Back to previous post: Yetanother book—

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The Useless Business Bureau

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

October 13, 2004

Open thread 30
Posted by Teresa at 11:03 PM * 290 comments

“You don’t think anyone actually saw him eat the rat, do you?”

Comments on Open thread 30:
#1 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 11:14 PM:

Of possible interest to Making Light readers, given some of the things that are discussed here: at happy hour last week, an English professor spoke very enthusiastically of a book called Poets Thinking by Helen Vendler. From the Amazon copy:

"Poetry has often been considered an irrational genre, more expressive than logical, more meditative than given to coherent argument. And yet, in each of the four very different poets she considers here, Helen Vendler reveals a style of thinking in operation; although they may prefer different means, she argues, all poets of any value are thinkers."

(The four poets are Alexander Pope, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and William Butler Yeats.)

I haven't actually read it, you understand, but I thought some people here might be interested in the subject.

#2 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 11:47 PM:

I saw him eat the rat and I have to tell you, it looked dee-licious! There just ain't enough rat eating in the world.

But there are plenty of asswits.

Here's a question: Does anyone out there have a website that they feel everyone else MUST visit every day? (and don't include this one, you arse-kissing sissies!)

Mine is

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 11:56 PM:

The only one I'm sure to visit is Google.

#4 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:11 AM:

Other than my own and John Scalzi's AOL journals (and yes, Google), there's nothing I visit every day. I do try to keep up with and a bunch of blogs, but not on a daily basis.

The rat thing inevitably reminds me of Angel, immediately pre-Buffy.

#5 ::: Tiellan ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:26 AM:

Other than livejournal, I've been spending a lot of time at the NaNoWriMo forums lately (, especially the Character & Plot Realism Q&A (although some of the questions make me want to get snarky).

I've only ever visited this site once, but my hubby and I spent about an hour last night showing each other funny videos and pictures:

This one was the best:

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:29 AM:


What would you toss into Mount St. Helen's crater, now that it's filling with bubbling lava and lighting up the clouds overhead with an eerie red glow?

I was thinking that this would be a dignified yet spectacular way to end the existence of my original IBM PC.

Maybe my Civilization III discs as well.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:46 AM:

I was living in Seattle when it blew. If Mount St. Helens is misbehaving again, only characters specially beloved of the author should go anywhere near it.

#8 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:46 AM:

Stefan Jones: What would you toss into Mount St. Helen's crater, now that it's filling with bubbling lava...?

Umm, the world's largest marshmallow?

#9 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:02 AM:

Teresa: I was marginally closer, living in Steilacoom at the time; still well out of range of the mountain (and, helpfully, not in any of the Rainier lahar paths either).

All I have to say to people who want to get close to St. Helens: have a Very Good Reason, one you're willing to die for, as David Johnston did.

"Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!"

There's a Chicago Sun-Times article where his parents remember him, since the memories naturally come back.

I can't quite believe I'm older now than he was then...but it's been 24 years. It doesn't seem like 24 years.

#10 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:10 AM:

Volcano Cam

If you look at the pictures at night, the camera isn't broken. It's just suffering from a lack of sunlight.

But you can probably see that little glowing dot of magma at the top of the screen.

#11 ::: Nishiko Takeuchi ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:17 AM:

I remember reading the National Geographic magazine covering the eruption, complete with pictures of the whole thing, and being at once fascinated and terrified by the article.

When Gaia gets stomachaches, she sure gets them something awful. :P Glad I'm up north.

#12 ::: Nishiko Takeuchi ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:19 AM:

Er, the eruption in 1980, that is. Wow, do I need sugar or what?

*goes to ransack fridge in search of that little tub of cake icing*

#13 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:36 AM:

“You don’t think anyone actually saw him eat the rat, do you?”

"Well - he's been walking around the house with the tail dripping from his mouth for most of the morning - somebody must have seen something."

#14 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 02:13 AM:

Jill and I went to a *great* concert tonight -- Artisan is three-person acappella folk harmony and one of the singers, Jacey Bedford, posts to rasfc and has published fantasy stories. Brian writes songs with rhythms and chords you wouldn't expect to hear in folk. I was surprised it was 11pm after the second encore -- the time had passed like under the hill.

They're only going to be in North America until the end of the month this time, they're well worth hearing.

#15 ::: Bob O ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 02:19 AM:

OK, I followed the Particles links for "The art of coding p0rn", and I have two thoughts:

1) I'm once again startled to learn just how sheltered a life I've led;


2) A parallel coding system would be useful in the SF section of the bookstore.

#16 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 02:29 AM:

Marilee wrote:

[Artisan are] only going to be in North America until the end of the month this time, they're well worth hearing.

Blast! I could have sworn that I'd signed up for their notification list! Fortune smiles, however - and I should still be in time to see them :) Thanks for the reminder!

#17 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 02:53 AM:

Would you believe the papers have been full of articles about tourists going up to some park or ranger station or something that is as close as you can get to Helen and camping out and hanging around to see what happens? I mean, all the vulcanologists keep saying it probably won't be anything spectacular (i.e. dangerous), but...

And so far it's mostly steam.

Oh, and Marilee and Jill: We'll be in DC this weekend and will be at Capclave for some of the time.


#18 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 03:11 AM:

What is worse than a rat? Half a rat, that's what. We have honkin' big rats here, and the killer cat--the one who looks too little and frail to do anything, the one that sort of flutters and wrings her hands like a Dorothy Sayers virgin,--that cat is never eats the whole rat. She's partial to the front end.

What's even worse than half a rat is stepping on the cold rat tail in the dark and thinking it is a snake, and levitating so that you come down on your wrists in such a way that you can barely drive, let alone type.

Oh, and the every-day site? BoingBoing, but that's only cause they send me emails. And I forget who told me about the brainy trouser trout, but I think it was one of the other lists that send me email.

#19 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 03:21 AM:

Just got a postcard:


Picknicking so good, almost forgot what I came up here for in the first place. Tough to be Byronic when you're having fun.

/s/ Sir Frankie Varney

#20 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 03:52 AM:

Reminds me of Men At Arms by Terry Pratchett. Angua and Carrot are in a dwarf bar. The menu says (among other things):

Rat and Ketchup 7p
Rat 4p

Angua asks why the ketchup costs as much as the rat. Carrot replies:

'Have you tried rat without ketchup?'

I have my home page set to Nasa's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Each day when I log on I get a new beautiful astronomy picture to ogle.

#21 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 04:08 AM:

Randall P. - More slang for you:

If something did my friend's head in (for example a pernicious academic colleague, or the general state of the world) he'd call it a head-fuck.

#22 ::: Kass Fireborn ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 04:52 AM:

Say, what's the policy on shamelessly begging the readers of an open thread to help you track down the author and title of a book that you read in childhood that, judging from previous attempts at finding it, may not actually exist?

#23 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:46 AM:

Re: rats

Whenever our Office Cats, Jasper and his successor Zak, practiced their pest control duties, they were unusually diligent in enforcing the 50% deductible provisions of our policy.

#24 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:48 AM:

...although, since it is company policy to hire only Kliban lookalikes, it's really been more of a Mousies thing. (No dirty rats here)

#25 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:54 AM:


The poetry-has-logic argument is Vendler's schtick; she's been doing it for years, writing about all sorts of poets, and it does tend to produce some very insightful criticism. She is possibly the most famous critic in the Harvard English department. I seem to remember that she originally trained as a chemist.

#26 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:57 AM:

Sancho, Custard and Lilith are unamused.

Not as unamused as I was when I heard that a TV series on channel 10 over here (called The Cooks) has a promo involving someone deep-frying a live rat. I hope and pray it wasn't a real one. I've phoned and complained anyway, and will be writing for confirmation that no rats were harmed.

Because I'm really that humourless about animal rights. And no, I still don't approve of PETA - as far as I can tell no one does.

Rats with ketchup would probably cause most people on my local rat list to have a heart attack, by the way: red foods are scary with animals for whom red discharge can be either blood *or* a symptom of mycoplasma pneumoniae (rat snot and tears have porphyrin in them.) We've talking about just that on the list, the foods most likely to momentarily horrify the rats' keepers.

#27 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 07:59 AM:

I check every day, but I'm not sure I want everyone else to. If they did, I wouldn't have the pleasure of telling them about square bacteria.

#28 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 08:12 AM:

It was a lovely night of great singing. Xeger - glad you found out in time to hear them. You're sure to enjoy. Would have bought a CD or three, but just going was my splurge on my unemployment budget!

The dog's early wake-up this morning, was unwelcome, though. (My husband, John Smith: International Terrorist, usually deals with him, but he's away).

MKK - if you have time this trip, I'd love to see you and Jordin. I won't be at Capclave, but can buzz around the Beltway.

#29 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 08:14 AM:

urgh. Pardon the mishmash of unclear, third-person pronouns. Clearly I need more caffeine.

#30 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 08:48 AM:

He didn't eat the rat. He said he was going to, but he sacrificed it to the Bastard instead.

(Sorry. Too much Bujold.)

#31 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 09:23 AM:

“You don’t think anyone actually saw him eat the rat, do you?”

I don't think anyone noticed.

#32 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 10:19 AM:

Eleanor, clearly not enough Bujold yet. She would have had 17 adjectives in there. You had none.

#33 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 10:22 AM:


That seems to me to be exactly right. The best poetry is the best because it knows how to think, and it has interesting things to think about.

Sometimes Vendler's analysis of poetry strikes me as slightly cold-blooded, occasionally ignoring the heat that runs underneath the best stuff. But I've always felt about myself as a poet--and about most other poets I know--that we're essentially a cold-blooded crowd. Certainly, who other than a poet (or other writer) will undergo an intensely emotional experience and--while experiencing it--think, "This is going to make an absolutely kick-ass symbol!"

Actors, maybe, I suppose.

#34 ::: Holly Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 10:38 AM:

Websites to visit daily: Critters, Démodé, Google, and, er, my own. I used to visit Belle de Jour every other day, but she closed up shop. I usually check the Particles a couple times a week.

A friend's daughter has several rats, gerbils and other four-legged friends. The first time I went to their house, Signy popped up next to my chair, hands behind her back, and asked, "Do you like rats?"

I said I didn't know any. We became acquainted.

#35 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Sarah: I know just what you mean about the "kick-ass symbol" bit. My bit of luck came in mid-August during a thunderstorm, when three hummingbirds came to my feeder and drank simultaneously instead of squabbling as they usually do. The result: "Lightning and Three Hummingbirds" (a poem *I'm* proud of, at any rate).

As to daily online reads, I live in a hick town whose newspaper tends to have truly toxic editorials (and mediocre cartoons), so I nostalgically read the San Francisco Chronicle, plus the New York Times and Locus Online -- which gets me to this site as well. Those, and the Astronomy Picture of the Day already mentioned. In all it's even better than a dining table piled with newsprint!

#36 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 10:58 AM:

Vassilissa said: We've talking about just that on the list, the foods most likely to momentarily horrify the rats' keepers.

I vote strawberries. Every time my girls get strawberries, they leave red juice all over the cage. It looks like a massacre.

#37 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 11:00 AM:
Say, what's the policy on shamelessly begging the readers of an open thread to help you track down the author and title of a book that you read in childhood that, judging from previous attempts at finding it, may not actually exist?

Based on historical precedent I'd say it's fine. Although of course for finding a book that does not exist, we charge extra.

#38 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 11:03 AM:

What am I missing in not going to google every day? Is there constant entertainment? Are there links to interesting things? Sure, it's a search engine, but I don't have time to search every single day. I use sites like boingboing, cursor, and metafilter to sort out all of that information for me.

Someone please explain to me what I'm missing.

#39 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 11:31 AM:

In addition to Making Light and BoingBoing, I try to get to Arts and Letters Daily every day: Run by the Chronicle of Higher Education, it's like an uncondensed Reader's Digest for the intellectually inclined and magpie-minded, if that makes any sense. I think most people who like Making Light would like this as well. Oooh, gotta go read the article on Ghenghis Khan...

#40 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 11:34 AM:

I go to at least two comics online:

And every other day I go to:

And, as it looks as if I'm going to be embarking on my MS in Publishing soon (W00T!) I go to daily, just to make sure the program isn't going to mysteriously disappear and that it was all just a dream.

#41 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Randall P wonders:

What am I missing in not going to google every day? Is there constant entertainment? Are there links to interesting things? Sure, it's a search engine, but I don't have time to search every single day. I use sites like boingboing, cursor, and metafilter to sort out all of that information for me.

That's interesting. I don't have time to not search every day. It sounds like you've got a perfectly reasonable way of finding the information that you want, though - so there's no particular reason to expand it.

I use Google to find a wide variety of information, from software and mailing list archive searches, to information on how to do things, to the names of websites that I don't quite remember. It's like having Hugin and Munin on my shoulders, murmmering into my ears [as an example, I just ran a quick search to check that I had the correct spelling for Munin]. Google Images [*m - for some reason google.c*m is being tagged as questionable content] is a really wonderful resource as well - perfect for finding the picture that's worth a thousand words.

In combination, it's useful for things like trying to explain why I was so cheerful about having found a Moulin-Legume to somebody that had no idea what I was talking about. Google provided links to discover that the one I now own was made between 1932 and 1957 - and that they're better known in english as 'Food Mills'. A quick search on Google images provided this link to an example of what I was talking about.

Moving on to other sites that I frequent regularly -

LiveJournal, both for fiends and syndicated feeds.

I believe that Today in alternate history was a link from Making Light originally, but it's a fun read in the morning, and prompts occasional trips to another excellent site, Wikipedia which I should really visit more regularly.

Overall, though I've moved to using an RSS reader for any site that I visit regularly that has a feed. A quick check shows that I'm getting 27 feeds. Out of those, folks here might enjoy:

Boing Boing of course!
Sensory Impact which is a design blog, about the culture of objects.
ScienceDaily Magazine, which is a summary of interesting advances in science.
Patently Obvious which is a blog about various things in the world of patents. Geeky in an oddly fascinating way.

#42 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:15 PM:

xeger recommends:

LiveJournal, both for fiends and syndicated feeds.

Sounds like interesting reading! Who are some of the most notorious fiends?

#43 ::: Kathy Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:15 PM:

"What am I missing in not going to google every day?"

The holiday logos. Of course, you could just look at the archive.

#44 ::: Richard Cobbett ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:21 PM:

Can't think of one specific site, because I generally use the Newspaper option in my RSS feed reader. Which has about a hundred billion sites in it, because I tend to do the full pack-rat thing with web links. Blogs, news sites, weird and wacky link collections...all kinds of things, with different sites popping out different pearls every day.

#45 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:35 PM:

"Never mind the rat, our learned opponent here has repeatedly failed to accept blame for an incident of mouse eating in a work of fiction written by a former staffer for a business associate of his ex-wife's. Clearly, these two events are not only equivalent, but the other side must bear a greater share of the blame for reasons that I will bzzzzzk Let me finish! Breaker Breaker! One Adam 12! You are clear for landing..."

#46 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 12:44 PM:

Jimcat pointed out that my fingers escaped me:

| xeger recommends:
| LiveJournal, both for fiends and syndicated feeds.

Sounds like interesting reading! Who are some of the most notorious fiends?

Uh - I think I'd recommend my finfers, imomus, and this as fiendish.

#47 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:00 PM:

Let me see...

I have far too big a list of sites that I visit every day and wish some of them would stop being so interesting, or would at least post less frequently, so that I could cut down. That said, the one I'm sure to never, ever miss is Rebecca Sean Borgstrom's Hitherby Dragons. It's a trip and a half of short fiction.

As for Mt. St. Helen's, I absolutely love the immanent eruption. As someone newly transported to Seattle from New York, I'm taking the opportunity to enjoy having a nearby site of natural disasters. I'd always felt so left out, previously. No hurricanes for us, oh no. No earthquakes, tsumani or tornados. New York is, of course, a helluva town, but our excitement and danger was always of the man-made variety. It's nice that I'm in a place where nature can try her hand.

#48 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:04 PM:

I have 83 subscriptions in NetNewsWire and over 100 LJs on my friends list, but every weekday I still try to hit Computerworld's Shark Tank.

#49 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:10 PM:

Long time "lurker", occasional "poster".

A friend put me on to Extreme Pumpkins last night. She has about 20 extra pumpkins and has been trying to figure out what to do with them.

The Siamese twins design is clever and Carrie at the prom is appropriately gory. But this one is the best.

#50 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:13 PM:

Artisan! Yay.

In Pittsburgh! On Halloween! House concert!
Oh, my heart. I win.

As for web sites I read daily, I probably
shouldn't list them all. I read them at work.
(On the internet, you never know whether a
dog is your manager.)

#51 ::: Kai Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:30 PM:

Mt. St. Helens: Some of the younger people in the office were hoping it would be a huge eruption like last time, exclaiming how much fun that would be.

It was not fun. It was scary. The ash fell like snow, except it irritated your skin and made breathing hard. The tv, radio and phones were erratic with lots of static. Public transit shut down--we don't have a lot of snow plows (not having much snow in winter), and chains don't work as well on ash. People died, the land changed, river courses were silted up, plants and animals smothered.

Fresh produce was minimal and expensive that year, as most of the local crops were smothered in ash (which proved to be an excellent fertilizer, though, so the economic impact was ameliorated the next year).

It's unlikely to repeat, at least at Mt. St. Helens, because the sheer mass of material that was pulverized in the explosion last time is now spread out over the world (the ash cloud circled the world, IIRC). However, Mt. Hood is only a dormant volcano, not an extinct one, and Mt. Rainier is likewise, and even bigger.

#52 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 01:42 PM:

I think my neighbor's cats got to the rat. And after I told them to concentrate on squirrels, too.

Aside from Livejournal,, and Making Light, I usually hit Talking Points Memo and Informed Comment for my daily dose of indignation and frustration. Because, you know, my kids don't provide enough...

#53 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 02:10 PM:

What do I read every day? Calvin and Hobbes of course.
It doesn't matter that I've read them all before. It's something to look forward to every morning.

#54 ::: Douglas ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 03:33 PM:

I use to keep up with 31 different sites most days. Half of them are technical computer geek-type sites. The rest include this site, Eschaton/Atrios, Echidne of the Snakes, fafblog, etcetera.

But the only certainty is Google. I use it constantly at work. At home, I use Google instead of bookmarks..

#55 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 03:53 PM:

"When One made love to Zero, spheres embraced their arches and prime numbers caught their breath." -- Raymond Queneau (French author, 1903-1976)

#56 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 04:38 PM:

Randall, my reasons for going to Google are such a fundamental part of my universe that I can't explain them. It's what I do, as evident and obvious as loving semicolons and hating closed-stack library systems.

Kass, around here, asking about books and stories you can't quite name is a basic conversational trope. How much do you remember about it?

#57 ::: Richard Cobbett ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 04:51 PM:

"But the only certainty is Google. I use it constantly at work. At home, I use Google instead of bookmarks.."

I downloaded Google Desktop Search at the office, and it was on my home computer within five seconds of getting home. I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of documents, and finding them is a true nightmare. Now, I can find them all in about three seconds flat.

#58 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:09 PM:

Mary Kay, the rasff party is at 9pm Saturday, I hope you can make it! Jill, the hotel is the Marriott at Tyson's Corner. If you get off the Beltway on the Route 7 West exit, it'll be about a half-block ahead on the right (some small businesses in front). It has a *fantastic* extremely expensive restaurant (plus coffee shop, bar, and snack bar with Starbucks stuff). You can read my hotel review here:

#59 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:10 PM:

Re Particles: I hear my brother John will be on the NBC news tonight, in his capacity as a pundit covering the cable-TV industry, to comment on the Bill O'Reilly affair.

#60 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:21 PM:

I can't imagine what life without Google would be like. The first thing I did when I switched to Firefox was install the Googlebar extension, because I had grown so addicted to the original IE version. I'd estimate I average around 4 google searches an hour for any given hour I'm on the web, spread between web, image, usenet, and news searches.

In other cool Google/text-geek news:

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:37 PM:

Bill: that's cool. Any idea what time? Any links for it?

#62 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 05:46 PM:

NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, 6:30-7 PM EST or about forty-five minutes from now.

#63 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 07:37 PM:

I find myself using Google in just about every function of my computer. It's my e-mail, my search engine, my popup blocker, my toolbar (yes, same thing, I know), my news, and now, it'll be how I search my computer's files. It will also likely be my book source when that upgrade comes out.

Somehow, the idea that Google will have such a stake in my computer doesn't alarm me.

Should it?

#64 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 08:10 PM:

On the O'Reilly link, I liked this line from page seven:

"O'Reilly's eyes became glazed and bizarrely strayed in opposite directions."

#65 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 10:24 PM:

The extreme pumpkins freaked me out.


#67 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 12:59 AM:

For no particular reason (and thus appropriate to an open thread),

Making Light->
Early Days of a Better Nation ->
LanguageHat ->

A very enjoyable article about the difficulty of translating poetry between languages and cultures, particularly medieval Persian to modern English.

Of course, I speak as a more or less monolingual person who has never translated more than about two pages of prose, but what the hell...

#68 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 01:45 AM:

I missed the debate Wed. night, the TV set in the NESFA Clubhouse remained off. However...

I watched Frontline Thursday night and Nightline from 11:30 PM Thursday night to its end at 12:05 AM or whatever today. The URL above is a nont complete transcript of the show--it doesn't for example show that stinking slime O'Neil with his selective repeated misleading quoting -- "only one man with a rocket launcher" is misleading, when it was a group of Vietcong and there was "only only one man with a rocket launcher" of the group of TWENTY Vietcong attacking the patrolling Swift boats in a planned ambush against Swift boats. The OTHER Vietcong continued fighting....

O'Neil refused to answer Koppel's question, instead acting worse than the author of The Pleistocene Redemption regarding picking up books and putting them in front of his face cover out and brandishing them and reading the -same- passage out of them as a "response," multiple times and pointing out the excerpts (again, selectively quoted from books other than his farrago of lying screed, and from his lying screed) also putting the printed pages toward the camera. Koppel finally said, "please stop putting books in front of your face and please stop putting pages in front of the camera, we can't read the pages anyway."

Dropping O'Neil in the volcano might cause it a bit more indigestion but would get rid of an impressively vile piece of stinking lying vituperative scum.... Frontline aired an the exchange from 30+ years ago between Kerry and him. O'Neil challenged Kerry about Kerry's claims of having committed atrocities. Kerry asked O'Neil if O'Neil had not like Kerry operated in "Free Fire Zones killing anyone who moved, men, women, and children." O'Neil admitted he had. Kerry then cited free fire zones as violating the Geneva Convention, with the interjection "You know what the Geneva Convention is?" as atrocities. O'Neil shut up. Unfortunately he failed to -stay- shut up and it's a generation later.... O'Neil was also colluding with Tricky Dicky about going after Kerry and his anti-war activities, Nixon wanted Kerry silenced. There were rumors that Nixon was getting O'Neil government funds... the rumors apparently were never proved either true or false.

O'Neil's smarmy hardline deflection and misinformation extended to blustering about "what about the other incidents in My Book? What about Kerry being a hero in North Vietnam and talking to North Vietnam and [other actions in South Vietnam.} Koppel responded that they had looked at this one particular incident and might look at the others, but he wanted O'Neil's response to what Nightline had discovered, whereupon the smarmy lying scum proceeded to insinuate that the villagers who were eyewitnesses were lying on behalf of Kerry!

Koppel also asked O'Neil about the two people, an interviewer and cameraman, who had gone to the village months ago saying that Kerry had lied and they wanted to film the villagers [to show Kerry as a liar.} One villager said that he had told them that the award of medals to US servicemen was done by the USA and had been up to the US Government and he had nothing more to say on the subject to the interviewer and cameraman (the anti-Kerry pair). Koppel asked O'Neil about them, O'Neil disavowed them as "not being one [of us]" and then veered off that subject and veered off from any further probing by Koppel on the subject.

Frontline pointed out that every time Bush II has run for office, there have been vicious slur campaigns in consonance with his campaigns which could not be -directly- tied to Bush himself. There was also the sliming of Max Cleland, Bush spoke up saying how Cleland was a hero, but NEVER condemned the slimers/slime campaign. Familiar? Bush has never said one word directly against O'Neil and his fellow lying scum....

What a loathsome dispicable self-serving tapeworm.

#69 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 03:18 AM:

On the angle of Lynne Cheney and her reaction to Kerry mentioning that her openly out daughter is a lesbian, I saw an interesting bit at Atrios with the cover of Lynne's 1981 historical novel "Sisters," which has of course not been reprinted, but is up (I'm guessing for a brief time) here:

From what I've skimmed over, it looks like Lesbian Separatists of the Purple Sage, but I was interested to hear Teresa's take.

#70 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 03:24 AM:

One of the juiciest bits so far here:

She looked inside the book's front cover and found an inscription in the same ink: "To my Helena, my dearest lover. You are the joy of my life. If ever you fail me through my fault or your own, I will forswear thenceforth all human friendship. Thine always, A.T."

Helen and... Amy Travers? No, it couldn't be, simply couldn't. But " dearest lover"?

No, it didn't bear thinking about.

#71 ::: Paul Walker ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:21 AM:

Just a brief sanity check here - I'm not being unreasonable in objecting to the use of "dialog[ue]" as a verb, am I?

#72 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:58 AM:

Paul, Shakespeare used "dialog" as a verb. So did Coleridge. It's not a new usage, just a reappearance of an old one.

If it was good enough for Shakespeare, it's good enough for me.

#73 ::: Paul Walker ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 09:13 AM:

Fair enough. I shall slink away into a corner.

(Doesn't mean I have to like it, though... ;-)

#74 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 09:41 AM:

How and why did "disconnect" become a noun?

And what's wrong with "disconnection?"

#75 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 12:40 PM:

While we were dialoging, the whiteboarding got out of hand and we had a disconnect, so we'll have to liaise again later.

#76 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 12:40 PM:

Steve Taylor writes:

A very enjoyable article about the difficulty of translating poetry between languages and cultures, particularly medieval Persian to modern English.

Reminds me, yesterday in rec.arts.sf.fandom a student ( asked politely for a discussion about how humorous writing survives translation, with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a particular example.

I conjecture that correspondents here might have something to share with this person. Take a look. Subject line is "The Importance of Being Funny - Are you a Fan of DNA's?" (DNA being Douglas Adams, I presume.)

(I can't post a link or URL to the article via G o o g l e Groups because, for some reason, Making Light refuses to accept a posting that looks like it refers to g o o g l I wonder why.)

#77 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 01:35 PM:

I'm gonna pull a Randall P. here and ask for some book recommendations. I have been tense and neurotic due to current events. I need bookish valium.


Really good comfort reads, funny reads? Old favorites? Adult versions of Harry Potter?

#78 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 02:34 PM:

Teresa kindly gave me permission to post this link to a charitable auction. My beading friend Layne Schilling died of colorectal cancer (diagnosed too late, because her doctor thought her reported symptoms were just a middle-aged woman whining) two years ago. Since then, many beaders have made items to go to auction each year to benefit the National Colorectal Cancer Association. One of the beadstore owners in the group makes up identical kits and we buy them. We have to use at least one of each type of bead in the kit, and we can add one other type of bead.

I'm leaving for Capclave soon, and Beki hasn't got the auctions up yet, but here's where you can see them tonight:

If you want to take a sneak peek at the items before they go up, look here:

#79 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 05:11 PM:

Speaking of translations, I've always wondered why Henryk Sienkiewicz's trilogy (With Fire and Sword, The Deluge and Fire in the Steppe) has never been marketed to fantasy readers. It always gets stuck in the Serious Literature section, where it finds too few buyers and too much dust. The books are terrific -- memorable characters, lots of swordly action, epic sweep, tragedy, romance. What's not to like?

The external tropes of fantasy are there, except the magic is more mysticism and more hinted at than truly present. The imagined world is both distant and consistent. The plot twists and twists again.

And an enterprising publisher could take advantage of their length, maybe breaking each part of the trilogy into its own trilogy. (Plus it's got a track record of more than a century of bestsellerdom in its native Poland...) Rights too complicated? Or are the books just too unknown?

#80 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 05:36 PM:


Sorcery and Cecilia, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, and its recently-published sequel, The Grand Tour. They're Regency romances with magic, and great fun. Patricia Wrede has also written two books of her own set in the same world: Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward.

I also find Robin McKinley's Beauty to be very soothing, but that may be a function of having loved it for 25 years.

#81 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 05:53 PM:

It wasn't a rat, it was a nutria. And you only eat the hind saddle. The rest goes in stock.

(Okay, I just finished the first complete review draft of a new manual. I need to distribute copies for technical review, and I feel myself paralyzed by a sudden and irrational attack of violent procrastination. It's a tech review; no one's going to be judging my writing. If anything, I'm going to have to pull teeth just to get basic feedback. Why am I stuck like this for the last hour and a half? Why do I feel no sense of accomplishment?)

#82 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 06:03 PM:

Elizabeth said: I'm gonna pull a Randall P. here and ask for some book recommendations. I have been tense and neurotic due to current events. I need bookish valium.

There is no better bookish valium than P.G. Woodhouse. Even helps toothache. Some people prefer Jeeves, others Blandings, still others Uncle Fred or Psmith -- take your pick.

Of course, Terry Pratchett's good, too. But he may get a little too topical for true distance from current events.

Or The Hobbit. That's good chicken soup, too.

A little Jane Austen? Some Dumas? Or George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman?

Or the video option -- if you're even too wrung out to read. Noises Off, Oscar, Ocean's Eleven, Austin Powers, The Princess Bride, Romancing the Stone...or going back to the beginning, Fry and Laurie's Bertie and Jeeves videos.

#83 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 06:05 PM:

Except of course that it's Wodehouse.

Now going off to hit head against hard object.

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 06:18 PM:

"How and why did "disconnect" become a noun?"

I've never thought about it. It's always been standard usage in anything related to electrical engineering-speak that I've run into. "A disconnect" is just the state of two or more things -- components, thoughts, ideas, etc. being not connected, or disjunct. Disconnetion is the the result of usually an intentional disconnecting of two or more objects which had been connected, as in me having taken great glee in yanking the power plug out of webcache servers while they were operating, making the computer disconnecting the computer from the power and -crashing- it, intentionally. [I was getting -paid- to pull the plug, it was part of the testing I did, simulating a power failure on servers).

But, the state when the power cord had been pulled out of the computer (any of deliberately pulled while the computer was running, pulled with the computer shut down, or pulled out from someone tripping over a cord, moving the computer and not disconnecting the power cord first, etc.) was "disconnected." "It's disconnected" got used rather that "There is a disconnection," or "I see a disconnection." "Disconnection" didn't get used, possibly from laziness/viewing the additional "ion" as extraneous, or from a a difference in sense of terms--"disconnection" denoting formerly connected but not no longer connection, while "disconnect" had the sense that the object hadn't necessarily -ever been- actuall connected up explicitly in the past.

That is dis-connection was the undone result of a former connection which isn't now a connected, "disconnect" is the state of there not being a connection, regardless of past state.

It does matter, when troubleshooting. It might be that there shouldn't be a connection there and that it was working perfectly without connection, and that the disconnect is the correct operational configuration. Or, it may be that the disconnect is the problem, that the disconnect is actually a disconnection and the disconnect is the source of the problem. Or, the system wasn't working and the disconnect is the problem because the connection hasn't been made yet. Or, there's a disconnect and that's because those things do -not- belong together.

#85 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 06:33 PM:

I've been reading Dan Gillmor and John Paczkowski daily for years now. I also hit Google News (which "could not be submitted due to questionable content", specifically google dot com) every day and go from there, and the O'Reilly Weblogs page. Talking Points Memo is a must-read, too, and I usually get to Slashdot.

#86 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 07:23 PM:

Oh, and Salon. Gotta visit Salon.

#87 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:28 PM:

"... Great equations change the way we perceive the world. They reorchestrate the world -- transforming and reintegrating our perception by redefining what belongs together with what. Light and waves. Energy and mass. Probability and position. And they do so in a way that often seems unexpected and even strange...."

The Greatest Equations Ever

#88 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Bookish Valium:

Donald Westlake's Dortmunder books. Comic caper novels, brilliantly crafted with something good on every page. Unfortunately, the latest (_Road to Ruin_) isn't good (and the one before, _Bad News_, is fairly subdued), but _What's the Worst that Could Happen?_, _The Hot Rock_, or any of the others but _Drowned Hopes_ are delightful and perfect comfort reading.

There are others, of course, but Westlake is one that might not come up as often.

#89 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 10:18 PM:

I still think that e^(i*pi)=-1 is the greatest mathematical expression, ever....

#90 ::: Mary R ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 10:21 PM:

I saw the Nightline too. O'Neill just freaked me out. I kept expecting him to start fondling those books and start hissing "Precious, Precious." I remember the Frontline clips. He has aged horribly (has the face he deserves).

I was over at Washington Monthly(.com - a great site) and the trolls on the Swifties/Nightline thread were now claiming that the Vietnamese villagers account discredited Kerry's because they said they never saw Kerry. Duh! If they'd seen Kerry, he'd be dead, and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

#91 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 11:17 PM:

Elizabeth: extending Adina's suggestion, Stevermer solo in College of Magics; there's \something/ about a book in which the chaperone can say to her charge, "Faris, your hat is ticking" -- and it has a very satisfactory resolution. I'm also partial to Merchanter's Luck, but that's a sort of male gothic that isn't to everyone's taste (but the ending is a knockout). For wish fulfillment, Parke Godwin's Waiting for the Galactic Bus: dealing with the next It Can't Happen Here, with style.

#92 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 11:31 PM:

Adina, I read my first copy of Robin McKinley's Beauty to pieces about four years ago, it's a comforting tale to re-read for some unknown reason. Found a newer one (untrashed) at the Philly Worldcon with guideance from a friend. But the again, I have the first or second Ballantine Lord of the Rings set with the beautiful magenta covers that I'm am afraid to re-read it, it's breaking up on the spines though I'm a careful reader (I did buy another, 'modern' set to re-read because I do it often enough). Plus that first set has things like the tailfeathers of the first pet I ever had and loved (Otis, a mis-named female budgie... she did things like start chirping when I got home from school because she knew she would be Set Free under my supervision). Sigh (feeling very nostalgic -- though I've had lots of pets, her gentle beak grooming my face is the first pet contact I EVER had, and she was very sweet and loveable for a bird).

#93 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 12:50 AM:

Sigh. No time to read most of the comments here, so I don't know if anyone has posted this link yet:

#94 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 12:59 AM:

Tiger Spot wrote:

I vote strawberries. Every time my girls get strawberries, they leave red juice all over the cage. It looks like a massacre.

True, but I'm voting tomato-based pasta sauce just because it spreads thicker.

#95 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 02:16 AM:

Steve Taylor wrote:

A very enjoyable article about the difficulty of translating poetry between languages and cultures, particularly medieval Persian to modern English.
Of course, I speak as a more or less monolingual person who has never translated more than about two pages of prose, but what the hell...

Thank you for the link. So many poets and translators are working on bringing more Islamic literature into English, and the English results are terribly uneven. Not having any of the relevant languages, I just have to assume when one of the famous Arabic or Persian (or whatever) poet falls flat for me, it's the translator's problem. I've actually tried to get a Hafiz translation that could give me any kind of clue as to why he's such a major poet--at least now I know more about the particular difficulties in translating him.

After 9/11, I raided the university library for Arabic poetry, etc., in my effort to Make Sense of It All. Didn't make sense of it all, of course, but came across a volume called Ghazals of Ghalib: Versions from the Urdu, that probably came as close as anything can to addressing the translation problems discussed in the article Steve linked to.

Aijaz Ahmad translated Ghalib from Urdu into painstakingly literal, unpoetic English, and then sent his translations to an impressive roster of American and British poets to see what they'd do with it. Each poem in the volume appears first in Arabic, then in literal translation with Ahmad's explanations of idiom, etc., and then in multiple poetic translations by the Anglophone poets, so you can see the same piece filtered through the very different styles and sensibilities of, for instance, Adrienne Rich and William Stafford. Gorgeous stuff, and highly recommended, if you can find it.

#96 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 09:15 AM:

Dropping right into the middle (taking advantage of the Open Thread), knowing that there are some Elders of Knowledge concerning religious history here. Below is an apology from a local opinion columnist.

I must add a mea culpa about last week's column The story of the council of Macon, where it is claimed bishops voted on whether women had souls, appears not to be correct, even though it is mentioned in several reference books. What happened at the General Synod the week before, however, is entirely factual.

I'm wondering if anyone can point me towards references on the subject - I certainly remember hearing the story about Medieval debate on the soulfulness of women, without knowing how true that is.

Also; was the opening of this thread inspired by this story?

Cambodian chef and villagers gear up for dry season rat craze

Fri Oct 8, 1:29 PM ET
PHUM BEK KROANG, Cambodia (AFP) - Soeung Thy is praying for the monsoons to end so he can begin frying, grilling and currying rats to satisfy the hundreds of Cambodian villagers anticipating his feasts ...

#97 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 09:33 AM:

Another vote for McKinley's _Beauty_. There's something about the vivid descriptions, the no-nonsense heroine, and the unsoppy-yet-lovely portrayals of romantic and family love. It all comes together to make a book that IMO is as comforting as a mug of hot tea and a warm fire on a cold winter's day. My copy's pretty battered as well!

#98 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 10:10 AM:

To whom it may concern:

i am trying to locate a book i read in the 1970's; it was sci fi - involved a woman crashing a motorcycle which propelled her to another dimension that eventually started leaking into her everyday life... I don't know the author or title. I thought it was "Nightmare" by (last name) Chilton) but nothing has come up so I must be mistaken. Any ideas on how to hunt? Don't ask why - it's just one of those things...

Thanks in advance

#99 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 10:44 AM:

Hello sci fi expoerts,

I am trying to find a title to a movie I saw when I was a kid in the 1960’s.

I do not have much to go on, but the best description I can give is the following scene:

A car is driving down the road with two people in the front seats.

A monster cut off hand is clawing its way up the riders back of the seat.

I thinks the hand was capable of protruding nails or metal pins from its finger tips.

That’s all I remember…

Is this enough for someone to ID the movie?

I had thought it was “I Married A Monster From Outer Space” but I recently bought the DVD and did not see that scene in the movie.

I think the movie came out about the same time as “The Blob” and “I Married a Monster From Outer Space”, which I saw as double feature

Sometime in the 1960’s

My email address is xxxxxxxxx

Please [let me know here, Jonathan Vos Post can email it to me] if you know the movie

Douglas Hadland

#100 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 02:59 PM:

I intended this for the "Wedge" thread, but it's not very active.

American society has changed since I was born, fairly early in the Baby Boom (1946-1964). Here are some data:

In September 1951:
Mickey Mantle, age 19, joined the New York Yankees. "Dennis the Menace" began as Hank Ketchum's great comic strip. Convertibles flocked to drive-ins, carrying boys in crew cuts and girls in strapless gowns or 2-piece bathing suits. TV debuted "I Love Lucy" and "Search for Tomorrow" and Edward R. Murrow's "See It Now." General MacArthur gave his farewell speech, with the line: "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." The US population was 154,287,000 (compared to 292,648,691 in 2004). A 3-bedroom home averaged $9,000 ($159,000 in 2004). Average income was $3,709 ($39,879 in 2004). The price of a new Ford was $1,480 ($21,885 in 2004). A gallon of gas cost 27 cents ($1.49 nationwide Sep 2004, over $2.20 in Los Angeles in Oct 2004). A pound of bread cost 16 cents (97 cents in 2004). A First Class Postage Stamp was 3 cents (37 cents in 2004). We had a war president who was weirdly inarticulate in press conferences. And nobody was terrified that Social Security would go bankrupt.

#101 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 08:04 PM:

Jonathan, I remember that scene, I think. I'm pretty sure it was from THE CRAWLING HAND. The hand belonged to an astronaut who crashed his ship off the California coast. It wasn't a monster's hand, but it was damaged enough from the crash that it might be remembered that way.

Also, THE BLOB and I MARRIED A MONSTER were from the fifties. Not that it matters much.

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 01:09 AM:


"A teenage couple making out in the woods accidentally runs over an alien creature with their car. The creature's hand falls off, but it comes alive, and, with an eye growing out of it, begins to stalk the teens. Meanwhile, Joe the town drunk wants to store the body in his refrigerator, but some of the alien's buddies inject alcohol into his system, and Joe dies of an overdose."

I remember the hand had injectors . . .

#103 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 01:30 AM:

Tomorrow's New York Times Magazine has a long article ("Without a Doubt") by Ron Suskind on Bush's faith-based approach to leadership:

It includes a description of an encounter with a White House staffer that is both entertaining and utterly terrifying:

'The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."'

Oh, Man . . . we're talking serious deep-fried solipsistic lunacy here.

When they make a TV mini-series about how a pack of raving moonbats took over the country back in 2000, the actor who plays that aide will affect a hideous facial tic and read his lines while a Theramin plays in the background.

#104 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 02:17 AM:

Re The art of coding porn in Particles, I'll mention that the jargon of video porn is somewhat less choate than for the written stuff. I learned this a while ago when I tracked down the meaning of an "RCA scene". Turns out there's a fair glossary on, though not recommended for the faint of heart, pure of soul, nor good of taste (nor safe of work, of course).

#105 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 03:02 AM:

The hand with the needly fingers is from Invasion of the Saucer Men. The gimmick of the picture is that the needles, for some reason unexplained by evolutionary dynamics, inject ethanol, and after they attack necking teenagers, nobody will believe the drunk kids. (They also blow out car tires real good.) There are also some comedylike reliefish military types.

Wait, it gets better. The movie is so bad someone decided to remake it, as The Eye Creatures, which despite the presence of Frank Gorshin is actually worse than the original, with "day-for-night" filming that consists of kinda stopping down the camera so things get a little darkish, especially the sharp shadows on the ground. And then movie collector Wade Williams bought it and sold it to TV as Invasion of the Eye Creatures . . . except that the new title card in fact reads . . . The The Eye Creatures. MST3K ran this version, but they could hardly improve on it.

Fandom is just a goldurn relational database.

#106 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 10:21 AM:

Sarah Avery: the book sounds interesting, although since Amazon only has a used copy for £49.95 I might have to wait. :)

Stefan - thanks for providing a link which is sufficient to scare the bejeezus out of me...!

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 12:11 PM:

John, you're pulling punches.

_The Eye Creatures_ was such a cheap production that they only sprung for one full monster suit.

So in the scary swarm-of-monsters-advancing climax we get treated to the sight of one marginally convincing ugly alien leading a charge of guys with alien heads who are otherwise clad in dark but identifiably human clothing.

I think of _Saucer Men_ every time I see a car with an accessory spotlight. Damn useful for blasting photophobic martians.

#108 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 08:45 PM:

Paul: copies at ABE run from $5 to $84. Once again -- unless you are very lucky, Amazon is a good place to get fleeced buying out of print books.

ABE is at I also recommend

#109 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 10:02 PM:

A disconnect, noun, is among other things a two piece railroad car used for logs, the disconnect is joined only by the logs. There's one parked outside the City of Renton History Museum with logs that rot and have been replaced over the years.

#110 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 01:06 AM:

I've just been reading the wonderful linguistics blog and I've come across a mention of STEDT - the Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus Project, and I can't help thinking what a wonderful name "STEDT" would be for a blog on copyediting.

#111 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 01:41 AM:

If I were doing a blog about copyediting, I'd call it Latitude of Interpretation. Or possibly The Comma Sutra.

#112 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 02:20 AM:

It's finding the longitude of interpretation that's the hard bit. It's especially tough on the ship's dog.

#113 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 07:58 AM:

JMF: One hopes it will not come apart under gravitational stress!

#114 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 09:02 AM:

Dang! Beat me to it.

#115 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 10:18 AM:

I had the idea years ago that snake owners concerned with problems of fat and fang decay would pay a premium price for sugar-free mice: normal rodents, lightly killed, with their regular body sugars taken out and replaced with low-calorie Nutria-Sweet.

By the way, I Toogled on "Sarah Xihuan" and was rewarded appropriately. Impressive, to me anyway.

#116 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 11:27 AM:

Horror season is approaching. I keep seeing previews on the idiot box for Gremlins. That movie still makes me twitch, and I don't care how funny it was supposed to be.

Back in high school, some friends and I had a tradition of renting movies on halloween. We had a few classics, but we mostly got the weirdest and worst we could find.

I have been reading the last few posts with interest. Any recs for gleefully superlative terrible scream flicks?

#117 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 11:43 AM:

When I was in college, my school had a "bad movie fest". They showed three old, bad, sci-fi films back to back. You could get in for free, but you had to pay if you left early.

The only title I remember was "Plan 9 From Outer Space". I peeked in at one point, and one of the characters was an alleged police officer with a gun in his hand. He pointed the gun at someone and said "You, go that way and see if you find anything". A couple of people in the audience caught the stupidity of it and yelled "BANG!"
as if he had shot the guy.

I think one of them might have gone off to create Mystery Science Theater 3000.

But if you want a movie so bad that it makes you scream, "Plan 9" might be required viewing.


#118 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 11:44 AM:

Thanks to, I'm now in the running for a signed copy of Art Spiegelman's latest.

A friend of mine just got the Samsung 4-megapixel camera she got from an instant-win web contest I steered her to. More useful I think than the bare-bones computer system I won, which was supposed to be the more impressive prize.

Some of the websites I will probably visit every day: (well, on weekdays)

#119 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 12:02 PM:

If you want to see a scary clip, watch the vice-presidential debates. At one point, Edwards mentions Halliburton:

>We also thought it was wrong to have a $20
>billion fund out of which $7.5 billion was
>going to go to a no-bid contract for
>Halliburton, the vice president's former
>It was wrong then. It's wrong now.

If you watched the live debate, for a split second, Dick Cheney's eye's morph into large bulbous spheres, he grows fangs, and briefly lungs towards Edwards muttering something that sounded suspiciously like "precious".

In the replays, Fox delays a split second before switching the camera to Cheney, and you don't even see it, but if you saw the live footage, it is clearly there. And it's pretty clear that Cheney is under the influence of the ring of power wielded by Haliburton.

#120 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Ya'll should read this book: The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry, whose book about the great flood of 1927, Rising Tide, has been mentioned on other threads. Buy it, borrow it from the library, read it in bits in the bookstore on your lunch hour, whatever. Read this book.

In addition to war, politics, diplomacy, public health policy, epidemiology, pathology, and all the other crunchy goodness Barry can import into a text, it has this quote from Judge Learned Hand: "That community is already in the process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbor as a possible enemy, where non-confrmity with the accepted creed, political as well as religious, becomes a mark of disaffection; where denunciation, without specification or backing, takes the place of evidence; where orthodoxy chokes freedom of dissent."

#121 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 12:41 PM:

sundre: I can recommend looking through the review archives at, Stomp Tokyo (and its hosted sites), 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting,, and the sites they link to. Such a wellspring of snarky reviews of schlocktastic movies as the eye of man has never before set eyes upon (to put it in an Ed Wood-ian way).

#122 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 12:49 PM:

Just a (probably unneeded) reminder to all California ML readers... Today is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming General Election.

Which, if you've seen our ballot, is not all that far off from the horror movie thread. And our voter's guide is as long as a mid-career Stephen King epic.

#123 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 01:17 PM:

All the Cthulhu stuff that appeared on this page recently inspired me to write this:

(To the tune of the theme song from the "Little Lulu" cartoons)

Lurking in the ocean
Rampaging through the street
Stealing all our spirts
Eating human meat
How can an Ancient One as evil as you
Raise such a ruckus and a hullabaloo?

Mighty Cthulhu, mighty Cthulhu, with tentacles on your chin
Always in and out of trouble, but mostly always in
Research at Miskatonic on a book that you write
Can make people catatonic for the rest of their life

That is not dead which can eternal lie
And with strange eons even death may die
Though you're lonesome and hungry, lying in the deep
We are thankful that you're usually asleep

Your're usually quite quiet in your city near the pole
Except when you're devouring our soul.
Though I pity any fool who would take your name in vain
mighty Cthulhu, we fear you-loo just the same!

#124 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 02:52 PM:

Greg London: The Ring of Mass Destruction?

Erik Nelson : That was fun!

Larry Brennan :long as a mid-career Stephen King epic? I saw King interviewed during the 3rd Red Sox game in the American League Championship Series. But last night's 4th ["Make History or We're History"] game was more of a King epic, with the dramatic bottom-of-the-12th homerun exactly as he said he'd write for the 3rd game.

Bad Sci Fi? My algebra lecture today is on why there are no supergiant spiders or ants or rats. Except for The Giant Rat of Sumatra.

#125 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 05:07 PM:

The Joss Whedon fans for John Kerry event mentioned here before by me now has an actual schedule, a website and everything! It's happening next Sunday, 24 Oct, at places all around the country (if someone puts one together in SF/Berkeley, I'd love to attend, but have no space available right now). If you're at all interested, check out ; this looks as if it's going to be a really amazing event. If you're interested in being part, make sure you register -- otherwise they won't tell you the number to call in for Joss's spiel.

#126 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 05:32 PM:

I just had one of those moments... where it all makes sense.

George W. Bush is Crazy Eddie.


#127 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 05:44 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions on the bookish valium! I've been rereading Beauty---sooo good. I'm thinking of rereading Sunshine, too, for the muffin bits. The Stevermers are hard to find--gonna have to get it through Amazon. Bought a bunch of others at the UBS. Feeling much better after a nice book fix.

CHip--is Merchanter's Luck the one where the ship talks to Sandy? I quite liked that one.

#128 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 05:48 PM:

Elizabeth -- you'll probably find them cheaper in other places than Amazon (broken record here).

#129 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 05:50 PM:

George W. Bush is Crazy Eddie.

I keep picturing GWB as Barney Fife.

Andy's left town on vacation. Bank robbers hold up the local bank. Barney puts his bullet in his gun and deputizes Gomer and friends. They storm the bank robbers hideout the day after they left town. On the way back, Barney decides Otis was somehow the mastermind of the whole thing and throws him in jail. Then to help enforce the law, Barney throws the rest of the townfolk in jail on suspicion of breaking the "Mayberry Act".

The standard ending of this kind of episode would have Barney shooting his own foot as Andy tells him to hand over his bullet.

One can only hope this episode ends in November and isn't a "to be continued" show.

#130 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Elizabeth: Yes, that's the one. I'm also partial to the penultimate scene, where he reclaims his family Name.

#131 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 07:45 PM:

I sent in my (Oregon mail in only system) ballot today.

I wish this would put me on some sort of opt-out list that would make the ads stop.

#132 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Online (SF/F) writing workshops: - I'm well aware of Critters, but what else is out there? I'd particularly appreciate any comments people might have on differences between workshops.

Much thanks for any advice.

#133 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 08:20 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post posted: I am trying to locate a book i read in the 1970's; it was sci fi - involved a woman crashing a motorcycle which propelled her to another dimension that eventually started leaking into her everyday life... I don't know the author or title. I thought it was "Nightmare" by (last name) Chilton) but nothing has come up so I must be mistaken. Any ideas on how to hunt? Don't ask why - it's just one of those things...

Thanks in advance

Kflofritz has it right already - there is a book called Nightmare, by I.M. Chilton, published Scholastic 1968. Blurb is "It all starts with a motor-bike crash into a nightmare world of terror: a dark journey into the savage past." The pre-Scholastic title (they often change titles) was String of Time.

The site that I look at every day is Booksleuth forum, where people post descriptions of long-lost books and other people post suggested answers. Results are pretty good overall.
I'm not bad at IDing children's books, and there are some very knowledgeable people on the forum.
Solving a long-lost is like doing crossword puzzles, but people thank you and sometimes cry when you get it right.

#134 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 09:04 PM:

Good experience: spending two hours tweaking an extended Kalman filter algorithm to where it works reliably.

Bad experience: waking up this morning to burn the results to CD to take to work, and finding a lovely message from the computer on the screen that the hard drive has failed.

#135 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 12:19 AM:

Favorite bad scary movie of all time: The Forbidden Zone. Our lame heroes Frenchy and Chickenboy discover they can reach the Sixth Dimension through a door in their basement. Alas, the evil midget king of the Sixth Dimension (played by Herve "de plane! de plane!" Villechaize) and his deranged queen have some sort of evil plot. There's always an evil plot, of course, but this one gets nixed by Satan himself (played by Danny Elfman, in a white tuxedo, doing a spirited Cab Calloway imitation, filking the Hell out of "Minnie the Moocher"--I swear I am not making this up). Hear Danny Elfman's first film score, performed by the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Relish that, since everything else about the film is agressively, willfully awful, in a German Expressionist kind of way.

#136 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 02:21 AM:

Sarah Avery writes about _The Forbidden Zone_:

Yikes! Your description was odd enough that I had to check to make sure you weren't exaggerating, hallucinating, or just generally messing with my head. It sounds quite astonishing.

From one of the reviews on the site:
Summary: It's like a live-action Betty Boop cartoon!

Imagine a live-action black and white Betty Boop cartoon from the 30's and you have this film (except for alot of topless women running around). Really bizarre look and feel to this cult classic where most of the time you simply can't believe what you're seeing, which is really remarkable seeing there was literally NO budget for this film (Herve Villechaise was the ONLY paid actor). Unfortunately this film is no longer available on home video (it REALLY needs to be re-released) so if you are one of the lucky ones who can find it in your local video store, RENT IT!!!

#137 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 03:07 AM:

Actually, it's even weirder than that. The Kipper Kids are in it. They're a performance art duo of heavyset, middle-aged guys who appear in this film dressed in children's clothing. They communicate with the other characters primarily by means of blowing raspberries. Rhythmically. In unison.

#138 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 04:59 AM:

Steve Taylor: I hang around on Forward Motion ( ) which has a few critiquing circles for different genres at varying levels of experience. The main advantage over Critters is that they're smaller, so you'll get to know the people you're talking to.

#139 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Good grief, what a vile and extensive spam infestation this morning. At least it's pretty apparent what's spam from the names in the recent comments list, otherwise I'd start going down the list.

I wonder how they're getting by the forced preview?

#140 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 10:14 AM:

The forced preview is a pretty good precaution, but only if the spammer is weakly determined and/or unskilled. I could certainly write an app to do it. Hell, I could write a VBA script to do it.

Stefan, you need a TiVo. I'm unfortunate enough to live in a state where my vote doesn't matter, but if I lived somewhere where it did, I'm sure I would praise the TiVo Gods even more than usual.

#141 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 10:21 AM:

For bad but still scary movies, I'm particularly fond of the original The Haunting (based on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, a genuinely frightening book); by all means, avoid the 90's remake which is just unpleasant. The original starts very slowly by modern movie standards, but stick it out.

Also, John Carpenter's underappreciated Prince of Darkness, which features a church in which everyone has the same grainy dream showing what appears to be the emergence of the Antichrist: "You are not dreaming. This is a transmission from the year one-nine-nine-nine." Also, it's got Alice Cooper as, surprise, a scary zombie.

It's not traditional horror, but Jacob's Ladder scared the living crap out of me.

#142 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 10:47 AM:

I am pleased to announce that Forbidden Zone is now out on DVD, in widescreen, with excised material and a documentary. I learned stuff! I still have a copy of the VHS version, too, dubbed from a rental so long ago I had to go to Ned Brooks's house to do it. A favorite.

Another favorite, not so scary, is out on VHS: Lemonade Joe, or rather, Limonodavy Joe. I saw a page that said it was available as a cheap DVD in Czechoslovakia, but I couldn't find a tab, link, or button to buy it. I checked TV movie listings for decades, hoping to happen on another airing of this classic musical Western, and a friend found it in Colorado just before we went out there. It's even better than I remembered. Wildly inventive.

#143 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 12:01 PM:

What's "bad" about the Robert Wise The Haunting? No, it doesn't include every line of the book (that trick never works), but it's concise (the scene with Eleanor's family tells you all you need to know in a couple of minutes), low-key, and certainly effective. Jackson isn't an easy transition to film (I sincerely hope nobody ever gets the brilliant idea of doing We Have Always Lived in the Castle), but to me this is an excellent example of intelligent adaptation.

#144 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 01:41 PM:

Haven't had the pleasure myself, but I hear Elves has much to offer:

A young woman discovers that she is the focus of an evil nazi experiment involving selective breeding and summoned elves, an attempt to create a race of supermen. She and two of her friends are trapped in a department store with an elf, and only Dan Haggerty, as the renegade loose-cannon Santa Claus, can save them.

I wish I were making that up.

#145 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 02:02 PM:

The Haunting: "Bad" meaning, you know, "good."

The first half-hour is much too slow, the ending isn't as satisfying as the book's, and there's a little too much funny camera-work and melodramatic music.

Having said all that, though, hell yes it's effective, and a perfectly reasonable adaptation (although, as almost always, the book is better). It is a scary movie.

#146 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 02:14 PM:

I don't think it was particularly scary (and I'm a wimp when it comes to the scary), but "Troll" was the stupidest horror movie I've ever seen. It was right up there with "Jaws 3-D" for stupid.

#147 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Dan and Jill: One night a friend of mine sat me down and showed me a double feature of Elves and Troll 2.

Troll 2 contains no trolls, far too much green paint, a scene of (ostensibly) seductive corn-eating, and the phrase "Stonehenge Magic Stone." In fact there are too many gems to list here.

Elves contains the immortal line "When there is no more room in hell, the elves will walk the earth."

I highly recommend both, although not if you want to be scared.

#148 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Caroline - and yet, you still refer to this person as your "friend"?

#149 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 12:03 AM:

I've run into a figurative wall, and I'm not sure whether I need a reality check or the opinion of a (semi-) professional or what.

It started with a discussion online about a comic I read as it updates, where a reader posted that he had trouble with the current plot arc because he'd seen no foreshadowing of a character's sudden personality shift, and that left him dissatisfied. Another reader countered with, "Foreshadowing is just a plot device. You don't need it."

And . . . I'm floored. He might as well have set up a piece of plexiglass in my path, for the stunned and angry sensation that left me.

So my first question is, foreshadowing IS necessary, isn't it? It's what leads up to a satisfying ending, right? I haven't forgotten THAT much in the four years since I got my BA, have I?

And if I'm right, what would make someone think foreshadowing is an unnecessary trick?

Myself, I have visions of a sadistic English teacher in his past.

#150 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 01:58 AM:

There are three interesting horror films for Halloween that I'd suggest: the first is "Night of the Demon" (or the shorter American version "Curse of the Demon") which is properly creepy, if terribly *mannered*. (You never were supposed to see the "McGuffin" but the producer had some bad hairy suit shots inserted. A good film anyway.)

The second is "The Legend of Hell House," which is a slam-bang adaptation of Matheson's "Hell House" with a wonderful performance by Roddy MacDowell. It's main flaws are dropping a scene from the middle of the book that would have gotten it an instant X rating at the time, and following the book too closely at the climax: the ending makes logical sense, but after two hours you want more of a payoff.

The third is a film that was ganged up on by critics and died within two weeks: "The Frighteners." You know how most horror films cheat by having stuff happen that's not forshadowed? (Hi, Alice!) In this one, that doesn't happen. (Well, until the last five minutes, but since the author and director have played fair with you until then I found the *small* cheat which takes place there to be acceptable.) It's damn near a textbook example of how to construct a script, yet I remember Roger Ebert calling it something like "incoherent." Bull. It's well worth the rental, and if my laserdisc player wasn't ill right now I'd give it a watch tonight.

Kip W.: If you ever find someone selling the Czeck DVD of "Dinner with Adele/Adele Hasn't Had Her Supper/Nick Carter in Prague." *PLEASE* let me know...

#151 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 02:47 AM:

Alice mulled:

So my first question is, foreshadowing IS necessary, isn't it? It's what leads up to a satisfying ending, right? I haven't forgotten THAT much in the four years since I got my BA, have I?

And if I'm right, what would make someone think foreshadowing is an unnecessary trick?

Well - as far as I'm concerned, good foreshadowing should be functionally invisible unless you go back and look for it once you're done :) That said, I often think of foreshadowing as the literary equivalent of the "bad things are about to happen" music in B movies.

"Oh Sam! I don't know what I'd do if we lost our only daughter"

(Oh man! I wonder how many pages it'll take before you lose your only daughter... *sigh*)

"Oh Molly! We've made sure to protect her from the Evil Overlord by making sure she always wears one red sock"

(Oh golly. I wonder how long until she takes off that sock...)

... so ... given that I think good foreshadowing is invisible, and bad foreshadowing is painful, I can see where your reader might be confused.

#152 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 10:21 AM:

Thanks! That helps a bunch.

#153 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 10:54 AM:

Bruce, that's a fun list, but I'd take out THE FRIGHTENERS and slip in DOG SOLDIERS. I think DS holds together better.

#154 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 11:27 AM:

I'm gonna just put in a supporting voice for The Frighteners, here. In my opinion, it's one of the most underrated movies of the '90s. It's funny, it's got good character development, and some genuinely scary bits, too.

This is yet another example of a product that was doomed by mistakes in its marketing.

#155 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 02:08 PM:

Neal Stephenson struts his stuff on Slashdot

This is really good stuff. Really, really good. His answer to question #2 should be of particular interest to the Making Light crew, dealing as it does with the divide between genre and "mainstream" fiction, or in his words, "Beowulf" and "Dante" writers. Really, really good stuff.

Did I mention it was good?

#156 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 03:39 PM:

This is really good stuff. Really, really good.

I've just read it. Believe Skwid.

#157 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 05:35 PM:

Teresa, there is no question that having a series of AFV's bear your initials is deeply cooler than having a personalized license plate. I am iridescently emerald with envy.

#158 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 05:57 PM:

When he isn't getting more cyberimplants or fighting Neal Stephenson, William Gibson writes in his blog. Today's entry is fun: A riff on the Suskind article:

"obscenely comforting narrowing of imaginative bandwith (the real payoff in becoming a Bushite believer)" . . . Mr. Gibson, you rock.

#159 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 06:38 PM:

Claude Muncey writes:

Teresa, there is no question that having a series of AFV's bear your initials is deeply cooler than having a personalized license plate. I am iridescently emerald with envy.

I must admit I saw the Particle, wondered "Is this the Czech 38?," clicked through and confirmed that it was, and moved on, all without realizing the reason it was there-- until Claude pointed it out.

Know this: Somewhere in the town where I live, there is a welder who owns a Hetzer, probably the coolest-looking variant. Fully armored, 75mm gun. Here's a photo of it. I have not seen it myself. He has been known to bring it to re-enactments where GIs Blow It Up Real Good.

Now, I can't promise you a ride, but I do know a guy who knows a guy who might know the guy who owns the Hetzer. So a TNH-in-TNH picture may not be out of the realm of possibility someday.

#160 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 06:41 PM:

Alice, I'm reading _The Amazing Dr. Darwin_ for the library SF group this weekend (never mind that it's not actually SF) and there's enough foreshadowing that I know the end of each story within the first few pages. I don't usually mind this, I'm interested in how the story happens, but I'm afraid the stories aren't making up for it in this, for me.

#161 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 07:46 PM:

I was particularly pleased by the TNH link.

"Soon it was decided to purchase almost complete vehicles from CKD." (Sorry, I'm currently out of stock on AFVs.)

It's a shame they changed their name to BMM.

#162 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:28 AM:

TNH - Could 10/20 possibly have been your biggest bandwidth/comment volume day yet?

#163 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 01:40 AM:


Theory utterly off the top of my head and with insufficient preparation time:

I can't actually imagine a scenario where no foreshadowing at all would make a successful story.

I can imagine a great many splendid stories where the foreshadowing isn't noticed until after the thing it foreshadows actually happens (Xeger's "Oh, Molly!" examples given by are what I call BAD foreshadowing, not foreshadowing - they are to foreshadowing what "As you know, Bob" is to information placement). Or stories which use far less foreshadowing than is standard for North-American produced works, even ones that do it successfully and subtly. And I've seen readers, including ostensibly alert ones, claim there was no foreshadowing even when I point out a few examples. Some of it may be definition of the term; mine is pretty broad. (There are also certain kinds of story details that don't need foreshadowing - but I'm assuming this is about major character, plot, and story developments).

If you're not talking about a fairly standard storyline or serial storyline, there's also another technique - which is to jump in time and show a jarring change/event first, followed by the things leading up to it. In which case, the chronological "foreshadowing" is shown to the viewer/reader after the event/change it foreshadows - but structurally, the event/change itself, being presented at the start of the story, takes on the same *role* foreshadowing does in a chronologically-ordered story. And if you can make sense of that sentence, maybe I'm less tired than I thought. (Give me about three more drafts, and I'd get it right, I swear).

Now I'm wondering how that works in cases like "Hero" or "Lola Rennt", where the story is progressively rewritten...

#164 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 11:04 AM:


I am producing a Crash Dummies movie in Sydney and am wondering if you know where I can get data substantiating the SF film fan base in the US.

Thank you,

Doug Lodato

#165 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Bush Religiosity in the National Parks...

"In a series of recent decisions, the National Park Service has approved the display of religious symbols and Bible verses, as well as the sale of creationist books giving a biblical explanation for the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders.

'These moves all emanate from top Park Service political appointees over the objections of park superintendents, agency lawyers and scientists. A number of fundamentalist Christian and socially conservative groups are claiming credit for these actions and touting their new direct and personal
access to Bush Administration officials."

"Press Release

"For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337


Washington, DC — The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Despite telling members of Congress and the public that the legality and appropriateness of the National Park Service offering a creationist book for sale at Grand Canyon museums and bookstores was “under review at the national level by several offices,” no such review took place, according to materials obtained by PEER under the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, the real agency position was expressed by NPS spokesperson Elaine Sevy as quoted in the Baptist Press News:

“Now that the book has become quite popular, we don’t want to remove it.”

"In August of 2003, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, by Tom Vail, a book explaining how the park’s central feature developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters that there would be a high-level policy review, distributing talking points stating: “We hope to have a final decision in February [2004].” In fact, the promised review never occurred –..."

#166 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:09 PM:

William Gibson:

"Believing Bush is conservative in any traditional sense is like believing that a Formula One racer with the Perrier logo on its side is full of mineral water."

#167 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:11 PM:


More frustrating than the fact that he's arguing with me about this is the fact that I'm getting so angry about this.

He wrote:
"I still maintain that foreshadowing is a tool and not a mandatory part of creative writing. Just like a hammer or screwdriver is not a mandatory part of carpentry. They can give a better finish to some things, but you don't always have to use them.

"Whether it's glaringly obvious or noticeable in retrospect, foreshadowing is not always maintainable. Say you want the hero to die because of a sacrifice he makes to save his friends. Do you leave threads through the book so a reader can go back through and say "Oh, look, it all leads up to him dying". How can one invoke the emotion of sadness if there is a prelude to it? It is better to have a sudden decision to have them sacrifice themselves for the fate of the world than a slow lead up to it (Whether subtle or not so subtle). There are many paths that can be taken and that is simply one of them.

"Stories guide readers down paths, they take them by the hand and say "Come with me on a journey. It shouldn't be a completely tour guided experience. Sure there is a path, a flow to the story, there has to be otherwise you'd be writing a "Choose your own Adventure" story. But sometimes you either can't or don't want to leave small breadcrumbs because you want to immerse a reader in an unpredictable world like our own. An english teacher once told us that the best stories are those that are closest to the truth. And being able to see what events in life are like in retrospect is just not possible. Life, of course, being the best truth there is.

"You likened writing to a craft, and I agree, but it is also an art and just like art, people have different opinions on what techniques are good and which are not. I am not saying that foreshadowing is wrong, just that there is a time and place for it, like any other writing technique. Well, like I mentioned before, I don't think we're going to see eye to eye on this. However, I don't mind if you wish to continue to discuss it. Who knows, maybe I'll come round eventually. ^_^

"Oh, and in case you're wondering, I'm a writer too. Not a professional or one with any official training, but I did well with my fiction at school and am an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi writer. ^_^ "

To which I replied:
"You said foreshadowing doesn't happen in life, but it does. Even in my oh-so-chaotic life, I've had indications that something was going to happen. I went on a whim to a meeting of a gaming club when I first started college, where I met a bunch of people and this guy who kept STARING at me. Who knew I'd end up married to him three years later? Who knew that's what that meant? But it was there.

"My mailbox filling almost to the brim with bills while I was in college was a clear indication that, if I didn't do something about it, I'd have money trouble up the line. And look at that; I do. My being glued to a computer, typing away a story until the wee hours of the morning was a hint that I'd want to continue writing, and the fact that I turned the monitor off whenever someone else came into the room indicates I'd still be shy about my writing years later.

"Nothing exists inside a vacuum. Nothing happens for no reason. There's ALWAYS a lead-in, always some hint of what's to come. Not every little detail of a story gives away what's going to happen at the end, but what's the point of writing a story if you're not leading up to something the entire time? Leading up to one thing and then turning it around so it's about something else entirely is cheating.

"Say whatever you like about your Unique Artistic Vision and YOUR way of doing things, but you're wrong. Writing rules and tools are meant to be broken and discarded, but first you must learn how to use them properly. I pray you learn that before you submit anything for publication."

Perhaps it's the same reason Mr. Rc's naivete bothered people so much?

#168 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:17 PM:

Lenora - I think the foreshadowing in Run, Lola Run and Hero were the fact that there were, initially, only subtle differences in each cycle of the story (costume colors, bumping into someone or not) which results in a vastly different end to the story. It may not be obvious what the small difference MEANS, but it changes the story entirely.

#169 ::: Tiellan ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Recently someone mentioned having seen or heard about a performance of Jabberwocky in ASL. I'm enrolled in ASL classes right now so I was interested in finding this tape and sent out a few e-mails. Here's a response I got today for anyone who's interested:

Yes, we have a video series called "An Interview with Bernard Bragg: The Man Behind the Mask". On the 6th and final videotape, you will find a fantastic visual performance of the Jabberwocky poem performed by Joe Velez.

You can click on the following link to be directed to the title on our website:

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email. You can order over the web or call us and place an order with our customer service department at 800-549-5350, 7am to 4pm PDT, Monday to Friday.

#170 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Alice - let's not forget the red-herrings that false foreshadowing can be, causing the reader to consider a multiplicity of narrative threads and plot outcomes, only a few of which ever become real.

The only successful things I've read that don't have much in the way of foreshadowing are stream-of-consciousness narratives.

I think your antagonist is either just yanking your chain (because he can) or he may only recognize foreshadowing of the sledgehammer-to-the-head variety.

#171 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 02:36 PM:

His example is also too specific.

If you want to foreshadow an ending in which the protaginist sacrifices himself, you need not foreshadow "He's going to die", specifically. You need to foreshadow that the story is leading to a scenario in which he is willing to die - the actual outcome of the scene can go either way and the foreshadowing of possible sacrifice remains valid. (If he is saved, the means which saves him might also need to be hinted at, preferably by a very different place and means than the first. The extra consequences of killing him, ditto.)

A story in which the ending is not foreshadowed at all would be a case where a convenient earthquake came up and swallowed them all, or a Deus Ex Machina by any other name.

#172 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 03:28 PM:

Apropos of not much, and since we just really don't talk enough politics here, I have noticed that Eric Alterman's blog on MSNBC has been inexplicably unavailable for at least a day now. When I try to go there I get a message that "Redirection limit for the URL has been exceeded. Unable to load the requested page. This may be caused by cookies that are blocked." This wouldn't be so puzzling if it weren't that most every other MSNBC page works properly. Is there a reasonable technical explanation for this, or should I get out my tinfoil hat yet?

#173 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 05:08 PM:

Tiellen mentioned:

Recently someone mentioned having seen or heard about a performance of Jabberwocky in ASL. I'm enrolled in ASL classes right now so I was interested in finding this tape and sent out a few e-mails. Here's a response I got today for anyone who's interested:

Yes, we have a video series called "An Interview with Bernard Bragg: The Man Behind the Mask". On the 6th and final videotape, you will find a fantastic visual performance of the Jabberwocky poem performed by Joe Velez.

For those that are further interested, you can get a tape of Malz, who did the original translation, along with a number of his other performances from Sign Media.

#174 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 05:55 PM:


I've noticed that too. Sometimes it loads, sometimes not.

Once I got it to come up by copying the URL to another browswer (IE; I usually use Netscape at work.)

#175 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 07:17 PM:

Another very weird eBay auction:

#176 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 07:31 PM:

Stefan, thanks for the suggestion. Interesting. It wouldn't load in Firefox or Netscape Navigator, but it would in Internet Explorer. That still doesn't explain why in non-IE browsers, Alterman's page wouldn't load but all the other MSNBC pages would.

#177 ::: Tiellan ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 08:25 PM:

Ooh yes, xeger's link is much better than mine -- I think I even looked at Sign Media but couldn't find it there and haven't heard anything back from them. I'm going to order the Sign Media tape instead! Thanks xeger!

#178 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 10:38 PM:

Alice: similar but not the same is Sliding Doors, which doesn't rewrite the history but does explore the two sides of a universe split.

#179 ::: dagny ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 05:48 AM:

First, Hello All.
Second, my two cents' worth, re: "foreshadow."
Foreshadowing is a contentious term. I had a professor in college who loathed the word. He insisted that referring to something as foreshadowing was incorrect because foreshadowing can only exist in retrospect. The elements are still there, only their significance changes when the final outcome of the story is revealed.
Perhaps he only disagrees with the use of the word, not the function it represents?

All right, back into hiding I go.

#180 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 06:49 AM:

Today's Exciting Historical Tiddlybit:

In last week's New Yorker (yeah, I read the articles, but I skimmed the ads) there is an expensively produced insert, one of many such that interfere with actually reading the thing, in which CNN offers us the Election Night Home Game: a map of the states, with little stickers of Donkeys and Mumakil to apply as votes are counted -- fifty of each, doubtless on the advice of Diebold. (There's also a vote-totaling sheet, for those who actually want to know who's ahead, rather than just what color the map is.)

Anyway, reverse side of the adhesobeasties explains their origin, in cartoons by "famous political cartoonist Thomas Nash."

This is presumably the same guy who drew cartoons of Boss Hweed of Hammany Hall and Sanha Claus.

CNN: Give us thirty minutes, and we'll give you a migraine.

#181 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 09:41 AM:

dagny: I think I see his point, but (if I'm right about what it is) I'm not sure I agree with it. Remembering that a story has been written by an intelligent writer who (in many cases) planned the major events of the story before writing it, foreshadowing can help the reader to guess what might be about to happen as he reads the story. It doesn't have to be something you'd notice only retrospectively.

#182 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 09:43 AM:

Now, don't let's be nashy!

#183 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 10:18 AM:

More of the saga. He wrote:

"Ok. I am only making this response because I am slightly offended by your last email, and because I'd like to re-iterate the original argument because it seems to have been lost. Other than that, I think we are just going round in circles and it's clear we're probably not going to see eye to eye.

"The point I've been arguing is that foreshadowing is not compulsory in fiction and should be used in the correct place and time. Not that it shouldn't be used at all which seems to be what you are saying. I agree that good foreshadowing can complement stories, but not everything should, or can, be foreshadowed to give the story that extra sense of realism.

"It happens in life, it also doesn't happen in life. I never saw, even in retrospect, the fact that two separate relatives would donate thousands of dollars so I could continue my studies only weeks after they found out about my financial difficulties. It's just not something that happens on that side of the family. You can't tell if you are going to be mugged as you walk down the street. You can't see a lead up to being let go because of downsizing.

"Also, it's going to take more than two people and an unknown number of silent people who had no verbal opinion to convince me I am wrong. If you can say for fact that the entire forum agrees then I will reconsider.

"Apparently my vision is unique? On what basis? Have you spoken to all authors in the world, studied every book and found this to be the case? Just because I have a different opinion to you and a particular group of people I am automatically wrong? That's what prejudices are based upon, the fact that someone is different to your social group and their beliefs and traditions are not what you are used to. It'd be a very boring world if the people who had ideas that went against the norm were never believed. We'd still think that the world was flat and that everything revolves around us.

"Like I mentioned before, I don't see any point in continuing this argument, because that's what it seems to have degraded into. I still think that foreshadowing is not compulsory, and you still think that it is. I accept that and whether you choose to continue to think I will never succeed in my current belief is up to you, but please don't try and make it out like I am some sort of heretic. That just makes everyone unhappy. I'd rather we just agree to disagree and get on with our life. So no hard feelings ok?"

And my reply:
"Unique Artistic Vision is Making Lightese for people who hold false opinions about writing, but persist in them because they believe that they can't be wrong about what they have to express.

"Their opinion on Making Light right now is that you're just yanking my chain and saying this stuff to get a rise out of me.

"My opinion is that I'm wasting my time.

"I could explain again that foreshadowing, when done correctly, is functionally invisible. I could point out that it never gives away EXACTLY what the ending is, but gives you hints about character flaws or traits that may come into play later. I could point out that some foreshadowing is deliberately misleading.

"I could also concede that a lot of writers don't even realize that's what their doing. A good writer gets it all down, then realizes during a rewrite that they used some very skilled writing techniques, and refines and uses them in the rewrite.

"But you're not listening. From what I've seen, you're clinging to your definition of foreshadowing as an obvious giveaway, or something an evil English teacher makes students search for to write a paper or comment on in class.

"So any further discussion would obviously be a waste of my time.

"I know you don't see it this way, but I was really only trying to help. Kind of hard to teach someone who sees himself as your superior, I suppose."

And I really do intend to keep my mouth shut on this matter from here on out. Really. Seriously. I mean it.

But now I can sympathize with the number of you who have hit your own metaphorical walls when dealing with this brand of idiocy. "Interesting opinion on writing you have there, but I've been dabbling since high school and think I have it down."


#184 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 11:26 AM:

Actually, you're both right in a sense.

Foreshadowing, consciously used, is a tool that may or may not be used by an author.

However, humans are pattern-recognizing animals. If a story is going to "feel" right, a reader must recognize patterns. These patterns may or may not be consciously inserted by the author. Even if unconsciously inserted, they produce an effect that is the same as that produced by conscious foreshadowing. So a good reader will find foreshadowing in a good story whether the author consciously inserted it or not.

You're using the same word to point to two different things.

#185 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 11:29 AM:

[Those two different things:

Your friend: conscious intent of author
You (and most here): effect on reader

The second may be present without the first. It is present in all stories that "feel" right.]

#186 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 11:44 AM:

Via Bookslut's blog - the Book of Mormon is coming out as a comic book.

#187 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 12:28 PM:

I'd agree with you, Tom, if it weren't for his insistence that it's not there at all in some stories.

Well, no, I guess you have that covered.

Though now I'm confused about how that makes us both right.

I'm leaving the bit about how I'd have to read every book ever made alone. I'm also not going to point out to him that, though he didn't see any indication of foreshadowing in these events in his life, who's to say it's HIS biography? I'm also not going to attempt to speak for the entire board, as he so challenges, because I'm not very good at the hubris angle.

But oh, do I want to.

I'll be good. I WILL drop the argument, knowing he may never get it.

#188 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 01:20 PM:

This is completely off-topic, but it would be cruel to withhold critical information when the danger is so great.

How to make a thought screen helmet

"Since trying Michael Menkin's Helmet, I have not been bothered by alien mind control. Now my thoughts are my own. I have achieved meaningful work and am contributing to society. My life is better than ever before. Thank you Michael for the work you are doing to save all humanity."
- Jon Locke

Be sure to see the "Photo of Alien."

#189 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Since we're talking helmets, instead of one that shields you from the thoughts of others, how about one that allows you to receive and transmit thoughts or at least speech.

While I'm not sure it's a good idea overall, my inner geek wants one.

#190 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 07:33 PM:

The Top Ten $$$-Earning Fictional Characters
Vanessa Gisquet and Lacey Rose

1. Mickey Mouse & Friends
2. Winnie the Pooh & Friends
3. Frodo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings
4. Harry Potter
5. Nemo, Finding Nemo
6. Yu-Gi-Oh
7. SpongeBob SquarePants
8. Spider-Man
9. Wolverine, X-Men
10. Pikachu, Pokémon

The notes and methodology are interesting.
"... in order to qualify for our list, a property must have made their debut in a narrative story, be it a cartoon, a book or even a videogame. They must also be "fictional"--not based on a real person...."

#191 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 09:42 PM:

It's a sad world we live in if Spongebob has made more money than Charlie Brown et al.

I guess the Renaissance Civilization really is doomed.

#192 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 10:18 PM:

Larry, the motorcycle helmet with Bluetooth is snazzy, but what I'm really waiting for is for someone to integrate a cellphone into my glasses.
In other news:

A security company named Custer Battles had to be up to no good.

Memos Warned of Billing Fraud by Firm in Iraq

The memorandums charge that Custer Battles repeatedly billed occupation authorities for nonexistent services.

#193 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2004, 10:26 PM:

It's a sad world we live in if Spongebob has made more money than Charlie Brown et al.

It's just 2003 earnings, not lifetime, I think.

#194 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 12:58 AM:

And another batch of auctions up for Beading for a Cure (Beki decided to do them in three batches). This one has more jewelry plus boxes and bead sculpture:

#195 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 02:27 AM:

John M. Ford wrote:

Anyway, reverse side of the adhesobeasties explains their origin, in cartoons by "famous political cartoonist Thomas Nash."
This is presumably the same guy who drew cartoons of Boss Hweed of Hammany Hall and Sanha Claus.

Yes, same guy. Thomas Nast was so ruthless in his skewering of crooked politicians that to this day folk etymology would have you believe his name was the origin for the word "nasty."

I'm utterly delighted with the word "adhesobeasties".

#196 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 04:22 AM:

Nast was also given to vicious caricatures of immigrants, particularly the Irish, and Catholics, though that part's been politely forgotten.

The book TWEED'S NEW YORK, by Leo Hershkowitz, makes a highly detailed case that Tweed and Tammany were a long way from the pinnacle of urban corruption -- that they were deliberately smeared by honest lads like Samuel Tilden, mainly to divert attention from the corruption in the Federal District at the time. Tammany Hall fed, housed, and found jobs for immigrants; therefore those jobs, and the money, had been stolen from hardworking "real Americans" -- you know, the people who didn't live in the city. No one has ever been able to locate what happened to the hundreds of millions that the Tweed Ring is said to have stolen -- none of them, including Tweed, were ever visibly wealthy -- and Tweed was convicted, not of fraud or graft, but of a failure to properly audit accounts. He may well have been guilty of this.

I suspect Hershkowitz oversells -- he's a little too quick to say, "well, cities are going to be corrupt, we have to distinguish between kinds of corruption" -- but he's also pried a large pile of facts out of the records.

No analogy to any Administration living or dead is intended or should be inferred. The Ancient Stewards of Gondor are stewarding up a storm.

#197 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 04:24 AM:

I should hope that if it were lifetime earnings in question, Superman would come in above Pikachu.

#198 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 09:41 AM:

I'm not sure where this should go, so I'm putting it here:

Heh. It's a bit of political satire done up as a cheesy phone sex commercial. The music alone is hilarious.

BTW, all calls are free, because your grandchildren will be paying for them.

#199 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 12:04 PM:

Harry: I'll have to give "Dog Soldiers" a look--I'm an extremely irregular consumer of horror films, so I skipped it. I'm still in awe of how Walsh and Jackson set up everything in "The Frighteners" in advance: from the background for Frank Bannister's perfectly logical and extremely horrible first plan to save Dr. Lindsky's life, to her alternative method and it's limitations, to the silly reason the berserk FBI agent doesn't sit down. (And did anyone else think that this guy had the X-Files job before Mulder?) The comments about poor writing bugged me almost as much as Ebert's line in his "Hellboy" review about how fortunate the villain was to have a set of stocks ready with one big armhole that just happened to fit Hellboy. Considering that the entire evil scheme depended on Hellboy and that the bad guys had a ''lock" which showed the arm size, I found that line of the review profoundly annoying.

#200 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Bruce, I thought THE FRIGHTENERS had major problems with tone. By the time they got to the third act, I just didn't care anymore. Jeffrey Combs (who played the wacky FBI agent) is a lot of fun in almost everything he's been in, but he was a serious wrong note there.

It's a movie I really wanted to like. I was ready to like it. I loved Heavenly Creatures and Dead/Alive.

But meh.

DOG SOLDIERS was solid fun. Highly recommended.

#201 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 02:01 PM:

And the Joss Whedon event tomorrow has been opened up to those who can't find a party but donate at least $35 -- they'll get a call-in number. But I wonder how many callers such a number can actually support?

#203 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 12:51 AM:

Wow, the grey background looks like purple now that I stopped looking at the bright green.

Jill can skip this, I wrote her about it already.

I'm pretty sure Kaiser violated the ADA today. On Thursday, I got a letter from them that was sent to the "highest risk" patients. We're supposed to get the flu shot at particular centers, following misleading signs, and proving we're the people who match the label on the letter.

So I go today, get there 10 minutes after they open, and there's 60 people in line. Even assuming they can process one person every two minutes, which they probably can't, that's a two-hour wait. I went up and told the person checking people in that I couldn't stand that long. She said if I wanted my flu shot, I had to stand. I came home and called Advice, who said essentially the same thing. I left a message for my primary doc, I hope she's in on Monday.

I offered options to both of them -- giving out numbers and letting everybody sit, just calling up ten numbers at a time or so, and just "marking" the place in line for people who can't stand and we can join the line when there's a few people in front and sit the rest of the time. They said the rules were the rules.

I think letting people who are well enough to stand a long time get flu shots while making people who can't stand for long times do without them is just about backwards. I'm also pretty sure it violates the ADA.

#204 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 01:55 AM:

And someone already died from having to stand in one of those lines....

#205 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 11:28 AM:

Mike: does Hershkowitz explain away the double books? I remember trying to do a term paper on Tweed's downfall as an example of the power of political cartooning but getting stumped by the conclusion that the real cause was a sleighing accident that put a corrupt treasurer out of action, leaving someone who didn't know which books were which to release the "wrong" (e.g., correct) ones to the Times, which made at least as big a play over them as it made over the Pentagon papers most of a century later.

#206 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 12:24 PM:

Regarding "Marvel Motivators" in the sidebar...

oh, my dear lord. They're using Magneto, a character who has repeatedly advocated and pursued literal genocide, as the exemplar for "Possibilities."

#207 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 03:32 PM:

Ability to stand as a way of rationing flu shots... I wonder if it *was* a deliberate attempt at rationing without admitting it? If they didn't have enough to go around all the people they've called in, it's an easy way to weed a few out. But it may be that someone thought forcing people to stand for two hours was a good way to ensure that it only went to people who really wanted it - there are enough people out there who think that there is able-bodied and there is "confined to a wheelchair" and nothing in between. It would not surprise me if someone was stupid enough to think that if you're not in a wheelchair and you're not willing to stand for two hours, you obviously didn't really want the shot that badly.

#208 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 04:16 PM:

Seriously, my co-author Professor Philip Fellman, Business & Economics, Southern New Hampshire University, has written several papers with me on what we dub "Disinformation Theory," several of which we've presented at Complexity Science and at Social Science international conferences.

Disinformation doesn't just happen, as does misinformation. It is the result of careful strategic analysis, with a layer of deception on top. Quantitative Disinformation Theory includes analysis of how many questions it takes to win a modified game of "20 questions" when your opponent is allowed to lie a specific number of time. We contend that, for example, it is foolish for a company to publish a strictly accurate Annual Statement, as that gives away too much information to competitors. Similarly, if everything in your Annual Statement is a lie (think Enron, etc.) you soon fail. There turns out to be an optimum level of Disinformation in an Annual Statement, so that it takes too much computation for a competitor to discover which number is a plausible lie. We think that Boss Tweed was doing this all by brilliant intuition.

#210 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 06:36 PM:

Clearly she was planning to put anthrax spores on them and sneak them back into the post office....

#211 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2004, 10:34 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for the help upthread. After tempers cooled on both sides, we were able to rationally discuss the subject. Which is an improvement.

I don't expect him to agree with me, but if he can see my point, I figure I've come out ahead. (Not of him, mind you. Of myself.)

#212 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 12:23 AM:

Hm. Perhaps it's time for me to drop off the Blake's 7 discussion lists.

#213 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 02:00 AM:

Meanwhile, in NYC, tonight's news tells me that thieves are hitting flu vaccine.

#214 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 12:35 PM:

Ahhhh, Darque Dungeon.

"You are whinier than my Livejournal."

"I'm going to go out and buy a bunch of power noise CDs so boys will like me."

Heh. Heh heh heh. Hahahahaha! *cough*

/cd, who actually enjoys listening to power noise.

#215 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 02:14 PM:

I called Kaiser Member Services today who took everything down and sent it off for research and also sent a copy to the doctor in charge of the local flu clinics. She said to try again this Saturday, about 3pm, and the protocol should have been changed to handle people like me. I hope she's right. I don't think they'd be very happy if I got the flu and they had to spend lots more money on me because they didn't accommodate handicapped people at the flu clinic.

#216 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 02:40 PM:

Marilee - glad to hear that Kaiser is taking care of things. In the health care world, Kaiser is about as close to a white hat as you can find.

Of course, their razor-thin operating margins can cause snafus, and because it's Kaiser, your primary care physician simply won't have things like vaccines at hand.

They also are good at recognizing that they save money by providing preventive care, hence even with my bare-bones self-paid plan, appropriate immunizations are free. Of course, like all bureaucracies, you do find the occasional low-level petty tyrant who won't accomodate people who can't conform completely to whatever arbitrary protocol they've set up.

The last time I needed an immunization (I had been exposed to chicken pox) I spent the better part of two days on the phone trying to find a doctor in Northern NJ that both had the vaccine and was willing to give it to me. Pediatricians had it, but wouldn't dispense it, my doctor (whom I eventually told off) couldn't be bothered to order it. I eventually wound up at a doc-in-the-box and had to shell out almost $300 for the two shot series. Which my insurance (Aetna) woudn't cover because it was out of network, despite the fact that nobody in network was willing to provide the service. I suppose that they would have preferred to pay for treating shingles outbreaks at random intervals for the rest of my life...

#217 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 03:25 PM:

. . . your primary care physician simply won't have things like vaccines at hand.

"Look, you were supposed to bring the scalpel, Lucy the sponges, and I've been saving four-O silk for two weeks. Now, I'm gonna close my eyes, and when I open them, I want to see anesthesia equipment."

#218 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 08:41 PM:

Just want my fellow Making Light friends to know that we scooped, the biggest of all Nerd blogs, by 10 days (15 Oct 04 for is, 25 Oct 04 for them)!
Greatest Equations Ever
Posted by timothy on Monday October 25, @05:21AM
from the comic-shop-guy's-revenge dept.
sgant writes "What is your favorite equation? This was the question asked by Physics World in a recent poll. This is also covered in a New York Times article about the same poll. Some of the equations mentioned were the simplistic 1+1=2 and Euler's equation, e^iπ + 1 = 0. What are some of your favorite equations?"


Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:28 PM:
"... Great equations change the way we perceive the world. They reorchestrate the world -- transforming and reintegrating our perception by redefining what belongs together with what. Light and waves. Energy and mass. Probability and position. And they do so in a way that often seems unexpected and even strange...."

"News for Nerds. Stuff that matters" they say on their masthead. We can be nerdier and more newswothy any time we feel like it.

#219 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 09:15 PM:

Oh yeah... about our "Foreshadowing" subthread, I am amused by this excerpt:

"I have a story to tell you. It has many beginnings, and perhaps one ending. Perhaps not. Beginnings and endings are contingent things anyway; inventions; devices. Where does any story really begin? There is always context, always an encompassingly greater epic, always something before the described events, unless we are to start every story with, 'BANG! Expand! Sssss . . . ', then itemise the whole subsequent history of the universe before settling down, at last, to the particular tale in question. Similarly, no ending is final, unless it is the end of all things..."

Iain M. Banks, The Algebraist
[UK: Time Warner UK/Orbit 1-84149-155-1, £17.99, 534pp, hardcover, Oct 2004]
Possibly orthogonal to the Culture sequence of novels, not sure, haven't gotten a copy yet, want one!

Lengthier excerpt here:

Excerpt from Iain M. Banks, The Algebraist, also available on his web site

#220 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 12:20 AM:

Jonathan: with the number of duplicate stories they post, even Slashdot can scoop Slashdot.

#221 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 12:53 AM:

Larry, my primary doc doesn't have vaccines in her office, but in the same center, I've gotten tetanus, pneumovax, and hepatitus B vaccines without any advance notice. (One more hep B shot to go, and I'm done.) Kaiser just hadn't distributed the flu vaccine they had when the shortage showed up, so the clinics didn't have any yet.

#222 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 01:49 AM:

My test for how completely deteriorated someone's once advanced math skills can be, is to either ask the person what's the first derivative of e**x, or the integral of it.

If they can't do that anymore, their math skills have really gotten flushed completely down the sewer!

#223 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 01:51 AM:

Paula, how do you grade them if they forget about the constant of integration?

#224 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 01:57 AM:

Paula - That shows a complete bias towards computational math rather than discrete math. I'm more likely to ask someone about P=NP.

And in the real world (yeah, as a business pod) I've never had to do anything more complex than a first derivative - and that usually wows the crowd.

#225 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 02:09 AM:

Carefully avoiding replying to the math trolling, let me respond to the earlier thread with:

"Historically, flu epidemics have a coincidental tendency to start during periods of massive solar activity."
[All material on this site is copyright 1998-2003 by Ed Pegg Jr., who is a very cool guy with whom I sometimes exchange mathematical emails]

Links to:

Le superflu, chose tres necessaire -- Voltaire

"Although the history of flu epidemics is non-mathematical, in this case, as Voltaire might say, the superfluous is very necessary. In 1918, when the world population was 1.8 billion, an influenza epidemic incapacitated 1 billion and killed 20 million, all within the space of 8 weeks. Most of the people who died were in their thirties. For comparison, 8.5 million people died in World War I (Jun 1914 - Nov 1918), and 55 million died in World War II (Sep 1939 - Sep 1945). In fact, the turning point of WWI happened while the German Chancellor was bedridden with influenza. Desiring to wake up fresh, he accidentally overdosed on a sleeping tonic. During his subsequent coma, the German defenses collapsed." [Encyclopedia Britannica, 1949]

"Can it happen again? In April 1983, a variety of the influenza virus killed 20 million chickens in Pennsylvania. The virus proved lethal because of a change in one animo acid. [The Transmission of Epidemic Influenza, Hope-Simpson 1992] Mild flu epidemics happen every year. Whenever a large population of non-immunes exists, epidemics can happen. In 1875, The King of the Fiji Islands returned from a diplomatic trip, infected with measles. Out of a population of 150 thousand, 40 thousand died of measles." [Influenza, An Epidemilogic Study, Vaughn 1921]

The spread of flu has a strong mathematical basis. [stuff omitted]

"Worldwide influenza epidemics have occurred in the following years: 1732, 1781, 1802, 1830, 1847, 1857, 1918, 1957, and 1968. [Influenza, The Last Great Plague, Beveridge 1977]. Coincidentally, both the 1957 'Asian' flu and the 1968 'Hong Kong' flu both started during a month of record breaking sunspot activity. [The Diffusion of Influenza, Pyle 1986]. Here are a few words on the 1918 flu"

"'The total mortality of the 1918 epidemic was 0.5 percent of the population. In a few places the mortality was much higher. In Samoa 25 percent of the people died. The Eskimoes in Alaska suffered terribly; some villages were wiped out and others lost their entire adult population. In Nome, 176 out of 300 Eskimoes died. The disease caused havoc in India where and estimated five million people died.'" [Beveridge]

"When a population is suddenly stricken, uninfected people must work much harder to maintain the normal quality of available services. In particular, medical services can be overwhelmed, prompting an increase in the mortality rate. Remember, when half the population is sick, that means half the hospital staff is sick. Out of all the major United States cities, only Boston adequately confronted the 1918 flu. With a few days notice, the hospitals of Boston worked with city residents to form an enormous volunteer force. It worked -- the mortality rate in Boston was much lower than in other cities. [Vaughn, 1921] I wonder if today's hospitals know this?"

"One unique feature of the 1918 'Spanish' flu was that it traveled in waves. Here's what ABC News said about it. The first and last waves were more or less normal epidemics. It was the second wave, likely a mutation of the first, that offered a significant mortality figure. World War I intensified these waves. Massive troop movements, the development of fronts, and so on -- these factors led to a homogenous mixing of the human population unlike anything seen previously. In the present day, this sort of mixing happens routinely and constantly."

"Does influenza threaten the existence of mankind? Probably not. Mutations of the flu virus sometimes have high mortality rates among avian species, but the 1918 flu is the worst that mankind has had to face. However, influenza will definitely annoy mankind. (It wiped me out this weekend.) Mathematical modeling can be used to find ways to lessen this impact...."

#226 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 09:09 AM:

The first derivative of e^x is e^x. The integral of e^x is the function of u^n.

#227 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 10:03 AM:

The integral of e^x is the function of u^n.


#228 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 10:20 AM:

Change of subject: I've been getting spam that appears to be related to this website. It is fake "Message undeliverable" messages, that claim I've been trying to send mail to TNH's addresses, which I have not (honest : ) It has a mystery attachment too.

Has this happened to anybody else?

This is the text of the email:

Date:	Mon, 25 Oct 2004 12:10:24 -0400 (EDT)
From:	"Mail Delivery System" 
Subject:	Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender

This is the Postfix program at host

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be
be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

For further assistance, please send mail to

If you do so, please include this problem report. You can
delete your own text from the attached returned message.

The Postfix program

: host[] said: 552
Illegal Attachment (in reply to end of DATA command)


Reporting-MTA: dns;
X-Postfix-Queue-ID: 8CD2D982AB
X-Postfix-Sender: rfc822;
Arrival-Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 12:10:21 -0400 (EDT)

Final-Recipient: rfc822;
Action: failed
Status: 5.0.0
Diagnostic-Code: X-Postfix; host[]
said: 552
5.7.0 Illegal Attachment (in reply to end of DATA command)

Forwarded Message
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 18:09:12 +0100
To: "Tnh"
From: "Geburah"
Subject: Re:

HTML Attachment
>Screen and Music

Scan Dog.cpl for Viruses
.cpl file

#229 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 11:05 AM:

[response to Australian query
Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 11:04 AM]:

Dear Doug Lodato,

If your investors examine the list of top 100 box
office American films at

They will see these Science Fiction/Fantasy films

1. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
3. Shrek 2 (2004)
4. E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
5. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
6. Spider-Man (2002)
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
8. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
10. Jurassic Park (1993)
11. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
15. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
16. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
17. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
18. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
19. Independence Day (1996)
20. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black
Pearl (2003)
21. The Sixth Sense (1999)
22. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
24. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
25. Shrek (2001)
26. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
27. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
29. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
30. Batman (1989)
31. Men in Black (1997)
32. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
34. Bruce Almighty (2003)
35. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
36. Twister (1996)
38. Ghostbusters (1984)
41. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
42. Signs (2002)
45. Ghost (1990)
46. Aladdin (1992)
48. Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
49. X2: X-Men United (2003)
50. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
51. Back to the Future (1985)
52. Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
53. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
54. The Exorcist (1973)
55. The Mummy Returns (2001)
56. Armageddon (1998)
59. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
61. Men in Black II (2002)
63. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
64. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
66. Batman Forever (1995)
71. Liar Liar (1997)
73. Jurassic Park III (2001)
74. Mission: Impossible (1996)
75. Planet of the Apes (2001)
76. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
81. Ice Age (2002)
85. Elf (2003)
88. Apollo 13 (1995)
89. The Matrix (1999)
90. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
91. Tarzan (1999)
92. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

One might quibble about the boundary between Science
Fiction and Fantasy, or that some of these films are
more realistic than fictional (Apollo 13; A Beautiful
Mind; Twister), or that some are mostly comedy, or
action/adventure, yet there are others that could be
added. It is impossisble to miss the fact that Science
Fiction and Fantasy absolutely dominate the American
movie box office.

Of course I have magazine and book references to back
this up. How sophisticated are your investors?

#230 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 11:27 AM:

Laura: yup, except that my mail server just dumps messages with executable attachments. Heh.

It's even more obvious, though, when the address in question is one I only use for posts here.

#231 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 12:05 PM:

JVS, that bit about the sunspots is intriquing. I belive there was a NASA mailing a week or so ago showing remarkably low sunspot activity. So maybe it won't be too bad this year? All the same, I've invested in the large economy size antibacterial rub for my desk...

#232 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 01:14 PM:

I was just musing about the coincidence of a major flu being in 1918 (the last time the Sox won the World Series), when that bit about how well Boston hospitals handled it came up. I almost jumped out of my seat.

Not that I suspect a predictive factor. Just an odd coincidence.

#233 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Laura, Christopher -- probably those are viruses disguised to look like undeliverable mail messages. Either someone who has both your address and TNH's in their mailbox is infected, or someone's scraping blog comments looking for email addresses to send viruses to, or both. I get a lot of these, too.

#234 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 04:33 PM:

David: yes, those are pretty clearly virus payloads; why do you think I dump executable types?

It's also very clearly getting them from the blog posts--as I noted, I use a distinct, separate, address just for posting here. I think the virus is scraping cached HTML files on infected Windows boxes.

#235 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 06:17 PM:

If you follow the Dean link (in Particles) to its message board, you find there, among the other thoughtful gems, a discussion of whether or not a babysitter can claim a child after six months the same way one can claim abandoned property in a storage facility.

I really hope this was a hypothetical question.

#236 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 06:46 PM:

Larry: Paula is biased not just towards computational math but towards calculus (which I studied mostly on my own rather than put up with an obnoxious teacher, and didn't get as far in as would have been useful). I can still get around in algebra; I studied discrete math a lot more recently, but minimum-spanning-tree algorithms just don't seem to impress many people. . . .

#237 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 07:34 PM:

Tracina: Ah. Victoria Station (Brighton Line) v Capacious Handbag. One of the finer moments in English jurisprudence. If "prudence" is indeed the word I have in mind.

Do kindly understand, I do not propose that the merry lot of us all Bunbury simultaneously. We should grievously crowd pleasant environs, and keeping all the stories from collision would strain the capacities of Mr Babbage's elegant device and Lady Ada's rigorous poetry in concert.

#238 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 09:10 PM:

John M. Ford: Earnestly Byronic!

#239 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 10:55 PM:

e**x is easy to type and display in on-line forums. Even if I rememembered much about e.g. the error function and stuff with Gamma and and Hankel functions and such, the notation is something that trying to do in this sort of forum is ugly.

and y[m] = [sigma] [n = something to something] x [sub i, j] etc. is ALSO messy.... I haven't touched that sort of stuff in quite a while, either....

Also, as Yog pointed out, differentiate e to the x and you get e to the x. Most people I think tend to study calculus before studying discrete math, or at least, discrete math wher calculus gets involved.

How anyone does e.g. convolution without calculus, I wonder about... Convolution is ugly even -with- calculus.

#240 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 12:29 AM:

My Own Private Library

An assistant professor suspects that he is a scholar because he is a bibliophile rather than the other way around


"I wonder whether I am afflicted with something more than a 'gentle madness,' as Nicholas A. Basbanes described it in his 1999 book on the history of book collecting. You see, I spend more on books than I do on food.

There are at least 700 books in my English department office. There are another 200 stashed in filing cabinets in the hallway. In my home office I estimate there are more than 2,000 on the shelves and another 300 in a pile on the floor. There are about 400 books on cooking and gardening in the kitchen. And, finally, there are about 50 books on a shelf next to my bed. Those are the ones I intend to read soon. That shelf tends to fill up during the academic year and empty out during the summer...."
Section: Chronicle Careers
Volume 51, Issue 10, Page C1

Copyright © 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


Paula Lieberman and CHip et al.:

In the long run, it doesn't matter if you first go deeply into discrete math, and then calculus, or vice versa. It is better to have both, for the binocular vision. Then some mathematical logic is good. And more stuff...

I feel the same way about programming languages, after mastering at least 35 of them, and teaching 12 in Graduate School. It doesn't matter what language you learn forst. Then you learn a second, and begin to realize what is a mere quirk of one, versus what is the case in two. Then a third is good, and eventually you can see the cyberspacetime clearly, instead of through several different glasses with several different flavors of darkness.

Hence I avoid those theomathematical disputes -- including which is the best equation -- and the theocybernetic flame wars over which language is the alleged universal panacea.

For any given problem, there is often one mathematical regime that cracks it effortlessly, and others where it is hard, and a few that are absurd. For any application, there may be an ideal language, and a few not so bad, and the other require ridiculous effort.

A true hacker, or a gifted mathematcian can do with a language or a branch of mathematics that which seems outright impossible, and stretches our minds forever.

The rest of us follow the trails they blaze through the dark woods.

#241 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 01:39 AM:

when in doubt, do a variable change....

I took a class in nonlinear methods. The professor said about one particular equation, "this equation, unlike the other equations in this class, has an exact solution." He further said that the exact solution was something that was not reasonable to work with. And after going through nonlinear methods to deal with getting behavior in different regions (different models for different regions of behavior), he dug out the exact solution. Oh wow was it ever an ugly and intractable thing!

Logic. I took a class in hyperreal calculus- analysis-logic freshman year, involving infinitesmals and infinite integers, was it Oliver Heaviside who did some of the original work in that? [stuff that one doesn't use much, after a while gets forgotten...] Or am I confusing that with other stuff that involved e.g. Heaviside Operational Calculus?

Heaviside's work got built on to deal with a lot of techniques and methods used in e.g. electrical engineering in Fourier and Laplace transforms, where there are "transform pairs" and where (sin x)/x transforms to what it is, a step function? [long time since I've dealt with that stuff]... that is, there is the "time domain" and there is the "frequency domain"

Discrete math in one, is continuous in the other, and vice versa. And things blow up at the "poles" in which, which are the zeros in the the other --which is where all the jokes about "no poles in the left half plane" originate with.

Getting back to Infinite Integers, electrical engineering uses them, for when values go to infinity, and that I think ties back to Heaviside Operation Calculus. Yes, not all infinities are equal....

Computers like discrete math, binary logic tables, AND gates, OR gates, not-AND gates, etc., two's complement arithmetic, crunch, crunch, crunch.

Once upon a time then-NBS had an analog computers, it used water, I think, to generate wave tables for tide predicitons and such, It was retired after many many many years of service, replaced by a digital computer. But the analog computer was still fully functional at the time.

And the dirty literally secret about digital computers, is that the electronics that are "digital" are in various ways actually analog if one digs deeply enough down into the guts. And then there's PRML on hard drives, where the drives go so fast that the drive electronics are predicting what the values of ones and zeroes are going to be before thy're actually read, and.... its' advanced probability and statistics stuff and someone who doesn't have the advanced math the explanations probably are indistinguishable from magic.

#242 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 07:07 AM:

I noted that the New York Subway System (whatever its official name is) will be celebrating 100 years of service right about now -- see article "A Day in the Subway, as It Rolls Up a Century" ( ) by Randy Kennedy [... must not ... make joke!].

This reminded me of that marvellous thread, unwinding from Our Hostess' post, The Fabric of the City (Posted in Making Light on September 7, 2003 10:15 PM).
Perhaps we can all go back and admire it. Or it might be more positive to start something new.

Congratulations in any case.

#243 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 09:42 AM:

Uniting sports superstition and politics:

Since 1936, if the Redskins win their last home game before the Presidential election, the incumbent has won. If they lose their last home game before the election, the challenger wins.

The Packers are playing at Washington on Halloween.

Go Pack!

#244 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 09:44 AM:

It reminds me of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

#245 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 12:02 PM:

What does? All this math talk?

#246 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Xopher: What does? All this math talk?

Now, now, it's really not that bad. Yog's post wasn't about math at all.

#247 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 02:14 PM:

Florida Voting Machines

Not work safe. Language.

#248 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 02:55 PM:

Here's an amusing happenstance: FCC Chair Michael Powell was on a San Francisco radio station this morning, and Howard Stern called in to express some opinions.

Transcript here:

Stream here:

...and probably a bunch of other places by now.

#249 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 04:10 PM:

An entirely new, dwarfish species of genus _Homo_ has been discovered in Indonesia:

Seven skeletons were found, with the adults about three feet tall. They're calling it "the Hobbit." Argh. But anthropologists are saying it's the biggest news in half a century.

#250 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 04:58 PM:

"biggest news in half a century"

Well, until they find the remains one of these "hobbits" buried with the bones of his favorite warg.

#251 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 04:59 PM:

Zowie, Steve! I nominate that for particlehood. There was an ML post ages ago about pygmy mammoths:

There is that old theory about the little Bronze-age people being driven into the moors by the iron weapons of the invaders. No relation, I'm sure.

#252 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 07:09 PM:

Stefan, is a warg anything like a pygmy elephant? 'Cause if it is, the answer is "yes."

#253 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 07:46 PM:

Just how big is a pygmy elephant, anyway? Is that anything like a jumbo shrimp?

#254 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 10:24 PM:

I always had visions of wargs being horse-sized wolves from Hell.

#255 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 11:42 PM:


Wow, never thought I'd get to say that, outside of Science Fiction...

#256 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 11:52 PM:

"outside of Science Fiction..."

He says, on a day when we're absorbing news about the discovery of a lost race of wee folk.

#257 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 12:04 AM:

Stefan Jones:

It is the story of the year, I agree, this newly discovered species of homo.

I've always suspected that the folktales in so many partys of the world of thing similar to humans, but not humans, might be based on oral transmission of when we did coexist with other hominids. Neanderthals AND homo erectus AND home sapiens were all on Earth at the same time, though the 3 almost surely never met in one place at one time. And now a 4th species.

The book most relevant, in our genre: MANIFOLD: ORIGINS by Stephen Baxter, with cosmological alternate history, where many alternate homo species meet, as engineered by remnote descendants near the end of time. Gives a new solution to Fermi's paradox "Where are they?" We are in a cosmos where we are alone. If one played with Time, to make us less alone...

And now we find that we may have been less alone, after all. Amazing! Wonderful!

And some of these "hobbits" might still be alive, deep in the jungle on some isolated Indonesian island.

Start your word processors, writers!

#258 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 08:50 AM:

Of course, after I post that URL, I glance at the web polls and become convinced it's a joke site.

#259 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 10:51 AM:

We're taking the day off to celebrate the Sox victory. John was just entering some receipts into Quicken, when I heard, "What the hell is this?"

He showed me a Home Depot receipt which reads:


I am in awe.

#260 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Jill Smith:
He showed me a Home Depot receipt which reads:

Neat! OTOH, it sounds like they have an employee who's way too cool to be working at Home Depot.

I suspect the error will be rectified shortly.

#261 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 02:27 PM:

HP: my stars. that's perfect.

i don't think i can get a hold of that by this weekend, but i'll add it to the list anyway. the chain video rental near my house has a terrible selection. they didn't even have wait until dark, which i think is a travesty. so i think that the dead people will have to wait.

andy: as lovely as the pygmy mammoths were, i'm still holding out for my very own house hippo.

to all and everybody: have you seen this yet?
national geographic has my heart.

#262 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 02:42 PM:

And have y'all taken a gander at this neato site?
I am just getting more and more cheerful as we approach next Tuesday.

#263 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 04:05 PM:

andy: as lovely as the pygmy mammoths were, i'm still holding out for my very own house hippo.

House hippos: The new pot-bellied pig.

#264 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 04:19 PM:

Poetry has often been considered an irrational genre

I'd prefer to call it an emotive genre:

#265 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 05:14 PM:

Alice, my thoughts exactly. "My name is John Kerry, and I approve this message."

#266 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 07:52 PM:

Better than that, when a presidential candidate shares a home state with a World Series contender, the fate of the baseball team is very strongly correlated with the fate of the candidate:

#267 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 09:25 PM:

Sundre, re: The House Hippo - You and me both.

#268 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 09:33 PM:

Alice: Where'd you read that quote of Bush's? I went zipping through the particles but didn't find it.

#269 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 09:35 PM:

Bush an unregenerate hypcrite? Since when is that news, he's the fellow who abused alcohol and reputedly other drugs long past undergraduate collegiate age, got at least one DUI, but wants -other- people who did what he did locked up and the key thrown away for what he dismissed airily as "youthful" transgressions to be disposed of as considerations.... There are allegations that he got someone an abortion whom he impregnated. Etc.

#270 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 09:45 PM:

Sorry, Piscus. It's here: about halfway down the article.

I was also contemplating posting about the missing absentee ballots, but it looks like that's made the news stateside.


#271 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 10:08 PM:


(Not only for the article link but for fulfilling a nostalgia I didn't know I had about conversations via bulletin board. *grin*)

#272 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2004, 09:10 AM:

. . .

You're welcome?

I guess I haven't been on discussion boards long enough to feel nostalgia about them. What'd I do?

#273 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2004, 04:10 PM:

Here's something I hadn't heard about. Over at MSNBC they're holding a political SF short story contest. The titles sound intriguing:

Entry 1 (Redtopia): "The Keys to Success," by Robert Cornell, looks back at the early 21st century from history class in 2042.

Entry 2 (Redtopia): "The View From the Top," by Tom Hill, looks down on Earth from a Constellation-class starship 2.9 million kilometers away.

Entry 3 (Bluetopia): "Giving Away the World's Most Valuable Technology," by Stephen Kraus, looks ahead to the AE Prize and the fuel-cell era.

Entry 4 (Bluetopia): "Business Triumphant," by Rob Preece, looks provocatively at the economic power that could be unleashed by a "right-D" state of mind.

Entry 5 (Whitetopia):"Rainbow-topia," by Ross Mulker, looks at the State of the Union during a time when elections have been replaced by a lottery.

Entry 6 (Whitetopia): "First Marshall Package Arrives on Earth," by Michael Huang, looks at a time when we just might need some Red Planet relief.

Voting closes at noon ET on November 1st.

#274 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2004, 07:12 PM:

The titles sound intriguing:

Not to anybody who's ever read slush. Been there, done that, stuffed it back into the envelope, made another cup of coffee

But did you spill any of the previous cup f coffee on the schlocky slush?

#275 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2004, 12:50 PM:

Digging deep into Nature's web site, I found this:

Homo Family Tree

This nicely shows where Homo floresiensis fits in our family tree, with the caption: "H. floresiensis was part of the Asian dispersals of the descendants of H. ergaster and H. erectus."

Needs to be added to the appendices of forthcoming editions of Lord of the Rings?

#276 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2004, 02:41 PM:

Well, at least CNN had enough sense not to get none of them wimmin feminista writers. Everyone knows that Nancy Kress and Kate Wilhelm would just write about stay-at-home-of-the-future-moms or sumpin'.

#277 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2004, 12:36 PM:

Regarding the picture of the giant cucumber --

Yes, they knew what they were doing when they posed that way. In particular, I would note the Mona Lisa smile . . .

#278 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2004, 03:07 PM:

The comment deletions have made the last bit of this thread almost incomprehensible.

#279 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2004, 05:55 PM:

And I would note, (for those of us who do not have the NYTimes as a local paper) that Susanna Clarke of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. has Antickes and Frets: A Work of Halloween Fiction up on the Times web site (registration required) today. I love it.

#280 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2004, 08:03 PM:

And another batch of Beading For a Cure auctions this week -- after taking out eBay & Paypal fees, all money goes to the National Colorectal Cancer Research Association -- five nice jewelry sets:

(I had no idea Beki was going to string these out -- I think there can only be two more weeks of it.)

#281 ::: Larry Brennan asks about a meetup ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 04:25 AM:

Say, is anybody interested in doing an SF Bay Area Meetup?

#282 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 12:25 PM:

I took a look at the blogging heirarchy link in the sidebar.

I am scum. (But my cats really are photogenic...!)

#283 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 10:08 PM:

Well, I got an email from Paul Krugman today, and I thought, that's nice, I wonder if he requires my services as an obscure fantasist or as an undegreed systems analyst? Like you do.

This, however, was from (I can hear you saying now, oh, that Paul Krugman) and it is a letter from one "Jaroslaw Suplacz" concerning an arms-selling scandal in Poland, that will reach, quote, to the high Bush administration, like that's a surprise or something.

After the journalist's investigation regards Ostrowski Arms the public tender in Iraq was cancel. What the tender was it? The firm without license on a trade of weapons is the one of winners. The firm with a few people staff, not famous in branch... However, good famous for Aleksander Kwasniewski.

What the tender was it? Yeah, that's what I said, too. But here's the smoking strzelba:

The owner and the chief of the firm was Andrzej Ostrowski - a good acquaintance of President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Mr. Ostrowski had issued a book about the calendar of the choice of F-16 to Polish army. It was only one book wroted by him ...and President Kwasniewski wrote an introduction to this book.

At this point it all became clear: I am to inform the Klingon Imperial Weapons Acquisition And Mercenary Operations Legion (WAcAMOLe) that A. Kwazniewski has in fact narked to the Ferengi about the book introduction, and everybody is up to their mode-two internal relief tubes in tribbles.

Well, okay. S'what I get paid for. That and the cool uniform.

JMF, Secretary-With-No-Particular-Portfolio, Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne

#284 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 10:45 PM:

Sec'y-w/-0-p'r-P'io Ford,

That wouldn't, perchance, be the famous

Google Cache of CV of Jaroslaw Suplacz, Physicist Gone Over to the Econ Side?

who writes "I prepared prognoses about PLN/USD that foresaw big slumps of PLN. However, the treassury [sic]..."

If so, your covert slushpile training leaves you little choice...

#285 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 10:45 PM:

Well, I got an email from Paul Krugman today, and I thought, that's nice, I wonder if he requires my services as an obscure fantasist...

Does that mean you prefer obsure flavors of Fanta?

#286 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 10:49 PM:

I meant obscure flavors of Fanta.

Clearly the Big Azz Med4Mex frozen strawberry margarita is doing its duty.

#287 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2004, 11:27 PM:

O! B SURE before you post...

#288 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:49 PM:

I like those submission guidelines, too. Yum!


#289 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:56 PM:

I dunno - I just saw those kitten burgers. Yum! is the last thing that came to my mind.

#290 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:16 PM:

While the last spamoclastic flow (if you missed it, you didn't) was as despicable as all of them, and may creatively unpleasant things happen to the senders, there were a couple of moments of absurdist found poetry in the list:

paris hilton naked on pickled dragon
. . . sounds like an unfortunate new fantasy series, or its unfortunate cover art, or both

britney spears on typography: when it changed
. . . true, if you spell your name "Britney," these things matter

christina aguilera naked on further excruciating embarrassment
. . . defies comment

britney spears wedding picture on bah
. . . well, yeah.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.