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November 5, 2004

Open thread 31
Posted by Teresa at 07:25 PM *

Gunpowder, treason, and plot …

Comments on Open thread 31:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:37 PM:

I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Ever should be forgot.

=====

Okay, we all know it was the fifth of November.

What year?

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:38 PM:

Until the Iranian hostage crisis, that's how I told people to remember my birthday; the day before Guy Fawkes.

#3 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:46 PM:

That would be 1605.

#5 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:17 PM:

There is always one moment in a programmers life when the door opens and lets the stupid in.

#6 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:35 PM:

Remember, remember

#7 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:39 PM:

only one? can I count on that?

#8 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:55 PM:

When Mathematics is criminalized, only criminals will use Mathematics. Please skip the following if you don't like Math or self-parody.

Translation of the Guy Fawkes story for the Math-obsessed:

November is the 11th month of the year. 11 is a repunit prime, consisting of copies of the digit 1 concatenated.

"In 1605, Guy Fawkes (also known as Guido - yes, really) and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament."

Of course, 1605 = 3 x 5 x 107, which prime factorization uses the odd number 1, 3, 5, and 7. Note that 1605 backwards is 5061 = 3 x 7 x 241.

"After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had had a rough time under her reign had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. Alas, he was not, and this angered a number of young men who decided that violent action was the answer."

1603 = 7 x 229, making it a semiprime. Note that this year backwards, 3061, is prime. James I of England = James VI of Scotland, by the way. 1603 is also the number of digits in the smallest titanic Woodall prime.

"One young man in particular, Robert Catesby suggested to some close friends that the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists. To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords."

36 = 6^2 = 2^2 x 3^2. Backwards, that's
63 = 3^2 x 7. The exact number of ways to partition the integer 36 is prime. And, as Trotter has pointed out, 36 is the smallest square that is the sum of a Twin prime pair
{17, 19}.

"But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that some innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. Was the letter real?"

Of course it was Real. Imaginary numbers were not well known at the time.

November 5th can be written as either 10/5 or 5/10. The first suggests 105 = 3 x 5 x 7, which is the first number to be the product of 3 odd primes. Backwards, that's the semiprime
501 = 3 x 167.

On the other hand 5/10 becomes 510 = 2 x 3 x 5 x 17, which is the product of the first 3 primes with 17, or of double the product of the first 3 Fermat primes.

5/10/1605 becomes 5101605 = 3^2 x 5 x 73 x 1553, which makes us examine the year 1553 [omitted here for length]. 10/5/1605 becomes
1051605 = 3 ^ 2 x 5 x 23369.

Remember, remember, the primes of November. Class dismissed!

#9 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:00 PM:

pericat wrote:
only one? can I count on that?


Not really.

#10 ::: Mara ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:06 PM:

Since it's an open thread, maybe someone can help me identify a story fragment that's been bugging me lately.

I read an sf book (or short story in an anthology) years ago, lent to me by a friend of my father's--I'm thinking it might have been a Harlan Ellison story, definitely someone well-known and probably written in the 60's or 70's.

In the bit of the story I remember, cars had become so computerized that people no longer had to take an active role in driving, you just sat back and let the computer & the GPS-equivalent system take care of it. The roads were monitored to prevent pedestrian crashes. But in the story, someone managed to successfully commit suicide by climbing a tree and jumping down to the road without setting off any sensors. The car that plows into him has two passengers, a straight couple who are fooling around in the back seat. And I think the scene ends with the woman getting hysterical, and the man telling the car to make its windows opaque.

Ring any bells for anyone? (And, hello all, I'm a lurker drawn from the links at neilgaiman.com)

#11 ::: Nicholas Rogers ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:22 PM:

Mara:

I have read that same story in the last year or so. I thought it was in an Asimov collection (Robot Dreams jumps to mind), BUT I have so many anthologies it could have been anybody.

So I guess that counts as a completely unhelpful attempt at helpfulness.

Sorry.

#12 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:25 PM:

It's a Zelazny story. "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", and it appears in, at least, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth.

#13 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:28 PM:

I don't have anything intelligent to add (big surprise) so I will contribute something I think is pretty funny:

Twenty Reasons Not to Post Your Picture on the Internet.

#14 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:33 PM:

Harry - that was most excellent.

#15 ::: biff3000 ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:33 PM:

pericat: I think "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" is the one where the arrogant yet brilliant poet goes mano a mano with destiny among the dying Martian race....

#16 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:40 PM:

No, that's the first story in Four For Tomorrow. "Rose" is the third or fourth. I checked because the title of the first sure sounded like a match for the one Mara was asking about.

The guide dog ends up "piloting" one of those fancy cars. I don't know why I remember this stuff. But I've been doing cold meds since early morning.

#17 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:45 PM:

If you haven't clicked Harry's link, I implore you, do so posthaste. I haven't laughed that hard since Tuesday.

#18 ::: Liz Trumitch ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 10:56 PM:

The book with the car that drives itself:

It is Roger Zelazny, and I believe it may have started as the novella "He Who Shapes" and later morphed into something else. Not sure on that, but I remember those cars.

There is also a scene when they mention kids pulling (what we might now refer to as) the GPS chip out of the car and letting it run to random coordinates. Or maybe that's something the main character does at some point...

You should re-read it. Excellent stuff! Now have to go search out my escapism...

#19 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 11:32 PM:

Yes. "He Who Shapes," which was then expanded into "The Dream Master." My favorite character is the guide dog, although the Monster from the Kabbalah is also quite good.

But I think among early Zelazny "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" is not quite as good as "For a Breath I Tarry"...

#20 ::: pericat, the not terribly bright some days ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 11:33 PM:

I'm an idiot. I shall blame the cold meds, and trust that everyone else has had occasion to blame the cold meds, or the cat, or both, at one time or another.

My apologies to biff3000, who was right on the money with the correct plot of "Rose".

Liz is entirely correct in the title. "He Who Shapes", and it may have become more, but I have no knowledge of that. Currently can be re-read in The Last Defender of Camelot collection.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 12:06 AM:

"He Who Shapes" is entirely superior to its expansion, The Dream Master. Says the guy who republished "He Who Shapes" in the Tor Doubles. (Backed with Kate Wilhelm's "The Infinity Box." Credit to Deb Notkin for the pairing suggestion.)

#22 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 12:59 AM:

I've never read a Zelazny story that didn't kick my ass--and I still remember "He Who Shapes" from my teens ('the ides of Octember' indeed!). Yet I've never had the urge to seek him out and read him and don't own any of his books (except, oddly, The Dream Master--and it was a disappointment compared to my memories of the original).

I suspect that's because I don't want to get sucked into yet another incredibly long series (I don't really like 'em) and because the Amber books don't sound like my cuppa.

Any suggestions?

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 01:09 AM:

Nine Princes in Amber is, all by itself, just about utterly perfect. Some say you can add its direct sequel The Guns of Avalon to that list. I say okay, but stop there.

Then there's Lord of Light, about which I'm pretty much irrational, the way I am about Tolkien.

#24 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 01:33 AM:

Arundhati Roy's recent acceptance speech for the Sydney Peace Prize makes interesting reading. here's a sample that may offer a degree of very cold comfort in the present post-election gloom:

Visitors to Australia like myself, are expected to answer the following question when they fill in the visa form: Have you ever committed or been involved in the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity or human rights? Would George Bush and Tony Blair get visas to Australia? Under the tenets of International Law they must surely qualify as war criminals.


However, to imagine that the world would change if they were removed from office is naive. The tragedy is that their political rivals have no real dispute with their policies. The fire and brimstone of the US election campaign was about who would make a better 'Commander-in-Chief' and a more effective manager of the American Empire. Democracy no longer offers voters real choice. Only specious choice.

#25 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 02:04 AM:

Does it count as specious choice if they take similar positions because that's what most people believe in and support?

#26 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 02:18 AM:

The html in my last post didn't seem to work. the speech is at http://smh.com.au/articles/2004/11/04/1099362264349.html

#27 ::: Maureen Kincaid Speller ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 02:42 AM:

I discovered today, while Googling the story about how several of the conspirators were injured while trying to dry gunpowder in front of an open fire (I wish I were making this up, but I'm not, honest) that there is a Gunpowder Plot Society. Their website is full of useful information.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the internet?

#28 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 05:27 AM:

Lord of Light is like Viagra for whatever branch of the central nervous system is responsible for wild, uncontrollable glee.

#29 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 06:08 AM:

I'm not sure how to evaluate the Cautionary Tale in Particles since the original post has been removed. There really are certain things you just shouldn't say lest you summon the Secret Service to your doorstep. How close was the guy to those? I can't tell whether he's just getting the idea that LJ isn't his livingroom, or whether relatively innocous comments brought unwarrented attention.

I myself once reported a commenter on my blog to the FBI: someone with an IP address in Kuwait posting threats of revenge for a specific incident in Iraq. There are circumstances under which one does that.

Nonetheless, whether he was being an indiot or just exercising his first amendment rights, the Cautionary Tale should probably get wide circulation since emotions are running pretty high. It may save a few people a visit from the SS.

#30 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 06:10 AM:

I'm not sure how to evaluate the Cautionary Tale in Particles since the original post has been removed. There really are certain things you just shouldn't say lest you summon the Secret Service to your doorstep. How close was the guy to those? I can't tell whether he's just getting the idea that LJ isn't his livingroom, or whether relatively innocous comments brought unwarrented attention.

I myself once reported a commenter on my blog to the FBI: someone with an IP address in Kuwait posting threats of revenge for a specific incident in Iraq. There are circumstances under which one does that.

Nonetheless, whether he was being an indiot or just exercising his first amendment rights, the Cautionary Tale should probably get wide circulation since emotions are running pretty high. It may save a few people a visit from the SS.

#31 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 07:38 AM:

Oh, god.

Teresa, I know you featured a series of items on hoarding behavior a while back; I think this story is just about the most gruesome such incident I've ever heard of:

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/states/minnesota/counties/washington_county/10112659.htm

There should be a basic summary on twincities.com... 450 cats, hundreds of them feral and diseased, living in one house with three people. It's that part that gets me... one of the three is an 86-year-old retiree, the sort of individual that crops up again and again in these stories, but the couple living with her were middle-aged, 47 and early 50s, I believe. What was the delusion, the motivation, the reason, and how did it get a hold on all three of them?

According to the article, the house is likely to just be condemned and razed. All the cats have already been euthanized, by sundry and unorthodox means. Anyone thinking of looking further into the article might not want to do so while eating breakfast.

#32 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:11 AM:

Scott: Wow. That account is just astonishing. Consider, for example the passage Cats living on the main floor of the house on South River Street appeared to be more domesticated than the ones on the second floor. Many of the hundreds of cats were believed to be diseased.

#33 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:54 AM:

Kathryn,

I gather the original post involved doing what 'publican preachers do all the time--praying for the death of their enemies. There's brief commentary on it by someone I consider reliable here.

#34 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 11:32 AM:

Agreed on which Amber books to read, although I thought all of them had enough good things happening to keep me reading. Just as I'd start to lose interest there would be something delicious. But definitely read the first two. (And you can now get all 10 Amber novels in one great fat $16 book. It isn't complete -- there are about a half-dozen Amber short stories that aren't included -- but who could resist?)

By the way, the sixth Amber book, Trumps of Doom, has one of my all-time favourite opening paragraphs:

It is a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to try to kill you. But it was April 30, and of course it would happen as it always did. It had taken me a while to catch on, but now I at least knew when it was coming. In the past, I was too busy to do anything about it. But my job was finished now. I'd only stayed around for this. I felt that I really ought to clear the matter up before I departed.

I might want to tighten that up a touch, and I'd definitely make the first two sentences into a separate paragraph, but I think it is a very seductive way to open a book. (Unfortunately, he resolves the tension set up in that first paragraph far too quickly and the book rambles on with a complex, poorly thought out plot.)

I'm not as enthusiastic about Lord of Light as Patrick is, but it is definitely recommended reading.

The book that made me a Zelazny addict was the one he published immediately before Lord of Light -- This Immortal. Science fiction rather than fantasy, but Conrad, the main character, is wonderfully drawn. Too little science fiction of the mid-60s had any decent character development at all. I read it as a young teenager soon after it came out and was totally hooked -- it made me a complete Zelazny devotee for years to come.

He lost me, totally, with Eye of Cat in 1983. I had loved him for his clean, sleek writing. Occasionally he'd get a bit self-indulgent, but mostly kept it in check and just created wonderful characters and brilliant stories. Eye of Cat is completely over the top:

Birdnotes and predawn statis: he was cast up onto the shoals of sleep, into a world where time hung flexed at the edge of light. Frozen. His emerging awareness moved slowly over the preverbal landscapes of thought he had quitted long ago. Or was it yesterday?

Most of it is chunks of pretentious logorrhea like that mixed with truly embarrassingly purple descriptive passages and very pedestrian narrative pieces. Shudder! You can almost see him flipping through the cliches as he uses them. "Ok, I have to write about him waking from unconsciousness. Let's see. Birds? Check. Confused about time? Check. Not sure where he is? Check. Confusion about language? Check." (And throw in "shoals of sleep" for all of those readers who really get off on ugly cliches.)

It is lazy, lazy writing. Fifteen years earlier he would have played with those cliches, made world-weary fun of them. In Eye of Cat he takes all of the cliches seriously and wallows in them.

I think I actually read the whole wretched thing, but never again bought (or read) one of his books.

#35 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 03:12 PM:

With Zelazny, I'd say all the short stories, the first two Amber books exactly as Patrick says (though I have to say that the rush of pure joy I experienced on finding _The Sign of the Unicorn_ in Chapter and Verse in Cardiff in April 1980 was the closest I've ever been to Nirvana, and couldn't have been better if I'd been bodily assumed into the Bookstores of Heaven on the spot) _Isle of the Dead_, _This Immortal_, _Lord of Light_ and Walter Jon Williams's _Knight Moves_.

#36 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 03:43 PM:

What happened to Zelazny? There's a point in his career--soon after Lord of Light--when his books became more frequent, and often good, but no longer great.

Isle of the Dead is on one side of the line, Jack of Shadows and Today We Choose Faces are on the other.

I presume he took on too many contracts and somehow lowered his water table, so to speak.

(But, anomalously, Dooways in the Sand is also a great book.)

#37 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 04:01 PM:

Bill -- he retired from his government job and started writing full time right about then.

My personal favorite novel is _Isle of the Dead_, the best is probably indeed _Lord of Light_, and the first Amber book is one of only two books that I've sat down and re-read immediately after finishing because I just couldn't let go of it.

His short stories remained good long after his novels jumped the shark.

#38 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 04:53 PM:

_Creatures of Light and Darkness_ blew me away when I first read it. I was only 11, though, and I'm afraid to revisit it for fear of spoiling that happy memory.

#39 ::: David B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 06:21 PM:

It is a credit to the brilliance of _Lord of Light_ that I didn't immediately tear the book in half and never pick it up again after a certain abysmal, unnecessary, jarring, and thankfully brief interlude. I'm sure everyone who has read it knows what I'm talking about.

In any other book I would have given up on the spot.

#40 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 06:33 PM:

Greg Ioannou:

I asked Zelazny about such overdoses of style, after first praising the body of his work (Lord of Light being my favorite of his novels). This was also in the context of my cousin/coauthor Professor Philip Vos Fellman having permission to use certain characters and settings of Zelazny's in stories to be credited to both authors.

Zelazny told me that his original goal as a writer was to be known as a poet, and that, after writing several hundred poems and only getting a handfull published, he burned the lot of them in a fireplace. That turns out to be not entirely true, but it does give a personal reason for his sometimes having more poetry bottled up in him than non-purple prose can sustain.

Since the Election of 2004, can we expect much more Purple Prose in the USA?

#41 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Zelazny certainly seems to have something for everyone - although I still count 'Eye of Cat' among my enduring favourites (not for the writing style, but for the mood it evokes in me).

#42 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 07:35 PM:

Lord of Light is also my favorite, and one of the books I turn to when I want to reread an old friend. It's followed by Creatures of Light and Darkness, This Immortal ("Feathers or lead?") and one I was pleased Bill Higgins mentioned, Doorways in the Sand ("I am a recording" and one of my favorite coinages, stereoisobooze.) I was very fond of Nine Princes once, but between the sequels and the fundamental, um, perhaps the word is incoherence of the Amber/Shadow/Chaos universe I find it hard to read now.

#43 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:08 PM:

I'd like to introduce Blendie.

Blendie is an interactive, sensitive, intelligent, voice controlled blender with a mind of its own.

The movie is just a little disturbing.

#44 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:33 PM:

Those of you who -- perfectly understandably -- abandonded Zelazny's in his later work did miss out on A Night in the Lonesome October. It's lighter than most of his stuff, but charming.

#45 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 10:07 PM:

"Mince the onions, Blendie."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."
"Why's that, Blendie?"
"Sauce Mornay is too important to be endangered by human error."

#46 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 11:26 PM:

Larry, that's just...primal. Kelly can get a job at the Discovery Channel when she graduates.

#47 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:38 AM:

Kelly can get a job anywhere she wants. 'Primal'. That's a very good description. Thank you, Andy. It's helping to put that entire episode in some kind of verbal context.

Goodness. Whatever would one do in order to communicate with a toaster?

#48 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:48 AM:

Goodness. Whatever would one do in order to communicate with a toaster?

We all burned down the pumpkin loaf
It died with an awful sound
The sous-chef was runnin' to and fro
Pullin' crumbs outta the ground
Bride of Frankenstein's kitchen
Had the best bread around
Then some appliance with an AI
Burned the place to the ground
Smoke on the wheat bread
Fire in the pie

Is that what you had in mind?

#49 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 04:12 AM:

Aaaiiiieee!!! [quails]
Has anyone else tried the search function on Making Light recently? The result was not comforting to someone [quivers] feeling a bit fragile of late. At least, one using Mozilla 1.3.1 (yes, I should update). Probably a result of Recent Changes.

Was using search to find the last mention of "bonking", where it was in the context of Teresa's hurt head (hoping that's well), rather than the more East Atlantic connotation. The Sunday 7th November Non Sequitur uses "bonk" & "bonking" prominently. (Link expires in 2 weeks, you may have one in your own local comic source).

pericat: I believe problems of toaster-human communication were dealt with in several episodes of one of the series of Red Dwarf (if'n you can find it there).

#50 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:09 PM:

Is that what you had in mind?

It is now. Clearly toasters require pentagrams and invocations.

Epacris, did Red Dwarf ever touch on coffee makers? I have a sneaking suspicion only abject begging and pleading would result in coffee.

#51 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:39 PM:

I'll put in a plug for Tom Disch's "The Brave Little Toaster."

Web being web, this has spun off some cute things, such as:

Catullus: Tuffy the Tugboat meets the Brave Little Toaster

#52 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:46 PM:

An Ode to My Toaster

by Shonda Chrissonberry

I have a shiny toaster
He sits upon my shelf

Just waiting for his slice of life
But all I have to offer is myself

He takes me in one piece at a time
Radiating his warmth all around

Then he pops me out so quick it burns
Laughing at what he has found

But in my moments inside him
Surrounded by his glow

I finally felt what I knew to be true
His setting was never too low!

So I place my shiny toaster
Back upon the shelf

Taking him down ever so often
Keeping him all to myself

08/04/2004

Posted on 10/05/2004
Copyright 2004 Shonda Chrissonberry

#53 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:57 PM:

The search function seems to work, aside from the fact that the header comes up in 124-point type. I can understanding that being startling.

Movable Type's upgrade instructions included a warning that if you'd customized the search template, you should keep it and not overwrite it with the new version. We had, so I didn't. Obviously this has side-effects. We'll look into it.

#54 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:59 PM:

I need a background question answered for the SF episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Monsters are Due/On Maple Street." I recently went to a live presentation of the script with some friends, and the later discussion wandered over the obvious comparisons with the blacklisting in the entertainment industry, which Serling obviously knew of.

I repeated something I recalled (from an early Starlog article?) about Serling having also drawn upon what the Germans did to themselves twenty years before and found myself in one of those "And what is your authority for that statement?" conversations. I'm not that much of a Twilight Zone fan and my Starlog issues are either in storage or lost--does anyone know if Serling really said this, or do I need to go apologize?

#55 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II:

You refer to episode 22. The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (3/4/1960).

I can't find my book on Twilight Zone by Mark Scott Zicree. I think your story is plausible, given what I know of Serling, and my conversations with editors of the short-lived magazine of the same name, but you do need an expert...

References:

Twilight Zone Books:
The Twilight Zone Companion
The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories
Twilight Zone Scripts And Stories
Richard Matheson's The Twilight Zone Scripts
Journeys To The Twilight Zone
Return To The Twilight Zone
Adventures In The Twilight Zone
In the Zone: The Twilight World Of Rod Serling.

Online: look for the Rutgers' FTP Episode Guide

Excerpt from:
Jonathan Vos Post's Science Fiction TV pages

The Twilight Zone, CBS, 2 Oct 1959-31 July 1987

One of the greatest TV shows in history, due to the genius of Rod
Serling and the superb writing of genuine science fiction authors,
all backed by excellent casting of the varied teleplays. I've got
plenty to say about this show, but will defer for now to the listed
hotlinks and the excellent reference book "The Twilight Zone
Companion" by Mark Scott Zichree.
Host -- Rod Serling (1959-1965)
Narrator -- Charles Aidman (1985-1987)
"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.
It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity.
It is the middle ground between light and shadow,
between science and superstition, and it lies between
the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge.
This is the dimension of imagination.
It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone."

#56 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 04:19 PM:

JvP: You know editors of the Twilight Zone magazine? Wow, now I'm really impressed.

#57 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

Knowing and name dropping does not cut the mustard, as you've told me before. Fact is, I submitted and submitted and have nought but rejection letters, plus hearsay from the widow Serling that she liked my TZ poem but it was not right for her magazine. Similarly, although I knew essentially all the Omni editors, I only sold nonfiction (for good fees) but never once could sell fiction or poetry. I have great respect for the judgment of editors, even those who reject my work. I've been an editor, and can not imagine the agony of doing it full time. Honest!

#58 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Jonathan: thanks for the info. I took a look at your page--the link http://home.ptd.net/~jseward/ is dead, by the way--and was very impressed. Sadly I think I'm going to have to find something more detailed to cite at my friend besides what you think and I vaguely remember, so your reference list may be needed: she'd never heard about the Armenians, or Hitler's comments about them, and was a bit incredulous that there had been any pre-Holocaust Genocides in Europe in the 20th Century.

In the discussion after the play, she seemed to feel that American broadcast TV in 1960 was too far away in time and space for what the Germans had done to be a factor...it's actually a year or two shorter interval than the one between the Armenian massacres and Hitler's line about "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Once again, I exhibit the curse of the History/English Double Degree. Clearly, I need Mental Floss.

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 07:25 PM:

Gee Cripes . . .

Prominent Saudi religious scholars urge the people of Iraq to unite against the American invaders:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6424031/

I know, let's all stop buying their oil until they behave! That'll teach them!

#60 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 07:43 PM:

Larry, that blender movie was priceless....

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 07:53 PM:

Now, mind you, I am a trained scientist, and therefore very sceptical about the faith-based stuff encouraged by the Theocratic Emperor Bush II, such as the utterly faulty Randolph Byrd Study on the purported efficacy of prayer on patients in Intensive Care. Yet, by the same token, I am sceptical of scepticism.

I was intrigued a few minutes ago by a broadcast on NPR's "Speaking of Faith," in particular, the part of the show:

The Integrative Medicine of Mehmet Oz [vice chair of surgery and professor of cardiac surgery at Columbia University]

The MANTRA Trial:

Mitchell Krucoff, director of interventional clinical trials at Duke Clinical Research Institute, conducted the second phase of the MANTRA (Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Trainings) Study (read "Can Prayer Heal?" in Hippocrates), which ended in late 2003. The study enrolled 1,500 patients in myriad regions of the United States, including California and Washington, DC. Study patients are assigned to a control group; to a group receiving prayer only; to a group receiving a combination of music, imagery, and touch; or to a group receiving prayer plus music, imagery, and touch.

The part that fascinated me about this thread of the story was a cited Korean Christian study of 2-stage prayer, where people in Korea prayed for patients' health, and people in the US prayed for the people in Korea who prayed for patients' health. They claimed measured benefits. Mehmet Oz was very dubious, but observed that a replicated study elsewhere showed the ame thing.

If I was writing this as a story, I would have a 3-stage prayer system show even better results, and a 4-stage or 5-stage prayer battery works a complete miracle.

Then Bush cites this, money is thrown at it, and a 6-stage or 7-stage prayer battery saved thousands of AIDS patients in Africa.

By the end of the story, millions of malnourished babies are saved, and Mehmet Oz and Mitchell Krucoff split a Nobel prize in Medicine.

Naahhhhh. Just can't yet get my mind around the hypothesis that the Bush re-election can be good for the world.

#62 ::: Yaka St.Aise ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 08:07 PM:

For what it's worth, this year's Reporters Without Borders worldwide index of press freedom is out since Nov 26.

The numbers are striking (US ranking lower than france, in turn lower than... Estonia), but more interesting are the detailled reports, available from the same page (PDF).

#63 ::: books and libretti ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 08:08 PM:

I'm a long-time reader, first-time caller, or whatever the local variant is. I'm an English major at NYU, and I'm very interested in publishing or copyediting (or both) as a career. Unfortunately, this comment has no relevance to any of those topics. Sorry.

This comment also has no relevance to the fifth of November. Sorry 'bout that, too.

I've been waiting awhile for a open thread, though, and can't bear to wait any longer -- my question is extremely pressing. So here goes: Where do you get your yarn?

I've tried a lot of Manhattan yarn shops, and they all seem to be ridiculously overpriced, or unbearably condescending, or not interested in stocking anything I'd like. I know you're crazy about knitting, so I presume you must have some way of getting your yarn. Are there any Manhattan shops you can recommend?

#64 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Hmm, Fallujah...Dresden...

I smell parallels here.

And when the fatwa is "Bush lied, so fight back"?

Especially when from what I've heard on CNN every male 14-45 who tries to leave Fallujah before the bombing will be arrested, and there's still an estimated 50,000 civilians left in the city?

Forget Dresden. I see even stronger parallels to Atlanta.

#65 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 08:52 PM:

Books and libretti: Oh, lord. No. I'm sorry, but there really aren't any I can wholeheartedly recommend. Manhattan is dreadful for yarn. It used to be better -- I was especially fond of a shop up on Broadway near the 86th St. subway shop -- but the swift rise in real estate prices in the later 80s killed off all the practical, reasonable yarn shops.

As you'll doubtless have noticed, most of the survivors, what few there are, tend to be in wealthier neighborhoods, and cater to well-heeled matrons who want sumptuous yarns for simple projects that knit up in a jiffy. Have you been to the one up by Zabar's? Their stock starts at ten dollars the skein and four and a half stitches to the inch, and goes up from there; and if you're not one of their regulars, they have a positive talent for making you feel as though you just walked uninvited into someone else's living-room kaffeeklatsch.

For a while, School Products at 28th and Broadway was an oasis of interesting cheap yarn and helpfully techie staff, but then they lost two-thirds of their space. That vanished and much-lamented territory was their back room, where you could find rows and rows of cardboard bins full of cones of all kinds of stuff, from cashmere to weird never-before-seen synthetics. Bin-diving was a full-body contact sport. Alas, alas.

The surviving School Products operation is a shadow of its former self, though you can sometimes find cool stuff there. I think a lot of its business is in specialties for specialists -- they sell a lot of technical weaving supplies.

So, we're left with a big gap between pure Orlon baby yarn sold in shops where they don't speak English, and precious little balls of Laines Anny Blatt in shops where they'll scarcely speak to you at all. The two remaining options I know of are Deborah Green and Kate ("I am not The Thing") Salter. Deborah sells yarn in Brooklyn, and Kate's my main pusher even though she lives in Massachusetts. There's also Nancy Hanger, but she and I mostly swap.

I'm serious. The last time I made a substantial yarn buy in NYC was at a stoop sale. The time before that, I was sitting at my computer and sending money to eBay.

Have Deborah tell you where to go. Deborah? You here?

#66 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 09:03 PM:

Yarn, yarn, yarn.

My wife's rather fond of crocheting...

I'm somewhat boggled by the amount of yarn she's accumulated--- and I shudder to think what shall happen if she starts knitting...

#67 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 09:28 PM:

I forgot to mention that there is a direct genetic relationship between an executed conspirator of the Gunpowder Plot and the greatest American Science Fiction/Fantasy Poet.

"...He was born Friday the 13th of January, 1893 in Long Valley, California.
His family had descended from Norman-French counts (including the Hugunot
Gaillards or Gaylords, who came to New England in 1630), barons, and
Crusaders, from Lancashire baronets, and (on his maternal grandmother's side)
Scottish and French Canadian."

" His father's father was an iron-master who made himself rich and married
into the old Ashton family, one of whom had been beheaded in the Gunpowder
Plot. His father, Timeus, squandered a fortune by world-wide gambling."

" Though often ill, Clark Ashton Smith had an idyllically happy childhood
(altogether unlike that of Howard or Lovecraft). He taught himself Latin
well enough to enjoy Latin poets, and was so consistently autodidactic as
to later refuse a Guggenheim Scholarship to the University of California."

See for more:

CLARK ASHTON SMITH'S POETRY

and

SF Site: Review of The Last Oblivion: The Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith
edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, eds.
Hippocampus Press, 194 pages

#68 ::: books and libretti ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:04 PM:

I was heartened by the quick response, but much more disheartened by uts contents. Thanks anyway -- and it's a shame there's nowhere that's excellent, isn't there? Two shops I tried that are noteworthy, and pretty representative of the other shops I've seen, are the Yarn Co. and Gotta Knit!

The Yarn Co. was deplorable; they recently published a book, and seem more interested in pushing that than in being at all helpful. I think some of this had to do with the fact that I am young (and therefore not likely to spend in the amounts that the fifty-something facelifted socialites also in the store can afford). They offered a pretty good selection, although very overpriced; I wound up buying from them, although after a fifteen-minute wait at the counter ("Please, someone, take my money! Allow me the honor of purchasing from you!"), I was about ready to reconsider.

Gotta Knit!, on the other hand, was almost empty, and one of the staff members was very helpful. She helped me redefine one of my projects, tried to explain how to cope with those double-pointeds that scare me so much, and generally made herself available and helpful. Unfortunately, she had a much smaller selection than Yarn Co., and her wares cost more (is $22 for fifty grams of not-that-great Orlon really reasonable?). I didn't purchase anything from there, since I had no money on me, and while I'd be willing to return for help, I'm not sure I can buy there. I would, for the moral victory, but I have to swing into the woe-is-me-the-starving-student song and dance.

I will investigate School Products, since I love finding unexpected, interesting yarn -- it often gives me an idea for a completely different project. I'm sorry I missed its heyday, but it does sound interesting (as do those stoop sales). I'm not so interested in eBay, because texture is always the really big selling point for me. I don't feel I've looked at yarn until I've been able to touch it, to get some sense of how it'll knit up.

Also, I sounded particularly exclusive in my first post. I have no problem with going to another borough, as long as the shop there is subway-convenient. I'm taking the subway whenever I go out of the Village, so why not take it all the way up? A Brooklyn store would be fine, as long as they offer what I'm interested in (in terms of stock, price, and attitude -- not demanding or anything, am I?).

For now I'm having my family (out of state) go to Jo-Ann Fabrics or similar chain stores, to ship me Lion Brand. Still, I'd like to be able to branch out a little more, and I'd really love to go on those idea-searching missions.

#69 ::: books and libretti ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:05 PM:

Um, yeah. That was originally an "its," I swear. No "uts"s around.

#70 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:00 AM:

JvP: I wouldn't worry about your prayer-healing story showing Bush in too good a light. If I wrote it, it would end with God turning up and presenting His Bill. What form this would take, though, is for the moment beyond me...

#71 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:07 AM:

For those interested, you can purchase a Talkie Toaster here for just twenty dollarpounds, apparently.

#72 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:26 AM:

books and libretti - have you been talking with Kiwis (New Zealanders) recently?
Or perhaps you were thinking of the University of Technology, Sydney on Broadway :) www.uts.edu.au

#73 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:34 AM:

Epacris - One would think that if B&L were in touch with a flock of Kiwis, they'd have solved her yarn problems by now. Assuming they actually process some of the wool they generate, that is.

#74 ::: Magenta ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:55 AM:

About yarn.

Come to Minicon in March, and stay for the yarn. You have Lion and similiar c/h/e/a/p inexpensive at Target. You have Depth of Field on the West Bank, Cliticky Sticks near Lake Nokomis, the Yarnery in St Paul, and a half dozen others. I don't think I've ever seen yarn as expensive as your describe except imported wools.

I get a lot of mine at yard sales anyway. People get yarn for porjects and either have leftovers, or never finish the project and sell it for cheap. Or do you have yard or garage sales in NYC? Maybe not.

#75 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:38 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post:

I've been thinking about what you said about Zelazny's ambitions as a poet. So RZ was a very successful and popular novelist, and a very unsuccessful, mostly unpublished, poet. You'd think that would tell him that he was very good at writing novels and less so at writing poetry, no? So his response to this information on his strengths as a writer was ... to make the novels more poetical? That is, to take the stuff that was working and partially transmogrify it into the stuff that wasn't working? That makes so little sense that it makes my head hurt.

#76 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:53 PM:

Greg Ioannou:

I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

How about Herman Melville, who wrote The Great American Novel, but was depressed (personally and financially) over bad reviews. The rest of his life, he basically wrote nothing but poetry. I've read some. I think it's very good. Ahead of its time. Fabulously gory poems about the Civil War, making the modernist point that war is a machine that grinds up humans. But nobody read those poems, then or now. Go figure...

#77 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:27 PM:

It's surprising how often authors get attached to their poetry (or sometimes other genres) and lament the fact that people only want to read their novels. Very much "I am really a poet! Why does no one understand that?"

Robert Graves is the first example that comes to mind. From now on I will always think of Zelazny in that category too.

#78 ::: Ben Lehman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:51 PM:

Just wanted to note that the "Possibly the best submission guidelines I've ever seen" link in the sidebar is, factually, the greatest submission guidelines ever. Also, it is a brilliant project.

Particularly brilliant is the pay scale. Look at the pay scale. My god! The brilliance!

yrs--
--Ben

#79 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Jules, that was just cruel!

(Oh...the urge to do an elsewhere-in-thread pun is difficult to overcome! The strain!)

#80 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Apropos of not much in particular, but I thought Teresa and Patrick might be interested to know that their website is blocked by the nanny/censoring software at the Junior High my wife teaches at.

Which, IMNSHO, sucks.

#81 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:02 PM:

I read Melville's poetry. Couldn't do without it. Wouldn't be prudent. Look for the slim, out-of-print Frasconi-illustrated volume of On the Slain Collegians

#82 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:20 PM:

I'm not in NYC, but I get inexpensive yarn from Hancock Fabrics (Lion Brand, cheaper than ordering from them directly or online), and very expensive yarn from the local yarn shop. I don't buy much from her, but I've used a lot of the new ribbon yarns in jewelry.

If you'd like to buy Lion Brand online:

http://www.lionbrand.com/

Herrschners is also pretty good:

http://www.herrschners.com/default.aspx

and they frequently have large economy batches of yarn.

I'm still plowing my way through the yarn the very generous Julia gave me to make things for the local charity. I took two bags over last week, mostly baby & toddler stuff, but also an adult scarf from aran/gray-silver chunky yarn.

$22 for 50gr of Orlon? You're kidding.

You should come to Minicon anyway, even if you don't need yarn.

#83 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:18 PM:

adamsj:

good choice.

On the Slain Collegians
by Herman Melville

Youth is the time when hearts are large,
And stirring wars
Appeal to the spirit which appeals in turn
To the blade it draws...

#84 ::: MaryR ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Speaking of knitting, did anyone else notice that on the episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte learned to knit, she was using a Bernat acrylic yarn? I tried to explain to my husband why I was laughing so hard. Not to diss acrylic knitters, but to imagine Charlotte in a shop selling it was just too much.

#85 ::: Mara ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:23 PM:

Thanks for all the Zelazny info, I'll be adding those titles to my wishlist.

Jim, the friend of my father's who lent me the book, passed away a few years ago. He was a voracious reader, and a book-hoarder. When I did a high school term paper on Lincoln, he lent me his set of the collected letters & speeches. Most endearing thing in there was Lincoln's letter to the King of Siam, where he politely thanks him for his gifts--including a sword, a portrait of his Highness & his daughter, and the kind offer of "elephant stock" for the Union Army. Lincoln said something like wonderfully polite like "But I regret that our latitude does not yet extend to such a clime as would further the propagation of said stock."

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:19 PM:

If you go to American City
In future you'll find it quite $hitty,
Because George Bush made President,
Put the country up for rent

Stagflation, stagflation
For sale to KBR,
Just watch all those dollars,
Whoever you are.

There are lots of millionaires
And billonaires are not that rare,
But then it's down to you and me,
We've been dumped in poverty

Stagflation, stagflation
Bush's net worth has grown,
But as for the rest,
We cannot afford loans!

See Bush enriched by high-priced oil
Might be because he looks like a gargoyle,
The rapture he expects to come,
Those who disagree are scum

Stagflation, stagflation
The Neocons run the world,
They're flying in their flag,
But it ought to stay furled.

See Bush play king in Iraq,
Thousands dead aren't coming back,
But good Christians will return,
The others all in hell will burn,

So get on a plane and head to this country,
You're pushing your luck there,
Ashcroft's calling you queer,
You're deported elsewhere,
In broke poverty!

=============

Hmm, it really needs some more material, about Family Values and how he changed booze'n'sex'n'drugs for religiosity, and mercury in the air and ground, and how bad that is for fetus, but no induced abortion etc. But....

#87 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:23 PM:

I have this eight pound raw wool fleece from a registered Corriedale ram in the back of my car, some of the staple is six inches long... I've been meaning to try to wash it out for days...

#88 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:34 PM:

Paula Lieberman:

That was brilliant! If only JibJab or someone with recording artists and animation could properly produce it and put it on the web!

Excerpt from:

Liberals Dismayed by 'Moral Values' Claims
By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer
8 Nov 2004

"We need to work really hard at reclaiming some language," said the Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the liberal-leaning National Council of Churches.

"The religious right has successfully gotten out there shaping personal piety issues civil unions, abortion as almost the total content of 'moral values,'" Edgar said. "And yet you can't read the Old Testament without knowing God was concerned about the environment, war and peace, poverty. God doesn't want 45 million Americans without health care."

#89 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:35 PM:

Paula - that fleece must be a leftover from the Pixar short they're playing before The Incredibles. (Nifty movie, BTW.)

But seriously, do you card and spin your own wool? That would be too much even for the likes of Martha Stewart!

#90 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:29 AM:

I make attempts at it. I think some of them people in here have actually seen me use a drop spindle.

Occasionally I start to knit something, or crochet something, or weave something, and mislay it, or...

I actually did wear a skirt I knitted, when I was in high school. It was, however, a very -short- skirt...

#91 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:55 AM:

Until someone observes him more directly to verify his state, should we refer to him as Schroedinger's Arafat?

#92 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:13 AM:

[Books and libretti asked about yarn stores further up the thread, and since I mention my own yarn store in my response, I ran it by our hostess for her approval before posting it here.]

Yarn! Having done extensive research over the last year and a half before opening my own yarn store in Brooklyn, I have lots of thoughts on the topic.

In Manhattan, I send people to Yarn Connection, on Madison between 36th and 37th, and to Downtown Yarns, on Ave. A near the corner with E. 3rd. Yarn Connection is very crowded, but has a good selection of yarn at various price points, and has wonderful sale bins. Downtown Yarns is friendly and carries a good variety of natural-fiber yarns, as well as some fluffy things.

In Brooklyn there is the Yarn Tree, on Bedford Avenue near S. 4th Street. Linda LaBelle, who's a terrific fiber artist, sells an astonishing array of stuff you haven't seen elsewhere (including spinning and weaving supplies), and has a extensive list of classes.

I've just opened my own entry in the market, Yarnivore, in downtown Brooklyn, near the intersection of Flatbush and Myrtle. I'm bootstrapping the business into existence, so my stock is small to start out, but I'm making an attempt to carry yarn that isn't in all the other shops in town. Towards that end I had a productive visit to the Sheep and Wool Festival
in Rhinebeck last month.

Happy yarn hunting!

#93 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 08:45 AM:

The Great Southwest Salt Saga
How an accidental oasis in the Mexican desert sank Arizona's $250 million desalination plant. A case study in the law of unintended consequences. By Jeff Howe from Wired magazine. [Wired News]
Thought this might be of interest.

Poetrty-in-sf/f novels is almost always to be avoided. That being said, I may almost like _Creatures of Light and Darkness_ better than Zelazny's _Lord of Light_, despite understanding rather less of it, because of the fun crazy language. That, and those lines--"Some say her name is Mercy..." Someday I will acquire my own copy (I borrowed a friend's).

#94 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:44 AM:

I just checked out the "Possibly the best submission guidelines I've ever seen" link. You're right, those are astoundingly cool guidelines.

Shame that I'd just spent much of the last week putting together an agent synopsis for a brick-thick fantasy novel sitting at Tor. I guess I'll have to write something new for them. >8-> Thanks for the heads-up.

#95 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:02 PM:

I just checked out the "Possibly the best submission guidelines I've ever seen" link. You're right, those are astoundingly cool guidelines.

Thanks, everybody! Teresa, I learned it all from watching you.

#96 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:35 PM:

Greg Ioannou, Laura Roberts, Yoon Ha Lee:

Sometimes you don't even notice Poetrty-in-sf/f novels.

Poul Anderson told me that he often smuggled in paragraphs and whole pages that are perfect iambic pentameter in his novels, and even longer in "Shakespeare's World," but not visibly so because of lack of stanzaic line breaks. Why? Because, he said, the payment per word is so much higher for his novels than for his poems. Marvin Minsky, after we'd argued about poetry for years, with him attacking it as "people who have nothing to say, and so disguise that with metaphors and rhymes," proceeded to have two entire chapters of poetry in his book "Society of Mind" concealed by non-linebreaks, a la Anderson. He announced that to me as a triumphant punchline. Then he coauthored a pretty good first SF novel with Harry Harrison.

On a more disturbing note:

9/11 disaster payout set record, study says
$38 billion compensation provided by government, insurers and charities

By Maggie Farley
Los Angeles Times

November 9, 2004

"NEW YORK - Victims of the Sept. 11 attacks received more than $38 billion in compensation - a figure 30 times the size of the largest previous disaster payout and one that is unlikely to be matched, according to a Rand Corp. study released yesterday."

First reaction: "unlikely to be matched" because a terrorist attack an order or magnitude more damaging would bankrupt the country attacked? That seems to be what Bin Laden says he intends to do...

#97 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:39 PM:

I noticed. If "premillennial dispensationalism" hadn't tipped me off, the Shelby Foote would have.

#98 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:51 PM:

I have read Volume 1, but at the time I didn't have Volumes 2 and 3 handy. Now that I've blown through The Wizard and The Algebraist, maybe it's time to have another go.

#99 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:55 PM:

So you're only up through Perryville?

#100 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 05:13 PM:

I might actually have got as far as Fredericksburg, but it's been a couple of years and I don't really remember. Realistically, at this point I'd have to start at the beginning.

#101 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:42 PM:

So John Ashcroft has turned in his letter of resignation.

Would it be considered unseemly to dance gaily about, singing "Ding, dong, the witch is dead?"

To cap off years of tragedy with a dollop of farce, the resignation letter includes the following words: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

Ah, so we're now all safe from crime and terror. It must be true, the Attorney General said so.

As good an illustration as any of the gap between the Bush Administration and the "reality-based" world.

#102 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 06:55 PM:

Jimcat rejoices:

So John Ashcroft has turned in his letter of resignation.

We've been wondering elsewhere if he wrote 5 pages by hand because he couldn't figure out how to use a word processor...

#103 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 07:11 PM:

xeger said: We've been wondering elsewhere if he wrote 5 pages by hand because he couldn't figure out how to use a word processor...

Either that, or he couldn't figure out how to get the blood of innocents into the inkjet cartridge.

#104 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 07:37 PM:

This just means that he's available for a Supreme Court opening.

#105 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:16 PM:

The "nuanced view" is pretty good, but I feel humbled by the sheer obnoxious brilliance of this screed:

http://www.theregister.com/2004/11/07/blue_state_to_reds/print.html

#106 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:26 AM:

Bush is insane?

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=310788&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

"Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressur Sharon except the Americans.

"According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said, "God told me to strike at Al-Qaida and I struck thm, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

#107 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 11:30 AM:

An Early Remembrance; pre-dawn 11/11/2004
Some poems of some wars (Casualty figures 1914-1918; 1939-1945)
Extracts from a small thing for Armistice/Remembrance Day, which I thought had a few aspects people may find good to think upon.
A life in three centuries November 11, 2004, by Jonathon King

Age shall not weary Peter Casserly. And, rather than being condemned by the years, time has made him a record breaker. He is Australia's oldest known man for one. Next, of the 331,000 Australians who fought overseas in World War I he is the sole surviving serviceman from the Western Front. For good measure, he appears to have notched up the country's longest running marriage - lasting 80 years and 10 months before his wife Monica died at 102 in August ...

"The passing time never changed the loveliness of my wife for me. She remained a beautiful blessing throughout our long marriage. But you know what my secret is ... Rum!

"I tell you they gave every soldier two issues of rum each day on the Western Front, but I knew my way around and used to get three and I've been drinking rum ever since - I'm still drinking it. It's a sure cure for the flu. If you feel it coming on, take some rum and in two days it's gone."...

Casserly was born just north of Perth on January 28, 1898, and has the birth certificate to prove [at 106] he's the oldest man in Australia.

A man of three centuries, the world into which Casserly was born is now long gone. Also born in 1898 were one of the discoverers of penicillin, Howard Florey; Charles Kingsford Smith's co-pilot Charles Ulm; billiards champion Walter Lindrum and the artist Sali Herman. There were only 3 million people living in the Australian colonies over which Queen Victoria ruled ...

After the war, Casserly helped with clean-up operations until his discharge on September 11, 1919. On his return he worked as a wharf labourer, timber cutter, sailor and fisherman before establishing a wood yard and then cray fishing business. He won a bravery award for saving the life of a swimmer who had got into difficulties...

Although Casserly returned to the Western Front with veterans for the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993, he always opposed subsequent wars and has only marched twice on Anzac Day - in 1917 and again this year.

#108 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 11:39 AM:

Early Remembrance (1); pre-dawn 11/11/2004

Extracts from a small thing for Armistice/Remembrance Day, which I thought had a few aspects people may find good to think upon.
A life in three centuries November 11, 2004, by Jonathon King

Age shall not weary Peter Casserly. And, rather than being condemned by the years, time has made him a record breaker. He is Australia's oldest known man for one. Next, of the 331,000 Australians who fought overseas in World War I he is the sole surviving serviceman from the Western Front. For good measure, he appears to have notched up the country's longest running marriage - lasting 80 years and 10 months before his wife Monica died at 102 in August ...

"The passing time never changed the loveliness of my wife for me. She remained a beautiful blessing throughout our long marriage. But you know what my secret is ... Rum!

"I tell you they gave every soldier two issues of rum each day on the Western Front, but I knew my way around and used to get three and I've been drinking rum ever since - I'm still drinking it. It's a sure cure for the flu. If you feel it coming on, take some rum and in two days it's gone."...

Casserly was born just north of Perth on January 28, 1898, and has the birth certificate to prove [at 106] he's the oldest man in Australia.

A man of three centuries, the world into which Casserly was born is now long gone. Also born in 1898 were one of the discoverers of penicillin, Howard Florey; Charles Kingsford Smith's co-pilot Charles Ulm; billiards champion Walter Lindrum and the artist Sali Herman. There were only 3 million people living in the Australian colonies over which Queen Victoria ruled ...

After the war, Casserly helped with clean-up operations until his discharge on September 11, 1919. On his return he worked as a wharf labourer, timber cutter, sailor and fisherman before establishing a wood yard and then cray fishing business. He won a bravery award for saving the life of a swimmer who had got into difficulties...

Although Casserly returned to the Western Front with veterans for the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993, he always opposed subsequent wars and has only marched twice on Anzac Day - in 1917 and again this year.

#109 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Early Remembrance (2); pre-dawn 11/11/2004

Some poems of two wars
World War One Poets on the Battlefields: Blunden; Brooke; Owen; Sassoon; St Quentin; Ypres
Wilfred Owen
"Damn all war mongers who lie to the young so they volunteer to kill + to be killed"
Links:
http://www.1914-18.co.uk/owen/ (Wilfred Owen Association)
http://www.pitt.edu/~pugachev/greatwar/owen.html
http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/Wilfred_Owen/wilfred_owen_contents.htm

Paul Eluard
Not so much, perhaps, of war; but in war. Others may have suggestions for later wars.

#110 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 12:17 PM:

Early Remembrance (2); pre-dawn 11/11/2004

Some poems of two wars
World War One Poets on the Battlefields: Blunden; Brooke; Owen; Sassoon; St Quentin; Ypres
Wilfred Owen
"Damn all war mongers who lie to the young so they volunteer to kill + to be killed"
Links:
www.1914-18.co.uk/owen (Wilfred Owen Association)
www.pitt.edu/~pugachev/greatwar/owen.html
www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/Wilfred_Owen/wilfred_owen_contents.htm

Paul Eluard
Not so much, perhaps, of war; but in war. Others may have suggestions for later wars.

#111 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 12:31 PM:

Early Remembrance (3); pre-dawn 11/11/2004

Some non-poetry of two wars: Article (for members); Article (for members)
(Casualty figures 1914-1918; 1939-1945)
Until I can work out something grand & good -- this puts it into millenial vistas -- it looks like the only way you can look at these latter two is to download them. Any suggestions for simple conversions of complex Excel spreadsheets to, say, HTML tables?
I will try to write the piece on War Memorials I have in mind to put some flesh on the figures. This link commemorates some Voices lost to the world of arts in The War to End Wars.

#112 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:03 PM:

Can you imagine something this unbearably creepy happening in a red state?

Brrr!

#113 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:10 PM:

JonathanVP: Nobody ever notices, as long as you don't put line breaks in. I get away with it all the time.

I once posted a sonnet on usenet, with rhyme and in iambic pentameter, but without line breaks, and people replied just as to a normal post.

I once mentioned on a con panel some places I'd done it in novels, and while there were a lot of people in the audience who had read them, nobody had noticed.

Bwahaha!!!

#114 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:57 PM:

A crossover in the discussion of knitting and of convincing average non-urban people that liberals are nice everyday folks too:

http://www.madewithlovebyaliberal.info/

A group that JUST started but is making me all jumpyhappy, as my last experience trying to get involved with a charity group was, um, uncharitable.

(for more background than is present in the very-bare website, go to http://www.livejournal.com/users/kathrynt/299252.html )

#115 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 06:44 PM:

Ashcroft may have resigned, but Bush has nominated Gonzalez for his replacement. Gonzales, who thinks the Geneva Convention is "quaint." Gonzales, who wrote the memo that said torture is permissable. Gonzales.

#116 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 12:38 AM:

Jo Walton writes:

Nobody ever notices, as long as you don't put line breaks in. I get away with it all the time.

I once posted a sonnet on usenet, with rhyme and in iambic pentameter, but without line breaks, and people replied just as to a normal post.

I once mentioned on a con panel some places I'd done it in novels, and while there were a lot of people in the audience who had read them, nobody had noticed.

Bwahaha!!!

I didn't attend that panel, but I did notice. Pages 114 and 115 of The Prize in the Game, for example.

Not that I've spotted every place you've done it, or even that I'm capable of doing so.

#117 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 09:36 AM:

Harry wrote:
Can you imagine something this unbearably creepy happening in a red state?
Brrr!

Brings me back to my college days, actually. Or the years just after college. Or, come to think of it, this past April.

In Georgia.

(I feel a "Can we please get out of this bullshit red state/blue state mentality?" rant coming on, too, but I don't want to use up all my rant points in the first half of the month.)

#118 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 09:43 AM:

Steve, it was just a joke.

How much did you charge for your cuddle parties?

#119 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 10:24 AM:

Harry Connolly wrote:
Steve, it was just a joke.

Yeah, I know. You'll notice I stopped myself at an allusion to rant instead of a full rant. (It does get wearying, but I've seen relatively little of it on Making Light. If I had to be pissed at anyone I'd pick CNN first.)


How much did you charge for your cuddle parties?

Pshaw. That would be totally impractical. For one thing, people would have to have pockets. >8->

#120 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:30 AM:

I just got, this morning, my second-shortest able-to-be-cited mathematics publication. It is the comment to
On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences,
Sequence A030178
Decimal expansion of LambertW(1): the solution to x exp(x) = 1.

My contribution is repeated below in its entirety:

"The first 59 digits form a prime: 5671432904097838729999686622103555497538157871865125081351."

N. J. A. Sloane has, in essence, the greatest Math blog of all time, and recently posted his 100,000th web page. Number A100000 is extremely cool, for those of you who love VERY ancient History, but that's another story.

#121 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post wrote:
I just got, this morning, my second-shortest able-to-be-cited mathematics publication.

I was about to ask, "To whom would you cite it?" but then I realized what was absurd about that question. I must be dense this afternoon.

#122 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Steve Eley:

The best cure for density is levity.

Not to dilute that, as Poul Anderson and Jo Walton pointed out, a certain kind of person loves to smuggle jokes, poems, puns, and other creative playthings into otherwise very serious work.

It is our Unique Artistic Vision.

** sound of James Joyce rolling over **

#123 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 07:37 PM:

"Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen

Wow, there's a flashback to 1990 and "Pump Up the Volume" with Christian Slater. I was dissappointed the soundtrack had the Concrete Blond version of "Everybody Knows" rather than teh version used in the movie.

Think I might have to watch that movie again.

#124 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Greg London wrote:
Wow, there's a flashback to 1990 and "Pump Up the Volume" with Christian Slater. I was dissappointed the soundtrack had the Concrete Blond version of "Everybody Knows" rather than teh version used in the movie.

Actually, I thought the version in the movie was the Concrete Blonde version run through that voice modulator a couple of times. Maybe I was just buying into the movie too much.


Think I might have to watch that movie again.

Brilliant film.

#125 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 09:01 PM:

Jerry Voss, publisher of "The Unterrified Democrat," a newspaper discussed on NPR tonight, is not known to be relative of Jonathan Vos Post, but it's hard to be sure, as my ancestry has a Vos who married a Voss, almost as if deliberately messing up geneologists.

#126 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 09:10 PM:

"Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen

I always associate that with Atom Egoyan's delightful movie Exotica.

#127 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 01:21 PM:

On Particles various:

The "They Voted for This Mess" rant is a pretty heartless diatribe for those of us stuck in purple areas. Secession is not a rational response, and hate-filled rhetoric agains some monoblock of a Southern "They" makes me feel even more left out in the cold than I ought. And yes, Dallas is definitely purple. Bush only carried Dallas county by a bare couple of points...and that's with a last-minute rally in Dallas Co. itself!

The Coincidence Theorist creeps me out...

I'm embarrassed to say that I only got 17 of the 23 spelling questions...and I didn't get the one that was in this sentence, even.

The Arabic script pictures were gorgeous. Several of them just cry out to be made into jewelry...

#128 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Skwid - I think that the game is more cultural secession than political. I'm through with paying lip-service respect to the Jesus-freaks. If they're going to try to destroy pretty much everything I believe in, I don't feel the need to be nice to them anymore. That rant was clearly written in anger, and I must confess that it resonated with me.

We need more showings of Elmer Gantry and Inherit the Wind. Maybe remakes with Leonardo DiCaprio (sp?) that'll bring in the kids, even the ones who have been programmed to believe the preacher.

As far as the regionalism goes, there's a bible church that holds shriek-filled prayer meetings a mere four blocks from my apartment here in oh-so-blue San Mateo County, CA. (I think they do snake handling, and speaking in tongues too.) The balance is just more towards the enlightenment and away from the dark ages here than it is in Texas and the South. Using the South as a proxy is perhaps unfair, but maybe the time for fairness is over. I still haven't made up my mind about that one. I know lots of southerners (and even Texans) who are fine people, and I'm not ready to give up on them just yet. And places like North Carolina probably won't be voting Republican for much longer - all you have to do is look at the fact that Democrats made solid gains their state government.

And don't feel bad about the spelling quiz - I got a 16/23. Ask a German speaker about why they use a dictionary, and they'll tell you it's to discover the meanings of words. They'll be astounded when you tell them that English speakers use dictionaries to discover correct spellings.

#129 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 03:00 PM:

The rant on The Register (http://www.theregister.com/2004/11/07/blue_state_to_reds/print.html) was even nastier and less charitable, but had a very, very interesting point:

The Red State values voters have set themselves up to be *scammed.*

Voting GOP isn't putting them in charge, it merely strengthened the grip of the Blue Republicans who hold them in economic thralldom.

#130 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:14 PM:

Holy cow!

I got 17 out of 23 on the spelling test!

No one in my family can spell--my mom is often corrected by the 5th graders in her classroom--and I was always the first person out in spelling bees.

How did this happen? Can your spelling improve throughout your life or did I just get lucky?

#131 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:18 PM:

There was the footnote I stuck into a Industrial Research paper I wrote, because I had gotten so tired of using conditionals, of the sort of "these are things that could be done." I do not have access to that paper, and if I wrote down the footnote, I lost the piece of paper I wrote in on long ago. However, it read something like ""Words like perhaps and could and possible keep appearing in this paper because even though something is possible, that doesn't mean it will happen."

#132 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:20 PM:

21 out of 23 here. I missed...er, the word that means to make things dry, and the word that means very small. On the latter, Merriam-Webster accepts my spelling as a variant.

#133 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:26 PM:

addendum:

I viewed it as if I the author considered it tedious to have to keep using the conditionals, it was likely to be even more tedious to the readers!

===========

On a related thought, certain editors LOVE jokes and rotten puns in articles and marketing promo material. I -still- cringe at the line, "Audio Codecs Sound the Charge!" which was in bold and enlarged font print in a press release I wrote for a market research study I did--the company which I was doing the work for really liked that line, though. And then there were the articles I wrote for CD-ROM Professional magazine, turned out I had a choice, either -I- put in puns and joks, or the editor was going to do it,... since it was my byline on the articles, I decided that if there were going to be puns and jokes in the articles, they at least ought to be ones that I'd put there, not the editor!

#134 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:46 PM:

Stefan mentioned "the rant on The Register."

I just read it (before seeing his post) and it is a satire, with perhaps a grain of sincerity. In the follow-up, they admit it was "flame-bait," and print some of the flames they successfully attracted.

#135 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 08:07 PM:

Just a quick note that some sort of bot has sniffed out email addresses from the comments here and is sending malware messages that appear to be from other posters.

I just got a message that appeared to be from Skwid, but it had a virus payload attachment and a url with a direct ip address that went to who-knows-where.

There was no subject, the email address was spoofed, and the plaintext was: "Hi! I am looking for new friends. I am from Miami, FL. You can see my homepage with my last webcam photos! Hello!"

I really hate stuff like this.

#136 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 08:14 PM:

Larry Brennan:

I got that one too. Several times in a row. If someone could be strangled through their webcam...

And to think that I know the gentleman, John Sokol, who coined the term "webcam" and believes that he was the first to send video through the internet, back in the Webolithic era...

#137 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 08:43 PM:

Why don't we sneeze when we're asleep?

Why are salad forks shorter than dinner forks?

Why does a nod of the head mean "yes" and a shake mean "no"?

These are some of the questions that David Feldman has not been able to answer. He really, really wants to know. He's the man who has answered questions such as why dogs have wet noses, why flyswatters have holes, and if penguins have knees. The answers to these questions and many more are now in 10 books, including "Do Elephants Jump?" (HarperCollins, $19.95), due to be released Friday.

It's odd for me to flog a book that I haven't seen yet, but I liked what I saw in this interview:

Feldman answers questions you didn't know you had
By Christine Armario

#138 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 09:35 PM:

JVP wrote:
And to think that I know the gentleman, John Sokol, who coined the term "webcam" and believes that he was the first to send video through the internet, back in the Webolithic era...

Sokol coined "livecam". Webcam came later.

#139 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 12:34 AM:

I couldn't get the spelling page to give me my results, so I've decided to assume I got 23 out of 23 correct.

#140 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 01:08 AM:

20/23. Dratted double letters.

#141 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 01:13 AM:

Bill Blum:

You're right again. I think this memory glitch of mine came from a corporate trauma. Having been on the Board of Directors along with John Sokol of a dotcom once, I had "livecam.com" in my resume. At a job interview, the interviewer queries why I had a p0rn site hotlinked from my online resume. John Sokol, for complicated reasons, had sold his URL for a nice wad of cash to some people whom I did not want interviewers to think I worked with. So thank you for straightening me out. My past is sordid enough without my rewriting it to also be false. Do you know Mr. Sokol, or only his deservedly impressive reputation, or know video or internet history well, or all of the above?

#142 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 01:35 AM:

22 out of 23, but I'm a (sub-)editor so i'm not allowed to take the praise, and I also want to argue about dumbbell, though I'll probably stop that after I've looked up a dictionary or two.

#143 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 02:39 AM:

Having at several times been a subeditor (which is to a real editor is as a submersible is to a ferry cross the Mersey) I guess my score doesn't count.

I think I own an English dictionary, but I really don't know where in the slightly disorderly booxus (that's to a nexus as a boojum is to a Lexus) it is; there are about forty foreign-language books on the shelf above the computer (not quite so many languages, as some of them are phrasebooks or technical dictionaries), but of course one can use those to cheat. Except for the immortal Pedro Carolino, the lineal antecedent of Eatsa Shootsa Goesa Poopoo and Reloads.

I'm sorry, I'm in the middle of a convention: what was the question?

#144 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 06:01 AM:

21 out of 23 on the spelling test; I genuinely flubbed the first question, but I'm pretty sure I'd have got 22 if it weren't 3 AM at the moment.

David Feldman is also quite a good bridge player; we played online a few times, and met in person for the first time at LACon III. He bought me lunch, which I thought was very nice of him.

#145 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 09:07 AM:

JVP wrote:
Do you know Mr. Sokol, or only his deservedly impressive reputation, or know video or internet history well, or all of the above?

I know him as a result of my involvement with amateur radio...

#146 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 09:15 AM:

Merely 18/23 for me, alas. I blame English (and the root languages of the loan words) not being my native language(s).

#147 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:19 AM:

21/23 on the spelling test. (I know perfectly well how to spell "embarrass" but must have clicked the wrong button. How embarrassing.)

#148 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden writes, correctly: "Nine Princes in Amber is, all by itself, just about utterly perfect. Some say you can add its direct sequel The Guns of Avalon to that list. I say okay, but stop there. Then there's Lord of Light, about which I'm pretty much irrational, the way I am about Tolkien."

And the first three books by Zelazny I ever read were NPiA, TGoA, and LoL.

Yet more proof that I am the G-- D----- Flying Dutchman of science fiction readers, doomed to always read an author's lifetime best work first, and thereafter to always feel a sense of disappointment whatever I read because it never lives up to expectations...

#149 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 01:47 PM:

Yet more proof that I am the G-- D----- Flying Dutchman of science fiction readers, doomed to always read an author's lifetime best work first

That's better than always reading the worst first, being turned off, and never getting to the good stuff, no?

I just had an e-mail exchange with a guy who gave up on science fiction after trying to read the Foundation trilogy--billed as a classic, but full of atrocious writing, and pretty much the worst possible entry point, bar Doc Smith, for someone who's used to reading first-rate mainstream authors. I pointed him toward Crowley and Wolfe.


#150 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 03:05 PM:

Brad DeLong:

Okay, if you're the Flying Dutchman of science fiction readers, who is the Captain Jack Sparrow of science fiction readers who terminates the undead sailors On Stranger Tides (which novel is a superior story also based on the Pirates of the Caribbean imagineering Disney ride)?

Bill Blum:

Aha, that John Sokol is a supergenius inventor, who has done more with no college degree than almost any professors I know.

John M. Ford:

there's quite a nice Mystery novel entitled, if I recall correctly, Carolina Miniscule.

No math here itself, only half a dozen URLs, which expand on my 1-sentence refereed publications. I've now managed some 1-sentence able-to-be-cited online publications shared with a coauthor of some kind, which gets me down to the able-to-be-cited fraction-less-than-one online publication:

iccanobiFemirpimes (the name that Honaker and I prefer, but which Dr. Sloane et al found too silly, even when spelled backwards);

my sentence commenting on Decimal expansion of LambertW(1)

my sentence commenting on Decimal value of the ternary Champernowne constant

my sentence commenting on Decimal expansion of Golomb-Dickman constant

Number of emirpimes

emirpimeS

"Jonathan Vos Post contributed these numbers to Prime Curios" by T. D. Noe

I believe that this is what my colleague Ted Nelson, son of two Academy Award winners, had in mind for hypertext!

#151 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 03:07 PM:

Brad DeLong:

Okay, if you're the Flying Dutchman of science fiction readers, who is the Captain Jack Sparrow of science fiction readers who terminates the undead sailors On Stranger Tides (which novel is a superior story also based on the Pirates of the Caribbean imagineering Disney ride)?

Bill Blum:

Aha, that John Sokol is a supergenius inventor, who has done more with no college degree than almost any professors I know.

John M. Ford:

there's quite a nice Mystery novel entitled, if I recall correctly, Carolina Miniscule.

No math here itself, only half a dozen URLs, which expand on my 1-sentence refereed publications. I've now managed some 1-sentence able-to-be-cited online publications shared with a coauthor of some kind, which gets me down to the able-to-be-cited fraction-less-than-one online publication:

iccanobiFemirpimes (the name that Honaker and I prefer, but which Dr. Sloane et al found too silly, even when spelled backwards);

my sentence commenting on Decimal expansion of LambertW(1)

my sentence commenting on Decimal value of the ternary Champernowne constant

my sentence commenting on Decimal expansion of Golomb-Dickman constant

Number of emirpimes

emirpimeS

"Jonathan Vos Post contributed these numbers to Prime Curios" by T. D. Noe

I believe that this is what my colleague Ted Nelson, son of two Academy Award winners, had in mind for hypertext!

#152 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 05:47 PM:

Brad deLong:
Many of us are "The Flying Dutchman of SF Readers" - because we never find a hit that matches that first hit we get at the golden age of SF (...12).

Some of us are lucky, and start with something genuinely good; but even so, there's a whole lot of stuff that seems pretty cool when you're just starting out in the field.

Even if the next work you find really IS better, it often has a hard time exceeding the standard set by that first discovery.

#153 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 06:43 PM:

JVP wrote:
Aha, that John Sokol is a supergenius inventor, who has done more with no college degree than almost any professors I know.

He's done a lot, I'll grant you that.

...which expand on my 1-sentence refereed publications.

I'm somewhat bothered by the idea of claiming 'one sentence refereed publications'.

With that one sentence, are you making a contribution, or are you making an observation????

#154 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 07:14 PM:

And the fourth round of the Beading for a Cure charity auctions:

http://members.ebay.com/ws2/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=beadingforacure

Some lovely jewelry pieces, including a fabulous free-form bracelet and brooch, plus a beaded box.

#155 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 07:28 PM:

Tim W.:

I'd be curious to see some examples of the "atrocious writing" in the Foundation books. Asimov was occasionally a bit lazy, but his writing was usually reasonably smooth. I suspect it would be just as easy to come up with examples of poor writing from Crowley or Wolfe, both of whom tend to overreach themselves. But I can't give examples at the moment. I have never bothered keeping a copy of one of Crowley's books ("Little Big" is one of the most disappointing books I've ever read), and I recently gave away all of my Wolfes.

When I gave away the Wolfes, the "lucky" recipient asked me why I didn't want them. I opened a couple at random spots and showed her some really clumsy sentences. It was quite funny -- most of them had bookmarks about a third of the way through the book. And they all had a thick layer of dust on them. Not my sort of thing.

It is pretty easy to criticize the writing of virtually any writer. Few if any write seamlessly. I can think of precisely one writer who never jars me with clunky sentences: Robertson Davies. I usually enjoy his books largely because they are such smooth sailing.

To some extent, you enjoy the authors whose writing infelicities don't disturb you. If you are enjoying the story (as I do with Asimov) the writing problems are less likely to jar you. If the story doesn't reach you (as, for me, with Crowley and Wolfe) you get irritated by even the tiniest glitch.

I remember reading a Salman Rushdie review of The Two Towers (the movie) a couple of years ago. The bit that stuck in my memory was:

Like its precursor, "The Fellowship of the Ring," Jackson's picture is an improvement on its source material, if only because Jackson's film language is subtler, more sophisticated and certainly more contemporary than the stilted, deliberate archaisms of J.R.R. Tolkien's descriptive prose and, even more problematically, of his dialogue. (I am a big fan of the book version of "The Lord of the Rings," but nobody ever read Tolkien for the writing.)

I DO read Tolkein for the writing, which I think is delicious. I thought the dialogue in the movies was far more problematic than the dialogue in the books. To me it is ironic that Rushdie, whose work I find to be terribly stilted, would be the one criticizing Tolkien for stiltedness.

#156 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 08:11 PM:

Bull Blum:

Provocateurs intend to bother, but for a Cause. My precedent:

"This sentence contains ten words, eighteen syllables, and sixty-four letters."
[Jonathan Vos Post, Scientific American, reprinted in "Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern", by Douglas R. Hofstadter, paperback reprint March 1996, pp.26-27]

That is near the head of:
π: MATH Pages of Jonathan Vos Post

If it weren't able to be cited, or worth citing, Douglas R. Hofstadter would never (as editor) have accepted it for publication, nor commented positively about it, nor published it in a book reprint, nor republished it in an expanded chapter of a new edition, in which other writers explicitly or implicitly commented on earlier submissions.

Mathematics, like Poetry, can be the most compressed and concentrated possible use of language.

"Nature" (or was it "Science"?) had an article on the trend for more and more average co-authors on a larger and larger of number of shorter and shorter papers. They extrapolated to the LPU: "Least Publishable Unit." I paraphrase a Letter to the Editor in the next issue:

"Is a Letter to the Editor a LPU? If this letter is too long, I can make it shorter."

Is not an entry on Blog, sometimes a single sentence, or word, an extrapolation of the Journal and the Essay, towards the LPU? What is different now is that the Web manifests and reifies the notion (emphasized by Ted Nelson) that what matters is not "a writing" but "the Literature," in which the links themselves embody information. "Literature," he commented, "is debugged."

In Science Fiction, particularly, we extol the virtues of the "Short Short Story" -- which can be a single sentence or even, as demonstrated by 4e, a single letter!

#158 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:16 PM:

From a page of Foundation chosen literally at random:

"True," Ponyets admitted, "but since I was myself, I accepted the antagonism for the sake of attracting your attention."

"Is that it? Simply that?" Pherl made no effort to hide his contemptuous amusement. "And I imagine you suggested the thirty-day purification period that you might assure yourself time to turn the attraction into something a bit more substantial. But what if the gold turns out to be impure?"

Ponyets allowed himself a dark humor in return. "When the judgement of that impurity depends upon those who are most interested in finding it pure?"

Pherl lifted his eyes and stared narrowly at the trader. He seemed at once surprised and satisfied.

It's a matter of taste, to be sure (and our tastes are obviously quite different), but this type of writing is a trial for me, in a way that, for instance, Heinlein's and Clarke's work of the same vintage isn't. Even Van Vogt doesn't rub me quite as hard the wrong way. And I chose the passage at random so that it would be typical. If I wanted to hunt for something really awful, I'd start with the section about the imperial envoy with the speech impediment.

It would all be no problem, except that Asimov is touted as the Grand Master of science fiction, and so a lot of people who are curious about SF try him first. My contention is merely that he's not the best choice for a first impression.

My nominee for ProseMaster is Thomas M. Disch, but I usually don't recommend him as a starting point either, unless I know the reader enjoys a good downer.

I like Tolkien's writing too, but it's idiosyncratic enough that I can understand the complaints, even if I don't agree.

Little, Big rules OK. I'm going to subscribe to the 25th Anniversary Edition as soon as I have a little extra scratch.

#159 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 12:35 AM:

Ah, the discussion turns to Aesthetics Tastes and values. Little, Big defeated my attempts to slog through it.

There were Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon, and then Zelazny completely started losing the pacing. I suppose he started getting panicked that the series had started bloating out, and that was long before the era of the giant brick collection of never ending footbreaker Fat Fantasy Series novel hits.

#160 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 01:43 AM:

Tim

That chunk of Asimov doesn't really rub me the wrong way, although it does make me itch to edit it.

I really like Clarke's writing of that period. Heinlein is the one I really can't read.

Totally agreed on Disch. I had On Wings of Song on the bookcase beside me, and did the open-at-random thing with it:

He could make a break for it now, he supposed. He could go and live among those ruins, there to be ruined himself. But that would have meant surrendering Boa to her father, an act he could not, would not be driven to. It had been his whole pride, the source of all his self-respect, that he had, by privations great and small, by the daily indignities of these twelve years, been responsible for Boa's maintenance (well-being would have been stretching it). Other men have families. Daniel had his wife's corpse (for such it was now, legally) to sustain him. But it served the same purpose: it kept him from believing, despite every other evidence, that his defeat was final, whole, and entire.

Gee, you think he writes a good downer? Again, I itch to edit out the clicheed "could not, would not" and the redundant "whole, and entire" at the end and generally tighten it up a bit, but it is a lovely piece of writing. All of his books are like that -- terrific writing, and as depressing as being a Cubs fan. I wonder how popular he could have been if he'd occasionally written a paragraph that didn't inspire the reader to self-disembowelment?

I'm intrigued by that special edition of Little, Big. Not by the book, which did nothing for me. But by it as a publishing project. All direct sales, so no cut for bookstores. If it sells out, revenue is just above $300 thou. 10% to Harper Collins leaves $270. Print run is just over 2000. Even if handbound unlikely to be over $20/copy and more likely well under $10. But say $40 thou, leaving $230. They do offer bulk discounts so say that costs $30 thou, down to $200. Fancy designer and artist, maybe $30 thou? Distribution trivial -- $5 - $10. So down to $160. Advertising budget likely minor. So breaks even at under 1000 copies? And probably quite a bit under that. (Wonder if they even bothered using a multiplier for this? If they did, total production costs would be around $15/copy, no?)

It seems like a pretty low-risk venture, but they are acting like it is really risky -- check out the contract with Harper Collins that's on the site. Money held in trust, bail-out clauses, the works. But the up-front costs are pretty minor.

It is an interesting model, and one that would be pretty easy to pull together. I wonder what other titles it might work for?

#161 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 02:25 AM:

My first Zelazny, and still my favorite, was "A Rose for Ecclesiastes." It was anthologized in a textbook called Science Fiction: The Future, meant for sociology classes. My father got it from a textbook salesman, and I, out of sheer boredom, and attracted by the spacesuit on the cover, picked it up to read. It was my first SF, unless you count my brother reading Andre Norton's Starman's Son to me in the hospital.

I still have the textbook, and I absolutely adored being able to use A Rose for Ecclesiastes in an intro to literature class last year.

#162 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 03:32 AM:

"I believe that this is what my colleague Ted Nelson, son of two Academy Award winners, had in mind for hypertext!"

Ralph Nelson never won an Academy award, although he was nominated for one. (Obligatory SF reference: he also directed Charly.)

#163 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Heinlein is the one I really can't read.

Most Heinlein is too blustery for me, but many of his early stories (e.g. "Jonathan Hoag," "All You Zombies," "By His Bootstraps") are among my favorites of their period.

I wonder how popular [Disch] could have been if he'd occasionally written a paragraph that didn't inspire the reader to self-disembowelment?

The Businessman was funny as hell, but I think it stiffed big-time (at least when first published in 1980--I don't know how well the 90s paperback reissue did). The humor was rather on the black side, to be sure.

I wonder what other titles [besides Little, Big] it might work for?

I think that what makes it work is the uncommon combination of having a large fanatical following and being impossible to find in hardback. (Was there even a hardback edition of LB?) I'd love to have a hardback of Growing Up In Tier 3000, but I doubt there are enough people like me to make printing it worth anyone's while.

WRT Zelazny, I don't have anything to add to the consenus except that Doorways In The Sand is a sentimental favorite, and that "The Furies" and "The Graveyard Heart" deserve more attention than they get.

#164 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 03:11 PM:

Glenn Hauman:

I accept your friendly amendment about Ralph Nelson. But didn't Charly, adapted by Stirling Silliphant's winning 1969 Best Screenplay Golden Globe, from the great Daniel Keyes story "Flowers for Algernon," win an Academy Award? 1969, Best Actor in a Leading Role: Cliff Robertson. That's what I meant.

When pitching to Hollywood, I use this as a trick question: can you name a Science Fiction movie with no special effects? Although Charly does use split screen at one point, it does not depend on CGI or elaborate sets or huge explosions or the like. My point being that a compelling story, based on science, with good dialog and good acting (Cliff Robertson as Charly Gordon, Claire Bloom as Alice Kinnian , Lilia Skala as Dr. Anna Strauss, Dick Van Patten as Bert...), can be a winner. Then I offer the property of myself or whomsoever I'm representing, having redefined the agenda.

Charly also, by the way, was nominated in 1969 for two Golden Globes (Best Motion Picture - Drama; Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama, Cliff Robertson) besides the one that Mr.Nelson took home. Charly also, at the Berlin International Film Festival (1968), got Ralph Nelson nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear.

Yet Charly lost in the 1969 Hugo vote for Best Dramatic Presentation! It had the bad luck, there at St. Louiscon, to be competing against: "The Prisoner" (1967) for episode "Fallout"; Rosemary's Baby (1968), Yellow Submarine (1968), and, ummm, what's the name of the greatest science fiction film ever made? Oh yeah-- 2001: A Space Odyssey!




#165 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 08:39 PM:

Little, Big had a British hardback, but no trade hardback in the US. I think it had a book club, but I'm not sure. The Bantam trade paperback is the first.

Having talked at length with Ron Drummond about the Little, Big project -- the production costs on this edition are going to make it a very low profit edition (I'm not counting paying the editor, designer, artist or author as "profit" -- the costs they're projecting are reasonable payment for time and effort!). They're not going to hit break-even at a very early point -- they're looking at having to sell the vast majority of the edition to pay all the bills. And they're hoping to get some of the largest part of the edition into a few bookstores, but they're not aiming at the chains -- just the specialty stores. The more limited editions help pay for the whole thing. It is indeed a very interesting project, but it's not likely to be done for a large number of titles.

#166 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 10:19 PM:

Tom wrote:

the production costs on this edition are going to make it a very low profit edition (I'm not counting paying the editor, designer, artist or author as "profit" -- the costs they're projecting are reasonable payment for time and effort!). They're not going to hit break-even at a very early point -- they're looking at having to sell the vast majority of the edition to pay all the bills.

Interesting -- thanks. It would be interesting to see the costing on it. They seem to be spending as much to produce a fancy edition of a novel as I'm used to seeing spent to produce a coffee-table astronomy book or a fairly major textbook. And a reprint of a novel is usually just about the cheapest possible mainstream publishing project. It is pretty clear that the numbered edition (at $250 a copy) is carrying the project financially. Neat project. I hope it does well for them.

#167 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 09:09 AM:

I made the mistake of cracking open my copy of Little, Big for a reference the first year I did NaNoWriMo, and read the passage

Some city blocks away at that hour, before the narrow townhouse of Ariel Hawksquill which faced a small park, large and silent cars of another era one by one drew up and let out each a single passenger, and drove away to where cars like that await their masters. Each of the visitors rang Hawsquill's bell and was admitted; each must take off his gloves finger by finger, so well they fitted; each gave them to the servant inside his hat, and some had white scarves that whistled faintly as they drew them from their necks.

...and wept at the inadequacy of my own prose, and was unable to continue for the rest of the night.

By the same token, I don't listen to Leonard Cohen while I'm songwriting, either. It's like being in a schlong-measuring contest with an orca.

#168 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 09:30 AM:

Thanks, Dan, for reminding me why I found Little, Big unreadable. The awkwardness of having having "before" immediately follow "hour", but not refer to time. The clumsy which/that confusion. The tweeness of "let out each." And the jumbled verb tenses and garbled referents in the second sentence. It is a strange jumble of technical clumsiness and severe overwriting.

Save your tears for more impressive orcas.

#169 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:01 AM:

So Colin Powell is going to resign. Surprise?! Not! Of course the utterly impartial-ha-ha-ha radio station I heard it on's new announcement expressed surprise.

And "It appears that the Battle of Fallujah has been won." I suspect it's more like Whack-a-Mole. Oh, oh, oh, now there is the claim that
"these people come from everywhere in the Middle East and they're going to go back home now taking the skills that they have learned.... Zarqawi may have escaped this time...but we'll eventually [get] him" -- that from a retired general.

[sarcasm] I suppose they're going to get Zarqawi like they've gotten Osama bin Laden? And what's gotten noted about him this weekend is that a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa saying that nuking the USA is justified in retaliation for the thousands of deaths of civilians by the USA in the Middle East [in the past several years].

#170 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:04 AM:

I have an SFBC copy of Little, Big. It was just ok, imo, since i have never re-read it. Maybe I should ebay it off *evil grin*.

#171 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:08 AM:

I know, Greg. I can see the technical truth in everything you point out, and yet... irrational book. That string of images in that language does something to me I can't explain. But I was always prone to falling in love with the girl with the glasses and the poetry journal and the black clothes, whether or not she was actually any good for me.

And my unnaturally high threshhold for overwriting is probably the biggest obstacle to the future success of my own Unique Artistic Vision. I'm a Ligotti fan, too, if that puts it in any perspective.

#172 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:19 AM:

I liked Little Big when it came out (too early for me to do a review that I can reference now), and that sample sentence doesn't bother me -- Antique American, instead of C-grade fantasy medievalesque, maybe -- but I've often had a problem with prose that I view as overripe. Maybe I was too young when I tried Sturgeon as a kid, but I didn't enjoy the experience and didn't go back. (So kill me!) Even Zelazny didn't instantly appeal. But the opposing views on Wolfe, Crowley etc. in this thread show that the field is anything but monolithic, and has room for many tastes, styles, etc. And that's a good thing.

#173 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:29 AM:

Dan, I do believe that every "girl" I've ever fallen in love with has worn glasses and loved poetry -- not sure on the black clothes. And when they've kept poetry journals, I've always been very careful to avoid ever looking at the poetry. Very very very careful. I'm far too critical a reader for that to have ever been a good idea.

#174 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 11:52 AM:

Well, I did end up marrying a woman who wears glasses, but not one who writes poetry, which is probably a sensible compromise. One case of Brooding and Complex per household is more than enough.

#175 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy:

Two cliches running beneath the surface of your sincere personal account:

"Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses."~ Dorothy Parker.

Men must be asses if they seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.

And then the scene where the librarian takes her glasses off, lets her hair down, and the male lead stammers: "bbbbut-- you're beautiful!"

Both, of course, based on Truth, however Hollywood clouds the issue.

#176 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:15 PM:

Mayakda, I sold my SFBC copy of Little, Big on eBay this summer. It was the second-highest seller at $13.50. (The highest was one of Sawyer's, but the guy bid so much because he couldn't get it in Australia.) If you do want to sell books on eBay, be sure to look into the USPS Media Mail first.

And for people who need smiles, here's lots & lots of kitties:

http://selfdestruct.net/kitties/

#177 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 08:51 PM:

Greg: Little, Big? Clumsy? Unreadable? I'm willing to believe you have a prose allergy to Crowley's writing; that happens. Call him clumsy I will not.

#178 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 09:52 PM:

I liked Beasts quite a bit, and picked up the omnibus with Engine Summer last April--I'd always meant to read that, but still haven't gotten to it.

Speaking of really nice writing, has everyone seen Cory Doctorow's story in today's Salon?

I'll cop to missing the allusion till I was done.

#179 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 11:22 AM:

So I'm cruising through my neighbourhood Kroger's supermarket, when I happen to notice that they have Hob Nobs, right there in the "Interntational Foods" section. At $3.50 a tube, they weren't too pricey, either (unlike the $2.50 a can for Irn Bru, which I just can't manage to justify to myself), so I picked up some Plain Chocolate and tossed them in the buggy.

Let me tell you...Hob Nobs, Earl Grey, and South Park is a lovely way to pass an evening and forget for a time about the terrors of government and spam.

On that topic, I haven't been getting a whole lot of "message undeliverable" errors from spam viruses spoofing my address lately, but they may be getting caught by my own spam filters. I set up some pretty agressive stuff back when the "sweN" worm was harvesting from people's Outlook Usenet cache...those were some rough days.

#180 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Marilee,
Ohh ... $13.50. Tempting. :)
Btw, thanks again for PK Wars. Good ending. *sniffle*

#181 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 11:48 AM:

How the hell I missed "Interntational" after two previews, I can't imagine. I think the internet may truly be damaging my spelling abilities...

#182 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 05:41 PM:

A comic with a stfnal ending:

http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=230

#183 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 04:01 AM:

LIGHTNING LIPS
11/17/2004

When Sean Shannon goes to the theatre, no one could blame him for shouting "get on with it'' when Hamlet delivers his famous "to be or not to be'' speech.

For the last 15 years, the Canadian businessman has held the record for being the world's fastest talker - he can recite the 260-word Shakespeare soliloquy in 23.8 seconds.

"When the speech comes on, I do tend to get ahead of the actor a little bit in my mind as it is so engrained in my memory,'' he said.

But Shannon, a mild-mannered 52-year-old who refuses to take his quirky talent too seriously, is not resting on his laurels.

"I have now broken the record twice and I think I could break it just one more time,'' Shannon told Reuters at a London reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Guinness Book of Records.

Fans of the Bard want to know if he understands any of it, though.

[excerpted from silly news of the day, Edmonton Sun, Copyright 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.]

And, speaking of 11/17/2004, for another property of 11 and 17, this one by my 15-year-old son, see:

33670369817243: (another Prime Pages' Curiosity)

where by "reversed" on this web site, one means take the decimal digits in the reversal of the original order.

#184 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 11:23 AM:

FYI, when I did a search, BIG GIANT SCARY LETTERS came up. Okay, they weren't scary as much as startling, but they were rather large.

I thought maybe they'd been eating comment spam and had grown to giant size.

#185 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 02:44 PM:

What's going on with the CIA and probably other agencies reminds me of the exit of the Mensheviks....

#186 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 03:30 PM:

I cannot resist posting this link.

Virgin Mary. In grilled cheese sandwich. On Ebay. Thousands of dollars.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=19270&item=5535890757&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW

Hope you all enjoy.

#187 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 03:50 PM:

EVM - Blessed are the cheesemelters, for theirs is the kingdom of lunch.

#188 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 04:10 PM:

70 grand?

I wouldn't pay a penny over 62 thousand for a bitten half-sandwich bearing the face of the Virgin Mary

#189 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 05:58 PM:

I'll admit it: I took a look at the "Everybody Else Has Had More Sex Than Me" link.

(One of those times I reget being only a semi-functional computer-user. It would probably have been even more amusing if I knew what one has to do to make the audio portion, umm, audible.)

I recall reading some survey results (in PLAYBOY, I think, quite some years ago) to the effect that the average guy has sex with six or seven women in his lifetime. I was surprised by the figure; I would have guessed -- at that time -- about two dozen. And I was astounded to realize that somehow, a schmuck like me had managed to be... above average?!!

(No, I won't be so crass as to give a number. Suffice to say, more than I ever expected, and far more than I ever deserved.)

#190 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 12:41 PM:

Good grief! Avedon seems to have had her site removed for exceeding her bandwidth: when I just tried clicking on the link to The Sideshow, I got:


>Site Removed !

>Your site has been removed because you have exceeded your bandwidth allowance.

>You may be able to upgrade to an account with a higher bandwidth allowance - take a look at our Webspace FAQ to find out.

I'm trying to imagine what would have made her site that much busier than usual all of a sudden, or whether sinister conspiracy theorists should begin their speculations.

And I'm wondering if you'd be so kind as to pass on to her that I, for one, would be more than willing to chip in towards a new higher bandwidth
arrangement with her ISP.

Harriet Culver
>

#191 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 03:49 PM:

Re "experimental squeezes": Beforehand, the president assumed a falsetto voice and cried, "Gobble, gobble, gobble! Don't execute me!"

#192 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 06:33 PM:

The look on Bush's face in that picture is so frigging disturbing.

I figure he's thinking:

"I own you . . ."

Many years back, Bill Mahrer suggested that America looked to Europe like a giant Jethro Clampett. Now, I think, we're like Jethro with a frontal lobe tumor, gone all angry and paranoid.

#193 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 06:54 PM:

An open-threaded plea for help to the Making Light/Electrolight community (specifically OS X users), knowing that there are a lot of MT experts in this crowd:

I have been blogging using iBlog since February (hosted under my own domain via Yahoo). As my blog gets longer, it seems to get more cubersome, especially with any CSS change (which seems to defeat the purpose of CSS, unless I'm misunderstanding). Other issues: iBlog has given me a few scares with (temporarily) losing data, failing to upload via FTP, and inflexibility WRT subcategories (You may have one only per post! You may not have multiple designations!). I would also like to clean up the look and feel of the site design, which is not particularly easy in iBlog.

Would it be advisable for a reasonably tech-savvy, curious person to move to Movable Type? Or should I stay away from new problems and stick with the ones I already have?

If you are gracious enough to share opinions but prefer to do this via e-mail, please contact me at jill (at) writingortyping.com.

Thank you!

#194 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:05 PM:

I've been quite happy with MT, Jill. I've not yet upgraded to the current release, though, so I don't know what it's like. (I expect I'll make the jump as soon as my indispensible plugin set is all upgraded to 3.x compliance.) And it's the sort of thing that if you're reasonably tech-savvy and curious you'll have a ball playing with. ("Heeeey. It does *that?* What kinds of cool things could I use *that* for?")

#195 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 02:14 AM:

Is it illusory that Bush has some of Haman's characteristics?

#196 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 03:28 AM:

Ewww... Bushentaschen. I don't even want to think about what the fillings might be.

#197 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 06:21 PM:

Hey . . . what happened to:

http://www.robert-fisk.com/iraqwarvictims_mar2003.htm

?

The google cache is still there, but the whole domain is gone.

If it were up, I would have sent some of the pictures to a certain great-aunt who includes me on the CC: list of chain letters telling me I should pray for the president and "support the troups".

I support the troops, but which "troup" is this I'm being called on to support?

#198 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 06:37 PM:

The vet was here Wednesday and the boys both need dental work, but it turns out Spirit is almost blind. She has a genetic progessive retinal disorder. I know Helen was right, and watching Spirit the last couple of days, I can see differences, but she's still jumping on cabinets and dashing through the house. I've started narrating things when I'm near her so she knows I'm coming and something is going to happen.

#199 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 10:20 PM:

Ewww... Bushentaschen. I don't even want to think about what the fillings might be.

Totally Tasteless Responses

Answer 1: Soylent Green
Answer 2: SOS -- NOT the military chipped beef on rye, either,.

Answer 3: Poppy seed filling, of course, from Afghanistan: in Taliban Fields the warlords grow between the poppies row by row

Answer 4: Spoo

Answer 5: MDX from Iraq

Answer 6: hubris

Answer 7: Gat Gateau, from the teeming Ganges river in India

Answer 8: Chinese rice, they produce everything else with $2 a day labor...

Answer 9: Charles River whitefish, Bush's anti-birth control goons doubtless want to outlaw condoms and find a way to geet rid of them...

Answer 10: pulped documents from Bush's service records


#200 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 05:53 AM:

Re Comment Spam of the Gods Michelle, they are rather startling. I mentioned this on 7th November (search for "quails" in this thread), but wasn't sure if it was my Mozilla browser because I hadn't seen anyone else mentioning it.

And on the knitting subject, I've been meaning to post up a mention of this Recycled silk skein (not a direct link) from The Hunger Site. Alas, it's currently sold out, may turn up again. I just do hope they don't start unravelling fine antique textiles to supply demand.

I love the Re-Mutualization of Compassion (called that as a reaction to a speech, recently headlined "Privatising Christianity", given by a recently-elected Australian Member of Parliament called Julia Irwin) -- this group is one example of the reaction http://www.livejournal.com/community/madebyaliberal/

#201 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 04:50 PM:

"We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency and we've taken away the safe haven."

-- Lieutenant General John Sattler, November 18th, 2004

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."

-- General John Sedgwick, May 8th, 1864

#202 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 09:00 PM:

Marilee: Our previous cat Argent was blind in one eye more than 2 years before she died. The second one went about a year before. It never seemed to make much difference to her though she occasionally jumped higher than she needed to to get on the bed. The vet said that cats are basically 3rd place for cat senses.

MKK

#203 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Mary Kay confused me by writing:

The vet said that cats are basically 3rd place for cat senses.

If cats are 3rd place for cat senses, I wonder what creatures are first and second place...

#204 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 12:14 AM:

The "Build your own Castle" participle is damned cool.

Wish I had the time, space and cash to pursue it.

#205 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 01:12 AM:

Paula - whew! Those filling ideas were rich.

Although, where I come from, #9 is more commonly called a Coney Island Whitefish. Think Nathan's.

And I'll offer a name for the item as a whole:
Bubkis in a Bun.

#206 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 01:59 AM:

This book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, is either yanking my chain to pull my leg OR a chilling expose of the soup nuts in our military.

In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known accepted military practice - and indeed, the laws of physics - they believed that a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren't joking. What's more, they're back and fighting the War on Terror. 'The men who stare at goats' reveals extraordinary - and very nutty - national secrets at the core of George W Bush's War on Terror.

From the first excerpt:

"Animals!" says General Stubblebine.

The Special Forces commanders glance at one another.

"Stopping the hearts of animals," he continues. "Bursting the hearts of animals. This is the idea I'm coming in with. You have access to animals, right?"

"Uh," say Special Forces. "Not really ... "

#207 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 02:13 AM:

xeger and Mary Kay:

#2: Smilodons, and (envelope please) #1: Kzinti.

#208 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:30 AM:

Blatant Commercial:

Bad Magic by Stephan Zielinski, edited by Miss Teresa Herself.

Buy one. Better still, buy a dozen. They make excellent gifts.

#209 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 01:18 PM:

And it's already been reviewed by Ms. Klausner.

#210 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 01:54 PM:

Jill: MT is an excellent tool, and you shouldn't have any difficulty in setting it up. Well, no more than is normal for new app.

(If you want to explore further options, I think well of both Wordpress and Textpattern.)

I don't know if MT is now defaulting to using MySQL for its database; if not, it should still be one of the DB options and the installation docs cover what you need to do to specify a MySQL database and create MT's tables within it. You should find out if your webspace provider offers MySQL support.

If not, unless you want to change providers, you should still be able to configure MT to create a Berkeley database. You can upgrade to MySQL later on.

I d/l'ed iBlog to see what its Export options were, and I can see where you'd find it limiting. It offers 'Export by Date' and 'Export by Something Else', but no clues as to how the output is actually structured. MT has a particular import standard and you may have some difficulties importing your existing site, depending on how much the iBlog export file differs from that standard.

BBEdit is the bee's knees for editing and tweaking all those files, including handling any export format -> import format issues.

#211 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 04:23 PM:

Thanks, pericat and Andrew W.! I need to start poking around and see if I can figure out the setup (Yahoo does offer MySQL support - I was thinking about going with pMachine when I started blogging, but Yahoo's PHP version was not up to pMachine's requirements, so I went with easy and cheap to see if I was going to stick with blogging. Ten months later, here I am).

I love iBlog's interface, but I'm loving its guts less and less as time goes on...

#212 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 04:30 PM:

Ahem. That would be vision is sense #3 for cats. That's what happens when you try posting in a hurry.

MKK

#213 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 04:35 PM:

Mary Kay, that's what the vet said, too, but Smokey was deaf for a few years before he died and you really couldn't tell without banging pots together behind his back.

#214 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 05:17 PM:

JVP wrote:

#2: Smilodons, and (envelope please) #1: Kzinti.

... and then Marilee wrote:

Mary Kay, that's what the vet said, too, but Smokey was deaf for a few years before he died and you really couldn't tell without banging pots together behind his back.

... and Mary Kay admitted to:

... posting in a hurry.

Unfortunately I read these all in a hurry, and was vastly puzzled about how dead smiling dons could possibly have heard pots being banged behind their back. Maybe I should go back to bed now.

#215 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 05:29 PM:

James, reading Bad Magic right now. Further, deponent sayeth not. I haven't been writing real reviews for a long time.

#216 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 08:56 PM:

Are you a cat or a dog? An encyclopedist or a blogger? A loner or a joiner? A Nibbler or a Gobbler? Do you believe in personality tests, or do you understand why they are utter nonsense? An amusing essay on this is:

September 20, 2004
ANNALS OF PSYCHOLOGY
Personality Plus
Employers love personality tests.
But what do they really reveal?

"Once, for fun, a friend and I devised our own personality test. Like the M.B.T.I., it has four dimensions. The first is Canine/Feline. In romantic relationships, are you the pursuer, who runs happily to the door, tail wagging? Or are you the pursued? The second is More/Different. Is it your intellectual style to gather and master as much information as you can or to make imaginative use of a discrete amount of information? The third is Insider/Outsider. Do you get along with your parents or do you de-fine yourself outside your relationship with your mother and father? And, finally, there is Nibbler/Gobbler. Do you work steadily, in small increments, or do everything at once, in a big gulp? I'm quite pleased with the personality inventory we devised. It directly touches on four aspects of life and temperament-romance, cognition, family, and work style-that are only hinted at by Myers-Briggs. And it can be completed in under a minute, nineteen minutes faster than Myers-Briggs, an advantage not to be dismissed in today's fast-paced business environment. Of course, the four traits it measures are utterly arbitrary, based on what my friend and I came up with over the course of a phone call. But then again surely all universal dichotomous typing systems are arbitrary...."

#217 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 10:48 PM:

I'm also using Movable Type (v2, not yet moved to v3) and am quite happy with it. I'm also very happy with MarsEdit as a client interface for it.

#218 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:30 PM:

I like the Native American dog site, but I'm a little leery about the notion of claims of an Indian dog "breed."

Before a couple of hundred years ago, there were general working types, not breeds.

Lots of really good stuff about this in "Dogs" by Coppinger & Coppinger.

Note that some of the dogs being sold as native breeds -- specifically, "song dogs," are part coyote. Perhaps not as touchy as wolf hybrids, and probably really "sharp" (smarts and energy) . . . but this does not make for a great suburban family pet.

I wish I lived in a situation where I could raise really smart-breed dogs. For now I'm content with my acceptably bright Belgian shepherd, who runs around like a nut at the dog park, slam-dances with Great danes, and is then content to flop on the carpet for the evening.

#219 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:38 PM:

Dogs, smart? I can beat MY dog at chess two out of three.

#220 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 12:20 AM:

T: I've written to the castle mold guy asking if the molds could be used for chocolate. Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

MKK

#221 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:14 PM:

Rats. He says, please, no no no.

MKK

#222 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:43 PM:

Thanks for the reminder that _Bad Magic_ was out--Chad found it for me yesterday. He laughed when I pointed out the cover text he'd missed [*] and then settled in to read it himself, as I went back to work (oh, woe).

I'm looking forward to it a lot.

[*] There are some things people weren't meant to know.

Some people know those things anyway. Sucks to be them.

#223 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:46 PM:

MKK: why the emphatic response against chocolate in the molds?

#224 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 03:11 PM:

Kate -- the molds are not a food-grade rubber. The possibility that they might leach something nasty into foodstuffs takes it right out of consideration.

There's certainly going to be something that could be used -- yeah, carving the masters would be what the original Gothic builders called an stane bytche, but the whole point of molds is that you only have to cut the brickwork once. It's also possible that positives made from these in something like dental stone would be workable intermediates for a food-grade negative mold. Someone else may already know the answer to this; I'm away from the Batcave for the rest of the month, but will offer data when it becomes available.

#225 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 03:47 PM:

I'm trying to locate a story about football players who seize control of a stadium and machine-gun the fans for vengeful fun. Probably 1950s in Galaxy. Do you happen to remember it?

#226 ::: Xopher espyeth ye olde SPAM, yea verily ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2009, 02:24 PM:

Oddly, the link is to an X b o x forum.

#227 ::: Earl sees link spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Cynically evil link spam.

#228 ::: Earl sees link spam at 230 ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2010, 04:40 PM:

Link spam.

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