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December 2, 2004

Open thread 33
Posted by Teresa at 10:50 PM *

Oval oval oval push pull push pull… Words unroll from our fingers.
A splash of leaves through the windowpanes,
A smell of tar from the streets:
Apple, arrival, the railroad, shoe.

The words, like bees in a sweet ink, cluster and drone,
Indifferent, indelible,
A hum and a hum:
Back stairsteps to God, ropes to the glass eye:
Vineyard, informer, the chair, the throne.

Mojo and numberless, breaths
From the wet mountains and green mouths; rustlings,
Sure sleights of hand,
The news that arrives from nowhere:
Angel, omega, silence, silence…

Charles Wright, 1945
Comments on Open thread 33:
#1 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 11:55 PM:

What, no palindromes?

"Bob" and "I Palindrome I" are the only two palindrome-themed songs I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure there are others.

Obscure TV Reference: Quark's boss (on the extremely short-lived TV show "Quark") was Otto Palindrome, played by Conrad Janis.

#2 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 11:58 PM:

Hey, I remember "Quark," although not that character. God only knows what kind of attention it would get if aired today, what with one character switching genders all the time.

#3 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:17 AM:

I thought Quark was the bartender on DS9...? *grin*

#4 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:55 AM:

The lyrics to Kew. Rhone. by John Greaves and Peter Blegvad (the latter of Electrolite-epigraph fame) contain the palindrome "Peel's foe, not a set animal, laminates a tone of sleep."

I suppose that including a proper name is cheating a bit, but the rest is so beautiful that I don't mind.

#5 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:59 AM:

And of course there's The Palindromes and their debut album Muy Muy Pop Yum Yum.

#6 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 01:18 AM:

I recently skimmed McLuhan's Gutenburg Galaxy. His theories about the rise of "typographic man" and that the "exteriorizing" of technology freezes it brought this blog's community to mind.

I've done some Googling, but would welcome comments and suggestions, reading leads and red herrings on both the topic and the book itself - in short, what we do so well here.... Thanks.

#7 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 03:10 AM:

Oh, how I wish Quark, complete with the Bettys and Ficus the Vegeton was available on video.

Then again, I'd also like The Tick (the cartoon, not the live-action series) and Sheep in the Big City on DVD. Or video. Or on tin cans joined together by cleverly tied string.

#8 ::: Randall M ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 04:00 AM:

Okay, there seems to be a trend in Open Threads to ask for help identifying stories read long ago but for which the titles and authors are lost. So this is mine:

There's a new drug on the street. Users are found refusing to believe that the people they are talking to are real. An undercover cop is sent in to infiltrate a drug-using site. He takes the drug, passes out, wakes up in the morning with the sun shining in through the curtains of the window. Goes out, calls in the rest of the cops, bust is made, gets a promotion, has a good life, marries, has kids, dies . . . and wakes up in the morning with the sun shining in through the curtains of window. This time he doesn't get the bust, accidentally cripples himself, loses his job, has a lousy life, dies . . . and wakes up in the morning . . .. He goes through several more lives before he gets to one where he solves what's going on (aliens are involved, if I remember correctly). . . and eventually he wakes up in the morning with the sun, yadda yadda.

Sound familiar to anyone?

#9 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 06:07 AM:

Randall: that plot description sounds like "Mind Partner" by Christopher Anvil.

#10 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 06:56 AM:

Given Ben Edlund's connections, one would think he could get The Tick out on video. Perhaps it's time for the incentive letter? " Dear Mr. Edlund: I would pay real ca$h dollar$ for The Tick cartoon series on DVD. The money is burning a hole in my pocket$e$$$. Yours, etc."

Maybe it won't work. He's a screenwriter now. Everybody knows they're fabulously wealthy compared to comix folk. ;-)

#11 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:17 AM:

Randall, that's exactly what happens to me every day! And somebody made a story out of it? Oh well.

Anyway, the Riders in the Sky, on Riders' Radio Theatre, used to have an occasional sketch with a gunfighter who left a business card wherever he went, and his name was... Palindrome! Of course, he spoke reversibly, using some of the same dialog as Weird Al's "Bob."

On a tangent, they had a Saturday morning TV show for a little while. The bunkhouse set included a puppet village inset. On the first show, the puppet sheriff runs past and chats briefly with the boys, but excuses himself to go chase Dirty Dan, who has gotten out of prison again. "Well, I hope you get him," says Too Slim. "Oh, he won't get far," the sheriff assures him, "He's just a puppet, you know."

#12 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:21 AM:

A new open thread already? But the last one hasn't hit 500 yet. :)

Here's a question. Any recs for a book on Iraq culture to include in a care package to someone over there (National Guard)? He mentioned being disappointed in this book, and would like to read something that actual Iraqis had written/contributed to. He's very intelligent, christian, anti-torture, anti-abuse, pro-gay rights -- yet he supports Bush. But I have hope for his eventual, um, enlightenment.

#13 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:25 AM:

Quark -- great short-lived show! Here's a summary of the episodes: http://www.tvtome.com/Quark/season1.html

Another short-lived show I really liked was "Secret Agent Man" in 2000 -- http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/EpisodeGuideSummary/showid-2944/Secret_Agent_Man/. Any one else enjoy this one?

#14 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:43 AM:

Alas for the animated Tick series, Ben Edlund doesn't have the rights -- Fox Family, for whatever bizarre reason, is sitting on the series, despite the fact that the DVD of the live action series did quite well.

Edlund couldn't get the rights to Die Fliedermaus and American Maid (who were original to the cartoon) and thus we got Bat Manuel and Captain Liberty in the live action series.

#15 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:52 AM:

Anyone here connected with Philcon who knows what the plan is now that GoH Brian Aldiss can't make it?

And is there any hope that the list of program items will be posted on the website before the con begins? I remember being quite impressed with the list that was posted last year, and it greatly enhanced my anticipation of the convention.

#16 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:54 AM:

Connie H. wrote:
Edlund couldn't get the rights to Die Fliedermaus and American Maid (who were original to the cartoon) and thus we got Bat Manuel and Captain Liberty in the live action series.

Which sucked oversized perspiring underground mammals compared to the animated version.

The animated Tick is second-and-a-halfth on my list of most quotable TV shows of all time.
("Could you destroy the world?"
"Egad, I hope not! That's where I keep all my stuff!")

#17 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:07 AM:

"What planet are you from?"

Tick: "Planet ME!"

Always loved that line.

#18 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:08 AM:

Say isn't there a Pogo collection in which some characters (I'm thinking maybe Churchy and Howland and Pogo) go to Australia in a catapult-powered cauldron and interact with dinosaurs? I was thinking that happened in G.O. Fizzicle Pogo but looking through it last night I did not find that sequence.

#19 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:12 AM:

To answer my own question: this site suggests it happened in Prehysterical Pogo in Pandemonia.

#20 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:41 AM:

I still don't understand why Edlund didn't sue the ass off of MSN when they totally ripped off Arthur...

For my YASID entry, here's one I've been trying to remember for years: 2 short sci-fi novels in one MMPB from the 80s (possibly very early 90s). In one story, a visitor to a planet falls asleep/goes unconscious in a cave and wakes up with an alien symbiote in his head that has the ability to speed his healing by redirecting stem cells to whereever they were needed in the body, and could up his adrenal output, and other nifty stuff. In the other story, a shaggy-fur covered humanoid falls in love with a "normal" human, and ends up crucified after trying (succeding?) to free a bunch of other creatures from a massive compound. Christian emissaries from Earth are shocked when they see the new religion. Author's last name was unusual...either it had a double A in it, or it was in the XYZ corner of the alphabet.

#21 ::: Jame Scholl ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:55 AM:

Randall M. asked:
>Sound familiar to anyone?

Was it Keith Laumer's Knight of Delusions? Read it so long ago that I only vaguely remember it, but I seem to recall it having a similar if not weirder plot. I know at the end it turned out to be aliens. (I suppose that decade's version of "it was caused by rays.")

#22 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:56 AM:

That first one sounds like "Pard," a story I liked a lot, but unfortunately I can't remember the author. But that was in the 70s.

#23 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 11:22 AM:

Excerpt from Prime Curios! (a web site that has 120 of my contributions)

"A palindrome (from the Greek palindromos "running back again") is a word, verse, sentence, or integer that reads the same forward or backward. For example, "Able was I ere I saw Elba" or 333313333. Here is a little longer one by Peter Hilton (a code-breaker on the British team that cracked the German Enigma):

Doc, note. I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod."

"Sotades the obscene of Maronea (3rd century BC) is credited with inventing the palindrome. Though today only eleven lines of his works still remain, he is thought to have recast the entire Illiad as palindromic verse. Sotades also wrote lines which when read backwards had the opposite meaning, now sometimes called Sotadic verses. Sotades attacked many with his unrestrained toungue, and eventually was jailed by Ptolemy II. Sotades eventually escaped, but Ptolemy's admiral Patroclus caught him, sealed him in a leaden chest and tossed him into the sea."

"Though palindromic numbers have no significant role in modern mathematics, the survival of the old mysticism so often attached to numbers (perfect numbers, amicable numbers, abundant numbers...) insures the palindromes a secure place in the heart of the amateur numerologists."

See Also: PalindromicPrime, Strobogrammatic, Tetradic

Related pages:

The Palindromist A Journal For People Who WRITE - and Read - Palindromes

Leo's Palindrome Collection

Jim Kalib's Palindrome Connection

#24 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:02 PM:

"In one story, a visitor to a planet falls asleep/goes unconscious in a cave and wakes up with an alien symbiote in his head that has the ability to speed his healing by redirecting stem cells to whereever they were needed in the body, and could up his adrenal output, and other nifty stuff."

The author was F. Paul Wilson, although I don't remember the short story but the novel, "Healer," that resulted from it.

#25 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Xopher, ISFDB has two stories listed with "Pard" in the title, one by F. Paul Wilson who seems to primarily write horror of a quite different flavor than the humorous sci-fi that I remember of this story, and the other ("Old Pard") doesn't seem likely as it was written in '33.

#26 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:04 PM:

Well...interesting...I shall do more research...

#27 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:18 PM:

I think we have a winner...I don't remember any of the "Intergalactic plague" storyline of Healer, but I bet it was the novella/short story version ("Pard") that I read.

Cool. Thanks to Xopher and Dave!

#28 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Breaking Out of the Modernist Ghetto Dept.:

Ex-Abs: Committed abstractionists are finding themselves irresistibly drawn to the figure

By Deidre Stein Greben

I’ve come out!” exclaims Stephanie Pryor, 33, referring to her recent about-face—from making buoyant abstractions with colorful shapes to painting small acrylic ink works featuring wild animals, opera singers, and ballet dancers. “It’s like having a heterosexual relationship if you’re gay,” the Los Angeles–based painter says of the earlier pictures, which were shown at galleries in California, New York, and Milan. “And if it doesn’t feel right, why keep doing it?”

Inka Essenhigh was surprised by the figures that emerged in her abstractions. [see image by follwing link: Capturing the evolution: Chainlink Fence, 2004. COURTESY 303 GALLERY, NEW YORK, AND VICTORIA MIRO GALLERY, LONDON]

In today’s anything-goes atmosphere, switching camps—from abstraction to representation or vice versa—is not considered exceptionally radical, or even brave, but it still gives us pause. “People felt betrayed, as if I did it to them,” says Jonathan Santlofer, who shifted in the early 1990s from making abstract constructions to painting portraits and other representational images....

[this just in: artist of old Astounding cover illos revealed to be Picasso]

#29 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Steve Eley:

The animated Tick is second-and-a-halfth on my list of most quotable TV shows of all time.
("Could you destroy the world?"
"Egad, I hope not! That's where I keep all my stuff!")
Which of course rather reminds me of a favorite line from Adult Swim's The Brak Show:

"Oh my God, he'll tear your arms off!"
"But I love my arms! That's where my hands live!"

The whole transcript, in all its bizarre glory, can be found here.

#30 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:42 PM:

"For my YASID entry, here's one I've been trying to remember for years: 2 short sci-fi novels in one MMPB from the 80s (possibly very early 90s). In one story, a visitor to a planet falls asleep/goes unconscious in a cave and wakes up with an alien symbiote in his head that has the ability to speed his healing by redirecting stem cells to whereever they were needed in the body, and could up his adrenal output, and other nifty stuff. In the other story, a shaggy-fur covered humanoid falls in love with a "normal" human, and ends up crucified after trying (succeding?) to free a bunch of other creatures from a massive compound. Christian emissaries from Earth are shocked when they see the new religion. Author's last name was unusual...either it had a double A in it, or it was in the XYZ corner of the alphabet."

Could this have been one of the Tor Doubles that Patrick edited?


#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Mayakda, I'm still hoping someone here can answer that.

#32 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 01:08 PM:

This is farging brilliant, and just what we need to cope with the holidays:

http://uk.download.yahoo.com/ne/fu/attachments/bubblewrap.swf

#33 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 02:35 PM:

The Tick and the original Animaniacs were the tickets to sanity for my roommate and me in law school.

SPOOOOOON!

#34 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 02:36 PM:

Thanks Teresa. I've been poking around amazon (which seems to be down right now -- DOS attack?), and found two possible suspects: A Modern History of Iraq by Phebe Marr and Shi'ihs of Iraq by Yitzak Nakosh (I hope I spelled that right -- trying to decipehr my handwriting). The Marr book is pricey -- $40. Anyone read either of these?
I also wonder if any of Juan Cole's books would be good to send.

#35 ::: pookel ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 02:58 PM:

As long as we're identifying stories, I have one. I've asked it many places and haven't gotten a solution; I don't think I've asked here, but sincere apologies if I have.

The story probably appeared in Omni magazine in the late 1980s. It featured a scientist who sends his consciousness back in time and takes over Hitler's body while he's a young man in Vienna. After he tortures Hitler for a while, Hitler gets control of the body back, and his sense that the invading mind is Jewish provokes the Holocaust. Meanwhile, the scientist is trapped in Hitler's mind and has to watch the whole thing.

Less important, but as long as I'm on the subject, there are two others from Omni. One was about a woman whose sister grows enormously big and diffuse and eventually disappears. And another about a guy with a friend who goes by Buddha, who gives himself a sex change, and there seemed to be a lot of drug use involved.

I don't know anymore if these were good stories or if they just made a strong impression on my young mind. I was reading this stuff when I was 10-12 and it was fascinating at the time.

#36 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 03:18 PM:

The Buddha story I *think* was reprinted in one of the Datlow & Windling Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies, and I *think* it may have been by Lucius Shepard, but I won't swear to it.

I can't express how weirded out I was when I learned that the actor of playing Quark was also the actor of playing BtVS's Principal Snyder. (Yes, I've been living in a TV blackout.)

#37 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 03:24 PM:

I'm about halfway through David G. Hartwell's updated Age of Wonders, which I'm enjoying immensely. However, he does strike me as just a tad defensive here and there about the virtues of SF against mainstream fiction. He admits that a lot of classic SF stories are not well written, but that this isn't a mark against them because, after all, it's the sense of wonder that counts, derived from the central idea of the story, not the writing.

Which is fine by me...but, er, wouldn't that sense of wonder be heightened if the writing (i.e. prose style) were better, by any standard?

Anyway, that left me a little puzzled. Wondering if other readers of the book thought so.

(I categorize myself as what Mr. Hartwell defines as a "chronic".)

#38 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 04:10 PM:

On favorite cartoons: Pinky and The Brain of course!

One of them's an idiot, the other one's insane!

Hm, sounds like Bush & Rove, come to think of it. Except much cuter.

#39 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 04:26 PM:
Say isn't there a Pogo collection in which some characters (I'm thinking maybe Churchy and Howland and Pogo) go to Australia in a catapult-powered cauldron and interact with dinosaurs? I was thinking that happened in G.O. Fizzicle Pogo but looking through it last night I did not find that sequence.
...
To answer my own question: this site suggests it happened in Prehysterical Pogo in Pandemonia.

It does indeed. There is a little confusion as to whether it is in fact Australia or Mars, but that seems common. They also go to Australia (though without meeting the dinosaurs, or Doc Webster Noah) in Positively Pogo, and there is the Mars confusion there as well, though in that case the Australians think Pogo is from Mars, rather than the other way around.

The episode in Positively Pogo starts out with Pogo and Mouse being fired into space in a garbage can that's been loaded into a mortar. The Australia trip proper features Pogo entering the Olympics on behalf of Mars, and setting two world records--6 seconds for the 880-yard dash, and 168+ hours for the pentathlon. They get back by flying sleigh just in time for Christmas.

Prehysterical Pogo in Pandemonia gets them to Mars/Australia by the explosion of a cauldron of Aunt Grannies Bitter Brittle Root, and back by biplane, IIRC. Aside from the pre-modern cast, PPiP also marks an interesting departure for the daily strips--ordinarily, the weeekday strips and the Sunday strips ran completely distinct storylines, but during the Pandemonia sequence in '66-'67, the storyline ran straight through.

I've actually got a copy around somewhere, but it's in pretty rough shape--a lot too many readings for a paperback of its vintage.

#40 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 04:31 PM:
mayakda wrote:
One of them's an idiot, the other one's insane!

Hm, sounds like Bush & Rove, come to think of it. Except much cuter.

Er...except that the line goes "One is a genius, the other's insane..."

#41 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 04:34 PM:

And because I can't resist linking up the Pogo and palindrome threads, here's a poem by Churchy LaFemme from I Go Pogo :

Smile, wavering wings
Above rains pour,
While hopefully sings
Love of shorn shore
Shore shorn of love
Sings hopefully while
Pour rains above,
Wings wavering, smile.
#42 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 05:00 PM:

Out of morbid curiosity: I went to the site for Dr. Bronner and found mention of a line of foods that he sold--the family doesn't sell them anymore, soap being less likely to spoil. Has anyone ever had one of Bronner's food products?

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 05:20 PM:

I think I had the Celery Soda once. It was better than I expected, but still not, you know, good.

#44 ::: BethN ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 05:25 PM:

Another site similar to (yet different from) the one Stefan posted, which has been around for a while:
http://www.urban75.com/Mag/bubble.html

#45 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 05:27 PM:

pookel,

The story about the expanding sister is "Daddy's Big Girl," IIRC, by Ursula Leguin. It can be found in her collection Unlocking the Air.

#46 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 05:33 PM:

Two opposing articles from the BBC site about immortality (courtesy Slashdot):
Pro: Aubrey de Grey
Con: S Jay Olshansky

Taking these two data points and holding to Eley's Razor -- that the truth is in the middle -- I calculate we'll all live to be 540. ((1000 - 80) / 2 + 80)

Works for me. Of course we'll likely spend all our Golden 400s lusting after the 135-year-olds, so we're sure not to appreciate it properly.

#47 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 08:49 PM:

mayakda:

"Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?'

"Yeah, I think so, Brain - but if we didn't have ears, we'd look like weasels!"

"- but how are we going to get the tutu on the chimpanzee?"

"- but where are we going to find an open tattoo parlor this time of night?"

"- but me and Pippi Longstocking - what would the children look like?"

*giggle*

#48 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 09:22 PM:

I feel somehow compelled to point out that my favorite line from The Tick is in the episode where The Tick is transformed into a small two-headed bird that speaks only high school French. He turns to his tormentor (Brainchild, I think) and exclaims, "J'accuse!"

That, and when The Terror tells his son Terry that if he wants his respect, that he should "do something bad, not badly!"

And any time Handy says "Read a book!"

Maybe I should cover all the bases and write I-want-to-give-you-money letters to both Edlund and Fox.

#49 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 11:34 PM:

Steven Sample: Thanks for the info, and are you Steven Sample, son of Sandy Sample, of Modesto, CA? If so, howdy, we went to sunday schools together. (And if not, howdy anyways.)

This evening I was reading a beautiful bit of Positively Pogo in which Albert and Beauregard are discussing Beauregard's plans to instruct Albert in the ways of doggery so he will be able to work as a dog in the commercials P.T.Bridgeport and Tammany are writing.

Beauregard: How would you like to be the great Teuton glammer dog brung over to star on teevy?

Albert: Easy! Nothin' to it.

B: Now the dog book is got a nice dog here what is han'some, a-lert, a-ware, keen of nose, keen of eye, keen of brain...

A [contentedly]: I kin handle all that.

B: How about the barking -- how do you suppose a Teuton dog would sound?

A: Like a steamboat or a hollow ween horn?

B: No -- that would be a tootin' dog -- this is more in German -- a German bark.

A: Well -- I'll say "Auf Wiedersehen".

Mouse [strolling on from stage left]: An' not a minute too soon...

This, not long after Miss Mamselle Hepzibah has frightened the two by imitating for them the barking of the Papillon, "a small, tiny, little animal dog use for cotch the boosterflies".

#50 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 11:36 PM:

Aargh, and sorry about misspelling your name, Stephen.

#51 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 07:13 AM:

Regarding palindromes: this is James A. Lindon's Doppelganger.

Doppelganger

Entering the lonely house with my wife
I saw him for the first time
Peering furtively from behind a bush --
Blackness that moved,
A shape amid the shadows,
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
Revealed in the ragged moon.
A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Put him to flight forever --
I dared not
(For reasons that I failed to understand),
Though I knew I should act at once.

I puzzled over it, hiding alone,
Watching the woman as she neared the gate.
He came, and I saw him crouching
Night after night.
Night after night
He came, and I saw him crouching,
Watching the woman as she neared the gate.

I puzzled over it, hiding alone --
Though I knew I should act at once,
For reasons that I failed to understand
I dared not
Put him to flight forever.

A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Revealed in the ragged moon.
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
A shape amid the shadows,
Blackness that moved.

Peering furtively from behind a bush,
I saw him for the first time,
Entering the lonely house with my wife.

#52 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 07:42 AM:

". . . I fink so, Bwain, but if they looked like Hugo Gewnsback, no one would want one on the mantelpiece."

And yes, I know about the counterexample. Twice over.

#53 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 11:09 AM:

Quick Query: Has anyone here heard the recently-circulating news story of a person who is supposed to have found a nutri-grain (or nutrigrain) piece that looked like E.T. (the Extra-Terrestrial) & sold it on eBay for $1000? It came as a follow-up to the toasted-cheese sandwich with image of The Virgin story.

Well, (tangentially related to the fake legal cases mentioned in the 'Common fraud' thread, or even the "Human Guinea Pigs" story) I have not found any evidence of anyone paying, or even bidding, $1,000 for any ET-related cereal product.

There's a bunch that people have put up for sale since the story broke, and some have a "Buy-me-Now" price of $1000, but most haven't sold at all, one or two have for e.g. $2. Some people have put up alternative collectibles

#54 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 11:24 AM:
I think I had the Celery Soda once. It was better than I expected, but still not, you know, good.

Xopher, are you sure you're not thinking of Dr. Brown instead of Dr. Bronner?

#55 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Er...except that the line goes "One is a genius, the other's insane..."

Jungian slip. :P

#56 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 04:24 PM:

mayakda wrote:
Jungian slip. :P

Jungian? That's where your mind was on something in a past life?

#57 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 04:49 PM:

Steve Eley and mayakda:

I'd define: "Jungian Slip: when the Collective Unconscious highjacks your conscious speech."

#58 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 05:28 PM:

In sudden sympathy with all editors, I call the group's attention to this blog post. The guy wrote an erotic novel, got a neutral form rejection slip from what sounds like the first place he submitted it, and reacts like this:

"I was very proud of this novel. In fact, of everything I've ever written in my life, I thought Danielle was my crowning glory, and what I'm proudest of having written. Apparently, those who would publish it feel that my novel sucks swampwater enemae from the recta of ten-day-dead roadkilled mangy goats left rotting on the boiling pavement under a Texas summer sun. In other words, unworthy of publication without even bothering to offer rationale for having rejected it. I can only assume it was that terrible to them that it wasn't worth a moment's time to add more commentary as to their reasoning. At this point, I'm now wondering if I should bother attempting publication ever again."

Sheesh, I wasn't that sensitive when I was twelve.

#59 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 06:09 PM:

In one of those co-incidences, I've just queued up a few more Tick episodes in aMule to download. (Hey, if they won't sell them to me, I refuse to feel too guilty about downloading them.)

Tick: Don't make us bite you in hard-to-reach places.

Diverting briefly to politics, this approach (as reported in the story) should about finish the takeover process.

Returning to less discombobulating matters, I've just finished re-reading Ringworld (since I can't get into The Algebraist), and I'm feeling slightly heretical for the fact I find the concept of Teela Brown much more interesting than the Ringworld. Okay, so it's huge, but ultimately it's just problems of engineering.

Please tell me I'm not alone in this...

#60 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 06:41 PM:

I think that part of the appeal of Ringworld was that "Big Dumb Object" stories were relatively new at the time. (There certainly were a lot fewer of them than there are now.) I always found it a bit dull as a novel myself.

My problem with Teela Brown as a concept is that it attributes magic power to artificial selective breeding. Good luck would be a huge advantage in all of life, from the ancient savannah to the modern galaxy, right? Yet somehow natural selection failed to produce Teela Brown and the tiny, tiny selection pressure of the Birthright Lottery succeeded.

#61 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 07:00 PM:

I guess if it was one of the first BDO stories, that would help. I've always preferred Orbitals, personally, but then I might be biased. ;-)

As for the concept of Teela - I never claimed it made *sense*, just that it was substantially more interesting than the scenery...

#62 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 08:07 PM:

I believe Dr. Bronner used to make, and maybe still does, some sort of Frito-like snack food back in the 70s. I remember eating it and liking it quite a bit.

#63 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 10:37 PM:

Sheesh, I wasn't that sensitive when I was twelve.

Well, I am, and I feel just like that after every rejection and sometimes between rejections and certainly for at least part of the time after I mail in a submission. But I have thought I respond rather excessively, and even so I'd never write something like that in public, especially not mentioning the name of the publisher.

Because after one mopes around for a week or a month or a year or whatever, one's going to write another one and another one, and one is most likely going to submit it to the same places (plural, plural, plural to the best of one's ability to ferret out appropriate and nearly-appropriate markets)-- and what if they took the next one and you'd been a horrible whiny butt about the rejection before? You'd always be cringing every time you talked to them, thoroughly embarrassed about what had happened in the past, and no amount of reassurance would ever make you comfy again. If you're that sensitive, anyway. When they do finally see some words of yours that are of use to them, you want to have a simple, straightforward, businesslike relationship, not one where you keep wishing you hadn't said what you said back then.

#64 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 01:03 AM:

When What You Want to Say Isn't . . .

The Freudian Camisole.

New this holiday season from the Karen Horney Intimates Collection.

Now, aren't you glad I got rid of all that in three dire sentences, instead of writing a whole direslexic erotoidal novvalump, getting it rejected, and going through a cerebrocloacal infarct?

As Dr. Horney famously did not say, the Web itself remains a very effective therapy.

#65 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 06:24 PM:

Re: The Calvinist Tulip, in the particles: "There are two main camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism."

What? I rather thought that there were rather a lot of Catholics, who are neither Arminian nor Calvinist.

#66 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 06:59 PM:

James --

Tulip churches are unlikely to consider anyone other than a Protestant to be properly Christian.

I do get amused by the very light-and-happiness tulip graphics; it's an interesting form of false advertising.

#67 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 07:32 PM:

Paul wrote:

> Returning to less discombobulating matters, I've just finished re-reading Ringworld (since I can't get into The Algebraist), and I'm feeling slightly heretical for the fact I find the concept of Teela Brown much more interesting than the Ringworld. Okay, so it's huge, but ultimately it's just problems of engineering.

I feel mildly peeved about Teela Brown, because I think she's a very funny joke on Niven's part, and the correct response is to either appreciate Niven's sense of humour or not - but not to carefully point out the logical flaws in his idea. Sadly, the collective soul of rasfw disagrees with me.

> Please tell me I'm not alone in this...

Not alone, but you might just be in a tiny minority.

#68 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 07:40 PM:

Mark D. Wrote

I recently skimmed McLuhan's Gutenburg Galaxy. His theories about the rise of "typographic man" and that the "exteriorizing" of technology freezes it brought this blog's community to mind.


I've done some Googling, but would welcome comments and suggestions, reading leads and red herrings on both the topic and the book itself -

You might take a look at Richard Lanham's The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. University of Chicago Press, 1993.

There's a sample chapter here, on the author's web site. In fact you might just look at some of Lanham's excerpts while you're there; they might appeal. He's a rhetorician and renaissance literature specialist.

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 11:42 PM:

I don't think I could bring myself to reread _Ringworld_.

It was my favorite best ever novel for many years, and I'm afraid I'd find it as lame as I found some of Niven's (well, to be fair, Niven & Pournelle's) later novels.

BSD probably had a lot to do with the book's attraction . . . but, dang, you know, you read Stapledon's _Star Maker_ and the hurdles for scale and gravitas get set so high . . .

#70 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 01:05 AM:

Stefan: Hey, I even read The Ringworld Throne. Library copy, so at least I didn't feel like I'd actually, y'know, wasted cash money, just my time....

#71 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 03:39 AM:

I just found this rather perverse knitted children's gimp suit link http://www.popdizzy.com/archives/popdizzy-desired-products-childrens-knitted-gimp-suit via a comment on Apostropher.

Creepy and funny.

And while I'm posting links, PZ Myers at the always excellent Pharyngula offered up a link to an on-line superhero generator called the Hero Machine. I probably wasted about 90 minutes today playing with it.

#72 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 07:50 AM:

"Apparently, those who would publish it feel that my novel sucks swampwater enemae from the recta of ten-day-dead roadkilled mangy goats left rotting on the boiling pavement under a Texas summer sun.

Ummm, judging from the example of his writing I can hazard a guess as to why the writer's manuscript was rejected.

Actually, I think it works better as a poem:

my novel sucks
swampwater enemae
from the recta
of ten-day-dead
roadkilled mangy goats
left rotting
on the boiling pavement
under a Texas summer sun.

#73 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 09:01 AM:

I'd define: "Jungian Slip: when the Collective Unconscious highjacks your conscious speech."

Exactly. If we could kill that hundredth monkey before it acts, we'd have a better illusion of free will, I say.
:)


#74 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 10:07 AM:

The auto-disemvoweler is cute. But what one really needs is a re-emvoweler.

Rot13 was convenient in that it worked both ways. One could simply use the tool to read the text that had been encoded. Disemvolweling makes it more difficult to read text that someone else has decreed as Not Worthy.

Any re-emvowelers out there?

#75 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 05:17 PM:

I've been reading the Hartwell/Cramer "The Ascent of Wonder" for a few years -- it's so heavy I can't read it in bed, and just grab bits of time in the recliner, supporting it on a pillow in my lap -- and last night I turned to the next story and it was "Weyr Search." I considered skipping it, since I'd reread the old books every time a new one came out, but after the first page, I was reading seriously. I know everything that happens in the story, but it still caught me again.

#76 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 05:26 PM:

Institute of Internet History:

straight-faced illustrated Alternate History of the 19th Century "First Internet."

#77 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 05:46 PM:

So much depends
on the ten-day-dead
roadkilled mangy goats
left rotting
on the boiling pavement
under a Texas summer sun.

#78 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 10:47 PM:

I thought this group of passionate readers might have some opinions on a topic which has come up for me today: my eye doctor has suggested I get progressive lenses, as I need both a reading prescription and a walking around prescription.

Frankly, I'm feeling pretty anxious about this. Right now I've been wearing prescription reading glasses when I read books, knit from graphs, and when I use the computer, and nothing when I'm not. I understand that I'll probably be happier during the "when I'm not" portion of the program -- but I'm scared that everything else will be awful. I never seem to be able to convince eye doctors of *how much* of the time I spend reading, whether it's on a screen or on a page -- they always seem a little incredulous.

So what do people think? Is it the end of the world? Will it all be okay? Are there magic things I can say to the opticians to make the glasses come out closer to perfect? (Oh, by the way, I'm 33 -- I thought I had another 10 years before I'd be fretting about this!)

#79 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 11:01 PM:

For what it's worth, both Teresa and I now wear trifocals, and while I'll let Teresa speak for herself, for me it's been the difference between night and day.

#80 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 11:11 PM:

And he can now kill vampires by shining his glasses on them.

#81 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 11:22 PM:

I have progressive lenses. I take them off to read print, but not to read my monitor. They take some getting used to, but I'd call it the end of youth rather than the end of the world.

Larry, I'd managed to purge Hero Machine from my memory. Now I've been sucked back in.

And it's version 2.0, too. Now with more mohawks!

#82 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 11:40 PM:

Quick survey on a painful subject:

What would y'all consider a reasonable amount of severance pay, in months / weeks of salary?

There are going to be layoffs at work, following an acquisition. No idea if I'll make the cut or not.

I'm well prepared money-reserve-wise, but a decent amount of severance pay would mean being able to take courses and spend time thinking about what comes next.

#83 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:58 AM:

Rose, I got the word about bifocals when I was 45, couldn't believe it, resigned myelf to it, and haven't looked back since. If you want photogray lenses they tend to weigh more since they're glass, but that's the only drawback I've noticed.

Stefan Jones, I'd hope for six months and prepare for three or less.

#84 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:45 AM:

Bifocals since grade school. You'll get used to it. By age 10, the "me" in my dreams wore them. Except when I had alternate senses.

I once categorized over a dozen extra senses from my dreams (precognative smell, spin polarization...), and over a dozen different forms of flying (funniest one was a version of what Curley does on the floor, but rotating literally head-over-heels). I'm mildly horrified by you guys who claim to experience only one way. Problem from that is, I don't know who's the weirder one, me or thee.

#85 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 03:11 AM:

Jeremy Osner: I was wondering when I wrote my previous response whether you were the Jeremy I knew, but for whatever reason I didn't pursue it. I blame sleep deprivation ;-)

So, yes, howdy!

#86 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 06:31 AM:

I can't seem to read the comments on "Request for Feedback". Every time I try to go to that thread I just get a blank screen. Is it just me or is this happening to others too?

#87 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 07:01 AM:

Stefan - when I was laid off, they calculated severance thusly (with apologies to JVP).

The grade level you were at when you were laid off gave you either 2 or 3 weeks to come up with x

Years with the company = y

So, the company calculated x * y + 4 weeks (everyone got that extra 4 week bump) to come up with your severance.

So, person at "Level 48" (professional line staff, nonmanager) who had served 5 years would get 14 weeks (2 * 5 + 4). YMMV

#88 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 08:57 AM:

David Goldfarb writes: "I can't seem to read the comments on 'Request for Feedback'. Every time I try to go to that thread I just get a blank screen. Is it just me or is this happening to others too?"

It wasn't just you. We don't know what caused it, but a "rebuild individual archives" from within MT appears to have restored the mysteriously-vanished page.

(Advice to other MT users: always do a full export from your MT database first, before trying to deal with a glitch of this magnitude.)

#89 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:01 AM:

Every company has a different severance policy. The one time this applied to me, my employer offered two weeks' severance for every year of employment for a "voluntary separation" (i.e., you resign and take the money and run). The next round was the "reduction in force" (i.e., layoffs). Those people got one week of severance per year of employment, but could collect unemployment payments afterward.

#90 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 10:05 AM:

At downsizing time, I had worked for the company going on 8 years and was offered 2 months salary. I asked for more. (Cannot recall if I just said "well I think I've been pretty valuable to the company, why not give me some more" or if I specified a higher amount; I believe mostly the first.) After some hemming and hawing they gave me 4 months salary which did serve to take the edge off the job hunt nicely. (Perhaps obviously, no severance terms were specified in my contract.)

In last night's dream, Robyn Hitchcock was leading a poetry workshop. He asked for people to suggest a means of torture; I raised my hand and waited patiently until he called on me, and offered "Chinese water". RH thought it was a good idea but I got in an argument with my neighbor who did not think so. Between the raising-my-hand-and-waiting and the arguing-with-my-neighbor I did not pay sufficient attention to other people's suggestions.

#91 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:37 AM:

Thanks for the feedback about progressive bifocals -- I'm feeling less anxious about it, and looking forward to getting rid of the headaches I've been having. To clarify -- I didn't think it might be the end of the world because it represents the end of youth -- I'm more worried about it representing the end of getting perfectly satisfactory eyeglass prescriptions!

#92 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:32 PM:

Rose, forget about being nice and sweet and agreeable when they fit you for these. Be a diva. Demand, insist, carp, and find fault. The more careful about fitting the opticians are up front, the better the end result. They know this, and would really rather have you quibble now, before things are set in stone, than complain when the glasses are finished. It's cheaper this way, and you'll adjust more easily. When they ask "Is this good?", don't be afraid to tell them it could be better. They want to know, so don't be shy.
No, I not a bifocal user--but every else in my family over 40 is, and it really is best to be extra picky during fittings, even if you feel badly about being so hard to please.

#93 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:41 PM:

PNH:

David Goldfarb writes: "I can't seem to read the comments on 'Request for Feedback'. Every time I try to go to that thread I just get a blank screen. Is it just me or is this happening to others too?"

It wasn't just you. We don't know what caused it, but a "rebuild individual archives" from within MT appears to have restored the mysteriously-vanished page.

I think that Making Light was trying to protect itself from unwanted changes, or, I'm sorry Patrick, I can't do that.

#94 ::: Magenta ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:51 PM:

About bifocals. If you work on a monitor a lot, and can afford it, get two pairs of glasses, one bifocals, and one with just the close prescription, to use when on the computer. I find that works much better. And I am considering a pair that is just the distance prescription for driving and movies (the two times I need them most.)

But my eyes aren't that bad. I can get around the house or office without any glasses. With bifocals, I find I have to throw my head back to see through just the bottom; I have the old fashioned line bifocals. YMMV.

#95 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:08 PM:

Well, it sounds like we're being offered the low end of the scale: One week per year of service, minimum four weeks. Plus three months of health care.

Not nearly enough to be able to take a year off and learn how to operate a prairie dog vacuum.

#96 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:12 PM:

OK, the IE problem where it cuts off the post and comments at the bottom of the ad space annoyed me one too many times, so I took a look at it. I think I have a simple workaround for it, involving:


  • Changing "div class=link" to "div id=link"

  • Moving the links above the content, and

  • As a consequence, changing the style sheet to float the links instead of the content (but keeping the width tag on the content - don't ask me why that is necessary).


Unfortunately this makes Netscape 6.2 (the only other browser I have installed here) choke, so I changed my sample post page to load different style sheets (and the links/content in different orders) depending on whether the browser is IE or not. If you don't care about Netscape 6.2, you might be able to get away with not doing that, assuming the changed version works in Firefox/Opera/etc.

Let me know if y'all want the sample post page and the new CSS file, and if anyone else who knows more about this than I do (which could be almost anyone) wants them to check over, just ask.

#97 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:17 PM:

I agree, though, that one gets strange responses when telling an opthamologist that one spends upwards of 10 hours a day reading computer screens, magazines, newspapers, and books. For one thing, the average American spends closer to 4 minutes a day reading all magazines, newspapers, and books (wish I could give you the citation for this).

So long as I'm subpoenaed for Jury Duty, I want to actually be on that jury. As opposed to my wife, whom they subpoena almost every year despite her not being a U.S. Citizen. So I have been, several times, including as a Jury Foreman on a Murder trial. Attorneys often try to weed out anyone with actual education, intelligence, experience, or independence. So, to get on the Murder trial, I kept my answers as short as possible, and technically correct. The key was my response in Voir Dire to "do you have a college degree?"

I answered "yes," rather than "many."

Next, the lawyer asked "what degree were you thinking of?"

"English Literature," I said, not volunteering "and Math, and Computer Science, and Doctoral Work in Molecular Biology..."

"Why?" he continued.

I smiled disingenuously and concluded: "I like to read."

Satisfied, they allowed me on. They were baffled by the results.

In discussion after the verdict (hung on Murder, Not Guilty on Attempted Murder), the prosecutor asked: "How did you come up with all those amazing criminalistics questions?"

"Well," I replied, "I am an Active Member of Mystery Writers of America."

"Damn," he said, literally smiting his brow, "got to remember to ask about that sort of thing in the future."

"Fair enough," I said. "But for god's sake, try to get your ducks in a line if you retry this one, and win the Motions in Limine about gang connections. Now that you tell me the actual motive -- revenge on the rival gangster who killed the defendant's brother in a different crack deal -- I almost wish I'd let the conviction through. But I was doing my job too -- you did not give us a murder weapon, a motive, proof that the alleged victim of Attempted Murder even existed, or was in California, let alone was at the scene of the shootings. Of course he LOOKED like a stone cold killer, but I spent 4 days convincing jurors that we had to discount that, and lightly weigh the transcribed testimony of a jailhouse informant who admitted crack addiction and plea bargaining. 4 of 12 jurors were ready to convict on murder based on things explicitly prohibited in the Juror Instructions. Please do your job better."

I think I put a murderer back on the street. I'm still chilled by the broad smile he shot me when the judgment was announced. And the thumbs up he gave me -- with forefinger extended, like a kid's pretend gun-in-hand.

I think I wandered a little off-topic, but it's a hell of a story, and comes back around to the profits and perils of heavy reading.

#98 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:53 PM:

I have progressives (which is not the same as bifocal or trifocal) and without them, I can see my hand clearly about four inches beyond my nose. The doctor wouldn't give me progressives at first because he said some normal people have balance problems when they get progressives and since I already have balance problems, I shouldn't get progressives. So I changed doctors and I've had these for three years. I adjusted immediately, no falling down, and I would wear them every minute I'm awake except that I have to wear contacts a couple hours a day to keep my eyes from physically getting longer.

Kaiser has two types of progressives, though, and the kind where the transition starts higher works better for me, because I don't need to move my head to read the monitor.

#99 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:55 PM:

Yesterday's WashPost had an article on anime, starting & ending with Howl's Moving Castle, which they described as a "home-grown epic" (compared to SpongeBob, etc.). I wrote them that the story came from DWJ, I hope they at least put that in a correction, if not printing the letter.

#100 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 08:14 PM:

Speaking of castles: back on November 19th, Teresa had a link to "Build your own castles". However, those castles are just little models. If you want a real, full-sized, honest-to-god castle, you have to go to these guys.

#102 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 10:47 PM:

Uh, on the FAO Schwarz Dollhouse for Poseurs:

Eight-foot ceilings. Well, hrm. I assume, since this seems to be a full custom design, that the occasional cathedral ceiling, or duplex living room, could be included just for the sake of ton.

And while I can certainly see interior electricity (assuming, of course, that this means lighting, and power for some goodies like a weensy LCD tv), but HVAC? Do the dollies get cold in a Berkshires winter? Or is climate control necessary to preserve the widdle paintings (La Giocondetta, Nanoguernica) and itty bitty decorative tomb artifacts looted from a shoebox-sized Pharaonic grave?

Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle had electricity, of course, and other fascinating oddments that I won't describe here (msichicago.org has the tour), and its price in constant dollars would make this look like a garden shed with a moon cutout in the door, but . . . well . . . suddenly I want to go over to the shop table and build some minature stuff, just to clear my sinuses.

But hey, it's Christmas. You there, boy! Yes, you, my fine lad! If you will steal the turkey -- yes, the one as big as yourself -- from the White House kitchens, I will give you half a crown!

#103 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 09:09 AM:

I missed the Hirst castle molds the first time around. Thanks, Eric, for re-posting it. All I can say is, I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that I didn't discover these when I had more interest in fantasy gaming and more time on my hands.

Unless I wind up with a long paid vacation, though, I think I'll have to stick with Legos.

#104 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 09:13 AM:

It's not that often that editors get featured in a "top drawer" webcomic. Enjoy!

#105 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 09:49 AM:

Stefan Jones:

JLavezzo writes [slashdot, today]:

"Several news sites are reporting that the United States' largest ISP has laid off 750 employees. My sources at AOL put the actual number at approximately 950 regular employees and 300 contractors from various departments including new technology and marketing. The contractors aren't mentioned by the news outlets. Severance packages are known to include up to four months pay and keeping laid off employees on the AOL payroll through February (to retain health insurance). With most of the layoffs coming from the Northern Virginia offices, what are their hopes for finding new jobs?"

#106 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 10:06 AM:

This is a really funny article about Americans’ inability to write properly wreaking havoc on business. I know I encounter it every day…people who way outrank me sending out drafts with confused to/too/two’s, etc., and worse. Didn’t they used to teach this stuff in college (or, high school)??

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 12:17 PM:

One of the drawbacks of proper office lighting: You can see how filthy your keyboard is.

Yuck.

RE Office writing: I work in a software development group. I'm astounded by how WELL people write here. I'm not talking high style, but it really goes against the stereotype of engineers not being able to compose a proper sentence.

* * *

I picked up, at a thrift sale, a 1940s vintage college English text. What attracted me to it was the book cover, which has a color advertisement for hair oil starring Fearless Fosdick, and clippings of war news tucked inside.

The book is daunting. It goes into the structure of sentences in amazing depth. "Here's your language. Here's how it works. Here's how to use it."

I think the text could be used in today's classrooms. Teachers could whack kids on the head with it when they ask "When am I ever going to use this stuff?"

#108 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 12:51 PM:

Caught this on Publisher's Lunch, and I just have to rant:

So they're making movies from Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Well and good -- I thought the series turned to crap by the end, but the first book was one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read, and even the boring bits could probably translate into something better visually.

Except that they fired Tom Stoppard as the scriptwriter, and they're yanking all references to religion from it:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0%2C%2C2-1393306%2C00.html

"Chris Weitz, the director, has horrified fans by announcing that references to the church are likely to be banished in his film. Meanwhile the 'Authority', the weak God figure, will become 'any arbitrary establishment that curtails the freedom of the individual'."

Why are they doing this? Because they're worried about heat from the religious right. Pullman's agent says, "You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush’s America."

While I largely didn't agree with the direction Pullman took his story, it's indisputable that the corruption of his fantasy world's Church and the war against God were central. You can't just make them generic and come out with a comprehensible, affecting story. There's a lot more in the article about what they're changing.

This could have been cool, but the movies are going to be crap. Because the studio chose to buckle under to "Bush's America." New Line's too afraid to do anything new. That's not the fault of the religious right -- the fundamental decision, to challenge or to be risk-averse, is theirs alone.

This steams me.


#109 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:12 PM:

Stefan: I have found that non-acetone nail polish remover, the kind with ethyl acetate, works wonders in removing recalcitrant keyboard and mouse crud. However, if anyone in your work area is especially smell-sensitive, give them a warning first. This stuff is highly volatile and will (in my opinion pleasantly) smell up the place.

#110 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:18 PM:

Michael:

They still teach proper spelling, grammar, and usage in college and high school. And grammar school too for that matter. Some people just don't pay attention.

Just recently, someone in my workplace threw a project off schedule by sending an e-mail saying "we are not ready to proceed" when they really meant "we are now ready to proceed". That one was probably just a typo, but still, what a difference a misplaced letter can make...

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Hey folks: truly horrific Nativity scenes at http://www.goingjesus.com/

#112 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 02:15 PM:

Steve Eley:

The most insidious censorship is self-censorship.

#113 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 03:11 PM:
OK, the IE problem where it cuts off the post and comments at the bottom of the ad space annoyed me one too many times, so I took a look at it. I think I have a simple workaround for it, involving [way too much stuff, snipped]

Gah. The first thing I did when I looked at the problem was to compare the source for the main Making Light page to the source for a sample post page, since the problem doesn't occur on the main page (at least, I've never encountered it there). I didn't spot any significant-looking differences, so off I went fiddling with the style sheet.

However, there is a difference. On the main page, right at the bottom (just above the /body tag) there is a "div style="clear:both;"" tag (and corresponding /div tag - I can't seem to put actual tags in the comments). If this is added to a post page, it works fine - no need for a second style sheet or fiddling around with IE vs. non-IE source blocks. So, all that should be necessary is adding this tag pair to the page template, or whatnot (I'm not very clear on how Movable Type works).

#114 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 04:09 PM:

Rose -- I didn't get told I needed bifocals until too late (my HMO said it happens at 40+ and didn't test earlier). I got progressives and have had no trouble with them in general use (\maybe/ a little adjustment time, but from 9 years away I don't remember any) but dealing with a computer screen was a major pain. I definitely second the recommendation for a separate pair for computer work -- and not necessarily reading strength either; at my latest exam (yesterday) I said "computer" and they pulled out a gadget that holds the chart at whatever you say is the normal distance between you and the screen. (It's not the same as reading distance, especially for large monitors; they said 22" was canonical, which made a difference of .25-.50 on ~5.0 prescription.)

The one thing to be wary of is going down steps, since the part of the glasses you typically look through if you need to check footing focuses at chest height; I found it wasn't not hard to get in the habit of bending the neck a little more to be sure I hit the first step safely.

#115 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 05:02 PM:

I'd like to take a moment to urge everyone to go check their fire extinguishers, and make sure that the dial gauge indicates that they're still usable.

You think caffeine makes you more alert???

Try answering your door to a little kid, asking if you've got a fire extinguisher, because Something Caught Fire.

( The fire is out, no major damage, everybody is OK... and I think that's one neighbor that's going to be buying fire extinguishers this evening. )

#116 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 05:19 PM:

Jimcat: That typo also made it into The Phoenix Guards.

#117 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 06:10 PM:

Now, will the Christian Right attack this as Astrology, and thus Satanic?

Birth Month Seen Linked to Multiple Sclerosis Risk
Mon Dec 6, 7:03 PM ET
By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - "People born in May in the northern hemisphere have a higher than average risk of developing multiple sclerosis, researchers said on Tuesday...."

And, vice versa, will the Counterculture take it a proof of Astrology, and therefore a blow against the biomedical corporate behemoth?

I take it as one more sign of how truly complex a human being is, and how truly complex the universe is, and thus how even more complex is the role of a human being in the cosmos.

#118 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 06:14 PM:

CHip, ah, that would be why I don't have problems with the progressives -- I don't go up or down steps.

#119 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 09:32 PM:

Dan Blum's div style="clear:both + /div fix for long comment pages works in Opera 7 and IE 6.

Good work!

#120 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 10:20 PM:

Thanks again for the thoughts about the progressive lenses -- I should have them in just a few days.

I don't know if I was *enough* of a diva when I was being fitted -- it seemed like a normal eye exam, and then the crazy bifocal/progressives news was at the very end. So I was only at my normal level of fussiness during the examination, in terms of saying what was blurry and clear.

The guy who fits the lenses into glasses, and sells frames and whatnot, he measured my eyes while I looked at various stuff and followed his directions; I don't know what I "should" have said to make the prescription more perfect.

Sigh. These are the considerations that are making me a little nervous. But everyone at the eye place promised that if the first try at these isn't perfect, they'll redo them. Mostly that reassures me, but on the other hand, it's not something I've ever been told there before -- no one has previously suggested the possibility that my glasses might suck and need to be redone. As a counter example: when I had my gallbladder removed, my surgeon did *not* say, "Don't worry, if I don't get your gallbladder the first time, we will totally go back and get it the second time."

Anyway, nothing to do now but wait for the new lenses!

#121 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 10:23 PM:

Re astrology & multiple sclerosis. Note they say "May in the Northern Hemisphere". Don't the astrological things apply across the globe?

IF there's some follow-up that shows that there's a similar effect in November in the Southern Hemisphere, isn't it more likely to be something about climate or length of daylight, or a corollary of one of those (e.g. being inside less, having less heavy clothing, pollen counts, etc.).
Haven't read across at link or original study to see if this has been looked at.

#122 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 10:35 PM:

Anyway, what I came here for:

The nativity scene at Madame Tussaud's in London reportedly features an all-celebrity wax cast. [Or possibly an all-wax celebrity cast.]
Picture 1
Picture 2

David Beckham plays Joseph, with David's wife, Victoria, filling in as Mary. George Bush and his buddy Tony Blair are two of the three gift-bearing wise men. Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant and comedian Graham Norton are the three shepherds with Kylie Minogue, as an angel, hovering above the crowd.
Story link
A spokesman for the Vatican said the display was "if not blasphemous then certainly in very poor taste" while one senior Church of England bishop's spokesman labelled it "an outrage" ...A spokesman for Madame Tussaud's said: "It is not our intention to offend anybody and we are sorry if we have indeed offended people. ... The display is supposed to be something funny for the festive period. We will be monitoring the reaction and will make a decision on whether it stays."
Mmmm ... a seductively-posed angel hovering above you that looks like Kylie in a thin, clinging white silk gown? Yup, can see the attraction there.

Having heard that someone is having a "Satan Claws" instead of a "Santa Claus", where children queue up & get a small, but perfectly gruesome, present from someone dressed as a demon [Can anyone confirm the story?], I reckon that for a real publicity stunt next year, they should set up a Crucifixion scene using figures from their Murder Room (or whatever it's called). Stopping short of suggesting they be used for the Nativity scene; some of the hardliners would probably firebomb them after that.

#123 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 11:17 PM:

Rose wrote:

But everyone at the eye place promised that if the first try at these isn't perfect, they'll redo them. Mostly that reassures me, but on the other hand, it's not something I've ever been told there before -- no one has previously suggested the possibility that my glasses might suck and need to be redone.

It should reassure you - they clearly understand that the lenses may not be quite right, or may otherwise need tweaking - which is a vast improvement over "Of course they're right. We know better than yours eyes".

#124 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 11:18 PM:

Er...

"Of course your lenses are right - We know your eyes better than you do".

... or something along those lines at any rate. I should give in to the feline influence scattered around the room and sleep instead of maundering incoherently.

#125 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 12:07 AM:

Epacris: I believe the section you refer to is the "Chamber of Horrors".

#126 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 02:28 AM:

I must be exceptionally dense tonight*. Teresa, can you or someone else explain why the screenplay contract link would make writers want to go berserk and stab people with pencils? I just look at that link and feel confused. Maybe it's because I know nothing about screenplays?

* 10 hours with child insisting on sitting in my lap and DON'T YOU DARE MOVE for most of it. Finished Kim Stanley Robinson's _Years of Rice and Salt_. Almost finished C.S. Friedman's _The Wilding_. Finishing Mongolian folktale retelling butchery. Too much internet. World of Warcraft sounds from husband's computer. Two cups of oversteeped tea. Up past bedtime. Child's birthday tomorrow. I think I'm delirious and should lie down soon...

#127 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 03:02 AM:

Epacris:

"Re astrology & multiple sclerosis. Note they say 'May in the Northern Hemisphere'. Don't the astrological things apply across the globe?"

Yes, and the article covers exactly the sort of thing you posited.

The Babylonians, whose astrology continues to infect today's newspapers and magazines, though the equinoxes have precessed an entire zodaical sign (Age of Aquarius, hah!), may not have been clear on the notion of the Southern hemisphere. The empires that may have (Mesoamerican, Chinese) and nonempires (Australian) and so forth had their own Astrologies, but not in the Euroamerican line of ancestry, and so rather ignored. Ours, of course, having been Greek-geek-tweaked, and Persian-catted-about, and Arabified in the process, while Astronomy grew like some estoeric fanfic that then took over the world...

#128 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 03:29 AM:

Yoon Ha Lee: The simple reason that the screenplay Request for Proposal inspires such nausea is that it's a person with no ability asking someone with ability to do his work for him, in exchange for some hypothetical money and a fraction of the credit. It's a version of the "I have a neat idea for a novel; you write it and we'll split the money" routine.

At least he actually admits he has no ability.

The more refined reasons are the lame-(body part of your choice) qualities on offer from the bloke. He doesn't really know anything about that sci-fi stuff, but hey, why should that stop him? (One wonders how he would respond to "I can't act, but I'll work with you if I get higher billing.") He wants something that's "part Star Wars, part Pitch Black." Uh-huh. How about we do a Western that has John Dillinger at the OK Corral? Or an action flick where Chekhov's Three Sisters and Xena beat on each other? (Hmmmm.) And while I do not question that he's an actor who has, like, played stuff in things, perhaps I will be forgiven for imagining he's not, you know, like, famous. As for his refusal to deal with intermediaries, well, maybe he doesn't know that some authors have agents, unlike real actors. Or maybe he does, and recognizes that a reputable agent would laugh at him. Or even a disreputable one, since the prospect of front money here is zero.

It's a been there, done that, realized there is no polite way to say Your Head is So Far Up Your Butt You Gotta Yawn to See Daylight sorta thing.

I guess I had a tenser day than I'd thought. Sorry.

#129 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 08:54 AM:

Comment on "The probability of rare events" Particle link.
This starts with a whale-yacht encounter. Whales are not randomly distributed in the oceans. At certain times of year the whale migration routes up & down Australian coasts are veritable cetacean highways.

For a long time the greatly-lowered world whale population meant the probability of encounters with the increasing human traffic was lower than in the 19th century, but the populations have been recovering and we are seeing many more. We've had whale families frolicking in Sydney Harbour to the accompaniment of thousands of happy spectators -- far different from the first-recorded meeting there which resulted in the death of several humans and, later, the whale.

Many people with houses high up on the coast spend hours sitting comfortably at those times of year spotting whales, and succeed fairly frequently. Some phone radio stations, or just their friends, and a crowd will head for the spot.

I suspect the yachts may be taking a similar route - perhaps the currents tend to stream traffic above & below the surface.

#130 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:14 AM:
I must be exceptionally dense tonight*. Teresa, can you or someone else explain why the screenplay contract link would make writers want to go berserk and stab people with pencils? I just look at that link and feel confused. Maybe it's because I know nothing about screenplays?

Mr. Ford covered the major reasons, but I also note that the offered money (in addition to being extremely, er, hypothetical) is way, way below Writers Guild scale. (Not that I have much familiarity with the Guild, but I've seen the occasional scale figure.)

#131 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:04 AM:

Yoon Ha Lee: I feel your pain, childwise. Courage. Child will get larger and will find other places to sit, and you will begin to be nostalgic about those times of hallucinatory closeness.

Meanwhile, anent the screenplay contract: What Mike Ford Said. The thing wreaks of inexperience; this guy doesn't even know what egreious advantage he's planning on taking--or if he does, he mimics stupidity better than I would have expected.

#132 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:04 AM:

Yoon Ha Lee: I feel your pain, childwise. Courage. Child will get larger and will find other places to sit, and you will begin to be nostalgic about those times of hallucinatory closeness.

Meanwhile, anent the screenplay contract: What Mike Ford Said. The thing reeks of inexperience; this guy doesn't even know what egreious advantage he's planning on taking--or if he does, he mimics stupidity better than I would have expected.

#133 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:59 AM:

Thanks all to the explanations. I was clearly not awake. I guess my inclination was just to fail to take the person advertising seriously at all. I'd *had* encounters with someone of the "hey this is a cool idea I think we could co-author because I feel insecure about my own writing so you should do all the work" stripe, and that did irk me. But that was addressed to me personally. An advertisement? It's directed to People At Large. I look at it, snicker, and ignore it. I do see the irksomeness this morning, though. The, ah, infelicities of grammar were notable. :-p

#134 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 12:53 PM:

re: grateful Cubans greeting their liberators.

I have an old photo book called "Our Islands and Their People." One of the pictures shows crowds in Cuba -- I think it was Cuba -- and in the crowd is a kid holding a US flag. Examination with a magnifying glass shows that the flag was drawn in.

They love us THIS much!

#135 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Follow-up to my letter to the WashPost about Howl's Moving Castle -- I got a voicemail message saying that she knew I'd already spoken to the author and he'd explained things for me, did I still want the letter to be considered for Saturday publication?

I replied to her voicemail that the author had not contacted me, I hadn't talked to him, I understood what he meant by "homegrown" epic, that he should admit when he's wrong, and I would still like the letter to be considered for publication.

#136 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 07:11 PM:

I think it was on this thread that someone (Steve Eley?) linked to the Times article saying that the His Dark Materials movie project would be stripped of references to God and religion. With apologies for having lost the link, I want to reassure any fans of the book that the Times article was a beat-up, a wild distortion of something the director said in an interview. In a letter to a list I subscribe to, Philip Pullman says he's in regular communication with the director and that Rupert Murdoch (proprietor of The Times) is not to be trusted.

#137 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 07:36 PM:

I strongly suggest that anyone who works at a CRT read the PRIO brand sales pitches closely for a fair explanation of real issues. There are also real differences between CRT and today's flat monitors. Neither matches print on paper well.

I am by no means suggesting everybody who keyboards should buy PRIO. I do think the PRIO brand is well worth a try. I am very much suggesting everybody who keyboards should address the issues PRIO raises.

Then too for the person moving constantly from paper to CRT and back there are real issues of accomodation to a changing light level. That is the pupil may be regularly opening and stepping down to the point of extra fatigue. The workplace can often be adjusted so the paper matches the CRT in apparent distance and so the paper is illuminated to comparable real brightness.

Personally I wear a shoot me first vest to carry single vision reading glasses, single vision computer glasses, progressive bifocals for general indoor use, single vision outdoors and driving glasses and single vision dark glasses.

#138 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 08:29 PM:

"Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the goulish hints of the Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension.... The professors at Miskatonic had urged him to slacken up.... But all these precautions came late in the day, so that Gilman had some terrible hints from the dreaded Necronomicon...."

-- from "The Dreams in the Witch-House,"
H. P. Lovecraft

#139 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 02:59 PM:

Anyone want to weigh in with an opinion concerning a hidden trap on the American Book Publishing Group (ABPG) contract that "fines" its authors $10,000.00 for stating anything negative about ABPG? Here's the URL to some of the current discussion which unfortunately includes some troll remarks: http://www.speculations.com/rumormill/?z=68579

#140 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 05:12 PM:

Bad opening line contest:

This is the story of your mom's life.

(As is usually true for contests like this, these are all in fact pretty good opening lines for novels.)

#141 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:11 PM:

Teresa, I don't know if you're still regularly reading my blog, but in case you're not, I'll draw this item to your attention because I think it's up your alley, about swearing and foul language in the 19th Century vs. today. The original article is here. It is a hell of an article, if I may say so without risk of offense or irony.

#142 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 12:22 AM:

Star of Goliath
by
Jonathan Vos Post


Nonagram as Star of Goliath
by analogy with the Star of David;
giant versus a famously brave kid,
Michelangelo sculpture, painting by Wyeth.

The Star of David's a hexagram,
compounded of triangles two, a pair;
not in the sky of Omar Khayyam:
for poet and prince in a fight unfair.

Zero and forty and eighty degrees
triangles rotate, equilateral.
Dust swirled in desert vortices
leaving a pebble as collateral.

Save a kingdom or earn graduation:
a student can solve an unsolved equation.

#143 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 04:26 PM:

I had something rather more blatant than "you people" thrown at me this morning: "you idiots."

What I'm trying to figure out is whether it is made more or less egregious by having happened in a one-on-one instant messenger conversation.

#144 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 06:27 PM:

That Craig's List writer's thing linked on the front page says:

This posting has been removed.

What did it say before?

#145 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 07:39 PM:

Lucy, I'll e-mail it to you. (The original CL post asked that it not be reposted, or I'd paste it here.) Check your junk/spam mailbox if it doesn't show up in a few minutes; my punny domain name often hits filters the wrong way.

#146 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 07:42 PM:

Oh, blarg. Lucy, I'm sorry; I just checked, and I didn't keep a copy of it. *bang head on desk*

#148 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 12:30 AM:

Lucy - I just e-mailed you what I thought was the Cragislist thing but I realize what I sent you just now is a different Craigslist thing.

The one you were asking about was from some guy who claims to be a professional actor, and has a great idea for a sci-fi feature film franchise. He wants to hire someone to write it up for $5K, and the actor will get all the rest of the money, and all the credit.

#149 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 03:55 AM:

I'm not sure whether I'm more horrified or delighted at the faith-based accounting textbook in the list of titles from the latest sidebar link's scam publisher.

#150 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 11:46 AM:

Per Yog elsewhere, Profitable Publishing's changed its front page since the time that link went up. Google cache of old version in all its horror.

#151 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 12:52 PM:

And, it's probably worth noting, Profitable Publishing has clearly noticed the attention tnh has sent its way:

"Hey Bloggers, check out these books - you don't need a ten foot pole to read them! LOL!" is a comment that showed up on the front page there recently.

And, as I was writing this comment

"Just for the record - the bloggers who have recently negatively targeted my website have never done business with me. Their opinions are strictly their own and do not originate from an informed position. This blog thread originated from someone being made at an entirely different publishing company. Please judge my books and my publishing company for yourself. I completely embrace you researching this company thoroughly, or calling me for more information.
Thank you for visiting Books To Believe In!"

(Er, who was being made at what company? Also, I'm not sure I want to be completely embraced by this guy.)

#152 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 02:37 PM:

As has often been said around here, some of the alternativoidal publishing operations are run by people who perceive the system as being broken, and decide in something at least like sincerity to fix it. The model is the Perpetual Motion Machine; there are guys like John Keely who were straightforwardly out to scam the investors, but there were also those who were positive that the Science People had to be wrong, and all the prototype needed was a little tweaking. (Norman Dean of the eponymous spacedrive* was probably in the second category, though he was sufficiently a crank's crank that it's hard to tell.)

*Not to be confused with the Hieronymous Machine, though it would have made a swell control system for a Dean-Drive space roadster.

#153 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 02:52 PM:

"And, as I was writing this comment, this came up," is what I meant to say.

Doh.

#154 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 03:48 PM:

Alter S. Reiss quoth from Profitable Publishing:
This blog thread originated from someone being made at an entirely different publishing company.

I think it's obvious what this means. Clearly Teresa is a clone manufactured by Tor!

(Which further explains why Tor is more profitable than Profitable Publishing... What, you don't think that's the reason?)

#155 ::: anon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 04:21 PM:

When your roommate is a hoarder (with some other problems), things can get pretty nuts.

#156 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 05:34 PM:

The infamous Fark had a particularly amusing Photoshop contest recently.

Of particular note is the subtle Fundie dig here.

#157 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 09:41 PM:

The University of Michigan, Harvard, and the New York Public Library will scan in all of their books and make them accessible to Google.

#158 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:45 AM:

Here's the verdict on the progressive lenses: not as bad as I had feared, but I think they need tweaking. Since that's probably easier than moving one of my eyes.

There's the general issue of getting used to where to look, and that already seems to be getting easier. There's a specific problem, though, and I can't imagine it will get better: my right eye wants to focus just to the left of the reading portion of the lens. Since I can't move my eyes independently of each other, I'm not sure how I could get used to this, so they may have to make another stab at the lenses, which is a drag, but not a disaster.

Bonus: walking around now, everything is *so sharp*. I hadn't realized it was blurry until seeing the improvement.

#159 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 03:37 PM:

Since this is an Open Thread, and open to digression --

A couple of folks I trust recommended the Tarrantino-produced film MY NAME IS MODESTY. If you are a Modesty Blaise fan, this is effing brilliant. Early days, before Willie -- and everything in it fits, feels right, and is probably inaccessible to anyone who wouldn't find the books/comic strips wonderful. This is, in many ways, the ultimate Fan Production -- by staying close to the sense and spirit of the original, I think this film limited its market.

If you know Modesty, please please check this out. Violence, bloodshed, etc. -- but in character. I wish this director could do about another ten films about these characters -- I'd love to see what he'd do with Garvin.

#160 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 04:04 PM:

Teresa--

With your interest in hoarding, you might want to read this article (and presumably the original article as well):
Brain region identified that controls collecting behavior

#161 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 04:16 PM:

Now that it has aired, Ursula LeGuin has broken her silence on the Earthsea miniseries from the Sci-Fi Channel.

#162 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 08:41 PM:

Another Open Thread digression: you know body piercings have gone mainstream when you see someone with pierced eyeglasses.

#163 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 09:08 PM:

Tom Whitmore wrote:

> A couple of folks I trust recommended the Tarrantino-produced film MY NAME IS MODESTY.

Bloody hell! I'm more or less obsessed with the Modesty Blaise books (never clicked with the comics though) - they're pretty much the only thing that's given me the urge to commit the sin of fan fiction. I do remember once hearing that Tarantino wanted to make a MB movie, but that's all I ever heard.

I'll have to haunt the video shops and see what I can find...

BTW - one of the comments on IMDB mentions two previous MB movies - I've seen the dodgy 1960s version with (?)Monica Vitti, but had never heard of the 1982 TV pilot. My world keeps expanding this morning... Does sound like it was a turkey though.

#164 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 10:45 PM:

Both previous versions seem to have TURKEY tattooed on their foreheads. This one is just about perfectly right (9 out of 10) for Modesty fans. I kept saying "Yes!!!!" while watching it. I'm not given to wholesale recommendations, but this one is seriously Right.

Why didn't you click with the comics, Steve? It's obvious to me that the daily grind is where O'Donnell really learned about plotting.

#165 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 11:02 PM:

Tom Whitmore wrote:

> Why didn't you click with the comics, Steve? It's obvious to me that the daily grind is where O'Donnell really learned about plotting.

Hard to say - I definitely do like comics, so by rights I should. It might be the fact that as a daily strip they're chopped into small daily fragments, which I find a bit jarring, even in collected form.

Then again, I read the books first, and maybe they just impressed me (in the 'you must be my mother' sense).

#166 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 11:32 PM:

Thanks for Millau Bridge link. It is technically the Millau Viaduct, architects Foster and Partners, engineers Ove Arup and Partners (again!), local architect Defol et Mousseigne-Chapelet Letournieux, Lourde. You can read more about it at Foster and Partners page (and there are more pictures and even a link to the structure's own site).

A thorougly stylish design solution, and one worth emulating; it could have just been another low viaduct with an unnoticeable bridge in the middle. This has a lot going for it; not only does it look cool, it probably has much lower impact on the farmland underneath.

Then again, I am convinced that Norman Foster's mother was scared by a brace of 1930s sf magazine covers.

On other subjects, have I blocked the cookie that is supposed to record my name & e-mail?

#167 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 12:04 AM:

Because I *had* to share:
Madonna and Egg [deviantART] by Ursula Vernon [LiveJournal--she regularly posts links to her work]

Yes. A chicken. Madonna. I'm. not. making. this. up.

And I *love* Vernon's brain. :-)

#168 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 01:12 AM:

Yoon Ha Lee wrote:
> Because I *had* to share:
Madonna and Egg [deviantART] by Ursula Vernon

Oh - that's beautiful. I need a print of that to share with the chickens in my life, Olive and Beryl.

It's a shame though that the artist has mentioned prints are for sale without providing a direct link. Grrrr...

#169 ::: Greg Black ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 03:02 AM:

Rose, I only just wandered in to this thread, so my comments are late—but possibly still useful.

Here's the verdict on the progressive lenses: not as bad as I had feared, but I think they need tweaking. Since that's probably easier than moving one of my eyes.

This is a common problem with these lenses. They are very sensitive with respect to focus. My first set had the central focus 1mm out and they were so painful to wear that I almost decided to abandon the whole idea. In fact, I did change my optometrist from a young man whose eyes needed no help to an older fellow who wore progressive lenses himself. I now only see people who use them.

There's the general issue of getting used to where to look, and that already seems to be getting easier.

It does get easier, but perhaps not as quickly as we would wish. I thought I was on top of my second set and decided to do some woodwork as respite from my screens. I had not yet adapted to the way distance perception changes as you move your focus down the lens. As a result, I put my hand exactly on top of the spinning circular saw blade, rather than the ten inches away that I thought I was aiming for. Happily, when I had adjusted the saw, I was standing close to it and my vision was accurate, so it was only sticking up about a tenth of a millimetre—the result was a huge fright, splashy blood effects, and a firm resolution to wait a bit before trying that again.

Each time I get new lenses, I find I need a week to be really comfortable with them. That might be less if I changed them as often as I should; but I do hate the process of getting them and tend to put that off.

There's a specific problem, though, and I can't imagine it will get better: my right eye wants to focus just to the left of the reading portion of the lens.

Don't hesitate. Go back and get them changed. They told you they'd do this because they know that, despite everybody's best efforts, it's quite on the cards that the lenses won't be good enough for constant use.

I must say that—although I found the initial familiarisation process a drag—I'm very happy with my progressive lenses, especially my current set in their very light titanium frames.

#170 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 03:19 AM:

More webby goodness for the geek in all of us:

Go to this guy's site, and play with the controls for the christmas lights on his house. Annoy his neighbours!* Fun for the whole fam- okay, well, fun for the person at the keyboard, anyway.


*Neighbourly annoyance factor severely reduced via built-in time constraints. Night owls wantonly discriminated against. Pout.

#171 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 09:44 AM:

Steve --

Neither Deviant Art, nor Ursula's LJ, provide sales services.

Her web page, www.metalandmagic.com does, though I don't see that particular item up yet.

Which means email; Ursula isn't known for her reluctance to sell art.

#172 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Thanks for the supportive comments, Greg. In fact, I went by the eyeglasses place this morning, and they confirmed what's wrong in the right lens, and they've ordered a new one. I'll be without my glasses for a few hours on Monday, but after that things should be copacetic.

The progressive lenses portion of the situation is actually pretty cool -- it seems like such a brain/eyeball hack, to be able to cram the different prescriptions into one pair of lenses, and to have it all work out reasonably well.

#173 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 05:50 PM:

More on velvet embossing, from Threads magazine:

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00072.asp

#174 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 06:02 PM:

Graydon wrote:

> Her web page, www.metalandmagic.com does, though I don't see that particular item up yet.

Thanks Graydon - I had actually found the link to metalandmagic, but was getting frustrated looking through a zillion pictures, trying to find the madonna and egg. Yes, I am a fickle demanding internet era consumer!

I'll sling her an email.

#175 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 08:46 PM:

Greg, that was an interesting anecdote, and I wondered (as a half-moon bifocal wearer) just how progressive lenses work. The idea of a vertical "corridor" suggests the difficulty Rose and you had with your initial pairs.

Hmm. Next time I need lenses I'll have to look into this.

#176 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:57 PM:

And now for something Completely Different

I've been following the various "Don't touch this with a Ten foot Pole" threads and cross-references, and ended up at Tor. The site is (or certainly was) the work of our hosts, TNH and PNH, and I particularly suggest you read the FAQs. They're great, really really great.

I'm going to use them as examples of How to Do it Right when I teach writing for the web again, if that's OK with PNH and "Making Light Woman."

Hey, is PNH AKA Electro Light Man?

#177 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 11:34 AM:

I understand the Tor website doesn't get updated very often. But at least semi-decadely would be nice.

#178 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Holiday Feast Department:

'Polymeal' could slash heart attack risk
17 December 2004
NewScientist.com news service
Shaoni Bhattacharya

"Dining regularly on a 'Polymeal,' devised with ingredients to boost the health of the heart and blood vessels, could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by more than three-quarters, researchers claim."

They say feasting on fish, garlic, almonds, fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate, all polished off with a glass of wine could substantially reduce the risk of problems such as heart attack when compared with the general population....

#179 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Gee, I was hoping there's be a recipe. I suppose a nice trout almondine, some asparagus with a touch of olive oil, garlic and parmesan, and some unsweetened-chocolate-dipped strawberries with champagne would fit the bill AND be Atkins-friendly. Hmm. Darn, no fish or strawberries in the house.

#180 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2004, 08:00 AM:

Just to follow up. These are some links to the "Satan Claws" story I referred to earlier
Church anger over 'devil' Santa
Church Outrage at Christmas with the Devil Mon 6 Dec 2004
www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=55&ArticleID=900568

... visitors to Satan's Grotto at York Dungeon are greeted by a man dressed as the Devil with a red face and horns ... visitors to the grotto are handed "gifts" such as severed fingers, and can write on a scroll to sign their souls away.
On its website the dungeon says the festive attraction includes elves impaled on spikes and robins roasting over an open fire with Santa being put in a witch's cauldron and boiled.
Similar ghoulish grottos have also been set up at Edinburgh and London Dungeons ... A spokesman ... said the alternative grotto had been running for many years ... "It is all tongue-in-cheek and our visitors love it."

#181 ::: Serge Broom sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2012, 07:35 AM:

Rather uninventive spam.

#182 ::: Cadbury Moose sights spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2012, 07:36 AM:

Post 181, boilerplate comment, linkspam in poster name.

Take it away, Gnomes!

#183 ::: Cadbury Moose apologises to Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2012, 07:38 AM:

The gnomes are clearly on the ball today (or Friday the 13th is unlucky for spammers).

#184 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2012, 07:44 AM:

"Apologies? Whatever for, Moose?"
- Boris

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