Back to previous post: Durbin

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Gitmo sutra

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

June 19, 2005

Open thread 43
Posted by Teresa at 11:00 PM * 197 comments

Sumer is icumen in…

Comments on Open thread 43:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 11:48 PM:

"Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane" is the greatest Beatles single ever.

However, "Paperback Writer" / "Rain" is my personal favorite.

Next: More opinions you should have! The entertainment never stops.

#2 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 11:58 PM:

I need a source for the following poem; one with provenance and date. I found it first in Madeline L'Engle's book A Circle of Quiet. She merely identified it as "early." I've found it on the web, with equally vague information, and in two printed anthologies that listed no source but identified it as "medieval." I've tried the usual indices of anthologized poetry, and many, many anthologies; it's often there, but without provenance. I'm hoping you smart folk will know something . . .

The written word
Should be as clean as a bone,
Clear as light,
Firm as a stone.
Two words are not As good as one.

If it is early, it can't be too early in English; note the end rhymes.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:09 AM:

That's certainly the most clueless article I've ever seen on comics that actually indicates the author has read some comics -- one can only hope she intends humor.

#4 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:29 AM:

Tom wrote:
> That's certainly the most clueless article I've ever seen on comics that actually indicates the author has read some comics -- one can only hope she intends humor.

I certainly assume she did. I'm actually confused that the article caught so much flack - to me, it sounded pretty much like a comic fan bitching about their favourite gripes, rather than a clueless outsider stumbling into comics for the first time.

#5 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:36 AM:

Yeah, I'm really trying to understand #6:
"6. Horror movies have crossed the Pacific, as has anime. Could manga be next?"

Now, a lot of the questions either reflect an odd disconnect from english slang of the last century ("Why are the Cats women?") or are actually questions that someone who's not a total comics geek could really ask ("Why is the Superman v. Batman question interesting?" is not a terribly stupid question if you're not conversant with Batman as he is written today). This one is just bizarrely out of touch with trends visible in bookstores and comicshops at ranges of 15 yards.

Really. Can one go into the geeky section of a B&N nowadays (or a Borders even more so -- the one near me has started carrying untranslated artbooks and tankoubon, some of stuff I've never heard of) and not notice the shelves and shelves and shelves and shelves of manga? Can one look at any artist to hit comics in the past decade and not say "Hey! I bet s/he has seen some manga."?

As far as I can tell, compared against the things around them, manga is doing BETTER than anime or J-horror. The former is mostly on late or, like the latter, mostly represented by American remakes, homages, and rip-offs ranging from the terrible (Darkness Falls, Xiaolin Showdown) to the not-at-all-bad (The Grudge, Kim Possible). Manga is edging out its US equivalent -- until the Tokyopop revolution, US comics companies were looking towards big bookstore sales of collected editions as their salvation, and things were looking up for the first time in a while. After Tokyopo hit, with an impact so hard that all the other US manga publishers changed their form factor and cover/spine designs to go on shelves with it, shelfspace for UScomics TPBs and GNs has shrunk, even in specialty stores.

Now, someone could not know this. But a person who knows even SOME of the ongoing WW film saga? Weird.

Which reminds me: Del-Rey's manga line seems to be doing OK. Any plans for Glorious Mountain Manga or what-have-you?

#6 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:53 AM:

At first I clicked the link in the body of the post, and not the one that's actually the door into the comments thread, and I thought that Thread 43 was actually some sort of Trojan horse--a scintillating salon on the outside, a secret shrine to Walt Kelly on the inside. That moment of cognitive whoozis cleared up quick enough, but still: while we're on the subject, let's all take a moment and thank the Universe for giving us Pogo.

#7 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:57 AM:

And for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is icumen in.

#8 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:58 AM:

Lude sing catbird, which has apparently spent too much time listening to my neighbors' car alarm and now sings a disturbingly charming version of that miserable multi-alarm sequence.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:38 AM:

Mr. Willett, feel not alone.

#10 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:43 AM:

Lisa, a quick web search attributes that to one A. Nonymous.

Now, here in Portland, I saw a spectacular double rainbow. Grabbed the camera, and if the patrons of photography smile on me, I may get one good chrome out of the shoot.

#11 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:48 AM:

I clicked on the body of the post and was surprised as well. It's almost as if the teacher accidentally distributed the answer key along with the quiz.

I never really got Pogo. When I was a kid, it was impenetrable. I still find that there's too much going on in a single strip, and I find myself worrying that I missed the point.

I find myself wanting to say something clever about the ancient city of Sumer, but it all seems to fall flat.

#12 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:52 AM:

Woo-hoo! David scored tickets to an advance showing of Serenity! This Thursday night at 10pm. For that I'll stay up late. (For this, too, apparently. Um.) He achieved this by hearing a useful rumor on LJ and then checking Fandango at half-hour intervals; not for the faint of heart.

Speaking of Mal and the gang, there's a fun (cool? neat? gaah! my adjectives have gone to bed without me) book of essays about the show. Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by Glenn Yeffeth. It's got serious and silly, The Tick and goddess archetypes, "what went wrong" and "what went right" and an appendix with all the Chinese translated. ISBN 1932100431. We got in a handful of copies at the feminist bookstore I volunteer at -- also What Would Sipowicz Do? (?!)-- nobody will admit to ordering them but I'm glad the Firefly one fell in my lap.

#13 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 02:03 AM:

We've sold a lot of copies of Finding Serenity at OCH, once I told Dave about it as he hadn't noticed it in the general flood of titles out there.

Hey, let me know if they have music or credits at your showing, Kate! I'm interested in tracking how the prints change over time....

#14 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:03 AM:

Well, I thought it was summer. The hills are all yellow, the buckwheat is blooming and the lupines are not, I get all sticky from tree fruit, and they keep talking about fire season and water conservation. Tourists, and tourist traffic. Yard sales and barbecues. Annoying movie ads.

But Thursday, it rained. And not the weird twice a summer tropical rains we get, a regular, chilly, puddles-to-the-ankles, darken the sky and bend the trees, winter-style rain. We got .59 inch, which is pretty respectable. The rainy season is supposed to have ended a month ago.

When I was growing up unseasonable weather was called "earthquake weather," because the old folks remembered it was hot and muggy on April 18, 1906. We got four decent earthquakes in the last week, but it's really not connected except in our busy little heads.

#15 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 07:26 AM:

Tim Walters writes:

> And for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is icumen in.

Similarly, from John Clarke's _A Dag At My Table_ (also to be found in the Southern Hemisphere)

Tide is igoin oute
Lhude yelleth yikes
Water dissapeareth fast
Ebbeth before eyen
Moon it pulleth tide out
Layeth boat on keel

... snip ...

Polly putte ye kyttle on
We wylle all hau tea

...snip ...

Birds isingen, sun ishinen
Fysshe ajumpin, cotton hyghe,
Nature goeth on and on
Boreth britches off

#16 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:04 AM:

I just have to mention that Batman Begins rocked.

That, and I finally finished writing the story that's been tormenting me since January, so it was a good weekend.

#17 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:04 AM:


We're either neighbors or we're seeing a very strange adaptation in catbirds all over; the one that sings the car alarm ditty outside my window usually waits until early on Saturdays.

And Batman Begins did so very much rock. Best Batman movie, yet. Not that the competition is that stiff, but still...

#18 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:35 AM:

See Batman Begins in a movie theater with a good sound system. When the new Batmobile is going full-throttle, you FEEL the vibrations in your gut.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:13 AM:

Summer, with my first daylily, first cosmos, and first bachelor's button arriving together. The nasturtiums have already been going off like popcorn, and the first batch of vegetables -- some very pretty spring onions -- have moved from garden to kitchen. The tomatoes have been staked and will need more maintenance staking. Lots of green fruit on them.

There'll be more cosmos and bachelor's buttons to come. Some of the dahlias are suddenly shooting up and starting to look buddish. The gladiolus, oriental lilies, and cannas are coming along in due course, and should bloom later still.

Very happy.

#20 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:39 AM:

Gardening question: do roses, like hamsters, re-absorb their unborn young? I planted a tea roses that had one bloom and a couple of buds. The bloom flourished for a few days, then died and was removed. Meanwhile I waited to see how the buds would do. Then I was busy for a couple of days and didn't get into the garden, and when I next went back to water, there were no buds. No fallen petals either, so I don't think they bloomed quickly and died. It was like they'd never been there. The plant seems healthy otherwise, and I'm happy for it to spend its energy on roots, but I don't know what became of the buds. Very strange.

Also, when I bought this rose, the bloom was yellow. I put it in the ground and watered it, and in the morning the bloom had turned a sort of peachy color, pinker toward the center. Very pretty but again, strange.

I am new to the ways of tea this normal?

Meanwhile the morning glory vines have been sprawling all over the fence; very pretty, but the blooms all face the neighbor's yard. I'm the one who waters them and loves them, but all they care about is that he's the one with the morning sun...

#21 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:40 AM:

We went to Coney this weekend, and it was definitely summer. If you go, do take in the sideshow . . . .

#22 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:53 AM:

Here's a link to the Google Cache of that comic book story in Particles.

#23 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:35 AM:

First bear sighting: 6.19.05 in Franconia, New Hampshire. Alarmingly, on our own property, and just as I was telling my 4-year-old daughter what to do in case she happened to see a bear anywhere in the vicinity....

#24 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:04 PM:

just as I was telling my 4-year-old daughter what to do in case she happened to see a bear anywhere in the vicinity....

Was she the one that noticed it first, or you?

#25 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:11 PM:

Actually, out here in California, we're still waiting for sumer to start incuming . . . it looks like one will be able to celebrate the Glorious Fourth by skiing at a varieity of California slopes. Here in the San Joaquin Valley it still hasn't broken 95 yet (today's forcast high is 88).

But don't worry, climate change is just a figment of your imagination.

#26 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Bruce: You mean, say, the Imax screen they just opened at the Deer Valley 30?

#27 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:29 PM:

We will sing "Sumer is icumen in…" on top of the highest hill in the Twin Cities tonight as the Sun is going down. It is the oldest song in the English language that we have both the words and music. Well, okay, Middle English.

Anyone who cares to join us anytime after 8, Prodea will be at the Witch's Hat Tower. We sing the Sun down at sunset on the Summer Solstice and we sing the Sun up at dawn on the Winter Solstice - about 7:45am in Minnesota.

#28 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:51 PM:

Was she the one that noticed it first, or you?

She did--God Bless her. And she's still being insufferably smug about it today. Her mother in law (who's never set foot in the state) did not help, of course, by telling her on the phone she had just saved the entire family from certain death....

Four-year-olds. Sheesh.

#29 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:55 PM:

Her mother in law

.... assuming you mean your own mother-in-law...

#30 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:15 PM:

The summer solstice is actually at 2:46 AM EDT tomorrow. Be there or be square.

#31 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Argh... I'm in pain.

The reporter says that Spielberg substituted "tripods" for H.G. Wells' Martians in the upcoming movie.


#32 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 01:41 PM:

Speaking of _Serenity_, I almost certainly have a spare ticket to the Albany preview this Thursday; if anyone needs it, e-mail me, with the understanding that there is a small but non-zero chance that it will be needed elsewhere.

(And I also recently bought 8 volumes of _Saiyuki_, and a few first volumes of other manga series, from a Borders graphic novel section that probably had more manga than Western comic trade paperbacks. _Saiyuki_, by the by, is complete and utter crack, in a good way.)

#33 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Yes. Ahem. My mother in law. : )

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 02:25 PM:

RE Martians:

It's a tough call. The traditionalist in me wants the intellects vast, cool, and unsympathetic to be from the dying red planet.

But we know too much about the place to take it seriously as a source of the menace. An obstacle to suspension of disbelief.

I'm more put off by the line about the movie being about relationships.

The original intent of the story was to show how people react in the face of utter helplessness and hopelessness and the smashing of preconceptions about humanity's place in the universe.

#35 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 02:48 PM:

And if anyone's seeing Serenity in Atlanta this weekend, I'll be getting together with some folks for dinner beforehand. Most likely we'll be eating at the Little Szechuan restaurant on Buford Highway. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to meet up.

#36 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:02 PM:

Randolph: Wasn't the sky just *amazing* yesterday? That was some tripped-out weather.

And I concur that Batman Begins rocks. That was a damn fine movie.

#37 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:22 PM:

Steve, if I remember correctly, in the original Wells novel the fighting machines were tripods:

And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand.

Chapter 10, In The Storm

According to the June Wired, Spielberg is looing as much to the Orson Welles and George Pal versions of the story. He is moving back to tripods from floating machines because it is now possible to do it:

Traveling between the shoot and ILM, Muren translates Spielberg's directives to the effects artists. But he's been formulating his own vision of War of the Worlds for a long time. As a grade school kid in the suburbs of Los Angeles during the '50s, he says, "I grew up with this movie." Often he'd look up effects artists in the phone book and cold-call them, but it wasn't until last year that he got the scoop on The War of the Worlds from a friend of its original production designer. "They wanted to do tripods in 1953, but they couldn't figure out how to make them walk," he reports - so they switched to hovering saucers, then built models and suspended them above the soundstage on wires so they seemed to float above the ground. "Now we have the technology to do it."
#38 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:25 PM:

Mary Dell: and when I next went back to water, there were no buds. No fallen petals either, so I don't think they bloomed quickly and died. It was like they'd never been there.

It sounds like something ate the buds. Do you have deer, or any other critters who could reach the buds?

Also, when I bought this rose, the bloom was yellow. I put it in the ground and watered it, and in the morning the bloom had turned a sort of peachy color, pinker toward the center. (snip)I am new to the ways of tea this normal?

It's not unusual. One of the roses I care for did exactly the same thing. It was solid yellow when it opened, and two days later it was blushed with peach.

#39 ::: Connie ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:43 PM:

Re the Flores Street House Eater: I guess a yellow rose really does grow in Texas. And grows, and grows, and grows....

#40 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:59 PM:

Sorry for terminally-unclear writing; I was complaining that the reporter thought tripods were *new* to the War of the Worlds story, when they were front-and-center in the original serial. I guess since the rovers landed we have to give up on Mars as the origin, so I've resigned myself to a rewrite on that.

(All will be forgiven if Spielberg somehow gets the Thunderchild back in... after all, the trailers have already shown the ferry scene.)

#41 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 04:15 PM:

Also, when I bought this rose, the bloom was yellow. I put it in the ground and watered it, and in the morning the bloom had turned a sort of peachy color, pinker toward the center. (snip)I am new to the ways of tea this normal?

I used to have a number of roses in my little backyard, but a re-landscaping forced them out. But I had to keep space for one, so one Peace Rose stands proudly amongst colors it doesn't match. (The Peace Rose was introduced at the end of World War II.) It opens yellow, turns pink and peach, and ends up mostly white. I've been a little disappointed in this one, which has not been as pretty as the one in the old version of the yard (and which may even have gone back to the 1940s) -- but this year it has been beautiful and vibrant.

#42 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 04:22 PM:

Aconite: I suspect I may have a bunny problem, although nothing's nibbled on any of the leaves so far. It's also possible that the greedy mourning doves that hang out in the garden ate them, after carefully breaking the bird feeder.

The bird feeder is a nice stoneware thingy - a vertical tube, with openings for birdies to peck at. Under the openings there are thin metal poles that run through small holes in the main tube, and are secured on each side by a small rubber ring. The doves have managed to peck away all the rubber rings, so that the poles slide out and they have nowhere to stand and eat.

They also walk away, like chickens, when I come into the garden, rather than flying away, like proper birds.

#43 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 04:47 PM:

Kate Nepveu
Speaking of _Serenity_, I almost certainly have a spare ticket to the Albany preview this Thursday; if anyone needs it, e-mail me, with the understanding that there is a small but non-zero chance that it will be needed elsewhere.

Kate - Oh, yes, please: my wife would LOVE a ticket, I'll email you. (Me, I tend to side with Chad's review: the erratic world-building keeps me from getting comfortable in the Firefly universe, nice though the characters are.) But my wife Maggie thinks it's the best TV she's ever seen.

#44 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 05:13 PM:

Oh, and Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) notes about the Spielberg War of the Worlds:

the trailers have already shown the ferry scene.

This scene was shot in Athens, New York, last December. (I was an extra in that crowd.) It was pretty cool pulling the 'Penguin 60' of the Wells novel out of my pocket to read between takes.

Speilberg's version is a contemporary update of Wells - and while I got only a spear-carrier's view of the movie, I thought it looked pretty good. Nothing that I saw rang wrong, anyway.

(By way of comparison, I think it'll HAVE to be better than the George Pal version, which I've never been able to watch a second time.)

#45 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 05:43 PM:

My roommate just called from the nail salon to inform me she just saw Nathan Fillion. (Cap'n Tightpants was not getting a manicure - she saw him walking down the street.) I hardly think this is fair, as she works in Universal's Archives (which they decided at the last minute *not to close) and she has seen him on the lot. I never see anyone famous!

I attempted my first Chicago Style Pizza, which was 60% right, but the crust was just not *crusty* enough. I am now faced with the daunting task of figuring out what recipe might make the dough less, well, doughy, and more dense and crust-y.

#46 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 05:54 PM:

"We went to Coney this weekend, and it was definitely summer. If you go, do take in the sideshow . . . ."

What was it like? I've never been there, but I've heard about it.

#47 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:33 PM:

Understood, Steve. At least you didn't create a new word such as "looing". At least I hope that's a new word. Several possible meanings do sort of jump out at you . . .

#48 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 07:05 PM:

Mary Dell, re bunnies, "Bunnies aren't just cute like everyone supposes. They've got those hoppy legs and twitchy little noses."

We have mourning doves at our bird feeder. They manage to get up there like the perching birds and then look incredibly stupid, like they don't know what to do next. They can't quite peck and perch at the same time.

#49 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 07:06 PM:

Regarding Red Planets and Firefly and all:

Why does every disk in the DVD set depict Mars?

I think they may have slipped Mars in as the planet visited in the episode "War Stories" --it will take more freeze-framing before I'm sure-- but the DVD platters are definite. There's the twisted grin of Valles Marineris leering out at you.

None of the stories take place on Mars.

Did they think we wouldn't recognize it?

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:49 PM:

Frugal rotterblaggers!

My bunny lice soda devotion...

#51 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:08 PM:

Claude: Understood, Steve. At least you didn't create a new word such as "looing". At least I hope that's a new word. Several possible meanings do sort of jump out at you . . .

It's a good thing I'm not British, or I might have looed myself at that one.

However, it still doesn't beat the comment an exchange student made to my Mom on a college trip in the '50s; "Knock me up early, I want to have a fag before breakfast." Separated by a common language indeed...

#52 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:34 PM:

Bob Oldendorf: kate dot nepveu at gmail dot com will get to me fine, for making arrangements to meet up and such.

#53 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:35 PM:

Relating to nothing else anyone's talked about, other than I'm probably not the only one who'd appreciate a giggle at the moment:

there's an anti-anti-fanfic rant at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels which amused me greatly in itself, but when I got to the comments thread, I found a whole string of very lovely haiku praising the use of Spam(TM) as a "marital aid"...

#54 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:33 PM:

Kate: Thanks, I'll be in touch!

(I don't do a convincing version of the fangirl 'squeee', but Maggie just about can....)

#55 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 03:42 AM:

A Joyful Solstice! - whichever hemisphere.

Some things people do on the Longest Night: Midwinter day 2004; Midwinter madness! 2003; Reflections on midwinter 2002 (From the Australian Antarctic Division)

#56 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:35 AM:

For some reason, I was involved in an imaginary conversation (hey, I was trying to sleep.) The topic that came up was "Things that are hard to translate into/out of English."

So far, I have:

1) This sentence is in English.

2) "C'mon, Molly, grab the gat and let's beat it before the heat nabs us."

3) "`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves..."

4) Obviously, anything written in Linear A, but that's as much a tranliteration issue as a translation issues.

5) Cooking directions from a Scandanavian Grandmother. These feature such measures as "enough" and "a bit of" and "about twice what your Uncle Olaf likes."

6) Transcripts of Harry Carey calling Cubs games, esp. close games near or during the playoffs.

7) "Five-Seven-Five may
not say all that much, but that
is Haiku for you."

Somebody imaginary then broke out "This sentence no verb", and things went Hofstadterian from there. My brain is broken, but I cope with it.

Oh, and from the Make blog. Cellphone.

I really want to climb Long's Peak, leave this up there, descend a bit, wait an hour, call it, and ask if anyone's seen my sunglasses.

It doesn't look that hard to make, actually, given the cost of GSM cell modules, but I really need to finish the Nixie Clock and get the new Van de Graff generators built. (Plural, of course -- because you can charge them opposite, and get that much more voltage....)

But, man, to drop that phone on the belt on the way to the UK.

#57 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:18 AM:

Erik: I can do an attempt of #2 into Swedish: "Kom igen, Molly, hugg puffran så pyser vi innan bängen haffar oss." I'm not quite hip to the slang of the appropriate period, though.

#5 is hard even if you're just trying to follow the cooking directions and speak the same language as the Grandmother in question.

#58 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:46 AM:

Melissa Mead:

The sideshow is being held/given in a fleabag of a theater right off Surf Avenue and right under the Coney Island Museum, which I suspect we'll visit on our next trip out. I remember when Dick Zigun was first starting to "revive" these bits of old Coney; he used to run a haunted house where real people would hide in odd corners and do things like grab your hair from behind as the car went by . . . it was a great shriek-and-clutch-fest.

Oh, and the local-artists-paint-the-boardwalk exhibit is going strong for the second year in a row, some nice stuff this year, too.

Anyway, the sideshow: we came in in the middle of the sword-swallower's act. She's a pretty young thing and bills herself as the youngest female sword-swallower in the history of the profession. The daytime patter is all just a tiny bit raunchy (well, there are lots of kids in the audience); the night-time show is, I expect, cruder. The sword-swallower was making jokes about "protection" and "sheathes", for instance. She also claims to have once been, before being corrupted by the big bad city, a good Mormon girl from Utah. She swallowed, separately, one thin and one thicker/wider blade, 2-3 feet long. Very nicely done, too.

She was followed by the fire-eater, another woman (all women scantily dressed to one degree or another, some in "ethnic costume") who was gorgeously tattooed including an intricate striped pattern on one side of her face. Another nice bit--fire running along her arms, putting fire out with her mouth, lighting torches by transferring flame from one ot the next with the palm of her hand, breathing fire, etc.

Short juggling act: two big knives and an apple.

Intermission: tour the museum of curiosities for an additional $1 per person (admission was $5 for adults, $3 for kids). 7 fingered hand, mermaid, "giant moth coccoon", etc. All monies from the museum go to renovating the theater, which really needs it.

Snake charmer--gorgeous woman, handsome albino python . . . a bit disappointing as the snake had apparently eaten recently and was a bit sluggish. Big snake, though.

Featured attraction: Eek the Geek. A thoroughly tattooed man who in fact made his living for a while as a real geek (claims to have learned it at a slaughterhouse he was working in). Now he does the bed of nails (he had a very overweight woman stand on the second nail platform on his abdomen, which made me cringe even though I know how the bed of nails works) and gets "electrocuted". Nice bit, that--he lights torches with his tongue and makes neon lights glow. Eek is also just plain funny and just about worth the price of admission all by himself.

Contortionist of sorts--not a great contortionist but when combined with the blades-through-the-box bit, pretty cool. This was the same woman who did the sword-swallowing and, an an extra added attraction, for an additional $1 per person, you could come up on the stage and look into the box and see her all curled up around the blades.

Human blockhead--nail in the nose, icepick in the nose, spoon in the nose, animal trap on hand, mousetrap on tongue. This is the same guy who juggles knives and acts as emcee for the whole show.

It was all tacky in just the right way, and heaps of fun. We did it at the very end of the day and it was a nice way to ramp down before taking the long train ride home. Also, there is a bathroom in the theater so we didn't have to use the paperless public restroom in the subway station--a very nice subway station, btw, now that it's all renovated.

The theater is decorated inside and out with sideshow posters and banners of the current acts.

#59 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 10:41 AM:

Re Coney Island -- this Saturday is the best day of the year to visit, the day of the Mermaid Parade. This parade is some of the most fun I've had in Brooklyn.

#60 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 10:59 AM:

"Things that are hard to translate into/out of English."

La rivière se jette dans le fleuve.

Always been my favorite/most hated sentence to translate into english.

#61 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:28 AM:

Erik: A sentence of mine from a short story I wrote years ago: "Her smile must be still upon her face when they find her," of a little girl killed by the monster/narrator. Someone tried to change it to "Her smile must still be..." but that loses half of the meaning, as well as the flag that there IS another meaning.

Also, the text of the last verse of a song I wrote a couple of years ago. The previous verse says that the narrator has never told anyone about the topic of the song, and the song includes a dream where the narrator dies. Then:

Now that you know that I'm lying still,
      My dear, my bonnie fair one,
Now that you know that I'm lying still,
     The only one I love,
Now that you know that I'm lying still,
I never loved you and I never will.
     My dear, my bonnie fair one,
     The only one I love.
I love the word 'still', obviously. It's so charmingly ambiguous.

#62 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:32 AM:

MD2: My best shot. "The river flows into the estuary." Not perfect (fleuve means the entire river that ends in an estuary, and not just the seamouth end) but it'll do in a pinch.

Of course, being born next to fleuve Saint-Laurent helps with that translation. (Pity I've lost so much French through lack of use...)

#63 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:47 AM:

Excuse me, but I need to interrupt this Open Thread with an important announcement:

Kate Nepveu is a wonderful human being.

(That is all. Carry on.)

#64 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:48 AM:

Oh good. An open thread!

Does everyone but me already know that:

a) The OED is being put into limerick form?

b) Someone has written a linked haiku/senryu about how to decrypt a DVD?

The poem:

The explanation of the poem's history:

#65 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:54 AM:

"Things that are hard to translate into/out of English."

Poetry, almost by definition, is hard to translate.

Hence, the more poetic a sample of prose is, the harder to translate. The begs the question of what "poetic" means.

English has the largest vocabulary of any known language, so a majority of words are strictly untranslatable. The two writers in English who invented the most words are William Shakespeare and James Joyce. Insert obligatory joke about Shakespeare in the original Klingon. Finnegan's Wake is probably the hardest book to translate from English, not that it's entirely in English to begin with, as Joyce kept several dictionaries open before him as he wrote it.

#66 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 12:50 PM:

"The river flows into the estuary."

Nice one... until you realise three pages later it cannot be the estuary (not that I'm talking out of personal experience, or anything, obviously).

"Poetry, almost by definition, is hard to translate."

Two words: Stéphane Mallarmé.

And now excuse me I'll go cry other all those nights lost in the useless attempt.

#67 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 01:25 PM:

MD2...maybe I can help? I'm sitting here after teaching a graduate reading/translation class, so I've got my game face on.

#68 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 01:37 PM:

MD2, what did you settle upon? (And what was the context?)

Dangit, you've piqued my interest now. So much for a restful nap at work-uh, I mean, "time away from the keyboard during coffee break," boss. Really. Honest.

(Oh, and I didn't envy the guy who had to translate Trente Arpents into Thirty Acres... an "arpant" is a *linear* measure in this context, a minimum guarantee of river frontage. Translations can be the enemies of art, indeed.)

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:03 PM:

You can't hide behind those hoods forever:

#70 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:04 PM:

My most untranslatable published sentence follows.

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

I have published transliterations of Chinese poetry, and have submitted (and had rejected) translations of Rimbaud. Of course, the fact that I neither speak Chinese nor French has something to do with it. The key is "transliteration." For famous poems, many translations already exist. One may be said to be the best literal translation; one may be the best in capturing atmosphere; one may best follow the meter. A good transliterator can interpolate a new transliteration in between the other ones. But I'm carefully avoiding the question of the topology of literature, albeit that is essential for proper formal discussion of tranlstaions as "mappings."

#71 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:06 PM:

The original sentence was a comment on Icelandic Sagas, something about a surprise attack, which happened "là ou la rivière [x] se jette dans le fleuve [y]". The place being too far from the actual estuary, I gave up and ended up using using the somewhat misleading "where [x] and [y] meet".
I know, cheap shot.

Talking about translating poetry, it's hard job, people make mistakes, I know, but still I hate it when some of said mistakes make you doubt the reading ability of the translator. Worst recent case I can think of is the guy who did the job for Tim Burton's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. Why, why, did he decide that all the verse in Anchor Girl needed to rhyme I'll never understand.

#72 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Stefan Jones: "The original intent of the story was to show how people react in the face of utter helplessness and hopelessness and the smashing of preconceptions about humanity's place in the universe."

I thought it was a metaphor for European imperialism. No reason it can't be both, of course.

#73 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:49 PM:

"This sentence contains ten words, eighteen syllables, and sixty-four letters."

I remember that one. One of my responses, very much in the metamagical realm, was:

"This sentence contains ten words, eighteen syllables, and sixty four letters, as well as an attached clause that renders it false."

#74 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 03:56 PM:

MD2--I know what you mean. There's a "translation" of Tournier's La goutte d'or that ends with Idriss deliberately breaking the window and being afraid of the cops. I think he might have grabbed a real woman to dance with, too. (For those who haven't read it, this utterly reverses the point of the book. It would be like saying "Narnia is destroyed, the end, nothing more to see.")

#75 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 03:57 PM:

A college friend of mine used to sing these alternate lyrics to George Harrison's I've Got My Mind Set on You:

This song contains just six words...

(repeat ad infinitum)

#76 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 04:36 PM:

I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves....

#77 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 04:41 PM:

Wow, that's by George Harrison? The late former Beatle? Learn new stuff every day... I always figured it was by Air Supply or someone like that. (Continuing in my pattern of not bothering to match up group names with songs on the radio... Recently I learned from Roy Edroso that Elton John was not the perpetrator of "Happy Christmas, the war is over")

#78 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 04:44 PM:

"Imagine a world where this was the only song
And against your will
You had to sit and listen to it all day long
Till it made you ill."

repeat many times

--Peter Blegvad, "The Only Song"

#79 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 04:51 PM:

Saw that, Stefan. Not enough, and not soon enough, but some justice is better than none.

Also, they found that missing cub scout in Utah. It's a good day.

#80 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 05:19 PM:

You know, with that Boy Scout turning up, we're going to need another American in Peril* Story to lead the news with.

Please send applications to:

Level 73, Desk 1,217
1 Victory Boulevard
Freedomland, Goliad 9

Or your local Fox affiliate.

* Perils related to war, environmental damage or industrial mishap not applicable.

#81 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 05:34 PM:

Hey, Tom! I know that song too! Except I can never remember the second line.

#82 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:51 PM:

Jill - that's the Weird Al Yankovic version. "this song is just six words long..." etc. (what does it say about my fitness as a parent when my then-preteen daughter knows the Weird Al versions better than the 'real' ones?)

#83 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:59 PM:


"... what does it say about my fitness as a parent when my then-preteen daughter knows the Weird Al versions better than the 'real' ones?)"

Relax, JennR. That's true for my 16-year-old, too. If Weird Al Yankovic, rather than the director, had written the songs for the recent feature film "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" then it would have been a much funnier film.

He wrote some songs that most readers here have never heard, by the way. "Patterns" was the themesong for a Math TV show that never aired, or never lasted, or something. What was the original of "It's all about the Pentiums?"

Do we moan that nobody recalls the original poems parodied by Lewis Carroll? Thought not.

But do brace yourself for the pre-teen to teen transition. Our fun has just begun!

#84 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 08:05 PM:

What was the original of "It's all about the Pentiums?"

That'd be "It's all about the Benjamins", by Puff Daddy.

#85 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 08:26 PM:

Bill Blum:

Thanks. And was it Mark Twain who sang:

Puff Daddy, puff with care. Puff in the presence of the passenjare?

#86 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 08:54 PM:

ooh open thread!

for Lost fans who still remember the old role-playing games...

#87 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:26 PM:

Antukin: That's a brilliant little link. (Admittedly, I've only seen the first two episodes of Lost, on Virgin Atlantic airlines... but it really does map over pretty well, doesn't it?)

#88 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:58 PM:

what does it say about my fitness as a parent when my then-preteen daughter knows the Weird Al versions better than the 'real' ones?

Probably the same thing as it says about my fitness as a daughter, JennR. My mom had heard Weird Al's Jerry Springer song but not "One Week" (and I'm a huge BNL fan, too). She was in a restaurant bathroom once and "One Week" came on. The rest of us were waiting to leave, and women kept coming out of the ladies' room with alarmed/freaked out expressions. Finally my mom emerged, wiping her eyes. She'd stayed in there until the song was over, laughing hysterically at how close she thought Weird Al had gotten it.

And she says she can't take us anywhere.

My Weird Al problem is that certain songs get tangled and don't get untangled again. I can't sing "American Pie" without some of "The Saga Begins" in it, and vice versa.

#89 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:59 PM:

Erik: I know one of the toughest sentences to translate when I translated Spanish sex comics was "¡Me pones burro total!"--which literally means, "You're turning me into a total burro!" but really means "You're making me really horny!"--but the latter, in context, wasn't much more satisfactory in context. I think I finally settled for "You bring out the beast in me!"--which wasn't really it either, but at least sort of retains the sense of the original.

#90 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 10:07 PM:

"¡Me pones burro total!"--which literally means, "You're turning me into a total burro!"

Perhaps you could render it as, "I feel like such an ass!" :-)

#91 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:05 PM:

(Whoops, I posted this in Open Thread 42. It should have gone here.)

OH MY F#$^#%^# GAWD!

Check out this week's "THE ONION" ASAP.

Start with the Horoscopes.

#92 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:26 PM:

Don't cry for me, Charlie Berlitz,
How this potato, her joy's named great is,
Ding-dong, the pen sleeps
On my aunt's table
And we make nothing,
We fish of April . . .

#93 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 02:23 AM:

For your open thread entertainment, an interactive hamster dance...

People put the weirdest things on the net.

#94 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 04:29 AM:

Tales of "Customer Service" Dept.

Family member bought a pair of cellphones. One would not initialize. Was broken on delivery. Went to get replacement. Clerk asked for driver's license. 3 weeks went by. Cellphone service still not functioning. Noticed driver's license missing. Searched everywhere. Assumed stolen. Feared identity theft. Many calls to banks, credit card companies, Department of Motor vehicles, many hours spent. Phone cellphone company. "Say, it just occurred to me; 3 weeks ago, did you ask for my driver's license?"

"Yes, we would have."

"Could you see if you still have it?"

[sound of drawer opening] "Yup. Here it is."

"Why didn't you call me, or mail it to me?"

"Because some people change addresses since the card was issued."

"But you HAVE my home phone number. Why didn't you phone me and say I'd left my card?"

"Oh.... Didn't think of that.... Sorry."

I suggested that family member write letter to company HQ, suggest would settle for 10,000 minutes of phonecall time.

#95 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 08:11 AM:

Oh.... Didn't think of that.... Sorry.

(Camera cuts over to spokesperson)

And once again, we see the horrid consequences of Clue Deficit Disorder, and the toll it takes on the innocent victims and their relations.

CDD has plauged our young nation for nearly a century. With your help, we hope to find better treaments, and someday, a cure.

We're the Congress for Clue Distribution, a non profit organization dedicated to the fight against, and eventual victory over, CDD. With your help, we can win -- but only with your help.

Please help those who just need a hint -- all of the time.


c/o the CDC
Washington, DC.

Do it for your children. Do it for your sanity. Do it so you wont have to deal with the clueless again.

#96 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 10:44 AM:

Was it Patrick who suggested that some people be issued badges declaring them "Legally Stupid," so that otherwise outrageously moronic actions would not be held against them?

#97 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 11:07 AM:

That was originally Beth Meacham's idea.

#99 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 01:43 PM:

In-Souls -- that is a seriously weird idea. I haven't read it closely enough to figure out whether it's serious or just an excellent satire.

#100 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 01:52 PM:

Going back a bit: Apart from the famous quote about "intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic", there is some excellent writing in Herbert George Wells' book War of the Worlds, and perhaps more prescient foretelling of the twentieth century than in his officially futuristic stories. Some scenes described are familiar to most of us from newsreels and documentaries. Below are some parts that I thought try to put the fin-de-siecle British "Masters of the Universe" into sympathy with their subjects. The posters for the new film are around town now -- it will be interesting to see what scenes and themes are carried into it.

Chapter 1 - The Eve of the War
... And, before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?

Chapter 7 - The Man on Putney Hill
... now I prayed indeed, pleading steadfastly and sanely, face to face with the darkness of God. Strange night! Strangest in this, that so soon as dawn had come, I, who had talked with God, crept out of the house like a rat leaving its hiding place -- a creature scarcely larger, an inferior animal, a thing that for any passing whim of our masters might be hunted and killed. Perhaps they also prayed confidently to God. Surely, if we have learned nothing else, this war has taught us pity -- pity for those witless souls that suffer our dominion...

... and in the first of these below, maybe we can wonder if the destruction in The Great War of "that serene confidence in the future" more to promote or reduce 'decadence', while the second does sound like what's gone through many name changes -- it may still be currently called "post-traumatic stress syndrome" (also addressed in Gods and Monsters
Chapter 10 - The Epilogue
... this invasion from Mars is not without its ultimate benefit for men; it has robbed us of that serene confidence in the future which is the most fruitful source of decadence,...

... I must confess the stress and danger of the time have left an abiding sense of doubt and insecurity in my mind. I sit in my study writing by lamplight, and suddenly I see again the healing valley below set with writhing flames, and feel the house behind and about me empty and desolate ... Of a night I see the black powder darkening the silent streets, and the contorted bodies shrouded in that layer;...
Speaking of films, for my solstice celebration I won a free ticket to a Sydney Film Festival special screening last night, with live, specially-composed music, of a silent German film, shot in Berlin in 1929, called Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday). After seeing quite a bit of film of Berlin in 1945 with the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the end of war in the European theatre in May this year, watching the everyday life and the real people at their Sunday leisure was a curious added sensation. Walking home in the cold from the bus stop down quiet streets at midnight with a full moon at the zenith pleaching the world around me put me into my own silent black and white world, another source of strange thoughts and feelings.

#101 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 01:55 PM:

I promised a couple people at WisCon that I would report back, so:

I ordered two salwar kameez from indiashop1. Both have the traditional drawstring pants, which are fine and fit well, but you have to tie them fairly tightly if, as my mother says, you have a tum-tum-tummy. (You know who you are.)

One is made from what is listed as "chickan" and covered with embroidery. It is lovely and quite dressy. Following instructions, I had it dry cleaned the first time. Since that is costly, I hand washed it the next time. The colors are fine, but the lining is crunchy. I'm not sure if that is from getting soaked, or if I didn't get the soap fully rinsed out.

The other is made of printed crepe and is also striking. It has no embroidery, and is lighter in weight. The effect is not as dressy. Again, I had it dry cleaned the first time, then hand washed it. It is mostly bright red, and the dye is not colorfast. However, when it had dried the print was still clear and it looked nice. I was going to hand wash it again, when I noticed a label that said "Dry Clean Only," which was not what the instructions on the website said. I'm still thinking about what to do about this. (My instinct is that anything labelled "Dry Clean Only" can be hand washed, but I could be wrong.)

I bought one salwar kameez from ladiesden_india. I paid an extra $5 to have regular trousers made. These fit very well. This is made from printed georgette, and is much more casual in feel than the other two. I feel comfortable wearing it around town, in that it doesn't seem gratuitously out of place. (Although, I was once busted by my horrified family for having been wearing a coat two inches shorter than my dress for at least an entire winter season, and I was perfectly happy, so what do I know?) I hand washed it once, and then put it in the washer on cold water and gentle cycle, both times letting it hang dry. I noticed the last time I wore it that the side seam on the trousers had opened, but the lining had held so it didn't reveal anything. This is only a problem when sitting. I don't know if this was from putting it in the washer, or from the fabric being pulled tight when I sit down.

I will definitely order more, probably in the more casual printed georgette.

We now return to the more interesting comments in this thread.

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 02:14 PM:

Other neat bits from The War of the Worlds:

The narrator, in describing the martian's silvery multi-tentacled semi-living work machine, lets on that humans later studied and reverse engineered the devices. Kind of neat.

The martian tripods communicate by SOUND. Not radio. Kind of neat in an entirely different way.

The Artilleryman. Full of big ideas and harsh logic and great ambition, but in the end a worthless windbag. I've met his type, at cons and over gaming tables. Snorting blowhards.

#103 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

"Legally Stupid....That was originally Beth Meacham's idea."

Hats off to Beth, yet again!

Of course, "Legally Stupid" has little to do with IQ as such. Academe is filled with Legally Stupid professors.

I had a girlfriend in college (an anagram of her name was one of my novel characters in "The Ten Teeth of Terra": "Neon Gladring") who was smart (in IQ) but had even less Common Sense than I do (and I'm a Theoretician, where Common Sense is almost a violation of Union Regulations).

Once, in the Academic Commune's livingroom, an unopened king-sized bottle of Root Beer was accidently kicked over, hard. My girlfriend sprinted to it, and wrenched the top off, dousing us all in Root Beer.

"Why on Earth did you do that?" someone asked.

"Well, I knew that I was either supposed to definitely open it, or definitely not open it, and I forgot which."

#104 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 02:41 PM:

It's official: the Eye of Sauron is 25 light years away. New Scientist says so.

#105 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 03:07 PM:

erm. Though the idea of the moonlit midnight pleaching the gardens or street trees is an intriguing one, thats probably "bleaching". Though, to connect to Rosa Monday, here are some pleached rose bushes.

And wow, that's a great picture. Sauron's Eye of the Southern Fish at Fomalhaut, or something.

#106 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Stuff Geeks Notice Dept.:

Oregon had a anomalously wet late spring, and the rains aren't letting up. Beaverton is currently getting hit with a wicked heavy downpour. When it started, half the engineering team here at work rushed to the cafeteria windows to watch.

A cow orker noticed something neat: A whale-spout of water and vapor emerging from the parking lot.

Apparently, the sheer force of water coming down the drain pipes from the roof was too much for the storm drains, and the water shot up out of a grill in the parking lot.

I suspect we engineers talked more about that than we did about the Runaway Bride or the Lost Boy Scout. Damn uncomformists.

#107 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 05:57 PM:


I've just found your Ultimate SF Site while searching for a book I read long ago. I didn't find it there, but perhaps I didn't look long or hard enough. Perhaps you can help me.

I seem to remember that the book had one of those semi-surreal covers, such as some Berkely SF books had in the 50s and 60s. The title may have been something like "20,000 A.D.," or "20,000,000 A.D." Or maybe it had the word "Armageddon" in the title.

The story concerned the findings and speculations of a survey or exploration ship of some aliens who explore the ruins of Earth many years after humanity has destroyed itself.

I hope you can help me; I've been trying to find this book for years!


"Kaposta, Joseph D"

#108 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 06:34 PM:


Did you consider paying the cellphone company for providing free storage for your relative's driver's license, when it took him three weeks to notice that it was missing? Or do you routinely assume that if you make a mistake, and some random stranger doesn't fix it for you, they owe you money?

#109 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Not meaning to poke fun at typos, but I'm fascinated by the idea of a "cow orker." Sounds like a rather sinister profession. (The image of that weird waterspout was really something, anyway. Thanks for sharing it!)

#110 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 07:20 PM:

"Cow-orker" has become a deliberate, alternative label for the fellow denizens of your cube farm.

If it were for real, would cow orking be a profession, a hobby, or a fetish?

#111 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 08:24 PM:

Stefan Jones: I suspect we engineers talked more about that than we did about the Runaway Bride or the Lost Boy Scout.

OMG! There's a lost Boy Scout?!? Maybe we'd better check in the Runaway Bride's closet! Quick, page Gerlado! Fax HANNITY & colmes! Alert Wolf "Quake-Before-My-Mighty-Facial-Hair" Blitzer! The world must know!

#112 ::: Lenore Jean Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 09:02 PM:

Juli - thanks for the report on the salwar/kameez. I was wondering how the second vendor's stuff fit.

I've found that most things that call for dry cleaning can be hand-washed, or washed in a machine on gentle cycle with cold water. I wouldn't try it with a lined jacket or similar item, though - the lining could bunch up. Also, if there's any chance the item isn't dye-fast, it should be washed alone. I once washed a lovely pink & lavender dress with a load of other light stuff, and the blue dye in the lavender part of the dress leaked. I now have lots more blue underwear than previously!

#113 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 10:40 PM:

If it were for real, would cow orking be a profession, a hobby, or a fetish?

In the Half Past Second Age, before the first film crew entered Middle Earth, the cattle of the Rohirrim were many, and their leathergoods were prized both at Fayre and belowstairs at the castle, though their cheese was runny. Runnier than that. And the horses breathed heavy sighs that there was another source of tack, and it was good.

But the orks, the numerous yet rather poorly described beings of darkness, were an affliction to them, for they would come by night, when as all Men know there is little light, and move among the animals, so that in the day they were spoilt to use, and had moreover acquired faint foreign-sounding accents. Some said the cheese was a little better, but they were not believed.

And after enough of this, the leaders of Rohan gathered, as they did in those days when things to to the point where sitting on a horse in a tin nightshirt wasn't protection enough, and in their hallowed way said, "There must be some peasants we can lay this off on, and so there came to be the cow orkers, sturdy folk of compact build and good night vision, who would be posted in the fields by night to stand among the cattle, who would themselves be standing like statues, and they'd crouch 'neath the sky with a cudgel hard by, and they'd hope to give Evil a sock in the eye . . .
Oh what a beautiful morning
Whupped me a couple of ork,
Keep to yourself what you're thinking,
They don't taste nothin' like pork.

#114 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 10:43 PM:

You know, Mike, it doesn't really help matters that I went to see Oklahoma! on Sunday, and that song is still fresh in my mind...

#115 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 05:50 AM:

I'm all excited about celebrating the incoming of summer by harvesting vine-ripened tomatoes -- nine of them, in two clusters. True, they were cherry-type, so this isn't impossibly early considering that this is Southern California, and they were volunteers, so I can claim no virtue other than recognizing them as keeper seedlings rather than weeds to be pulled, but it's pleasing to have an unshaded area and be able to grow a few vegetables again. Almost as delightful as my first garden, at the age of six, seventy years ago.

#116 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 08:59 AM:

From the I Like to Watch Dept:

When late-night channel surfers encounter two nude women in bed on a public-access show called "Fantasy Bedtime Hour," many things come to mind. Leprosy is probably not one of them.

But leprosy -- and monsters and mud and swords -- are what this particular fantasy is all about. The two bedded women aren't really nude, just artfully posing under the sheets; and they're not holding a titillating tete-a-tete, but a confounding discussion of a 28-year-old paperback novel called "Lord Foul's Bane." Their girl-on-girl action is limited to pondering the meaning of words like "dotard" and "inchoate," and the program's live-action sequences involve developmentally disabled horses and 7-foot monsters made out of old pantyhose.

#117 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 09:05 AM:

But Patrick, "Honky Tonk Women" / "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is the better record.

#118 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 11:17 AM:

"Cow-orker" has become a deliberate, alternative label for the fellow denizens of your cube farm.

If it were for real, would cow orking be a profession, a hobby, or a fetish?

And what if you actually work on a dairy farm?

#119 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 12:50 PM:

Also, if there's any chance the item isn't dye-fast, it should be washed alone. I once washed a lovely pink & lavender dress with a load of other light stuff, and the blue dye in the lavender part of the dress leaked. I now have lots more blue underwear than previously!
A knitter whose blog I read recently posted the results of her attempts to set the dye in a non-colorfast yarn that was bleeding badly (result: plain white vinegar seemed to set the dye permanently). It might be worth a try with other fabrics.

#120 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Oops, apparently I put the close italics command in the wrong place in that last comment. The If it were for real, would cow orking be a profession, a hobby, or a fetish? was part of the same bit I was quoting from Stefan.

#121 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Stefan Jones:
A cow orker noticed something neat: A whale-spout of water and vapor emerging from the parking lot.

Apparently, the sheer force of water coming down the drain pipes from the roof was too much for the storm drains, and the water shot up out of a grill in the parking lot.

It was very impressive when I saw something similar coming up through the carpet in my office next to the big computer room, and sure enough it was even more impressive when we looked under the raised floor and saw how high the fountain went without the carpeting to act as a resistor.
The building had a concave roof, and drained through big pillars. With the combination of a big drenching thumper storm and some clogged drains, we needed to push the big red button. Thankfully, the powerbusses were already raised well above the floor. The floor drains/fountain nozzles got one-way valves shortly afterwards.

#122 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 02:56 PM:

The Life at Low Reynolds Number piece is bloody amazing. If all that's been known for nearly thirty years, how come nobody told me till now? (And how much time is being wasted by people doing computer simulations to figure out stuff about bacterial behavior that was figured out thirty years ago? -- Well, probably not that much, I admit; I assume actual bacteriologists know this stuff. But that lecture has "a-life simulation" written all over it...)

#123 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 03:31 PM:

I also got a salwar kameez (indiashop1). Fabulous, fabulous. I thought it was going to be something fairly casual. The fabric appeared to be a nice black with ivy and flowers in red and gold. Ha! It's seriously gorgeous party-wear. Now I just have to find someplace suitably swank to wear it.

It's labelled dry clean only. I normally am a big fan of handwashing, but I don't think I'll even try it with this one. The salwar is a lovely thin crepe stuff with lots of embroidery in not always dye safe colors, and it is also lined. Seems too much to risk for me. I usually dry clean anything that is lined, or is obviously not water friendly, like suit type silk.

#124 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 06:35 PM:

I haven't been reading this thread, but I take it that Bob has picked up the _Serenity_ tickets that I left him.

(Yes, tickets. I find myself in Massachusetts for family matters today rather than in Albany, so my cherished ticket to _Serenity_ went to a good home instead. *sniffle* In the deeply unlikely event that anyone reading this has a single spare *Boston* ticket for, ummm, three and a half hours from now, well, kate dot nepveu at gmail dot com will reach me to my everlasting gratitude.)

On another topic, does anyone here use Serendipity as a blogging software or have a login to the forums?

#125 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 06:55 PM:

A recommendation of a war-related blog, along the lines of Defense Tech is Arms Control Wonk, run by a guy who's a Research Fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. Has the same slightly snarky tone as Defense Tech, and seems to know whereof he speaks. Mostly writes about various proliferation issues and related stuff.

#126 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 06:57 PM:

Disregard prior post, though I don't know whether my kind benefactor saw it here or elsewhere.

Eeeeee, _Serenity_!

#127 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 08:02 PM:

In re the brag page. Do you have ANY idea how many of those places I've actually been too? Scary.


#128 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 11:13 PM:

Also re: the brag page, if you click over to "Food", you'll discover that Mattoon, Illinois styles itself "The Bagel Capital of the World."


Twenty years ago, I would have put that particular capital precisely at the corner of East 81st St. and Flatlands Ave. in Canarsie, Brooklyn. It's probably moved to the vicinity of Great Neck in the intervening years. But Mattoon, Illinois?!?

#129 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 11:48 PM:

Kate "Generous Person" Nepveu:

I haven't been reading this thread, but I take it that Bob has picked up the _Serenity_ tickets that I left him.

Oh, yes. (I didn't email you because I knew you were out of town.) So let me thank you again semi-publicly.
At this very moment, my wife and The Youngest Member are watching the movie. And I'm sure they'll add their thanks when they get back from the showing.

P.S. It occurs to me that "The Justice Building" sounds like something out of DC Comics.

And I hope your family matters turned out ok.

#130 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 11:58 PM:

[lie provided for your entertainment]
The bagels in Mattoon are made from Wonder Bread, Cool Whip, and Salmert Mills Blue Label Corn Starch (tm).

They have holes in them, and they are eaten for breakfast, but other than that, they're not very bagel like.
[/lie provided for your entertainment]

#131 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 12:08 AM:

Lexica, a rather long time ago my lovely husband found a RED t-shirt that had a bloc of text in white on the front that had a "F-word" theme, "F-this and f-that,' whatever imagination allows. Well I was f-that t-shirt afterwards because any of the light things in with it that were lighter ended up with a red/pink tint to it (in that time of our life I probably was been using the laundromat), including a cotton yarn sweater that formerly went with a matching light lemon-yellow skiirt. Both were washed with the f-ng t-shirt, but the skirt was all poly and didn't take up any dye. DAMMIT.

#132 ::: Maggie Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 12:41 AM:

Hello all, but mostly to Kate -
Following up on Bob's post, our daughter and I thank you for the Albany Serenity tickets (she seems to have been the youngest Firefly fan in attendance). We had a great time, and I'm glad that you were able to see it, too. Let me know if you want to compare Serenity notes.
I want to add my best wishes to Bob's for your family matters.

Double eeeeeeee from us!

#133 ::: A Lurker ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 08:34 AM:

Cow orking is a ceremony held on the second Sunday in Advent in the village of Loose Chippings in Devonshire. The lad judged to have presented the best-orked cow may claim a yard of ale at the village inn on every new moon until Lammas.

In its present form the practice only dates to the 19th century, but it is believed to derive from a game played by mediaeval bridegrooms to pass the time until their brides had finished with the droit de seigneur.

#134 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 08:53 AM:

We who are about to dye salute thee, Synthrapol. (It's a concentrated pH-neutral detergent that scavenges up stray dye molecules that haven't properly attached themselves to the intended host fabric; while it's commonly used in hot water as the last stage of tie-dyeing, it also works a treat on suspiciously-colorful new purchases.)

#135 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 11:10 AM:

Dear Oldendorf family: all is well here and I will be posting )Serenity_ comments on my LJ ( later. Glad you had fun.

#136 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 01:27 PM:

Invoking the open thread to bring up a completely new subject:

What in the world is up with yesterday's U.S. Supreme court ruling? The judges voted 5-4 that it was legal for local governments to sieze private property "in the public interest" if that public interest included a new private development that might bring in more local tax revenue.

I'm not surprised that the most conservative judges dissented. This is an issue on which I think the conservatives are right. What amazes me is that all of the "less conservative" judges were in favor. This measure pretty much says that big-money developers' wishes trump previous ownership of property! Heck, forget liberal versus conservative, that's just plain un-American! How could anyone consider this a good thing?

Anyone know of any good blogs or commentators who are discussing this in detail?

#137 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 01:31 PM:

Jimcat -- yuo would probably like Jim Henley's take on this here and here. Personally I am more in line with Scott Lemieux here.

#138 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Or make that, rather, Scott Lemieux here. And edit "yuo" to "you".

#139 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 01:52 PM:

But see also Hawaii Housing Authority et. al. v. Midkiff et. al.. That's the thing about the law: it's hard to keep it from pointing both ways.

#140 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 05:05 PM:

How could anyone consider this a good thing?

Anyone know of any good blogs or commentators who are discussing this in detail?

Someone at Daily Kos was pointing out that there are wingnuts who want to use the concept of "private property" to trump EVERYTHING else: zoning ordinances, environmental protection, etc. (Their theory being that ANY constraint on your property amounts to an illegal 'taking'.)

This decision can be seen as a defeat for them, anyway. But I admit that I'm scratching my head over this decision, too: there's a lot wrong with it, however you look at it.

#141 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 05:26 PM:

Anyone know of any good blogs or commentators who are discussing this in detail?

Define good?

I suspect almost anybody you consider good already you will find good on this issue. The New York Times approves; the Wall Street Journal disapproves; Jerry Pournelle thinks it ought not be Federal issue; Volokh Conspiracy has a shared discussion with legal reasoning on all sides; Mrs. Kim du Toit wants to do a Rachel Corrie with the bulldozers: Daily Kos and Atrios are perhaps equally predictable.

My favorite observation is that the Supreme Court follows the New York Times editorial page.

What do you want?

#142 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 01:16 AM:

What I want is general outrage and a popular uprising against this decision, but I'll settle for intelligent conversation. I was just taken unawares because I hadn't been as obsessively scanning the media as I'm wont to do for the past week or so. Thanks to everyone for the pointers.

#143 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 01:39 AM:

For my time and money Dana Berliner and Scott Bullock, the Institute for Justice lawyers who represented Kelo in the case have been following our discussion, and have asked me to post the following commentary, which criticizes some of our posts and also makes some good points about the case as a whole. .... and Volokh(.com) Conspiracy have the most intelligent - and somewhat dispassionate discussion.

For general outrage see especially Mr. and Mrs. du Toit and links but I wouldn't look for such things around here.

#144 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 03:07 AM:

Happy snoopy-dancing news from the north:

The Globe & Mail version

the CBC version

a visual aid

The funnest part has been reading Mr Harper's reaction to all this. He is not a man who takes being out-manoeuvred like a kid fresh from the farm with anything approaching grace.

Next on the legislative agenda: federally blessed same-sex marriage.

#145 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 04:05 PM:

Being as this blog is about knitting, here's a WashPost story about a gallery show "Not the Knitting You Know" where the gallery is in a law office lobby and one of the artists was required to add fig leaves and a real cod-piece to her work.

#146 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 04:05 PM:

As to Kelo, I would say that the Court's moderates acted judicially and the Court's right wing acted politically. The basic reason, I think, that the court's moderates ruled as they did is that this is already the law, and there's quite a bit of precedent built up around it. When one gets right down to it, the government taking property and inviting a private party to develop it is a use of eminent domain in combination with privatization; it's difficult to see how one could restrict either without radical changes to law and surely such changes are the province of the legislature rather than the courts?

That said, I have never liked the way eminent domain has been applied in these cases, and I think the whole issue is one that deserves re-examination. Currently, public policy has shifted in a way that supports property owners, so that situations like that in Kelo have become rare, but there is no guarantee it will not change again.

A speculative perspective on this, citing a Famous Leftist Source™ can be found in Crooked Timber.

#147 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 08:25 PM:

Further reflections on Kelo v New London. V. brief, as I have to run.

It occured to me that, as renter, this decision is of little personal interest to me, as I can be put out of my dwelling at the landlord's whim. Further reflection led to the following observation: this case is being spun. The spin makes Kelo out to be a representative of the average homeowner but in fact a decision in favor of Kelo would protect mainly landlords, business land-owners, and very rich homewoners, rather than the average citizen.

If there is a "natural" right of dwellers, and I think there might be, a decision in favor of Kelo would not address it. But it does address the property rights of slumlords. If we really want to protect people's rights in their homes we would need a different kind of law.

#148 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 11:03 PM:

I think Boston-area Making Lighters would enjoy The Revels. There's another show Sunday the 26th.

It's a weird cross between a traditional English solstice revels -- Morris dancers, an ox pulling the sun, a mock stage fight between Lord Nelson (as played by a woman) and a fearsome dragon who wants to take the sun -- and, well, something entirely different, with Chinese Lion dancing, Tibetan throat singers, African-American spirituals, and a New Orleans Jazz Band. And you get to sing "Summer is a comin' in."

Get there early; seating space goes fast.

#149 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 01:40 AM:

But it[Kelo] does address the property rights of slumlords.

This implies that slums are never or seldom blight as blight is covered by other statute and case law. Much of the point of Kelo was that slums were not an issue.

#150 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 03:49 AM:

To forecast the impact of Kelo I'd look first to Jane Jacobs writings and some other sources on past takings as justified by blight rather than by public use or necessity.

That is taking blight as the inferior use to be replaced by a superior use, I'd be curious what the people in New York think of the West 41st Street Realty case, a New York appellate court held that the Times Square area of downtown Manhattan was sufficiently “blighted” to justify the use of eminent domain to condemn land needed to build a new headquarters for the New York Times! .... If Times Square and downtown Las Vegas are “blighted,” it is difficult to think of any place that isn’t Somin, Ilya, "Overcoming Poletown: County of Wayne v. Hathcock, Economic Development Takings, and the Future of Public Use" . Michigan State Law Review, p. 1005, 2004

In re W. 41st St. Realty, L.L.C. v. N.Y. State Urban Dev. Corp., 744 N.Y.S.2d 121
(N.Y. App. Div. 2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1191 (2003).

There is an argument that redevelopment hurts renters, e.g.:
A 1994 summary of the evidence on redevelopment takings concludes that: In essence, the powers and internal pressures [of the blight condemnation process]create a mandate to gentrify selected areas, resulting in a de facto concentration of poverty elsewhere, preferably outside the decision makers' jurisdiction. Numerous past experiences indicate that the process has been driven by racial animosity as well as by bias against the poor. The net result is that a neighborhood of poor people is replaced by office towers, luxury hotels, or retail centers. The former low-income residents, displaced by the bulldozer or an equally effective increase in rents, must relocate into another area they can–perhaps–afford. The entire process can be viewed as a strategy of poverty concentration and geographical containment to protect the property values–and entertainment choices–of downtown elites.

Benjamin B. Quinones, Redevelopment Redefined: Revitalizing the Central City with Resident Control, 27 U. MICH. J.L. REFORM, 689, 740-41 (1994)

Looks to me as though when blight is the inferior use the results are dubious - today when any use can be declared inferior by fiat I don't look for nicer more sensitive results. City councils seem to lack the government in the sunshine of town meetings

Public good of course trumps all restraints - see the current Spectator for a nice discussion of taking children from their parents in secret courts for another kind of taking for the public good in another jurisdiction.

#151 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Clark, the practices Jacobs describe have been much reduced, if not completely eliminated, for exactly the reasons you set out. These days, the redevelopment I am familiar with works very hard to treat the poor with respect and integrate low-income housing in mixed-income neighborhoods. In Portland, Oregon, typical low-income housing looks very much like its neighboring structures and is spread through the city, and that is, I believe, now practice throughout the USA.

As to slumlords, while much of what they do violates the law, in practice the enforcement is very poor. If we are serious about thinking of a right to some sort of home for everyone, we must address it directly; a decision in favor of Kelo is not going to do the job.

#152 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 06:11 PM:

The best part of this Onion, Stefan, is the horoscopes.

I'm a Le Guin, which, other than the maternal bits, is pretty accurate.

#153 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 03:27 AM:

Just back from Las Vegas, for the annual conference of the Science Fiction Research Organization. There was a wonderful paper on Firefly, and the parallels between Westerns and SF, immediately before my broader paper on that parallel. I mean a really good paper, by a professor older than me who shares an abiding love for the show. There was anticipation about Serenity.

One of the writer guests of honor, Steven Brust, was tickled when I quoted from "to Reign in Hell" in asking a political question of a panel on which he participated, along with Ursula K. Le Guin, John Barnes, Elizabeth Bear, and Tim Powers. Some time after he strongly praised, to all assembled writers, an editor named Patrick Nielsen Hayden, he wandered off to play some cards, and had the (he said) rare experience of coming up with exactly the right come-back line AT THE TIME, instead of half an hour later, as usual.

He sat down next to a rather drunk older man, drunk enough to be losing, but not so drunk at to threaten to puke on the gaming table, or fall to the floor. After a couple of hands he noticed the piratically dressed Brust, and asked "So what do you do?"

"I'm a writer."

That slowly processed through his brain. A couple of hand went by.

"Okay, whaddaya write?"


This soaked in for a while. You could practically hear the cogs turning.

"What kind of books?"

"Science Fiction and Fantasy."

Another long pause as the wet brain cogitated.

"Do you make a lot of money?"

"Enough to live on... But not enough to date a cocktail waitress."

The dealer dropped his card and LOL.

By the way, at that same panel, one definition concocted for science fiction was that it's one of the rare genres (along with espionage and mystery) where it matters very much what a character knows.

I pointed out that this superficially makes P0rn seem to be anti-science fiction, because it never seems to matter what anyone knows, only that they have bodies. But, as has been discussed on this blog, P0rn is actually a subgenre of science fiction set in an alternate world where human nature is different in certain specific ways.

A journal editor later said, over $12 martinis at Caesar's Palace, that he'd like me to expand that into a short paper for his journal. John Barnes, when I mentioned this, cited Teresa as having written about this on this very blog. Can you help, Teresa, with, of course, full attribution?

There are many more things I could say about this small but intense con (how small? 135 people at the awards banquet), and where it will be held in 2006 (White Plains, NY: "When Genres Collide"), 2007 (not decided, Paris and Poland possible), 2008 (Dublin) and interesting things said, but I'm very sleeply right now, and should read the threads before I stumble in discourse.

Nice to be home.


We don't see it that way, but your view makes sense on its own terms.

#154 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 05:53 AM:

So, I wake up this morning thinking, "Say, didn't the put Al Capone away, in the end, for invading Texas?": ok, a Piers Anthony-level witticism at best; but I'll take what I can get. Off to Google to find out how many others have made this pun before me...

#155 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 05:55 AM:

Hmph... well Google doesn't think many have -- at a cursory scanning I seem to be the first! As I said I'll take what I can get.

#156 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 09:42 AM:

A friend of mine is wondering about the origins of the phrase, "shit-eating grin".

I reckon either the people here know, or no-one does.

#157 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 12:16 PM:

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid:

I don't know. I first became aware of the phrase at Caltech in 1968, where it was politely acronymized as "S.E.G."

But see Norman Mailer's novel ANCIENT EVENINGS (1983), set in ancient Egypt [1290-1100 BC].
In it Norman Mailer tries to deduce the nature of magic from the phrase "eat shit and die."

It was characterized by Anthony Burgess as "one of the great works of contemporary mythopoesis". "Is one human? Or merely alive? Like a blade of grass equal to all existence in the moment it is torn? Yes. If pain is fundament, then a blade of grass can know all there is." [ Ancient Evenings]

He is fascinated by Science Fiction. "Mailer's first literary effort was a 250-page story, which he wrote at the age of nine in notebooks, called 'Invasion From Mars'."

He earned a B.S. from Harvard University, [1939-43] in Aeronautical Engineering. OF A FIRE ON THE MOON [1970] is about the space program, although not an SF novel as such.

#158 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 12:19 PM:

Oh, and to pass on a question from "Henry Babcock" --


I came across your site while trying to find the name of a old sci-fi time travel show. Awesome work!

Perhaps you know the name. It sounds kinda like "Time Tunnel", but the actors don't look right. I was really young when I saw it....

I seem to recall a short bald guy who, as usual, due to some bizarre lab experiment gone wrong, has the ability to travel to different times (parallel universes?), but he cannot interact with these other times/places, except in the cases of extreme emergency where someone is doing something naughty that might screw up the timeline of his present world. I thought it was called something like "The Watcher". Might have been a British show. Definitely from the 50's or 60's. I might have seen it as rebroadcasts when I was a kid in the late 60's early 70's. I can't recall much more; just always remembered it, and now I
want to know the title.

BTW, your descriptions of some of the shows, e.g. "The Man From Atlantis" and "Mork and Mindy", are hilariously accurate.

#159 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 01:56 PM:

Jeremy: You need to write that sf story. You could start your research by reading the reading the Waldrop/Saunders opus Texas-Israeli War: 1999. (Texas secedes from the Union and the US hires Israeli merceneries to go in and get back the oil. It's pretty funny, esp. if you know Texas.)


#160 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 03:22 PM:


I'm very happy that you particled "Life at Low Reynolds Number." I will not make any mathematicophysical comments, except to say that the author was right about almost everything; we know much more now; most Nanotechnology folks don't know this stuff; and "Surface Tension" by James Blish need not be rewritten in the light of modern knowledge.

I do wonder about 4-dimensional life at Low Reynolds Number, but that's way too esoteric for this venue. Am I partly right that this is "cool" for you in a way similar to Fibonacci numbers in flowers? That is, damn the equations, help me love Nature and understand the beauty of flora and fauna, so much more ingenious than most aliens in SF?

#161 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 05:37 PM:

Zombie Dogs!!!!!--THIS IS SO COOL!!!

From the article:

Scientists have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.
Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.

#162 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 07:03 PM:

Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.

Not on this human. Gah.

#163 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 07:14 PM:

Not on this human. Gah.

Hey c'mon, it might be fun -- you'll never know until you try it...

#164 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 07:22 PM:


Thank you for the Eric Van link. The John Clute quotation proves that it is right for this blog, even for the baseball-challenged. I hereby decline to drop Bill James' name, although you know I could. The Dodgers, down 6.5 games from 1st place, show that Sabremetrics and a big budget aren't the whole story. I've tried to get to run a page on "The Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball." It's not clear that Nobel Prizes often go to profound eccentrics for whom numbers have distinct personalities, yet I would love to see Eric Van's Theory of Neurobiology!

#165 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 07:34 PM:

Hey c'mon, it might be fun -- you'll never know until you try it...

Heh. You first. *g*

But seriously, it's not the horrific-sounding process or the being dead part. It's the after waking part when you're sorting through your brain, realizing that you can't recognize faces anymore, or remember your trip to California, or find your way around your hometown, or conjugate the verbs of your second language. They can't ask dogs about these problems.

Gah, again.

#166 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 09:25 PM:

I've found quite a few beautiful skies waiting as light particles around here over the time. Thought you might like these.
Just stumbled upon them.

#167 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 11:27 PM:

MD²: Somehow, this coastal boy cannot believe in those clouds. They certainly were not in any of the books I remember from my childhood fascination with the weather.

#168 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:25 AM:

Y'know, I might just have a picture of some clouds like that... let me dig through my collection and see (after getting some sleep).

Any bets on how long the meteorologist had been without, er, "companionship" when he named those formations?

#169 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 07:33 AM:

Re the zombie dogs -- any word on the speculation that this is a PR stunt orchestrated by Alpo to publicize the unveiling of their new brand, Kibbles 'n' Brains(tm)?

#170 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 07:35 AM:

MD² -- wow, those clouds have a distinctly... mammary appearance...

#171 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 09:33 AM:

Confidential to Gracious Hosts: the Particle link to the books of Helen Bannerman is presently busted.

#172 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 09:56 AM:

Strange, almost everyone I showed the photo has made that "mammary" comment. Oh, and one hanging scrotums also. That's it, I ve just realised: I'm completely lacking in the imagination department (... Nooooooooooooooo can't be true, just give me a little time, let's say five and a half hours, and we'll see if I can't show off some imaginary fit of the mind), that or I'm more impressed by the somehow tubular nature of the clouds formations.
Anyway, in all honesty, I thought some photoshop-editing had been done on those photos, but a quick google schearch convinced me that it was probably me being a bit cynical and not acccepting something that impressive could exist without me ever witnessing... that or there's a definite meteorologist conspiration out there trying to reshape western paradigm (clouds already are an erotic symbol in Chinese culture, if I remember well... next check: how often are Chinese graced by mammatus clouds ?)

#173 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:14 PM:

This story reads like the start of a cutting edge Biology science fiction novel, such as Greg Bear's amazing "Darwin's Radio" --

Caltech to lead designer-immunity project
By Kimm Groshong , Staff Writer
Pasadena Star-News
Monday, June 27, 2005 - 9:00:19 PM PST

"... the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Monday that it will fund 43 research projects at a cost of $437 million to address 14 of the developing world's major scientific challenges."

"Caltech's president and Nobel laureate David Baltimore proposed and will lead one of the radical new projects an attempt to fight HIV with designer molecules, gene therapy and adult stem cells with a $14 million grant over five years."

"... 'A vaccine for HIV has been very difficult to produce and is, of course, extremely important to have,' Baltimore said. 'We got to thinking: If all of the efforts of all the scientific community for 20 years have not been able to produce a vaccine, maybe we should start thinking about this in a new way.'"

"... Baltimore said the project is "nothing short of revolutionary, in some ways,' with some likelihood of failure...."

So the plot elements include the richest man in the world, the revolutionary Nobel laureate scientist who has bested the Senate in controversial hearings, the risky new technology, the famous ultra-science yet wacky/nerdy campus, the heartbreaking scenes of agonizing death in the third world, and then the triumph, with its bizarre side effects, and a suggestion that one is immortality, setting up the sequel.

#174 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:32 PM:

Re the zombie dogs -- any word on the speculation that this is a PR stunt orchestrated by Alpo to publicize the unveiling of their new brand, Kibbles 'n' Brains(tm)?

Mmm... dried C-J prions... ohohohohohohohohoh...

(If the dogs didn't start as zombies, we can give 'em a push in that direction. And the ad copy can include pictures of Lorne Greene again!)

#175 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:54 PM:

And here's another perfect start for a science fiction novel, which even comes with its ready-made title, redolent of Atlanta Nights:

1001 Hawaiian Nights Dedicated To The Cool And The Far Away

"Within our Galaxy, UKIDSS astronomers hope to find new neighbours for our Solar System (even closer than the nearest known star Proxima Centauri) by discovering the first example of a type of star postulated by theorists, called a 'Y dwarf'. Y dwarfs are a type of Brown Dwarf - the 'failed stars' that are too small and cool to ignite and burn their hydrogen gas. The coolest brown dwarfs known have temperatures of 600K (over 300ºC), but theorists predict that there should be a missing link between these brown dwarfs and the cooler gas giant planets like Jupiter, which has a temperature of 150K (about -120ºC). Y dwarfs are that missing link, but because they are so cool and faint, they have never been seen before...."

#176 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 02:56 PM:

MD² says: Strange, almost everyone I showed the photo has made that "mammary" comment. Oh, and one hanging scrotums also.

My photography teacher called himself an anti-abstractionist saying, "a banana is just a banana!" If any student ever hinted that a banana might have associations with anything not-banana (especially without context), my teacher would stomp around, puff on his hand-rolled cigarette, and mutter, "It's Jesus in a torilla, man. Jesus in a tortilla."

#178 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 07:41 PM:

CD quotes James Nicoll:

There may be an open body of liquid on Titan after all.

Uh-oh. Someone left the lid up.

#179 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 08:09 PM:

Wow, everybody go download Google Earth -- this is one of the coolest new toys to come along in forever.

#180 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 08:11 PM:

And once again I post my cool new find on the Open Thread, then go take a look at the front page and find that Patrick had already Sidelighted it...

#181 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 08:12 PM:

They're deploying the noosphere, is what they're doing!

#182 ::: Jeff Allen ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 11:00 PM:

So, long-time-reader, etc. Love what you've done with the place recently. Here's my thing.

Thinking of a book I read as a kid (am now 28). Boy makes a deal/bet with the devil. Result: boy loses his smile/laugh, but can never lose a bet. Yada-yada-yada, happy ending. Have googled & ebay-ed all appropriate words/phrases with no joy. Please help. I might actually be losing sleep over this.

By the by, JVP & JMF (John M Ford) give good post always. Thanks.

#183 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 12:50 AM:

Re: Zombie Dogs

They say no sign of brain damage, but I find myself with Michelle DB -- I find it hard to imagine going through that process without losing something of the essential self. In a word, squick.

Then again, I'm more spiritual than scientific. I have my as-usual-inadequately-informed opinions on faith and spirit.

Sure, in my stories, the soul and the body can be parted, and come back together without too much trauma -- but I'm writing fiction where an alert goddess can prevent the usual results of a more advanced culture meeting a less advanced (Including the germ factor), where humans are descended from selkies, who are descended from a kind of semi-aquatic bear-ape. I *know* I'm writing huge whoppers.

#184 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 01:03 AM:

People who are really interested in zombie dogs should go pick up a copy of Bad Magic.

#185 ::: Jonathan Frankenstein Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 02:19 AM:

Lenora Rose:

"Sure, in my stories, the soul and the body can be parted, and come back together without too much trauma..." is at least trying to break the shackles of:

Mind-body duality: born of Rene Descarte's agony, unmothered, unloved, beaten by teachers, staring at the tortured Christ on a cross, and inventing a cross of two numerical axes, Cartesian Geometry, the marriage of algebra and geometry, yet unloved, lonely, unable to cope with his pain, and so inventing a philosophy based on doubt rather than faith, based on separating mind (free) from body (suffering) -- and Western philosophy is only beginning to recover.

If there is no soul, nothing is divided from anything when the dog dies and is revived.

Not that I'm volunteering, you understand?

#186 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 05:25 AM:

Jeff Allen -- I believe I've seen a film or TV adaptation of whatever story you're talking about. Don't know what it is any better than that, though. Searching IMDB by keyword hasn't turned up anything.

#187 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 05:42 AM:

Got it:

Timm Thaler, released in the UK as "The Legend of Tim Tyler" or "The Boy Who Lost His Laugh".

Based on a novel by James Krüss.

#188 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 05:46 AM:

Lenora: There've been brain damages, according to the actual abstract. I'm not quite awake enough to calculate the brain damage ratio, but there's some.

#189 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 07:58 AM:

Today's Guardian has an intriguing article by actor Simon Callow about the British Museum's upcoming Kabuki Heroes exhibition, which opens on June 30th. During the eighteenth century, the rival kanbuki stars Rikan and Shikan had legions of dedicated admirers, who pioneered fandom as we now know it:

It is a vivid story, which wonderfully humanises the kabuki theatre. But its abiding glory is the outpouring of full-colour wood-block prints, commissioned and in some cases executed by their fans, which record their performances, their personalities, their world. The sheer beauty of much of this material, along with the scrapbooks and the fanzines, immortalises the fans as much as the actors, offering an illuminating model of the modern cult of celebrity, where the ostensible object of adoration or fascination is merely a pretext for the creativity and projection of the fan. At many levels, Kabuki Heroes is a sensational event.

#190 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 08:54 AM:

Regarding the zombie dogs and applying the dead/revived experiment to humans, one would think that the process would be applied in emergency situations, like to someone who will die without a new organ, currently unavailable.

A situation like that, where the person has nothing to lose, would I think be an appropriate test case.

#191 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 09:07 AM:

Michelle K says: A situation like that, where the person has nothing to lose, would I think be an appropriate test case.

Of course, Michelle, that's gotta be it.

I have to laugh at myself, because the only application I was thinking of was as a way of preserving the body during slower-than-light interstellar travel.

#192 ::: Jeff Allen ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 01:16 PM:

Never thought to look for adaptations. Clever, clever. Thanks a bunch!

#193 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 01:25 PM:

michelle db:

One of my unpublished novelettes, written roughly 20 years ago, opens with the protagonist complaining that being killed for interstellar transport is easy; it's being brought back to life that hurts. He's resurrected on a Heaven craft, by an Angel nurse. And the entire novelette is structured by each chapter expanding on a line from "The Waking" by Theodore Roethke.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow....

#194 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 06:58 PM:

The zombie dog article is a lot of fun, but the article is worth reading through to the end.

What the scientists have REALLY done (if it pans out in further testing) is invented a form of suspended animation. Remove the blood, replace it with chilled saline solution, and replace the blood hours later. Dog gets up and is apparently fine.

So far, they've only done it for a few hours, so don't start packing for your stl trip to Tau Ceti just yet.

However, the treatment does have exciting implications for major surgery. Deep anesthesia is pretty risky stuff, with resultant brain damage, and if this treatment proves safer and easier, that's a win-win.

I'm reminded of a "Voyager" episode where an alien suffers a crisis of faith when he's brought back from the dead but has no memory of an afterlife. He was medically dead for several minutes, but was brought back by an experimental procedure. The entire episode suffered from massive idiot-plotting: NOBODY thought to tell this alien that he WASN'T DEAD. Death is, by definition, the place from which there is (barring the possibility of reincarnation) no return; if you come back, that means you weren't dead after all. No crisis of faith necessary.

#195 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2005, 08:27 PM:

Jonathan, I re-read Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds a few months ago. The "revival amnesia", suffered temporarily by some and permanently by others, presented as a side effect of interstellar travel is what came to mind. These things are a hot emotional button for me, given my own neurological challenges.

#196 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2005, 01:31 AM:

I hope it isn't too late to post on this thread, as it seems to be the best place for this.
Knitting wank reported on Fandom Wank:
The crochet wank is also of potential interest:

#197 ::: Naomi Parkhurst sees a spam onslaught ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 01:31 PM:

someone named "friv", which sounds like it ought to be a curse word in some language or another.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.