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October 7, 2005

Open thread 51
Posted by Teresa at 01:08 PM *

Because #50 now has more than three hundred messages. Hi, guys! We’ll be coming home soon.

Meanwhile:
Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.) Is planning a ban on smut.
Oh, rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverent occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l—ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We’ll all be Kansas
By and by. —Ogden Nash, “Invocation,” 1931*
Comments on Open thread 51:
#1 ::: Patrick Connors Reports A Bug ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Weird: The date on this thread is Sept. 27.

#2 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 02:29 PM:

That it is. And my RSS aggregator didn't even pick up Open Thread #50 until this one came along and dislodged it.

#3 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 03:43 PM:

Space-time continuum restored. Will soon be plenty to see here, please move along.

Paratime Custodial Services

#4 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 03:48 PM:

Apologies if this has been posted before, but here are Coyote's Ten Commandments.

#5 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:10 PM:

In a fight between Smoot-Hawley and Sarbanes-Oxley, who'd win?

#6 ::: Emphyrio ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Theresa, I'm writing a post referencing your famous post about the business scam where the crooks "buy" a sound business (owner-financed), run up incredible bills for items that disappear, and abscond themselves when the business is hollowed out and crushed by debt.

What was that again? I'd like to link to it.

#7 ::: Emphyrio ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:27 PM:

Apologies for the misspelling.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 04:31 PM:

I thought that one of Coyote's commandments was "If you can't eat it of f*** it, pee on it so no one else can."

But that might have been from LevityCuss.

*** You see, 'kay?

#9 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:31 PM:

Josh Jasper: In a fight between Smoot-Hawley and Sarbanes-Oxley, who'd win?

Well, last time I checked, Sarbanes & Oxley are still alive, so that gives them an edge.

If you string the four names together, it sounds like a WASPy law firm.

#10 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:38 PM:

Random brain-fart, cross-posted from my own blog comments:

Given all the shit stirred up by the Mundane SF Manifesto, and given that all good SF movements (especially controversial ones) require a vehemently opposed, er, opposition, it seems to me that it behooves us to write a manifesto for an anti-Mundane movement.

I hereby volunteer the name "Dieselpunk".

Dieselpunk isn't Infernokrusher; you can write Dieselpunk that is functionally mundane SF. The key to Dieselpunk is that it's intermediate technology SF -- SF with mid-twentieth-century engineering values. The iconic power plant would be the Napier Nomad, an afterburning two-stroke supercharged diesel engine; representing as it does the ungainly chasm between black soot-spouting Victoriana and sleek turbocharged modernism, this hapless dromedary of an aviation powerplant drives us headlong into a future populated by such weirdness as airliners descended from the Convair B-36, over-the-counter heroin™, and of course a self-contained nuclear powered version of the Bagger 288. "Sky Captain" might well be the prototypical Dieselpunk movie; Albert Speer designed the monumental architecture: and Thomas Dolby wrote the soundtrack ("She Blinded me with Science", "The Golden Age of Wireless", "Budapest by Blimp" ...)

The DP manifesto should ideally result, if followed, in a form of fiction that matches the requirements of mundane SF while being, like, fantastical and fun to read.

We can have custard pie fights at conventions ...

Any takers?

#11 ::: Anders Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:48 PM:

A ban on smut? The horror!

#12 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:58 PM:

"We can have custard pie fights at conventions ..."

Ever clean up after one of those?

#13 ::: Charity ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:07 PM:

Stefan: it's not so bad if you're allowed to use tongues.

Uh oh, I better hide from Smoot et al.

#14 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:12 PM:

Charlie, I think that's better known as Brezhnev-era Soviet literature.

Still, better than chickenhawkpunk.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:17 PM:

What would happen if an open thread started numbering over 400 posts? Is this one of those flaws with database design where, when you test a program with a small-sized data pool, everything is OK, but reach beyond a certain size and everything will pretty much freezes up?

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:19 PM:

"it's not so bad if you're allowed to use tongues."

On a hotel carpet? Custard pies are not precision munitions . . .

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:20 PM:

Charlie (if I may call you that way)... When is Accelerando coming out in paperback? I read those great reviews in places like Locus then I found that it's a hardcover. Argh.

#18 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Serge: July next year. But you don't have to wait.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Chickenhawkpunk?

One thing I never understood is calling 'chickenhawk'someone who's a big supporter of wars as long as he/she doesn't risk having to actually wage war.

Why is that? Well, remember those old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons from Warner Bros? He often tricked a very young and very small hawk, self-described as a chickenhawk, into thinking that this BIG dog yonder really was a chicken. And the little guy went after the big dog.

#20 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Serge -- no, it just gets cumbersome to read and slow to load.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:40 PM:

That 's happened to me too, Jeremy. It's like early this year when I spent weeks setting up a bunch of programs, tested them to take out all goofups. I then moved everything to the superduper test environment and the programs were now crawling. I basically had to rewrite the programs. Not a total waste of time, but...

#22 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Serge, a chickenhawk is an older person who turns runaway kids into child prostitutes. They suffer and he collects his pimp money.

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Thanks, Charlie. I may go for that, but of course I'd buy an actual copy of the book. Does it look like the honor system actually works? I certainly hope so.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:43 PM:

Huh, Harry? I've never come across that use in North-America. Is that a British use for 'chickenhawk'?

#25 ::: Joe ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 06:54 PM:

errr... Rhyming hurts

#26 ::: Rich Magahiz ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 07:19 PM:

I'm jonesing for a TNH garden report, please.

#27 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 07:26 PM:

Serge, you must not watch cop TV shows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickenhawk_%28sexuality%29 mentions this usage briefly.

That doesn't mean the political meaning of the word comes from the runaway/prostitution meaning. It might just be a fun thing to say.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 07:54 PM:

Hmm... I watch Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent, and I used to watch Law & Order until Jerry Orbach died, but I don't remember ever hearing the expression in that context. Well, I guess that meaning of 'chickenhawk' could apply to our warmongers.

#29 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:05 PM:

The sexual-predation meaning of "chickenhawk" goes back to the Seventies, and seems to have originated on the US West Coast, specifically in LA.* There's some evidence that it also meant "pro-war, as long as someone else does the actual dying" during Vietnam -- Wikipedia has a long entry, which is interesting more for what it displays about the strengths and faults of the wiki system; lots of contributions by people who are highly knowledgeable, along with some doo-doo from doo-doo heads. (Favorite being the guy who doesn't know the difference between entomology and etymology.**)

*This leads into Jackson Browne lyrics, but it's a long story.

**With West Nile out there, can it be long before the gummint calls for the abnihilization of the entom?

#30 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:24 PM:

Confusion is understandable if you're trying to understand Treebeard's lecture on the taxonomy of insect names.

#31 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:33 PM:

Emphyrio, the blow-out post is here, and there's another nice piece on the same idea here.

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 08:49 PM:

"*This leads into Jackson Browne lyrics, but it's a long story."

As a confirmed Jackson Browne fan of long standing, I'd like to hear that story.

#33 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:13 PM:

As this is an open thread... Has anyone else read the latest Discworld book? "Where's my Cow?"

We were laughing out loud in the book store. I particularly like the award listed on the cover.

#34 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:15 PM:

Serge, a chickenhawk is an older person who turns runaway kids into child prostitutes. They suffer and he collects his pimp money.

Uhhhh...no. A chickenhawk is a guy who chases sexually mature, but legally underage boys ("chicken"). This is different from a pedophile, who chases actual children, often without regard to their sex. At the sleazy end they'd be the customers of your pimp, but that use of 'chickenhawk' is simply incorrect by anything I know.

#35 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:29 PM:

I've spent the past week watching Firefly episodes. Had never seen them til the Serenity movie got me motivated. I am absolutely charmed. And despondent that there probably will be no more. how can they do that? I still want the back story on the romance between Zoe and Wash and more on Book's background and tons of other stuff. If you could make another episode, what would you want it to be about?

#36 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:34 PM:

Linkmeister: Browne's "Boulevard" has the lines

Down at the Golden Cup
They set the young ones up

...which refers to the Gold Cup coffee shop in LA, which was a prominent location for the activity (which, as Xopher notes, is picking up rather than pimping the lads, though the lyric doesn't make that clear).

Sometimes I fret over the stuff that's rattling around in my head.

#37 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 09:37 PM:

Attention typophiles: Cheshire Dave has produced his second feature, Etched in Stone. It's a QuickTime movie, and a little long, but don't miss the credits.

If you don't know his first masterpiece, catch up now: Behind the Typeface: Cooper Black.

#38 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:01 PM:

Xopher, the term has both meanings. I can understand that you haven't heard it before, but it's true.

#39 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:34 PM:

Serge: One thing I never understood is calling 'chickenhawk'someone who's a big supporter of wars as long as he/she doesn't risk having to actually wage war.

It's just that simple. Yes, there is a bird called a 'chickenhawk' -- but as a political label, it's not derived from the small raptor, but from "chicken" + "hawk" : one who is in favor of a war, as long as they themselves are not placed in any danger.

#40 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 10:44 PM:

Harry: as Terry Pratchett pointed out, dead people have considerable advantages over live people in anything dangerous; see, e.g., zombie steeplejacks.

The commandments are fun, but they leave out Coyote's first lesson (which is going to be a button sometime): "The Great Spirit is not a shitter." (See Coyote Blue, IMO the best thing Christopher Moore has done.)

#41 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:15 PM:

hrc -

Yeah, now you know how I felt two years ago. I loved Serenity, but part of me is still sad that Whedon couldn't continue his story through TV, in such a way that I could spend an hour (or 42 minutes) a week with that crew.

If I won the metaphysical lottery and could grant Joss 4 more seasons to explore his universe, I would like to know more about Inara - why, exactly, did she condescend to join such a questionable crew? What was she running from?

Also, I'd like to know who Vera was, before she was a gun.

Oh, and I'd make Jewel Staite gain back that 15 pounds.

But you know what they say.... if wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak.

#42 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:43 PM:

But you know what they say.... if wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak.

I consider myself reasonably to obsessively well read, and I can't even parse that "saying".

I humbly ask for a clarification.

#43 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 11:56 PM:

Ah, it's just a direct quote from Jayne, the resident Big Dumb Brute of Firefly/Serenity. I believe the original cliche was something like "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

My other favorite Jayne line also makes little sense to those who haven't seen the series; "...that's why I never kiss 'em on the mouth!"

Sorry for the interruption - I'll just be giggling quietly in the corner!

#44 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:08 AM:

So far I've missed radishes as the source of Doozer construction material, and now a quote from "Firefly". Clearly my DVD rememberizer unit is on the fritz today.

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:08 AM:

From AP via Earthlink (this really belongs somewhere else, but I don't know which thread it should go into):

Engineers: New Cause of New Orleans Flood
October 07, 2005 8:33 PM EDT
NEW ORLEANS - Much of the city flooded not because water rushed over the tops of levees, but because two of the storm barriers that ring New Orleans actually shifted and then collapsed, a team of independent engineers said Friday.

The preliminary analysis contradicts initial reports by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which said water may have pushed over the top of the levees, eroding the earthen embankments that support the flood walls.

The independent engineers said the shifting of the barriers was understandable and did not assign blame or speculate about design flaws that the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina may have exposed.

"Levees tend to be built in very difficult situations on poor site conditions because you're essentially turning marshy land into land you can stabilize and do things on," said civil engineering professor Raymond Seed, who led a team from the University of California at Berkeley.

The California team worked with the American Society of Civil Engineers and Army engineers for several days this week before releasing the findings. More research is planned.

===
It goes on to say that part of one of the levees was moved thirty-five feet. That's impressive.

#46 ::: Jesse ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:46 AM:

Does the "PBF Easter Bunny" particle lead to where it is supposed to? I figured it was a Perry Bible Fellowship cartoon, maybe, but the link left me a bit confused.

#47 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:20 AM:

Sometimes I fret over the stuff that's rattling around in my head.

You play it on guitar?

#48 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:28 AM:

I went to the US Coast & Geodetic Survey looking for information about the earthquake in Pakistan, and found instead this utter obscenity:

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1004

Geospatial Consolidation Begins: USGS’ Public-Private Competition official
Released: 10/4/2005 7:24:48 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Denver Makle - dmakle@usgs.gov
Phone: 703-648-4732

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The USGS announced today the start of the public-private competition that will determine current and future functions; and the number of personnel required by the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC) at the Denver Federal Center, an all government campus, located in Lakewood, Colo.

Official notification has been posted in Fed Biz Opps. The study will be completed within 12 months.

The study was informally announced, Sept. 15 when the USGS communicated intentions to consolidate the functions and operations currently performed at its mapping centers and other distributed sites to the Denver Federal Center, in Lakewood, Colo.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

Yeah, sure, accurate reliable available information, I'm surprised it's not moving to Rick Santorum's home state and being handed over to a newly created branch of AccuWeather or Halliburton or some such, which will make sure that only information that has been edited to fit Republicrap propaganda and is available to the public for subcription via private industry sellers only....

BUSH OUT NOW!!!! And all his "initiatives," too, AND every court appointment he has made be nullified!


#49 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:46 AM:

Thanks for the clarification about the Browne lyric; that one went completely over my head when I heard the song.

#50 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 02:19 AM:

And the latest hackorama news,

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsChannel.aspx?type=politicsNews

Bush's pick for Justice Dept. job withdraws name

Fri Oct 7, 2005 5:12 PM ET

By James Vicini
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Timothy Flanigan, who faced more questions from Senate Democrats about his links with indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has withdrawn his nomination for the Justice Department's No. 2 job, according to a letter to President George W. Bush released on Friday.

Flanigan, a senior lawyer for Tyco International Ltd. who had been chosen by Bush in May to be deputy attorney general, cited the continuing uncertainty over when he might be confirmed...

Tyco, that's the company that had the CEO and at least one executive living lifestyles of the rich and corrupt, who are now inmates with years of jail time ahead of them. Someone having been a lawyer at Tyco is not much of a recommendation, even without the Abramoff additional taint.

========

In another branch of the government, a second person resigned from FDA activities proteting the (mis)handling of the drug Plan B, which an advisory panel recommended overwhelming for over the counter availability.


#51 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 03:46 AM:

Ncellist: Those are excellent questions that need answerin' Another one for me is what exactly is the background of the Shepherd, Book?

And I'd like to meet Jayne's mother sometime.

#52 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 07:05 AM:

I have blogged a fair amount of detail on the 7.6 magnitude earthquake centered near Islamabad: http://www.kathryncramer.com/kathryn_cramer/2005/10/my_kids_meet_wo.html

#53 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 07:08 AM:

Ooops. Wrong URL. It's HERE (http://www.kathryncramer.com/kathryn_cramer/2005/10/islamabad_earth.html)

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 07:46 AM:

Moving to Denver?

Does the USGS know something about sea levels and global warming that we don't?

#55 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 08:43 AM:

Bird Flu Spreads to Romania.

They're not sure that it's the H5N1 strain yet, but it's knocking on the gates of the EU.

#56 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 08:56 AM:

I thought Jayne was talking about horse steaks (they're expensive, but surely once he joined Mal's crew he'd have some real ill-gotten gains...) And Book has a conversation with Mal in the movie that cleared his origins right up, for me anyway.

#57 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 09:26 AM:

I made a guess about Book's past based on that conversation as well. That and the incident from Firefly with his ID card and the result it produced.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 09:37 AM:

Speaking of Firefly/Serenity... The other day my wife and I were watching an episode of Canadian cop/coroner show Da Vinci's Inquest. I understand that this show has been going on since about 1998, and that this was one of the early episodes. Anyway, there was this scene where the main character is having the 'talk' with his 17-year-old daughter. My wife says that the girl looks like Serenity's mechanic. I stare for 5 secs and pointed out that it actually was her. Heck, she looks exactly the same as soon, same hair style, same voice.

Where would I have taken Firefly if it had gone on? I don't know. But yes, I would have done more with Inara.

About Jayne... He's pretty much the crew's Dr.Smith, but with a rocket launcher. And yet, late in the movie, when they're about to crash, Mal tells them to strap down, and Jayne makes sure everyone is properly secured before taking care of himself.

Back to Da Vinci, one of the main characters is this old cop. And I thought he too looked very familiar. Canadians posting on this site might be able to confirm: he was the main guy in 1977's Sidestreet, wasn't he?

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 10:00 AM:

Sort of going back to Talk-like-a-pirate Day... John had suggested that what we have come to think of as piratical talk came from an early Fifties movie about Blackbeard. Still one wonders why the actor himself chose to talk like that. A friend from the USA currently in London commented on her site that people over there have a tendency to drop the R's at the end of words. I then asked her about Talk-like-a-pirate and the obligatory "arrr!". Here's what someone posted in response:

"Pirate" is an exaggerated version of South West English dialects, in which the "R"s are most definitely still pronounced. Most of the pirates came from that part of the country, because it had the best access to the Atlantic. The speech of those parts was heavilty influential on many American dialects, for the same reason.

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 10:22 AM:

When I was growing up in Quebec City, I found myself in the enviable position of having access to lots of British adventure shows that nobody in the USA appears to have heard of. Anyway, it IS starting to look like Christmas. I just found that one of my favorites of that era has been released in DVD. Ladies and gents, I give you The Champions.

#61 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:00 AM:

(I can't remember if I posted this here or not - I know I sent it to someone, apologies if here!)

Serge: The problem is, there's still a big gap between "seafarers talking West Country" and "Robert Newton picking up the accent". The best "re-discoveror" candidate I've found was Jeffrey Farnol, a rather prolific novelist c.1910-50 (among other things, he and Heyer apparently set off the Regency romance genre). It seems, though I haven't been able to check this, that he was the first person of recent years to start portraying sailors of the period with That Dialect. Prior to this, fiction and films alike seemed to just use conventional English.

Then again, Newton was born in Dorset, and had played a Cornish wrecker on film before; it could just have been him hamming it up with an accent he knew well rather than any intended "accuracy". He died fifty years ago, sadly, so who can say?

#62 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:41 AM:

Speaking of pirates, I was at the library last Sat and picked up this fantasy book Fitcher's Brides. How nice to see PNH's name in the dedication and cannot wait to start it this weekend.

Back to Serenity: Kevin Drum at washington monthly has a note that mentions that Joss Whedon made the movie under budget to make a point. He's a fan of the movie and reviewed it last week.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:52 AM:

Good point about pirates, Andrew. I wonder though if Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribeans might have been influenced by Newton's movie. More people know of that ride, or have been on it (yours truly included), than they do of the movie. But that would still make Newton into the First Cause.

#64 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:54 AM:

Saw Serenity last night, never having seen Firefly. Loved it. I am in love with Jayne.

#65 ::: Alexis ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:11 PM:

The speech of those parts was heavilty [sic] influential on many American dialects, for the same reason.

This may be true, but it's also the case that during the early settlement of the colonies, most of Britain still pronounced the r's. R-loss in Britain has been a gradual process, started sometime in the 18th century.

#66 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:52 PM:

Chickenhawk: In the political arena, I took the word apart, as in a chicken masquerading as a hawk. In the sexual arena, that same practice works, as in a hawk masquerading as nothing more than a barnyard chicken.

#67 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:53 PM:

on another note, hilzoy over at Obsidian wings thinks TNH should have been nominated for the Ig Noble prize in literature for her poem last summer:

obsidian wings

#68 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Lila,

Saw Serenity last night, never having seen Firefly. Loved it. I am in love with Jayne.

Get "Firefly" and watch "Arial" and then see if you still feel the same.

You might. My husband really likes Jayne, despite "Arial," and would like to go around saying "No ruttin' way" all the time.

#69 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:11 PM:

The important thing about Jayne is the _arc_ that "Ariel" is the keystone of, not just "Ariel." Watching that out of context is no good.

I didn't like Jayne at the start of the show and ended up really enjoying his character.

#70 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:13 PM:

I think that person and the one who seconded it, don't comprehend what the IgNobles are supposed to be for. Sigh.

Hey idiots, what Teresa did is called -satire-.... They are of the same ilk of the people who were citing Augustine's Law about Based on straight line projection of the cost for fighter planes, in the year 2020 there will be one fighter plane in the US military inventory, the Air Force will have it for half the year, the Navy for the other half the year, and the Marines will have it on leap days" as critique by an external observer and critic, when Norman Augustine actually was the Ultimate Defense Contractor Insider--someone who had spent time working for the government I think, and rose from engineer through engineering manager to President of Martin-Marietta and presided over the merging of Martin-Marietta and Lockheed into Lockheed-Martin, largest defense contractor in the USA, as CEO.

Gobble, gobble, gobble....

#71 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 01:54 PM:

Kate Nepveu,

I enjoy Jayne's character--"Jaynestown" is my second favorite episode, though the fact that "Arial" comes AFTER "Jaynestown" shows that Jayne still didn't get it--but as much as I like watching Jayne, I don't think he's anyone I'd want to have to deal with in real life.

#72 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 02:29 PM:

Serge: Yeah, Newton as Long John (and to a lesser extent, later as Blackbeard) seems to be the proximate cause of this - I think it shot into popular culture (ie, every other pirate movie) from him in 1950, and thence through Disney again, and PotC as you say - bear in mind his Treasure Island was a Disney version itself! It's just interesting to try and figure out how he got it.

I guess the thing to do would be read a bundle of pulp pirate stories from about 1880 to 1940, and see when it started appearing as a cliché... when I have a spare year, perhaps.

#73 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 02:31 PM:

Paula, I think hilzoy knew very well what it was about--the Ig nobles that is--and she was trying to make a joke. But obviously humor is in short supply in places.

#74 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 03:02 PM:

My roommate is in love with Jayne as well, and it's kind of disturbing.

Actually, Adam Baldwin brought as much to that role as Joss - Baldwin was the one who decided that Jayne likes women. All of them. As Gina Torres says, "...Jayne loves women. Maybe not in the way we want to be loved all the time but he loves them all equally... whores, girls, he loves them all."

There are moments in the series and film where he won't listen to Mal, but he will listen to Zoe. And don't forget in "Heart of Gold", where he dressed in his finest to go meet the whores. (yes, I consider this pro-chick, and kind of charming.) In the film, V qba'g guvax vg jnf na nppvqrag gung ur jnf gur bar gb pnyy sbe fuhggvat bss gur ivq bs gur jbzna ba Zvenaqn. (that was hardly a spoiler, but I want to be careful!)

No, it doesn't make redeem him and make him a saint, and unless I were Zoe, I wouldn't want to have him around, but it at least it kept Jayne from being your typical Big Scary Guy With Gun. Joss has also noted that Jayne is the "greek chorus", who says what the audience and other characters are thinking.

He's a pit bull, but he's pretty well trained.

As for Book, I think the couple of lines from the series and the film establish enough - that Book has a pretty dark past (V crefbanyyl guvax ur jnf na bcrengvir.) But I am just as interested in how and why he became a Shepherd.

And may I say that between Sereity and the linguistics of pirates, this thread reminds me of why I love Making Light!

#75 ::: Alexis Duncan ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 03:55 PM:

There's a new thread at Pandagon about disemvowelling. So far, a couple of ex-Making Light/Electrolite trolls have surfaced to complain about the technique, amusingly enough.

#76 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 04:07 PM:

A chickenhawk - the bird - preys on chickens, right? The sexual meaning comes from this, I suspect. The military meaning presumably comes from pro-war (hawk) + cowardly (chicken) - but someone said that already.

As for pirates, I understood that Robert Newton came from Bristol, where the accent is at least vaguely similar to the traditional pirate accent (only toned down a lot). Possibly he just chose an accent he was familiar with; or maybe he knew about the seafaring (and piratical) traditions of Bristol and the south west. But isn't the locus classicus of all this Stevenson's Long John Silver? Squire Trelawney at least has a stereotypically Cornish name.

I can't remember whether Stevenson gave Long John Silver a west country accent or not, and the only quote I can find online (with my dial-up) is: "And now, shipmates, this black spot? ‘Tain’t much good now, is it? Dick’s crossed his luck and spoiled his Bible, and that’s about all" (Ch. XXIX, p. 289).

Mind you, that site also features an ad asking if I'd like to invite Robert Louis Stevenson to speak at my next meeting. I sure would, but I doubt he would turn up.


#77 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 04:18 PM:

candle: There's lots of stereotyped speech in Treasure Island (of the "The lubbers is going about to get the wind of me this blessed moment ... I'm not afraid on 'em. I'll shake out another reef, matey, and daddle 'em again." variety), but not much in the way of actual "Arr, Jim lad, thar she be" - it's sort of half there. Archaic, yes, blatantly West Country somewhat less so. Plenty of ayes, but that doesn't say much.

(Not a "scurvy" anywhere, either. Wonder when that joined the set?)

#78 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 04:29 PM:

Michelle K, my copy of Where's My Cow? came today and I don't think I've ever seen a book with the OOK! Children's Winner of the Ankh-Morpork Librarians Award before. (Gold medallion, two partially unpeeled bananas)

#79 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 04:44 PM:

Marilee,

I *know* I haven't seen that award before. It was the deciding factor on whether I really wanted to buy the book.

nerdycellist,

I don't think Jayne is anti-woman, (though he didn't seem opposed to treating Saffron as property). I just wouldn't want to have to deal with him.

And now I really don't want to wait until tomorrow before we go see "Serenity" again. (sigh)

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 05:21 PM:

Not one "scurvy" In Treasure Island, Andrew? No timber-shivving either?

According to Amazon, Blackbeard was released on DVD in July 2003. But also according to Amazon, the DVD will come out at the end of this month. Either way, it costs about $15. I'' subtly suggest it to my wife as an Xmas present.

You know, it'd be neat if someone made a movie out of Tim Powers's On Stranger Tides. On the other hand, people would think it's a ripoff of Johnny Depp's own piratical adventures.

#81 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 05:50 PM:

Serge: At least in the Gutenberg version, not a scurvy or beliking (or even a splicing) in the lot. Six shiverings of timber, though (and, oddly, one shaking), three messmates (none hearty), and four keelhaulings (though it should really only count for two). Some in, some out... I wonder if I can persuade an aimless literature student that tracking this stuff through the turn of the century is worthwhile. Heh heh heh.

Incidentally, I recommend you find a copy of George Macdonald Fraser's Pyrates, if you haven't read it before; you'd probably like it. A wonderful pastiche of the entire genre.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 06:02 PM:

Thanks for the recommendation, Andrew. I'll look for it when I'm done with Quicksilver. I think my wife also has Captain Blood and/or The Sea Hawk. So many books, so little time...

And my many thanks for your own answer, candle.

Can anybody remember how Albert Salmi played that Long John Silver character in Lost in Space? Probably sounded like your standard Albert Salmi. I seem to also remember Malachi Throme playing Blackbeard's Ghost in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Both of these confirm that, thru his various shows, the late Irwin Allen was trying to tell us that the Universe is a Loony House.

#83 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Re the sexual meaning of "chickenhawk"--I suspect the term "chicken" for underage male prostitute has something to do with it.

Re Jayne--well, of course I have seen only the movie, but when I tell you that I have previously fallen in love with Severus Snape, Methos (of Highlander fame) and several of Steven Brust's protagonists (especially James Cobbham), you will perhaps detect a pattern ....

I think it may have something to do with wanting them on MY side.

#84 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 06:58 PM:

Mind you, that site also features an ad asking if I'd like to invite Robert Louis Stevenson to speak at my next meeting. I sure would, but I doubt he would turn up.

Tired of Celebrity No-Shows?
Call The Commendatore
On Time And Ready to Party Since 1787
Dateless? Ask for Elvira*

*probably not the one you are thinking of, but still darn cute

#85 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 07:36 PM:

Not because it had to be done, but because one could:

http://googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=Smoot-Hawley&word2=Sarbanes-Oxley

#86 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 08:05 PM:

I was working on an infernokrusher story this afternoon, mostly shredding pages and stubbing out matches on misplaced punctuation marks, when it occured to me to wonder: do "Roy Orbisson in Cling Film" stories qualify as slipstream or do they require a genre all their own?

#87 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 10:54 PM:

Rejected by McSweeney's "Lists", so I'm posting it here:

Suggested Names for Intelligent Design Bills:

Trofim's Law

Global Laughingstock Initiative

No Child Left Secular

Equal Time for Unbelievable Bullshit Measure

Last Nail in the Coffin for Public Education Act

Irreducible Complexity Sophistry Initiative

Created for Excellence and Metric Elimination Bill

National Irrelevance Act

#88 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:23 PM:

Grr, Stefan, I nearly had to clean off the computer screen!

Regarding the IgNobles--they seems to have mutated somewhat in intent over the years, alas. Mea culpa.

#89 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:32 PM:

I noticed today that an unrequited seeker after consolation might voice the following complaint: "There's no 'there there' there!"

Here is the earworm for today:
Maybelle Carter is singing,


Chewin' chawin' gum,
Chawin' chewin' gum.

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2005, 11:56 PM:

GOOD LORD!

All Quiet on the Smurfy Front.

'The people of Belgium have been left reeling by the first adult-only episode of the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The short but chilling film is the work of Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, and is to be broadcast on national television next week as a campaign advertisement.'

I vaquely recall people dressed as "smurf slayers" gadding about at conventions. Little did they know their fondest dreams would someday be realized . . .

#91 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 01:26 AM:

I didn't go and open up the PDF to see what the report says (have I lately made the comment about how much I detest PDF?....), however I have certain suspicions about what's in the report...

http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1217/

Undiscovered oil resources in the Federal portion of the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: an economic update
Published 2005
Online only
Version 1.0

by E. D. Attanasi

Abstract
This report updates an economic analysis of the U. S. Geological Survey’s 1998 petroleum assessment of the Federal 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Attanasi, 1999). Whereas the 1998 geologic assessment evaluated Federal and Native lands in the 1002 Area and adjacent State waters (Bird, 1999), the economic analysis (Attanasi, 1999) published at that time, as well as this update, considered just the Federal part of the 1002 Area. The update includes newer field development practices based on horizontal development wells and alternative area development schemes, as well as an update of the 1996 base costs to a new base year of 2003. However, no changes were made to the 1998 geologic assessment.

Report
This report is available in Adobe Acrobat format.

Open-File Report 2005-1217 http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1217/pdf/2005-1217.pdf [685-KB PDF].


#92 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 06:20 AM:

Stefan: unfortunately, none of those make a clever acronym, so can't really be used as the names of a law any more.

Try:

New Order for Construction of Less Useful Education (NO-CLUE) Act.

#93 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 06:25 AM:

I don't recall if Rafael Sabatini made a big thing of the accent, but Captain Blood and several of his other lead characters are from the West Country. even if they're educated men.

Treasure Island starts in Cornwall, and the ship is crewed in Bristol. Again, the accent is at least implicit.

And there's Penzance. With express rail service from London.

I'd suppose it was the films which fixed the actual accent. Though there were writers who dived headlong into accent and dialect, enough that they were a target of exaggerated humour.

#94 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 06:41 AM:

Or

Rendering Equal Time Against "Reality Dominated" Science (RETARDS) Act

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 07:43 AM:

The Smurf Slayers were in the masquerade of 1983's worlcon, in Baltimore, Stefan. Or was it at 1982's worldcon? Either way, the smurf-head ripping got a lot of applause.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 09:03 AM:

Another colorful movie pirate is Captain Leech in The Black Swan, from yet another Sabatini story. Not as over-the-top as Newton's Blackbeard, but it gave the actor the chance to ham it up. It took me years to recognize that rough-talking character as being played by normally suave and articulate George Sanders.

Is there a 'category' in English to describe the kind of historicals that Sabatini and others cooked up? In France, stories like Prince of Foxes or Dumas's The Three Musketeers would be referred to as 'romans de capes et d'epees', which translates as 'novels of cloaks and swords'. I can't think of any equivalent. Or did 'cloak and dagger' originally mean something other than it now does?

#97 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 11:05 AM:

And of course 'punk' once had the additional meaning of 'prison catamite'.

I'm kinda proud of 'chickenhawkpunk'. It captures a certain dynamic of that subgenre better than 'carnography' or 'backswing fiction' (where most of the population is killed so the heroes can show off their mighty backswing; either Andrew Wheeler or James Nicoll coined this one, I can't imagine in response to what book).

And 'SF for the 101st Fighting Keyboarders' is just too long.

#98 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 11:23 AM:

Serge: try swashbuckler for that genre.

#99 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 11:44 AM:

Has anyone heard this horrific radio interview with an American 'intelligence officer'? He described tortuing detainees in great detail, and the DJ thanks him for his service. It's shocking, and I can only hope it's not true.

http://mediamatters.org/comments/latest/200510070011

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 01:34 PM:

Thanks, Naomi.

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 06:33 PM:

Dilemma:

$1,000 to Habitat for Humanity to help displaced Gulf-Coasters

Or:

$1,000 to Southern Asian earthquake relief

?

#103 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 09:02 PM:

Now this is what the Scarecrow of Oz really needed:

a knitted human brain


(via trufen.net)

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 09:25 PM:

Now this is what the Scarecrow of Oz really needed:

a knitted human brain

It's an impressive piece of work. I notice it has a convenient zipper for getting a correct outside view. (What can be done with I-cord!)

#105 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 09:46 PM:

Just keep the cat away . . .

As I recall, the Wizard gave the Scarecrow Bran Brains. Presumably he'd have to change them out once in awhile, or they'd get mildewed and full of weevils.

#106 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 11:28 PM:

Off subject -- but this is an open thread... I just heard on NPR that Senator Arlen Specter (I hope I have spelled his name correctly but I'm not sure), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is considering calling Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, to testify about phone calls he may have received from Karl Rove assuring him that Harriet Miers is indeed a good conservative and will adjudicate issues the way Dr. Dobson would wish her to, especially such issues as abortion....

Specter sounded quite pissed off in the little clip I heard. It's really hard to say "completely improper" with your jaw tightly clenched.

On subject: Aargh, okay. I'll go see Serenity. Promise.

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2005, 11:44 PM:

There is a small but increasing possibility that Karl Rove will be, ahhhhh, spending more time with his family.

Where's Mount Doom when you need it?

#108 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 12:21 AM:

Ah Bruce, your knitted brain reminded me of an exhibit by Elaine Reichek that the Center on Contemporary Art hosted almost 20 years ago in Seattle. There were pictures of dwellings from around the world, grass houses etc. Reichek had knitted copies of the houses then hung them collapsed next to the photos. Wonderful wonderful exhibit about home.

#109 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 12:59 AM:

Rove and Dobson don't believe in separation of church and state. Focus on the Family and Dobson's other enterprises IMO should be stripped of non-profit religious status, they're involved in active lobbying and political involvement...including a religious bigotry scandal at at least the Air Force Academy, conveniently near Dobson in Colorado Springs, CO.

I don't think Rove should be "spending more time with his family," I think he should be in the federal pen, and his buddies George, Dick, Scooter, etc., also resident at Ft Leavenworth, is it?

#110 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 01:30 AM:

Paula, there are lots of Federal prisons; Leavenworth has the rep of being one of the least pleasant. Portsmouth Naval Prison is/was not much better.

When I was in Navy radio school one of the instructors would threaten us with Portsmouth should we be too free with material we saw by virtue of our soon-to-come Top Secret clearances. "Making little rocks out of big rocks" was the way he put it.

#111 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 03:13 AM:

Thanks for the Vinnytsia Particle.

#112 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 03:19 AM:

I don't think Rove should be "spending more time with his family," I think he should be in the federal pen, and his buddies George, Dick, Scooter, etc., also resident at Ft Leavenworth, is it?

Just a small point. The Federal Penetentiary is in Leavenworth. The US Military Disciplinary Barracks is at Ft. Leavenworth. Just two of the four prison complexes located in the Greater Leavenworth Area

#113 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 05:32 AM:

Anyone interested in Pirates (or rather Pyrates) should read "The Pyrates" by George Macdonald "Flashman" Fraser. Terrific stuff. DO NOT READ WHILE EATING OR DRINKING. Includes any number of extras falling in the water and exchanging period dialogue and exclamations like "Burn me wi' a handspike!" and "Belike!" as well as large amounts of Defoe, Stevenson, Farnol, Sabatini, Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone etc. And, yes, they all speak authentic Pirate; and, yes, this is basically West Country.
(The source of reference for landside West Country is of course The Wurzels, England's leading Scrumpy and Western band. Their hit "Oi've Got A Brand New Combine 'Arvester" is still popular.)

Completely unrelated - 'Chickenhawk', to add to the confusion, is also the title of another book, by an Army Huey pilot called Mason, about his tour in Vietnam. Halfway through the book he explains that it was a term the pilots used about themselves - they were terrified when they were on the ground (thus chickens) but the fear vanished as soon as they actually got into combat (thus hawks). Read that one too, it's great - like Catch 22.

#114 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 05:53 AM:

Captain, we are most assuredly adrift between the topics, but is this not the purpose of keeping an open thread?

For those who are fond of Macdonald Fraser's The Pyrates, i would point out the existence of Caryl Brahms & S. J. Simon's novels No Bed for Bacon and Don't, Mr. Disraeli! (the latter described as "not a book set during the Victorian Era, but during its literature." I rather think Fraser must have at least read these (they came out in the early Forties). No Bed is probably the better of the two, but not by any great margin. They are both after the fashion of historicals, but with side turnings into anything that the authors found worthy of inclusion (at one point in Disraeli, a Victorian parlourmaid is chased across a, what else, parlour by Harpo Marx, and at another, an inept draper's assistant explains that his incompetence is of no concern, as he shall shortly become H. G. Wells.

That sort of thing.

#115 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 06:19 AM:

I hesitate to criticise our Gracious Hosts, but is there any good reason why Making Light is giving link-fu to the so-called "Institute for Historical Review"?

(Anyone who doesn't recognise the name should follow the "Vinnytsia" particle and take a look at their home page.)

#116 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 06:58 AM:

Don't Mr Disraeli is fine stuff - the line that sticks with me is the explanation of the origin of the great feud between the families Clutterbuck and Shuttleforth. It seems that the Clutterbuck and Shuttleforth patriarchs had been in business together in Mincing Lane (or it may have been Leadenhall Street) but "fell out over the sale of opium to the Chinese. Mr Clutterbuck thought it was immoral but profitable; Mr Shuttleforth thought it was unprofitable but patriotic. The firm was dissolved..."

That line is perfect - reminds me of 1066 and All That's mnemonic that during the Civil War the Cavaliers were Wrong but Wromantic, and the Roundheads were Right but Repulsive. (English Civil War, that is. Well, American too, I suppose.)

I love the Dieselpunk idea (three threads at once! Heh!); I think a lot of Heinlein qualifies. I have been rereading some of his juvenilia, and in 'Space Cadet' there is a reference to the theory that the asteroids were formed when a planet broke up. In Heinlein's 2080 this has been proven, by a Professor Someone using 'the giant strain-free computer at Terra Station [an orbiting space station].' The phrase 'strain free' puzzled me for a bit, and then I thought - of course. In Heinlein's world, you put your computers in free fall, because then there's no gravity to put strain on all the cogs and shafts and cams, and they can run better. Babbage in Space.
(Later on the characters do a manual landing on the surface of Venus, because 'it was not worth cutting a cam for the automatic pilot'. Cutting a cam! I love it!)
Nuclear power counts as diesel punk - as long as it's old and clunky and dirty. Orion is definitely in. Otherwise I'm just not playing.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 08:44 AM:

If ajay is going to pick up on old threads...

Back around 1977, Alejandro Jodorowsky started work on the first movie adaptation of Dune. It was THE thing that people talked about back then. Heck. They had Moebius designing the costumes, Chris Foss working on the spaceships. Then the project collapsed, for reasons I'm not sure about. I did some googling about it a couple of years ago and did come across stuff about the project on some French site. I'm not sure I'd have cared for it, especially coming from Jodorowsky. But visually, it would have been stunning.

And Baron Harkonnen was to be played by Orson Welles.

#118 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 08:59 AM:

Eee. Having Googled for Jodorowsky's Dune, all I can say is "No more drugs for that man."

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 09:11 AM:

Yeah, Julie... I saw only one Jodorowsky movie and that was enough for me. By the way, Ridley Scott also worked on his own version of Dune.

While in the dept of adaptations that never were... Before Bakshi didLord of the Rings in 1979, a few people had tried. And failed. Maybe because they attempted to cram the whole story into one big movie. And very few people made looooong movies in those days. Except for the Soviets. Hmm... A marxist approach to LoTR... Anyway, among those who did try was John Boorman. I wonder if that's what led him to doing Excalibur.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 09:13 AM:

About MacDonald-Fraser's The Pyrates... Is it a parody of pirate stories that, in spite of everything, shows some affection toward the source material? I know, it's probably a silly question, considering the author.

#121 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 09:55 AM:

Serge: yep, that's the one. "Pirates and blue water took hold of me at a young age and have shown no signs of letting me go" he writes in the Afterword.
And Dieselpunk is actually on this thread, right up at the top. It's a Strossism. He's probably been reading Dan Dare or something. You can tell it's him even without the name at the top because he mentions the damn Convair NB-36 again.
Mr Stross - you know there's a film about those beasts with Jimmy Stewart as a pilot? Called 'Strategic Air Command'. Sort of thing they show on BBC2 at 2.30 on weekdays. Not much plot but bags of 1950s aviation. Take a look.
The warbirds of that period were just beautiful - B-36, Vampire, Canberra, Tu-95... lovely objects.


#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 10:09 AM:

Thanks, ajay. I usually stay away from parodies if they don't have at least some affection for what they're sending up. I guess a trip to my local Borders is in order. (This time at least I know where to look for MacDonald-Fraser. For some reason, they have his books not under letter 'M' but under 'F'.)

#123 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Serge: re Boorman and LOTR, apparently so.

#124 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 10:58 AM:

Since Dune crept into this Open Thread from the previous one, I might as well mention that the Locus Online "front page" has a very recent photo of Jack Vance, along with Grania Davis, as recipients of the Bay Area's Norton Awards -- named after the Emperor, of course! (BTW, as a long-time Bay Arean, I named my cat Emperor Horton. It suits him nicely.)

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:04 AM:

Interesting, Julie. Boorman's version of LoTR would have indeed been different. I mean, Frodo being seduced by Galadriel?

#126 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:05 AM:

Serge: It's MacDonald Fraser, no hyphen, so it's hard to tell at a glance if he's George M. Fraser or G. MacDonald Fraser. (the latter, I believe - so should be under F, but a not unreasonable error)

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:09 AM:

Sometimes, one stops, looks around and remembers that some things weren't always around and in fact appeared in the very recent past. AIDS is one example. And this...

"...Once again it appears that truth is stranger than science fiction. The September issue of High Times contains a Tom Disch story about a Catholic 'hit squad' that attacks women who have had abortions. When the issue appeared in August, the news media were running items about a Florida anti-abortion group called the 'Army of God' which claimed responsibility for burning several clinics..."

Locus, October 1982

#128 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:28 AM:

Google picks up more details on Boorman's vision of LOTR in a discussion thread whose original won't load, but if you search on the strings "tolkien forum" "boorman's 70s script", the cache is more or less readable despite annoying italics and sheer WTFness:

Arwen is something of a spiritual guide to the Fellowship -- a sort of guardian angel. She makes two appearances soon after the Fellowship leaves Rivendell. The first is brief: she shows herself to the Company from afar. The second takes place as Aragorn and Boromir come to blows over the fate of Narsil. (Boromir wants to take it to Minas Tirith. Aragorn refuses, and Boromir snatches away one half of the sword.) When their blades meet, Arwen appears, declaring that they shall each bear one half of the sword. They bow, presenting the blades. She kisses the swords, drawing blood. She then kisses each of the men. Both men are moved; and Boromir, weeping, kisses Aragorn, cementing a blood bond.
#129 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:37 AM:

Chickenhawk: In the political arena, I took the word apart, as in a chicken masquerading as a hawk. In the sexual arena, that same practice works, as in a hawk masquerading as nothing more than a barnyard chicken.

Yes, but that's a folk etymology. In reality the term is based on the raptor that hunts chickens.

Re the sexual meaning of "chickenhawk"--I suspect the term "chicken" for underage male prostitute has something to do with it.

Well, to me "chicken" means underage gay boys generally. They need not be prostitutes. When I turned 18 (LONG ago) I referred to the event as "hanging up my chicken badge." No, I was never a prostitute.

In American gay slang, especially back in the 60's, it's common to refer to potential sexual partners as food. Frex "Seafood" was a sailor; "Angel Food" an airforce guy, etc. (Also, some gay men refer(red) to going out to look for a sexual partner as "hunting.") I'd have to look up the etymology of 'chicken' in this sense, but I suspect it has to do with the appearance of a plucked but uncooked chicken...not unlike the appearance of a naked adolescent boy IIRC.

OTOH there was a sign in the Village for YEARS, in a butcher shop window; it showed a cute red-haired boy about 8 years old, holding a drumstick bigger than his head, and was captioned "Take home a tender young chicken today." I suspect irony on the part of the shop owners, given the neighborhood.

I've never heard of 'chickenhawk' in the sense you mean. Those people are just called "pimps" in America as far as I know. Or "human traffickers."

At any rate, I guess some people I know should be careful about talking about their "chickenhawkish tendencies" (by which they mean they're attracted to very young guys, nothing more, and even though they won't actually "do" anyone under 18 - some actually check ID!) when in the UK, lest someone infer they want to be pimps!

#130 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Ross, thanks for leading me to the home page. The name didn't register with me at first.

Once I saw the article on the home page about the Holocaust gas chamber that was used for de-lousing, I remembered the name.

Not that this means the Vinnytsia story is untrue, but the source isn't trustworthy.

#131 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 02:15 PM:

Question for the audience:

I work at a university library which is part of a consortium of university libraries. We are starting to do more online, and as part of that, the system support person started a blog for each committee (we have a about a dozen) on Blogger. Someone immediately put comment spam on each new blog, and no one is sure how to remove it or prevent it in the future. My personal blog is on Live Journal, and I know next to nothing about Blogger. It doesn't seem to have very much in the way of help. I *know* it was comment spam because it said "cool journal" even though nothing had been posted, and had a link to his journal, which I didn't click because I'm at work and it could be something I really shouldn't click on at work.

Are there people here who are use Blogger and could tell me about it? Would people recommend other blog sites? I don't want to tell them to start over with LJ unless I have to; I know I'm biased in its favor. It has to be free - there is no budget for this.

Any ideas or suggestions?

#132 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 02:55 PM:

I don't think the UK gets a lock on this one, Xopher. The third Urban Dictionary entry at least implies the runaway meaning, if it misses on the pimping aspect. I wonder, though, if there may be some conflation with chicken head? Slang etymology always fascinates me.

#133 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 03:16 PM:

In the Odd but Disgusting category, Book of the Month Club is selling Terry Pratchett's latest (THUD, I think) and LaHaye's latest as a combination. I can't think of a single demographic that would want that pair.

Very odd..

#134 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 03:36 PM:

Hope this isn't too much off the plot ---

For Magenta, and anyone else who needs it, Blogger tools for dealing with comment spam:

First off, under "Settings -> Comments", there's an checkbox marked "Show Word Verification for Comments"; enabling that forces anyone submitting a comment to pass a "retype the warped word" test. It's annoying, but it cuts down on automated submissions dramatically. (Requiring a blogger login to post is next to useless, I'm afraid --- a lot of robots have blogger accounts. The "blog members only" option might work better, if there's someone who's willing to wrestle with membership lists).

Second, to delete an individual comment, log in to blogger as the blog administrator, and then go to the "submit comments" page for the post containing the comment. The prior comments on the right will have a little trash can icon after them; clicking on that lets you delete the comment.

Unfortunately, I know of no way to delete comments more than one at a time (short of disabling and hiding all comments on a post); if you've got spam-encrusted posts, it can take a while to get rid of it all. Which is really obnoxious --- but some might find the word verification thing to be just as obnoxious. So you've got to live with word verification, live with spam, or find another comment system entirely. Sigh...

#135 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 04:00 PM:

Thanks, Mr. Dodgson. That was exactly the info I needed, and I passed it on to our systems person.

BTW, I *love* your books. ;-)

#136 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 04:19 PM:

Hey, Julie, thanks for referencing my paper on Boorman and other LotR scripts. Yes, it was a revelation of awfulness. And Boorman did reuse some of his LotR ideas in Excalibur. One really bizarre thing -- as I delve more into the volumes of the History of Middle-earth that include early drafts of LotR, I keep finding things that Tolkien (thankfully) abandoned but that Boorman oddly put into the film with no knowledge that Tolkien had already rejected that particular idea.

Re Flashman: It's Fraser in libraries, but that's no guarantee bookstores will do it the same way. And Pyrates is a wonderful affectionate parody of Hollywood-style pirate movies -- very enjoyable.

#137 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 05:31 PM:

So, I'm still confused. Why is Making Light giving link-karma to the reprehensible IHR.Org? I'm guessing [hoping] it must be a subtle joke, but I'm too dense to get it.

#138 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 05:44 PM:

Sean Bosker writes: Has anyone heard this horrific radio interview with an American 'intelligence officer'?

Yes. In fact, I'm the guy who sent the tip to Media Matters. They cut some from the segment that I found horrifying, but they kept the portions that got across the point.

Here is where I first wrote about it.

#139 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 06:09 PM:

One more things about Pirates... Why does Talk-like-a-pirate Day happen when it does?

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 06:12 PM:

I take it, Janet, that you don't care too much for Boorman's Excalibur. I have the DVD and I still like the movie, in spite of the scene where Gabriel Byrne does the dirty deed with Boorman's daughter with his armor still on. I'm more bugged by the fact that they all wear the same kind of armor, except for small helmet variations.

#141 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 06:55 PM:

RE: Jodorowsky's Dune

Am I the only one who reads that article and feels just a little dead inside that I will never get to see a Giger/Dali/O'Bannon visualized Dune?

I liked the Dino De Laurentiis/David Lynch Dune, and I REALLY feel like the universe denied my some truly weird and wonderful cinema.

Sure, Jodorowsky was a raving lunatic...but when did that ever inhibit movie making genius?

#142 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 07:24 PM:

All that food timeline stuff, including cookbooks, but no mention of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The French Chef TV series, or of Julia herself.

Considering that Julia more or less redefined how we cook and eat as a nation, this seems like a glaring oversight to an otherwise really interesting timeline.

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 07:30 PM:

Still, Karl, Jodorowski's Dune would have been Arrakis in name only. Of all the versions that I've seen or heard about, there isn't one that's quite what I wanted. There are some things I appreciated in the mini-series, but the Bene Gesserit hats not unlike those of Southern Belles isn't it. It's hard to top Sian Phillips as a Bene Gesserit. But the only worthwile Jessica was Alice Krige in the mini-series Children of Dune.

#144 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 09:57 PM:

Larry: I've e-mailed the Food Timeline with that observation. Also suggested Encarnacion Pinedo, who wrote the first Hispanic/California cookbook published in the US (1898), available (edited) in translation as Encarnacion's Kitchen. (There's that standby Spanish Rice, and a number of other familiar dishes.)

#145 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Serge asks: One more things about Pirates... Why does Talk-like-a-pirate Day happen when it does?

The date was arbitrary. At the Official Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day FAQ, they say that the date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of the ex-wife of one of the founders. With no more piratical significance than that.


#146 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:29 PM:

Oh, and under the heading of "Things found while looking for something else" - -this little eBay item might be of interest to some of the Tor regulars:

Flatiron Building Souvenir Nailfile

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 11:42 PM:

Thanks, Bob. It's too bad Talk-like-a-pirate Day doesn't happen at the same time as the worldcon. On the other hand, it's just as well. LOTS of people arrr-arrr'ing at each other for days?

#148 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:50 AM:

Canberras were still flying in the late 1970s, they were in use by the USAF. Sometimes they got flown into Peterson AFB,CO.

Uther in armor going at it in Excalibur, was a scene that upon seeing one of the things I thought was "OUCH!

#149 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:50 AM:

Uther in armor going at it in Excalibur . . .

I understand Boorman cut the scene where Nicol Williamson explains the procedure for firing the explosive bolts.

"Oh, good! You've decided to clean the codpiece!"

#150 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:42 AM:

Yes, I know - the RAF is still flying them as recce birds over Afghanistan. First contracted for during the Second World War, first flew in 1949, and now so old that the aircraft (SR-71A) designed to replace the aircraft (U-2) designed to replace them is now obsolete. They're going out of service next year.
This is an aircraft that was originally designed to fight the Wehrmacht, for heaven's sake. It's theoretically possible that the RAF has fourth-generation Canberra pilots on its strength.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 06:41 AM:

Ah yes, John, Nicol Williamson in Excalibur... To tell the truth, I rather liked the way he played Merlin even if it meant he seemed to be in a different movie than the rest of the cast.

By the way, am I the only one who wasn't that taken by Ian McKellen's Gandalf? He was too much the kindly wizard. Is that how he was depicted in the original story, which I haven't read in about 25 years? If not, maybe he played the character that way because he didn't want to come off as Magneto with a staff.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 07:33 AM:

Well, ajay, if those birds can still fly, why not keep them around? How long has the B-52 been around? A mention was made earlier of James Stewart and that old movie Strategic Air Command and a B-52 is what he was flying, and its engines were propellers pointed to the back, but it was still a B-52.

#153 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 08:48 AM:

Janet: well neato, you're welcome; didn't realize you were here in person, but now I can express my galore of envy of your having gotten to go through the archives at Marquette. *envy envy envy*

Another semi-guilty fan of David Lynch's Dune here; imho while it wasn't anywhere near a faithful adaptation of the book, it made much more of an impression than the faithful-but-mostly-dead SciFi miniseries. At the moment I'm not sure how else to express why I like it, since that's hardly an adequate reason, vague as it is-- SciFi's Earthsea certainly made an impression with its divergence from the books, but not in a good way. (Actually, I was rather struck by the parallel divergences, so to speak, between that and the miniseries of The Mists of Avalon. IIRC both of them had the same screenwriter, who either has Certain Issues or was just trotting out a stock stable of Hollywood plotlike/characterlike elements.)

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 09:10 AM:

Ah, SciFi's Earthsea... I read the original books, but never could get into them for some reason. Thus I came at the miniseries from a different direction. My reaction? It was boring as Hell and the whole thing looked like a cheap direct-to-video piece of junk. Frankly, I thought that this weekend's Dungeons and Dragons: The Wrath of the Dragon God was better than this. Not by much, grant you.

#155 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 09:23 AM:

Uhm. Didn't Jimmy Stewart fly a B-36 in Strategic Air Command? I thought the B-51 first flew, 1962 or so, wasn't it?

Come to think of it, didn't Jimmy Stewart really, truly rooly fly B-17's? In WW2, the Big One, as Dobie Gillis's father referred to it?

#156 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 09:24 AM:

Sorry. That's B-52 in the first line, above. Keystroke error.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 09:36 AM:

As far as I know, yes, Jimmy Stewart really flew in the Big One.

As for his flying a B-52 or not in that movie... Now I'm not sure anymore.

#158 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 09:58 AM:

Here's the Military part of Jimmy Stewart's iMDB bio.

He was the first movie star to enter the service for World War II, joining a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5 pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test. He eventually became a Colonel, and earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre and 7 battle stars. In 1959, he served in the Air Force Reserve, before retiring as a brigadier general.

He probably started training on Jennys like my dad did, and they flew B-17s in WWII. My dad had just finished training and was getting ready to ship to England when the war ended in Europe. He did go to Korea and, I think, flew B-26s.

Unfortunately he did talk about any of his experiences until it was too late to get the whole story out of him before he passed.

#159 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 10:16 AM:

On the topic of strage, republican coincidences:

I was reading an entry over on professorbainbridge.com on the Harriet Miers thing, and I came across the most extra-ordinary postscript by a self described repulbican...

p.s. who knew that bush bashing could be so cathartic?

#160 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 10:43 AM:

Jimmy Stewart flew B17s in training only I think - also AT-6 and AT-9.

His later wartime assignments to the best of my knowledge and belief were all to B24's - first 703rd squadron of the 453rd bomb group and then Group staff - his 20 combat missions were all B24. He was on the Court that excused some 392? aircraft for getting lost and bombing Switzerland.

Stewart later flew backseat in a B58 to exceed Mach 2 and there must have been other photo-op kinds of things.

#161 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 10:50 AM:

Serge, I rather liked Excalibur -- the ideas that didn't work for LotR worked much better there. I guess I don't get bothered by somebody doing variations on the matter of Arthur, because it's been done for centuries, and nobody was ever really THE author of it -- I remember I was taking a course in comparative mythology when it came out and was blown away by the ways in which Boorman combined characters or played with the myth -- but taking liberties with Tolkien is another matter. Maybe in a few centuries that will be okay too... Haven't seen it for years, but I did buy a copy recently because writing that paper got me interested in watching it again.

#162 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 10:58 AM:

That would be "did NOT talk about it" and until that time any request to learn what he did in the military was met with "No, I don't want to talk about it."

#163 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:10 AM:

Glad to hear that, Janet. I myself am not opposed to liberties being taken with any work, as long as the essence of the original is preserved. Did many people object to Peter Jackson bringing Aragorn and Arwen back together instead of having him marry Eowyn? It felt right to me. Of course, my feelings may have been colored by Liv Tyler having way more screen presence than Moranda Otto.

#164 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:12 AM:

I know, I know... That's Miranda Otto, not Moranda, whatever that is.

#165 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:17 AM:

Serge,

I agree totally that there has never been a "True Dune" in the visual medias.

I felt like the Dune mini-series (which I have bought on DVD so the following criticisms should be taken with a grain of salt) was really unsure of itself. When compared to the book it emphasizes parts I felt were secondary (too much time on Arrakeen) and played down parts that I felt were critical (I just never thought that Chani got meaty screen time or development).

I felt like the Children of Dune mini-series was what happens if you take the cliff notes for Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, turned them into storyboards and a scriptlet, and filmed them with great actors and beautiful visual effects. You can't call it bad really, but it just never quite found resonance for me.

Sure, Lynch's Dune was barely "inspired by" the Herbert book, but at least he tried to take the important parts and deliver something grand. I tend to be much more forgiving when people aim big with what they have at hand, then when people have everything at hand and barely seem to bring their gun up.

Jodoworsky may well have been insane (and no, I'm not being flip, I mean clinically unwell), but he was clearly shooting for something unheralded in sci-fi cinema. Would it have been true to Herbert? Obviously not. Would it have been awesome to see the resulting vision? My guess is yes.

It's like reading the script for Metropolis and then seeing a studio note that says "too weird for production". Ah, what could have been.

#166 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:25 AM:

Larry: the Food Timeline says they don't have Julia Child on it because of copyright.

#167 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:32 AM:

I just discovered that I was, in fact, missing one vital piece of information:

Jodoworsky is still alive and making movies. So change that sentence from "may well have been insane" to "may well have been insane at times".

That will teach me to paint with a broad brush...

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:36 AM:

I have the DVD of Children of Dune, Karl. I liked it, taken on its own, which wasn't difficult because I never wanted to read the books that followed the original.

The real weak point of Lynch's movie (besides the ending) is Baron Harkonnen, who was there as a disgusting homosexual contrast to well-mannered heterosexual Leto. I much preferred the mini-series's Harkonnen. Orson Welles would have been best, but he's not with us anymore.

#169 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:39 AM:

Did many people object to Peter Jackson bringing Aragorn and Arwen back together instead of having him marry Eowyn? It felt right to me.

You're kidding right? Somebody please tell me he's kidding!

#170 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 11:41 AM:

Today, October 11, is National Coming-out Day. It started in 1987.

This year's theme is "Talk About It." You can share your story, or read other people's stories, here.

#171 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:03 PM:

No, Xopher, I wasn't kidding. It didn't feel right to you, or you didn't like Jackson changing things?

#172 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:15 PM:

the Food Timeline says they don't have Julia Child on it because of copyright.

Copyright? Like, "we can't list an author's name, the book title, and the year it was published because of copyright"?

Wow. Clearly, what I thought I knew about copyright was either wrong or incomplete. How can copyright prevent someone from publishing a factual statement like "Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in 1961"?

#173 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:19 PM:

Serge:

I think Lynch was going for the most grotesque caricature he could envision. In 1984, a gibbering homosexual defiler of youth was so out there that most parents would have fainted dead away if they knew what the teenagers were off to see.

I never really picked up the "well-mannered heterosexual Leto" aspect, but I can certainly see it when you point that out. But I don't really think he was trying to make a values statement, so much as compare and contrast perceived normal with something so abnormal as to be completely unsettling.

Of course, I was eight when I saw it with two older cousins. I didn't "fully" process the subtext of that movie for at least a decade, if ever.

In a better world Harkonnan would be perceived as disgusting and evil for his wanton consumption and defilement, and the homosexual aspect would be irrelevant.

I can only hope that twenty years later we are closer to a society that accepts homosexuality as a normal reality and not a perversion or sickness. But then, I'm a bleeding heart liberal, so that isn't exactly an unique aspiration to hold.

#174 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:22 PM:
Xopher quoted Serge:

Did many people object to Peter Jackson bringing Aragorn and Arwen back together instead of having him marry Eowyn? It felt right to me.

You're kidding right? Somebody please tell me he's kidding!


I can neither confirm nor deny the level of kiddingness, but it is a matter of record, that in the appendices, Tolkein marries off Arwen and Aragorn.

Kind of a nice bonus, that. Jackson really didn't have to include it.*
-R
*Though the multiple endings of the third movie are a bit disconcerting, piled next to each other.

#175 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:27 PM:

Rhandir is right. In the book, Aragorn and Arwen do marry -- that's not Jackson's invention. But oddly enough, in the first drafts when Tolkien was feeling his way into the story, he WAS planning to have Aragorn marry Eowyn. And that's one of the weird places where Boorman was somehow channeling the early drafts, because HE had Aragorn marry Eowyn.

#176 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:27 PM:

Xopher and Serge:

Wait, I am so confused...help

I haven't read the books in about five years, but didn't Eowyn marry the other son of the Steward of Gondor (as was suggested in the movie)?

Aragorn and Eowyn...that...that's not right is it???

#177 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:32 PM:

Karl,
Eowyn did indeed end up with Faramir. Tolkien tied up a number of loose ends with that one.
-R

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:33 PM:

So, THAT's what Xopher meant. I was sure, and so was my wife, that Aragorn had married Eowyn in the book. That's what happens when one hasn't read a book in ages.

How embarassing.

#179 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Larry: I suggested something like "Julia Child starts writing cookbooks". (Maybe the problem is that there's a copyright on the name? I don't understand this either.)

#180 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Ok, if we are answering questions about Tolkien's subtext and back-story, can someone explain or clarify this one:

Weren't Gandolf and Galadriel exposed as Vanir (not sure that's right) in one of the commentaries? I have been under the impression that Gandolf was character in the Silmarillion under a different name. Basically I was under the impression that Gandolf was essentially an immortal demi-god masquerading as an old wizard.

Is that even close to correct? Or have I been under a wrong impression all this time?

#181 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Disturbingly, my browser went from here to my news RSS and fed me this little piece of weirdness.

Scientists discover Hobbits

My mind reels.

#182 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:23 PM:

Nitpick: the marriage of Arwen and Aragorn takes place in _Return of the King_. Their backstory is in an appendix.

Galadriel is an Elf, period. Gandalf is a Maia, as were the rest of the wizards; they're less servants/emissaries of the deity (to the Valar's greater).

This is definitely in _The Silmarillion_; I don't know if it's in the LotR appendices.

#183 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:23 PM:

(But I don't believe that Gandalf is onstage in _The Silmarillion_ in any significant way.)

#184 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:25 PM:
Karl Kindred: Weren't Gandolf and Galadriel exposed as Vanir (not sure that's right) in one of the commentaries? I have been under the impression that Gandolf was character in the Silmarillion under a different name. Basically I was under the impression that Gandolf was essentially an immortal demi-god masquerading as an old wizard.


Galadriel was an Elf, but from a very powerful line - much more so than her husband's - and she had the assistance of her ring.

Gandalf was a Maia (like Lúthien's mother), one of the lesser rank of demigods, generally sort of assistants to the Valar. "Olòrin I was, in the West that is forgotten." When he consented to go to Middle-Earth, he appears to have been changed quite a bit by the transformation or incarnation (as were the other wizards/Istari; they seem to have been more vulnerable to influence by the outside forces or temptations of Middle-Earth). After the Balrog, ahem, incident, he was sent back in a new form; directly after this re-embodiment he was a bit more in touch with his old Valinor self and memories and a bit less so with his Gandalf persona.

#185 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Karl,

You'd asked:

Weren't Gandolf and Galadriel exposed as Vanir (not sure that's right) in one of the commentaries? I have been under the impression that Gandolf was character in the Silmarillion under a different name. Basically I was under the impression that Gandolf was essentially an immortal demi-god masquerading as an old wizard.
As near as I can remember, you are exactly right. Tolkein buries Galdalf's other names in a parenthetical explanation (in TT?), that he was "Olorin, in the West that was forgot". Then in the Silmarillion, there's a brief mention of an Olorin. Took me years to make the connection.
Its one of those things that really makes Sauruman's fall more sad; due to an administrative blunder*, essentially, Saurman got the leadership job, which led him into the temptation of trying to control things, and later to control people as things. But essentially those istari were sent on to do the impossible, with virtually nothing to work with, and little hope of succeeding.

That, of course, puts Gandalf's lecturing of Frodo (and the Council) in a different light: he'd had thousands of years of having to go on faith instead of works.

-R.
*there may be an object lesson here in the value of ducking leadership jobs as a way of not getting yourself led into temptation. Note it is an object lesson, not an allegory, which is what Tolkein was trying to get at by writing a history instead of an allegory.

#186 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:32 PM:

Oh dear, I have goofed.
Kate, you are right both on the wedding and the bit about Galadriel. (I'd clean forgot that I was supposed to talk about her too, in my excitement to blather about Gandalf.)
-R.

#187 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 01:42 PM:

Maia!!! That's it! Was Saruman a Maia as well? I assume so from the line "as were the other wizards" that he was, but what other wizards were on the field?

#188 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:00 PM:

"Was Saruman a Maia as well?"

Yes, sent East as one of the five "Istari."

As was Sauron . . . a less "angel" twisted under Morgoth's service. Fond of going around as a wolf back in the day, as I recall. Damn furries!

#189 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:02 PM:

There were five Istari or "wizards" -- Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast (who gets a brief mention here and there), and two unnamed ones who went into the east.

#190 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Yes, Serge, that's what I meant. Aragorn and Arwen are wed in the book...not only that, they're "the reunion of the Two Kindreds" - since she's his first cousin thirty times removed or something.

#191 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:18 PM:

I think Lynch was going for the most grotesque caricature he could envision. In 1984, a gibbering homosexual defiler of youth was so out there that most parents would have fainted dead away if they knew what the teenagers were off to see.

Well, I had the good fortune not to see the Lynch travesty, so I can't say if his Baron Harkonnen was any worse than Herbert's...which is worse than the miniseries version, by a fair amount. I had the BAD fortune to read a bunch of other Herbert books (all his non-Dune books are utter crap, as opposed to the mostly-crap of the Dune books); in one of them, he says that homosexuals are often used as "death commandos" because they're naturally drawn to death anyway and thus fearless on the battlefield.

Herbert was a wacko.

#192 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:40 PM:

"and two unnamed ones who went into the east."

If the Tolkein estate were total greedheads, we'd have third-rate authors writing stories about these guys tromping around Middle Earth's equivalent of Siberia, China, and Africa:

"Red Wizard IV: Eastern Front"

"Blue Sage Wars V: Liberation of Nurn"

#193 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:41 PM:

My apologies, Xopher, for the confusion about LoTR. One thing I haven't changed my mind about is the respective screen presences of Liv Tyler and Mirando Otto. I haven't seen anything where the latter didn't generate a soupcon of boredom. Saw Tyler as one of Patrick Stewart's daughters in the western version of King Lear?

I heard Herbert called things worse than wacko by some people after they finally saw Lynch's movie. Herbert had been promoting the movie heavily, saying it was great, faithful to the original and all that. People found that that wasn't quite true.

His comments about homosexuals being naturally drawn to death make me wonder if he's ever met one.

I think the only non-Dune book by Herbert was called something like The Dragon Under The Sea, a futuristic war story where submarines sneak close to enemy borders to drill for oil. I wasn't that impressed.

You know, there is one important character of Dune who's been badly treated in any and all versions. Arrakis.

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Don't say that, Stefan.

#195 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 02:48 PM:

I think the only non-Dune book by Herbert was called something like The Dragon Under The Sea

He also wrote The Santaroga Barrier which is about a feel-good variety of cheese and the people who make it and The Godmakers which is much more interesting and harder to describe.

#196 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:02 PM:

The cheese was harder to describe, PJ?

#197 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:05 PM:

the Food Timeline says they don't have Julia Child on it because of copyright.

They appear to have one recipe from Joy of Cooking, and a couple from M.F.K. Fisher - those aren't copyrighted?

(As an aside, M.F.K. Fisher's writing is strange.)

#198 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:10 PM:

The method of making gods is different. More complex? More probable? It isn't Dune, but it's not total crap. (I thought the books after Dune Messiah weren't worth the price of admission, so to speak, being more than half bad and not, IMHO, in the same universe.)

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:15 PM:

"...It isn't Dune, but it's not total crap..."

Sounds like a good blurb, PJ.

#200 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:16 PM:

The bomber Jimmy Stewart's character flies (and survives a crash in) in Strategic Air Command is a B-36, beloved of all who think weird engine arrangements are cool. The Hot New Bird he is introduced to at the end is a B-47. The BUFF wasn't around then.

#201 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:21 PM:

Since no one else has said it, the remaining two wizards were named Alatar and Pallando, and their colour was blue.l

And we may not have the abysmal published sequels, but try googling Alatar Pallando fanfiction and those sequels are out there.

#202 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:24 PM:

Julia Child is a PBS franchise and fundraiser, and there may be a tighter hold on / picker in usage of her name than the others (just my 2¢). That said, JoC is my go-to book when I am baffled by something kitchenwise, and MFK Fisher writes wondrous well about food, even though she's, urm, fairly eccentric. I've had Julia Child cookbooks, but they came and went -- I cycle through cookbooks, almost never buy new, and send as many back to 1/2 Price Books as I purchase.)

#203 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:26 PM:

Herbert also wrote (dredging from memory) HELSTROM'S HIVE, THE WHITE PLAGUE, and several others whose titles are not surfacing right now.

(THE... GREEN?... something?)

#204 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:30 PM:

(THE... GREEN?... something?)

The Green Brain. It was ... strange. You could call it ecoterrorism, but it was the ecology doing the terrorizing.

#205 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:31 PM:

"Don't say that, Stefan."

Too late. By saying it I collapsed the wave function and made it so.

#206 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:33 PM:

Herbert also wrote The Jesus Incident and the Lazarus Effect if I remember correctly. Something like those.

I was suspended for one day for bringing the Jesus Incident to my private parochial high-school.

What can I say, I was a rebel.

#207 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:35 PM:

For those who are following the Food Timeline: their answers:

(1) She's not there because she's copyrighted.
Julia's kitchen is linked to the Culinary Timeline [1961]
http://www.foodtimeline.org/food1.html

(2) FT links are added because they offer reliable, authoritative information on commodites, foods, or recipes. If you know of a link containing some of Julia's signature recipes let us know. It also must be verifiable (cite to book or show). We will certainly consider linking!
We would love to add Ms. Child to our site.

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:40 PM:

So, that was a B-36, John? Didn't it also have one rocket engine under each wing? To help with takeoffs or something?

#209 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:50 PM:

I'm still hoping someone will be kind enough to explain the joke to me. I hate feeling like everyone else understands the subtle wordplay, and I'm the one with the inadequate grasp of history and language. Feel free to send it to my email account.

#210 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:52 PM:

Sorry, John... Those were jet engines, not rockets. I wonder why they combined the two technologies.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 03:53 PM:

What joke, JH?

#212 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:18 PM:

The date was arbitrary. At the Official Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day FAQ, they say that the date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of the ex-wife of one of the founders. With no more piratical significance than that.

Am I the only one who wonders whether the honoring was done while they were still married or after the divorce settlement?

MKK

#213 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:22 PM:

I think jh woodyatt is talking about this post:

So, I'm still confused. Why is Making Light giving link-karma to the reprehensible IHR.Org? I'm guessing [hoping] it must be a subtle joke, but I'm too dense to get it.

#214 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:23 PM:

I thought I w/a/s/t/e/d/ spent too much time on the food timeline but apparently Some People spent even more. Thi site is fascinating and it was fun to read about some of my favorite foods. The stuff on corn (maize to the right-pondians) was especially fascinating and informative. It was also interesting to note how many of my favorite foods/ingredients came into being between 6000BC and 5000BC. Dammit, now I'm hungry again.

MKK

#215 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:28 PM:

The B-36 project started in WW2 when it still looked as if the UK might be invaded, and the Pentagon decided the USAAF might need a bomber which could attack Europe from North America.

Post-WW2, there was still a need for long-range delivery of the huge fission bombs of the time, but the B-36 was starting to look a little low and slow against the early jet fighters. A Meteor or a P-80 had better high-altitude performance than any prop plane, and people knew that jet engines and airframes were at the bottom of the curve.

Sticking jet engines onto the B-36 give it a performance boost, without the problem of carrying enough fuel for an all-jet aircraft of similar range and payload.

For a few years, the B-36 and the B-50 (an upgraded B-29) were the core of SAC. The jet bombers just didn't have the range, and designs such as the B-45 had too many compromises.

Flight refuelling and swept wings opened the way for the replacement of props. The B-47 was still only a medium bomber, and the B-36 lingered as the heavy for a little longer, but the same range/payload problems kept the prop airliner in transatlantice service for a few years more.

#216 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:30 PM:

I didn't delve too deeply into the Food Timeline, but I have read elsewhere that none of the foods (plant or animal) that we eat evolved by themselves. They were all designed by humans - genetically engineered, in fact. It is really fascinating.

#217 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:41 PM:

JH,

I wouldn't dare to speak, even second hand, for our hosts. So the following is purely my conjecture and not, in point of fact, necessarily factual.

Link-karma is a multi-path journey who's finer points I don't claim to be enlightened with. Perhaps our hosts were making a point by the linking, perhaps they were having a subtle commentary on the linked, or (and this one will mess with you) maybe they just liked the article.

If it's any consolation I wouldn't have ever bothered to examine that site as you pointed out without the link, so predicting the path of link-karma is impossible for a mere guest in the halls of blog-buddhas.

(And yes, this comment was supposed to be amusing over informative).

#218 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 04:58 PM:

So, I'm still confused. Why is Making Light giving link-karma to the reprehensible IHR.Org?

Without subscribing to whatever reprehensible stuff IHR is into - I'm guessing they're one of those groups that denies the Holocaust - it was an interesting if horrifying story.

#219 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 05:12 PM:

Radagast is still around, I think, at the time of the War of the Ring, but we don't know what happens to him. He's mentioned as delivering a message from Saruman to Gandalf. Or was that in The Hobbit?

Peter Jackson did originally intend to make Arwen into a sword-wielding elf-babe, far more so than replacing Glorfindel (which makes sense in terms of telling the story in FotR but doesn't sit well with later events in the movie version).

The Tolien Estate owns the books, and is essentially the family. The film rights to Lord of the Rings (and a lot of other rights) were bought outright by what is now Tolkien Enterprises, long before The Silmarilion was published.

#220 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 05:22 PM:

More news of the bent:

AP: Frist Accumulated Stock Outside Trusts

WASHINGTON -- Outside the blind trusts he created to avoid a conflict of interest, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earned tens of thousands of dollars from stock in a family-founded hospital chain largely controlled by his brother, documents show.

It's a separate trust, and although the Senate allowed it, it apparently is only semi-blind.


#221 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 05:52 PM:

Radagast spent the war getting drunk on dandelion wine with Tom Bombadil.

When the North was resettled, he took a job as a docent at the Weathertop Museum Interperative Center.

#222 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 05:54 PM:

Laura, it's probably true that the major foods are all human engineered, but there are aeveral foods I can think of offhand which are fairly common and are not that different from their wild relatives: dandelion: sunflower: mustard (seed, and oil, not mustard greens which are very different from the wild): strawberries, until recently: some onions: asparagus: nopalitos: pinon nuts.

#223 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 06:03 PM:

Yes, it is Radagast that passed a message from Saruman to Gandalf, and Gandalf to Gwahir, in Lord of the Rings. The moth in the movie tended to be called Radagast by fans.

Has everyone seen the pictures Weta created for decipher's card set of characters that didn't make it into the movie?

http://www.theonering.net/scrapbook/group/1360

Some worked better than others. Apparently the Radagast costume was actually created when there was a chance he would have a non speaking part in the movie.

#224 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 06:07 PM:

Wild strawberries are quite different from grown ones aren't they?

I would expect that ocean fish haven't had much evolutionary pressure from humans until quite recently.

#225 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 06:15 PM:

Oh, I can totally buy that maybe our hosts aren't as familiar with the sordid history of IHR.Org on the Internet as some of us old-timers who remember them from WayBackInTheDay™.

I was just worried that I was missing some really funny joke at the expense of the people at IHR.Org. You know the kind of joke I'm talking about— somebody writes a fictional story that appears to be a serious polemic on a subject near and dear to the target of the joke, convinces them to post it on their own website as a supporting argument for their particular flavor of wingnuttery, when the story is just a thinly disguised forgery designed to expose the credulity of the target of the joke.

Our hosts have been known to participate in such jokes in the past. 'S why I'm wondering if that's what I'm seeing now. Unfortunately, I haven't read enough of the genre typified by that IHR.Org piece to recognize any hints that it should be regarded as an obvious forgery. A bit of web searching suggests that the story is just another personal account of involvement in the investigation of a well-known atrocity. That's why I was worried I might be missing the joke.

#226 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 06:28 PM:

jh,

And that makes sense. I was merely using an opportunity to use the phrases link-karma and blog-buddhas in a sentence. Is commenting for self-amusement a legitimate use of internet electrons?

#227 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 06:58 PM:

In my opinion everything Herbert wrote other than Dune is total crap. (Some days I wouldn't make that exception.) The Green Brain is exactly what it sounds like, except that the brain in question is made up of insects, not plants. The Godmakers is garbage. I don't remember many of the others, and thank gods, because they were crrrrap without exception.

I found Dune Messiah tedious yet depressing. Children of Dune, which I read serialized in I-think Analog, was so mind-destroyingly bad that I could barely even finish it, and never bothered reading any further in the series. Certainly I didn't read any of the other authors' work.

He's a one-hit wonder as far as I'm concerned.

#228 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 07:18 PM:

iirc Jimmy Stewart's son was killed in Vietnam. The son trained w/ Lew Puller, son of Chesty Puller. I met Lew years after he was wounded in VN when we worked together at DoD. He had nothing but respect for Jimmy Stewart's son (sorry his name escapes me at the present time)

And on a piratical note, there is this novel to be looked into:

Pirate of Exquisite Mind

#229 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 07:22 PM:

The problem with that theory, Xopher, is Under Pressure, aka The Dragon in the Sea.

It's not much like anything else he wrote, and it might entirely fail to inhabit your teacup, but it's in no wise a bad book.

#230 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 07:50 PM:

Aquila: I hadn't seen those cards (I'm not much of a gamer or a collector these days).

The Bombadil card looks a lot like Gandalf. Was it Ian McKellen?

#231 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 08:30 PM:

Xopher: I would point to The Santaroga Barrier; I'm still not sure it's a \good/ book, but it hangs together (given the premise of a fungoid that produces a consciousness fuel) and is a scathing commentary on American commercial practices (think The Coca-Cola Kid).

wrt matings at the end of Jackson's LoTR: I remember a number of people being annoyed at Strider and Arwen making goo-goo eyes at each other in part 1, but it was pointed out that this is plausible even if it wasn't in plot; one of the appendices in RoTK makes clear that they had a thing going for decades. IMO, Jackson made clear what the written plot did not: that Arwen was making a major sacrifice of her own will, not being presented as a prize or alliance.

#232 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 10:35 PM:

Is The Santaroga Barrier the one about the commune that makes a special cheese aged in a cave and it has a mold or fungus in it that gives them a group mind in the good sense? Do I remember it right? I loved it when I was twelve. I don't remember the upshot, except that it didn't seem to be the usual group-mind-must-be-evil thing.

There's been a tremendous change in domestic strawberries in the last forty years. Before that the only real difference was the domestic ones were bigger. Now they are a lot bigger and their seasonality, growth habits, and cultural requirements have been altered greatly. As far as I can tell, the inspiration for the huge change in strawberry culture is twofold: the unionization of grape culture with its attendant long-lasting grape boycott, and the boom in methyl bromide application after the movement to outlaw leaded gasoline.

No, I don't mean to be tinfoil hat, but if you look at the dates, and look at the breeding programs and where they have been located, and you look at the history of methyl bromide, it all sort of comes together like s story from that old "Connections" TV show.

(I live fifteen miles from the center of commercial strawberry (and raspberry) growing, and have taught at two schools where some of the highest concentrations of methyl bromide were found, so I had some inspiration to read up on these things)

#233 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2005, 10:48 PM:

IIRC, Brazil nuts are a wild food, as are many mushrooms.

#234 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 03:58 AM:


I understand Boorman cut the scene where Nicol Williamson explains the procedure for firing the explosive bolts.

"Oh, good! You've decided to clean the codpiece!"

Something is very fishy about that, Mike....

(By the way, I actually have experience with firing explosive bolts, at a very long distance away.)

#235 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 04:41 AM:

"wild strawberries" and the strawberrys typically found in supermarkets, are IIRC from different hemispheres. The "wild strawberries" that one can buy in nurseries, are originally from Europe or Eurasia--small, intensely fragrant, and sort of conical in shape, longer than they are wide. The supermarket strawberries are from North America, and more triangular in outline shape. The leaves are different, too, in shape and color. If one put a plant of each type next to one another, they're rather obviously not that closely related, I think they're quite different species, at the least.

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

Rocky Top, Tennessee
Weathertop, Middle Earth

===========

Herbert wrote a bunch of books. A couple that didn't get mentioned here are _Whipping Star_ and _The Dosadi Experiment_.

The less said about _The Green Brain_, the better....

Heretics of Dune IIRC was worth reading. Various of the books in the middle of the series, though...

=========

The B-36 is the reason why the runway at formerly Loring Air Force Base, in Limestone, Maine, is 2 miles long. The Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, has a B-36 looming over everything in its vicinity, there's the parasitic fighter plane hung from one of the hard points under its left wing, and there are other planes that are under it (but they're on the floor, not hanging from the B-36).

The last B-52s came off the production line in 1962... the A, B, C, D, E, and F models were all retired years--decades, actually, ago--production started sometime in the 1950s. The G and H series models that are still extant and flyable, are still in service.

The planes still in service in the 1970s were completely reskinned--the metal skins were removed work done on the internal structural parts, and new metal skins put on the planes.

The joke in the early 1970s about B-52s was that "maintenance on a B-52 consists of replacing the parts that fell out during flight" except it wasn't that much of a joke. They were wont to have engines drop off (with 8 or so of them, the planes can "lose"--figuratively as in enginess quitting, or literally as in falling off in flight--an engine or two without much effect on the plane's ability to fly) during routine flying and fall in some farmers' field or other more conspicous places. Sometimes structural parts fell off.
============

#236 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 04:46 AM:

Obviously, Frist was doctoring the "blind" trust with some fancy surgical technicals.

#237 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 05:27 AM:

Miss Kay: it was after the divorce. One of the founders explains that he had 19 September, his ex-wife's birthday, permanently fixed in his brain and no real reason to celebrate it, so he reckoned he would make up something. Hence Talk Like A Pirate Day.

On Herbert: The Dosadi Experiment is IIRC one of the Jorj X. McKie books, about an agent of the Bureau of Sabotage (BuSab), one of his most appealling ideas. The theory is that IT, modern communications and so on have speeded up bureaucracy to a dangerous degree (pause for laughter) - previously, administrative delay and inefficiency acted as a necessary brake on government policy, preventing anything too drastic from happening too quickly. BuSab (motto: ILRT, or In Lieu of Red Tape) was formed to put the delay back in again, thus preserving democracy from extremists.

#238 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 08:31 AM:

Xopher: I'm not in the UK; my understanding of "chicken/chickenhawk" comes from Atlanta, and especially reading about the now gentrified but formerly pretty damn scary Cabbagetown.

#239 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 09:06 AM:

Lucy: you are remembering correctly about the Herbert book. That may be why I didnn't much like it (that and the not-well-hidden subplot about the people who don't join the group get killed "accidentally".

I have a pot of Alpine strawberries. They can, with water, survive California summers with afternoon sun; they aren't fond of deep shade. Small, tasty, bloom all summer, tend to be clumping rather than running. Hortus 3 says they're native to both Eurasia and North America, where the main parent of cultivated strawberries is native to the Pacific coast from Alaska to Chile. (There are other species also.)

On the B52 and B36: I heard the AF museum was built around the B36 in the literal sense. And the B52 is known to at least some of us as the 'Aluminum Overcast'. There's one at Edwards that's a B model, still flying: it's used for drop tests; the side of the plane is impressive for the records painted on it: 120 flights with the X15, for example.

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 09:49 AM:

THAT was the premise of The Dosadi Experiment? Did Herbert really believe it? If he did, then he wasn't that smart.

#241 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 10:12 AM:

Thanks for the info about military planes, Paula. Still, why did the B-36 have backward-pointing prop engines AND jet engines. (This use of props even though jets were available reminds me of that old Sid Caesar skit where he plays a test pilot who will NOT fly a plane that doesn't have a propeller. Even a small prop will do.)

Why was the Flying Wing discontinued? Every once in a while, Turner Classic Movies fills the gap between movies with old documentaries. One was about the Flying Wing and showed what an airliner based on it would look like.

#242 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 10:28 AM:

Space Exploration: Envisioning the Future 10.13.057:00 PM - 9:00 PM at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum will be of particular interest to you people (joke "you people" is a joke really)

http://www.sfhomeworld.org/make_contact/details.asp?display=cal&m=10&d=13&y=2005&eventID=389


#243 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 10:45 AM:

One more Frank Herbert book, from my stack of moldy oldies: The Eyes of Heisenberg. Haven't read it for nearly 40 years, so all I can do is pass along this bit of jacket copy: "When ... Dr. Potter did not rearrange the most unusual genetic structure of [the Durants'] future son, barely an embryo growing in the State's special vat -- the consequences ... threatened to be catastrophic." The jacket also mentions another book "by this award-winning author": Destination: Void.

#244 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 10:59 AM:

The XB-47 Flying Wing was discontinued because it was impossible to fly. Edwards AFB was named after a USAF test pilot who died trying. It wasn't really discontinued - it's around today as the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber (from the same firm, Northrop, that made the Flying Wing). Now we have the computer technology to make them flyable, there's no real reason not to build them, except that it's much slower to evacuate 400 people from a flying wing than from a 747 (long way to walk to the edges from a seat in the middle of the row). Also, supposedly, people would feel uncomfortable being so far from the windows. Furthermore, when they bank to turn, the outer seats go up and down a lot. (Economies of scale mean that cargo birds are the same types as passenger birds - so you couldn't build a big wing as a cargo hauler only, you'd never get the sales to justify the project).

Originally, the B-36 was designed with just the six props - the jets came later to boost takeoff weight. An all-jet version, the B-60, went up against the B-52 for the Air Force's heavy bomber contract, and lost.
Key fact: the B-52 itself was supposed to be an interim bomber until North American got the B-70 Valkyrie ready for action. This would have been basically Concorde's big, nasty elder brother - six engines, a huge delta wing and a top speed of Mach 3. Unfortunately it had the radar cross section of, roughly, the Isle of Wight, and would have been a sitting target to the SA-2 radar-guided missiles that the Soviets were developing.

At the same time, the RAF was moving onto the beautiful V-Bombers - the Victor, the Valiant and the Vulcan. Vulcans finally flew their only combat missions in the Falklands, virtually falling apart from age (like so much of the task force).

Roughly, the props face backwards because this means the airflow over the wing is undisturbed and the aircraft gets better lift. (Putting them forwards - tractor configuration - means the props get the undisturbed air, so you sacrifice lift for speed). Neither is intrinsically more efficient - Flyer 1 had a pusher prop and WW1 planes tended to have either or both. I think the reason tractors are popular is probably that it makes sense to have the control surfaces at the tail, and that's a lot easier (for a single-engined plane) if you don't have an engine and prop there as well.

I think BuSab was just a fun idea, Herbert's way of poking fun at bureaucracy - certainly McKie is just a garden-variety secret agent in the Dosadi Experiment, and you never see him do any sabotage. The titular experiment has nothing to do with BuSab.

#245 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 11:13 AM:

I thought I had read about the Flying Wing's big problem was unstability in era without usable computers. For once, I remembered something correctly. Thanks, ajay.

#246 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:08 PM:

Aquila I would expect that ocean fish haven't had much evolutionary pressure from humans until quite recently.

Yes, if by recently you mean 125 years or so. If I remember correctly, the anchovy population off South America crashed to non-fishable levels in the late 1800s. Wait, you say, I saw anchovies on pizza just the other day.... Well, they renamed the anchoveta anchovy and fished and marketed it instead. That was the common pattern.

Then fishing gear got in an evolutionary race with declining fish populations, so they could be fished nearer to extinction. One of the common results is declining size [evolutionarily, smaller size at sexual maturity] of the top predator fish, our favorites. This summer I heard that the [cod?] population off New England did not recover as expected once fishing pressure had been removed, as fishery scientists had come to expect over the last century. Something else took over the niche instead.

Laura, Lucy, There was a fascinating book called Indian Givers, by Jack [?] [I thought I knew right where the book was], which pointed out that a high percentage of the worlds' food staples had been "genetically engineered" by the native populations of the Americas, especially Central America. As an SCA type, I had heard about corn [maize] and potatos, but an amazing variety of other foods which are now staples worldwide are included too. Tomatos and sunflower seeds included.

In this context, genetic engineering doesn't just mean breeding for larger size, as with European grains [corn], it means breeding the toxins out until the plant becomes edible. Both tomatos & potatos are in the seriously toxic nightshade family [is it still Solanaceae?]. Those Central American civilizations had amazing plant breeders.

The corollary to this is one of the answers to "Why do the deer and rabbits like our gardens so much, when there's all those native plants out there?"

#247 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Whipping Star and Dosadi Experiment are both a ton of fun if you don't take them too seriously (which the writing style and main character suggest you shouldn't.) I go back and reread them from time to time.

Dosadi Experiment is fairly Infernokrusher in spirit. True, not enough stuff gets blowed up real good, but the overall picture is of the society you'd get from a bunch of maniac survivalists of varying species trying to coexist with the help of an unlimited weapons budget. Herbert does well at depicting unlimited depths of scheming and backstabbing politics gone bad.

#248 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:24 PM:

And the fruit of both tomatoes and potatoes are the ONLY thing about the plant that does not have toxin in it. Leaves and stems are still poisonous. Neat trick.

#249 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:30 PM:

Framing alert: I'm surprised no one has ventured a reminder that referring to traditional plant and animal breeding as "genetic engineering" was a deliberate move to blur the fact that DNA technology is indeed something new under the sun.

Everyone is free to work out their own informed position on the question of genetically modified organisms (in or out of the food chain) but I do think it's correct to object to this kind of spin.

#250 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:32 PM:

rhandir, That was an interesting discussion among the hard-core conservatives about the Harriet Miers nomination. Lots of comments about how after Michael Brown they can't trust Bush cronies to be competent, or believe the loyal Bush apologists.

About that nomination, long ago in the early days of the womens' movement, it used to be said that when a mediocre woman, not just extraordinary women, had the same opportunities as a mediocre man, the womens' movement would have succeeded. [Well, my mother, who is a very extraordinary woman, used to say it, but I don't think it was just her].

I know we never desired to see a mediocre anyone on the Supreme Court, or as president. But I guess we have lived to see equal rights for mediocre cronies of both genders. Of course, in an administration which is afraid of competence, that is probably not surprising.

And since we still don't have equal rights or even equal pay, the womens' movement is far from success.

#251 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:35 PM:

cmk: Framing alert: I'm surprised no one has ventured a reminder that referring to traditional plant and animal breeding as "genetic engineering" was a deliberate move to blur the fact that DNA technology is indeed something new under the sun.

Thanks. So true.

#252 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 01:52 PM:

Mina said:

There was a fascinating book called Indian Givers, by Jack [?]

Jack Weatherford, I think. I read that book and his other one about the Americas, called Native Roots. Very cool. He speculates that Macchu Picchu was a giant plant laboratory, right?

I also read another book by two other people, called something like The Paleolithic Diet, which claimed that the earlier, non-domesticated, versions of plants have more nutrients than the versions that humans created. Interesting, if true.

Are eggplants also Solanaceae?

cmk said:

I'm surprised no one has ventured a reminder that referring to traditional plant and animal breeding as "genetic engineering" was a deliberate move to blur the fact that DNA technology is indeed something new under the sun.

I wasn't specifically aware that other people have used the term "genetic engineering" in that kind of propaganda sense, although I do certainly believe it. I came up with the realization by myself that genetic engineering is really what it is.

DNA technology is brand new, yes. But one of my pet peeves is the insistence that Science has discovered all kinds of new and wonderful things, and that our ancestors were all "primitive" and stupid.

To my mind, carrying out successful genetic engineering projects without direct access to DNA is an incredible achievement - mind-boggling, in fact. I use the term as a compliment to those who have gone before us.

#253 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 02:18 PM:

I also read another book by two other people, called something like The Paleolithic Diet, which claimed that the earlier, non-domesticated, versions of plants have more nutrients than the versions that humans created. Interesting, if true.

Sounds like The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet and Exercise and a Design for Living
but it's 3 people to include both M.D.s and anthropologists by S. Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak, Melvin Konner,
From Amazon: "From Library Journal
Eaton (a physician) and his co-authors contend that the greater part of our genetic make-up was established thousands of years ago in pre-agricultural hunting and gathering societies. Ill-suited for today's environment, our bodies are struggling to survive a disturbing array of diseases of civilization. Although their approach is novel, what the authors recommend is what most doctors advise for good health: a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, regular exercise, and avoidance of tobacco and excessive alcohol. They offer several conjectural chapters on the status and contributions of early women and the benefits to children of a natural upbringing. A thoughtful, if somewhat belabored, book. Anne Twitchell, EPA Headquarters Lib., Washington, D.C."

And do see the reference supra to a Space Exploration panel at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum

#254 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Clark - yes, that is the book. But I am not getting the connection to space exploration.

#255 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 02:47 PM:

Sorry, I did not mean to imply any connection between the plant genetics thread and the Museum panel.

Just trying to divert some discussion in a direction I would have thought natural. This group especially should take note of the panel members for reasons that will become obvious on reading the full list.

#256 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 03:07 PM:

The nightshade family is interesting:
tomato
'white' potato
eggplant
peppers, sweet and hot

and also:
tobacco
jimson-weed
nightshade
datura (not sure, but I think it's in here)

The whole family is full of alkaloids; it's just that some of them are actively hazardous to your health. The less-hazardous members are important to a lot of people. (What would we do without tomatoes?)

#257 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 03:08 PM:

I'm glad that Hortus 3 said that about alpine strawberries, because I've frequently seen them described as European but the California Native Plant Society was labelling them as N.Am and Eurasia last week and I thought hot damn! because the other native strawberry I knew about, f. chiloensis, gives those berries that have very nice wetness and an interesting nutty crunch but no sweetness.

It's all academic to me, though -- I can't get any kind of strawberries to produce enough to fight the sowbugs for, anywhere in my yard, to the point where I think it's not something they're missing out on but something anti-berry in the soil. I keep growing them because they're cute, though.

#258 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Huckleberries, tomatilloes, tomatoes, potatos, eggplant, bell peppers, and chili peppers are all nightshades. The edible part of the potato plant is the tuber, not the fruit, the fruit's poisonous. There are other nightshade species with edible parts--I think that the pepino "melon" might be a nightshade, and there are some that are in Central and South America but not commercially available in the USA, or most of the USA. I think I'm missing some commercially available other nightshades in the list above.

=====

The haddock stock has increased and haddock reproduce at smaller sizes, but that didn't happen so far with the cod, which is a relative of haddock.

One of the issues is that the technologies used in fishing include some that are extremely destructive of the habitat--there are the giant drift nets loose that got away from boats, in the oceans which trap fish and kill them. Some types of trawlers wreck the sea bottom as regards plant and animal growth and textures of the sea bottom to sustain plant and animal life. E.g, if you destroy the soil that the grass grows on, the grass can't grow and animals that live in the grass and eat the grass, have no food and shelter to live on... Then there's dumping of nasty stuff that spreads disease and kills plant and animal life... the fish in Boston Harbor used to have ugly nasty lesions and lumps from the nasty stuff that had been dumped in/was flowing into Boston Harbor. The advent of environmentalism and laws to stop pollution and remediate the pollution, effected a "harbor cleanup" and a drastic drop in the percentage of unhealty fish, improving the health and edibility of the fish in Boston Harbor.

But the Schnuck is doing his damnedest to reverse any and all such improvements. I know, make HIS acreage a toxic waste dump, to match its toxic waster and toxic waste promoter, owner...

#259 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 03:21 PM:

I can't get any kind of strawberries to produce enough to fight the sowbugs for

Lucy: I get snails more than sowbugs; the snails can climb the side of the pot (it's a 14-inch plastic post, with a saucer under it). We had grasshoppers this summer also. F. chiloensis is the west-coast native; I think the commercial types are a hybrid of the two.

Nightshade family: I'm not sure if huckleberries are in this family or not. Being at work, I don't have access to my favorite plant references (Hortus 3 and the Sunset Garden Book).

#260 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 03:25 PM:

I have seen potato plants in flower, but I don't think I have ever seen potato fruits. What do they look like?

Congratulations to the panelists of Space Exploration: Envisioning the Future, btw. I have never met any of them in person, but I think I know why Clark posted it here.

#261 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 04:11 PM:

More Help Wanted ads from the Bush Administration: http://www.whitehouse.org/opportunities.asp

#262 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 05:27 PM:

I have a pot of Alpine strawberries.

One of the nice things about Alpine strawberries is that they come in white (well, a creamy yellow) as well as red. According to one of the staffers at Annie's Annuals, birds are less likely to go after the white ones than the red ones.

There is a slight difference in the flavor; the white ones seem to me to have a faint honey-like character. It's nice.

DNA technology is brand new, yes. But one of my pet peeves is the insistence that Science has discovered all kinds of new and wonderful things, and that our ancestors were all "primitive" and stupid.

To my mind, carrying out successful genetic engineering projects without direct access to DNA is an incredible achievement - mind-boggling, in fact. I use the term as a compliment to those who have gone before us.

I think one of the problems with using the term "genetic engineering" for traditional plant breeding is that it makes the new techniques -- the ones for which the term "genetically engineered" is generally used, and the products of which get labeled "GMO" -- seem proven and benign, when one of the main points that anti-GMO folks make is that the techniques haven't been proven, and we don't know that they're benign.

My next door neighbors can crossbreed and hybridize the plants in their garden until the cows come home (this being Oakland, that'll be a long time), and I don't mind. The worst that's likely to happen is that if they plant a different variety of squash or corn than I do, we might both get unplanned, less-than-tasty hybrids.

The scientists shooting fish genes into tomatoes and splicing Bacillus thuringiensis genes into potatoes, on the other hand, I'm not nearly as sanguine about.

#263 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Mina, Jack Weatherford was a professor at Macalester College. And Indian Givers is a wonderful book.

------------

apropos of nothing, thought the following ebay ad commentary for a pair of men's leather pants was worth sharing. As are the Q/As.:

men's leather pants

#264 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 06:58 PM:

PJ: the NPS tags said that the alpine strawberries were from the Sierras. Everything in the NPS side of the plant sale was strictly CA natives, most of them not "improved" at all (though some were definitely selected!). I didn't get them because the nice fellow distracted me and dragged me over to the salvias section of the Arboretum side of the plant sale and I became utterly enamored of these insane salvias and a relative of iris whose name I can't remember -- looks like a watsonia and comes from South Africa, natch.

More stuff about the history of strawberries. The USDA has some strawberry information but it stops in the eighteenth century and the strawberry varieties they talk about are very East Coast-oriented, probably becuase Driscoll's has a West Coast monopoly going on.

The USDA article seems to draw from this one, but none of these has the information in them that caused me to make the claims I did earlier. Oh well. You can pretend I didn't say them, since I can't find the information that made me come to those conclusions, or you can sort of set them aside for later contemplation.

#265 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 07:53 PM:

Strawberries? Where's the Bishop of Ely when you really need him?

#266 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 09:02 PM:

PJ Evans: Lucy: you are remembering correctly about the Herbert book. That may be why I didnn't much like it (that and the not-well-hidden subplot about the people who don't join the group get killed "accidentally".

You are misremembering the book. Various people get hurt or killed because the invader quickly becomes paranoid. It's not that he isn't part of the group; he is very specifically someone sent by commercial interests pissed off that they can't get a toehold in the local market (hence my comparison to The Coca-Cola Kid). Note also the opening scene, in which he sees that the locals aren't all couched in front of the TV in the evening.

ajay: I've seen the XB-70 at Wright-Patterson; don't remember it being that big, and I would have thought that the speed would have given it some advantage against SAMs? IIRC, they just couldn't make it fly very well -- I've heard that the one I saw made one flight, to its current location, after the other one crashed.

Mina W: re mediocrity, I managed to miss the original report last week in which former Indiana senator Coats, now in charge of getting Miers confirmed, answered her critic by saying that putting only intellectuals on the Supreme Court meant the court wasn't representative. Shades of Roman Hruska....

#267 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 09:10 PM:

Mr. Ford:

His Grace is searching for the appropriate fork.

Harriet

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 10:35 PM:

these insane salvias and a relative of iris whose name I can't remember

Salvias can be really insane - I want the one called "Hot Lips" which changes color, someday when I have room. The natives (and a lot of them are) can be really nice shrubs, if tending to get weedy sometimes. (The joys of having worked for a while at a nursery!)

Some of the iris family from South Africa that I know of are crocosmia (aka montbretia) and babiana (aka baboon flower). Both pretty, but crocosmia tends to spread fast.

CHip: Probably misremembering; it's in a box, assuming I still have it, along with most of the rest of my books, in a storage shed and Not Real Accessible.

#269 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 10:55 PM:

Well, much wrangling and I found my new plant is schizostylus coccinea.

The truly insane salvia I bought is a mexicana, variety "chartreuse (but this website calls it "limelight"):" it looks nothing whatever like the purple mexican sage you see everywhere these days. Which turns out not to be mexicana anyway, who knew? it's leucantha. My new guy's growth habit is immense, rather like a pineapple sage, but it sends up these huge spathes with immense shocking charteuse calyxes and brilliant prussian blue flowers.

There were many other plants we brought home, too, but most of them had cute little flowers and were for the nice fellow, who leans that way.

Um, everybody who's bored by this stuff: sorry for the extreme plant neeping.

#270 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 11:40 PM:

Mr. Macdonald's post way above is why i should not read this at work, I "don't" have a rubberized keyboard there.

hrc-I posted that to Disturbing Auctions, a group that I love when I've got enough time on my hands. It was way too funny not to. (we learned a couple of years ago that eBay uses us (DA) as a way to spot 'illegal' auctions, because people usually immediately post them to DA.)

This is the link to that guy's Web site, From DA.
http://www.banterist.com/

It's pretty funny too.

Lucy, I'm going to email you off-list about plant neeping, I need advice to prepare for next spring... I'm in KC, MO and on a fairly light-restricted lot.

#271 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 12:54 AM:

Wood/alpine strawberries were originally from Europe/Eurasia, and are, again, different species from native American strawberries--one of the references cites below even specifies that the number of chromosomes are different! I remember seeing tiny "wild strawberries" in a field at summer camp in Maine as a child, they looked like very tiny versions of supermarket strawberries. Those are "native wild strawberries" and visually completely non-mistakeable for alpire/wood strawberries except by someone whose eyesight is poor.

There has been lots of species-crossing of strawberries, including crossing western and eastern hemisphere varieties...

http://www.nal.usda.gov/pgdic/Strawberry/book/bokintro.htm

[USDA = US Government, work is I expect in public domain...]

G. M. Darrow, The Strawberry: History, Breeding and Physiology

I

Introduction

by Henry A. Wallace


The problem of tracing the history and ancestry of strawberries is very difficult because there are so many kinds which are so similar in appearance and so distant in ancestry. Evolution from the ancestor of the wild strawberry of Europe to the wild strawberry of Eastern America, probably required hundreds of thousands of years; derivation of the wild strawberry of Chile may have required even longer.


The ordinary wild wood strawberry of Europe, the fraise des bois or vesca, is rarely tasted today except by epicures. And yet in the 1400's, as Mary Wallace Bruggmann briefly elaborates, this wild European wood strawberry was highly esteemed in religious art. The first person really to understand the relationship of this wild European strawberry to the wild American strawberries was Antoine Duchesne, a young French boy of the Court of Louis XV. His observations are fully described for the first time in English in a fascinating way by Vivian Lee in this book. He had a ringside seat when the modern large-fruited strawberry, based solely or almost solely on blood from North and South America, was brought together for the first time in Europe in the mid-1700's. Without this European work, which combined North and South American strawberries, our modem strawberry would not exist.

The problem of tracing the history and ancestry of strawberries is very difficult because there are so many kinds which are so similar in appearance and so distant in ancestry. Evolution from the ancestor of the wild strawberry of Europe to the wild strawberry of Eastern America, probably required hundreds of thousands of years; derivation of the wild strawberry of Chile may have required even longer.

...

The large-fruited strawberry has displaced the small-fruited, wild strawberries of eastern United States and the totally different wild strawberry of Europe...the unique flavor of the wild strawberry of Europe, the fraise des bois or vesca, is never found in our domestic large-fruited strawberry...

An even greater challenge is to breed a large-fruited strawberry with the Muscat flavor. This is a second, but rarely found, wild strawberry in Europe which has a flavor quite different from the fraise des bois... Scientifically, the musky strawberry was recognized as moschata by Duchesne 200 years ago. It has a rough leaf and carries its blossoms very high...

...An everbearing, non-running form of fraise des bois was first found in the wild about 300 years ago just east of Grenoble in the low Alps near the Swiss and Italian borders. These mostly have elongated, pointed fruits, and are the type grown by a limited number of epicures along the coast in northeastern United States today. They breed true from seed and are propagated by seed. But this pointed, alpine fraise des bois is not the kind usually seen in the paintings of the 1400's. Apparently the running, round-fruited type was more common in the 1400's.

It has only been since 1926 that scientists have had the techniques to know that the fraise des bois or vesca had only 14 chromosomes, whereas the Chilean, the wild North American, and the commercial large-fruited strawberry all have 56 chromosomes...


http://www.uga.edu/fruit/strawbry.htm


ORIGIN, HISTORY OF CULTIVATIONa,/ia.


Prior to the relatively recent development of F. X ananassa, wood strawberries (F. vesca) and Musky strawberries (F. moschata,) were cultivated in Europe and Russia for centuries...

... Modern cultivated strawberries represent an anomaly in that we know almost precisely when and where the species arose. In 1714, a French spy named Frezier returned from duty in Peru and Chile with 5 plants of Fragaria chiloensis, a large fruited species native to coastal areas of South America. .. Inter-planting of F. virginiana (male) with F. chiloensis (female) in the Brittany region led to production of hybrid seedlings that came to be known as Pineapple or Pine strawberries, progenitors of the modern cultivated strawberries. French Botanist Antoine Duchesne published a book in 1766 detailing the origin of the Pine strawberry, and became the authority for the botanical name - Fragaria ananassa Duch. Around that time, Pine strawberry culture spread to other European nations, particularly England, where the first cultivars were produced during the early 1800s. Selections of these were imported to America in the 1800's and provided the germplasm for more cultivars...
Native American strawberries were enjoyed by early settlers in the eastern USA, and in the early 1800s, F. X ananassa cultivars were brought to America from Europe...

#272 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 04:16 AM:

Paula (Helm Murray), I'm afraid that anything I would say about gardening would be dangerously unuseful for somebody in the middle of the continent. Where you have snow and summer rain and probably other things I have no experience with. But I'd love to have the conversation anyway.

Paula (Lieberman), I'm going to digest that later, I'm late goign to bed right now.

#273 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:06 AM:

Laura, some help for your question about what potato fruit looks like.
Rutgers has a useful Harmful Plants section of its site, which includes potato fruit. Gardeners might like the Kansas variety of site (that's a different Oz to mine), or this other site which shows inside the fruit.

There's a FAQ around that asks if a tomato is a vegetable or a fruit. Of course it is a fruit, but is used like a vegetable. The odd thing is that there are quite a few other vegetable fruits, including Solanaceae, but the question is always about tomato(e)s. In fact, the feature fruit of the current US season, pumpkin, is another one. Peanuts now, there's an odd little edible if you look at how it grows.

#274 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:43 AM:

Thanks for the particle on flu. The BBC was going on and on and on about the bird flu a few months ago -- to the extent that I began to feel worried. Since then I've come up with a simple way to avoid catching the virus: chop raw chillies without wearing gloves.

#275 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:46 AM:

Pretty sure huckleberries, remembering the flowers, are related to Manzanita and Rhododendrons. That means also needing the fungi that connect the roots directly to decaying matter in the soil.

By the way, anybody who hasn't tried the real thing in wild huckleberries, they are nothing like the sugar-water packaged in a berry that call themselves blueberries in the grocery store. If you happen to be near the Northern Idaho foothills in August, be sure to try some. Pancakes, syrup, pie, jam, or even huckleberry daquiries.

re maybe native wild strawberries: a few years ago I thought I'd make a shade garden which I could be out in in the summer. Planted a lot of neat things,snowdrops and primrose and Iris cristata and a blue Corydalis.... can't remember all the others. There were a few innocent looking tiny strawberry type plants at the base of the pine trees, where I left them and 2 foot rings of needle mulch. Then I watered, of course. I did get a season or two of lovely flowers, but then those innocent little strawberries, encouraged by all that water, moved out and took over the whole area. Grew over everything except Geranium macrorhizum [sp?] which is taller and can keep ahead. So I gave in and decided I had a strawberry ground cover. Tiny edible berries. They really like the pine needles. Now something else that looks almost exactly like the little strawberries, so that it's hard to weed out, is taking over. It has yellow flowers, though, and I think no berries.Potentilla maybe. Don't know where it came from.

#276 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:32 AM:

I've come up with a simple way to avoid catching the virus: chop raw chillies without wearing gloves.

Immediate reactions:
1. This is an attempt to link back to the infamous TNH Napalm Chilli Death Inferno thread.
2. You don't catch flu because no one will come close enough to transfer an infection for fear of succumbing to TNH Napalm Chilli Death Inferno.
3. The phrase "it became necessary to destroy my mucous membranes in order to save them" comes to mind. One I plan to use on my next curry experience.
4. It's lunchtime and I now really want some chilli. And some strawberries.

#277 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 09:05 AM:

Those "potato fruit" look a lot like an even smaller version of some of the small, globular varieties of eggplant. (There's a reason they're called EGGplant.) Which, if both potates and eggplant are in the nightshade family, makes sense.

#278 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 10:17 AM:

Ph goodie. Nothing brings out the neep like plant common name confusion. This one is lovely.

There's a huckleberry which is vaccinium (same genus as blueberry,bilberry,cranberry,crowberry,partridgeberry,lingonberry,whortleberry,sparkleberry! and something called fakeberry). 450 species

There's a "true" huckleberry which is gaylussacia, and has 40 species, all? new world.

Both of these are in the ericaceae, as are currants and gooseberries.

And then there is "garden" huckleberry, which is in the solanum family, grows as a weed in my backyard, and is pooisonous when the berries are green. There is, of course, a Burbank hybrid variety called "wonderberry."

#279 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 10:26 AM:

Epacris: Thanks for the potato fruit link!

Bruce: I thought they looked like tomatoes - another relation.

Upthread, I said:

. . . To my mind, carrying out successful genetic engineering projects without direct access to DNA is an incredible achievement - mind-boggling, in fact. I use the term as a compliment to those who have gone before us.

Lexica said:

I think one of the problems with using the term "genetic engineering" for traditional plant breeding is that it makes the new techniques -- the ones for which the term "genetically engineered" is generally used, and the products of which get labeled "GMO" -- seem proven and benign, when one of the main points that anti-GMO folks make is that the techniques haven't been proven, and we don't know that they're benign. . . .

That is very true. I wish there was some other phrase to use for the primordial creation of plant foods . . . maybe just "plant engineering."

Or maybe the process currently known as genetic engineering should be called something like "genetic perversions of nature."

#280 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 10:29 AM:

Heck, as long as we are plant neeping, I recommend the book The Sweet Breathing of Plants.

#281 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 11:11 AM:

I got to work this morning and was very excited to find that they put plants up along my cube wall. This way I can enjoy plants and not feel guilty when I inevitably kill them.

In NYC once purchased an African Violet as I was lonely without a pet, and had heard that they are hard plants to kill (my mom kept several of them alive - how hard could it be?). Within a couple of weeks the poor thing was dead, and I left it with in the trash, feeling like an evil plant murderer. Months later I noticed a lush African Violet plant on the top of the fridge - a tall roommate with a green thumb had nursed the plant back to health, and wisely placed it out of my reach.

I've put my little John Crichton action figure in my work plants. What I really need are a bunch of Ewoks.

#282 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 12:07 PM:

Laura, the quote you pulled from Lexica mentions "plant breeding." Wouldn't this be adequate for describing non-GMO food-improvement techniques?

#283 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 12:08 PM:

RHS neepery about alpine strawberries:

http://www.rhs.org.uk/Learning/publications/pubs/garden0704/alpinestrawbs.asp

I routinely grew alpines in my garden in the UK, mostly Baron Solemacher. I gave up here, because anything that was out of the reach of squirrels was out of the reach of cats, and therefore obviously an ideal nesting site for the local doves. Between alpines not being quite hardy enough to enjoy being used as nest lining, and me feeling guilty about watering dove chicks along with the surviving plants...

#284 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 12:46 PM:

P J Evans writes: Salvias can be really insane...

I like how Salvia divinorum is thought to be a cultigen.

#285 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 01:32 PM:

More fun with solanaceae:

The Mandarin Chinese word for "tomato" literally means "barbarian eggplant".

#286 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 01:33 PM:

The Blue Wizards! [yes, from the Tolkien all the way back at the beginning. . .] I never found their names out.

I checked out, once, what happened to Radagast and heard a nice explanation. [I risk lecturing the experts here, as I am poor at analyzing literature. I just read it.]

Radagast succumbed to the lure of the wild.
Saruman succumbed to the lure of knowledge.
I think the Blue Wizards succumbed to the lure of the "ordinary life"- they settled down somewhere safe.
Only Gandalf kept to the original stewardship.

#287 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 04:25 PM:

So the Blue Wizards went over the wall...wound up with a native wife somewhere in the Teutoburgerwald or north of Hadrian's Wall like some of the old Roman soldiers, eh? Possible -- heck, how many Star Trek episodes dealt with the seductions of being "embodied" and the difficulty of giving it up?

#288 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:08 PM:

RE Blue Wizards: Is this canonical or fanfic?

As I recall Tolkien simply says they headed east.

It is nice to imagine one of them leading some Prester John like kingdom amidst the elfless barbarity, but we really don't know.

#289 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:11 PM:

I myself always hoped that one or more of these Blue Wizards was female.

#290 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 05:44 PM:

All that's canonical is that there were two Blue Wizards, unnamed, who came over with the three named ones and went east.

#291 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 06:17 PM:

CHip:I've seen the XB-70 at Wright-Patterson; don't remember it being that big, and I would have thought that the speed would have given it some advantage against SAMs? IIRC, they just couldn't make it fly very well

The XB-70 flew just fine, but one of the two built crashed after an F-104 (being flown by NASA chief test pilot Joseph Walker) got too close to it and was caught in a wingtip vortex. The F-104 flipped over and hit the XB-70, taking off one of its vertical stabilizers. The pilots didn't even notice the impact (!) and kept flying level for a while, but eventually the plane went into an unrecoverable spin and crashed. Impressive photos here


Losing one of two prototypes is a big hit for any program, but the B-70 program was on the ropes anyway because of the rapid improvement in SAMs, as someone else noted. It was becoming clear that even at Mach 3, a high altitude bomber would not survive trying to attack the Soviet Union in a nuclear environment, and that was the only mission where the B-70 made sense. (It's arguable whether the B-2 *ever* made sense....)

Personally, I think George Lucas must have used the XB-70 as seen from the rear as the inspiration for the Imperial Star Destroyer.

Neat XB-70 fact: those turned-down wingtips were actually a major source of lift at Mach 3: the wingtip shockwave bouncing off the underside of the main wing generates lift. Hypersonic aircraft designers call this a "waverider" design, and the XB-70 is the only waverider aircraft that's ever flown.

#292 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 06:18 PM:

A Coupla Blue Wizards Sittin' Around Talkin'

"So, want to succumb?"
"What?"
"I hear everybody's succumbing. Except that swot Gandalf."
"Well, yes, of course except Dynamite Dick, but what in the name of Feanor's balls are you on about?"
"Succumbing. You know."
"Up until this very instant I thought I did. What do you think it means?"
"Well, I mean, you know --" [whispers]
"I see. Well, in actual fact, succubi may be involved in certain particular cases, not that I am going to mention names, but I believe you have once again managed to grasp the warg by the wrong end."
"Oh. Want to do it anyway?"
"Yeah, bugger this for a game of Rohirrim. Let's go into the West."
"What's in the West?"
"Vegas, Ithron baby, Vegas."

#293 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:11 PM:

Well, strawberries and hot peppers can be combined. A friend once served chocolate cheesecake with a strawberry-habanero sauce. I found the idea frightening but the resulting dessert was delicious.

#294 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:30 PM:

Solonacae - at the vague edge of my memory (maybe a Berton Rouéche medical mystery book) I recall reading about some idiot who had been told that grafting a tomato onto a jimson weed ('loco weed'-another solonacae) root stock would increase the vigor of the tomatoes grown. He'd been doing it for years. Except for the last time he did it...apparently he left too little of the tomato parts and too much of the jimson weed, or maybe the jimson weed as too vigorous and took over. Tomatoes were vigorous, enormous, and he sickened (maybe killed) his entire family. Because they were extremely toxic.

#295 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:35 PM:

(Hot && Sweet) is a neglected region of taste - space.

#296 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:49 PM:

Stefan Jones: (Hot && Sweet) is a neglected region of taste - space.

In Western cuisine. Asian cuisines (e.g. Thai) do it all the time.

Strawberry-habanero sauce on a cheesecake sounds great.

BWT, I mentioned a blog post (complete with pictures) on smoke-drying jalapeños and habaneros on Butter Pig on "Listening to Habaneros" but don't think anyone saw it, so here it is again.

#297 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 07:50 PM:
Solonacae - at the vague edge of my memory (maybe a Berton Rouéche medical mystery book) I recall reading about some idiot who had been told that grafting a tomato onto a jimson weed ('loco weed'-another solonacae) root stock would increase the vigor of the tomatoes grown. He'd been doing it for years. Except for the last time he did it...apparently he left too little of the tomato parts and too much of the jimson weed, or maybe the jimson weed as too vigorous and took over. Tomatoes were vigorous, enormous, and he sickened (maybe killed) his entire family. Because they were extremely toxic.

There was indeed such a story in one of Rouéche's books. The person in question was trying the graft for the first time, having heard about it from a friend, but didn't realize that the friend heavily pruned the non-tomato portions of the plant, which apparently kept the poison out of the tomatoes (enough, anyway).

The family just got sick for a while - they all recovered.

#298 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 09:24 PM:

Re hot+sweet: Most hot pepper jellies I find (a) have sharp heat but not flavorful heat and (b) don't have actual fruit. Quinn's Peach Habanero Jelly is a tasty exception.

There used to be a locally-made blueberry-chipotle "grill sauce" that made the best PB&J ever. I miss it and mourn it.

By the way, Serge, the actor you were asking about WAY upstream was indeed in both Sidestreet and DaVinci's Inquest: one Donnelly Rhodes. Says the imdb.

#299 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 10:34 PM:

Larry: Strawberry-habanero sauce on a cheesecake sounds great.

And the supertaster runs away screaming in terror... I know at least one person who would actually try this, and forget to warn me when serving it at a dinner party. I hope he doesn't lurk here.

#300 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 11:01 PM:

Janet: So the Blue Wizards went over the wall...wound up with a native wife somewhere in the Teutoburgerwald or north of Hadrian's Wall like some of the old Roman soldiers, eh?

From what we read at the remains of various Wall forts (after Interaction this summer), a lot of the later staff came with or acquired wives and kept them in the neighboring villages if not in the forts themselves. I don't know how many soldiers went over the Wall -- depends on what kind of people were living on the other side at that point, whether the soldiers valued hot baths, ....

Jordin: so if even a Mach 3 bomber couldn't work against Soviet SAMs, we kept on flying B-52's as if they were threats? I remember being woken up by one that was over northeastern Ontario at 2AM, reliable as clockwork (August 1966 -- two months after the XB-70 crash -- but I've read that the patrols carried on for some time). I understood that the patrols were supposed to mean "We can take you out even if you first-strike our bases", but that doesn't add up with what you say.

#301 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 11:03 PM:

Um, can anyone help me identify the two peppers I just bought at Whole Foods? I _think_ they're among the milder ones -- about 7 or 8 inches long, curving like a scorpion's abdomen, the basket of peppers was unlabeled but the peppers on offer ranged from green through orangish to a sort of scarlet. Mine are greeny-orange and (the second one) scarlet. Not habaneros, which were in a different basket (and a different shape). The checkout clert went to check on them and came back claiming they were Serranos, but another clerk thought they were a different pepper.

Will I need the Gloves and Goggles to deal with these, or are they fairly tame? (Which is my hope)

#302 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 11:06 PM:

On looking at the list of Solonacae that are regarded as fairly common and harmless by contemporary USAns, I realize why C J Cherryh's alkaloid-eating atevi found Nadi Bren's Mospheiran "pizza" so appealing.....

Harriet

#303 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 11:08 PM:

Also, if I just (on impulse) purchased some "steamed crawfish" and some fresh Little Neck Clams, do I have to stay up all night cooking them, or will they keep until Friday night when I'll have more leisure to deal with them as they deserve?

#304 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2005, 11:34 PM:

The crawfish should be fine in the refrigerator overnight; same with the clams if they're shucked. If they're not in some kind of container (like one of those plastic-topped tins) keep them moist with some damp paper towels.

If the clams are still live, same deal -- in the icebox, in a container with something to keep them moist. The container mustn't be airtight, and don't submerge them, or they will die and haunt you.

#305 ::: Paula Kate ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 12:02 AM:

Re: Blue Wizards ... depending how one defines "canonical", there is a late incomplete note (CJRT dates it to autumn 1972) in THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE-EARTH, page 384 ff.:

But the other two Istari were sent for a different purpose ... their task was to circumvent Sauron: to bring help to the few tribes of Men [in the East] that had rebelled from Melkor-worship, to stir up rebellion...

This text names them Morinehtar and Romestamo, Darkness-Slayer and East-helper.

#306 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 12:29 AM:

Harriet, those peppers sound like anaheims, californias, or possibly hungarian peppers, all of which are mildly pungent. Handle them with care when seeding them and stuff, because the seeds are likely to be irritiating -- even bell pepper seeds can be irritating -- but I wouldn't be actually afraid of them. They're unlikely to be like habaneros.

Somebody's going to come up with exceptions, but I've never met a very long pepper that wasn't milder than the little ones, and I've never met a big fat blocky pepper that wasn't milder than the little ones either. The ones I don't feel confident about are the sort of small but not tiny ones, because they seem to come in all heats.

#307 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 12:47 AM:

Nice find, Kate!

I'm really glad the estate didn't open things up, or the nightmare titles I mention uptopic may well have been written.

#308 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 01:48 AM:

The XB-70 is -big-. I spent four or six weeks at Wright-Pat taking a class there when I was in the Air Force, and went over and saw the Air Force Museum.

The B-52 is slower, but flies a lot -lower- than the XB-70 did. The rumors were that the MiG-25 was designed and built with the idea of shooting down XB-70s and SR-71. The former though never went into production, and the latter to the best of my knowledge was too fast and high and with low low a radar-observable signature for any MiG-25 to ever be successful at trying to intercept and shoot down.

The B-52s also had radar jamming ability... one of them burned out a police radar treating the cop radar as a radar source to defeat...

The operations costs of B-70 would have been exhorbitant--the estimate is typically that Operations and Maintenance cost more than nine times as much as the initial research, development, testing, evaluation, and production costs of "a weapon system". Supersonic flight is expensive, and supersonic planes are expensive, and the faster they go, the more expensive it gets.

Utility may have entered it, too--1960s high-flying bombers weren't going to be able to be all that accurace dropping ordnance, and their payload was less than the ugly old slower BUFs. I worked with someone who'd been a B-58 pilot, the planes were fast, but the control system was decades behind the airframe and engine "I have the plane full throttle -once-," he told, "when a student pilot had the plane too low and too slow coming in for a land." The all-analog control systems of the time just couldn't respond fast enough to keep the plane in stable configuration at full throttle, and the result was that putting the engines to full throttle for more than e.g. the very brief amount of time my coworker had pushed the throttle to full to get the plane more speed and altitude to avoid stalling out too close to the ground and crashing fatally, would literally cause the plane to come apart.

#309 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 02:43 AM:

Jordin: so if even a Mach 3 bomber couldn't work against Soviet SAMs, we kept on flying B-52's as if they were threats?

Yeah, and they were, sorta. Not to get in too deep, the B-52 operations plans were modified to have them come in at "treetop" level (or as close as they could get in the days before terrain-following radar) with heavy radar jamming, and hope some would survive to reach their targets. They didn't have much better odds than the B-70, but they were much cheaper, and we already had a lot of them. And they were a realistic threat in some fairly plausible (by the logic of the times) scenarios, such as a first strike by the USSR that knocked out most US ICBMs but left enough to wreck the Soviet air defenses.

The Cold War generated some *amazing* weapons systems that, fortunately, never got deployed. _Steam Bird_ by Hilbert Schenck, is a lovely bit of fiction based on another one, the nuclear-powered bomber. I'd better stop now, or I'll start blathering about Project Pluto, the Mach-3 *at sea level* nuclear ramjet drone that LLNL was building around that time....

#310 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 04:02 AM:

For more on Pluto, see 'A Colder War'.

Especially the trailer-worthy voiceover...
"XK-PLUTO is a total weapon: every aspect of its design, from the shockwave it creates as it hurtles along at treetop height to the structure of its atomic reactor, is designed to inflict damage." What possible threat could PLUTO be aimed against? Read the story.

I'll look out for 'Steam Bird'; has it been published anywhere else? Looks a bit difficult to find. My favourite was always Dyson's idea of an Orion-based Deep Space Force deterrent - much safer than subs (at least against accidental launch).

On the detectability issue: radar horizon was always a big issue, especially with the Soviets, who didn't have good airborne radar until quite late on. So you came in low and slow and tried to beat his reaction time, rather than coming in high and fast and trying to outrun his missiles - Mach 3 is fast for a bomber, but not for a missile; even an old SA-2 Guideline can break Mach 4, so if you see the B-70s coming early enough you just start launching and put up a wall of them.
(On a related note, I have personally had the experience of being tracked by a SAM radar over Laos. It's not what you think; they use them for civilian air traffic control now. Very unnerving nonetheless.)


MiG-25 was indeed planned as an anti-Valkyrie interceptor. It had enough engine to get up to altitude, fire off a volley of radar-homing AAMs and then cruise back down. Forget range; forget dogfighting. It was basically a manned missile for carrying smaller missiles and a huge radar. And once you landed, you probably needed to replace the engines you'd burnt out. Oh, and each flight took a ton of pure alcohol. They called it the 'flying restaurant'.

#311 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 09:02 AM:

Which is why the old Soviet Air Defence Force - they had some mad arrangement that put various of their air assets under completely separate commands - were never able to fly that particular aircraft at full spec. Vodka is alcohol and water. Here's a ton of alcohol, over here we have a lot of snow. This, in Russian, equals party.

#312 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:09 AM:

Yes, they actually had protest marches by mothers of PVO-Strany ground crew, calling for them to design an interceptor that didn't use alcohol.

Not such a mad arrangement: think about why you might want to have completely different chaps in charge of the bombers and the interceptors. Think 'coup d'etat'. It was worse than that - they have the Army, the Navy (including the naval infantry), Air Force, Air Defence, Strategic Rocket Forces, Interior Ministry, KGB/FSB (including the Border Guards), various weird SF units directly responsible to the President, Emergency Ministry troops, Finance Ministry Special Tax Police...

(Not that the West is that much better. The US has four different air forces. Think how many police forces operate in Washington DC.)

It always struck me as insanely optimistic that Soviet tanks were designed to run on any fuel, including ethanol. I mean, petrol, diesel, avgas, sure - flexibility on the battlefield, ability to use any captured stocks, it all makes sense. But ethanol? Can anyone even conceive of a Soviet tank crew exclaiming "Look over there! A huge dump of barrels of ethanol! Thank God, now our tank will be able to run a few extra kilometres!" rather than just, as you say, "Party!"

#313 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:29 AM:

Apropos of nothing...Knitted Robots!

(Via Make!, via Boing Boing)

#314 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:35 AM:

When I read the posts here about the Blue Wizards, I keep picturing them as Blue Men -- or wannabe Blues like the guy on "Arrested Development". Somebody here (I'm not naming names) could surely take this and run with it.

#315 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:47 AM:

I realize why C J Cherryh's alkaloid-eating atevi found Nadi Bren's Mospheiran "pizza" so appealing.....

The thought had crossed my mind also. Atevi might also enjoy real tea and coffee, if the Mospheirans have it: caffeine is also an alkaloid.

#316 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 11:03 AM:

I saw that, too, Skwid. I've already contacted the robotiste about obtaining the pattern. I have a niece and a (brand-spanking-new) nephew who desperately need some of these.

#317 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 12:19 PM:

Reopening NOLA:

Landmark New Orleans cafe getting ready to reopen

Coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde starting Wednesday.

#318 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 12:41 PM:

I liked Mark Morford's column on SFGate this morning. The question of how to stay involved and engaged with what's going on in the world without succumbing to despair is one I've been struggling with a lot lately.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2005/10/14/notes101405.DTL

#319 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 01:38 PM:

Taking advantage of the open thread to post apropos of nothing in particular:

A news report released today says that this past September showed the largest monthly gain in consumer prices in over 25 years.

The article also reports the following:

“The president has confidence in the Federal Reserve when it comes to monetary policy and their ability to address any inflation concerns,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Given Bush's track record on things like Iraq and disaster preparedness, I get very nervous when I hear that the president has confidence in anything.

#320 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 02:09 PM:

The only people left who are confident in the president are the ones you can fool all of the time.

I suggest we rise to the occasion and consider selling them shares in silver mines, or cures for the Avian Flu. ("No, really! Habernero-strawberry enemas, twice a day.")

#321 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 02:45 PM:

Respectfully I suggest that having confidence in the president and the president having confidence in anything/anyone are apples and oranges.

#322 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 03:04 PM:

"confidence" about the Schmuck -- isn't "conman" derived from "confidence" and "man"?

=======

"Who Benefits from Deicing Fluids?" -- article in one of the Soviet military aviation magazines circa 1980, discussing the problem of loss of aircraft from lack of deicing fluid, which in the USSR was ethanol. (The USA converted over to methanol to stop ground crew and aircrews from siphoning the deicing fluid to get drunk on, but that didn't work when tried in the USSR, they drank it -anyway- and went blind or died. Given a choice between drunk who would see and live another day, and dead drunks, the USSR chose to got back to using ethanol and trying somewhat vainly to persuade people to not siphon the decing fluid tanks of airplanes.)

#323 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 03:26 PM:

isn't "conman" derived from "confidence" and "man"?

It certainly is; the idea from the conman's side is that you put your confidence in him long enough for him to get money from you, before he leaves town (frequently without notice) and takes the money with him. (Whether you'll have as much confidence in the next guy that comes along is not his problem.) Conmen are generally nocturnal aviators.

#324 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 03:44 PM:

Lucy, re plant common name confusion

I didn't know there were 3 'huckleberries'! When we were kids my dad looked in the dictionary [that authoritative plant reference] and decided that what everyone else in Idaho called 'huckleberry' was really a blueberry, and we all had to call them that. There were several recognisably different types of bushes that all were called by the same name.

One of the botanical keys I looked in later said approx "there may be some confusion about the common name, but there is no argument about the appropriateness of the scientific name 'Vaccinium deliciosum'."

So it was that huckleberry I was referring to when I said how good they are. Nowadays, I think my family all calls them huckleberry like everyone else, since the whole point of a common name is that it be the one commonly used.

My mom can tell the difference between all the pine trees, but when it came to small stuff, they had other incorrect names. They called the wild lily of the valley [Maianthemum] deadly nightshade. Thoroughly confused, since it is not Solanum 'nightshade' or Atropos belladonna 'nightshade'. Or, for that matter, Amaryllis belladonna 'naked ladies'. neep. Of course, the point may have been to keep us kids from eating it.

#325 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 03:46 PM:

I sometimes forget how pepper priveleged we are down here in Tejas. Thankfully, some of us ship.

May I present The Pepper Lady. She makes delicious jellies with both jalapenos and habaneros, and some of the best salsas I've ever tried (Peach Habanero and Black Bean Chipotle are my personal favorites, my wife loves the Hot Tomato Chutney, and Phoenix Phyre is fun to keep around as a practical joke on the unwary if nothing else...).

She's also a Rennie, so that's cool.

Y'all enjoy!

#326 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 04:40 PM:

Paula: After the War, the Russians pressed a set of rebuilt V-2s into service as ballistic missiles. After a short period, during which the ethanol fuel kept disappearing, they replaced them with an upgraded model designed to run on methanol. I assume the problem didn't recur after the first month or so...

#327 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 04:55 PM:

The Strategic Rocket Forces were the cream of the Soviet military. They ran the Soviet space program. The -rest- of the Soviet military....

Directions for neutralizing Soviet battalion--find the command tanks and take them out. The ordinary troops had no initiative, and often didn't even speak fluent Russian, even. Without the commanders, the battalion was militarily useless. Soviet devolution of command on the battlefield, ha, ha, ha, ha. They didn't e.g. trust their pilots enough to get them enough fuel to go beyond their mission profile. Belenkov collected his alleged million dollar reward for getting a Foxbat to US agents on fumes. (I heard that the Soviets were also offering a reward of a million US dollars for anyone who's fly an F-15 to them to get their hands on, back in that time. I expect that some friend of Karl Rove and/or Scooter Libby would have effect that sometime the past five years were the USSR still in existence...)

#328 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 06:54 PM:

From what we read at the remains of various Wall forts (after Interaction this summer), a lot of the later staff came with or acquired wives and kept them in the neighboring villages if not in the forts themselves. I don't know how many soldiers went over the Wall -- depends on what kind of people were living on the other side at that point, whether the soldiers valued hot baths, ....

Yeah, literally going over the wall (or beyond the wall) wouldn't have been strictly necessary. From the documents at Vindolanda, and some other epigraphic evidence, it looks as though a large proportion of the soldiers at Hadrian's Wall had native wives and plenty of native connections. Most of them were Belgians anyway, so there wouldn't have been vast cultural differences.

Hadrian's Wall and most of the other Roman frontiers were mostly symbolic anyway. They weren't generally used for siege defence; and archaeology suggests that the cultures on either side of the frontiers were pretty much the same. The difference was between people who lived in the big Roman cities and the people who lived anywhere near the borders: 'Roman', Belgian, German, Pictish...


#329 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 06:59 PM:

It certainly is; the idea from the conman's side is that you put your confidence in him long enough for him to get money from you...

True in a word-origin sense, though David Mamet makes the case, through Joe Mantegna's character in House of Games, that the smart grifter pretends to give the mark his own confidence: he lets you in on something other people don't know, offers you a cut of the off-the-books money, asks you to help him out with a terrible problem, the solution of which will benefit you both. For the duration of the come-on and the send, you are the central component of the money machine, the person without whom nothing will work, the Big Shot, and everybody else desperately needs you. There are many cases of marks who, having lost their money and then hearing detailed explanations of where the money went (these schemes are hardly ever of a Mission: Impossible complexity, though that may be the illusion shown the victim), firmly believe that they have not been swindled, that Codename Wulfgar in Vienna really had a fatal attack of Canadabillitis just before he was going to wire the cash to Codename Br'er Badger in Kuala Lumpur, and gosh, the money must still be out on one of those Internets somewhere.

Re Pan-Soviet Gargleblasters, Lt. "Have MiG, Will Travel" Belenko told a similar story, of the MiGs never being able to operate at rated altitude because the crew chiefs drank the deicing ethanol and replaced it with water. Since using the deicers had a high chance of completely obscuring your vision, nobody went up where they might need them.

And I would point out that, instead of merely using A4s/V2s as tactical missiles (they are ballistic missiles by nature), Americans used them to send crewcut men to many distant planets in numerous inexpensive motion pictures. It was especially thrilling to watch one land tail-first, while passing birds were so startled that they flew backwards in sympathy.

And besides, we had the Davy Crockett, a terror weapon if there ever was one. And good night, C. B. Colby, wherever you are.

#330 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 08:27 PM:

Four air forces. I can think of Army air, Navy air and real Air Force (no foolin'). What's the fourth?

And when it comes to police, I'm just a country boy. We've only got the State cops and the Feds, who are only seen at the airport and for major drug busts.

#331 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 08:34 PM:

Dave: USMC operate aircraft... (And then the Coast Guard has fixed-wing aircraft, if you want to count them too.)

#332 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 09:28 PM:

Heck, the DEA flies a hundred aircraft.

#333 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:27 PM:

re drinking jet fuel, deicer, ...: many years ago I read R. B. Robertson's Of Whales and Men, in which he mentions that the compasses on South Georgia are notoriously thirsty, requiring 60 gallons of fluid a year. I was young enough that I didn't connect this with the fact that compass fluid was described as being used to harden up various attempts at liquor, on an island that was officially dry.

#334 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 11:05 PM:

Skwid, thank you for the Pepper Lady link. I'm planning to go down to Scarborough Fair the first weekend with my friend Sally, when she goes down to open her booth next spring (I work for her and Jeff at their jewelry shop at our Ren Faire, which is over this weekend). (ride down, fly home.) And now this adds a piece to my plan.

#335 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 11:26 PM:

Jibjab takes on Wal-Mart.

Utterly brilliant and really catchy too!

#336 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 12:01 AM:

asks you to help him out with a terrible problem, the solution of which will benefit you both

Thus leading to the Nigerian bank scam and its relatives? I understand that there are a lot of conmen who focus on churches, particularly of the smaller more evangelical variety: the members are more likely to go along with the story, and less likely to call in the investigators when the conmen disappear.

(Oil drilling promoters are generally conmen who sometimes find oil.)

#337 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 11:55 AM:

I'm not sure if this is like some of the writing incentives that I've seen discussed here, or quite a different idea, but in any case I thought it might prove of some interest to y'all hereabouts.

They're off and writing by Bonnie Malkin; SMH October 15, 2005
Sydney is hosting a marathon of sorts today. The city's first writing marathon, Once Upon a Deadline, is on.
Eight participants will compete for $5000 in prize money. During the day the writers, armed only with a laptop computer, will travel around the inner city, using the sights and sounds of Sydney to inspire a 1200-word story ... The writers will stop for 45 minutes at each location and must incorporate the day's news headlines into their stories...
It will be interesting to see how & how much the story <ahem> will be covered in the different media and outlets here and elsewhere, and what happens to the resulting stories.

#338 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 09:45 PM:

Spotted on a Beaverton, OR movie theater marquee:

FORTY YEAR OLD PENGUIN EXORCISM

I'm thinking of driving back there and taking a picture.

#339 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 03:31 PM:

Oh good, a segue, and here I thought I'd have to bring it out of the blue.
From knitted brains to knitted breasts. Knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors, the brand name being Tit-Bits.

Here's the story, with a picture of selected breasts, some in cashmere: http://www.ottawasun.com/Lifestyle/2005/10/14/1261578-sun.html
Bonus amusing anecdote: "On a trip to California, security officials at Pearson International Airport seized the knitted breasts in her luggage, thinking they were some sort of projectiles. On learning what they were, one of the officials told Tsang he had a relative who was a breast-cancer survivor. After giving him a Tit-Bit, Tsang was on her way to her sunny vacation."

A slightly different story from the Globe is
here.

#340 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 08:34 PM:

Another alkaloid in our diets: theobromine.

(August 31: St Theobromine's day, patron of chocoholics everywhere)

Barbara: that's interesting. The 'floosy' versions probably should show, if they wouldn't lead to people running for the exits in a Janet Jackson panic.

#341 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 08:44 PM:

The isomeric form of theobromine, vincentbromine, can produce even more dramatic results, though it's also been known to cause hearing loss.

#342 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 09:03 PM:

Oww!

#343 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 01:38 AM:

Moles...

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/101605D.shtml

'NY Times' Publishes Devastating Judith Miller Article, Raising Serious Questions While Revealing Newsroom Controversy
By Greg Mtichell
Editor & Publisher

Saturday 15 October 2005

The article details how the paper's defense of Miller, coming from the top, crippled its coverage of Plame case, and humiliated the paper's reporters on numerous occasions.

...the article reveals that Keller and the Times' publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, did not review her notes. Keller said he learned about the "Valerie Flame" notation only this month. Sulzberger knew nothing about it until told by his reporters on Thursday.


Saturday's story says that Miller was a "divisive figure" in the newsroom and a "few colleagues refused to work with her." Doug Frantz, former chief investigations editor at the paper, said that Miller called herself "Miss Run Amok," meaning, she said, "I can do whatever I want."

The story also paints a less-than-flattering picture of Keller..."Throughout this year, reporters at the paper spent weeks trying to determine the identity of Ms. Miller's source. All the while, Mr. Keller knew it, but declined to tell his own reporters."

During the July 8, 2003, talk with Libby, he told her that Plame worked on weapons intelligence and arms control, and Miller allegedly took this to mean that she was not covert, but she didn't really know one way or the other.


Now, just how and why were they, that Ms Miller could do whatever she wanted?? Why was it that she wasn't under any editorial control, even? Something stinks, bigtime, meseemeth. It stinks like massive political control over the news media, and lack of an independent press--either accept the Official Mouthpieces, or Bad Things Will Happen to You, is what it smells like. Fox News and the other Murdock rags and mouthpieces make little pretension at impartiality or interest in reporting anything but Misadministration Official li[ne]s and propaganda. What other organization keeps an accused sexual harasser (O'Reilly) who settled probably with a whopping financial payoff on prime time news as allegedly a person to trust as purveyor of Public Information?! And there is there's the Moonie Mouthpiece Subsidized rag, the Washington Times...

The values and actions are seriously offkilter and perverted.

More than 30 years ago the New York Times was part of a cabal that took down Richard M. Nixon. Today, it appears to be part of a conspircy that's been keeping War Criminal George and his Greed Gang in power.

#344 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 11:03 AM:

Baked potatoes with butter and salsa - get your RDA of solanaceous alkaloids! (Tasty, too.)

#345 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 02:07 PM:

Rushthatspeaks on LJ reports on a film festival movie that may be of interest here:

Trapped by the Mormons: A remake of the 1922 silent classic. It said so right there in the credits; also in the press release, which used in addition the phrase 'polygamous vampire zombies', thereby making household attendance a necessity. Film also came recommended by a major Salt Lake City newspaper, and I can see why, because if I were a Mormon I would not be offended by this. I don't see how anyone could be. It's a work of utter genius, a silent melodrama in which the word 'Mormon' is simply substituted wholesale for 'vampire', and it's a note-perfect send-up of both Nosferatu and Reefer Madness *at the same time*. . . .

#346 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 02:09 PM:

On "Disaster Fatigue"- I try to keep the view that things really ARE much better than they have ever been before.

One of my half-baked ideas, back when I maintained my webpage, was to compare a week from July 1907 to a week from July 1997, as seen through the New York Times. You know, check out the good old days.

I did get as far as reading the week of [approximately] July 1-July 7, 1907. . . I restricted myself to local news.

There were some nifty things- a letter to the editor from Dr. Tesla yelling at the various people who called him a crackpot, for instance. A bigamist priest in NJ got caught.

There were also, in those seven days, three riots of various sizes (one of which wasn't described as a riot, just a fight. Between over 100 people.) A streetcar power line broke at one point, electrocuting a number of people. Due to improvements in milk refrigeration, the number of people who died of diarrhea that summer dropped from 100 a week (summer 1906) to 50 a week. (NYC had a population of maybe four million, but. . . 50 a week, all summer. That's a lot. ) Kids fell into the river and drowned- I don't remember how many. More than one and less than ten. There were two ongoing strikes and another one or two threatening. Burglars got chased down by mobs in the street.

I should really go through that week in 1997 to see what it was like.

#347 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 04:05 PM:

Teresa:

The guava tree in my backyard has finally ripened, shedding yellow disintegrating fruit-bombs all over the lawn, so I got around to trying to put up a batch of guava liqueur.

Between the best of the windfalls and the ones I'm picking off the tree, it looks like I should be able to roughly fill a gallon jar. I'm using your basic blackberry liqueur approach (mash/soak in vodka/wait.) I guess I'll see in a month or few if this approach works with guavas. I didn't get any mangos off my tree this year or I'd be trying that too.

#349 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 07:38 PM:

The USMC airforce is my favourite. The US navy's army has it's own airforce.

#350 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 09:03 PM:

offtopic.

I had a nightmare last night; I was having lunch with the Prez in the basement donut shop of some nameless government office building. I asked him what on earth he thought he was doing.

He explained. It turns out that he's basically a middling-level college student who didn't pick up that much in his classes, who's still trying to muddle through. "I want to talk about that Iraq thing," he said, "but we gotta get to somplace more private than this cafeteria," nodding in the direction of the men in sunglasses and black suits who were ostentatiously not watching.

I woke up knowing that this was somehow true.

-r.

#351 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:07 AM:

Marilee - Just as long as nobody expects me to dress like Ken. Never managed to pull off the sexually ambiguous preppie look...

#352 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 02:01 AM:

Clifton:

Here's more than you probably need to know about liqueur making. I found it very helpful last year when I made pomegranate liqueur and horehound liqueur. Neither of which used any particular recipe, but I studied the recipes in general, and read the discussion, and I thought I knew a little about what I was doing afterwards, and I did, but I haven't been able to figure out that part about finding bottles that fit the proceeds.

Teresa, there's something strange happening where links get stripped out in going from the compose screen to the preview screen -- two out of three tries. Is that just me, or does it happen to anybody else here lately?

#353 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 03:05 AM:


http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/101805R.shtml

Plamegate: The Civil War
By Michael Scherer
Salon.com

Thursday 18 October 2005

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson are considering a civil suit against administration officials. If they do, they'd better be ready for a vicious attack by White House proxies.

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

The ramifications if there is a civil suit, are, um, interesting...

I keep hoping that -something- will be a true cascade point, where the pressure cracks the Republicrap spin control/misinformation/disinformation/ gag-order regime wide open and the gags and intimidation and spoils system controls all -fail-, completely, and the whole crooked, vicious, nasty, vindictive, intimidating thug regime collapses and disintegrates in a flood of revelations from people who start singing their guts out of every crooked morally bankrupt vicious petty meanspirited intolerant-bigot rich-pandering action that the regime has committed since the Gag Order George took possession of the Oval Office and started his tyrannical reign of domestic and international terrorism.


#354 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 05:48 AM:

Niall: the Chinese have something like that in the People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force. Sadly, from a quick gander through the Chinese section of GlobalSecurity.org, there's no People's Liberation Army Navy Army Air Force.

#355 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 05:51 AM:

"It turns out that he's basically a middling-level college student who didn't pick up that much in his classes, who's still trying to muddle through"
sure, as long as we understand, from the various public statements that he has made in his life that the goals that he is trying to muddle through towards are goals that most of us would define as being morally reprehensible.

#356 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 06:39 AM:

I supppose that, hypothetically, someone involved in defending an airbase operated by the USMC against a sudden ground attack would be a member of the US navy's army's air force's army.

All right, all right, I'm going.

#357 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 07:20 AM:

Hurricane WILMA is now classified as a Cat5 hurricane, with "A MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE OF 884 MB...26.10 INCHES. THIS IS THE LOWEST PRESSURE EVER RECORDED IN A HURRICANE IN THE ATLANTIC BASIN." according to the public advisory (they mention that the value isn't calibrated yet, but still). She's expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday, according to the five-day cone.

#358 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 09:05 AM:

Bryan,

In my dream I learned that:
"he's basically a middling-level college student who didn't pick up that much in his classes, who's still trying to muddle through"
to which you replied:
...the goals that he is trying to muddle through towards are goals that most of us would define as being morally reprehensible.

How is this different from the behavior of a middling-level college student who's just trying to muddle through? [scratches head]

I'm actually serious. I was one of those*, and many of my peers were too. Isn't it the purview of college students to have bad ideas about how the world should be run, and then pursue those ideas in clumsy, hamfisted ways? Do you think it was accidental that I listened to Rush then, and thought him plausible?

-r.

*okay, I thought I was above average. Lake Woebegone effect and all.

#360 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 10:56 AM:

And now Jeff Masters points out WILMA as the "strongest hurricane ever", with record-shattering small eye size and minimum central pressure.

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 11:45 AM:

Spammers face jail in Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria (Reuters) -- Nigeria, home to some of the world's most notorious cyber crimes, has proposed a law making spamming a criminal offence for which senders of unsolicited e-mails could be jailed for at least three years.

We'll find out how well it works when we read our mail.

#362 ::: JOSEPH ABACHA ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:06 PM:

Dear Sir

I greet you in the name of the Most High God. My mother Mrs MIRIAM ABACHA has been imprisoned by the Nigerian government for three years under the new anti-spamming law.
However before her unjust imprisonment she successfully conned several marks out of Thirty Million Dollars U.S. which is now resident in a deposit bank account in Lagos NIGERIA. Unfortunately while my mother is in prison she is unable to access this money in order to provide for us her children. Sir I ask you for your help to reach this money by International Bank Transfer from Lagos to your bank account. I will gladly pay you a Commission of Ten Per Cent (Three Million Dollars U.S.) in exchange for your assistance in this matter.
May God Bless you

JOSEPH ABACHA

#363 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:37 PM:

Joseph: If you will provide me with the Account Number for this Account and a small Handling Fee in advance, I will endeavor to recover this money for you.

#364 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:46 PM:

Lucy: Thanks!

I had already looked at it because Teresa linked to on one of her previous liqueur pages, but I think I'll bookmark it since it was so helpful for you. This should be fun.

#365 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 04:37 AM:

Taking advantage of the Open thread, I present the following extract from the online answer to the question below. Does anyone else get a sort of mental jarring sensation, akin to missing a step?

Whatever happened to Eliot Ness after the trial of Al Capone?
... Mr. Ness finally met his match in the infamous Cleveland Torso Murderer. Ness never successfully nabbed the Torso Murderer, who decapitated and de-limbed at least twelve unfortunate souls. He later decamped to Washington, D.C., where he headed the Diebold Safe Company before making an unsuccessful run for Cleveland mayor in 1947 ...
One wonders what might have been found inside some of those safes. Do any readers consider this might throw any light on the recent bad odour around the Diebold Co in relation to US election machines?

#366 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 04:42 AM:

I got it from Tom Galloway's LiveJournal: The only debate on Intelligent Design that is worthy of its subject. Beautiful.

#367 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 06:43 AM:

One wonders what might have been found inside some of those safes.

In the case of Alphonse Capone's own personal strongbox, it was Geraldo Rivera, blinking like a deer in the headlights.

As I recall, Ness spent the war running an office that was supposed to control VD. Unfortunately, syphilis is outside the purview of the Treasury Department, though one sometimes wonders why.

#368 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 07:54 AM:

Epacris:

"Mr. Ness finally met his match in the infamous Cleveland Torso Murderer. Ness never successfully nabbed the Torso Murderer, who decapitated and de-limbed at least twelve unfortunate souls. He later decamped to Washington, D.C., where he headed the Diebold Safe Company before making an unsuccessful run for Cleveland mayor in 1947 ..."

One wonders what might have been found inside some of those safes.

Heads and limbs, obviously.

(I'll have to add this pair of sentences to my list of examples of why Pronoun Trouble is a bad thing...)

#369 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 05:44 PM:

Teresa needs a hamster racing cage.

#370 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 01:59 AM:

Model-builder Pete Feigenbaum has built some absolutely amazingly detailed slums for his model railroad tracks to run through. There's a South Bronx-style industrial neighborhood with abandoned cars and burned-out auto-parts stores covered with layer after layer of tags; there's an any-inner-city block with liquor store, pawnshop, and flophouse hotel; there are under-the-el street scenes a la South Chicago; brick warehouses converted to dollar stores. It's all mindbogglingly detailed, gritty, and real-looking. You've got to look at it.

I found it via Jeffrey Rowland's Overcompensating and I just submitted it to Boing-Boing, so you may all have seen it elsewhere by the time you get around to seeing it here, but I just had to pass this on. Wow.

#371 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 04:54 AM:

Unfortunately, syphilis is outside the purview of the Treasury Department, though one sometimes wonders why.

It's sentences like this that go such a long way towards convincing me that "John M. Ford" is really a channel for apparently nonsensical coded messages to his legions of underground resistance fighters, rather like the "personal messages" the BBC used to broadcast to occupied France. I picture a group of unshaven liberal arts graduates with Sten guns, crouched round a shortwave radio in the back of a West Coast coffee house, listening intently -

"He said 'syphilis is outside the purview of the Treasury Department!' Tonight we strike!"

#372 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 04:56 AM:

Although, on second thoughts, I suppose the links could be syphilis - mercury - amalgam method - gold - Treasury Department.

#373 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 06:08 AM:

The hidden meaning is that it was the Treasury, through the braw lads fra' Revenue, who took down Al Capone. Working without their assistance, Eliot wasn't able to make much progress against the diseases of vice. If only the Cleveland Torso Killer had fudged his deductions (trunks, sawblades, dropcloths), things might have turned out quite differently.

And I was never a liberal arts major.

#374 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 08:06 AM:

A liberal arts Captain?

#375 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 11:33 AM:

Cunning rat outsmarts scientists
Rodent eludes capture for 4 months

They thought they were studying ways to get rid of rats on islands. They turned out to be studying how to catch rats on islands. (The rat swam 400 meters of ocean to get to the next island, where they managed to trap it.)

#376 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 12:03 PM:

As I recall, Ness spent the war running an office that was supposed to control VD. Unfortunately, syphilis is outside the purview of the Treasury Department, though one sometimes wonders why.

VD was a serious problem -- ships unable to sail due to the number of men on the binnacle list.

Ness slashed the military's VD rate by changing regulations. Formerly it was a military offense to get VD. After Ness, it was a military offense to get VD and fail to report it.

There's a lesson here for the War On Drugs, but someone else will have to dig it out.

#377 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 06:35 PM:

My father told me that the Army handed out "pro packs" -- prophylactic packages, with condoms in them, to the troops.

#378 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 06:58 PM:

"Hell, a fella could have a good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff."

--Maj. T. J. "King" Kong, USAF, on the contents of the Strategic Air Command survival kit

#379 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 11:55 PM:

Writer Paul Guyot goes into a bookstore and asks browsers what makes them pick up a book and what makes them put it down again.

Covers are important.

#380 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2005, 01:58 AM:

A right-wingy news site claims that a gag-ordered whistle-blower has dirt that could hurt Bush and scuttle the Miers nomination:

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46964

This is interesting because:

i) Right-wingy news sites are now licking their chops over the possibility of juicy dirt on Bush's National Guard service, and

ii) AAAAIIIIEEEEGHHH!!! The lottery-technology firm involved, GTECH, was one of the companies I bought stock in when Bush was re^H^Helected, on the theory that people stupid enough to the bozo in office are the same sort of suckers who keep the casinos and lotteries flush. I was right about that; I didn't know that the company were corrupt operators.

#381 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2005, 03:42 AM:

Stephan:

WOW

I wouldn't be surprised if Miers were up to her eyeballs in such a coverup, and in other efforts to conspire in coverups....

#382 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2005, 10:30 PM:

Harry -- Guyot left out the most important question: "How many books a year do you buy?" Cross that his -"Are you going to browse [rather than just grab a specific book and leave]?"- and you'd get a more reliable vector on his conclusion that authors whose books aren't face-out are screwed. My UUSWAG is that he's wrong, but I'd really like to \know/ instead of guessing.

#383 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 08:24 AM:

CHip, don't you think that book browsers would be more liable to buy lots of books?

Just a guess. You may be right. And his sample size is tiny, but *so* many of the people he spoke to focused on the cover art (along with the author's name, 'natch).

What can I say? I've certainly put books back on the shelf because of the cover art.

#384 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 09:08 AM:

Here's a nice toy: a rose window maker (requires Java).

#385 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 10:31 AM:

I've bought or not bought books based on cover art.
My method with books by an unknown author is sort of like this. Title catches my eye. I pull it out and look at the front cover. (If the book's face out, the art may do it.) If nothing there repels me (ex: impied excessive gore, sex or horror)or something (usually an interesting character) appeals to me, I'll read the back cover, then the inside blurb. Then I decide.

#386 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 12:39 PM:

Harry -- I do, hence my question. Putting it more clearly: how many of the people over-influenced by facing and jacket art weren't actually browsers? First toss them from the sample since it doesn't matter what they say influences them if they're not actually being influenced, and see how that affects the fraction of buyers influenced by trivialities. But browsers aren't all equal, so ask \them/ how many books they buy in year -- some will buy only a few, some will buy many -- and calculate what fraction of the ones who buy a lot are influenced by trivialities.

What I'm getting at is the question of how many books are sold by trivialities and how many by looking at \some/ text (even if it's just the blurb or quotes on the back cover). My WAG is that books go by the 80/20 rule (i.e., 80% of books sold to 20% of buyers) or even 90/10, and that the people who buy lots of books are more attentive to content than package, which works out to more books being sold by content.

At least, that's what I'd like to think. As I said, it's all WAG -- but I take back the UUS, thinking that my long-term observation trumps his random sampling that doesn't connect to books actually sold.

And I'm sure there's some marketroid somewhere who will say that the substantial buyers would buy anyway while the packager's work picks up the marginal buyers who make the difference between 19 pounds 19 shillings sixpence and 20 pounds zero & sixpence. Grump.

#387 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 01:06 PM:

Job Interview from Hell Nightmare...

Last night, I had a dream, and it was NOT a pleasant dream...

The dream didn't start off that badly. I dreamt that I was at a job interview. I arrived, talked briefly to one or two people, and then was sent to a room to await more interviewing.

And sat, waiting. The room mutated increasingly into something like a cross between a courtroom and a lecture hall, having strarted as seated-round the central table standard small conference that a lot of companies conduct interviews in. Initially there was a man in there who was a company employee. Then more candidates arrived, one, then two were in there, and we were all waiting, and the room shape and appurtenances started changing--a dias/stage appeared with a lectern, that he and another person or two were on. The the room got larger and more people were in it, until it had a significant number of candidates in it, all waiting, and papers were being passed out to take an employment test. Three sheets of paper got distributed to me, with pages 7, and 20, and I forget the other number, six, maybe? A large stack of the same page came to me (by now the room had rows of seats and there were employees of the company like proctors at exam during finals week in college, the seating arrangements were switching among table and chair lecture hall, chairs with small tabletops built in, and fold-up chairs in rows in hotel function rooms) instead of there being several pages together as handouts to be distributed across the row and sent around the room. I dropped the stack--which originally had had the full handouts in it apparently and had assistance picking it up and then the whole stack except for a two or three duplicate pages went to the next person (talking dreams here, and stability of items isn't a big theme in dreams....)

We (the candidates) were waiting to be told to start taking the test. I glanced over the pages and noticed that I had only three instead of all and that they were pages 6, 7, and 20 or some such. The employees of the company proctoring had been milling around the lectern area after having had distributed the sheets, and then disappeared. We waited, and waited, and waited. Then it was time to take the test, but I only had the three pages, and not the white paper 8.5 X 11 booklet that was the test, which was different from the loose cheap-paper (less than 84 brightness) sheets that had been originally handed out as sample material (again, this is dreamscape mutation stuff). Other people were doing the test, I looked at it, then went up to try to find an employee to say that I had the wrong test and a partial copy, meanwhile others were doing the test and finishing it and leaving, and I was still there, and if speed of getting things done mattered, I wasn't going to get the job, and there were all those other applicants I was competing against.

An employee finally materialized and said something to me about the test--there were words in the dream but I don't remember what they were now, and I went back to my seat and worked on the test, as more an more people who were finished left... That's essentially where the dream seems to have ended, from what I remember. I was not feeling happy about this, and I was to a degree lucid dreaming realizing that this was a nightmare I was in and it was not a happy dream to be having and I was not enjoying it, and that this job interview was yet another one where I wasn't going to get a job out of it.

#388 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 02:46 PM:

A query for the liqueur-makers who hang around this place: if I want to make a liqueur flavored with honey, how do I go about this?

#389 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 03:49 PM:

My definition of a really great book cover — one that I turn back to and look at while I'm reading the book. That kind of cover will probably sell me the book. (I used to be a book-a-day type, in my pre-computer days, though I never bought half that many.)

What Melissa said mostly, though I always do read a few pages to see if something grabs me or I hate the style. That's with unknown authors, or those on the "sometimes" list. "Always" authors just go directly in the armful, often even without being opened, for fear that I might sit down on the floor until I had finished the book.

But will a cover "unsell" me on a book? Absolutely. I likely won't even pick up a book with a "dark" cover, unless the author is a familiar favorite, and then I'll view it with suspicion.

That's scary, since several old favorite reread-every-year-or-two books have recently been republished marketed for young adults, and with very or somewhat dark covers. (War for the Oaks, & the Pamela Dean trilogy, for instance) They were originally in the regular fantasy sections, and with interesting & friendly covers on the Dean books. I'd never find them nowadays.

In my recent, brief, time working at a bookstore again, I'd try to hand those to people,saying they were great fantasy. They'd look at that cover and say "Oh" and not buy them. Are those covers really necessary to market books to young adults? And why use a cover that eliminates so many other readers?

People don't really need to mention genre if they're judging a book by its' cover, since covers function as a marker for genre. Another question, were those browsers in genre sections, or new arrivals, or what?

The problem with not working at a bookstore is not finding good new authors. I miss new books by old favorites too, but those I can usually catch up on eventually.

Content can confirm a buy, but you have to notice the book to pick it up in the first place. In the other bookstore I worked at, we sold more books from the face-outs on the floor in the process of being put away. Partly because they were clearly new arrivals. Mostly because they were so visible.

#390 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 05:04 PM:

Just went to Locus and looked at their gallery of book covers.Several that made me want to pick up books by writers with familiar names that I don't think I've actually read, several that made me want to look at an unfamiliar author. The cover for the new edition of Robin Mckinley's Beauty might have made me miss that one too. Hard to make a rose look sinister.

One Heinlein cover that's very attractive, but not very Heinleiny. (Opinion affected by the style of SF art long ago when I first read those books.)

Several recognisable new books by favorite authors — what I take to be one of the main points of cover art.

And one Charles DeLint cover that means I'll have to wait for a different edition before I read that book. Or maybe he's switched genres? One of the possible major sins of cover art would be misleading the potential reader about the type of book it is.

#391 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 02:34 PM:

Charles de Lint has written some horror under a pen name, and some of them have been repackaged recently under his own name.

I disagree violently that the original cover for Pamela Dean's "The Secret Country" was anything but complete and utter pastel-unicorn crap. (The second and third books, by contrast, were quite nice, you're right there.) I bought the new edition specifically so I could trade in or give away the old one. And I think the new ones are pretty, if somewhat deceptive as to content.

The new War for the Oaks struck me as dark, too, but in a punky, rock-related way, not a horror one - emphasizing too much of one aspect of the book.

#392 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 08:05 PM:

What I'm getting at is the question of how many books are sold by trivialities and how many by looking at \some/ text (even if it's just the blurb or quotes on the back cover).

Well, the guy does say that he was speaking to people who were specifically about browsing, as in: looking around for a book to choose. And since it was just a guy walking up to people in a Borders (or whatever) it's obviously unscientific.

Still interesting, though.

I'm sure there are book sellers or marketers with better numbers.

#393 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 08:23 PM:

I've been told that the purpose of covers is to sell to buyers and distributors, and only very secondarily to sell them to readers.

And, well, both the Secret Country books -- of which I am extravagantly fond -- and War for the Oaks are about, significantly, human sacrifice. That's pretty dark.

In general, I select among books by reading page 118. Covers are not rivers, but they are deceivers all the same.

#394 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 10:49 AM:
To: gruntlures@earthlink.com
From: Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Date: Dec 22, 2006 10:34 AM
Subject: You have spammed my weblog

Dear gruntlures@earthlink.com:

I am trying to control my temper. I'm going to assume that you were given bad advice, and that someone told you it would be a clever, inexpensive marketing device to automatically post messages about your fishing lures into comment threads on my weblog, Making Light.

It was not a good idea. It was a very bad one.

My weblog is my own. My comment threads, and the discussions in them, are places where my readers and I have conversations about different subjects. Posting your ads in them is like walking uninvited into a party in someone's living room and handing out flyers for a car wash.

Please don't do it again. (That's the kind of "please" one says to make it sound polite.)

For your own good, I earnestly hope you will give up this kind of spamming. If you have a legitimate business and a good product, using spam to advertise it is one of the worst things you can do. It puts you in very bad company, and is guaranteed to generate a lot of ill-will. That's why you almost never see legitimate companies doing it. Spamming puts you in the same category as online Viagra sellers, porn websites, fake loan arrangers, and Nigerian con artists. If this muskie lure of yours is as good as you say, it deserves better than that.

Sincerely,

T. Nielsen Hayden

#395 ::: C. Wingate sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2011, 09:30 AM:

I hope it's not on the test.

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.