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June 21, 2006

Open thread 67
Posted by Patrick at 09:41 PM *

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

Comments on Open thread 67:
#1 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 09:47 PM:

uh, From far and wide...

#2 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 09:49 PM:

Drat. I was looking for the version that goes

"...Gloria's unfree
Wheeze tendon guard
Wheeze tendon guard fore thee..."

and it's not findable by me. Foof.

#3 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 09:53 PM:

Travel plans, Patrick?

#4 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:00 PM:

*With glowing hearts we see thee rise,*
*The True North strong and free!*

And where it's not free, 7% GST (6% after July 1, assuming the retailers can figure out Revenue Canada's regulations on their own.)

Plus provincial sales tax. Which Alberta doesn't have! (Hint, hint.)

#5 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:01 PM:

Question for the gardeners out there...would mint work as a groundcover for full sun areasin central Az-I'm looking for something that will inhibit the Bermuda Grass growth.
An employee of a home-improvement place suggested this,but i remain dubious.

#6 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:09 PM:

Which mint? Some are more robust than others. Plain old spear mint and horsemint and bog mint are tough. Peppermint or any of the fancy mints are tender.
Lemon balm falls into the invade if happy group.

#7 ::: Reading Dirt ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:13 PM:

Only if mint is all that you want in your garden. And all that your neighbors want in their gardens. It will romp all over the place, but not necessarily crowd out the Bermuda grass. Mint is notorious as an aggressive spreader.

Mint also likes partial shade, but around here grows in full sun (the Willamette Valley being the peppermint oil capital of the world, or so I'm told, and don't the air smell pretty whey they cut it?)

Want some more ideas? Try the You Grow Girl forums at http://www.yougrowgirl.com/

#8 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:21 PM:

For the love of Ghu, do not plant mint unless you want mint galore. I've had a 'bloom' happen with Lemon Balm, plain old mint, and catnip. And it's just about impossible to remove once it gets going. Even a couple of the Mediterranean herbs are also invasive... I had a thyme jump from a planter bloc between house and sidewalk out into the yard, obviously following the Lemon Balm that had already made the escape.

The climate and rainfall here in KC, MO are most excellent for such things, the only reason we do not have mint in the planter area directly in front of my porch is because it was rototilled three times AFTER the mint got a good start (we did it shallow enough that the tulips that were there were unharmed, and I'm gettinig ready to plant some Dahlia and Daffodil bulbs in it...)

#9 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:38 PM:

And a happy solstice to you too!

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 10:59 PM:

"Travel plans, Patrick?"

My only immediate travel plans involve the annual gathering of the American Library Association in New Orleans.

Which is in fact a strange not-quite-American place with lots of vestigial French, but a different one.

#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:10 PM:

Is there some special reason to celebrate Canada at the moment? Did I miss something?

Apropos of don't plant mint unless you want a lot of it -- same goes for rosemary.

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Hello?! Sixty-seven!?

Okay, maybe we should have held off until July 1. But JEEZ.

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Rosemary out where you are, Lizzy; out here, I'm proud that my one bush thrives.

Nina, I'm living in a different climate, but you might want to look at my gardening posts from last year, when the mint I'd used as a ground cover romped all over the garden, throttling lesser plants.

Oregano will take on all comers. In many parts of the country, so will daylilies. IIRC, African daisies do very well in Arizona.

Whatever you do, don't plant oleander. Not even in a planter. It'll escape, you'll never be rid of it, and ever part of the damned plant is poisonous.

#14 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:21 PM:

How about dichondra? When I was living in AZ, it was the non-grass of choice to crowd out bermuda grass. Slow growing, though.

I'd not recommend mint to try and crowd out bermuda grass. "The winner would emerge stronger than either, and free from doubt."

#15 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:22 PM:

Okay, okay, dork alert. Sorry, Canada. Happy Independence Day. Why not get an early start?

#16 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:31 PM:

Teresa, out here Caltrans (California Dept. of Transportation) plants oleander shrubs to decorate the freeways. It - the oleander - seems to be incredibly hardy, and rather lovely looking.

I had a deadly nightshade plant in my backyard in Berkeley. Big trumpet-shaped blossoms, and they smelled wonderful.

#17 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:46 PM:

Thanks-basically this would be to cover the non-cement portions of the backyard-there isn't anything other than bermuda-oh,and some dandelions. we've already got an oleander hedge in the front-I'd get rid of it if i could teresa-but the neighbor whose property it borders-likes-it. Gah.
Will rethink the mint though.

#18 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:54 PM:

We stand on guard for thee!

Happy early Canada Day and early Independence Day!

I'm hoping to make it to Brooklyn for the annual Canada Day concert in Prospect Park.

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:57 PM:

Lizzy L: and you can use the berries to make flying ointment. Careful with it though. It's bloody dangerous.

#20 ::: enjay ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:57 PM:

PNH said: My only immediate travel plans involve the annual gathering of the American Library Association in New Orleans.

Which is in fact a strange not-quite-American place with lots of vestigial French, but a different one.

Yeah, but the vestigial French came from Canada!

#21 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 11:59 PM:

I had a deadly nightshade plant in my backyard in Berkeley. Big trumpet-shaped blossoms, and they smelled wonderful.

Deadly, quite possibly; nightshade, I don't think. Sounds like a Datura connection (I forget the current genus assignment of the popular ornamental forms).

It's my considered opinion that nothing can outgrow bermuda; all the other things discussed require more water than it does, for one thing.

#22 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:17 AM:

There are Datura and Brugmansia (I think that's the spelling) which have lovely huge poisonous fragrant I think generally trumpet flowers. I think that they are members of the nightshade family.

The nightshade family is interesting--it includes some of the most commonly grown, both in home gardens and commercial horticulture, edible species -- tomatoes, potatos, bell peppers and chili peppers, eggplant--pluse one of the varieties of plant called huckleberry, and some other less well-known edibles including some referred to as "solanum." It also includes a number of poisonous species, including deadly nightshade, daturas, brugmansias, etc., and edible species with poisonous parts--non-fruit parts of tomato plants, the (usually not present) fruit of the potato.

As for spreading oregano, oh wow does it ever spread. I have spearmint in my year, chocolate mint dies out, apple mint manages to barely survive, and some other mints, but the oregano is extremely agressive. On the other hand, butterflies adore it, and it also attracts some dragonflies. Then there are the however many species of bees that come to visit--honeybees (apparently the town I live in, according to the Boston Globe, has a commercial beekeeping operation which delivers rent-a-hives over a rather wide area, for crop pollination), bumblebees, and other insects that look like bees but don't look to me like either bumblebees or honeybees.

What's amazing is watching butterflies and bees boucing off one another, it doesn't seem to faze them --the bees or the butterflies--at all! There will be a butterfly on a flowerhead (particularly the flowerhead on oregano...) and along comes a bee, heading for the flowerhead, with the butterfly in the way. BOING! Bee flys into butterfly and bounces off, barely noticed by the butterfly. Or, two bees will collide and bounce off one another, or there will be a butterfly-butterfly collison...

#23 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:23 AM:

protégera nos foyers et nos droits

My planters are on a balcony several stories up. Mint will only invade if I let it (I am considering carefully), the sage died horribly, and my oregano doubled in size last week. Gardening is an awfully big adventure.

Must find tomatoes, and soon.

#24 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:32 AM:

True north... as opposed to magnetic north. I've been north of magnetic north. There are warnings on maps of Greenland to not use magnetic compass headings looking for "north."

#25 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:35 AM:

Speaking of Canada, I will be leaving my Toronto home in six weeks for a two year teaching engagement in Ghana. Has anyone here ever been to Ghana? Any interesting stories you'd like to tell?

I was just about to begin my quest for an agent before I got the job (if any of you read Miss Snark...that was me). Sigh.

#26 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:36 AM:

cmk: yes, it was Datura. I just like to be able to say I had deadly nightshade in my garden. A freeze killed it. But it was wonderfully fragrant. Right now I have a lot of rosemary, sage, lavendar, a persimmon tree, a plum tree, and joy of joys, a blueberry bush which everyone tells me should not be giving me blueberries... but it does, every year. Oh, and a very sad tree which bears tiny dark rocks instead of nectarines...

#27 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:47 AM:

Car ton bras sait porter l'épée
Il sait porter la croix

I can't remember the schoolkids version that involved bad jokes about bras making you cross - but there's definitely some joy in being able to make cross-language puns[0].

[0] Ah - menage a trois - the three of us need to clean house before the party.

#28 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:50 AM:

Speaking of stretching your bras making you cross, I've been looking at various pilates reformers, and can't bring myself to spend several thousand dollars on the professional versions.

Does anybody have suggestions/knowledge about the more reasonably priced versions (I know you can do a lot without needing any equipment - but there are some exercises that really do better that way)

#29 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:05 AM:

There's nightshade growing spreading in my yard, vining plants with horizontally spreading roots, plants that smell something like bell peppers, and have green leaves that look like mutated bell pepper plant leaves--they have lobes to them instead of being simple teardrop shapes.

#30 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:28 AM:

having lived in canada for the past three years, & attended my share of junior hockey games, i can assure you that the correct lyrics are "we stand on god for thee."

which gives one some insight into the canadian character (one, i imagine, not me).

#31 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:37 AM:

Happy countdown to Canada day week!

A sfnalish question:

What short phrases could be used to set off a science fiction reader's SF-radar? i.e. dog-whistle (zogg-whistle?) words for SF-reader fandom: phrases which make sense to an entire audience, but also show that the speaker reads SF.

This is orthogonal to fanspeak. Dropping smof and tanj into regular conversation would set off a fan's fendar, but would also sound like gibberish to everyone else. Good if you need passwords for when fandom saves the world from repressive governments. Bad if all you want to do is obliquely ask if anyone else in the audience reads SF.

Of course, one could simply ask the audience. But there's no challenge in that.

I'd been wondering more about "could fanspeak exist which would be understood by SF readers even if they know nothing about fandom? What would it be?" [because, checking fan jargon lists, it doesn't exist now.]

Describing bad weather as "the color of a dead ipod screen." The phrase "In 5 years the X will be obsolete." Saying "I read both Ian Banks."


#32 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:00 AM:

xeger - good gravy! Are those army surplus items from Guantanamo? Gives reform school a bad name.

#33 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:10 AM:

Mint can be contained by planting it in a submerged pot. Or so I hear - I have not done so myself.

I wish my oregano would spread - the sage is taking it over. The thyme is losing the battle with the ivy, and the rosemary is thinking of world conquest.

#34 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:12 AM:

I have Vietnamese cilantro duking it out next to peppermint, and the two seem to be evenly matched.

The chives, however, look to be seriously intimidated.

#35 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:28 AM:

We had dichondra in Westwood (LA), and it was a dandy groundcover.

Seems to me that I used to see cotton fields in central Az, especially driving up US 89-93 rather than I-10. Find a plant which likes the same growing conditions, maybe?

#36 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:32 AM:

Pennyroyal, from the mint family but more pest repelant.

#37 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:39 AM:

Linkmeister-
The growing conditions for cotton in Arizona (and in California's central valley) are "heavily irrigated with cheap water."

Nina-
Do you have Sunset's Western Garden Guide? Sunset includes the southwest, so it should have useful ideas.

#38 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:37 AM:

Happy be thee, O Canada!
<open thread>I haven't found any news about it on the International Astronomical Union site, but there's some news circulating (orbiting? rotating?) in other places about distant sol-orbiting bodies which may or may not be planets and moons.
With so much going wrong around me (& hearing about more elsewhere), sometimes it's nice to consider stuff like this that's quite outside those considerations. Not so sure about this kind of news.</open thread>

#39 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:43 AM:

Sometimes you get a slightly different view of Beowulf. It does rather look still to be one of those living stories, when you can see something like this bit of street-theatre.

Photographs by my brother.

#40 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:03 AM:

Never, ever, ever plant Japanese knotweed. After efforts involving gallons of undiluted "total vegetation killer" (which isn't), a bulldozer, and other weapons of mass plant destruction, I still have not managed to eradicate all the spawn of a single plant. The War Upon the Knotweed will celebrate its seventh anniversary in a month or so with no end in sight.

I didn't actually put this in the ground myself - it's technically The War Upon the Neighbor's Knotweed. There were guerilla expeditions Over the Fence armed with poisons and weapons of clipping and chopping before The Day the Bulldozer Came and I had my own "Mission Accomplished" celebration, which was about as valid as Dubya's.

I'm told it's edible, so if anyone is feeling peckish, come by for some green stuff.

#41 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:26 AM:

Kathryn in Sunnyvale: One possibility that springs to my mind would be to work in the phrase, "Life, the Universe, and Everything."

(waves hi from Oakland)

#42 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:50 AM:

I love the idea of having one's "fendar" set off, btw. Haven't heard of "fendar" before. I fear mine isn't very good. I seem to meet all sorts of people who set off my heretofore unbeknownst to me fendar, but who turn out to be not involved in sf or fandom in any way. Guess I've got the gain up a little too high.

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:57 AM:

There are three problems with glyphosate.

1: You have to get enough into the plant. The standard domestic pre-mix products may not have the same adjuvants as are available to farmers to boost the ability of the chemical to, for instance, penetrate waxey leaves.

2: It works by subverting biochemical pathways, so that the actively growing plant starts poisoning itself. Drought conditions slow the plant's growth, and the glyphosate doesn't work.

3: There's a genetic mutation which can make a plant more tolerant to the herbicide. This happens naturally, but Monsanto have a patent on its use in crops.

The upside is that glyphosate is one of the safer herbicides, if you're not a plant.

#44 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:06 AM:

Lizzy, "Happy Independence Day"? It's Canada Day. We celebrate the entry into force of the British North America Act of 1867, which made Canada many things, but not independent. Canada didn't even have citizens until 1947. We only became fully independent of Westminster in 1982, when the provinces lost the right to take constitutional disputes to London and the process of amending Canada's basic law was vested fully in Canada.

We have no "Independence Day." "Independence" in Canada implies Quebec nationalism.

The Fête Nationale du Québec starts tomorrow though. The culturally correct way of celebrating it is to go downtown to the see the parade in the morning, and then get thoroughly drunk and spend the rest of the day singing drinking songs in French.

#45 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:24 AM:

Lord: Oh, Northern boy
Clean of limb, clear of eye
Unfettered he lives, unfettered he'll die
The Northern boy
Oh Northern boy
Saskatchewan
An endless prairie
Where the buffalo used to roam

Devil: Only a man
Half blind on whisky
Would choose to make
This land his home
Would choose to make
This land his home

#46 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:51 AM:

And "Canada Day" (July 1) was formerly known as "Dominion Day," celebrating the formation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

I'm unclear as to whether the name "The Dominion of Canada" is in any way still current; and if it isn't, when it changed and why.

#47 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:08 AM:

Kathryn in Sunnyvale: Casual references to Superman or X-men might work.

Sunnyvale. Where have I heard about that place before. Do you have a hell-mouth or something under the library? Or was that Sunnydale?

#48 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:14 AM:

Lizzy -- Sorry that Datura isn't even close to deadly nightshade (which makes your hands stink when you pull it.) But you could, with a clear conscience, say you're growing locoweed. ("Jimsonweed" doesn't quite have the same ring.) I think several parts of the plant are hallucinogens -- and poisonous, to boot. I remember reading a whodunnit where kids were hallucinating and dying because someone put ground datura seed in the instant coffee at a drop-in center.

#50 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:20 AM:

Kathryn in Sunnyvale:

At work a few weeks ago I heard someone use the phrase "for no adequately explored reason" in a non-SF context, and that was enough to set off my Hitch-Hiker radar. (It's in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.) I remember that two of the top three Google hits for the phrase were from Doctor Who reviews, so the words have evidently spread into fandom.

Here are a few more of them.

#51 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:31 AM:

My gardening year in flowers.

#52 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:33 AM:

Nina, creeping thyme might be a better bet--it spreads slowly and likes full sun.

We have a lovely Brugmansia at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia--this shot is taken looking straight up. The plant is pollinated by bats.

#53 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:40 AM:

Seems like a high concentration of gardners here, so I'll ask a related question. I live in an apartment with no balcony but a fairly good eastern exposure and lots of daylight. I'd like to grow some fresh cooking herbs (thyme, oregano, etc.) but I have no idea of it's practical. Anyone know a good source of information (online or in print) for growing herbs indoors?

#54 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:51 AM:

Tom, here's a pretty good basic rundown. I would add to this only that overwatering kills more plants than underwatering. Drainage, as the man says in the article, is key.

I'd advise you to start with oregano. Given enough light, it is damn near foolproof.

#55 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:13 AM:

I remember learning the Canadian national anthem in English and French in kindergarten.

Later, as my french got better, I pondered the lines:

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protegera nos foyers et nos droits...

Since I had only ever heard it phonetically, I kept thinking that it was foie trempée, and wondering what wet liver had to do with anything.

ALA in New Orleans? Man, now I'm doubly disappointed that I can't go this year, having become a Real Librarian a month and a half ago...

#56 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:16 AM:

Xopher:

QVC (the least objectionable of the home shopping channels, imo) sells official Pilates machines for considerably less than $1K(comparison list here)


My PT claims that the Total Gym (as advertised by Chuck Norris, et al) will work for many Pilates exercises. I've never tried it, though (by the time I'd recovered enough from back surgery to try it, they'd rearranged the clinic and the TG was back in the therapy area rather than out on the gym floor).

#57 ::: Hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:24 AM:

Kathryn in Sunnyvale:

The number 42. References to the Infinite Probability Drive, Vogon poetry, or hyperspace bypasses.

The word 'grok'.

My friend Gort says 'Klatu Verata Nictu' but that's actually from a movie, and I'm not sure how to work it into a casual conversation.

#58 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:29 AM:

Speaking of plants out of control, I have a weird plant that's taking over my side yard. I bought it at a gardening shop so many years ago that I lost the tag, and brought it with me when I moved four years ago. It must like my new place much better than the old, because instead of a single, steadfast plant it has become an invading army (with an impressive advance scouting capability) and now I really wish I remembered what it was.

It gets about 8-10' tall, is a single stem that in cross-section is a perfect square. The leaves are dark green and pointy (and big), and it makes little yellow flowers in mid-summer that are somewhat like black-eyed susans except no fuzzy center. The butterflies and hummingbirds adore these things.

Anyone have any ideas? I can try to get a photo at lunchtime if that'll help. Or if anyone wants one and can get to western Massachusetts, I've got plenty to spare...

I'm rather convinced that it'll eventually come down to a war between these things and Cthulhu the Wisteria for control of the side yard; the mint's not got a chance.

#59 ::: Hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Err... that should have been 'Infinite Improbability Drive'.

How embarrassing.

#60 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:51 AM:

I've used "tanj" as a cussword for years, and I've gotten a few glints of amusement for it, too. I'm sure I'll think of more once I've finished this nice fresh cup of really hot tea.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 10:43 AM:

"Large Friendly Letters" might work also. A lot of non-fen have met Hitchhiker.

"Silver Falls" dichondra is sold for use in baskets and planters, but after it escapes over the side it will become a groundcover. Likes sun - it needs sun to stay silver - and relatively drought-tolerant.

#62 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:03 AM:

Kathryn in Sunnyvale: What short phrases could be used to set off a science fiction reader's SF-radar? [..] phrases which make sense to an entire audience, but also show that the speaker reads SF.

During the 2004 presidential season, I saw Carol Mosley Braun on The Daily Show ( running to be nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate ). Talking about Bushian fear-mongering, she offered "Fear is the mindkiller". This made perfect sense in the context of the discussion, but obviously would resonate with anyone who had read Dune.

Later in the interview, she also said "Live long and prosper", which even non-SF people are going to recognize as an SF reference.

Her appearance on The Daily Show had been the day before she withdrew from the race. Stewart had fun with that the next day, after he had coaxed a promise from her during the interview to keep him and his audience up to date with her campaign's progress ( Paraphrase: "Whuhh? This wasn't worth mentioning?" ). I figured she delayed her withdrawl from the race, so she wouldn't have to cancel her TDS appearance.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:08 AM:

Shouldn't this thread have been deferred until 1 July?

#64 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Scott, and all others of my northern neighbbors posting/lurking here, profound apologies. Happy Canada Day. Just don't wish me a Happy 4th of July in return: I'm not feeling especially happy about my country lately. Well, actually it's my government that's pissing me off -- I believe that my country, despite her grave flaws and her current troubles, "stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and coppered-sheathed", pace Dan'l Webster.

I don't get drunk any more, and I don't know any French drinking songs. I can sing La Marseillaise and several Christmas carols ("Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabella..." which would not necessarily make me welcome in Quebec. I have only been to Canada three times. I have fond memories of a house on Rue Ste. Ursule in Quebec city, 45 years ago. Montreal was beautiful, too. And watching the sun rise from my sleeping bag on the deck of a steamer on the St. Lawrence river... priceless.

#65 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:13 AM:

I'm afraid my geographical area is entirely different, so I don't have an answer to the groundcover question, but I have another gardening question. Is there anything that looks like hostas, and is a perennial, but likes full sun?

I wanted to plant hostas along the edge of my yard, until I learned that hostas prefer shade. Most of the full-sun perennials I can find are various sorts of decorative grasses. Since the rest of the yard is grassy already, I wanted something with a contrasting shape, hence hostas.

I've about decided to just plant boxwood hedges and keep them pruned very low and small.

Regarding the SF password question: 42 is really all you need.

#66 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Never, ever, ever plant Japanese knotweed. After efforts involving gallons of undiluted "total vegetation killer" (which isn't), a bulldozer, and other weapons of mass plant destruction, I still have not managed to eradicate all the spawn of a single plant. The War Upon the Knotweed will celebrate its seventh anniversary in a month or so with no end in sight.

Japanese knotweed is one of the plants on the list of banned plants in Massachusetts, banned from sale and banned from propagation (or maybe it's only a proposed banned plant list... trying to copy the URL which I have in my favorites list (yes, I use Windows--something about since working with Windows is something that is critical for my income earning, I use it at home--I stayed an Amiga user for far longer than I should have, migrating to Windows earlier would have made me a lot more attractive as an employment prospect back at the end of the 1980s and beyond) and not succeeding.

Sage doesn't do all that well in my yard--it hangs in there for three or four years coming back less and less strongly over time.

Thyme is iffy--a woody thyme plant spread out to around a couple feet and then the main part of it died off. A section of it at the extremity that had rooted at the extremity survived the nasty winter a couple years ago, that the rest of the plant didn't survive. A lemon thyme patch lost out to oregano encroachment. A lemon thyme patcht that I planted later, I've been attacking the encroachment of oregano into.

There's the spreading varieties of raspberries--I was extremely annoyed at whatever little furry animal with big sharp teeth chomped off the canes of my purple raspberry patch, I thought I was in line for a really nice crop of luscious purple raspberries from the patch this year, and then something during the winter destroyed the canes. GRUMP! Ironically, there are also gold, red, and black raspberry plants in my yard, with the wretched furry animal left alone, even though purple raspberries are a cross between black and red raspberries.

What else--oh, the wineberries. They are another Masschusetts pest plant, which have spread significantly in my yard from the original planting I did years ago from plants bought from Stark's, was it? The berries are very tasty, but the plants are extremely aggressive (too bad furry animal with sharp teeth didn't chew through wineberry canes!)

There are some desirable native plants I put in-- a couple of service berry/shadblow bushes, for example, three blueberries which are surviving despite furry animal teeth, winter, and soil that I suspect is even sourer than blueberries like! (However, across the street are some native low bush wild blueberries that I've thought about digging up some small plants of, since they're growing happily across the street on land that's been left for the brush and such to grow as it will).

The yard's marginal for "swamp azalea"--too dry. The winter killed off the branches that would have had fragrant blossoms (no, there aren't non-fragrant blossoms that the plant gets...), but new branches sprouted from the root system.

#67 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Two other things which I forgot to mention: I read SF but am not in fandom, for what it's worth with respect to my suggestion. And for gardening purposes, I'm in zone 7.

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:19 AM:

PNH: Until such time as the Canadians decide that they want a republic, Canada remains a dominion.

#69 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:20 AM:

Caroline, both Phlox and Vinca (periwinkle) make good full sun groundcover, are evergreen and even flower. The leaves aren't as big as most Hostas, but you can get nicely variegated ones.

#70 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:22 AM:

Should the names of species be capitalized if they are named after people? One earlier poster wrote it both ways in the same post.

For instance, Scrabble players would love to have a definitive answer to whether "io" is a proper name when it means a species of moth, although it is a proper name as a character in mythology.

#71 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:23 AM:

Hmm. Trek and Star Wars are probably too widespread to be specifically fan-recognisable. I've used "Scream and leap".
Douglas Adams is a good one. "...replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable." "I just think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."
Pratchett should be quotable, but I can't think of any good ones offhand. Banks - perhaps people might recognise a reference to someone possessing Very Little Gravitas Indeed, or to something falling under the ambit of Special Circumstances.


Or a T-shirt, like the "I'M WITH STUPID" ones, with the words "I'M WITH MILES" and an arrow pointing to about half-past four.

#72 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:27 AM:

"When in danger or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout."

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Googled 'Japanese knotweed'.
I met it in Pasadena, where it was beating out ivy in the flowerbead along the driveway. I was calling it 'weed from Hell'. When young, it might be susceptible to weedkillers (I'd try stuff designed for poison oak/poison ivy), but the older leaves are waxy; it comes up from the roots even if it's a piece a half inch long. (It is pretty. But so is poison oak, and I don't want that in my yard either.)

#74 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Patrick, Canada was originally (well, okay, from 1871) the 'Dominion of Canada' (from Psalm 72:8, "He shall have Dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth"; Canada's motto remains "A mari usque ad mare.") As Canada became more and more independent of Britain, starting around the fifties, 'Dominion of Canada' was gradually phased out in favour of just 'Canada' in legal documents. This was the usage in the Canada Act 1982, which is the act that formally severed the British parliament's sovereignty over Canada and patriated the Canadian constitution; 'Dominion Day' was renamed to 'Canada Day' later that year.

Theoretically, Canada is still the 'Dominion of Canada' but it doesn't get used in legal documents, and certainly isn't used informally, so I would have to put it in the category of 'true, but (mostly) irrelevant.'

#75 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:55 AM:

Hello?! Sixty-seven!?

Traitor!

Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!

#76 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:57 AM:

I think "Fear is the Mindkiller" is probably the best I've seen so far. Makes perfect sense if used in an appropriate context, but instantly clues in anyone who's read one of the Primary Works.

I've found that a good, somewhat subtle way of sniffing out Robert Jordan readers is the phrase "Great Lord help us." Whether you use that ability for Good or for Evil is at your discretion.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 12:09 PM:

JennR - you meant that for xeger. To me, Pilates are the family of a Roman judge.

rams - isn't Jimsonweed very illegal? Or am I relying too heavily on CSI?

#78 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Hamadryad, I think the quote is "Klatu Barada Nikto". From "The Day The Earth Stood Still", which most fans have seen and would recognize the quote.

Niall, I always thought Vinca prefered shade. I have a large patch in an area that gets very little sun, and nothing else will grow in except weeds.

#79 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:06 PM:

Sean --

"But not one in ten thousand knows your name"

re Japanese Knotweed --

Never had to deal with it, but did get rid of Jerusalem Artichokes by the simple expedient of splitting the stem clean through, inserting a broad wick likewise, and leaving the other end of the wick in a container of strong ammonia solution.

(broad wick = the kind appropriate to a kerosene lantern.)

#80 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Coming in a trifle late, but--central Texas, more humidity than Arizona: we have oleander, oregano and lantana (looks like mint but isn't) in our yard. Reasons: previous owner planted them, and they survived because they can tolerate full southeast exposure in high temperatures while being, even more important, deerproof. They all need heavily disciplined at least once a year, but they're all blooming nicely at the moment, so we figure the tradeoff is worth it. (Particularly in my case, because it looks like nothing can kill any of them except perhaps overwatering the lantana. This is good because I have the blackest of thumbs--even admiring a plant in a nursery is likely to make it curl up and wither.)

#81 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:10 PM:

And the less-subtle way of identifying Robert Jordan readers is "Do you worship the Great Lord of the Dark?" Useful when meeting someone for the first time "in real life," don't use it too loudly in public places.

"42" is good, but I can't figure out ways of slipping it into conversation where it would be under the radar of the non-recognizing crowd. But then right now I'm running on low sleep and low blood sugar.

How about a variant of "Do not meddle in the affairs of [insert group here]"?

#82 ::: wolfa ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:14 PM:

There is a debate going on to change Canada's motto to "From sea to sea to sea"/"A mari usque ad mare ad mare"/"D'un ocean aux autres". The premiers of the territories are the ones proposing it; a survey says that 44% of Canadians are for it, 17% against it, while 37% don't care.

The correct lyrics (link gives other versions, too) are indeed "We stand on guard for thee", God appears later in "God keep our land / glorious and free". There is no God mentioned in the French version.

#83 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:34 PM:

What short phrases could be used to set off a science fiction reader's SF-radar?

any reference to TV's being given away for free to the poor, or not having "off" switches, as a side reference to "Max Headroom", a show far ahead of its time. (30 seconds into the future, if I remember correctly)

Greg

"Nightengale Hospital. Florence speaking."

#84 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:38 PM:

wolfa --

Not by name, maybe, but from the official English translation of the French lyrics:

"As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross."

("Il sait porter la croix" in the original.)

#85 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:38 PM:

"We stand on God for thee" is clearly from the Boston version of the Canadian national anthem.

#86 ::: Echidna ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:42 PM:

IIRC, African daisies do very well in Arizona

They do indeed, at least in Tucson, and you'll see lots of yards full of them in the right season. Desert marigolds, which have the bonus of being native, also do very well; mine have made it through the drought of the last few years without any supplemental watering, and there are at least a few in bloom essentially year-round. I ended up with them through the Darwinian process of sowing mixed wildflower seeds, watering them occasionally while they were getting started, and then totally ignoring them.

As previously mentioned, rosemary thrives here as well. It even grows in the totally unshaded southwestern-exposure Corner Of Death.

#87 ::: Harthad ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:49 PM:

I have a domesticated Jimsonweed, aka Datura, growing in my backyard. I feel certain it's not illegal, because I bought it from a very mainstream garden catalog. It reseeds aggressively, has become threateningly large, and is perennial in this mild climate. But the foot-long white trumpets sure are impressive. On a Datura, the trumpets point up. On a Brugmansia, the trumpets hang down. Datura are low and bushy. Brugmansia are woodier, and easily take the shape of a small, open tree. Brugmansia are also much fussier to grow. I've had nothing but ill luck with the specimen I bought; I think our desert sun is too intense for it.

For the groundcover, do consider an oregano or a creeping thyme. Or perhaps a tufty native grass would make a nice alternative? Some varieties are bred to be "mowless" and they're usually xeric once established. I have a "Red Devil" creeping verbena that spreads vigorously, is only about an inch high, and has intensely red flowers; it loves full sun and is also quite xeric. High Country Gardens might offer some good ground cover ideas, www.highcountrygardens.com Pricey, but lots of interesting plants suited for dry, hot climates, and lots of native plants.

Nothing will inhibit Bermuda grass growth except digging up every last stalk and disposing of it. I say this after having stuggled to clear a patch for a garden plot. After repeated treatments with Roundup, it may look dead, but don't be fooled! The smallest shriveled brown bits of it left in your soil will re-root long after you thought you got rid of it. Three years later, I still have Bermuda grass randomingly sprouting in my flowerbed. Mint is not an option. You'll just have minty Bermuda grass.

#88 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 01:50 PM:

Magenta:

Hamadryad's "Klatu Verata Nictu" is likely from "Army of Darkness," with the "Nictu" coughed into a fist or sleeve, since the hero wasn't really listening to the essential bits that would keep an army of the evil dead from rising up. Right up there with, "Gimme some Sugar, Baby."

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:03 PM:

Nothing will inhibit Bermuda grass growth except digging up every last stalk and disposing of it.

You could try solarization. Cover it with plastic (black preferred), weight the edges all the way around (no gaps), and wait a week. It's supposed to do in all the weed seeds by heating them beyond the maximum temperature for viability. I make no guarantees - bermuda grass is indeed persistent.

#90 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:13 PM:

With regard to phrases -- are we staying away from Star Trek and/or Star Wars, on the grounds that many many people are familiar with both TV and movie SF but have never read SF?

My own personal touchstone phrase has been for a long time: "IMT made the sky -- fall!" But damn few SF readers know it, let alone members of the general public.

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Lizzy L - there might be some that are obscure enough. "For the world is hollow—and I have touched the sky!" might do it, though I doubt it could be worked into ordinary conversation. "I'm a doctor, not a [whatever]" might work better, with whatever profession you actually are substituted for 'doctor'. And when I think a machine is really kaput and has become a doorstop, I say "It's dead, Jim." People have vague glimmers of recognition to that one, but fans light up.

Tone matters, too. At my first QA job, when I was testing a just-fixed release that was supposed to go out that very night, and the development manager came to me and said the usual "oh, come on, we just fixed it, just send it out," I said "I'm sorry, John, I can't do that." But I said it in deep, hushed, and perfectly level tones. He smiled and said "Send out the release, Hal!"

#92 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:42 PM:

rams - isn't Jimsonweed very illegal? Or am I relying too heavily on CSI?

Datura (jimson weed) is classified by the FDA as not fit for human consumption, bus is not illegal and grows wild over most of the lower 48 and in much of the rest of the world as well. It contains atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine. It will get someone high BUT it's Pretty Damn Stupid to pursue it for that purpose unless they reallly just don't like life very much. The high is said to be very unpleasant, and that high could well be their last--the effective dose and the fatal dose aren't very far apart at all. Atropine poisoning is an ugly way to die.

Some plants are definitely not meant to be eaten. Datura is one of them.

#93 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:48 PM:

You could try solarization.

You could, and in fact I intend trying it--but since bermuda's chief means of spread is not seed (though it has those too) but rhizomes, I don't believe a week would do it. (If I recall correctly you'd also want to soak the soil first.)

#94 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 02:58 PM:

This is entirely unrelated to anything else in this thread, but I figure that's what an open thread is all about, right?

I was just reading an article over at Slate about accustoming pets to a new baby. The expert quoted says, "Try to find something that motivates the dog to couple with the baby."

Now, maybe it's my poor upbringing or my slightly archaic vocabulary or my tendency to find bawdry everywhere, but does that strike anyone else as a possibly infelicitous choice of verb?

#95 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:01 PM:

The only guaranteed way to get rid of Bermuda grass is to move.

#96 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:04 PM:

Lizzy L quotes Blish: "IMT made the sky -- fall!"

Whoa! You really ground the rust off of some of my gears with that one. Suddenly, I'm 14 years old, riding on the D train on my way to high school. I actually had to reassure myself that I was remembering the right book.

Now I want to go back and re-read it. I think I still have the paperback. But, I'm also afraid that age and (alleged) maturity may make me like the book less than its memory.

#97 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:05 PM:

Those of us who grew up reading Berton Roueché have never forgotten the essay on the Southwestern family that attempted to breed a hardier tomato by grafting them onto Jimson weed (the plants are related, both being [cue music sting] in the nightshade family).

As I recall, no one died, but that was luck, prompt treatment, and the fact that the big red guys were so toxic that one serving was all you got.

As for the Words That Signify One as A Member of the Crowd, kemmer comes to mind, and I can indeed think of a few occasions when it could be applied (figuratively, anyway) in a conversation. But then, I am lucky enough to hang out with a lot of very interesting people.

#98 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:09 PM:

As in "I've been in kemmer for months and can't find a partner?" Yeah, been there.

#99 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Phrases - "Digital watches are a pretty keen idea" from Hitchhiker's. I remember a meme from a while back that was the Voight-Kampff test from Bladerunner. Pratchett has some great phrases, but none I can think of that span the series, "Music with rocks in it" for example (although "Where's My Cow?" is a great non-sequitur).

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Xopher, you clearly need to hop on the next NAFAL ship to Gethen.

#101 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:18 PM:

Oops, just remembered - "What have I got in my pockets?" A little harder to slip into conversation, but it'll root out the fantasy SFers

#102 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:24 PM:

Those of us who grew up reading Berton Roueché have never forgotten

...too many tomatoes, or carrots, will turn your skin a funny color. Too Much Carotene is not good (but it probably won't kill you).

#103 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:24 PM:

People plant Japanese Knotweed? Are they insane? Botanical supervillains? Badly, badly misled? Knotweed makes true-believer organic gardeners reach for the bottle of Round-Up, and mild-mannered souls buy flamethrowers.

Bermuda grass is just plain evil. It exists only to provide the appearance of a grassy lawn for the benefit of Midwesterners who can't imagine not having one. It's ugly, unkillable, hyperallergenic, requires frequent watering, becomes even more hyperallergenic when wet, and mugs native species that might otherwise establish themselves.

Oleander should only be planted in desert areas that receive no supplementary watering. Under those conditions it will survive, more or less behave itself, and put out very pretty fragrant blooms. On the other hand, it will kill anything that grazes on it. It will also kill anyone who uses a stick of it as a spit to roast food over a fire. When I was a kid, I staked up one of my tomato plants with a bone-dry bark-falling-off cut-at-both-ends oleander stick that had been lying in the yard for months. My tomato promptly died, while the oleander stick took root and put out leaves.

Paula, it's classier to call the nightshade family the Solanaceae. It's my favorite family of plants, narrowly beating out the Rosaceae, because it's such an unlikely mix of basic vegetables, psychoactives, deadly poisons, and pretty flowers. You missed a few: tomatillo, tamarillo, cape gooseberry, tobacco, mandrake, henbane, Sodom apple, petunia, and the rest of the ornamentals: calibrachoa, brugmansia, brunfelsia, schizanthus, salpiglossis, browallia, nierembergia, and bittersweet. There's just no beating the solanaceae for weirdness and dash.

Why no one should ever eat jimsonweed (datura) recreationally: you can die. You can screw yourself up really badly. But even assuming you avoid those ills, you'll be seriously fckd up for some time, and you won't remember a bit of it afterward. Thus:

The James Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest Coolers in our World. This being an early Plant, was gather'd very young for a for a boil'd Salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither, to pacify the troubles of Bacon; and some of them eat plentifully of it, the Effect of which was a very pleasant Comedy; for they turn'd natural Fools upon it for several days; One would blow up a Feather in the air; another would dart Straws at it with much Fury; and another stark naked was sitting up in a Corner, like a Monkey, grinning and making Mows at them; a Fourth would fondly kiss, and paw his Companions, and snear in their Faces, with a Countenance more antick, than any in a Dutch Droll. In this frantick Condition they were confined, lest they should in their Folly destroy themselves; though it was observed, that all their Actions were full of Innocence and good Nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallow'd in their own Excrements, if they had not been prevented. A Thousand such simple Tricks they play'd, and after Eleven Days, return'd to themselves again, not remembering any thing that had pass'd.
So there.

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:24 PM:

Sarah S, it's not you. It truly is appalling.

Tully: "blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, red as a beet, hot as a hare, dry as a bone, the bowel and bladder lose their tone, and the heart runs alone."

It must be the other alkaloids that cause those symptoms, though, because atropine is also the active ingredient in flying ointment, and that makes you think you're flying. It's a much gentler dose than the near-fatal one described in the mnemonic, though; that may account for the difference.

#105 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:27 PM:

I, too, splorked at the "Try to find something that motivates the dog to couple with the baby" line in the Slate article. I've emailed the author asking about it.
mark

#106 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:27 PM:

It is enormous fun to sneak SF references into sample sentences, memos, business plans, quizzes and the like when teaching.

The corporate crowd responds exceedingly positively to handouts and class discussions when I work in references to fantasy and sf.

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Teresa: All the members of that family have at least one poisonous part, I'm told. The weird thing is that the parts are different depending on the individual plant. Tomato flowers, potato eyes, nightshade berries...it's quite bizarre.

#108 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:38 PM:

Try to find something that motivates the dog to couple with the baby.

This tripped me up too. And pointlessly - the author could simply have used 'bond' and the sentence would have been a lot clearer, even if you don't read 'couple' in a splork-inducing way.

#109 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:41 PM:

My tomato promptly died, while the oleander stick took root and put out leaves.

wow.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:44 PM:

I had a similar reaction, Greg. I'm going to use 'Oleander' as the name of a vampire character sometime.

#111 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:45 PM:

It's a more recent reference, and it's TV not books, but I've gotten good mileage out of "Curse your sudden but inevitable [blank]".

#112 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:45 PM:

The author of the Slate article, Emily Yoffe, was quoting Dr. Marsha Reich, a "Maryland veterinary behaviorist". The article can be found at http://www.slate.com/id/2144196
mark

#113 ::: Kelly Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 03:47 PM:

My anthem makes me mad now.

Our new Prime Minister, who we nicknamed 'The Shrub' (he's a little George W.) is ruining our country.

At least it's only a minority gov't and with luck we'll bring in a better gov't the next election. I have new found sympathy for what everyone in the USA has had to endure for the past five years.

#114 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:00 PM:

But, I'm also afraid that age and (alleged) maturity may make me like the book less than its memory. I know that fear, Larry. But you may discover that Blish ages well.

From what all the folks here have been saying, I think the plant in my garden must have been a brugmansia. It was taller than I am and I think its flowers turned down rather than up -- but am not certain. Mine was white. Others I have seen are yellow.

SF phrase #2: "You are trapped in that bright moment when you learned your doom."

Larry? Xopher?

#115 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:02 PM:

xeger — my husband and I had a Pilates Reformer (home version, not a professional version). We wound up getting rid of it, as we found it was a hassle to get out and put away, took up too much space to be left out, and didn't seem to be giving us the results we thought we should be seeing.

What's working for us is a 20-year-old exercise video: Callanetics. Like Pilates and the Lotte Berk Method, it's based on small, gentle, controlled movements; like them, it results in longer, leaner, stronger muscles than something like weight training would. It requires no equipment, and if you have enough clear floor space to lie down on your back with your arms out to the sides, you have more than enough space to do the workout.

It's a lot tougher than it first appears. It's also very effective. These days, I look in the mirror and think "Ooh! Muscle tone!" instead of "Ugh, I look slack and listless."

#116 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Bermuda grass is just plain evil. It exists only to provide the appearance of a grassy lawn for the benefit of Midwesterners who can't imagine not having one.

Nonsense. It exists to feed my horses.

#117 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:07 PM:

My entry into the SF fandom sweepstakes:

"the stars were going out."

#118 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:09 PM:

People plant Japanese Knotweed? Are they insane?

Teresa, if you were speaking at me, I don't know where the stuff in Pasadena came from. It suddenly showed up one year - I'd been there for ten or twelve years at that point without ever seeing it. I think tactical nukes might kill it (that's what I wanted to use on the ivy, which Roundup didn't kill off either) but they might make the problem worse. 'The Weed that Ate California'?

#119 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:09 PM:

one by one, without any fuss

#120 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Eric Sadoyama:

So we're into sf snowclones, now, are we?

Most snowclones seem to be changed after they're taken out of their original context, but "I'm a doctor, not a ______" was snowcloned before it even left TOS. According to DITL, there are 9 occurences from McCoy and another 15 in Voyager, DS9, Enterprise, and First Contact.

Are there any other snowclones like that?
Joss Whedon's work seems a likely place to find some, as he tends to like self-referential humor, but I can't think of any examples in Buffy, Serenity, or Angel.

As far as fandom signal phrases go, "I'm not dead yet! I'm getting better!" has always served me well. Another movie reference, though, so I guess literary-only fans will have to skip it.

#121 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:29 PM:

Hum, howabout bamboo? I fell in love with the lush stands of bamboo I saw while I was in the East, but I understand that it is weedy stuff that gets very very hard and dry the following season. If I plant it, will it grow? Will I be able to get rid of it? (I'm in Zone 6b or 7a, depending on how you measure.)

-r.

#122 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:29 PM:

" ... that bright moment *where* you learned your doom."

My favorite is: ____________ is a way of life; ---------- is just a [goddamn] hobby. F'rinstance:
Barbarism is a way of life; civilization is just a goddamn hobby.

#123 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:40 PM:

You don't need to see his ______.

These aren't the _____ you're looking for.

He can go about his business.

Move along.

#124 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:41 PM:

rhandir, check your friendly Sunset Western Garden Book (under 'Bamboo' actually). Some bamboos run, and some clump. The clumping ones are better to have around. (And some have edible shoots: creative weed control!)

#125 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:42 PM:

What an incredible smell you've discovered!

#126 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:44 PM:

If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from.

#127 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:47 PM:

And of course, one of my personal favorites:

_____. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

#128 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:50 PM:

'it binds the universe together'

#129 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Re Pratchett shibboleths, I nominate either "I aten't dead" or "Prod buttock".

Rhandir: DO NOT PLANT BAMBOO. It is the ultimate invasive. It will take over every available piece of real estate, including asphalt pavement, and reign supreme for 50 years, then the whole damn clone will bloom simultaneously and then die.

#130 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:00 PM:

I came out of a meeting the other day, sat down, and said to two colleagues (one Firefly-literate, the other not), "That went well."

Firefly fan cracked up. Other needed long explanation and has since borrowed the DVDs.

#131 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Xopher: you're absolutely right. I did mean that for xeger. sigh. I blame cats and dogs living together.

Re bamboo: there are varieties that are well behaved, even in Z6, but you need to look closely. My local nursery recommends New England Bamboo as a fairly reliable source of information on the different kinds of bamboo.

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Lila, so you're saying we'd better never bother with the old bamboo?

#133 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:10 PM:

This deal is getting worse all the time...

#134 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:10 PM:

there can be only one

#135 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:12 PM:

I'd know that laugh anywhere

#136 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:15 PM:

"Hot Fudge Sundae falls on a Tuesday this week!"

#137 ::: kchew ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:16 PM:

I have mint in the middle of my front lawn, thanks to a tenant in the other side of the house who has, of course, since left. That and the yarrow are fighting it out in full sunshine, and the mint is winning. I'm digging it up as fast as I can, but I have to leave the newly cleared area bare for a week or two before I seed it because I always miss some root somewhere, and that's when the new mint pokes its head up.

I don't recommend hops vines either (verrrry hard to get rid of). And I've been digging bellflower out of my garden for five years now: I have the upper half of the garden, and it rules under the forsythia. I'm planting mint, knowing what I know, under the dining room window, where nothing else grows but bellflower. I will enjoy seeing which side wins.

In addition to vinca and sweet woodruff, I like lamium as a groundcover: very pretty purple or pink flowers, and silvery, variegated green leaves.

The strawberries did fabulously until the squirrels found them. The raspberries need staking, and the petasites japonica (or fuki) have utterly taken over the shady (official) front garden--you can only eat so much of it in the spring (this is the plant that the Totoro is using as a hat during the bus stop scene in My Neighbour Totoro).

#138 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:16 PM:

I'm out of it for a bit and everyone's getting delusions of grandeur.

#139 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:18 PM:

"I find your lack of faith disturbing..."

#140 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:22 PM:

Han shot first.

(Not that it's a direct quote. But it does separate the Star Wars fans from those that have just seen the movie.)

#141 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:24 PM:

"Do -- or do not -- there is no 'try.'"

#142 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:27 PM:

This one needs a little set up. First, one of your friends has to say something dumb or pompus. Second, another friend calls him on this usually with an added insult. Finally, you respond in mock defense of your first friend:

"But this is Viggo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him."

#143 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:32 PM:

re: Pratchett quotes - there's a large orange creature over here making noises. I think it might be a monk@#%^@%#&^@!%

NO CARRIER


#144 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 05:34 PM:

Magenta, my A-Z says: Grow in any but very dry soil, in full sun (for best flowering) or partial shade. To restrict growth, cut back hard in early spring.

I have Vinca in two places, both sunny, and it has to be untimely ripped from the surrounding beds. I get flowers like this all summer long.

#145 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Has anyone else tried Inform 7, the latest version of the interactive fiction / text adventure creation tool?

I've known about Inform for a while, but never really looked at it until now that it has a really slick OS X GUI (Windows also, but I haven't used it.)

It's really cool. You describe the game as almost-natural-language, and Inform compiles it into a playable game.

#146 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:13 PM:


"I LOVE this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it!"

"IN-con-CEIV-able!"

To play fair, each of these has actually become part of my idiolect. And for any readers as puzzled by these as I've been by a few others above, credits here go to the flicks GHOSTBUSTERS and THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

#147 ::: wrye ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:21 PM:

"__________... or this will be the shortest offensive in history..."

"...I think you vastly overestimate their chances"

#148 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:27 PM:

"You are in a maze of little twisty passages"

"Your sword is glowing with a bright blue light"

#149 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 06:56 PM:

I recently came across a phrase something like that requested by K from S.

John Brosnan, writing in 1979 in Future Tense: The Cinema of Science Fiction:

"Among those who have kneed science fiction in the groin, Irwin Allen must rank high."

Makes sense on its own, but also evokes Harlan Ellison's oft-quoted 1953 tirade about a fannish feud: "The mad dogs have kneed us in the groin..."

Not all fans would recognize it-- so it isn't quite the subterranean shibboleth Kathryn is looking for-- but I think Brosnan was winking at those who could.

#150 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:11 PM:

I didn't even know Inform 7 was planned, much less out! Yowsh!

A few months back, I spent some time working on a dream-sequence intro to a Summer Camp text game. The main character finds himself wearing pajamas on the first day of junior high. After fleeing his homeroom in shame, he has the opportunity to get clues to puzzles the main game from various dream images contained in the classrooms nearby.

Last I was working on it, I was having trouble coming up with a way to make Dudley the Guinea Pig (who died several years previous due to overfeeding) swell up in size each time the character talked to him. And then there's the mechanics of the giant faceless clown's chainsaw . . .

#151 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:29 PM:

P J Evans made me think of a few more, if we're getting into games:

"_______ needs food badly!" (Gauntlet)

"It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue." (Zork)
Usually condensed into just mentioning grues when it's dark.

#152 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:29 PM:

"That went well" would have me thinking of The Industry/Made in Canada. (Does this constitute some sort of incestuous intra-thread cross-connection?)

#153 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:39 PM:

Stefan writes: "I didn't even know Inform 7 was planned, much less out! Yowsh!"

Apparently, it uses the Inform 6 compiler, and "Inform 7" is the name for the whole GUI environment.

It's really quite slick.

#154 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:46 PM:

A Pratchett: "It's a million to one chance but it just might work."

#155 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 07:47 PM:

You might have to preface that with "All right, I'll say it" to make it qualify as Pratchett.

#156 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:13 PM:

"The chives, however, look to be seriously intimidated."

Whoa-by what? My chives have jumped the garden fence and are taking over the lawn.

#157 ::: Your Name Here ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 08:50 PM:

No power in the 'verse can stop me cause I'm five by five.

#158 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:00 PM:

Thank you P J Evans, Lila, JennR
for the bamboo advice.

(in solviet russia, bamboo takes over you!)

-r.

#159 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Choose your fandom:

1. "all men are fanboys"
2. "Greater Internet Fckwd Theory"
3. "Joss Wheedon is my master now"
4. "infinite canvas (anything)"
5. "He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."
6. "One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters."
7. "sad ____ in snow"
8. "khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"
9. "ooooooooorrrrrrrrrggggggh!"
10. "I suggest a new strategy _______. Let the wookie win."
11. "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side"
12. "_______ deserves a tasty, tasty biscuit"

-----------------
memorial:
"The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure. How shall any tower withstand such numbers and such reckless hate?"
-----------------
key in rot13: 1 zrtngbxlb 2 craal-nepnqr 3 Fpbgg Xhegm/Cic 4 Fpbgg ZpPybhq 5 Tnaqnys/SbGE 6 ?/YBGE:GG 7 zrtngbxlb/Serq Tnyynture zbr zrzr 8 qhu 9 jbbxvr 10 P3C0 11 Una 12 Revp Oheaf/jrofanex


-r.

#160 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:24 PM:

We used to have a patch of mint in back of the house back home. It was about two feet wide and came out from the wall maybe 18 inches. It stayed there, and I don't know why. I think there is a variety of mint that does that but I don't know what variety this was. I thought that was normal. It was spearmint and I could just go out and rip a leaf off to chew on if I wanted, or take a few sprigs for the iced tea, or ignore it, and the patch just stayed the same size. I want some.

...and that's cuttin' me own throat.

#161 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:31 PM:

Call me Conrad....

#162 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 09:58 PM:

Xopher: oh, THANKS. Damned earworm.

Re mint: I have experienced both the kind that you plant under a leaky spigot and it stays put, and the kind that takes over your lawn. I'm uncertain as to whether the difference was genetic or environmental.

Lemon balm will definitely take over, but it smells so good when you mow it that I hardly minded. Also, it is quite a good mosquito repellent (when crushed and rubbed directly on the skin).

#163 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 10:04 PM:

Lila: bwahahah. Does your earworm have the painfully fake Cockney accent the drunk-on-his-ass Dick Van Dyke was doing for that movie?

#164 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 10:22 PM:

John M. Ford: Those of us who grew up reading Berton Roueché have never forgotten...

P J Evans: ...too many tomatoes, or carrots, will turn your skin a funny color.

My 4th-grade teacher gave me a paperback of Eleven Blue Men, and I work in Public Health today as a result. (Hell, I very nearly became an epidemiologist as a result... but that's another story.)

And forty-odd years after discovering Roueché, I was watching House, the episode where he walks through his clinic duty and, in passing, diagnosed an Orange Man. I just about leapt to my feet cheering.

I guess I should check the credits for that episode and see if Roueché is at least name-checked.

#165 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 10:37 PM:

I haven't seen House, but judging from an episode guide I saw, a large chunk of the first season (at least) was inspired by Roueché's essays.

#166 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 10:47 PM:

I donn't know if spreading in mint is nature or nurture, but if you put it in a pot with a saucer under it, it probably won't get out. In a lawn, mowing keeps it short if not under control (smells nice, too). Once established, it can be astonishingly tolerant of sun and drought. (We had some in west Texas: full sun on the south-facing side of a ditch, with no watering, and it was spreading, slowly.)

#167 ::: hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:12 PM:

Hamadryad, I think the quote is "Klatu Barada Nikto". From "The Day The Earth Stood Still", which most fans have seen and would recognize the quote.

You could well be right about that. Since my friend calls himself Gort, I'm sure it's from that movie. When I brought your comment to my his attention, he admitted that he has never seen the subtitles so he didn't know the exact quote.

#168 ::: hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Kelly Brown: I hope the Tories will be booted out of office before they can do too much damage, but since the Liberals can't even get their act together enough to pick a new leader I despair that we'll be rid of them any time soon. I can't see the NDP getting a majority government.

#169 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:21 PM:

And a little black light lights up black to let you know you've done it.

I've probably said that once a week for the last twenty-odd years, regardless of whether or not I know where my towel is.

#170 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:29 PM:

The phrase "Klaatu Barada Niktu" is indeed from the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, though Klaatu appears in the story the film was based on, "Farewell to the Master," by Harry Bates (1900-1981). You can read it here:

http://thenostalgialeague.com/olmag/bates.html

#171 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:53 PM:

Skwid wrote:

I think "Fear is the Mindkiller" is probably the best I've seen so far. Makes perfect sense if used in an appropriate context, but instantly clues in anyone who's read one of the Primary Works.

I used to have that as a bumper sticker...

#172 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Lexica wrote:

xeger — my husband and I had a Pilates Reformer (home version, not a professional version). We wound up getting rid of it, as we found it was a hassle to get out and put away, took up too much space to be left out, and didn't seem to be giving us the results we thought we should be seeing.

I've got enough experience with pilates and reformers that I'm quite confident about the type of things to expect, and I'm looking for one with a specific eye towards dealing with things that make my physiotherapist say 'Hmmmmm.'.

#173 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:11 AM:

JennR mused:

Xopher: you're absolutely right. I did mean that for xeger. sigh. I blame cats and dogs living together.

I'm dreadfully tempted to make some sort of bitchy, catty pun - but that's also a common sign of fen.

For techy-fen, I agrue that mazes of twisty [something] , all alike are a common reference. I think I've used 'code', 'concalls', 'messages' and 'error codes' recently.

One that isn't actually SF per se would be "I'm going to a commune in Vermont and will deal with no unit of time shorter than a season.", which I (and everybody I know) recalls as "I'm going to a commune in Michigan, and will deal in no unit of time shorter than a week". It doesn't much matter - the intent is perfect.

"I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that" is a gimmie - as well as "the computer is your friend".

Hm. Reading myself I'd almost think I was a geek... (which reminds me of this friend of mine who woke up on blood covered sheets... [0])

[0] Just a flesh wound ...

#174 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:20 AM:

Synchronicity--I've been wondering for most of my life what city turned into "the Mad Dogs" (International Master Traders, aka IMT of "IMT made the sky fall.") I was thnking some hours ago that Washington DC headed by the Schnuck Crime Family and lickspittle Congress, fits...

Japanese Knotweed is a bamboo...

Corsican mint will cascade out past the rim of the pot it's in and continue sprawling, except that the roots take over the soil in the pot and if there isn't enough water, and then too much, dead plant.

======

As for code phrases, films are really pop culture, so too I would argue was HHGTTG back even when it was merely radio and not TV.

#175 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:35 AM:

Teresa, thank you for the vision of a VW van with the Eye of Sauron airbrushed on the side. Much giggling. (Yes, I know that's not what Jimbo said. This is my damn vision, you go get your own...)

#176 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:31 AM:

My parent's house has a stand of bamboo along one side (the shady side). They're in Seattle, so it's mild and moist - not quite the same characteristics as Arizona - but it's survived for decades now. It even recovered from my chopping all of it down one year when I misunderstood my father's directions. (I only cut it off above the surface, so the rhizomes survived and re-sprouted). It must be a clumping type, because they spread very slowly over the years.

#177 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:37 AM:

Greg, I want to fill in the blanks with gardening jargon...

You don't need to see his knotweed.

These aren't the oleanders you're looking for.

He can go about his business.

Move along.

#178 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:51 AM:

...mazes of twisty [something] , all alike...

"You are as twisty and turny as a twisty turny thing" is all that comes to mind for me.

#179 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 05:16 AM:

Ah, but I don't think Python is a sufficiently narrow shibboleth - over here everyone under a certain age would recognise it. Likewise Blackadder.

"Question is, do you want to be a citizen or a passenger?"

On long tabs, we always used to encourage flagging troopers with cries of "It's the Ring, Sam! It's just getting heavier and heavier!" And patrols, of course, are enlivened by the occasional whisper of "Hey, [X], I thought you weren't afraid of no man." "What's out there ain't no man."

"We pretty much have our foot on their chest by this point" is clear to everyone...

#180 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:33 AM:

Things such as Doctor Who are very widely known, which makes them a bit too imprecise as an identifier.

I'd be a little wary of Lord of the Rings for the same reason.

On the other hand, a B5 Koshism might just work.

#181 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 07:11 AM:

Xopher -- I should hope jimsonweed would be illegal in the west (shoot, dyers have been chastened to find that, Braveheart notwithstanding, woad is illegal.) Daturas in various showy forms, though, are available at my Michigan garden centers. Heavy seeds? I was stunned the first time I saw it in someone's yard, but it seems to be more and more common.

#182 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 07:49 AM:

People plant Japanese Knotweed? Are they insane? Botanical supervillains? Badly, badly misled? Knotweed makes true-believer organic gardeners reach for the bottle of Round-Up, and mild-mannered souls buy flamethrowers.

And Susan jump up and down and run in little circles and bound over fences caroling "Kill the KNOTweed! Kill the KNOTweed!"

I am especially annoyed that whoever planted this monster decamped and left me to deal with it.

Graydon:
Never had to deal with it, but did get rid of Jerusalem Artichokes by the simple expedient of splitting the stem clean through, inserting a broad wick likewise, and leaving the other end of the wick in a container of strong ammonia solution.

I think we've already established that I tend to have a more direct approach to things than you....

When I moved into my house, it was next door to a pair of boarded-up foreclosure properties - at the time, I represented gentrification. (Now I am the poor white trash of the block.) The house next door, along with being home to several dozen pigeons, had a 12' stand of knotweed right next to my fence, along with enough other random growth for me to establish a new category: "weeds with bark". All of this was growing over, under, and through the chainlink fence separating the properties. (The house on the other side has a similar jungle, but at least it doesn't have knotweed.)

The first summer, my mother and I hacked, slashed, and dug up the weeds on my property and chopped everything over the fence down to fence level. Neither of us were familiar with knotweed at the time.

The second summer, all the knotweed was back. A friend came by and told me what it was and helpfully added that it could push through concrete and was almost impossible to kill. We dug up all the knotweed again and glared malevolently over the fence.

The third summer, I found knotweed on the far side of my double-width driveway and growing under my porch. That's when I did the Elmer Fudd act. This was now War. And since the properties on my block were slowly getting fixed up and inhabited, time was of the essence. New neighbors might object to me killing their plants.

My mother brought the +5 Vorpal Choppers. I recruited a husky young man. My mother had some odd scruples about going into the neighbor's yard. I repeated "pushes through concrete" several times and pointed to my foundation until her eyes glazed over and she proceeded toward the knotweed. Some time later, we had a giant heap of chopped knotweed and a much shorter stand - about waist high. Then we began to dig. Unfortunately, it proved impossible to dig up the knotweed, though it was quite entertaining to watch the husky young man try, and we caught a glimpse of China somewhere down near the roots.

At that point I brought out two gallons of Total Vegetation Killer and a funnel. My mother, scion of a long line of farmers and gardeners, turned white and said "you're suppposed to dilute that to 1:10." I repeated "pushes through concrete" and proceeded to wreak chemical havoc upon the plant by putting the funnel to each and every hollow stem and pouring undiluted TVK directly down into it while quietly chanting Kipling. My mother fled in horror. Then I soaked the ground for two feet around it with another gallon of the stuff.

Amazingly enough, that killed the stand. Also every other plant around it. We celebrated victory, and I danced in circles around my very own Superfund site. And then someone bought the house and fixed it up and brought in a bulldozer. They bulldozed that entire side of the yard, removing all traces of the knotweed and putting in a driveway. I cheered from the other side of the fence. Their yard was now knotweed-free.

Naturally, the next summer my yard was once again full of knotweed insurgents. I spent three more summers digging them up, soaking the ground with TVK, and occasionally making discreet visits to my neighbor's yard to pull up any stray bits I saw there. I discovered that TVK only kills things temporarily; after a couple of years, grass and weeds will return. That's good, since otherwise my yard would look polka-dotted.

At this point I am down to a several stubborn knotweed sprouts that return year after year. Since pulling them up every year hasn't done any good at all, this year's strategy is to wait until they are thick enough to have those big hollow stems and then make with the funnel and the poison again. Hopefully this will be the end of it.

My next project is removing all the grass from my yard so I can eliminate mowing.

#183 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 07:52 AM:

hamadryad, this will help your friend out.

#184 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:06 AM:

rams - that's probably because woad is also hallucinogenic. Not like datura, but euphoriant and color-enhancing.

#185 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:19 AM:

Well, if they get this quote, they're fen -

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attacks ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die."

Rutger Hauer as Roy Baty from Blade Runner.

#186 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:47 AM:

People plant Japanese Knotweed? Are they insane? Botanical supervillains? Badly, badly misled? Knotweed makes true-believer organic gardeners reach for the bottle of Round-Up, and mild-mannered souls buy flamethrowers.

Indeed; it was apparently introduced into Britain intentionally.

And now we're paying. It turns out that the site of the planned London Olympic Stadium is covered with the stuff. The only way of dealing with it that is legally open to them is to dig it all up, roots and all (to a depth of 3 metres) and then bury it at least 10 metres underground.

Scarily, according to a BBC article, "often it just lies dormant and there is evidence of it starting to flourish again after 22 years if it is disturbed."

BBC article

#187 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:50 AM:

Well, if they get this quote, they're fen -

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attacks ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

I wouldn't have gotten it.

An awful lot of the stuff being suggested is from TV or film (and mostly very popular ones like Star Trek or Star Wars, at that), which are the most accessible media to non-fen and therefore not as useful as filters.

#188 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:13 AM:

"I am sure that in the miserable annals of-a the Earth you will be duly enshrined."*

Speaking of Peter Weller, did any of you guys catch the Showtime series Odyssey 5? I never saw the original run, but it came out on DVD the other day. It was uneven, but really quite good in spots. As with virtually every series entertainment that doesn't suck, it was canceled prematurely. The 19 available episodes are well worth watching if you can stand having a storyline just chop off in mid-cliffhanger with no hope of resurrection.

Among the series' virtues were a couple of sly references to the Peter Weller oeuvre, including Buckaroo Banzai and Leviathan. Robocop was unaccountably unaccounted for. One presumes that allusion can be found in Lucien's library not far from _The Merrie Comedie of the Redemption of Dr. Faust_.**


Answer key:

*from Buckaroo Banzai
**this is from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series-Lucien's was Morpheus' librarian. His charge included the library of books that were conceived but never implemented.

#189 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:16 AM:

An awful lot of the stuff being suggested is from TV or film (and mostly very popular ones like Star Trek or Star Wars, at that), which are the most accessible media to non-fen and therefore not as useful as filters.

I think the original question was specifically not "what password marks fen" but "what password marks SF readers who are not necessarily fen" (which describes me, so I started thinking of what passwords mark people who are like me).

Kathryn in Sunnyvale asked:

...I'd been wondering more about "could fanspeak exist which would be understood by SF readers even if they know nothing about fandom? What would it be?" [because, checking fan jargon lists, it doesn't exist now.]

I would agree, though, to limit the field to books.

#190 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:26 AM:

I wouldn't have waited until 1 July, but maybe after Jean-Baptiste Day?

The Pratchett bits that keep wandering through my household's conversation, though perhaps hard to drop in unobtrusively, are "named meat" and "ook."

And I agree with Susan, a lot of the supposed sf references being tossed around here are more likely to find people who watch lots of movies and don't actively hate science fiction than people who read lots of sf. Quoting Star Wars probably wouldn't even do that: lines like "these aren't the droids you're looking for" are going to be familiar to huge numbers of people just because they were the right age when the film came out. Conversely, Monty Python and Princess Bride references aren't good for finding sf readers and watchers who aren't fen.

#191 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:27 AM:

Well, if they get this quote, they're fen -
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attacks ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die."

Somewhat tricky to just casually drop it into the average conversation and have it make sense to everybody, though, which I think was the original requirement. For example, I think I might raise eyebrows if I wheeled it out in answer to a casual "how was your weekend, ajay?"

"Intelligences vast and cool and unsympathetic" might ring a few bells. Or just any reference to something being a bit squamous. (Or rugose. Or, indeed, eldritch. Or howling at the dead, uncaring stars... you get the idea. Drawback is that you start sounding rather like a Charlie Stross character. Well, that might be a drawback for some people.)

My lady is reading "Dracula" and is considering greeting her visitors at work with "Welcome to my office. Enter freely, go safely, and leave behind some of the happiness you bring".

Some more, adapted for an example business/casual context:

"Well, boss, the Commerzbank deal has been a hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead."

"Manchester United! I kill you filthy!"

"Here's the second of those case files you need to review. The list is long. (optional mutter) Dirac Angestun Gesept."

"Well, m'lud, I must follow my client's instructions, unless such obedience would conflict with the first law."

"Probate is the last refuge of the incompetent."

"Well, if we can put together a sufficiently advanced argument, it will be indistinguishable from magic."

#192 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:35 AM:

I was having a discussion with some friends about removing "God" from the line "God keep our land glorious and free" in the Canadian National Anthem, and if so, what he could be replaced with. The best we came up with was "Let's", which I like for its sense of personal responsibility.

The first year I was here, I had no idea about Jean-Baptiste, and when someone asked me what I was doing for it I couldn't think of anything beyond "Dancing with a head on a plate?" Last year, someone else had the same idea and staged Wilde's _Salome_.

And as for "Fear is the little death, fear is the mindkiller", I was once in Porchester Castle with a group of fans and we were crossing a rather scary bit of battlement, and one of us started to mutter that Litany Against Fear, only to have everyone else join in. I don't suppose Frank Herbert would ever have imagined that.

#193 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:55 AM:

About the Keillor-Lévy Sidelight: when I was in France, somebody asked me what Americans thought of him. I said, "Most of us don't know who he is, but the ones who do mostly think he's a pompous git." She said, "Oh good, so do we."

#194 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 10:08 AM:

TexAnne,

Were they talking about Keillor or Levy? Much as I like his show, I suspect "pompous git" describes Keillor pretty well.

#195 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 10:12 AM:

Xopher asked: "Does your earworm have the painfully fake Cockney accent the drunk-on-his-ass Dick Van Dyke was doing for that movie?"

Yes. Of course it does. The Disney equivalent of Vogon poetry.

#196 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 10:24 AM:

Kudzu.

#197 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 10:40 AM:

adamsj: Lévy. I doubt if anybody in France has ever heard of Keillor.

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 10:57 AM:

I thought you weren't afraid of no man." "What's out there ain't no man."

Hm, how about "say hello to ol' painless"?

A buddy of mine and I got into the habit of saying in a very serious tone: "We're all gonna die," quickly followed in a light-hearted "except you, Ahnold".

"We pretty much have our foot on their chest by this point" is clear to everyone...

except me.


#199 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:05 AM:

Greg,

I believe that'd be a reference to Footfall.

#200 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Oh, it doesn't qualify as having a non-sci-fi meaning as well as having a acting as a tag that you're into sci fi, but we've lately gotten into the habit at work of refering to our impossible projects as variations of a Kobayashi Maru.

It clearly indicates who has watched (and paid attention to) Wrath of Khan, though. First time it came up, one guy was complaining about having mutually exclusive requirements, too much work, and not enough time to do it, etc, and concluded with some statement like "It's a Kobayashi Maru."

I laughed, and the other guy with us went "huh?"


#201 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:17 AM:

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy... (oh, alright, it's another movie reference but I had to say it.)

I dunno, is TANSTAAFL too widespread in the non-SF knowledge base?

I like "I am the man who owns Vorkisigan Vashnoi," but it's a little hard to work into casual conversation.

What Would Miles Do?

Forward Momentum!

We're nicely over-extended. Some people consider that progress.

In answer to "Where have you been?" -- "Shopping. Want to see what I bought?"

(you can tell what I've been rereading--I enjoyed the "I'm With Miles" t-shirt idea...)

#202 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

ah yes. the best movie of all time.

"Use more honey."

"It's not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy?"

(when someone downplays some global climatic effect, I generally invoke that phrase in their name.)

"Be cool. She'll hold."


It flies like a truck.
Good, what is a truck?

don't tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.

#203 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:32 AM:

TANSTAAFL is indeed well-known outside of SF readers. (Indeed, it tends to be somewhat muffled inside them.)

"All courses may run ill." (In the books but not the movies.) Also, a reference to a complicated thing or difficult person as "subtle and quick to anger" would pass well enough, I think. But then I'm used to getting funny looks. I've been told that the current generation says "word," "no doubt," or "true dat" when I would say "hear, hear" or "strewth."

#204 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:42 AM:

"I have no [noun] and I must [verb]."

"Millennium hand and shrimp" is kinda hard to work into a conversation, unfortunately. But "[blank]-onna-stick" can be useful.

#205 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:47 AM:

"It should be fine... Just don't fiddle with it."

"...and, if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order."

(when looking out of a high window) "Ah, London. How peaceful it looks."

An even more obscure t-shirt for Janet Brennan Croft: "Yes, actually, I am like this all the time."


#206 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Filter quote: Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun.

#207 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:00 PM:

Jo - I once asked an atheist friend what he said when he sang the national anthem, if he sang it at all. His answer: "_I_ Keep our land Glorious and Free."

I think Svend Robinson actually brought forth a petition to have God removed from the national anthem at one point. Oh there was an uproar!

In an interesting side note, today's featured Wikipedia article is "Canada". Today also happens to be the day that many Quebeckers are celebrating the "Fete Nationale" (The actual day is tomorrow, but lots of people have today off.)

The garden discussion here is really interesting. I have planters on my balcony for the first time and now I'm looking at the oregano and sage (they're right next to one another) and wondering if I will wake up one morning and find that there's been a fight in the night and Only One Remains.

#208 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:03 PM:

Wasn't it Charlotte MacLeod who wrote mystery novel The Curse of the Giant Hogweed? (Can't be bothered to check in my Mom's library or online -- blame summer torpor.)

Teresa: tomatillo, tamarillo, cape gooseberry, tobacco, mandrake, henbane, Sodom apple, petunia... makes me start to thing these plants are really Ancient Evil, some in pretty disguises.

Phrases: I don't relate to most of those (especially the movie/TV series ones), but adore the classic "I never drink ... wine."

PS: Anyone here have any advice for ways of treating hives (on skin, not containing bees)?

#209 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:03 PM:

I'd say the control group of mundanes is pretty well defined but the test group of fen is poorly defined with only one test - as I define fan - my age and experience - I might use the gostak distims the doshes as a shibboleth and expect some fraction of it to pass unnoticed in general conversation. Sadly among fen as well.

From the reverse perspective it's been easy to identify some of the naming schemes on servers but that's easy because there are many different but related names used.

In a limited environment it gets much easier - it is quite possible in Moscow Idaho to conflate Lensman and local references but of course there are locals who know Doc Smith without being fen in general.

If I had to use a shibboleth seriously as in the Fallen Angels (Yngve delousing to save looking it up) scenario I'd try hard to tailor my usage to the age of my audience.

#210 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:09 PM:

"Almost but not quite entirely unlike $FOO" is pretty easy to work into something. Unfortunately, so is the Blackadder (alt.history, so vaguely SF) "There's only one thing wrong with that plan; it's complete bollocks."

"It has become *precious* to me" is useful, in reponse to things like "Dave, can I have that $SOFTWARE manual back?". It helps to do the body language too.

#211 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:10 PM:

"I have no [noun] and I must [verb]."

How about straw and make bricks?

#212 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:15 PM:

If we're looking for indicators of "what password marks SF readers who are not necessarily fen", then we might want to collaborate on a list of cross-section books/authors that all fen and non-fen SF readers have. I, like, Caroline started attempting to come up with common indicators based off of books, and not movies (much harder than first blush) that I would get.

The trouble is that readers tend to specialize so much! Which authors would ANY SF reader (especially non-fen) have in their permanent collection? I'm stuck on 50's-80's authors, but these days that list would drop off significant number of readers.

And then you run into the issue of those same authors being quotable (short phrases). *grumble*

I'm down to either Pratchett or Adams, with a side-bet on Bujold.

CMOT, Librarian or towel references are all I can think of working especially well. Everything else that pops into mind tends to be movie references.

"Nono, don't tug on that, you don't know what it might be attached to."

Now I'm going to try and scrub the botanical supervillain earworm out of my current plotwerk.

#213 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:22 PM:

Faren: yes, The Curse of the Giant Hogweed was written by Charlotte MacLeod; one of her Peter Shandy mysteries, and the only one that crossed the line into fantasy (and screwball fantasy at that). I always wondered what her regular readers who weren't acquainted with fantasy made of that one...

#214 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:30 PM:

As a hives survivor, but not a medical professional, I'd say:
Faren, as you no doubt know, hives (AKA urticaria, for allergy nerds and medical types) are an allergic reaction. I'd treat internally with an antihistamine tablet or capsule (whatever you take normally, if you do, failing that, any OTC antihistamine--not decongestant--will do) and then topically with a benadryl cream. Further treatment can include oatmeal baths (Aveno is the gold standard, IMHO) if the itching is really aggravating.
If you start to wheeze, get professional help ASAP.

Yes, my memories of finding out I was allergic to sulfa drugs are still fresh and green, mumbleyears later.

#215 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:51 PM:

"I have no [noun] and I must [verb]."

How about straw and make bricks?

Shut up, Loiosh.

(and thanks for the straight line, Xopher...)

#216 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 12:54 PM:

TexAnne, I never give straight lines. I throw curves sometimes, though.

I'm afraid I don't get the joke.

#217 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:01 PM:

I'm afraid I don't get the joke.

Hey, get in line. I only get maybe a third of the references on Making Light. Parentheticals with a googlable phrase would be my mandate.

#218 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:10 PM:

Xopher: "Shut up, Loiosh" is a quote from Brust's Vlad Taltos novels. It's used at least once per book. (Sorry, I thought you'd read 'em.)

#219 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Loiosh is a character in Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" series.

I believe TNH was the editor - she was at least on Steve's (related) Khaavren romances. In any case, those who enjoy the various sensibilities of PNH, TNH, and John M. Ford will certainly enjoy reading Brust. Y'all are missing out.

#220 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:19 PM:

Faren Miller: Wasn't it Charlotte MacLeod who wrote mystery novel The Curse of the Giant Hogweed?

Andrew: yes [..] one of her Peter Shandy mysteries, and the only one that crossed the line into fantasy.

The Return of the Giant Hogweed was song on the Nursery Cryme album by Genesis (1971).

While checking my facts ( googling ), I found that Attack of the Giant Hogweed was a thread on this site ( the one you're on ), almost a year ago.

Both the Genesis song and Charlotte MacLeod novel are referenced.

#221 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:29 PM:

yes, The Curse of the Giant Hogweed was written by Charlotte MacLeod; one of her Peter Shandy mysteries, and the only one that crossed the line into fantasy (and screwball fantasy at that). I always wondered what her regular readers who weren't acquainted with fantasy made of that one...

I don't know how habitual mystery readers reacted, but as a fantasy reader, The Curse of the Giant Hogweed was the book that started me on mysteries. First MacLeod's, then I branched out from there.

--Mary Aileen

#222 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:42 PM:

I don't relate to most of those (especially the movie/TV series ones), but adore the classic "I never drink ... wine."

This reminds me: Is the provenance of the line "It's much more ... than a hobby," familiar in SF&F fandom? Or is that limited to the Monster Kid branch of the Ackerman tree?

I don't consider myself part of SF&F fandom, but I've gotten most of the references in this thread. If I were looking for a password that would identify current SF readers who are not necessarily fans, I would restrict myself to books written in the last 20 years. Anything much older than that, or in a format other than text, has been pretty much absorbed by the general popular culture.

#223 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:50 PM:

I normally tend to skim over the gardening discussions here, but Teresa's exclamation about Japanese knotweed, and then Susan's hilarious story of her epic struggle against it, made me curious...

And the first thing that Google comes up with is the Japanese Knotweed Alliance
(don't worry, it's an alliance against Japanese knotweed)

Which informed me that the knotweed found in Britain, and at least parts of continental Europe and North America, is all one single (female) clone, spreading without reproduction[*]. ("... in total biomass terms, it is probably the biggest female in the world!") And apparently it can regenerate from fragments as small as 0.7 grams.

Wow. That does sound like a plant that a botanical supervillain would use.

[*] except for the terrifying possibility ("Invastion of the killer knotweeds 2?") they raise of hypbridization with local species, producing mutant cross-breeds that can reproduce and are even better adapted to local conditions.

#224 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:50 PM:

I have planters on my balcony for the first time and now I'm looking at the oregano and sage (they're right next to one another) and wondering if I will wake up one morning and find that there's been a fight in the night and Only One Remains.

The person who lived in our house before we did planted about eight herbs in a planter about two feet across (thus proving she knew about as much about gardening as I do) -- and the winner was ... oregano. Well, it smells nice, anyway.

#225 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 01:52 PM:

I have some Adams books, but won't read them, and actively disliked HHGTTG, it's a type of humor that mostly gives me allergic reactions. I have most of the Bujold books, but there is a substantial percentage of the SF reading public that has as much taste for Bujold as I have for Adams' work or Bruce Sterling's work... one of the Noreascons, both a Sterling novel and Bujold's Falling Free were on the Hugo ballot. The results of the preferential balloting indicated that generally there was a negative corrolation between the two books as regarding people's evaluation of them as Hugo-worthy...

The SF readership/audience has gotten very diverse, with a lot of different tastes. There wa a fascinating discuussion years ago at a Boskone that PNH and Ben Yalow and some others were in, discussing taste and what attracts them, what annoys them, and what they're indifferent to or don't notice. Ben indicated that scope and ideas were what caught him, and he didn't notice or could overlook clunky proses. I noted that prose styles can completely block me from finding something reading. I forget what PNH said.... but it was a fascinating discussion, about what drives people's literary tastes and enjoyment (Teresa was IIRC being taught by Macdonald to be knotty.)

Getting back to a topic under discussion, though, there are lots of different streams within SF/F these days, but I don't think that there really is a central definitive core set of books everyone's read or going to read anymore. I would say that I can't be forced to read something, except that there is always likely to be some reason that I would read it for, such as a financial inducement, or a challenge, or for the purpose of compare and contrast... there are authors whose works I will not open the pages of one of their books of without some such external motivation, because my sampling of their work left me with a very strong aversion or lack of interest to/in. Some of those writers are people whose work is very popular and well-loved by other people, but doesn't resonate responsively in a positive manner for me. And since this isn't a Required Text in a Required Class, if I don't feel like reading it and I don't have some other motivation such as income, or those as mentioned above, I'd rather spend the time and attention on something with a better payoff for me in terms of enjoyment/income/etc.

There are whole nearly independent subgenres--the are the paranormal readers, and the romantic SF readers--the two groups strongly overlap, there are those who like various types of edgy SF, there are those who want space opera, there are all the different varieties of fantasy, there are the wolf-human and vampire and various shapeshifters subgenres, a lot of them also classifying as paranormal romances these days; there are near-term thrillers, etc. etc.

There are "classics" within the different streams, books which have high standings in the particular area--and which various people who prefer other types of SF/F find utterly uncompelling, negatively attractive to them, and lacking in value.

Decades ago there was a core and touchstone works. Today, with the explosion of material available and the huge range of tastes, there's a lot more specialization and filtering going on; there has to be, how many SF/F works that are new, let alone the existing library, are there? People use their tastes to pick and choose what they think is going to entertain them, and reading something that people of a different generation in a different world thought was wonderful, may or may not be entertaining anymore, either to the people trying to reread the thrills of their youth, or people from a new generation, trying to read books from before the Internet.

#226 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:01 PM:

I think it's experiment time... plant some oregano in amongst the Japanese knotweed across the street.

The oregano spreads utterly obnoxiously, but it's a huge boon for a bunch of different species of butterflies and other pollinating insects. (I wish the mammals with sharp teeth would munch on -it-, though...

Japanese knotweed, at least, is supposed to be edible, as opposed to phragmites (a really obnoxious large invasive giant grass... yeah, knotweed (as a bamboo) is an invasive spread grass, but it doesn't march through water, too. Water stops it. Phragmites loves wet....

On the good news size, the problems with purple loosestrife are taming down, under controlled conditions a bug that eats the stuff was cautiously imported and released in selected areas, and I've noticed there there is now a LOT less prevalent of purple loosestrife around. The bug doesn't that I have heard seem to have affected directly anything else (that is, a reduction in purple loosestrife, gives other plant life living room and space and nutrition), and there are other plants growing instead of huge stands of purple loosestrife).

#227 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:03 PM:

How about "Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun?"

Makes sense to the uninformed viewer, rings the "I have read a certain classic SF novel" bell for the insider.

#228 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:31 PM:

Speaking of odd turns of phrases:

I saw a headline the other day:
Church leaders to tackle gay ordination.

Somehow that brings to mind an image of people interrupting a ceremony to sack a guy like a quarterback.

#229 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:36 PM:

"I am only an egg."

"It's white on this side."

Unfortunately, I can never remember if it's "Gotta rush so I don't have to hurry" or "Gotta hurry so I don't have to rush."

#230 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Ajay offers: An even more obscure t-shirt for Janet Brennan Croft: "Yes, actually, I am like this all the time."

giggle...Just getting my daughter hooked on them now...

I think Paula Lieberman's correct about the fragmentation of the field. There are a lot more niches, and so many books published in each that one needn't stray out that often. I heard something about this in relation to TV the other day -- used to be everyone watched Ed Sullivan because you didn't have many other choices, so everyone had more of a shared vocabulary of experience. Despite the high ratings of American Idol, there's nothing that uniting on TV anymore, and I don't imagine you see the variety of styles and genres there that you did on the older variety shows. I haven't picked up an F&SF or Analog in years -- do they still have the same variety they used to? Or have they gotten more specialized and narrow?


#231 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:09 PM:

I don't know where some of these come from. I believe I have at least some of the Taltos books; they're on my "to be read" pile (since I now work within easy walking distance of home, I don't have as much time to read, isn't that odd?).

Where does "Yes, actually..." come from?

#232 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:17 PM:

You may also find Curse of the Giant Hogweed as by Alisa Craig. MacLeod used the Craig name to differentiate the Peter Shandys from the Sarah Kelling/Max Bittersohns.

#233 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:24 PM:

"What would Lord Veterinari Do?"

"I don't think Granny Weatherwax would approve."

"DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT."

#234 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Dave--

That last only works if you can speak in all caps, of course, and for all my trying, I just haven't been able to muster anything stronger than italics.

#235 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:50 PM:

As impressed as I am with the Litany against Fear, it brought to mind a fragment from a song by (Canadian) Lynn Miles:

There's no love without courage, and no courage without fear.

I'm as apt to use or pick up on a phrase from a song lyric as I am to do these things with SF references. My favorites seem to come from Leonard Cohen (an obvious choice),

There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.

or Dead Can Dance.

When you expect flutes, its whistles. When you expect whistles, it's flutes.

#236 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Fan detection phrases to be slipped into casual conversation:

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

"dinkum cobber", when spoken by someone obviously not from the Southern Hemisphere.

Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

I will refrain from typing most of what's in the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, but a lot of those would do it. :)

Fly casual.

I have a (very) bad feeling about this.

Let me explain--no, would take too long, let me sum up.

various skiffy curse words, including but not limited to frack, frell, snowcrash, gorram.

These are not the [whatever] you're looking for. (I'm told that at least one carload of fen has gotten out of a speeding ticket by dint of the passenger leaning over, waving at the cop, and saying, "These are not the droids you're looking for", at which point the cop made the appropriate response, went through the rest of the bit, and waved the car on. Any confirmation?)

This means something. (in reference to something not obviously meaningful)

Don't cross the streams.

Do not meddle in the affairs of [whatever]...

One [whatever] to rule them all...

I aim to misbehave.

Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots fights a war on twelve fronts.

[Something does something] in exactly the way that [something] doesn't. (e.g. "He flew gracefully through the air in exactly the way that cows don't.)

You are in a maze of little twisty passages, all alike.

Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

On the gripping hand... (a mite odd, but most non-fen could glark it)

Speak, friend, and enter. (all the LotR ones are less reliable since the movies, however)

If this goes on--

Use of character names for illustrative or example purposes, e.g. a sample address database with entires "Bronson, T; Harrington, H; Wu, L; Ivanova, S; Uhura, N"

Reference to the Three Laws

No matter where you go, there you are.

Make it so.

References to YoyoDyne, Cyberdyne, Blue Sun, General Products, etc.
**

I have the niggling feeling that there are more of them, but nothing's springing to mind.

#237 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 03:59 PM:

The person who lived in our house before we did planted about eight herbs in a planter about two feet across (thus proving she knew about as much about gardening as I do) -- and the winner was ... oregano. Well, it smells nice, anyway.

Ha! Over the course of several winters I expect that the winner here will be ... Chives. But that's across all the planters. I only have three plants in each 3-foot planter, except for the one with the lavender, which has half a planter to itself, 'cause I heard it likes its space.

And I do know enough that the mint is in its own little pot and isn't allowed to talk to the other herbs. I'm currently trying to keep my mother from planting mint in the ditch at my grandmother's place. "I don't mind it as long as it's on the edge of the property," she says. I keep trying to explain that it's not going to stay there (much as I love mint, I shudder to think what she's in for). Perhaps if I tell her it will eventually choke out the wild roses...though I don't know if that's actually true. Wild roses are pretty tenacious themselves (and they also smell lovely).

#238 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 04:05 PM:

joann: no, Charlotte MacLeod did not use her Alisa Craig pseudonym on any of the Shandy mysteries, at least here in the U.S. Both the Kelling and Shandy mysteries were published using MacLeod, and both series were (mostly) set in Massachusetts. Look for The Curse of the Giant Hogweed under MacLeod. (It was the fifth in the Shandy series.)

She used the Alisa Craig psuedonym on two other series of mysteries, both set in Canada (where she was born): the "Grub-and-Stakers" series featuring Dittany Henbit, and the series featuring Madoc (an RCMP officer) and Janet Rhys. The Avon paperbacks were labeled "Charlotte MacLeod writing as Alisa Craig," MacLeod being a good seller for Avon at the time.

All four series started with protagonists who meet in the first novel and married shortly thereafter. (Sarah and Max took more books/years, but that's mostly because she was widowed in the first book.)

#239 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 04:16 PM:

Andrew: Mea minima culpa. I knew there was a third series, but a *fourth*? I think I got confused because I religiously bought all the Kellings, and ignored the rest, which I classed as all being by Craig. (An equally good Mc---- author that I was buying at the same time was Mary McMullen, who did nice romantic suspense, usually set in some art, advertising or other media context.)

#240 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 04:53 PM:

YoyoDyne

Seeing that word in print just makes me giggle and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like I just had a shot of really good 20 year old scotch.

When enumerating a list of incredible things, you could always end with "a girl named John?"

Fly casual.

I think that one really needs the "I don't know," prefix, but that's me.

Let me explain--no, would take too long, let me sum up.

another warm and fuzzy one. ;)

One that is actually quite easy to implement into normal conversation: "As you wish"

For some reason, the phrase, "Back off man, I'm a scientist." has shown up almost everywhere I've worked as an engineer, almost as common as "cats and dogs living together..." proclamations of doom. I've heard "OK, so, she's a dog." in the wild on rare occaision, as well as, "when someone asks you if you're a _____, say 'yes'!"

#241 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Yoyodyne leaves me thinking of the clutch in my motorcycle ...

Dru mused:
I'm down to either Pratchett or Adams, with a side-bet on Bujold.

... where I'm not fond of Pratchett, and don't think I have any in the house - possibly Good Omens. Adams, sure - Bujold... no.

I'm actually surprised to not see Asimov, Norton, Tolkein or Heinlein on your list of possibilities - or more recently, Gibson or Stephenson in their particular specialties.

Is the '$foo, News at 11' meme an fenish thing? (eg: "Death of the Internet, News at 11")

#242 ::: Harthad ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Lizzy L -- Sorry to chime in so late, but what you describe is definitely a brugmansia. They do come in different colors, white and yellow being the most common, but pink, orange, and peach as well. One extraordinarily showy type, Brugmansia sanguinea, is pale gold at the base of the trumpet, shading to deep crimson at the mouth. I believe it was the inspiration for all those art-nouveau-ish lamps with the pendulous purple-red glass trumpets for shades.

They knew their plants, did the art noveau folks. When I first encountered a horse chestnut tree, I recognized it from an art noveau stencil pattern. The artist had every botanical detail right, despite the stylization.

#243 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

#244 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 05:43 PM:

Ceri, if the wild roses have already established their woody crowns they will cohabitate with the mint.
Designer mints like chocolate mint are slower to spread and whussier with more shallow roots/runners but they do smell like After'Eights when mowed.

#245 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 05:52 PM:

This should interest someone around here: according to Edward Champion (via Maud Newton) Thomas Pynchon has a new novel coming out this December. Christmas bestseller anyone?

By the way, regarding phrases to covertly identify fans by, how about describing something/someone as a Mary Sue? That doesn't sound like gibberish, but it's a term restricted (as far as I know) to fandom.

#246 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Xopher, the "Yes, actally, he is like that all the time" refers to Miles and is in one of the ones I haven't gotten to yet in this rereading.

#247 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:05 PM:

YOYODYNE INDUSTRIES:

AT LEEST WE AINT HALLYBURTEN

#248 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:18 PM:

Coulter's name came up in the "social control" thread, so here's a link to a video clip of Springsteen smacking her down on CNN. Another in the ongoing series of stupid questions by newsreaders, category: "Why should musicians' political opinions matter?"

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:38 PM:

Long Island is (was?) home to Gyrodyne Industries and Lizardos Engineering.

Makes you think. About watermelons, maybe.

#250 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Were either of those companies started on November 1, by any chance? And how many of the founding board members have the first name "John"?

Perhaps we are already at war with the 8th dimension.

#251 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 07:20 PM:

"He beats his fists against the post and still insists he sees the ghosts."

#252 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 07:43 PM:

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

#253 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:19 PM:

TexAnne, after my knee MRI, I went around saying "I have no cartilage and I must walk."

#254 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:35 PM:

"It's white on this side."

Stranger in a Strange Land?

I don't recall the "egg" quote, though.

#255 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Greg London: "I am only an egg" is also from Stranger in a Strange Land

#256 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 08:53 PM:

About 30 years ago, on a Florida humor/news hybrid called Metronews, Metronews (which aired after Mary Harman, Mary Hartman), the anchor, Bill Tush, translated "Klaatu Barada Niktu" as "the policeman will hand you a cigarette." This was the era of Baretta, remember.

Douglas Adams references are pretty endemic online, and there are really quite a few to choose from. You might trying "saying a big hello to all other intelligent lifeforms out there," or suggest banging the rocks together, or somebody being "just zis guy, you know?"

The Princess Bride has a lot to choose from, also. Have fun storming the castle!

#257 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:10 PM:

wikipedia lists it as "nikto" not "niktu". Then again, its a conversion of an alien sound into english letters, so there is some room for interpretation.

Fragano: thanks. my brain is a collander.

#258 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Fragano - Silly me, all this time I thought we were at war with Eurasia. Oh well, at least the chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grams.

#259 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 09:45 PM:

xeger - I'm pretty sure it's "X, film at 11!" I think it's from SNL or something similar.

Don't know what to say about the clutch, though.

#260 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 11:06 PM:

Larry was puzzled enough to say (in contradiction):

Don't know what to say about the clutch, though.

I had a quick momment of uncertainty, but yoyodyne quite definitely made my clutch. Actually, now that I think of it, I think it was the clutch slave ...

"Let's call it something nicely inconspicuous, like - say - Ford Prefect" is something I've gotten good fen feedback on in the past.

"$foo yesterday, $foo today, and blimey if it isn't $foo tomorrow" is another one that's been abused (in)appropriately to the amusement of many audiences.

#261 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 12:01 AM:

Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) is not a bamboo nor a grass of any sort. It is one of the polygonaceae, aka buckwheat family. Buckwheat is not a grass despite the name and its seeds being eaten as grain.

Common reed (Phragmites communis)has edible parts - seeds, rootstocks (can be processed for starchy flour like cattail roots), young shoots. It's considered invasive in many places, though I have the impression it may have been widespread in the Northern hemisphere without human intervention.

#262 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 02:01 AM:

Greg: One that is actually quite easy to implement into normal conversation: "As you wish"

Easy to implement, but may lead to misunderstandings.

("One day I said it to a girl, and now that girl's my wife.")

#263 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 07:50 AM:

Okay, chiming in from the far corner of the Pacific, with a list of things you should never, never, *never* plant in an Australian garden if you ever want to be able to plant anything else ever again:

* Mint
* Oregano
* Japanese Pepper Tree (aka Brazillian Pepper Tree)
* Wisteria
* Bougainvillea
* Oleander
* Blackberry (this is a noxious weed in every state)
* Honeysuckle (noxious weed in several states)
* Lantana (noxious weed in Queensland, just noxious everywhere else)
* Prickly Pear
* Couch grass
* Buffalo grass (it's a common lawn grass here, and it runs all over the place).

I can make some suggestions for things that are nigh unkillable, ground covering, and generally easy enough to deal with in hot areas. Primary among these is nasturtiums - I went through a stage of buying these as decoy plants to lure the cabbage white butterflies away from my cabbages and cauliflowers. They worked, but not as expected (the butterflies laid their eggs on the nasturtium leaves, and the hungry hungry caterpillars ate the cabbages as a second course). They did, however, make a wonderful self-seeding groundcover for areas I hadn't got around to planting out properly. I just threw about three packets of the seeds onto a bit of open space (the seeds were just about out of date, so I wasn't expecting them to come up) and spent the next couple of years pulling them up if I wanted to plant anything anywhere. I hesitate to suggest it, but I suspect they might just out-compete anything else in the area, if you're lucky.

There's also a number of groundcovering grevilleas (the grevilleas grow aggressively enough in Western Australia that I dubbed them with the nickname of "krynoids"), and if all else fails, there's a South African daisy which has a dark blue centre and white or pale purple petals, and is unkillable. My mother planted about six of these in various places around the garden when we first moved into our new house in 1976. When I moved across the country to Canberra in 1998, the one thing I felt positive about was that I'd never have to deal with another one of those blasted daisies again!

I've done most of my gardening in Perth, Western Australia, which has cool, wet winters, and very hot, very dry summers, and extremely sandy soil. I moved to Canberra, which has cold, dry winters and warm, wet summers, and soil which is clay down to doomsday. Most of my gardening has been in pots. During the course of such, I have discovered that mint will survive the following:

* Prolonged periods of heavy frost
* Being completely ignored all summer (it sprouts again at the next rain shower)
* Snow
* Drought
* Multiple attacks of thrips, aphids, and you name it.
* The occasional equivalent of pruning at the ankles.

It's unkillable. It's a swamp plant originally, so it can't be over-watered, and it's also drought hardy. I have mine in a large size tub (my mother went one better - she planted it out in an old bathtub, which it promptly took over and conquered) and at the moment it gets watered when it rains. Occasionally I give it tea leaves.

Oh, and for skiffy fandom markers - I recognised a lot of the ones in this thread even though I've only been to the one fan con (Pratchettcon 2002). In my defence, however, I'd point out that I spend a lot of time where fans hang out, and I have a naturally nosey disposition. So I ask questions, look things up, or wait for enlightenment. That said, I'd say that TV and popular culture markers are a good way of spotting the people who would be fans, but haven't read the books yet.

(Then again, I use an obscure plant lifeform out of Dr Who to refer to grevilleas, so I'm probably skewed toward the "weird" end of the spectrum).

#264 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 10:23 AM:

Larry Brennan: See you at the Junior Anti-Sex League rally.

#265 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 10:24 AM:

ObReference: Who is Obrien?

#266 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 10:30 AM:

The daisy with the white/purple flowers is an Osteospermum. In California it's called 'freeway daisy'. (CalTrans has a lot to answer for, in their old landscaping choices. Ficus repens (F. pumila) is a pain tao deal with!)

#267 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 10:36 AM:

And where it's not free, 7% GST

Seen in Vancouver, at the second badly-run floating convention in four years: "Westercon 44: Westercon 40 + 10% GST" (The dealers who sold those buttons had particular cause for bitterness; the dealers' "room" was the student center's concourse, so they had to pack everything every night due to a complete absence of security.)

Oregano will take on all comers. In many parts of the country, so will daylilies.

I used to think "invasive strawberries" was an oxymoron; here (Boston) I've seen shoots grow fast despite being overshadowed by the fire bush. Now we have a cutting of "the raspberry that ate Ellen's backyard" (one cane of which grew 2" in a few hours); it's been given a space between the daylilies that came with the place, and looks ready to beat them out.

I've never identified Japanese knotweed. Around here we have vine-things that will twine on anything solid, or around each other if the shoots don't find support; they have to be dug out, because if you try to pull them they break off and regrow from a root nexus. Unfortunately, too many people ignore them, letting the seed pods spill out fluff that floats across fences, so we have to keep digging.

Yeah, but the vestigial French came from Canada!

Only by name; the culture was already there.

Paula: appealing as it might seem, DC can't be IMT. The point of "made the sky FALL" was that it had a hard-enough foundation that it could sit on other cities; much of DC is soft a long way down. But it would be fascinating to know whether Blish had any specific place in mind.

IMO, the Madoc Rhys books weren't nearly as good (unfortunate given the theme of this thread), but that may just be lack of familiarity; MacLeod-as-MacLeod are in my home area. Are any of our Canadian commenters close enough to the Craig settings to comment?

#268 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 10:52 AM:

CHip wrote: "Appealing as it might seem, DC can't be IMT. [...] But it would be fascinating to know whether Blish had any specific place in mind."

I thought that since it was such a bad guy city, he went out of his way not to make it an identifiable city. Though he makes a jab at ugly public art, so it might have been a take off on a Soviet-era "Worker's Paradise."

(long time since reading those books.)

#269 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 11:02 AM:

I feel like I have to add this, because I hate trying to page back to find the reference: It's "Cities in Flight." by James Blish.

Now, since I have the floor, and this is an open thread... has anyone got "must read" suggestions for someone who was a big SF reader in his teens and 20s, now not so much?

I want to know about books from the past 5 years or so.

#270 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Meg: the other great thing about nasturtiums (if you mean the same plant I do, Tropaeolum minus) is that the flowers, leaves and seeds are all edible. This comes in handy when you have to pull them up.

#271 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 11:06 AM:

Jack: Ursula LeGuin's The Telling and Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark are two recent ones I had trouble getting out of my head afterwards.

#272 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Jack: (tootiing my own employer's horn), if you have library access to the February issues of Locus magazine, you can see a whole bunch of reviewers commenting on what they liked best from the previous year. Something there might sound interesting to you.

Fidelio: It's good to know that one can survive hives. Some days I wonder, before the pills kick in. (My GP's fumbling to help me, 'cause the specialists here are all booked up.)

#273 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 11:50 AM:

I like lantana. That might be because it grows and tolerates the hot summers of Kansas - and dies in the Kansas winter.

#274 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 12:27 PM:

The Speed of Dark was indeed a killer book. I'll add Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom to the list. (I'm assuming that books in long-running series aren't suitable for this purpose.)

#275 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 01:11 PM:

The actual history of public school education?

http://www.wesjones.com/gatto1.htm

#276 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 01:19 PM:

I could really use some advice.

My best friend in the world has had a very hard time of it over the last few years. His wife had a long losing fight with cancer; in the middle of that, his daughter killed herself as he was trying to talk her out of it; his son is a sweet kid and a mess.

His business, what's left of it, is used and collectible stuff, and he's now got a week to get out of the last commerical space he could find in his price range. It's fundamentally his own fault that he's having hard business times, as he's consistently over-optimistic about the value of what he's got, but he does have some fairly good stuff left. I'm not at all certain that we can get all his stock (let alone his fixtures) into his house. This is the second move in less than a year, so volunteer help will be thin.

I'm at a loss how to help him. (Partly that's because he's a hard man to help, and I guess there's no fixing that.)

Has anyone else faced this sort of problem? Is there any sort of strategy for getting him past this? Or is it time to give up?

(Note: I'm not looking for a buyer. That I can do on my own.)

#278 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 04:00 PM:

Good luck getting through the ordeal, Faren--and I highly recommend the Aveno oatmeal bath stuff. Of course, since you can't spend all your time on the tub, things like Benadryl cream and calamine lotion may provide some limited relief from the unpleasantness, especially when the oral meds are either wearing off, or working their way into your system.

#279 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 04:02 PM:

Has anyone else faced this sort of problem? Is there any sort of strategy for getting him past this? Or is it time to give up?

Violating my rule for attempting to coach not in person or over a phone, my answers would be: yes. maybe. depends. Now, my rule for no coaching online is because so much information gets lost online and through email, so I may be completely off base here, so take everything with a grain of salt.

Are you trying to save this man? If yes, is this a familiar pattern for you and other people in the past? If yes, then you may be too wrapped up to help. People can become blind to certain parts of the people closest to them.

In either case, this person may be beyond your ability to help. As a coach, I make it clear that coaching isn't therapy, and I always spend some time with potential clients discussing the difference between coaching and therapy before going forward with coaching or refering the person to a therapist. I don't have the training to be a therapist, so that's the limit of my abilities. And you may need to get that this person is beyond your ability to help solve fundamental causes of problems in his life.

You may need to give him some space around his problems and simply be his friend.

The reason I say all this is because your last question is "it time to give up?" and if you're over-investing yourself to the point where you're getting worn down, then "giving up" might be the thought that occurs, but if you're being his friend, then a friendship isn't something that should wear you out, or give up on.

The example I can think of is if you see someone you love drowning and you jump into save them, the reality is that a lot of panicked, exhausted swimmers will literally jump on top of you, wrap themselves around you, to the point where you cant move your arms or legs and keep yourself afloat, and then you both sink together. The rule is, if at all possible, jump in with a floatation device of some sort and when you get near the person, shove it in front of you so they latch onto that, rather than you.

The extra space can seem counterintuitive, but it actually allows you to help them help themselves.

Do something with this person that "best friends in the world" would do together, rather than doing something that you might do for someone with the troubled history this person has.

email me directly if you wish to talk some more.

#280 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Hmm...

For film fen, "I'd buy that for a dollar." (From Robocop, also a fannish reference to The Marching Morons' "I'd buy that for a quarter.").
"Dead or alive, you're coming with me." (Robocop)
"He'll see the Big Board!"
"... our precious bodily fluids." (Dr. Strangelove)
Any reference to "droogs" or the "Korova milk bar".

Non-film fen:
"There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer."
"Where do all you zombies come from?"
"Spa-fon, squa-tront."

And in regard to horticulture:
I don't know, maybe I'm just a botanical supervillian, but I kind of like the idea of say, hybridizing some of these tasty, aromatic and incredibly hardy plants into a Supermint, so that I can try to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

... Okay, I'm better now.


#281 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Looking around, I think I've identified a stand of Japanese Knotweed in the yard here, having quite the battle with some english ivy and possibly a few himalayan blackberry bushes. All invasive, one more tasty than the others.

But, It's a rental, so I'm less concerned than I would be otherwise -- the landlord has even planted bamboo in part of the property.

And just this last week, I think I've identified giant hogweed on two of the roads into town, but the plants are only a few feet tall, so it may be cow parsnip or some other similar plant.

#282 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 06:23 PM:

Hey, thanks, Lila, Faren, and adamsJ. Made nots of everything, and believe me, it will be searched out.

At the moment, I'm reading "Memoir in Antproof Case" by Mark Helprin, and have on deck "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," (or is that "A Staggering Work of ....??") by David Eggers.

Summer, I'm not working so hard (Demn it. I'm a freelancer), so can devour lots of books!

#283 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Jack - a quick list now that I've had time to think a little bit. (Saturday morning, yay!)

Fantasy reading that's stuck with me from (relatively) recent years:

  • I loved the heck out of Susanna Clarke's recent Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Barbara Hambly. I successfully gave Dragonbane to a friend who insisted she "would not read anything with dragons in it", and she came back asking for more like that. (Victory!) The Ladies of Mandrigyn is one I also keep coming back to and rereading. Dog Wizard and Stranger at the Wedding are also very good.
  • Essentially all of Tim Powers's writing. I think The Anubis Gates and Declare are particularly fine, with very different tones of writing, but I haven't read nearly all of them. Last Call is also very good.
  • Steve Brust's To Reign in Hell: A retelling of Creation - the inside story.
  • All Kelly Link's stories - they are somewhere between fantasy, magic realism, and indescribable. The collections are Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen

Science fiction, ditto:
  • I highly recommend Making Light's own regular Charlie Stross, particularly Accelerando and Singularity Sky for a vision of just how weird things could get, given enough time. Acclerando stays with me and keeps me thinking. Also his novella 'A Colder War', available online, is the best use I've ever seen made of the Lovecraftian mythos.
  • Robert Wilson, Blind Lake and the recent Spin bought on the strength of Patrick's recommendation.
  • Greg Bear's Eon though the US blurb reduces the impact of a revelation that would be more powerful if it hit as a surprise. (But it's still a "Wow!" even as no surprise.)
  • Greg Egan - hard SF with unusual scientific/math underpinnings. Permutation City, Quarantine, Schild's Ladder among others.

#284 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 07:30 PM:

I liked Kelly Link, because she's between fantasy and literary (hate those pigeonholes, also this courier type, which is letting me make typos in this afternoon outdoor light). Also, the fact that she's posted a lot of her stories on the web, for free. She goes where I wish Neil Gaiman would go in his fiction, given the promise of his comic book writing.

My last SF I enjoyed was Neal Stephenson, and also Lois M. Bujold (but that was a little too traditionally "hard," for me in my mad literary phase. I would have loved it to death as a teen.)

#285 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 08:14 PM:

adamsj, I have a friend in the same situation, although they are distant from me. I tried some times with monetary help that didn't really change anything, so now I'm just waiting to see what happens and being verbally supportive. Sometimes people really do have to hit the bottom before they can be helped up.

#286 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Xopher, there's a LOT of tropane alkaloids in Datura, all varieties. I just listed the obvious. Nasty nasty. Datura stramonium (jimsonweed) is the worst, but all the Datura have some. I think the verified tropane-variety count of stramonium is in the 20's somewhere.

Beautiful flowers. "Porcupine egg" seeds. And absolutely everywhere, all over the countryside.

#287 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 08:52 PM:

Malthus - have you been hanging out with El Seed? Eat my revolution blue monkey!

#288 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2006, 08:53 PM:

I'm unspeakably happy to report that my rose, presumed miserable and a poor goer has -produced flowers in the shade- !!!

#289 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 12:48 AM:

CHip--if you want to know what Japanese knotweed looks like, I can bring some to Readercon... not only is there some across the street from me, but there's at least one other infestation of it that I would be driving past going to Readercon.

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

Most of things you should never, never, *never* plant in an Australian garden if you ever want to be able to plant anything else ever again the same is true for Massachusetts!

I have a spreading prickly pear, however it's an endangedered species on that's a native.

Black locust is a pest up here, but native some hundreds of miles south of here, and not a pest in the native range apparently.

Then there are things like [grrr, can't think of the name. It's a peppery herb, I think with a square crosssection stem] that thrived getting inundated by the the tide on the Atlantic shore, I think that a particularly nasty storm with very nasty tides, though, got rid of it by brute force.

And then there are maple trees, there was one on the sandy beach that didn't mind salt water in the least, and also survived my relatives' intentional attempts to kill it. The native maples, though, aren't a problem Norway maples, however, are on the banned for propagation and sales list.

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

Regarding one of the particles--doing business with the US Government is one way for a lot of companies to commit suicide. There are lots of stories about the US Government getting around to doing the paperwork to go through with a contract, after a company has gone out of business, or after it's dropped the product line. Noreascon 4 got a bunch of holograms that Polaroid had made, which Polaroid discontinued, before the US Government decided that it would like to order such things from Polaroid (IIRC).

Long ago when I was in the Air Force and software tools weren't what they are today, researchers at the Air Force Academy were reverse-compiling, by hand, aircraft gunsight software. The government didn't get around to paying the contractor for the software for months and months and month for the delivered product, by which time the owner of the company not only had to declare business bankruptcy, but I think personal bankruptcy, also. He was extremely unhappy about the situation, so unhappy that when the government, which in one of its not infrequent failures to do what would be reasonable were the government allowed to be reasonable as regards contracting and ordering rationally for efficient acquisition and economy

(the way the federal budgeting gets done, there are excellent reasons why anything the government buys can look overpriced, part of it is because when it takes MONTHS, or YEARS, for a contract to go through and be awarded, there is a lot of cost and overhead for the contractor to keep the project viable while waiting for contract, then waiting for payment, etc,)

had failed to include in the contract the source code of the software as a deliverable, decided it needed to remedy that situation and offered to pay a large sum of money for the source code, the irate fellow told the government he didn't care HOW much money the government waved in front of him (and it had to have been at least in seven figures), he was NOT selling the source code to the government, for any price.

And so, there was a team of people at the Air Force Academy reverse-compiling the code, by hand...

Most of the people who do business with the US Federal Government who stay in business, either are slime like Halliburton who cheat and have paid political sugar daddies who arrange for them to get not only fat no-bid fraud-ridden contracts and get paid first and foremost, or have their operations and budget setup so that nasty habits of the US Government such delaying contract awards for years, and not paying obligations for rather longer than some pubishers have been known to slow-roll author royalties, and then suddenly as the end of the fiscal year approaches, saying "we have $120 million in this pot of funding that hasn't been spent and if we don't spend it NOW the program will get its funding cut NEXT year" thus encouraging profligate spending on all sorts of flimsy excuses--I expect the Halliburton and such have gotten some big far pure profit from -that-... get factored in and the company benefits financially from the government bad mismanagement--but the company has to be able to take the hit of having programs and income on hold for month after month when things get snarled up.

#290 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 02:33 AM:

Knotweed, gov't paperwork...

I have known a small-caned running bamboo to stay in its pond-liner space for a decade, in Seattle. I've also seen a large-caned one coming up through asphalt for about the same length of time, so I wouldn't advise them. But my grandfather had a large-caned clumping bamboo in Florida that perhaps doubled in size over twenty years, and could be trimmed back rhizome by rhizome if it branched in an inconvenient direction. As it got older, the canes seemed to get larger and larger (like asparagus?) and by the end it was a towering, airy grove, with whispering leaves.

In Seattle, oddly, I am finding mint controllable; mowing stops it at the lawn, and a thyme is co-existing with it in a pot. Lamium is a bit of a menace, though; not just spready but it pries its way into the house.

#291 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 07:41 AM:

Greg, Marilee,

Thanks for the advice--I think it's sound. If I were able to hang out with him, I'd do so, but my life has been kind of sucky the last year or so, too. I find it hard to be around him without being pulled along down.

I'm pretty well reconciled to the idea that he is going to have to find a way to help himself personally.

It's his stuff that I worry about. I'm seeing it bulldozed into a dumpster when the building comes down in a few days.

Aside from the loss to him if that happens--and I've considered the idea that he might be better off in some ways if it did--there's quite a bit of memorabilia he's accumulated from the last three decades of cultural activity in Our Fair City. It wouldn't be a loss of this magnitude, but it'd still be that sort of a loss. If it goes, it's not coming back. Again, maybe that'd be for the best, but I'm having a hard time accepting that.

So let me ask a different question: How do you triage a big pile of mixed treasure and junk, really fast?

#292 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 07:55 AM:

From A Life for the Stars, chapter 4:
"In 2394 one of the escaping cities, Gravitogorsk-Mars, now calling itself Interstellar Master Traders, was responsible for the sacking of the new Earth colony on Thor V; this act of ferocity earned for them the nickname of 'the Mad Dogs,' but it gradually became a model for dealing with Vegan planets."

So, as I read it, IMT was never any Earthly city, but a pre-spindizzy Martian colony.

#293 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 09:24 AM:

Paula: is it possible your descriptions apply mostly to dealing with the U.S. military, or even to certain parts of the military and/or under certain administrations? I spent 10 years working for non-giant firms (100-1000 total employees) that did contract research for NIH, EPA, and the Air Force, and saw no such problems as you describe; in one case I was laid off because the company blew too many contracts, in the other because it decided that somebody on the contract side had to go even though the commercial side was the one that had massively fouled up its budgeting. (Yes, that can be read as making excuses.)

Tim: good on finding that cite; I was vaguely thinking that IMT might have been an off-Earth city but didn't follow up. (Interesting to see how other commenters were circling around the idea of it being a Soviet city; AFAIK Blish was not libertarian, anarchist, or a conventional right-winger, but his low opinion of both the USSR's variety of communism and the direction the West was moving in shows up in the connective material that turned "Bridge" into They Shall Have Stars.)

#294 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 10:05 AM:

If it goes, it's not coming back. Again, maybe that'd be for the best, but I'm having a hard time accepting that.

The stuff we keep around us can serve as a structure to keep us in a particular emotional place. If this stuff has been part of a long-term failure for this person, then getting rid of it all could help this person move on with his life. And if he's so down that the money-value of the stuff is almost irrelevant compared to the emotional weight it holds in place, then whatever money he might get from some of it might not be worth bringing it along.

So let me ask a different question: How do you triage a big pile of mixed treasure and junk, really fast?

load up some boxes in a van and take it to a local pawnshop and get whatever cash you can get. I don't think storing this stuff, keeping it around in some limbo, is neccessarily a good idea. I'd probably have to have a voice-to-voice conversation to get all the information to make an informed decision, but that's my gut reaction.

Alternatively, find a source/website that has the contribution value of goods (i.e. a site that lists how much of a tax deduction the thing is worth), pull out a truckload of the most valuable stuff, take pictures of each item, and donate it to goodwill or something. At least the guy can get a tax deduction out of it.

Barring all that, the only other idea I can think of is to put a sign in front of the building that says something like "dollar sale" or something that will get people to take stuff and get a little bit of money for it before the bulldozer hits it. Or maybe throw several things in a box, some valuable, some not, and sell the box for five bucks.

The thing with all these ideas are that someone else decides the value of the stuff, rather than you trying to do triage yourself. Your friend gets a little bit of money, and the stuff isn't hanging around afterwards. I don't think you want to fill someone's attic or a storage unit with this stuff, especially your attic, if you happened to be pondering that at all. That's more along the lines of getting too close and you both end up drowning type of scenario.

The dollar sale (or 90 percent off sale or whatever) has the advantage that you're not taking on this stuff, the public is, and if the public says it isn't worth ten bucks or whatever, then it isn't worth it, and whatever's left can go to Goodwill for a tax deduction, and you end up not taking any of this stuff to your attic. You keep some distance from the problem and can focus on being a friend, rather than the problem solver.

#295 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 02:58 PM:

Greg - I am really impressed by the quality and thoughtfulness of the advice you've offered above. I tend to have a great deal of skepticsm about the whole idea of having or being a life coach, but it seems that you have a talent for it.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was having a bit of a crisis, so I allowed him to move into my spare bedroom until he found a job. He's smart and talented, and his graduate degree was freshly minted at the time, so I figured he'd have an easier time finding a job he wanted by being on the ground in the Bay Area. I expected that he'd live with me for no more than a couple of months - he was with me for over a year. To be fair, 9/11 happened early in his stay and that totally crashed an already weak job market.

The upshot of all of this is that I made some sub-optimal career and life decisions to get out of this situation without damaging my friend or our friendship. I'm only now just recovering from this. I definitely could have used a life coach during this period. I did have a shrink, but he wasn't much for practical advice.

About objects, while I was trying to start a business a couple of years ago (one of the sub-optimal decisions mentioned above) my former business partner gave me a sofa and coffee table. These objects, aside from being ugly have become infused with lots of emotions and memories of a difficult period. I just got rid of the coffee table, and the sofa will go probably in September or October. Stuff really can be an albatross. I'd get rid of the sofa now, but I like having at least one piece of furniture I can lie down on in the living rooom. Still, every time I really look at it, it pisses me off.

#296 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Larry muttered:
I'd get rid of the sofa now, but I like having at least one piece of furniture I can lie down on in the living rooom. Still, every time I really look at it, it pisses me off.

It's not exactly solving the problem, but have you considered a throw and/or slipcover, so it's not quite so obviously the same annoying piece of furniture to the eye?

The couches that I have in the living room were much improved by two rummage shop slipcovers - at least until the cats managed to claw through the (implausibly sturdy) cloth, at any rate.

#297 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 07:31 PM:

Boy, am I ever peeved. Some of you guys get such the better class of garden thugs than me. Mint does not spread in my garden. Oregano thrives but does not spread. Chives!! I can't get that plant to last more than a year. Not to mention the very word caused a noun-verb agreement crisis in the household.

My thugs: violets, borage, feverfew, love-in-a-mist. Not to mention the flowering quince and the pomegranate, or the roses: these things would like to cover the earth with their thorny selves.

I would suggest lantana over hosta or boxwood, if your winters aren't too inclement: hosta is ugly and boxwood tends to look paltry and is way too much work anyway. There are a bunch of low-growing, perennial campanulas, and they're lovely. That's it: get the suitable campanula, then you'll be happy for a long time.

#298 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 09:00 PM:

adamsj, Greg's the professional at this, but if the stuff is really worth money and worth keeping, try one of the pod companies. They'll bring a storage container to a place, let you fill it up, and then move it where you want.

There's discussion of knotweed and other noxious plants and how to get rid on them in this article in yesterday's WashPost.

#299 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:10 AM:

CHip: 100-1000 employees tends to be in a range to be large enough for surviving government rectocranial inversion and molasses that's other than stored in a tank on a Boston hilltop.

NIH etc. also do government contracting shenanigans with what in the military was known as "hurry up and wait." Perhaps NIH formerly was less flaky than the DOD budget got (when I was in the DSCS Program Office, from one day to the next it wasn't clear what our prospective funding for the next year was going to be, during federal budget setting sessions of Congress.. and that was before the really abusive "earmark" porkbarrel projects hit the levels they are at today.

One thing that would be likely to happen if the Republicraps go down as they so massively deserve, is that all those earmarks for their corrupt "private enterprise" associates, are likely to get torpedoed....

Oh how I wish that Halliburton, Bechtel, etc., got the treatment from Congress, that Congress gave to General Dynamics....

#300 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:13 AM:

xeger - I actually have a couple of fleece blankets wrapped around the cushions to make the sofa look a little more presentable.

---

And on a totally different topic, one of my flickr contacts has been doing a photographic series on the Saints and Madonnas of Brooklyn.

He's one of my favorite photographers on flickr, and I've really enjoyed this series so I figured I'd share. Since I grew up in a neighborhood where every third house had one of these statues in the front yard, it really takes me back.

#301 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:53 AM:

Larry, thanks. If something like that comes up again, you can ping me through our coaching website that my wife and I set up. bare bones, but the email works.

Marilee, I was pondering some sort of storage company, but I'd have to have a voice to voice conversation to get a feel for whether it would work for adamsj and his friend or not. 90 percent of coaching is listening to the tone of the person's voice to get what they're really saying. so, it's impossible via email or blog to get a good feel for what's completely going on.

I put some stuff into storage for what should have been about three months of transition. First month's rent was ten dollars. Second month rent was the regular price of $250. It was thirteen months later that we finally moved out of the damned place. Unless this guys stuff is worth something well above and beyond the cost of storage, it probably isn't worth it. And if it is that valuable, I think he'd be able to sell it for something immediately.

Again, with extremely limited information, one of the thoughts that occurred to me that would be pursued on a phone conversation with adamsj's friend is whether or not the friend, on some level, gets that his business is not viable but cannot acknowledge defeat. He may be using the coming bulldozer as a way to make the decision for him since he might not be able to make it himself. I have no way of knowing this with any certainty, but on a phone call, I'd spend some time investigating it. Part of him may be welcoming the bulldozers putting an end to this mistake while the outside part of him cusses the bulldozers. Or maybe not. too little information to know for sure.

But if that's part of what he's doing, then a storage unit is the last thing he should do. If he gets the business was a mistake, but he can't admit it outwardly, and he's letting the bulldozers make the decision to end it for him, then a storage unit could end up postponing the decision to move on.

given all the possible variables, the most important thing seemed to be to make sure adamsj isn't getting sucked in and pulled down by all this. And let his friend figure out whatever solution for his business, even if the solution is to have it bulldozed.

#302 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 02:04 AM:

oh, our coaching website focuses on relationship coaching, but that's just because my wife specializes in that and I find it a lot easier to communicate to people. But really I do coaching for any kind of situation, not just relationships.

I just need to figure out a better way to explain life coaching.

#303 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 02:43 AM:

Greg London wrote:
I just need to figure out a better way to explain life coaching.

I suppose "helping you get your shit together" is a bit too colloquial. I've seen 'life coaching' used enough now that it's not a confusing or questionable term at this point.

#304 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 09:04 AM:

Lucy--

My mother in law gave me a "love in the mist" plant a few years ago.

What with that and the constant presence of Jell-o salads (orange jello, shredded carrot, and...chopped walnuts!) at her dinner table I'm beginning to think she's not that fond of me.

#305 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 09:07 AM:

"He beats his fists against the post and still insists he sees the ghosts."

I thought it was "thrusts his fists"?

(aka "I got one of them! I did!")

also, I was under the impression that Star Wars stuff was too widespread to be useful. Maybe that's just my age showing, or the people I hang out with.

#306 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 11:34 AM:

I'm actually surprised to not see Asimov, Norton, Tolkein or Heinlein on your list of possibilities - or more recently, Gibson or Stephenson in their particular specialties.

Was that in reference to my list? Because I thought TANSTAAFL and "never attribute to malice" and T. Bronson were all pretty clearly Heinlein, and the Three Laws are all about Asimov. And I got "snowcrash" as a curse word out of Stephenson. Also several Tolkein references.

I don't read Gibson, can't stand his style.

I am confused...then again, it's possible you (xerger) meant someone else's list. :)

#307 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 11:59 AM:

Re: Gibson, I've been known to say that X is the color of television.

If I had the time, energy and talent, I'd string these into an Infernokrusher pastiche. And then the little black light would light up black to let me know I'd done it.

#308 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 12:10 PM:

Carrie S. Wow. I didn't like Gibson's plots that much, and his knowledge of computers is like my knowledge of Etruscan architecture, but when I read "...gravity pressed down on him like a huge soft hand with bones of ancient stone," I was in ecstasy.

Come to think of it, "Gravity is a huge soft hand with bones of ancient stone" might be a good SF litmus test. It's far from universal, but then so is everything. Just have to collect a whole set of them and see how many the person responds to.

#309 ::: Janice E. ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 12:13 PM:

*clearing throat and interrupting*

This may be a totally inappropriate forum for this (and if so I'm sure Teresa will slap me down properly for it), but I find myself with an extra LACon membership I need to sell, and a posting on RASFF got no response. I really hope nobody minds if I offer it here.

I'm asking $125 (current attending is $175) and can accept PayPal. Please get in touch with me at eisen (at) alum.mit.edu if you're interested.

#310 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 12:44 PM:

How about:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

"It was a pleasure to burn."

And not sfnal, but still a fave:

"you stupid bunnies"


#311 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 12:49 PM:

I came across this in the NY Times today: A Strange Loss of Face, More Than Embarrassing

Apparently, some robotics specialist created a lifelike Phillip K. Dick android, which has been traveling around promoting the film for A Scanner Darkly. It seems that the android's head went missing in transit.

There’s something extremely symbolic about a Phillip K. Dick android with a missing head. It seems more meaningful that way than if it were whole.

#312 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 12:58 PM:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

Never mind that there is no such thing as a dead channel these days, that line is vaguely familiar but not enough to actually place it. help?

#313 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Opening line of Neuromancer, I believe. Or in the first paragraph at any rate.

#314 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:00 PM:

And what do you mean there's no such thing as a dead channel? Have you looked at SciFi lately?

#315 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Has the dead channel on TV (looks like a snowstorm and sounds like a thousand strips of velcro being pulled apart at the same time) become the equivalent of the 1200 baud modem squawk (sounds like R2-D2 is really ticked off)?

Wondering if kids these days have actually ever seen a dead channel, or just reproductions of one. I think once the broadcast company switches to HD format and an all digital signal, televisions will probably "go black" when the signal is lost, rather than show the snowstorm. alternatively, they might show some canned image in memory. A few more years and the TV snowstorm will be about as hard to find as a stereo system that plays vinyl.

#316 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Opening line of Neuromancer,

(head jerk)

Yowsers! I just had a flashback to some freaky college days. Been a long time since I read that one. Think I need to sit down. No. I'm already sitting down. Think I need to walk it off....

#317 ::: Electric Landlady ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:13 PM:

As Neil Gaiman noted, dead channels have changed: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/12/some-days-bears-on-top.asp (scroll down to the second question).

#318 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Ah, vinyl. And there our troubles began.

Greg, were you fishing? No, I doubt you were. My friend does indeed have tens of thousands of records and an active hostility toward CDs. That's part of of what makes this such a complicated problem. It's High Fidelity as a tragedy.

(Another dear friend and I went to his house just after New Year's, thinking we'd talk, about personal things in general and how to get him back on his feet again, but he insisted on watching High Fidelity, including the outtakes.

(I really hate that movie.)

I've been struggling with your advice--it's better than good, but that doesn't mean I have to like it--and I think I'll almost have to get stirred into the mix for a few days (during which I don't have a lot else to do). I don't think he realizes he can no longer have a storefront or the luxury of holding a lot of low value stock on speculation. Our poor--well, it's no longer poor, but it's sure unfortunate--little town has been developed into a high-priced hell. I, too, have trouble with that reality.

He's got quite a bit of genuinely valuable stuff, along with a lot of mid-range stuff that could be sold, slowly, for considerably less than he thinks it should, and a majority of crap. (He's also got quite a bit of of our rapidly disappearing local culture, stuff a lot of us lived through and helped create.) His business did support him and his family for over twenty years, but has gone way into the ditches with his troubles. He's still got, potentially, a viable tiny business, but mail order, not storefront.

I think he needs to begin with the best stuff and start making three piles:

  1. Stuff to which there's a really strong personal connection or esthetic value.
  2. Stuff which has either high or immediate monetary value.
  3. The rest of it.

Maybe that should just be two piles. Hard to say. The third pile should be about ninety percent. The rest he can liquidate over time, but, much as it would pain me to see it, the junkheap or the junk store is probably best for it.

I hear what you're saying about keeping some distance and understand the wisdom of it, but the press of time and the undeniable depression that's settled on him, combined with the landlord-imposed time limitations, incline me to risk it.

#319 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 01:51 PM:

Greg, were you fishing?

No. My wife has probably somewhere in the hundreds of vinyl records, and we've nothign to play them on, but if we did, she wants me to rip them to the computer, and, man, that would be a long time at the keyboard. It would probably be worth paying a buck a record to get someone else to do it, but unless they have an automatic jukebox, I don't know how they could do it without a lot of cheap labor.

I hear what you're saying about keeping some distance and understand the wisdom of it, but the press of time and the undeniable depression that's settled on him, combined with the landlord-imposed time limitations, incline me to risk it.

Simply being aware of the risks means you're less apt to succumb to them. Now you can help him while asking yourself if you're helping him or if you're getting pulled down with him. And that may be enough to make all the difference for you.

#320 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 02:00 PM:

How about "All die, oh the embarassment?" as a litmus phrase? Although I suppose one is much more likely to have encountered it through fannish means (as I did) than just to have read it.

Jack, I review books (and occasionally movies and other things) on my site. Most of my reviews are of SF from the period you're interested in, and I'm a Stephenson fan like yourself, so that's at least one common point of interest.

And on a totally random note, a comment of mine was misattributed when quoted in a blog post elsewhere on these interwebs. On the one hand, that is intensely annoying. On the other hand, it's the blog of a rather impressively credentialed professor whose work I admire, and so his quoting me is rather flattering. Ah, well.

#321 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 02:13 PM:

He called between my last post and Greg's. We talked, and:

He knows he can't sustain a storefront, is trying to find a buyer, and has resigned himself to moving his stuff into his house and probably dumping the fixtures. I didn't broach dumping merchandise.

Given all that, I think I can help him out without getting pulled too far into it all.

Greg and others, thanks.

#322 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 03:18 PM:

Greg, I have 300-or-so vinyl albums myself, and I've looked into conversion a little bit. I can't vouch for the quality, but here's an inexpensive solution. It's a turntable with USB capability. I haven't bought it for several reasons, but it might work.

#323 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 03:25 PM:

Here's a more expensive solution from TEAC; it's certainly a more recognized name in the audio biz.

#324 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 03:32 PM:

He's got quite a bit of genuinely valuable stuff, along with a lot of mid-range stuff that could be sold, slowly, for considerably less than he thinks it should, and a majority of crap.

You've heard of those "We sell your stuff on eBay" stores? (One of them figured prominently in that 40-yr-old-virgin movie?) They actually exist--I drive by one on the way home.

My experience with eBay--and I'm sure others will back me up--is that there is a buyer for absolutely ANYTHING. I myself got in a bidding war for a cheezy 1980s sci-fi art book that some guy in the U.K. found while cleaning out his attic. I ended up dropping $300ish USD on it. He thought I was insane. My wife thought I was insane. The other bidder--who dropped out at $237.00 USD--probably thought I was insane. But I got my @W$%^ing book.

Depending on your location and the volume of stuff your buddy has you could consider:
1. Dumping it on one (or more)of those We-Sell-Your-Stuff-On-eBay stores.
2. Hiring a computer-literate neighborhood kid to sell it for him for say, 20% commission.

#325 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 03:54 PM:

I thought I had already posted this, but it didn't appear; if it does, later, please deleted this instance.

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

While I may not be the youngest one can be and still associate that sentence with dull grey sparkles rather than bright blue, I'm pretty close. Cable changed many things, this being only a very small example. :)

#326 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 04:29 PM:

The TEAC . . . device (turntable? A/D converter? Universal Translator Mk 0.5?) has a splendidly retro look, at least in the photograph. Which is as it should be; vinyl is sometimes a skittish substance, and it's better that your records* assume they're being played, not asking to tell their stories one last time prior to retirement. At least, unlike lacquer, you can't dissolve them to refinish furniture.**

You will, of course, not own the next generation of transfer device. It may be physically in your possession, and you will without question have paid for it, but you will have no legal or moral rights over it, whatever It is.***


*Nobody ever calls a CD a "record," probably because the distinction was important when they were new.

**Yes, really. An unknown, but substantial, number of 78s went this way. They don't mend with sticky tape and glue, after all.

***In all probability, a subdermal implant that sends a twelve-volt charge to your sinoatrial node if you violate DRM.

#327 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 04:32 PM:

a bidding war for a cheezy 1980s sci-fi art book ..... I ended up dropping $300ish USD on it.

Not meaning to spam or anything, but I've got a collection of macaroni art that's shaped like spaceships, aliens, and planets that I'll sell you for half that. let me know if you're interested...

#328 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 04:36 PM:

I recently bought a gadget called the "ART USB Phono Plus:"

(http://www.portlandmusiccompany.com/phonoplus.html)

It has line-in and phono-in jacks, and a USB cable.

To day, I've used it to digitize a bunch of old casette-based audiobooks. Sound quality appears great, but then I haven't converted to mp3 format yet.

The included "Audacity" freeware is very easy to use. It might have a "track splitter" feature, but I haven't used it yet; I'm going to finish digitizing my tapes before moving on to phonograph records.

#329 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 05:28 PM:

The thing about yinyl transfers is that the clicks-and-pops that we used to ignore completely now sound like gunshots. They are much, much harder to ignore after 20-some years of "Perfect Sound Forever."

I think the key to transferring vinyl is in finding a cheap labor source.
I've been trying to hire my teenager for the task, but so far without much success.

And obviously, this ADC is a task that should be done once, professionally, and then distriibuted digitally. Equally obviously, the record companies should be providing this service for their customers. Send them your LP, they send you a free digital audio file of it. And a pony.

#330 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 05:48 PM:

We've got about 650 vinyl records. So far I've transferred about 25 of them to CD using a Sony program that I can't remember the name of, that doesn't currently exist on my computer (too many changes; the install disk is upstairs). It's got some settings that do a moderate job of removing clicks, pops and hisses. The real pain, however, turned out to be the tracking software; as a classical musician, I like all the details, so having the separate tracks is important somehow. It's incredibly time-consuming to check through and figure out whether what the software thought was a track division really was one, or the other way round.

It's a long-term goal to get stuff transferred; I've begun to realize that that will not mean all of the records. I think I'll end up settling for about 1/3; much of the rest isn't worth the bother, and the final bits are available on CD in those performances; I've concluded that if I can get it already done on CD, then it's not worth my time to do it myself.

#331 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 05:58 PM:

"records* assume they're being played"

Yikes! If they're sentient, what's the timeline before they rise up in anger at being stored on the bottom shelves for 25 years, after several moves across the Pacific and back?

joann, regarding the volume actually transferred, I agree. Probably 1/5 of my collection is stuff I don't care about; back when I was buying them the price was $2.50 per album (Navy Exchange, Yokosuka, Japan), so I bought on spec.

#332 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 06:20 PM:

TANSTAAFL and "never attribute to malice" and T. Bronson were all pretty clearly Heinlein

Only Ted Bronson of the three is clearly Heinlein.

The other 2 are, I think, more closely identified with Dr. Pournelle. Dr. Pournelle got TANSTAAFL from his father - and believes the phrase must have been common usage in Depression Tennessee if I understand correctly - and used it in conversation with Mr. Heinlein - at least as Dr. Pournelle and Mrs. Heinlein remembered it - Ginny was quite firm on this - I gather she was tasked to make a note of it but maybe not.

Again IIRC Dr. Pournelle has said - never attribute.... is traceable to Napoleon through Las Casas or equivalent and is much more often repeated by Dr. Pournelle than anybody else I've heard. The phrase is also known as Hanlon's razor after the manner of Occam's Razor and exists in chained serial quotations quite outside fandom. Wikipedia says variously Hanlon is real and Hanlon is a distortion of Heinlein in Logic of Empire. Mr. Heinlein may indeed have given the phrasing we know in English but even if so it is not at all clearly his.

#333 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 07:10 PM:

That reminds me-- I have to hunt down or fix a turntable for 78s, I think (the old old records, the ones with the separate speed thing that modern turntables don't have). I bought two boxes at a depressing auction because hey, jazz, and some of them have titles I must hear. "The Prohibition Rag" and the like.

#334 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 07:16 PM:

what's the timeline before they rise up in anger at being stored on the bottom shelves for 25 years

If that's where they are, then you're safe. CDs would have rebelled long ago if there weren't coffee mugs keeping them in their place.

Micro Warehouse used to sell a rubber 3.5" floppy intended for use as a coaster. This must be on the short list of Worst Home Computer Ideas Ever. (I mean, I eventually want to get a carton of handled 400ml beakers to use as mugs, but I wouldn't use them for that in a laboratory.)

#335 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 07:31 PM:

I'm allergic to Gibson's style, too. And things like the viewpoint changing inside a paragraph, short choppy sentences fragments, and the type of characters the viewpoint is from are among the things I am allergic to... he tends to write about people I don't want to know doing things I don't find that interesting to read about in places I'm not interesting in being. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln....

Janet Kagan's writing, e.g., is a lot more interesting to me. The characters in Mirabile are people I'd want to spend time with in a living room in front of a fireplace, just talking about stuff and letting the conversation rove....

As for recommending things to people, the first questions are what are the sorts of things the person likes, and what sorts of things does the person not find worthwhile/interesting?

There is a LOT of stuff out there, new stuff, reprint stuff, and books that are mixes of new and old. There are writers whose stories very much are tied to contemporary vision and perspective, and writers whose work is tied to the perspectives of other times and places--David Drake for example does a good job of delving into mindsets of cultures that have values of various past societies (the bigotry of various of the characters in the Lt Leary universe, for example.. the auteurial voice makes it very clear that Lt is an upper class snob bigot, a character who has many traits and characteristics of a person who is trying to make the universe a more decent and caring and worthwhile place, who believes in giving people opportunity and constraint the greedy and corrupt, but he nonetheless is snobby bigot. Drake also writes pscyhopaths chillingly well) writing contemporarily.

(Generally, but not always, writers' works have a feel to the work of the times that the works were written in, the same is true of music, poety, theater, TV shows--the original Star Trek is very much a product of the mid-1960s, a time of huge amounts of energy and optimist and expansion and support for exploration of the universe; Deep Space 9 was a product of times with more constrained horizons and less optimist, and consequently darker in tone, among other differences. And Enterprise was reactionary, lacking any interest much less willingness to question social roles and culture and taboos--the original Star Trek had women--not many, but there were women- in management/leadership positions in Starfleet on ships, with a woman with dark skin as the Communication Officer, had the first interracial kiss on US TV--unremarkably today, but back in the 1960s that was very much taboo, when integration was a huge volable issue and discrimination on the basis of skin color, ethnic origin, etc., institutionalized, and women were banned from airline cockpits, relegated to much lower paid hostess positions on crews and not allowed to be airline pilots, co-pilots, or flight engineers.

By the time Enterprise arrived, though, backlash had not only set in, but triumphed--Star Trek went from having finally had a female starship captain and one of the lead characters, to reducing the percentage of female prominent characters on the show Enterprise down to lower than the original series had had, and cutting down the national origin diversity of the lead characters to below the original show! That's not challenge and boldly going where no one had gone before, that's failing to even reach out to a fraction of the way the old show went!

If looking for cutting edge, don't look to Paramount/Viacom....

#336 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 07:39 PM:

C'mon, we have to be able to do better with Stephenson than just "snowcrash". How 'bout:

There are only four things we do better than anyone else: music, movies, microcode (software), and high-speed pizza delivery.
Still the best one line description of what is both good and hopeless about the American economy.


#337 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 07:55 PM:

"Burbclave" has been a standard part of my vocabulary since I read Snow Crash.

#338 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 07:57 PM:

Cassie, here are three sites worth looking at for info about turntables for 78s:

http://www.recordcollectorsguild.org

http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php

http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/index.php

All three are forums with distinct topics, including buy/sell/wanted. They're all full of well-informed audiophiles.

I've had the most luck at the first two (somebody sent me an owners manual for the turntable I'm restoring, and somebody else sent me cartridge wires; neither felt a need to ask for money).

#339 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 08:15 PM:

Paula Lieberman wrote:
I'm allergic to Gibson's style, too. And things like the viewpoint changing inside a paragraph, short choppy sentences fragments, and the type of characters the viewpoint is from are among the things I am allergic to... he tends to write about people I don't want to know doing things I don't find that interesting to read about in places I'm not interesting in being. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln....

Gibson really resonates with me, not so much for writing style (which has commonalities with the Internet vernacular) as for the veves he leaves glowing in my mind.

#340 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 09:33 PM:

Xeger, "the veves he leaves glowing in my mind" is a wonderful phrase, and I am running off with it. Thank you.

#341 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 10:14 PM:

veves

quoi?

#342 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Memes, maybe? Wrong finger.

The only vinyl records I have are from concerts where I sang solos and even I haven't wanted to listen to them for decades. I think they're more memorabilia now than music.

#343 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2006, 11:50 PM:

Since this is an open thread...

The links on the Photoshop Phriday page which the THN particle Batman Through the Ages points to, appear to be broken.

This link will get you to the first page, and you can use the 'Next Page' button to get to the rest in turn.

#344 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:19 AM:

Another thingummy-wozzis about old discs:

A number of museum collections (particularly the Smithsonian's) contain antique discs that are now too fragile to play with a needle, even a modern needle (and recall that in the days of the morning-glory horn, it was just a rather large piece of steel). The curators would, of course, like to be able to transfer the data to a better medium.

Some time back, the engineers at one of the large electronics firms -- I think it was Sony -- had the idea of building a laser turntable (or cylinder, because, well, you know) that would bounce off the tracks without actual contact. I suspect, knowing many engineers, that they partly did this because the company was willing to fund the project and mostly because it was a deeply cool idea.

And they built the thing. I gather it cost about forty grand, which is probably less than Sony headquarters pays in six months for hashi.

Unfortunately, the old recordings were often not stored under perfect conditions, and most of them have accumulated a lot of dust. The laser is, not too surprisingly, less tolerant of dust than a needle. So to get a decent playback, the recordings would have had to be liquid-cleaned . . . which would do at least as much damage as needle playback.

But, as an engineering project, it was a fine thing.

Full disclosure: I wrote (but never published) a story years before this happened in which such a device existed, though I was using it for a more mundanely stefnal purpose -- pulling sound off of materials that slowly hardened, like paint or ice. That's part of the reason I was so interested in the Sony gadget.

#345 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 04:15 AM:

Hey Mike, check it out!

#346 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 04:43 AM:

"Do you expect me to talk?"

"No, Mr Bond, I expect you to listen . . . to my Sixties Europop collection."

"I'll talk."

#347 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 05:36 AM:

the veves he leaves glowing in my mind"

"veve" s/b "vévé" - it's a voodoo thing. A symbol specific to one of the Loa (the voodoo gods), designed to draw his attention. If you remember, the Neuromancer trilogy, especially Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, had a lot of voodoo in it...

"If they're sentient, what's the timeline before they rise up in anger at being stored on the bottom shelves for 25 years, after several moves across the Pacific and back?"

I assume they just start playing themselves very quietly, like the undelivered letters in "Going Postal".

#348 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Paula Lieberman wrote:

I have some Adams books, but won't read them, and actively disliked HHGTTG, it's a type of humor that mostly gives me allergic reactions.

Really? Wow. Just out of curiousity, who does tickle your funny bone?

#349 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 10:38 AM:

a lot of voodoo in it

ah. veves.

(sigh)

some days I feel like ninety percent of all traffic is traveling over my head.

#350 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 10:59 AM:

Note about Audacity audio editing freeware - it's readily availble online, it's open source, and is nag-free. It can capture any* audio flowing through your computer, which is handy for capturing audio clips from streamed sources, and for doing podcasts. I believe it also integrates assorted audio file converters as well, but I don't have access to a copy at the moment. Anyway, I highly reccomend it. Feature list here.

Thanks for the discussion on copying records - a suprising amount of my dad's stuff isn't available at all on CD, and it's not that old. (50's-60's classical, mostly.) Otoh, I may be looking things up in the wrong place. Can you reccomend a database where I can input old record numbers (LM 3650) and have it spit out wether or not it's available on CD? I really am willing to re-buy the old collection, but if the record companies have no intention of re-releasing their old backstock I think they have the obligation to tell us. (And allow us to freely share our copies!)

-r.

*I'm sure there are exceptions possible, but this is generally true.

#351 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Scott, Paula L's reaction to Hitchiker is not exactly unique. Really, it seems to be shared by a large number of folks who missed the right introductory window (a combination, I believe, of time period (optimally soon after publication), age (late adolescence/early adulthood), and region (UK-ians get a leg up on some of the humor, I believe)). I wouldn't say I was allergic, but it didn't really do it for me.

OTOH, Paula's little diatribe against Enterprise strikes me as utterly bizarre. We have 2 women on the bridge instead of one, with the 2nd woman being First Officer, and the racial breakdown of bridge crew is exactly the same as on TOS. National diversity? Is the loss of a bad Russian accent really a problem?

The first season of the show was almost entirely dismal, but the 2nd season picked up, and some of the episodes in the 3rd and 4th seasons are among the best Trek every made, IMNSHO. The entire Xindii saga (about which I was initially very dubious) was irrevocably intertwined with the issues of combatting terrorism, the justifications that one might make for war, the transformations that war can make in societies and people, and xenophobic reactions from society-level traumatic events. These are some of the most important issues we're dealing with in this country right now, and Enterprise faced them head on in ways that BSG is the only other show currently willing to attempt.

Enterprise was the victim of backlash for it's abysmal first season (which was still more watchable than Voyager), and I won't deny its lack of quality, but the fanbase's refusal to give it a second chance when it changed in response to its critics killed one of the best SF shows on broadcast TV in the last decade.

#352 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Is the intention to separate all people interested in SF, fen or not, from a larger group, or to separate fen from people more casually interested?

If the first, it seems to me that a casual reference to Sturgeon's Law would work. "Yeah, it's pretty bad, but that's Sturgeon's Law." In my experience, almost everyone with any acquaintence with SF is familiar with this basic truth, and almost no one else has ever heard it. (They may know the concept, but not the title.)

#353 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:04 PM:

NIH etc. also do government contracting shenanigans with what in the military was known as "hurry up and wait."

Having had some experience with the NIH SBIR process, I can only say that it is not a coincidence that courses on how to navigate it generally spend 50% of their time on "how to survive until you actually get the money."

John M. Ford on laser turntables: And they built the thing. I gather it cost about forty grand...

You can get one now from ELP for a bargain $15,000! There was a quite a flurry of interest in this a couple weeks ago. Boing Boing picked it up, for example.

#354 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:12 PM:

Juli, it's pretty easy to pick out people with some involvement in Fandom...the test is for people who are readers but are not necessarily "fen." And although Sturgeon's Law has found wider purchase, it's definitely Fandom-rooted.

#355 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Scott H:

Stuff I have found humorous or that have things in them that I find humorous, some of the particulars:

- C. J. Cherryh's Chanur series
o Pyanfar vs the kif's Dinner
o Hilfy versus the printout
o mahedo'sat nut letters
o the annoying mahendo'sat offspring and the commentary made by the stsho about it
o "Shut up, you're married."
o the scene where Hilfy mention the "exploding rocks" to the crew
o the scene where the exploding rock explodes
o the universe vs Hallan Meras
o Tully getting out of the giant cannister of fish the scene complete with description of pungent aromas and triteness of smuggling "cargo" in in a cannister

- The Rescue of Ranor
o just about the entire book

- the scene in one of the Three Musketeers films, where one of the Musketeers is sitting on top of a well rocking back and forth and falls in--what was funny for me there a combination of telegraphing and "he's going to fall in, isn't he?"

- Teresa taking one look at Ben Yalow wearing a flamingo head ornament and collapsing instantly (had I not known that Teresa collapses from humor, it wouldn't have been funny--what was so humorous was how fast she fell over from the sight.)

- puns and other wordplay

Things that aren't funny for me"

- As I Lay Dying
- Snowcrash, a scene in it that some friends find hysterically funny, if the person reading the scene out loud hadn't been the owner of the vehicle, I would have grabbed the book and thrown it out the window to end his reading of the scene, he kept saying, "just one more page" and my snarling and imprecations got louder and louder... I would laugh at the scene of someone reading from a book I can't stand and me getting more and more irate about it growling and snarling away while the reader was having such a good time reading from the book....

- slapstick humor

==========

#356 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Chanur: 'when rain falls up!'

#357 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Is the intention to separate all people interested in SF, fen or not, from a larger group, or to separate fen from people more casually interested?

I was going with the idea of separating the forward thinking, open minded folks from the walking soylent green factories.

But that's just me.

#358 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Paula,

I'm curious--did you read Liquor? If so, how did you react to that? (I've been carrying it around to restaurants and recommending it to folks I know in the business--golly, it's a fine book!)

#359 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 03:02 PM:

the NIH SBIR process

someone once told me that the way that works is some company has an idea, they get the government to write it up in an SBIR bid, the company wins the bid, and everyone else is ignored. The guy could have been a crank, though.

#360 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Seeing Charlie Stross over on another thread brought Jack Ruttan's question above to mind. Charlie had this to say:

I suspect the 1000 cultures cycle is going to be remembered (by those who read it -- which is a wholly different matter) as one of the most significant masterpieces of the 1990s/2000s.

I pretty much agree, for reasons which include Charlie's, but didn't post them, as I tend to repeat myself on the subject.

#361 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Mike Ford relates:

Unfortunately, the old recordings were often not stored under perfect conditions, and most of them have accumulated a lot of dust. The laser is, not too surprisingly, less tolerant of dust than a needle. So to get a decent playback, the recordings would have had to be liquid-cleaned . . . which would do at least as much damage as needle playback.

Fermilab had a very cool lecture from Carl Haber, a physicist who has built a fancy camera to get images of the grooves and turn them into sound files.

Streaming video here. Powerpoint here. MP3 here.

#362 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Now, here's an Excitable Boy!

#363 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 03:48 PM:

a fancy camera to get images of the grooves and turn them into sound files.

Dust would still be a problem, though, I would think that the software geeks could write some sort of filter that would subtract the dust out of the samples. The ideal solution, of course, would be to get an MRI done, so you can detect what is vinyl and what is dust and filter the dust out. Not sure if an MRI has sufficient resolution to pick up the waves in the vinyl, though.

Waiting for the day when digital cameras have enough resolution to photograph a Compact Disc and give you an image that could extract the data on the CD.

#364 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 04:31 PM:

I don't think there is a single phrase that is going to catch everyone. However, might not using phrases from one's favorite shows itself be a give-away?

I mean, I have different phrases I use with different friends: "Have fun storming the castle!" for friends who like "The Princess Bride", "Blue--no RED!" for "Monty Python" fans, and "Fully functional" for friends who liked "Star Trek TNG". (Only my husband gets phrases like, "QUAINT!" and "I like smackin' 'em" and "Well, that one's kind of horrific" because I don't see any Firefly fans on a regular basis.)

And then there's always "This one goes to 11!", just for fun.

I figure that just my interest trying to find phrases that my friends will recognize and laugh at is probably the biggest sign that I'm an incurable geek.

#365 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Since the details and criteria seem to have been lost to many thread late-comers, here's a link to the original Kathryn of Sunnyvale's "litmus phrase" request.

#366 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 04:57 PM:

Ebay has one of those laser turntables for $14,006.36.

Somehow paying more for that than I did for my 1997 GEO Metro seems, um, injudicious.

#368 ::: Electric Landlady ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Dust would still be a problem, though, I would think that the software geeks could write some sort of filter that would subtract the dust out of the samples.

I imagine it would depend what wavelength you were using for your detector. If you could find one where the dust was transparent, that could work out well. Hm.

#369 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 08:31 PM:

just watched George Washington: The Video particle. Not sure if I should applaud or if I should shower the cooties off of me. That's just weird.

#370 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 08:38 PM:

phrases which make sense to an entire audience, but also show that the speaker reads SF.

shoot. reads SF? I guess that rules out "what an interesting smell you've discovered", probably the one line that gets the most mileage for me.

#371 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 08:41 PM:

If you could find one where the dust was transparent ...

... stick to that wavelength and you'll never have to clean house again. Wheee!

#372 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 09:11 PM:

I would think dust in record grooves could be dealt with by building up a 3D image of the groove -- if the grooves look vaguely like the schematic version, in which each side is essentially a ribbon varying in height; dust particles wouldn't be the same height across the width of the groove. Has anyone tried this, or is the groove not planar enough to make it work?

JMF re Europop: How many readers remember One, Two, Three, in which an interrogatee is ]tortured[ by a recording ("Itsy...Bikini"?) deliberately off-centered on the turntable?

#373 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Dust would still be a problem, though, I would think that the software geeks could write some sort of filter that would subtract the dust out of the samples.

In theory, for older mono records, you can record using a stereo cartridge. Since defects appear (somewhat) randomly, they will often be in one side of the groove or the other, and thus appear only in one channel. They can then be replaced with the good audio from the other channel. Also, the background noise will generally be decorrelated between the two channels, so when you sum the two channels back to mono, you'll improve the signal-to-noise ratio a bit.

This only works for formats for which a stereo cartridge can be obtained or fabricated, of course. LPs are fine, and I think it's been done with 78s, but IIRC the encoding method used on cylinders makes this impossible.

I've never had an occasion to test the preceding method, having only digitized stereo records so far. In that case, you have to use other methods, although the album is likely to be less damaged, being newer.

I haven't found any software that automatically removes the pops without damaging the good audio, so I usually just redraw the waveform on really loud ones (theoretically Very Wrong, since it creates aliasing, but seems to work pretty well in practice), and ignore the low-level stuff.

Some records skip; my cure for that is to tape a couple of coins to the tonearm, record just the part that normally gets skipped, and stitch the whole thing back together in my editing software. This is harder than it sounds, because the tone quality is affected substantially by the messed-up tracking weight.

Then, of course, I have to separate the tracks into separate files, and add all the metadata... you can see why I only do it for stuff that I really like that's not available on CD: Swimming Pool Q's, Blue Tomorrow; Mars Everywhere, Industrial Sabotage; William Walton, Façade (there are lots of versions available, but not the one I really like, with Hermione Gingold and Russell Oberlin); The Waitresses, Bruiseology; etc.

#374 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 10:17 PM:

Greg London sighed:
some days I feel like ninety percent of all traffic is traveling over my head.

Some days I feel like ninety percent of all traffic is tromping through my head in hobnailed boots and leaving no child behind.

#375 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 10:37 PM:

tromping through my head in hobnailed boots

Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked...

in the head...

with an iron boot?

Of course you don't, no one does. It never happens. It's a dumb question... skip it.

#376 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2006, 11:56 PM:

Eyaaahhhh!

Genpets -- Bioengineered Buddies

(The artist)

#377 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 12:07 AM:

Greg London mused:
Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked...

in the head...

with an iron boot?

Of course you don't, no one does. It never happens. It's a dumb question... skip it.

(I have this strange urge to eat plums now)

Do soccer shoes count?

Then again, I suspect many of us have had the 'fun' of being stepped on by horses, or bashed in the shins with steel toed boots.

At this rate of wandering speculation, I'm going to be asking how many people here have danced with the devil in the pale moonlight ...

#378 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 12:21 AM:

At this rate of wandering speculation, I'm going to be asking how many people here have danced with the devil in the pale moonlight ...

you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

#379 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 12:48 AM:

xeger, if I had a nickle for every time I got tossed off a horse, I could have paid for my lessons myself (rather than my father). I've been lifted by one butt cheek by one pony (I was getting ready to mount and the horse/pony the instructor gave me was rather bitter... he got over it quickly because I challenged him at every level and he always gave me his best because I gave him mine....). that day I ended up with a small circle of bruises on my butt. I also had a toe broken by a half-draft hunter (he stepped on my foot, and when I asked him to move, he swiveled on the hoof on my foot rather than stepping away.

Despite this I dearly recall every horse I ever got to ride/take care of. I'm rather allegic to the now, and for that kind of allergy frequent contact would fix it (that's how I became un-allergic to cats....my doctor allowed as it was like taking extreme allergy shots, BUT my allegeries were of the sniffle variety, not the "swell-up-and-turn-red" variety). I just don't have enough money to try and prove that with horses.Sigh.

#380 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 12:53 AM:

Greg London stated:
you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

... which I'm distressed to report is no longer always the truth. I suppose it's marginally better than edible oil products.

#381 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 02:06 AM:

xeger, when making a meringue or something calling for egg whites (or egg yolks) by themselves, I've always wondered just what I am supposed to do with the leftover whichever-it-is I'm not using.

Check the sell-by dates on those boxed egg whites.

#382 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 02:23 AM:

Linkmeister - AFAIK, you can't save unloved egg yolks, but extra egg whites can be frozen in an ice tray and the resulting cubes can be stored in a doubled ziplock bag in the freezer against the day you need them. Just defrost as necessary.

xeger - I've never even considered buying the milk-carton egg whites. FWIW, Egg Beaters (the yellow stuff) is almost entirely egg whites with beta carotene added to make them yellow. They're still pretty nasty, but work in recipes in a pinch.

#383 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 02:35 AM:

Thanks, Larry. It seldom happens, because I rarely cook that sort of stuff, but that's a nifty trick.

It always amuses me to read a recipe or see one of the TV cooks requiring only part of the eggs; I've never read/seen anyone suggest what to do with the excess.

#384 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 05:05 AM:

Spare egg parts? Well, if you've used the yolks for something, you use the leftover whites to make meringues. If you've used the whites for something (such as meringues), you use the leftover yolks to make zabaglione.

(One of the only two pieces of advice my father ever gave me on Women of the Female Variety was "zabaglione looks really impressive as a dessert but is, in fact, very easy to make".

The other was "if you can't think what to buy a woman as a present, buy her a scarf. You can't buy a scarf that's the wrong size or the wrong shape, you'll always be able to find one in the shops, they can be worn with all sorts of things, and no woman's ever going to say 'But I already have a scarf. Why would I need another one?'" Sensible advice.)

#385 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 05:51 AM:

I imagine it would depend what wavelength you were using for your detector. If you could find one where the dust was transparent, that could work out well. Hm.

Unfortunately, dust is pretty opaque to visible and near-visible light. If you went far enough into the infrared, then you might have something. But then:

A. You'd probably have to start worrying about thermal emission from the record/cylinder itself and from the dust;

B. You'd lose resolution in your laser (resolution goes down as the wavelength gets longer, so an infrared laser has worse resolution than an optical laser).

So I doubt it would work in practice.

#386 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 07:34 AM:

Speaking of yolks and hating to see that sort of thing at this level of play: Page 783 of the Bantam paperback of A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin, "The raven was pecking at an egg, breaking the shell. Pushing his beak through the hole, he pulled out morsels of white and yoke."

Leading, I suppose, to the question of which came first, the harness or the egg.

#387 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 07:54 AM:

Yes Minister: when a visiting African leader is threatening to make a speech denouncing the British Empire...

"If this goes through, we will have egg all over our faces!"
"Not egg, Minister. Just imperialist yoke."

#388 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 09:09 AM:

Here's something interesting: an article (with verse illustrations) on poems scratched into the walls of the Chinese detention barracks at the Angel Island immigration point of San Francisco. The building stood derelict for two decades, and they were about to tear it down in 1970 when someone happened to notice the verses. The essay is long on essay and somewhat shorter on the actual verses, but it's worthwhile and illuminating. Via WFMU's Beware the Blog.

And before anybody asks what I'm doing today, I'm going to drive on up to Amherst and see the exhibit of Will Eisner art based on his graphic novel "The Plot," which concerns that hoary hoax so beloved of anti-Semites, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. There's a copy of that waiting for me at the Barnes & Noble in Hadley, too. This is the second Eisner show I'll have seen up at UMass.

#389 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 09:31 AM:

You can always use extra egg yolks to make a hollandaise sauce.

Does anyone out there know what to do with "fleurs d'ail"? (The literal translation would be "garlic flowers" but I am by no means sure that's the english name). They look kinda like twisty green onions but are solid stems that I can only presume come from garlic. We got a bunch in our veggie basket this week and I'm at a loss.

#390 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 09:47 AM:

Okay, just read all the way through, making notes. This is going to require more than one post.

Dust on old records: can't it be gently blown off? I'd like to just be able to scan my records and put them in a program that'll give me a sound file. I used to dream of a system where I'd make scans from three different copies of the same disk, and then logically determine what's inherent in the disk and what's an accident of time.

Tim Walters: When I have a skip, I go back for the missing part by guiding the tonearm with my finger. Then I stitch it back in, and it doesn't sound any different from the rest.

#391 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 09:53 AM:

I heard "fear is the mind-killer" used for a gag on the old Earth Worm Jim series, from back in that giddy season when the networks seemed to be competing for that "Kip Williams" demographic. (Sadly, Jim's creator has succumbed to the mind killer himself and become a post-9/11 hysteric.)

"That went well," is, to me, a Fawlty Towers quote.

Real geekitude test: spelling it "wookiee," as George Lucas used to insist was correct.

I read the first hitchiker book and figured I'd done all I could. The humor seemed to be of a limited, self-canceling sort, and it was enough for me. Years later, though, I found out that the real stuff is that book of scripts, which manage to be funny over and over. I heartily recommend this product or service.

One of my favorite SF phrases for all occasions is "My God, it's all full of stars!" This was, of course, a modified version of the slogan for "2001 Flushes," a black monolith you drop into your toilet tank for the next generation of cleanliness. ("My God, it's all full of cleaning crystals!")

Like grains of sand, y'know.

#392 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 09:59 AM:

Anyway, (last one) the touchstone that really worked for me came about one day when a bunch of us were waiting in the snow for a bus to take us home from school (which had closed early because of snow and power loss). We waited and waited. Other buses came, but not ours. We saw one that might be ours. "It's coming around," said somebody.

"He's coming around, folks!" I chimed in. A nearby stranger continued with "...he's gonna be OKAY!" and we both finished "...and ready for Symptom Six of BEAT... THE... REAPER!" And I had made a new friend.

For SF purposes, I would suggest starting with "Dogs flew spaceships!" If a fellow Firesign veteran is around, they will continue with "The Aztecs invented the vacation!" Then, antiphonally, you proceed to:

"Your forefathers took drugs!"
"Men and women are the same sex!"
"Your brain is not the boss!"

And finish in unison with "Yes, that's right! Everything You Know Is Wrong!"

(J-Men Forever is full of good quotes for repeating, too.)

Me B/e/n/c/h/l/e/y/ Kip. Me bad boy. Me go.

#393 ::: dlacey ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 10:06 AM:

Ceri, we call those scapes around here. I've also heard them called garlic snapes. I'm not sure if that's common or regional. I like to just saute them in butter, and they're quite good chopped up in potato salad as well.

#394 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 10:26 AM:

Regarding dust on records: I feel like I'm missing something very important from the discussion. What's wrong with simply cleaning the record before playing it? I understand it's different for 78s, but there's surely no problem with vinyl.

My dad is obsessed with sound quality (which is why he prefers vinyl over CD, and also why he sees nothing odd in spending a couple of thousand pounds on a turntable) and archiving (which is why his evenings are spent transferring his favourite records onto his iPod). He bought a record-cleaning machine thirty years ago, and still uses it now.

#395 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 10:43 AM:

For those wondering why someone would plant Japanese knotweed... it's for the same reasons that someone would plant woad. Indigo dye plant, hardy across the US, and with a much better yield than woad. Woad is *also* horrifically invasive across much of the US btw.

This leads to the obvious answer about how to make a start on getting rid of it. Find your local spinner's guild or knitter's guild, and ask them for the names of people interested in natural dyes. Dragoon the nice natural dyers into helping you root out the knotweed. Warn them *emphatically* not to plant the stuff. Also, from the descriptions you guys are using, treat all knotweed infestations as per raspberries. Pieces of the plant, no matter how tiny, may *not* touch the ground without a barrier. Use a tarp if you have to. Doubled or tripled garbage bags also might work. They should be delighted to cart off the stuff for you, and the standard prep methods for indigo dye *will* eliminate the risk of genetic material getting loose to contaminate a new area. Either you treat it with nasty DNA destroying chemicals, or you rot it and *then* use it for dye :D.

Most dye plants are Not Safe For Normal Gardening. Weld and woad will air pollinate, self seed, and are perenial, so they *spread* and even the standard mint expedient of 1-3 foot deep sheet metal will not contain them. Madder is not so bad, but still pretty... spreading. It's ok tho if you're using it as a dye plant, since the roots are what you want. Just dig up the whole bed, and take out the roots and you should be rid of most of it.

Standard mint treatment mostly works on oregano, tho oregano is a bit more agressive about selfseeding. Oregano (in a non-mediterranean climate) is also a lot more likely to go away if weeded than mint tho. Mercifully, you do not need to treat either oregano or mint as the kind of toxic waste that raspberries are, provided you try to do the weeding before they've had the chance to flower.

If you're trying to get rid of roses btw, treat 'em as raspberries. The usual wild rose in the northern US is a polyantha, and is rather vicious to get rid of.

Despite having a black thumb, I've learnt *some* useful things about gardening over the years *g*. And for god's sake, don't plant raspberries without giving the bed a containment treatment of sheet metal first. The damn things *spread* with runners as well as seeds, and that cuts down on some of the growth.

#396 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 10:54 AM:

I was wondering why you couldn't stick even the most fragile record in a vacuum chamber, positively charge the walls of the chamber, and lightly negatively charge the record. (I think that's the charges the right way around.) Bound to get the dust off.

#397 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 10:55 AM:

MichelleK,
Its blue - no! YELLOW! Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...

Tim Walters,
How do you do tags with classical work? Composer/Arranger/Conductor/Orchestra etc are problems enough before you get to albums that have multiple works. The defaults that itunes turns up through CDDB are often laughably bad. Like every track from Orff's Caramina Burana being labeled Caramina Burana.
Btw, the use of stereo cartriges and sum+difference to capture improved mono sound is brilliant! Thank you.

Kathyrn from Sunnyvale,
Oh dear, our answers have wandered pretty far from usability. I doubt there is a universal shibboleth - but perhaps we can take another shot at it. In the mean time, is anyone making a crossword of these quotes?
Cite:
What short phrases could be used to set off a science fiction reader's SF-radar?
and
Could fanspeak exist which would be understood by SF readers even if they know nothing about fandom?

Kip W,
Dust over time turns to a kind of plasticy-mud, dissolvable with things like ethanol. Most dust starts its life as dead skin cells, which apparently degrade into little piles of oil and protien based resins that are, well, really sticky. I learned this via someone who repaired cameras, so take it with a grain of salt. Or dust.

On a related note, the audiophile mythology doesn't seem to have dissapated much with the advent of the internet. Badly informed people telling other badly informed people data they want to hear is the order of the day after all.* Does anyone know of a Snopes for audio stuff?


-r.
*slashdot.


#398 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 11:09 AM:

The reason the dusty records can't just be cleaned is because, as explained here, they're specifically defined as ancient and fragile records.

to get a decent playback, the recordings would have had to be liquid-cleaned . . . which would do at least as much damage as needle playback.

So, naturally, the techies in the crowd have been trying to solve the problem with that restriction: no touching the record.

#399 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 11:24 AM:

I've seen 'warp speed' used by mundanes, who understand it as 'really really fast'. By now the fanspeak aspects should be pretty well dissipated, Trek having become 'cultural environment' rather than 'weird entertainment'.

#400 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 11:42 AM:

I have now attempted twice to request Henry Jenkins misattribution of my quote to someone else (Avner Ronen) in his new blog be corrected, and neither comment (the first of which I felt had some inciteful additional commentary) has been posted, nor has an update been made to the blog post in question. Since he holds all comments for review I can only assume he's not posting a correction or my comments for some deliberate reason, for which I can't imagine a motive. He doesn't list an e-mail address anywhere obvious that I can see, so I haven't been able to communicate in private with him. Does anyone have any suggestions?

#401 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Kip: I like the finger idea a lot; I'll try it next time.

rhandir: I just do Artist->Composer, Song->Movement, and Album->Work, stick composer/performer in comments (or remember it), and don't worry about what album it came from. This works for me because I'm a pretty casual classical fan who doesn't tend to have a lot of versions of the same work. I don't really have a solution for the more serious cataloger.

Pop metadata from CDDB is also pretty unreliable; some albums have the artist and title switched, for example, or are incorrectly marked as compilations, or are full of typos. Still, it's useful and has saved me a lot of typing!

#402 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Spare egg parts => dog food topping

Antelope Freeway, 1/2 Mile

#403 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 01:32 PM:

some inciteful additional commentary

This is merely The Copyeditor At Work, and not a comment on your situation, but the word you want there is "insightful." Though the other word would have many uses in describing online conversation.

#404 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Skwid,

Ah, the guy appears to be unable to read his own blog's format for displaying comments. I had a hard time myself the first time I saw this approach used. The tool posts comments in this format:

comment blah
-------
name


Unfortunately, someone didn't get the fengshui right because when you put multiple comments in a sequence, you get


comment blah
------------
name

comment blah
------------
name


And the result is that the first name looks like it should be associated with the second comment. The line gets interpreted as a separator between comments, but it's actually a separator between a comment and the name of the person who made that comment. There actually isn't anythign separating a comment/name combination.

Shocking! -rofd61ng
------------------------------------------
Posted by: Roy | June 22, 2006 07:21 AM

Amazing what can happen when you don't sue the public the minute they use your I.P.
-------------------------------------------
Posted by: lollerkeet | June 23, 20


One might assume that Roy said "Amazing what can happen..", but that was actually posted by lollerkeet. It's a stupid format. It's like putting pull handles on a door that you push to open (which, annoyingly, is what they did at the building where I work.)

I don't know if this guy gets the format of his own blog and understands that he's reading it wrong. If not, whatever you're trying to tell him won't make sense to him. You may have to start with a simple explanation of how comments and the name of the person who posted the comment are demarcated, then explain that he misattributed your quote.

Plus it looks like it's only been a day or two since he posted it, so he may be away. I've posted stuff to blogs and gotten a reply a week later from the owner.

Plus, attribution isn't always what it's cracked up to be. Bruce Schneier correctly attributed a post I made where I blog over at SomeRightsReserved.com and all that did was get me two-hundred spam messages on that thread.

#405 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 02:45 PM:

Sen Barack Obama, apparently speaking about the need for Democrats to court evangelicals:

"It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase 'under God,'" he said.


Actually, by around 5th grade, I did feel oppressed and that it was an attempt to brainwash me.

Just sayin'.

#406 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 03:03 PM:

I guess it depends if the principle of freedom of religion and freedom from religion is something you're willing to sacrifice to win an election. I'm not. But that's just me.

#407 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 03:26 PM:

It also depends on whether the evangelicals under discussion are Christians or Pharisees.

#408 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Susan: I felt the same way, as soon as I understood what the words meant, which was many years after I'd memorized them. To me, that's the oppressive part. The Pledge of Allegiance is an oath; and to make someone swear an oath in words they don't understand is profoundly immoral.

#409 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Mike, it pains me that I made that thinko. Ugh. Thanks, I shall eradicate that misfire from my neurons if at all possible.

Greg, I surmised that was the problem almost immediately, but there's really no possibility that he hasn't seen my comments. Like I said, the comments are held until the blog owner reviews them, and he's not only passed other, later comments through, but he's posted yet another blog entry following up on the one under discussion, so he's clearly not away. I suppose it's possible he's so confused by the formatting that I just seem like a crank trying (twice) to claim credit where it isn't due, but I think holding back my comments from posting entirely for that reason seems overly severe. He is still very new at running a blog, so I'm not really mad at this point, just annoyed.

#410 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 03:41 PM:

skwid, lemme try posting somethign over there...

#411 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Skwid, my comment showed up immediately. Something odd is afoot.

#413 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 04:01 PM:

Yeah, clearly something strange is going on.

Thanks for that, Greg. Hopefully Prof. Jenkins will figure out what's up.

#414 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 04:11 PM:

Around my house, extra egg yolks = baked custard.

#415 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 04:53 PM:

See, those who actually use the extra egg parts probably have a plan in mind when making the dish which leaves you the extra parts in the first place.

I do like the dog food topping idea, since Tigger is absolutely the biggest egg hound I've ever seen (I earn bonus points if there's extra cheese omelet to be handed over to her).

#416 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Ceri, in re "fleurs d'ail". My veggie basket last week had them, and the accompanying cheery note called them "garlic buds". They're the stem that woodier garlic sends up in order to flower, but if you want the garlic, you don't want the plant to flower. So you cut them off. I haven't done anything with mine yet, but the recommendation was to dice and then use as you would garlic, except you don't get the oilier texture.

#417 ::: amhorach ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 05:37 PM:

References to the variations of Murphy's Law can be found in several Sci-Fi authors I've read. Still, it is far too mainstream to serve as any form of geek litmus test.

I think the original read something like: "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.” Edward A. Murphy, Jr

#418 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 06:19 PM:

Kira gets a raw egg a day anyway, so yolks aren't even a special treat.

Other stuff liable to find its way into the dog dish:

Baked pumpkin chunks. I salvage dead pumpkins from the local dumpster after Halloween, cook them, cut them up and freeze them in plastic containers.

Bread crumbs from the cutting board and the catch pan of the toaster.

Salmon skins. The smell of broiling salmon gets the dog's total attention: She sits at the end of the kitchen wearing her "friendly attentive good dog" look.

#419 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 06:25 PM:

Back when I was a schoolboy, in the Old Stone Age, we were given roneod copies of the hymns to sing at school assembly. I have never forgotten the morning we were given Kipling's 'Children's Hymn' (it's in Puck of Pook's Hill, at least my memory tells me so) with the line 'Teach us to bear ther yolk in youth.'

#420 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 06:33 PM:

a lot of voodoo in it

ah. veves.

(sigh)

some days I feel like ninety percent of all traffic is traveling over my head.

My first wife painted a vévé on the table covering she used for our second-born son's high school graduation party. I should note that she's Irish-German from Long Island.

#421 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 07:05 PM:

Sonny Bono's Inner Views album is, of course, legendary to us record collector geeks. Sonny's clueless approach to the '60s was already apparent in his first solo single, "Laugh at Me." I've actually never heard the whole LP, but I have an mp3 of the priceless "Pammie's on a Bummer," which you can download here:

http://www.aprilwinchell.com/multimedia/ [about a quarter of the way down the page]

Sonny will live in infamy for the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, but they let him hang out in rock 'n' roll heaven once in a while for his work with Phil Spector and for cowriting "Needles and Pins" with its weird modulation in the middle, as variously recorded by the Searchers, Jackie DeShannon, and the Ramones. And maybe even for "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," used so effectively in Kill Bill.

#422 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Egg yolks can be frozen, but you need to decide at the time of freezing whether they'll be used in sweet or savory cooking:

To inhibit yolks from getting lumpy during storage, stir in a 1/2-teaspoon salt per 1-cup of egg or yolks. If using for desserts, use 1-tablespoon sugar or corn syrup per 1-cup yolks or whole eggs. Label the container with the date and the number of egg yolks. Use up extra egg yolks in recipes like sauces, custards, ice cream, yellow cakes, mayonnaise, scrambled eggs, and cooked puddings.
from whatscookingamerica.net

#423 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 07:50 PM:

You guys get baskets? I have a cool tote bag with the farm logo on it, but I have to put the veggies in myself. Ceri, they're garlic scapes, you can use them just like garlic. So far, I've had them in soup, in a squash dish, in a dip, and with sauteed bits of kielbasa.

#424 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 08:23 PM:

Stefan, Tigger can look like that, but her more usual pose is sorta like this.

#425 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 08:27 PM:

Paula,

I'm curious--did you read Liquor? If so, how did you react to that? (I've been carrying it around to restaurants and recommending it to folks I know in the business--golly, it's a fine book!)

I neither am familiar with that as the title of a book not have a read it.

#426 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 08:59 PM:

Oh yeah, dead skin cells. Okay, now I can see how untreated dust would turn into something that couldn't just be blown off lightly. Time for some cute algorithmic work -- "sound waves wouldn't do THAT."

I end up doing two things with mp3s of classical. First, I name the file something like 01 BACH Italian Conc i allo [Kipnis]. The 01 puts the track in the right order. BACH be the composer. I use various abbreviations in the title of the overall piece (f'rinstance 'conc' for concerto). Then the movement -- i -- and perhaps the name or tempo indication (abbr: 'allo' for allegro), and lastly the performer in brackets.

Then when I'm renaming mp3 tags from the totally useless format it defaults to ("Johann Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] Piano Music of Johann Sebastian Bach Italienisches Konzert mo") where it puts all kinds of redundant stuff first and cuts off just when it's about to tell you who the murderer is. Or which movement. Or anything. And they put the composer's name in the 'artist' slot, and they spell everything out, like "In A-flat major" instead of just saying "Ab" or "B minor" instead of just "b."

So I rename. iTunes has a place for composer, but it doesn't get shown in the iPod display somehow (anybody know what I might be doing wrong here?), so I sometimes put it in along with the composition title, which gives the piece and movement info. I have a place to put the performer or performers. Once in a while, I use the comments box for a small footnote.

Gotta go now.

#427 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Paula,

Teresa posted about Liquor here. It wasn't only funny, but the parts that were tickled me.

#428 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 02:40 AM:

Marilee - sadly, in my case, not a real basket (was just replying in the same frame). It's a reusable paper bag with sturdy handles - we're supposed to return it the following week for reuse. I signed up with this particular CSA because they deliver to my workplace, so the food comes pre-apportioned. The deliveries for all subscribers are put in the cafeteria's walk-in fridge, and you just go by and pick up a bag. (I will admit to reading the letter and checking contents before selecting a bag, because sometimes it says things like "this week, some bags have kohlrabi and others have beets".) I did get a very nice little basil plant this week.

#429 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 08:58 AM:

Stefan and Linkmeister: try not paying attention to this.

#430 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 09:34 AM:

I, too, call them baskets when they're technically not. It's actually a waxed cardboard box they collapse and re-use and we're expected to bring our own bags to take stuff home in. They do have some there if you forget, but really -- buying from an organic grower and taking the stuff home in plastic bags is inherently wrong in my brain.

I like my guys 'cause they have an exchange box. If you don't like the look (or taste) of anything, you can turn it in for something else. Yesterday my radishes went back for extra swiss chard.

#431 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Fragano Ledgister,
Your reference to roneod puzzled me greatly. Some googling turns up a roneod
newsletter is ancient technology and the internet did not exist
suggesting that roneod is a synonym for something akin to a mimeograph?

KipW,
Thank you for the tips on mp3 naming conventions. Yes, there is a great deal I wish itunes did better. I'm going to have to start rummaging around for information on how tags for mp3's work. I think I can work with this. (I've had great frustration over itunes preventing me from using as much text as I want in the "info" tag, yet it will let me attach grotesquely sized album artwork.)

-r.
I'm always delighted to discover new nouns, particularly ones that aren't clear from context!

#432 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 12:31 PM:

rhandir: 'Roneo' was the brand name of the commonest stencil reproduction machine used in Britain; it consequently became the common word used for mimeograph in Britain and some of its colonies.

#433 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 01:00 PM:

My problem with diligently saving the unused part of an egg is that I never seem to get around to using it. It stays in its perfect little pyrex dish until it becomes something Not Egg. Then it becomes a traffic accident in my fridge and I can't throw it away because I want to see if it will evolve. Unfortunately, my partner does not understand this fascination and throws the nascent lifeform (is that some kind o pun?) away before it has a chance to escape on its own.

...whoa. I just realized how our different religious viewpoints subtly come out in our daily behavior...

#434 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 04:21 PM:

Wow, Lila. Even on her best days Tigger doesn't reach that level of "Awwww."

#435 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Lila, that is a Cuteness Overload-worthy photo.

In the name of Open Thread, I bring random links to the best collection of silly maps ever. [Warning: the PDF files are large, but worth the patience it takes to download]

The National Beer Map of Canada, anyone? Or Name that town? Perhaps, given this crowd, The Fairy Tale Map of Canada would appeal.

The Donut Map of Canada is hanging on my office wall right now.

#436 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Fragano Ledgister,

Thank you for the defintion of Roneod. With the -eod ending I was initially thinking Old English, actually. Nifty. (Also, yay me for figuring it out!)

Anyone else want to chime in with synonyms for "stencil reproduction machine?"

-r.

#437 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 09:01 PM:

I don't have the same level of sensitivity to bad editing as our hosts and my various friends in the field, but I just put down Lee Killough's recent Killer Karma and came here to kvetch after getting no further than the inside cover blurb:

[Killough made up stories as a child]
"In grade school the stories became episodes of her favorite radio and TV shows: [list of shows]. Beating the episode-writing practice of Trek fans by almost two decades."

Hello, paging Meisha Merlin, that last sentence, y'know, isn't one. Can't a nice company like MM afford to have their blurbs copyedited?

I'm going to read the book anyway after I cover MM's shame by putting a post-it note over that blurb, since experience proves that Killough can write (and probably was not responsible for the bad blurb), but I'm deeply annoyed at the editorial carelessness here.

As an aside, let me recommend Killough's Wilding Nights as one of the better takes on the werewolf myth.

#438 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 10:18 PM:

oliviacw, Ceri, my totebag is the permanent reusable type, canvas, not plastic. I picked my CSA for two reasons: 1) they have single subscriptions (lots of ours in Virginia have only two-people and four-people subs), and b) they deliver to a commuter rail station about a quarter-mile from my condo. I'm disabled, so I still drive, but it's pretty convenient.

Leigh brings stuff in collapsible plastic crates and puts up a whiteboard with a table of which type of subscriber gets how many of what, and we just form a line on either side of the crates and pack our tote bags. I just got the letter for tomorrow:

Friday, June 30th

cauliflower
garlic
onions
potatoes
squash? (if not enough something else)
mustard greens
lettuce
basil

by noon request (e-mail me back by noon)
epazote
lavender

(I asked for some lavender.)

I've also got a fruit sub, and they have egg subs. They have people out to the farm a lot, but I can't walk out there, so I haven't gone.

#439 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 10:36 PM:

Lila,

Clearly, you have been judged worthy to serve the true overlords of creation! You are obviously a woman of intelligence, taste and class. (At least, that's what they tell _me_ about the people that are chosen to feed them!)

#440 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 11:34 PM:

Fragano: hence, Aussie ex-fan Marc Ortlieb's filk of a Judy Collins ~countryNwestern song:
He loves that damned old Roneo as much as he loves me;
Someday soon, pub an issue someday soon.

#441 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 11:54 AM:

rhandir: You're welcome. Sorry to have been confusing.

#442 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 11:59 AM:

CHip: I'd never heard that!

(There's a nice little bit in John Brunner's Muddle Earth involving a misprint in which 'Roneos and Juliets' are sought.)

#443 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 01:31 PM:

Writing on prison walls appears to be a universal ... I can still feel the shiver that went through me as I walked into the cells in the Tower of London and read the names of people dead 400 years -- some of which I recognized. History, doncha know. They were scratched all over the stone walls. Often they were accompanied by sentences in Latin, French, or English asking for mercy, claiming innocence, etc. One said "My name is _______. Please tell ________ (my brother, my father, someone) that you saw me here..." It moved me nearly to tears; I had to leave the cell and go up into the sunlight for a while.

#444 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 04:22 PM:

Visiting the Saint Vincent DePaul prison was an eye opener. They did an 'open house' just before tearing it down (if it is torn down. At least, it was closed. I think it was the backdrop for a few American movies, back when they shot American movies in Montreal). Anyhow, the most amazing things were the elaborate mandalas made on cell walls by prisoners using cigarette-pack tinfoil.

Other cool stuff too. It would have made an interesting museum, and tough-love parents could take their kids to show them, "this is where you'll end up if you don't behave!"

#445 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 07:17 PM:

Liked the Random Notes on Seven POD Novels. Glad someone is exploring the POD landscape to find the good ones...

I learned of a book I might like. After all I've read here on Making Light, I was a bit apprehensive to learn that it was a print-on-demand book. I am, however, very interested in the subject of the book. And the publisher, Lulu, seemed to have a good reputation among correspondents here.

Good news: though a paper copy was fifteen bucks, a lot to risk on an un-reviewed POD book, Lulu offered a PDF copy for six bucks. So I took a chance.

It was pretty good.

The Rocketbelt Caper: A True Tale of Invention, Obsession, and Murder, by Paul Brown, is a decent true-crime account. Brown begins the book with a brief history of rocket belts that's probably the best ever in print.

Then he tells the story of three businessmen in Texas who decided to duplicate the Bell Rocket Belt, in order to make money doing exhibition flying.

Time passed.

The rocket belt worked.

One of the three businessmen had his head hammered by another.

The third guy had been murdered.

The Rocketbelt 2000 was nowhere to be found.

The second guy had been kidnapped and imprisoned in a wooden box by the first guy (whose head he had bashed in), who tried to get the second guy to reveal where the rocket belt was hidden.

It's a sad story, but it's a good book.

Paul Brown ends it more cheerfully, surveying the eclectic fraternity of people who are building their own rocket belts.

One of these days, I'll write a better review of The Rocketbelt Caper.

I'd be willing to look at more books from Lulu, too.

#446 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 07:32 PM:

Great Ghugle!

They're holding a rocket belt convention!

Niagara Falls. 23-24 September. Wow.

#447 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 08:32 PM:

Since I learned here a long time ago that Dick Francis had stopped writing his novels after his researcher/wife passed away in 2000, I was quite pleased to learn that he's written a new one.

What is the book about? "I'm not going to tell you," he says with a twinkling sidelong glance, "but it's called Under Orders and will come out in mid-September. It's set in the racing world and there's all sorts of dirty deals and skulduggery."

Considering the man is now 86 years old, I'm quite impressed, and I don't want to wait.

#448 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 08:34 PM:

I actually had a dream about getting a rocket belt a few weeks back:

It wasn't a wish-fulfillment dream . . . the unit was a cheap piece of crap that my father saw on QVC.

It was a vest, really, with a thermos-sized pod in back, and used Coleman propane cylinders.

He insisted I use it to return a book to a family friend in East Moriches, L.I. (I have friends out there too, and I wanted to drive, but somehow returning the book became the whole point of the exercise.)

As I recall, the belt could barely get me off the ground, resulting in a basically skipping over the East River and the wetlands around Jamaica Bay.

The fuel ran out over Queens; I made a soft landing at some sort of private conference center where a reception was going on. I considered crashing the affair and getting some catered food, but felt compelled to continue.

But when the cost of propane in Queens turned out to be exorbitant, I decided to take a bus the rest of the way. That's where the dream ended.

#449 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 09:32 PM:

Bill Higgins-Beam Jockey:

That's insanely great, thanks for the tip. I might actually go.

(I was a bit disappointed that they provide "airport" information. As in Stefan Jones' dream, using commercial air is rather against the whole spirit of the weekend.... )

#450 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2006, 10:51 PM:

Ajay 's father said: "if you can't think what to buy a woman as a present, buy her a scarf."

Is this like ties for dads?

*****

Sen Barack Obama (via Susan): "It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase 'under God,'" he said.

I was there by 3rd grade. I got in trouble a lot for refusing to stand and recite it along with the rest of the drones-- ... err, students. Eventually we compromised; I still had to stand, but wasn't forced to recite.

And as I was an atheist at the time, I never said the "under God" part. I always went silent at that part.

#451 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 03:05 AM:

Very late on this topic, but some information to pass on to whoever might need it:

Solarization - one of the best ways to get rid of weeds in a garden-sized area. Not for single-plant areas, it needs to be at least the size of a compost pile.

1) Clear plastic works better than black, because of the greenhouse effect. (According to a years-ago master gardener class.) In the nursery I've seen blackberries and others come up right through the black plastic.

2) Water very heavily first - 4 feet deep. Damp heat kills at a lower temperature than dry heat, as in an autoclave. This technique will kill roots, weed seeds and diseases down to 4 feet. Earthworms move out.

3) It works in a sunny area, and not too near roots of plants you want to keep.

4) Clear the ground first; weedeat down to the dirt. Anything acting as mulch, like straw or a layer of mowings, will keep the soil from heating up enough to kill weed seeds. (That wasn't in the course - learnt it the hard way.)

5) 4 to 6 weeks if I remember correctly, maybe even more if you're not in a full sun location. Arizona might get away with less. It has to heat up enough to cook.

6) Clear the ground, water deeply, spread the plastic and bury the edges, or at least hold them down with rocks. In summer. If you don't get your ground cleared early enough, doing this later will make all the little weed seeds come up in the winter under the plastic.

7) It only gets down 4 feet. Deep-rooted weeds, like morning glory at 9 feet, will not be killed.

The time I did this successfully, there were no weeds there for two years, and the soil was like compost.

Things I've learned the hard way #2: spend the 3 years clearing the ground before planting, or all the weeds come up through your garden, and you're encouraging the weeds by watering your plants in the vain hope of saving them. (Weeds here defined as any thing that chokes out what you planted, even strawberries.)

#452 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 03:51 AM:

On another topic

I'm a science fiction & fantasy reader since I was a kid, but not a fan, and most of your tests went right by me. I read all the classics of the 60s & 70s, and old Astoundings back through the 50s. And classic reprints. After the late 70s I read more fantasy, until the last dozen years: urban fantasy & Lois M Bujold. Old Star Trek & Star Wars. HHGTTG on radio, Monty Python & Princess Bride, LOTR recently. Some of the quotes from those I remember. Anything obscure, no.

But, I saw those things only once. Anything I haven't reread in the last couple of years, I probably don't remember well enough. And for the last year, seems like I've been reading Making Light instead of reading books!

So, you'd probably have to catch me with the old simple stuff, grok, & One ring, and all that. Is it the difference between visual & audio memory, perhaps?


(I did read The Speed of Dark too, by the way, and made my book club read it. It's amazing.)

#453 ::: euan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 05:46 AM:

Chris Clarke wins again!

#454 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 09:52 AM:

I'd heard ugly rumours that Dick Francis' wife actually did most of the writing.

#455 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 11:13 AM:

Good golly, discussion of Roneo duplicators. As some of you will be aware, your hosts have some small acquaintance with this field.

If I recall correctly, Roneo made clones of both the A. B. Dick cylinder-pad-and-liquid-ink system (for which they actually held the trademark on the word "mimeograph") and the Gestetner double-cylinder-silk-screen-and-paste-ink system, which as any Gestetner employee would hotly inform you was not a "mimeograph" but a stencil duplicator. I'd go on but you'd all wind up with little X's for eyes.

Regarding skiffy leakage into Common Speech, I'm amazed nobody upthread cited one of my favorites: "Quant suff! Quant suff!"

#456 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Having looked at "Random notes on seven POD novels" and been pleased by it I went to the home page and started reading past entries.

Um. Er. Ah...

Look at the entry "On bad writing. On very, very bad writing." Specifically the lines It makes we want to cry, all right--cry for all those brilliant authors who never got published because they had to make way for this mediocre effort. Sadder still, this book was turned into a blockbuster movie.

This is seeing the trees and missing the forest. Reading a book is not watching a movie. It may or may not be a mediocre novel, but if you read the whole book (not just "the first pages of chapter one") you can see that Buck Henry and Calder Willingham used a surprisingly large amount of dialog word for word from the book. It's often been argued that the perfect length of material for a film adaptation is the novella, and if you trimmed out all the non-dialog material from Webb's book you'd pretty much have a novella. I can't be that sad over the book having been published and still being in print; I can be sad that Webb didn't recognize he had the basis for a dynamite play or film instead of a mediocre novel and proceed accordingly.

#457 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Mr. Ruttan, read the article I linked to. Apparently Francis actually wanted to put his wife's name on his books and she said no. She was a very influential researcher, that's for sure.

#459 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2006, 07:30 PM:

Okay. But the bio made that sound like husbandly indulgence. The blog or whatever was more succinct.

#460 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 09:37 AM:
On my blog the women come and bitch
Reading Ivan Denisovitch.

The Love Song of J. Edgar Goldstein

#461 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 09:50 AM:

Fragano: another, even more fannish Roneo reference: "... he saw that the mimeograph wasn't even a Gestetner; it was something primordial, a Roneo or an A. B. Dick, open-drummed and creaking..." (from Terry Carr's "Night of the Living Oldpharts".)

#462 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 09:54 AM:

CHip: A Pratchett I haven't read, alas.

(I wonder what Roneo repair folk did when the photocopier finally killed the stencil replicator off...)

#463 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 10:42 AM:

Indeed, that Terry Carr piece was originally published by us, in Izzard 9.

I considered reminding Terry that not all Roneos were open-drum, but Teresa and he had already had so much editorial back-and-forth that it seemed like unsporting nitpickery.

#464 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Fragano Ledgister:
I wonder what Roneo repair folk did when the photocopier finally killed the stencil replicator off.
They became photocopier repair folk, of course -- not that stencil replicators have gone away, they've just merged with photocopiers (now they create a stencil xerographically and wrap it around a drum and make a jillion cheap copies using ink -- the machines look just like photocopiers. Schools and the like use them. No muss, no fuss, no ink all over the place, and a lot cheaper than straight photocopying for class-sized print runs).

#465 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 02:22 PM:

The Love Song of J. Edgar Goldstein

It really annoys me that this guy has the same last name I do.

#466 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Fragano, you're asking if
Photocopy killed the Roneo store?

(In the zine and in the lore,
You can't retouch what went before...)

#467 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 03:17 PM:

Lisa G, try having the same last name as the lead singer for N'Sync. When they were big we got 11:00pm phone calls from half the tweener slumber parties on Oahu.

#468 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 04:40 PM:

John Houghton: That is really interesting.

Clifton Royston: OUCH!!

#469 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2006, 09:44 PM:

I'm usually fine with living somewhere other than NYC.

But sometimes I read about stuff NYC-ish that definitely provokes feelings of envy: The Pickle Guys

#470 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 12:51 AM:

My kid's school field trip this spring included a walking tour of the Lower East Side - with a stop at the Pickle Guys. And you have to despair for Those Young People Today - hardly any of the kids would try a sample.

Yeah, not for the first time, I wished I lived there. (Still a nice place to visit, though.)

#471 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 04:45 AM:

OK - I don't remember which thread the $100 steak dinner discussion was on so I'll put this here.

One of my favorite food and wine blogs has a freshly posted entry on Bern's in Tampa. I cannot say enough to recommend this place. In fact, I'd even recommend driving from Orlando. The entry has more to say about the wine than the food, but should clearly explain my personal expectation to drop at least $100 pp there.

#472 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Not sure how many people are still reading this thread, but assuming there's some...

Out of interest, what machine/OS do people tend to do their writing on? Mac, Windows, or Linux?

To head off the arguments - I have no interest at all in any debates as to the relative merits, I'm simply seeking information.. :)

(The email address is valid, if people want to avoid cluttering the thread.)

#473 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Bob Oldendorf, I recall from reading Otto Bettmann's The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible that the poor immigrant kids who lived in the benighted NYC area were totally unused to good, nutritious food, being used to things like pickles, and that when social workers tried to feed them wholesome fare, they wouldn't take it and wanted what they were used to. Pickles. Sometimes, the times really do change.

#474 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 12:24 PM:

Well, a taste for pickles goes back to the time when they were the "good, nutritious food." Pickling is a way to get vegetables into your diet in an age before modern transportation, and before refrigeration. Fresh vegetables were a luxury most of the year.

#475 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 12:57 PM:

I think one of the issues with kids and pickles is related to parents shielding their kids from grown-up food, plus a healthy dose of group-think. One kid says YUK, and they all chorus in agreement.

#476 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 10:00 PM:

Paul asked
Out of interest, what machine/OS do people tend to do their writing on? Mac, Windows, or Linux?
Windows, usually in a little textbox in Firefox. Most of my best work is posted in a public forum called Making Light.*
I sometimes resort to typing out longer bits in notepad in order to proofread more carefully.

I realize I'm not exactly answering the question you are asking, and I beg your indulgence. Perhaps respondents could suggest what kind of writing they do in their answers? THN's, or Ford's answers would be of great interest to me at least - but I daresay many of you are brilliant folk who's non-ML achievements I am ignorant of - and so sketching out what you do would be most cool.

-r.

*this is a serious, albeit, unintentionally humorous answer.

#477 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 10:26 PM:

Word on a Mac. I'm more or less a Mac enthusiast though I'm a dedicated user, not a programmer. I really like Word--my day job, I turn text/ascii/Excel files into text a layout artist can use, complete with 'tags' that help them style it, usually using Filemaker to do the final output. -- because I can open just about any kind file in Word and I can then figure out if it's trash or usable.

I do fail to understand why some people appear to have so many problems with their Macs (someone whose blog I read says he has two that he keeps parallel because one always appears to be 'in the shop.' That just boggles, because the only Mac problem that I've found unsolvable was the stealing of my beloved iBook in January of 2005 (while I was picking up a beloved cat's ashes at the vet, I had a brain fart and didn't lock the driver's door....) And at work I do a lot of large file mainpulations and never have any problem.

#478 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 11:18 PM:

Win 2K Pro. I seem to usually be at least one version behind; the last machine had Win 98, because Win ME* had just come out, and as I told the sales guy, "I'm not interested in being a beta tester for Microsoft."

The word processor is a copy of WordPro 96 that I've had for at least three computers -- it's still on 3.5" disks -- mainly because I'm used to it and I own it, rather than having to pay for another.

*As in, "ME am opyersister mayhem. ME smash puny programs. ME am BOB with psychomotor boo-boos."

#479 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2006, 11:39 PM:

Work (utilities for a leading MCAD program) is on a UNIX box, which does what I tell it without interfering. Web-cruising and what little other writing I do on a PC, because it's easy to get a common format and I spend enough time fighting with the system at work that I don't want to spend time getting something better even if I approve of its ideals.

#480 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 01:01 AM:

By and large, I use whatever system I have available. For most purposes, I'm perfectly happy with simply-formatted text and don't much care what OS I use.

By the way, is anyone else watching the Mexican elections with concern? It seems to me that Mexico is in for some hard times, no matter who wins.

#481 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 03:03 AM:

I do all my writing in Writer, the wp app in OpenOffice.org 2.0. Computer is running Fedora Core 5 Linux. I can save my files as .doc or .rtf for my publisher, and everybody's happy.

#482 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 08:26 AM:

I think that's more or less the distribution I expected - Windows, with Mac and Linux present in the background. Thanks all. :)

#483 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Just to balance out the MS combos... Lotus Word Pro on a Windows machine. I've just upgraded from WinMe to WinXP.

#484 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Either Windows (XP) or Linux (SuSE 9.0), depending on what else I've been doing with the computer that day. Windows by default, because it boots & logs me in faster.

Word processor on either is OpenOffice 1.1. I used to write in LaTeX, but in the end I decided that was just too f'n weird. And I was getting fed up of text editors that couldn't format paragraphs of text to 80 columns without screwing them up when I went in to edit them.

#486 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Paul:

Word on Windows 98. Not because I especially like either but because my computers tend to be hand-me-downs from more up to date (But still Microsoft) users, and I got used to the combo. I used to use Wordperfect for Windows 5.1 and loved everything about it except the inability to Undo mistakes past a certain point. That one thing is enough to get me to use Word, as its other non-intuitive stupid placements of things aren't generally needed in basic text.

Besides, unlike for others, for me Word only crashes if I try to use the Drawing tools inside it, which I pretty much only ever did at work, where I don't care as much.

#487 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 02:35 PM:

I haven't been writing much fiction lately, but when I am, I write it with vim.

OS has been a succession of linuxes; currently Fedora Core 5.

#488 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 03:22 PM:

For email screeds and many other basic documents on a variety of Unix systems (BSD/Linux/etc.), I use a fairly minimal terminal-screen editor called Joe, because... it can be configured as "jstar" to use Wordstar-compatible keystrokes. (I think that marks me as an unusual antique.) vi, preferably vim, is my fallback position. I haven't written any fiction in a long time now - just could not get myself off the ground on last year's Nanowrimo, and haven't been writing shorts either - but what I did mostly was written in jstar (Joe/wordstar) or vi.

For business documents (clients, etc.) I mostly use MS Word - whatever version the client is up to - on Windows XP, and make extensive use of its template and style capabilities. I'm running Word 2000 at home as my wife got Office XP and I thoroughly disliked what I saw of its "enhancements". I upgraded my home machine from Win 98 to XP about a year ago to play Doom^W^W^W as I thought it seemed reasonably stable after SP2.

My laptop is running dual boot Win XP and Ubuntu Linux, with Open Office on both. The Open Office word processor is almost up to snuff these days but with just enough deficiencies and misdesign to madden me if I try to write or format serious documents in it. Ditto for the spreadsheet. However I don't do enough serious large-scale work on the laptop to drop another $400 or so there.

#489 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Word (Office mumble) on a PC; I used to use a Mac, until the day when I tried to print out a draft of my dissertation, many scanned photos included, and it ran out of memory with a 10 page chapter section. I've tried using the house Linux box for writing, but since I do a lot of writing w/ pen and yellow pad which then gets dictated in, that didn't work out so well after IBM stopped supporting ViaVoice for Linux. (Not to mention various sound card issues.)

#490 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 04:02 PM:

Pets in uniform... And all those medal ribbons.

It's so mundane. Not like this cat.

#491 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 04:32 PM:

Right after 9/11, I figured somebody (not me because I'd have felt icky) would make a fortune with little figurines of kittens and puppies dressed as firemen and cops, smeared with soot and wrapped in flags.

Pets in Uniform is only a step or two away from this. Yuck.

#492 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 05:28 PM:

If I'm on a Mac, I tend to type right in QuarkXPress. If I'm on a PC, I'll either type in Quark or use NotePad (or WordPad sometimes) and then put the results into Quark for formatting. If formatting is never needed, it might be NotePad is all I'll ever end up using.

I had a problem a few years back with Quark not being able to keep up with my typing (which isn't all that supernaturally fast, f'r cryin' out loud), but that seems to have gone away. Yay.

#493 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 07:11 PM:

Mac (if on my laptop) or Linux (often in text mode - fewer distractions). In either case I use Vim.

#494 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 07:49 PM:

That brings the various machines more or less up to parity, I think, which has answered the question quite nicely. :) Cheers.

(And it's nice to see other Vim users popping up; I've used it on a daily basis for several years now.)

#495 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 08:59 PM:

XEmacs. Of course, I mostly write code.

(I do use a Mac, though I use it as a Unix box that happens to also run software I can buy down the street.)

#496 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Dave Bell insisted on showing us:

It's so mundane. Not like this cat.

I'm still trying to figure out if that's an (approximate) male with breasts, or an (approximate) female with a bulge...

#497 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 09:40 PM:

19th-century cattiness:

Lady Norbury pronounced the party quite delightful! so perfectly exclusive...and yet Lady Norbury thought the Derwents perfect humdrums. The Duke was such a cipher, his whole live seemed to be a course of civility, he was always of your opinion: - what could be so insipid? The Duchess was a precieuse, a raisonneuse, too good by half - Lady Norbury thought she must be a methodist. She was always in a state of probation, as if saying or doing disagreeable things was a virtue. Lady Mary was better, but such a Goth in her ideas, so unlike most young women of fashion...Perhaps [Lady Glenmore] might be called pretty, but she was so very young, so insignificant. Then such a fuss about her situation; if she was so delicate, why did she not stay at home till she had produced an heir?

(from Almack's, Volume II, London, 1827)

I wish I had a copy of the rant against girls' boarding schools handy - that was even better read-aloud entertainment.

#498 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2006, 11:58 PM:

Win98. Office 4.2 (Word 6), StarOffice 8 (it will open newer file formats, and other useful things like that), Notepad. I might go a bit crazy sometime and install TECO-32 for Windows. (Yeah, you can still get it. There are times when it would be really useful, even if I never get much beyond the novice subset.)

#499 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 12:26 AM:

I was in an eating contest once. I was a student at SUNY Binghamton; we ate open-faced sandwiches called Li'l Abners, comprised of a single slice of white bread, a slice of American cheese, two strips of bacon, and a slice of tomato.

I ate, I think, 13, which was not even close to winning.

The local newspaper and TV station covered the event--I guess not a lot happens in Binghamton. I've had my name and picture in the newspaper and in magazines many times, of course, but this was the first time, and it was the only time it was not in a capacity as staff on that publication.

The photo was a close-up of my stubbled face, pushing a Li'l Abner into my maw, with the caption "CHOKE IT DOWN!"

I got my picture in the paper that day--but not my name. The photo was mis-identified as "Jim Murphy." For my remaining time at SUNY/B, whenever Jim and I saw each other around campus, he greeted me by saying, "Hi, Jim!" and I responded, "Hi, Mitch!"

I know your days are all a bit brighter for knowing this.

#500 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 03:22 AM:

xeger, the base meshes for that CGI figure are oddly-shaped. There's no shortage of female figures, some of them even plausibly shaped. And the ways in which the meshes distort when a figure is posed can be odd.

It's one of the giveaways when the stuff is used for illustrations. Odd things happen around the shoulders and upper chest. Knee and elbow joints start to fold badly. Twisting the wrist doesn't have the right effect on the forearm.

The sort of expensive software they use in the film industry is a lot better at this. But when you see a lot of the cheaper made-for-TV CGI, you'll see a lot of skin-tight clothes that are textures on a human figure.

For instance, Tandoori Haggis

#501 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 03:57 AM:

Paul, I use windows xp with Word Perfect um, 11. I was just as well pleased by earlier iterations. A series of accidents ended up with this.

The good thing is no matter how much they mess with it, they leave in Reveal Codes and a couple of other little things that make sense to me.

#502 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 12:49 PM:

Ken Lay is dead. Supposedly of a heart attack. Myself I think he was just inconvenient.

#503 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Did everyone already know, or is it just that no one gives a damn?

#504 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 04:49 PM:

I found out a couple of hours ago, Xopher. This is one of those situations where I wish I believed in the AfterLife.

#505 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 05:00 PM:

Xopher, I just saw it on AOL when I went to check my mail there.

I hope all the employees that lost their retirement funds sue the estate.

I know that a lady or gentleman never speaks ill of the dead...but if I use the words I'd like to about this person, you'd have to conclude I'm no lady!

(Musters up her best Queen Victoria imitation):
I will be good...

#506 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Xopher - My first reaction was that he might have killed himself. Personally, I think it's sad that he died, regardless of what would have been in his future. Sure, he was a scoundrel but I'd bet his family loved him and that they're hurting even more right now.

#507 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 05:34 PM:

The AP story says they're not giving out details until his immediate family has had a chance to communicate with the rest of the family. That sure sounds like suicide to me.

It also says that the death won't stop the proceedings against Enron, civil and criminal. I'm pretty sure that his estate can still be made to pay.

The only reason I'm sorry he died is that he'd've been much more useful alive and in prison. Which thought leads inevitably to...maybe NOT suicide. Maybe he was just TOO useful to the good guys for the bad guys to tolerate.

#508 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Huh? I must've missed the "not giving details" statement.

I know of at least one way to produce something that looks and behaves like a heart attack, and it can be self-administered. (And yes, it can be used to kill someone too.)

#509 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 07:26 PM:

A pertinent sidelight on the bigger story is the subject of this AAP Story Death prompts confusion on Wikipedia: The death of former Enron Corp chief Ken Lay on underscored the challenges facing online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which offered a variety of causes for his death as the news was breaking ...

#510 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 07:58 PM:

Xopher - This morning's radio story on NPR said that Lay had had a heart attack and that the family had not yet made a statement. Of course, they could have jumped the gun.

#511 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 09:28 PM:

I do a lot of casual writing on whatever text editor I can find. That could be nedit on my Sun (Solaris 9) at work, Notepad on WinXP, TextWrangler on my home Mac (OS X), BBEdit on my backup older home Mac (OS 9.1), or AlphaWord on my Alphasmart. Anything, really, on any platform.

Then there's Jer's Novel Writer when I'm doing something lengthy and serious. It's for Mac OS X.

#512 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 09:50 PM:

9pm NPR news said that the autopsy on Lay showed severe coronary artery disease, including the possibility of a previous heart attack.

#513 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 10:00 PM:

I just saw a clip of Whose Line Is It Anyway? with Richard Simmons, doing the "living prop" thing they do over there.

About three seconds into the clip, it became obvious that this is a man who does not take himself seriously. At all. Yes, the show is comedy, but he was so over-the-top not taking himself seriously, unlike the other three guys on stage.

It was a very funny clip, made moreso by the little "ABC Family" logo on the screen was an additional fillip in an already funny program. I think broadly homoerotic physical comedy is suitable for family viewing, but the sort of people who use "family" as an entertainment label generally disagree.

#514 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 10:16 PM:

Re: realistic breasts on cat people.
Shouldn't cat people be drawn with multiple pairs of breasts, like real cats have?

#515 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 10:20 PM:

Erik Nelson mused:
Re: realistic breasts on cat people.
Shouldn't cat people be drawn with multiple pairs of breasts, like real cats have?

I suppose that depends on where the emphasis lies. Are we discussing humanoids with felinoid characteristics, or felines with humanoid characteristics.

Personally I'm fond of using "Look, opposable thumbs" as a way to tease the other felines I cohabitate with.

#516 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 11:35 PM:

"Shouldn't cat people be drawn with multiple pairs of breasts, like real cats have?"

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" once parodied a really cheap and shabby werewolf movie. It ends with a male and female werewolf -- really bad makeup and shaggy suits -- leering at the camera.

Crow T. Robot: "Hey, if she's a wolf, shouldn't she have eight really small breasts?"

Mike Nelson: "That makes me uncomfortable in so many ways."

#517 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2006, 11:40 PM:

I just got back from a car trip to the Bay Area. I probably owe a few dozen dollars in carbon offsets.

I once again succumbed to horrible, horrible habit that I'm curious if other drivers fall for:

Counting down miles left home, as shown on road signs, and constantly updating my ETA.

"Hmmm, I managed to stay at 70 mph for this stretch, and my ETA is 7:24 pm. The dog took a leak at the rest stop out of Redmond, so she's good for the rest of the trip, but I have to get gas, which is ten minutes lost."

#518 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 12:27 AM:

Stefan - I do that too on day trips and try to account for snack and personal maintenance breaks.

If I retrace a route I sometimes find myself stopping at the same places - for instance on the trip from Rochester to NYC, I tended to stop for lunch at the Wegman's in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

On multi-day routes, I try to calculate where I'll be when I'll want to stop. For example, if I've just eaten and it's 7 PM, and I figure I'll want to stop at 10:30, I try to guess where I'll find myself at stop time.

I also find that driving home tends to feel faster than driving to an unfamiliar destination, even if the actual duration is exactly the same.

#519 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 01:03 AM:

"If I retrace a route I sometimes find myself stopping at the same places"

This has happened to me. On consecutive trips to the Bay Area, I ended up, w/o really trying, at the same shabby-but-clean-and-cheap motel on 101 on the California coast.

This time I deliberate bypassed it and -- near the end of my endurance -- ended up in a town full of hotels that were either full or didn't allow pets. Ended up paying through the nose for the overpriced-last-room at a bleak Patel Motel. The clerk insisted that the $15 "pet fee" be paid in cash. She got the change from her wallet. Hmmmm....

On the I-5 route, I always seem to end up at a rest stop (near Mt. Shasta) with wonderous lush landscaping but the most MISERABLE pet relief areas imaginable: Small, fenced patches of sun-baked gravel. They were only this season eqipped with trees for shade.

When I go on multi-day trips, I just bring AAA guides and stay flexible.

#520 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 02:38 AM:

Road trip flexibility: I do that too, but it's gotten me in trouble occasionally. I don't recommend driving up PCH (Hwy 101) on the Columbus Day weekend, particularly if you're on vacation and thus not even aware that it's a holiday weekend.

#521 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 03:08 AM:

Oh, I so do that mileage-calculating-and-ETA thing, too! I've been doing a lot of driving up from SF to Portland this spring/summer (and flying back, so I only know the northbound rhythm!), so I'm getting good at knowing the rest stops and motels and "if this is Roseburg, then it's XX minutes to the next Starbucks and hotspot" (where in that case, XX is greater than 60....).

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 04:48 AM:

Stefan Jones wrote: On the I-5 route, I always seem to end up at a rest stop (near Mt. Shasta) with wonderous lush landscaping...

Ever spent the night at the Caboose Motel? That was the place to stop for Sue and me when we'd drive around Northern California. (And the Lava Tubes aren't that far. I remember the time at the end of the guided tour when I realized I'd gone underground with my sunglasses still on.)

#523 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 05:08 AM:

Are we discussing humanoids with felinoid characteristics, or felines with humanoid characteristics?

That, Xeger, reminds me of some DC comic-book that showed an assembly of Green Lanterns from various alien species and there was at least one piscine GL who had the body of Arnold Schwarzenneger and the head of a fish.

#524 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 05:18 AM:

"Shouldn't cat people be drawn with multiple pairs of breasts, like real cats have?"

You can argue it any way you like. And fur can hide a lot of details too.

But there's also the question of what sells. A comicbook catwoman would probably have to be as top-heavy as any other superheroine.

Still, if you're going to work up some sort of evolutionary rationale, you could just say that there are vestigial extra nipples under the fur.

#525 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 05:34 AM:

I wouldn't say that we couldn't recognise a real non-human intelligence, but it would be a damned hard story to write, and read, if the aliens didn't have something we could recognise.

I've a vague memory of odd stories, one by C.J. Cherryh, where I hit the problem. Not the K'nnnnnn (that's nearly as hard to stop spelling as is "bananananana"). Nobody in the story expects to understand them and, in effect, they're a deus ex machina, who are as likely to provide the story with satchel charges for the big bad wolf as with passing woodcutters.

#526 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 08:45 AM:

Watch out! There's a predator on MySpace!

#527 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 01:08 PM:

The first issue of Neil Gaiman's Eternals has started coming out. A pretty good re-imagining of Jack Kirby's short-lived comic-book of the Seventies.

"Mark Curry. I have got some good news for you."

"Great. I need good news."

"What would you say if I told you that you were an immortal, indestructible being, put here by aliens to preserve and safeguard the Earth?"

"I guess I'd say please leave me alone."

"What about if I told you that you'd lost your memory, but that you're over half-a-million years old, you have powers you've never dreamed of?"

#528 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 05:15 PM:

One of those stories you read while mouthing the words "What the f...":

Subway Rider Sliced in Power Saw Attack

"Police were searching for the suspect, described by witnesses as a thin man in his 30s, who had earrings in both ears and was possibly carrying a teddy bear."

#530 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 10:05 PM:

I was driving down I-91 on my way home, listening to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and pondering foot transitions in 1914 tango while trying to fend off the story that is flapping around my ears screeching "write me!" when I passed an orange billboard reading "Clowns Hate Tangelos."

A google produces a blog with a list of things that sound dirty but aren't, which reminded me of the list I made years ago of why a slant six is better than a man, and the revelation that this is a promo for the Cartoon Network.

I sort of have to approve. It won't make me buy a television or subscribe to cable, but I will think warm fuzzy thoughts in their general direction.

I think I figured out how to write up the foot transitions too.

#531 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 10:09 PM:

I've just heard that rich brown passed away unexpectedly today from complications of surgery.

#532 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 10:20 PM:

rich brown insisted on the lower-case, and now isn't the time to argue about that.

As I observed to Lenny Bailes in email just a few minutes ago, rich and I had a falling out many years ago, over things for which I, at any rate, was never able to forgive him. But I honor him for the welcoming friendliness he extended to me and Teresa in earlier fannish days.

He was a mixed bag, but so are we all.

#533 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Susan: Clowns Hate Tangelos explained.

#534 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 10:36 PM:

In other news, I'm amazed to report that even my cousin who I haven't seen for over twenty years is a pissed-off liberal with a blog. At this rate of growth I estimate that by 2008 the eeeeeeevil Liberal Blogosphere will surpass India in population. You'll know the day has come when you phone the customer-service number for your fine consumer-electronics product and the person at the other end answers "Frist!"

#535 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 11:10 PM:

I met rich a couple of times. He was definitely a difficult guy. I'm sorry he died.

#536 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Clowns Hate Tangelos explained.

Err, thanks. I don't think I've ever encountered a tangelo, but I'm perfectly prepared to hate them on the principle that all citrus not pre-squeezed into liquid is abhorrent to me and should be fed upon by someone who can appreciate it.

I have discovered a completely bizarre amateur video of Chris de Burgh's "Brother John" set to excerpts from various Torvill & Dean performances. Youtube is sadly addictive. Nice to see the T&D "Bolero" again, though.


#537 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2006, 11:23 PM:

my cousin who I haven't seen for over twenty years is a pissed-off liberal with a blog.

If she's native to Henderson County we're probably related.

#538 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 12:27 AM:

Surprisingly catchy remix / flash video tribute to John Luc Picard.

#539 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 01:33 AM:

Uh, that's "Jean-Luc." He's, 'ow yer say, French. From near, like, Shrewsbury.* In bleedin' France, don't you know.

*pron. "Berri-de-Shroes."

#540 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 01:49 AM:

Uh, Susan? So how IS a slant-six better than a man?

I mean, ok, the assertion is plausible on its face, but I'd be interested in hearing the particulars.

#541 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 04:19 AM:

I realized today that this year marks the 110th anniversary of the first scientific publication on the "greenhouse effect" of carbon dioxide and on its expected consequence of global warming due to human production of carbon dioxide.

Svante Arrhenius, best known for developing the theory of ions, published a paper "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground", in Philosophical Magazine in 1896, summarizing an 1895 speech to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He estimated fairly accurately the dependence of temperature levels on CO2 content of the atmosphere, and theorized that variation in carbon dioxide levels might explain the ice ages. As the scientific thought in most of the 20th century was to explain the ice ages in terms of orbital cycles, the entire theory was largely ignored until the 1960s and Arrhenius' writing on it nearly forgotten.

Useful information to throw at those who dismiss human-caused global warming as an unsupported recent speculation: the theory and the backing mathematics was published in a scientific journal, by a Nobel Prize winning chemist, likely before their grandfather was born.

Wikipedia entry: Arrhenius on Greenhouse Effect (more links there)

#542 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 09:28 AM:

Uh, Susan? So how IS a slant-six better than a man?

I can't believe I actually found my list, saved as a text file in an old unix account. It is a tribute to my ability to work my free-associative filing system that I found a file called "mopar.men" in less than five minutes of digging through five different accounts.

I wrote this back in 1991 when I was having trouble with my then-boyfriend, who was jealous of the fact that I was spending all my summer weekends rebuilding my old Dodge Aspen's engine so I could drive it to worldcon. The car didn't make it to worldcon, though it did make it around the country for five weeks the next summer. The boyfriend dumped me in favor of the woman who turned out to be my future girlfriend and one of the great loves of my life. He was jealous of that, too.

So here we go. Nine reasons why a Mopar 225 slant six is better than a man as I saw it at the hormonally-charged age of 23:

1. If its head is messed up, it can be removed and replaced for less than $200

2. If its rod is broken, there are eleven more and it still functions

3. A screwdriver actually improves its performance

4. If things don't fit together properly, you can use a crowbar

5. If screws aren't tight enough, you can use a torque wrench

6. A replacement stud only costs 25c and lasts for years; Mopars aren't jealous

7. A variety pack of gaskets has more interesting shapes than one of condoms, and you can use electric-blue gasket sealer to prevent leaks

8. It doesn't mind if you kick its nuts around the garage in frustration

9. It doesn't mind if you discuss its performance in front of it, or with a lot of male friends


I still sort of miss that old Aspen. And the torque wrench.

#543 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 10:03 AM:

Susan: [..] I passed an orange billboard reading "Clowns Hate Tangelos."

A google produces [..] the revelation that this is a promo for the Cartoon Network.

I sort of have to approve. It won't make me buy a television or subscribe to cable, but I will think warm fuzzy thoughts in their general direction.

Over at Cartoon Brew, the same promo campaign is offered as evidence of how the management of the network is out of touch with its mission ( the prime piece of evidence is the network running re-runs of Saved by the Bell ).

I don't have cable now, but I was watching Futurama on the Cartoon Network when they first brought it back. I was impressed that they ran the closing credits full-size, without voice-overs. I thought this was an extra bit of special courtesy ( the Sci-Fi Channel did something similar for their first run of the restored classic Star Trek ), but I noticed that many of their other shows got the same treatment, and they continued to do it for Futurama even after their first run through the series. So I “think warm fuzzy thoughts in their general direction” for this bit of respect they show the creators, and their audience.

Cartoon Brew is right IMO to give them a hard time for some of their other choices, however.

#544 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 12:53 PM:

The boyfriend dumped me in favor of the woman who turned out to be my future girlfriend

Now that's revenge with a capital R...

#545 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 01:09 PM:

I realized today that this year marks the 110th anniversary of the first scientific publication on the "greenhouse effect" of carbon dioxide and on its expected consequence of global warming due to human production of carbon dioxide.

Very cool!

I'm fond of pointing out that the greenhouse effect is mentioned in Soylent Green (1973) to explain why NYC in 2029 is such a steaming stink hole.

The smarmy "junkscience.com" site has a hatchet-job post up about "An Inconvenient Truth" that squirms and worms around the facts, suggesting that it isn't correct to call it the greenhouse effect since greenhouses don't work that way, and CO2 is just a trace gas composing a tiny fraction of the atmosphere so who cares if there's more of it, and anyway maybe we're better off if it was warmer . . . sheesh. I should probably point the page out the the RealClimate people so they can rip it a new one.

#546 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Susan: Generally agreement with your list (with the slight demurral that, Hey, I'm a guy). I'll give some thought to contributing item #10 for your list.

One great thing about the Slant Six: they were typically installed in engine rooms designed to hold V-8s, so you usually had enough room to practically climb right in under the hood to work on them. Another great thing: they would run a surprisingly long time without anything at all showing on the dipstick. (I don't actually know the upper limit of that.)

Slant-sixes, yes, but having one trapped in the pathetic carcass of an Aspen is just sad. It deserved better.

A very long time ago - a couple years before I could drive, come to think of it - My Father The Toolmaker taught me how to set the valves on a 225 while it was running. That might still be the butchest thing I've ever done. I'm surprised I still have all my fingers.

(Now let's get wistful about High-Mileage Torqueflites We Have Known. Or, speaking of Aspens, let's break into a chorus of Vo-la-ré.)

#547 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 05:15 PM:

The slant-six was also available in the rich-Corintian-lather clad Cordoba. "From the depths of hell, I stab at thee!" (Oops, wrong role.)

#548 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 05:22 PM:

Khan Noonien Singh selling Chrysler Cordobas! Now there's a commercial I'd pay to see.

#549 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Khan Noonien Singh selling Chrysler Cordobas! Now there's a commercial I'd pay to see.

Here ya go. No payment required. Careful it don't put a woim in yer ear, though.

#550 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 08:44 PM:

John M. Ford: Well, thanks. But you know perfectly well that isn't what I meant.

(It's funny how we've forgotten that the world was once so slow-paced that even the commercials lasted a full 60 seconds.)

But really: don't I remember a scene where Khan takes control of the bridge and strokes the Captain's Chair approvingly? I forget if it's in the series or the movie.

#551 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2006, 09:18 PM:

In the film, Khan wasn't driving a Chrysler Cordoba, he had a Plymouth Reliant.

In the series, he had what looked like a submarine with aftermarket parts, probably from the J. C. Whitney catalog.

"I am a world-conquering dictator . . . yesss. And I have decided to take my loyal followers on a little . . . trip. No, I have not conquered the world in the last six months, but I think you will find my credit is excellent. Really? May I say that you don't sound Asian either, Mr. 'Manchu,' is it?

"No, I have a submarine already. It's a long story. We're still finding ping-pong balls. You lost one? Does it have your name on it? What? Does the name 'Norman Dean' mean anything to you?

"Yes, I started a war. World-conquering, you know, tends to call for that at some point. No, it wasn't that war. I'm not a complete moron. Not that one either. Look, Fu-man, I ruled a quarter of the Earth during the late 1990s. What were you doing then? Really? Which quarter? Hey, we were practically neighbors! Did I ever declare war on you? Yeah? Who won? Those were good times, ¿no?

"Look, you give me fifteen percent off the lie-in freezers and I'll throw in my Doomsday Weapon. Oh, of course not, killing everybody is, you know, muy tonto. But it looks really cool -- Mark Pauline, right -- and it has all the OSHA labels, and the timer that counts down to one second and then makes a fart noise. No, I missed Burning Man. Yeah, it would have been fun. Look, have we got a deal? Good. When I conquer my own planet, I'll e-mail you about the party. Indeed."

#552 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 03:15 AM:

I love that car. I can so totally see Starsky & Hutch chasing a "drug" "pusher" who's driving one of those things.

#553 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 09:03 AM:

Some statistics about publishing, gakked from bOINGbOING (of course).

#554 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 12:36 PM:

One great thing about the Slant Six: they were typically installed in engine rooms designed to hold V-8s, so you usually had enough room to practically climb right in under the hood to work on them.

When we finally had the whole engine out I climbed in and stood in the engine compartment and suggested that instead of reinstalling the engine we could put in a hot tub.

Another great thing: they would run a surprisingly long time without anything at all showing on the dipstick. (I don't actually know the upper limit of that.)

The first time we removed the valve cover we discovered what oil looks like when it had turned to a solid lump of burnt stuff. I bought the car used and apparently no one had changed its oil for a good decade. We found something similar in the oil pan. (And then there's the stray bearing nut of accursed memory...)

Slant-sixes, yes, but having one trapped in the pathetic carcass of an Aspen is just sad. It deserved better.

Oh, it did. The Aspen was featured in the book of automotive lemons. It ran through a starter motor every six months - I got very good at doing a sort of headstand in my engine compartment to swap them out, since my arms were not quite long enough to get to it with my feet on the ground. When I drove it around the country, I carried an extra alternator with me, just in case, along with a full tool kit. It had chronic carb problems; I went through the Santa Catalinas without ever taking my foot off the gas, even when braking hard down mountain turns, since it would stall and I'd lose the power steering. It never passed an emissions test without an infusion of Everclear. But it drove me to Pennsic, and over the Rockies, and several times to Canada, and it made a pilgrimage to Carhenge with me. And I discovered that I could remove a cylinder head singlehandedly during a single lunch hour, in a dress and high heels, even without being strong enough to lift the thing out. I went to the sort of school where girls didn't take auto shop, so these were new and exotic pleasures for me.

Alas, a few years after the engine replacement, the Aspen threw a rod one cold winter's day, and at that point I had neither a place with a garage nor the expert roommate to guide me through another replacement. I cried when they towed it away. I do still have its first carburetor sitting in my bedroom to intimidate any future boyfriends with, though. (I probably have a better chance of getting another Mopar.)

I've never liked any of my modern cars as much. If I had the time, now that I have a garage again, I'd buy an old car just to have as something to play with.

#555 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 01:21 PM:

Carhenge?

#557 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Thanks, rhandir. You know, carhenge could be the title of a Skiffy Channel movie. I'm still shocked, with all due respect to Larry Niven, that nobody has yet made a movie called corpsicles. So many good titles, so many bad movies.

#558 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Thanks Serge.
Carhenge is only since '87, so I'm not surprised it hasn't been featured yet. (Though it did appear as a setting for some comic book in the mid 90's.) Check out the other American stonehenges.*

-r.
*hengeons? What would the plural noun be? A gibbet of henges?

#559 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 03:44 PM:

I like the henge with the Easter Island standing next to it.

#560 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 07:40 PM:

Serge: I like the henge with the Easter Island standing next to it.

I'm thinking that the GWB memorial should be a line of head sculptures in an 'Easter Island style', along some suitably low coastline, so that over the coming years we can watch their submersion.

Along the same lines, the GWB Presidential Library should be built in the lowest section of New Orleans.

#561 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 08:39 PM:

I'll second that, Rob.

#562 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 09:02 PM:

I got very good at doing a sort of headstand in my engine compartment to swap them out, since my arms were not quite long enough to get to it with my feet on the ground.

Check.

When I drove it around the country, I carried an extra alternator with me, just in case, along with a full tool kit.

Check. Ballast resistors, too. Oh, and when you weren't fast enough changing the blown resistor, it was good to have along a couple spare headlights.

It had chronic carb problems; I went through the Santa Catalinas without ever taking my foot off the gas, even when braking hard down mountain turns, since it would stall and I'd lose the power steering.

Been there. (Just in the Berkshires, not in real mountains, though.)

One winter, I hit a Trifecta: the water pump sprayed enough coolant to short out the alternator, so the battery lost enough charge to freeze and split open. I opened the hood and hardly knew where to start.

I've never liked any of my modern cars as much. If I had the time, now that I have a garage again, I'd buy an old car just to have as something to play with.

Actually, I'm kinda glad that modern cars are so damn boring.

#563 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 09:15 PM:

"I'm kinda glad that modern cars are so damn boring."

Yeah, but the flipside is that minimum labor for diagnostics with the computer seems to be $150-$300.

CPU time is expensive!

#564 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 11:06 PM:

I got diagnostics and a thermosensor replacement for under a hundred dollars at the Mitsubishi dealership this week.

#565 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2006, 11:55 PM:

My modern car should have (but doesn't) a label under the hood: "No User-Serviceable Parts Inside"

(Actually, an oil change is possible, but the potential complications are off-putting. So is getting rid of the used oil.)

#566 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2006, 03:27 PM:

Invitation to Speculation:

Why would a dog really like sauerkraut?

#567 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2006, 05:07 PM:

I'm trying to find the title and author of a book. I thought the author was John Ford, but it wasn't on either bibliography for him I saw. (And neither was The Princes of Earth, am excellent but disconnected novel that I thought had a John Ford feel to it. But it turned out to be Michael Kurland)

The story is set on an Earth where there's essentially unlimited cheap energy, and many people are very rich by our standards. But a lot of people still work hard for a living. Some people put intense effort into gigantic practical jokes, they don't care whether thousands of people die provided the victims get real startled first. Kind of like apolitical 9/11s. They make giant airships fall out of the sky, sink floating buildings, etc. In one case they create a blaspemous religious document; they start by growing papyrus in a sealed lighted underground chamber, they supply the CO2 from limestone to get the C14 ratios right.

The main character is a courier for a transnational corporation and he narrowly survives a hit designed to look like a prank. He receives a field promotion or two in the process of solving a plot with the help of his alcoholic supervisor and a girlfriend he picks up who is fashionably neurotic. The plot involves a colony on another world and I think space travel that's faster than anyone publicly knew, but I don't remember any details. After the plot was solved they were still living in a world where random pranksters might kill them at any moment.

It seems like a good time to reread that, but I don't remember title or author.

#568 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2006, 09:52 PM:

Today I have for the first time led an entire freestyle maxixe at full speed. I am filled with joy. We dipped, we stamped, we swayed wildly. It was a great good thing.

#569 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:46 AM:

Never mind, I found which book it was.

Star Griffin, by Micharel Kurland. 1987.

Kurland's writing seems a lot like John Ford's to me, kind of like 40 proof John Ford. And more prolific. So I mixed them up.

In 1987 Kurland's story came across as decadent. At the start of the story the main character wakes up in bed in Bangkok with a thai secretary he picked up just because they both wanted to. But she immediately gets killed by people trying to kill him. Later he meets another girl at some sort of orgy, where he's following a lead for the company investigation. As I remember it, she tells him she's there because her psychiatrist suggested it, she should meet more people etc. They like each other and on the second date she starts telling him about her psychiatric problems, which he accepts as part of the dating ritual. She's telling him she isn't perfect so he can walk out at that point if he wants to.

But there are much deeper and more important signs of decadence. People who do big sabotage just for the fun of it, for the sense of power in killing lots of people who get to feel like suckers before they die. And then there are architects who continue to design floating buildings and flying buildings and such, that are sabotage-magnets. Ifi you know there are people around who want to do spectacular acts of sabotage, wouldn't you try to deny them the opportunity? Make boring structures that are sabotage-resistant? But nooooo. The designers go right on creating spectacular technological feats for their customers to die in.

And the governments seem paralysed. It looks like they don't even try to arrange security. Instead of trying to prevent access to dangerous materials and keep technical knowledge secret and restrict freedoms, they just throw up their hands and accept defeat. Kind of like DHS but a lot moreso.

The multinational corporations are running things to the extent anybody is, but they seem to just accept whatever situation comes along and try to make money off it.

Something about the feel of it seems much more appropriate today than it did in 1987. I'm sure that's why I remembered it.

#570 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:08 AM:

In re "The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics," I'm embarrassed to admit that the thing about it that will stick in my mind is this link in the comments.

To make his point, Yglesias may be conflating the ethical values of the GL Corps with the philosophy of a renegade member. (/R/o/n/ /M/a/r/z/)

#571 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 08:57 AM:

We shouldn't forget the Guy Gardner Subdivision of Global Geopolitics, in which there are two divergent futures, each of which splits further down the line. In one, we blow ourselves up. In one-prime, we blow ourselves up but it was an Imaginary Story, the giveaway being the appearance of Wile E. Coyote in a panel showing the Justice League. In the other, millennia from now, people look back on this as the Sheetrock 'n' Expanded Foam Age that came between the Golden and Vaguely Intelligent Nanomaterials Ages. In the other-sub-two, millennia from now people look back at us, say "Ios lotaron"* and change the subject.

I mean, it would be comforting to believe that Certain Guys on the Stage of International My Will is Bigger than Your Will were the way they are simply because their brains had been fried by cheap low-bidder power batteries, getting knocked on the head by yellow things, and time in the Phantom Zone (where some of them still seem most at home), in the way that it is comforting to know that if a very large planetoid came barrelling at Earth, there really wouldn't be much we could do, so we might as well party down.

*Oan for "Tastes like chicken."

#572 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:46 PM:

571 comments on this thread?

Boston had a lethal tunnel cave-in last night, three sections of concrete tunnel ceiling on an I-90 ramp to the third harbor tunnel smashed down onto a car, killing the woman in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Her husband, the driver, escaped in miraculously good shape (minorly injured I think... given that -tons- of concrete came down. Initial reports have said that there was a failure of steel ties.

One of the hot seats is under Gov Romney, he who is out bilking MA citizens for the costs of state police is it protection as he travels all over the USA in preliminary campaigning-for-Republicrap-Party-nomination-for-White-House-Occupant. Ptui on him and his reaming of MA citizens and his many hypocrisies and flippings (getting the governorship here as someone who was supporting same-gender couple rights and separation of sectarian and secular as regards government (secular government) and these days is a parrot and repeater of Republicrap repressionist sectarian intolerant bigoted screed.

But returning towards the area I was in before the somewhat-diversion, Romney is sitting on one of the hot seats regarding last night's tragic incident--it;s more bad publicity, and bad publicity with an attachment for Romney--he booted some critics off state agencies and boards concerned with The Big Dig. And it was the Republicraps that forced the selection of Bechtel [ptuiptuiptuiptui...] as prime contractor for the project, and who squelched oversight on the project (sound familiar??). So Romney's got some tar and feathers sticking to him over this, which he is trying to oil off of him.

I hope that it gets spread all over the national news and leaves slime all over him.... he's got all the integrity of the Schmuck, or maybe not even that much... he's a dishonest politician even by MA standards (definition, "Honest politician--one who stays bought.")

#573 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:22 PM:

I think the Dior costumes are very cool, considering what you usually see on the runway. The hair and makeup is ugly, but the costumes are wonderful, especially the leaf ones.

#574 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 02:19 AM:

From an e-mail newsletter I just received, announcing coming books:

"The Rivals: Chris Everett vs. Martina Navratilova: Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship"

No doubt Chrissie has had her name misspelled countless times, but if you're a humongous bookstore with branches everywhere wouldn't you try to get the title right in a communication to your customers?

#575 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:47 PM:

Re: the NARAL link -- I wouldn't vote for Joe Lieberman because he said one must believe in god to be moral. So the fact that he doesn't follow up on abortion choice doesn't surprise me.

#576 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Has anyone seen Herzog's "Wild Blue Yonder" yet? It sounds as if it could be a decent non-bubblegum SF film - or as if it could go completely off the rails. I can't really tell from what I've read about it.

#577 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 03:56 PM:

The Court ruling sidelight is wonderful.

#578 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 06:41 PM:

I see my new catch phrase has been discovered. Next on my list: "Boots is down! Boots is down!"

#579 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:42 PM:

Question for the gardeners: Beans need to be replanted every year, right? Or are there some unusual perennial varieties? Thanks!

#580 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:00 PM:

"The Rivals: Chris Everett vs. Martina Navratilova: Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship"

No doubt Chrissie has had her name misspelled countless times, but if you're a humongous bookstore with branches everywhere wouldn't you try to get the title right in a communication to your customers?

It's shelved right next to the other Rivals, the one by Richard Bunbury Sheridan Whiteside. One aisle over from Cooking Emeril Legreesee and Micky Dolenz Crichton's Holy Bleep, Giant Japanese Nanotech Women with E-Mail Accounts are Trying to Kill Me While Pretending My Planet is Hot, Not That I Write Sci-Fi or Anything Like That. (I'm reviewing that one for Amazootic using my "Boris K. Brewster" pseud, you know, the one whose bio gives his credentials as "one of Andrew Sullivan's ex-readers."

Yeah, it was a long night.

#581 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:02 PM:

Linkmeister, my guess is that whoever typed it up was so zeroed in on spelling Navratilova correctly that it didn't occur to them to check anything else.

#582 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Mlissa, beans are annuals, at least in place where you have a winter. I suspect they'd fade in tropical climes too, making them annuals there.. and like most vege, you should probably move their planting spot in your garden from year to year to make them immune to any minor diseases. (no I'm not a gardener, but I was raised and trained by one of the best, and if my lot had better sunlight I'd have a few vege including green beans planted. My Ghod how I miss my dad's tomatoes....)

#583 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:07 AM:

Andrew, you could be right, but I would then recite my maxim from Navy teletype days: "Have someone else do the final proofreading of your work."

It might have been said a little more colorfully back then.

#584 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:07 AM:

That court ruling Sidelight is the funniest thing I've read this month.

#585 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:36 AM:

Steve asked:
Has anyone seen Herzog's "Wild Blue Yonder" yet? It sounds as if it could be a decent non-bubblegum SF film - or as if it could go completely off the rails.

Knowing Herzog, it's probably both. I'm seeing it tomorrow and will let you know.

#586 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:11 AM:

{rant}Can't be off-topic in an open thread, right? Title this "Copy Editing Blues". I'm not a copy editor, but I just had to do some editing and it ties me up in knots. Another employee, a young guy, wrote a report that will "go out under my name", i.e. it will have my (and only my) signature on it. I made hash of it and raked him (lightly) over (tepid) coals. Now I feel insecure about it and think maybe I was too harsh. It was this kind of thing that bothered me most: he wrote "Dr. Blah stated that he hoped this effort would result in..." I changed it to "Dr. Blah stated that he hopes this effort will result in..."

I hate the "stated that", too, but I was trying to control myself. Am I nuts? I just hate this ghost-writing stuff. I wish everybody would write what goes out under their name. I work with a lot of ex-military types, and apparently this is standard practice in the military--nobody writes their own stuff--everything is written by underlings. Blah.{/rant}

No response necessary; I feel better already. Thank you.

#587 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 05:28 PM:

Paula-Thanks! You just solved a plot problem.

#588 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:33 PM:

Gary K. Wolfe at a Readercon asked Leigh Grossman and me "Who really edited the anthologies that have Robert Silverberg's name on them as editor?"

I finally said, "Silverberg edited them, don't you think that someone who writes faster than most people read, can do his own editing?"

#589 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Holy Crap!

A restored military jet doing stunts for an airshow crashed not a mile down the road from me.

It took out three houses in a neighborhood where I walk my dog. Literally a block away from where I turn the corner.

Lots of copters in the air and emergency vehicles whizzing by. No word on casualties.

#590 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 06:33 AM:

Just a note on this wacky world. I recently moved to the same town as Stefan Jones (knew it was the same area, didn't realize we were that close), and I too live less than a mile from where that air crash took place. However, I didn't know about it until I read his note. You see, I left home on Friday for a two week trip to Bangalore, which is where I'm typing this right now. The good news is that the crash was a mile from my house, as I said - but if it had crashed on top of it, wouldn't it be nice to know now instead of two weeks from now?

(Incidentally, anybody have recommendations for good restaurants in Bangalore?)

#591 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Seen elsewhere:

'O'Reilly editor Brian Sawyer just sent a link to Mark Pilgrim's new video blog with the headline: Best Idea for a CAPTCHA ever. Mark wrote: "I need to implement some sort of CAPTCHA based on Strunk & White. If you can’t tell me the difference between 'continual' and 'continuous,' I don’t want to talk to you." OK. Maybe this is mostly for editing wonks.'

#592 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 06:39 PM:

This is probably old news, and I apologize for it; I've been away and haven't kept up here for quite a while.

Is anyone else getting spam that claims to be from Teresa? I suppose someone must be harvesting email addresses from Making Light, but maybe a precautionary virus scan is in order.

Is there a way to tell from the header whether it's a spoofed return address? I did try to check, but nothing jumped out at me as being out of place. It's not much help, though, since most of the expanded header information means nothing to me.

#593 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Pug Bowling!

No pugs were harmed in the making of this film.
(Note: Video with sound)

#594 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:11 AM:

Um . . . this is just getting creepy.

Bush gives unsolicited neck massage to German prime minister:

http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view.php?id=24262

#595 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:19 AM:

I'm so proud to live in a nation whose highest elected official takes his behavioral cues from Buster Bluth.

#596 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:43 AM:

Sorry . . . German Chancellor, not Prime Minister.

* * *

Was Buster the one with the hook?

#597 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:59 AM:

Eventually, yes.

#598 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 02:47 AM:

So Spillane was dead and that was it. Only it wasn't quite it, because there would be all those words, tumbling out and falling down flights of stairs until someone kicked them and kicked them again and they finally admitted that they hadn't known the guy but "Kiss Me Deadly" was supposed to have influenced that Tarantino kid so there you were. Words spat from Windows machines with screens like blued steel, machines that somewhere down in their guts wanted to be beat-up Smith-Coronas with parts that knew what they were for and didn't answer to anything soft, ware or otherwise. Sometimes, in the paragraphs that dropped and scattered like so many pianos meeting so much pavement, a subject wouldn't match up with an object, or a hunk of sentiment would turn around and spit in the eye of the antecedent goddamn clause without noticing, and the guy or the dame at the keyboard wouldn't know that was an homage, though they'd probably get that word into the obit somewhere. And they'd all talk about the kids' books. Because they could say something about that. Not because they'd read the kids' books, but because it had the wrong feel that everybody who ever wanted to be Bogart being a P. I. wanted to point out to some flatfoot reader. It would be like A. A. Milne writing My Bear is Stuffed, where you felt every bang of Pooh's head against the stairs and Roo turned out to be a Commie spy with a sick letch for Piglet. It beat having to read the books.

Tonstant Weader fwowed wead allllll over the woom, and it felt good.

#599 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:08 AM:

I espoused a theory about the Hammer books, if anyone cares to read it and comment.

I remember reading I, The Jury and being astonished at the ending, when Hammer shoots the murderer in cold blood. That wasn't the way mystery novels (and it was a mystery, not just a violent private detective story) were supposed to end. In my reading to that point, the proof was shown to the reader in the last chapter, the criminal was denounced, and the cops came and took the perp away. Hammer took the law into his own hands.

It's almost as though Spillane took the Western genre and transposed it to the hard-boiled detective one. Westerns end with shootouts. The good guy survives (often wounded), but the law is only tangentially involved unless he's the lawman himself (see High Noon). In detective stories, the cops, no matter how bumbling (think Lestrade in the Holmes stories), are handed the crook after the brilliant detective susses out the facts.

Spillane changed that with Hammer and I, The Jury.

Thoughts?

#600 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:14 AM:

There's certainly an element of frontier justice with Hammer -- he makes occasional comments, not always coherently, about wimpy juries that let the bad guys go because they had [fill in liberal stereotype excuse]. There are other things in addition, though, particularly the idea that the PI does his job well, which includes the wrongdoers being punished, and this is not, in the hardboiled story, always left up to the official authority. And the hardboiled started up a couple of decades before Spillane created Hammer. What was different was the elaborate detail of Hammer's violence -- a goon isn't dropped by one scientific punch, he gets kicked around the room for a couple of pages -- and its quantity. At the end of One Lonely Night, Hammer tommy-guns a roadhouse full of Commies, (partly because they've been torturing Velda, but mostly because they're, well, Commies). Spillane told the story that, in the original draft, there were something like sixty dead Reds. The editor objected that this was too violent. So he made it thirty (not, I hasten to add, by not killing the other thirty), and that was okay.

And I'm not sure about the distinction between "mystery" and "PI yarn." "Detective story" is a general term used by people who write mystery/crime tales, and there's usually some sort of detection going on, some question to answer -- Lee & Dannay talked about the Whodunit, the Howdunit, and the Whydunit as variations on what might be the same murder story. Philip Marlowe and the Continental Op have crimes to solve,* though it may not be fair to judge the form by its good examples.

Holmes doesn't execute punishment, but he does (in "The Blue Carbuncle," which is after all a Christmas story) let the perpetrator escape after the stolen goods have been recovered. And -- quibble warning -- in the stories, Lestrade (and Gregson, and a few others) are not bumblers or idiots, as so memorably played by Dennis Hoey in the Rathbone & Bruce films; they're not the geniuses Holmes is, but he acknowledges that they are competent and honest lawmen, who are sometimes out of their depth against an unusually complex problem or clever criminal -- hence Holmes's status as "consulting detective," which -- quibble the second -- a distressing number of people think is a first approximation of "private detective," despite the paragraph in which the term is introduced. Heck, it took decades to redeem Watson's intellect from Nigel Bruce's portrayal.

*And sometimes Marlowe works out what's happened after the majority of the supporting characters have done each other in, leaving very little for the cops to do except send out for more formaldehyde.

#601 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 06:43 AM:

Another net moment: I see the Spillane comment, Google, find a headline in New Zealand, and confirm that Mickey Spillane has died.

Small world.

#602 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 07:22 AM:

Who remembers that Mickey Spillane appeared in one of the Columbo movies?

#603 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 08:00 AM:

Anyone besides me remember Fritz Leiber's "Slickie Millane"? I can't recall the title of the story. Given Leiber's fairly standard use of sword & sorcery bimbo tropes, I was mildly startled to see him take a stand against misogyny (though not logically inconsistent, as his objection was to violence against women as a substitute for sex with them).

#604 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 08:18 AM:

I didn't realize that Spillane was still alive. I'm ashamed.

I have a blog now. Be gentle, it's my first time.

#605 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 09:19 AM:

I liked "The Bloody Drip" by Mucky Spleen, myself.

Spillane's vigilantism wasn't unprecedented, and we find examples in the pulps. For instance, Hammett's Continental Op (who I sometimes prefer to Marlowe), has been known to engineer events so that a killer gets what's coming to him -- and, when it's important for the agency, to get it undetected. No spoilers here, just read all the stories. All of them.

I'm sure some were less restrained than the Op. Race Williams comes to mind as a character with what's been called a "shoot first, then shoot again" approach.

#606 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 09:39 AM:

Is it really vigilantism, Kip, when one sets a trap for the bad guy who basically winds up hanging himself with his own rope?

Speaking of the Continental Op... It is well known that Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars was an unauthorized remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo. But was the latter an unauthorized movie adaptation of Hammett's Red Harvest?

#607 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:33 AM:

Will this thing really not save both an email and a URL? Trying.

#608 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:37 AM:

Open thread-y non sequitur:

A friend of mine asked me this question the other day, and I thought some people here might appreciate it.

What do the following words, found in the most recent edition of the OED, have in common?

call
much
ohmigod
paper mache
parting
pep
sitch
so

#609 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:57 AM:

Serge, even if you set the trap *inside* your house, you can be sued by the miscreant for doing same if the trap -injures- him, or by his family if it -kills- him.

That being said, a local policeman (who is an SF fan) told me, "If you have shoot him, make sure he's dead BEFORE you call us."

I was so stunned by that last that I forgot to ask why...

#610 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Is it really vigilantism, Kip, when one sets a trap for the bad guy who basically winds up hanging himself with his own rope?

Asked and answered or at least one horse killed recently in other threads discussion Superman / Batman and the early deaths / later recycling of villains into and out of Arkham.

Speaking of the Continental Op... It is well known that Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars was an unauthorized remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo. But was the latter an unauthorized movie adaptation of Hammett's Red Harvest?

Obs SF - discussed at length by David Drake writing of his own book The Sharp End - notice the blending of The Glass Key

I stole the plot from Dashiell Hammett. His first novel, Red Harvest, has always been a favorite of mine (second only to The Glass Key).

When in 1962 I saw A Fistful of Dollars, the first spaghetti western, I assumed it'd been lifted from Red Harvest with the addition of an important scene from The Glass Key. I later learned that that Leone, the director, had copied Kurosawa's Yojimbo, and that it was Kurosawa who'd cribbed it from Hammett. I like both movies very much, however movie people are not only thieves (which doesn't bother me) but litigious thieves. With that in mind I wish to emphasize that the entire plot of The Sharp End came from Dashiell Hammett, not from Akira Kurosawa or Sergio Leone.

Drake writes a little about names and aliases a little bit in that connection someplace see also Pronzini's Nameless.

#611 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 12:02 PM:

Point taken, Lori. I guess I was taking 'vigilantism' as meaning something more active going-out-of-my-way than you did.

#612 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:52 PM:

John M. Ford: And -- quibble warning -- in the stories, Lestrade (and Gregson, and a few others) are not bumblers or idiots, as so memorably played by Dennis Hoey in the Rathbone & Bruce films; they're not the geniuses Holmes is, but he acknowledges that they are competent and honest lawmen, who are sometimes out of their depth against an unusually complex problem or clever criminal -- hence Holmes's status as "consulting detective," which -- quibble the second -- a distressing number of people think is a first approximation of "private detective," despite the paragraph in which the term is introduced.

And in the Nero Wolfe stories, Nero routinely instructed Archie to assume that Inspector Cramer and the police had already professionally and correctly processed all the evidence, interviewed all the witnesses and suspects, etc.

In one mystery, Nero instructs Archie to test the hypothesis that it was Person X who committed the crime--even though it was impossible for them to do so--because if anyone else had done it, the police would be sure to arrest that person.

This entire post should be liberally sprinkled with IIRCs--it's been years since I read the Nero Wolfe books, and I'm probably getting many, many details wrong.

#613 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Sorry - not including the answer to the question above was thoughtless of me. Here it is, in rot13:

Gur pvgngvba sbe rnpu bs gurz vf sebz Ohssl gur Inzcver Fynlre. Bs pbhefr, va zbfg pnfrf, vg vf sbe n fcrpvsvp hfntr rt "Yhex zhpu?" be "Fb abg tbvat gurer."

#614 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 06:16 PM:

Teresa's plot to take over the world continues. Found on the comp.lang.c Usenet newsgroup:

George Orwell  writes:
> I found this here http://fndsmthng.blgspt.cm
>
> bbye

(URL disemvoweled for your protection.)
Don't bother. ... This may or may not be spam, but it's definitely off-topic.
--
Keith Thompson

Clearly, the practice has spread beyond comment moderation.

#615 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Is it really vigilantism, Kip, when one sets a trap for the bad guy who basically winds up hanging himself with his own rope?

Is that what Spillane's character does? I always thought he just shot people. As to the Op, I see now that somewhere in the polishing process, I left it so that I am saying he engaged in vigilantism. I guess I thought (mistakenly) that my phrasing "engineered events such that, etc." was clearly not out-and-out vigilante action. Rest assured that my intention was better than my, er, execution.

#616 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 04:24 PM:

I can't think of any rational reason that I need a 350-pound wooden card-catalog cabinet, but I am nonetheless sentimentally sad that my library is selling them off at $50/each and sort of wish I had the space for such an unwieldy souvenir of the pre-digital era.

#617 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Re: particles --

"Magry."

It's a variant spelling for maugre in the OED. Years ago I found it and provided it to our bartender, who got $50 for it (he had a wager going), and he rewarded me with two or three free B-52s.

#618 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 04:35 PM:

Kip W - "in common use" was a criterion. And the full riddle says the answer is given in the riddle, which proves that it's just a riddle with no "real" answer.

#619 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Angry and hungry are two words that end in '-gry'.

The above is a red herring, designed to cast attention from the next sentence:

There are three words in the English language.

Ambiguous wording with the 'natural' interpretation to mean there are three words in the English language that end in gry. But for the riddle to work, the valid interpretation is this: There are three words in the phrase "the english language". At this point, the "gry" stuff is completely irrelevant.

What is the third word?

There are three words in the phrase "the english language", what is the third word in that phrase?

"language".

It only works because it introduces a sentence with multiple possible valid interpretations, and it relies on human's taking the natural interpretation. The actual, concealed interpretaion only works if you allow missing punctionation to be a valid sentence, for a red herring sentence to be valid, and for you to overcome your natural tendancy to see a pattern between "two" and "third".

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Is the subject of the second sentence "Fruit" such as an apple, or is the subject "Fruit flies" such as a house fly or other common pest? The above riddle is like handing you this line, letting you find the pattern based on the word "flies" being duplicated in both sentences, allowing you to assume that it is the verb in the second sentence, and then expecting you to figure out that the second sentence verb is really "likes".

It's a stupid riddle, in my opinion.

#620 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 05:08 PM:

Stupid riddles, eh, Greg?

Here's a riddle from an old Batman soundtrack album from the sixties. Every time I hear it I giggle like Frank Gorshin:

Q: Riddle me this, Boy Wonder. There are three men in a boat. They have four cigarettes and no matches. How do they each smoke?

A. Gurl guebj bar pvtnerggr bireobneq, naq znxr gur obng n pvtnerggr yvtugre.

#621 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Wow, both of those are really stupid.

Greg, it's even worse than you say. That riddle only works in speech, because the sentence is unambiguous in writing. "There are three words in the English language" is not the same as "There are three words in 'the English language'." In fact the first sentence, taken alone, is patently absurd!

#622 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 06:02 PM:

oh. my. gawd.
I had to read the batman one three times to get it. yes. that seems far worse than the "gry" riddle on the stupid-scale of things.

Xopher: Yeah, you're right, it is legal when spoken. I didn't think of that. Stupid. but legal.

#623 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Susan, of course you need a 350 pound wooden card catalog for only $50!!!! I have three and they are fantastic. I wish had room for more. They are the ultimate toy for the obsessive sorter and keeper and labeller.

Are they tall units? Then use them in your kitchen/dining room for silverware, nakpins, teacups, creamers, whisks, thermometers, liqueur glasses, spice jars, chopsticks, birthday candles -- you get the idea. Put 'em on wheels if you want -- good sturdy ones.

Are they short? Perfect for worktables/storage for your hobbies. Put them back-to-back for a cutting table if you sew, and fill the drawers with buttons, ribbons, beads, velcro, zippers, marking pens, knitting needles (ah, NOW I've got the attention of some of you!), rubber stamps, scissors, and so on.

Some models have drawers with open slots in the bottoms, but cardboard (or thin wood, if you want to be posh)cut to the right size will fix that.

Usually you can cut the rods fairly eaily. Cut them so they still catch in the front hole and it will make the drawers look nicer. (Rods have three prime mechanisms for removal -- a release under the front edge of the drawer that you push up with one hand while pulling out the rod; a side release, where you push the knob to one side then pull out; or on older models, a screw release.)

Think other collectibles too. Slide rules! Jewelry! Antique tools! Ferrets! Pince-nez! Figurines! Scrolls! Cassette tapes! Too short for CDs, but you can stack them face-up!

Don't let them get away! Or if you can't take them, tell your library to list them on eBay for pick-up only. That's what we've done with ours here. They'll get a lot more than $50 for them.

Your friendly local library nerd,
Janet

#624 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 06:09 PM:

Some models have drawers with open slots in the bottoms

Now you're getting nasty! :-)

#625 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 06:24 PM:

My grandfather was an electrician in the 1950's, when everyone was taking their pedal-operated Singer sewing machines off of their tables and electrifying them. Each table had a single wooden drawer, some plain, some ornate. The department store where he worked was just going to throw them out, so he took them home and built racks for them.

My father has those racks in his basement now, back to back with his type cases, and they hold all kinds of marvels. My nephew can spend a day opening and closing them, finding locks without keys, keys without locks, nuts, bolts, hinges, and anonymous bits of brass. I want them, but I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic to ever own them.

These sound similar. They're not just card catalogues - they're the seeds of magic and imagination for generations.

#626 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 07:11 PM:

I've been drooling over card catalogues for far too long - and hope to own some eventually ... probably around the same time as hell freezes over.

I don't think I'll store punch cards though.

#627 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 07:59 PM:

I should specify that I wasn't answering the exact form of the quibble that most people seem to be referring to. I was, at the time I won the drinks, answering the question, "What's the other English word that ends in -gry?" The persiflage and red herrings weren't part of it, and I have only seen them in the years since then.

#628 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Damn, now *I* want a card catalog.

#629 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 09:53 PM:

Heck, I've seen replicas of card catalogs sold as CD cabinets (in Wireless and Signals mail-order catalogs). I don't know if the dimensions of a "real" card catalog would fit the standard jewel case, but it's worth taking a tape measure to one to see.

#630 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 10:08 PM:

As this is an open thread...anyone know whether Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is harder to treat/more likely to kill you?

If not, is there someone with better Google-fu than I have who could find a site that compares them? I couldn't find anything.

The reason I'm asking is that I had a friend with non-H Lymphoma a few years ago, and I have a friend with H Lymphoma now, and I'm trying to get a rough idea what comparison I can make.

My non-H friend recovered completely. I'm hoping my H friend will too, especially since he's really young (only 25).

Yeah, I'm feeling kind of upset. Especially since he keeps getting worse and worse news.

#631 ::: Lesley K ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:04 PM:

For anyone still interested, the definitive webpage on the -gry question is this one
created by a reference librarian who wished to help out other maddened reference librarians, and who is also a not infrequent poster on these here commenting thingies (hi lois!)

#632 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:07 PM:

Xopher-

You might want to ask around Maureen McHugh's charming blog which used to be called "Hodgkins & Me" but is now (since her recovery) called Guano Happens.

#633 ::: Lesley K ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:07 PM:

Arggh. The link didn't work. Here's the URL: http://www.geocities.com/loisnotlane/gry.html

#634 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:25 PM:

Susan: I can't think of any rational reason that I need a 350-pound wooden card-catalog cabinet, but I am nonetheless sentimentally sad that my library is selling them off at $50/each and sort of wish I had the space for such an unwieldy souvenir of the pre-digital era.

Where? WHERE?

We've lusted after a card catalog for ages. Not for any rational reason. But then again, we already have our own library cart.


#635 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:44 PM:

The heatwave has reached Portland.

All of the hot spells I've experienced out here have been of the dry, sunny sort. Pretty bareable.

This time it is overcast, just slightly humid, and over a hundred degrees F. Virtually no breeze. Utterly vile.

#636 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Xopher: my brother is a non-Hodgkin's survivor (12 years post autologous bone marrow transplant). NHL 5-year survival rate is about 49%. HL is about 91%.

In further searching you may have more luck if you do the following:

1. Remove the "'s" from both Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's as search terms. The current trend is to do this to all diseases named after people (e.g. Down syndrome).

2. Try some of the specialized medical databases like PubMed or Medscape.

Good luck to you and both your friends.

#637 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 01:07 AM:

Michael, Lila: thank you both.

#638 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 01:41 AM:

Cripes . . .

NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet
From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.”

In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted.

Dr. Hansen said the change might reflect White House eagerness to shift the spotlight away from global warming.

“They’re making it clear that they have the authority to make this change, that the president sets the objectives for NASA, and that they prefer that NASA work on something that’s not causing them a problem,” he said.

#639 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 01:56 AM:

xopher, dollars to donuts there's a survivors' association, so look for that too.

Then there's this:
http://www.cancerindex.org/clinks2i.htm

Which goes to a resources page with a lot of links for HL, and probably with some digging you could find NHL there as well.

Good luck to you and your friends.

#640 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 02:51 AM:

Lymphoma Association. It's UK, but the general info is presumably the same worldwide.

#641 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 03:01 AM:

xopher,
For Hodgkin Lymphoma, from Cancer.gov (US):

Survival rates can be calculated by different methods for different purposes. The survival rates presented here are based on the relative survival rate, which measures the survival of the cancer patients in comparison to the general population to estimate the effect of cancer. The overall 5-year relative survival rate for 1996-2002 from 17 SEER geographic areas was 84.9%. Five-year relative survival rates by race and sex were: 84.0% for white men; 86.7% for white women; 78.5% for black men; 87.1% for black women. (See Fast Stats for more detailed statistics)

SEER is Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results. It's an ongoing process the National Cancer Institute has been carrying out for years. There are plenty of links to more info at that page.

#642 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 04:36 AM:

Xopher - I wish your friend all the best.

I lost a good friend of mine to non-Hodgins lymphoma shortly after 9/11. He had rallyed and we thought he had returned to work at AON in the south tower of the WTC, but he had had a relapse and died a few days later.

You can see his photo here, along with me in my Nanook of the North phase.

Man, I miss him. He was one of the few people who ever told me not to take myself so seriously.

I hope you and your friend grow old together.

#643 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 08:40 AM:

Bob: Where? WHERE?

We've lusted after a card catalog for ages. Not for any rational reason. But then again, we already have our own library cart.

Yale, but apparently they're all gone already. I'm impressed - less than 48 hours from the announcement. If it comes up again I will purchase one on spec and offer it here.

I hadn't used those catalogs in some years, but if they're the ones I'm thinking of (that used to be in the chapels on either side of the nave of the main library) they were quite tall - five or six feet, I think.

#644 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 09:07 AM:

Thank you again, everyone. I appreciate all your help. I've just been sending him encouraging words; since he's on the West Coast, there's little else I can do.

#645 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Quick quick quick! If you're staring at something (ochreish)yellow and white, and you look away to the sky, what's the afterimage?

#646 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 03:30 PM:

Xopher: NIH page on Hodgkin's is here

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000580.htm

It says that even with widespread disease the five year survival rate is better than 60%. Catch it early and the rate's much higher.

I know more than I want to about lymphoma, but only NHL - but IIRC HL, especially in young people, has a very high remission rate and the five-year survival rate is better than NHL, which itself has a fairly high remission rate. (I say remission rate, because some forms of NHL are treatable but not curable - on current treatment regimes the remission rate is over 95% first time round for people who can stay the full course of treatment, but it always comes back eventually.)

#647 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Lucy: I would have guessed purple, but trying it on the yellowish net neutrality ad on Making Light's front page yields blue. Don't know how that would interact with blue sky background.

#648 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 04:47 PM:

I'm going with bluish, because it's convenient for the context. Thanks!

Are afterimages in the additive or subtractive color system?

#649 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2006, 01:36 AM:

Are afterimages in the additive or subtractive color system?

erm, uhm, what an interesting question.

your eyes are RGB, which is an additive color system, as opposed to something like CMYK, which is subtractive. I would have said that afterimages, or any imaging that occurs in the human body would be additive since it starts out as RGB in the eye. But now that you ask, I can see that's an assumption.

If I had to bet, I'd guess it's additive. But I'm not certain I'd win that bet.

I've done engineering for imaging systems, but the design of the system generally stops after light hits the viewer's eyes. We've done tricks with edge enhancement and other stuff to make images look better based on how humans percieve images, but I've never seen any design info based on a human's "afterimage" response.

#650 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2006, 02:53 AM:

Greg, I think the terms are reversed there. I think "additive" is the one you get when you layer light (CMY what's that K for?) and "subtractive" is what you get when you mix pigments (RGB).

When you stare at something red, you get a green afterimage.

But I'm having trouble seeing the green in my mind's eye, so I'm not sure if it's RGB green or a shade (tone, probably) of cyan.

Where's my mother when I want her? She knew this stuff.

#651 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2006, 04:08 AM:

Lucy: You have your examples backwards. RGB (Red Green Blue, used in television and computer screens) involves layering light. CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow blacK, used in ink-on-paper printing) involves mixing pigments.

If additive means that the more colours you add the whiter the result is, and subtractive means that the more colours you add the darker the result is, then RGB is additive and CMYK is subtractive.

#652 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2006, 02:14 PM:

"k" stands for "key".
It means black.

If you put CMY on paper, you get black.
But it isn't a perfect black (it's muddled off-black), and its rather soggy because it uses a lot of ink (all the C and M and Y you can put in a spot). So it's common for printers to have CMYK.

#653 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Good Grief.

Fox News is now mongering the fear that Saddam's (nonexistent) WMD's are now (nonexistently) in the hands of Hezbollah.

booga booga.

Conversely speaking, I must have slept through this part in Logic class, but how many times do you have to say a lie for it to come true?

#654 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2006, 03:13 PM:

In completely other news, and this may be only of interest to Xopher, I've created a one-page version of the CourageVow and I've also licensed the work CC-BY-SA so folks can make their own derivatives.

It's at courage vow dot com.

Xopher, the one page poster is at
http://www.CourageVow.com/poster.rtf

#655 ::: Rose White ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 01:52 PM:

Read Language Hat for another solution to the "-gry" problem: "igry".

#656 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Fun with crafts and firefly here!

#657 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 04:06 PM:

And I just realized that I got confused again as to which Open Thread is the most recent and posted to OT66. Which made me notice that this thread has *boggle* 655 comments! Is that an Open Thread record? *searches* Not even close. OT59 stands currently at 888 comments. Crazy.

#658 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 04:13 PM:

John Roger @ Kung Fu Monkey describes a visit by a Saudi prince to a restaurant where he once worked:

http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2006/07/bar-talk.html

#659 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Stefan, fortunately my end of the corridor is almost empty, I squeaked when I got to the end of the Saudi Prince story. (Instead of making the sound that makes my co-workers think I'm choking to death...).

And the others are fortunately listening to music on headsets.

The whole discussion is fascinating. But the Saudi Prince story is the best.

#660 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 06:17 PM:

http://hotzone.yahoo.com/b/hotzone/blogs7803

Some analysts have theorized that with attacks against civilians and non-military installations, Israel is trying to turn the Lebanese population against Hezbollah by making them pay a price as Hezbollah's host nation.


I was just thinking that this is classic Sun Tzu when he said "the neighbor of my enemy is my friend, which is why I must bomb them into being my ally and then they will attack my enemy for me."

That sounds about right, doesn't it?

#661 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 06:54 PM:

Israel wants to keep Hezbollah out of range of their territory, which isn't a daft idea.

Of course, they want their tanks and artillery to be able to operate right up to the border. After all, they're not the sort of people who shoot up ambulances, or otherwise try to terrorise the Lebanese population.

Obviously, this is an example of asymmetric warfare.

If not actual stupidity and a complete lack of a sense of history.

#662 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Thinking about afterimages as additive or subtractive, the answer I've decided I like is that afterimages are neither additive nor subtractive, they're complements. The afterimage of yellow is blue, of green is magenta, etc. Physiologically this makes sense since as Greg pointed out the eye is RGB¹ and what's happening is exposure to, say, green light depletes the green-sensitive pigment in the eye so subsequentely looking at a neutral gray field has the eye "reporting" "lots of red, lots of blue, not so much green", so the result is the same as same as seeing R+B, thus in the purple/magenta range. Complementary colors are complementary colors in both additive and subtractive systems, it's just if you combine complements in additive systems you get white and if you combine complements in subtractive systems you get black.

-----

¹ "The eye is RGB" is a simplification; there are different versions of the "green" pigment in different people, and certain people may even have several of them (Neitz, Neitz, and Jacobs Science 17 May 1991 252: 971-974), Plus this is only the "cone" system, we also have the "rods" which are the low-light "monochrome" system which sees kind of blue-green mostly. So the eye is really more something like RGG[GB]B.

#663 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 08:48 PM:

they're not the sort of people who shoot up ambulances, or otherwise try to terrorise the Lebanese population.

Did you follow the hotzone link, Dave? It's an article about how the Israeli's hit a bus evactuating Lebanon filled with women and children.

And they've attacked a country's infrastructure which is like sticking a shotgun into a room of terrorists and hostages and pulling the trigger a few times. Sure, you'll probably hit some terrorists, but you'll hurt innocent people too. Think releasing Huricane Katrina on an area on purpose. They bombed the airport, for gawds sake. Does Hezbolah have a secret air force that uses those runways?

Hezbolah are terrorists using terrorist tactics, but Israel is responding with the equivalent of carpet bombinb German cities during WW2. They're using old testament tactics, fire and brimstone, and it is unacceptable in today's world. we can do better and we must do better if there is ever going to be a resolving peace there.

#664 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 08:58 PM:

Greg: I rather think Dave was being sarcastic.

#665 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 09:19 PM:

The blindness of the Israel-supporters never ceases to amaze me. Dershowitz also came out in favor of limited forms of torture after Abu Ghraib (or one of the other horror stories), as I recall.

His moral compass seems to have been permanently stuck at the "only good Arab is a dead Arab" position.

I agree with Fragano L. above: my sarcasm detector clicked on when I read Dave's comment, particularly his final sentence.

#666 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 09:20 PM:

oh, dingo kidneys.
scratch that. reverse that.
never mind.

#667 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Linkmeister: The blindness of the Israel-supporters never ceases to amaze me.

Did you mean to say "some Israel" supporters or even "most Israel supporters" there, Linkmeister? Or did you mean what you said: That all Israel-supporters are blind?

#668 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Mitch - I won't speak for Linkmeister, but I personally know quite a few people who believe that *everything* Israel does is a matter of life and death and therefore justifiable. Even considering the possibility that Israel may have done something bad gives them brain spasms.

As to how well I know some of these folks - I was in their wedding parties.

I just view it as a blind spot. These folks, whom I love dearly, will probably never be able to budge an inch in their view of Israel.

And yes, I do have close friends who generally suppport Israel, and who can consider the actions of specific Israeli governments and judge them as foolish, misguided and perhaps even evil. (FWIW, I consider myself in this category.)

#669 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 12:07 AM:

Have any of the Gothamites out there visited this place?

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company.

You've can't not love a storefront that's obviously the work of Chris Ware.

#670 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:45 AM:

Mitch, I probably should have said "many" Israel-supporters.

I fully support Israel's right to exist, but I don't think bombing Lebanon to bits is necessarily the wisest way to ensure it. After all, had Lebanon actually made it to a functioning democracy, it might have decided that its southern neighbor had just as much right to be there as any other country.

I worry that with this seemingly indiscriminate bombing Israel has just created a new generation of Hezbollah followers. That isn't in Israel's best interest over the long term.

#671 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 08:09 AM:

The yellow should definitely cause a blue after-image. Check out this optical illusion.

#672 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:35 AM:

Eimear, nice optical illusion. I guess we don't get into that level of weirdness when we design stuff here at work. Mostly we just figure out ways to increase resolution of the things we're building. I have been doing some color space conversion stuff lately. It would be interesting to see some C code or something that would model the perception of the human eye. There's obviously some image persistance going on, which is one of the reasons we can watch a movie at a theater and not see images flashing as 24 fps. I have no idea what the inverted color persistence thing is, though. very odd.

#673 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:43 AM:

They bombed the airport, for gawds sake. Does Hezbolah have a secret air force that uses those runways?

I believe the goal was to make sure that Hezbollah was not able to take the Israeli soldiers they kidnapped out of the country - specifically, not to Iran or Syria. Israel was bombing possible routes out, including both the airport and the highway routes to Syria.

#674 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:52 AM:

Did you mean to say "some Israel" supporters or even "most Israel supporters"

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "God promised Israel to the Jews" and all I could think about was, wow, a story written four thousand years ago apparently overrides, say, any currently existing office of deeds, or, say, any current residential status.

If a group of Native Americans were to come forward and demand, say, the entire state of Ohio because their poeple were there two hundred years ago and the white man chased them off, I'd have to say, "sorry about what happened to your ancestors, but Ohio is populated by people who had nothing to do with what happened 200 years ago. You'll have to find some place else"

But then, the Jews are God's chosen people, so that pretty much overrides any reality-based issue between them and what they want.

We want X.
Someone else already has X.
God promised X to us.
Uhm.
We will take X in God's righteousness.
But.

Not that I have a problem with the Jewish religion itself. If you want to believe you're God's chosen people, go for it. It's a weird thing about religion in that each one asserts that they're the only one's going to heaven. I just have a problem when something written in a religious book 4,000 years ago is used as a justification for war. I don't like it when Christians do that. I don't like it when Jews do that. I don't like it when Muslims do that.

But to complain about Jews in Israel doing it generally invokes Godwin's law, cries of anti-semite, and neo-nazism, and that's a little tiresome. No, I don't have anything in particular against you're religion, you're operating with complete disregard for anyone who is not a member of your religion. And I apply that rule to all religions.

#675 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 10:05 AM:

I believe the goal was to make sure that Hezbollah was not able to take the Israeli soldiers they kidnapped out of the country

I've been in Israel. They don't need a gawdamn airplane to take them out of the country. They can friggen walk out. Israel is a tall, narrow contry. At one point, it is something like only 20 miles wide from the Mediteranean to the West Bank. Lebanon is something like 40 miles wide. The distance from Beruit Lebanon to some hide out hole in the ground in Syria is less than I commute every day. You don't need an airplane to leave these countries.

You could take a cab.

Israel is about the size of Conneticut and Rhode Island combined. And the layout relative to the waterline is about the same. Long shoreline, short distance inland.

#676 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 03:43 PM:

Oh man the plot thickens

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's and Iraq's U.S.-backed government on Saturday denounced Israel's raids on Lebanon and Gaza. Maliki last week called for "the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression."

To which Democratic politicians reponded that his failure to condemn Hizbollah's "aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raise serious questions.."

I'm sorry. Did you expect to have a puppet regime in Iraq? Isn't the point of bringing democracy to that country mean that they aren't an American colony? Shall we continue to have elections until those dumb Iraqis elect the person we want?

#677 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 04:20 PM:

I'm twitching around up here feeling like I ought to be doing something more active to support Ned Lamont. I can't vote for him in the primary - I'm not registered as a Dem and it's long past the deadline to do so. Putting up a yard sign seems insufficient. Money does not seem to be a big problem for Lamont right at the moment. What does one do for a primary one can't vote in?

#678 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 04:42 PM:

Susan - they might need volunteers.

#679 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 05:07 PM:

[How to help Lamont in CT-Sen primary when you can't vote?]

Don't underestimate the worth of a lawn sign -- it can send the message "more people are excited about Lamont" or even "Susan is excited about Lamont" (if the viewer knows where you live) to a large number of people. The (largely true) idea of a massive wave of Democrats sweeping Lamont to victory is central to his campaign, as is clear from his TV ads. A yard sign can reinforce this narrative.

Money is never _unwanted_, of course, but more likely to be helpful is canvassing, literature drops, and so forth, all coordinated by some sort of local campaign office. Lamont's campaign page at nedlamont.com has a "get involved" page with a lot of suggestions. And none of them except voting involve checking your party registration.

#680 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Open thread, right? Must share this, from Jon Carroll.

"The Welsh were at that time a fractious people, and didn't really become reconciled to English rule until the great Leek Famine of 1539, when, overcome by poverty and starvation, they had to sell all their vowels to the French."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/07/24/DDGOBIQ2T71.DTL&feed=rss.jcarroll

(Mostly about Henry V. Read the whole thing, as they say.)

#681 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 05:27 PM:

That, Lisa, is why a book translated into French winds up three times as long as the original. (OK, I'm exagerating a bit.)

#682 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Well, I shall at least put in for a lawn sign. Right after I go hear Neil Gaiman, who has suddenly appeared in town.

#683 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Having hoovered the felines, I was rereading ot67 and saw that I'd not come back to my question:
What short phrases could be used to set off a science fiction reader's SF-radar? i.e. dog-whistle (zogg-whistle?) words for SF-reader fandom: phrases which make sense to an entire audience, but also show that the speaker reads SF.[and anything in Fa11en 4ngels doesn't count, with prejudice]

Seems as if the answer is no, there aren't too many immediately obvious phrases like this, not for books only. Many of the best examples mentioned upthread are books+media (HG2G, Princess Bride [and TPB isn't science fiction], laws of robotics), or media, or fandom.

One could always go with variations on famous titles and all that. (random musing: if sensawonda can't be encapsulated in a single phrase, this is a good thing.)

On sensawonda, I'm finishing up my Hugo awards reading. I'm thinking about the Hugo Science Fiction Achievement Award for the novel. I'm thinking...

1. It should go to a science fiction novel-- if it does, the track record this millenium goes from 40% to 50%. 2005 was a fine year in novels and nominations. I'm trying to do my rankings and keep on getting a>b, b>c, c>d, d>a, depending on my criteria. Guess I'll have to go back and rereread.

2. If it isn't going to a science fiction novel, it *should* go to a book complete in iteself.

To me, an award winning book implies that I should be able to lend it to a friend with a "This is an example of the best we have." It should be complete in itself: ready to read, however slow the reading might be. If you have to read all the other books in the series first, then the 'award winner' isn't ready-to-read.

3. nevermind the enthymeme- it should go to a science fiction novel.

#684 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 07:58 PM:

Lisa G, the author of the Agincourt book was on NPR's Talk of the Nation today. I wasn't paying a lot of attention, but I did hear about longbows.

#685 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:11 PM:

Given certain discussions about certain online reference materials that have taken place in a certain . . . well, here, today's Onion headline seems relevant.

Wiki wacki sic redacti woo, as they say in Las Islas de San Dwich.

#686 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Well, that's interesting. Posted, followed the link, and the headline was No Longer There. Not sure if that's self-referential humor, or [redactio ad absurdum].

#687 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:19 PM:

To which Democratic politicians reponded that his failure to condemn Hizbollah's "aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raise serious questions.."

This is insane. AFAIMC, this demonstrates that these particular Democrats are unfit to run a foreign policy. And no, I am not defending Hezbollah's behavior. Aaargh. *Bangs head against wall, gently.*

#688 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:22 PM:

John M. Ford: Redactor reductor

#689 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:27 PM:

Mr. Ford, I suspect this is the article you had in mind.

750 years indeed.

#690 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:45 PM:

Link back to where it once belonged.

#691 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 09:56 PM:

SF-radar?

I'm reading this while Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" is playing on the headphones, and the chorus is this heavily electronically altered voice singing "walk without rythym and you won't attract the worm". And then it clicked that this is sci-fi related too. Christopher Walken, who made the music video for WoC possibly the best video of all time, he a movie version of a SF story written by William Gibson, called "New Rose Hotel", and I was thinking, that title would have been a perfect key for quietly setting off someone's radar, and letting them know you're on the in crowd. something like "Yeah, I just checked into the New Rose Hotel." nudge nudge winky winky. Too bad that movie turned out to be so popular, cause now everyone knows the phrase, even non-SF people.

Oh, and I think the "worm" lyric from the song is supposed to be from some SF story, too. But it's so obscure that most SF folks, myself included, don't even know where it's from.

#692 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 10:25 PM:

"walk without rythym and you won't attract the worm" Dune, but it's a book+media example.

Although I suppose I should look at sf-radar triggers for items in books where the book became a movie, but the item didn't carry through. Mercerism and Kipple in Do Androids Dream, say.

#693 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 11:08 PM:

Greg London wrote:
Christopher Walken, who made the music video for WoC possibly the best video of all time, he a movie version of a SF story written by William Gibson, called "New Rose Hotel"

I regret to say that I hadn't heard of the adaptation until now - I'll have to hunt it down.

Oh, and I think the "worm" lyric from the song is supposed to be from some SF story, too. But it's so obscure that most SF folks, myself included, don't even know where it's from.

Dune. Nothing obscure about it at all - and I'm not particularly fond of Dune.

#694 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 11:37 PM:

"New Rose Hotel" might be worth putting in a Netflix queue (or waiting for it to cycle around on cable again), but it's not a very good movie. It's very low-budgeted -- no, lower than that -- though that didn't have to be a problem. But it's very talky, and extremely static, even for a movie that's mostly about two guys (Walken and Willem Dafoe) talking in a hotel room. Asia Argento (okay, you might wanna see this just for the cast) looks nice, which is good, since that's all she gets to do. And it finishes up with half an hour of flashbacks, the sort of trick that is going to be either brilliant or incoherent, and it is not brilliant.

I mean, Gibson's not dull. And I think there's probably a really good Gibson film to be made (Peter Weir is apparently at work on Pattern Recognition, which is a promising thought, though there are zero details on imdb except for director, screenwriter, and production company*) but I don't think we're there yet. (Uh, no, I didn't think "Johnny Mnemonic" was all that good, not least because they kinda forgot what the story was about -- you know, what the main character wanted -- in favor of blowing the cybersnot out of stuff.)

*Anonymous Content, who did "Eternal Sunshine." Which ain't a bad credit in this context.

#695 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 11:54 PM:

imdb is such fun sometimes. Their bio of Bill Gibson notes that Neuromancer copped the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Phil Dick Award. Which is true, but it goes on to describe this hat-trick as "the 'Holy Trinity' of science fiction writing."

WTF, as Archimedes said when Marsellus Wallace's guys came for him. I have nothing whatever against the Philip K. Dick award (for over-obvious reasons), but you can't win it unless your book is a paperback original. The idea of a "Holy Trinity" that excludes numerous good books is kinda, well, skewing the Number of the Elect.

#696 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 01:22 AM:

Sorry Greg, It looks like your obscure joke didn't click.

#697 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 01:47 AM:

Bother! Clicked too fast before. I came over to drop in a quick query on the Open Thread. There's a lovely photo site I visit which usually has images around Toronto & nearby.

Todays' daily image is of London (UK), but the caption says :"forget where", without any helpful comments from visitors yet. It looks quite recognisable, except that from my 2 visits adding to a total of about 5 days, I don't recognise it.

Knowing this is a cosmopolitan salon and how helpful people here can be, I immediately headed over to throw out a request for information. You'll be rewarded by being able to browse through some very impressive images, if not just the feeling of helping someone.

#698 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 02:42 AM:

JMF - I think Pattern Recognition is sufficiently contemporary and sufficiently linear to be made into a decent movie. Let's hope.

#699 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 04:19 AM:

Because it is an open thread...

I dreamed last night that I was flipping through a Sunday paper, and one of those glossy catalogues for stuff that photographs well fell out. I leafed through it idly, and found a leather desk set that was using PNH's celebrity lifestyle to sell it. The prose style skirted around whether Patrick had been consulted, much less paid, for the name drop.

Items included:
* a leather-bound notebook that he could give to his wife and fellow TOR editor, Teresa Nielsen Hayden
* an antique-style globe on which he could plot sales of TOR books
* an extra-deep leather-covered inbox to contain his manuscript submissions
* an extra-deep leather-covered outbox to contain rejected manuscripts being returned to their authors
* a shallower leather-covered outbox to contain acceptance letters and checks
* a generously-sized leather-covered wastepaper basket, use unstated

I recall setting the leaflet aside for later posting online, and being deeply disappointed when I woke up and it was no longer there.

(It's been strange sleep for me. I have a shoulder injury that keeps waking me up before I can get to deep sleep cycles, so I have lots of odd dreams.)

#700 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 05:14 AM:

I think an immense polar-projection map for the floor of the TOR Operations Room ("...and a factory in Illinois that makes small metal models of factories") would be better than a globe.

#701 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 06:14 AM:

Well, yes, and a table map with wee figurines and miniature long-handled hoes to plot their campaigns, but that doesn't sell so well in the glossy newspaper inserts.

#702 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 07:12 AM:

That's a lovely picture for showing the true scale of a moose.

I'm originally from northern Maine, where moose-car interactions are fairly common. A few years ago my parents picked up a used VW Jetta for a really good price -- the car had been in a moose-car collision, and the woman wanted to get rid of it and get something safer.

The thing is, though, that the Jetta (and its occupants at the time of the moose-car interaction) were pretty much undamaged -- because the car had gone right underneath the moose and come out the other side. The so-called safer car they were getting was a big SUV, which is probably one of the worst vehicles to hit a moose in. In a smaller car, there's a chance you'll make it under, as their first car did. In an SUV or light truck, the main mass of the moose is right at the height of your windshield, and if you hit one you wind up with moose in your lap.

#703 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 07:53 AM:

The new Radio Times is out, and I see the movie Battle of Britain is on TV next week.

So we can be reminded of just what an operations room for a campaign should look like.

Patrick, I'll not mention the pretty WAAFs who used the long-handled hoes.

#704 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 08:42 AM:

And shouldn't the ops room have a chair and cushion for big white kitty Mister Tinkle?

#705 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 08:51 AM:

Mez: I'm not a Londoner, but isn't that Whitehall? I think the street name on the right even says "Whitehall SW1". And if Whitehall is on the right, the view is probably looking down Horse Guards Avenue. Here is another picture to compare it with. It looks like the same place to me.

#706 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 08:57 AM:

None of those things* sell well in the litter that drops from Sunday papers.

*Except pretty WAAFs. Those apparently sell like hotcakes.

#707 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 09:13 AM:

A thousand-year-old book of psalms is found in a bog, open to Psalm 83. What is it about the chemistry of bogs that preserves things so effectively?

#708 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 09:34 AM:

What is it about the chemistry of bogs that preserves things so effectively?

It's mildly acidic, which is good for preserving animal proteins--in bogs, bodies, leather and wool are preserved.

Alkaline soil, by contrast, is good for preserving plant matter. This leads to the annoying difficulty of finding out both of how the (wool) overgarment and the (linen) undergarment were made. :) It's kinda like Heisenberg's principle for clothing archaeologists.

#709 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 09:39 AM:

Larry Brennan wrote: I think Pattern Recognition is sufficiently contemporary and sufficiently linear to be made into a decent movie.

Speaking of decent movies... This coming Saturday night, the latest outing from the Skiffy Channel is an alien-abduction movie titled Alien Abduction. I don't think Dean Cain is in that one.

#710 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 09:40 AM:

The book was made of vellum, which is to say, the inner skin of either a sheep or a cow. (Paper had not yet come to Europe when it was made). Bog chemistry includes a fair amount of tannic acid, which does a good job of preserving leather. Bogs are also anaerobic, which reduces the chances of microbial contamination.

What interests me is that the ink was preserved. The inks then were generally made of some black substance (iron, charcoal, mushroom juices) and a binding agent (often albumen). And yet the bog water didn't lift them, nor darken the vellum enough to render it illegible.

I wonder what the binding style was? It was probably sewn with either animal connective tissue or linen thread, both of which had good staying power as well.

#711 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 09:56 AM:

Sorry Greg, It looks like your obscure joke didn't click.

nope. My wife must be right: I'm just not funny. And now a poem, written by me, titled "Ode to Spot":

Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature. ...

oh, never mind.

#712 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:04 AM:

Lizzy L, I think you got the quote wrong.

It was supposed to be "recognize Israel's right to defend itself against serious questions."

I hope that clears things up.

#713 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:45 AM:

abi writes:

"What interests me is that the ink was preserved. The inks then were generally made of some black substance (iron, charcoal, mushroom juices) and a binding agent (often albumen). And yet the bog water didn't lift them, nor darken the vellum enough to render it illegible."

If the ink was based on iron and oak galls (as is not unlikely - such ink was used on the Book of Kells), it would react with the surface of the vellum and turn the vellum itself permanently dark, regardless of what happened to the ink.

#714 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:55 AM:

Maybe there's some obvious and apparent reason for this, but maybe I'm too daft to see it: It seems that the politicians' responses to Maliki condemning Israel is split along political lines. 20 Democrats want to uninvite Maliki from speaking before congress and if he speaks they're saying they'll boycott his speech. None of the Republicans in any of the articles I've read about this have said anything along those lines.

Am I missing something that would explain why this seems to be a party issue?

#715 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:56 AM:

Alas, the Thread of Love has gotten looong, tangled, and slow for me to download. The upcoming Thread of Revolution teases us with its promise! (But then come the Seventies. Oh well.)

[Anyone under 50 can ignore this meaningless comment.]

#716 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:01 AM:

Speaking of Love, Faren... According to Salon.com, Ann Coulter suggests that Bill Clinton might be a homosexual. Her proof?

He likes women a lot.

#717 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Greg,

This post by Matt Yglesias might be a good starting point. Short version: The Democrats, having learned from the Republicans, are demogoguing the issue.

#718 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Margaret,

I knew someone here would know! Fantastic. (I know binding structures and materials, but inks are beyond my ken.) Mind you, the tannins in the bog will have darkened the vellum, but probably not as much as the ink did.

Incidentally, the quantity and quality of vellum used in the Book of Kells probably means that everyone in the vicinity was eating veal for years.

#719 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:42 AM:

adamsj,

yeah, maybe it's just demagoguing, but you demagoge an issue to reframe something complex into something simple. The idea of "separation of powers" and requiring "reasonable cause" for government searches can get demagogued into "cut and run" and "obstructions to fighting criminals and terrorists".

These guys have taken a fairly simple condemnation of Israel from Maliki and demagogued it into something complex. If the dems were trying to demagogue, then they f-ed up the most simple of political games. But then they lost the second election to Shrub, when it should have been a landslide victory, so what can you expect.

does anyone have any info about the actual letter from the group of democrats requesting that maliki be uninvited? who signed it? what it said? I've tried google, but my fu is broken.

#720 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:49 AM:

a factory in Illinois that makes small metal models of factories
This seems really, really familiar, but I cannot place it.

Also, what is the proper name of the table maps, wee figurines, and miniature long-handled hoes, etc. needed for an Operations Centre? I would love to pick up some new decor for my l/a/i/r er, office, but I'm having trouble finding google-able search terms.

-r.

#721 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Rhandir -- it's from the first Austin Powers movie, which I'm ashamed to say I know far too well. When Dr. Evil is reawakend, Number Two tries to bring him up to speed on the holdings of his Evil Empire by displaying a map with all sorts of little model factories on it, one of which, you guessed it...

#722 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 12:21 PM:

There isn't an "official" name for such maps, though "situation map" is often used, the "situation" generally meaning "this is what things look like right now." The aircraft control rooms the RAF used in the Battle of Britain were Operations Rooms, one for each Fighter Group (the "War Room" was the one in Whitehall that Churchill occupied).*

And they don't usually use miniature figures, as picturesque as that is; blocks with ID markings are a lot more practical -- and easier to make, as anyone who's painted miniatures will tell you. Of course, if you are an Evil Overlord rather than a military outfit whose miniatures factories are being targeted by the Luftwaffe, you may have different priorities.

*If you want one book about the mechanics of the Battle, read Len Deighton's Fighter.

#723 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 12:35 PM:

Greg, when you say:

These guys have taken a fairly simple condemnation of Israel from Maliki and demagogued it into something complex.

you are far too reality-based to get the gist of it.

Besides, while Maliki's statement is simple, the situation which lies behind it is quite complex. The Dems have turned it into a black-vs-white argument. (The proposed amnesty for insurgents who targeted Americans but not Iraqis also figures into it.)

#724 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft, John M. Ford,

You've made my day! Whee!* I would have never thought about the pracicalities of actually figuring out what that bit of metal stands for. More proof that real writers research everything.

-r.
*ponders digging out casting moulds for lead soldiers.

#725 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 02:11 PM:

while Maliki's statement is simple, the situation which lies behind it is quite complex. The Dems have turned it into a black-vs-white argument.

It seems like Maliki is saying "Israel killing civilians is wrong" and these dems turned it into "never mind that, Hezbolla started it, and Israel has a right to exist, therefore Israel has a right to defend itself, even to the point of killing innocent civilians, and blah blah blah."

Maliki's statement could be taken as a simple "two wrongs don't make a right". Whereas the Israeli apologists are making all sorts of excuses for the Israeli military killing Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.

And aren't these same Dems hating Leiberman because Leiberman is a Bush-war-in-iraq apologist?

#726 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 02:34 PM:

re invisible octopus particle:

hwah?? Is that for real? That's it. I'm never going in the water, ever again.

#727 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 03:12 PM:

Greg,

The anti-Lieberman sentiment doesn't come from Congress or from any of the current party leaders.

There's even a fair amount of waffling among his Democratic Senate collegues over whether they'll support him as an independent running against Lamont and the Republican, should Lamont win the Democratic primary.

Nutty, huh? There's some speculation that the trade-off for Bill Clinton's recent campaign appearance for LIeberman was a quiet promise from Lieberman that, should he lose the primary, he'll drop out. I have my doubts about that.

See the two entries by guest blogger DK from July 22 in Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo for some additional insight into the third party that runs America.

In breaking news, a sudden outbreak of sanity (in people other than criminal defendants): Yates Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

#728 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 03:30 PM:

The "Daily Kos" inappropriate headline particle made my computer seize up. Anyone else have that problem?

#729 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Greg London - yes, the chameleon octopus is absolutely for real. Octopi are amazing creatures. But don't worry, they're also pretty shy and will tend to run away when people get near (unless you do something really stupid).

Nature had an interesting show about them a while back.

#730 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 03:56 PM:

Almost everybody who uses ink in daily routine has times when they pretend to be a lump of coral, at least figuratively.

#731 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 04:43 PM:

Another observation on Large Maps of Vast Enterprises with Little Models On Them: In "Diamonds are Forever,"* in which Blofeld has taken the place of a reclusive gazillionaire, at the conclusion, Our Heroes, along with the real rich guy, are looking at his model-covered map, trying to locate the bad guys' Secret World-Obliterating Orbital Satellite Headquarters [SWOOSH]. The rich guy points out that he does not, in fact, own an offshore oil rig in Baja California. (He does this with some distaste, as if he would not stoop to extracting wealth from such an infra dig location.)

In other words, Blofeld had a model of the SWOOSH placed on the map for the heroes to find, for reasons that are not immediately obvious. Was he constantly forgetting where it was? Did his cat like to play with it? Was it part of that obsessive-compulsive disorder that afflicts so many major villains?

*Remembered now for Shirley Bassey's performance of the theme song, "This Ain't Goldfinger, Jack."

#732 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 04:48 PM:

A question for people who saw Superman returns... What was that piece that Lois Lane's kid played on the piano, accompanied by one of Lex Luthor's henchmen?

#733 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 05:00 PM:

Heart and Soul by Hoagie Carmichael.

Nearly every kid who's ever touched a piano can pick out the melody, and the bass part is simple, too.

#734 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 05:06 PM:

What was that piece that Lois Lane's kid played on the piano, accompanied by one of Lex Luthor's henchmen?

Well, the last piece was an improv ditty called "henchmen eats piano". The one before that, I'm not so sure about.

#735 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Another observation on Large Maps of Vast Enterprises with Little Models On Them

Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn't have time to build it to scale or to paint it.

#736 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 05:20 PM:

he does not, in fact, own an offshore oil rig in Baja California. (He does this with some distaste

The oil rig probably would block his view of the whales (in season). Or spoil his fishing.

#737 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Thanks, John. Hoagie, eh? Speaking of whom, and this ties in to the Bondian turn the thread has taken... I remember once reading that Ian Fleming had described James Bond as looking like Hoagie.

#738 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 06:10 PM:

What to do with the part of the egg you don't use?

Use it.

We always made Angel Food Cake and Gold Cake on the same day.

For that matter, if what you don't want is the yolks, they make great fried egg sandwiches (on toast, with salsa).

#739 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Oh -- and is someone going to tell the fellow that it's probably Horseguards Avenue?

(If it is, that statue is The Eighth Duke of Devonshire (Lord Hartington).)

#741 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Wow. One can hope!

When do the leaders of the greenhouse denial conspiracy go on trial?

#742 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 07:53 PM:

Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn't have time to build it to scale or to paint it.

Hey, as long as a)something ends up on fire and b)the lightning hits the clock tower at exactly 12:03, we're fine.

#743 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 07:58 PM:

About henchmen... A few years ago, I caught the end of one of your typical teenage-boys-mystically-acquire-great-martial-skills-to-fight-the-Evil-Overlord movies. It showed two of the defeated Evil Overlord's henchmen standing by the side of a road, watching cars go by while they're holding a sign that says:

Will hench for food

#744 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 08:51 PM:

There are plenty of pictures of Hoagy Carmichael out there (the "y" ending is more common -- his first name was Hoagland -- to avoid confusion with the famed songwriting sandwich) and he showed up a couple of times on The Flintstones playing himself. When I lived in Bloomington, I sometimes hung out at (and for a while lived very near) the restaurant where "Stardust" was supposedly written; so did everyone else on campus, of course.

He also holds the record for the longest song title (it's most of the lyric) but you can look that up elsewhere, and compared to his best stuff, it's a mediocre (and very dated) lyric anyway.

#745 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 09:14 PM:

(from memory:)

"I'm a cranky old Yank in a clanky old tank on the streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu mama doin' those beat-o, beat-o, flat-on-my-seat-o, Hirohito blues"

Thanks John. Where else would I get the chance to drag THAT one out?

#746 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:11 PM:

Juli, I hadn't thought about it, but yes -- my computer also froze when I was looking at the piece from from The Daily Kos.

#747 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:25 PM:

Mr. Ford, I snorkeled at the comment about the octopus. Glad I didn't snorkel my beverage out my nose. Octopi are very good at camoflauge, their skin has cells that can change color just that quickly.

adamsj, I just wish it would happen (Future History). A girl can dream. Of course the shrub could claim insanity. Or a Napoleon complex.

#748 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:52 PM:

Paula, the real Napoleon still ended up on Elba (at least for a while), so pleading a complex of that sort might not be helpful to Shrub's cause.

#749 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:17 AM:

I'm thinking about the Hugo Science Fiction Achievement Award for the novel. I'm thinking...
1. It should go to a science fiction novel

Why? One of the first Hugos went to "That Hell-Bound Train", and the rules were formally changed ~25 years ago (to ~" 'SF' wherever used shall embrace 'fantasy' ") -- just to make it clear to the grumblers that there were no grounds for discrimination. If the best work in the year is fantasy, vote for it and damn the historical percentages! I share your qualms about incomplete books (and wasn't nearly as taken by last year's winner as some others in this blog -- I'm not sure that what was wonderful at shorter lengths worked for a monster book) but that doesn't justify picking something for balance.

I'll get off my soapbox now....

#750 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:49 AM:

Teresa,

As long as I'm not the only one!

#751 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Belated comments:

If you look at something in RGB, is the after-image CMYK?

Greg: I got it. It's just another earworm.

Re: henching for food. My sister says when I was a teenager, someone remarked that Grandma had a little hunch back, and I said "Really? Where does she keep it?"

#753 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 02:47 PM:

From the Darn Useful Giant World-Conqueror's Poster description (link above):

“as for ambition however it is not, we would like to taste at least even just atmosphere, (38 year old office workers)” [original quotes]

I believe there's a Hazmat directive regarding that particular atmosphere.

You just paste in the room and the office, quite putting the world on the crotch [...]

"Lord Vader, please. The stormtroopers are nervous enough as it is."

[...] the atmosphere like it does what of, drifts.

Lookit the trails, man.

#754 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Blessings on you, Google Translator, for you have revived that parlor game of old, where geeks compare translations from the foreign. It used to be only for product manuals, but now it can be anything.

#756 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 10:29 AM:

You just paste in the room and the office, quite putting the world on the crotch [...]

"Lord Vader, please. The stormtroopers are nervous enough as it is."

I thought that was Lord Helmet's specialty....

#757 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 12:41 PM:

Bruce-- The comparisons are priceless. It's pretty consistent--As She Is Spoke wins over Babelfish.

#758 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 02:09 PM:

joann: I just want to know if anyone's ever been able to successfully parse "To craunch the marmoset" and figure out where it came from. I mean, comparatively speaking "Why is a Raven like a writing desk?" is crystal clear...

#759 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Susan wrote:
I can't think of any rational reason that I need a 350-pound wooden card-catalog cabinet, but I am nonetheless sentimentally sad that my library is selling them off at $50/each and sort of wish I had the space for such an unwieldy souvenir of the pre-digital era.

We have in a corner of our living room, de-accessioned from a former library of my dearling librarian partner, a single-row five drawer unit and two three-row by five-drawer units, stacked as they're built to do, containing our collection of music cassette tapes. We continue to put off figuring out how to move said collection to a digital archive for what can only be called highly sentimental reasons including having such elegant and delightful storage.

Apropos of nothing, I just this week corrected the up-to-now oversight, having missed the existance of Teresa's book, Making Book, which arrived yesterday. I amused myself and said librarian-sweetling of mine by reading portions thereof until my voice gave out, as much from laughing as from the reading. Wonderful!
A copy of same will be shortly purchased for the CIIS library and the essay on the Pastafazool Cycle on will soon appear in the attention and notice of folks teaching research methods there. Oh my, Yes.

#760 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 09:31 PM:

I just want to know if anyone's ever been able to successfully parse "To craunch the marmoset" and figure out where it came from. I mean, comparatively speaking "Why is a Raven like a writing desk?" is crystal clear...

The phrase "To craunch a marmoset" is a jewel from English as She is Spoke, a Portugese-English dictionary written by two men who had a Portugese-French and a French-English dictionary to base their work on.

The most plausible, that is to say, better than nothing, explanation I've ever seen for it is "Gathering Monkeys", meaning, to loll about and gossip. Anyone familiar enough with either Shakespeare or Moore to verify the claims in the article gets the no-prize of the day.

#761 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 10:35 PM:

comparatively speaking "Why is a Raven like a writing desk?" is crystal clear...

But it \is/ crystal clear; it has at least one good answer: orpnhfr Cbr jebgr ba obgu bs gurz. (I don't know whether or Dodgson intended it.) (Xopher and other rhetoricians are invited to explain the trick of that answer; I'm sure the device has a name, but I can't recall it.)

#762 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 11:11 PM:

Looks like a simple lexical ambiguity to me. And I always heard 'raisin'; no wonder I could never solve that riddle!

#763 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 04:06 AM:

Dodgson went on record as saying that, as originally intended, the point was that the riddle had no answer - which didn't stop various people, him included, attempting to produce a satisfactory one.

As is so often the case, Cecil Adams has the goods.

#764 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 08:40 PM:

Linkmeister, Larry Brennan - Thanks for your responses; sorry I didn't respond sooner myself but I was mostly offline for the past week.

Me:

Linkmeister: The blindness of the Israel-supporters never ceases to amaze me.

Did you mean to say "some Israel" supporters or even "most Israel supporters" there, Linkmeister? Or did you mean what you said: That all Israel-supporters are blind?

Larry Brennan:

Mitch - I won't speak for Linkmeister, but I personally know quite a few people who believe that *everything* Israel does is a matter of life and death and therefore justifiable. Even considering the possibility that Israel may have done something bad gives them brain spasms.

As to how well I know some of these folks - I was in their wedding parties.

I know many of the same people, or their spiritual kinfolk. I grew up with them, and was educated by them in Hebrew School.

I just view it as a blind spot. These folks, whom I love dearly, will probably never be able to budge an inch in their view of Israel.

And yes, I do have close friends who generally suppport Israel, and who can consider the actions of specific Israeli governments and judge them as foolish, misguided and perhaps even evil. (FWIW, I consider myself in this category.)

As do I.

The flip side of the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd is the Israel-can-do-no-right crowd. The latter group is often taken for anti-Semites--and it's sometimes hard to tell them apart.

Linkmeister:

Mitch, I probably should have said "many" Israel-supporters.

I fully support Israel's right to exist, but I don't think bombing Lebanon to bits is necessarily the wisest way to ensure it. After all, had Lebanon actually made it to a functioning democracy, it might have decided that its southern neighbor had just as much right to be there as any other country.

I worry that with this seemingly indiscriminate bombing Israel has just created a new generation of Hezbollah followers. That isn't in Israel's best interest over the long term.

I don't worry so much about this attack generating new recruits for Hezbollah. Hezbollah had no problems doing that on its own.

I worry more about the loss of innocent Israeli, Lebanese, and other lives, and the lives of people who honestly believed they were doing their duty.

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