, for the second time, picked a book one guy wanted and the rest of us didn't particularly, and for the second time, he didn't show up. So we had to discuss House Atreides. I thought it was written for stupid people because there were so many repeated repeated things. Others thought it was just poorly edited.

#100 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 08:42 PM:

Xopher, did you do your stratificational grammar thing at Worldcon? (Or did I hallucinate this?) I'm sorry if you mentioned it in some other thread perhaps--I've skimmed through and haven't seen it, but it might just be my eyes/brain. (And if so, could someone point me there?) Because I picked up the _Introduction to Stratificational Grammar_ you mentioned and oh, man, I'm only on chapter 2, and it's *neat.* I don't have any formal linguistics background, and I suspect later chapters will be rather over my head, but the diagrams! So pretty!

Okay, the fact that there's an early example from Korean didn't hurt, either. ;-)

#101 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 10:24 PM:

Re: Cool Neon

I have a friend who was there (at Burning Man) -- after going once he says he will not miss it again. From his tales, I will likely Never Go. Being out on the playa, lots of dirt, no running water, etc. sounds like hell to me.

He said this was the Year of the Blinky Things.

#102 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 10:54 AM:

In the Court of Public Opinion, Sep 2004, Final Judgment:

Anne Rice sentenced to collaborate with the Artist Formerly Known as Cat Stevens, until such time as she has published the definitive Islamic Vampire Novel, and he has shipped the accompanying soundtrack album.

#103 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 10:55 AM:

Because we all could use some cuteness:

Baby jaguars at the Stone Zoo, from the Boston Globe.

#104 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 11:20 AM:

Totally cute, Kate--but I was bemused by this caption on one of the pictures: "The jaguars enjoy phone books, and Stoneham Bank employees have been collecting old Yellow Pages for the big cats."

#105 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 11:31 AM:

Yes, I was wondering how they determined the cubs liked phone books, myself.

#106 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 11:54 AM:

They don't actually enjoy the phone books. They're being trained as Yellow Pages salesmen.

I mean, if, like, a Jaguar showed up in your store, you'd totally buy a half-page ad just to keep him from, like, eating your customers and all!

#107 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 04:12 PM:

For a similar mood without quite so inhospitable an environment, you might give Burning Flipside a try. We're planning on being there this spring.

#108 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 05:27 PM:

Oh, and the Anne Rice debacle makes its debut in the webcomic scene.

#109 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 05:50 PM:

Since this is an Open Thread, let me take this in a completely different direction and ask about... email etiquette. No, not the standard stuff, but little bitty minutiae that I wonder about. Like, is it still appropriate to begin and end an email to a friend with names, as if writing a paper letter? After all, the email header information will tell you exactly who the letter is to and from, right? For example:

John,

Great to hear from you!

-Eric

Or, to pose the converse question, would it be considered too abrupt to leave these opening and closing lines out?

My wife shakes her head in amazement that questions like this even deserve articulation, but deep in my anal-retentive soul, they nag at me.

#110 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 07:19 PM:

Some of you may get a kick out of my favorite spelling error of the day. It appeared on a refrigerated truck on Route 18 in central New Jersey, a road notorious for the kind of traffic that allowed me to goggle for several minutes at the error to verify that the words said what I thought they said. Crowning an otherwise tantalizing graphic of ice cream and chocolates, the side of the truck bore the words SOMERSET SYRUP AND CONFESSION SUPPLIES.

#111 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Randy Milholland is becoming one of my favorite commentators on the passing scene. When I told a pagan friend about the reason Something*Positive sells "Brighter Blessed Than Thee" T-Shirts I thought she'd laugh herself into another time zone, and when I dug up the posting from the guy that wrote in attacking Milholland for denigrating Cthulhu and its loyal acolytes I thought I'd have to administer CPR.

#112 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 08:27 PM:

See mathematicians around the world in their native habitats, strangely bedecked, with unusual haircuts and beards, their glasses/bottles/mugs raised on high, because of The Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences:

The OEIS 100K E-Party (Page 1)

"Welcome to the e-party to celebrate the arrival, some time in the next few months,
of the 100,000-th sequence!"

"This is also the 40-th anniversary of the birth of the database (when I was a graduate student at Cornell in the 1960's)."

"Since thousands of people from all over the world use the OEIS every day, a real party would be impossible. So instead let's have an e-party!"

#113 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 09:57 PM:

OMG! Those jaguar cubs are too cute for words. Especially the 3rd picture where one is pausing in savaging the phone book and looking up at the camera with great big blue eyes....

MKK

#114 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 11:28 PM:

Randy writes some good stuff, but he occasionally has a tendency to OD on dialogue. Unfortunately, the work in question is the ultimate victim of such an overdose, rather than its author...

#115 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 01:50 AM:

Kate, I thought you were joking at first because the ad under the pictures was for the Yellow Pages! Then it went to Blue Cross.

Here in the National Zoo, we have three baby Sumatran tigers:

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GreatCats/

and a web cam.

#116 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 01:59 AM:

Sarah Avery notes SOMERSET SYRUP AND CONFESSION SUPPLIES.

So the Catholic Church is trying to make the Rite of Reconciliation -- its post-Vati an II name -- more appealing?

#117 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 02:06 AM:

So the Catholic Church is trying to make the Rite of Reconciliation -- its post-Vatican II name -- more appealing

Nope. They're just sugar-coating it.

#118 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 02:24 AM:

And since this is an open thread, I've become a total addict of viewing random fotologs on fotolog.net. Especially the group flog of subway pictures.

I've also started my own. (No affiliation, just a junkie.)

#119 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 09:48 AM:

MKK: isn't that third one great? (Chad pointed out to me that the text when you leave your mouse over the image is "Jaguar cub pretends to read".)

Marilee: Alas, the baby tiger cam wants a plugin I don't have at work, but I will try it at home. The pictures are fabulous.

#120 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 10:57 AM:

Thanks, Larry. That's like the opposite of the Random Livejournal link, which has the same comforting effect that many people garner from Jerry Springer shows. That sense of "at least I'm not that guy/girl/androgynous angst-ball."

But the Random Fotolog link makes a great bookmark button on the toolbar for us short-attention-span types. "Oooh, pretty!" *click* "Aw, sweet!" *click* "Hey, I've been there!" *click*...

#121 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 12:57 PM:

Eric: Like, is it still appropriate to begin and end an email to a friend with names, as if writing a paper letter? After all, the email header information will tell you exactly who the letter is to and from, right?

The envelope of a paper letter tells you sender and recipient, too, but we still begin and end letters with names. I regard header information as the envelope of an e-mail, and the e-mail itself as the letter.

#122 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 03:37 PM:

Tracina: in email terms there already is an "envelope" which is not the same as the header information; a simple example is a mailing list message, which will have headers showing it sent to the list address, but the SMTP envelope on a particular copy will send it to a particular list member.

I treat the headers as part of the message since they are "attached"; envelopes get removed and lost (both the paper kind and the electronic kind).

#123 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 08:49 PM:

I'm with Tracina here, technological arguments notwithstanding.

Part of this is that the message headers are constrained by technical formality and displayed in a format that's at the whim of the email program; the usage of names within the message body is considerably more personal and immutable. And the use of names in the message body is also an assurance that the sender didn't accidentally click on the wrong item and address the email to the wrong person.

Beyond that, if it's business email, it may well get forwarded on to someone else, and in that case putting the names in the email is much more likely to ensure that they remain attached once things get forwarded a bit.

Finally, I'd argue that the technological arguments aren't particularly accurate anyhow. The email "envelope" that gets discarded is not something that either the sender or recipient sees; it's irrelevant. On the other hand, when someone is reading a letter for the first time -- and how many emails are akin to the sort of letter one would reread, anyhow? -- they do in fact see the paper envelope before reading the letter proper.

#124 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 12:32 PM:

Please help the librarians: Does anyone know where to find the novella The Darfsteller by Walter M. Miller Jr.?

Dorothea was remembering the plot, but not the title, and asked for help.

Katja remembered the title and the author.

(Dorothea says of the story, "The “little black box” theme is heavily dwelt upon, I recall; “what would you do if your job was replaced by a little black box?” “Make little black boxes.”")

#125 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 01:16 PM:

liz: first choice would be the original Hugo winners anthology edited by Asimov; likely to be found in hardcover in most libraries of respectable size, age, and buying policies. Amazon has a used-book listing The Hugo Winners, Volume 1; this would be a later publication (list includes SFBC 1962 and Fawcett 1973), probably of the same stories.

#126 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 03:15 PM:

The Amazon reviews of Blood Canticle from April 28, 2004 to September 22, 2004 seem to have been removed. A newspaper article, Judy Stoffman's essay on the Rice/Amazon reviewers controversy, reports that there are 232 reviews. As of right now, there are 202.

GalleyCat says that Rice posted her rant Sept. 6th. The rant is no longer on Rice's Amazon page of reviews written for Amazon.

It is not the first time Amazon has removed reviews without comment. Shoot. I can't find the references.

It's a good reminder that Amazon is just a retailer, not a trusted source of information.

#127 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 03:39 PM:

liz, I commend to you the ISFDB: http://www.isfdb.org/

Here's their listing for "The Darfsteller":

The Darfsteller (1955)

* Astounding Science Fiction, January 1955 (1955) , John W. Campbell, Jr. , $0.35 , 162pp
* The Hugo Winners, Volume 1 (1962) , Isaac Asimov , Nelson Doubleday, Inc. , hc , 268pp
* The Best of Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1980) , Walter M. Miller, Jr. , Pocket , pb
* The Great SF Stories 17 (1955) (1987) , Isaac Asimov
* The Science Fiction Stories of Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1978) , Walter M. Miller, Jr. , Gregg , hc
* Conditionally Human (1962) , Walter M. Miller, Jr. , Ballantine , pb , #F626 , $0.50 , 191pp
* The Darfstellar and Other Stories (1982) , Walter M. Miller, Jr. , London: Corgi , pb , 223pp
* The Hugo Winners, Volumes One and Two (1972) , Isaac Asimov , Nelson Doubleday , hc , 849pp
* The Hugo Winners, Volume 1 (1962) , Isaac Asimov , Doubleday , hc

#128 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 03:39 PM:

It is not the first time Amazon has removed reviews without comment. Shoot. I can't find the references.

Well, last month, a whole buch of really funny, snarky reviews of My Pet Goat were removed from Amazon.

#129 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 02:35 PM:

The NYTimes ran this article on the ethics of allowing children on reality shows. I don't own a TV, so I can't evaluate the degree of exploitation, but the idea leaves me squicky.The Truman Show begins to seem plausible. We won't get there in one step, but each show pushes a little further in that direction.

Points of interest

1: This usage of 'embedded:'

"That concern was echoed by Mr. Cantor, who has become embedded with this family; he and his crew eat dinner with them as often as three or four times a week."

2: "Oddly, the public relations representative for Fox's 'Trading Spouses' would not allow the children featured on the show to be interviewed by a newspaper reporter, even though his network is putting the same children on national television. 'We're sensitive when it comes to the kids,' he explained in an e-mail message."

Right.

#130 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 05:34 PM:

And the word salad on my latest spam included the phrase "all your base are belong to us"...

#131 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 08:14 PM:

UK people <g'day all!> may know this: Was there much debate about "the ethics of allowing children on reality shows" when 'Wife Swap' - the UK version of 'Trading Spouses' was run? There was a scandal, I heard, about one couple who were supposed to be cheating on their government supporting payments or the like, and probably an ethical debate too.

It was shown here well and truly tucked away, at ten or ten-thirty at night - just like West Wing was (<sigh> still awaiting current season). "The Joe Schmo Show" (no children involved), which was a Truman Show in miniature, has recently finished. It was on at a similar time, but some other 'reality' shows are on in prime time.

#132 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 08:30 PM:

Larry: even before that, there were a bunch of reviews on Family Circus books that got yanked.

#133 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 04:22 PM:

I keep returning to Hokusai's snow painting.

---L.

#134 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Speaking of origami, check out Hojyo Takashi's latest, The Thunder God, (CP only in this year's Tanteidan book [sigh]) and his third version of Gabriel.

#135 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 07:51 PM:

Today's 'Particles' link for "Klingons for Kerry” reminds me of a link I saw recently:

“Joe Hill” and “ l’Internationale” translated into Klingon

at

Terran Poetry in Klingon

(scroll down a bit)


#136 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 08:06 PM:

(Too bad I screwed up the tag...)

try

http://www.math.bas.bg/~iad/bommugh.html

for "Terran Poetry in Klingon"


#137 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 08:39 PM:

I thought I saw J'oh Hill last night,
Alive as you or me.
"The Federation shot you, J'oh."
"I shot them first," said he.

I don't even want to get into the Klingon version of The Marseillaise. Though, being me, I'll probably have to now.

#138 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 10:52 PM:

Or, for that matter, the Klingon version of Les Misérables.

That has some great lyrics for translation....

#139 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 11:48 PM:

"Or, for that matter, the Klingon version of Les Misérables."

A cute starving waif on the barricades with a disruptor carbine, a bandolier of plasma grenades, and orbital fire support will get farther than a cute starving waif on the barricades alone.
-- Klingon proverb

#140 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2004, 12:13 AM:

Isn't Hokusai wonderful? He didn't really get going as an artist until he was almost 60. Before that, he did very conventional work.

His prints are nifty, but it's his drawings and his paintings that amaze me.

#141 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 08:07 PM:

The link he's asking about is also his personal URL.

Terminate!

#142 ::: Rob Rusick agrees it is spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 06:33 AM:

Not outrageously so, but a Google-search on part of the first sentence finds it on eight threads; four each on two different websites.

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