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February 26, 2005

Open Thread 37
Posted by Teresa at 01:02 AM *

Loke ye be prudent as neddris and symple as dowves.

Comments on Open Thread 37:
#1 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 02:24 AM:

Can I just thank you for the re-imagined romance covers? I'm not sure whether I like Lord of the Hissy Fit or Cradle Robber best, but they're all pretty swell.

#2 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 02:37 AM:

Your open thread admonitions are educational, Teresa. I didn't know about false splitting until I looked up 'neddris' just now. (A Tetris variant was my first guess.) Will "another" become 'a nother' in a few centuries?

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 03:10 AM:

I wonder whether someone could do a re-imagined sleaze covers site from the wonderful collection in the new book SIN-A-RAMA, which besides reproducing lots of lovely covers from sleazy 60s books has a long essay by Bob Silverberg, several nice bits by old fan Earl Kemp, and finally tells which pseudonyms were used by Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block. Or are these covers their own parody?

#4 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 08:20 AM:

I come here for all my information needs regarding reasonable discussions of religion.

Are there extremely backstage machinations already grinding with regard to finding the next Pope? My vague recollection is that sort of thing is considered extremely bad form, but I find it hard to believe it isn't going on. Who will be the next Pope? How vanishingly small are the chances he will be recognizably liberal? Will he be from the Southern Hemisphere?

Enquiring atheists want to know.

#5 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 11:02 AM:

Michael Weholt:

You need to read Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, which details the process of choosing a new pope. A fine, scholarly work, if a litte dry and overly fact-filled.

[/sarcasm]

#6 ::: Zzedar ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Came across a great quote recently:

The best of our fiction is by novelists who allow that it is as good as they can give, and the worst by novelists who maintain that they could do much better if only the public would let them.

--J. M. Barrie, The Contemporary Review, 1891

#7 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 11:28 AM:

The "Top 10 Reasons to Not Shop Online" seems more like "10 Things I Find Really Irritating About Some Shopping Websites". It's similar to listing 10 programs you don't like and calling them the top 10 reasons to not use a computer.

In general, if I find a site whose interface I hate, I don't shop there. (If it's a place I really want to shop at, such as my preferred coffee supplier, Armeno, I send them comments about the annoyances of their interface.)

It's also kind of ironic that, whenever I look at that page, there's an ad in the right sidebar about shopping at Amazon. But maybe he doesn't hate them.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 11:32 AM:

Patrick, standing here in our hotel room in Dallas, says:

"First off, the machinations never completely stop. Second, the machinations have been screaming down the highway at eighty miles an hour ever since JPII developed Parkinson's Disease. At this point, what with the tracheotomy and all, you can practically see blood oozing out from under the closed doors in the Curia.

"Probably the best hope for an actually liberal Pope is one of a couple of Italians. Cardinal Martini of Milan has been being described as papabile, and as senior Vatican types go he's relatively liberal, i.e. he's not totally in the tank with the far right. There are some interestingly liberal figures in the Spanish church, but they probably have about as much chance of becoming Pope as a liberal American prelate like Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles.

"The plain fact is that JPII has reigned for so long, and done such a thoroughgoing job of stuffing the Curia and the College of Cardinals with people who could best be described as right-wing Opus Dei-type cuckoopants, that it's pretty hard to see a path from here to electing the great liberal Pope hope. Probably the best we can hope for is electing a conservative who turns out to be surprisingly broadminded.

"Almost certainly what they'll actually do, because they is almost always what they do after a really long papal reign, is elect someone who's very old and fairly conservative, so they'll have a quiet few years to sort all this out.

"That's my potted, not at all expert but I grew up around this stuff, opinion. And, I'd just like to add as a footnote, they can elect anybody. It doesn't have to be a member of the College of Cardinals. It doesn't even have to be a priest. So yes, Michael Weholt, your papacy could be nigh. Make sure you've got your platform ready."

So says Patrick.

#9 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 11:46 AM:

Okay everybody, just out of curiosity (as I sit here busily not working, wondering if Michael Weholt does have a platform ready, and then wondering aloud, "Does Patrick?" and then, aloud again--good thing no one else is here--"I want to be the Pope!"): What would you do if you could be the Pope?

#10 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 11:51 AM:

It doesn't have to be a member of the College of Cardinals. It doesn't even have to be a priest.
Really? *boggle*

My bet is also an old Italian cardinal. JP II's had an extremely long papacy. Didn't JP I just have a three month run as Pope?

#11 ::: Janice in GA ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 12:02 PM:

A knitter and jewelery maker with an interesting take on designs:

http://www.feliekevanderleest.com/gallery_objecten/object1_uk.html

I like the tampon socks.

#12 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 12:04 PM:

1) Declare the Book of Revelations apochryphal.

2) Make the official papal regalia t-shirt and jeans. Oh, and replace the hat with something better.

3) Start up a Church-sanctioned, Papally-blessed line of "Catholic Condoms! Jesus wants you to WANT your children, not just have them!"

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 12:23 PM:

Adina, I liked the article about online shopping, but agree that it had the wrong title.

I remember seeing an article a few years back, when the dotcom boom was still collapsing, which observed that many of the flossy retail sites had made shopping awkward and inconvenient, and made heavy demands on the user's software and bandwidth. It contrasted these startups with the commercial porn websites' use of robust, straightforward site designs that minimized unnecessary barriers between customer and merchandise, and made it relatively easy to conclude transactions.

The article suggested that this might be because the porn merchants found it difficult or impossible to attract outside financing, and so were running their operations out of their own pockets. This had a clarifying effect on their business models. The dotcoms were trying to create a retail web presence. The pornographers were just trying to sell products to customers from their websites.

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 12:39 PM:

If I were the Pope? For starters I'd relax the rules on celibacy, allow women to be ordained, and tell the Curia to come up with a workable plan for backing off from the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Then I'd have lunch. In the afternoon I'd canonize Pope John XXIII and Dorothy Day, then take it easy for a while, maybe make some phone calls.

I envision my papal reign being ended a few years later by an assassin from the Special Action Executive of the Bollandists.

#15 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 12:45 PM:

I'm looking forward to the first season of Pope Idol. If we're lucky, Garry Wills will be one of the judges.

#16 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 01:10 PM:

I found the online shopping article a bit curmudgeonly. Sure, there are lots of badly designed sites out there that toss foolish barriers between customers and their purchases. But most people shop online for two reasons, selection and price. If you've got a crummy local bookstore, B&N or Amazon can help you out. And you're starting out as a motivated buyer, not someone who needs to be sold, so a good user experience is a differentiator but a bad one won't necessarily kill the sale. Usually the narrower the segment, the worse the user experience is.

The wave of flossiness (remember boo.com?) of the boom days was driven by the idea that customers wouldn't trust ugly sites. That idea turned out to be wrong, but good design can make a difference. I typically find stuff on Amazon, but for various reasons I buy on B&N. (Cheaper, and they give you a phone number to call if needed and actually answer it!)

Our friend Tog also assumes that an in-store experience is qualitatively better than online. I recently went into a Best Buy to look at digital cameras. The folks behind the counter barely knew which end of the camera to point at things and spent most of their time hiding from customers. Then I went into a specialty camera store where I was actively sneered at for not wanting to shoot film. Macy's recently put in scanners because their pricing is so arcane (hidden discounts, etc) that even the salespeople don't know what things cost, except that it's usually less than what's written on the tag.

Personally, I'm amazed that we manage to buy so much considering how arduous it can be to get a retailer to take your money.

#17 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 01:19 PM:

Holy Smoke!

Well, all I can say is that there is an 80 year old arch-conservative Roman Catholic at work who keeps telling me I would make an excellent priest. He knows I'm an atheist so I can't figure out if he's just trying to irritate me or subvert the Church. Or, since he's right -- I would make an excellent priest -- maybe he's got sources in the Vatican.

But reading around this morning, I see Tettamanzi from Genoa is a scary possibility. I guess he's a big fan of Opus Dei. Says the founder of O.D. is comparable to Sts. Benedict and Francis of Assisi. He's 70. I hope he's not the fairly old conservative of choice, though I don't imagine much would change anyway.

What I learned today: the meaning of papabile.

#18 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 01:33 PM:

John Ford - I wonder what the blowout would be if they made Simon Cowell a judge of Pope Idol:

"That was absolutely disgraceful. You call that a sermon? I've never heard such a pile of apocryphal rubbish in my life."

#19 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 01:50 PM:

Mayakda: the only non-priestly Pope I can think of offhand is Adrian V, back in the thirteenth century. He was the nephew of Innocent V, who made him a cardinal deacon (without bothering with ordination, as seemed to be popular then), and later was packed off as Papal Legate to England, to try and mediate between Henry III and the barons.

Whilst there, he ended up with his name on the oldest English law still on the statute books (sort of); "Provisions made at Marlborough in the presence of our lord King Henry (...) and the Lord Ottobon, at that time legate in England"; 52 Hen. 3. But I digress.

Anyhow, he was elected pope to succeed Innocent V (who had only reigned six months) in 1276; he was elected on 11 July and died outside Rome on 18 August, still not having been ordained. (His successor lasted less than a year, too.) I think they intended to ordain him, but hadn't quite got around to it; five weeks doesn't really leave much time for that sort of thing.

#20 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 02:09 PM:

JMF: No no no, the show to watch will be Survivor: The Vatican.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's novel Magnificat plays with the College of Cardinals electing a non-Catholic. I only have it on CD-ROM, not in couch-compatible format, so I haven't gotten through more than the first few chapters.

Andy: Will "another" become 'a nother' in a few centuries?
-- well, we already have it split thus in the colloquial form "a whole nother" (which should perhaps have an apostrophe before the n, for now?)

#21 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 02:43 PM:

As I understand it, you do have to be Catholic, but that mostly means baptized and not of some other religion.

And "don't have to be a priest" is because they can, in theory, ordain you in the morning and make you pope in the afternoon.

(I'm not qualified, under the first clause.)

#22 ::: Ted Curtis ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Pope Fabian (236-250) was a farmer who was elected pope without being a priest. Here's the account of the story:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05742d.htm

Of course, things were a bit more informal back then. I don't really see that happening today. It would be interesting, though.

#23 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Someone remind me of the potboiler that had an American non-cardinal elected pope? I think he was a member of a monastic order, some sort of hard-ass that had retired into a monastery and then suddenly ended up pope.

#24 ::: James Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 05:02 PM:

The Orthodox, on the other hand, have a habit of very rapidly ordaining and promoting competent laypersons in order to fill an episcopal gap. There was a Byzantine who went from layman to Patriarch in a week. Still happens nowadays; my friend Metropolitan John of Pergamon was an unordained professor of Theology who went from layman to bishop in a few days.

As for the Catholics, rumour has been for a long time that the next pope was going to be from a developing country - which unfortunately probably also means a hardline conservative.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Taking advantage of an open thread here:

Can someone in this whole publishing-savvy tribe tell me when, and by whom, structural decisions about books are made? How is it decided that one new hardback will be Smyth-sewn, while a nother will be perfect bound?

Is dependent on the publisher, the author, the book, or the fall of a coin? Can an author influence the choice?

#26 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 05:29 PM:

At the risk of nepotism, I'd like to point out the riotously funny "six things" series of cartoons Francis has been posting on his blog. I particularly commend to your attention today's cartoon as well as the ones on Feb. 22nd ("Things sure are different ever since the aliens took over") and Feb. 19th ("Who died and made you king?").

#27 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 06:51 PM:

I just like the word "papabile." (I'm guessing the literal translation would be "Popeable"?)

#28 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 07:15 PM:

Janice: The tampon socks are disturbing on a lot of levels. In a good way. :) I also like the chesspieces.

--Mary Aileen

#29 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 07:16 PM:

And, wrenching the (open) thread in a whole 'nother direction - I'd love recommendations on books on the climate and environment of the pleistocene (ie the Ice Age which is currently in an interglacial or just ended, depending on who you ask), in part because I'm taking a course on palæoclimatology, and in part because I want a unfamiliar environment to rip off when/if I ever start creating RPG worlds again.

#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 07:16 PM:

Well, the example of the nielsenhaydon conglomerate finally pushed me over the edge.

I've started a CafePress store, here, and you may find a suitable gift for a cat person.

#31 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 07:21 PM:

Dave: I just got a "page not found" message when I clicked on your link.

#32 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 07:36 PM:

Tog was being provocative (as usual), when he wrote that article; he's a consultant in interface design, and his perspective on web sites is somewhat like an editor's perspective on books. He's also choosing major firms for his examples: PayPal (Ebay), B&H Photo, Dell, Canon, American Express are firms many people do business with for reasons other than simply bumping into them on-line; if one is a photographer who uses Canon equipment it's hard to avoid Canon's web site. Also like an editor, he makes specific recommendations, which I think deserve attention. Especially, I think his comments about PayPal (and the broader observation about consumer protection on the internet) are dead on; count your fingers after shaking hands with these guys.

Teresa, I like your observation about selling products vs. maintaining a retail web presence. It is perfectly possible to do on-line business with a very simple site and an e-mail box, but this point seems to be lost on most e-tailers, which I think is a shame. Myself, I would very much like to see more local shops take orders by e-mail; there is, I think, enormous untapped potential in neighborhood use of the internet.

"Papabile". What a wonderful word. Let us pray for a miracle, but prepare for the work of the devil.

#33 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 08:08 PM:

New summer series: Blowing Smoke: Survivor in the Vatican

I'd like to be Pope, but not enough to eat bugs first. Heck, I wouldn't eat bugs to get laid. Well, not real bugs.

At least, I don't think they were real bugs.

#34 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 08:46 PM:

For sheer Papal-electoral weirdness, Angels and Demons has nothing on The Final Conclave, in which right-wing crank Malachi Martin purports to tell us just exactly what will happen in the next such election. Everything in his scenario -- and do note that the book is presented as nonfiction -- is controlled by the Adversary of Mankind. No, not him, Communists. Communists will have the deliberations held in Pier Luigi Nervi's auditorium instead of the usual chamber, because Nervi is a modern architect, and therefore inherently Satanic. Cardinals whose red hats have a sinister tilt will steer the voting toward a candidate who, while not necessarily a GodlessCommie himself, will consult with the Kremlin before imposing an unspeakably liberal agenda. Remember, all this shall come to pass!

Of course, when John Paul I was elected, absolutely nothing in Martin's book, from using the Nervi on up, actually happened. (John Paul did show some signs of liberality, but that's another set of conspiracy theories.)

The book has a fair amount of interesting technical detail on the electoral process, but in general it's like getting a history of 20th-century biology from Trofim Lysenko.

#35 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 08:49 PM:

It is technically easier to qualify to become Pope, mutatis mutandis (i.e. making allowance for the being in different churchly bodies), than to become an Anglican bishop. To become an Anglican bishop, you have to be an Anglican priest, and at least thirty years old. To become Pope you have to be a Catholic male, and I don't think that there's an age limit.

#36 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 08:53 PM:

As far as I know, the best potboiler focussing on someone being elected Pope is Let's Talk of Graves, of Worms, and Epitaphs, by Robert Player.

#37 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 09:20 PM:

Even Andrew Greeley has a book about finding the next Pope, White Smoke. It has large numbers of stock Greeley characters in it, but at least it isn't set in Chicago.

My husband and some of our college friends got up a game of Pope-Pope-Antipope in their freshman European history course. This was a pretty decent dodge for the perennial Minnesota kid argument, "Duck-Duck-what?" (The stock answers are "Goose" and "Grey Duck." Clearly, "goose" is correct, as it is not just a big grey duck but a-whole-nother species. Some of my fellow Minnesotans are a little thick on this point.)

#38 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 09:46 PM:

My husband and some of our college friends got up a game of Pope-Pope-Antipope . . .

Which causes me to imagine a game, probably card-based, called something like Popeability. No, I'm not going to design this, though thinking about the mechanics is interesting, in a Dunniganesque sort of way. (Jim Dunnigan has designed a number of games that, while playable in themselves, were also design studies in applying boardgame methods to other sorts of conflicts. Two prime examples were "Up Against the Wall, M*F*," which was about the Berkeley riots [and was revised to cover Chicago in '68], and "Plot to Assassinate Hitler," which used a conventional wargame-style hexgrid to represent political factionalism. The latter is probably the only boardgame that ever has, or will, contain a counter representing Martin Niemoller.)

My, that got discursive fast.

The computer game Merchant Prince, which is about Italian Renaissance trading companies, has a mechanism for buying Cardinals and influencing the Papal election; having the Pope in your faction offers certain advantages, such as the ability to excommunicate cities and distract your opponents with a Crusade. Unfortunately, they tend not to last very long in office, especially since there is also a mechanism for hiring assassins.

#39 ::: Zzedar ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 09:52 PM:

There are benefits to being Pope other than the the political/religious, y'know.

#40 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 09:57 PM:

Something else I'm wondering about: given that there's no official campaigning for the papacy, and no declared candidates, has anyone ever been chosen by the College of Cardinals and declined the position?

#41 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 10:59 PM:

Tavella -- you may be thinking of _Shoes of the Fisherman_.

Vicki -- I don't know if anyone has declined the papacy, but I was told that the room where the newly elected Pope is first vested is referred to as "the crying room," as it all sinks in. (Hey, there goes the rest of your life as any sort of private person.)

#42 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 12:07 AM:

The electee in Shoes of the Fisherman is Ukranian. The "American Pope" novel in question is most likely The Accidental Pope, by Raymond Flynn and Robin Moore.

#43 ::: Mark Gritter ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 01:08 AM:

..."Plot to Assassinate Hitler," which used a conventional wargame-style hexgrid to represent political factionalism. The latter is probably the only boardgame that ever has, or will, contain a counter representing Martin Niemoller.

Oh my goodness. I must have this. Especially if there is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer piece, too.

#44 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:01 AM:

I believe there was a Bonhoeffer piece (and in fact I may be misremembering that as Niemoller -- it's been decades since I saw a copy). I remembered that it was a Strategy & Tactics magazine game, and a little searching indicates that it was in S&T issue 59, in 1976; there would have been a boxed version as well. The way the world works, someone no doubt has one they'd be willing to part with, and The Net means that you might be able to make contact with that person.

It wasn't a popular game (that may be an understatement), not because of the subject matter but Dunnigan's handling of it. There was a hex map divided into areas that corresponded to real-world space, but were in fact how far away in terms of access and influence one was from the other characters. One could, for instance, send a counter to the Russian Front zone, which drastically diminished its influence on matters in Berlin. As the game progressed, areas would be overrun by the Allies (I believe this was semi-random), and anybody stuck there was removed from play. Counters were either individuals or influence groups, and they moved and "fought" like typical wargame units, but depending on the circumstances and the game phase (things got meaner as the war wound down) an "attack" might be an attempt to discredit someone, move him to a "distant" area, or remove him permanently (by assassination or arrest). The Fuehrer himself was not "playable;" he moved between Berlin and Berchtesgaden, but otherwise a "side" was a faction of others, and ultimately it was to everyone's advantage to kill the bas -- I mean, boss while there was still some Germany left. That is, it was advantageous to -successfully- assassinate him. An unsuccessful attempt triggered a backlash with effects that will be familiar to students of the period.

All the games I played were two-player, and I don't remember now if there was an option for muliple players (and, presumably, coalitions).

Overall I would not call it a very good game, but it was a quite interesting design study, and it's unfortunate that the system has been largely ignored. There have been a number of political/military games where a player was a faction rather than an individual (Kingmaker is probably the best example, Down With the King is another) but they don't have the idea of conceptual distance -- Kingmaker takes place on a geographic map, and DwtK has a "court" where all characters are present, and various abstract "foreign countries" that isolate faction characters at no specific distance -- being abroad is a condition, not a distance.

This has been brought to you through the courtesy of More Than Any Reasonable Person Would Ever Want to Know About the Subject, Ltd., a divsion of Pedantiquarium Associates.

#45 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 03:06 AM:

Speaking of papabile, religious controversy and bibliophily -- is anyone else completely hooked on Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone? I loved LOST IN THE FLAMES (about Michael Servetus and John Calvin with the maguffin of how blood flows through the heart) and am in the middle of loving THE FRIAR AND THE CIPHER, about how Aristotle changed the religious view of the world through Roger Bacon, with the Voynich Manuscript as the maguffin. These folks write Seriously Interesting Bibliohistory -- I have no idea whether their primary sources are really good, but their selected bibliography runs to many pages, and it all kinda feels right. And their attitude towards history is decidedly fannish -- they love the feuds, the weird little bits that seem to "just happen" without adequate explanation, and twisty synchronicities. Either of the books, Mike, would probably make a Really Interesting game....

#46 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 04:20 AM:

Well, Tom, now I'm imagining a video game called IMMORTAL KOMBAT, with spectacular Philosophical Finishing Moves probably better left to the imagination (though something involving Tycho Brahe's nose would obviously have to figure). What Team Ninja (of the prenaturally boingy Dead or Alive series) might do with it would make Thomas Aquinas count carbs.

"Good evening, I'm the Marx with the big cigar, and it's time to play You Bet Your Voynich. Decipher the screwy pictures and win a hundred dollars. You may say that a hundred dollars isn't much in today's money, but how many of us are?"

Though given the cult (that's not really the word I want, but it's late) status of Credo, it's probably time for another geek-friendly game of intellectual combat, and maybe if I can find three more hours in a day, I'll do one. Minicon's coming, but don't anybody hold their breath.

On another note, sorta, just received an urgent e-mail from the poor spellers at something called IPSI Transactions, who are planing [sic] twelve special journal issues, and would like me to submit a paper for consideration. A paper on what, you may well ask, knowing that I am a broadly multidisciplinary gonzo pedant? Well, it doesn't seem to matter, as long as I've got 400 Euros for a six-page paper and another hundred for each page over that. A little Googling produces endless copies of the same document on various sites (they're based in Belgrade, Europe's academic fulcrum), along with one missive from an actual academic pointing out that no journal he knows of has twelve external reviewers (and requires only six of them to respond) or publishes quite so much, er, stuff. He also calculates their estimated annual gross, gross being the operative word.

I think it is shameful that America is so far behind the Europeans in academic vanity publishing. Ladies and gentlemen, we must not have a cacoscholia gap!

#47 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 04:29 AM:

America isn't that far behind, Mike. We've just institutionalized it so far that the universities, research institutes and the like pay the page fees without blinking. I think those folks are just trying to catch up with the hidden academic economy.

#48 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 04:33 AM:

There are benefits to being Pope other than the the political/religious, y'know.

<Mel Brooks> It's good ta be da Pope. </Mel Brooks>

#49 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 04:37 AM:

The computer game Merchant Prince, which is about Italian Renaissance trading companies, has a mechanism for buying Cardinals and influencing the Papal election; having the Pope in your faction offers certain advantages, such as the ability to excommunicate cities and distract your opponents with a Crusade.

Fun game, too, although a tad incompatible with modern systems :) It should work fine in DOSBOX, though I haven't checked it myself.

[It was remade a while later IIRC unless it itself was the remake. Check out The Underdogs if you're interested.]

The board game "Princes of the Renaissance" also has the Papacy up for bid. It's an interesting mechanic; the entire game is auction driven, so "up for bid" is the literal truth, but possession of certain key figures (e.g. Lucrezia de Borgia) makes acquiring the Papacy cheaper. It's a fun, if somewhat odd, game.

#50 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 08:26 AM:

I think Patrick is largely right--but I would add to that the possibility it could be a non-Opus Dei conservative. A woman I dated for a while back in the 80s, whose father edited a pro-life journal and was herself quite conservative, cracked me up when she said they referred to them as the 'Opie Dopies'. Not all the conservatives in Rome are fans of Monsignor Escriva...

I'd settle for a transitional type who would quietly scuttle the canonization process for Pius XII and spend just a little more time reviewing the recent horror of the abuse scandcal and perhaps hanging a few red hats like Cardinal Law out to dry....

As for the church, I don't get as worked up about Papal Infallibility as Teresa does, mainly because, as it is narrowly defined, it isn't as much of an affront as it sounds (theologically). That's thanks to some of the Vatican bureaucrats who whittled back Pius IX's initial desired definition in Vatican I. But I do think on other issues, for example, birth control, the church will, er, 'evolve' the way it did, for example, about Pius IX's idiotic Syllabus of Errors. It won't publicly apologize for it or admit it was a mistake--it will just quietly mothball it over the next century and hope nobody remembers....

#51 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 08:27 AM:

I don't think Cheapass Games has a pope-choosing game (yet) but they do have a lot of very funny, award-winning games. If you like odd game concepts you should have a look.

I can personally recommend: Give Me The Brain, Kill Doctor Lucky, Deadwood, and Devil Bunny Needs a Ham.

#52 ::: James Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 08:59 AM:

There's an old Chaosium game called CREDO, which features squabbling between various factions in the early Church. CRUSADER KINGS, a Paradox game, also features Papal shenaningans; controlling the Pope lets you determine the targets of Crusades, not to mention excommunicating fellow rulers and seizing their titles cheaply.

#53 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 10:53 AM:

Correcting my earlier mit-type, my new CafePress shop is here.

Thanks to those who did try the link earlier, and let me know of my mistake.

#54 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 11:03 AM:

Another Cheapass Games fan here...

#55 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 12:43 PM:

Cheapasses unite!

#56 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 01:23 PM:

Someone on a sff.net newsgroup mentioned

http://www.rppi.org/apr2004/hr.shtml

The header reads "Reason Public Policy Institute is a public policy think tank promoting choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress."

This apparently is yet another faux Think Tank which has a patchy atomic thickness layer veneer of claim of being a think tank, over a level of unshakeable prejudicial Belief as obdurate as Opus Dei's, and rather more intent on spreading its worldview over all others regardless of their creeds and needs and abilities and positions in societies...

The particular article focuses on "Outsourcing Human Resources Management

In spring of 2004 the Conference Board released the first comprehensive look at outsourcing human resource activities by government agencies. HR Outsourcing in Government Organizations provides an excellent overview of the subject and is chock full of valuable information for government officials or others looking into outsourcing HR functions."

It doesn't seem to have any acknowledgement or concern that outsourcing isn't all-good and all-well-being etc., that there are issues with control, and organzations not controlling their own destiny with outsourcing, with abuses that can occur, etc. No downside to discuss or acknowledge or even create strawfigures to knock down or blow away of "this is not a problem because."

This bunch looks like some of the most bogus self-professed analysts I've ever seen an executive summary from--and that's saying something. I've seen some lousy research/reports of lousy research. This is possibly the most bigoted in assumptions, analysis, conclusions, and values, using "bigots" in the sense of extremely biased mathematically and with malice and prejudice "massaging the data" and assumptions and such to make sure that no "adverse information" or assumptions "bias" the assumptions, data, or results that would effect allowing anyone to notice that there are discreptancies--other than the whole thing being an exercise in bigotry "proving" there isn't any bias involved.

It's like a bad novel. There's a side bar that includes "Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR): Challenging the 'Girly Men' in Our Legislatures" -- note the caricatured all-evil deprecated no-redeeming social value "villains."

#57 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:11 PM:

The electee in Shoes of the Fisherman is Ukranian. The "American Pope" novel in question is most likely The Accidental Pope, by Raymond Flynn and Robin Moore.

No, it's older than that, and I'm pretty sure it's a single author. I think I read it back in the 80s and it wasn't supernew then; I'd guess 70s-era or before. Argh, this sort of thing drives me crazy!

#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:17 PM:

Paula:

A member of my old college SF club recently posted a pointer to what I think was the same Libertarian screed-site. I stopped reading when I got to the description of an article about how the Greenhouse Effect was invented to scare people or some-such rot. Ugh.

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:25 PM:

Another thumb's up for Cheapass games.

A few years back, a bunch of friends got one or two selections from thier ouvre.

John M. Ford rubs salt in a long open wound:

I really loved the intricacy and innovation of some "paper" wargames. Some demonstrated a real craft in their use of charts and hex maps and tables to simulate politics and such.

That whole world has more or less evaporated. Computer games just plain whacked wargames. I dig games like Civilization and Age of Empires, but they're not the same.

An outfit called Decision Games does reprint some old SPI titles, but there's still the problem of finding someone else who plays them.

#60 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:38 PM:

Can any of you knitters recommend a nice, simple pattern for a baby blanket? I'm still at the long, straight scarf stage of my knitting career. I'm willing to take on a slight challenge, but I think that cables and lace may well be beyond my abilties.

I've looked around online, and keep finding the "giant dishrag" pattern. I'd prefer not to welcome my secular godbaby into the world with a giant dishrag (baby won't know, but I will).

#61 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:44 PM:

\begin{open thread random comment}

I was searching for technical information when this link popped up.

It's good to know that Johnny Von Neumann and Carmen Electra are 100% intellectually compatibile. They are, however, only 67% physically compatible. For greater physical compatibility, Von Neumann should look to Pope John Paul II for a 78% physical rating.

\end{open thread random comment}

#62 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 02:49 PM:

Jennie -- you want something simple, not involving any yarnovers or increases or decreases, but which is interesting to look at, right?

What I would do, in your case, is to get yarn with an interesting texture and do a rib, but not a normal knit 2, purl 2 rib, but one that's knit 8, purl 2 on the forward side and knit 2, purl 8 on the backward side. No stitches to learn, slightly stretchy (making it useful during the swaddling phase, if the kid has colic), and the texture makes it interesting to look at.

One thing, though: if you're considering chenille yarn -- it's nasty to work with. It knots up, the fuzz comes out at rare but unpredictable intervals, and when you have to undo a row it breaks before it gives.

If others have had good experiences with chenille yarn, please explain how! Because it's yummy to look at and touch.

#63 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 03:12 PM:

By the way, I don't know how many here were at Boskone last weekend, but for me it was a mix—I was delighted to see Charlie Ryan there again. He told me he's wearing an editor's hat once more for a small newspaper company in CT and enjoying it very much. On the other hand, the Huckster Room continues to shrink, something that saddens me no end. Much as I like Amazon, one can see the toll online bookselling is taking on the dealers.

That said, I found a hardover of Urth of the New Sun....

#64 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 04:07 PM:

Lucy K - I made a sweater with chenille and slubby cotton yarn once. The result was fairly beautiful, but oh how I hated both of those yarns.

The chenille also has a funny tendency to twist and require un-twisting. Gah.

Jennie - the small, hardback Vogue Knitting series has a couple of nice books of baby blanket patterns. Some are quite easy, and when you gain more confidence in your knitting you'll have some more difficult things to graduate to.

#65 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 05:28 PM:

For papal election fun, have a look at this series (part 7) at "halfway down the danube". (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.)

Fascinating stuff about the papal election of 1458. Here's the start:

The story so far: Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, humanist and erotic poet turned apostolic secretary, is on the fast track in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, having been made bishop of Trieste in 1447, bishop of his hometown Siena in 1451, and cardinal of Santa Sabina in 1456. At this point in time, he is fifty-two years old, half-lame from gout, but intellectually still vigorous. The Pope who appointed him cardinal, Calixtus III, has allowed him to take the baths in Viterbo: [read on]

#66 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 06:22 PM:

"half-lame from gout"

I wonder if there's an herbal equivalent of indomethacin or colchizine that will turn up somewhere down the line in the series.

#67 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 06:47 PM:

Since colchicine is derived from autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale, an "herbal equivalent" would be redundant. We have recorded uses of Colchicum extract for gout going back to the first century CE.

Now where the heck did I put my fleam?

#68 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 07:06 PM:

Ah. Well, my only exposure to the stuff has been in little yellow pill format. I'm now smarter than I was. Thanks.

#70 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 07:40 PM:

We usually have Cheapass games at Minicon, my first exposure to them, and I enjoy them. Unfortunately, I don't play at home; the cats won't play, just sit on the board.

Stefan, in my county there are at least five game stores that provide places to play (low tables for board/paper games, high tables for miniatures). Most of them have free signups, plus a "looking for" bulletin board, but some do charge nominal fees for the tables.

Jennie, the Lion Brand site has a lot of baby knitting patterns:

http://www.lionbrand.com/content-knittingPatternIndex.html

including the classic Ripple blanket pattern.

Linkmeister, my colchicine is a little white pill, but I have Kaiser, so I'm getting whatever they could make the best deal on. Personally, I'm either walking or not. The pain is always there. (Took the dressing off my wrist yesterday, still not much pain, a 3/4" incision and three stitches.)

#71 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 08:17 PM:

mayakda:

"'It doesn't have to be a member of the College of Cardinals. It doesn't even have to be a priest.'
Really? *boggle*"

The American equivalent is: you don't have to be a lawyer to be appointed or elected Judge. from roughly 200 to 100 year ago, small town folks would appoint or elect someone of outstanding intelligence, honesty, and common sense to be a judge. Now, unfortunately, almost all judges are ex-lawyers, and so are almost all members of Congress. White male millionaire ex-lawyers. This is one of the senses in which I believe that America is far, far, down the "wrong track."

I enjoyed the play "Hadrian VII" adapted by Peter Luke from works by Frederick Rolfe, "Baron Corvo." Chain-smoking American author's life assumes that of his subject 'Pope Hadrian the Seventh' -- a surprise non-priest Pope, in the mad imaginings of protagonist. First published 1967 in "Plays Of The Year Vol.33", Elek, London. First produced 1967, Birmingham Rep. I don't recall if I saw it on Broadway or off-Broadway, though.

Have to catch up on this and contemporaneous threads. My wife, son, and I just got home from a weekend in Las Vegas. Nice chats with Penn & Teller (who have an unannounced new show coming soon). Teller and I have a common top-10 Con ever: Artificial Life II at Santa Fe. "Why were there?" I asked, as we recalled conversing there. "I like to know what's going on in the world," he said.

Good gawk at the car at which Bonnie & Clyde were shot. 167 bulletholes, which is a prime number. Feel doubly sorry for one of their last victims, because his name was Smoot Schmid.

#72 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 10:23 PM:

If I were to become Pope, obviously most of the changes I would want to make would have already been made. Especially since I haven't been to Mass in years! (I once told a friend my ambitions were to become either Pope or a five-time Jeopardy! champion. This was obviously before they removed the limit on the latter.)

Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria is often considered papabile; he's fairly conservative, as far as I can tell, but I don't think he's part of Opus Dei or any of that rot. Still, I suspect it would be a big shock to a lot of white Catholics to have a black Pope.

#73 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 10:41 PM:

A gaming thread would break out while I was driving back from Virginia to Boston. Oh well. Scattered comments:

I believe there was a Bonhoeffer piece (and in fact I may be misremembering that as Niemoller -- it's been decades since I saw a copy). I remembered that it was a Strategy & Tactics magazine game, and a little searching indicates that it was in S&T issue 59, in 1976; there would have been a boxed version as well. The way the world works, someone no doubt has one they'd be willing to part with, and The Net means that you might be able to make contact with that person.

The counter is indeed for Bonhoeffer, not Niemoller, as determined by checking here.

As Plot is one of SPI's least-sought-after games acquiring a copy should be easy and cheap. There are several copies available on eBay as I write. If anyone has conceived a sudden desire for one and doesn't want to go the eBay route, feel free to e-mail me (I don't have a copy but can probably point you at someone who does).

The board game "Princes of the Renaissance" also has the Papacy up for bid. It's an interesting mechanic; the entire game is auction driven, so "up for bid" is the literal truth, but possession of certain key figures (e.g. Lucrezia de Borgia) makes acquiring the Papacy cheaper. It's a fun, if somewhat odd, game.

I like Princes of the Renaissance but I wouldn't suggest that a non-gamer start by picking it up. It's not particularly pope-centric in any case. The only game I can think of that actually has papal elections is Richard Berg's The Prince (aka Borgia in the European editions), published by Phalanx. The object of that game is not to become Pope per se, but being Pope gets you lots of victory points and lets you mess with the other players. I thought the game was just OK, but people more into the whole papal election thing would probably enjoy it more.

#74 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2005, 11:56 PM:

The good theological discussions always start when I am busy somewhere else. Drat.

Well Teresa, over the past century, the popes seem to have found their own way to back off from the exraordinary magisterium -- simply don't invoke it except in the most obscure controversies, and then only after consulting the bishops. The current occupant of the Chair of Peter has been both smart and humble enough to not invoke it at all, even when some really wanted him to. In fact, up until Papa Roncalli announced his intention to call a council (to a group of curial cardinals who recieved it in shocked silence) many assumed that no further councils would be needed -- the Curia would come up with an answer, the pope would climb into the chair and that would be that. The problem was that the popes tended not to see it that way once they were elected.

As for who can be elected, it is quite true that you don't have to be a cardinal, but it has been a long time since anyone else was chosen, and it would now also be limited to voting cardinals, that is, those still under the age of 80. Provision has been made for election of non-cardinals, and in fact nonmembers of the clergy -- Canon 332 §1. The pope is by definition Bishop of Rome, so any person elected must be eligible for immediate consecration as a bishop, which means at the minimum a single male practicing Catholic, of any rite. Single because while there are married deacons and priests, depending on whether or not you are in the Latin or an Eastern rite, no rite currently consecrates married bishops.

#75 ::: James J Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 12:07 AM:

I am shocked, shocked I say, that no one has yet mentioned the only proper successor to the Deuce, the author of "Good News from the Vatican," His Eminence Sixtus VI, Robert Silverberg.

#76 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 12:54 AM:

I've spent years trying to find a game and game creation software program that was distributed through the old Kinko's software store for Macs. The game creation software (and of course I'm blocking the name) was a Hypercard stack written by sociologists (at Stanford?) and was for creating simulations of societies; the game had been made for use in class and was called "The Well Tempered Gentleman." In it you were a 17th century would-be nobleman trying to figure out who to toady to and who to sleep with to better your station. Sounds interesting to me...

#77 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:08 AM:

Oh, and assuming that the couple of Jesuits of my aquaintance are typical, your approach to haigiography should not get you into too much trouble with the current crop of Bollandists.

#78 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:11 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher wrote:


. . . a Hypercard stack written by sociologists (at Stanford?) and was for creating simulations of societies; the game had been made for use in class and was called "The Well Tempered Gentleman." In it you were a 17th century would-be nobleman trying to figure out who to toady to and who to sleep with to better your station.

I'll ask around. Have you tried the HyperCard List? It's now at Yahoo, but lots of folk who might know the stack hang out there.

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/HyperCard/

#79 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 02:07 AM:

"Well Tempered Gentleman" sounds highly entertaining, though as with all classroom games, it would depend a lot on the mindset of the players. (I understand that the word "classroom" is redundant in that sentence.) There is a venerable and well-loved GDW paper game, "En Garde," of life in Musketeer-era France. Toadyings and socially advantageous sleepings-with were definitely included, along with much waving of pointy bits of steel at other fellows' viscera, and I wonder if a line of descent is involved here.

Now and then I think about doing a revised and expanded version of En Garde (which began as a fencing combat system and jes' growed like the Duke of Buckingham's ambitions). Time. Copious. Spare.

#80 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:07 AM:

Isn't the consecration of a demon as Pope one of the signs of Last Days? Not that my citing James Blish is unimpeachable theology.

#81 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 05:59 AM:

"Shoes of the Fisherman" (Morris West) was made into a film with Anthony Quinn in 1968 so perhaps some of that is seeping through & merging with other stories with a similar idea.

I suspect part of the urge to narrative is part of the function of memory. We remember what makes sense, even if we have to twist it around to make sense out of it.

(Summary includes: "Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluctantly steps out from behind the Iron Curtain", so that's not at all anything like Karol Wojtyla (Jr), from Iron Curtain Poland)

#82 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 10:09 AM:

I suspect part of the urge to narrative is part of the function of memory. We remember what makes sense, even if we have to twist it around to make sense out of it.

Maybe that explains why I always get Shoes of the Fisherman mixed up with this other novel about a black Speaker of the House who gets to be president when Pres & VP die. My only excuse is that I think I read them in grade school as I was going through my dad's collection of RD condensed books, and they may have had the same artist doing illustrations. Some of those condensed books had really neat illustrations. The one about a charwoman who goes to Paris to buy a designer gown comes to mind.

#83 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 11:06 AM:

There's a nice throwaway bit in Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow: the viewpoint character is a priest had been off-Earth for decades, and has no idea who is now pope, nor much interest in the question. A middle-aged black man walks into the room, and assuming he's been sent a secretary, he asks him "Do you speak Swahili?" Yes, he does. A brief conversation, the Swahili-speaker leaves, and the main character is informed that he has just snubbed the Pope.

#84 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 11:52 AM:

Jennie,
One thing that will help your knitting skills as well as make a nice blanket is to create 10x10 squares using different stitches. Go to the library and chose one of the many books with stitches in it. If you can knit, perl, increase, decrease and count, you can made a myriad of designs. Stitch these together and you have a unique sampler.

#85 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 11:52 AM:

(Summary includes: "Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluctantly steps out from behind the Iron Curtain", so that's not at all anything like Karol Wojtyla (Jr), from Iron Curtain Poland)

And the book and film conclude with Kyril I liquidating the Vatican's assets to stave off massive famine in China (and possible nuclear war), so that'e a little off the reality too. This after proving that he is so infinitely humble and humane that Jesus probably has him on speed-dial.

The book is readable but very long and rather dull. The movie, despite some good cast members and opulent filming inside the Vatican, is very long and extremely dull.

#86 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 11:56 AM:

A Pole named Lakota does something to my mind which I cannot describe or even justify.

#87 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 12:53 PM:

Lucy -

I was thinking, if not the same thing, then something related.

#88 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:08 PM:

People say there'll be a new Pope soon, but they're just blowing smoke.

Years ago a Discordian gave me a card that said "The bearer is a fully ordained and recognized Pope, or if female, a Mome." (I belong to a little Mome and Pope religion myself.)

Oh, I want a t-shirt that says "Teresa for Mome!" Yes, yes I do! What more momabila (best I could do without any actual Italian) woman do YOU know?

Andy, someone already pointed out that 'a whole nother' has already been heard. Did you know that 'apron' is another child of this particular type of folk etymology, albeit in reverse? English sandhi are involved here, too: the original word was 'napron' and 'a napron' got reanalyzed into 'an apron'. (I suspect 'napkin' is a diminutive, but I've been unable to verify this, or refute it to my satisfaction.)

I loved Cheapass Games' Give Me The Brain! Since playing it, I have used "My tan is stah to da flah" to mean "sorry, I just did/said something stupid/incompetent."

About the Pope: I understand Joseph Ratzinger (who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith aka the Holy Office aka the Inquisition), who Catholic gays of my acquaintance call "Cardinal Rat," while not popabile himself, is a likely kingmaker (popemaker?). If this is the case, chances of a relatively liberal Pope are slim.

Unless they plan to appoint and then poison one, as many people believe was done with JPI. But that, as someone said above, is a whole nother set of conspiracy theories. I'll just go pull on mine apron now...

#89 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:19 PM:

'The Big Picture'

By Jonathan Yardley
Washington Post
Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page BW02
THE BIG PICTURE
The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood
By Edward Jay Epstein. Random House. 396 pp. $25.95

"... The blockbusters do well enough in American theaters -- the first 'Harry Potter' pulled in more than $317 million -- but ticket sales are a drop in the bucket: That film's total earnings as of last year were $1,249 billion, the biggest chunk of which ($436 million) came from worldwide DVD sales. In effect, as Epstein persistently argues, theatrical release now exists not to make money but to open the way for 'intellectual property' income to be earned over the long term from other sources."

Ummmmmm, shouldn't "$1,249 billion" be "$1.249 billion?" Or is J. K. Rowling the world's first trillionaire author?

#90 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Do they still check to make sure that the Pope-elect is in fact biologically male?

Legend has it that they sat the person down in a specially-designed chair. Somebody here will be able to refresh my memory as to what the chair was called.

All thanks to Pope Joan . . .

#91 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:43 PM:

I had to share this - I was just iChatting with a friend about the Oscars. I expressed Lovecraft-style horror re: Adam Duritz's "Sideshow Bob" hairdo and this was my friend's response:

I'm imagining now the original B-52s lyrics ... "Lovecraft, baby, Lovecraft ... hop in my Chaugnar, it's as big as a Faugn, let's get our Necronomic-ON!"

I'm still giggling.

#92 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 01:45 PM:

Xopher, that's neat. Your 'apron' example seems closer to what happened to 'neddris,' which I read about here, at the bottom of the page. My sister used to say, "Can I have a nother cookie/bagel/...?" when we were kids, prompting my first post. (I probably said it too, but I don't remember it.)

#93 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 02:18 PM:

Well, J.K. Rowling's from Europe... don't they make their decimal points with commas there? Not that this would justify such usage in the Post, but maybe he was reading a press release from her publisher and copied the comma blindly or something? (for that matter UK "billions" are the same as US "trillions" if I understand the usage correctly so maybe she is wealthier than Midas.) Or maybe it's just a typo.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Yes, Andy, then 'napron' followed exactly the same pattern as 'nadder'.

Sandhi are dropping out of English. There used to be sandhi-ns on the ends of 'no' and 'my', for example: hence 'none other' and 'mine enemies'. Both of these ns occurred predicatively, which has now resulted in 'none' and 'mine' becoming separate words.

A nodder* sandhi is /thiy/ vs /th(schwa)/, but that doesn't affect the spelling: 'the' is 'the' regardless of whether the next word is 'elephant' or 'pachyderm'. That one shows signs of dropping out too, which is too bad IMO.


*just kidding

#95 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 02:46 PM:

Jeremy,

JK Rowling is from Britain (Scotland, to be precise), which is profoundly uncertain whether it's really part of Europe. We use decimal points here. Decimal commas are in use on the other side of the Channel.

The British billion used to be a million million, but it has slowly become a thousand million, as in the US. I leave you to imagine the number of ambiguities that introduces. $1,249 billion in old UK speak would be $1,249 trillion.

I suspect it's a typo. Not that it leaves JK Rowling hurting for money.

#96 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:01 PM:

http://www.lex18.com/Global/story.asp?S=2989614

Are you feeling safer yet?

Student Arrested For Terroristic Threatening Says Incident A Misunderstanding

...

"My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."

...

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:11 PM:

Zombies. You know, if I got a letter in the mail, and it was all made of letters cut from different newspapers, and it said "You heathen pinko faggot, I'm gonna send my zombies to kill you," I must say I would find it distressing.

But a terroristic threat? Doesn't the word 'credible' have to be in there somewhere?

#98 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:27 PM:

"Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Wow. This and the State AG freewheeling after confidential medical records, and Kentucky sounds rather frightening.

I, like many introverted high school students probably wrote dozens of stories dealing with a fictional high school and mystical come-uppance. You know, those awkward tales where the insipid bully gets turned into his inner troll.

Then again, I'd already have been sent to the re-education camp for teens for wearing black (being a theatre tech) and having a military-surplus trench-coat.

I wonder if this statute only applies to students in Kentucky schools.

Imagine being a writer there, and having some fundy busybody report you to the authorities, because somewhere in your story there is a high school and elewhere in the story there is violence. Heathers is right out as well.
Heck, Jumper might be as well.

And imagine getting narced on by your grandparents. Instead of sitting down and talking with him, they report him to the authorities?!?!?

#99 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:37 PM:

Self-correction.

Got My 'K' states mixed up there. What I get for posting while on tech-support hold. Kansas is the one with the crazed state AG.

#100 ::: Michael Pullmann ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:43 PM:

If I were Pope, I'd screw with Church officialdom. Try to canonize Bugs Bunny, act nervous whenever anyone mentions holy water, deliver Sunday Mass naked, that kinda stuff.

#101 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:46 PM:

Heathers, The Class of Nuke 'Em High, Rock and Roll High School, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Substitute, The Class of 1999, Dead Poets Society, Bang Bang You're Dead, Guncrazy, Massacre at Central High, The Realm, If, Night of the Comet, Taps, Child's Play ...

#102 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:52 PM:

Let's not forget Carrie while we're at it.

Meanwhile, there's always a chance that I might be the next Pope, so let's be nice.

#103 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 03:55 PM:

Tom Whitmore,

Thanks for suggesting the Friar and the Cipher. I just ordered it from Amazon. It should help with a story I'm working on that uses the Voynich MS as a McGuffin.

#104 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 04:05 PM:

Tavella: I think the work you're thinking of is The Vicar of Christ, about a Korean War hero who becomes Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, then retires to a monastery and then is elected Pope.

Just another all-american success story.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to come over to my blog and help me deal with a sudden infestation of Amway drones, please feel free...

#105 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 04:47 PM:

Laura Roberts said:
Do they still check to make sure that the Pope-elect is in fact biologically male?

Legend has it that they sat the person down in a specially-designed chair. Somebody here will be able to refresh my memory as to what the chair was called.

(boggle) They have a special chair for checking to make sure if someone is biologically male?

#106 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 04:52 PM:

Oh, heck, these clods would ban The Lawrenceville Stories, if they knew what they were.* And Penrod -- what a horrible role model, and his name sounds kinda naughty! Don't get me started on Peck's Bad Boy.

Huck Finn, of course, left the country one step ahead of Roy Cohn ("I guess that Mister Cohn was a man who would go very far, but in what direction I could not tell you in front of folks") and was at last report somewhere on the Yangtze River, barefoot doctoring and mourning the passing of Sandra Dee and Hunter Thompson.

*Notwithstanding that the current President clearly longs to be Dink Stover when he grows up.

#107 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 05:06 PM:

About Pope Joan: I regret to tell you that she didn't really exist. What happened was that they found this nifty red-marble seat from Diocletian's(?) baths, only it had a hole in it, and was used for the purpose you're imagining. Then they had to have an explanation, and they decided to go with the "we can't have another female Pope" one, rather than the "we got the papal throne in a potty" one.

#108 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 05:07 PM:

Michelle:

"(boggle) They have a special chair for checking to make sure if someone is biologically male?"

Is that the origin of the politically incorrect term "Chairman?";)

James D. Macdonald:

Grosse Pointe Blank particularly comes to mind.

We all know that High School has a dark underbelly, even if the climactic scenes are not always quasiterrorist, for instance in:

Sakura no sono; Ascension; Academy Boyz; Jing Gai'er; Unstable Minds; Twin Peaks; American Beauty; Bang, Bang, You're Dead [TV]; The Last Picture Show; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Acne; Clerks; Batoru rowaiaru; Dirty Deeds; Kenka erejii; Lone Star; Boogie Nights; Strange Fruit; Taiyo o nusunda otoko; Blackboard Jungle...

But I also specially like Mary Woronov as Miss Togar in Rock 'n' Roll High School, especially with The Ramones' soundtrack.

Kansas? I guess that if you can't safely teach Evolution, you can't have a clear concept of the boundary between civilization and chaos.

#109 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 05:12 PM:

Graydon: I got it -- the point of intersection is horses. And maybe "it's a good day to die."

But I still don't see what that has to do with the Vatican.

#110 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 05:42 PM:

Is there a Maple Street in Winchester, Kentucky? Because I think the monsters are due.

#111 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Re. the failed zombie attack: Kentucky was at the center of a number of copycat shootings following Columbine. I suspect the legislation was passed in light of that, and then probably strenghtened and swept up in some post-9/11 legislation.

I plan to look into this when I get home tonight and post what I can find.

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 06:09 PM:

"Possess matter involving a school or function" is a felony? This guy's an idiot; the stupidest legislature in the world (which I grant might be Kentucky's) wouldn't pass that law. A flyer advertising a pep rally is illegal under that interpretation!

I've been trying to get people to boycott Kentucky anyway. NOW will you?

Much as people might claim otherwise, there's no one in the world who really can't live without bourbon.

#113 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 06:39 PM:

In yesterday's WashPost Letters to Book World, Larry Clopper defends his company, PublishAmerica, from Paula Span's article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A51773-2005Feb24

#114 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Hey have any of you read this article in the March issue of Scientific American? "Misconceptions About the Big Bang" by Charles Lineweaver and Tamara Davis. Really nice, straightforward explanation of the expanding universe.

#115 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 08:51 PM:

Jeremy, I hadn't seen it, and thanks. I was left scratching my head over one thing, though:

The term "at rest" can be defined rigorously. The microwave background radiation fills the universe and defines a universal reference frame, analogous to the rubber of the balloon, with respect to which motion can be measured.

How can that be true without violating special relativity? I thought All Reference Frames Were Created Equal?

#116 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 08:59 PM:

Yeah, I've never been able to figure that one out either -- the article resolved a lot of questions that had been floating around for me but left many unresolved and naturally, raised many new ones.

#117 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 09:07 PM:

If I recall correctly, the limits of special relativity apply to a very limited case—for objects traveling in a straight path and at a constant velocity. Big Bang domain is basically general relativity (accelerating reference frames and differential geometry), in which you actually can entertain a universal reference frame for the entire cosmos.

#118 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 09:08 PM:

In fact, I think it was Godel who first wrote a paper showing that in GR you could have a model of the cosmos that rotates.

#119 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 09:09 PM:

Still, it is awfully nice to know that I'm not gonna go pop one day. (Unless they revise the theory. Cosmologists seem to change things around almost as much as physical anthropologists do.)

#120 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 09:24 PM:

Thanks, John. That's the part of special relativity that's always squicked me the most. I'm glad you get your inertial frame back once the sp. r. assumptions are relaxed. Old joke: What happens when you play a country song backward? Ans: First you get your house back, then you get your spouse back, then you get your dog back, then you get your inertial reference frame back...

Do I correctly recall that you wrote something about relativity? (The was a relativity discussion on Electrolyte once, and I thought I remember a mention of it.)

#121 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 10:22 PM:

Of course the universe as a whole COULD rotate. Observation shows that the rotation rate is as close to zero as we can measure now. Godel's solution of GR equations requires a rather rapid rotation, but would then give time travel into the past, by traveling in a complete orbit against the rotation. Einstein agreed with the mathematical physics of Godel's solution. Tipler showed (his Ph.D. dissertation) that you don't need the whole universe to rotate for the time travel. A massive infinite cylinder, rotating very fast, would do. Later refinements showed that a cylinder at least 12 times longer than its diameter, about a solar mass, rotating at half the speed of light does the trick. But you can only go back in time to when the time machine was first operational. Once every 3 or 4 times when I taught a Time Machine course, a student would correctly say: "If aliens built one a long time ago, and we stumbled on it in the far future, then human time travelers could in principle visit us here." I suggest that they look around the classroom very carefully...

#122 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 10:33 PM:

[mixed up American-Pope potboiler with black-President potboiler]

The latter was _The Man_ by Irving Wallace (1964, movie
1972). In it the black senator became president because
he was president _pro tem_ of the Senate when the President,
VP, and Speaker got it at the same time. (The president _pro
tem_ is traditionally the senior member of the majority party,
but any senator could be elected if the body chose.)

Wallace doesn't seem to have written anything about a papal
election, but someone might have been thinking of _The Word_
which was about the discovery of a first-century manuscript
that could shake the foundations of Christianity (an idea done
later, and better, in _A Letter of Mary_ by Laurie R. King).

Someone at the top of the thread invoked Dan Brown as an
authority, which may not be wise -- he shares with me an
Amherst-trained ability to bullshit convincingly on any topic of
which the listener is ignorant. I haven't read any of his books,
but my friends who know cryptography say that his NSA book
was absolutely ridiculous...

#123 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 10:45 PM:

...my friends who know cryptography say that [Dan Brown's] NSA book was absolutely ridiculous...

You mean, like the statement that a 64-bit cipherkey is "64 characters long"?

#124 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 10:53 PM:

[...my friends who know cryptography say that [Dan Brown's] NSA book was absolutely ridiculous...


You mean, like the statement that a 64-bit cipherkey is "64 characters long"?]

That kind of thing, yeah. Along the same lines, can anyone
call to mind the cryptographic howler in Robert Harris'
_Enigma_? It caused me to throw the book against the wall,
but I was gratified that in the movie Stoppard (who is a very,
very smart man) actually fixed it to be plausible.

#125 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Xopher:

I've been trying to get people to boycott Kentucky anyway. NOW will you?

Gods yes. There. Done.

#126 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 11:00 PM:

On nadders, the link Andy Perrin gives may be reached more directly here, in the entry for adder in The American Heritage Dictionary.

I first got interested in "nadder" because of Caxton's Morte D'Arthur, which, of course, is really Caxton's version of Malory's Morte. Caxton first printed it in 1485. But anyway, there's this bit in Book 21, at the Battle of Camlann:

Right soon came an adder out of a little heath bush, and it stung a knight on the foot. And when the knight felt him stungen, he looked down and saw the adder, and then he drew his sword to slay the adder, and thought of none other harm. And when the hosts on both parties saw that sword drawn, then they blew beams, trumpets, and horns, and shouted grimly.

I suspect that Caxton's/Malory's (the same form is in the Winchester ms.) use of adder pretty much guaranteed the new form would flourish.

#127 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2005, 11:58 PM:

(According to Mapquest, there is indeed a S. Maple in Winchester KY. Be very afraid.)

#128 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 12:04 AM:

Lisa, that quote also seems like it might be using the word in its original meaning rather than the more specific modern meaning.

(By the way, your link is broken-- was it this one?)

#129 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:26 AM:

From the summary there, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street could be inspired by a game of Thing, as well as either The Thing from Outer Space, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars (either version) or perhaps just Capgras Syndrome/Delusion (the illusion of doubles). (Actually, that page on Wikipedia reminds me of quite a few different stories.)

Meanwhile, I must duck across and check on Charlie's Misconceptions. Haven't seen him for ages. Not sure if I can persuade my ex-Catholic friends to come over & enjoy the various papal discussions, sometimes the scars are still too painful.

Meanwhile, it's interesting to note that quite a few people seem to be making a living explicating, debunking (or both) a popular phenomenon - probably not a new idea. I'm thinking of both Brown's Da Vinci Code & Rowlings assorted Potterings, from this thread (some might say the whole non-biblical Christian literature too, like Bollandisme) but it's undoubtedly more widely applicable.
I enjoyed this part of a review:

(b) These are just two small examples, out of many the book offers, where fact (driving a sub-compact) and fiction (in a semi truck) suffer a tragic collision. However, it seems petty to nit-pick a work of fiction ... for getting facts wrong. Nit-pick away at the flat characters or the itty-bitty chapters - unraveling the "fact" can o' worms might keep you busier than you'd intended to be.

#130 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 07:51 AM:

Andy Perrin, re: the Scientific American article on the Big Bang:
Jeremy, I hadn't seen it, and thanks. I was left scratching my head over one thing, though:

The term "at rest" can be defined rigorously. The microwave background radiation fills the universe and defines a universal reference frame, analogous to the rubber of the balloon, with respect to which motion can be measured.

How can that be true without violating special relativity? I thought All Reference Frames Were Created Equal?

I am not a cosmologist, nor do I play one on tv, but I wouldn't take this as a return to the idea of an absolute reference frame like the old "luminiferous aether."

The cosmic microwave background provides a convenient marker for an inertial reference frame, but it's a stretch to say that it's the inertial reference frame. The CMB frame is useful because you can easily determine your motion relative to it (which is a hard thing to do in intergalactic space), but it's not really privileged over other inertial frames, save by convention.

At least, that's my take on it.

#131 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 07:55 AM:

Chad -- thanks -- I was wondering when I read Andy's question whether a good answer mightn't be along such lines as you posit.

#132 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 08:56 AM:

Thanks, Andy,
Do I correctly recall that you wrote something about relativity? (The was a relativity discussion on Electrolyte once, and I thought I remember a mention of it.)

Nice of you to remember. Yeah, a few years back I did a piece for Salon on anti-relativity nuts. They're a far more interesting 'breed' than anti-Darwin Bible nuts, IMHO....

#133 ::: Arwen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 09:37 AM:

Is Panix broken again, or is it just me?

#134 ::: Arwen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 09:43 AM:

Oops, now it's working. Um... look! The Winged Victory of Samothrace!

#135 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 10:10 AM:

Thanks, Chad, I had my hopes up for a moment. I suppose it's just the modern take on the old "fixed stars" reference frame.

*goes back to disbelieving in privileged frames, grumble grumble*

I did a piece for Salon on anti-relativity nuts
You gobble a nut and pretty soon you're on about Tachyons and Bell's theorem and gosh darn it, we broke that sound barrier, and one day we'll break that light barrier...

#136 ::: Bobbi Fox ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 10:15 AM:

re: Zombies in Clark County, KY:
When reading that story, I wondered: Does no one watch Buffy anymore?

sheesh

#137 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 10:40 AM:

John M Ford, thanks so much for the description of the Plot to Assassinate Hitler game. I can think of at least one other game that uses conceptual distances, though without a hex grid: Avalon Hill's bookcase game Kremlin.

Each player represents a faction (Trotskyite, Red Army, etc) and the objective is to control the general secretary at three (of ten) October parades and have him wave. All of the characters are fictional (though there is a variant that provides for Stalin as GenSec), and players exercise control by revealing influence that has been assigned in secret. The characters can be at one of three Politburo levels, or they can be at the sanatorium (voluntarily or not), or they can be in Siberia. In extremis, they can also be dead, though that is a little rarer. Cards allow you to mess around with opponents, and for random events.

Fun game, though of course more a historical interest nowadays.

#138 ::: genibee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 10:41 AM:

I, like many introverted high school students probably wrote dozens of stories dealing with a fictional high school and mystical come-uppance. You know, those awkward tales where the insipid bully gets turned into his inner troll.

I think the story I wrote in my junior year, featuring myself as a sekrit leader of some sort of mercenary outfit hired to blow up my highschool would be frowned upon in this day and age. Of course, I had all the students herded into the gym so they were safe, because I didn't care about their fate. What I was looking for was a gripping confrontation between me and a certain teacher.

#139 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 10:41 AM:

Psst, another interesting thing from the current Scientific American (which is, indeed, dense enough in interesting things to have inspired me to subscribe) -- a brief but tantalizing squib in the "NewsScan" section, not online but on p. 30 of the print edition, notes that Qatar, in response to human-rights critics who take exception to the use of juvenile jockeys in camel races, is getting set to replace the kids with robot jockeys!

#140 ::: shana ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 11:49 AM:

Here's a papal question:

why does the pope wear a yarmulke? a.k.a. a kippah, or if you must, a skullcap.

Jewish men wear them to cover their heads during prayer.. but i've never been able to find an explanation for the pope's under-miter headcovering.

#141 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 11:52 AM:

re. KY zombies: The meager evidence I could find suggests that this is just a wiseass troublemaker (18, not a kid anymore) jerking around a credulous local news channel.

The wisdom of criminalizing the possession of materials considered threatening to schools is a separate matter.

#142 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 12:43 PM:

I don't think I ever imagine zombies overrunning the school. With the number of RAF bases in the region, getting slagged down by a stray nuke was a little more likely.

I, of course, would be somewhere else, possibly somewhere equipped with GP-standard screens.

I never managed to work "coruscating" into an essay at school.

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 12:46 PM:

Kimberly: you do realize that it means no bourbon, right? That's the product we're targeting.

shana: it's called a zucchetto, but I don't know why he wears it. Might be because Peter wore one (being a Jew).

#144 ::: Michael Pullmann ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 12:50 PM:

"He's a time-tossed zombie filmmaker living undercover at Ringling Bros. Circus. She's a vivacious winged museum curator from out of town. They fight crime!"

http://home.epix.net/~mhryvnak/theyfightcrime.html

#145 ::: Dave ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 12:54 PM:

"They have a special chair for checking to make sure if someone is biologically male?"

Yes they do. It's a Lay-Z-Boy, and if the newly elected Pope uses the footrest deployment handle and asks where the "telecomadus" is, they know for sure it's a guy.

#146 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 01:06 PM:

Xopher: It's an easy one for me, b/c I am a clear liquor woman--Vodka, preferably--and if it isn't clear, it's tequila. Overindulgence in bourbon one afternoon, almost 2 decades back when I was too young to appreciate it, left me unable to even THINK about drinking it now.

On the other hand, we drive through KY on the way to visit my parents in SC (we're in MI), and that's QUITE A WAYS without stopping anywhere...so I'm giving something up, anyway. Twice a year. And we aren't smokers. Does tobacco come from KY? What else?

#147 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Kimberly: Bluegrass. Admittedly it's not a sacrifice for everybody in the world, but I'd be quite upset.

#148 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 01:32 PM:

Does tobacco come from KY? What else?

1) Yes. 2) Thoroughbred racehorses.

And don't forget the famous Kentucky Jelly.

#149 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 01:35 PM:

We know that Mickey Spillane sometimes wrote science fiction. I was reminded of that today in reading his lovely passage that connects New York, Los Angeles, prepublished authors, and cyberprophecy:

"Greenwich Village is a state of mind. Like Hollywood. There really isn't such a place left anymore. It exists in the memories of the old ones and in the misconceptions of the new ones. It's on the map and in the vocabulary, but the thing that made Hollywood and the Village has long since gone and thousands prowl the srea where they once were, looking for tyhe reality but finding only the shadow."

"A few landmarks are still around; the streets do their jig steps and the oddball characters wrapping up their life on canvas or in unpublished manuscripts are attractions for the tourists. But the city is too big and too fast-growing to contain a sore throat and coughed-up phlegm. The world of commerce has moved in, split it with the beatniks who clutched for a final handhold, and tolerates it because New York still needs a state of mind to retain its image while the computers finally take over."

[The Body Lovers: a Mike Hammer Mystery, Mickey Spillane, New Yor: E. P. Dutton, 1967, p. 43]

Unemployed Qatari high-school jockeys, replaced by robots in camel races, plot to violently take over their High School, but are stopped from terrorism by a dying Pope in a bourbon-soaked zucchetto and a Jesuit cosmologist with a deadly pet adder. Together, they fight crime...

#150 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 01:53 PM:

I am not there for a boycott of either bluegrass or bourbon.

#151 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 01:59 PM:

TexAnne: Bluegrass bands are either a) not from Kentucky, and thus not covered, or b) not IN Kentucky, considered expatriate, and exempt. Just don't go to hear Bluegrass IN Kentucky and you're set.

Seriously, I don't see how listening to Bluegrass benefits the economy of Kentucky. Bourbon does: we'd like Jim Beam to seriously suffer. Perhaps they'll choose to lobby against the anti-gay and fascist elements currently ruling that state.

And I've advocated not only boycotting the Derby, but any products advertised during it, and writing the companies to tell them why. But I'm a radical, and I was even angrier then than I am now.

#152 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 02:42 PM:

A mini-rant that I just posted on my SFF.net newsgroup:

Richard Curtis buys wholly into the hype, and declares that blogs are going to replace books and that authors are going to get rich off of AdSense and no one will need publishers any more:
http://www.bksp.org/RichardCurtis3.html

Shallow, Mr. Curtis. Very shallow.

Me, I've tried it. Not for very long, granted, but in terms of writing quality I think I had one of the two or three best blogfic projects running. It was fun. I didn't let it drop because it wasn't fulfilling, but because my wife's warning turned out to be correct: I don't have the time and energy to devote both to the blog and to my current novel.

The novel ought to be worth four or five figures, if it's saleable at all. The blog fiction? As of today, Google AdSense has earned me $1.01. Granted, more marketing could have improved things, but Mr. Curtis's vision of a new authors' blogtopia is backwards. If blogging helps the best writers launch careers, it's by helping them get book deals. If that changes in several years, it will have to be under a new economic model, and with an audience that does not assume that anything on the Internet will be free
by default.

#153 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 02:45 PM:

JVP: Spillane's passage is oddly apt for today's Lower East Side as well.

Spillane's latest novel (yes, he's still going strong) involves a mysterious sea monster--or is it?

#154 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:11 PM:

In kind of a drive-by (*cough*), I just wanted to drop in and say what a pleasure it was meeting Teresa and Patrick, and also James G. and TexAnne at ConDFW on Friday. Always a joy to be able to put a face and a voice to the name on the screen. Wish I could have hung around later, but I hear my buddy Johnny helped keep y'all entertained.

For any of you still harboring concerns about Teresa's descent into were-lorishood, if my inability to capture a non-blurry image of T is any indication, she's in no danger. Glad to know you found a way to get by, Teresa.

And, of course, it was fun meeting Steve Brust, as well...even if he did condemn me to an eternity in purgatory.

#155 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:17 PM:

Lisa: I'll try to ask there after lunch.

Which reminds me...

Since the search functions for The New York Times online are, to be kind about it, eccentric, does anyone have the recipie that they printed for Macaroni & Cheese served at the second Clinton Inauguration? All I remember is that the Southern Delegation of Congress was heavily involved with taste-testing, and that it was over 500 calories a serving. Which leads to a "heavily" joke I'm trying hard not to make...

#156 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:22 PM:

Not sure if you are just looking for a good mac and cheese recipe as opposed to something in particular about that article; but if the first, you could do way way worse than to look at Mrs. Tilton's recipe for Aelblermagronen with Ankestückli

#157 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:25 PM:

The name of the pope chair, which I couldn't remember, is apparently sedia stercoraria.

#158 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:30 PM:

Utterly priceless:


And in order to demonstrate his worthiness, his testicles are felt by the junior present as testimony of his male sex. When this is found to be so, the person who feels them shouts out in a loud voice testiculos habet ("He has testicles") And all the clerics reply Deo Gratias ("Thanks be to God"). Then they proceed joyfully to the consecration of the pope-elect.

- Felix Hamerlin, De nobilitate et Rusticate Dialogus

#159 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:47 PM:

Laura Roberts:

Fascinating link!

I was delighted by the surprise reference to Piers Anthony (which could use a space after the close parenthesis).

Steve Eley:

Richard Curtis is too sly to be as dumb as that seems. What on Earth could he REALLY be thinking? I partly agree with him, but for personal reasons relating to my averaging over one edited online publication (NOT blog posting or my own site) per day, for the past 400 days or so. That is, web publication HAS displaced dead trees for some prolific authors of real short stuff. But others who qualify, i.e. Cory Doctorow (10,000+ postings on BoingBoing) still have hardcopy books -- and brilliant ones at that!

I earned $30 with my first AdSense experiment. In theory, I could make a thousand bucks to ten thou annually, since my web domain gets 15,000,000 hits per year. Too much hassle, to update by cut & paste each of about 800 web pages though. I need a full-time tenure track professorship, however, to maintain my family lifestyle, and Google can't yet beat the desired day job. But AFTER I get my next professorship, watch out, blogosphere!

#160 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 03:49 PM:

And, of course, it was fun meeting Steve Brust, as well...even if he did condemn me to an eternity in purgatory.

So Brust is the new Pope?

#161 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Jeremy: I just thought it'd be interesting to make 500+ calorie mac&cheese for once, and this one was supposed to be outstanding. It's one of those little food goals, like finding a place in the Seattle are that serves Rarebit--when Macy's ate The Bon Marche they closed down all the restaurants and I haven't found anyplace else that serves it in town.

#162 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:05 PM:

Bruce -- then check out Mrs. Tilton's recipe, its calorie count is about as high as I can imagine any such recipe's being and it is very good. Plus it includes the delightful directive, "Melt an unconscionably large amount of butter in a saucepan."

#163 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:10 PM:

I'll mention, in passing, that neither Jack Daniel's nor George Dickel are bourbon whiskeys, although both are corn liquors, as bourbon is. Of course, Tennessee may find itself on Xopher's blacklist soon enough, if certain members of the legislature who have more time on their hands than sense have their way.

However, Mammoth Cave is right out.

#164 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Wha'bout Old Grand-Dad?

#165 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:34 PM:

I'll mention, in passing, that neither Jack Daniel's nor George Dickel are bourbon whiskeys, although both are corn liquors, as bourbon is. Of course, Tennessee may find itself on Xopher's blacklist soon enough, if certain members of the legislature who have more time on their hands than sense have their way.

Ah, but Tennessee has a lot more to boycott. There's country music, and all the power generated by the TVA, and of course Rock City. I'd add Pigeon Forge and Dollywood if anyone ever actually went there.

On bourbons: the only tolerable one I've ever found is Woodford Reserve. And that's because to me it doesn't taste much like bourbon.

#166 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:39 PM:

So Brust is the new Pope?

Well, if so, then I really want to know Mr. Brust's papal platform, aside from condemning Skwid to purgatory.


#167 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:53 PM:

Old Grand-dad is a bourbon, ergo it comes from Kentucky.

#168 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 04:57 PM:

Chad Orzel wrote:
So Brust is the new Pope?

Not for long. He has half the calories of Regular Pope, but he hasn't done well in taste tests.

#169 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 05:01 PM:

Kimberly:
Well, if so, then I really want to know Mr. Brust's papal platform, aside from condemning Skwid to purgatory.

I believe his papal platform was published some years ago.

#170 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Without googling it, here's the couplet someone told me as I was looking at Kensho at the Change of Hobbit in Berkeley:

But oh! in Folly's mailbox
There lies the foundling Hope
'Your uncle in Australia has died
And you are Pope'

Hmmm, it turns out that I'm fairly wrong, since this is the actual poem...unless it was misquoted to me to begin-with.


Oh, and Skwid, how is an eternity in Purgatory distinguishable from Hell?, since (if I recall properly, that is better than I did that poem) the pains of Purgatory are identical to those of Hell, save that there there is the hope of release...is Brust implicitly granting you the eternal false hope of release, like the old Cordwainer Smith's "Nancy". Or does one in Purgatory enjoy the perceived Presence of God, a utility shut off infernally I've heard.

#171 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 05:16 PM:

An interesting rental situation I'd appreciate opinions on.

I renewed my apartment lease last fall. The initial notice stuck on my door showed I was up for a hefty rent increase, but I hadn't had an increase in a few years so I thought I'd swallow it.

It took a lot of badgering to get the management to get the paperwork to me. When I finally did, I was surprised to see no rent increase . . . plus a sort of signing bonus of $380.

What's not to like? I signed the contract and waited for the bonus to be credited to me.

Yesterday, everyone got notices on their door to the effect that the apartment complex was changing management companies. "Dang!" I thinks, "I'd better make sure I get credit for that renewal bonus."

When I dropped by yesterday afternoon, the dispirited office workers were starting to pack up. Not only had they no record of my renewal bonus . . . they had me down as having a month to month lease! They claim to never have gotten my paperwork.

Good news: I have a lease I could break any time, at a rather favorable rate.

Bad news: No bonus, and who knows what would happen if I asked for a lease.

#172 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 05:21 PM:

Steve Eley -- Richard Curtis is a humorist. Subtle enough that I've missed him being so for several months, upon occasion.

He Is Pulling Your Leg.

Really.

#173 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 05:57 PM:

I am almost completely ignorant of macroeconomics, having only recently learned enough to realize that I know nothing at all about it. Therefore, I'd appreciate it if the Hive Mind could elucidate the work of Jane Jacobs for me a bit: what is her academic reputation? Is she at all well-thought-of, or is she a curious crackpot whose theories have been well and truly debunked?

#174 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 06:12 PM:

Ach! Steve Eley:

Now you have me shopping for books, and my significant other will probably petition Pope Brust to have YOU condemned to, er, purgatory.

#175 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 06:29 PM:

Stefan Jones writes: "When I dropped by yesterday afternoon, the dispirited office workers were starting to pack up. Not only had they no record of my renewal bonus . . . they had me down as having a month to month lease! They claim to never have gotten my paperwork."

Did you keep a copy of the offered lease? If so, I don't suppose by any chance a representative of the management company signed it before they sent it to you for your signature. If so, you might be in luck, but you should check with a lawyer. If you have a copy of the offered lease but without the management company's signature, you might be out of luck, but you should check with a lawyer. If you don't have a copy of the lease, well, that's the worst luck of all.

It all depends on what the local landlord/tenant laws are, if any, and how much trouble you want to go to.

#176 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 06:59 PM:

Stefan Jones:
Bad news: No bonus, and who knows what would happen if I asked for a lease.

Show them the lease you were given. Tell them "The old company gave me this. I'd like you to sign it and honor it." They should understand it's in their best interest to have you committed to them.

And it's in yours, because on a month-to-month lease they're free to raise your rent at any time, as many months in a row as they please.

(And although it doesn't help you now, as a general rule it's a good idea to deliver such stuff in person and not leave until they've signed and notarized it.)

#177 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 07:23 PM:

Metal Fatigue --

She's the patron saint of the primary progressive faction in Toronto city politics; Brad DeLong has had a number of good things to say about her on his blog. Many people have published academic work which builds on her work.

So I'm fairly sure debunked isn't the right term, even if many people haven't or won't assimilate chapter 1 of Cities and the Wealth of Nations.

#178 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 07:35 PM:

Tavella: I think the work you're thinking of is The Vicar of Christ, about a Korean War hero who becomes Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, then retires to a monastery and then is elected Pope.

That's it! Thanks, Glenn.

#179 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 08:09 PM:

does anyone have the recipie that they printed for Macaroni & Cheese served at the second Clinton Inauguration

***

Macaroni and Cheese Timbales

Adapted from Design Cuisine Total time: 20 minutes, plus about 2 hours for baking

Nonstick cooking spray
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 quart heavy cream
9 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
1/2 cup finely minced green onion
4 ounces grated sharp sheep's-milk cheese (like pecorino Romano)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray the inside of a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all the remaining ingredients, and pour into baking dish; cover.

2. Place the baking dish in a shallow pan filled with about 1/2 inch of water, and bake in bottom third of the oven for 90 minutes. Remove cover, and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the center is firm. To test, insert a knife in the center: it should come out clean.

Yield: 12 servings.

Note: The dish can be baked in individual timbales or molds and will take about 40 or 50 minutes.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 520 calories, 40 grams fat, 280 milligrams cholesterol, 260 milligrams sodium (before salting), 15 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrate.

***

I dunno, it doesn't sound like enough cheese to me. When I do baked mac & cheese, I use equal parts (by volume) mac and cheese.

#180 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 08:52 PM:

When I was a kid, the macaroni and cheese approach was to make the macaroni, drain it, dump it back into the visionware pot, and add a pound of grated cheddar. Stir until the whole thing is sticking to the spoon; hoist spoon over a cutting board and slice into portions. Serve with tomato wedges.

(This is a long winded way of saying I agree with Kate.)

#181 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 09:08 PM:
Without googling it, here's the couplet someone told me as I was looking at Kensho at the Change of Hobbit in Berkeley:

But oh! in Folly's mailbox
There lies the foundling Hope
'Your uncle in Australia has died
And you are Pope'


He thought he saw an argument
that proved he was the Pope.
He looked again and saw it was
a Bar of Mottled Soap.
"A fact so dread," he faintly said,
"extinguishes all hope!"

(I may have missed some extra capitalizations.)

#182 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 09:23 PM:

Meanwhile, on an other aspect of the religion debates:
Tests of faith "Religion may be a survival mechanism. So are we born to believe? Ian Sample reports" (Thu, 24-Feb-2005, The Guardian) - with further reading, links & and ad for the "Art and Mind Festival, Religion, Art and the Brain" at Winchester, UK. (Also reported, with definitions, as
God under a microscope, by Ian Semple this time, in the Sydney broadsheet, and possibly elsewhere (Ian Simple?) -- check local papers.)

#183 ::: JamesG ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2005, 09:30 PM:

Skwid (and of course, everyone else that I had a chance to meet), it was a pleasure putting voices to the words of all of you as well.

The entire weekend was just...incredible. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun.

It was a shame you couldn't stay longer, but I hope all went well with your sister and the delivery.

#184 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 12:52 AM:

Xopher - On the whole, I'm a pretty good boycotter. I've only shopped once at Safeway since the strike in SoCal (I didn't like the agreement, so I won't go back). I only buy from Exxon/Mobil if I'm in the boonies, the fuel light is on and I think I may run out of gas before the next station. I avoid Texas-based businesses (except Whole Foods, though I like them less every visit) whenever possible. No SBC, no American Airlines, no Southwest, and I only fly Continental when I need a non-stop to Newark (they hub there).

But I do not think I can boycott Kentucky bourbon. Especially Maker's Mark and Woodford. If you had asked me to boycott Tennessee whiskey, I'd have no problem.

Can I ask what the beef with the Derby is? I've been a bit heads-down in my new job and only the biggest headlines manage to penetrate my awareness barrier lately.

#185 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 01:19 AM:

That may have been me, Dan. I've always liked that one, and can never quite quote it accurately.

Thanks be to Google, it's a Randall Jarrell poem:

Randall Jarrell - Hope

The spirit killeth, but the letter giveth life.
The week is dealt out like a hand
That children pick up card by card.
One keeps getting the same hand.
One keeps getting the same card.
But twice a day -- except on Saturday --
The wheel stops, there is a crack in Time:
With a hiss of soles, a rattle of tin,
My own gray Daemon pauses on the stair,
My own bald Fortune lifts me by the hair.
Woe's me! woe's me! In Folly's mailbox
Still laughs the postcard, Hope:
Your uncle in Australia
Has died and you are Pope,
For many a soul has entertained
A Mailman unawares --
And as you cry, Impossible,
A step is on the stairs.
One keeps getting the same dream
Delayed, marked "Payment Due,"
The bill that one has paid
Delayed, marked "Payment Due" --
Twice a day, in rotting mailbox,
The white grubs are new:
And Faith, once more, is mine
Faithfully, but Charity
Writes hopefully about a new
Asylum -- but Hope is as good as new.
Woe's me! woe's me! In Folly's mailbox
Still laughs the postcard, Hope:
Your uncle in Australia
Has died and you are Pope,
For many a soul has entertained
A mailman unawares --
And as you cry, Impossible,
A step is on the stairs.

#186 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 01:48 AM:

If you want a really unhealthy but very good mac and cheese, and you like garlic, try this one.

You can leave out the ham, and substitute canned non-fat milk for the cream, or use various mixtures, as long as the quantity is the same. Use good cheese; it makes a great deal of difference.

#187 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:12 AM:

Metal Fatigue, my impression is that "economic geography" is an active topic of research; I don't know how well Jacobs' conclusions have stood up. A recent book on the topic is The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade by Fujita, Krugman, and Venables, MIT Press, 1999. I've glanced at the book; in my not-very-complete recollection it is not accessible to the general reader. Any economists out there who are familiar with the subject?

#188 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:20 AM:

I've always just sort of assumed that Steven Brust was a Pope. One of the Secret Popes, who hold the keys to other Places.

#189 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:01 AM:

One of the Secret Popes, who hold the keys to other Places.

But not Hell, which has gone over to a biometric keyless entry system. It doesn't work any better than they ever do, but this is Hell we're talking about. The entry gate also has a chip that says, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Please take the ticket," in the voice of Paul Frees. (He's not in Hell, of course; it was a contract job.)

One small perk of being a Secret Pope is that there's a broader choice of footwear. One can select from the Clarks, Naturalizers, Blahniks, Tevas, Red Ball Keds, or Luke Martens of the Fisherperson. The Triple Crown you're stuck with, though it's commonly worn at a rakish angle.

#190 ::: liz ditz ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:20 AM:

Suzette Hadin Elgin has posted a manifesto on grandmothering (and the subsequent discussions on eldering and the role of grandparenting and oh by the way, language)

http://www.livejournal.com/users/ozarque/82400.html

15. No sickness or injury is so bad that panic can't make it a lot worse.
16. There are secret stories that only grandmothers should know.
17. It will be finished when it's finished.

#191 ::: Ruth ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:03 AM:

Semi-regular lurker here. I don't know whether folks here read the comic strip "Betty", but I thought some of you might enjoy this one.
http://www.comics.com/comics/betty/archive/betty-20050222.html

#192 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 09:57 AM:

I avoid Texas-based businesses...

Wha?

That's sort of broadly bizarre, isn't it?

And I'd say it's essential, now, for His Holiness Brust I to acquire a new leather hat with the triple crown rendered on its front...

#193 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 10:13 AM:

Lisa Spangenberg: that recipe freezes well, but how does it reheat? I've not had good luck in reheating cheese sauces that don't include flour; they tend to separate up on me in nasty ways.

#194 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Do people still boycott Colorado? The whole idea of a state-based boycott seems a little strange to me and wrong-headed; but I have in the past participated in boycotts of countries (e.g. South Africa -- that may be the only one, I'm not sure), which is a similar concept to boycotts of states, so who knows? I will however, continue to purchase Old Grand-Dad (and if I have a greater amount of cash in my pocket, Booker's) without regard for the danger that my $20 may go to fund the persecution of zombie-fantsy-writing high school students. (Which persecution I do not endorse.)

#195 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 11:01 AM:
That may have been me, Dan. I've always liked that one, and can never quite quote it accurately.

It would have been Michael Turyn (whom I was quoting) that you misquoted it to - I've never even been to Change of Hobbit (nor Berkeley).

#196 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Skwid - My personal Texas boycott is based on the belief that Texas is a hub for exploitive, fraudulent and just plain bad business practices. And on my perception that Texas sees itself as the model for America's future.

Anything I can do, however small, to slow or block the increasing relative economic power of Texas is a good thing.

Yep, there are plenty of fine people who are Texans, and I've enjoyed my several visits to DFW (less so for Houston). But as long as it's the fiefdom of the likes of Tom DeLay, I'll try to point my dollars elsewhere.

#197 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 11:16 AM:

Larry - the beef is with Kentucky's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The Derby is just something the state is famous for, like the bourbon. Hurt the advertisers -> hurt the Derby; hurt the Derby -> hurt Kentucky.

#198 ::: Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Breaking Pope news:

http://www.theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4109

#199 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 12:01 PM:

Kate, Lisa--thank you for the recipes. I'll try them both out at some point in the future when we can have guests over--I assembled more shelves and got another five or six boxes out of the way this week!

While I know that all knowledge is contained in fanzines, my current collection is pretty small (out of morbid curiosity has anyone here ever seen the Man From U.N.C.L.E/L.O.T.R. crossover "The Tenth Nazgul Affair? How is it?) so since Making Light is the closest thing online I'll ask here: as the owner of a working Canon Cat that was run for about three hours total before I got it, are there any user's groups out there for them? I find it a great machine for generating lots of text on rapidly, but I'm not sure how to get the results to any of my other machines and all I find online are eulogies to Jef Raskin (who designed it), Forth programmers who want one to play with, and people setting up Mac museums that want it because of it's connection to the early Mac. Any suggestions?

#200 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 12:37 PM:

On another matter: Just to show that Publish America could have started in 1879 if the technology had existed, I submit "A Helpless Situation" by Mark Twain. The last paragraph brings to mind any of the authors that have tried to talk folks out of considering Publish America, with the possible exception of the last line--which is, of course, the only line that Publish America would reprint.

#201 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Xopher wrote:
Larry - the beef is with Kentucky's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

So are you boycotting all seventeen states that have such amendments? I sympathize with the intent, but that's got to be nearly impossible to keep track of.

#202 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 01:12 PM:

Bruce: Thank you for the Mark Twain link. I'd never seen that, and it's brilliant.

The best passage is in the middle:
We should all like to help the applicants, we should all be glad to do it, we should all like to return the sort of answer that is desired, but-- Well, there is not a thing we can do that would be a help, for not in any instance does that letter ever come from anyone who can be helped. The struggler whom you could help does his own helping; it would not occur to him to apply to you, stranger. He has talent and knows it, and he goes into his fight eagerly and with energy and determination--all alone, preferring to be alone.

#203 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 01:43 PM:

My personal Texas boycott is based on the belief that Texas is a hub for exploitive, fraudulent and just plain bad business practices. And on my perception that Texas sees itself as the model for America's future.
Please. Find me a state that doesn't want to see itself that way. Texas just has the size and mindshare to vocalize its aspirations and identity louder than most, it doesn't mean others should accept it.

There are a lot of assholes in Texas, and some of them are very rich...but you know what? Assholery of the wealthy seems to be pretty independent of geography, in my experience. A certain percentage of any sort of people, anywhere, are assholes, and the rest of us just have to be wary of them, especially the rich, powerful, and otherwise influential ones. Tom DeLay is an evil, evil con-man, but if you think every Texas-based businessperson supports him, you're completely misguided.

Really...this is extraordinarily and bizarrely vague, to me. If you have a problem with a particular company, then by all means, don't do business with them...but what state a business is based in (particularly a state as huge and diverse as Texas) should be a nearly inconcievably small factor when evaluating the worth of a company.

I always thought the Pace salsa ads denigrating New York City were harsh and insulting...but this attitude is far worse. Isn't irrational prejudice supposed to be one of the unsavory practices that motivate us to boycott against its practitioners?

#204 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Bruce -- I've seen the fmz with Tenth Nazgul, but not read it. Sorry not to be able to give you more info.

#205 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:33 PM:

Skwid - I guess we just agree to disagree - I'll decline to take offense.

And as a native New Yorker (one who lived in the five boroughs for the first 28 years of his life), I found the Pace salsa ads funny, not offensive.

#206 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Skwid, I am fighting a growing tendency to hate Texas and Texan business and political people. I don't approve of that kind of thing. But every day's news makes it harder.

I started to crack when I saw the transcript of the tape of Texas businessmen chortling with greedy glee as wildfires raced through my state -- because the deadly flames would interrupt our local power supply and increase the profits they had engineered through unfair manipulation.

I seethed when the "Texas model" of education reform was shoved down the throat of my state after it had demonstrably harmed the lives of Texan children. Not to mention Texan textbook policy, which inserts stupidities into books the students of my state have to read.

Texas politicians lose no opportunity to derogate my state: they use us as scapegoats when they are mainpulating midwesterners to act against their own interests, and draw caricatures of us whenever they want to divert attention from the real issues. They divert more and more funds from my state, while happily absorbing the wealth that we produce, allowing the producers of that wealth to suffer -- the Texas budget proposal cuts California's federal funds by 12% again this year, though our federal budget has been cut every year for a decade, and though we already don't get the money we're entitled to by law.

I get Texan mortgage scammmers trying to refinance my house so I'll have to pay them money forever and so that the already unconscionable housing costs of my (workibg-class) neighborhood will be driven higher.

The latest bit that got to me was the story of Pacific Lumber. Since being acquired by the Texas company Maxim, its logging has accelerated as much (and probably more than) it's allowed, causing irreversible damage to the watershed and the economy of Northern California, ruinging prospects for lumber work in the future -- and now Maxim says that unless they're allowed to wipe out yet more of the forest, they'll "be forced to" shut down all the mills and fire the workers.

I hear a lot of fellow Californians talk semi-seriously about seceding from the nation. I'm categorically opposed to secession, I think it always leads to disaster and Balkanized bloodiness, but, you know? If we could secede from Texas only, I might consider it.

#207 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:52 PM:

Lucy - Amen! Thanks for writing what I've been thinking.

#208 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:43 PM:

I'm not going to argue the merits of Texan politicians, being one of the sizable minority that voted against most of them. I'm definitely not going to argue for the corporate (i.e. Perot et al.) driven "reforms" made to Texas schools and then carried to other states in some sort of blind misguidedness...my wife is, after all, a teacher and sees the travesties that system's absurdities and misconceptions has wrought on a daily basis.

Texas businessmen, though, are not all Enron and Halliburton. They are people like you and me, a lot of them are Democrats (Bush only carried Dallas county by a slim margin with a rally there the night prior to elections, and Kerry pretty much swept Austin off its feet), and when you malign them and their employees as a whole without individual consideration, you come off as...well, frankly, as bigots, a word I've been trying to avoid.

By all means...drive the corporate assholes into the ground. Destroy the corrupt, idealogically-bankrupt or twisted politicians by whatever means necessary...but I'm an American, and a Liberal, and so are lots of other people in this definitely purple state. Don't write us off with that carpet-bagger from Connecticut who likes to claim he's from here.

#209 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:44 PM:

Though I know nothing about knitting, whenever I see a mention of it now I think of "Making Light". So here's a tidbit from today's SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle online) twisted gossip column by Leah Garchik:

Public eavesdropping
"I'm so excited. I haven't knit yet as a man.''

Former woman overheard at Imagiknit in San Francisco by Shotsy Faust.

[the column always ends with "eavesdropping", and this remark is a fine "only(?) in San Francisco."]

#210 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 06:57 PM:

Saw the hand surgeon, got the stitches out, and the Path back. It was a benign lipoma formed over scar tissue.

A couple of games I've been having fun with lately:

http://www.mtbireland.com/dodge.html

http://www.dyson.com/game/play.asp

#211 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 09:06 PM:

Obviously, I'm with Skwid on this one. Tom DeLay (R-Enron) gerrymandered a Congressional district so that Bush would be represented by the Republican Arlene Wolgemort. Er, Wohlgemuth. SHE LOST. Did you get that? A Republican lost, in a district specifically designed for her. So just lay off, OK? We aren't all evil, and it doesn't help our morale to have our nominal allies insulting us every chance they get.

This rant brought to you by the syllables "frustr" and "ation."

#212 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 09:14 PM:

As I rode the train home from work this evening, I was seized by the thought of a story written in the style of Kafka's A Hunger Artist and under the influence of Frankfurt's On Bullshit, with the title A Bullshit Artist -- how could it be done? Could one ascribe to bullshittery the meditative aspect which Kafka bestows on the artist's fast?

#213 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 09:50 PM:

TexAnne and Skwid: I'm aware of good Texas things and good Texas politics. I admit that it's not good to feel the way I do. But. We're really beleaguered here. We've made some of our own problems, but a lot of our recent ones have been imposed on us, and they've tended to come from one place. So. I have a problem, and I admit it.
I'd keep the city of Austin, at least -- LArs Eighner, The AUstin Lounge Lizards, Robert Earl Keen, stuff like that. And Texas gave us Jimmie Rodgers (the singing breakman, not the squeaky clean sausage sellng guy)adn "The Yellow Rose." And Molly Ivins.

But -- hell, I can't think of an elaboration or expansion on it. We've been seriously hurt, that's all, and the mallet is still swinging, and still held by the same hands.

#214 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 10:03 PM:

Just to add my voice to Skwid's and TexAnne's -- there are people living in Texas who've been voting against George Bush since before most people in the blue states had ever even heard of him, and some of those people are relatives of mine.

And if it's nasty and wrong-headed for Texans to generally anathematize California and Californians, then it is equally nasty and wrong-headed for Californians to generally anathematize Texas and Texans, and I don't give a good goddamn which side did it first.

#215 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 10:30 PM:

http://formenmedia.ign.com/media/news/image/hardcore/stickfight3.swf

It's a short animated movie that I find unspeakably cool.

#216 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 11:46 PM:

And Molly Ivins.

Hey, don't make Ivins sound like an afterthought. She is worth ten Bushes. In fact, if Bush were Ivins then he'd be able to make fun of himself and sound like he means it.

#217 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:38 AM:

Did I say it was right-headed? I don't approve of it. And anyway I don't, even in my bleakest moments, anathemize (is that the word?) Texas or Texans. It's this thing -- a Texas Movement, or something -- that thing that boiled out of there, scarring everything in its path -- I know damn well it's not Texas any more than Nixon, Reagan, and Schwarzenegger are California. But there's this actual conspiracy to defraud, impoverish, and destroy the landscape of my own dear place, and it's situated in -- as opposed to being identical with -- Texas politics and Texas business. I can keep these things separate -- Texas versus this thing from Texas. But I don't know if the world can.

Molly Ivins isn't an afterthought. She's a national treasure.

#218 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:52 AM:

A Drive-By URLing:

A not so benevolent analysis of Poul Anderson's writing at Halfway down the Danube.

Worth a read. It even includes the customary "LoTR written by xxx"

#219 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 02:50 AM:

I have been vouchsafed a glimpse into the future, and lo, it is creatively translated.

Just received a message from the Beijing Greensparkling Fragrant Grass High Science Corporation, which desires that I shall join them for a conference on the Green Traffic Control System. I can buy "two seats of honored guest and some common seats," including hotel, dinner, tour of the Great Wall (doubtless critical to the workings of the Green TCS). "Not contains airplane ticket." I am exhorted to "please reply in recent days."

"Green traffic system shall give the people of your city happiness and tranquility, cast off bothersome traffic trouble. Can contain flying cars." And about time, too.

"So the investors not only have helped city people, also God rewards themselves great chances for their benevolence."

And who indeed would not shine in the morning to be the great minister of his city's traffic control? Incense rises to greet the spirit of Robert Moses, who calls in the heavens, what's my cut?

The Beijing Greensparkling Fragrant Grass High Science Corporation. There is a wonderful skiffy story in this somewhere, and if I were Paul Linebarger I would write it immediately.

#220 ::: chris bond ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 03:36 AM:

One of the Texas posts mentioned SBC, to which I will just note that my view on SBC has been colored by reading Nathan Newman's posts such as AT&T Disappears into Pro-Labor SBC and SBC: Pro-Civil Liberties, Pro-Labor.

The second post I linked starts:
"Who'd a thunk it. From the heart of Texas comes one of the most pro-labor and pro-civil liberties company, SBC Communications."

#221 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 03:41 AM:

Hmm, I got that same e-mail, Mike -- wonder if they've figured out how to harvest from ML?

#222 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:08 AM:

Tom: what? You mean that was spam? They don't really want us to participate in an interdisciplinary study on keeping flying cars from crashing into each other? (Note to finders of odd correspondences: it's pretty definite that Dr. Linebarger was not, as is sometimes claimed, the subject of "The Jet-Propelled Couch" in The Eighty-Minute Hour.) Fie, and again fie. The perfidy of such people is exceeded only by the inefficency of their translators.

Given the number of infected messages I find in the Swinnex that are allegedly from regulars here, I suspect your guess is correct. (Though it would be an interesting, if not very valuable, exercise to work out the points of congruence in our Net activity.)

#223 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:26 AM:

[tangent] I think the last mention of Ursula Le Guin 'round here is off limits chronologically, so I'll just use this open thread to ask how many people have seen her recent remarks and thanks "TO THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE ME ABOUT THE SCI FI CHANNEL MINISERIES" (of Earthsea).[/tangent]

#224 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:38 AM:

A bit late, but to the comment talking about En Garde - there are quite a few PBM games which are En Garde based, if you just wanted to join in one. :-)

Looking at the letter from Larry Clopper, I can't help but notice some carefully worded sentences. And also a blatant assumption that the reader can't add up - B&N are their biggest customer with 30,000 books, and they have 11,000 authors; let's be generous, and call it 3 books an author. Wonder how that doesn't conflict with "PublishAmerica's biggest customer is not an author's family"...?

Ah. Presumably, therefore, the biggest customer is usually an author's friends. :-)

Right; back to Atlanta Nights, which I'm actually finding quite entertaining.

#225 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 10:18 AM:

Hmmm. My experience as a former customer of "pro-labor" SBC has been at least one strike (which did impact my phone service) and news of pay and benefits cuts for employees. Maybe they are more labor friendly than their peers, but that doesn't say much about their peers either.

Their business practices also seemed to include tearing out all the extensions from apartment punch-down blocks when they start service, this way they can charge $20 per extension to put them back. My landlord was at his wits end and didn't want to let SBC onto his property unsupervised.

Perhaps their new pro-labor look is a development since I pitched them in favor of VoIP service.

I still get very aggressive marketing calls from them despite several requests that they stop. One such request resulted in verbal abuse from the customer "service" rep who interrupted my evening.

SBC - no thanks. I've got a choice and my money ain't goin' to San Antonio. I'll use Vonage and send (a smaller amount of) it to New Brunswick, NJ instead.

#226 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 10:31 AM:

Andy, yes, I think adder in Malory means a non-snake reptile. I should know where Caxton got that bit, but I think it's unique to Malory.

Kate on the Mac and Cheese, it reheats well, just use a saucepan or the oven, NOT the microwave. The thing to watch regarding the cheese separating is
that you may need to add a bit more milk, but you must stir. A fellow sufferer in my department makes a full batch (which is quite a lot) and then puts individual portions on those freezer bags that are meant to be reheated by boiling them; she says that works well.

Tom on spam, I suspect it's not direct harvesting of email addresses on Making Light, but rather, harvesting them via a local cache on an infected Windows system.

#227 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 11:40 AM:

From an opinion piece in today's N&O about one of our standardized tests, this one for creative writing:

For weeks or months leading up to the writing test, perfectly sane teachers have been force-feeding students the same canned ingredients we all know will earn them a passing mark. These include the now-standard list of exactly four different ways to begin a story.

Obviously, I missed out somewhere. What four ways to begin a story would one teach fourth graders preparing for such a test?

#228 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:10 PM:

Obviously, I missed out somewhere. What four ways to begin a story would one teach fourth graders preparing for such a test?

Something along the lines of the classic "essay rules" for non-creative writing (at least in the GA and VA school systems in the 80's/early 90's).

- You must start each paragraph with a sentence that describes what you will be addressing in that paragraph.

- You must summarize what you covered in the paragraph at the end with a summary sentence.

- Your first paragrpah must be a summary of your conclusion and the fact you will provide to support that conclusion.

- Your last paragraph must be a summary of how your conclusion was supported by the facts and a re-iteration of your conclusion.

This "system" held through my senior year of high school. There were rumors that some of the Advanced Placement instructors would allow you you deviate, as long as they felt you would be improving your score in the AP test at year end.

Took me years to recover my non-fiction from the clutches of those rules.

--

So for "creative writing" perhaps:

- A beginning sentence that provides a summary of your story. "Billy had a great summer vacation"

- A cliffhanging sentence. "Mr. Grumpy was a mean old monster, but I showed him."

- Tell your reader what you're going to tell them. "I am going to tell you the tale of the little boy who found the magical mousepad"

Pixies, I can't bring myself to come up with another one. There will be teachers out ther carefully and methodically destroying the creative writing impulse in some people, because "there are RULES about these things, you see".

May we cherish the individuals who break free of that type of instruction and indoctrination.

Sorry for the mild rant, but I feel rather strongly on the subject of rote instruction, especially when one deals with creative or artisitic subjects.

#229 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:17 PM:

Dru, I learned the standard five-paragraph essay form in HS too. With care, it can be expanded to a longer essay form, and the general shape of it is a good approach: Give your thesis, support your thesis with evidence, restate your thesis.

On the other hand, I agree with you that similar rules shouldn't be used for creative writing. There are SOME rules, however, like "you have to grab your reader with the first sentence, because if you don't they probably won't read the second one." And restrictions like "if your hero wakes up at the end and it was all a dream, YOU FLUNK." (I once BEGAN a story with "He woke up. Thank God! It had all been a dream." But that doesn't count.)

#230 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:04 PM:

I'm partway through John's relativity article (which I think he was too polite to link to, so I've done it), and it's an interesting read.

I can't help noticing that a certain Mr Delong came up again, as well. Brad, is there anything you don't get into?

#231 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:21 PM:

I have met and conversed at length with several Antirelativists. Some are very interesting, and not (by my definition) crackpots. I wrote about 10,000 words of a spec article on them, and could not sell the article. One example of an interesting antirelativist statement to me:

"The problem with the Ether was classical Physics not being able to explain how the Earth could revolve freely about the Sun, through a material millions of times harder than steel, based on the equivalence of speed of light with speed of sound. The solution is now obvious: the luminiferous Ether is a superfluid, able to get out of the Earth's way with zero viscosity."

One antirelativist whom I've had as a guest at my home, who has a legitimate Ph.D. and postdoc, has clarified my own thinking on, for example, the paradox that in Special Relativity, a wheel cannot rotate.

Imagine a spinning bicycle wheel. By Lorentz contraction, each little piece of the tire is shortened, so the circumference must shrink. But the spokes are moving perpendicular to that, and get thinner but not shorter. So how can a bicycle wheel have a decreasing circumference but no change in radius?

This was first published in 1906, within a year of Saint Albert revealing Special Relativity. Many solutions were suggested over the next few months. The wheel buckles. No, the spokes bend into the shape of integral signs. And so forth.

Einstein quickly agreed with the skeptic, saying that indeed, under Special Relativity, a wheel cannot rotate. But we see that wheels do rotate. That was one of the reasons that Einstein began working on General Relativity. The bicycle wheel, you see, is in accelerated motion...

I reached, in writing my article, a strange mental oasis, in which I no longer accepted Einstein as gospel (per my formal education as a Physicist). Nor did I accept the antirelativists. I was skeptical of both. This was akin to my 3rd year as a vegetarian, when I finally was no longer either attracted to, nor repelled by, the smell of cooking meat.

"Aha!" said my wife. "At last you are ready to invent the stardrive!"

I know several professional physicists, by the way, who believe that Ursula K. Le Guin's ANSIBLE is possible. But I digress...

#232 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:59 PM:

But I digress...

What's Latin for this? I was thinking, what a perfect motto for you! :-)

Just teasing. But seriously, I thought relativity (can't remember which one) only applied at a significant fraction of c. Or was that what General Relativity was supposed to address? (The foreshortening of the wheel segments is just too small an effect to notice, maybe?)

Also, I've heard that Asaro's FTL drive, with its virtual anti-ship etc. cannot be ruled out by current physics. Is that so, or just a cool rumor?

#233 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Dru, my big objection to such formulae is that they're bound to be misapplied. In theory, they're no worse than using time-tested forms like the fairy tale or tall tale when you're learning to write fiction. The trouble comes when you have teachers who can't differentiate "a way to do X" and "the way to do X."

There's a very good book about writing that's entirely devoted to getting rid of the bad composition habits one picks up K-12.

#234 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 02:42 PM:

Q: What's the difference between Dracula and a Unitarian?
A: One's a crucifix-shunning creature originating in Transylvania, and the other one's a vampire.

#235 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 03:14 PM:

S. Dawson - My club soda coated sinuses thank you. This one joins my list of Unitarian jokes.

This one is my favorite to date:

The Starship Enterprise receives a distress call from a lost colony of Unitarian-Universalists.

Kirk: "Spock, what can you tell me about these people?"

Spock: "The library computer has little information, Captain. Logically, however, we may deduce from their name, 'Unitarian-Universalist', that since Unitarian means one, and Universalist means everything; that these people believe in one of everything."

Cribbed from a web search that led me here 'cause I can never remember how to tell a joke.

#236 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 03:54 PM:

Teresa:

That was the point I was trying to make. Ideas about what is effective in creative-writing versus "laws". I've seen a few creative-writing classes ruined this way by instructors, even outside of K-12.

I will now submit that anything I generally try to say here, will be more perfectly stated seconds later by you or Jo Walton.

Now, back to finishing up a non-creative policy document so that I can properly relish my time at Potlatch.

#237 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:41 PM:

Having now taught writing to the least agile writers, I now know what the formula methods are for.

There are people who would never be able to write anything -- not a love letter, not a letter to a landlord or a social security review board or a newspaper: not a history of a conflict for a legal case: not an application for a business license -- if they didn't have the process broken down into little memorizable bits. They have to have steps they can follow, stock phrases they can use.

People who don't come naturally to writing -- for whatever reason, including second language issues, including development issues, including personality -- nevertheless live in a literate world and they need and deserve to have the tools of citizenship just as the naturally articulate do. And that's why we teach that stuff. It's a necessity for democracy.

There is a problem in knowing your students, and knowing who needs a whole different kind of coaching, but that problem occurs whenever you have students in any kind of learning situation anyway.

#238 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:42 PM:

I'd like to thank you for passing on the link to the Transylvania sermon, which I in turn passed on to my UU church's mailing list. It's similar to sermons given by our own minister, albeit with deeper details in some places.

We've got our own partner church in Transylvania, and last year their minister came to visit us. The religious persecution they're still under from their government is really alarming.

#239 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:52 PM:

Based on something the teacher said later in the piece, I think the "four ways" are a lot simpler than Dru's suggestions. I suspect she's referring to the test-passing formulae when she says:

I've never once rushed home to my family and said "Wait till you hear this student's story -- it has lots of different adjectives, and it starts with a sound-making word, like Rrring! or Bang!"

Lucy:

And there are also people like me, who can be quite articulate one day and utterly frozen in panic at facing a blank page the next. The formulae get me through the bad days, too. It's why I collect them.

#240 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:02 PM:

JVP wrote:

> I reached, in writing my article, a strange
> mental oasis, in which I no longer accepted
> Einstein as gospel (per my formal education as
> a Physicist). Nor did I accept the
> antirelativists. I was skeptical of both. This
> was akin to my 3rd year as a vegetarian, when I
> finally was no longer either attracted to, nor
> repelled by, the smell of cooking meat.
>
> "Aha!" said my wife. "At last you are ready to
> invent the stardrive!"

just to clarify, did your wife realize this because you no longer accepted Einstein as gospel or because you were neutral to the smell of bacon?

side note: i have this odd feeling that there's a zen koan in here somewhere.

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:35 PM:

My favorite Zen koan is "When the traffic increases, it becomes nothing; when the traffic decreases, it becomes something."

This is known among the Wise as the Traffic Koan.

#242 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:35 PM:

Greg London :

Depends. Was it Shakespeare or Bacon who wrote "Pygges in Space" with its imagery of Hercules' Fourth Labor: the Erymanthian Boar?

Xopher:

"'But I digress... ' What's Latin for this?" -- I think it's "Tristram Shandy."

"I thought relativity (can't remember which one) only applied at a significant fraction of c."
When velocity is close to zero, Einstein's theory gives results close to Newton's. The higher the velocity, the more Newton and Einstein disagree. At the speed of light, Newton and Einstein are fighting a duel to the death.

"Or was that what General Relativity was supposed to address?" -- no, my example failed to elucidate that Special Relativity is for motion at constant velocity (unchanging speed, unchanging direction) and General Relativity is for accelerated motion (changing speed and/or changing direction). Einstein then discovered the equivalence of inertia and gravity, and explained away the "action at a distance" that made Newton's theories suspect of occult metaphysics, replacing them with the notion that
objects are responding to the purely local distortion of space-time which is a gravitational field. That is, matter makes gravity by warping space-time, and other matter follows a trajectory in space-time caused by that warping. Matter makes space bend; that bend makes matter move. Einstein also was a father of Quantum Mechanics, but forever battled its "spooky action at a distance." But Alain Aspect's measurements of Bell's Theorem shows that Einstein was wrong. There is "spooky action at a distance." Hence teleportation is possible, and entanglement, and quantum computers (which Feynman instigated).

"The foreshortening of the wheel segments is just too small an effect to notice, maybe?" -- sorry. Any effect more than zero refuses to be swept under the rug. But yes, for the speeds you encounter in ordinary life, the effect is too small to see. There are posters available at the Caltech bookstore of Einstein grinning wildly as he rides his bicycle about the campus.

"Also, I've heard that Asaro's FTL drive, with its virtual anti-ship etc. cannot be ruled out by current physics. Is that so, or just a cool rumor?" It's always painful for me to say this, but I don't know. Would you like me to email a query to Dr. Asaro?

Teresa, Lucy, Drew:

What kind of opening is:
"'Damn!' said the archbishop" -- and that category of hooks?

And what are your favorite opening sentences in ALL of literature?

#243 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:41 PM:

I don't know what my VERY favorite is, but any top ten list would include "to wound the autumnal city."

#244 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:54 PM:

Cue Theramin music:

Natural selection acts on the quantum world

Objective reality may owe its existence to a 'darwinian' process that advertises certain quantum states.


Nature Article

"A team of physicists has proved a theorem that explains how our objective, common reality emerges from the subtle and sensitive quantum world.

If, as quantum mechanics says, observing the world tends to change it, how is it that we can agree on anything at all? Why doesn't each person leave a slightly different version of the world for the next person to find?

Because, say the researchers, certain special states of a system are promoted above others by a quantum form of natural selection, which they call quantum darwinism. Information about these states proliferates and gets imprinted on the environment. So observers coming along and looking at the environment in order to get a picture of the world tend to see the same 'preferred' states."

So, if you're not a member of the reality-based community, you're f***ing with the very nature of reality.

#245 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 07:23 PM:

"If I had cared to live, I would have died." SILVERLOCK, John Myers Myers. His other opening sentences are good too.

#246 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 07:31 PM:

JVP>And what are your favorite opening sentences in ALL of literature?

One of the few I can quote from memory is the deathless "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

Now that I think of it, just about the only other First Sentence I carry in my head is "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

(Now I suppose someone here will hybridize them.)

Oh, and "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

#247 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 07:38 PM:

At first, only the wind was screaming.

#248 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 07:59 PM:

"I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of imagination."

#249 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:00 PM:

His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god.

#250 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:08 PM:

"Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. "

#251 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:16 PM:

"His eyes were cold. As cold as the bitter winter snow that was falling outside. Yes, cold and therefore difficult to chew."

#252 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 09:43 PM:

Aquila has already quoted one of my favorites, but here are two others, both from memory, both doubtless familiar to many of you:

"There was a wall."

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." (No points at all for identifying that one--but since this is an open thread, I'll use it as an excuse to mention that someone has a model of hobbit (H. floresiensis) brains that suggests they were smarter than mere brain volume suggests, because the frontal lobe and temporal lobe appear to have been enlarged.)

#253 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 09:50 PM:

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

#254 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 12:00 AM:

Mike:

I'd be interested in your pointers to a definite refutation of the idea that "Kirk Allen" of "The 80-Minute Hour" was definitely not Paul Linebarger.

I'm ramping up for Potlatch, now, and notice that the same issue of NYRSF with Josh Lukin's article on Philip K. Dick has Lee Weinstein's "In Search of Kirk Allen." Weinstein observes a number of parallels between situations in Cordwainer Smith stories and Allen's documented symptoms.

A year later, Alan Elms (a noted Linebarger scholar) has another NYRSF article in which he concludes:


"Though I have yet to come across solid documentary evidence, I think the circumstantial evidence (including but extending well beyond Leon Stover's recollections) is strong: Paul Line Barger was Kirk Allen, or at least a substantial component of Kirk Allen. It's still possible that Robert Lindner combined two patients who suffered from apparently similar symptoms, better to conceal the identities of both and to make his main points about therapeutic technique more strongly. That other patient may yet pop up, and I'd like to hear about him if any reader knows him (or is him)."

We had Alan Elms as one of our panelists for the 2002 Potlatch, which featured "The Instrumentality of Mankind" as its Book of Honor.

#255 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 12:03 AM:

.... pointers to a definite refutation of the idea that "Kirk Allen" was Paul Linebarger.

#256 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 12:41 AM:

The refutations I've seen (and I don't have pointers, because everything I read was pre-Net, and thus quite possibly outdated) were that there was insufficient similarity between "Allen"s life and Linebarger's to support the case. Similarities in the content of his fiction -might- be significant, but for probably obvious reasons I'm always deeply skeptical of attempts to decipher a writer's mental state, -particularly- a neurosis, from his or her fiction.

That Lindner altered his case studies to protect the patients is not in question, and there's a case that actually falsifying any detail not directly relevant to the pathology is excusable (though this leads into a hard knot about when the case study loses its validity thereby, and becomes fiction). If he combined two separate cases, I'm not sure that we can reliably infer anything about either of the sources; who then was the "traffic controller," Patient A or Patient B? It seems unlikely that there could have been two such cases. (It -is- believable that there were two patients with science-fictional fantasy lives.)

I'll gladly back off from "Kirk Allen was not P. M. A. Linebarger" to "we have only circumstantial and inferential evidence of such an identification, not proof." The only living person in SF I would think might know definitely would be Fred Pohl (though I doubt he does), and I would not expect him ever to say.

And I'd still like to write the "X-Files" episode where Mulder and Scully discover the files of their unit's OSS/CIA predecessor, and imagine themselves back in the Fifties, playing Officer Linebarger and Officer Sheldon. Maybe a sketch for Boskone someday.

#257 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:05 AM:

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

Not a favorite book of mine, but definitely among the classic opening sentences.

#258 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:36 AM:

Vicki, I think the "someone has a model of hobbit (H. floresiensis) brains" is Carl Zimmer, here.

#259 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 03:51 AM:

Latin for "But I digress" is "Sed digredior".

(The perfect passive participle of "digredior" is "digressus". For some reason many English borrowings from Latin come from this participial stem rather than the main verb itself.)

#260 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 03:52 AM:

- You must start each paragraph with a sentence that describes what you will be addressing in that paragraph.
- You must summarize what you covered in the paragraph at the end with a summary sentence.

This brings back nightmares of my seventh grade English teacher. The crowning achievement of the year was the production of a book report. It contained some number of paragraphs, each of which addressed a specific topic (plot, main character, conflict, etc) - the specifics and order of these was provided to us as part of the assignment. Each paragraph had to have a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a concluding/summarizing sentence. Each paragraph was to be written on its own page AND (for this was all handwritten at the time), each sentence had to be labeled, in miniscule superscript, as to which role it played in the paragraph.

By seventh grade, I KNEW that there were better ways to write than that, and I knew that I had written a better (more interesting, more analytical) book report way back in fifth grade. It nearly drove me insane trying to meet her demands. Like Dru, it took me years to recover from that assault on my writing skills.

#261 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:16 AM:

My 11th grade English teacher made us write paragraphs that were at least a page long.

Never mind if the topic changed, never mind if the topic just didn't require a page worth of commentary--still, a paragraph had to be a page long.

#262 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:34 AM:

What kind of opening is: "'Damn!' said the archbishop" -- and that category of hooks?

And what are your favorite opening sentences in ALL of literature?

Questions of the form "what's your favourite X" are guaranteed to make me forget all the examples of X I could recall perfectly only seconds before. However, as you mentioned an archbishop, the opening line of Anthony Burgess's Earthly Powers survived:

“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

(Which is followed by the narrator congratulating himself on still being able to write an arresting opening sentence.)

#263 ::: Liz ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 08:05 AM:

Delurking because this seems like the ideal place to ask this. I am looking for a book on the history of Popes – I guess a chronological run though but giving some background too (and not forgetting the Antipopes!). I don't want anything too academic but not too popular either. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks.

#264 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 08:08 AM:

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the gulfstream, and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

#265 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 09:14 AM:

My favourite opening sentence, though I don't know why, is:

I am a collector of abandoned shopping carts.

#266 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 11:01 AM:

Re a new pope: someone should nominate Gene Wolfe.

Xopher, re your "zen koan" on traffic, a ways above, here's something from a recent Jon Carroll column on SFGate: "I have a mantra that I say. Perhaps you would like to learn it. 'All the atoms within me were once the atoms of the sun. All the water within me was once part of the great oceans of the world. I am by the universe and of the universe, and I embrace all suffering and transgression, for I am it and it is me and holy mother of God that son of a camel's placenta just cut across four lanes to tailgate an airport shuttle that of course is going 15 miles above the speed limit and oh look here comes a Camaro it's a race pigs pigs pigs may you rot in hell, and I love every creature because I am part of every creature, amen.'"

#267 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 12:09 PM:

Liz - Vicars of Christ, by Coulomb? I haven't read it, but reviews say it's even-handed. There are a couple of other books by the same title, different authors, one of which is subtitled "the dark side of the papacy"

#268 ::: Liz ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 12:29 PM:

Thanks, Barbara! The Coulombe one sounds good so I have ordered it.

#269 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 01:38 PM:

Favorite opening sentence:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

#270 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 01:48 PM:

David Brin forwarded me this link to a creepifying Neocon spoof page:

http://www.stiftungleostrauss.com

#271 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 01:49 PM:

Still staggered from reading the astonishing Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. More on that later, but thank you again, Teresa and Patrick for helping the extraordinary Ms.Clark!

Not trying to cut the necklace of baroque pearl opening sentences, but since we've mentioned Brust and Le Guin in this and related threads recently, let me mention an interesting forthcoming event to which I've submitted my paper prosal (on relationship between the Western and SF):

15 Mar 2005 — submission deadline
23-26 Jun 2005 — event
Science Fiction Research Association

Where: Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV
When: June 23-26, 2005
Details at www.sfra.org
Papers on any SF-related topic are welcome. Papers on our guest authors - Ursula K. LeGuin, John Barnes, Kij Johnson, Steven Brust, Elizabeth Bear, and Tim Powers - are particularly encouraged, as are papers on Gaming and Gambling in SF, the American West in SF, and the relationship between the Western and SF.

Deadline for Proposal Submission: March 15, 2005
Conference Participants do not have to be members of SFRA.
Send proposals for papers and panels to:
Professor Peter Lowentrout
Department of Religious Studies
MacIntosh Humanities Building 619
California State University, Long Beach
Long Beach, California 90840
FAX: 562-985-8999
plowentr@csulb.edu

#272 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:04 PM:

From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person.

#273 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:16 PM:

The Las Vegas conference sounds very interesting indeed. Though for anyone planning to attend, there are better hotel rooms a few steps in any direction from the, uhm, venerable IP.

#274 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:18 PM:

Stefan Jones & David Brin:

It's funny/creepy. But the Products 2005 page has a typo:

"We are experts at customizing Precision Stike [sic] and Direct Action solutions to fit clients' needs under the cloak of Freedom, Liberty and Democracy."

Strike, Stike, Shrike, whatever...

#275 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Mike: the better hotels may not have met SFRA's requirements for rates and spaces; I suspect hotel sales departments wouldn't expect much gambling revenue from academics. (Ask Davey sometime about how her professional group ended up at a ~3rd-tier Strip hotel.)

#276 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:47 PM:

I stayed at the IP last time I was in Las Vegas.

It is definitely old-fashioned . . . probably hasn't had a major overhaul since the mid-eighties. But it was affordable and fairly comfortable.

There were plans and models on display at the time of my visit for a massive overhead addition, The Celestial Palace . . . or, if the permits couldn't be obtained, a chthonically themed addition called Underground Demon Palace.

Whether they go with IP/TCP or IP/UDP, it should be interesting.

#277 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 03:18 PM:

Liz:

Though not exactly a history of the Papacy (or rather, not an _authorized_ history :-), I recommend reading Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit by Garry Wills.

I suspect that in the context you seem to be asking, however, this should probably be a secondary and illuminating reference, rather than your primary source :-D

#278 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 03:50 PM:

It was the day my grandmother exploded.

Also, can I just say how good it is to be sufficiently out of the current American political climate that this quote:

David Brin forwarded me this link to a creepifying Neocon spoof page:

made me wonder what city NeoCon was held in (New Something, clearly), or whether it specialised in the Matrix, or was just a "new" con?

I didn't think politics until a minute or two after I clicked on the link.

#279 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 05:13 PM:

"[T]o save the human race from extinction, and preserve the foundations of civilisation" (a laudable goal), the Social Issues Research Centre presents the Guide to Flirting: everything that empirical research can tell you about flirting and how to do it.

#280 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:36 PM:

Whether they go with IP/TCP or IP/UDP, it should be interesting.

But look out: if they go with UDP, there's no guarantees, and things may be out of order.

#281 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 09:48 PM:

I understand the fury people feel about the crap going down in Texas, but Patrick and I spent last weekend at DFWCon as the guests of a bunch of pleasant, intelligent, skiffy-breathing Texans, and I don't like to think about them coming here for the first time and getting their feelings hurt.

I forget who said that the first people who died fighting Hitler were other Germans, but it's a good observation. Have mercy. It's bad enough being in the same country with the Texas Republican party. Can you imagine having to be in the same state with them?

#282 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 10:24 PM:

Teresa: It's so funny that you linked the ParkeHarrison artwork in your sidebar--they had pieces showing at the NC Museum of Art, and Lee and I ended up buying prints and postcards for framing.

#283 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 11:39 PM:

I love that the local Intel plant has its own wetlands area, and even more that it has its own ornamental-tree-chewing beavers:

http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/beaver_stump1.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/beaver_stumptree1.JPG

And isn't this cute: A little trimmed-off bit:

http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/beaver_stick.JPG

#284 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 07:30 AM:

Imagine a spinning bicycle wheel. By Lorentz contraction, each little piece of the tire is shortened, so the circumference must shrink. But the spokes are moving perpendicular to that, and get thinner but not shorter. So how can a bicycle wheel have a decreasing circumference but no change in radius?

Not sure I get the 'paradox' here, Jonathan, since SRT deals with objects moving in straight lines and constant velocities relative to each other. This is curved motion you're describing.

But I can see how it would have inspired Einstein to start thinking about circular acceleration, etc.

Is this discussed in any of the bios? And does it persist in GRT?

#285 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 02:26 PM:

I just heard about this outfit producing rap songs intended to help teens/college students study "challenging vocabulary" -- the samples I listened to were hysterical. Not bad funny, funny in a kind of Schoolhouse Rock way. The place is Flocabulary. I think $8 to learn 193 vocabulary words is a bit steep, though!

Speaking of educational music, in my apartment we've really been enjoying the new They Might Be Giants kids project, "Here Come the ABCs" -- very reminiscent of both the best Schoolhouse Rock ditties as well as the Vince Guaraldi themes from the Charlie Brown animated specials.

#286 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 04:03 PM:

Wow. It's always odd to run across references to former coworkers in completely unrelated contexts. Esao Andrews' new web interface (as mentioned in Particles) is indeed charming, which is unsurprising--we worked together at a kid-oriented dotcom a coupla years back and he always did lovely work, albeit with fewer naked ladies. Nice to know he's still out there somewhere.

#287 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 04:12 PM:

Stefan Jones:

"Natural selection acts on the quantum world."

I asked several Quantum Mechanics that I know to tell me what the actual content of this was, as I could not find any. They said that everything there was either obvious or wrong, and was provocatively titled to mislead The Press. The title grabbed me, too. I think that the jury is still out on this one, as they are on the Robert Blake case, which so interestingly combines thugs, stuntmen, chimpanzees on crack, nude photos by golddiggers, and space aliens.

Speaking of Texas, there is some interesting stuff at:

the Texas X Files.
"Visit the side bar links to read snapshot summaries of the 'X File' folders. Each section has its own separate website, discussing many interrelated issues. Most of the material here is also available in hard copy as ebooks or paperbacks. The pages run the gamut of the traditional X-files subjects: eXtreme technology, UFO's and aliens in the Bible, the supernatural, Black Projects by the U.S.military, and the government conspiracy. Everything is backed up with solid, authoritative evidence - the kind of evidence you will find no where else in the public domain."

"Thank you sincerely for visiting my website. I started working on this website in 2002, to protest being expelled from the University of Texas at Austin a semester short of a Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering (you will find all of my research here). Now the technical research has become secondary to all the other issues... Members of the media have accused me of sedition. I retort, saying I took an Oath of an Officer, at the U.S. Naval Academy (class of '78), '... to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC.'"

#288 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 04:45 PM:

"I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world."

#289 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 05:31 PM:

Not sure I get the 'paradox' here, Jonathan, since SRT deals with objects moving in straight lines and constant velocities relative to each other. This is curved motion you're describing.

I remember reading once that SRT applies whenever the curvature of spacetime is flat which happens in circular central-force motion. I don't know enough about GR and differential geometry to say, though.

#290 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 01:14 AM:

Teresa - Sorry. Welcome Texans - no personal slights were intended. Always happy to meet more fine people from the Lone Star State.

#291 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 02:09 AM:

Concerning the Passing of a Grammarian

This was mentioned briefly last month, but I don't think anyone posted this link to a more heartfelt (and eloquent) eulogy:

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/index.ssf?050228ta_talk_remnick

Miss Gould, as she was known to everyone at the magazine, died last week, at the age of eighty-seven. She worked here for fifty-four years, most of them as its Grammarian (a title invented for her), and she earned the affection and gratitude of generations of writers. She shaped the language of the magazine, always striving for a kind of Euclidean clarity--transparent, precise, muscular. It was an ideal that seemed to have not only syntactical but moral dimensions.
#292 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 05:16 AM:

Liz:Not exactly a history of the popes, but possibly meeting your needs, is Hans Kung's The Catholic Church: A short history. It won't make any converts, at least none to the popes' party.

#293 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 01:08 PM:

Once again, I pass forward a query for The Group Mind to answer.

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

Hi there, and thanks for reading.

I was wondering if I can ask you about a movie I saw as a kid in the 1970's......

I cannot remember the name of the movie and would like to see it again.

The basis of the movie was that 2 different alien races were at war with each other. There was a light race and a dark race, and I believe each wore clothing of mostly white or black. The darker race would get into people's minds on earth, and make them do things....for example...I somewhat remember the dark beings making this woman who was washing dishes in the kitchen cut herself with a knife, or something like that.

The costumes were really cheesy and as usual, there was lots of bad acting, but I do remember this movie somewhat and would like to view it again.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Brian.

#294 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 08:40 PM:

JvP et al: why can the bicycle wheel not become a polygon -- or, at more plausible speeds for a bicycle, a set of linked arcs of greater radius than the circle they're fitted around? (This would not be a perfectly smooth-rolling shape, like the "constant-width polygon" described in the first of Poul Anderson's "Trouble Twisters" stories, but it would have so many segments the ride would be trivially uneven.) And why would anyone notice, since bicycle tires are deliberately flexible to cope with small unevennesses?

#295 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 01:26 AM:

Thud.

I wanted to thank all of the Making Light crew for making my introduction to cons and fandom an entirely pleasant sensation. I was a pleasure to meet and put faces to names. Tim, Tom, Lucy, Madeleine, Lenny, everyone! was a joy to speak with and simply absorb from.

I now have tasty seed-morsels to scribble furtively out while the current story-work eats my hind-brain with a spoon (as Madeleine so aptly put it). Mmm, the roles and reasons for education, ubiquitous monitoring and selective enforcement, and the nature of reality, oh my! Yum.

I refuse to break my brain on any of the hybrid titles that Tim came up with at the "Do Electric Sheep Look Up" panel. Valis of the Dolls is terrifying enough.

I will now allow the accumulated con-aphids finish their job on my immune system. Thanks again for a gentle introduction!

#296 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 12:12 PM:

Delightful interview with “founding grandmother” of the philosophy of biology: MARJORIE GRENE
[PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF PHILOSOPHY, VIRGINIA TECH]
.
I felt that I should call this to your attention when she suddenly cited Jane Austen’s Emma.

CHip:

I may have blundered ("reification") in suggesting an *actual* bicycle wheel, but I do enjoy Poul Anderson's story about constant-diameter non-circles, which I first heard of in Scientific American. The paradox is, perhaps, better presented in terms of Perfect Circular Disks. Or, consider what happens to a very long right circular cylinder rotating about its axis. In your interesting (and I think original) suggestion, there is no reason why one point rather than another would suddenly occur to separate two linked arcs. By a symmetry argument, then, no such discontinuities develop. As I say, Einstein discarded the false solutions, and agreed that, in Special Relativity, wheels can't rotate.

Dru:

Not having been at that panel, I speculate:

Harry & Kumar & the Man in the White Castle

Ruby Martian Time-Slippers

Dr. Bloodmoneypenny

Please tell us more!

#297 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 01:57 PM:

JvP et al: why can the bicycle wheel not become a polygon -- or, at more plausible speeds for a bicycle, a set of linked arcs of greater radius than the circle they're fitted around?

CHip: Something like this, maybe? Probably too heavy for use on bicycles, though.

#298 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 02:55 PM:

JVP:

I believe I have found your friend Brian's movie:

"Two different alien races are at war. Representatives of each race have landed on Earth to battle it out here, but they're being sneaky about it: They've taken human form and they can only spot other aliens through the use of special glasses."

The Love War - 1970

It was made for TV and is apparently unavailable on VHS/DVD.

Now, can anyone tell me the name of this one: Radioactive waste dumped into the ocean spawns a race of fish men who attack teens at the beach. This movie is not "Horror of Party Beach," because this movie has really cheesy gore effects, and "Horror of Party" Beach has long surfing sequences. The movie has to date from the 1970s, because I saw it on TV probably around 78 or 79, and have never found it since. I mostly remember a scene in which a sea monster is supposed to be disemboweling a young woman, but instead it looks like a guy in a rubber suit doing fingerpainting. It was the first time I ever saw a movie with more than a drop or two of stage blood, and I remember laughing uproariously at how badly it was done.

#299 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 03:21 PM:

HP You're describing the worst movie I've ever seen at a film festival, Humanoids from the Deep. Or, rather, I hope you are. I'd hate to think there's another one just like it out there.

#300 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 03:32 PM:

Okay, how about this one. (Apologies for very, very fuzzy memories.)

Movie. A crew is on a mission to Mars. There, some guy in a palace is somehow responsible for time. There's a giant pendulum, which at the end goes really fast and the palace blows up.

I was about to write that it was in black and white, but then I remembered that we only had a black and white TV in those days. Anyway, it was on TV in the early 70s.

#301 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 03:36 PM:

Oops -- busted link. Try here.

#302 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 03:37 PM:

Found it myself. "Wizard of Mars," aka "Horrors of the Red Planet." See a review..

#304 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 04:50 PM:

Teresa said:

There's a very good book about writing that's entirely devoted to getting rid of the bad composition habits one picks up K-12.

Title? I need this book! I've taken to writing fiction lately after years of lit essays and tech writing, and my prose is unbearably crunchy.

#305 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 04:51 PM:

RE: favorite opening lines

"Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet."

#306 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 06:33 PM:

Thanks for the link on Marjorie Grene, Jonathan. She was teaching at UC Davis in the early to mid 70's when I was a philosophy major there. At that point she was generally known as a scholar on existentialism and taught mainly about that (Davis was a history of philosophy school at the time). Few of us even heard of her work on biology at the time, which is just what you would expect from undergraduates.

On a more general and completely different note: L0rd 0f teh Ringz0rz - Teh Tw0 T0werz or Tolkien translated into still another dialect.

#307 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 06:44 PM:

HP:

I believe I have found your friend Brian's movie:

"Two different alien races are at war. Representatives of each race have landed on Earth to battle it out here, but they're being sneaky about it: They've taken human form and they can only spot other aliens through the use of special glasses."

The Love War - 1970

It was made for TV and is apparently unavailable on VHS/DVD.

======================
Well, thanks for responding...but I do not think you're quite right on this one..... You got the basis correct, but there were no special glasses that I recall. I saw this movie in the theater, not on tv...that part I am sure of....the movie would have been at the theaters around 1977 or so....any other suggestions?

Thanks, Brian.

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

Now I can't find what Making Light folks said about Robert Strickland's query on 2 or 3 stories... I'm pretty sure I asked at the tail end of Open Thread 36 in Dec 2004 and was answered somewhere else...

#308 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Well, I've actually seen The Love War, in its original ABC Movie of the Week inmandopickation no less, and it doesn't have the aliens using mind control -- they're just here in people suits, which is of course lots cheaper than having them dress up funny. (It might still be Brian's movie -- one or the other of us might have repressed some details.)

I would recommend that anybody curious about it avoid the movie itself, and read Harlan's review in one of the Glass Teat volumes (probably the second). He didn't like it, but he analyzes it in terms of its being slushpile SF rather than simply a slushpile Movie of the Week (which not all of the MotWs were).

TLW has a simulated surprise ending, which I won't "spoil," except to note that if you watched many Movies of the Week during the waning seasons you probably already know what it is.

#309 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 08:49 PM:

To my chagrin I've managed to misplace the book, so this may not be quite correct:

"When they found me I was out in the desert, burying my mother in an unmarked grave."

#310 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 09:44 PM:

I think it might be They Live. This, like The Love War, has the aliens with the special glasses, but the aliens are controlling the minds of the human population. This is the movie that gave the world the phrase "Conform. Reproduce. Obey."

#311 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 10:43 PM:

xeger, that sounds like the start of the TV Miniseries "Carnivale" (Series 1). Did that come in book form?

There was a film - not the one first described - called They Live (1988)


"John Nada discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority". Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued."
Looks like that idea of the special glasses has come around quite a few times, but there's no other aliens, just a few other humans who have found out. Some of those are opposing the aliens, others helping them for the good life they get in return.

#312 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 10:58 PM:

Okay, I think I may have a lead, but you're all gonna be real sorry if I'm right.

Starship Invasions came out theatrically in 1977. It's a Canadian tax-shelter movie that must have sheltered all of forty-nine cents CDN. There are two groups of aliens -- they're human-looking, though they aren't technically disguised as humans; the good ones live in a von Dummikenny pyramid on Earth and dress like Busby Berkeley's idea of Ancient Greeks, and the bad ones drive cheap plastic flying saucers and wear black spandex spaceysuities -- their leader, played with a game but hopeless solemnity by Christopher Lee, looks like a kinky Fu Manchu. Robert Vaughn's in there too, as a "UFO expert," though it might as well be a lobby cutout of him for all the emoting he does. Anyway, at the climax the Bad Aliens (who want Earth because their sun is four reels away from exploding -- presumably they're already packed, have shut off the gas, and can evacuate quick) unleash a suicide ray that causes some extras to spill much Canadian ketchup on themselves, which would cover the "woman cutting herself" scene.

It's actually better made, in a strictly technical sense, than its plot deserves, and Lee tries hard as always to give his bad guy some dignity, which is tough when you're wearing a tight rubber suit and your character's name is "Rameses." (Sadly, his first officer is not Cdr. Durex.) There's also a moment when a double line of enemy saucers is swooping in for the attack, and apparently there's a kink in the wire they're on, because as they reach a particular point in the swoop each pair does a little space-hop. Maybe it's space curvature, I dunno.

Yes, I actually saw this picture, though not theatrically. According to imdb, it was released on tape but not DVD.

#313 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 11:53 PM:

I second Dru's emotion! Potlatch was big ol' fun and meeting you guys was a highlight.

#314 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 12:22 AM:

Oh, and in other news from the visual world, I just saw an ad for the newest "Starfox" video game, one of a series about a starfighter-piloting . . . well, you know, fox. Anyway, the commercial shows a crowd of people in riding pinks dodging large flour-bomb explosions all over England's green and pleasant etcetera, presumably being counterattacked by our fuzzy-muzzled hero.

This has to count as the worst piece of advertiser timing in a good while. One hopes that Nintendo's people in the UK will drop a word in the right place.

#315 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 01:35 AM:

John Ford wrote:

> This has to count as the worst piece of advertiser timing in a good while. One hopes that Nintendo's people in the UK will drop a word in the right place.

Why bad timing? Maybe I should look at one of those "newspaper" things I've heard about...

#316 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 01:52 AM:

Fox-hunting with dogs was banned last month, with determined hunters insisting that they would ride out anyway, come hell, high water . . . or laser-armed space foxes, I guess.

#317 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 02:18 AM:
Fox-hunting with dogs was banned last month, with determined hunters insisting that they would ride out anyway, come hell, high water . . . or laser-armed space foxes, I guess.


Or cute little fox puppies which have been bred (for 20 generations) for doglike traits.


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0208_050208_foxes.html

I mean, that picture alone should make the most fanatical fox-hunter go "Awwwwww....".

More info here:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0206_020206_lovedogs.html

#318 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 04:52 AM:

The clapotis lust link reminded me that perhaps I should point people towards some interesting yarns available at a good place: Recycled Silk & Wool Yarn Skein ; Recycled Silk Yarn Skein (the whole recycled yarn bizzo) ; Alpaca Yarn Skeins ; Homespun Yarn - two skeins of wool yarn, one rusty red and one sea green. Each weighs about half a pound (250 grams). Fair trade imported from Nepal

Since there are a few jewellery fans around here; this is looking rather cyberpunk, or something - Biojewellery, from Neil Gaiman's Journal, pointed out by Sheila

#319 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 05:39 AM:

JvP: We certainly did hit your "Harold & Kumar" one.

For those who may be confused, this was a panel at the Potlatch just ended entitled "Do Electric Sheep Look Up?", devoted to brainstorming unwritten Philip K. Dick collaborations -- it stayed mostly on-topic, but did have a few digressions, such as the Delany / Disch collaboration Babel-334.

I got drafted as note-taker, and the notes should be going up onto the web somewhere, sometime soon.

My favorite, if I do say so myself, was my own: Dick / Carroll's VALIS in Wonderland.

(Someone else pointed out that the sequel was A Looking-Glass Darkly.)

#320 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 06:59 AM:

Looking at the letter from Larry Clopper, I can't help but notice some carefully worded sentences. And also a blatant assumption that the reader can't add up - B&N are their biggest customer with 30,000 books, and they have 11,000 authors; let's be generous, and call it 3 books an author. Wonder how that doesn't conflict with "PublishAmerica's biggest customer is not an author's family"...?

No individual author's family has bought more than 30,000 copies. Larry's the king of Weasel Words.

#321 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 07:42 AM:

They Live (with Rowdy Roddy Piper!) has the classic line, "I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I just ran out of bubblegum."

They don't make movies like that anymore.

(Another movie the likes of which they don't make anymore was Without Warning, which I saw in a theatre in Norfolk, VA, many years ago.)

#322 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 10:26 AM:

Just saw the Times article on new TV reality contest "Craft Corner Deathmatch" (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/08/arts/television/08craf.html) Sounds like something dreamed up in one of this blog's Open Threads, very late at night. But it didn't mention Mme. LaFarge, or assassination by knitting needle.

#323 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 10:26 AM:

JDM said:

They don't make movies like that anymore.

Sure they do, they're called "SciFi Channel Original Movies!" They've got one in rotation now called "Mansquito" which is about a giant bug, judging from the pictures, and they've got "Alien Apocalypse" premiering in which astronauts (oo! Bruce Campbell!) return to earth to discover it's been enslaved by aliens...outstanding! I gotta Tivo that one.

"They Live" has such an iconic status in my family that "I'm all out of bubblegum!" is used as a standard warning to anyone who's being a pain in the butt.

#324 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 11:12 AM:

You're welcome, Liz. Hope the book is useful. I skimmed Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven when our library bought it, and it was fascinating reading in an icky way.
Regarding unusual games - has anyone played Steel & Lace? It's an FRP with rules for repartee and infatuations, in a Cavalier-period world with several nonhuman races. I bought a copy of the rules for the cool illustrations by Donna Barr. I've been hoping to see a copy of CREDO ever since reading about it on an SCA mailing list.
Regarding adders, they are mentioned in bestiaries as stopping their ears, and a couple of the illustrations I've seen show lizard-like quadrupeds with the tail stuck into one ear (in one case while being serenaded by a small orchestra).
On another topic yet, since Patrick had mentioned the need for slushpile turnaround to be speedier, I'll note that the turnaround for my Tor submission came in under the lower end of the expected time, less than four months. If it weren't so sycophantish to say thank you for a rejection, I would, because it was darned efficient. I only wish it were possible to have the Slushkiller number added to the form letter, but I suppose that would have certain risks attached.

#325 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 12:08 PM:

Mary Dell, my thought when I saw the ads for "Mansquito" was that I'd tuned in Mad TV by mistake...it's so stupid it's a parody of itself. I probably won't watch it, though, since I have to vacuum the cat (made more time-consuming by the fact that I actually don't have a cat).

#326 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 01:21 PM:

And speaking of assassination by knitting needle, this made me laugh.

#327 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 02:08 PM:

So now I'm imagining a New Yorker cartoon with two appropriately outfitted gentlemen standing at a traffic light, one with a sign reading CLEAN WINDSHIELD, and the other displaying VACUUM CAT.

#328 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 02:45 PM:

The episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" shown here last week had a line about fox-hunting having been made illegal in the UK, and hearing it I was alternately stunned by the presience and excellent timing or by the lack of research. An especially egregious lack of research, considering that Detective Goran is supposed to be such a clever-clogs.

#329 ::: Steve Tyalor ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 07:18 PM:

John Ford wrote:

> Fox-hunting with dogs was banned last month, with determined hunters insisting that they would ride out anyway, come hell, high water . . . or laser-armed space foxes, I guess.

How sad - the end of one of the great British traditions. I refer to the hunt saboteurs, of course.

#330 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 07:34 PM:

Barbara Gordon wrote:

> Regarding unusual games - has anyone played Steel & Lace? It's an FRP with rules for repartee and infatuations, in a Cavalier-period world with several nonhuman races. I bought a copy of the rules for the cool illustrations by Donna Barr.

Lace and Steel. I haven't actually played it, but I don't really play roleplaying games - I just love to read through the rulebooks and hang around with people who *do* play them. I spent several years working with the author, Paul Kidd, so I saw it being born. He was game designer at the computer game company where I was a programmer. Lace and Steel looked beautiful - and read beautifully.

I told Paul so many years ago I was going to shamelessly steal all of his Lace and Steel ideas for a computer game and he said go right ahead. And yet have I done it? Sigh...

He also did the RPG of Albedo, a pretty decent Furry SF comic. Sort of Traveller with extra shag pile.

> I've been hoping to see a copy of CREDO ever since reading about it on an SCA mailing list.

I bought CREDO for a friend once and we had one game of it. On first acquaintance the idea was more interesting than the execution, but as I say, I've only played it once - it may grow on you.

Enthusiastic YES to everyone who mentioned Merchant Prince - it's a hell of a cool game. I particularly like the way that part of the sale price of each corrupt cardinal gets kicked back to the pope, and that if you buy enough cardinals you can stack the papal elections, get yourself elected pope, and go on a mad cardinal shopping spree, partially financed by kickbacks.

#331 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 08:05 PM:

Some of the Sci-Fi Original Movies are bad enough to actually watch. There was one a month or so ago that was set in San Franciso and many of the scenes featured a right-hand drive bus.

The biojewellery came up in rasfc, but I don't think it's very practical. Bone is *really* porous, you'd have to keep taking the ring off.

#332 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 10:01 PM:

I have just read Clay Shirky's piece on designing social software. I am SO over my Internet Crush on Michael Berube. Clay is my lastest, um, flame.

MKK

#333 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 11:17 PM:

Yet another note for the knitting nuts, from the town of Miles in the Shire of Murilla, Queensland.
A call for entries in the inaugural World Tea Cosy Making Competition*
With four categories and A$500 first prize, the competition is sure to draw a fascinating array of tea cosies from around the globe, said organizer Ann Gibbons.
The four categories are:
· knitting and/or crochet
· embroidery
· any other medium eg appliqué, patchwork
· novelty.
The winner of each category will receive A$200 with an additional A$300 to the overall winner
The tea cosies will be displayed in the Teys Art Gallery at the acclaimed Dogwood Crossing@Miles and will be available for sale with proceeds supporting arts activities in the region.
There is no entry fee, no entry form and tea cosies will not be returned**. Entries close on August 26th 2005.

* Someone may have information about an earlier one.
** Maybe if you sent an international SAE and asked really nicely??

#334 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 11:43 PM:

Since they're going to sell the cosies to raise funds, presumably they're not returnable, period. Essentially it's "Donate a cosy for a good cause," with something back for the winners. Since they're giving away $1200, they must expect to either get a great number of entries, or there are some deep-pocketed cosy fanciers in Queensland.

Notice, no "Shire" joke. I must be tired.

#335 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 12:12 AM:

Two comments, getting back online late and soon--
Tim, Dru, indeed lovely to meet (and I was amused to realize that I'd actually met Lucy Kemnitzer years before I met TNH!).

Mary Dell -- the book on breaking old bad writing habits may well be Howard S. Becker's WRITING FOR SOCIAL SCIENTISTS, a book I completely recommend, without reservation. Becker is a sociologist who writes very, very well.

#336 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 12:25 AM:
I bought CREDO for a friend once and we had one game of it. On first acquaintance the idea was more interesting than the execution, but as I say, I've only played it once - it may grow on you.

I had heard that the original version (from Chaosium) had some issues, but last time the game was mentioned here I was offerred the opportunity to purchase a copy of the revised (self-published) version, so I did. It is supposed to improve the gameplay, but I can't speak to that as yet. Once I get around to cutting all the cards out, I will, but that may be a while.

#337 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 02:06 AM:

Apropos of nothing, I have an herbal question for this open thread. Where can I find an objective online reference for herbal or alternative medicines that isn't inflating its claims in order to get me to buy things? My wife is trying to learn about something called neem, and can only find sales pitches. (Or is that in itself a telling observation?)

#338 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 02:10 AM:

Okay, I've been busy and sick and traveling and stuff so I am catching up. So deal.

I've just read P's exegesis on the papal politicking which isn't done. Have I mentioned, my dear Teresa, that your husband is undoubtedly the second most informative and entertaining husband in the world?

Janice in GA: Oh THANK YOU for that link. Although the woman is a tad obsessed with Pippi Longstocking, most of the stuff is wonderful. I really needed that today.

Michael: You would make a wonderful priest: you are intelligent and have more compassion and heart that anyone I can easily think of. Except maybe Xopher and Jeanne d'Arc (not that one -- the one who runs Body and Soul). The atheism thing is a mere detail. I suspect many wonderful priests have been atheists -- and even an occasional pope. Unfortunately you would be assassinated even faster than Pope Teresa.

Mike: Nervi is a modern architect, and therefore inherently Satanic
I'm not sure I can think of an easy way to refute that offhand...

Dave B: I know that's supposed to be a cat's eye, but, um. It could be unexpectedly popular with lesbians.


#339 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 03:24 AM:

MKK: I might propose Cesar Pelli as a counterbalance -- not necessarily angelic, but given the identification of "angelic architecture" with Batsh*t Gothick, German Baroque, and the Crystal Cathedral, I'm not sure that's a fault. (Stipendium peccavi incommodum est.) Gehry is clearly an Agent of Chaos -- there's something supervillain about the Building as Thermal Death Ray -- and Pei is a traveler from a non-Euclidean universe, possibly Lovecraftian; I've been in a couple of his buildings that were clearly designed for something other than upright bipeds.

#340 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 08:05 AM:

I haven't had my coffee yet, so take this for what it's worth: in the novelty category, a tea cosy made out of a hollowed-out bowling ball with a slice off the bottom for stability. (If anybody wins with it, I'll take 10%.)

#341 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 09:08 AM:

Owlmirror: Or cute little fox puppies which have been bred (for 20 generations) for doglike traits.

I feel a story treatment coming on. A fox and his dog.

#342 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 11:31 AM:

Is it true that Andre Norton is on her deathbed?

#343 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 01:00 PM:

Oh, no, Pei is from a purely Euclidean geometry universe, one without -curves= in it. The buildings have cold zone and hot zones, in the same room and corridors, the glassy areas get bitterly cold inside, there are wind issues....

I spent four years on a campus that has I. M. Pei buildings. They are most definitely Euclideans, all with angles and points to them.

#344 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Paula Lieberman:

Is Frank Geary a Riemannian?

#345 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 02:28 PM:

Alice: It appears to be true, alas. This has been discussed by her caregiver on at least one public Internet forum, so I can't imagine it's a secret.

She goes all the way back with Tor; a novel by her was the very first Tor book.

#346 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 02:59 PM:

Drat. I was hoping that was a nasty internet rumor.

Thanks for the verification. I hope she's not in pain.

#347 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 03:46 PM:

If any of you remember the lovely discussion about the illuminated icons by Robert Lentz, featuring Einstein, Rumi, Julian of Norwich, etc., they're clearing out their stock of them at http://www.bridgebuilding.com/

Does anyone remember the original page which the original discussion of Lentz' icons linked to? I can't seem to find it even though I've searched through the comments on two or three of Making Light's threads.

#348 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Eric, neem oil is a fungicide and insecticide, a lot like tea tree oil. If your wife has tried presciption drugs for her problem, it's unlikely the neem will help. If she wants some anyway, make sure it's cheap.

Mary Kay, I thought just that about Dave's Feline Power logos but I thought it was just me.

Cassandra, have you used the search on ML's front page, waaaaay down on the left side?

#349 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 01:31 AM:

Steve Taylor, thanks for the correct title - I looked for my copy of Lace & Steel to make sure, but couldn't find it. It's a fun read. I'm a terrible RPer but love reading the rulebooks - I have a bunch of the Paranoia books.
I was surprised that I couldn't find a review of Starship Invasions at any of the badmovie sites that I frequent. Perhaps it was too obscure even for them.

#350 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 02:35 AM:

There's a review of Dracula Vs. Napoleon Solo . . . uh, I mean, Starship Invasions at the SF, Fantasy, and Horror Film Review site (URL below), which is a pretty good source -- I actually found the movie there by hunting through their title list and screening by release date. Then all the memories came rushing back like memorial rushing things. They liked it better than I did, but they are somewhat subjective about certain things -- Robot Monster (the one with the diving-helmeted gorilla and the space bubble machine) gets five stars for being a perfect example of junk.

http://www.moria.co.nz/sf/starshipinvasions.htm

#351 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 04:17 AM:

Marilee, thanks. I'll tell my wife. I did think it was a little odd when the only official-sounding hits on neem that I could google up were EPA pesticide registration announcements. :-P She's been using it topically for itchy skin and she says it seems to help.

#352 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 09:17 AM:

Just saw this at LanguageHat -- Jesse Sheidlower has relaunched the Oxford English Dictionary Science Fiction project, dedicated to finding the earliest citations for words used in SF.

#353 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 11:53 AM:

Vernor Vinge signed a multi-book deal with Tor, to write three new novels, and re-issue several of out-of-print books (including Marooned in Realtime).

The first new novel with Tor is Rainbows End, a quasi-prequel to 'Fast Times at Fairmont High.' It will probably be done by April, May, or June 2005, for early 2006 publication.

The second contracted novel will be the long-awaited sequel to A Deepness in the Sky [1999].

Teresa is welcome to correct me if I got any of the details wrong here, as it has been a while since I spoke to Vernor about this.

#354 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 12:16 PM:

Another note about Starship Invasions:

It incorporates great soggy wads of UFO / Ancient Astronauts lore, dimly remembered from a brief pre-teen fascination with that crap.

Example: The servant robot looks like the spike-eared alien described by a couple of hicks who claimed they were abducted off of a pier.

#355 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 06:04 PM:

Regarding the foot fetishist with the allegorical babe: WTF?

If her wrapper was green, I'd suspect it of being James Whistler visited by the spirit of absinthe. As it is....

---L.

#356 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 06:45 PM:

John Ford writes:

> They liked it better than I did, but they are somewhat subjective about certain things -- Robot Monster (the one with the diving-helmeted gorilla and the space bubble machine) gets five stars for being a perfect example of junk.

The old Valhalla cinema (arthouse/trash) used to run a regular double of the "two worst movies in the world" - Robot Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space. It seemed to be a popular enough double bill that they ran it quite a few times. I'd have to say that of the two, I found Plan 9 much more fun - Robot Monster is pretty sparse.

#357 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 06:54 PM:

(About the particles link on "Hockneys Secret Knowledge Retuted")

I have no particular opinion on whether David Hockney's ideas about artists using camera obscuras for drafting are corrrect or not. The way I look at it, either they did or they didn't, and I'll get by just fine either way.

I also don't like Hockney as an artist and have no real interest in defending him against whatever people might accuse him of.

Finally, I like most of the art on the ARC website better than anything Hockney has done.

Having got the disclaimers out of the way, those people on the ARC site crowing about how the evil Hockney has been proved wrong are sick puppies. They have *way* too much emotionally invested in their opinions of what good art is. Basically they're true believers and some of what's being said over on the cult thread applies to them.

I'm tempted to send them a Jackson Pollock postcard, just to see if I can hear the screams from here.

#358 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 08:55 PM:

The ARC people give me the creeps. Why is it "preposterous" that the old masters would use the camera obscura for greater precision?

One of the things my mother left me is a book called "Secrets of the Masters" -- whatever it sounds like, it's an artists' recipe book. The old guys did not think they were too good for chemistry and optics. We already knew, before Hockney, that occasional use of the camera obscura was made, from written records. And we knew about the grid of cords placed in front of a subject to aid in getting proportions right. So what's preposterous?

If I remember right -- I read this a while back -- Hockney was making claims for such a widespread use of the camera obscura that I probably thought he had gone overboard. But. That's all.

These ARC people seem to want to say that a good eye and a steady hand were the only tools the old guys used, and that's silly. I can't believe that smart guys like that would pass up a chance to get things more accurate more easily. They were professionals, not fetishists.

#359 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 09:14 PM:

Also about the David Hockney Refuted article:

My boyfriend and I actually bought the book sometime back, which, David's theories aside, actually makes a pretty smashing art reference book. Both Lee and I are artists, and both of us work pretty hard at our art, so some of my remarks will draw from that experience. I thought DH made a good case for the probability of the idea he presented, and I don't think it is all that far-fetched to believe that they used mirrors and lenses to aid their art. Plausible, yes. (I don't think he definitively proved it to my satisfaction, but I'm not convinced that he could be utterly wrong either.) I ALSO don't think that one requires that "secret knowledge" to reach a certain level of proficiency, and I think the ARC obviously feels threatened, as many artists, having slaved away in schools, ripping through sketchbook after sketchbook, often do. The accusation of "cheating" is levelled at those claims, but it's a question of tool usage. Just because something makes one part of the overall process easier doesn't mean that craft has been eliminated from the picture, or indeed, that we aren't expanding into a new area of the craft.

Look at computers if you want to know what I mean. For the first couple years that I was online, a lot of people seemed to have the misconception that pictures painted with a computer program didn't count as real art, as if we pressed the "make art" button, and the computer squirted art onto the screen for us. Just because I can copy and paste an element of my picture over and over and over again, doesn't mean that the first creation of that element didn't require skill and knowledge. Just because I can draw perfect circles and curves using computer tools doesn't mean that I'm somehow cheating, or that I'm engaged in some soulless non-creative process. Sure, I'm not using the same tool set as the ancient masters when I eyedrop a colour instead of mixing all my pigments by hand, but I'm not without an acquired craft and honed skillset either.

The first ARC article (Ross's "rebuttal") is little more than a statement accusing Hockney of an agenda. There is a more detailed review of his book by another ARC member which I find addresses the issue more, and which more moderately calls the camera obscura a tool of the trade, albeit one they consider to be a hindrance. Where they completely lose me is completely disavowing any acceptance of Hockney's theory at all, saying that the idea is complete bunk and the opticians and lens makers had NO effect on the arts at all. And that seems to be stretching it a little.

Of course, if you make your money off of classes and courses purporting to show students the True and Traditional Way of Doing Things, you'd be a bit peeved if the camera obscura happened to make things any easier on your students. I mean, people have been learning to draw by tracing influential artwork for ages. I did it as a child (tracing the Family Circus until I could draw Billy and Dolly without that step). Alex Ross, influential comic book artist, used to use reflection and camera obscura techniques when he was younger as well, but now doesn't need them at all to create his photo-realistic watercolours. However, it's easy to fob off people with the idea that this is new. However, if it has historical significance of the sort that Hockney theorises, it lends itself to more legitimacy.

I want to write more, but I've got to run and pick up my brother.

#360 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2005, 11:39 PM:

TexAnne, if I had appropriate power tools, I might be tempted.... ghu knows we've got enough idle bowling balls n the house (we used to play on our local SF club league).

Eric, I find Tea Tree soap/lotion very helpful for the itchies. With ezcema, dry skin and other skin conditions that may or may not be allergic, physicians with their prescriptions are about on par with what you can get you can get as a natural product in effecacy. I use tea tree oil soap when my skin is being too oily. Neem oil would likely be good too.

Steve, I remember being perfectly terrorified by a movie seen on TV where the teen-age space aliens (very human looking, not made up, just spiffy spaceship uniforms) had a ray gun that would reduce whatever alive it was fired at into a skeleton. I THINK it was Teenagers from Mars or something like that, I was about 6 when I saw it on a Saturday TV SF matinee and it scared the fark out of me for a long time. (nowadays I watch such movies when I need a cheap laugh.)

#361 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 07:13 AM:

"Teenagers from Outer Space." The finest effects moment in that film is -- no, not the projected shadow of a lobster -- but one of the Space Teens twiddling a knob on some Alien Device that is quite clearly labeled "Multichannel Mixer." Those fiendish aliens, using rock and roll for their fiendish alien schemes!

#362 ::: Norvin ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 12:29 PM:

Looks like there's going to be a vote on ANWR drilling next week:

http://www.northern.org/artman/publish/Senate_Vote.shtml

#363 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 12:43 PM:

It is a glorious sunny 72 degrees outside (oh wait, I didn't say that, everyone knows Portland is dismal and rainy, cancel that moving van, nothing to see, move along--) and I am in here watching "Survivor" clips on the web and nit-picking their grammar. It's truly pathetic, I admit it, and I'll go trim the wisteria as soon as I get one question off my chest. Promise.

cbs.com refers to someone as "flushed with their victory". The correct phrase is "flush" with victory (pride, whatever) -- isn't it?

#364 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Kate Yule - should be, yes. But if you're going to start vetting broadcast journalism for malapropisms, you're going to have a full-time job on your hands.

The one that drives me the craziest is when they say "that begs the question..." and then ask a question! "Begging the question" means "assuming what you're trying to demonstrate." One of the few things, other than Dubya, that makes me shout at the radio.

#365 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 01:19 PM:

It is indeed dreary and miserable in Portland. Just look at the somber scene outside the office:

bare ruined choirs

And the coast, man is it depressing out there:

somber prospect

woebegone beasties

Ah, we'll struggle through somehow.

#366 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 01:20 PM:

Re the allegorical babe and the foot fetishist -- I'm thinking _Trilby_ here, maybe. A bit too much about the model's perfect feet in there, wink wink nudge nudge say no more...

#367 ::: Kate Y. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Thanks, Xopher. I just wanted to know I wasn't alone.

Speaking of which, I have reconsidered part of my last post. Applications for residency in Oregon may be considered for anyone willing to
a) swear never to vote for a sales tax
and b) open a Real Bagel import business.

There wants to be a third criterion, something about supporting children while not necessarily having any of your own, but I can't get the wording right.

#368 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 06:51 PM:

GROAN!

From a long-ago co-worker's father, who still keeps me on his CC list:

'Four novice nuns were about to take their vows. Dressed in their white gowns, they came into the chapel with the Mother Superior, and were about to undergo the ceremony to make them "Brides of Christ."

Just as the ceremony was about to begin, four Hasidic Jews with yarmulkes, shaggy sideburns and long beards came in and sat in the front row

The Mother Superior said to them: "I am honored that you would want to share this experience with us, but do you mind if I ask you why you came?"

One of the men replied, "Oh, we're from the groom's family."'

#369 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 07:05 PM:

John M. Ford:
"Teenagers from Outer Space." The finest effects moment in that film is. . . one of the Space Teens twiddling a knob on some Alien Device that is quite clearly labeled "Multichannel Mixer."

Ummm. Back in the '70s, I went to see "Star Wars" with a posse of my E.E. homies. A cheer went up when Vader ordered his Death Star minions to use the Planet Destruct-o Ray: because the "Planet Destruct-o" console was obviously nothing but a 'Grass Valley' video switcher, found in every TV control room of the day.

#370 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 07:38 PM:

And it had a split fader, so Little Annie Darthy could have only blown up half of the planet if he'd wanted to. ("It's as if billions of voices cried out at once, 'man, that was bitchin' close.'")

It would be fun, if an utter waste of time (but so much decent fun is) to do a list of Guest Appearances by bits of hardware playing other bits of hardware in movies, such as the carbon arc stunt-doubling for a reactor control rod in Gog, the numerous interplanetary spacecraft portrayed by the same captured V-2 (sometimes printed in reverse, for soft landings) and of course the outstanding star turn by the Arecibo telescope in Goldeneye. ("I am big. It's the satellite dishes that got small.")

#371 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 08:00 PM:

The last time I saw the original Star Wars I was struck by how hopelessly cheesy the sets and props looked. The whole look-and-feel was stunningly cool in 1977, but time has not been kind to those production values.

More fun than repurposed V-2s: Spaceships that changed in flight. You'd start out with some V-2 or Saturn V stock footage, then switch to something else.

#372 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 09:23 PM:

Stefan, it looks warmer there than here (KC), I'm envious. (It's absolutely beautiful but the air still has a nip in it--not like last weekend when I had windows open to air out some winter funk...)

And I like the joke too! I've had the kind of day where I needed a really good tee hee... Thanks!

#373 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 01:18 AM:

A few hours after agreeing to do a convention panel on The Comical Funniness of Humorous Risibility, A Discursive Symposium, I find that Dave Allen has quietly died. (Details and quotes over at The Guardian.)

I'm not taking this as an omen, but I am going to go pour a shot of Bushmill's. Others might wish to do likewise.

/s/ The American guy with nine and a half fingers

#374 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 07:21 AM:

John,
Dave Allen? As in the Irish comedian??

Bushmill's indeed. (Or Tullamore Dew) I still remember the half-hour show that the Boston UHF channel carried for a couple of years back in the 1970s...

#375 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 11:12 AM:

John M. Ford: as an regular buyer of Starlog in those days, I can tell you that at the time Starship Invasions had (Huzzah!) a full-sized rubber flying saucer filled with helium for the exterior ground and near-ground shots. And from the stills I've seen it looked just as bouncy as you'd expect.

Oh, and for anyone else: Teenagers From Outer Space can only be an enjoyable experience in the prints that feature an astronaut and two robots in the lower left corner.

I know an E.E. that laughed during every shot of Han Solo's freeze chamber in The Empire Strikes Back because the readout was from an HP calculator. And large-format photography fans were known to comment on how Speed-Graphic had clearly had a promotional contract with Darth Vader since he used their flash rig as his lightsaber.

My favorite is still the time I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3-D at the University of Washington, and as large anounts of fish swam past and the screen crawl went on and on about sea life in Africa a voice behind me sang out "But why are they Northen Pike?"

Marilee: In The Further Inventions of Daedalus there is a duscussion of how it would be possible to make a ball of cow's teeth, surround it with a shaped charge of plastic explosive (think of the internal structure of an atomic bomb) and produce ivory via explosion. I've wanted to try this ever since, but since Sept. 11 I think it would be hard to arrange...

Owlmirror: My favorite Miss Gould line was reported by Brendan Gill. "If you tapped this sentence on end it would never stop rocking."

And have the doglike foxes been offered for sale yet? I admit to curiosity as to how much they'll go for...

#376 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 12:17 PM:

Sorry: I should have said "in the lower right corner." Unless there's an Ion Storm...

#377 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 01:09 PM:

In Contact, the blind scientist uses the data entry knob of an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer as a volume control for the alien transmissions. That's not quite as ridiculous as some of the stuff upthread, since you could in fact program that knob to act as a volume control if you had a lot of time on your hands, but it was funny to this audio geek.

Also, at one point a shot of the recording device (an Alesis ADAT, I believe) shows that the aliens are broadcasting octaphonic sound. Very spiffy.

#378 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 05:46 PM:

John Ford wrote:

>It would be fun, if an utter waste of time (but so much decent fun is) to do a list of Guest Appearances by bits of hardware playing other bits of hardware in movies, such as the carbon arc stunt-doubling for a reactor control rod in Gog, the numerous interplanetary spacecraft portrayed by the same captured V-2 (sometimes printed in reverse, for soft landings) and of course the outstanding star turn by the Arecibo telescope in Goldeneye.

Dr. Who certainly went through a phase where they'd show gantry's-eye footage of a Saturn V takeoff whenenver any spacecraft of any description took off. I do hope the new series doesn't have production values.

#379 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 08:22 PM:

I propose that those Russian tame vulpines be called _house foxes_.

These critters are old news to some extent. I remember reading about them ten or more years ago. Of course, in the intervening years the experiment has continued and they're even tamer and cuter now!

I've never read anything suggesting that they were or would be for sale.

I DID read an article warning that the Russian foxes would make rotten pets. They haven't lost their habit of hiding little hordes of food, meaning you'd occasionally find troves of dog food and offal around your house. And . . . foxes STINK. They have a really obnoxious musk.

I suppose it is possible that you could de-scent them. But all told, you're probably better off getting a small breed dog. There are many that are cute and spunky and atheletic, like Basenjis.

#380 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2005, 11:14 PM:

Partially re: David Hockney - I'd like to recommend Jonathan Stephenson's book Materials and Techniques of Painting. It has a wonderful diatribe as introduction, on how the workshop tradition was lost as painting became a gentleman's occupation, and a lovely vicious anecdote about a Victorian painter (forget which) who while deriding the need for artists to be trained as craftsmen, purchased an Old Master painting and scraped it down to the canvas trying to discover its "secrets".
My intense love for medieval painting technique is largely based on it being a _craft_ which could be taught to anyone, in the same way as shoemaking. Sure, there will be geniuses (genii?) who will go well beyond what they were taught - but maybe they still need to learn their craft.
Ummm. Anyway. Stephenson says it better. But I do know that grinding the pigments and mixing glair and yolk is much more fun for me than tube paints ever were.

An odd and interesting page here: http://www.homestead.com/shilala/candling.html
showing how to candle eggs, with examples of what to look for.

#381 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 03:21 AM:

I am trying to recall a great story about a girl on a human populated planet who took a career choice against custom for females-- the girl character's name was Jacinthe, and her father, a well-established business mogul was on another world when all the interesting stuff started happening-- what I mainly remember about this story was that communication between far worlds was difficult, however, everyone wore a wrist-band with specific readouts of emotional and "well-being" indicators for their close and loved ones, and this information was immediately available. Can you help me determine who wrote and where available is this fine short story? Thanks for any clues.

-- Nancy Mccracken

#382 ::: epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 04:36 AM:

I believe that several outside scenes in Blake's 7 (DVDs of first 2 seasons now available) were filmed around a rather notorious nuclear power plant formerly known as Windscale. So they were using nuclear power plant equipment mostly to be various [evil] Federation space bases & communication plants. Not sure if that quite counts.
I've also heard that in a Star Wars scene where CP-3IO is threatened with dismemberment & electro-torture one of the sinister instruments is recognised by some as gynaecological equipment.

And I thought this might provide some gristle to gnaw for the fans here: The anal-retentive apostrophe Test - "a series of questions where you will have to pick one of the answers, to reveal if you know your it's from your its and your her's from your hers."

#383 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 08:40 AM:

JvP: sounds like At the Seventh Level by Suzette Haden Elgin. I couldn't have told you the poet's name without the prompt, but I remember the well-being readout (IIRC, a capsule transmission rather than a wristband) that starts the story. Jacinthe has chosen not an unusual profession but the \only/ activity allowed to women outside the home; the society accepts that poetry is a religious calling which may descend on women, while providing severe penalties for any woman whose failure at the exams shows she was being obstreperous rather than divinely inspired. (The title refers to the seven ranks of Poet; the next few scenes show Jacinthe, having passed all the tests, dealing with her family and with the predictable religious reactionaries.) The story belongs primarily to Coyote Jones, a government psi who Elgin wrote a few other books about; he's sent to figure out who's attacking Jacinthe by methods that may be psionic. (All of this is setup not spoiler; the story is worth reading.)

#384 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 09:29 AM:

epacris said:

The anal-retentive apostrophe Test - "a series of questions where you will have to pick one of the answers, to reveal if you know your it's from your its and your her's from your hers."

"her's?"

#385 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 09:38 AM:

Ok, so I took the test and missed some, but since it doesn't provide an answer key, I don't know which ones. It just tells me:

"Well done! You have 90 % apostrophy awareness!"

...well, at least I know how to spell it.

#386 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:42 AM:

Mary: I didn't bother going past #4, which had two correct answers. Maybe you didn't give it the one it thought you should have. (Er. Speaking of incomprehensibility.)

#387 ::: Dave ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:50 AM:

Re: the David Hockney / camera obscura link, there was an article recently in either Scientific American or Discover that seemed to me to blow it out of the water fairly conclusively. The article looked at Hockney's examples and showed that (a) it would have taken a camera obscura setup beyond the technology of the time to produce them and (b) they were way, way off the level of accuracy you would expect if the artists _had_ used a camera obscura.

Having not read the book myself, I can't comment on whether the take-down fairly represented Hockney's claims, but it seemed pretty damning.

#388 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:56 AM:

complete non-sequitor here:

someone told me about an article they read about a
study that some researcher did about habits.
The study concluded that a person had to do a
particular action 30 times before it became engrained
as a "habit".

The person who told me about this study is looking for the
article to see if they have it, but they didn't have a lot
of confidence that they hadn't thrown it in the trash.

Anyway, it would be a great factoid to use in a book
I'm helping out on, but I need the facts. four-person
removed generalizations won't fly. Unfortunately,
changes to the book have to be in by March 19,
so I can't just ask around nonchalantly.

Does anyone know the specifics about this study?
Does it ring any bells for anyone?
A URL to an article? A university website?
something from the original source or something
that quotes the source and who it came from?

specifics would be greatly appreciated.

#389 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 01:25 PM:

I can't believe I'm the first to mention it--today is Pi Day, one of the festivities celebrating the role of pi in our lives.

(No, JVP, we don't need a series of links to recent articles about pi. Thanks for the thought, though.)

#390 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 01:58 PM:

Well, rats! Totally missed e day, and there's no way to celebrate phi day. Drat.

#391 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 02:17 PM:

fidelio:

I'll spare you the links, though I agree that this takes unusual restraint on my part. Have you still got the chance to have you one-billionth-second party? I was, so far as I know, the first person ever to host one, and others have done so since, though it's hardly a fad. How many years, months, days, hours there are in one billion seconds i leave as an exercise to the reader.

And there are LOTS of other cool algebraic and transcendental constants that have opportunities to celebrate. Google on "constants" and "Plouffe" for more.

CHip:

Thank you! I've emailed that to the questioner, along with more on the author and her Linguistics and her foundin of the Science Fiction Poetry Workshop. I admire her very much, not the least for indulging with me on a series of essays and counteressays in the newsletter of the SFWA where we violently attacked each others' theories in the greatest collegiality and decorum.

Bruce E. Durocher II and John M. Ford,

There's probably a story in these anecdotes, properly framed. If you took all the repurposed equipment and set decoration from B-movie SciFi, and hooked them together, you would have a spacewarp apparatus through which the real aleins would emerge, either good or evil, only time will tell. And what apparatus will be repurposed in the mid-21st century Massively Multiplayer Hologames? Isn't that an Ono-Sendai deck being used to program the music that hypnotizes you to follow the orders given to you by senient software on the Underweb? Isn't that an IBM Caterpiller Nanomechanical Data Storage device hooked up to that teledildonic wetware? And those Star Trek salt-shaker biomedical scanners, woot!

#392 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 02:20 PM:

I'd love to celebrate i day, but they tell me it's purely imaginary.

#393 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 02:31 PM:

Andy Perrin:

That's a complex joke...

See the final joke on this page, which I submitted for my son, who is the anonymous "son of mathematician" referred to:

Eric W. Weisstein, "i." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

#394 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 02:41 PM:

At last - the perfect mix of JVP's math and the literary flavor of this blog - Reductive Literary Equations.

E.g.: Paradise Lost - (Harry Potter X The Wizard of Oz) = His Dark Materials

#395 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 02:43 PM:

How funny! I know SharQ (the author of the apostrophe test) from my former online community. Almost as strange as having someone in a paper shop recognise my website from my bindery name (in Boston, when I'm based in Edinburgh).

I guess it's a small web. How long until you all find out, due to an incident of spontaneous human combustion, that I am the long-lost daughter of the man who owned the house where Teresa's mis-prescribing pharmacist's hairdresser once lived?

And can anyone answer my publishing question waaaay up close to the top of the thread?

#396 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 03:02 PM:

> And can anyone answer my publishing question

me too. well not a publishing question,
but a question that will help a book
about to be published.

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006047.html#76923

anyone heard of some research about habits?

#397 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 03:31 PM:

That's a complex joke...

Complex numbers confuse me. I get π i'd thinking about them.

#398 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 04:42 PM:

Jill Smith:

Clever comment, insightful analysis, great link.

Yet I find myself grading the answers as if they came from one of my student's exams, for instance:

Nabokov + Robert Elms = Martin Amis
-- the bellefox

As a huge Nabokov fan I find myself wondering if the bellefox is claiming that Robert Elms is of less than zero quality, or, if not, is she suggesting that the clever but sometimes derivative Martin Amis is worthy of a Nobel Prize?

Okay, it's rapidly approaching Pi Day party time, Pacific Standard Time:

3/14 1:59:26

I'm drinking a beer right now, and wondering if I'll get pi-eyed.

What kind of beer goes best with transcendental numbers?

#399 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 07:04 PM:

What kind of beer goes best with transcendental numbers?

Dos Equis?

#400 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 08:11 PM:

Fourex. Little Australian joke there.

#401 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:25 PM:

Oh BARF....

http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue412/letters.html

[Letter from Completely Clueless Wonder, includes:]

"What matters is that I am now a published writer and illustrator, and this boost in confidence has caused me to continue to write stories that some find interesting. Now that I am a professional writer, I'm sure that other publishers will take a second glance when I submit something to them."

"As for myself and the hundreds of other authors that deal with PA, we will continue to work with PublishAmerica, and look forward to showing you that speculative fiction is alive and well.

"Jeffrey E. McCluskey
"j-e-mccluskey(at)rogers.com"

=========

How Not to Get Published, Reason # 5378....

#402 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 12:08 AM:

If it's boosted his confidence and given him the strength to continue, who's to say it's wrong?

Someone else might get a boost in confidence from tying red ribbons to his wrists. That's okay too.

#403 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 05:02 AM:

The quickest way to figure out how many years is a billion seconds is to type "1 billion seconds in years" into Google.
(I [re-]discovered this feature when trying to work out what scale my Large Scale Crystal was.) Having done this, I find that I'm about five years late for it. Oh, well.

My result on the apostrophe test was 95%. It said "PERFECTION!", which seems a little odd...I noticed that it showed recent results, and nobody had higher than 95%. I wonder if that's the highest possible?

#404 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 06:04 AM:

If it's boosted his confidence and given him the strength to continue, who's to say it's wrong?

Or perhaps he should just invent the Martha Green award?

#405 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 09:55 AM:

McCluskey's book is available at Amazon. $19.95 for 132 pages. (Well, perhaps it's a graphic novel? He did mention that he was an illustrator.)

Here's the blurb:

At the end of the second millennium, the earth is at the center of a vast alliance of planets. These chronicles are based on part of the sagas of the Galactic Alliance of Planets. The year is 2999 A.D., 300 years after the Alliance was first formed. As the Alliance prepares to celebrate its 300th year of incorporation, they find that they must defend our galaxy from an attack from something they have never seen or heard of before. Join with us as the Universal Battlestar Carrier Liberty and its brave crew of Eco-Guards trek to defend our galaxy from threats seen and unseen. Interested in knowing more about Robo Trek? Please check out www.robo-trek.com or www.jemco-productions.com.

There's something vaguely familiar about this.

#406 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 12:28 PM:

Oh. My. God.

"crew compliment?"

I really hope Mr.McCluskey is, like, fourteen, or I might have to track him down, pull him out of his mom's basement, and teach him how to walk on dirt and not fear sunlight.

#407 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 12:37 PM:

Oh. My. God.

"crew compliment?"

"Captain, you have an excellent crew here! I've never seen a better group of 11,000 Eco Guards." That is a crew compliment.

Even if he IS fourteen, pulling him out of his Mom's basement might not be such a bad thing.

#408 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 12:50 PM:

On a completely different note:

the blog of a thoroughly interesting Malaysian writer

I haven't seen even one of the films she's been involved in, but I'm going to look for them.

Oh, thank you for open threads.

#409 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 05:07 PM:

At the end of the second millennium

Gee, wasn't that five or six years ago?

#410 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 06:01 PM:

Isn't 2999 CE the end of the *third* millennium?

#411 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 06:05 PM:

I see that Cardinal Bertone has been assigned the task of refuting The Da Vinci Code.

This is probably going to be much less fun than one might hope.

I'm trying to think of who could do justice to the investigation in a novel. Maybe Donald Westlake, though what Kyril Bonfiglioli might have done with it is interesting to contemplate. Oh, of course: Evelyn Waugh.

#412 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 11:38 PM:

Apologies in advance for typos, spelling, and vagueness, but this was the query as I received it.

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

I once read anovel but, I don't remember the author or title. I was captured by the story that didn't let on but, ended with the main caricatures being cats and dogs and one of them ended up leaving the planet. Please help! I have several friends that would also like to read the story again. Was it Robert Heinlein?

Thanks, Cliff

#413 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2005, 03:55 PM:

The Good Boy and Bad Boy of _Highlights for Children_ receive the "Rashomon" treatment:

"Ted, co-worker of Gallant:
That freak belonged to the cult of manners. Talk about a true believer. I rode on an airplane with him once, and he wouldn't start eating his meal until everyone was served.

Sheila, Goofus's high-school classmate:
My memory of Goofus is that people saw what they wanted to. I was drawn to him because I sensed he was hurting inside. That's why he put up that wall and was "rude," but who's to say which way is right? It's just a social construct. Is there some cosmic, universal book of manners? I knew they'd find a way to make him pay, though. They always do. "

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2005/3/11stallard.html

#414 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 11:05 AM:

John M. Ford: I know he's out of style nowadays, but it seems to me that John Boyd would have made an interesting job of it. Based on her play reviews, Dorothy Parker would have been up to the job as well. (And for documentation of the investigative proceedures of the Vatican I suspect that C. Northcote Parkinson would have been ideal.)

#415 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 12:21 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II and John M. Ford:

Cardinal Bertone's refutation of "The Da Vinci Code" could be perfectly novelized by Umberto Eco, but those of us without access to his library would never detect his semiotic landmines until too late.

Vladimir Nabokov could have novelized this, but it would only gradually dawn on us, through an unreliable narrator in the footnotes, that he'd set it in an alternate world.

James Blish would have started on this, backgrounded it in rewrite, then sighed and pitched it as a Star Trek novel. The only copy of the manuscript would have been purloined by a disturbed Catholic "Man from Uncle" fan.

David Zindell started on it, then handed it off to Gene Wolfe. We've already read the Gene Wolfe version, but it will take us several more years, and another trilogy, to realize that he had done so.

It ends up as a direct-to-video "Bring Me the Head of Leonardo!"

#416 ::: bill blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 01:14 PM:

I learned a disheartening statistic with respect to a job I interviewed for on Monday--- the company received >1100 resumes, for one position, which was advertised for a 3 day period online.

#417 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 04:09 PM:

An overly picky note on the vortex shots -- they are generally refeered to as von Kármán vortex sheets, after Theodore von Kármán (born Kármán Tódor).

NASA has some nifty shots of this phenomena as seen from orbit.

And yes, I screwed up and posted this over on Electrolite first . . .

#418 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Err. or streets, rather. I think I will give up and just go back to bed.

#419 ::: Tempest ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 05:15 PM:

bill blum: I learned a disheartening statistic with respect to a job I interviewed for on Monday--- the company received >1100 resumes, for one position, which was advertised for a 3 day period online.

It may not be as bad as all that, though. I worked for a bit doing HR stuff (since we had no HR department) and, like slush, many of those resumes would have been tossed without much more than a quick read-over.

Many of them probably came in without a cover letter (trashed) and several probably had extremely bad cover letters (trashed) or came to the office in some form not asked for - snail mail instead of fax, email attachment instead of plain text - (trashed) and still others would be from epople whoa re very obviously over or under qualified for the job. Easily 90% of those people were never even in the running.

They may have gotten 1100 applicants, but only interviewed a dozen people (which is still a lot of people to beat out for a job... but better!)

#420 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 05:33 PM:

would be from epople whoa re very obviously

I know you were just typing fast, but I really like the word 'epople'. I think that's the supreme patriarch of the Miniaturized Internet Catholic Church.

Whoa Re!

#421 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Whoa Re!

Xopher, you're my hero. I'm literally still laughing.

(To completely pointless pick a nit, it sounds like an Ancient Egyptian religion to me, not Catholic.)

Whoa Re!

#422 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 07:06 PM:

My sympathies to all at Tor who knew Andre Norton who I just learned passed away last night. I've already read the obituary on CNN and what it mentioned about Tor made me feel that you work for a publisher with real class.

Yes, I remember Andre Norton's books with fondness as those were among the first I ever read. She'll be missed.

#423 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 09:37 PM:

Whoa re be.

#424 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 02:09 AM:

they are generally refeered to as von Kármán vortex sheets

Ok, if we're gonna be picky: Vortex sheets are different from vortex streets. The pictures I posted before are of vortex streets. A vortex street is a stable pattern of staggered vortices that appears behind a bluff body in a certain range of Reynolds numbers. They remind me of footsteps.

A vortex sheet is an unstable line of vortices like (for example) the one that develops when you have two adjacent layers of fluid in which the top layer is moving at a different speed from the bottom layer. (The nifty Kelvin-Hemholtz instability here is an example of a vortex sheet.)

I love the NASA photos, and I have a big collection of them that I use for screen backgrounds.

#425 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 02:12 AM:

Whoops, missed your correction, Claude. Now I will go to bed. :-)

#426 ::: Merrill ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 04:43 AM:

Updating the base link from an old post Death Masks (November 05, 2004) The link to the death mask gallery at thanatos.net is now here, but you can just go to http://thanatos.net/galleries/ and click on the link there.
Ended up there after hearing news about Andre Norton. I still have one of her books from my early teens, one of the first sf books I bought.

#427 ::: Kristjan Wager ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 04:57 AM:

I expect everyone have heard the news about Andre Norton, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

Andre Norton (1912-2005)

#428 ::: Kristjan Wager ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 04:58 AM:

And somehow I overlooked the fact that Dave had posted the news already. Sorry for the redundant post.

#429 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 06:55 AM:

Tempest wrote:
Easily 90% of those people were never even in the running.

According to an Inside Source, one of the more arbitrary criteria for the resume sorting: anything that was done using a pre-made template in MS Word gets circular-filed. Period.
( And since you're Not Considered an Applicant until you go in for the interview and fill out an application, this eliminates a LOT of recordkeeping. )

#430 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 09:55 AM:

I recently posted an opening for a night supervisor, and got around 35-40 applicants. Most were immediately eliminated because they didn't include a cover letter or references, or used a form cover letter that had nothing to do with the job they were applying for, or just plain couldn't spell. I think we had about three in the end who could seriously be considered. A few years ago I had the same experience with a job search for a professional librarian to replace me at a job I was leaving -- and I was even more shocked by the applications that came in with spelling errors not just on the cover letter but on the resume itself. These were all people with at least an MLS, if not a doctorate! The powers that be overruled me and hired a guy who said he had training in the "Lexus/Nexus" database -- and I know some people there have been regretting it. (But he could talk sports. Hmph.)

#431 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 10:15 AM:
According to an Inside Source, one of the more arbitrary criteria for the resume sorting: anything that was done using a pre-made template in MS Word gets circular-filed. Period.

That strikes me as a fairly bizarre criterion to use, unless the position is for a technical writer or something along those lines. Granted that with that many resumes some arbitrariness is to be expected, that's just odd. Rejecting resumes that are badly formatted, however they were created, would be more sensible.

#432 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 10:59 AM:

Other arbitrary criteria I've come across for discarding resumes:

  • Any resume printed on paper without a watermark
    (ie, they wanted to see the Pricey Stuff from local stationery supplier)
  • Any resume where their contact email address is at their current employer
    (Looking for work on their current employer's time? For shame)
  • Failure to neatly fold resume and cover letter in thirds within the envelope used for mailing.
    (They were looking to hire a secretary to handle corporate communications)
  • Any mention of membership in a college fraternity/sorority
    (HR director's kid flunked out of college during the quarter they participated in rush.)


The Human Resources career field looks less and less attractive each day.

#433 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 01:01 PM:

(To completely pointless pick a nit, it sounds like an Ancient Egyptian religion to me, not Catholic.)

OK, the Reformed Egyptian Ancient Lodge/Willing Oblates of Re in the Latter Days. REAL/WORLD.

And "Whoa Re" means "I marvel at the glory of the gods in having brought this thing to be; such marvels could make the very sun (Re) stop in his tracks (whoa)."

Eventually, of course, it will simply become a greeting or validiction. "OK, I'll see you Saturday." "OK, Whoa Re." "Whoa Re."

Whoa Re.

#434 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 01:12 PM:

Blum, Blum, Croft, et al.:

After the aerospace bust at the end of the Cold War, I learned to write better and better resumes, and did so for more and more of my friends. Soon, not having found another $120,000 per year position in the space program, I started working for Resume Service companies directly. At one point, I was running 3 offices of "CareerPro."

Then I owned and ran Sherlock Holmes Resume Service for some years, and did resume writing, cover letter writing, interview role-playing, career counseling, and the like for 700 more clients.

I have more horror stories (and sometimes success stories) than this thread could contain. But do see these two resumes I wrote:

Curriculum Vitae of Sherlock Holmes: World's first Consulting Detective

James Bond. Objective: Private consulting in international security which will not unduly interrupt my retirement, hobbies, and family life; first class travel & accomodations.

#435 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 01:21 PM:
Other arbitrary criteria I've come across for discarding resumes:

Any resume printed on paper without a watermark
(ie, they wanted to see the Pricey Stuff from local stationery supplier)


That's another weird one. Most people couldn't use it these days since so many resumes come in via e-mail. We get most of ours not only via e-mail but from recruiters, so we couldn't use any paper/printing/formatting criteria if we wanted to - the recruiters typically reformat everything.

Any resume where their contact email address is at their current employer
(Looking for work on their current employer's time? For shame)

That actually makes some sense - even leaving ethics aside, it's usually not very bright to get e-mail at the office you wouldn't want your employer to know about.


Failure to neatly fold resume and cover letter in thirds within the envelope used for mailing.
(They were looking to hire a secretary to handle corporate communications)

That makes sense for the position.

Any mention of membership in a college fraternity/sorority
(HR director's kid flunked out of college during the quarter they participated in rush.)

That agrees with my own silly personal prejudices, but I don't use them to vet resumes. On the other hand, I don't see much reason to include this information on a resume anyway, unless one was chapter president or something.

#436 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 01:34 PM:

Well, I put Phi Beta Kappa on my resume, and people thought it was my fraternity. Which it was, in a sense...

#437 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 02:48 PM:

Jonathan -- very nice! And the way my mind works is "Those would be really handy if I ever intend to write about those characters, which heaven knows I might someday..."

But they lead me to another criterion I tend to use for discarding resumes -- too much personal information. In fact, pretty much any personal information. If it's illegal for me to ask about it, don't volunteer it. And if it's not relevant, don't include it. I do have a "Personal Interests" web page, but I don't include any of that in my cover letter or resume. If people interviewing me find it and think it's interesting, fine; otherwise, it's not in their way. I've had people list their height, weight, hair color, marital status, and number of children on a professional resume -- aurgh!

#438 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 03:20 PM:

Janet wrote:
I've had people list their height, weight, hair color, marital status, and number of children on a professional resume -- aurgh!

It's my understanding that in other countries, that sort of information is expected on a CV.

#439 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 03:45 PM:

Janet Croft:

I had a conversation with Elmore Leonard about that, showing him both my James Bond and Sherlock Holmes resumes. He was an hour early to a book signing on the same block as one of the CareerPro offices I ran. He stopped just short of telling me that I was nuts, then admitted that he also felt that he had to know his characters at the time that he was starting a novel. But he didn't need to know them formally, in my way. He most of all needed to know how they talked, and how they felt. How they thought somehow interpolated from that.

Bill Blum:

One can choose to reveal personal data, although in the US it's illegal to be asked. One can do so selectively. If the job description suggests or explicitly says that one must be very disciplined, then one can say: I have an Ultraviolet Belt in zero-G Shotojan Karate. If they ask for creativity, one can say "I have had a Rhysling Award for Best Science Fiction Poem." If they say "must be able to handle multiple simultaneous tasks" then one might say: "I raised 7 daughters as a single Mom," and so forth.

For resumes of actors, it can be relevant to say: "I fence sabre, epee, and broadsword in armor; plus play baseball, basketball, soccer, and 43-man Squamish." Means they can have you do your own stunts. But Johnny Depp told me he was scared of horses, yet managed to ride credibly in Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I did several celebrity resumes, but must maintain confidentiality here.

There were judges and attorneys whose resumes I prepared -- what fun to tell a judge what he had to do! -- and they sometimes mentioned things that seemed, at first blush, to be irrelevant, until they explained how it gave them an edge over other judges/attorneys in certain aspects of the law.

Bottom line: the primary purpose of a resume is to get an interview. The primary purpose of an interview is to get an offer. The primary purpose of an offer is to pick the best one. The secondary purpose of a resume is to bias the interview in favor of certain lines of inquiry, where you can say things better not put in print. The tertiary prpose of a resume is to bias the offers towards the upper end (or beyond!) of their salary range.

Thus there is a parallel between a resume and a query letter. It is motivating, narrative, yet points towards a larger narrative.

#440 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 04:30 PM:

Aha! JvP read Mad Magazine during at least part of the same period I was reading it!!!

#441 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 09:00 PM:

I remember helping to sort resumes at one point (several years ago), and it was obvious that any legally defensible criterion we could come up with to eliminate people would have been used, because there were more people who applied and could do the job (data entry) than my employer could use, or wanted to take the time to interview. "Uses a pre-formatted Word template" probably passes muster as not discriminating on any legally forbidden grounds.

The last I checked, it was fairly standard not to include references on the resume, and for the cover letter to say, at most, something like "I will be happy to provide references on request" rather than actually including names and contact information.

#442 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 09:15 PM:

Xopher:

Yup. What was cool was seeing photographs from various universities of their 43-man Squamish teams.

Vicki:

Correct. Also, it is a bad idea to include salary information in a resume. Just append the line: "Salary History available on request." In an interview, NEVER give a number when asked what salary you desire. If you give one too high, they'll discard you as unrealistic. If you give one too low, they'll make a lower offer, and you've just given yourself a pay cut. Just say things like: "In my opinion, it's premature to discuss specific dollars and cents. I'm sure that if we find that my qualifications match your needs, we can negotiate a mutually satisfactory compensation package. To move in that direction, I wonder if you can tell me more about how I might assist you in increasing market penetration in the booming underwater hotel sector?"

#443 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 03:26 AM:

JvP: what if the salary information is a necessary part of the interview process? There's a local company that's been hiring heavily from my department which a) prevents (informally, I believe) its employees from disclosing their salary information and b) concludes its interviews by, essentially, asking the interviewee how much they think they should be paid per year. From what I understand, one's salary is determined by that response, although for obvious reasons I don't know how exactly the two are correlated.

So here's the question: if I were to apply for a job at that company, how would you recommend I answered that question? Would it still be worth deferring a specific numerical response under such conditions?

#444 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:55 AM:

Anarch,

What a delightful company. It's pay systems like that that enable companies (in the UK) to pay women 15% less than men (national average). I think I'd prefer a company with a transparent, auditable and fair salary determination process.

#445 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 06:36 AM:

Anarch:

First, the response that I indicated is recognized by sophisticated Human Resources departments as a sign of the interviewee's sophistication.

Second, in any negotiation about money, you want the other party to name a number before you respond.

Third, you can always say: "Correct me if I'm wrong, but the purpose of this interview is to determine if there is a good fit between my capabilities and your requirements. If we have reached that point, then perhaps we can take the time to schedule a follow-up interview to probe more deeply into an analysis of your growth plans, and to what extent I can provide a measurable improvement to the increased revenue expectations for the department to which I might be employed."

Fourth (USA only) the Labor Laws are such that an inquiry to one's past or current employer gives the employer limits as to what they can disclose about you. They can give your job title. They can give your dates of employment. They cannot directly give your salary, but if someone says "was it between $80,000 and $90,000" they can say "well, that's the right ballpark." There's an exception if you are a known criminal and failure to disclose that puts the potential new employer at risk of life or property, but even that is complicated.

Fifth, I'm not saying that you should withhold salary information. You should bring with you a typed page of salary history, and provide that late in the discussion. This must be prefaced by an explanation of how your current market worth is not directly tied to any specific figure in that salary history, which might have ups and down for complicated reasons. You cannot speak ill of any previous employer, but you can say that market trends in the past have imposed conditions different from reasonable extrapolations of the growth of the potential employer.

Sixth, the mantra is: "It's not what I want that is important. What matters is, what do YOU, the employer, have as a dynamic plan for creatively maintaining a sustained competitive advantage, with defensible intellectual property, and how can I best assist you in meeting those objectives? Of course, if I can materially assist you in reaching or exceeding those goals, the mechanisms exist for appropriately compensating me. So let us please return to a discussion of how you plan to capitalize on your Inner Planets dominance to penetrate the challenges of Outer Plants explansion, and, in particular, what role Triton plays as a jumping-off point for Kuiper Belt resource exploitation?"

Query by Email:

What is the movie where giant robots come from outer space and destroyed all living people in New York City using laser beams out of their eyes? They were destroyed by sound waves broadcast across the city. We think the movie was made around the 1950s.
We need the answer as soon as possible please...lives depend on it!!!

-- Helen Yantis

#446 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 12:09 PM:

What is the movie where giant robots come from outer space and destroyed all living people in New York City using laser beams out of their eyes? They were destroyed by sound waves broadcast across the city. We think the movie was made around the 1950s.

The nice fellow thinks that might be "The Beginning of the End" unless that's the one with the giant locusts. He says in either case it has Peter Graves in it, and googling or IMDBing that name will get the rest of the information. He also says that both the robot and the locust movies are good bad movies -- and I almost know what he means.

#447 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 01:54 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer:

Hummmph. I passed on your comment, by email, to Helen Yantis, who just replied:

"Thank you for your prompt reply. We found the information about 4 o'clock this morning. The movie was Target Earth starring Richard Denning and Virginia Grey."

How sharper than a serpent's tooth is is to have a thankless email. Or damned with faint thanks. But I thank you, Lucy Kemnitzer.

#448 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:03 PM:

Question for the wisdom of the professional fiction writers and editors here.

The following assertions were made in a writing workshop I belong to:

- Attributed to a professional fiction editor guest-lecturing at a writing class: "He will instantly slushpile any ms with: grammar mistakes ... more than one typo.... "

- "Every piece that anyone submits should be perfectly edited prior to submission, at least grammatically and syntactically or, it will be thrown into the slush pile pronto. One typo, one subject/object mistake, transitive/intransitive mistake will axe your story immediately. That doesn't even include misplaced-placed commas or any other grammatical point. "

True? False? Teresa, can you shed any light on this? Patrick? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

#449 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:21 PM:

He's talking about putting solicited manuscripts into the slush pile?

That ... well, I can't figure out what he's talking about. Assuming it was accurately reported.

What was the fellow's name? Where does he work?

#450 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:55 PM:

That IS odd. Don't ALL unsolicited manuscripts go into the slush pile. Isn't that what 'slush pile' means?

This might be one of those reporterly errors, and he actually said "the trash" -- not quite synonymous, because there is that 10% -- and the reporter was just trying to be cool and getting it wrong. (I remember a news story in a local paper that covered the WorldCon, and claimed that 'fen' was the feminine singular of 'fan'.)

#451 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 05:33 PM:

Xopher - That's what I assume too: that the person passing on the information made a transcribing error, writing "slush" when they meant to say "rejection."

Jim - I was quoting two separate speakers there. One was reporting on the words of someone described as a professional editor (and I'd rather not say the name, at least not for now -- I feel I may be treading dangerously close to the edge of violating a confidence as it is). The other person was speaking from her own background as an as-yet-unpublished writer.

Her's the full text of the first quote. I truncated it because most of it wasn't relevant to the question I'm asking, but I'll include the full text now, because, well, I think it's funny:

He will instantly slushpile any ms with: grammar mistakes, the word "eldritch", elder gods (HP refs.), an old black man telling a young guy he's "special, in his head" ("Shining" ref.), new/original punctuation marks, more than one typo. The words "shambling" and "miasma" (S. King's faves) are likely to get you tossed as well. Also avoid void triple exclamation marks, abbreviations, words in all caps, archaic spellings.
#452 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 05:40 PM:

It seems obvious (though that doesn't guarantee it's the case) that "slushpile" is being used here to mean "reject pile." Which We All Know it Does Not Mean; the question, as Xopher notes, is whose misuse is involved.

As far as the demand for letter-perfection goes, well, I don't think anyone would propose that the writer not try for that, but as described, it's more than a little bit ridiculous -- you get through three hundred and fifty pages of a ms, riveted all the way, then find a misplaced comma in the last paragraph and bleepcan it? Pull the other one, it's got a green eyeshade on.

In my experience of first reading -- which is far less than that of others here, keep in mind -- one wasn't primarily looking for technical faults; one was looking for a decently constructed and told story. I certainly saw spelling and punctuation errors, but first reading isn't copyediting: it's done at a higher rate of speed (it has to be) and with an eye out for different things.

I notice that the quote begins "He will . . ." -- it isn't directly quoting the editor, it's reporting, or perhaps "reporting," what the writer heard. Or heard that someone else heard. Or something. Or other.

We now return to the adventures of Virgule Earp, Frontier Copyeditor, in tonight's episode, "Mixed Metaphor at Black Rock."

#453 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 06:49 PM:

What a delightful company. It's pay systems like that that enable companies (in the UK) to pay women 15% less than men (national average).

It isn't gender-related AFAICT; the major part of it, I'm told, is that so people don't know how much they're being paid relative to, say, their bosses or subordinates. Which is still deeply odd and rather wrong, but in a different way.

[Of course, maybe they are paying women less. Who knows? Doesn't seem like the kind of thing they'd be doing, though.]

I think I'd prefer a company with a transparent, auditable and fair salary determination process.

Likewise. I only know about this because half my friends in the department left to go work for these guys and I, all vapid curiosity, started asking questions.

Thanks for the advice, JvP, although I think I lack the kind of off-the-cuff BS that you spout so effortlessly. That's pretty much what I was thinking; mainly, I was just curious as to whether that was purely a result of my position of blessed ignorance or whether a professional would concur.

#454 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 07:36 PM:

Anarch:

You're welcome. I'm tempted to print business cards that read:

JONATHAN VOS POST
off-the-cuff BS spouted effortlessly

In a sense, that's what professors and poets and fiction writers have to do all the time. The gift of gab. Kissing the Blarney Stone. If one is Jewish, does kissing the Wailing Wall do the same?

One can learn to spout the proper BS in interviews. I volunteered 6 hours per week for two years to teach professionals the methodology, at the Pasadena Job Center. We would have unemployed lawyers, teachers, engineers, scientists, and other white-collar folks go through some preliminary training, pass through the blue pencils of a resume-writing committee, and at last, they would be at the target-end of a table in a room with a panel of Mock Interviewers. They would answer questions and spout narratives for an hour, videotaped. We would each give them a written critique, and advise them to study the tape, the comments on the form, and do the research we suggested. Then they could have another hour of torture. I was the designated Asker of Impossible Questions, the kind with no correct answer to see how one handles oneself. Many of these folks had been stuck for months, and then, after the Mock Interviews, able to land good jobs.

I wish it were not so, but it is. Job Search is a deeply formal life-or-death game. Most people just start playing when they unexpectedly lose a job. I have helped several hundred people read the rules printed on the inside of the game's box top.

The best time to learn the rules is while you already have a job, and it looks stable. That takes the edge of panic out of the interview.

#455 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 09:50 PM:

JvP: Then what does one say when asked "Tell me about yourself?"

I HATED that question. I never had a good answer. But then, I learned long ago that I am not-good-at-sales in a big way.

#456 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 02:30 AM:

I just opened the "Another Day at the Flatiron" particle and was greeted with the main photo, plus an ad featuring scurrying roaches. I wonder which was more typical, the pic or the roaches...

In the mists of ancient time I worked in 40 Wall St (pre-Trump, it was owned by Imelda Marcos when my employer was based there) and we had a horrible infestation of giant field roaches. Every now and then, one would hear a rattling sound coming from the ductwork and all of a sudden Ptooey!!! and a giant (often > 1") roach would come shooting from the ceiling. Amusing when you knew what was coming, but not all that welcome during client meetings.

#457 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 03:45 AM:

Lenora Rose:

"Tell me about yourself?" -- that's another Trick Question. The answer can be:

"There's sufficient narrative in the resume before you, and the attached list of publications of mine on the topic central to this department's core competencies."

"So let me tell you more about what I bring to the table in each of the types of competition that is high on your priorities. I'll use, to keep this brief, John Porter's model in his Harvard Business School publications."

(1) You compete with your vendors in price negotiations for goods and services. I wrote the technical parts of the requirement specifications for 4 of your 5 largest suppliers, as shown on page 5 of the resume.

(2) You compete with your customers in product and service price. I helped to increase customer retention by 150% annually in my job six years ago, reducing churn by modern dorkware methodology, as you see on page 4 of the resume, which increased lifetime cusatomer value by roughly 200%, based on an assumption that lifetime value is ten times the first purchase.

(3) You compete with other companies in your market. I've written revenue analysis and technology analysis documents on most of the top 10 in this market. I'd say, watch out for Ono-Sendai and Yoyodyne.

(4) You compete, in a sense, with revolutionary technologies that make your whole supply chain obsolete. I can email you copies of my latest publications on Nanotechnology and Quantum Computing, with forecasts through 2020 A.D.

(5) You compete with the U.S. government, as they are a major consumer of your aerospace line, radar systems, and software. I've worked on government contracts in those areas for U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, U.S. Navy, Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, Department of Energy, and Department of What Were They Thinking?

Now, did you want me to go over aspects of my education, hobbies, family life, or is the bottom line the bottom line? The question is, how much can I help you meet your objectives.

The trick is, they don't really care about you. They want to know that you know that you care about them.

A manager I worked for once cursed me, at Boeing, for being "one of them Creative Types."

I admitted it.

"Our department had one of those once," he said. "Tech writer. Name of Pynchon, Tom Pynchon or something. We had to can his a**."

You have to get through Human Resources to get to gems like that. I wrote him in as a pig farmer turned Mars-run bureaucrat in my short story "By the Book." Last line?

"Yeah, we had to throw that idiot out the airlock... but, mind you, we did it By The Book."

*** end interview lesson ***

#458 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 06:27 AM:

"Tell me about yourself?" JVP, with all due respect, I don't think it's a trick question (at least, not usually). It's a lazy one. It is the mind's orchestral vamping while the real questions finish primping in the dressing room.

I have always found the response question, "Well, what specifically would you like to know?" delivered politely and cheerfully tends to re-route the interview out of the morass of generality. Yes, it is true that the interviewer's first goal is to find someone who is productive for the company, but (unless the person interviewing is not going to be working directly with you) they also want to find what people are calling a "chemistry" match - someone they don't mind working with day after day. The points you make are good ones - they should certainly be in the cover letter - but blasting someone with them right off the bat? I'm not so sure, especially as the subtext of the answer you posit can be read* as, "You nitwit. Read my resume. I shouldn't have to spell it out for you, but since I obviously do, here are my qualifications."

*YMMV

#459 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 07:48 AM:

Over 450 comments! Heading for a record?

#460 ::: Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 09:46 AM:

Alas, science fiction is no longer officially sanctioned by the United States Marine Corps.

The Corps has a required reading list, which formerly included "Starship Troopers" and "Ender's Game".

The most recent version of the list strips those two titles out.

#461 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Jill Smith:

Your point is well taken. "Tell me about yourself?" can be lazy, or tricky. It's hard for the interviewee to tell. You're right, it can't hurt to ask for clarification, on any question.

One can also answer this one by saying something more personal. For instance: "The facts and chronology are in the resume and the answers I've given here this morning. If you are asking where I come from, on a personal level, I might point out that I was born in a hospital whose address was 9876 Broadway, New York, New York. Since I was literally born on Broadway, I've had a strong hankering to be in Show Business. My first wife was an actress with a recurring role in "Days of Mars and Venus." So although we've talked about your gross revenues from three-dimensionalizing old 2-D films, there's something deeper than technology and profit to me. The Roar of the Greasepaint. The Smell of the Crowd. I don't want you to think I'm some starry-eyed kid with no understanding of modern management practices, and no appreciation for the balance between craft and computation. But maybe you'll appreciate now why I will happily work the 75-hour week, even the 100-hour week once in a while, if that's what it takes to meet a deadline and enhance shareholder value."

#462 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 07:41 PM:

As there are people here who appreciate Deleterius, I wanted to pass on a Deleterius-inspired story about the defense of Canon:

Bruce Campbell vs The Army of Fangirls

#463 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 08:56 PM:

OG, thanks for the link...

ROTFLMAOPIMP.... i am SOOO glad I didn't spray into my new keyboard.

Yes, despite a very sorry week (Margene was hospitalized overnight for a kidney infection, I have to go back into the office 8-5 and the work computer was the only good one in the house being used by me only), it ended good. I got a G4 Cube from my family on Saturday, and a KitchenAid 5Quart stand mixer today from my mom.

#464 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 09:26 PM:

Joel Davis - Far as I can see, there's no fiction at all on that list, except for "The Killer Angels," which is meticulously researched historical fiction.

#465 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 11:49 PM:

OG: Another monitor ruined! Thanks.

#466 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 09:29 AM:

That discussion about "one typo, and into the slush [trash] pile" reminds me: if reviewers had a "one typo and reject it" policy for galleys (or even some finished books), almost nothing would get reviewed and we'd be out of a profession! But those Publish America goofs in the other thread remind me of my word processor's spell checker (poorly stocked on ordinary words, richly supplied with long, inappropriate ones), as well as some ridiculous experiences with Google.

#467 ::: Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Mitch,

The previous version of the list included a bit of fiction, including the "Red Badge of Courage" and some Stephen Ambrose, I think.

#468 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 02:51 PM:

Joel, that's deeply saddening.

Almost as saddening, in fact, as this Ender-related tidbit is horrifying.

#469 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 03:07 PM:

Xopher: Eventually, of course, it will simply become a greeting or validiction. "OK, I'll see you Saturday." "OK, Whoa Re." "Whoa Re."

I thought it was an imperative along the lines of "Can". Such as, "Whoa re the obsessive search for meaning in that typo!" Or as Butch Cassidy might have typed, "Whoa re those guys!"

#470 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 03:59 PM:

Happy Birthday! (A Cub Scout on LJ ratted you out.)

In a couple of days, it'll be the second anniversary of meeting our daughter. Sarah will celebrate by swimming -- okay, sitting on the steps -- in the hotel pool at Minicon.

#471 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 04:13 PM:

The previous version of the list included a bit of fiction, including the "Red Badge of Courage" and some Stephen Ambrose, I think.

Did Ambrose write any fiction? I can't think of any.

#472 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 07:10 PM:

Oh, joy . . . next month's lead editorial in Scientific American is just plain delicious:

"Okay, We Give Up

There’s no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don’t mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there’s no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

. . .

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions."

http://www.livejournal.com/users/zarq/267108.html

#473 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 08:09 PM:

I owe a debt of gratitude to whomever suggested _Bridge of Birds_ upthread (or possibly on Open Thread 36; it was during the discussion of "best first sentences ever"). I found a copy by accident and have been blessing you ever since.

#474 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 08:13 PM:

I wish the other books in that series were up to the standard set in _Bridge of Birds._

The others are not bad, just lackluster.

BoB itself rocks.

#475 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 08:15 PM:

I see by people on LJ that it's your birthday. Happy birthday!

Interesting coincidence -- you share your birthday with my sister. (I guess there are only 366 days to go around.) Today would have been her 36th.

#476 ::: Ian Myles Slater ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 09:05 PM:

A quick and superficiai check of the Marine Corps Reading List came up with a fair amount of fiction: I'm likely to have missed some titles. Those I spotted at first glance (grouped by author) are:

Rifleman Dodd, C.S. Forester (twice)
Beat To Quarters, C.S. Forester
The General, C.S. Forester
The Killer Angels, Shaara
The Last Full Measure, Shaara
The Red Badge Of Courage, Crane
The Ugly American, Lederer and Burdick
All Quiet On The Western Front, Remarque
War And Peace, Tolstoy

I also found it interesting that Sherman's Memoirs were included, but not Grant's, although part of Catton's biography shows up in its place.

#477 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 09:05 PM:

Happy birthday! May your next year be filled with citrus and innovative beverages.

#478 ::: Paula Helm Muirray ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 10:21 PM:

Happy birthday!

Another birthday in March, wowee. Means our moms were busy in July! seriously, my sister and I are a day apart... and six years (I'm the older). She's on the Ides, i'm on the 16th.

Then again, we were all adopted and all pretty much could have been only children, my brother is 10.5 years older than I and my sister 6 years younger (I think ,u sis and I better friends than we would have been if we were close in age, though. My brother was wrecked in Viet Nam and has only just recently pulled his life back together to a coherent, relatively functional whole).

#479 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 10:29 PM:

Woo hoo!!! Happy Birthday TNH!!! (and many thanks for such a lovely haven!)

#480 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:07 PM:

We've all heard of Mondegreens, even if we weren't quite certain that we heard correctly. Along the same lines we have eggcorns, creative misspellings for common words that still make sense.

e.g.
acorn --> egg corn
linguistics-->languistics
throes of passion-->throws of passion

The discovery of eggcorns is described here, and 184 examples have been logged in the eggcorn database. It might be worth your wild to check it out.

#481 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:08 PM:

Happy Birthday! I hope the year brings you lots of samples of rare and delightful citrus fruits - and all other things good!

#482 ::: Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:34 PM:

Mr. Ford:

Mea culpa. I've never read any Ambrose, so I incorrectly assumed it was fiction for some reason. A brain rasberry, as one might say.

#483 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:44 PM:

Is an eggcorn like "Gladly the cross-eyed bear..."?

My new computer has not been educated sufficiently to see the files posted.

#484 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:46 PM:

Paula Helm Murray wrote:

Is an eggcorn like "Gladly the cross-eyed bear..."?

I blame Diana Wyn Jones for embedding "Crossly my glad-eyed bear" and variants in my consciousness.

#485 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:59 PM:

I think "Gladly" is a mondegreen, since it's from a song lyric. The term eggcorn was coined here:

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000018.html

#486 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 12:05 AM:

xeger: Besides DWJ, I think Beverly Cleary used "Gladly" in a Ramona book?

#487 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 12:49 AM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa.

#488 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 10:19 AM:

I think "web sight" is an eggcorn.

#489 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 12:39 PM:

Going back and seizing on the Goofus & Gallant reference, here's my own G&G, from around 1980:

Goofus: (threatening smaller kid in school hall) Give me a quarter or I'll beat you up!

Gallant: (arm around kid's shoulder) I can keep Goofus from beating you up for fifty cents.

(Then 20 years later, I was thinking things like, Gallant wants all the votes counted. Goofus wants to be declared President by the Supreme Court. Goofus is just a Regular Joe!)

#490 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Kip W.:

This is drifting towards Goofus & Gallant Slash Fiction. You know, the episode that starts when Goofus snorts too much blow and passes out in Hunter Thompson's hotel room bathtub.

#491 ::: Burning ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Sorry to bust into the discussion - I'm just in search of a certain liberal blog, and I cannot recall its name for the life of me. It was supposed to be a list of the major liberal take-downs of republican stances on certain issues - things like gay marriage, immigration, etc. I've been digging through the blogosphere for the darn thing, and I've come up empty. I was hoping that some of the brilliant minds here might be able to recall a name or an url.

Thanks again - sorry to bother you all.

#492 ::: MaryRoot ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 01:15 PM:

I think the one you mean is Winning Argument. It is closed down (but the old arguments are there).

The author is now at a new blog for the Center for American Progress.

#493 ::: Burning ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 01:36 PM:

MaryRoot, thank you so much. That's exactly it. This was driving me crazy. Thanks again.

#494 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 02:37 PM:

"Eggcorns" are called 'folk etymologies' in linguistics. Just FYI.

#495 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 02:56 PM:

Mmmm...two nerd tastes that taste great together!

Gabe of the not-to-be-missed webcomic Penny Arcade is breaking into the SF cover-art scene with John Scalzi's new book, Agent to the Stars. Most excellent.

#496 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 03:06 PM:

Xopher, wouldn't 'folk etymologies' refer to the supposed explanations for the eggcorns, rather than the eggcorns themselves? The word 'eggcorn' originated in the linguistics community, so I'm not seeing why they would coin a new term if they already had a serviceable one, unless they just wanted something more euphonious.

#497 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 03:13 PM:

Would the city name Sandy Egg-o be an eggcorn?

--Mary Aileen

#498 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 03:19 PM:

Andy, I'm glad you asked that question! There are TWO kinds of folk etymology. One is a process by which the standard language changes over time due to a mistaken analysis by the people. False splitting (e.g. 'a napron' becoming 'an apron') is one type of this kind of folk etymology.

The other type is simply a synchronic mistaken etymology, which may or may not result in a variant spelling. While 'eggcorn' is being discussed right now, my personal favorite of this type is 'sparrowgrass' (asparagus). There are many types of grass, some named after animals, and the middle two syllables of 'asparagus' sound like 'sparrow', especially in dialects where the latter is pronounced SPARE-uh.

Sometimes folk etymologies are just plausible-but-wrong explanations of where a word came from, like the popular belief that 'Babel' is the source of the word 'babble'.

Oops, that's THREE types. But there aren't four. Five is right out. Surprise and fear! A fanatical devotion to the Pope!

#499 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 03:38 PM:

Oops again. Happy Birthday Teresa!

#500 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 03:49 PM:

my personal favorite of this type is 'sparrowgrass' (asparagus).

Wait, I'm confused. Xopher, are you saying that some people think those crunchy green springlike delicacies are actually called "sparrowgrass"?

I often say "wheelbarrel" instead of "wheelbarrow," kind of as a joke.

#501 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 04:03 PM:

There is already Goofus and Gallant slash out there, it was only my second introduction to G and G, the first was also a parody. I'm presuming I saw it on lj, where someone recently proposed the Quantum Theory of Fanfic, "that the act of suggesting a pairing causes it to already have been written."

#502 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 04:08 PM:

Laura, yes there are. For real.

I say "New Hamster" on purpose too. I used to say "Port Atrocity" but Port Authority isn't as atrocious as all that anymore. I say "automagically" sometimes, but that's not as funny as it used to be, somehow. Also it's far from original.

Aquila, I've LIVED Goofus and Gallant slash. Scarred for life.

#503 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 04:38 PM:

History of the eggcorn

TNH: Belated bday wishes. And thanks for the Particle.

*rushes off to tell the writer*

#504 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 06:16 PM:

Xopher: "Eggcorns" are called 'folk etymologies' in linguistics. Just FYI.

About the time I decided to try collecting some, I ran into a thread on LINGUIST-LIST that called them 'reinterpretations'. 'Eggcorns' are some subclass of reinterpretation that seems to imply a folk etymology together with some other requirement about 'sounding exactly the same'. And not being in a song, because then it would be a mondegreen, or whatever. Too much work on definitional orthodoxy turns Jack sour on the subject.

Hearing that these had an official linguist name didn't dissuade me from the cute term du jour, which was then 'pullet surprises' (as in 'the interminable speeches after the pullet surprise dinner'). I still prefer it to 'eggcorns', at least partially because I don't elide gs like that. At least it doesn't sound like it to me.

I'm tempted to dig up my old list and shovel them off to the eggcorn guy, but I don't know if it's worthwhile weeding out the duplicates. After all, someone has already told him about 'doggy dog' for 'dog eat dog', and I don't know if it makes his cut, though it seems to be fairly popular. I'm particularly fond of that one because I saw a second-level reinterpretation: 'dog y dog'.

#505 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Oops, sorry. The linguistic term I misremembered is "reanalysis".

#506 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 06:54 PM:

Ahh, it's reassuring to see that there are others besides me who say "New Hamster".

FWIW, I also pccasionally refer to the "Home Despot" and "Office Despot" (and assorted other despotic retail chains) and the "Very-Narrow-Zanno Bridge". Not exactly eggcorns or pullet surprises, but it's my personal (deliberate) usage.

#507 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2005, 07:35 PM:

Larry B - but do you also say "Cow Hampshire?" It's another favorite in my home state. Possibly less descriptive and more poignant now that there are fewer dairy farms.

#508 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 12:11 AM:

My family has always said "New Hampster." (I call them hampsters too. I can't help it.)
----
Dammit, I missed my chance to be the 500th comment. *sigh*

#509 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 01:16 AM:

Wrenching the thread off in a sideways direction, I'm still reeling from the impact of my last visit to our local science fiction bookstore. They've moved recently, and I stopped by for a visit, asked if they had any books by Margaret Ball, and was really disconcerted to receive an immediate and snappish response of "No. She sucks"[0].

I haven't actually been able to bring myself around to going back yet - the new store is certainly larger, but it seems to lack the welcoming flavour of the previous two locations to an extent that had me wondering about an unheralded change of ownership - and I'm still startled by how immediately and profoundly unwelcome that single comment has left me feeling.

[0] or "She's dreadful" or something along those lines, with a strong implcation of "Clearly you can't even make it through McGuffy's readers - why are you bothering me".

#510 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 03:05 AM:

xeger, where is this bastion of customer service?

#511 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 10:51 AM:

*sigh*

Oh, to have a local science fiction bookstore...I would put up with a great deal of mediocre to poor service for such a privelege...

#512 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 02:12 PM:

This is a use of the telephone which never occurred to me:

According to Avital Ronell, a professor of philosophy at New York University and the author of "The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, and Electric Speech", [Alexander Graham] Bell was just as interested in using his invention to contact the dead as he was in talking to his associate Thomas Watson. "Bell and Watson had attended regular seances in Salem," says Dr Ronell. Bell even drew up a contract with his brother, agreeing that whoever lived the longest should try to contact the other. For his part, Watson was an avid medium who spent hours listening to the weird hisses and squeals of early telephone lines in case they proved to be the dead trying to make contact.

It's from an article in The Economist (registration required)

#513 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Laura, I'll race to be the first to respond that if you're intrigued by that, you ought to read Tim Powers' Expiration Date, which concerns, among a great many other things, Thomas Edison and speaking with the dead.

#514 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 02:31 PM:

Alex, I was certain that somebody, somewhere, would have gotten a story out of the idea (and if they hadn't, they should have.)

I will look for Expiration Date, thanks.

#515 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 03:15 PM:
IMAX theaters reject film over evolution
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) -- IMAX theaters in several Southern cities have decided not to show a film on volcanoes out of concern that its references to evolution might offend those with fundamental religious beliefs.
#516 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 01:42 AM:

Mitch was curious to know:

xeger, where is this bastion of customer service?

Er. Toronto - although I should be very clear that all of my prior experiences were excellent, which is probably why my last visit was so distressing.

#517 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Possibly the person you talked to was a new hire, fired 10 minutes after you left?

#518 ::: Holly Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 03:26 PM:

re: rude service, my husband once went into the local music swap/incense store to shop for a gift for me. He asked the clerk if he could get a copy of "The Last Temptation of Tori Amos" and the guy looked my husband up and down, snorted and said, "No, and if I could, I wouldn't sell it to you."

#519 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2005, 10:35 AM:

TexAnne: Thank you, thank you--glad to have helped. Now go to the used book finding system of your choice and get yourself copies of And Having Writ... by Donald R. Bensen and The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson and you'll be even happier.

#520 ::: Fragano Ledgister sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Dutch Reformed Spam at that.

#521 ::: Lee sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 08:07 PM:

@ 524

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