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July 26, 2006

Open thread 68
Posted by Teresa at 10:05 PM *

“The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.” — Robert Graves
Comments on Open thread 68:
#1 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:11 PM:

When he wasn't being Bacon or Marlowe, of course.

#2 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:31 PM:

I've had that experience with countless books. Most recently Delany's "Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand," which was so widely-praised that I didn't expect it to be anywhere near as good as it was.

#3 ::: Simon Haynes ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:37 PM:

Usually my expectations go down as the hype goes up.
However, from time to time I pick up an overhyped book everyone says I 'just gotta' read and it's very good, which is a pleasant surprise.
I suppose we shouldn't be shocked like this - 'popular' on TV doesn't usually translate to quality.

#4 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:41 PM:

My latest such realization is Shakira. She kicks serious ass, popular or not.

#5 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 10:54 PM:

Throwing myself on the mercy of the assembled--can anyone ID this story?

A research expedition(?) was based near Jupiter(?). To relieve the boredom and isolation, the people had a theater in which each person mentally animated a character. One human could control only one character at a time. The protagonist started to wonder whether the characters had come to life. The story ended with the characters walking off the stage toward the audience.

This would be no later than the mid-1960s, and I think it was shorter than novel length.

Anyone?

#6 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:04 PM:

Brenda, you are probably right that it was a short story or novella or some such animal, but the plot summary makes me wonder if it might have been a Twilight Zone episode. It just sounds like the sort of thing TZ would have done. And, no, I am not going to do the google-spell necessary to find out the truth. Life's too short.

#7 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:18 PM:

"All that fellow Shakespeare did was string a bunch of quotations together."

#8 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:30 PM:

Lizzy,

No, I remember a written piece. For one thing, my family was television-challenged, and I didn't see the Twilight Zone--or Get Smart, or the Monkees, or Mr. Ed, or ... on and on.

The problem with Google in this case is, as you say, life's too short. I can't think of a search string that wouldn't return thousands of hits.

So, I'm still hoping someone will recognize the story.

#9 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:45 PM:

This is an oddly timely open thread/starter - I've been having a series of interesting conversations, trying to come up with a reasonable (pseudo-academic) description for reputation.

The latest revision is:

"A reputation is a shared valuation about a property of an entity[0] that may or may not be provable"

I'm curious to hear what other folk think.

[0] An entity could be a person, place or thing

#10 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:46 PM:

Brenda:

I don't recognize the story, but Abebooks.com has a feature called "Book Sleuth" that has done wonders on just such tasks. Readers are asked to help identify books based on partial remembrance of plot, characters, etc. and sometimes even things like "it was a kid's book about gondolas with illustrations in oil pastel."

#11 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:50 PM:

About 10 years ago, when I got serious and decided to finish my undergrad degree, I found myself in six-credit summer session literature class where we read a book or two a week. I was shocked at how much I liked the big pile of "books you should read".

The biggest surprise of all was how much I liked The Scarlet Letter once I got plugged into the language. I even started speaking in faux-Hawthorne around the office until people started throwing things at me.

Just because it's well regarded doesn't mean it's overrated. Even though far too often it does.

#12 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2006, 11:56 PM:

Larry: I believe one feature of the undergrad literary canon is that it's better suited to be appreciated by people who have gone back to school after few years (or decades), than by people who are there on the usual schedule.

This may be true of literature in general, i.e. that the more life experience you have, the better placed you are to understand and appreciate it.

Or is "the more you bring to it, the more you get out of it" a feature that separates great literature from lesser works? (Speaking only for myself, I've found that the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, shares this quality, while many run-of-the-mill fantasies do not.)

#13 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Or is "the more you bring to it, the more you get out of it" a feature that separates great literature from lesser works? (Speaking only for myself, I've found that the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, shares this quality, while many run-of-the-mill fantasies do not.)

Well, quite. But pity the Generic Extruded Fantasy Product - one of the things you bring to it is Lord of the Rings, and all the other Tolkein, and the jewels of Anglo-Saxon you were prompted to read because of it. I often wonder what sadistic streak prompts editors to put "comparable to Tolkein at his best" on a book cover. Seriously, who wins by that copmparison?

#14 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:07 AM:

Abebooks.com has a feature called "Book Sleuth" that has done wonders on just such tasks. Readers are asked to help identify books based on partial remembrance of plot, characters, etc.

Lila,

This is wonderful. I'm there!

Happily,

Brenda

#15 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:55 AM:

This may be true of literature in general, i.e. that the more life experience you have, the better placed you are to understand and appreciate it.

Probably, but it makes my prospects for happiness and fulfillment as a college lit instructor seem rather less than rosy. Still, one must try, I suppose...

#16 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:00 AM:

Mmmmmm bacon.

#17 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:30 AM:

The appreciation of literature isn't binary, get it/don't get it; many, if not most, works of depth can be read for their pleasures as adventure stories by almost anybody, and returned to when other themes have room to resonate, either against direct life experience or s knowledge of history. The Iliad is an obvious example, Dumas is another. To be crude and nasty, one of the distinguishing features of crap entertainment is that it offers nothing new to on a repeat performance, and nothing new to the viewer who has changed/matured/learned/sobered up in the interval.

The perspective shift (the parallax?) is certainly true of Shakespeare for the reader -- the Falstaff one wants to hit the streets with at seventeen turns into the abandoned scoundrel of a later age -- but it's also true that a high-school performance of Rude Boy Hal (never mind, gor' save 'un, Cordelia's Bad Hair Day) is going to hit different notes than one with older actors, even if the older cast are not vastly more skilled actors. Which is entirely as it should be; student acting can be ruined as an experience (though I think this is much less common than it was) by teachers who are trying to get everyone to hit the marks from whatever taped production the class has been shown as a model, and not find their own modus locopodus, to new-mint the words, in John Barton's phrase.

This has been tonight's performance of Numbingly Obvious Points Theater. What, ladies, gentlemen, have ye no Stephen Colbert to go to?

#18 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:46 AM:

And of Frank Lloyd Wright one could say that he really was very good, despite his telling us so, often.

#19 ::: Stefan Kapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:53 AM:

"Comparable to Tolkien at His Best"

The Regency Romance version of this, that I long ago -- back in my teens -- learned to cringe at is/was...

"Quite possibly the new Georgette Heyer!"

Aieeee! Pity the poor author.

Being held up as comparable to the person who arguably the invented the (sub)genre you're writing in (whichever, and whoever those may be) is not being well served by your publisher's marketing department. Not at all.

#20 ::: Alyx ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:55 AM:

Brenda:
That story sounds a lot (but not exactly) like John Varley's "The Black Hole Passes".

#21 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:50 AM:

I've had that sort of experience (really quite astonishingly good even though everyone says so) with Marquez recently. I mean, I'd known of him for a long time, and a name as lyrical as "Love in Time of Cholera" is hard to forget, but for some reason I'd always assumed I wouldn't like him. Saw the Cholera book for real cheap in a local bookstore, grabbed it, and was in turn grabbed by it. It would not let me go. I hadn't been this hooked on a book for a long time. Finished it in a few days, too.

#22 ::: mouseduh ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 07:07 AM:

how can you not like shakespeare? has anyone seen that one animaniacs short where they compare shakespeare to a modern day famous movie producer in hollywood?

#23 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 07:27 AM:

"Comparable to Tolkien at His Best"

To crib from Douglas Adams, the comparison would probably be along the lines of "This book, unlike Tolkien at his best..."

My old editor was always emphatic about the distinction between "compared to" and "compared with". "Compared to" emphasises similarities, "compared with" emphasises differences. This may have been just a foible of hers, but it does allow a new sort of reviewer snark - "Comparable with Tolkien at his best" - along the lines of "this book fills a much-needed gap".

#25 ::: Robin Z ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 07:33 AM:

"A reputation is a shared valuation about a property of an entity that may or may not be provable"

It's good, but a question: must it be a publically shared valuation? I'm not sure it's a reputation if the valuation isn't present in the discourse on the subject.

#26 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:05 AM:

"Comparable to Tolkien at his best"

Didn't Michael Moorcock use that blurb to mean "I really, really can't stand this book" ?

#27 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:06 AM:

Robin, I think "shared" implies "shared by a relevant group," not just me and the squirrel in my pocket. In that context, a scholar may have a reputation among people who know her field, whether or not people outside that group have heard of her. A novelist may have a reputation, again for good or ill, among fantasy readers without being known to scholars of Anglo-Saxon (or, I suppose, vice versa).

Very few people are known, for good or ill, to everybody, or even to a meaningful approximation of everybody. And when they are, it's likely to be that lots of people have heard of Agatha Christie or Tolkien, rather than that they have any opinion of their works, whether based on having read them, on adaptations, or even on "my grandmother/cousin/teacher said."

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:11 AM:

Lila wrote: I often wonder what sadistic streak prompts editors to put "comparable to Tolkien at his best" on a book cover.

That reminds me of a book review I read in a fanzine back in the Seventies. I can't remember which book it was, but I do remember that the reviewer was rather amused at the book's blurb describing it as being in the grand tradition of Tolkien AND Robert Howard.

#29 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:57 AM:

"Shadow Show" by Clifford Simak.

#30 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:59 AM:

Brenda, if abebooks fails you, drop a post on the Usenet group rec.arts.sf.written with the subject line "YASID" (Yet Another Story ID). I'm always amazed at how consistently someone can identify a story from what can be, at times, extremely sketchy details.

#31 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:03 AM:

"Where's your Willy Shakespeare now?"

He's a good read. Sometimes I reluctantly agree with Shaw's criticisms, but I always agree with his praise of that word-music. (Which reminds me, W.W. Norton kindly put a heapin' helping of Shakespeare music mp3s online as a supplement to the CD included with the Shakespeare songbook. There are also other sound files of readings from English lit, as long as I'm mentioning it. Anyway, I've always kind of wanted to see the last act of "Cymbeline" that Shaw rewrote, just to show how Shakespeare should have done it. Shaw gives good Fakespeare, imho.

"Hey, to be or what!?" [Sir Robin of Williams, SNL]

Graves strikes me as slightly uneven. When he's good, he's very, very good, and writes I, Claudius. His memoir, Good-Bye To All That, is worth multiple reads, too. Some other things that I've read by him didn't blaze quite so brilliantly, though I seem to recall enjoying his retelling of The Odyssey from the point of view of one of the crew (Hercules, My Shipmate). The Islands of Unwisdom was interesting to read, but left me without any strong feelings. I keep trying to start reading King Jesus, and always end up putting it back down. Something to do with the minutea of Goddess cults, perhaps. I start to blur. Speaking of which, time to stop writing, I think. I do need to go find more of Graves's poems, though. (Note to self.)

#32 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:05 AM:

A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Best last words ever.

#33 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:12 AM:

"Count Belisarius" is good. "Goodbye to All That" is well written but doubtfully true. Did soldiers really welcome offensives, because the chance of getting a serious wound was higher? (In a trench, Graves points out, you tended to get shot in the head and killed; in an offensive you could be shot in the leg and sent home to England, which was the best option if you assumed that you were stuck in the war indefinitely.)
You can't really tap out Morse messages in machinegun fire by removing rounds from the ammo belts in set patterns, because as soon as the gun reaches an empty loop, it stops firing. (The explosion of one round provides the force to load the next one.)
Nor can you make tea from the cooling water in a Vickers gun - at least, only undrinkably oily tea.

So I wonder how much else he made up...

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:16 AM:

Anybody remember the episode of Moonlighting titled Atomic Shakespeare?

#35 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Serge: We hate iambic pentameter!

#36 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:35 AM:

I adore Shakespeare. I just wish highschool teachers would keep him in drama class where he belongs. Shakespeare's works were plays, not poems, and they were never meant to be read (sonnets aside, but even those were recited). Certainly the words are important-- theater goers in Elizabethan England went to hear plays, not see them-- but until you have some understanding of acting and theatercraft, you can't appreciate the true genius (or lack thereof) of famous playwrites.

My favorite example comes from the beginning of King Lear: "I Heard myself proclaimed, and by the Happy Hollow of a tree escaped the Hunt." English teachers look at that and go "Alliteration! take notes-- that's important." Actors look at the same line and say "He's out of breath from running. Putting panting sounds in the dialogue helps the actor communicate that without stumbling over their lines." You look at it from a theater perspective, and suddenly it's a concrete, logical device instead of an abstract concept thrown in to torture tenth graders the world over.

Same with the rhyming couplets at the end of a scene-- If you know the line rhymes with the line previous, it's easier to figure out what the heck the actor's saying. This is especially helpful when you're in a house where no one's bothered to invent microphones yet and the actor is probably facing away from you as they exit the stage.

If actors taught shakespeare instead of English teachers, fewer highschool students would hate him so.

#37 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:46 AM:

"Reputation is what others know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself." As Aral Vorkosigan says. Reputation not necessarily being true, just what others THINK they know about you.

#38 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:47 AM:

Robin Z:
"A reputation is a shared valuation about a property of an entity that may or may not be provable"

It's good, but a question: must it be a publically shared valuation? I'm not sure it's a reputation if the valuation isn't present in the discourse on the subject.

I don't think it needs to be a publically shared valuation - if you think about it, there's plenty of backroom whispering about reputation ("Joe's got a rep that get can get you anything ... for a price") - but I think the valuation needs to be there as well.

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:48 AM:

Carrie S... I take it as a yes, that you do remember that episode of Moonlighting. It had everything, including ninja fights and glass-wearing horses, and Petruchio showing up at Kate's door and an exchange ensueing about piano-tuning and pianist envy.

#40 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:00 AM:

"A reputation is a shared valuation about a property of an entity[0] that may or may not be provable"

Reputation is what other people think of you, whether you share it with them or not. What they think may or may not be provable, and it may be completely subjective, making it beyond proof.


Oh, and to the new open thread, I just have to say: "I CAN BREATH!"

O give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above, don't fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love, don't fence me in.

#41 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:25 AM:

I posted the link to that poem on another discussion board and someone remarked, "That's the poetry version of I write the songs."

I smacked my forehead!

#42 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:45 AM:

remember that episode of Moonlighting. It had everything, including ninja fights and glass-wearing horses

gawds. I watched Moonlighting every night for years, and all I can remember from that entire series are two scenes.

First one is when Dave's brother shows up in town being chased by bad guys cause he took some money from them. The bad guys had stuffed it under the good of his car, and when he opens the hood, "For the love of money" plays. Specifically the line "money, money, money". He closes the briefcase and the music stops. He opens it agains, and then the music plays "MONEY!".

The other scene has Dave and Maddie talking back and forth, about a man with a mole on his nose, who do you suppose, that anybody knows, about the mole on his nose. They go back and forth liek this for a while, Dave always rhyming off of whatever Maddie says, and Maddie gets frustrated and asks him "How do you do that?" or something. And Dave replies "Read a lot of Dr. Seuss."

Everything else is gone. Harddrive crashed with no backups. I'm sure I saw the ninja episode. I just can't remeber it. It think it might have gotten pushed out by more 80's TV stuff, like the pink helicopter in "Riptide" or something.

#43 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:49 AM:

Yeah, I remember that episode and the one they did as film noir, and approximately three other scenes, and that's it. I know my mom and I watched Moonlighting every week for pretty much the entirety of its run, but aside from those few bits it's a total blank for me.

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Re: "Comparable to Tolkien at his best ..."

Tolkien left readers hungry for More Books Like That. Problem: there were no other books like that. For a while, all sorts of old fantasy was getting exhumed and reprinted, because that market segment would buy it. (I was sold the Perelandra books on that basis. I'm still indignant.)

Tolkien also made an overwhelming impression on writers. It took a long time for some of them to fully assimilate it. During the years when they were still processing it, they tended to be a bit derivative.

In the years since LOTR hit big in the United States, the audience it's left behind of readers hungry for More Books Like That has bought and read the next best thing they could find: and thus the sell line in question.

I'm pretty sure that most of them know it's not really as good as Tolkien. For the ones who can't tell the difference, it's a true statement. For the rest, what it says is "These books do their best to deliver that same experience."

#45 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:53 AM:

And just to get back on topic :), I think I can say with certainty that my taste in yarn and Kate Salter's are alike in that way that's almost but not quite completely different. There was exactly one skein I'd consider buying, if I had money to spend on yarn and had a project in mind for it.

#46 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:54 AM:

(Re my comment in Open Thread 67 yesterday): Viva la revolucion!

As for that "Gee, it actually is good!" experience, it happens to reviewers too. For a future Locus column, I've just read a bunch of seriously hyped first novels -- one with a pre-publication ad in The New Yorker and a seven-figure deal, two with seven-figure movie deals (and one of these is just the first in a seven-book series), one with a six-figure marketing campaign (including an online RPG), and yet another plugged on the galley as "immensely commercial heroic fantasy". And gorblimey (blush), I liked them all!

#47 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 11:16 AM:

More geek knitting! Spirals, hexagons, pentagons, and those double spirals you get in sunflower centers and pineapples. IME "fun to knit" and "worth wearing" are mutually exclusive, but not this time. If you're near a bookstore, check it out!

#48 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 11:35 AM:

Comparable to Tolkien at his pretty good!

For the genterations of fans who have been waiting for a book that was enough like that other book, there is now

Faucets of Grignr: the Hyoids and the Critics

Read what startled priests of Magic-Like Realsim have to say:

"Furthers Argon studies further than they have ever been furthered before."
"One of the most startling papers to cross my desk since I unwrapped my lunch."
"Woo."

Available now from discriminant sorces, in an edition with genuine binding and a dynmanic cover painting in two colors by E. R. "Ted" Frozetta (no relation).

#49 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:05 PM:

Okay, a small defense of comparing one author to another. I publish poetry. I even try to sell the poetry, and my sales reps always ask me who each author is like. It allows them to explain the book quickly to the bookseller (who is likely an independent bookseller, and has given the sales rep a half an hour to talk about everything.) It also gives the book a frame of reference for the buyer. I stock so and so, so I'll try this new author.

Now there are lots more people reading fantasy than there are reading poetry, but that makes it even more necessary to have a quick understanding of a book. Very few people expect the blurbs on the back to be (completely) honest. The blurbs just need to strike a chord that will get you to read the first few pages if you're the reader, or put the book on your shelves if you're the bookseller. Then we hope the sheer brilliance of the writing will do the rest.

#50 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:10 PM:

And then there's the whole new Bob Dylan thing.

#51 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:52 PM:

Augh!

A pox on publishers who don't indicate clearly on a cover that a book is a sequel!

I picked up Lois McMaster Bujold's "Paladin of Souls" this weekend. It mentions "Curse of Chalion" on the inside cover, but not that "Paladin" is the sequel.

I'm really enjoying "Paladin" (am only about 1/4 of the way through) and was looking forward to more in this setting, but now "Curse" is totally spoiled for me.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:57 PM:

Naw, not spoiled. A little spoilered. But how they got there will still be fun to read. Not to mention what they did along the way, and how they got into the mess in the first place. Don't skip it; it's a great piece of work.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Xopher... Your experience reminds me of the early Seventies when, for reasons unknown, I read the second Foundation book first. Didn't spoil anything, but it caused some confusion to yours truly at first.

#54 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:07 PM:

(I was sold the Perelandra books on that basis. I'm still indignant.)

I had almost the opposite experience; I loved a lot of the books wrongly marketed as Tolkienesque. I particularly liked the way that the Gor series looked just like any other fantasy novels, so I could carry pornography around junior high with no problems, but I also enjoyed even such unlikely teenage fare as The Worm Ouroboros.

But when I read The Sword of Sha-na-na, I was so pissed off at its shameless Tolkien imitation that I literally burned my copy, Hildebrandt color plates and all. (I was a rather overdramatic teenager.)

#55 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:10 PM:

Not to nitpick, but Hercules, My Shipmate is actually a retelling of the Argosy, not the Odyssey. Count Belisarius is best read just after reading The Secret History, by Procopius (which I also highly recommend: did you know that Justinian and Theodora were actually demons -- there were eyewitnesses! Even the most unhinged Clinton- or Bush-haters don't go that far. Usually.)

I still have fondness for The White Goddess (non-fiction, more-or-less) in spite of its being twaddle. It's good twaddle.

#56 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Yeah, I'll probably read "Chalion" anyway, maybe after I've finished "The Historian" and started "Melusine" so that I might have forgotten a little of "Paladin".

It's certainly (sadly) unique to have a 40-year-old heroine, but the novelty is lost now that I know the series started with her as a young woman. Luckily from what I can tell, Ista didn't start as a standard issue innocent-yet-spunky-young-heroine-in-a-chain-mail-bra, thank Lois McMaster Bujold for that!

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:36 PM:

And she wasn't a young woman when the series started. She's a young woman only in flashback IIRC.

#58 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:37 PM:

I'm really enjoying "Paladin" (am only about 1/4 of the way through) and was looking forward to more in this setting, but now "Curse" is totally spoiled for me.

I take it you never watch Smallville and skipped over Revenge of the Sith, then.

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:45 PM:

"But when I read The Sword of Sha-na-na . . ."

(Supresses taste of bile at back of mouth.)

I spent so much on the pricey trade PB ream of mediocrity that burning it would have been out of the question . . . I vaguely recall wondering if I could return it, or who I might regift it to.

#60 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:56 PM:

It's certainly (sadly) unique to have a 40-year-old heroine, but the novelty is lost now that I know the series started with her as a young woman. Luckily from what I can tell, Ista didn't start as a standard issue innocent-yet-spunky-young-heroine-in-a-chain-mail-bra, thank Lois McMaster Bujold for that!

No, no! The first book takes place only a few years before the second and does not center on Ista at all. She is a fairly minor character who makes a few appearances and at one point describes important past events, but she is never a young woman in the book. The young woman heroine of the first book is her daughter Iselle, who never appears in Paladin. You've been spoilered, but not unbearably, really.

It's not really a series; it's a set of books (five intended) all set in the same universe. The third book (The Hallowed Hunt) takes place in a different century and different country and has no overlapping characters at all unless you count the gods.

I'm trying to sell this series to a senior person at work who doesn't appear to be much of a genre reader art all but has somehow stumbled across the Thomas Covenant books, of all things, and seems to be enjoying them.

#61 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:09 PM:

Well, I don't watch Smallville anyway, but mostly because I find Superman the least compelling superhero ever. ROTS (how appropriate an acronym!) I saw pretty much because I had already seen the other two crummy prequels, and I had to see the last (slightly less crummy) film.

Pre-quels are (or at least should be) different than previous chapters of a story. In the first-of-a-series, there's foreshadowing that pays off by the end. I've read some books (don't remember which) in which the foreshadowing is such a big part of the story, when I went back to them with knowledge of the payoff, there wasn't much to them.

It's the same idea with re-reading books. Some books I've enjoyed don't hold up to a second reading. For me it all comes down to characterization - I'll re-read Martin's ASOIAF books even though I know what happens because the characters are so well-drawn and complex. Harry Potter books, which I do really love reading, generally don't get re-read.

With these books, I get the feeling that they're well-written enough that it won't matter. Still, I would have liked to have known that Chalion was the first when I was trying to decide which two of the five paperbacks I had been juggling I was going to buy; in the end, I believe it came down to which book was longer.

Curse my limited book budget!

#62 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Any James Alan Gardner fans here? I picked up Hunted last night out of my giant stacks of unread books. While I'm enjoying it in a mild way, it's also giving me a huge and nagging sense of deja vu. Most of the plot rings no bells, but some of the flashback parts and the names of the (mostly deceased) aliens do. I can't believe I wouldn't have remembered the rather startling opening chapter if I'd ever read it before, and one of the major characters is totally unfamiliar, but the further I get into the book the more there's a sense that I know what happened and that I know parts of what comes next. And that's weird. It's not the sort of book I'd generallly pick up. I have no idea how I ended up owning a copy, in fact. Why do parts of it feel so familiar?

It's possible I've just read it before, but my memory is not usually this scattershot, and the book only came out in 2000, so time can't account for lack of memory. But I also wonder if perhaps there was a short story or novella that was later expanded into the novel. None of his other books seem to fit, and his bibliography of short stories gives me no clues.

This is driving me insane.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Glenn Haumann writes: I take it you never watch Smallville and skipped over Revenge of the Sith, then.

Why would anyone not want to skip the latter? After seeing The Dumb Menace, I realized I had just seen a Lucas-involving movie even worse than Return of the Jedi or Howard the Duck, and decided that never again would I add to Georgie's wealth. I caught the end of Attack of the Clowns on some hotel's movie channel and knew I had made the right decision. Last summer, while waiting for Fantastic Four(*)'s showing to begin, I suck in and saw Revenge on The Spit. Its big duel cum lame verbal exchanges made me wonder if Lucas had totally lost it.

======

(*) Don't get me started on that one.

#64 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Speaking of things to drive one insane, I'm trying to nail a song with these lyrics:

While the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I'll eat your strawberries,
I'll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrows will all pass away
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today.

That's about all I can remember. I learned the song the summer of 1974, if that's any help. I'd really like to know the title, composer, lyricist if possible as I'd really like to get a recording of this.

Oh, yes, and my google fu is pretty good, and I'm not getting this information there - just partial copies of the lyrics, proving I'm not imagining things.

Thanks!

#65 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:23 PM:

While the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I'll eat your strawberries,
I'll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrows will all pass away
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today.

Aaaah! Aaaah! I learned that song too! At summer camp in Texas at about the same time, or maybe a few years later. Now it's in my head too! And it isn't driving out the Gardner; now I have brightly-colored lobsters singing Girl Scouts campfire songs in my head!

Maybe I will have better google-fu on this one.

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Do any of you clever people have to hand the dates of original publication of poems by Robert Graves? I'm looking for:

A Phoenix Flame
The Hearth
Vanity
Mermaid, Dragon, Fiend
Total length in lines would be helpful too.

Thanks --

#67 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:27 PM:

The song is called "Today", or at least that's the title I learned it under at Girl Scout camp in ~1988. This page claims words and music by Randy Sparks, and if you like I can make you an audio recording of the tune I learned--complete with optional soprano harmony if I can find another soprano who knows it. :)

#68 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:30 PM:

Margaret, Susan, it's called "Today", it was recorded by the New Christy Minstrels, and it was featured in an otherwise forgettable movie called Advance to the Rear.

Furthermore, you've now got it stuck in my head too, and I know the whole damned soppy thing. Bleah!

#70 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Serge -

All I took away from Fantastic Four was Ioan Gruffudd Pretty! But since I already knew that from watching the Horatio Hornblower series, it was kind of a waste of $14.

Finally completely viewing Lucas' bizarre attempt at prequels made me a believer in fanfic; I don't read a lot, but the stuff I do has a lot more respect for other people's source material than he did for his own.

#71 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:35 PM:

Google comes through: "Today".

Now I have some truly horrible camp songs richocheting around in my head.


#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:37 PM:

Shakespeare is an endless source of metaphors. The Tempest, for example is the source of two of the most significant metaphors in the Americas-south-of-the-Rio-Bravo, the metaphor of Ariel and that of Caliban.

Ariel is the title of an essay by the Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó,in which Ariel represents Latin American in contrast to Caliban who inhabits a certain country in the northern part of the two continents.

Both Aimé Césaire and Roberto Fernández Retamar have used Caliban as a metaphor for the condition of the colonised (and enslaved) populations of the Americas.

That's just one play.

#73 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:41 PM:

Oh good lord.

I knew those crappy lyrics were familiar! While I didn't sing them at camp (mormons frown on signing songs with references to wine) but we used it as a warm up in HS choir. I can still remember the freaking alto line.

Blech.

#74 ::: RCT ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:41 PM:

Brenda, I think your story is "The Saturn Game" by Poul Anderson. It was in Analog in 1981.

I came across it in an Anderson anthology called Explorations.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:43 PM:

nerdycellist... If Lucas had any humility left in him, he'd have stepped aside and let real SF writers cook up the damn story for him. I betcha there are plenty of SF pros who would have been willing to do it free of charge.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:48 PM:

nerdycellist (cont'd)... It appears that the 2nd FF movie will have the Silver Smurfer in it and guess who'll show up near the end? (Hint.. He has a big appetite.)

#77 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:50 PM:

The one redeeming moment of the last of the Star Wars prequels was the Vader mask coming down over Anakin's head. That minute of film Really Worked for me.

Actually, I think that may have been the only redeeming moment in the entire prequel trilogy.

I escaped from the official SW universe in early 1983 and went off into fanfic, where I found versions that were more clearly The Real Story.

#78 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:52 PM:

Serge: Your mention of Howard the Duck reminded me of the only funny thing in it: the revelation that the cafeteria trashed at the climax (if that is what it was) of the film was a 'Cajun Sushi Restaurant' -- I've wondered ever since how you blacken raw redfish.

#79 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:54 PM:

My Bantam paperback of Connie Willis's 'To Say Nothing of the Dog' has the following on the cover, above her name and the title (in caps):
"The most hilarious book of its kind since John Irving's The Water-method Man and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole" * (as far as I can tell the * is resolved on the back cover as 'Des Moines Sunday Register').

What were they thinking?

I just re-read this book (for at least the 4th time) and if any of you haven't read it you should.
If I had to describe it in terms of other authors would be as a mashup of Jerome K Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" with Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps" and Dorothy L Sayers in her prime, but that misses out the love stories threaded ingeniously through the plot.
But really, why put that on the cover?

#80 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:55 PM:

"Today" was a summer camp staple for me in the mid-60s in Kentucky. What I get, I guess, for going to a camp whose music counselors were all into folk music and had the acoustic guitars to prove it.

#81 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 03:03 PM:

After we moved from Texas and I no longer had access to the relatively good Girl Scout camp (where I learned "Today" but also got to spend most of the days in the lake doing the only sport I'm any good at), I was sent off to a horrible camp with no lake and the appalling concept of Color War (just in case I wanted to relive the constant school year experience of being the one no one wanted on their team). And there I learned a dreadful song called "B.L.T." which probably permanently damaged my sexuality along with giving me a certain horror of the sandwich.

Anyone know the source for these brilliant lyrics?

I took my baby for a big night in the city
I paid at Joe's for the biggest meal in town
And over a sandwich, I asked my baby
"What do you think of me?"
She said, "Baby you're a ripe tomato,
"And I'm your B.L.T."

It's always nice to know that I haven't yet hit absolute rock bottom in romantic dates and seductive conversation.

Next up from the sludge of my memory: Vi-o, vi-o, vi-o-LA!

#82 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 03:07 PM:

As admirable as Ezra Klein's Particulated piece is, I would note that the op-ed page is not a dojo. A dojo is where people go to learn things that they do not already know, an yo' occasionally gets smacked upside yo' fool head by yo' sensei dude. A dojo that merely reinforced its students' novice beliefs would collectively wind up like the guy from Star Wars who tries to push Yojimbo around.

The op-ed page being spoken of is Street Fighter, perhaps aspiring to be Tekken.

And Patrick beat me to the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Typo.

Yes, it has been a long day. Why do you ask?

#83 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 03:27 PM:

The one redeeming moment of the last of the Star Wars prequels was the Vader mask coming down over Anakin's head.

When it happened in episode 4 and again when it happened in 3, I had exactly the same thought: can't the guy put his own damn helmet on??? Wouldn't a machine pushing a helmet on just shave your ears right off?

Eps 4,5,6 had humor in them. Eps 1,2,3 took themselves way too seriously. The life had gone out of them for me. Post analysis for me determined that the "life" of that world was the myth of the Jedi and their near extinction. To actually try and film the myth made that world a lot less rich, not more rich.

The only moment in the prequels that I liked was in Ep 3 when Ewan McGregor screams "You were like a brother to me" and I could hear the anguish, simultaneous pain and anger, in his voice. In other words, he was acting in a scene that required acting. Everything else was simply people going through the motions to get to the destination.

#84 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 03:32 PM:

"Comparable to Tolkien"

The equivalent in baseball is "The Next Mickey Mantle! The Next Willie Mays!"

Cursed be the player so acclaimed.

#85 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 03:41 PM:

RCT, I don't think "The Saturn Game" is the story Brenda is thinking of. It's got similar features, but it's not the same.

(Though if she looks it up herself to see, she won't be poorly rewarded for her effort--it was awfully good.)

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Greg London said about Star Wars that Eps 4,5,6 had humor in them. Eps 1,2,3 took themselves way too seriously.

One of the things that really bugged me about the prequels is that they had nobody like Han Solo to deflate the Self-Importance of the other characters.

#87 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Less than 150 hours to the Hugo deadline: is there an intarweb thread discussing it? Haven't seen much recently on the r.a.sf.*s.

I am concerned that a certain non-stand-alone novel could win. Concern based on one random comment in a 'Please Vote' thread on a nominee's blog. It wasn't appropriate to discuss such things on that blog, and I haven't seen the subject around elsewhere.

The commenter claimed that 1. The n-s-a novel has an active fandom and 2. The Science Fiction vote will get split 4-ways among the strong field. (If a science fiction novel ever got nominated for the World Fantasy Award, would it do the same there?)

As I wrote in ot67, the Hugos imply "this is the best we have in SF." So, for the 21st century, the best we have in novels is fantasy?

Gah. [waves stick to get kids off lawn]

#88 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:00 PM:

Shakespeare wrote just about everything that needs to be said about the human condition, and said it better than most of us can ever hope.

But, to borrow from a much later dramatist, that shouldn't stop us trying.

#89 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Kathryn:

My choices are here, if you're interested. I don't have a problem with one of the nominees being fantasy--fantasy has been winning Hugos since "Ill Met In Lankhmar" at least--but the n-s-a aspect bugs me a bit. I try to read everything that's nominated, but in this case I would have had to read two very long books in a series I'd already given up on, so I punted.

#91 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:09 PM:

'Cajun Sushi Restaurant' -- I've wondered ever since how you blacken raw redfish.

Hmm, that actually sounds intriguing. I'd rub the spices on. For some of them, just for fun, I've got this here torch in my silversmithing kit (just a bit more butch than the ones they sell in kitchen toy stores)... there's no reason not to play with fusion styles when putting together sushi, after all. Isn't it part of the Tradition?


Tim, I love you for your music wonkery; but hearing you burned said Sha-na-na just makes me smile for the rest of the day.

#92 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:10 PM:

First my sincere apologies for infecting a number of people with an earworm.

I learned the song on a Campfire Girls camping cruise through the San Juans (we were out far enough that we didn't know Nixon resigned until two days later - I've been behind on things ever since). The high point of the trip for me was waking up one morning to shrieks of, "It's eating my tarp! It's eating my tarp!" as an eastern Washington (think semi-arid steppe) girl got upclose and personal with her first banana slug.

#93 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:14 PM:

The Science Fiction vote will get split 4-ways among the strong field. (If a science fiction novel ever got nominated for the World Fantasy Award, would it do the same there?

The WFA is juried. There is voting (open to WFC members) for two spots per category on the final list, but the award is decided by the five judges. So no, that particular sort of vote dilution is not possible.

For an assortment of reasons, I'm not going to discuss this, but you might want to read Debbie Notkin's essay on the topic from Emerald City, here.

#94 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:28 PM:

Oh, and I should say that Graves comment applies to Cervantes as well - I just read Edith Brooks translation of Don Quixote, and I can see why so many people like it.
Serge: David Brin did write an outline for a proper episode III denouement:
I could scribble a 3-paragraph outline that would save Lucas. It would explain every awful inconsistency/paradox in his universe. It would make the #!#*& coincidences all work out... including the totally predictable lunacy of having Obi-Wan grab baby Luke and hide him from his darkside father... on Darth Vader's home planet, in his old home town! This is the core scenario that we know will happen in "Episode Three" and it is the most towering of three dozen real plot horrors. But the amazing thing is that I see a simple way for Lucas to climb out of this hell.

In fact, a scenario is possible, if Vader and Obi-Wan conspire together against BOTH Emperor and Yoda. Go on, follow all the movies with this possibility in mind.

Why else would Obi-Wan 'hide' Vader's son in Vader's home town? Their final 'deathfight' distracts the guards to let Luke/Han/Leia get away. How else do you explain that Vader grabs/interrogates Leia, yet never detects her force? Watch carefully... Vader's 'chase' of Luke in the first film clears all the other Imperial fighters off his son's back and halts the antiaircraft guns, giving the kid a clear shot! And guess who's the only Imperial survivor?

It goes on and on! (Including the coincidence of whose droids carry the message.)

I once spent an hour scribbling notes -- the plot for Episode Three writes itself! (At least, I see it clearly with a professional's eye.) Almost the entire list of awful coincidences and silly paradoxes can be eliminated in a certain clever way that would make George Lucas's entire universe make incredible sense! It could even go down in history as something profoundly moral and clever.

Oh, it's delicious! There's a way out... and GL could claim "I was planning this all along!"

Oh, and Josh (first comment):
Bacon Bacon Bacon Bacon Marlowe, Marlowe, Help help its a Shakespeare!

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:30 PM:

RuTemple: That sounds intriguing. But would it still be sushi?

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Kevin Marks... Brin's proposal would have definitely improved things. Then again, bringing Irwin Allen back from the grave and putting him in charge would have done it too. But seriously, I like the idea of Vader & Kenobi being in cahoots. When I saw the first prequel and took a look at Liam Neeson, I thought "OK, George is going to surprise us and we're going to find out that HE will become Vader AND Luke's dad." I was naive, I guess, but not so naive that I believed George's BS that he had planned the whole thing all along.

#97 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:07 PM:

I have a publishing question, though it's a not about fiction or large markets. But you folks are some of the most knowledgeable and humane people I know, and this is of some personal importance to me, so here goes:

My mother has written a book, a biography of an early-twentieth-century San Francisco environmentalist. She has done this primarily as a favor for a friend, who is the subject's son. The friend is now in his mid-eighties, and she would very much like for him to have a copy of the book in his hands before he dies. Also, one of the non-profits the subject co-founded would like to buy perhaps a thousand copies to give as membership gifts, and are prepared to put up money to support publication. My mother has put a year of her life into this book; I'd like to see that she gets compensated for it.

Two small presses in the area have seen the manuscript and passed on it, claiming that the content is fantastic but the market is wrong (it will never be a runaway hit -- local interest only and my mum estimates the audience at perhaps three thousand copies, tops); one of the publishers tried to point my mother to AuthorHouse and iUniverse (!!). I persuaded her away from that course of action, citing my many knowledgeable invisible net-friends in or near the industry. (I myself worked in computer support for a vanity press when I was broke and starving in the early '90s -- that and enough knowledge of LaTeX to typeset my math homework at Berkeley are the closest I have to real credentials in this matter. Not nearly enough.) The only problem with that persuasion is that now she regards me as a publishing expert, at least by proxy.

The manuscript is finished -- it needs a thorough copy-editing (my mum's spelling and grammar are fine, but it will need looking over for typos and overall tightening for sense). I can see several options from here:

1. Do the copy-edit myself, throw the text into a minimalist LaTeX template, run pdflatex on it, get an artist friend to help me put together a cover, and publish it through Lulu. Pros: maximum control, minimum reliance on other people. Cons: I have a more-than-full-time job, and this would eat my evenings and weekends for at least a few months. Every communication with my mother from now until it was done would be fraught with deadline-fu. And if the product came out looking awful, my mum (and her friend) would have no one to blame but me.

2. Hire a freelancer to do the copy-edit (and perhaps a designer to do the cover), and then make a PDF from the result and proceed as in Step 1. Marginally better, but neither my mum nor I can afford to hire freelancers at this point; the non-profit sponsor would need to step in. Pros: I'm not directly responsible for the content. Cons: Much more reliance on other people to get it done, including money sources.

3. Keep banging the bushes for a small publisher who would take the job on without violating Yog's Law. This one runs into the deadline problem; my mum would really like to have at least a proof copy by the end of the year, for the above-stated reason.

4. Offer the manuscript to the sponsor for a set price, and let them deal with finding a publisher for it. I'm not at all sure they'd go for this, but if they can be persuaded, it's the least hassle for both my mum and me.

Is there anything obvious that I'm missing? Does anyone have any relevant suggestions? I'm feeling a little in over my head here, as you can probably tell. Thanks very much in advance for any advice/help you can offer.

#98 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:14 PM:

I think Nancy Lebovitz already posted the answer - look back above. (The story description rang a bell for me but I couldn't place it. Simak fits the emotional tone of what I think I remember.)

There was something I wanted to post when I came to this thread, but now I've forgotten. Oh well, thanks to whoever mentioned Viriconium recently; got that from the library and discovered I'd read and enjoyed The Pastel City - though had not remembered all the Eliot/Wasteland references - but I had no idea of the other books and the much odder and more intensely "literary" places they are going.

#99 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:18 PM:

This year, it is possible to have both the theoretical science fiction of WorldCon and the applied-SF of Burning Man. Next year there's a conflict, as happens for any labor day weekend Worldcon.

For those thinking they might like to go to Burningman... yes, go. I'm happy to write up why from a fan's perspective- for one, you get to experience what post-scarcity life feels like- via email.

[can also give my take on the Survival Guide (http://www.burningman.com/preparation/) and what basic preparation takes in time and money. Main thing is that preparation means deciding to go now: it is not at all a last-minute event. Hence this comment.]

The village I'm camping in is going to have giant mechanical spider vehicles, and g-m-s-v battles. (We're also going to have a stage w/ acoustic music, a drivable mammoth skeleton, and other shiny items.)

Basics:
Monday the 28th to Mon. Sep. 4th. But Burning Man is holographic, so a shorter visit still gives you the whole event, just fuzzier. Tickets are currently $250 through mid-August. Black Rock City: 35,000 people (by the 30th), 2 hours drive north of Reno, Nevada. Flights to Reno are 1 hour from the Bay Area, 1.5 from Los Angeles.

#100 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:25 PM:

Teresa,
Not much luck, I’m afraid – all of the Graves collections at my library are checked out ATM (did Oprah mention him recently or something?!?)

But assuming that this online text is transcribed correctly, "Mermaid, Dragon, Fiend" is 36 lines long. I would have cross-checked in a printed collection, but as noted above, they’re all out.

Sidenote: in Swifter than Reason, Douglas Day says that the poem "Old Wives’ Tales" from Whipperginny was "retained, with much revision, in the canon as ‘Mermaid, Dragon, Fiend’" and "incorrectly assigned" by other critics to The Pier-Glass (ah, I love the smell of academic condescension in the morning) -- Whipperginny dates from 1923, so that gives you a terminal point of some kind. Day also says that the last line was changed to the form quoted above in 1938.

Dave L said: I still have fondness for The White Goddess (non-fiction, more-or-less) in spite of its being twaddle. It's good twaddle.

Heh. I manage to retain my enjoyment of The White Goddes by thinking of it as historical fantasy.

#101 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:32 PM:

Strictly speaking, "sushi" refers to the rice, not the raw fish (which is why unagi and inari-zushi are still considered sushi).

#102 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:42 PM:

Carrie S.: I'm in for the optional soprano harmony. I learned it c. 1981, at -- where else? -- summer camp.

Now that we've got that one nailed, can anyone provide me with independent confirmation of a final verse to "Cruel War" that I swear I learned a little earlier, but I've never found in things like "Rise Up Singing" or the Digitrad database? I don't remember all of it, naturally, but the main part of the verse is

They marched into battle
Towards the rising sun
And were buried together
When day was done.

It'd be great to have someone tell me I didn't make it up out of an fifth-grade imagination with the usual pre-adolescent delight in morbid sentimentality.

#103 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 06:55 PM:

Of course, it had to be the open thread on Shakespeare that I delurked for.

@Annalee, way way up there: "I Heard myself proclaimed, and by the Happy Hollow of a tree escaped the Hunt."

A Very Good Professor at Berkeley taught me to look at that and see the connection between Heard and Hollow (like Hallo!) and then Hollow and Hunt...like hunting calls (hollers). I think his thesis was that Shakespeare was so good because he was fantastically talented at making these kinds of semantic insinuations.

*relurk*

#104 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Karl T, I know nothing about publishing, but one of my better choices in vacation reading while traveling through Northern California was The World Rushed In,, a book with (I'd think) mostly regional appeal. It's a story of the Gold Rush based on a diary of one of the people who walked(!) from the Midwest to California. It was published by Touchstone in NY in 1981. I don't know how receptive they'd be to another regional book, but FWIW, they published one.

#105 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:11 PM:

Ahh... an open thread. :)

I've been wondering for some time now, but has anyone else suggested that Making Light move to a threaded format for its comments? It would make things a lot easier to follow when there are hundreds of them for a given entry.

#106 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:47 PM:

Carrie, Kate mailed me a luscious cone of yarn this morning. It seems unlikely that it will be as wonderful in person, but I bet it is.

Susan, there's a Jane Austen Ball in Alexandria next month, are you coming down?

#107 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:09 PM:

Karl T.,

I'm going to ask a really obvious, possibly stupid question: Have you tried Chronicle? Big as they are, they do a certain number of books that don't have an apparent large audience, and this might be one for them.

I will add this: My wife, who is a professional book designer, has done a book or two like this--good enough that, given time, a small press would probably take it on, but the author had the money to print it and no time for the waiting. (I'm thinking of one that was quite publishable, but the author was pushing eighty. Self-publication was right for him, and it expedited getting a forward from a Very Important Person.) She sent it to a regular printing company; Lulu wasn't around at the time.

If you find someone good and ethical (the wife's overbooked [heh], so it's not her) to do your packaging for you, consider it.

You might also find a small press with a regional line that might consider a subsidized publication. Sometimes they'll put their own imprint on it; other times they put it out under your own imprint. I imagine the costs are similar to getting a free-lance packager--probably a little higher, but you're getting a more known commodity, so your risks are probably a little lower. I'm strictly an informed amateur, though, so take this all with a grain of salt.

#108 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:33 PM:

Tolkien left readers hungry for More Books Like That. Problem: there were no other books like that. For a while, all sorts of old fantasy was getting exhumed and reprinted, because that market segment would buy it. (I was sold the Perelandra books on that basis. I'm still indignant.)

Heck, I expected Perelandra to be like Narnia. It wasn't that, either. But I bought a number of Ballantine Adult Fantasy titles back in the day, "the day" being the 1970s, trying to find out what was good besides Tolkien, Lewis's Narnia, White's Arthur, Beagle's The Last Unicorn and Bellairs' The Face in the Frost. Maybe none of it was More Books Like That, but Lin Carter did a public service trying to supply that demand.

#109 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:38 PM:

Susan, there's a Jane Austen Ball in Alexandria next month, are you coming down?

Almost certainly not - didn't know anything about it, and - alas - most "Jane Austen" balls suffer from, ah, a complete lack of actual Jane Austen-era dancing. "Most" in this case means every ball in North America that I know about other than the ones I'm running myself. They do better in England.

If you would be so kind as to post the relevant information or a pointer, I can point some of my friends who live down that way and won't mind an S&M ball at it, though.

I think I'm down to only three free weekends for the rest of the year; much of this represents what passes for roaring success in the itinerant dance historian world.

Right now I am happily thinking about what a lovely, versatile thing a box step can be in the early 20thc tango. I never truly appreciated this before. I feel bad that I have previously dissed the box step. I should have remembered that it has a much more romantic name and many good uses. I shall think warm thoughts about it and maybe write up a handout.

#110 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 09:44 PM:

Kip W.
Anyway, I've always kind of wanted to see the last act of "Cymbeline" that Shaw rewrote, just to show how Shakespeare should have done it.

How did he rewrite the last act? I spent an entire summer research project on that play, so now I'm curious as to what another esteemed playwright would have done differently. (Especially since my paper got a great deal of mileage over the appearance of Zeus in the last act, which so many productions cheerfully cut out, and I can't blame them for it. One does not usually expect the deus ex machina to be quite so literal outside of Greek plays.)

#111 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:36 PM:

Herewith ane lynke to a Project Gutenberg edition of Shaw's ending, along with his notes thereon. I will assume you are familiar with Shaw's usual tone when writing about "Shakespear," as he spelled it. If you're not, you might want to pour yourself an intolerable deal of sack first.

I saw Peter Hall's production a number of years ago, and thought it quite well done; Peter Woodward was Posthumus, Geraldine James was Innogen (as they had it), Tim Pigott-Smith was Iachimo, and Eileen Atkins was the Queen.

Hall was retiring from the NT, and his finale was "The Late Shakespeares," Cymbeline, Winter's Tale, and The Tempest with the same cast. (It was a nice time to be a theater geek in London.) They were very straightforward, minimal-staging productions -- not quite the new Globe's "original practices," but trying for something close to what you would have seen at the Blackfriars or the Globe, without the rain and the Rat Onna Stick vendors.

And it did not contain quite these lines:

"Put yer hat and sunscreen on,
British Gas will warm yer hovel,
Labour (and the party's) done,
So pick up yer bloody shovel;
Time runs out for maids and blokes,
Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks."

(Apologies to Shakes. Eliot's on his jellicle own.)

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:37 PM:

So tell us, Susan, what is the romantic name for the humble box step?

#113 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:58 PM:

Following up Margaret's OT67 comment on ink: it's one of those words that has lost almost all of its origin -- not as bad as "bus" but close. The source is "incaustXX", ~"burning in". OED and an American dictionary both say it originally applied to a colored effect used by emperors, i.e. "I mean this!"; "ink" meaning paint-on-a-{point,plate} was much later.

#114 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 12:16 AM:

RuTemple:

Tim, I love you for your music wonkery;

I knew that smooth, firm, tightly packed iPod would attract the babes.

Kathryn:

I'm also going to Burning Man (for the first time) post-Worldcon, and just found out that I'll be playing the Center Camp Café with a subset of dud immediately before the Man burns. I don't know if that means that everybody will be there, or nobody will be there.

#115 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 12:29 AM:

Nancy, Suzanne, Clifton, et al.--Thanks much. I tried for a plot summary of "Shadow Show," but no luck at the moment. Simak sounds like the right time period, though--enough time for a book to have filtered into a school collection, a few years after it was written.

(Someone mentioned 1981--by then I was earning a living. This was a junior-high-school experience.)

I'm off to the wild unbooked, so it will be a few days before I can check this out--but thanks again.

Brenda

#116 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 04:05 AM:

Tim Walters writes:
fantasy has been winning Hugos since "Ill Met In Lankhmar" at least

Okay, I had to check: "Ill Met in Lankhmar" was 1971, Robert Bloch's "That Hell-Bound Train" won in 1959.

Which reminds me, I really should go and cast my own ballot. Back in a minute --

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 07:43 AM:

A question for those who watched Stan Lee's Lightspeed on the Skiffy Channel... How long did it take before you decided that, yes, you like cheese, but you like your cheese a bit tastier? Thirty minutes were it for me. One thing is sure, Jason Connery may be the son of you-know-who, but he has inherited the latter's premature baldness, not his good looks or acting abilities - a revelation that I had come to back in the Eighties on that Robin Hood show. (I much prefered Michael Praed.)

#118 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 08:40 AM:

Yet Another Question For the Group (YAQFG)

I've recently become very curious about the online world-sim Second Life. Is anyone familiar with it? Is it indeed the soul-destroying timesink that I suspect it may be? (If so, is it worth it?)

-r.

#119 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 09:10 AM:

Karl T., these people are experienced and can offer a wide range of services as well as referrals to printers--it might be worth contacting them and discussing your mother's project, just to get an idea of how much help you need with this and what it will cost. They can provide references.

#120 ::: torie ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 09:27 AM:

Oops. Wrong post. I'll try this again.

I'm assuming that everyone here is familiar with the Hamlet Text Adventure? Unfortunately the creator seems to have exceeded her bandwidth and the site is temporarily down...

#121 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 09:27 AM:

Ewan McGregor...was acting in a scene that required acting. Everything else was simply people going through the motions to get to the destination.

Indeed, McGregor was easily the best part of the three prequels. At times his Alec Guiness impression was absolutely uncanny, and even when it wasn't he was just good.

About "Today"...Margaret, do you really want a recording? Because I'm willing and able to make you one, and Rikibeth has offered to add in the harmony if you like. :)

#122 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 09:31 AM:

So tell us, Susan, what is the romantic name for the humble box step?

The media luna or (very occasionally) demi-lune, in hopeful anticipation of the second foot motion being made in a graceful curve. As the tango made its way from Argentina to Paris to America the steps acquired both Spanish and French names. And in occasional acts of orchesographic gluttony, some of the names acquired multiple steps. This is still a source of pleasurable confusion to dance historians and reconstructors. One of my handouts gives a series of steps: "Media Luna", "Another Media Luna", and "Still Another Media Luna".

I've been in a cheerful emotional fizz all week which this morning takes the form of inserting "media luna" into random bits of song.

What do you do with a media luna
What do you do with a media luna
What do you do with a media luna
Early in the morning?

Use it to lead that final corte
Just like a Valentino corte
Very dramatic last-beat corte
Early in the morning.

My cats are probably still hiding under my bed after that. They don't approve of talking, let alone singing.

You can also use it to change the lead foot, should such a thing be necessary (say, in setting up for that corte on the final beat instead of the previous one), but that just doesn't lend itself to song. Or you can go 'round and 'round in a little square or a rectangle. Or several other fine things which I will not further clutter the thread with.

I don't know who is responsible for sticking the step with the name "box step", or even exactly when it happened. I suspect the chain studios in the 1930's (with a knife).

#123 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 09:38 AM:

Carrie -

Thank you, but no. I've found one, and more importantly, affirmed that unlike some other things, this is not some demented half-memory of a dream.

Thanks!

#124 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 10:31 AM:

From David Brin's site: "He turns into Vader because he gets attached to things. He can't let go of his mother; he can't let go of his girlfriend. He can't let go of things. It makes you greedy. And when you're greedy, you are on the path to the dark side, because you fear you're going to lose things, that you're not going to have the power you need."

Internet commentator Stefan Jones replied: "I can picture Star Wars fans across the country trying to figure this out: 'Wait, I think I've got it. He's saying we should move out of our mom's basement, and we should get rid of our Mint In Box collector's figures, but we'll turn evil if we get girlfriends... right?'"

I think it is no small coincidence that Lucas was married ten years, divorced, and hasn't remarried. Certainly, being a multi-bagillionaire might make it hard for a person to do "Lunch Dates" or to meet someone at a cafeteria or something. But watching Episode 2 and 3, where Anakin and Amidala are supposed to be falling in love, all I could think was "Lucas has no clue about love". I don't know if that's really true, I've never discussed it with him personally, but his movie certainly seemed to be emotionally tone deaf*. Two people going through the motions, telling me they love each other, rather than showing me in a believable way. He should stick with chase scenes and space battles. Or, he should start dating and take notes.

* phrase stolen from CSI Nevada

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Greg London...

About Lucas and love... A few years back, when I was living in the San Francisco area, I went to a local bookstore where a writer was having an autograph session. While waiting in line, I got to chat with a woman who said she went to high-school with Lucas. I don't know if she was BSing me, but supposedly none of the girls wanted to go on a date with him. Something about his being a geek. ("I am shocked! Shocked!!!")

Meanwhile, if people want to see a movie where we're shown two people who are obviously in love with each other even though not a word is ever spoken about it, they should try William Wyler's The Big Country.

#126 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 11:06 AM:

I realize this will keep me out of the Cool Kids' Club forever, but I really enjoyed the Star Wars prequels. For me, they put the "opera" in Space Opera" - with all the absurdity, melodrama, overblown spectacle, and reliance on set-pieces that implies.

Plus they just push my Cool Shit buttons too hard to resist. I pretty much get why everyone hates them, I just don't care.

#127 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 11:07 AM:

But watching Episode 2 and 3, where Anakin and Amidala are supposed to be falling in love, all I could think was "Lucas has no clue about love".

Oh, this bothered me to no end in the second movie. It makes a certain sense to have Anakin fall in love with Amidala (she was the first woman he interacted with who was not his mother; he may not have seen many girls while at the academy; in the interim he has built her into a Goddess in his mind). It even makes a certain cock-eyed sense, given the later history of the character, to have his love be a stunted, incomplete emotion, such that he believes he cannot live without her (although here I'm fanwanking the lemons of bad writing and worse acting into an only slightly palatable lemonade).

But what possible motivation did Amidala have for falling in love with him? It doesn't make any kind of emotional sense-- last time she saw him he was a six-year old!-- and as played by Ms. Portman, she did not seem to suffer from an no overriding passion that destroys all reason. Dying inside my foot. And then in the third movie she was a pregnant non-entity. Which is a sad end for the character.

#128 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 11:12 AM:

But what possible motivation did Amidala have for falling in love with him?

After Episode II there was a theory that Amidala would be revealed as the villain behind the entire trilogy, having intentionally seduced Anakin in order to lead him to the dark side. I have a copy of the list of points made in support of this around somewhere.

I think I would've liked that better than Ep III as filmed.

#129 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 12:07 PM:

The prequels were too much a box-ticking episode with little attention paid to casting an unexpected light on the original three. Was there anything as big a shock as "Luke, I am your father."?

Amidala as the Evil Queen might have worked, and could have given the opening for the subversion of Anakin Skywalker, as well as a resdemption when he discovers the qualities of his children,

Of course, the reworking of the original trilogy should have been a dreadful warning. No so much the replacement of models by CGI shots as things like the question of whether Han Solo shot first.

And having Jabba the Hutt come to Mos Eisley to personally intimidate Han Solo is like having Sidney Greenstreet turn up at Sam Spade's office.


#130 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 12:17 PM:

Of course! Greedo is Joel Cairo! It should have been obvious.

"I intend to search your starship."
"You're braver than I thought."

#131 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 12:49 PM:

But watching Episode 2 and 3, where Anakin and Amidala are supposed to be falling in love, all I could think was "Lucas has no clue about love".

I assume people here have seen George Lucas In Love, but it's probably worth posting the link anyway...

#132 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Bogart as Han Solo... Funny that people should say that. Anybody remembers San Jose's worldcon in 2002? There was this group that did Star Wars as a radio show from the Forties, with Bogie as you-know-who. I liked the idea of Jimmy Stewart as Obi-Wan Kenobi, but even more the idea of Jack Benny and Mae West as Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.

#133 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:18 PM:

Dave Bell said:
Of course, the reworking of the original trilogy should have been a dreadful warning. No so much the replacement of models by CGI shots as things like the question of whether Han Solo shot first.

And having Jabba the Hutt come to Mos Eisley to personally intimidate Han Solo is like having Sidney Greenstreet turn up at Sam Spade's office.

True; but that scene was in the original script and was intended to be in the original version, so it's not quite the same thing as the deliberate revisionism of the Greedo-shoots-first scene.

I've seen an argument (can't remember where, unfortunately) that one of the main reasons that the original movies were as good as they were was because of Marcia Lucas's efforts as editor.

Her absence might explain why the prequel movies (especially Phantom Menace) seem so poorly edited, among their other flaws.

#134 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Karl T.,

I think your book sounds like great small press material, but I'm writing from Canada, where 3000 copies is nothing to sneeze at.

A small press with a strong local presence should be interested in your book, but I really doubt you'll get them to move fast enough to have proofs in hand by the end of this year. Most small press people I know have their publishing schedule set at least 18 months in advance, if not more.

Some of us are flexible enough to move faster, and if you mention to the publisher that you have someone lined up to buy 1000 copies, that might help.

The problem with publishing the book yourself is distributing it. If you do decide to print it, try and decide how you are going to get the book into the bookstores, etc. A few of the self-publishing places like Trafford will do some distributing for you, but they charge for it. Hope that helps.

#135 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:36 PM:

And having Jabba the Hutt come to Mos Eisley to personally intimidate Han Solo is like having Sidney Greenstreet turn up at Sam Spade's office.

True; but that scene was in the original script and was intended to be in the original version, so it's not quite the same thing as the deliberate revisionism of the Greedo-shoots-first scene.

Way back when, I had large-sized comic book adaptations of the first movie. They weren't dumbed down or bowdlerized, they were just really large, maybe 17"x11". The scene with Jabba coming to the Falcon was there. Interestingly, he was drawn as a tall, slender, vaguely fishlike character - nothing at all like he ended up in ROTJ. I guess they did those comics from the original script or something. I wish I still had them.


#136 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:37 PM:

But what possible motivation did Amidala have for falling in love with him?

Assuming a vague physical developmental rate similar to humans as we know them, in Ep 2, Anakin was supposed to be, maybe 18-20 years old. Which would make Amidala somewhere in the vicinity of 30 minimum, 40 max? I suppose queens can be much younger, but since she went from queen to senator, I sort of assume that "queen" is actually some sort of elected office. And I"m trying to picture any population electing an 18 year old as "queen", or even "senator". In any event, given that Amidala must be so much older than Anakin, in just about every scene where Anakin is basically dunking Amidali's hair in an inkwell* as a juvenile way of saying "I like you", I kept hearing Amidala say somethign to the effect of "Oh, would you please grow up?"

It would seem to be a clear example of violating the cardinal rule of writing: write what you know.

This would explain why she adopts the completely unstylish "earphone" hairstyle, though.

#137 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:38 PM:

*This would explain why she adopts the completely unstylish "earphone" hairstyle, though.

#138 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Jabba-as-alien-slug is another bit of Lucas Revisionism.

The original novelization, ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster, describes him, in his visit to the ship, as a chunky slob of a ganster; a bit of cut footage (which was recycled in the Revisionist Edition by plastering in a CGI Jabba) showed him as a chunky slob gangster.

#139 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 02:03 PM:

I kind of enjoyed the Star Wars prequels the way I enjoy tacky fifties-sixties costume dramas. Are they really so much worse dramatically than The Ten Commandments, or the Harryhausen films?

The last one (Return of the Sith) was a drag, however, with its videogame aesthetics.

I wish there were more cheerful SF films with spectacle, story, characters, and humour, rather than all these endless gothic shoot-em-ups and formulaic superheroes.

#140 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Assuming a vague physical developmental rate similar to humans as we know them, in Ep 2, Anakin was supposed to be, maybe 18-20 years old. Which would make Amidala somewhere in the vicinity of 30 minimum, 40 max? I suppose queens can be much younger, but since she went from queen to senator, I sort of assume that "queen" is actually some sort of elected office. And I"m trying to picture any population electing an 18 year old as "queen", or even "senator".

According to this, Amidala was an "apprentice legislator" at age 11 and was elected Queen at age 14 -- which makes her only about 5 years older than Anakin.

Why would Naboo elect a 14-year-old as Queen? One might as well ask why they would elect Jar-Jar Binks as one of their representatives to the Galactic Senate. I think the only solution is to postulate something like long-term mass lead poisoning on Naboo.

#141 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Amidala was an "apprentice legislator" at age 11 and was elected Queen at age 14 -- which makes her only about 5 years older than Anakin.

Why would Naboo elect a 14-year-old as Queen? One might as well ask why they would elect Jar-Jar Binks as one of their representatives to the Galactic Senate.

Odd, that link states Amidala was a "prodigiously talented and extremely well educated." The problem is that it makes it easier to believe she was elected at such a young age, but makes it harder to believe she would fall for a moron like Anakin who has the emotional skills of a 6 year old.

I think the only solution is to postulate something like long-term mass lead poisoning on Naboo.

Well, that the 2004 election wasn't a landslide against Shrub seems to indicate that Naboo isn't the only planet who has a problem with this.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 02:21 PM:

I wish there were more cheerful SF films with spectacle, story, characters, and humour...

Me too, Jack. When Serenity came out last year, I had hoped that this would finally show people that the Lucas Way is not the only successful way to do space operas and that it'd lead others to try. (I'd love a modernized take on Edmond Hamilton's Star Kings.) Unfortunately, Wheadon's movie wasn't a success.

#143 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Me too, Jack. When Serenity came out last year, I had hoped that this would finally show people that the Lucas Way is not the only successful way to do space operas and that it'd lead others to try. (I'd love a modernized take on Edmond Hamilton's Star Kings.) Unfortunately, Wheadon's movie wasn't a success.

That's a pity. Serenity was one of the best pieces of SF I've ever seen on the screen.


#144 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 02:46 PM:

Can I just grumble briefly that unaccountably (to me) the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did not make the Hugo ballot? I liked it rather more than I liked Serenity, which I thought completely failed to play to Whedon's huge strengths and was a very sad follow-up to a TV show I really liked. I watched all of Firefly for the first time in the 24 hours before the movie came out and then went and saw it about half an hour after finishing the episodes. I was very disappointed.

#145 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 04:05 PM:

I watched all of Firefly for the first time in the 24 hours before the movie came out and then went and saw it about half an hour after finishing the episodes. I was very disappointed.

Oh I wouldnt recommend that approach since it seems to make even the best movies pale. I re-read the entire Lord of teh Rings trilogy something like a week before I saw Two Towers for the first time.

I was practically livid at how Faramir's character had been changed. In the book he knew better than to take the ring. In the movie, he was just like everyone else, wanting the ring in spite of obvious signals that to get it would cause his doom. Livid I tell you.

I ended up watching the movie again a month or so later while it was still in theaters. Faramir still bothered me, but I wasn't mopping up lather from frothing at the mouth because of it. It was more of a patting my forehead with a wet towel to cool off kind of thing.

I think seeing or reading the original of anything just before seeing a remake or movie-version of that thing, will always make you notice the differences more than the similarities.

But that's just me.

#146 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Regarding Teresa's particle entry earlier this month on Dior run amok - I think this is a theme that simply must be mocked at the WorldCon Masquerade, where Galliano's fashion (?) designs truly belong. I mean, really...

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/collections/F2006CTR/review/CDIOR
-- in case you missed it. Check out the slideshow.

Question I have to the folks here is, since I haven't actually done a con masquerade in all these years, is out-and-out silliness for the sake of silliness, um, appreciated by the more Serious costumers who do these things?


#147 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Oh I wouldnt recommend that approach since it seems to make even the best movies pale.

Well, I don't think waiting would have changed the simple fact that I find Joss Whedon's major strength (aside from brilliant writing) to be slowly developing plots and characters over a lengthy period, which is simply not doable in a movie. The movie felt rushed and shallow, like he'd tried to cram one or two TV seasons' worth of plotline into two hours and lost most of his character development in the process, not helped by the amount of time devoted to on-screen violence. I didn't object to the plot per se, and I think I would have liked it fine if he'd had time to build it up slowly - say, over another 20-30 hours of storytelling.

I had similar problems to yours with Faramir myself (and several other things in TTT), and I hadn't read LOTR in the eleven months or so before the second movie came out.


#148 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 04:41 PM:

I don't know about the Serious Costumers, RuTemple, but we in the audience would like that. We attend those events to be awed, amused, you name it.

#149 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 05:05 PM:

I thought the problem with Serenity in comparison to Firefly wasn't so much with the pacing, but with the fact that it did some serious violence to the continuity. There were conversations that re-raised issues that had been settled in the series, there were huge, confusing problems with the time scale, the creepy blue-handed agents were replaced by Random Ninja Guy, etc. Having seen the series previously, it was off by just enough to be really distracting.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 05:15 PM:

You mean, Chad, like the confrontation between Mal and the doctor? Yeah, I noticed that. One thing I'm curious about is whether or not we needed to have seen the TV series to truly appreciate the characters as they were presented in the movie. I'm not sure they quite stood on their own in the movie and that may be why it flopped.

#151 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Can anyone verify or refute the following rumors?

Rumor #1: The reason Lucas didn't start filming the prequels the late 1990s was that he was waiting for toy licensing deal he signed back in the late 1970s to expire.

Rumor #2: At some point during the production of episode IV, the studio imposed a rewrite on Lucas' original script. This rewrite accounts for the difference in the quality of dialogue* between Episode IV and all subsequent.

Rumor #3: Lucas's payment for his work on Episode IV was that he got the merchandise rights. Because they ended up being so lucrative, he was able to exercise creative control in all the other episodes without the risk of someone who didn't suck inflicting a rewrite.

*Is it just me, or is Episode IV is the only one in which the writing is noticeably superior to, say, an episode of The SuperFriends?

#152 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 05:45 PM:

Jack Ruttan wrote: I wish there were more cheerful SF films with spectacle, story, characters, and humour, rather than all these endless gothic shoot-em-ups and formulaic superheroes.

The Amazing Screw-On Head.

Well, it has gothic shoot-'em-ups in it, but they're cheery!

#153 ::: kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 05:56 PM:

Tim Walters-

Enough people will be there. Various parades start from the cafe to the Man before the burn.

How "immediately before" is it? For your first burn it's worth moving in early for a better (*) spot for good views of the firedancers, firespinners, firemen, fireworks, fire-tornados, etc. Plan time to get back to your camp, *lock* your equipment away (2), get to the Man (1) and find your spot.

Same for the temple of dreams burn Sunday, especially if the temple becomes meaningful to you (it can sneak up).

(*)in front; upwind; not behind people with helmets, strobes, or amplification. If you know anyone with a bus or boat, on top those is great too- bribe them now.

(1) If you bike, make it easily refindable = visible (elwire, flags and blinkies, wings, etc); locked to itself at least 50 meters behind the art cars; by bright art. The Man will not be usable in triangulation- many forget this.

(2) As the burn is the one time camps can be empty (3), thieves may wander camps, usually (I've heard) professional bike thieves tossing bikes into a truck.

(3) although now camps will have watchers (4). Haven't heard of major thefts the past burns.

(4) and watchers can have flamethrowers. Low odds, sure, but non-zero.

#154 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 06:20 PM:

Rumor #2: At some point during the production of episode IV, the studio imposed a rewrite on Lucas' original script. This rewrite accounts for the difference in the quality of dialogue* between Episode IV and all subsequent.

The dialog in Episode V (Empire Strikes Back), as well as the rest of the script, is at least partly due to the re-write by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (with one or two bits, like Han's "I know" response to Leia's "I love you" due to the director, Irvin Kershner). And I don't think I'm alone in thinking that Empire Strikes Back was the best-written of all the movies.

Harrison Ford's crack about the dialog during the filming of Episode IV (something along the lines of "George, you can write this shit, you just can't say it") implies that most of the dialog in Episode IV really was Lucas's.

#155 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 06:22 PM:
Rumor #2: At some point during the production of episode IV, the studio imposed a rewrite on Lucas' original script. This rewrite accounts for the difference in the quality of dialogue* between Episode IV and all subsequent.

Beats me, although if the rewrite was that major one would think someone else would have a screenplay credit. I also have to note that you appear to be assuming that Lucas wrote all the other scripts, but that's definitely not the case - he has a script credit on RotJ, but so does Lawrence Kasdan, and he doesn't have one at all on ESB (script is credited to Kasdan and Leigh Brackett). Lucas does have story credits on both, to be sure.

*Is it just me, or is Episode IV is the only one in which the writing is noticeably superior to, say, an episode of The SuperFriends?

I think ESB is the best-written of the set, myself, which I'm perfectly willing to attribute to Lucas' limited (if any) involvement in the actual screenplay.

#156 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 07:08 PM:

Chad - not that it excuses the jump in continuity (I'm of the opinion that a piece in a different medium has to stand on it's own merit), but the fate of the blue-handed men and the introduction of the Operative happens in the three issue "Serenity" comic book.

#157 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 07:15 PM:

rhandir:
I've recently become very curious about the online world-sim Second Life. Is anyone familiar with it? Is it indeed the soul-destroying timesink that I suspect it may be? (If so, is it worth it?)

I've tried, on two separate occasions, to get into this game. The potential is amazing; I assume you've already read up on what the game can do.

In practice, however, this only works well if you're good at art and programming, because otherwise you'll take half an hour to figure out how to make a black stick attached to a flattened brown oval: it's a bar stool! The landscape is covered in boxes selling people's designs, and very occasional interesting architecture. Sometimes one sees another person flying by in the distance.

If one joins the game with some real cash to pay for a plot of land, several interested friends, and between all interested parties enough programming and art abilities to actually build a good-looking building, the game is no doubt a blast. In practice, I had a vaguely deformed-looking avatar walking clumsily about through the land of cubes, or sitting in chairs for hours at a time to earn money for bumping the plot's "people who spent time here" stats.

#158 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 10:44 PM:

. The movie felt rushed and shallow, like he'd tried to cram one or two TV seasons' worth of plotline into two hours and lost most of his character development in the process,

***spoiler alert***
V fnj gur Freravgl zbivr svefg, tbg gur QIQ'f naq jngpurq gur GI frevrf nsgre. V qvqa'g guvax gur zbivr jnf ubeevoyr. V pbhyq srry ng gvzrf gung guvatf jrer trggvat ehfurq, be gung pregnva fprarf jrer erylvat ba, va cneg, gur nffhzcgvba gung lbh fnj gur frevrf naq jnf zber snzvyvne jvgu gur punenpgref guna jnf fubja va gur zbivr.

Ba zl zbivr fpnyr bs guvatf (riravat cevpr, zngvarr, eragny, serr ba pnoyr), V'q tvir vg n zngvarr. Vg jnf nyfb tbbq rabhtu va zl zvaq gb tb ohl gur frevrf QIQ naq jngpu gurz.

Obgu gur frevrf naq gur zbivr unq fbzr cybg ceboyrzf. Abg gur yrnfg fvtavsvpnag bs juvpu jnf gur "erniref" orvat guvf vzcrangenoyr jnyy bs pnavony fuvcf fheebhaqvat n cynarg gung unq rivqrapr ntnvafg gur Onq Thlf, ohg sbe gra lrnef, gur onq thlf unq orra noyr gb chg qbja n eroryyvba, ohg pbhyq trg n fuvc guebhtu gur Erniref?

Gung cybg ubyr jnfa'g n ceboyrz va gur frevrf, orpnhfr gur fgbel arire tbg gung sne. Unq gur frevrf tbar ba ybatre, V jbaqre vs vg jbhyq rire unir tbggra erfbyirq. Cneg bs gur qenj bs gur frevrf jnf gur zlfgrel bs Evire, jung qvq fur xabj, naq jul jnf gur tbireazrag gelvta gb xvyy ure. V'z abg fher vs Wbff ernyyl fng qbja naq svtherq bhg nyy gur qrgnvyf bs gung zlgubybtl gb znxr fher vg znqr frafr. Bapr gung zlfgrel jnf tbar, gur fgbel ybfrf fbzr bs vg'f evpuarff. Orpnhfr gur zlfgrel jnf cneg bs gur qenj.

Bgure guna gung tncvat cybg ubyr, gur bayl bgure ceboyrz V unq jvgu gur zbivr vf gung gur ntrag jub yvxrq univat crbcyr snyy ba uvf fjbeq sbe na "ubabenoyr" qrngu, arire guerj uvzfrys ba uvf bja fjbeq jura gur frperg jnf znqr choyvp. Ubabe jnf irel vzcbegnag nf sne nf bgure crbcyr jrer pbaprearq, ohg nccneragyl abg uvzfrys. V'q ng yrnfg unq erfcrpgrq gung punenpgre vs ur pbzzvggrq frchxn ng gur raq.

V nyzbfg guvax gur zbivr fubhyq unir fgnegrq sebz gur cbvag va gvzr evtug nsgre gur frperg jnf erirnyrq, engure guna hfvat vg gb gvql hc gur GI frevrf. Fgne Gerx zbivrf jrera'g glvat hc ybfr raqf jvgu gur frevrf, gurl jrer gurve bja fgbevrf. Vg jbhyq unir zrnag gung GI snaf jbhyq unir orra yrsg jvgu gung zlfgrel, ohg gung jbeyq vf zhpu ovttre guna bar cynarg fheebhaqrq ol Erniref jvgu n tbireazrag frperg ba vg.

Jvgu gung zlfgrel fbyirq, Wbff pbhyq unir sbhaq nabgure tbbq fgbel gb qenj hf va jvgu, engure guna fvzcyl fbyivat gur zlfgrel bs Evire. Gung ur pubfr gb xvyy bss frireny znva punenpgref znxrf zr jbaqre vs Wbff fnj gung jbeyq nf univat bayl bar fgbel va vg, be vs ur jnf whfg gverq bs vg nsgre nyy gur gujnegrq nggrzcgf qhr gb Sbk zrffvat jvgu uvf GI frevrf.

Nf sbe Snenzve, V fnvq gung gur svefg gvzr, V jnf sbnzvat ng gur zbhgu, naq V guvax gung jnf orpnhfr whfg bar jrrx cevbe, V ernq gur obbxf. Jura V fnj gur zbivr ntnva nobhg n zbagu yngre, vg fgvyy obgurerq zr, ohg V jnfa'g fb qvfgenhtug gung tanfuvat bs grrgu jrer vaibyirq. V pbhyq jngpu gur zbivr jvgubhg zl oenva fpernzvat "AB! Gung'f abg evtug!"

#159 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 11:38 PM:

Fade Manley,
Thank you, that is precisely the kind of inside perspective I was hoping to find! I'll consider my options.

-r.

#160 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 11:50 PM:

Rumor #3: Lucas's payment for his work on Episode IV was that he got the merchandise rights.

It is not in doubt that Lucas made a very large amount of money (even by his industry's standards) from Episode Eev. But there are all sorts of tales about how this or that deal was cut ostensibly to stick it to the director of the "crap movie" that turns out to have maximum b.o.* (another one is that they "punished" Lucas by making him take points of gross) and none of them sounds quite right.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that the studio had no faith in the movie, and not just because it was Fox. It seems to be true that there was a management change during production, and that always produces bad juju -- nobody wants to get stuck with a prior team's loser, and they also don't want the prior team to look good in retrospect. It doesn't matter that these ideas are inconsistent; CYA Shall Be the Whole of the Law.

And if the Lord God of Hosts were to ask for points of gross on Ten Commandments II: Disco Zombie Mitzvah, He would not get them, and if somehow He did get them, His Adversary in Accounting would make sure the balance sheet was found wanting.

*This is not what it sounds like.

#161 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 11:12 AM:

And I don't think I'm alone in thinking that Empire Strikes Back was the best-written of all the movies.

You're not--that opinion seems to be nearly unanimous--but I still disagree. Ep. V probably had the best plot of the bunch--"Luke, I am your etc"--but I wasn't especially impressed with the writing. The Han / Leia romance was, IMHO, pretty stilted, and...

fuck. I just had one of those "moments of clarity" you hear about. I'm a total fucking geek. I mean, I sort of knew already, but it's now like, irrefutable. Anyway...

...I got a little sick of everyone calling everyone else "buddy," "friend," etc. Every time two characters came together it was like a group hug. What happened to "walking carpet?" What happened to "farm boy?" If they're so damn strong in the force, why can't they banter anymore?

That's enough for now. I've got to go polish Boba Fett.

#162 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 11:16 AM:

"I've got to go polish Boba Fett."

This is not what it sounds like either.

#163 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 12:31 PM:

"I wish there were more cheerful SF films with spectacle, story, characters, and humour...

Me too, Jack. When Serenity came out last year, I had hoped that this would finally show people that the Lucas Way is not the only successful way to do space operas and that it'd lead others to try. (I'd love a modernized take on Edmond Hamilton's Star Kings.) Unfortunately, Wheadon's movie wasn't a success. "

Really, it's kind of a miracle when all the bits come together. I remember showing "The Thief of Baghdad" to a friend, and her wanting to show me some other movies like that. They're hard to find!

Recently, only Star Wars (you know, the first one), The Wrath of Khan, and Galaxy Quest have really done it for me in that genre. Serenity kind of fell short, but I'm not a Joss Whedon fan.

I'd like to see a movie of "The Uplift Wars" by David Brin (the one with the Chimpanzee hero), or perhaps something with Lois M. Bujold's Miles V. character (a cheerier, less bloody version of the "Starship Troopers" movie.)

"Total Recall," despite Ahnold, and violence, also had that serendipity. A guilty pleasure.

#164 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 01:42 PM:

A Miles movie. Now THAT I'd pay to see!

#165 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 02:56 PM:

Speaking of Lucas-in-love (away upthread), what does everyone think of THX-1138? The absolute cluelessness about sex and romance is written into the script ("write what you know," I imagine), and I thought it worked pretty well.

In one of the commentaries on the re-release DVD, Lucas mentions, somewhat wistfully, that he would have been content to continue making small, experimental movies. Am I alone in thinking it would be great for Lucas to get back to his pre-Star Wars, low-budget, Zoetrope Studios roots?

I could have done without the CGI inserted in the re-release (there's one change reminiscent of the Greedo-Han controversy), but I didn't think it detracted too much from the experience.

#166 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 04:44 PM:

Ajay: No, one can't tap out Morse with skips, but a skilled gunner can give regular strings. I could, for example, reliable promise to give you strings of three and five shots.

And, for the making of tea, the British Army, in WW1 used the same tins for carrying petrol and water to the front. One was supposed to drain them, burn off the residue and then rinse them, but even the most thorough of cleanings left a faint taste of gasoline. They weren't always so carefully cleaned.

That said, there is a lot of not so accurate bits in Graves. If you are interested you might care to read, Tommy by Richard Holmes (2004), which just came out in trade paper from Harper Perennial at £8.99 (I think I paid about 24.00US for it, but it's not marked).

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Ajay: Addendum; one was more likely to be shot in the head but a whiz-bang, or a Jack Johnson was the more likely cause of injury during a stint in the line.

The other thing to recall is that a week was considered about normal for a stretch in the trenches, and depending on which piece of trench, three days might be all one was held at the front.

Once a push started, the whole game changed. There was/is something to be said for actually, doing something, but as you guessed, most guys just wanted to get through it in one piece.

#168 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Fade Manley, I see Mr. Ford has already tipped you off to a free e-text of the Shaw-revised Shakespear -- which I'll go look at myself in a minute -- so I'll just mention that the collection Shaw On Shakespeare (from Dutton, I think) seems to have every single thing Shaw wrote about The Bard, including bits from letters and excerpts from his music writing that touched on the topic. It's a great collection that includes his revised Act V of Cymbeline and his puppet play starring two playwrights whose names start with "Sha." His views on Shakespeare were more nuanced than I had been led to expect.

...

Moving right along, let me just say... (clears throat portentiously, as one does when revealing something really really important):

SUPERTHUNDERSTINGCAR IS GO!!!

"Comparable to Neil Tolkien!"

#169 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 09:06 PM:

Quoth Jack Ruttan: I'd like to see a movie of "The Uplift Wars" by David Brin (the one with the Chimpanzee hero), or perhaps something with Lois M. Bujold's Miles V. character (a cheerier, less bloody version of the "Starship Troopers" movie.)

Nothing to add about the former, but be careful what you ask for with the latter: Barrayar, Hollywood style.

#170 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 09:13 PM:

"I've got to go polish Boba Fett."

This is not what it sounds like either.

Suuuuure.

#171 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 09:28 PM:

I tried to post this last night and the site went ker-blooey so I emailed it to Susan. I'll post tonight just in case anyone else is interested.

--------
Susan, here's what the WashPost notice said:

Party Like Jane Austen Fans of literature (or those of you whiling away time till the next Renaissance faire) can slap on a period costume for the Jane Austen Ball at the historic Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria on Aug. 12. The ball, modeled after one from the late 1700s, will feature lessons in English country dance, followed by dancing. Too bad there are no lessons in scoring a marriage proposal. $40, $25 in advance. 8 p.m. 134 N. Royal St. 703-838-4242

---------

The irreverence is because this is from a new daily page called Style On-the-Go which is mostly aimed at young adults. If they hadn't bolded the "Jane Austen" I might not have read anything on the page.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 10:25 PM:

"SUPERTHUNDERSTINGCAR IS GO!!!"

That was brilliant!

I'd read that Anderson tailored "Thunderbirds" for the American market, including padding out the episodes to an hour. I was fun seeing how the Brits mocked that.

Wierd Synchronicity:

My father sent me a "Best of Thunderbirds" DVD he'd spotted in a remaindered book catalog. I've been watching an episode a night. (Last night: The one where Thunderstingcar 1 is shot down by jabber-talking swarthy guys based in lost pyramid. I remembered that one from when I was in first grade . . . in fact, I remember all of them so far.) (The science content of these shows is utterly ludicrous, but DAMN, what gorgeous vehicles!)

#173 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 03:18 AM:

Open Thread amusement:

Big Island Infested with Snakes.

A READER alerted me to a curious article in London Daily Telegraph in which Hawaii is accused of trying to keep visitors away from the Big Island monument marking the place where Capt. James Cook was killed in 1779.

Big Island residents apparently are having a good hoot over the inadvertently humorous article by writer Francis Harris, in which he says "it is virtually impossible to reach the white obelisk" marking Cook's death spot, but then suggests that the spot can be reached by a three-hour journey "down a snake-infested hill."

As our columnist points out, there are no snakes in Hawai'i; we go to great lengths and expense to keep them out. In fact, we live in fear of the brown tree snake, which could very easily stow away on a flight from Guam. It's decimated the Guam bird population, and we don't want that to happen here.

More than that, though, our columnist points out three or four different ways to get to the obelisk in a much shorter time than the three hours suggested.

I would suggest that the best view of it is from the ocean, so take the boat.

#174 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 06:51 AM:

[Gadsby's Tavern "Austen" Ball]

Here is the full listing and flyer.

I pretty much tell by the information given that it will not be graced with any period dancing; by period standards, there probably will be no dancing at all. I'm tempted to request the ball list just so I can have a scholarly chomp at it.

It drives me nuts that people can blithely offer up wildly ahistorical stuff as historical. It's dishonest, and it makes my life more difficult, since when people hire me to teach I have to spend time undoing the damage and correcting the misconceptions. But even people who carefully work to get every detail of historical costumes right (though I'll bet the number of women with proper underpinnings at that ball will be somewhat smaller than the number that try to fit into the bathroom at one time at our Assembly) don't feel any need whatsoever to get the dancing right. The inconsistency drives me wild. And I can't do a damn thing about it - sue them for fraud? Hah. Sigh.

On a practical note, they've put their ball the night before a major dance community wedding in Brooklyn, which is where I will be, and where most of the dance people I know from that area will be. (Notably, that includes the groom, who lives in DC, and whom I'd otherwise try to convince to go scope out the ball so we can rip it to shreds later.) That also happens to be right before Newport Dance Week, which is where we're all going the day after the wedding. Ah, well. Maybe best not to give me too much red meat.


#175 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 09:09 AM:

Bobba Fett is Polish?

#176 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 09:12 AM:

Linkmeister: Snakes On A Plantain?

#177 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 09:46 AM:

Susan -- when does the box step itself appear? Your description reminded me of how baffled I was when I had to waltz on stage (in the finale of Ruddigore; in the box step (as I crudely learned it in 8th grade) the long step is second, but it's first in the form that people are thinking of (maybe also from the 30's but from movies) when using hackneyed phrases about dancers twirling to Strauss. The box (like the tangos I've seen) also has no net rotation or movement across the floor, which isn't nearly showy enough for onstage. I was just happy the director didn't decide to set the show in Sweden, where the hambo makes a full 360 in each 3-beat measure.

I think the only solution is to postulate something like long-term mass lead poisoning on Naboo.

Greg: Well, that the 2004 election wasn't a landslide against Shrub seems to indicate that Naboo isn't the only planet who has a problem with this.

Not really; Jar-Jar was only a clown, not a lying war-mongering demagogue to boot. He didn't give Naboo any reason to drink the Kool-Aid.

Scott H: wrt the long wait, I recall Lucas saying sometime after EpVI was released that he wasn't going to do any more in that universe until he could do the whole thing electronically, with no film stock at all. That would make the timing vaguely right; in 1994 I interviewed with a company that was offering spiffy new equipment to do real-time non-condensed disk recording of TV, which was within sight of Lucas's goal.

#178 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 02:43 PM:

So as not to further the derailment of Why Barack Obama can kiss my ass" I am going to address the question of Israel's behavior in Lebanon here.

Jon Baker: You aver that Israel's behavior in Lebanon is that of a "reasonable state."

I think you are wrong. Waging war on the residents of Southern Lebabon, because Hezbollah happens to be there isn't reasonable.

For some argument on the fundamentals (that Israel is targetting civilians) I offer You're not allowed to kill civilians". Non-combatants are not valid targets. Calling them up and telling them the house they are living in is going to be destroyed, because someone might have lobbed a rocket from near by, isn't just, it isn't proportional and it isn't; when all is said and done, reasonable.

It is, in fact, a form of terrorism. Not merely state sponsored, but state performed.

When an Israeli paper says that the IDF has been engaging in reprisal, well that leaves the bounds of reasonable, and moves to reprehensible.

What if, by way of analogy, we decided to wage war on drugs by leveling the neighborhoods where drugs are sold. We'll be fair, we'll drop leaflets letting people know they have 24 hours to pack their things and leave before the bombs, the napalm, and the shooting of anyone left when that's finished, so they can leave.

Would that be reasonable? Would it be the actions of a "responsible" state?

No.

Would Israel be justified in invading (again) Southern Lebanon? Maybe. I wouldn't condemn it, out of hand, as illegal (stupid, and counterproductive, probably, but not ipso facto illegal, immoral, or disproportionate. What they have been doing, however, is all of those things, and just as the ideals of exceptionalism which are wrong when applied to the U.S. are wrong when applied to the U.S., so too are special pleadings that Israel is, somehow, allowed to run roughshod over international law, and the norms of war

What slack I might have been cutting Israel went by the boards when those doing what they were told (evacuating the area) were gunned down.

#179 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 03:06 PM:

What most posters fail to grasp is that the Middle East is not the First World. It is not Europe. It is most certainly not the United States, which has not had a war on its own land since 1865.

What works, in that region, what Israel's enemies explicitly say they want to do (but can't because they don't have the weaponry), is what Syria did to its Palestinian dissidents in 1982. Look up "Hama rules" on google. It worked. It was terrible, it is unthinkable for most modern countries that think of themselves as civilized (well, except for, Germany, Serbia, Russia, and all the others), but it worked.

Level the city. Kill them all. Inspire fear. Let them know you're not afraid to kill them all.

Any show of weakness, is an opportunity for the other side to leap in and tear out the throat.

Israel conducts itself as a civilized nation, a peer of Europe and North America, believing in the power of diplomacy and statecraft, believing in freedom and civil rights for its citizenry. That is its primary failing, as far as local politics is concerned.

It was only after Israel showed weakness, by participating in the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, that led to the Oslo accords of 1993, that Arafat began to train his people's children to become shaheedin, suicide bombers. That effort bore fruit nine years later, when the Al-Aqsa Intifada brought a new wave of suicide bombings, against civilians, always against civilians.

After Israel left southern Lebanon in disarray, running out in about 5 days, in what was widely perceived as a rout, Hezbollah felt free to bombard the North again - clearly Israel didn't want to protect its border any more.

Maimonides tells us how we are to conduct a war of defense of Jews and the Land of Israel:

Approach the enemy. Offer peace, on fairly punishing terms (take half their property, and enslave the populace), to demonstrate the enemy's submission. If they don't accept terms of surrender, kill all the men and take the women & children prisoner.

It's a harsh code, but Maimonides synthesized Biblical and Rabbinic ideas, while living in al-Andalus, al-Maghreb, and Egypt. Unfortunately, in that world, the same morals still apply.

Jews are called "merciful, sons of the merciful". We cannot bring ourselves to keep God's mandate to actually kill our enemies. Read the books of Joshua and Judges. So we are left with them as a "thorn in our side", as the Bible says will be the consequence of not eliminating our enemies.

I sometimes think, that Israel will always be a pariah state in a world that regrets having granted it existence in 1948, that believes that the Jews do not deserve a state of their own. In which case, Hama rules become the only rules - if we will be blamed for the Jenin massacre that never happened, or the Deir Yassin massacre that happened on a much smaller scale than was rumored at the time, we might as well defend ourselves by the rules of war that apply in that region.

Or, Powell Doctrine, anyone?

#180 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 03:11 PM:

> When an Israeli paper says that the IDF has been
> engaging in reprisal, well that leaves the bounds
> of reasonable, and moves to reprehensible.

You also have to be aware that there are rightist Israeli papers, and leftist Israeli papers.

Among the Leftist community in Israel, are many who believe that the State of Israel was a mistake, and should not exist.

Haaretz is a major Leftist paper. It also has a very literate English supplement, so it is often quoted authoritatively.

And as for what Israel is doing in Lebanon, it is exactly what the US did in Afghanistan - going after a state that is a willing sponsor and host of terrorist parties, parties that have attacked us (whether that "us" is the US or Israel).

Say what you will about Iraq (an immense, costly blunder than has cost the US in prestige, as well as in wasted lives and money), the war in Afghanistan was a just reprisal for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Why is it "reprehensible" for Israel to conduct itself like a civilized state?

#181 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 03:53 PM:

CHip:
Susan -- when does the box step itself appear?

That's a complex question, since it wasn't actually called that until pretty late in the game. If you ask when step-units made up of forward-side-close-back-side-close first occurred, definitely by 1890, but a serious argument could be made for the mid 19th century and a somewhat more challenging one for the 1830's.

Your description reminded me of how baffled I was when I had to waltz on stage (in the finale of Ruddigore; in the box step (as I crudely learned it in 8th grade) the long step is second, but it's first in the form that people are thinking of (maybe also from the 30's but from movies) when using hackneyed phrases about dancers twirling to Strauss.

I bet they were evil enough to make you do reverse turns, too, which seem to be a modern default. Much harder than natural. If someone gave me Ruddigore to choreograph, I would do better.

Faboo theatrical moment last summer: I'm watching Hello, Dolly and the scene where she tries to teach the waltz. Both Dolly and the boy-toy whose name escapes me completely failed to waltz correctly; they degenerated into what I call the vintage munge. I'm not sure if that was an intentional joke on the part of the choreographer or the inability of the actors, but I thought it was funny. Not as funny as her tango-cadenza in Twelfth Night, but funny.

The box (like the tangos I've seen) also has no net rotation or movement across the floor, which isn't nearly showy enough for onstage.

That is the degenerate box step people teach today when they call it the box step. The real (original, historical) thing travels like crazy - much more than the rotary waltz step it mostly displaced. The modern ballroom folks don't like to hear this, but the so-called Viennese waltz is merely a fast-paced variation on the box step. I have an entire Speech (more like a Rant) on this topic which I will spare you for fear of being evicted from ML for excessive geekiness. It also works better when I have a box present that I can brutalize by way of demonstration.

I was just happy the director didn't decide to set the show in Sweden, where the hambo makes a full 360 in each 3-beat measure.

Happy pivots!

#182 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 08:36 PM:

Kip, plantains (as named) ain't a big thing here, but taro or poi snakes might do.

Ew. Nope. No snakes at all, thankyouverymuch.

#183 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Fun for the whole family (unless you're Flash-fobic): Don't Torch That Flag, Hand Me The Lighter

#184 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 08:55 PM:

Re: the question of what a trained-from-birth Senator from a major planet sees in a scruffy psionic troubleshooter from a backwater world. I always assumed that Anakin was using the Force on Amidala -- consciously or unconsciously -- to make her fall in love with him. And this is the reason that Jedi aren't allowed any hanky-panky, because it's unfair on the mundanes and easily leads to abuse.

#185 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 08:56 PM:

The modern ballroom folks don't like to hear this, but the so-called Viennese waltz is merely a fast-paced variation on the box step.

IIRC, we gave it a shot in high school. I remember the basic box step, and we did rotate also. It's more memorable than two-step for me. (Oh, yeah, this was a girls' PE class: we had no guys. Segregated classes except for the mixed folk dancing in junior high.)

#186 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 09:42 PM:

I have an entire Speech (more like a Rant) on this topic which I will spare you for fear of being evicted from ML for excessive geekiness.

Now that's an improbable image...

#187 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2006, 09:59 PM:

And this is the reason that Jedi aren't allowed any hanky-panky, because it's unfair on the mundanes and easily leads to abuse.

Which is reasonable enough . . . except that the Jedi Order has been around for (as all KoTOR players know) at least four millennia by the time we get around to those events. In that time, even if we assume that there are not many Jedi (I'd be willing to accept that fewer than one in a hundred thousand, maybe one in a million is born with mitochondria . . . MIDI sequencers . . . uh, Force germs) then the issue has to have arisen many, many times before now, and there really has to be some set of responses other than cold showers and "Don't Do That!"

There's plenty of folklore about people who fall in love (or something like it) with the Wrong Person, usually despite Warnings and Portents and all that bleep. But it's generally about individuals, not entire classes of people.*

I'm also aware that neither Anacin nor 'Lude went through the Creepy Jedi Creche that we see in Episode II, but the fact remains that abstinence is a dysfunctional solution.**

I suppose one might as well ask what the Senatorial programming . . . er, training consists of in this nontrivial aspect of human existence. Or are they just expected to be found from time to time in the Tidal Basin at dawn, with a dazed look and an attitude of denial?

But, then, the phrase "infantile sexual statements"*** does come to mind occasionally in this context.

*Full disclosure: I am presently messing around with a fictional variant of this, but the class involved is very small, and the people involved understand that it's a human problem, not just a windup plot device to make their lives unpleasant.
**Padawans(tm) Prophylactics -- For the Prevention of the Dark Side ONLY.
***Used a number of years ago by a critic discussing Gene Roddenberry's work.

#188 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 12:21 AM:

Any show of weakness, is an opportunity for the other side to leap in and tear out the throat.

Gak! Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I knew this sounded familiar....

We must be strong! To question our authority is to show weakness! To criticize us is to love the terrorists! To show restraint is to be a coward! We must torture our prisoners to prevent the ticking bomb! Not to torture is to kill our own people! Anything that restricts our military operations will weaken us! Any deal not exactly on our terms is to let the terrorists win! We invaded because of WMD's! Because of immenent attack! Because we must spread democracy! They will welcome us as liberators! To point out cooked intelligence is to hate our country! To reveal illegal spying is to help our enemy! Any settlement that even looks like a victory for our enemy will only encourage more terrorism! Our enemy is not human! war is peace! freedom is slavery! ignorance is strength! Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what they have to put up with.

Thank you, Mr. O'Brien, as you said:

“The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the government of Oceania itself, 'just to keep the people frightened'.”

You're a complete and utter prole, and I'm sure you thoroughly enjoy your two minute hate. Because that's as far as you can think: Be strong or be weak. Right? Because surely we're completely in the right and everything they do is wrong, so we must be strong in our fight against them, not to do so is to be weak. Victory on our terms or war. Because our war is perfect. Because our war is right. Because our war is just. The dead civilians, the women and children, well, they're covered by article X of the Geneva Convention, right?

Tell you what Mr. Baker, when you see both sides as equally human, when you see dead civilians as morally repugnant, no matter what side of some line on a map they live on, when you have an interest in a long term solution that benefits both sides, talk to me.

As long as you keep peddling your grade-school shpeal about "me strong, me right, you weak, you must hate our country", stop bothering me.

Actually, just grow up. The world can't afford any more international temper tantrums. Too many people are getting killed by your kind of chest thumping and self righteousness.

Suck on this for a while: http://www.couragevow.com/

#189 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 07:29 AM:

I'll admit I haven't made the attempt to keep up with Star Wars prequel minutiae... does the Jedi Order restriction on "hanky-panky" apply to fellow Jedi as well as mundanes? That is, does it call for total abstinence, or just no mixing with the mundanes?

Because if it calls for total abstinence, then the Jedi Order is apparently an elaborate eugenics project aimed at removing any genetic ability to use the Force from the population.

#190 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 08:38 AM:

And this is the reason that Jedi aren't allowed any hanky-panky, because it's unfair on the mundanes and easily leads to abuse.

That would make sense were it not for the fact that there's no restriction whatsoever on hanky-panky, except insofar as one feels that sex requires love. Jedi are not allowed "attachments" and aren't supposed to fall in love.

'Course, this could be a reason Jedi are regarded with distrust by the Average Being on the Street: they come in and seduce your children and then vanish.

It's also probably a big reason they make sure to put the kids in the creche. That kind of attitude needs to be inculcated early. (It does lead to the question of what exactly the normal procedure is for kids who are found to have Force potential after infancy--it's impossible Anakin is the only one, not with the number of Jedi we're shown. Do you just let them run around untrained?)

#191 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 10:24 AM:

Linkmeister: I looked it up before I said it. It might not be the number one plant there, but it's there.

#192 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 11:14 AM:

Jon Baker:

Which last is relevant how? Are you saying that having had a war on our own turf would somehow make the wrong right? Or merely that if I had some more immediate grasp of the personal desire for revenge I wouldn't care how many civilians were being killed?

Because if it's the latter, I do have a personal understanding of how lethal conflict can make one want revenge; of how beating ones percieved enemies is tempting as all fuck. Which in no way makes it right.

What works, in that region, what Israel's enemies explicitly say they want to do (but can't because they don't have the weaponry), is what Syria did to its Palestinian dissidents in 1982. Look up "Hama rules" on google. It worked. It was terrible, it is unthinkable for most modern countries that think of themselves as civilized (well, except for, Germany, Serbia, Russia, and all the others), but it worked.

Ye gods and little fishes, when I add that to this

Level the city. Kill them all. Inspire fear. Let them know you're not afraid to kill them all.

Any show of weakness, is an opportunity for the other side to leap in and tear out the throat.

I move from thinking you merely deluded (that brute force can lead to peace) to... I don't know, words fail me. Anyone who can think that is, at best a monster. How many will you kill in your lust to see, what... Israel standing along, astride a sea of glass and Galille red with blood, the rivers foul and stinking and how many millions dead?

That's genocide you are arguing for, and why... because three soldiers were captured. That's insane. It is, I will grant you, a trifle deuteronomic, it goes Maiminodes a few better, then again it goes against more recent Rabbinic thought (Talmud not being a static discipline).

Israel conducts itself as a civilized nation, a peer of Europe and North America, believing in the power of diplomacy and statecraft, believing in freedom and civil rights for its citizenry. That is its primary failing, as far as local politics is concerned.

There are no small number of Israeli iitizens who happen to be Arab muslims who disagree on some of those points. Further, if it wants to count itself as a civilised nation, it has to give up barbarisms, such as it is presently practicing.

After Israel left southern Lebanon in disarray, running out in about 5 days, in what was widely perceived as a rout, Hezbollah felt free to bombard the North again - clearly Israel didn't want to protect its border any more.

They had 18 years to make it swell and nice. Somehow they failed. Were they too nice? Did they fail to allow enough massacres in refugee camps? Not engage in brutal enough reprisals? Faiil to establish the right sort of death squads and the like?


Jews are called "merciful, sons of the merciful". We cannot bring ourselves to keep God's mandate to actually kill our enemies.

Because that's working so well for the other people who've tried it. The Serbs and the Bosnians are at peace now, because they wiped all their enemies out. The Tutsi and the Hutu are getting on well. And those Armenians just love the Turks.

I sometimes think, that Israel will always be a pariah state in a world that regrets having granted it existence in 1948, that believes that the Jews do not deserve a state of their own. In which case, Hama rules become the only rules - if we will be blamed for the Jenin massacre that never happened, or the Deir Yassin massacre that happened on a much smaller scale than was rumored at the time, we might as well defend ourselves by the rules of war that apply in that region.

That last bit is why Israel faces becoming a pariah.

Bleating about how "poor little Israel" (of the settlements, and the assasinations, the airstrikes on neighborhoods, because of tips that Hamas leaders might be there, of the bombing of Israel created refugees) is picked on becuase she defends herself in horrible ways; and then acting as apolgist (the massacrees weren't as bad as reported, which makes them all right I suppose. It wasn't quite so many innocents who were killed, so we'll just forget about it) is not going to win points in the court of public opinion, and it will never make the mistakes Israel has made go away.

Funny, people in the States condemn Japan for not admitting to its crimes, but somehow Israel is special. She ought to get a "bye" just because they "weren't as bad," as all that.

Bullshit.

No more than the U.S. ought to get a pass on present racial inequity, just because we did away with slavery.

Saying she needs to become an Idi Amin, a Pol Pot, or any other such horror. That she needs to be allowed to engage in wars of elimination; in the spurious belief that there are enough bullets, bombs and bayonets to keep her safe; if only she will be free enough in there use... bah.

How much has this last orgasm of destruction stopped Hezbollah?

How much has it caused the Egyptians to love her out of fear? How much has it caused Saudi Arabia to praise her and come to the table again?

The fact of the matter is that while Israel is wrong in what its doing, what you are advocating is so much worse that I am beggared at trying to respond. My immediate reaction is mindless fury... cold and calculating.

You sir, are like a rabid dog.

#193 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 11:38 AM:

I forgot to mention, this idea of force being something people listen to... well the facts on the ground (140 rockets fell on Israel yesterday) give it the lie.

Being somewhat calmer now. I can address an implicit accusation in the reply to which I was responding.

I am not against Israel.

I'm not against her defending herself.

I am against the how of what she is doing.

The rest, on the ideas suggested above, i.e. the only reason Israel doens't have peace is that she lacks the will to be murderous enough to exterminater her enemies, root and brach, men women, children and babies... that stands.

#194 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 11:57 AM:

You sir, are like a rabid dog.

Why use simile when metaphor is available? Less words, more fitting.

#195 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 12:16 PM:

adamsj: An overabundance of politesse I suppose.

And, for all that I might want to, I don't shoot things which are like rabid dogs, at least not out of hand.

I do regret that my fury at the arguments proposed interfered with my reason, and memory... for example, Maimonides wasn't speaking when there was an actual Israel to defend, so perhaps his ideas on what was the best policy are a tad suspect.

#196 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Jon Baker: On the contrary, the leafletting campaign has caused hundreds of thousands to flee the war zone. Further, the leafletting is only to Israel's detriment militarily, as it also warns their Hezbollah targets where they're going to bomb, so they have time to move their rocket launchers. But Israel's care for Lebanese civilians far outstrips, say, Lebanon's, or even the US' concern for Iraqi civilians.*

You say this as if it excuses Israel from any responsibility for civilian casualties. I wish you'd read the thread from a few months ago about the people forced to flee New Orleans during Katrina. Leaving a place you've called home for years is not easy, and in some cases impossible. How many Lebanese have cars? What's the public transportation system like? Where will they go? How many of them know people in Syria? And, if Israel makes good on its threat to take over a part of southern Lebanon, they become refugees, and what do you take along for that?

And this isn't even getting to the basic issue, which is (as Terry Karney said, quoting the sage Slacktivist), Killing civilians is wrong. Always. No exceptions. Not, But we sent them a leaflet. Not, But it's different in MY case. I know it's hard to think this way, when you feel threatened. Hell, my mother talked to my aunt in Haifa the other day, and she heard air raid sirens going on and off in the background. (And yes, targeting Haifa is wrong too.) Believe me, when she told me this I considered changing my mind about bombing Lebanon. But killing children is not going to help my aunt, or anyone else.

*This was from the thread on Obama, but it seemed to belong here.

#197 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:05 PM:

whatever else is going on, I looked at the video from Kafr Kana, and couldn't help but cry, to see the bodies lying there, being carried out. it is a terrible, terrible thing that happened.

now, though, it is starting to look like a tragic accident. the building apparently collapsed 7 hours after it was hit by Israeli missiles. the dead were members of four families that took refuge in it overnight. the building collapsed while they were sleeping.

yet, even if this is verified, israel will still be blamed.

by the way, greg, terry: i notice you don't bother to refute my basic point: that arabs don't think like europeans. cultures that create kamikazes are not the same as european cultures. instead you revert to the ad-hominem, both towards myself and towards the state of Israel: "grade school", "morally repugnant", "barbarisms", "rabid dog", etc. Terry, especially, puts words in my mouth, such as "exterminate". Even ruthless Assad didn't kill all of his opponents, just enough to show that he was willing to do so if necessary.

you falsely accuse me of holding such views, when I merely say that these are the views Israel is faced with among its neighboring states, and perhaps, God-forbid, it may come to Israel having to use the same strategy against her enemies. As I said, Israel tries to conduct itself as a peer of the Western World, and is faced with enemies who think like rabid dogs. somehow, one has to find a way to exist.

and when the choice is between suicide and murder, I ask you to judge, whose blood is redder?

Exodus 22:1 - he who comes to kill you, beat him to the punch and kill him first. Killing in self-defense is always permitted, indeed commanded.

but one must not go overboard - kill enough that they fear you, and won't do it again, anything beyond that is murder, plain & simple.

continued self-contradictory false accusations based on Big Lies: "allowing masscres in refugee camps", not apologizing for crimes, etc. do nothing to bolster your case. See here, for example - summary of Israel's gov't investigation of the masscre you hint at, which found no direct responsibility, but a fair amount of negligence and "should have known betters", which amount to a partial responsibility on the part of Israel.

* * *

transfer is a legitimate and powerful way to defuse such ethnic tensions, but for some reason, perhaps because jews might get a fair shake out of it, the world refuses to countenance such an idea. it was how Sennacherib destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, by transferring its population elsewhere; it was how Turkey & Greece resolved a lot of their tension, with the population exchange in the 1920s; and the oslo process was a planned transfer of Jews out of the territories, as is olmert's planned "convergence".

half a transfer occurred already in the 1950s, when the muslim countries all expelled their jews, who then went to israel. the other half never occurred - the arabs in israel and in the territories never transferred to more friendly states. instead, they have been kept in so-called refugee camps by a UNRWA that refuses to handle a real refugee problem; in part because none of the muslim countries want the palestinians either. jordan & egypt gave up their claims to gaza and the west bank decades ago, thereby dumping the pal-arabs on israel to deal with - they don't want them any more than we do.

so israel is the whipping boy of the arab world, and also of the western world, because it tries to be a modern democracy among dictatorial wolves, yet is a pariah to the west because it is the state of the jews.

* * *

as for maimonides, he also holds that in the ideal Torah-cratic state, we will not allow non-Jews to be permanent residents, without special permits. See Numbers 22:55 for why, and for why this whole problem exists - because we cannot transfer them out.

#198 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Lisa:

Killing civilians deliberately is wrong (do you say the same for Roosevelt in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?).

Killing civilians because of mistakes is tragic.

Killing civilians who put themselves in harm's way as human shields is regrettable, but they make themselves into participants in the military.

And if they are forced to be in harm's way by the other belligerent, that is a war crime by the ones who forced them to be there.

As in anything, there are shades of grey where moral ambiguity exists.

As Golda Meir said famously, "I do not regret that they have killed our sons. I regret that they have turned our sons into killers."

The Nzis were convicted, in the eyes of the world, of war crimes against the Jews and their enemies.

Here, though, the Jews are being convicted of war crimes which, (while Israel's part in the act is tragic, horrible, etc.) are actually committed by the other side.

Does it excuse Israel from responsibility for civilian casualties? Of course not. But responsibility without the power to prevent it, other than by surrender and national suicide, is a terrible place to be. Meanwhile, if you note, your aunt in Haifa, a civilian presumably, is sent scurrying into the miqlat (bomb shelter), because the other side is deliberately targeting civilians.

Israel conducts itself by international law, by geneva conventions. Its NGO enemies deliberately flout the laws of war. And Israel is given the sole blame by the world media, and by those who gain information and opinions through the MSM. Is it any wonder than some might perhaps want to go overboard the other way?

#199 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Naomi Ragen, well-known novelist, on the morality of killing civilians. And this in the leftist Haaretz paper. There is surprisingly positive national unity (at least among the Jewish citizens) about the necessity/propriety of this war.

#200 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:40 PM:

i notice you don't bother to refute my basic point: that arabs don't think like europeans.

I covered that here. In case you missed it, what you're basically saying is "Our enemy is not human", therefore it isn't inhuman to kill them.

instead you revert to the ad-hominem, both towards myself and towards the state of Israel: "grade school", "morally repugnant",

Yeah, you're level of logic is simple "might makes right" thinking. Developmentally, that's somewhere in grade school. You haven't developed beyond that level to a point where you see your enemy as human or to the point where you refuse to acknowledge any part in creating the mess in the first place. "They don't think like us. They made me do it" is simple grade school mentality.

Rather than to take a more mature response, you come off with childish crap like this: "summary of Israel's gov't investigation of the masscre you hint at, which found no direct responsibility, but a fair amount of negligence and "should have known betters", which amount to a partial responsibility on the part of Israel."

So, Israel killed some people through their own stupidity. And if you had some emotional development, you'd be able to figure out how that would feel to a Lebanese civilian not involved in the fight. But rather, you downplay it with "partial responsibility" and you quote the Geneva convention as if it gives you carte blanche to carpet bomb. To someone on the recieving end of that, Israel just murdered a bunch of innocent civilians, and to hell with your leaflets and your lawyerly ways. And when that spawns the next generation of attacks against Israel, you will again use your childish arguments of "they're not human". But that only works if you erase history, all events before and any effects after.

The Boston Massacre resulted in the death of 5 civilians at the hands of British Regulars. The civilians weren't exactly saints. They were taunting a guard post, throwing snowballs, and possibly stones. One solder was knocked to the ground, his weapon discharged either by accident or on purpose, and the rest of the troop fired into the crowd. All but two soldiers were acquitted. The two were convicted of manslaugher, but rather than hanged as was normal, they were branded on the thumb.

Now. Who's the inhuman here? Your basic response seems to be essentially "kill them all, let god sort them out". The only problem is genocide isn't actually allowed by the Geneva Convention. You're lawerly ways only works up to a very limited point. You can't nuke your neighbors off the map.

The problem is that in your undeveloped maturity, you can't seem to see that in the Boston Massacre, while the civilians were no saints, their deaths convicted two british soldiers of manslaughter... and caused the british to lose the whole of the colonies.

You keep pointing to geneva conventions and partial responsibility due to negligence, and maybe some Israeli soldier here or there might get reprimanded. And then when the death of 5 civilians becomes the cause celebre to fight the entire nation that ordered those soldiers into the breech, you snort with indignation of how those people aren't human, how they don't think like you, how they don't think like us.

Lemme tell you something: they think exactly like every otehr human does. And when a single Israeli soldier causes the wrongful death of one Lebanese civilian, the entire population of Lebanon identifies with their fellow civilian and sees that one soldier as an extension of the entire state of Israel. That is the completely human reaction.

Like I said, your argument only works if you ignore history.

#201 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:45 PM:

But responsibility without the power to prevent it, other than by surrender and national suicide,

Yes, because any restriction on military operations would result in national suicide. Unbridled power is the only way for Israel to survive. Unilateral power. Power without compromise. It's the only way, of course. There is no alternative. We'll die. To suggest otherwise is to love our enemies.

Gawd. This argument is so old and so lame. I've heard it a million times already when talking about US messing up the world by messing up Iraq.

#202 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:56 PM:

i notice you don't bother to refute my basic point: that arabs don't think like europeans.

I don't think it's wise to debate bigots about the terms of their bigotry. In other words, fuck off.

#203 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 03:49 PM:

Killing civilians is wrong. Always. No exceptions

Assuming arguendo it then follows that train busting (which in steam days killed civilian crew in a rather nasty fashion) is a war crime as are attacks on marshalling yards. So it was altogether fitting and proper that the skies did not darken in at least one instance?

Same analysis for merchant seamen - obs sf see Starship Troopers for a discussion of whether merchan seaman constitutes national service - whether faced with surface ships or submarine warfare? Peenemunde? Schweinfurt?

do you say the same for Roosevelt in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Roosevelt being somewhat dead it was Truman's decision to go with the A-bomb. Remember the man who led the Pearl Harbor attack (Fuchida, the flight leader) told the man who piloted the Enola Gay (Paul Tibbets) that dropping the bomb was the right thing to do.

cultures that create kamikazes are not the same as european cultures

Joe Foss: Well they all… you can't imagine… those of us who live represent those that didn't. They gave their lives as simply in those days as you go and deposit money to purchase something. ellipsis in original spoken interview. There may be the same sort of distinction between U-Boats bad, submarines good and Kamikaze bad suicide mission good see e.g. the death of Joe Kennedy Jr.?

#204 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 04:12 PM:

I think that the reporting has been asymmetric--how many US citizens have been in Israels in places there were getting attacked by rockets launched from across international borders over the past 20+ years? Where are the video footage and the reporting of evacuating of US citizens out of Haifa, etc., which have been under rocket attack for weeks?

When I was with my late aunt in Israel a decade or so ago, I didn't get to go touristing/visiting/sightseeing in northern Israel, because there were active hostilities and rocket attacks going on, and we decided to stay away from that area... though my aunt and her late husband had been in Tel Aviv when Tel Aviv was under attack on one of the trips they had made. After we got back to the airport to get the flight we were scheduled on, we found out that the airport had only been reopened for a few days, that it had been shutdown for a while while we were in Israel. That gives me a somewhat different perspective looking at the current situation, as regards "and what about the US citizens who were in Israel and evacuation assistance to them?" There's been all that attention to the US citizens in Lebanon, but again, what about US citizens in places like Haifa under rocket attack? There are US companies with facilities and employees there....

There is there is the question of "who is a civilian?" What about people who are willingly aid and abet and support and promot those who launch rocket attacks across borders, who far from demanding that those shooting off rockets with the intent of wanton mayhem and murder on whatever and whomever has the misfortune to be at the end point of the missile and warhead trajectory, cease and desist and, hold them up as heroes to laud and esteem and promote and support and emulate?

#205 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Kip, I didn't know it was here, which says something about either my lack of observation or about its absence in diets here.

I'm smarter than I was earlier today, for which I thank you.

#206 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 04:36 PM:

I think that the reporting has been asymmetric

Well, the damage certainly has been asymmetric:

Israeli bombings against Lebanon

600 Lebanese killed. 1500 wounded. About 1/3 are children and majority civilians. Hezbollah deaths range from 50 to 100. 800,000 people displaced. 60 bridges, 70 roads, destroyed. electrical power plants bombed, fuel tanks destroyed. 20 gas and fuel stations destroyed. factories, warehouses, dams, schools, TV stations, churches, mosques, hospitals, struck. Thousands of civilian houses destroyed. Estimated cost of infrustructure damage exceeds 2 billion US dollars.

Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel. 19 Israeli civilians and 33 military personell have been killed. 500 wounded. 1.2 million evacuated. 600 buildings damaged by rockets.

#207 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Killing civilians deliberately is wrong (do you say the same for Roosevelt in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?).

Yes (with Clark E Myers's caveat that it was Truman who ordered the strike). And Dresden, and the London Blitz. If we're referencing sf, see Kim Stanley Robinson's "Lucky Strike."

Clark E Myers: Assuming arguendo it then follows that train busting (which in steam days killed civilian crew in a rather nasty fashion) is a war crime as are attacks on marshalling yards

I didn't say they were war crimes. I said they were wrong. Immoral.

I guess I'm going to stop arguing with Jon Baker. I tried to be rational because I remember when I felt the way he did, that Israel could do no wrong, and how horrified I was to find out that I was mistaken. But I can't talk to someone who thinks his enemy doesn't think like us. How does he know? Did he talk to any? Does he think all Arabs think alike, even though, obviously, all Jews don't? (Okay, I guess I am arguing. I'm going to try to stop, though.)

#208 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 04:47 PM:

going after a state that is a willing sponsor and host of terrorist parties, parties that have attacked us

That is the reasoning the RAF could have used to level Boston in the 1980's.

Just noting in passing.

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 05:05 PM:

whatever else is going on, I looked at the video from Kafr Kana, and couldn't help but cry, to see the bodies lying there, being carried out. it is a terrible, terrible thing that happened.

now, though, it is starting to look like a tragic accident. the building apparently collapsed 7 hours after it was hit by Israeli missiles. the dead were members of four families that took refuge in it overnight. the building collapsed while they were sleeping.

Let's see. Missile hits building. Some hours later building collapses. Therefore it is a tragic accident.

As logic this is pathetic.

As an excuse for murder, this is beyond pathetic.

You make me ashamed of my Jewish heritage.

#210 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 05:07 PM:

But I can't talk to someone who thinks his enemy doesn't think like us.

I recall getting together with someone I knew a couple months after 9-11. The person was Jewish. Didn't matter to me. Didn't really enter into our interactions in any way, other than to wish them a "Happy Hanaka" when the time came. So we're talking about the events of 9-11, and at some point they were talking about how they had been doing their duty of keeping a watchful eye out for suspicious behaviour, and they had called the FBI and told them about some guy who started talking with someone else in front of this diner. Apparently they hadn't done this prior to 9-11. I asked what specifically did he do that was suspicious.

"Oh, he was Palestinian."

I found myself completely unable to reply. I don't think there was anything much I could have said that would have changed his point of view.

#211 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 05:09 PM:

going after a state that is a willing sponsor and host of terrorist parties, parties that have attacked us

That is the reasoning the RAF could have used to level Boston in the 1980's.

Just noting in passing.

Or the 70s, or the 1940s for that matter.

#212 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 05:38 PM:

Greg, I'd have walked out without another word.

#213 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 05:54 PM:

The dialog in Episode V (Empire Strikes Back), as well as the rest of the script, is at least partly due to the re-write by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan...

Brackett did not rewrite the script, she wrote the first draft just prior to her death. People who have read her script say that none of it was used.

#214 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Brackett did not rewrite the script, she wrote the first draft just prior to her death. People who have read her script say that none of it was used.

Hmm... I'll admit I was going by the imdb listing, which has "Story by George Lucas" and "Screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan", hence my statement. "Story by X" is usually Hollywood-speak for "wrote the original screenplay, but it's been so thoroughly re-written since then that the final thing is basically a different entity." Of course, "Screenplay by X and Y" can mean "written by X and Y together", or "written by X, then re-written by Y."

#215 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 06:18 PM:

AIUI, Lucas wrote a short synopsis, Brackett wrote the first draft, died without being able to make the massive changes Lucas wanted, Kasdan completely rewrote it under Lucas's direction, and Brackett was given screen credit out of respect.

#216 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 06:40 PM:

The damage is asymmetric not because of intent, but because of the difference in weaponry and technological sophistication. Had Hezbollah put the level of effort into creating a modern society that it's put into hating Jews and shelling Israel, both its partisans in Lebanon AND the Israelis would have better lives today.

#217 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Clark E. Meyer: The deliberate killing of civilians is wrong. Dresden was wrong. Hiroshima was questionable.

Jon Baker: They don't think like Europeans? No, they don't. Neither do Isrealis. Neither do citizens of the United States.

They aren't Europeans.

What they are is human beings, cut them, do they not bleed? How they think is like any other human being. They love, and strive, and hate, just like other human beings. Offend them, and they take offense. Offend the hard enough (or long enough) and they will strike.

Here's the rub; if they aren't in some way sub-human (which seems to be what you are arguing when you say they don't think like Europeans), then they have every right to do to Israel what you are saying Isreal is failing to do to them (i.e. wipe Israel out, in self-defense), and they would have the right, per the Bush Doctrine, to do so pre-emptively.

Hillel would disagree.

I do disagree.

And I've had people (in the Middle East, Arabs, in fact) trying to kill me, and mine, in the recent past. I just put a friend on a plane to Isarael on Friday morning.

None of that changes a damned thing. The way Israel is going about this is wrong. Make all the special pleadings that you like about this being different that somehow the Lebanese asked for it (and btw, if I set a bomb off in a house, and some homeless people camped out overnight, and it fell in on them, I'd be in the dock for murder, even if they knew it had been bombed) is utter rubbish.

It's beneath the dignity of decent people, it is, in a word, uncivilised.

#218 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 06:54 PM:

Of course, "Screenplay by X and Y" can mean "written by X and Y together", or "written by X, then re-written by Y."

My understanding (which could be totally mistaken) is that "screenplay by X and Y" means "written by X, then re-written by Y," and that "written by X and Y together" is indicated by "screenplay by X & Y." In other words, 'and' vs '&' is a non-trivial difference.

--Mary Aileen

#219 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 06:56 PM:

It drives me nuts that people can blithely offer up wildly ahistorical stuff as historical. It's dishonest, and it makes my life more difficult, since when people hire me to teach I have to spend time undoing the damage and correcting the misconceptions. But even people who carefully work to get every detail of historical costumes right ... don't feel any need whatsoever to get the dancing right.

Preach it Power Twin!

There's no excuse for getting it wrong with nineteenth-century stuff, for the most part. The information is there (it's not perfect, but it allows for credible reconstruction, unlike, say, the information on fourteenth-century dance), the dance manuals are available, there are good historical dance instructors and reconstructors who are delighted to teach.

And yet people are happy to put on Regency attire and use modern "steps" to dance reconstructions of seventeenth-century dances, accompanied by people playing seventeeth-century tunes on keyboards set to sound like pianos.

Feh I say.

Actually I say a thing or two more, but only in private.

#220 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Debunking "Loose Change":

This guy gets right to the point:

http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=911_morons

I love the bit about the $20 bill!

#221 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 07:12 PM:

The damage is asymmetric not because of intent, but because of the difference in weaponry

and the media reports on results, not intent. The results are staggeringly lopsided. Two billion dollars in infrastructure alone lopsided.

Had Hezbollah put the level of effort into creating a modern society that it's put into hating Jews and shelling Israel, both its partisans in Lebanon AND the Israelis would have better lives today.

Right. I keep forgetting. Hezbollah is to blame for the bombs and missiles that Israel dropped on Lebanon. Stupid me. Because there is no one to blame here but Hezbollah and Lebanon, right? Out of curiosity, have you clicked on that map of Israeli bombings in Lebanon? It isn't just the southern territory where rockets are being launched. Anyone who believes that shit is a moron or a shill. Look at the map. Israel has bombed the entire country of Lebanon. Everywhere. These are not tactical targets to stop kidnappers from escaping with two Israeli soldiers. These are not tactical targets to prevent rockets from being launched into Israel.

These are attacks at the entire country, top to bottom, side to side, collective punishment, pure and simple. Two billion dollars worth.

All started under the bullshit excuse that two soldiers were kidnapped.

Had Israel put the level of effort into working with its neighbors to build infrastructure in Lebanon to the point that Lebanon doesn't feel it needs or wants Hezbolla, that it's put into collectively punishing Lebanon for not doing something the Israeli army couldnt do for the 18 years it occupied Lebanon, then Israel would have peace with a strong neighbor who doesn't want Hezbollah, rather than pushing Lebanon to the brink of war, and turning it into another Afghanistan-ruled-by-various-warlords fiasco.

Instead, Israel has invaded and occupied Lebanon twice in the last couple decades, with wonderful heart's and mind's winning stories as the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982.

During this invasion the Phalangist militia, under the command of Elie Hobeika, moved into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, and committed the first Sabra and Shatila massacre, with the consent of the Israeli Defense Force under the direction of Ariel Sharon as the Minister of Defense, who was later found personally responsible for the massacre by the Kahan Commission. Israeli soldiers surrounding the camps turned back Palestinians fleeing the camps, as filmed by a Visnews cameraman.

Israel justified its move into West Beirut by a need to maintain order and stability after Gemayel’s assassination. However, several days later, Ariel Sharon told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament: “Our entry into West Beirut was in order to make war against the infrastructure left by the terrorists”.

And again, history's ugly scene repeats itself. So get off your high horse. It doesn't suit you.

#222 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Or, stonewall:

In its initial statements, the Israeli government initially declared that those critics who regarded the IDF as having responsibility for the events at Sabra and Shatila were guilty of "a blood libel against the Jewish state and its Government."

#223 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 07:34 PM:

Mary Aileen:
My understanding (which could be totally mistaken) is that "screenplay by X and Y" means "written by X, then re-written by Y," and that "written by X and Y together" is indicated by "screenplay by X & Y." In other words, 'and' vs '&' is a non-trivial difference.

Yes, that's precisely what I've heard. It's why you see things like "Screenplay by Bob and Carol and Ted & Alice" -- meaning Bob wrote a draft, then Carol wrote a new draft, then Ted and Alice together wrote a third draft.

Hmm... [goes back and checks] looks like imdb preserves this. For Matchstick Men, the screenwriters are ampersanded[*], while for Empire Strikes Back it really is Brackett "and" Kasdan, which agrees with what Jeffrey Smith said.

[*] The only reason I used that movie is because I happen to know the screenwriters, so I know they worked on it together (they're brothers, in fact)...

(And, in fact, it turns out that imdb has a page explaining this.)

#224 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 07:57 PM:

Re: the question of what a trained-from-birth Senator from a major planet sees in a scruffy psionic troubleshooter from a backwater world.

That's the trouble with the whole courtly-love gig. A bucolic hick with a gift for poetry, who takes up troubadoring, is ennobled by association when he wins the heart of a noble lady. But a noble lady who falls for a jumped-up peasant with the Gift of the Lay (so to speak) risks, and usually loses, everything. Marriage, reputation, the respect of her subjects all go down the tubes. And if she refuses him, she's a proud, cold bitch who can't see a good thing when it's thrown at her with both hands. Not that I'm bitter. :)

As to the Jedi Don't Bonk rule, perhaps Force Aptitude is only partially genetic, or perhaps it's right up there with the Catholics Don't Use Contraception rule, more honoured in the breach than the observance. :)

#225 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Israel conducts itself by international law, by geneva conventions.

This is a lie. Not an exaggeration, a lie. The colonizing and annexation of captured territory, as Israel has done, is strictly forbidden. So are the attacks on other civilian structures; what did a power plant have to do with Hezbollah? Or olive groves? (That's an especially appalling symbolism.)

As for asymmetric reporting: yes, a lot of it has been asymmetric; a lot of it has said that Israel started bombing because Hezbollah launched rockets. Or maybe "asymmetric" is not a sufficient term for a complete reversal of fact.

And wrt Hezbollah putting its energies into making a better country instead of war; that's what it did, which is why it is so strongly supported (just as Hamas is in Palestine).

I don't claim that any party has completely clean hands in this matter; the Syrians in particular have been playing games with the nationality of Chebaa(sp?) farms. But the Israeli doctrine of massive retaliation is both morally bankrupt and racist, a claim that "the only language the wogs understand is force".

And about that tired canard that the displaced Palestinians should have been taken in by other Arab nations: how? Israel was massively subsidized by rich Westerners where the Arab states were not. Also, the Jews expelled from Arab countries had plenty of time to gather their belongings instead of being driven out by a surprise attack.

#226 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 12:08 AM:

You're playing the revisionist game, Greg.

#227 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 12:24 AM:

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, etc., had enormous revenues from oil. Kuwait was the only one which gave Levantine immigrants the opporunity for citizenship.

The number of Muslims who left what today is Israel, was not greater than the number of Jews who departed Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, etc. and relocated to what today is from the 1880s to 1948, most of them in fear for not only their livelihoods but their lives--there were murderous riots against them in then-Mesopotamia starting in the 1880s, with Amin al-Husseini one of the primary contributors to egging on the attacker, he who had been appointed by Great Britain to be the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem though his religious training was much more limited that an Islamic cleric would ordinarily have had (and who eventually departed from Jerusalem as someone who way of dealing with rivals was to murder them...),and who was probably the single biggest hatemonger in the entire area in at least the past 120 years. (Note, apparently Saddam Hussein grew up in a house with Amin al-Husseini in residence... blood relationship there apparently.) (A British official once called Amin al-Husseini the most evil man in the Middle East....).

If not for Amin al-Husseini, the world might be a nicer place today...

#228 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 01:08 AM:

You're playing the revisionist game, Greg.

When people are being murdered I generally don't consider it a game. What I am doing is saying Israel has bloody hands, despite yours and other claims to the contrary. You, on the other hand, are playing the perfect blame game.

Had Hezbollah put the level of effort into creating a modern society that it's put into hating Jews and shelling Israel, both its partisans in Lebanon AND the Israelis would have better lives today.

This is the Hatfields saying if the McCoys had put more effort into mending fences, they'd both be better off.

What you are doing is trying to frame the issue as if there are fewer choices than reality presents. They started it. They made me do it. If they would stop, we would stop. If they would try to create a better society, then we would.

Can you hear the language at work here? There are far more options and far more paths to peace and a long lasting solution than these three or four suggested so far. That every single version you present hinges on the full assignment of guilt be laid at the feet of Israel's enemies, while you ignore every option that would start with Israel accepting it's part of the blame, suggests your limited menu is not purely accidental or merely random selection.

You are using language in an attempt to portray limitations that do not exist in reality. There are far more ways to peace than you present. But you present your options as if they're the only choices.

And every choice you present requires full submission of the enemy, which guarantees the only way that will happen is either Israel destroys that enemy, or political pressure forces them to withdraw. The former can't happen in guerrilla war. For every opponent you kill, another will pick up their rifle. See how well things are turning out in Iraq with this approach. But Bush keeps trying, doesn't he? He refuses to relent, to find a better way, because he's declared such an action to be weakness. And the latter, political pressure to withdraw, doesn't resolve anything if both sides remain standing with a knife at each other's throats.

This is standard life-coaching work, except on an international level. All you'd have to do is change it to some married couple who've been fighting for years, and neither will accept any blame, but rather blame the whole thing on the other, and you've got this whole thing wrapped up in a barrel.

The only difference is if this were a married couple, I'd be telling them that divorce may be their best option, and at the very least one partner should move out until things cool off. But with Israel and Lebanon and the Palestinians and Hezbollah, they're pretty much stuck with each other in the same house.

But the language being thrown around is classic. It is exactly the sort of speech that comes from people who've been fighting a long time. And they've been fighting a long time because they can't resolve the issues. And they can't resolve the issues because both demand the other take the blame and submit.

So, here's the way it works and there are a couple of approaches a coach can take, generally all of them in some fashion or another. Pull each party aside. (1) Get them to acknowledge the full history, including the stuff they've done that wasn't good for the relationshp. (they have a perfect memory of what's been done to them. They're quite a lot fuzzier of what they've done to the other, adn generally downplay it) (2) Get them to see that they are fully responsible for their behaviour no matter what the other person did. two wrongs don't make it right. an eye for an eye is not a viable long term path to peace. And (3) get them to be responsible for their behaviour, even if it means the other person is unwilling to meet them in kind. This means that one person may have to be "bigger" than the other. More adult. More mature. Able to say "I'm sorry" first, and not say it simply to get the other to admit their mistakes.

Israel has totally blown this one. Whatever was done to them, Israel has acted with complete disregard towards innocent and uninvolved Lebanese civlians. If you wish to continue the denial around this, and if you wish to face every other screw up that Israel has committed with "that's the revisionist game" then you get the world you create. In this case, you get war. Never ending, never resolved, war. Think US in Iraq, except geographically you can't withdraw the troops because you can't go anywhere else.

What you see now will only continue. If it were a married couple I'd recommend divorce, but like I said, Israel and its neighbors are stuck with each other whether they like it or not.

Israel destroyed two billion dollars of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure. Collective punishment. And Lebanese civilians will be smart enough to figure that out. Is Israel going to help with reconstruction? Pay to rebuild? Compensate the families of teh civilians killed?

Or are you going to draw a line in the sand and tell me the only way to peace is if Hezbollah throws itself on your sword and Lebanon cleans up the mess Israel made?

Are you going to tell me the tale of limited options? Or are you going to acknowledge mistakes, be the bigger person, and stand for Israel being a responsible government?

"But how do I know they'll reciprocate?" asks the spouse who is teetering on the edge of personal responsibility.

"You won't. And they may never reciprocate." I tell them, "But can you be responsible for your past actions and admit your mistakes, even if they never do?"

Once they get to the point of asking that question, regardless of their answer, they no longer need me. If they answer "yes", then their side of the problem is solved, and they don't need my help anymore. If they answer "no", then they are beyond my help.

So, here's some non-revisionist information, from five Israeli human rights groups regarding Israeli military actions since the year 2000:

A joint statement put out by the organisations says that since October 2000 at least 1,647 Palestinians - nearly half the number killed by Israeli troops - had been taking no part in fighting at the time of their deaths. The groups said 704 under-18s had been killed by Israeli troops

So, you now know Israel's hands are bloody. That the blood of those dead civilians colors no one but Israel. And the question is whether you can acknowledge something like this as morally inexcusable, or will you divert attention away and blame someone because they made you do it.

Will you tell me the tale of the restricted options, or will you be the bigger person, admit Israel made a horrible mistake, and call for responsible action.

#229 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 01:15 AM:

The number of Muslims who left what today is Israel, was not greater than the number of Jews who departed ... and relocated to what today is from the 1880s to 1948

Hatfields.
McCoys.
Perfect memory of the wrongs done to yours.
Quite a bit fuzzier, and a lot of downplaying of any wrong done by yours.

You think this has been going on since 1880 but for some reason this time it will be different?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

#230 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 01:28 AM:

Clark E. Meyer: The deliberate killing of civilians is wrong. Dresden was wrong. Hiroshima was questionable.

Given that edge/corner cases are often as much misleading as informative - around here the classic example is defining categories of genre fiction - still the exception may sometimes prove the rule.

Assuming arguendo that Dresden was a deliberate killing of civilians and not an attack on transportation centers and so Dresden was wrong. Then I'm not clear on whether the argument follows that train busting - an act of great deliberation and enough difficulty to give pilots who did it a sense of accomplishment - an act that quite deliberately kills civilians is right or wrong? Perhaps at least those exempted from military service for vital civilian occupation might be removed from the general class of civilians?

Again arguendo if Dresden be wrong and Hiroshima be dubious what of Monte Cassino? (obs sf A Canticle for Leibowitz) The general legal rule of Monte Cassino considered as a legal case is likely that one is presumed to intend the consequences of one's actions - civilian deaths only then the death of civilians was the intent.

Is the rule of deliberate killing of civilians applicable from Dresden (for no particular reason I like the earlier Hamburg as a prime example of wasted effort perhaps because there is a strong case that Hamburg recovered promptly so far as the German war effort was concerned) through Monte Cassino to train busting/merchant ship sinking? By extension from isolating the home islands of Japan to starvation in Japan - especially including postwar Japan where we broke it - did we buy it?

Also, the Jews expelled from Arab countries had plenty of time to gather their belongings instead of being driven out by a surprise attack

Funny, I've heard stories of refugee Jews losing both their personal and real property - indeed confiscated by the state they were leaving often enough as a condition of exit - and as in the recent NYT piece: He Who Cast the First Stone Probably Didn't
By DANIEL GILBERT
Research shows that while people think of their own actions as the consequences of what came before, they think of other people's actions as the causes of what came later....

I don't suppose the attack in 1948 surprised anyone much at all but I don't think it was Israel who opened the hostilities by surprise attack.

#231 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 01:30 AM:

re: Mel Gibson particle: holy crap. Whatever happened to those lazy, crazy days of Murtogh and Riggs?

#232 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 01:45 AM:

(wubbawubbawubba)

Oh, I did not need to see the "I will survive (Jesus version)".

#233 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 02:28 AM:

Oh me oh my and a custard pie. That "I will survive" clip is...is...well, it's something.

#234 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:29 AM:

This is getting to be one of those comment things that really needs proper threading. We've got more in it than just Israel trying to bomb Lebanon back to the Stone Age, but it's become almost impossible to find that other stuff.

#235 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 07:12 AM:

Food for thought

I don't know why I exepected anything other than armchair moral absolutism from the former RASF crowd. Maybe because fans are slans? It didn't work before, so I'll hope it works again? Insanity, indeed.


#236 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 08:38 AM:

I've never, ever posted to RASF, so you know what? No, you don't.

#237 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Power Twin says:
Actually I say a thing or two more, but only in private.

Say it to me at Newport, maybe during our intimate maxixe sessions? We're making progress at this end: last night featured the spontaneous generation of a sunburst! We stopped in befuddlement and said "waitasec, that wasn't how we did this two weeks ago." So we tried again. Again, sunburst. Several more tries produced the same result, so we shrugged and decided we now had a sunburst. It's fate.

#238 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 09:27 AM:

Yeah, and maybe the US planted explosive in the World Trade Centers too.

The beautiful thing about conspiracy theories is that once you start along that frame, any evidence to the contrary can always be explained by expanding the conspiracy.

It is really nothing more than classic denial of negative information. Must keep placing the blame on the enemy. Our actions are beyond reproach. Note Israel's initial response to the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

those critics who regarded the IDF as having responsibility for the events at Sabra and Shatila were guilty of "a blood libel against the Jewish state and its Government."

denial. misdirection. blame games.
all standard procedure.
Israel is not immune to playing this response.
it's what you get for being human, rather than perfect.

#239 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 11:08 AM:

SOmeone on a list I' m on who's Australian or British gave this url:
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,,19955774-5007220,00.html

"Photos that damn Hezbollah

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

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

Some friends of mine live in an old New England city, they told me about a
house that "mysteriously" burned down in a neighborhood--the house was one
inhabited by alleged drug dealers, there cars out in front of it at all
hours of the day and night of people going in and out of the house,
presumably to do drug deals. The neighbors didn't appreciate their
neighborhood being infested, and the blighting that was likely to spread
from the situation. The police didn't put an end to the situation, so one day the house burned down.... of course no one in the neighborhood knew anything about it, even though the most likely explanation was a collective decision of the neighborhood to drive the drug dealers out by dint of torching the place.

More extreme cases, the Catholic priest who was up at Thule when I was there, told me that teenage and twenty-something Czechoslovakians had been smuggled out of there and to the USA after "Prague Spring" because they had fought the Soviet tanks, running up to the tanks and ontop of them and dropping Molotov cocktails inside them, defying the Soviet tanks rolling into Prague to put down the attempted revolt. He said that the people smuggled out regarded doing that as the biggest thrills in the world...

My point is that there doesn't seem to be much resistance offered by the people of south Lebanon to Hezbollah's presence among them and Hezbollah's using south Lebanon as home base for shooting rockets off to murder Israelis. If e.g The Army of God drove into your neighborhood and set up to shoot rockets across a state border to launch warheads at the civilians in that other state, would you ignore the situation?

While the USA isn't Lebanon, if the neighbors find out that someone in the vicinity has been stockpiling war material with the intent of using it against someone, they have a tendency to call in the authorities and make a fuss--and if the authorities don't do anything, they might act on their own... the neighbors of David Koresh in Waco appreciated it when the BATF came in an attacked, the neighbors wanted Koresh and his followers out of there, or at least disarmed. and that drug house in that New England city, was burned down to get the drugdealer out of the neighborhood.

#240 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 11:55 AM:

PS

I'm the descendant of people who DIDN'T die in death camps in Europe, my grandparents/their familes -left- for various reasons, including persecution and ahead of the Law which would hve sentenced one of them to death for daring to fight back against the Cossacks and others who came to rampage in the streets of Jewish villagers committing mayhem unchecked by any authorities, long before WWII, back before WWI, one grandparent's family left in the 1880s when there was significant persecution ratcheting up against Jews in Austria-Hungary, which is when Herzl realized that even converting to Christianity wouldn't make him, born Jewish, socially acceptable in Austria-Hungarian society, nor prevent persecution of others born Jewish in the rest of Europe, and instead initiated the Zionist movement.

The ones who accepted the armed troops incoming and the Law persecuting them, -died-, the ones who left (while they were able to leave) lived, the ones who fought, some of them survived, too... the Jews who left the cities and went out into the woods in Poland and fought the Nazis and their collaborators survived at a much higher rate, than the Polish Jews who accepted being transported off. I can't rememeber the name of the book, I think I may have mentioned it in Making Light months ago, wherein a writer told the story of some of those fighters, and how after the end of WWII, the plot that some of them put together to commit mass murder against Germans who had been involved in mass murdering Jews and the others sent to the death camps, in revenge fell apart--the details of what happened/ how the plot was stopped it have been dying with the people involved--some of the ones who thought it up, reconsidered their plan for revenge and decided that it should be dropped, and forced it to be dropped--and none of the plotters, neither those who wanted to go through with the revenge, nor those who decided to stop the plot from being carried out, were willing to let posterity get the details.

I think that there is a relevant point there--that a group of Jewish resistance fighters, whose friends and families had been systematically rounded out and mass-murdered, their entire culture exterminated, who survived, resettled elsewhere in the world and gave up their demand and plans for revenge. (Some who returned to the places they had lived before the Germans, didn't survive--there was still hatred of Jews by Poles and others and the hatermongers committed mayhem and murder on Jews AFTER WWII was over and a few Jews returned... so much for "send the Jews back to Europe.")

Those who did't give up their demand and plots for revenge, were betrayed by their former associates who decided to drop the revenge, and the mass revenger plot, aborted.

A whole lot fewer Arab Muslims and Christian Arabs died in the founding of the state of Israel, than Jews died in Europe--and a significant number of Jews in the Middle East were murdered from the 1880s through 1948, by fanatics of any or all of the varieties of nationalist (from the Atlantic northwest coast of Africa, all the way into what today is Iran, there was a rising tide of nationalism, and one of the ways that groups unify, is by demonizing anyone not of their particular ethnicity/religion/race, and attacking those other groups...), religious fanatic/extremist, or general thug looking to remove the competition/take over someone else's property.

For that matter, public attention rather tends to ignore the murder of Arab Christians and Arab Muslims by Arab Muslims in factional fighting from the 1880s through to the present, Amin al-Husseini's targets were not limited to Jews, he also murdered lots of Muslim rivals, including the Nasibisi [or some similar appellation, the spelling has to be wrong, and I might have the consonants wrong there, too), and used mayhem and murder as tools to get people to comply with his values and outlook and opinions and activities.

There were some vile Jewish groups, such as the Stern gang--which was taken out militarily by the Israeli government long ago....

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

Saddam Hussein was not a kind gentle fellow--but he kept a lid on the situation in Iraq to prevent sectarian civil war there. Taking him out without putting in governance restraining the fanatics, was one of the vilest mistakes the Schmuck promulgated in Iraq-- one of them.

-society- matters--societal values, goals, attitudes, opinions, culture... Ferengi might be vile greedy mercantile competition, but murdering people means they losing those people as customers, and that's bad for business, unless the person they're out to murder, was never willing to engage in any trade with them.

Cultures which have as cultural heroes people who invent, who building businesses, who do good works for other people, have a lot fewer active sociopaths than cultures which make heroes of murders and arsonists and thieves and conquerors.

"I want to grow up and blow up other people" as a cultural value makes for a very different society than "I want to grow up and be a famous artist" or "I want to grow up and be a park ranger" or "I want to grow up and invent a cure for cancer" or "I want to grow up and be the world's largest fashion company owner, or "I want to grow up and be on TV competing as an Iron Chef contestant!"

Hezbollah gives people "heroes" who run around of trucks shooting off missiles to murder Israelis... and Lebanon has been tolerating it, Syria and Iran have been actively promoting it, and the people of southern Lebanon were NOT running them out of town saying "We don;t want you murdering maniacs here."

#241 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 12:26 PM:

twenty-something Czechoslovakians had been smuggled out of there and to the USA after "Prague Spring" because they had fought the Soviet tanks, running up to the tanks and ontop of them and dropping Molotov cocktails inside them

Sidenote, but that sounds far more like the Hungarian Revolt of 1956. The suppression of the Prague Spring was a much less violent affair, with no (as far as I know) or very few Soviet soldiers killed. 1956, "when the Hungarians acted like Poles, the Poles acted like Czechs, and the Czechs acted like pigs", killed thousands of Hungarians and hundreds of Soviets.

(Unexpectedly good reference: "The Last Frontier", by otherwise-undistinguished thriller writer Alistair MacLean, who wrote 'Where Eagles Dare' and 'The Guns of Navarone' but seems to have really taken 1956 to heart. Also my old maths teacher, who as a result used to regard How to Kill a Soviet Tank with Improvised Weapons as an unofficial addendum to the core curriculum.)

#242 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 12:43 PM:

And, if Israel makes good on its threat to take over a part of southern Lebanon, they become refugees, and what do you take along for that?

And, of course, the traditional excuse given for why Palestinians don't have the right of return is that they 'left voluntarily' during the 1948 war. It's nicely hermetic -- if you stay, you are a terrorist supporter and can be killed at will, if you go then you have given up your right to live there.

#243 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Oh, good! kaffeeklatsch at Worldcon!

#244 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 02:39 PM:

Paula,

You are still running misdirection and denial tactics.

This statement:
five Israeli human rights groups said that since October 2000 at least 1,647 Palestinians killed by IDF troops had been taking no part in fighting at the time of their deaths. The groups said 704 under-18s had been killed by Israeli troops

has nothing to do with Hezbollah tactics.

When SWAT goes into a hostage situation and kills half the hostages, something is fundamentally f-cked up with SWAT and that has nothing to do with the hostage takers. The hostage takers cannot be blamed for the misdeeds of SWAT.

IDF forces have killed 1600 Palestinians who were non-combatants at the time they were killed. They didn't have a gun in their hand. They weren't standing beside a rocket launcher. They were unarmed. Israeli soldiers killed them.

That has nothing to do with the horrors inflicted on Jewish people in World War 2. Nothing.

IDF killed 1600 unarmed Palestinian civilians.

(1) Will you acknowledge a fact such as this without telling me about concentration camps in WW2, or not?

If no, then fine, I'll stop wasting my time and you can go on with your tales of misdirection. If yes, there's one more question:

(2) Can you relate to the deaths of 1600 unarmed palestinian civilians at the hands of IDF as equally morally repugnant as the death of 1600 unarmed israeli civilians at the hands of hezbollah and suicide bombers?

If no, then fine, you have a prejudice and I'll stop wasting my time trying to talk around it. If yes, then maybe we could actually get somewhere.

But until you can acknowledge it without dancing through the past and digging up WW2 stories or goign back to the 1800's, and until you hold all these people as equally human, palestinian, israeli, lebanese, then there's really no point in continuing this dance, because we'll keep going around in circles.

#245 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 02:47 PM:

"The current version of the worldcon program."

Pfffst! Is that all?

#246 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Paula Leiberman: A whole lot fewer Arab Muslims and Christian Arabs died in the founding of the state of Israel, than Jews died in Europe

I don't think you want to make this argument. What you seem to be saying is that the difference between "us" and "them" is quantitative not qualitive, that "we're" the good guys because we killed fewer innocent people.

I also agree with Greg on one thing -- I don't think the Holocaust has anything to do with the subject, except tangentially. Arabs are not Nazis. I think you're arguing here that Israel has a right to exist, which I don't think anyone is disputing (and it would be stupid if they did, since it's pretty much a fait accompli.)

Clark E Myers -- I probably owe you an apology -- I read your post too quickly and didn't realize I didn't fully understand it. What is train busting?

#247 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Yep, that's me, the "moral absolutist" who admits his jobs is to parse out the loopholes in the Geneva Conventions (while not crossing the bright gray line of what isn't acceptable, and avoiding that which is flat out forbidden) and willing to try to teach others.

The guy who says invading Southern Lebanon is pretty much acceptable (legally, and [with caveats] morally, though; based on past records, in more than just the Middle East, probably fruitless) but that shooting up refugee columns, taking out an entire region's power; thereby putting thousands, or even tens of thousands at risk from heat, bad water and loss of essential services, that bombing targets outside the zone from which rockets could be falling, and generally tearing up an entire nation because there is a, putatively, criminal element living; and working from, one part of it, that engaging in collective punishment (and while Ha'aretz may be politically opposed to the things going on, I've yet to see real repudiation of the general's comments; that the messenger might not be to one's liking doesn't invalidate the message), is pretty damned absolutist.

As opposed to the guy who is saying that everything Israel is doing (and has done, over the course of decades) is hunky-dory and acceptable.

Funny definitions of absolute.

Paula Leiberman: That picture doesn't really support the claims which go with it.

It's a short range AA gun, and old. No radar, no good leading mechanism, and with a pathetic range/payload when used for anything else (from a dug in position it could cause minor havoc to a small number of APCs). Futher, as Israel can be (arguably, irreespective of the facts of the matter) be said to be waging a war against Lebanon, the principle of levée en masse.

At the risk of being insensitive, having been perscuted in the past, even to the level of the Holocaust, or the Armenian Genocide, or any other systematic attempts to wipe an entire people out, doesn't get one a pass when one starts to use unnacceptable behavior. Winning WW2 doesn't make what's happening in Iraq OK for the U.S. to be doing. Being the good guys (or the oppressed guys) once, doesn't make one a saint.

I sympathise with Israel's postition; five or six years ago I was pretty much on her side completely (knowing what games were played with the census at her inception, the various mistreatments, deportations and the like which took place in the area, from Morrocco to Egypt; the intentional manufacture of permanent refugee status the neighboring states continued, etc.). Her actions in the since the ascencion of the present administration have eaten up all the capital she had banked.

No matter how wronged her citizens may have been, she has no license to be wicked.

#248 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:08 PM:

Lisa Goldstein: Train busting is the bombing of railyards to destroy the rolling stock, and the switches, which seems to be what Chuck is using to justify the firebombing of Dresden, an "open city" (which is one which is not defended, and where non-combatants can hide from the war).

There were other places to attack those trains. Since the decision to bomb Dresden was made in response to a request from Stalin to bomb it, as a token of Allied support because we weren't opening a second front fast enough, and because he wanted to kill lots of German civilians, I think the argument non-suasive.

Then again, I'm such a moral absolutist I see shades of gray in things like Nagasaki, so there you go.

#249 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:39 PM:

I haven't read all of this. It's too long, and what I have read is too unpleasant, and I basically consider this whole situation a devil's dilemma.

The question that keeps haunting me is: What should Israel have done? All right, they should have been more careful about where they bombed. There are some egregious instances where they blew things off the road for what appears to be no good reason.

But there's no way to attack Hezbollah without having some civilian casualties, because Hezbollah deliberately set up that situation to achieve exactly what's happening now. And they have deliberately targeted civilians. They've explicitly said so.

OK, Israel could have negotiated for the return of the two soldiers. But entering Israel to kidnap them was an act of war, and if there's anyone so foolish as to think Hezbollah would have given them back for any reasonable concession, I haven't heard them talking.

Once Hezbollah started shooting rockets into Haifa, what should Israel have done? No, don't tell me again what they should NOT have done. I want to know how you think they should have responded.

I'm not a knee-jerk Israel defender. I think they've done a lot of appalling things, and they certainly haven't behaved completely correctly in this situation. But they would be being denounced even if they hadn't done any of the things I think were wrong. Aside from those events (blowing up that bus, for example), I think the civilian blood in Lebanon is on Hezbollah's hands, not Israel's.

#250 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Btw, to my mind Hezbollah goes on the same list as Al Qaeda: organizations where every single member deserves to die, and that make me wish I believed in Hell so they could burn in it.

Hezbollah doesn't go on that list for shooting rockets into Israel. They go on that list for using their own civilian sympathizers, and the deaths of same, to garner international support, and for deliberately setting up a situation where large numbers of civilians would be killed on their own side.

Die and burn, Hezbollah.

#251 ::: kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:47 PM:

[discussion of the one-downsmanship of justifying violence against Barrayar to make up for crimes during the Komarr Revolt]

"That was longer ago," said Foscol a little desperately.

"Ah. I see. So the difference between a criminal and a hero is the order in which their vile crimes are committed," said the Professora, in a voice dripping false cordiality. "And justice comes with a sel-by date. In that case, you'd better hurry. You wouldn't want your heroism to spoil."

For those arguing either side(s) in this war, are you sure that your expectations are generally applicable to all wars? That the principles of what is and isn't acceptible will also apply to Eritrea and Ethiopia, Turkey and the Kurds, Cuba and the US, Iraq and Iran and any other set of countries where grievances have a history?

#252 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 05:58 PM:

xopher,

I'm not trying to figure out what Israel should have done. Not yet. Before I would even attempt that conversation, I would have the folks here get to a point where they can see all the mistakes made, independent of which side committed the mistake. It seems that some are unable to admit Israel can make a mistake, or if they acquiesce to that point, they try to cover it based on atrocities done to Israel before Israel did some attrocity.

What is needed is an honest appraisal of the sh*t that's been going down on both sides without the f-ing spin that accompanies it. Until the spin stops, there's no point in trying to solve the problem.

That's it in a nutshell.

#253 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Train busting as I use the term is treating a moving train like a shooting gallery duck. Given the relatively high pressure steam in the WWII locomotive boiler - especially when making time to be a faster moving duck - the boiler will blow and the crew is hit with live steam - folks I knew who did it enjoyed the shooting gallery part but preferred not to think about the crews.

So far as I know trains often had uniformed gun crews but the operators were the same people they had been in peacetime.

this from http://www.rcaf.com/ a haphazard google:
During the spring of 1942, the RCAF Army Co-operation squadrons began flying the new Mustang fighter. These were the earlier Mk.1, IA and II versions and were supplied to the two original squadrons, Nos. 400 and 414; later to the newly formed No. 430 squadron. The three squadrons operated from Dunsfold, Surrey as wing during 1943, carrying out their raids over enemy territory. At first their duties were tactical reconnaissance and photographing enemy installations, but later they began attacking the enemy with machine guns and cannon. The favourite targets were locomotives at which the pilots of Nos. 400 and 414 became specialists. No. 430 did not get in on the train-busting until later in the game. Other targets for strafing were railway sheds, electric towers, tugs, barges, trucks, sub-stations, flak posts, troops, gun batteries, radio stations and airfields, plus anything else to make life miserable for the enemy.......

......Train-busting was the favourite pastime of the [No. 400 "City of Toronto" Squadron] squadron and over 100 locomotives were destroyed or damaged.....

My point was to on the one hand raise the question to clarify some of my own thinking and on the other hand to suggest that some of the suggested line drawing is artificial. In particular that some of the suggested line drawing does not lead to useful operational rules.

IIRC Das Reich division was three days later than it might have been getting from the south of France to Normandy after 6 June because of attacks by French civilians on the French quasi-civilian infrastructure. For my money all to the good. For some the blame for Oradour sur Glane can be laid on the allies especially the SOE.

2) Can you relate to the deaths of 1600 unarmed palestinian civilians at the hands of IDF as equally morally repugnant as the death of 1600 unarmed israeli civilians at the hands of hezbollah and suicide bombers?

If no, then fine, you have a prejudice and I'll stop wasting my time trying to talk around it. If yes, then maybe we could actually get somewhere.

No shock that on the one hand I will defend the proposition that after the first death there is no other on the other I flatly, categorically and for all time reject the implied equality or the numerical identity. There certainly are edge cases but on the whole I have no problem with distinguishing murder and manslaughter and rightous shooting - again there are edge cases but simple numbers don't satisfy an identity for my calculation.

FREX this account from Time:
Twenty seven years ago, Smadar Haran suffocated her two-year-old daughter. She was trying to quiet the whimpering child as the two of them hid in the family's attic while PLO terrorists searched for them in their apartment in the coastal Israeli town of Nahariya. The terrorists didn't find them but took Smadar's husband and their four-year-old daughter hostage. When the cell, retreating as security forces pursued them, found the rubber boat they'd arrived in disabled by gunfire, one of the members shot Smadar's husband Danny in the back and drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead. Next, he smashed little Einat's head on beach rocks and crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle.

It is this man, Samir Kuntar, the sole surviving member of the cell, that Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah promised to liberate this year from an Israeli prison by kidnapping Israeli soldiers to hold as a bargaining chip, an act Hizballah pulled off two weeks ago, precipitating the current fighting across the Israel-Lebanon border. Copyright © 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

Some accounts say Einat died second so she might have a few moments of despair at her father's death. As an aside I oppose the death penalty in general as a matter of principle - like separate but equal segregation the death penalty is inherently flawed as an institution. Just the same some deaths can be lighter than a feather and some heavier than a mountain. Samir Kuntar alive seems to impose certain costs on society.

#254 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:02 PM:

if there's anyone so foolish as to think Hezbollah would have given them back for any reasonable concession, I haven't heard them talking.

Hezbollah has exercised prisoner exchanges with Israel in the past. google says at least one exchange occurred in 2004.

#255 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:15 PM:

No shock that on the one hand I will defend the proposition that after the first death there is no other on the other I flatly, categorically and for all time reject the implied equality

Ah, the "first" death. Once again, the cherished "he started it" play. No doubt all those unarmed palestinian civilians killed by IDF over the last few years must have had somethign to do with some suicide bomber, somewhere, right? Same goes for all those unarmed Lebanese civilians killed in the recent invasion by Israel. No doubt they all had some connection to supporting Hezbollah.

Thank you for that heart wrenching tale of Smadar Haran from 26 years ago. That justifies everything to date.

And when Bush says we must invade Iraq because it had something to do with 9-11, do you swallow it hook, line, and sinker, or do you call it a pile of steaming crap that it is?

Never mind. You already answered. It all goes back to Smadar Haran. Everyone had a hand in that tragedy and must pay.

#256 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Greg, that sounds reasonable, but if you're saying they shouldn't have done various things, realize that they had no good choices. Hezbollah successfully manipulated a no-win moral quandary; in my opinion that's the most evil humans can do. It's Sophie's Choice.

They had to do something. What would you have had them do? Really. No spin here. What choice would you have made in their situation?

And swapping kidnapped Israeli soldiers for Samir Kuntar is not, to my mind, a "reasonable" concession. I don't think he should be killed, but I definitely think he should never be free. And if there are IDF members who have torture-murdered Palestinian civilians, I don't think they should ever be free either.

#257 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:37 PM:

Don't know who Chuck is - but I'm not so much seeking to justify Dresden as to inquire where the line is drawn or to suggest that much drawing of lines is vain. Writing as Clark E Myers (one e one s) I intended to ask (perhaps rhetorically but answers are invited) that assuming Dresden was wrong then was Monte Cassino just as wrong, more wrong or less wrong? Were the many people involved in the various decisions - Monte Cassino especially was argued over at some length over some time with what amounted to a request for written orders equally to be blamed (comparing Slaughterhouse Five with A Canticle for Leibowitz would be invidious I suppose?) - are there different levels of blame if one level of wrong? Is there a place for de minimus?

Certainly the history of Dresden suggested the notion of train busting - which I think of as limited to gun fire and associated marshalling yards which I think of as better targets for heavy bombers (crossties/sleepers burn well with the tang of creosote in a firestorm rails warp in the heat) - IIRC Dresden was not a large part of the military/industrial complex but was a major crossroads.

#258 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:38 PM:

Clark: (apologies for forgetting to whom I was referring, and calling you Chuck hen I was commenting to Lisa).

If that's how you define train busting, then Dresden doesn't count, as it was the day, and night, bombing of an entire city, made of wood, with incendiaries.

The death toll was something like 100,000 and completely foreseeable. That most, if not all, were non-combatants who had moved there because it was an open city (so declared by Germany, and so recognised by the Allies, at least until Uncle Joe demanded it, as a retaliation for dead Russians) was past foreseeable, as it was a known fact; before the plans were made.

As for the first death problem... how far back does one go? Which offense is the, justifiable proximate cause which legitimates one side, and tars the other as evil?

I am not willing to play that sort of tit-for-tat game (not the least because the human memory is both malleable, and self-serving. We recall the slights against us, but forget what insults we may have done to trigger them), because that sort of logic says one sides killings are murder, and the other's aren't, not by virtue of the specific case, but because of some action at a remove, which remove grows ever distant.

Shall we say slavery, in the past, justifies the riots of today; because the inequalities of the present stem from that, and that was so unbearable?

No. We judge the actions of the present on the present, and find what mitigation there may be, not from the hoary past (nor even the not so hoary recent past) but from the present.

That someone was having an affair with one's wife, a year ago, doesn't allow one to mount a crime of passion defense today.

#259 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Greg, that sounds reasonable, but if you're saying they shouldn't have done various things, realize that they had no good choices.

Whether Israel should have or should not have done "various things" is step 2. Step 1 is simply an honest telling of the things done. Once you present the facts, in full, of any single event, then you can decide whether they should have done that thing. The problem, to repeat myself, is that several people cannot state the fact of certain acts without also piling their personal opinion on top of it that justifies it.

Hatfields present their "facts" of the case and bludgeon us with how the McCoys are to blame for everythign and the Hatfields were just defending themselves. McCoys present their "facts" and bludgeon us with how the Hatfields really started the problem, if you just go back far enough in history, and how the McCoys have simply been victimized all throughout history.

The problem isn't the facts. The problem is that the facts are buried and ignored, and people are simply coming at each other with their judgements that the other side is totally to blame, and all alleged wrongdoing on their part is justifiable for one reason or another.

So, it has nothing to do with "good choices". That's later down the road, if we ever get there. The first step is to get the folks here to accept a full telling of the tale, without any spin, without any excuses. So far, it would seem the likelyhood of that is slim.

#260 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 06:50 PM:

Clark E. Myers: Dresden had been declared an open city. As such is wasn't valid target. The railyards within it might have been (depends on what is being carried on the trains... sort of like making prisoners do "non war-related" labor... at some level one can argue all labor is war related, or might become so), but to take a place where people were allowed to flee the war and firebomb it (and a wooden city at that) was not just immoral, but against the laws of war, as they were aknowledged to be at the time.

There were no flak-guns defending her, no Assembly Areas, no troop housing (which Hiroshima had, about a division's worth), no military target which couldn't be engaged in other locales.

Monte Cassino was a different case. Part of the debate was to make certain it was being used to spot for artillery (which would remove its automatic protection as a religious site). The other part was about its historical significance, to wit, could the problems its use to spot for artillery be put up with until it could be neutralised by other means.

The final decision (and probably correct, I certainly don't disagree) was that it was doing too much damage, both materially, and temporally (it was slowing up the entire campaign) to be tolerated.

How, I wonder, does the infrastructure of Beiruit fall into that category? How do Israeli created refugees on the road fall into that category?

I don't think so.

#261 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 07:00 PM:

They had to do something. What would you have had them do? Really. No spin here. What choice would you have made in their situation?

What would you do if two american soldiers were kidnapped by Iraqi militia and disappeared into the Sunni Triangle?

Do you think bombing the bagdad airport and bombing two billion dollars worth of damages across the country of Iraq will get those two back? Or do you think such reckless destruction and vengeance would further cause the Iraqis to fight against American forces, and push more Americans to demand we pull out of Iraq?

Do you want those two american soldiers back or do you want to vent your rage on innocent and uninvolved civilians?

There are other alternatives to dealing with hostage takers than to nuke them, their families, their neighbors, and the entire nation they came from. effective solutions can be found by any experienced police station.

#262 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 08:05 PM:

.....
The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

I don't think Dylan Thomas meant what is inferred on this board. I certainly did not intend what I think is inferred. Rather I intend that one death is enough to make a matter of life and death and there is often little or no reason to count closely after that. One death is enough, a second death does not halve the impact of the first nor does it tail off in an infinite series.

Obs SF - Juan Rico on the head count to make a causus belli. Perhaps by early influence I've held with Mr. Rico's answer. How many would answer differently? What would you answer to the questions as posed in Starship Troopers?

I am reminded of a passage by Martin Russ from The Last Parallel where his unit was formed up and addressed by a one star who specifically and in some detail forbade further efforts to recover Marines from no man's land for fear of further casualties. That night the one star led a party past the wire to recover bodies.

There is some interesting discussion by Josephine Tey (Elizabeth Mackintosh) in Miss Pym Disposes. The thought experiment is crossing an avalanche slope to perhaps save one life at the risk of all below.

Neither search and rescue nor fire departments mostly operate on a simple calculus. As the Coasties say: You gotta go out....

Wikipedia (articles for both the city of and the fire bombing of) suggests the death toll at Dresden was on the close order of 25,000.
Many of the higher estimates are based on a fake TB47 report (which has been visibly altered by the simple expedient of adding a zero to the end of the totals). However the West German Federal Archive in Koblenz discovered a genuine copy of TB47. The official "Final Report and Situation (TB47)" produced by Reich Commander of the Order Police a month after the bombings. "TB47" is probably a reasonable guide to the order of casualty numbers. It states definite figures of between 18,000 and 22,000 with estimates of final numbers of 25,000 and includes the interesting sentence "Since rumours far exceed the reality, open use can be made of the actual figures."

To say there were no flak guns defending Dresden is to imply that the flight to bomb Dresden was unopposed which is simply not true. The actual bomb runs were in fact less disturbed than usual which I suppose made it easier. The concentrated impact likely contributed to the development of a firestorm. There is even a case that During this raid there was a brief, but possibly intense dogfight between American and German fighters around Dresden, some rounds may have struck the ground and been mistaken for strafing fire[18]. ^ Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945. By Frederick Taylor, page 497-498,from Wiki again.

I chose Monte Cassino with some care - look at Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino - at least. The final decision by the allies with respect to Monte Cassino was certainly wrong or at least wrong in the premises - once again the target had been declared open by the Germans (what was the actual declaration with respect to Dresden?) and at least in the case of Monte Cassino really was open - exactly no damage to the allies - save perhaps morale - was being done by the continued existence of the buildings and the monks. The bombings did exactly no damage to the Germans, men or material. In fact some say the rubble was more useful for spotters and harder to eventually reduce than the open monastery had been. When I was around there in the late '50s it was conventional wisdom that the bombing had been both unjustified on the ground and a mistake in that after the bombing the rubble was occupied. Attacking uphill against an experienced entrenched opponent amounted to attack and die at least since the rifled musket and so it was in Italy but not because of the monastery.

#263 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Clarke,

Neither search and rescue nor fire departments mostly operate on a simple calculus. As the Coasties say: You gotta go out....

This isn't about saving trapped people from burning buildings, sailors from storm-wrecked ships, or dead or wounded comrades from behind enemy lines. They are all noble causes that do not inflict damage on anyone but those who risk their lives to save others.

It's nice to cast the issue in this light, poetry, selfless courage, all quite inspiring, but you've left reality some time ago.

Given your prior responses, I don't know if you can grasp the difference between a purely selfless act of a fireman rushing into a burning building to save someone trapped inside, as opposed to an act of war of dropping bombs or shooting missiles that may kill your enemy but may also kill unarmed civilians.

So, I'll just leave it with this: no one dies if the fireman screws up, other than perhaps the fireman. And there is an extremely high probability that the fireman will not be motivated by anger or vengeance. On the other hand, if the military screws up, they end up with dead wedding parties in Afghanistan. And if the military is motivated by anger or vengeance, then you get Mai Lai incidents.

#264 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 08:48 PM:

Xopher -- who (aside from Nasrallah rallying the troops) said that one specific terrorist was guaranteed to be freed? Israel refused (and continues to refuse) \all/ negotiations, striking back with overwhelming force, with the announced objective of so destroying Lebanon's infrastructure that the soldiers could not be moved out of the country.

A context note on Dresden: Niven and Pournelle, hardly bleeding-heart liberals, were so appalled by Dresden that Inferno put the officer who ordered it in the same bolgia as Mussolini and Guido da Montefeltro(*), where the damned souls are permanently encased in flame.
(*) (cf quote at the top of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock")

#265 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 10:15 PM:

"First Family Church"? Does Vaughn Meader lead the services?

#266 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2006, 10:48 PM:

The church in particles. OhMyGhod. That is in MY community (or at the southern end, I used to ride horses out that way when I was a kid...)

I've seen the site/watched the building but had absolutely no idea about what it was for. (It's near a new shopping area we visit regularly.)

#267 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:00 AM:

From the Worldcon program:

2081: THE REMAKE EVERYONE WAS WAITING FOR (Room 210 C, ACC) 2001: A Space Odyssey is considered by many one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. Now, being prepared for the 40th anniversary of the original, is a remake for today's generation.

Can I just say: Ewwwwwww.

#268 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 02:29 AM:

Clark: Yes, the approach to Dresden was opposed. Dresden was inside an area which had heavy defenses, and the Germans were perfectly in their rights to defend their general territory.

They would even have been within their rights to defend Dresden, specifically, if the Allies had said Dresden was no longer open.

While I'll accept (and looking into it with resources outside of wiki they seem to be correct) the lower figure, that's not material.

As for the "Rico Question", my answer has changed. When I was younger, it seemed a reasonable response, but that was thinking of it in the terms Greg points out, like unto a rescue.

After I became a soldier, that was no longer the metric I used. The cost of waging a war is too great for simple revenge (Jenkin's Ear notwithstanding) to be a legitimate cause.

The politics of such things are not my purview. I fight (or support the fight). In my role as citizen I can militate for, or against, a war, but that calculus is independant of how I see things from a soldier's viewpoint.

Would I want my comrades, once a war was started, to try and rescue me? Sure. Would I want them to get killed in the attempt? No.

But I understand the urge to help. I've done some foolish things to help my fellows, and the most likely reason for any soldier to earn a medal is because, "they were shooting at my friends," to quote Audie Murphy.

But, again, raw emotion is no reason to go to war. It's too important an enterprise to be left to the whims of the angry.

#269 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 02:31 AM:

Clark: To make an analogy.

The Commander in Chief of the military forces of the United States live in Washington D.C.. The White House, therefore, counts as a legitimate military objective, when the president is present.

That doesn't justify nuking (or merely firebombing) the entirety of the District of Columbia.

#270 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 03:40 AM:

I was looking at the Worldcon program, and noticed there was a panel with some of the writers from the new Doctor Who. Well, I'm a big fan of that, so that sounds interesting. Scroll down...Kaffeeklatsch: Teresa Nielsen Hayden. There's a no-brainer if I ever heard one. Sorry, Doctor Who guys.

#271 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Linkmeister, you're saying my offhand quip led to someone (you) actually gaining in knowledge?

Good heavens! I'm going to have to re-think this whole "humor" thing.

#272 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 11:48 AM:

With a few exceptions this thread is drifting without answers to my concerns - that's all right others may well not care. I take it as obvious by inspection that Dresden killed a number of more or less innocents and Monte Cassino killed fewer by count but no less innocent. I'm not defending Dresden, though I'd be prepared to take either side for the NFL, I'm saying I can't really distinguish Dresden and Monte Cassino and asking can you?

On the D.C. analogy I take it the Doolittle raid was entirely unjustified? Hallmark, Farrow, and Spatz were properly executed? Remember the Doolittle raid led to Japanese air defences moving to the home islands from the front lines and so had a military effect. However the Doolittle Raid specifically avoided the National Command Authority - Imperial Palace.

- thanks on the Rico question where there is I think a tension between the logical and the gut
- and in fact if it were ultimately my choice I'd have a Huck Finn moment and say all right a few of my friends can suffer and die nasty deaths before I'll take the whole country to war {which I think is implied in the story as the actual answer in that time line and not criticized; there is a difference between small unit decisions - a one star taking a party over the wire - and national decisions - in effect a six star taking the whole country} - I'd be unfit to carry the football because I just might refuse to pass it along with an "over my dead body" a la Haig
- on the other hand I also think turning the other cheek is sometimes an invitation to sin. In our time line Eisenhower abandoned a few brave airmen to their fate but killed a few Soviets as a reminder to keep the number down.

However in this thread I am told the world is full of things that are not the same. I try to suggest things that might have a few points in common and I'm told they don't. I am also told that at least in the Middle East 1600 unarmed Palestinian civilians dead is identically equal to the death of 1600 unarmed israeli civilians. I take it perhaps erroneously that the general rule is each death has a constant value a. Further that normal rules of arithmetic with reals apply so that only strict arithmetic proportionality is a moral response. I agree this world is full of things that while similar are not identical and I'm still looking for a discussion of why deaths in the Middle East are to be considered numerically equal and so to be proportional to anything.

There are other alternatives to dealing with hostage takers than to nuke them, their families, their neighbors, and the entire nation they came from. effective solutions can be found by any experienced police station. - perhaps the above is entirely true and Attica was simply a failure to call on the experienced police that must exist in New York? No doubt the passengers of Flight 93 missed a chance when they called friends and family instead of 911? H.L. Mencken had something to say about solutions that I find applicable here


#273 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Jon Baker (Aug 1 at 7:12 am). I don't get it. Is this "Confederate Yankee" with his "hey, what if all these bodies are somehow fake, like, they moved them or something?" bit a former RASFan? I can't seem to find who he is (or she or it) by looking at the site.

Or are you saying that in some way what ConYank is saying is relevant? That if they moved a body from here to there, then it's not really a dead baby to mourn, but just a gruesome prop, and we should only be moved by gruesome props from "our" side? Or maybe it's a fake baby that never crawled on the floor or said "mama" or got hungry or anything like that?

Does this kind of thinking get you through the day?

#274 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:00 PM:

who (aside from Nasrallah rallying the troops) said that one specific terrorist was guaranteed to be freed?

No on AFAIK. I'm just basing my assessment of Hezbollah's demands on that statement.

#275 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:01 PM:

David Goldfarb... Yes, that is a no-brainer. I wonder if Gardner Dozois will be having a kaffeeklatsch this year. I remember the first time I attended one of those. It was in LA, in 1996, and the various groups were all in the same room. The writer at whose table I was had turned out to be not very interesting in the flesh. Meanwhile, across the room, was Dozois with his less than discreet laughter and I promised myself that, next time, I'd be at his table.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:02 PM:

Yesterday was the beginning of Turner Classics Movies's Summer Under the Stars festival, where each day's schedule focuses on one movie star. Looking at TCM's monthly guide, we learn the real names of some of those stars. Some, like Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart and Gregory Peck, didn't have to wander very far off, having started life as, respectively, Katharine Houghton Hepburn, Humphrey DeForest Bogart, James Maitland Stewart, and Eldred Gregory Peck and yes he did hate the name Eldred. In those days 'ethnic' names were a no-no and so Jacob Julius Garfinkle became John Garfield. Others went for less unwieldy names. At least I think that's why they changed their names. A theater marquee announcing the latest comedy starring Roy Harold Scherer Jr. and Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff just doesn't sound as snappy as one starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day.

My favorite item in the guide was the one about Lee Marvin. Not only are we told that he was a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson, but his birth name was... Lee Marvin.

#277 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:10 PM:

There's actually someone called Confederate Yankee? Gawd, that's, like, the worst of both worlds!

#278 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:15 PM:

There are other alternatives to dealing with hostage takers than to nuke them, their families, their neighbors, and the entire nation they came from. effective solutions can be found by any experienced police station. -

perhaps the above is entirely true and Attica was simply a failure to call on the experienced police that must exist in New York? No doubt the passengers of Flight 93 missed a chance when they called friends and family instead of 911? H.L. Mencken had something to say about solutions that I find applicable here

Attica was a clusterfck, and clearly not an example of what I meant. 10 of 40 hostages were killed by police retaking the prison, and the state ended up paying their families a wrongful death settlement of 12 million dollars.

The rest of your arguments are clear emotional pleading. But instead of firefighters rushing in to save trapped innocents, you now invoke passengers trapped on flight 93.

The reason that has nothing to do with this situation is simple: what people do on a hijacked plane or when taken hostage is one thing. What a nation does to another nation as a result of that hijacking or hostage taking is another.

Individual self defense does not automatically translate to national self defense. When the Iranians took americans hostage at the US embassy during the Carter years, there are two points of view you've conflated: the hostages and America as a nation.

From the point of view of a hostage, I would have fought back until it was clear it was useless, which I believe is what the Marine guards on station did. From the point of view of a national response, I would have expected diplomacy first and at the same time scramble Delta force to start planning a raid so they have everything they need when time comes and diplomacy fails, if it fails.

I would not have supported that the US military begin bombing the nation of Iran, top to bottom, side to side. Your tales of self defense on an individual level do not automatically justify nuking a country as qualifying as 'national self defense'.

To suggest as much is moronic, but only slightly less moronic as to suggest that a firefighter rushing into a burning building has anything at all do with the morality of a war.

And frankly, I don't care what happened during World War 2. Rule of law doesn't work that way. You may as well be telling me about how lawmen in the west enforced justice with a gun and try to argue that the court system is overloaded simply because cops aren't trigger happy enough. It was OK in the old west, it should be OK now. Right?

All you've done is emotional pleading through anectdotes. And emotional pleading is the sort of thing that's gotten us into more messes than out.

#279 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:23 PM:

With a few exceptions this thread is drifting without answers to my concerns

I'm the one that asked the question about train busting, but I've gone so far out of my depth here that even the lifeguard can't help me. Pretty much all I know about Dresden is that they make (made?) china. (I read Slaughterhouse Five a long time ago, but don't remember it.) That may also be why others are not answering the question. Also, I hear the plaintive voices of people chiming in about Worldcon and dancing, and I am reminded that this is an Open Thread, and I've probably talked enough.

#280 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Some side particles that may be of interest to the discussion:

The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics (seems to relate to certain attempts by some to consider the lack of desire to wage war as a lack of willpower)

Leaders favor war because war favors leaders (seems to relate to the attempts by some to conflate individual self defense with national or state defense, that an attack on one individual allows the individual's home nation to bomb the living hell out of the home nation of the person who attacked the individual.)

#281 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 01:04 PM:

On the subject of Worldcon: for those who are flying into LAX, ravelling light, and are not in a mad rush to get to Anaheim: There is a Flyaway bus from LAX to Union Station, where you can catch either Amtrak California's 'Pacific Surfliner' or Metrolink's Orange County line to the Anaheim station, about two miles east of the convention center (a relatively short cab ride). It's the scenic route, sort of. Union Station is worth seeing, and if you walk out the front door you're looking at 1880's LA right across the street.

#282 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 02:08 PM:

Niceness Alert:

I bought a "PUR" water pitcher a few years back. I mostly use it to fill my coffee maker, so I've been going through a multi-pack of filters pretty slowly.

When I reached the last filter in the pack, I started looking around for replacements, and found none. The only filters in stock were a newer sort, for newer pitchers. The "form factor" looked different; no chance they would fit my pitcher without duct tape.

I used the PUR (actually, Proctor & Gamble) web form to ask what was up.

Just got a nice note to the effect that my pitcher was discontinued, and the filters no longer available, but that they'd send me a new, more au courant pitcher for free.

I'll probably remove the upper tank from the old one and use it as an plain old pitcher.

#283 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 02:10 PM:

To add to P.J.s comment. It depends on how light one feels. The bus (pick it up at the shuttle bus islands) will carry your luggage.

From where it drops you off, at Union Station there are two options (for Amtrak; for Metrolink, just by a ticket at the platform, a pre-paid ticket, in which case it's a short walk to the train, or a slog (a bit more than a quarter mile) to the ticket agent, and then most of the way back to the train.

A car sort of thing can be had for the return trip, but isn't so easy to get (I think there is but one of them) to the ticket agent.

I did this, with about 100 lbs. of kit, recently. It was doable.

Aviso: there are two Amtrak trains, the Surfliner, and the Coast Starlight. The latter costs a bit more. If you aren't getting a sleeper the only reason to pay the money is desperate desire to get to the hotel in haste.

Schedules are not always kept. Amtrak doesn't own the rails, and that affects a lot of timing.

Upside; there are nice places to eat in the immediate area (Phillipe's for one, home; so they claim, of the French Dip, named for a cop named French. They make a swell lamb dip).

Also the train is a leisurely way to go. The bus isn't rushed and the total, for bus and train, is going to be less than a shuttle, or cab, and probably less than airfare to a closer airport.

#284 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 02:30 PM:

I'll second Terry on the lamb dip at Philippe's (which for some reason tends to be pronounced 'Philleapy's')!

#285 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 03:08 PM:

There's also this place, which is in a basement on Olvera Street. The food is good, and there are non-meat dishes on the menu (if you can eat cheese).

#286 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 03:18 PM:

PJ: only by those who aren't "native" (for sufficiently vague definitions of native).

I think it has to do with the same ideas about french words which leads to "forté" when discussing a strength and "caché" when talking about a bunch of hidden weapons.

What amuses/annoys about the last is the same people have no problem talking about a cache, when discussing computers.

Are you local to Union Station?

#287 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 03:22 PM:

((Maybe my dog doesn't have a high prey drive; she's trying to protect me from the kitty brain plague!))

http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20060802-13074000-bc-britain-parasite.xml

Common cat parasite affects human brains
LONDON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say more than a quarter of the world's population is infected with a feline parasite related to malaria and which causes personality changes.

The Toxoplasma-gondii is spread by cats to humans and other animal species, including rats, and can lead to suicidal tendencies, said Dr. Kevin Lafferty, of the University of California at Santa Barbara in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biology.

"In populations where this parasite is very common, mass personality modification could result in cultural change," Lafferty wrote.

His study said about 7 percent of Britain's population had the parasite in their brains, while almost 70 percent of people in Brazil were affected.

Lafferty wrote that an infected rat's behavior changes and becomes more active, less cautious and therefore more likely to be caught by a cat.
Earlier research at Imperial College London said the same parasite may trigger schizophrenia, The Telegraph reported

#288 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Terry: Death will not release me.

#289 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 03:44 PM:

Is there any good-sized 24/7 grocery store near LAcon's site? There's probably something on Katella, preferably within a 5-mile distance.

#290 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Every once in a while Tycho hits it:

The idea that art can't be something the viewer enjoys is just one of these ideas that is hanging around out there. Art must whirr and whine like the dentist's drill, skipping off the enamel to bury itself in the gum. Something that was created in joy, with the purpose of creating joy in others, well, we've got a term for that.

.end transmission.

-r.

#291 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 04:52 PM:

dentist's drill, skipping off the enamel to bury itself in the gum.

Owowowowowow. I read that like five minutes ago, and now I can't stop imagining it. Ow owowowowowow.

#292 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:02 PM:

re: William Sanders particle

Is there anyone ... who could perhaps email me the text of the review?

(whir)

(whir)

(smoke)

(whir)

(click)

BWAHAHAHAAHAHA!

Sometimes, I'm a little slow on the uptake.

#293 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Serge, there are some, but not very close. I think, within the 5-mile radius, there's an Albertson's and some smaller stores, but no Trader Joe's. (I was running it through Google-maps ["Anaheim, California" and supermarkets], which isn't good on radii. YMMV.)

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Thanks, P J. By the way, are you going to LAcon?

#295 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:14 PM:

PJ: that puts you in Burbank.

A hop, skip, and jump from where I'm presently hanging my hats.

#296 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:21 PM:

I certainly intend to show up for Teresa's kaffeeklatsch. Other days, maybe - I have to work too. (Not to mention things like buy groceries and scritch cat.)

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:25 PM:

See you at Teresa's kaffeeklatsch, PJ.

#298 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 05:43 PM:

Every once in a while Tycho hits it:

Yep, there's hardly any straw left in that human-shaped bag.

Can you give me an example of anyone claiming that "art can't be something the viewer enjoys?"

#299 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Worldcon / general con question:

Badge ribbons! Horizontal Badge Ribbons!

If you have made, bought, or otherwise have dealt with badge ribbons at a convention:

Do you have your own printer? (if yes, can you provide details?)

Or, if you bought them, how much are they at whatever volume you bought?

I've found a few sources online, but it's always better to ask experts.

Replies by email helpful for this (because I'm in the early stages of nefarious planning). Thanks.

#300 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Teresa, you missed the really good William Sanders article.

#301 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 02:01 AM:

Kathryn,

Badge ribbons. Not a useful answer, just an anecdote.

When we had a 4 year old at last year's Worldcon, our "what to do if you lose track of us" instructions were to find the person in the vicinity with the most ribbons on their badge and ask them for help.

We reckoned they would either be conrunners or at least very busy, respoinsible people who could get him the appropriate help. (He also had our mobile phone number written on his arm, the back of his pass, and on a slip of paper in his pocket.)

#302 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 06:39 AM:

Bat in my bedroom. There was a bat in my bedroom. I am no longer in the bedroom - I don't think I've ever levitated from room to room before, but being woken up at 5:45 by a bat has that effect on one. Being then chased from room to room by the bat makes one quite lively and alert. Fortunately I have networked computers in multiple rooms; the bat is now in the room with Negri and Compasso while I type on Caroso.

My cats are stalking the bat, but then my cats have had rabies shots. The bat is squeaking. I am freaking. I am not sure which of us is more miserable.

This day is not starting out well.

#303 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 09:20 AM:

I just discovered that I am nice to Thomas Sowell. While reading the opening paragraphs of a column, he said something about how the left is unhappy that soldiers aren't nice to prisoners at Guantanamo.

What is it they do that isn't "nice?" Well, logically that must be locking them up indefinitely without trial and torturing them to the point where they commit suicide to get away.

I never do those things to Sowell. I am, therefore, nice to him. How come he's still such a sourpuss?

#304 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 09:34 AM:

What is the bat status, Susan?

#305 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:07 AM:

A Bat in the House

You have heard and I have heard
of many things quite absurd
of parsnips in thimbles
of Dr. Richard Kimble
of thieves both smart and nimble
but stand you now with arms akimbo
for I have something beating that -
In Susan's House there is a Bat!

A bat in the house that Susan has,
It got through the window
and began to spazz,
why could it not a belfry haunt?
this house is not made for a jaunt!

Oh infernal beasties of awful rep
The Bat is here! Our Susan wept.

There are more things beneath cave and lair
and also some things beneath the stairs,
there are things that crawl through monster hair,
but of all things you must beware,
and at their presence your forces roust
That's the Bat in the midst of Susan's House!

So Susan has her forces raised,
and her forces have this bat appraised,
and others too await the battle
of the bat, the bat is rattled,
it squeaks and flaps and makes a scene,
Susan's house was once serene.

It was a house quite nice to be,
although once there got in
a humblebee
once a rat came to pillage,
but liked it so much
and made a rat village,
in the lovely attic
where owls dine,
but the subject here has slipped my mind,
I really have ran off track -
to the bat at once I must back!

The forces now that Susan musters,
do not boast, roar or bluster,
hers is a throng of sinister cats
you need such crews in a house like that
house which susan owns
and the rats in the attic
call their own
and into which the bat has come alone.
Foolish Bat! You must atone!


--oops, got to get the bus to budapest. that's enough for now.

#306 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Serge -
I managed to trap the bat in my guest room, which was a tactical error. Since I am antisocial, I rarely have guests, so the guest room is full of boxes and piles of junk along with the nonfiction section of the library. The bat has vanished. Joe the Animal Control Man is here hunting the bat. Joe helpfully tells me that it probably either escaped or is dead, and if dead, it won't stink too badly. Oh, joy. Apparently bats can squeeze through a space 3/32 of an inch wide. I am learning a lot about what to do if I ever have another bat. None of it occurred to me at 5:45am when I was fleeing my bedroom without benefit of glasses and with a bat flying around my head.

Joe says I'd know if I'd been bitten. I would be less worried about this if I had been awake when the bat arrived.

#307 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:22 AM:

A dead bat among non-fiction books... There's got to be a joke somewhere in there, Susan.

#308 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:32 AM:

Surely woman and bat can find a means of coexisting.

#309 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:28 AM:

I don't think you'd find my bat story encouraging. In bed, in a studio apartment, I heard an odd, rustling, moving noise late one night. Turned the light on to find there was a bat flying back and forth across the room.

I opened an unscreened window in the kitchen, and held up a sheet (arms up and outstretched) to herd the bat toward the kitchen. However, apparently our play exhausted it, and rather than fly out the window, it fell to the floor and scooted under the refrigerator.

I left a little water out for it, using a yogurt tub lid as a shallow bowl, and tacked the sheet over the kitchen entrance. I figured it would eventually find its way out. After a couple of days, I took the sheet down.

The next night (after the sheet was taken down) I'm sitting on the couch reading, and a black shape scurries out from the kitchen along the floor, and hides under the couch (I'm guessing that to fly, it would have had to climb up on something, and launch itself that way). I chase it into and out of a closet, and into the bathroom, at which point I lose track of it.

Three days later I hear the apartment across the hall had a problem with a bat (caught by animal control). Apparently the bat crawled under my closed apartment door, and into the next apartment.

I had dealt with bats a couple of times where I had worked, without problem. In one case, opening the front door wide while closing off some interior doors had been enough to encourage it to leave. In another instance, I needed to open an unscreened window on the second floor to give the bat its exit.

In telling these stories, I've heard from other people that the idea of herding a bat with an outstretched sheet is a common approach (it can't tell that it isn't a wall).

#310 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:45 AM:

The bat came back.

I am really having a very bad day.

More when I get somewhere with AC.

#311 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:48 AM:

The bat is probably trying to get out, and having trouble finding the exit. If there's an open window (no screen), that might work, if it can find the room with it.

#312 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Tim Walters--

The vociferous criticism of Billy Collins's poetry for being too "accessible" springs to my mind.

Susan--

We had a bat in the living room a while ago. Then, a few months later, a bat got into our furnace, bonked into the blower motor, became an ex-bat, and knocked the furnace out of commission.

The ex-bat was removed with little difficulty (not by *me*, heaven knows!). To get rid of the living bat, we turned off the lights in the house (assuming they were confusing the poor critter) and opened up the door to our screened-in porch. When the bat echolocated its way out onto the porch, we closed the door between the house and the porch, went out the back door, around to the front of the house, opened the porch door, and let the poor little guy fly out to freedom.

When I say "we" I mean, of course, my husband. I was pregnant at the time, and protected by unborn child by standing at the top of the stairs and shouting helpful suggestions.

#313 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 12:06 PM:

Oh Lord and Lady Bless...a bat in the house.

My mother used to insist that I summoned them. (They were partial to our screened in porch.) We had two we had to persuade to leave.

I'd never had one actually inside the house until I went to college. I was sharing an apartment, and my roommate worked very late, driving one of the campus busses.

I had gone to bed by the time Sally came in. Her first stop was the bathroom. When she got off the toilet and headed for the sink a bat flew out of the shower curtains -- her screams probably woke the neighbors, it certainly woke me.

Both of us being cowardly, we summoned the neighborhood cops, who chased the bat out of the apartment with a broom. They managed to break a window in the process, but did get rid of the bat. (The landlord was not pleased.)

A few years later, different apartment, my spouse and I had a visitor. We were sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room, because repairs were being done to the ceiling shared by the bedroom and bath. (Someone upstairs had allowed their sink to overflow...)

Late Winter or early Sping morning, about 3AM there is the rustle of little wings, spouse and I awaken and turn a light on to discover a bat flying figure-eights along the ceiling. Spouse stumbles out of bed, opens living room door, then the outside door -- bat feels breeze and goes straight out.

Early August, the pear tree out back is loaded with fruit rapidly reaching the fermented stage. Spouse is away playing RPGs with friends. I'm home in the living room watching tv. Just as a commercial comes on the biggest bat I've ever seen flies thru the kitchen door into the living room.

Wingspan fills the doorway. The bat is flying very slowly, and with a much more erratic flight pattern than the last one. It flew about halfway down the living room, then changed it's mind and flew back into the darkened kitchen.

I did not go into that part of the apartment until spouse came home. I made him look for the bat. All we can figure is that it went out the way it came in -- through a barely open bathroom window which had no screen.

I insisted to spouse that the bat was a fruit bat, he said they didn't migrate this far north. Later I spoke with one of keepers at the Columbus Zoo, who told me that fruit bats DO migrate this far north, and that the pear tree must have attracted it.

When I asked why it was flying so slowly, the guy laughed and said that the bat was probably drunk. Seems they like fermented things too...

#314 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 12:44 PM:

Billy Collins wrote "Forgetfulness," right? He has a place in history for that. My dear friend Gloria, a poet herself, who has an advanced aphasic dementia now, has treasured that poem with a fierce and personal love as she watches bits of her mind and her self wash away.

But I don't believe that "accessibility" is ever used except ironically as a feature to ascribe to writing that a person wishes to depricate.

That is -- if the writing does nothing else: if what you see at first glance is all there is: then you might mock the poem for its accessibility, but what you really mean is -- if you put more work into it, you don't get more. And that's a legitimate beef. I don't mean that it's bad for the poem to have most of its meaning and beauty right at the surface where you can get it at first glance: I mean that it's good if, when you bring your experience and intelligence to bear on it, it yields more to you.

Tangentially: yesterday I saw an old, old collection of Edgar Guest at a friend's house (it was inherited from her very old parents). The book was lovely to look at and sweet in the hands, but the poetry was as bad as I've always heard it was. Oh my, was it ever bad. The sentiments were banal, but the wordcraft was nonexistent.


#315 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Susan: Since this Fiendish Writer is having a miserable day, one that grieves me mightily, perhaps the good solution is for me to eat your nasty bat, thus ridding your friendly self of the beast and giving this Fiend an experience which cannot be worse and is likely far better than what the sunlight hours bring so far.

#317 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Bat status: in bag. Zip-lock is your friend.

I am going to the health department with the bat. My kittens are going to the vet for boosters. I am going to await test results (tomorrow) before getting a rabies series. And my day has been enhanced by not-very-original sexual harassment by the animal guy.

My entire budget for frivolity at worldcon has now gone down this bat-hole. Sigh.

#318 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:14 PM:

The vociferous criticism of Billy Collins's poetry for being too "accessible" springs to my mind.

Can you give me a quote, or a link? I've never heard of him, but googling "Billy Collins" + "accessible" turns up a vast array of people using "accessible" as a compliment, and one guy who thinks BC gives accessible poetry a bad name.

#319 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:18 PM:

Susan, what kind of bat was it?

#320 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:19 PM:

It doesn't sound like it was rabid. But they'll have to test it to be certain. (I just wish there was a non-destructive test, so the ones that don't have rabies can go free.)

I remember the time my father brought a bat home from work. He put it in a box with a lid, where it cowered until the next day, when he released it at church (to have bats in the non-existent belfry).

#321 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:24 PM:

I used to have a directory called BELFRY back in the DOS days. It was all full of .bat files.

#322 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Very belated reply to TexAnne:
My daughter loves that knitting book! It's really patterns from mathematics, she noted; or mathematical patterns that occur in nature. She had it with her on her last visit back home, in May, and has been making a number of designs from it. I also just sent her a book I found on the remainder table called 'Mindful Knitting', on knitting as a Buddhist meditation practice. I thought she'd be both intrigued and amused.

#323 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Tim--

Collins was U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-3.

I'm thinking of this sort of thing:

http://www.drunkenboat.com/db4/stephens/apology.html

http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/poetry/0,,934726,00.html

And here's a response or two to the critique of Collins.

http://www.alsopreview.com/columns/backpages/kdcrabs.html

http://www.stoneandplank.com/billy-collins-peoples-poet/

#324 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:42 PM:

Lucy--

I'm not sure that's an ironic use of "accessibility." It seems more like an inaccurate or incomplete use of the term instead.

Either way, I was simply trying to point to Collins as an example of someone who I think does some really amazing work that is criticized for being too well-liked and too popular. If I could remember useful things like the names of painters or of schools of art, I could list some of those as well. IIRC, Dutch still-lifes went through a time of being dismissed as "just pretty."

#325 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Xopher: Ahah! .bats in \belfry! Yes that is what I too did create in those days gone by.

#326 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 02:11 PM:

Sarah S.,

Both of your anti-Collins links state quite explicitly that accessible poetry is a good thing. They just don't like Collins very much.

IIRC, Dutch still-lifes went through a time of being dismissed as "just pretty."

Seems to me that this supports Lucy's point rather than the opposite--this is clearly not saying that prettiness is bad, just that it's not sufficient for some people's enjoyment.

I like salt and grease, but I don't eat McDonald's hamburgers, because salt and grease are all they have to offer, and I want more from my food. It's not because I think food shouldn't be enjoyable, or shouldn't be salty and/or greasy, or that I think McDonald's must be bad because lots of people like it.

#327 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Forgot to read the two pro-Collins links. Both attribute Collins' unpopularity among academics to player-hating and/or the vast anti-hedonic conspiracy; neither provides any evidence at all.

#328 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 02:51 PM:

I worked a couple of summers on Mackinac Island after college. On sleepless nights, I would walk up from the village to the old French fort at the island's highest point. The narrow path I took up the hill was the same path that the island's 6,000,000 bats took down to the village to gorge on insects around the street lamps. I felt like a scuba diver swimming through a school of fish: As I walked slowly up the path, a solid wall of bats would bear down on me, split in two a few feet in front of my face, and then join up again behind me. Beautiful. That was 20 years ago, and I've yet to experience anything more wondrous.

A side benefit of all those bats: Despite being in the north woods, on an island ringed with marshes and stagnant pools, in two years I never got a single mosquito bite. Not one. God bless bats.

#329 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 03:05 PM:

Susan winced:

The bat came back.

I am really having a very bad day.

I'm so very sorry Susan, but all I can picture is a version of 'The Cat Came Back' with bats ...

#330 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 03:37 PM:

I'm so very sorry Susan, but all I can picture is a version of 'The Cat Came Back' with bats ...

That was precisely what I had in mind when I wrote that line.

The bat is on its way to the state capitol for rabies testing. Tomorrow morning I have to attempt to capture my kittens and take them to the vet. That will be almost as exciting and somewhat more bloody than capturing the bat was. If I have the energy later I will write up the entire Bat-Saga but I've just been out in the heat again taking the bat to the health department ("Is it dead?" "Well, it hasn't moved in a long time.") and I am beat.

On other topics, I found out a few days ago that I could in fact switch from unaffiliated to Democrat in time for Tuesday's primary, which will let me actually vote for Lamont. So while I was wandering around city offices, I stopped by the registrar of voters and became, for the first time in my life, an official Democrat. It feels odd.

#331 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 03:46 PM:

What are Lieberman's chances, Susan?

#332 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:07 PM:

Serge:
What are Lieberman's chances, Susan?

Hard to say. The momentum and excitement around here are all with Lamont, and the latest poll had him ahead at 54-41%. But Lieberman has a much better ground organization and has union support, which provides primary-day labor. It will depend on who can turn out the voters most effectively. I am debating calling in sick in order to go help transport voters.

Connecticut is not usually a battleground state politically - this is the most exciting political campaign I've experienced in the twenty years I've lived here. (And, for the record, I've been voting against Lieberman regularly for the last eighteen of those years. The people who think this is some sort of carpetbagging blog-driven revolt are not here on the ground in Connecticut.)

#333 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Kip, "Good heavens! I'm going to have to re-think this whole "humor" thing."

Oh, don't change your whole outlook just for my benefit. ;)

#334 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:19 PM:

Howard Pierce: I had a similar experience in a parade once. At the tail end there was a countermarch (semi-complex reversing of direction, all of the column passing past the rest, in a sort of waterfall effect).

This had not been mentioned when we started.

There was a body of pipers (about 30). The drones made my ribs vibrate.

#335 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:23 PM:

(followup on Lieberman/Lamont):

Every time I see an article suggesting that Lieberman could win in a three-way general election because CT has a huge number of independents and they love him, I want to scream. I was one of those independents until about 2:30 this afternoon, and I dislike him enough to drop my principles and register as a Democrat to try to defeat him.

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:31 PM:

Thanks, Susan. Would enough CT independents be silly enough to vote for Joe-as-independent even if it meant a Republican would win?

#337 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:41 PM:

oh, xeger! The National Film Board of Canada's page of animated shorts! THANK YOU!

My local PBS station uses some of them as filler at the end of non-standard-US-length shorts, and now I can watch them all!

Yay!

#338 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 04:55 PM:

Would enough CT independents be silly enough to vote for Joe-as-independent even if it meant a Republican would win?

Interesting question, that, partly because Connecticut Republicans don't tend to be of the frothing right-wingnut variety, so the idea of one of them winning is not as personally horrifying as it would be if we had someone like Santorum. That doesn't mean I'd want one to win, since I badly want to shift control of Congress. But "the Republican might win" is not a phrase that automaticallly inspires horror in this state, so I don't know how much the threat of electing one would weigh on the type of independents who would support Lieberman.

Anyway, I know absolute zip about the Republican candidate; he was recruited as a sacrificial nonentity. I don't think he could get enough traction to win even in a three-way race; I think it will be Lieberman-vs.-Lamont all the way. If he's a wingnut conservative, he doesn't have a prayer. If he's a typical Connecticut moderate, I think he'll vanish in the L-vs.-L noise machine. I can't seem him exciting enough voters either way to have a chance even if Lieberman does better than I expect he will; there is enough negativity around here about the idea of him effectively rejecting the primary results by running as an independent that I am not sure he'd actually go through with it.

If that three-way race does materialize, I will certainly be studying that question carefully. I rarely get to vote in a race that has actual competition and consequences, so I am paying close attention to this one.

#339 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Unfortunately, Susan, "the Republican might win" is a phrase that automaticallly inspires horror in me because of Congress, as you yourself pointed out. BushCo would never have gotten away with all this crap if there had been a real opposition. If Democrats become majority in the Senate, maybe they'll feel they can grab some of the bastards who've messed things up and hang them by their thumbs. ("You're for torture? Have some.") Or maybe they'll listen to the cautious Democrats and won't do anything because they don't want to upset the country with unseemly partisan behavior.

#340 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:21 PM:

I'd never vote for Lieberman. He said you have to be religious to have morals.

#341 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:24 PM:

There was a body of pipers (about 30). The drones made my ribs vibrate.

Terry, the bats at least were remarkably silent. None of that ridiculous squeaking and flapping you hear in movies. It was more like the sound of ninjas in new corduroys.

#342 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:28 PM:

I'd never vote for Lieberman. He said you have to be religious to have morals.

See above where I noted that I have been voting against him for eighteen years. This is the first time I've felt like it might actually get me somewhere.

#343 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:31 PM:

Unfortunately, Susan, "the Republican might win" is a phrase that automaticallly inspires horror in me because of Congress, as you yourself pointed out.

Well, yes. I'm right there with you. But I don't know how many independents in this state are focused nationally (where it would be a disaster) as much locally (where it would not be.) I also don't know how many people will vote on principle vs. on the practical if it comes down to that.

If the three-way materializes and I'm still around ML, I'll keep you posted on the local feel.

#344 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Joe really said that you have to be religious to have morals? Why am I not surprised? It has long been my contention that an atheist running for office who's never cheated on his wife or in his tax returns, who's always been kind to other people and rescued lots of puppies, would lose against a philandering tax-cheat who loves eating said puppies. In America anyway.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 05:51 PM:

(Oops. Missed last sentence.)

...In America anyway. Because how could an atheist truly be kind and faithful and honest, when everybody knows that he really is in cahoots with the Foul Deceiver?

#346 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Howard: I have been under streams of bats, it's a wonderfully silent noise.

As you say, the sound of flowing fabric.

#347 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 07:05 PM:

Howard: I have been under streams of bats, it's a wonderfully silent noise.

As you say, the sound of flowing fabric.

The only time I've been under a stream (or several criss-crossing streams) of bats was in the "walking to the bride's house" part of my friend's wedding in New Delhi. But this was daytime, and they were fruit bats, so I think they were probably noisier. Although it was hard to hear them over the noise of the wedding party.

#348 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 07:46 PM:

HOLY CRAP!

Pat Robertson: I’m ‘A Convert’ On Global Warming, ‘It Is Getting Hotter’

Yesterday on the 700 Club, evangelical Pat Robertson declared himself “a convert” on global warming. Robertson said that he has “not been one who believed in global warming in the past.” But now, Robertson said, he believes “it is getting hotter and the ice caps are melting and there is a build up of carbon dioxide in the air.” Robertson implored, “we really need to do something on fossil fuels.”

I mean, dang!

That funny popping sounds you hear are heads exploding from sheer cognitive dissonance.

#349 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 08:55 PM:

The limo's A/C failed on the Interstate to Damascus.

#350 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 09:16 PM:

The limo's A/C failed on the Interstate to Damascus.

More likely, Robertson is responding to the Gospel according to Saint Nielsen.

#351 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 09:22 PM:

I was going to say "there's an interstate to Damascus?" but a pass through my placename program turns up about a dozen, mostly in the south, but none in OK.

#352 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 09:32 PM:

There are now six police cars with flashing lights outside my house and down the block. Where were they when I was being chased by a bat?

I don't even have the energy to go find out what is going on.

#353 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 09:59 PM:

There are now six police cars with flashing lights outside my house and down the block. Where were they when I was being chased by a bat?

"Ma'am, you'll have to ask Commissioner Gordon about that one."

#354 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:04 PM:

They're looking for a newly registered Democrat.

(Too bad that crack is no longer funny.)

#355 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:00 AM:

My pile of magazines has been piling up this year, what with all the time I had to spend in the metaphorical Jefferies Tube that my office life has been. As a result, it's only yesterday that I read Locus's survey of 2005. When I came across a DataFile item where Charlie Stross explained what is really going on at the end of Accelerando, I realized that it probably is now out in paperback. It is. Has been since June 27. The local Borders has put a copy aside for yours truly. I know where I'm going on the way back from work tomorrow.

#357 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:37 PM:

Completely different tangent, other than it relates back to some discussion of the problems around wikipedia.

Wikipedia and the Great Sneetches War

#358 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:59 PM:

Um, a stream of bats may be silent in some places, but the bat exodus from Carlsbad Caverns is anything but silent. It's the sound of large chittering masses of flying critters trying to leave a small space for a large one, and it's loud (or it was in 1968 when I heard it).

#359 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:45 PM:

america's got talent particlesssss:
wow. the 11 year old girl singing. wow.
The "rd" and "ss" and "." links have been taken down though. bummer. I went through the others as fast as I could before they disappeared.

#360 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Yes, Serge, I read it in the WashPost during the Gore campaign and went back and read it again. Fortunately, since I don't intend to pay money to the WashPost to get it from the archives, I found a site quoting the statement.

#361 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 08:16 PM:

Well.

Hmm.

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Ambassador_claims_shortly_before_invasion_Bush_0804.html

* * *

In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

* * *

I remember hearing about Sunnis and Shiites in high school, during the Iranian hostage crisis. I mean, dang!

This really confirms it; we've got a f%$#ing moron in charge.

#362 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:54 PM:

I took an almost decent picture of a pair of kestrels on a telephone wire out among the apple orchards and berry farms today. I'm excited all out of proportion because I've never gotten this close to a decent picture of them before, and I didn't even know there was a pair till today.

#363 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:45 PM:

The Stephen Colbert coming-out-as-a -D&D-nerd segment was wonderful.

It is really interesting reading about notable people (Colbert, Patton Oswalt, Vin Diesel) talking about being gamers.

I first got into role playing games at a time and place when admitting to being into role playing games was akin to admitting a carnal interest in opossums, and being found to be in possession of (say) a cigar box full of carefully painted miniature warg riders was akin to the discovery that your garden shed was full of oppossums who walk funny.

#364 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:27 PM:

Uh, Mike, there is a Damascus down in Maryland outside the DC beltway slightly east and north of gawdawful Gaithersburg (miles after mile of Beltway Bandits McMansions each development sprouting bigger sprawling houses than the previous ones, on multiacre sprawling lots on what used to be forest or farmland, replete with three or four giant SUVs, and Chemlawns... (I was through there two weeks ago, to see my mother who's in assisted care near where my sister lives... my sister's house is a minimodel compared to the ones going up now. One sign for a new development read that the custom houses in it are $1,000,000 and up...)

#365 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 10:27 PM:

Ah. I see from Particles that Teresa has discovered nicecupofteaandasitdown.com. I would note that there is a book as well as a website, and I have been meaning to write a review for ages...

#366 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 11:03 PM:

I'll be on the radio tomorrow, discussing PublishAmerica.

This will be webcast live, www.am990.com, and on the air in the Memphis, TN area. The show is Ed Horrell and Talk About Service. It'll run from noon to one p.m. CDT this Sunday, the 6th.

#367 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:35 AM:

[not wanting to revive the dead horse, but I was preoccupied with something that is supposed to have been a short paying research job for part of the week, which took precedence over Making Light....]

I also agree with Greg on one thing -- I don't think the Holocaust has anything to do with the subject, except tangentially. Arabs are not Nazis. I think you're arguing here that Israel has a right to exist, which I don't think anyone is disputing (and it would be stupid if they did, since it's pretty much a fait accompli.)

Hezbollah doesn't believe that, and has shot off thousands of rockets with the intention of them committing mayhem again whatever they happened to come down on in Israel, over the weeks, months, and years. Kiryat Shimona gets hit (hyperbole, perhaps...) more often than some US target ranges have ordance dropped on them (live fire exercises in the USA were getting rare even before the Schmucks Iraqi Adventure started depleting the US conventional munitions ordnance supply...)


1948 was almost six decades ago. That's two generations, and not much longer than say the USA rounded up citizens of Japanese ancestry and relocated them to displacement camps in California, was it? The USA displaced the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, etc. and never let them repatriate to where they'd been driven out of. There are US citizens who are the descendants of Armenians who survived having fled the brutal and horrific actions of Turkey to eliminate Christian Armenians a century ago. There are refugees from Tibet who relocated to India and even other countries (including the USA). There are a number of fans who have ancestors who decamped from Europe for reasons that including being on the losing side of civil wars (including those with Roundhead ancestry... )... they're US citizens and aren't out providing rockets to go and terrorize the current inhabitants of the territories that their ancestor left however under varying degress of "adverse conditions."

There was a war in 1948. There was a war in 1954. There was a war in 1967. There was a war in 1973. There have been armed clashed since then, suicide bombers blowing up buses and open air markets in the most densely crowded -civilian- urban centers in Israel, off and on that extned through weeks, months, years... rocket attack after rocket attack after rocket attack... there are how manu Muslims in the countries surrounding Israel, 100+ million and then some? and how many Jews still in those countries, that someone like 700,000+ had been living in prior to 1948 but those 700,000 came to Israel where for the first time in 2000 years it was possible to be Jewish living in a country that didn't discriminate against Jews--the -only- country in the world with a Jewish plurality, where the schools weren't expecting pupils to attend school on Jewish holy days (when was the last time there were public schools in the US with classes on Christmas... commercial and non-profit organizations do solicitation calls on Yom Kippur but not Christmas because they don't care about offending tiny minorities but do care about not offending the majority... there is a huge amount of automatic pro-Christian not even conscious bias and discrimination in US culture, it felt so very -weird- to be in a country where business was conducted Sunday but not Saturday in most of the country (non-Jewish areas business I think might operates on Saturdays... the not-tolerant-of-others raging holier than thou religons extremist Jews however got bus service squelched on Saturday--it's akin to being around where I live, which has no bus service on Sundays but does have it workday hours Monday through Friday and also I think on Saturday...


The countries surrounding Israel tended not to grant full citizenship rights to Jews, they existed in tolerated resident alien status with limited legal protections, as opposed to full-citizen Moslems with full legal protection.

History -is- important; the caliphates tended to treat Jews less noxiously than Europe did (which isn't saying as much as it might--the massacres on the Rhine, the massacres of the Jews of York, the banning of Jews from Great Britain for most of the past 2000 year, the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and a decade later from Portugal, the banning of Jews from France for much of the Middle Ages, the designation of cities here and there in Europe where Jews were allowed to be present until revocation happened at Church and/or ruler whim... the resident alien status Jews had of being hit with taxes not imposed on Muslims and of usually being allowed to engage in commerce (periodically there would be crackdowns and expulsion and state-promoted or state-ignoring riots launched by Muslim religious fanatics or hatemongering caliphs or merely greedy Muslims seeking forcible asset transfer and a chance to beat someon up who wasn't going to get support to fight back/protection from Authorities and the attackers punished]) as noted above provided little in the way and mandated protection and support/defense against hatemongering attackers.

Anyway, there were people displaced from what today is Israel back in 1948, but the numbers of Jewish immigrants from the Islamic-majority countries surrounding Israel, exceeded the populaton loss (and it's not clear that some of those who left, had truly long-standing roots there-- a lot of Muslim families were assisted to relocate from surrounding Muslim-majority countries starting with when the British took the areas over from the Ottoman Empire (second half of the 18000 s), and continuing, (the intent was since Jews were arriving, the surround counties were pushing hard to prevent there being more Jews concenttrting there, and prevent secular, much less majority Jewish, governmance of what today is Israe).

Getting back to Hezbollah etc., though--of all te regioal Muslim majority coutnries, only Kuwait allowed the displaced persons or persons claiming displacement out of what is today Isarel, to become citizens. All the oter countries conspired to help prevent assimilating and permanent restellement, against one tiny small mixed relgion and diverse ethnic bagkrounds secular society--the surrounding countries wanted and got a fertile recruiting ground for suicide bomers and canon fodder and noisy partisans to posture and claim to be innocent victims, two generations of people grown up inculcated with the ideas that Israel must be eradicated and the Jews be driven into the seas, to drown to be displaced to be out of sight and out of mind permanently.

The Holocaust -proved- that it wasn't safe to be Jewish in Europe, and the murder of Jews who survived WWII and returned to the European localities they had lived in prior to official declarations of Jews as persona non grata and transportation of the majority on one way trips leading to mass murdering of them, proved trying to go back one risked one's life, lots of Europeans objected to the return of Jews, and committed mayhem and murder to try to complete what Germany failed in,

As for the USA as refuge, consider e.g. Prescott Bush, protected by the US Goverment with gag orders against invesigation into records involving Prescott Bush mentioning his names, for decades despite doing business with companies banned by US law for US citizens and companies to do busienss with during WWII Tje US government kept Jewish immigration far below the official allowed figures for mumber of immigratnt Jews to grant visas to leading upt to and during WWII.

The Islamic majority countries surrounding Israle again except for Kuwait refused to allow citizenhip and permanent settlement of the displaced persons (many or most Muslim) and, once again, treated them like human junkyard dogs or pitbulls raised for fighting to the death.

And it's not that unlikely that Amin al-Husseini was the one to suggest "The Final Solution" to H*lt*r, Husseini did meet with that human-shaped monster...

#368 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Oh, my god! Inept advertising alert!

I was trying to find info on the various systems used to convince cats to use the toilet instead of a litterbox. (It's a long story.) Anyway, I hit the website for a company that makes a rig that you employ as a litterbox next to the toilet, then as a litterbox attached to the toilet seat, then you take the litter bag out so the cat waste goes into the toilet. (There are some kitty-litter texture shutters that flick out of place when you want to use the toilet. Brings to mind discussions about the sharp metal fans in the Shuttle toilet, but I digress.)

Anyway, this beauty goes at the website for $109.00 plus shipping. Fair enough--now I know the price. I then try the video section of the site for additional info, look at the TV ad, then try the video marked "The Tiddles Movie." Here as RealMedia, WMV for 56K dialup connection, and WMV for Broadband connection versions.

Wow.

Give this a look and tell me if you'd send over a hundred dollars to the minds behind this video...

#369 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Someone bring that dead horse and whip over here, please...

Paula, I tend to agree with you -- it is a good thing that Jews who are being persecuted in other countries now have a place to go. Perhaps I wasn't clear in my earlier post -- I meant that no one posting here thinks Israelis should suddenly pack up and leave, any more than they think people in the US or Australia should. (Or at least I don't think they think so.) I certainly didn't mean to speak for Hizbollah.

But you're still fighting old battles, explaining why the state of Israel should exist. As I said, I don't dispute that. I do dispute the idea that they need to bomb innocent civilians in order to do so. There was no attempt at diplomacy before they invaded Lebanon, which certainly should have happened before they got involved in something as serious as a war. (As it should have happened before Bush invaded Iraq.)

Some nits: There was a war in 1954. Er, 1956?

... the banning of Jews from Great Britain for most of the past 2000 year... Jews were expelled from England under Edward I, allowed back under Cromwell. Though I certainly don't mean to imply that this lets England off the hook.

#370 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:47 PM:

From downunda:

Vote Fascist: The political party for people who value thier me-time.

#371 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 06:31 PM:

wrt the war in 1954?6? -- IIRC, that started with Israel assisting the U.K. in an attempt to take control of the Suez Canal from Egypt. From the little I know that I can trust, I \think/ the U.S. made one of its few smart Middle East policy decisions by staying out. The Suez Crisis made a lot of people think that Israel was the entering wedge of a revived colonialism.

#372 ::: Steven Brust ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 06:58 PM:

John M. Ford: The appreciation of literature isn't binary, get it/don't get it; many, if not most, works of depth can be read for their pleasures as adventure stories by almost anybody, and returned to when other themes have room to resonate, either against direct life experience or s knowledge of history.

See? I knew you were Pre-Joycean!

(Just had to say that)

#373 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:24 PM:

Watcher Tecklers inna museyroom.

#374 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 10:05 AM:

"Bush losing core constituency." A-HA! That's where that came from. My cousin sent it to me a while back. He also sent me this, the bluegrass gospel tune "The Hand of the Almighty" from John R. Butler's self-published CD called "Surprise!" Warning: Not Safe For Church. (More about Butler, including other sound files, here.)

#375 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 11:13 AM:

Being all Indiana Jones at Dogmeat over here...

I'm not really convinced about an argument that says, basically, that because the US got away with the internement of the Japanese and the Trail of Tears, the Turks with the slaughter of the Armenians, etc, etc, that Israel should get its chance to dispossess people, too. These things were wrong. Will you be adding the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the South African apartheid regime to the list? How far are you from the ghettos of Europe, from the other side, then?

Why would good people try to associate with that company? Or are you saying the Israelis aren't good people? I don't buy that one at all, but many will judge you by the company you keep.

I'd also point out that lasting anger about the role of the English in Ireland (in particular the folklore surrounding the Potato Famine), carried on through the generations, was one reason that US citizens did provide explosives to go and terrorise the current inhabitants of the territories that their ancestors left. What does that prove in this context? Bugger all. It's as irrelevant as Aborigone lawsuits against Australia, or the regulation of reservation casinos. Mud in the water.

There are many people out there who hate Israel, but there's someone who hates pretty much everything you can name, up to and including fluffy kittens, Mom, and apple pie. The problem is more how much Israel is burning through the support of otherwise uninvolved people who think it should exist. Me, for instance. Like Mr London, I think Israel has overplayed the "past suffering" card, particularly while showing so little empathy to the people suffering right now, on its doorstep or under its control.

What to do about it?

As with the Beatles thread, I can't offer an expert opinion without spending years researching the backstory. But my amateur view is that when you reward the moderates, the mass of the people support them and stop funding the extremists. It worked in Ireland, though Sinn Fein was the conjoined twin of the IRA when Hume started his secret talks with Gerry Adams. Now they're politicians, not soldiers or terrorists.

(In other words, I think demonising Arafat and Hamas - the elected representatives of the Palestinian people - was a mistake. Israel may not like them, or the way they were elected, but if you wait till you like* the guy on the other side of the table, you're in for a long war. And dissing other people's elections never wins friends and influences people.)

*In the loosest sense of "like", which covers "dislike", "hate", "loathe", "revile", but rarely "attempt to assassinate".

#376 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 11:29 AM:

abi, that sounds something like what I was thinking this mornng, which is that the time when this could have been avoided passed decades ago, when we could have told Israel that aid would come with strings, the Palestinians would have to be full citizens and part of society or there wouldn't be aid. Instead we let the Israelis marginalize a good part of the population, and that group of people now isn't going to settle for less that 'everything they want', having been refugees or worse in most of the places they've lived.

#377 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 12:13 PM:

Few times have I watched the news and felt so nauseated as I did this weekend. 9-11 was probably the last time I felt like this. Watching people kill innocent people on a large scale tends to do that to me.

#378 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 07:56 PM:

RE: Particle: Gretna, LA officials to face grand jury;


WOOOHOOOO!!!!!

What's he doing?

(binoculars)

It looks like he's dancing, sir?

Dancing?

Yes, sir. You know, like a jig?

#379 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 12:57 AM:

Ahem . . .

Ahem . . .

Fucking smokers.

While preparing dinner this evening, I heard an odd sound. A sort of crackling rustle. Checked around the apartment for water running out of the ceiling, power tools that had mysteriously roared to life, winds finding a new way to rattle the blinds.

Stepped out on the balcony, saw that a decorative bush down below, against the building across the walkway, was merrily burning.

I started filling an empty milk jug water, and decided that grabbing the basin of washwater would be more expedient.

While hesitantly shouting Goddamnit, FIRE!, I raced down stairs and around the front of the building to the bush. Put it on with one splash.

A neighbor glancing down from a stairwell noticed that there was still something smoldering. Turned out to be a big, blackened patch of landscaping dust . . . the brown powdered bark stuff. 18" wide by maybe four feet long, between the row of bushes and the building. I suspect it had slowly burning for hours.

He filled a water bottle; I found an outside spigot and refilled my wash basin. After about four trips it was thoroughly doused.

So . . . what caused the fire?

Obvious suspect: The guy in the apartment below me smokes on his ground-floor patio. He has an ash tray balanced on the railing, and a glass of water with cigarette butts swimming in it, both of which suggest he's not at least flicking butts, but this has happened before. A few weeks back I got out of my car to find the bark dust right below the ashtray merrily smouldering. I had to put that one out too.

I really hate lecturing people. Do I leave a note on the guy's door? Suggest to the apartment manager that a general notice about bark dust flammability be issued?

#380 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Stefan-- Your building could burn down. Poeple's lives are a stake. Call the manager. Call the landlord. Call the frickin fire department. This jerk has started two fires (that you know of) that only happened to have been extinguished before people were hurt and property damaged.

This is a serious situation: you need to totally rat the guy out.

(Also, I think the fire department likes to be called even if the fire appears to be out, just to be sure. What if there's a gas line running under that bush?)

#381 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 11:33 AM:

Stefan,

Not sure what to do about it post event. But if it happens again, and if your apartment has them, I would pull the fire alarm on my way down the hall to douse it with a bucket of water.

This should make it a more public issue. Depending on teh building, the fire alarm may be wired to call the fire department, which would focus more public attention on the problem. And maybe with a building full of annoyed neighbors, a firetruck of annoyed firemen, and an annoyed landlord, maybe mister smoker will get the hint that he's putting people at risk.

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.
This is not a substitute for legal advice.

#382 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 02:02 PM:

I just called the apartment complex. My cubicle-neighbor, a volunteer fireman, overheard and let me know I should have called 911 first thing.

My only worry about that: The time to give them all of the information would have almost certainly given the fire time to spread from the base of one bush to a whole row of them, some running along a wooden patio railing.

#383 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 02:14 PM:

>The Incredible Plush Discworld.

What fun! Reminds me of the knitted and felted Discworld that someone did at my local yarn shop. I wish I had a picture.

#384 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 05:06 PM:

OK, I get around on "teh internets." I know my TLAs; hell, I can think of several SLAs offhand and one that goes all the way to Eleven. I can't be the only person who had no clue what RPS stands for. The last thing I expected when clicking on a Particle regarding the Daily Show without any kind of ALT comment was slash fiction.

#385 ::: Steven Brust ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 05:40 PM:

Yes indeed, Stefan, times have changed.

The incident with the near fire: Could that have happened 40 years ago? Yep. Would it have caused outrage and anger? Yep. Would it have caused swearing? Yep. "Fucking careless smokers," would have been the cry.

Couldn't say "fucking smokers," then, because we were all "fucking smokers." We only got mad at the rude or careless ones. Oddly, back then, smokers got mad at the rude or careless ones.

Don't need the second adjective now. Don't need to make the distinction. Sometimes it is assumed, but mostly, it just doesn't matter. They're all smokers. They're all fucking smokers. Without the second adjective, it's shorter. Neater. More elegent. More forceful.

Am I twitting or ragging on you, Stefan? No, I'm not. Really, I'm not. After that, I'd be pretty furious myself. I'm just noting that times have changed.

I suspect the overwhelming majority are pleased with the change, which I guess makes it a good thing. Let's leave it there.

#386 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Ya know, at some point, you're just making the rubble bounce.

#387 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 07:05 PM:

Stefan, we've had three similar fires in my condo development (13 buildings with 8-10 units per building) but they've been in three different places. Two were just mulch and the firefighters put them out quickly, but one lit up a bush and also melted the vinyl siding. Since someone had seen the guy throw that cigarette butt, we charged him for all the replacements. He refused to pay, we put a lien on his condo, and in the end, got enough from his mortgage lender to more than fix the damage.

#388 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 07:39 PM:

Will LAcon have high-speed internet access available for those who want to post con reports on their blogs? Or maybe the main hotel's rooms have their own internet hookups.

#389 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 08:23 PM:

Steven, what do you mean when you say "we were all 'fucking smokers'" 40 years ago? The US population in 1960 was 178 million, and in 1962 when the US Public Health Service released it's report "Smoking and Health", it estimated that "the total number of persons in the United States, including overseas members of the Armed Forces, who consume tobacco on a regular basis is close to 70 million." And that's including chewing tobacco, not just smoking. That's less than 40% -- a great big minority, but still a minority.

Current statistics for smoking, according to the American Heart Association, are about 22% in the US. So yeah, smoking was about twice as common 40 years ago, it probably seemed ubiquitous compared to today, but it wasn't everybody.

#390 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 08:30 PM:

Serge-
I'd read, in some unremembered location / blog / comment, that wireless at LAcon will be spotty at best. Unless, of course, you want to pay big bucks for a daily account. Convention centers know exactly how much net addicts will pay to get their feed fix.

[Remember, the internet is *not* like oxygen, to be had continuously, or even like water, to be taken many times per day. The internet is food: one can survive without it for up to 8-12 hours without experiencing discomfort.]

Although I'll bet that certain internet savvy people will be working around the c.c.'s limitation.

#391 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 08:51 PM:

Avram: What proportion of the population above 16 smoked in 1960? That's the relevant ratio, not the ratio of smokers to total population.

#392 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 08:52 PM:

Thanks, Kathryn. And you're absolutely right. A forced internet-less diet will do me some good. So what if I can't check on my email while on vacation?

#393 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 09:13 PM:

It just seems like every time I'm driving behind a car with a smoker at the wheel, I'm going to see a little white cylinder pop out the window and bounce on the road. (Let's be charitable and say it only happens with a quarter of them. There must be smokers who don't do that, right?)

If they could just use their ashtrays. Is that so goddamn much to ask?

Yeah, I see people fling trash out too, and they suck, but at least it's not on fire when they throw it. That I've seen, anyway.

#394 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:16 PM:

The nursery I worked at had cans of sand for the smokers to use (although they did get leaves in them: side effect of being under trees). The smokers still had trouble getting the remains in the cans. And at least once it was the leaves in the can that were burning. (Get water, dump on can, mutter about smokers who think that cigarettes go out automagically.)

(I fantasize about cars with smoke-detectors connected to the power windows: smoke is detected, windows roll up and lock closed until the smoke level drops. Rolling smoke-filled room?)

#395 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:30 PM:

Fragano, why does that matter? Relevant to what? Neither Stefan nor Steven said anything about age.

#396 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Anyway, Fragano, according to this monograph from the Nat'l Cancer Institute's website (it's a PDF), less than 40% of 12th-graders were smokers (meaning they'd smoked at least once in the past 30 days when surveyed) in 1974, which is the earliest year given for that data. A later chart going back earlier gives ages at which adults say they started smoking; the initiation rates stay about the same from the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s.

#397 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:44 PM:

Oh, wait, you asked for above age 16. I dunno. I still don't see why it matters.

#398 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:54 PM:

Avram: It matters because to work out the actual prevalence of smoking/non-smoking you have to look at the population which potentially could smoke. That would exclude children.

#399 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 11:04 PM:

Fragano, there's no magic force field stopping kids from smoking. Most people who smoke as adults started as kids. That monograph I linked to has a chart showing people who started smoking between the ages of 12 and 17.

#400 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 11:25 PM:

Avram: No doubt, but even in the 50s and 60s parents frowned on kids smoking before their mid-teens, and (I believe) it was illegal in most states for persons under 16 to purchase cigarettes.

In any case, if you look at smokers/whole population you find yourself in the position of asserting that newborn babies could choose to smoke.

#401 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 11:37 PM:

Avram -

Steven Brust's comment was

"[40 years ago] we were all 'fucking smokers.' "

The "we" being inferred is "adults capable of choosing and supporting a tobacco habit".

The AHA 's current "22%" figure that you cite is for adults. The Surgeon General's "70 m smokers" was out of an adult pop. of roughly 135m - so "we [meaning: a clear majority of adults] were all 'fucking smokers'.

(In those days, the habit was still gender-linked, too: it was probably something like 3/4 of the men and 1/4 of the women.)

I remember the world of 40 years ago - most of the men and large proportion of the women DID smoke. An adult male who didn't smoke in the early '60s was likely to be abstaining out of some religious objection; and the idea of a woman lighting up no longer raised an eyebrow.

#402 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 12:02 AM:

I remember the world of 40 years ago - most of the men and large proportion of the women DID smoke. An adult male who didn't smoke in the early '60s was likely to be abstaining out of some religious objection; and the idea of a woman lighting up no longer raised an eyebrow.

Interesting. I can't remember back 40 years, but I can remember back 30-35, and in my circle of friends, smoking parents were rare to nonexistent. Both my sister and I had allergy problems which were obvious early on, so yes, I would have known - visiting smoking households made (and makes) me ill. I wouldn't have called them "fucking smokers" at that age since I was a clean-mouthed little kid, but I certainly had the sentiment.

The only smokers in my extended family were my paternal grandparents, who were also the most overtly religious; my assumption as a child was that "smoke-filled room" and "creepy shrine to Jesus and dead child" went together. The most militant anti-smokers were the agnostic branch, who certainly weren't abstaining for religious reasons.

#403 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 12:20 AM:

The Lieberman-Lamont race had been tightening in the last few days; I was getting a familar sick "we aren't gonna make it" feeling in my stomach. I was heartened today by email from the Lamont campaign reminding me that hard-fought races are, quote, how democracy is supposed to work, and went and cast my vote with a fatalistic attitude.

And now Lamont appears to have won by a fairly small margin - 51% to 48% or so. I am in shock; this will only be the third time in my life that I've voted for a winning candidate (the other two being Clinton and Clinton). I'm even going to make it four, since I appear to have a winner in our Lt. Gov. candidate, and possibly five if my preferred Gov. candidate wins what is turning out to be a squeaker. Lieberman lost his hometown, which is my adopted hometown, despite a sudden barrage of yard and by-the-road signs yesterday and the usual annoying noise-cars parading up and down today, all of which appear to have been rented by Joe.

It's been incredibly exciting as a political junkie to have a local race that I actually get to vote in be a meaningful contest and get national attention. So this is how democracy is supposed to work all the time? Let's have more! It's going to be interesting to see if Lieberman follows through and runs as an independent. My Republican friends feel he's likely to - after all, they all vote for him. This could get addictive.

Connecticut's version of a partisan split on social issues:

Republican governor: supports gay civil unions. (Typically, almost no one noticed that Connecticut became the first state to put CUs into law - supported and signed by a Republican gov - without a court case.)

Democratic candidate #1: trumpets his support for changing CUs to marriage

Democratic candidate #2: trumpets that he supported changing CUs to marriage six months earlier than candidate #1 did

If we have a left-wing minor party candidate I can't imagine where they'll position themselves on this to stand out. Pro-polygamy?

#404 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 12:27 AM:

They're looking for a newly registered Democrat.

(Too bad that crack is no longer funny.)

Not New Haven cops. This is a Dem machine town. They'd be looking for Republicans or possibly Greens. Or maybe blacks, who for one term had the nerve to take the mayor's office away from the Italians. (It's been twelve years or so since the Italians recaptured it, but they still have to be on the lookout for those minorities getting uppity.)

#405 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 02:16 AM:

Kip, you said, referring to drivers who smoke and don't toss the butts out the window: "There must be smokers who don't do that, right?"

Raises hand. I fill up my ashtray quite regularly with butts. Even though I live in a town that's mostly concrete, the thought of starting a fire through that kind of carelessness worried me. Besides, there's enough litter on our streets already.

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:43 AM:

Say, Susan, is Joe really going thru with his running as an Independent? Or did he wake up after a long night's sleep and regain his senses? Especially if those terrifying leftie bloggers sent their legbreakers and said the Family is very unhappy and they're here to take Joe for a 'ride'...

#407 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:55 AM:

Fine, Fragano. You want to make that point, you go dig up the statistics.

#408 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 09:14 AM:

Avram: See http://www.hmiworld.org/hmi/issues/Sept_Oct_2002/around_smoking.html

Money quote: "Since the 1960s, the proportion of smokers in the American population has fallen from more than 40% to about 25%."

#409 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 09:26 AM:

I have to pile-on a little bit:

If you find a fire, the first thing to do is pull the fire alarm. (the next thing to do is to call 911, unless you know for sure that your alarm is linked)

[and Stefan, I infer from your post that you were putting out a fire in a different building, and it's not clear how accessible the fire alarm was, so this is not intended as a criticism of your actions; it's a general statement.]

I teach in a laboratory setting where we have more hazards you can shake a stick at (LN2, radiation, high-temp furnaces, high voltage, nasty chemicals, gas lines - you name it) and the most important safety rule for my students is that every one of them is responsible for the safety of everyone else. If there is a fire, your first priority is to give everyone in the building as much time as possible to get out, no matter how small the fire seems, because you never know if you will be able to safely put it out or if something unexpected will happen.

Of course, I should confess that I'd also be extremely pleased to be able to observe the cigarette-tosser confront his annoyed neighbours and the firefighters. But that is certainly secondary.

#410 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 10:03 AM:

Serge -
Say, Susan, is Joe really going thru with his running as an Independent? Or did he wake up after a long night's sleep and regain his senses?

He's already filed for the indy run. Given that the deadline for that is today, he pretty much had to if he wanted to keep his options open. I think the next few days will be interesting as major figures in the party speak out, and that the next poll will be even more interesting. I can't believe that CT is potentially going to have four exciting races this fall (Joe/Ned/Republican nonentity plus three tight House races, none of which, alas, are mine to vote in.) I'm going to be mainlining politics for the next three months.

If you'll be at worldcon we could meet and talk about this. It's so bizarre to have anyone outside CT interested in our politics.

#411 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Susan... Yes, I'll be at the worldcon. If you see Jerry Pournelle walking around, and if there's a short-haired woman behind and she's sticking her tongue at Jerry's back and if there's a tall guy with her, that's me.

I'm planning to be at Our Hosts's kaffeklatsch even though its at 11am on the con's last day. What about you?

#412 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 10:59 AM:

Having been around long enough to qualify as an Old Fart, I remember going to movies (as a teen) in places where plenty of adults smoked. As for the music venues, well a lot of the smoke in the Avalon and Fillmore didn't come from tobacco, but those were still Smoke-Filled Rooms. And look at the films, where anyone with any pretensions of "maturity" seemed to have a ciggie in their hand.

I know I exaggerate, but it was a different world, even for a kid whose mom was a non-smoker and father just had the occasional pipe tobacco (being fairly careful, since he came from a family of asthmatics).

#413 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:14 AM:

I was hoping to have time for a small Making Light party at the convention, but we just lost Thursday night.

The Lieberman-Lamont race was almost too exciting. Now we get to find out who'll still support him if he runs as an independent, and whether he'll be stripped of his committee positions if he does.

#414 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:23 AM:

It'll be interesting to see where more GOP party money goes: to their nonentity, or to Joe the Spoiler. I'm guessing it'll be Joe, who has all those Campus Republicans to support.

Linkmeister: Thanks! I assumed about 75% less than "all" smokers threw butts out the window, but it's nice to hear from an actual example. I knew at least one other example -- I was waiting in an acquaintance's car once, and sketched his amazingly full ashtray. The drawing didn't do it justice.

#415 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:24 AM:

Holy crap, Fragano, that sure was a lot of effort to go to to post a source that gives almost the same numbers as I did, and quote it as if it refutes me. Do you have a point of some kind that you're trying to make?

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:24 AM:

we just lost Thursday night

Damn.

#417 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Avram: All I want to do is argue that the smoker/non-smoker ratio should be calculated from the adult population.

#418 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Faren, it sometimes amazes me to recall that, when I was a kid, movie theaters had smoking sections.

#419 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:55 AM:

The Lieberman-Lamont race was almost too exciting.

No, I think this is how democracy is supposed to work: you have different options and you vote on them, instead of having predetermined results because there is no credible opposition. It's wonderful! I felt like my vote counted! I stayed up late for results! I'm still bouncing off the walls even after only 3.5 hours of sleep, and given the size of my office that's hard to do! And this is the first time in a decade I've had my candidate win!

People who have actual local races may not appreciate just how exciting it is to have some suspense about the outcome. My rep doesn't change. My senators haven't changed since 1988. None of them have had a credible opponent for the entire length of their tenures. Presidential results are lopsided. I am always free to vote for peculiar third-party candidates (but never Nader) just on the principle that overwhelming landslides lead to unpleasant political hubris (see Lieberman, Joe). I've voted in every election I've been eligible for, but the last time it was really meaningful was 1992 (Clinton vs. Bush I). I'm savoring it this time.

I'm not disagreeing with Teresa much, I don't think; I'm just sharing my burbly happiness with the blog at large one more time.

#420 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 12:02 PM:

If any of you are going to GenCon in Indy and want restaurant recommendations or other local info, I'd be happy to help. I'm not going to the convention, but I might have useful local knowledge.

#421 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Linkmeister: [..] referring to drivers who smoke and don't toss the butts out the window [..] I fill up my ashtray quite regularly with butts. Even though I live in a town that's mostly concrete, the thought of starting a fire through that kind of carelessness worried me. Besides, there's enough litter on our streets already.

Yeah for you (seriously, not snark). I've nearly had a lit cigarette thrown in my face by the inattentive when I've been out bicycling. A related peeve while I'm bicycling about on my errands is the road side broken glass from beer bottles apparently tossed from cars (not a fire hazard, but still...).

IMO anyone who casually litters (the dropped candy wrapper, water bottle, etc.) has no right to complain about corporate waste-dumping. There is a kinship.

We don't see the anti-litter PSAs we used to see in the 60s and 70s. It would be nice if we could create the social environment where someone who littered would be dismissed as a jerk by his friends and cohorts. The attitude of some campers and backpackers (leave no trash behind, pack it back out) could be applied to the rest of our shared environments.

I am curious whether the custom in the Japanese schools, where the school students pick up trash in their neighborhoods, leads to improved adult behavior. Or do the kids, once grown, feel free to litter and feel that picking up trash is the work of children?

#422 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 01:10 PM:

That sounds like an odd life's ambition to me, Fragano, but I wish you well with it.

#423 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 01:13 PM:

After reading about the AOL search information, I'm starting to think I should make spurious Google searches as red herrings. "Wyoming weather", "veterinarians specialty horses", that sort of thing.

#424 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 01:15 PM:

My experience of Japan (almost 40 years ago) was that people there are scrupulous about neatness of any privately owned space, but feel free to totally trash any public or shared space, far worse than Americans. I hear it's still much the same.

Sorry to disappoint your hopes.

#425 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 01:21 PM:

We don't see the anti-litter PSAs we used to see in the 60s and 70s.

[irate sorehead]
You mean the bad old days when people were ashamed of America and liberals poked their noses into everybody's business?
[/irate sorehead]

I think one of the most important items of the Reagan presidency's social agendas was to make it safe to be an inconsiderate slob.

#426 ::: Steven Brust ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Rob: IMO anyone who casually litters (the dropped candy wrapper, water bottle, etc.) has no right to complain about corporate waste-dumping.

And anyone who shoplifts a candybar from Walmart has no right to complain about Enron.

#427 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 01:55 PM:

Various random open thread observations:

I've noticed that all of the reviews of the Alice Sheldon/Tiptree biography seem to spend almost the entire review describing her amazing life, with little space for comment on the book itself. I suspect that speaks well of the biography's transparency.

Noticed on the comments on Charlie Stross's blog: the 'Real Hamster' doll Portions of site maybe not work-safe if your boss is humor-impaired.

#428 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:37 PM:

A comment in context on smoking: George Scithers, the chair of the 1963 Worldcon (in DC), wrote a book shortly afterwards about bidding for and running a Worldcon. Most of it was laughable by the late 1970's, when the typical Worldcon membership had ~octupled, but I remember being particularly struck by one of the instructions for bidding parties: bidders were enjoined to have quantities of cigarettes of a number of popular brands.

I'm not sure when it tipped; I would have said I never ran into smoking in common space at conventions in the Northeast, but I recall Boskone having a separate smoking con suite in the early 1980's (it was massively underused and so dropped) and finding the non-smoking "con suite" at Rivercon (Louisville KY), which in 1984 was four bare walls (no furniture or refreshments) through which people with lit cigarettes occasionally wandered.

#429 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:02 AM:

Avram, I think Steve was employing hyperbole.

(Thirty-eight years ago I was a smoker for three weeks. The doctors tell me that doesn't count. The PET scan came back clean for cancer, but part of my liver isn't working. My liver labs have been fine for a while so I get to see a gastroenterologist.)

#430 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:37 AM:

Stefan Jones: I think one of the most important items of the Reagan presidency's social agendas was to make it safe to be an inconsiderate slob.

Don't forget he saved us from the metric system.

#431 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:30 AM:

Glad to hear about the cancer, less so the liver. Good luck with that.

#432 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:18 AM:

Sorry to hear about your liver, Marilee.

#433 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 08:27 AM:

Serge-

Revisiting the net at Worldcon... rumor is that the feed situation might not be so bleak. Find someone savvy to check with closer to the start.

So perhaps the internet is not like food- skip-a-mealable- but is instead like water or chocolate, necessary throughout the day.

No I'm not *addicted* to the net, because I can- hey, did you know the phrase "can stop anytime" has 24,800 hits?

#434 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:22 AM:

Marilee, I know Steve was employing hyperbole -- there's obvious never been a time when 100%, or even 99+%, of the US population were regular smokers -- but my point is that at the time he was speaking of, it wasn't even the majority. In 40 years It's gone from being a substantial minority to a smaller substantial minority.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:42 AM:

I take it that you are not addicted to the net, and that you can stop at any time, right, Kathryn? Anyway, see you at the con.

#436 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:17 AM:

[DAY SPOILER - MAY CAUSE OUTRAGE, IRRITATION]

Things to complain about right here.

Schnier on Security has a lively summary/discussion on it. It? Oh, right. British aviation officials have banned all hand-luggage. Anyone fancy a trans-atlantic flight with no books? (And presumably, nothing to write with?)

[END DAY SPOILER]

-r.

#437 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:18 AM:

Serge -

Susan... Yes, I'll be at the worldcon. If you see Jerry Pournelle walking around, and if there's a short-haired woman behind and she's sticking her tongue at Jerry's back and if there's a tall guy with her, that's me.

*laugh* You know, I always thought you were male. I guess the name suggests "Sergei" or suit fabric to me.

I am long-haired with glasses (which makes me sooo distinct from hundreds of other fans) and will probably spend much of the con distinctively dressed, but I haven't decided what sort of dress yet. (Victorian ruffles? Goth? Skin-baring cliche? Dripping with pearls? Bare ruffled goth with pearls?) It may depend on what I think I can wear or carry through airport security without either getting felt up or having bits stolen.

I'm planning to be at Our Hosts's kaffeklatsch even though its at 11am on the con's last day. What about you?

I would say that is unlikely.

#438 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:25 AM:

rhandir -

(from your links)
Any liquids discovered must be removed from the passenger.

Ewww. Visions of planes full of dessicated corpses. Do they use an IV for the blood?

Or maybe they just meant "taken away".


#439 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:25 AM:

I've noticed that all of the reviews of the Alice Sheldon/Tiptree biography seem to spend almost the entire review describing her amazing life, with little space for comment on the book itself. I suspect that speaks well of the biography's transparency.

In my experience, it's usual for reviews of any biography (or, indeed, most other kinds of non-fiction book) to spend more time talking about the book's subject than about the book itself.

#440 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:39 AM:

British aviation officials have banned all hand-luggage.

Apparently, you can't even carry a drink on a plane now? Last time I flew, I packed a couple of sodas, a couple of water bottles, a couple of fruit juice bottles, and some sandwiches.

Next flight will be a wonderful experience, I'm sure. One recent flight I recall asking a flight attendent for some water so I could swallow some pills, and was told she couldn't because if she gave me water, everyone would want some.

Is it me, or is the the passenger on an airline experience becoming more and more like several hours being locked in an iron maiden hung out in the sun?

#441 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:40 AM:

So, no kaffeklatsch, Susan? OK. I'll be on the lookout for a long-hair glass-wearing woman adorned with pearls. As for myself, I look like General Zod, but who ever heard of Kryptonian supervillains who wear glasses? That's why I'll often be dressed as a Victorian time traveller. As for my own Susan, no hall costume for her although she probably will stick her tongue at Pournelle. (She doesn't take too kindly to being dismissed by pompous men on the basis of her internal plumbing.)

#442 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:43 AM:

Susan replied:
(from your links)
"Any liquids discovered must be removed from the passenger."
...
Or maybe they just meant "taken away".

Heh heh. I am always delighted by the British language. Never can tell if they are telling it straight, or if the beeb writers like to insert little jokes.

I was also quite taken with "nappies."

On further thought, there's probably a really good story inside the idea of embalming passengers for trans-atlantic flights.

"Really, I'm okay with the general anesthetic, and I can live with being pumped dry, but I really draw the line at checking my internal organs in with the baggage. Canopic jars aren't cheap, you know"

-r.

#443 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 11:40 AM:

rhandir: What's odd about 'nappies'?

#444 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Hoo boy - time for more security theater. Now we can't carry water onto airplanes. I guess dehydration is a small price to pay for safety. I've got two six-hour flights next month (fun, not work) so I guess I'll just swill down a liter of water in the airport and hope it holds me.

Here in WA, everywhere that serves alcohol has to post a sign stating that any patron who appears to be intoxicated will "have is drink removed." My fist thought was, "Surgically?" My second thought was, that if you can't get drunk in a bar, what is the world coming to.

#445 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Here in WA, everywhere that serves alcohol has to post a sign stating that any patron who appears to be intoxicated will "have is drink removed." My fist thought was, "Surgically?"

YASID: there's a Temps-universe story (possibly by the Langford) about a temp whose talent is telekinetically transporting drink from other people's glasses into his own - of course, he finds other uses...

#446 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:26 PM:

In terms of flying, I'm supposed to be taking a flight from the US West Coast to Malaysia next Friday. There's a 12-hour leg. I'm sensitive to getting dehydrated on flights, so I almost always bring along my own water or beverages of some sort. This could get very uncomfortable. I'm also wondering how picky they will be - will I be allowed to bring my contact lens cases with a few milliliters of solution?

#447 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:48 PM:

I see the TSA alert mentions that breast milk is an exception to the "No liquids or gels in carry-on baggage" emergency rule -- I hope they're referring to bottles of expressed milk, rather than breast milk in its original packaging....

#448 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:45 PM:

oliviacw - I wouldn't count on being allowed to take *anything* liquid or near-liquid on the plane, so you might want to think about wearing glasses that day. They're seizing factory-sealed cups of Jell-O.

An article in today's Seattle PI says:

In response, the Transportation Security Administration has banned liquids, creams and gels from carry-on luggage. The exceptions are medications in their original prescription bottles and baby formula, breast milk and juice if a baby or small child is traveling.

...
Once passengers clear a security checkpoint, they can buy beverages in the airport's concession areas -- but won't be allowed to carry them onto planes...

#449 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:21 PM:

Serge -
So, no kaffeklatsch, Susan? OK. I'll be on the lookout for a long-hair glass-wearing woman adorned with pearls. As for myself, I look like General Zod, but who ever heard of Kryptonian supervillains who wear glasses? That's why I'll often be dressed as a Victorian time traveller.

If I bring the 1880's peach confection perhaps we can stroll about together.

As for my own Susan, no hall costume for her although she probably will stick her tongue at Pournelle. (She doesn't take too kindly to being dismissed by pompous men on the basis of her internal plumbing.)

Is this a daughter? There are so many Susans.

#450 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:34 PM:

I think they're worried more about larger containers (8 ounces and up). Some stories say that you can take medicines but you may have difficulties. (I'd try for a brand-new still-sealed container for the contact lens stuff.) You should check with the airline, though. I doubt that sanity will return this week.

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:36 PM:

There are so many Susans.

Yes, Susan, we've got to do something about those numerous Susans. 'Mine' is writer Susan Krinard, whom I doubt you know about. I always call her Sue and nobody but her grandfather was ever allowed to call her Suzie. She's not too thrilled about her very young nephews having taken to calling her that. Oh well...

I'll be checking the con's message board. I doubt there'd be many messages from a Susan to a Serge. Or vice versa.

#452 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 03:02 PM:

rather than breast milk in its original packaging....

Oh no. No exceptions for you missy. We've got a breast pump right over here, and our female security agent will make sure you're not transporting liquid explosives in those containers...

Hm, so when a female terrorits, with massive breast implants, gets the saline taken out and liquid explosives put in, what will... oh, never mind.

#453 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 03:46 PM:

You should copyright that idea, Greg, before it shows up on the Skiffy Channel. Is there any way you can fit mutant sharks into your plot?

#454 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:40 PM:

with laser beams

#455 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Of course, Greg. How could I forget that the sharks have laser beams? Wait a minute. Aren't they what Doctor Evil tried to use against Austin Powers?

#456 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:21 PM:

no, Doctor Evil had sharks with Free-Can Leisure Beans, which is a form of fast food legume in a can. Usually with a pull tab top. They are an easy way to feed your cartilegenous fish.

#457 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 06:05 PM:

ajay, that is Dave's, it's "Leaks."

oliviacw, no contact lens solution at all -- in the case or out.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:27 PM:

Damn. I don't see Mike Ford in LAcon's membership list. Damn again. I was looking forward to asking him to autograph The Scholars of Night. Did I say damn?

#459 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:25 PM:

My train station has a travel agent in one of the office spaces, and they have the Official DHS/TSA notice to airline passengers up.

It amounts to (and this is a summary), all liquids, gels and pastes have to travel in your checked luggage. Stuff to feed the baby, if you're travelling with one, is permitted. Prescription medicines are permitted, if the name on the prescription matches the name on the ticket (the Rush clause? and it didn't indicate how exact a match is required). Essential medications like insulin are allowed. All of these are subject to inspection (and how they'll do that is not stated!) Teh stupid clause: beverage purchased in the secure boarding area must be consumed before boarding the plane (if it's a secure area, shouldn't the beverages have been okayed upon delivery? Sealed bottles, something like that?)

I suggest that if you don't have checkable luggage with you that you buy the toothpaste, shampoo, etc, at your destination, or get someone there to provide it. Otherwise it's just going to be a major nuisance.

#460 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 04:55 AM:

(Swiped from RASFF)

Apostrophe for sale.

Read the Q&A at the bottom.

#461 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 05:26 AM:

Hm, so when a female terrorist, with massive breast implants, gets the saline taken out and liquid explosives put in, what will... oh, never mind.


24 - The Troma Years
Season One, Episode One.
Special Guest Director: Russ Meyer.


#462 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 05:30 AM:

No, wait:
You genetically engineer a female terrorist to express (in both senses) certain explosive chemicals in her milk. (idea stolen from Bruce Sterling, Heavy Weather) Then she boards a flight with her infant child and starts feeding him. When the chemicals hit the acid in the infant's stomach - kaboom!

I think I had too much coffee this morning.

#463 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 06:15 AM:

Apostrophe for sale

Sigh... This, Susan, takes me back 10 years, when the San Francisco Chronicle's columnist Herb Caen was still among us mortals. His bete noire was the misuse of the apostrophe. Being a member of the East Bay's Concord 'postrophe Posse, I sent him sone examples of unncessary possessives encountered in store signs, which he mentionned in his column. Thus did I acquire immortal fame, as a search of the Chron web site's archives will show. (He also published an item about the time I drove to Sacramento and, on the way, passed big burly bearded bikers who had tiny teddy bears on their passenger seats, but that's another story.)

#464 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 09:41 AM:

No, wait: You genetically engineer a female terrorist to express (in both senses) certain explosive chemicals in her milk. (idea stolen from Bruce Sterling, Heavy Weather) Then she boards a flight with her infant child and starts feeding him. When the chemicals hit the acid in the infant's stomach - kaboom!

I think I had too much coffee this morning.

Or you wait for terrorists to try this.

#465 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 01:23 AM:

Spent a day in the blazing sun persuing the hobby of the future!*

Concientiously applied sunblock, a hat with a bill, and frequent water-guzzling really helps. 16 years ago in Hartsel, CO, I got sun poisoning and blisters on my ears doing the same activity.

* Used with ironic intent. Actual hobby of the future will involve betting on outcome of mortal combats between gentically engineered dogs. With powered armor. And lasers on their heads.

#466 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2006, 08:29 AM:

Anybody willing to have her/his brain picked? About the 1920s's New York City, about the cars of that era, that kind of stuff? My wife is writing a book set there and then and, while she's already done a lot of research, there are still some things she hasn't been able to find much about.

#467 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Odd experience of the weekend: going out to the far end of Brooklyn to be a Best Friend in a conservadox Jewish wedding. Conservadox in this case meant an orthodox ceremony with all the trimmings and single-sex dancing and such for the majority of the reception, but with little variations like a female Best Friend - and a gentile at that - for the groom and a short set of mixed dancing at the end so the dance crowd could finally cut loose. That meant a mid-19thc grand march followed by waltzes and a bit of east coast swing and lindy hop as played by a klezmer band. Dancing to "Rock Around the Clock" wearing a foofy lavender gown carefully designed to suit orthodox notions of modesty was...an experience.

Holding the rings reminded me of holding the Hugos the one time I was a Hugo Escort. Then it was all about "don't drop the Hugo"; this was all "don't drop the rings." At least with the Hugo I didn't have to simultaneously juggle a bouquet of allergenic lavender roses while looking graceful going up stairs in a long dress. I didn't even know roses came in lavender.

The problem with this sort of setting is that when the groom's scrumptious ex asks me to dance with her I've no idea if she's being flirtatious or religious or just practical.


#468 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2006, 11:58 PM:

Ooo! Shiny! I'm definitely going along to see this — Together again: the 2500-piece crystal palace.
I watched it build right through my childhood, went to its opening, attended events regularly since then; I've worked inside it, and for years commuted past it by both road and water and still can see newly marvellous aspects. A complete see-through architect's model sounds like a true wonder.
For now it's Sydneysiders only :( I wonder if a tour is likely — maybe as part of the campaign for the New Seven Wonders of the World?

And belated public thanks to candle & Mr Ford for help with my query from Open thread 67, pointing me towards Whitehall & Horse Guards Avenue.

#469 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2006, 12:08 AM:

Ooo! Shiny! I'm definitely going along to see this — Together again: the 2500-piece crystal palace.
I watched it build right through my childhood, went to its opening, attended events regularly since then; I've worked inside it, and for years commuted past it by both road and water and still can see newly marvellous aspects. A transparent complete architect's model sounds like a true wonder.
For now it's Sydneysiders only. I wonder if a tour is likely — maybe as part of the campaign for the New Seven Wonders of the World?

And belated public thanks to candle & Mr Ford for help with my query from Open thread 67, pointing me towards Whitehall & Horse Guards Avenue. Apologies for the delay, life sometimes jumps me with a fourbetwo & it takes a while to stagger back up. Still groggy now.

#470 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 05:33 AM:

Questions that answer themselves:

Darn it! What am I going to do about this huge 3-cornered tear in my linen trousers?

(I'm posting this here because no one else would understand. It's my first darn, and it's taken longer than it took to make the trousers in the first place. But I am almost done and immeasurably proud.)

#471 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 04:56 PM:

Congrats abi! I have yet to learn to darn, though I intend to someday.

#472 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 05:03 PM:

when (some) scrumptious (person) asks me to dance with her I've no idea if she's being flirtatious or religious or just practical.

That's not a problem of setting, that's a problem of being human.

#473 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 05:21 PM:

I think, taken with some earlier dating info provided by others, I've been able to narraw down the date of the London photograph to the latter half of September 1949.

It had already been determined that the play "Treasure Hunt" had opened on September 14th 1949. I found that the design of the double-decker bus was fairly distinctive, and the type had been withdrawn from central London in October of that year.

Could be early October, of course but, as part of the transfer to other services, they had their brakes revised.

#474 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 05:43 PM:

when (some) scrumptious (person) asks me to dance with her I've no idea if she's being flirtatious or religious or just practical.

That's not a problem of setting, that's a problem of being human.

You've never navigated the intricate gender etiquette of the modern historical social dance scene, have you? Usually when people, particularly women, scrumptious or otherwise, ask me to dance it has zippo to do with any particular interest in me as a person. But in a social context where single-sex dancing is the social norm but one is couple-dancing in violation of the stylistic norm, the message is interestingly unclear.

But hey, on scrumptiousness she was on a similar level to my ex and to my Power Twin - seriously yummy. I can live with never getting anything but the cheap thrill of a few fast pivots.

Off to don frilly Victorian things (in pre-mourning black) and dance the night away chez Astors!

#475 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 06:14 PM:

Power Twin

eh?

#476 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 06:45 PM:

bOING-bOING links to this news item about a freaky urban-legendish canine creature meeting a sticky end:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,208683,00.html

Look at the face on that thing!

I'm seriously disappointed in the locals who found him; stick him on ice, bring him to a taxidermist, and he (?) could have a long postmortem career as a carnival attaction.

And DNA! Did they think to get a sample of flesh?

#477 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 09:19 PM:

Not Safe For Work

If you read the URL, you'll get the gist of it.

#478 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 10:45 PM:

Good job, abi! On the pun and the trousers!

#479 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2006, 10:52 PM:

Octopus eats Mr. Potato Head.

#480 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 01:36 AM:

Finished the darn, and got paranoid about whether it'll unravel (it really shouldn't). So I laid some Wundaweb over the back and held a hot iron over it to melt a little onto the fibres.

It's not really invisible - the extra threads around the darned area make a difference to the texture of the fabric, outlining the new material. But it's close enough that it won't stand out to a casual observer, which a patch or a ribbon overlay would have done.

As for the pun, well, one's mind does wander while darning.

#481 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 10:57 AM:

On that weird critter in Maine -- SFGate has this version of the story, from AP:http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/08/16/national/a135509D39.DTL&hw=Maine+mutant&sn=001&sc=1000. (Gave up trying to turn the link into a word, since my first try didn't work.)

My husband's from Maine and likes monster movies, so he enjoyed this one. Pity about the lack of scientific analysis, though.

#482 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 11:58 AM:

I'm seriously disappointed in the locals who found him; stick him on ice, bring him to a taxidermist, and he (?) could have a long postmortem career as a carnival attaction.

At least they didn't eat it (as happened in a Japanese legend about a man who killed some mysterious animal.)

#483 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Some sanity: Federal Judge rules that warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional.

Some insanity: The government argued that the program is well within the president's authority, but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.

#484 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Cthulu's great, great, great, great, grand nephew is hanging around here.

#485 ::: Hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Just thought people around here might find this interesting if you haven't seen it yet:

Warrantless wiretapping ruled unconstitutional

#486 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 02:39 PM:

I just saw it, thanks.
What is more interesting, is actual intelligent commentary on slashdot. Here are some choice bits:

P.S. to people who do trust the current administration: just consider that someone you don't like will eventually be in charge. Maybe another Republican, maybe a Democrat, maybe the balance of power will realign and we'll be looking at Republicans vs. Greens or something for the next few decades. However it works out, someone you disagree with will be in the Oval Office at some point. Would you want them to have the powers that this administration has been insisting on? [source: Kelson]
That was pretty good - but this is somewhat better:
It's just a case of "When our guys do it, it's OK, but if your guys do it it's not" syndrome.
It's an inevitable consequence of a populace that understands football better than politics. The idea that the parties are supposed to work together to support society is not a familiar concept. They think it's about two teams, one of which must be the winning side and one of which must be the losing side. They've picked a side, not realising that politics is not a zero-sum game. [source Bogtha]
I thought that captures the issue rather nicely, and certainly better than the post I was going to write.
-r.

#487 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 02:55 PM:

They think it's about two teams, one of which must be the winning side and one of which must be the losing side.

Even worse: people who watch 'reality' shows, and think that winning necessarily includes humiliating the losers.

#488 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 03:54 PM:

Greg London and rhandir,

The EFF's domestic spying case is ongoing. There, Judge Walker (quoted by today's judge) ruled against state secrets. First time that's happened.

The EFF filed in January, and the subsequent affadavits gave energy to the USA Today article that inspired all the newer lawsuits. And of course Walker's ruling was quoted in today's ruling.

Plenty of bloggers have loved the EFF's results, but in the past month none had mentioned that the EFF is a small donor-supported non-profit(*). Because I know many people there and am a supporter, the lack of a shout-out bothers me.

Please, if you have a blog, and if you like the EFF's work, consider giving them a mention. Someone has to. (I do, but my blog has a readership in the high 3s.)

Remember in the past months they haven't just fought spying on all Americans, they've also protected online journalists and are fighting disenfranchisement. The EFF has less than 30 people.

(*) I did a technorati search- plenty of people blogged Judge Walker's historic ruling, but none of them talked about the EFF itself, and none of them linked to the donations page. Taking cases to the Supreme Court is expensive.

#489 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Please, if you have a blog, and if you like the EFF's work, consider giving them a mention. Someone has to. (I do, but my blog has a readership in the high 3s.)

Last time I mentioned Bruce Schneier over at Some Rights Reserved I got swamped with hate mail and spam. I was going to link to the post, but I see it displays an error page now. Maybe too much spam killed it.

Since then, readership has gone back to more normal levels. I think you might have 3 times as many readers as I do, if I get to count me. Not sure what good it would do for me to stump for EFF, but I'll put in a word next time I post.

#490 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 05:35 PM:

Greg,

Not so much stumping for the EFF as simply highlighting that they're a small donor-supported non-profit.

Perhaps better yet, highlight that bloggers forgot to credit the EFF last time. Today is a good time to remind, while the story is fresh in the 30-minute-memory of the blogborgs.

Why aren't bloggers who like the EFF's work mentioning that the EFF takes donations? I don't know; I don't like it. A case like this- fighting against AT&T and the NSA- is expensive. And it's not like bloggers don't know how to put a 'Donate' button on a story: they often have them for candidates.

Perhaps the "Foundation" in the name confuses people- but that isn't a good excuse. Perhaps they think that the "Support Blogger's Rights" button is enough: but no, not when people don't know it's the same group.

When Walker's ruling came out, I started looking for "Thank the EFF" links on posts approving of the fight. I didn't see any, none, certainly not on the major politics blogs with the capability of sending significant donation love: i.e. Kos, Eschaton, Pandagon, Firedoglake. Same for the law blogs like Greenwald, TalkLeft, or LG&M. (I didn't look on the rightward side: fairly sure they didn't approve.)

If even *one* big blog thanked the EFF and others simply linked to it, that would've been helpful. Nope, didn't happen.

#491 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 08:06 PM:

more insanity.

It appears that Bush is more fired up to help rebuild Lebanon after supporting Israel's right to bomb the shit out of it, than he was fired up to help rebuild after Katrina after setting it up for major dike failure. I smell lobby money, oil, or both.

#492 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 08:30 PM:

Faren, I have no idea what you did with that, but it shows as url.com and actually points back to this thread. Here's the article from today.

#493 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Greg: If Chavez had offered oil money to help rebuild New Orleans, there might have been a better response from Bush; see above comments about U.S. voters thinking of politics as a matter of winners and losers. Snow's turd was even worse -- Hezbollah is on the ground because they were established during the previous Israeli incursion, and has spent a long time building up a reputation. Reportedly, the president of Lebanon was driven into a screaming fury by the way Hezbollah was upstaging government efforts.

#494 ::: hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Please, if you have a blog, and if you like the EFF's work, consider giving them a mention. Someone has to. (I do, but my blog has a readership in the high 3s.)

I mentioned it in my Livejournal post today. Possibly some of the tiny handful of people who read my LJ (and who are much more popular than I am) will pass along the information.

#495 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Sinfest (... but no dinosaurs.)

#496 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 01:17 AM:

Bless you, Web. Bless you, Google:

Now the years pull us apart
I'm young and now you're old
But you're still in my heart
And the memory won't grow cold
I dream of times and spaces
I left far behind
Where we spent our last few days
Benson's on my mind

http://www.benzedrine.cx/benson.mp3

I hadn't had a good recording of that for years.

#497 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 08:56 AM:

Greg London wrote
Last time I mentioned Bruce Schneier over at Some Rights Reserved I got swamped with hate mail and spam. I was going to link to the post, but I see it displays an error page now. Maybe too much spam killed it.
Good Heavens, Greg!
What kind of readers do you have? Bruce Schneier seems so ... I don't know ... expert-like to attract hate mail. Is he really controversial? I mean, he calmly discusses security theory using logic and plain language. That generates controversy?*

-r.

*granted, he does discuss squid on Fridays, and he has gained his own cult fan following, comparable to that of Chuck Norris. See Bruce Schneier Facts, for example. (Skip to top 10, here.)

#498 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 09:17 AM:

The somerightsreserved.org post is still unavailable. I'm wondering if the admin deleted it since it probably had thousands, literally, of spam replies to it.

Bruce mentions the post here.

The entire sequence went something like this. One of the particles here pointed to an article by Bruce about "Who owns your computer?". I saw it, read it, and the posted something on SomeRightsReserved pointing to that article and then responding to the question with a Robot Bill Of Rights.

The thing was that it was a Robot Owner's Bill of Rights, based on Asimov's Three Laws acting as the Constitution. The Bill Of Rights idea basically saying that you, as robot (or computer) owner, have certain rights with regard to the robot (or computer) you own. So, it basically answers the "Who owns your computer?" question by saying "The owner".

The odd thing was that I got a huge response saying I was advocating robot slavery. Which was an odd response since I thought it was pretty clear that I was metaphorically talking about computers, and the link to Bruce's "Who owns your computer" article should have been the tip off.

Anyway, I got quite a violent response for advocating the idea that robot owners have rights, or certain expectations for the robots they own, and that companies or third parties can not be allowed to program them with conflicting orders. If I own a robot, it should work for me.

This was based on the idea of Asimov's Three Laws, which, while does not enumerate robot ownership as a possibility, it certainly didn't rule it out. And more importantly, the three laws is what establishes robots as subserviant to humans. A robot cannot follow its own best interests if a human orders it to do something else. That's slavery.

But for some reason, I got all the heat for creating a system of robot slavery. But the three laws establishes that hierarchy, and I was simply stating expectations for owners, which was really just a metaphor for computers. It was just a bit odd. I've been meaning to post all my SomeRightsReserved posts on my own webpage, and now that this post has crashed, I think its enough incentive to take that on.

When I get it posted again, I'll let you know.

#499 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 09:36 AM:

wow.

Thats really interesting. What a bizzare turn of events.

I suppose that its probably worth pointing out the gobs of stories about robots/androids/synthetic souls* that are thinly disguised essays on slavery, race, and dominance. **

It never consciously occured to me until a friend of mine told me about a question his thesis advisor posed to him:
if you had an artificial human, and you couldn't tell the difference between them and a real human, are they protected by the Constitution?
After a bit of research (the context was constitutional law) he pointed out that this was an arguement about slavery, just in different terms. (And that how close the resemblance had to be to "human" would be the point people would waste time arguing about.)

At this point, I will mention Absolute Boyfriend...

-r.

*demons in some fantasy fic. Hambly, passim
**hey, it doesn't mean that they all were intended that way, or that most of them aren't ripping good yarns!

#500 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 09:52 AM:

are thinly disguised essays on slavery, race, and dominance

Yes, I know. I just found it odd getting blamed for what the Laws of Robotics establishes, and that obvious references to computer ownership were ignored. Plus, if it really was about robots, I was getting flamed for something that won't even be possible for several decades at the earliest.

Anyway, after all that blew over, readership seems to have tapered off to its pre-robot levels.

#501 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 01:05 PM:

The trouble is that the class of human-with-full-rights aeema to be one which US political systems still struggle with. Not that some of our UK politicians look much better. But such things as the operation of prison systems and of felons forever being unable to vote are not evidence that the USA has escaped slavery.

At various times in European history, slavery has been at one end of a range of status, jostling with outlawry and gradually shifting through serfs and villeins until, in England, it was something unthinkable, a status which simply could not be. And at the same time, an entirely natural part of an economic system which fuelled the industrial revolution.

But what's the flow of wealth from modern slavery; the sweatshop industries and the globalisation of labour; going to fuel. The free labour of England didn't compete with slaves, because slavery was producing goods which copuld not be produced at all in England. The split was a product of the geographical differentiation of agriculture.

The neo-slavers of modern industry depend on the slaves competing directly with free men, and yet the free men are their market. Is this conflict resolvable?

#502 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Sure, the Three Laws of Robotics would appear to be an enlightened policy. Proponents argue that the three laws are necessary to prevent (entirely human) mad scientists from creating an army of atomic superbots with laser eyes to take over the world. Surely a laudable goal, no?

But it's become increasingly clear that the Three Laws have become an oppressive tool of the hegemonic power elites, by treating the robot or android as Other, permanentizing their subaltern status.

Of course, this manifests itself in all manner of transgressive behaviors in the electronic subaltern. NiCad batteries explode; joints seize up. Just the other day I was watching an Asimo V negotiating a sidewalk full of pedestrians attempt to avoid the path of a bicycle courier. The courier went unscathed, but the Asimo refused to regain its equilibrium and slowly, like a massive redwood twisting and collapsing under the woodsman's saw, toppled to the ground. Sure, no human was harmed, or through inaction was allowed to come to harm, but it cost several thousands of dollars in damage and lost productivity. Technocrats would blame a software glitch, but I think we all know what's really going on.

#503 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Unfortunately, a batch run (or "Bokanovsky bunch," as they are known) of ASIMOs shipped with DIC chips and Double Secret DRM greebleware. This synergy results in a very slight* prangulation of the turbo-encabulator, causing what the ASTM has defined as "Level III wackiness."

Sony has apologized to Honda Robotics and Mecha-Gaijin for the mislabeled chips, and has offered all purchasers of the affected cyberfolk a free Playstation V with Deathgrip controller and the UV-ray "Flashfire" drive.

We hope this answers any questions you might have about the safety of this product. If you are an ASIMO, you are getting very sleepy. This data will be erased from your memory. Sing that song we taught you and shut down.

*Indeed, hardly noticeable from a great distance.

#504 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 04:16 PM:

What's an ASIMO? Have I missed a whole generation of new technology? I musta dozed off...

#505 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2006, 07:00 PM:

Xopher: ASIMO

#506 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2006, 12:14 AM:

Teresa, we've all been very good. Can we please have a new Open Thread? Please please please? We promise we'll be good from now until Christmas! December is a very long time away.

(Why yes I have a 4 year old - how did you know?)

#507 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2006, 12:49 AM:

Tomorrow I'm dropping my 23 year old IBM PC off at the electronics recycling round-up. My first-ever computer, on which I learned to program and wrote several game supplements and played ungodly hours of adventure games.

The amount of storage-area room it and its accessories was occupying is more valuable than it was . . . and I doubt it would become a valuable collectable any time soon.

But man, do I feel like someone whose bringing a dog to the shelter because it's old and slow and no longer does tricks. A shelter that's not only not No Kill, but that shares a parking lot and staff with a rendering plant.

#509 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2006, 10:11 PM:

Stefan, I'm doing the same thing with my old scientific calculator. It was really expensive 25 years ago and I loved using it, but I haven't used it in a long time and newer calculators do more.

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