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October 3, 2006

Open thread 72
Posted by Teresa at 02:33 PM *

The twin opposed poles of this world are Mythology and Economics. Crossing the axis they define is another, with its own set of poles, one of which is Geology. It is not certain what Geology’s opposed twin may be, though Music, Fish, and the Internet have all been proposed.

Within the space thus defined are the entities of Commerce: Work, Food, Language, and Memory. Thus the world.

But what, you may ask, of Love, Mathematics, Humor, Divine Presence, Desire, the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and Death? The answer is that they are present in all times and places, and so do not fall within the purview of mapmakers.

Comments on Open thread 72:
#1 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Whoa. And that's only *three* dimensions.

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:01 PM:

[western twang]
Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be pages.
[/western twang]

#3 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Hmm...perhaps this is what Sony is on about...

Yeah, probably not...

At any rate, it seems to me that the system thus defined is only sufficient if one is a bland-old 2-d cartographer (I would nominate Technology as the logical axial opposition to Geology). What would the third axis be, that we might more precisely place our reality in a map with depth?

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:16 PM:

I can see Music and Fish as potential other-poles to Geology, but I think I'm missing where the Internet would go on that axis. (I think Internet and Technology are close together.)

Those axes would certainly make for interesting maps.

#5 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Why am I reminded of National Lampoon's "Humor Map of the World," which I used to have up on my living room wall? (My sister preferred the map of the state of Minnebraska, which included one of my favorite towns, "Paris, France, Minnebraska.")

#6 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:40 PM:

This has the flavour of the introduction to Foucault's The Order of Things.

#7 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Then again, it also has the flavour of The Girl Detective

#8 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:47 PM:

I have trouble seeing economics and mythology as opposites. But perhaps the counterpart to geology is Phish?

#9 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:48 PM:

I have no clue. I'd guess Douglas Adams just before the time buzzer rang out, if only to have a remote chance of winning the game. I forget the rules, is it as close as possible without going over the actual price? Or do I simply have to guess one of the replies that 100 people gave when polled with this question? Survey said?!?

I have a picture of bunny with a pancake on its head if that would help.

#10 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:49 PM:

Hey look, my first YASID!

A juvie, set on a newly-colonized planet where the wheat comes up with silicate/glass stalks.

#11 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Well given the foregoing, I would suggest a z-axis bounded by Reason on one end and Principle or Conviction on the other.

I would also offer some variant on imagination, creativity, or whimsy as the alternate pole for "geology", which term(s) would incorporate music, and possibly fish as well. [Certainly the babelfish ...]

#12 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:54 PM:

... getting this out of my system now...

"In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing we apprehend in one great leap, the thing that, by means of the fable, is demonstrated as the exotic charm of another system of thought, is the limitation of our own, the stark impossibility of thinking that."

from the preface to The Order of Things

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:20 PM:

I'm not convinced that Economics and Mythology are different axes. They intersect at so many places: trickle-down and other Regan , the Communist ideas about the inherent value of labour, the complete works of Ayn Rand...

(Damn, damn, damn. I was just wondering how I could make this post interesting enough to catch Mr Ford's eye, in the hopes of something like the "bother dinosaurs and sodomy" riff, or what he did with my Serge out of Heck comment. But then I remembered that it would need to be even more interesting than I can ever make it to do so now.)

#14 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:21 PM:

I think Geology is opposite Physics, since to a physicist, all else is stamp-collecting.

That would put the Internet (and Technology) almost exactly in the middle of that axis, and indeed almost exactly in the middle of the Mythology - Economics axis.

Hence, we may infer that the Internet is the origin of all things.

Which we knew already.

#15 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Dan R.:

Have not yet read The Order of Things or The Girl Detective although both are now on my "eventually-gander-at-the-library" list. But, to go totally surreal under the "stark impossibility of thinking that" meme:


The twin opposed poles of that world are Taxonomy and Affectation.

Crossing the axis they define is another, with its own set of poles, defined by the opposed values of Color and Osteomancy.

It is not clear whether that world is flat, or if perhaps -- as some have suggested -- there may be a third axis upon which atmosphere and density may be calibrated although, if such a spindle should exist, its poles have been titularly delineated as Electricity and Equivocation.

Within the space thus defined are the entities of Commerce: Reliability, Remuneration, Retaliation, and Revision. Thus that world.

But what, you may ask, of Syntax, Reproduction, Fashion, System Redundencies, the Thought-Sleep Continuum, and Fruit?
The answer is that these are present in all times and places, and so do not fall within the purview of realtors.

Anyone care to buy?

#16 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:28 PM:

abi:

Yes, I was having the same thought ...


Of course, if he were to post, that would single-handedly succeed in making it far more interesting ...

#17 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:30 PM:
The role of surfing in pre-contact Hawaii was central. Men, women, and children apparently participated with almost equal vigor. While the surfing abilities of King Kamehameha and his wife Ka’ahumanu were memorialized in ritual songs and chants, ordinary Hawaiians practiced the sport with equal relish (Lueras 1984; Kampion 1997). Westerners commented on the importance of the surfboard as personal property and one missionary even suggested its possession was as important to the Hawaiians as was the ownership of a light carriage to the Englishman of the day (Stewart, quoted in Finney and Houston 1996:27). In retrospect it is clear that European impressions of surfing reflected highly misguided notions about both the practice and meaning of surfing in Hawaii. Early engravings show the islanders in awkward, often impossible positions on the waves. Many of these engravings depicted naked native women (Figure 1).

Waves of Commodification: A Critical Investigation Into Surfing Subculture

#18 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:37 PM:

Kip,
That's a nice exposition. Here's a brand new book of surfing, from the Bishop Museum Press in Hawai'i. I have a copy (and know the editor/author). Its photos are all from the Museum's archives. There are the obligatory pictures of Duke Kahanamoku, but there are lots of others which are rarely seen.

#19 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:37 PM:

#14 DaveL: I think Geology is opposite Physics, since to a physicist, all else is stamp-collecting.

But geologists are well known for making field trips to the ends of the earth, whereas, as we all know, philately will get you nowhere.

#21 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:04 PM:

One of the odder things in my collection is a Hawai'ian silver dime from the late 19th century, with Kamehameha on the obverse. The reverse is the style of US dime used in the 1860s, after this style had already been discarded from US use. (I found this in a matchbox in my grandfather's effects, along with a 1909 VDB penny which still has some of the original shine, or "red"ness, and a few other oddities.)

Why did the US give them the old dies, I wonder?

#22 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:31 PM:

It tasted to me of the Principia Discordia, although I gather it has been identified elsewhere.

It sounds like a good bit of Discordian moral philosophy though.

#23 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:36 PM:

Who the f*ck is Bruno Latour?

#24 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Although, of course, the existence of the Internet rules out the original Principia.

Not that it couldn't have been updated.

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:51 PM:

Tom W., a 1909 VDB? I would have given the rest of my collection for one of those!

(I'm no longer responsible for that thought; it was 40 years ago when I had a decent coin collection.)

About your dime, the die thing is interesting. I wonder if there's a Hawai'i Numismatic Society.

#26 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:14 PM:

texanne,

A juvie, set on a newly-colonized planet where the wheat comes up with silicate/glass stalks.

hey, i read that one in school! don't remember the title, but they called the planet "shine," & there's an hourlong light rainfall every morning instead of dew. & the scariest part is when they eat the ground-up glass wheat & they don't know whether it will kill them or not.

i thought of that book last week, when i was afraid my parrot had eaten glass.

#27 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:18 PM:
Why did the US give them the old dies, I wonder?
According to this article (the accuracy of which I cannot vouch for), the US Mint in San Francisco made the coins. This doesn't surprise me - I don't know how many small countries don't mint their own coins these days, but a lot don't print their own bills, or at least didn't when I was collecting coins and bills back in the 1970s. Look closely at bills from your average Caribbean nation and you will see the name "American Banknote Corp" on many.
#28 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Texanne and miriam, I have your answer: The Green Book by Jill Patton Walsh.

#29 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:23 PM:

Bruno Latour. French intellectual. Impenetrable and unnecessary. Here's Wikipedia on his most popular (for certain values of the word) book, We Have Never Been Modern:

Latour and Woolgar produced a highly heterodox and controversial picture of the sciences. Drawing on the work of Gaston Bachelard, they advance the notion that the objects of scientific study are socially constructed within the laboratory--that they cannot be attributed with an existence outside of the instruments that measure them and the minds that interpret them. They view scientific activity as a system of beliefs, oral traditions and culturally specific practices--in short, science is reconstructed not as a procedure or as a set of principles but as a culture.
That is, science has no more connection to the real world that the latest episode of some reality TV show. It's just another culture.

I don't believe Latour & Co. address the question of why this one particular culture keeps generating powerful new knowledge.

Why do you ask?

#30 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:26 PM:

But what, you may ask, of Love, Mathematics, Humor, Divine Presence, Desire, the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and Death? The answer is that they are present in all times and places, and so do not fall within the purview of mapmakers.

Perhaps they're merely curled up and hidden away...

#31 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:41 PM:

I don't believe Latour & Co. address the question of why this one particular culture keeps generating powerful new knowledge.

Well, it’s awfully, awfully close to a one-for-one reproduction, but the map is still not the thing mapped.</devil’s advocate>

#32 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Theresa - I think you over-state Latour's point. I tend to agree with his assertion that science is a culture. Most of the scientific process (to which I wholeheartedly subscribe!), although it's not taught that way, is post-facto explanation of observed outcomes, with forward experimentation used mostly for verification. Which is to say that most of the process is cultural: research directions are set by social interactions and results are accepted or rejected through social interactions. The element of proof must be presented in a way that lets other scientists believe or disbelieve. Often we abdicate this responsibility to wiser people, effectively forming a culture of proof by authority, but with an of audit trail left by the litterature.
All that said, though, the culture is very much centered around repeatable experiment, and that repeatability is really at the core of our shared understanding of the base truth of our reality.
(Aside - I've met people who don't place that repeatability at the center of their understanding of the world, and the scientific world view works poorly for them. Often we dismiss them as flakes or cranks, or just stupid. Latour's argument points out that to them their world is just as true; from a social-science standpoint their view is just as valid, though perhaps not as useful.)

#33 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:15 PM:

Sometimes this blog is so far over my head that I have to look down to see if it's going to come at me from below.

Teresa, when I cut and paste your text into google, the only thing that comes up are links to scholarly articles written by Bruno Latour.

#34 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:25 PM:

This is an open thread, so I hope it's okay to post this:

According to Josh Marshall, Rep. Foley is now informing everyone that he was molested as a child by a "clergyman;" since he was raised RC, presumably that person was a Catholic priest. That's the conclusion his coyness leads one to draw.

Is this meant to explain or excuse his tendency to have phone sex with the House pages?

Why do I feel like I just fell into a big hole while in pursuit of a large white rabbit?

#35 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:26 PM:

I mentioned this near the end of Open Thread 71, but I'm not sure anybody saw it (or maybe there's just not really any interest).

I have a Greasemonkey script available to help deal with Making Light comments: it makes comment links go the right comment even if you're using the larger text stylesheet; it keeps track of which comments you've already seen and gives them a darker background.

http://www.molehill.org/~jtl/userscripts/makinglight-read-comments.user.js

#37 ::: nobody ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:43 PM:

I have trouble seeing economics and mythology as opposites.

Me too, until I considered them as opposites in the taoist sense-- that is, that they are the same thing. That's a much smoother fit with my usual reality-tunnels.

#38 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:49 PM:

I believe you! I'm just saying, what you wrote blew my mind. The fact that you knew who this guy was, and posted it, and then Pedantic Peasant's poetic contribution, and the discussion in the thread, it's heady, I get giddy reading this blog. I'm not complaining one bit, except bemoaning the sad fact of my tiny mind.

#39 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:49 PM:

I think Geology is opposite Physics, since to a physicist, all else is stamp-collecting.

Physics is stamp-collecting too, but the physicists will never admit it.

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:51 PM:

Foley's explanations / excuses don't matter much now.

I'm more interested in Hastert's excuses. If only for their dark-comedy value.

The wheels on the bus roll down the ditch, down the ditch, down the ditch . . .

#41 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:00 PM:

#38, Sean...

It's not that you have a tiny mind, it's that the available space in your normal-sized mind is filled with material other than that under discussion.

(That's how I look at it. It seems to help.)

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:18 PM:

Latour's a visiting professor at UC San Diego, the place where I earned my posthole digger. I thought the vogue for him had passed a few years back. So reality is, to a large degree, subjective; you're still going to expect that the internal combustion engine will work, that gravity will continue to function, that the medical profession will be able to treat your ailments and so on.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:23 PM:

the round earth runs from myth to fiscal fact
and back again through every kind of clime
we say to this that not to disdain tact
all things are made to fit the vagrant rhyme
i construct laws that define only themselves
that's not reality it's merely my own choice
i might as well postulate hidden elves
that do all things at my commanding voice
all knowledges are equal in their power
belief in elves as much as in natural laws
each has its time its proper place and hour
but each arises from mental choice and cause
we might as well believe that the light air
that we see as sustaining is not there

#44 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:33 PM:

Sarah, thanks! I've passed the info to the friends who were helping me cudgel my brain.

#45 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:36 PM:

I'm less concerned with Latour being in vogue than in the piss-poor way so many of these philosophers of science present their philosophies to scientists. I used to knee-jerk them into the trash bin of over-blown self-agrandizing piffle, but increasingly I'm seeing some small truths hiding in there.
One of the things that I think holds back science is the where the cuture of science finds itself at odds with the culture of some would participants and contributors. In most of science the mode of discourse is confrontational and argumentative, the quicker to help discover truth - you argue to find holes in your arguments as well as in others' arguments. But that mode of discourse isn't comfortable for some people who could be fine participants - it may have something to do with the relatively small number of women contributing in the hard (non-health-related) science. Although I'm skilled at the traditional form of scientific argument, I've been trying to learn to moderate it so that I can hear the contributions from outside the core culture.
A goodly chunk of what these philosophers of science are trying to point out is that the culture is closed in various ways, and that treating science as a culture might show us ways to communicate better with the other cultures in which we interact. The ones who scare me overstep that bound and start disclaiming objective reality. I believe that there are fields where a subjective model reality is the best you can manage - there might simply be too many variables; down that slope lie the arguments that all science is too complex for a fully objective model, and so the world is subjective - I'll buy that my *model* of the world is subjective, but not that the world itself it. I just don't accept that degree of solopsism.

#46 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:39 PM:

Avoid crankiness; I will say no no no, but only in the sweetest of terms.

Imagine instead there is a difference between science the ideal, and science as she is wrote. Yes? We dearly love science the ideal. It is a glorious thing and a precious candle in the darkness and I would never say it wasn't but nonetheless: science as she is wrote is or can be messy and nasty and contingent and stupid and dunderheaded and personal and backbiting and a social construct; a culture. And it can be helpful or enlightening or at least sometimes amusing to remember that, to see and study science as she is wrote, all the while keeping science the ideal in mind.

And yes yes yes: the hair's breadth between the thing studied and the social construct in the mind of the scientist that is the tool whereby she grasps the thing studied is or ought to be in, again, the ideal, vanishingly fine, such that insisting on its existence can seem downright comical, but nonetheless: the map is not the thing mapped. NaCl is not actually salt. Dammit. A pedantic point, perhaps. Self-evident. But still worth keeping in mind, and that's the basic takeaway of the above. (Well. That, and its implications.)

Now. I don't know Latour from de France, myself. He may well be guilty of (bullshit) rhetorical excesses that would make even me roll my eyes and turn away. (It is possible. —Certainly, "impenetrable and unnecessary" does not bode well, and We Have Never Been Modern is the sort of title that tries to dare you to unpack it, but really makes you just want to wipe its impish smirk into the mud.) But let's figure out whether that's true and mock him for what he's said and done, rather than carry an interesting idea off in the first hare-brained direction we can think of and then say hey, look, how silly!

Or (sweet!) words to that effect.

#47 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Kip - I agree with what you are saying. I think many scientific-minded people forget how much of their research is a product of their cultural environment (you do, after all, have to choose what to investigate!), and how much that culture can fail to resemble the ideal of science.
Regarding Latour, and most french philosophers for that matter, much of the criticism for the opacity falls on the translators. French academic discourse is a highly stylized form that doesn't move to english easily, and certainly not without some interpretation on the part of the translator. Sometimes that interpretation is "correct", but too often it comes down firmly on one side or another of an intentional ambiguity - there seems to be a pride in some of those constructs, much as many here pride themselves, rightly, for their verse.

#48 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:55 PM:

#41 Linkmeister
It's not that you have a tiny mind, it's that the available space in your normal-sized mind is filled with material other than that under discussion.

(That's how I look at it. It seems to help.)

*sage nod* None of them except possibly Power Twin would know a two-slide mazurka from a three-slide racket if it bit 'em, and none of them except Power Twin could actually do them even if they did know them. Power Twin (being the goddess that she is) could probably do them without knowing them.

To each hir own.

#49 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 10:15 PM:

Linkmeister (#25), it's the 1909 S VDB penny that's worth the most, though by now I expect even the non-S one is at the very least desirable.

Googlegoogle... ah, yes. You can buy a 1909 VDB for $5.95 at the first website that turned up in a search for "1909 s vdb penny."

#50 ::: nobody ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 10:18 PM:

46: "...the map is not the thing mapped. ... A pedantic point, perhaps. Self-evident."

Kip, I don't find this point pedantic at all, but rather vitally profound. Through this particular filter, so many impasses to understanding that I find between myself and others just vanish. It seems self-evident until one really applies it in the real world. Then, the realization that we are dealing with (n-1)abstractions of perceptions of reality, rather than looking like hopeless subjectivity, becomes a vast array of different tools to be used to measure experience. I'm constantly amazed at its usefulness, and even more often amazed at how easily I forget it.

Speaking of filters, does anyone here find e-prime useful? I find it particularly difficult to use, but a useful and enlightening exercise nonetheless.

#51 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 10:51 PM:

My question is: does We have Never Been Modern set up modernism or post-modernism for a strawman argument?

As a physicist who works with geologists (and just back from Canada's Northern yonder), I looked at sociology-of-science studies for one of my comprehensive exams. Philosophers can be very convincing, and it was a depressing rite of passage to get through. What helped to bring me out of it (apart from moving on to a more concrete comprehensive)was Woolgar's admission that none of us can help but be naive realists almost all the time (with the possible exception of Wittgenstein).

#52 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 11:27 PM:

I'm finding that 'Iron Sunrise' and Rammstein are going amusingly well together - but ginger beer doesn't seem to match as nicely.

Vodka strikes me as being incompatible with an evening of reading, while most of the beers that come to mind (Fin du Monde is what's handy, and apropos in some ways) just don't seem to match up either. Any suggestions? (or for that matter, any music/book/beverage pairings that work well for other folk?)

#53 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:28 AM:

Xeger # 52 - Anything red. Seems that red wine goes well with just about any reading. Tonight was a recent Inniskilin Pinot Noir release that could have handled another 2-3 years in the bottle. I might have to get a case to do the every 6 months experiment. The book was Eco's Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna, perhaps influencing the wine. My Making Light reading of late has been giving me more patience for reading Eco's numerous cited poems and translations in there. I wish I had learned in high school that poetry is the highest form of word play, instead of learning it as the dullest form of pedantry.


#54 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:46 AM:

Got a copy of Grease Monkey for my birthday.

Also, a small Sock Monkey.

I'm not sure where this is leading.

#55 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:07 AM:

#39 ::: j h woodyatt -- "Physics is stamp-collecting too, but the physicists will never admit it."

The mathematicians will, however, remind them of it from time to time.


#56 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:24 AM:

#50, from nobody, -- "46: "...the map is not the thing mapped. ... A pedantic point, perhaps. Self-evident."
Kip, I don't find this point pedantic at all, but rather vitally profound."

As have I, ever since my highschool's Librarian handed me a copy of Hayakawa's book, back in the early '40s. Korzibski came a bit later, with not-much-new presented stultifyingly. Maybe it didn't do much good, but I hate to think what my mind would have become without it.

#57 ::: Victor Raymond ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:45 AM:

Paul, Sean, Kip, et. al. -

If you think Latour is problematic, let's leave Baudrillard completely out of the discussion....

(Generally, I agree with Paul about Latour, particularly about the culture of science and what's useful about Latour's commentary)

#58 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:51 AM:

If anyone here is responsible for scheduling staff, congratulations. You've just lost your right to unionize.

...the new definition could affect 8 million workers who give direction to fellow workers in fields ranging from construction to accounting.

From the WaPo.

#59 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:12 AM:

As I observed in passing, on rec.arts.sf.fandom, "Doc" Smith, in The Skylark of Space, blithely over-wrote all of Einstein with the more-or-less scientific point that theories have to gave way to observations. The Skylark, in its bone-crushing acceleration, had travelled far more than the few light-days that Relativity predicted, and so Relativity was disproved.

The trouble was, I recall later realising, was that the Skylark's clocks were in that accelerated frame of reference, and so were running slow.

So observation still trumps theory, but you'd better be sure you take into account all of the theory.


(Yes, folks, I know that in Science, "theory" is a word with special meaning, but my teenage sensawunda didn't know that.)


But, please, can we have a comment thread that doesn't degenerate into politics quite so quickly. We all know that this world is run by vile scum, who should be nailed to the nearest church door and left to rot. We don't need to read such opinions all the time.

#60 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:51 AM:

All @50, 51, 52.

But at some point doesn't that philosophical concept get on into "What the bleep do we know" space? Where you get people buzzed on the idea that what you see depends on what you believe, so if you don't have a word for red you can't see 700 nanometer light?

OK, wfbdwk didn't say that, it had something along the lines that the Caribbean islanders couldn't see Columbus's European ships, because they didn't have a concept/word for 'giant sailing ships." That to me is crazytalk. Er, I see that talk as crazy.
[goes outside and kicks rocks.]

#61 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:19 AM:

Null-A thought me that the map is not the land as well as that if onyl I stare at a given spot long enough I can record a snapshot of it in mind to a high enough degree that I could teleport back to it when in danger.

The former has served me better than the latter.

Speaking of Stross and beer, as #52 did, the Stross book to drink beer by is Accelerando and if you're in Amsterdam you can do it in the same pub as that novel opens in. For musical choice Laibach seems to capture the spirit of that book better than Rammstein.

#62 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:36 AM:

Kathryn #60: Where you get people buzzed on the idea that what you see depends on what you believe, so if you don't have a word for red you can't see 700 nanometer light?

That sounds like Orwell's newspeak idea that people wouldn't experience love if the word was removed from their vocabulary.

Stefan Jones #54: I'm not sure where this is leading.

I'm afraid my first thought was, "socks soaked in monkey-fat."

#63 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 07:04 AM:

Kathryn #60 - most of these philosophies were developped for the social sciences rather than the hard sciences; this is the place where Latour takes issue with Foucault. It's much easier to miss seeing patterns of relationships that you don't understand than it is to miss seeing physical things you don't understand. The "couldn't see Columbus's ships" is the reductio ad absurdum of a straw man version of the arguments being made.
The reason "what do we know" has become interesting is because of observations that rationalizations back up our beliefs rather than the other way around. Science gives us rationalizations with solid theoretic backing and an audit trail, but no-one I know of can honestly say that they take all their science back to first principles, which themselves become slippery under sufficient observation. Not invalid, just slipperty :-).
Instead, what we know (claim some semioticians) is really a web of interacting definitions rather than a strict hierarchy. In some sense, it's turtles all the way down. It's (relatively) easy to see this in individuals, and the various philosophers of science apply that same reasoning to how science is organized and show how that forms a cultural context in which science is done and interpretted.
If I want to get all post-modern about it, I can say that my interpretation of their text doesn't scare me too much, particularly since it's divorced from their intent with the text. If I want to back off and be modern about it, I might be mis-interpretting their intent by not driving it ad absurdum, but at least this model of the text gives me some useful tools.

#64 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 07:51 AM:

Forget Baudrillard

(um, sorry)

One of these days I may actually know what Latour said; I would not condemn the man's philosophy on the basis of a wikipedia article, or even a reading of the man in translation. I will say, though, that science is a social project seems self-evident at this point; it is not like there are tablets sent from Schenectady with scientific truths on them. The philosophical status of scientific truth is a very difficult problem, though, and mathematical truth an even more difficult problem. The more philosophical of scientists and mathematicians--Poincaré comes to mind--will occasionally admit to surprise that mathematics describes physical reality and that scientific consensus does produce truths which seem to approximate the physical world.

#65 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 08:38 AM:

Paul, #63: The "couldn't see Columbus's ships" is the reductio ad absurdum of a straw man version of the arguments being made.

But, having seen "What the Bleep Do We Know?", the program did in fact make that very assertion. I was already a little skeptical by the time that bit came on (with video of a Noble Savage, excuse me, a Carribean shaman standing on the shore staring at the distortion in the water that was all he could see), and when the "expert" who was a woman channelling some sort of ancient being came on, I gave up in disgust.

What I mean to say is, the "couldn't see the ships" thing may not be what serious scholars think on this topic, but it's what the particular program said they think.

WtBDWK had the thing with the Japanese water guy too.

#66 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:05 AM:
In retrospect it is clear that European impressions of surfing reflected highly misguided notions about both the practice and meaning of surfing in Hawaii. Early engravings show the islanders in awkward, often impossible positions on the waves.

So they couldn't see the surfboard. For some values of "see." Or "surfboard." Not sure which. Wasn't there.

It's been asserted that the producers of Bleep also fortuitously edited some of their interviews with participating physicists to make it seem as if those eminences grises held astonishingly silly positions which they do not, in fact, hold. Perhaps instead the producers simply didn't see those portions of the science for which they had no understanding?

#67 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:11 AM:

So, theoretically, if someone didn't understand the concept of "insurgency", they wouldn't be able to see it?

#68 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:25 AM:

Caribbean islanders couldn't see Columbus's European ships, because they didn't have a concept/word for 'giant sailing ships."

I think this sort of thing is a linguistic myth of the same general flavor as "eskimos have 126 words for snow" and "there is no word for 'no' in SomeLanguage." It's a cardboard version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (which opines that language shapes thought).

Caribbean islanders had boats, and I'm reasonably certain they had boats with sails, and I'm even more certain they had modifiers meaning "really, really big."

The folks at Language Log have fought this fight many a time. (It's a great site, btw, if you don't know it. Lately they've been discussing the report that Neil Armstrong really did say "small step for a man" after all.)

#69 ::: Hunter McEvoy ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 10:24 AM:

#54, Stefan:

How about a Code Monkey?

#70 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 10:39 AM:

I think what's more interesting than Foley's possible allegations against clergy is his associations with the Super Adventure Club. O, South Park! Why must you predict reality so well?

Were I to nominate one pole of our mysterious third axis as Sexuality, what would its opposite be?

#71 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 10:46 AM:

Carrie #65 - Mea Culpa. My TV-fu is weak; I missed that WtBDWK was some piece of television edutainment. Now I'm *certain* that the "they couldn't see the ships" is a strawman designed to make various bits of science look silly.
Sadly the naive interprettation of most modern philosophy is that "all viewpoints are equaly valid", which is patently bogus. Better to say "everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint", which can be mis-interpretted into the former statement, but at least makes sense in the reality-based condinuum.

#72 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:28 AM:

Well, to be a devil's advocate for just a minute here: there is a sense in which people with domain knowledge do, at least, encode and remember more of what they see. Chess masters, for instance, have a much easier time recalling positions from chess games, after brief exposure (2-15 sec.), though their advantage over novices disappears if the pieces are just strewn randomly on the board. (There's a paper here which starts by summarizing and citing a lot of this research, before going into how things look in the actual brain, as scanned by fMRI).

Which might explain how, for instance, Europeans trying to draw a picture of a surfer wind up drawing a guy standing on a board; they're drawing everything about the scene they can remember, but they didn't note the posture at the time, and can't reproduce it later. Likewise, it's not reasonable to suppose that a Carib indian saw a distortion of the water when looking at Columbus's ships, but perhaps more reasonable to suppose that they'd see a large wooden boat with lots of people in it, but not make note of (or remember later) details of the rigging that would have been immediately obvious and memorable to a European.

Which is not to defend the movie, of course. It sucked.

#73 ::: nobody ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:25 PM:

65What I mean to say is, the "couldn't see the ships" thing may not be what serious scholars think on this topic, but it's what the particular program [What the Bleep Do We Know] said they think.

It seems aptly titled then, if you take 'we' to mean the crew that produced the program, and not in any larger or more inclusive sense.

60But at some point doesn't that philosophical concept get on into "What the bleep do we know" space? Where you get people buzzed on the idea that what you see depends on what you believe, so if you don't have a word for red you can't see 700 nanometer light?

Use this concept as a tool for understanding others, and for improving your communication skills, not as an excuse to dismiss rational thought, or empirical science. If you carry it into 'what-the-bleep-do-we-know space' you wind up treating a useful exercise as dogma, and losing the ability to think for yourself.

For example, if I realize that Joe doesn't have a word for red, then I should stop using the damn word and find out which of Joe's concepts applies to the same phenomenon. Or at least explain what I mean when I use the word 'red,' rather than giving up and classifying Joe as stupid, blind, insert-political-label-here, savage, uncivilized, or whatever I view as being impossible-to-communicate-with.

#74 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:59 PM:

To this longtime English major (Purple Has Digits!), the sciences seem more like a very human mixture of open-minded rationality with varying degrees of subjective belief systems possessing their own arcane vocabularies. Squabbling scientists can accuse each other of the same kind of thing -- witness the recent books attacking String Theory -- but on my own lowlier level of understanding, I just get annoyed when the occasional Scientific American article renders an interesting idea incomprehensible. (No complaints so far about the October issue, which has lots of cool stuff.)

The subjective outlook (inlook, really) can lead to impenetrable philosophies or corrupt "sciences" like eugenics, but obviously it's most dangerous when it drives the Powerful, both political and religious leaders, who grant themselves Divine Rights and act on them. "Absolute power...," well, we all know how that goes.

#75 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:28 PM:

It's a cardboard version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (which opines that language shapes thought).

As a life coach, I get paid to help someone shape their thoughts and all I have for acces is language.

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Why do I feel like I just fell into a big hole while in pursuit of a large white rabbit?

OK, as an ethnic Celt, it falls to me to give you this caution: Do not hunt, chase, pursue, feed, molest, or in any other way interact with wild animals who are pure white. This is especially important if there's something a little...heyiya...about them. And if you forget yourself and chase one, and it crosses water (whether it fords a river, jumps a brook, scuttles across a trickle in the gutter, whatever) do not follow.

Reverse all these recommendations if you're tired of life, want to lose decades, or are yourself one of the Daoine Sidhe and want to go home.

#77 ::: RCT ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:56 PM:

TexAnne @ 10: newly-colonized planet where the wheat comes up with silicate/glass stalks.

Ah, physical proof of the I Can Eat Glass Project!

#78 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:09 PM:

#60: Where you get people buzzed on the idea that what you see depends on what you believe, so if you don't have a word for red you can't see 700 nanometer light?

The complicated bit here is in what "see" means - vision goes through quite a few levels of processing, in quite a complicated way, with a lot of interpolation and filling in gaps based on assumptions. This isn't exactly controversial, but words and assumptions tend to go together.

It's not "can't see", but "can't differentiate" - I've known a lot of really infuriating people who'd simply class things together like that. "Try some of this cherry lambic, it's gorgeous." - "I don't like beer." (Lumper!)

There's also the linguistic (the non-Sapir-Whorf kind) case, where non-fluent listeners simply can't hear the differences between two phonemes, let alone reproduce them. (English R and L is the case I recall seeing quoted most often.)

So the problem in communication is not explaining what you mean, but convincing them there's a need for differentiation in the first place. Which, of course, is a fairly arbitrary line - where's the cutoff for "red"? 700nm (which is actually magenta, to my eyes) plus or minus 10nm, 50nm, 120nm? It makes less difference when painting houses than when painting pictures, but for UV/vis spectrophotometry you need to be pretty exact.

So there's no useful difference between "Boss, there's a three-masted caravel in the bay" and "Boss, there's a really big, weirdly designed canoe in the bay, with all white stuff on it" until you both know and care what difference it makes, and that you really can't get to the other place in a canoe.

#79 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:14 PM:

Incidentally, I can see red. It's pretty.

#80 ::: metropolitan ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Geology - - - - Art

unless it's moved past this now...

#81 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Paul: ...I missed that WtBDWK was some piece of television edutainment. Now I'm *certain* that the "they couldn't see the ships" is a strawman designed to make various bits of science look silly.

No, alas: the people who made that stupid program really thought their "science" had a connection to actual fact. Unless including the channelling woman was the subtle hint that what they were actually trying to do was discredit modern physics, which I suppose is possible.

#82 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:22 PM:

Stefan #54: To a hockey monkey (mp3 link), perhaps. Or maybe a blastoff monkey (mp3 link). Or maybe the whole album

#83 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:43 PM:

when the "expert" who was a woman channelling some sort of ancient being came on, I gave up in disgust.

That would be J.Z. Knight, another of my more newsworthy neighbors. That film is a product of her (cult + school/2) "Ramtha School of Enlightenment" and has, as Lord Peter once said of advertizing, the same ratio of truth to volume as yeast in bread.

There are actually anthropological studies, mostly in functional linguistics, which support the Worf-Sapir hypothesis, and it's still important when handling empty barrels to remember what it is they're empty of. However, people who use words and images to convince us to disbelieve words and images are, shall we say, not exactly clarifying anything.

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:30 PM:

Incidentally, I can see red. It's pretty.

I see red whenever I hear Dubya talking. It's not at all pretty.

#85 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:41 PM:

in #47 Paul Lalonde wrote
Kip - I agree with what you are saying. I think many scientific-minded people forget how much of their research is a product of their cultural environment (you do, after all, have to choose what to investigate!), and how much that culture can fail to resemble the ideal of science.

A point well taken.
That, and scientists are human, prone to all the territoriality, avarice and squabbling that other humans are prone to. There's always enough overlap between the set of all geniuses and all jerks to cause problems.*

I've noticed some people who aren't very scientifically educated get in heated arguements with people who are, over wether or not science is right about x. If you** find yourself in one of these arguements, it may help to defuse it if you acknowlege up front that:

a. some scientists are jerks
and
b. science is an open method for producing a more accurate model of the world, not for producing "truth."

These two acknoweglements are designed to save you a great deal of time, and steal away most of their thunder about the biased-ness or unfairness of "Science." Once they get that you aren't one of the "bad guys***," sometimes you can explain what it means that science is an open process, what a testable hypothesis is, etc.

For all their bloviating, the post-moderists did rather well with the whole "the map is not the territory" thing, but really, they could have trimmed it down to a pamphelet, or at least novella length. The people I've noticed who have the most trouble remembering that the model is not the thing modeled aren't scientists (I know a few) but engineers (often software engineers). Sadly, an irate, close minded, technically trained person can be just as much of a pain about their belief in science as any other kind of fundamentalist.

Bonus round:
And as long as I'm bloviating, with extra italics and everything, I don't believe that postmodernism is an excuse for invalidating inconvenient truths. One still must be prudent, about global warming, say. Being prudent, of course, is a matter of policy, not science. (Or a matter of character, morals, virtue, public good, etc, etc, pick your poison.)


*insert favorite examples from sf, here.
**I'm just spitballing here, but I'm guessing if you are a regular poster, you'd probably be on this side of the arguement. No offense if you aren't.
***the mental image I get is of one of the men in black. Hmm, if I am one of the bad guys, does that mean I get a black helicopter?

#86 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:45 PM:

Any Mac users have an application they wish existed, which doesn't?

I could use some ideas to spur a reentry into Mac development. My dayjob and current Mac usage patterns haven't really fostered such ideas. I've been a real web potato for a while.

#87 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:03 PM:

#86 ::: Jon H asked:
Any Mac users have an application they wish existed, which doesn't?

Hm. I use gtodo and ptimetracker under Linux, but I haven't found equivalents for either under OSX. I know that I could run both under X11, but it's a dreadful amount of overhead for two tiny applications.

The reason why I use both apps is that they're bog simple. The only thing I'd add to gtodo is hierarchy/linkages, and that's not really a requirement - and ptimetracker is lovely as is. Simple, no funky extras, just tracks time against a given project/item, and gives a total for the day (and uses plain text editable files).

I'm not sure if either of them is sexy enough... but for me, it's the simple solid apps that make the difference.

#88 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Jon H, all I want is an OS-X shell that looks and acts exactly like OS 9.6 while giving me full access to OS-X apps. Preferrably before my 5 year old iMac goes flooey and I move my stuff one desk over to the G-5 dual.

And get them damned kids off my lawn...

#89 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:45 PM:

I want HyperCard back.

#90 ::: Nick Fagerlund ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:47 PM:

JESR, our personal geography crosses yet again--I was wondering if someone would mention J.Z.'s or Ramtha's name before I reached the comment-box.

I went to school out in Yelm, the small-town headquarters of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment; one of those deals where we lived on a district boundary-line. Most people there who aren't actively involved with the RSoE tend to regard the whole deal with amused confusion. (The folk at Gordon's Garden Center like 'em well enough, on account of Ramtha's fondness for personal vegetable gardens.) And driving past the compound on the way to school became less and less odd as the years turned on.

We definitely found the release of What the Bleep weird for slightly different reasons than the rest of the country did.

#91 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 07:52 PM:

An addendum to Xopher's PSA at 76: there is something a little bit heyiya about all animals, and especially all wild animals, white or otherwise. (On the matter of running water, I defer to him, not being an ethnic Celt.)

#92 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 07:56 PM:

As a life coach, I get paid to help someone shape their thoughts and all I have for acces is language.

Sure, but the S-W Hypothesis states (again, in a somewhat cartoon version) that the structure and vocabulary of the language you speak makes certain thoughts possible and others not possible.

See Jack Vance's book "The Languages of Pao" for an SF treatment of the idea. He has manipulative overlords shape languages that push their users to become scientists, or masters, or artists respectively.

Great fun if you don't take it seriously.

#93 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 08:10 PM:

n #92 ::: DaveL wrote:
Sure, but the S-W Hypothesis states (again, in a somewhat cartoon version) that the structure and vocabulary of the language you speak makes certain thoughts possible and others not possible.

For example, remember that the terms "date rape" and "sexual harrasment" are relatively new*, and before they existed it was difficult to describe certain kinds of suffering inflicted on a person in a way that did not suggest that it was their fault.

-r.

*mainstream terms by the late 80's? Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

#94 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 08:45 PM:

Nick, until I was fifteen I lived kitty-corner to where the Ramster world headquarters is now; there's a small cinderblock store building where my parents ran a country store from 1955-1958 and my mother's aunt before that. I used to keep my 4-H calf picketed where JZ Knight's mansion is.

Then we moved down to Lacey, closer to the 20th Century.

#95 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 08:47 PM:

Nick, also, rereading your post: Evergreen Valley? Me, I live in Union Mills.

#96 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 10:55 PM:

Todd Larason 35 -

What do I have to do to make this wondrous script work on my computer?

#97 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:08 PM:

Anybody need a typing-powered USB hamster wheel?

#98 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:45 PM:

Possibly I read Augustine too early in life (is graduate school too early?), but it always seemed to me that Foucault and Derrida insisting that you were always trapped in a web of language and had no way out foundered on the very simple reason that eventually you got down to things, which were not signs, and so you had some soil in which to plant the Tree of Language.

Sure, there are difficulties in finding, and sometimes you have to teach someone for about twenty years before they understand, or even have a chance to try and understand, what you're talking about -- but that doesn't mean you can't talk.

Meaning can be communicated. Knowledge has a foundation. Truth can be known.

(Admittedly, as Kipling's poem has it, sometimes she has to ask her sister Fiction to help.)

#99 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:00 AM:

What is truth?

(Palm leaf? Rope? Tree trunk? Wall?)

#100 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:31 AM:

Tony #98 - the Foucauldian and Derridian response is that you don't know they are things - just your sensory impressions of things. The less tongue-in-cheek version is that things are all very nice, but they have different meanings (positions in the semantic networks) for different people. Some linguistic elements we all agree on fairly well (chair, automobile) where others we agree on less (elephant [a bow to Kip there], computer) and some we might agree nearly not at all (liberal, torture [to be topical]). If all people's interpretive pathways from the word to the "base truth" (which I use here as a notational shortcut, hoping we agree enough!) were he same, Foucault and Derrida would have little to say. But the reality is that our experience of the base truths differ, and as we get further away from concrete objects discussion becomes more difficult and more likely to hang up on the semantics of the words themselves.
I think there is value in examining our usage and treatment of language because words encompass more than just one path from concrete things to the particular word we use. If we want to communicate well with others it's useful to know how their 'language' differs from our own, even if we all speak english.

#101 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:33 AM:

Good God! Take my wine away. I've become an apologist for post-modernism. That's a frightful thought to take to bed!

#102 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:43 AM:

Juli Thompson, #96

Step the first: be a Firefox user.
Next, go to http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/ and click the "Install Greasemonkey" link which is cleverly disguised as step 2 on an instruction list. This will likely bring up a yellow bar at the top of the window complaining about an untrusted website trying to install an extension. Click the button on the right side of that bar to give the website permission, then click the install link again.
Restart Firefox.
Go to the script page, http://www.molehill.org/~jtl/userscripts/makinglight-read-comments.user.js . There should be a yellow bar at the top of the window telling you this is a userscript and offering a button labelled something close to "install user script". Click that button.
Enjoy!

If you aren't using Firefox, there are some options which _may_ work. I don't have experience with any of them and haven't tested this script with them, so they may not be something you want to try. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greasemonkey#Greasemonkey_equivalents_for_other_browsers for everything I know about those other choices.

#104 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:55 AM:

Alton Verm?

"Higher Worm?" or maybe "Raised the pest?"

I feel my knee stretching. Just a bit.

#105 ::: Kathryn in Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:09 AM:

Paul @101,

Never mind the apologetics. The fact that I don't have the language to distinguish between post-modernists and wrfdwk-theory,* is a prime example of how language affects one's ability to see differences.

* Other than one is driven by the French and the other by a 35,000 year old Atlantian.

All-
After reading the news, I feel like a nutbar ala conspiracy theorist.

So, what's the recipe for that type of nut bar? I'm thinking something like a Nanaimo bar crossed with Schadenfreude Pie.

#106 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:24 AM:

Re the colour red: I can see it, but because I have some weird form of what used to be known as "colour-blindness", I see it in strange places. The strangest such place would be when I look at particularly lush, well-maintained grass or lawn. Bright red grass. Lovely stuff.

Folk have asked me here and there how I can possibly know what "red" looks like, and I explain that when I was a wee nipper, years ago, when I learned about colours, I locked away that impression of red. So now I see it on postboxes, where it belongs, and on grass, where it doesn't.

EXCEPT when I see grass/lawn on TV or in movies, when it appears truly green, often vividly, disorientingly so. It looks *wrong*. Makes me want to adjust the colour settings on the telly.

As to the "native islanders couldn't see Columbus' ships" thing: I've heard the same thing said about the biologists who accompanied Captain Cook on his visit to Australia in the 18th century. They apparently had great conceptual trouble with seeing the thoroughly alien wildlife abundant here, resulting in some very odd illustrations. I'm inclined to think they just couldn't draw that well.

All the same, this whole discussion about the philosophy of science, semiotics, perception, etc, is fascinating stuff. Am really enjoying it.

#107 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:01 AM:

#97 ::: Marilee ::-- "Anybody need a typing-powered USB hamster wheel?"

Not I. (Thanks for the delightful link, however.) But I've often wondered about the practicality or possibility of a hamster (or other pet rodent) -powered wheel to generate enough electricity (into a storage-battery) to power, say, a lap-top computer. Perhaps several fut-ball runners would be required, though I'm reasonably certain Tom Digby or Jon Singer could do a fine LED cage-ornament for a single hamster.


#108 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:52 AM:

I have a reading-recommendations request.

What books should I look at it for current perspectives on the history of insane asylums? And if I want (pro or anti) screeds that aren't by Foucault or Szasz, who should I look at? Thanks.

#109 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 08:07 AM:

Kip Manley #99: Truth is that which, regardless how hard we try, we cannot deny.

#110 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 08:25 AM:

For example, remember that the terms "date rape" and "sexual harrasment" are relatively new*, and before they existed it was difficult to describe certain kinds of suffering inflicted on a person in a way that did not suggest that it was their fault.

But "difficult" is not the same as "impossible", and circumlocutions can always be made.

Understand, I think S-W is interesting and that the weak form is even likely to be true. But the idea that someone can't see something just through lacking a word for it? Nope. That's right out.

#111 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:00 AM:

46: the map is not the thing mapped.

I liked Koestler's version of this.
A telephone number doesn't look like the person you're calling (yeah, I know, his original comparison was more graceful than this poorly reworked extracted bit, but still).
And it was a mind opener when I read it as a kid.

53: I wish I had learned in high school that poetry is the highest form of word play, instead of learning it as the dullest form of pedantry.

One of my motto in high-school was :"There's nothing better than literature classes to kill-off literature", even with a motivated, competent teacher and an at least mildly willing class.
I used to believe it was a defect of the schooling system, until I much later started understanding that when a defect survives every reforms you can throw at it, it's not a "defect" but a wanted/structurally necessary effect.
I'd love to think it was the later in the case of school.

But then I guess it can be both, depending on which level you're looking at things.

62 :That sounds like Orwell's newspeak idea that people wouldn't experience love if the word was removed from their vocabulary.

Love as always been one big, unsolvable problem for me, since I've never believed in it, never seen it, never felt it, yet I have to acknowledge it does hold an influence on my world.

I've come to the conclusion that it works somehow like some online adds sites, where they charge you a supplement for highlighting. On a purely basic level, it may looks like theft, as there's absolutely no additional cost involved for the site, but just the very fact of charging the service, of presenting what really is nothing as a service, makes it actually become a service. It changes the value of other adds in the market.

I think love works the same way. It doesn't exist, but just posing its existence changes everything.

In that way, suppressing the word "love" (and all words and expression associated), if it can be done, is in effect suppressing the experience of it.

Well, that's the point of view of a bordering sociopath. Make of it what you will.

67: So, theoretically, if someone didn't understand the concept of "insurgency", they wouldn't be able to see it?

Well,I can see two main cases with "someone" not understanding the concept of insurgency (which means there are at the very least a dozen more the brilliant people around here will point out later, if they're interested):

1)"Someone" has no understanding of any form of central authority. An "insurgency", then, can be perceived as one group of gathered people attacking others, or claiming territorial ownership over lands/buildings not belonging to them.

2)"Someone" lives in a society (I tend to picture it religious, in the broader sense, say, like french IIIeme Republique was a religious experiment, but I guess it's not a necessity) where rebellion against central authority is taboo. An "insurgency" would probably then mostly be perceived as the sacrilege act of revolt against authority (damn I hope sacrilege can be used as an adjective in english).

In both cases, "someone" doesn't see exactly the same thing as one who owns the exact concept of "insurgency".

I love to think the tool offered by buddhism of thinking of conscience as just another sense addresses the point nicely.

70:Were I to nominate one pole of our mysterious third axis as Sexuality, what would its opposite be?

I'm almost tempted to answer humor, but then my world would become a bit sadder.

#112 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:01 AM:

in #86 ::: Jon H asked:

Any Mac users have an application they wish existed, which doesn't?

The vast majority of mac applications that I wish existed probably already do, particularly as open source projects that really really need a gui wrapped around them. (Open Office, I'm looking at you!)

An equivalent to windirstat (or sequoia view) would be nice. There's a number of file management 'enhancements' that may even exist in osx that I'm not aware of that I would love to have integrated. (Mass move and rename according to specific rules, export-as-csv/text for directory listings, etc.)

I could really use an itunes for html files. I've got snippets of research saved from all kinds of sites as html, and organizing thousands of tiny little files is not my thing. Something that would help me do that as well as itunes manages the thousands of tiny little music files I have would be awesome. I know spotlight can do tagging, but I'd like something that actually moves files around instead of tagging them. Eight desktop migrations and countless partially overlapping backups in ten years has led to a lot of "I know I used to have that..." stuff, and a lot of files that no longer are meaningfully associated with programs. Tracking, searching, versioning, and archiving - without user intervention - is my biggest need by far.

I realize that with automator, or with nifty command line batch files, or with grep and cat and pipe I could probably learn to do these things, but frankly, I'm hoping for something designed by someone smarter than me.

A lot of this is inspired by this from kitenet

I'm a fan of the unix tools philosophy, but I sometimes wonder if there's much room for new tools to be added to that toolbox. I've always wanted to come up with my own general-purpose new unix tool.
Well, after lots of feedback documented in the many followups (1 2 3) in my blog, I've concluded: Maybe the problem isn't that no-one is writing them, or that the unix toolspace is covered except for specialised tools, but that the most basic tools fall through the cracks and are never noticed by people who could benefit from them.
And so the moreutils collection was born, to stop these programs from falling through the cracks.
Wrapping a gui around these tools, heck, that would be awesome!

#113 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:04 AM:

Strange, I don't remember that � being in my name when I posted.

An it doesn't appear in the comments.

Must be the "²" character causing problems again, I guess.

MD²

#114 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:05 AM:

From the They thought they were free particle: And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

There's a wonderful bit of nasty description in Sebastian Haffner's Defying Hitler (written in 1939) that shows not all Germans identified with or trusted Hitler. From pages 71-72:

Hitler himself, his past, his character and his speeches were still rather a handicap for the movement that gathered around him. In 1930, he was still widely regarded as a somewhat embarrassing figure with a dismal past: the Munich saviour of 1923, the man of the grotesque beer-cellar putsch. Besides, for ordinary (and not only 'clever') Germans, his personal appearance was thoroughly repellent -- the pimp's forelock, the hoodlum's elegance, the Viennese suburban accent, the interminable speechifying, the epileptic behaviour with its wild gesticulations, foam at the mouth, and the alternately shifty and staring eyes. And then there were the contents of those speeches: the delight in threats and in cruelty, the bloodthirsty execution fantasies. Most of those who began to acclaim Hitler at the Sportpalast in 1930 would probably have avoided asking for a light if they had met him in the street. That was the strange thing: their fascination with the boggy, dripping cesspool he represented, repulsiveness taken to extremes.

#115 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:19 AM:

Fragano, #109: No, it isn’t. —But you probably saw that coming. Forgive me; it is early here, and I haven’t had my coffee yet.

#116 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:40 AM:

rhandir --

Wrapping a gui around the basic unix tools breaks them; they operate on patterns, and a GUI for the pattern is difficult, fragile, and ultimately breaks them, too, even if you stick to POSIX. (There are extensions to the file globs based on which shell you're using, the shells are programming languages, and the utilities assume there's a shell, too, if the patterns aren't enough fun.)

If I want to mass move all the png files from hither to yon, with both hither and yon being directories under the current directory, it's

mv hither/*png yon

Which is being really simple with the patterns.

for x in hither/*png; do convert -geometry 550 $x yon/${x#hither\/}; done

Puts all the png files in yon after calling the convert utility to scale them to a maximum of 550 pixels wide.

How is the poor GUI designer going to know you want to use that particular utility, and cope with it (couple hundred!) command line options?

#117 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Graydon,

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so glib in my requests. I know what I ask for is impossible to do perfectly, very very difficult to do well, and altogether poorly described by me.

I don't mean, "take each unix tool and wrap a separate gui around it like a jellybean" I mean something more similar to "take predetermined groups of unix tools and glob a gui around them that informs the user to their possible uses while letting them use some of the GUI interaction metaphors such as windowing, dragging & dropping, checkboxes, drop downs, autocomplete, etc.

Here's my far-fetched fantasy: what if you represented different tools as, say, legos, that you could drag-n-drop in order of execution, that you could type directly onto or pick switches for out of a dropdown, where hovering over each element would let you access the appropriate bit of man page. Once you've completed assembly, but before execution, you can hit the "sanity check" button to find out wether or not resizing twelve million pngs will actually bring your system to a halt, or merely lock you out of it for three days. Sounds like a goosed-up config or batch file, doesn't it? That's kinda where I am at - I'd rather exchange CLI speed and simplicity for GUI sloth and verbosity.*

-r.
*verbosity, not stupidity. Drag and drop for file management for instance is stupid because it fails outside of really simple cases. Not being able to select subsets of files with a mouse pointer from multiple nested folders and then store that selection as a variable you can manipulate at the command line is...unhelpful.

#118 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:22 PM:

Teresa, the particle from They Thought They Were Free is amazing and quite chilling. Literally. Thank you for posting it. Folks, if you haven't looked at it yet, please do.

#119 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:31 PM:

Thanks, Lizzy. Feedback is much appreciated.

This morning I was oppressed by the idea that my posts and Particles have been too unrelievedly grim of late, so I dug four amusements out of my unused Particles stash and put them up. Thirty seconds later, I heard Patrick start laughing.

#120 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:37 PM:

Teresa,

I second Lizzy's thanks for that article. I'm getting ready to go out protesting right now, and reading that has made taking the afternoon off feel less like a choice and more like a duty.

I'm inspired.

Thank you!

#121 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:14 PM:

As a life coach, I get paid to help someone shape their thoughts and all I have for acces is language.

Sure, but the S-W Hypothesis states (again, in a somewhat cartoon version) that the structure and vocabulary of the language you speak makes certain thoughts possible and others not possible.

Language gives you the framework in which you model the world. Language and models are both representational. They are not the thing itself. And the model you think inside of gives your relationship to the world.

That isn't to say that anything outside the model is impossible to consider. Life coaching is really nothing more than figuring out what someone's model is, and then figuring out how to get them to adopt a different model that gives them more opportunities. So, if it were impossible to change your model or your language, we'd still think the world is flat and be living in trees.

But there is something to the notion that the model you use gives you your relationship to the world. And if it turns out that your model has some deficiency, it may take a bit of work to identify the deficiency, keep what works, develop a new model, and transition from the old to the new model.

I wouldn't say that the native Americans would not have been able to see the big ships from the Old World, but upon seeing them, I think there was a lot of adjustments being made to the models people used.

#122 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Kip Manley #115: That's not true. :-)

#123 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:56 PM:

rhandir --

What you're asking for is a really hard problem, because the GUI has to present meaning. (If all it's doing is listing the names of command line switches and a tick box it's just slowing you down.)

People have tried to do it; no one's managed it.

I suspect that this has a lot to do with the metaphors being incompatible.

The fundamental Unix command line metaphor is plumbing -- pipes, valves, and filters -- and is fundamentally ordered.

The fundamental GUI metaphor is the physical relationship of discrete objects.

Those two metaphor sets don't map on to each other at all; notably, the two notions of position just don't resolve.

A GUI interface to some sort of generalized stream processor is plausible, but you're going to need to convince several geniuses that it's a good idea to get a good one.

The other known-useful metaphors are trees (SGML, XML, XSL) and bins (relational databases are based on set theory -- all of these things are alike in that... etc.); both of those took several geniuses, too.

#124 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 02:02 PM:

Sexuality ------------ Solipsism would be my guess.

#125 ::: Nick Fagerlund ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 02:03 PM:

JESR@95: Wow, your geo-fu is strong. Yes, Evergreen Valley. (Kelly's Corner, really, but that's barely a rounding error.)

#126 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Sam (#124), now that would make for an interesting continuum...certainly better than MD²'s depressing suggestion (#111).

It suggests to me a neologism project: a word for someone who prefers multi-partner sex to the exclusion of binary sex. Actually, I'd expect the cultures that are most likely to produce such individuals already have a name for it...

#127 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:59 PM:

thanks for someone for tweaking the lj rss feed to make it work again.

I find that mellow black teas with milk and sugar (vanilla, caramel, etc.) go well with historical fiction or non-fiction, fruit teas with high, light-hearted fantasy, lambic with urban fantasy and space opera, and strong black with sugar for crunchingly hard sf. But those are serious generalizations, and generally depend on what pot of tea i've made for the afternoon before I pick up the book.

I know Foucault is what can be referred to as massivly important and I even know why. But after having him mentioned and almost shoved down my throat in 2/3rds of my classes for 4 years, I see his name and start running the other way...or at least tune out everything else that is said. As a medievalist I want to take some of his more...interesting theories of medieval childhhod/child-raising practices and banish them, never to darken the whiteboard of a classroom again. His history is being taught as fact still, even when subsequent research has proven him wrong. /rant.

#128 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:14 PM:

Kelly's Corner, really, but that's barely a rounding error

Well, it's traditionally the ultimate western extent of Evergreen Valley, and where the Yelm bus always turned around; my sister went to grade-school with Wann Kelley's eldest daughter.

Strange where you meet people who know exactly what "Kelley's Corner" means, or, say, understand what it's like to live with constant artillary fire.

#129 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:21 PM:

Sisuile
re: #127

There's actually a footnote in my dissertation that is there *only* to explain why I haven't used Foucault at all.

Because without it, it's all anyone would have asked.

And that--even 6 years post-degree--makes me want to drink something much stronger than black tea with milk in it.

#130 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Those clip-art coffins strike me as just plain sick.

#131 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 05:48 PM:

The childrens' coffins look like something you'd get at Ikea.

They'd almost look at home in a kid's room, as a toy box or something you'd put at the foot of a bed to store linens.

A college friend lost his little boy last year. Just awful; I can't imagine any parent, after such a loss, being in the mood to get something so darn cheerful.

#132 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 06:04 PM:

The kids' coffins only made me depressed. Not a matter of taste, just thinking about the people who need them. (If Sarah had come up and asked me what they were, I was ready to say they were toy boxes.) Hm, and earlier today I read a detailed synopsis of Grave of the Fireflies, too.

In happier news, I found one of Mike Ford's books at the used book store next to the dentist. In less happy news, I still have a dentist headache.

#133 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 06:17 PM:

Art Caskets are almost as bad -- at least they held off on the kids line. When my time comes, I would prefer this from these folks.

#134 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 06:33 PM:

In case I am ever shot down by Germans while flying a fighter plane, please buy me the Spitfire coffin.

#135 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:38 PM:

Teresa -- thanks for the new set of particles; the leavening is greatly appreciated -- and now I can be certain I didn't imagine the television show QED .

With reference to this morning's links -- I ask the assembled: how does one decide when it is necessary or appropriate to get out? From analogy with the 1930s: at some point, it became desirable to leave pre-war Germany, if you could do so gracefully. Later, even a graceless exit was appropriate. And somewhat after that, of course, it was impossible.

How can one see the tipping point at which political opposition is no longer useful, and the best solution is to up stakes and go?

#136 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Jon H.:

Any Mac users have an application they wish existed, which doesn't?

The non-bitter answer: I want a utility like the one in the word processor the Z88 had that will show me the page layout as a tiny page with a pixel for each character so I can get a better feel as to how the entire page will look.

The bitter answer: a version of Newton Connection Utilities that will run under OS X. And no, Escale doesn't count: the original programmer made it open source and then dumped out of it because he didn't have time or incentives to work on it. I've used it, and it's not what I would call stable. When I go to a dual-core Mac I'm going to have to run an OS 9 emulator just to talk to my Newton...

Kip W.:

The kids' coffins only made me depressed. Not a matter of taste, just thinking about the people who need them. (If Sarah had come up and asked me what they were, I was ready to say they were toy boxes.) Hm, and earlier today I read a detailed synopsis of Grave of the Fireflies, too.

A few days after we'd seen Grave of the Fireflies, Amy Thomson came up behind me in a local candy store and made a rattling sound, followed by a shout of "Bruce, look!" I turned around and she was shaking a tin box of Meiji Candy at me.

I don't remember my exact reply, but think it was something along the lines of "You Sick F-Word."

This will leave those who've never seen the film absolutely at sea. Everybody else is probably saying "You Sick F-Word" very loudly.

#137 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 10:30 PM:

how does one decide when it is necessary or appropriate to get out?

First of all, the basic engineering economics concept need be introduced: Sunk Cost.

Say you go to movietickets.com and preorder a nonrefundable ticket for a movie that's playing later tonight. Then an hour later, a good friend tells you the movie sucked and now you're not sure if you should go see the movie or not. The cost paid for the ticket is a sunk cost. It shouldn't enter into your decision because no option allows you to get that cost back. Either (1) you paid for the ticket and see a lousy movie or (2) you paid for the ticket and do something else with your time.

Those are your only two options, and no matter what, you can't recover the sunk cost.

Politicians and emotionally involved citizens will plead for the sunk costs of war. We've lost so many lives, we can't give up now.

A good leader will ignore the sunk costs and choose the past that gives the best outcome currently available, regardless of prior losses.

Lower ranking folks in the military will resent being thrown into the breach only to get beaten up and evacuated. i was watching a TV program about Black Hawk Down, and a special ops guy was complaining that the US pulled out after all the American soldiers were recovered, rather than staying and fighting the warlord Aidid. Whether the best thing was to stay and continue the fight or pull out, this man was arguing for the Sunk Cost to be considered part of the decision.

You should honor your people for their service, and honor those who gave their lives, but that doesn't mean getting MORE people killed because you can't consider pulling out. That leads to a catch-22, no-option-but-win-and-conquer, mentality. And sometimes winning isn't possible.

Once you clear the sunk cost off of the table and out of the decision making process, you're left with present and future results only. So then you take all your possible options and list possible gains and possible losses. Stay? Pull out?

Is it even possible to stay and win? What's the cost if you stay and lose? What happens if you pull out? These get considered without considering the sunk costs. Then you choose the best one, and when the Commander in Chief tells you to do the dumbest option available because it's election year, and a pullout would look "weak", well, there you have it.

#138 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 10:35 PM:

It has become a Departmental Goal (tm) among the pre-modern advisies to *not* mention him in our theses. Thankfully, I did the cultural origins of Elizabethan and Jacobean private-sphere embroideries. People didn't think it strange that I didn't mention Foucault. The guy who did children and religion in the reformation era had to work at it, though.

May I suggest hot chocolate with liqueur? Its gotten me through several of my classes where we dealt with him.

#139 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 10:45 PM:

Greg -- a fascinating and thoughtful reply.

However, the question I intended to ask, and hedged about with circumlocution, is a very different one. More starkly:

At what point should I quit a job I like very well, pack up my household, and move out of the United States, lest my family be caught up by a national descent into dictatorship? I ask the question now, because now it's probably still safe to ask it. In the future... well, with the writ of habeas corpus suspended permanently, all bets are off.

#140 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 10:53 PM:

I've made my decision: regardless of what the future holds, I'm staying here in America.

#141 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:20 PM:

At what point should I ... move out of the United States,

Ah, I've been at work too long. I think it's time to go home soon.

Your question is about as easy as asking
"when should I get a divorce?"
which is to say, if you loved your spouse at
some point, and are on rocky times, when do
you stick it out and when do you say enough's
enough?

If you're in physical danger, you're spouse
is abusive or potentially abusive, then get out.

Beyond that, there is a lot of grey area that
I don't think comes with any sort of set answer,
other than, maybe,
"have you stopped loving your country?"

I don't mean the government or state or whatever,
but the people in the country. Sometimes I think
of certain people in the country as my in-laws
or extended family. They sort of come with the
package.

It's not any easier a question than
"when do I leave?", but that's what it
boils down to. If you're in danger, get out.
And if you no longer love the people, leave.
And those are both questions you have to figure
out for yourself.

Time to go home....

#142 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:04 AM:

I had a conversation on just this topic about 2 years ago with a friend. She pointed out to me that there were two kinds of Jews, and that she was the kind of Jew who, when it got dangerous to hang around, sewed diamonds into her sleeves and made sure her passport was up to date and in an accessible place. I said there was no way in hell that I was going to let George Bush run me out of my own country.

She said, with infinite and loving sadness, "Ah, you're the other kind of Jew."

No way in hell will I let George Bush run me out of my own country.

#143 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:11 AM:

Skwid at #126: that seems to imply that polynomial sex is somehow more sexual than binary sex. Which can't be the case, because then in a threesome the first person is constant, the second variable, and the third a square.

#144 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Victor S #135, #139:
How can one see the tipping point at which political opposition is no longer useful, and the best solution is to up stakes and go?

The day after Hindenburg broke the electoral deadlock and awarded the chancellorship to Hitler, Leo Szilard left Germany for England. En route, he stopped in Hungary to warn his relatives to leave Europe. He could see the future.

But then, Szilard was a very smart man.

I'm not smart enough to know the answer to your question, but it's frightening enough that it's been asked, and equally frightening that we have to think about the correct answer to the question.

#145 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:25 AM:

rhandir wants: Here's my far-fetched fantasy: what if you represented different tools as, say, legos, that you could drag-n-drop in order of execution, ...

Automator is sorta kinda near what you want.

#146 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 01:16 AM:

Claude, #133, my mother asked for a plain wooden coffin but when my father and I got to the funeral home, they were much more expensive than the metal ones. I was able to convince Dad that Mother meant she wanted a cheap casket, not that she really wanted wood. It was a nice green metal casket.

Victor, #139, I don't think any other countries would take me.

#147 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:17 AM:

Charles Dodgson (#72) wrote:

> Which might explain how, for instance, Europeans trying to draw a picture of a surfer wind up drawing a guy standing on a board; they're drawing everything about the scene they can remember, but they didn't note the posture at the time, and can't reproduce it later. Likewise, it's not reasonable to suppose that a Carib indian saw a distortion of the water when looking at Columbus's ships, but perhaps more reasonable to suppose that they'd see a large wooden boat with lots of people in it, but not make note of (or remember later) details of the rigging that would have been immediately obvious and memorable to a European.

It's interesting to see what early English born landscape painters made of Australia. The trees in their picture are clearly not Australian, but a distorted version of the artists internal vision of what a tree is supossed to look like. And these were people living in the same country as the trees in question.

#148 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:09 AM:

Have people here read Tom Leonard's Reports from the Present?

(Begin ridiculously short and nasty caricature.)

One of the the essays in it is about the evils of Literature as a Subject, and more generally Art as taught in schools.

Essentially, he says that, because schools have to reduce things to a test, then the schools have to reduce Art to a code, a marking schedule.

This, by turning Art into a test, then turns Art into, essentially, a tool of repression, whereby those who have control over Art use it to repress the speech of those who don't.

(End ridiculously short and nasty caricature.)

A variant of this essay can be fund in the Introduction to Radical Renfrewshire.

As to the "native islanders couldn't see Columbus' ships" thing: I've heard the same thing said about the biologists who accompanied Captain Cook on his visit to Australia in the 18th century. They apparently had great conceptual trouble with seeing the thoroughly alien wildlife abundant here, resulting in some very odd illustrations. I'm inclined to think they just couldn't draw that well.

Or, it coud be that when you draw the cat sitting next to you on the chair, you do not rely purely on the actual, real, cat there. You use the knowledge you of have of cats in general, and then combine it with the specific features of that cat to arrive at a reasonable approximation.

Cook's biologists didn't have that luxury; they saw a kangaroo, they just didn't have enough background knowledge about the marsupial anatomy to draw it well.

That's why life drawing is taught as a separate skill from, for example, still life: people are different from cats which are different from oaks which are different from kangaroos which are different from gum trees.

However, from the point of view of a camera, they are all the same.

#149 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:20 AM:

Coffins:

I must admit I find myself attracted to the awfulness of some of these, if it were only taken a little further. I think you know what I mean - instead of just boring old dolphins, the dolphins should be jumping over a rainbow, and the rainbow is in outer space, which is full of purple nebulae with flying unicorns!! Or, for tragic and serious, the recent J. Rowland opus: "Terri Schiavo is flying the Hindenburg which has the space shuttle Challenger and the Titanic stuck to it and it crashes into the World Trade Center, which is full of dolphins. Also nearby there is an eagle watching and he begins to weep."

I hope you all looked around the site enough to find the offering of framed pictures - taken from the coffin designs - with a concealed container behind for the cremation ashes. Just the thing to decorate your breakfast nook.

What are these people thinking?!

#150 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:29 AM:

Security Theatre

Is it just me, or does the phrase conjure up images of villains speaking in iambic pentameters?


For Mike is dead, and hath not breath for prose,
No verse shall come, no verbal barbed rose.

#151 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:26 AM:

Dave @150,

And does one have the right to yell "Liar" in a security theater?

(... lie #34: having all 5,000 David Nelsons on a watch-list makes us safer. Lie #35: not allowing patients to bring eyedrops in August made us safer...)

#152 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 08:49 AM:

Dave Bell #150:

our enemies are subtly evil men
we keep them in camp delta with good reason
if freed they'd fight with us again
and to say otherwise is arrant treason

now when three of them simply hang themselves
an act forbidden by their sacred text
we say that they were not kind gentle elves
entitled by some evil to be vexed

rather we reach into our vault of lore
to find an answer that would outrage sense
their suicides were a vile act of war
any distress was dissembling and pretence

traitors to freedom speak thus and why
should we be astonished when they lie?

#153 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:13 AM:

news: 60 minutes has a copy of the no fly list. As expected, it has...flaws.

Schneier has a summary.

#154 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:37 PM:

Kathryn @#151:

I was told recently, while purchasing two pairs of black tights using my Lane Bryant charge card, and having to show ID for the $20 purchase:

"We just have to be more careful since 9/11!"

So now you know: the terrorists are undermining our security buying plus sized clothing with fake credit cards.

#155 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Since someone mentioned Principia Discordia, two thoughts:

One, timing is synchronous because boingboing and others have been announcing that Robert Anton Wilson is not in good health lately.

Two, a new wrinkle on the Golden Apple concept:
I just picked up a book about Converso (cryptically Jewish) writing during the Spanish Inquisition times, and it talks about what Maimonides said about "apples of gold within filigrees of silver" as metaphor for the fact that much cryptic literature has deeper meanings behind the ordinary ones. (and consequently it's possible to speak cryptically under the eyes of the oppressors) This is not the same thing as the Golden Apple of Eris that R A Wilson picks up from Greek mythology. But what if it is?

#156 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Bruce @ #136: A few days after we'd seen Grave of the Fireflies, Amy Thomson came up behind me in a local candy store and made a rattling sound, followed by a shout of "Bruce, look!" I turned around and she was shaking a tin box of Meiji Candy at me.

Was it one of these special tins?

(IIRC from hearsay, before the movie, the candy had been a rather old-fashioned product that had nearly disappeared from stores and the original tin-box packaging had gone obsolete long ago; as a result of the movie, the candy regained popularity and was restored to its original tins. Usually not the BoingBoinged special tie-in ones, though.)

#157 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Rob Oldendorf @ 144: The day after Hindenburg broke the electoral deadlock and awarded the chancellorship to Hitler, Leo Szilard left Germany for England.

This was pretty unusual, though. (Well, you said he was smart.) I've talked to people who stayed in Germany for a surprisingly long time, who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. I've even talked to someone who left only when the Gestapo came to their house to ask some questions.

Which, of course, doesn't answer the question of when it's time to leave a country. Going by some historical examples the question could be called alarmist; going by others you're just being cautious. Keep an eye out, would be my advice, and work to see to it that the question doesn't become more urgent.

#158 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:23 PM:

Bruce D @ 136, I was going to mention the special tins, but Julie L @ 156 has trumped me. I'm having to choose these days between having 2/3 of a life and reading Making Light. I'm still vacillating.

#159 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Victor S #139: At what point should I quit a job I like very well, pack up my household, and move out of the United States, lest my family be caught up by a national descent into dictatorship? I ask the question now, because now it's probably still safe to ask it. In the future... well, with the writ of habeas corpus suspended permanently, all bets are off.

When the country you live in no longer matches the country you have in your heart.

#160 ::: nobody at all, really ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Need a little help here. In a discussion on abortion issues this pro-choice position was presented:
"overturning Roe v. Wade would be bad because it would lead to government regulation of people's bodies"
It was pointed out that this is a slippery slope arguement that lacks practical legal analysis about would happen next, that asserting that more bad/more intrusive government control as a bad outcome isn't proved by this statement. It is easy to imagine bad scenarios, but hard to find pragmatic advice about what would happen.

Can someone give me a link to a discussion of the legal practicalities of restricting abortion rights?

#161 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:28 PM:

I've been looking at the constellation Capricorn through my binoculars for the last few nights since the moon moved away east, hoping to see Neptune, a planet I've never seen. The magic of the web as instantiated at Your Sky told me exactly where to look, halfway between Iota and 29 Capricorni, but no luck. The sky here isn't dark enough.

The moon has moved still further East (as it does) so tonight I looked at Gamma Aquarii, and there was Uranus! Another planet I'd never seen before, and there it was, just South of Gamma Aquarii!

Hey everyone, I can see Uranus!

#162 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Overturning Roe v. Wade* would not put the ~Federal~ government into the business of regulating abortions or women's bodies.

What it WOULD do is put the regulation (or banning) of abortion back into the hands of the States. Now, some States would ban abortion, others would allow some types and ban others, and there might be a few that wouldn't set any restrictions at all (not bloody likely).

*I am not in favor of SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade.

#163 ::: JillC ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 05:01 PM:

#86, Jon H. - you might take a look at My Dream App - it's a currently running contest, but some of the already-eliminated apps are interesting, and in many cases were thought of by people without the skills to make them actually happen.

#164 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Greg London, way back at #137, I get the Depressing Haiku of Lostness when I click your link, and a search of the archives doesn't help. I'd like to find out a little more about this Sunk Cost concept, since we just did a huge project at work that may turn out to be pointless, and it would be useful to apply this concept to the inevitable bad "but we put so much work into it already!" ideas that will shortly ensue if stuff goes pear-shaped...

#165 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Open Thread, new topic:

Either my fuel gauge has given up the ghost, or I got siphoned tonight.

Does anyone have experience with having their gas stolen? Should I bother calling the police? I'm not even sure it -was- stolen, since it could be the car malfunctioning (the Goldsmobile has reached the age where the first assumption is "I wonder what's broken this time.")

I suppose I could go to the gas station and see how much I can put in the car, since I fillled it last night and it was reading below a quarter tank when I got home tonight, and if it actually takes more than three gallons then I know some is missing. But then I'd disturb any evidence on the gas cap. If there is evidence on the gas cap. I'd think there wouldn't be since anyone smart enough to know the price of gas would use gloves to steal it so as not to get it on their skin. Wouldn't they?

Any ideas?

#166 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 07:46 PM:
I'd like to find out a little more about this Sunk Cost concept
The Wikipedia page looks reasonably good (I did skim parts, so if it says something stupid in one of them, my apologies).
#167 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 08:26 PM:

Julie L., Kip W. No it was a regular tin. Which was bad enough: you could have spotted the design across the room. A picture of poor Setsuko on the box--URK.

#168 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 08:31 PM:

Thena at 165: I have no idea where you live, but my guess is your local police are too damn busy to spend much (if any) time looking for someone who siphoned 3 gallons out of your gas tank. If you think it might happen again, get a locking cap.

Some unhappy person took a pipe/rock/brick to the rear windshields of four parked cars in my neighborhood about 2 years ago. Mine was one. I called the cops because I figured my insurance would want me to. The windshield was replaced. The cops were sympathetic -- so was my insurance agent -- but we all knew the vandal would never be found.

#169 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 08:38 PM:

Lizzy @#168

Actually, this is a smallish town and the cops still show up, eventually, for noise violations.

If gas was stolen, it was about $30 worth. Which may not be much to some people, but it's enough to make me wonder.

Not like calling the cops would result in my gas reappearing, mind you, but it's the principle of the thing.

(A year ago, I would have said, eh, screw it, there's nobody bleeding and nothing's on fire, the cops have better things to do, but local provincialism does rub off on a person...)

#170 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:54 PM:

Thena, by all means call the cops. Hey, what do I know? Just don't expect CSI...:-)

#171 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:28 PM:

MDA@113: the glyphs you quote (which I'm not going to try to reproduce) look like a byte-order mark, suggesting that wherever your name came from thought it might be talking to a system with a different way of representing characters -- or wanted to be sure that the way it encoded the superscript '2' would be understood. No, I'm not an expert, just somebody who got pitched in the deep end.

#172 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:40 PM:

Janet @164,

"Sunk costs are irrelevant" is a standard phrase of economics. The search "sunk costs" + "irrelevant" will get you a nice set of papers, lecture notes and case histories (more than 'sunk costs' alone).

It's an economist version of 'Think Like a Dinosaur.' It doesn't feel good, but that's irrelevant. If your product isn't going to get FDA approval, or your competition is going to sell their superior product at a price less than you can, it just doesn't matter that your company has sunk $50 million in R&D.

plus, it isn't a bad test for decisions in day-to-day life.

That you've already read 2/3rds of a dreadful book doesn't make finishing the book any better of an idea. Ditto if you've written 2/3rds of a dreadful story. It it isn't worth finishing it isn't worth continuing, not when there's so much else to read, or write.

#173 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:54 PM:

#164: Janet, my Sunk Cost post was here.

It links to the wikipedia article which explains it well too.

#174 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:07 PM:

I'd disturb any evidence on the gas cap.

Yeah, I'd have to go with the prior analysis that you're on your own about this.

I rented an apartment in a high end neighborhood (orbital level property taxes) years ago. Someone smashed my car window, but didn't take anything. Called the police. A cruiser showed up, looked around, and then filled out the paperwork with me. But even then, he didn't dust for prints or any of that TV-CSI stuff.

Then I bought a house in a place I could afford. (in atmo, but you don't need oxygen masks). My car was parked in front of my house and someone smashed into it, wiped out the back end, and took off. I called the police. waited. called an hour later. They said they'd call me later and give me an accident report number over the phone to give to my insurance company. That was it. No one was even going to look at anything.

My guess is that your gas cap will never get dusted for prints by professional law enforcement personell.

As it turns out, after I spoke with the police over the phone, I was plenty ticked off. Since no one is coming to look at anything, I start cleaning up the mess. bumper on the ground. headlight wreckage. Taillight wreckage. Then I found a sliver of a sticker, with part of a unique number on it. It was may a quarter inch wide. So then I go to the garage, get a shovel and start shoveling all the snow (ooh, did I mention it was winter?) and everything in it, into bags. I took the bags into the garage and let them sit overnight and let the snow melt.

Next day, I start combing through the wreckage and I find four pieces that jigsawed together to form a 1inch by 1 inch parking permit sticker. town name and permit number right there. So I tape them together, photocopy the whole thing, and then call the police and ask them if they'd be interested. They say yeah, fax it or drop it off. And they send a cruiser over to the guy's house that afternoon, with the front end all mashed in. The investigator said it had been the first time he'd seen something like that happen in all his years on the force.

#175 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:11 PM:

Lori #162
Overturning Roe v. Wade* would not put the ~Federal~ government into the business of regulating abortions or women's bodies.

The federal government in its Congressional branch could decide to do so. They've already tried (look up Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act). Lose Roe and nothing actually prevents this except the only-when-convenient view that all power not delegated to the feds is reserved to the states (except when the federal government doesn't want something to be.) I wouldn't rely on that being applied in this case.

What it WOULD do is put the regulation (or banning) of abortion back into the hands of the States. Now, some States would ban abortion, others would allow some types and ban others, and there might be a few that wouldn't set any restrictions at all (not bloody likely).

Visit the Naral website for a state-by-state listing.

I didn't choose to stay in Connecticut after college at random. While our laws on choice are not perfect, they're about as good as it gets. Connecticut wrote into law that the reproductive choice is solely a matter for a woman and her physician, and the year I moved here, the state court ruled that restricting abortions to those necessary to save the life of the mother violated the woman's right to due process and equal protection under the state constitution.

I feel relatively safe from my state government at least.

#176 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 01:13 AM:

I'm watching the season opener of Battlestar Galactica, and finding it almost unbearable.

But not because it is bad.

Damn them.

#177 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 01:46 AM:

Unhg . . .

Chinese health restaurant specializing in penises.

They claim that all of the tiger shlongs come from animals that died of old age. Mmmmmriiiigght.

#178 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 05:01 AM:

Stefan @176

Probably too late- but if you haven't finished watching it yet then stop. Yes, stop. Wait until tomorrow morning.

Some shows, some books, should only be read in the morning. So that you still have some daylight left when you leave the theater / tv room / chair.

Sharp swearword but I shouldn't have watched that just before bedtime.

#179 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 07:23 AM:

re: Battlestar Galactica

Sounds like I made the right decision to hold off until mid-season, see if the grim lets up.

NuBSG was just about on the edge of tolerable grimnosity for me before they got to New Caprica and everything rolled downhill.

Now, it sounds like it's a bit over the edge.

(This is not the same as saying it's bad - something can be great fiction, and still be too dark and grim for my tastes at a given time.)

#180 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 08:32 AM:

Stefan and Scott: Yeah, with Baltar as Dubya, it's been interesting. "No one was tortured!" Except no one has been holding a gun to his head.

#181 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 10:04 AM:

For the best example of sunk cost I know of, look at NEMO. The twenty million spent to try to make videotapes with almost-instant access for game playback instead of using videodiscs (this being pre-DVD's) is a sunk cost because the hardware never worked so there was nothing to sell to cover development costs. And later marketing two badly-reviewed games that were to be the kickoff releases for the console doesn't count. (I suspect they could have made a little cash off marketing the special tape material developed for high-speed VHS tapes, but I never heard of such a sale.)

#182 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:02 PM:

My apologies to anyone who's been staring at Gamma Aquarii looking for Uranus; I should have said Lambda Aquarii.

That is all.

#183 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 04:37 PM:

I watched BSG all the way through. I never tape it unless I have to. I never watch repeats. It is too intense. I watch it and get it over with, cringing and marveling that something like that could be on TV.

I did tape Dr. Who. That I'll watch and enjoy tonight.

#184 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 05:05 PM:

People who've never watched the new BSG think it will be like the old one, only better done. And they're not too interested. They stare with astonishment when I tell them it's some of the most intense gut-wrenching drama on television.

#185 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 05:25 PM:

About abortion and the overturning of Roe v. Wade;

The generous answer is that it depends on the administration.

The practical answer is that under this administration, a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade would be followed that night or the next morning by a Congressional act banning abortion in all US states and territories.

This administration federalizes everything, or tries to. Look at the history of medical marijuana, for instance, or gay marriage. Whenever the states become uncooperative, the federal government grabs the authority needed to stop divergent policies. You can write the rhetoric easily enough, too: why should the murder of children go unpunished in New York and California just because they're too wicked to admit their sin? One can expect any future Republican administration to do the same.

A future Democratic administration would perhaps try to set a new national standard of access, which Republican activists would then try to coopt into a national ban.

Under no circumstances I can easily imagine right now would the states be allowed to make their own laws on abortion. It's too pressing an issue to too many people; allowing state variation is going to mean allowing someone to get away with (depending on your concern) murder or tyranny.

#186 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 06:04 PM:

I've been putting together the ingredients for Schadenfreude Pie.

This morning I thought I picked up the Kahluha. (It took a bit of looking. Grocery and drug stores in Oregon have aisles of beer and wine, but nothing harder than that, and state (?) liquor stores are few and far between, and have names like "LIQUOR" and "LIQUOR" and don't advertise. I don't drink so I never memorized the locations of any. I had to borrow a yellow pages at a Fast Check sort of place. Finally found one . . . and there was an ex-coworker / wife of current co-worker behind the counter. Awkward.)

Anyway . . . any suggestions for interesting desserty things to make with Kaluha?

#187 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Stefan,
Cooks.com has 32 Kahlua desserts listed. I've never liked the stuff much, so I don't have any pet recipes for you.

#188 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 07:03 PM:

#174 et al,

I didn't call the police. I think my float is busted, since the gas gauge went from near empty (yesterday evening) to near full (this morning), and it's probably a demonstration of my native cynicism that I find ultra-speedy siphoners plausible but I just can't believe in Fuel Fairies (that come in the dead of night and refill your gas tank.)

So. Time to start keeping a mileage log again.

#189 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 07:30 PM:

? what just happened?

#190 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 07:32 PM:

Sorry, whoops, etc.

Sorry!

#191 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 07:56 PM:

Thena, in really hot weather, my fuel gauge shows less gas than there really is. Maybe yours is just weird, too.

#193 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 08:15 PM:

A fuel gauge behaving like that is likely to be a bad electrical connection, and they can be a tricky thing to sort out. I'm lucky; the last time I had the problem was on an ex-military Land Rover, and all you have to do is lift out the driver's seat cushion to get at the gauge wiring.

#194 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 09:12 PM:

Re #192: R.I.P. Wilson Tucker.

Sorry to hear this. I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago, remembering some of the Wilson Tucker novels. I think Time Masters was the title I was trying to remember: it featured the man who was the inspiration for Gilgamesh, resigned to living the last of his days and dying on contemporary Earth. Year of the Quiet Sun and The Lincoln Hunters (excellent time travel stories) also came up in that discussion.

Your link reminded me that I had read his short story collection Time:X too.

#195 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 01:04 AM:

See my notes. There will be more.

http://dragonet2.livejournal.com/

I do recall buying one of his books at a freshly-opened used bookstore here in KC, the owner asked why I'd buy a book by this writer. I said I'd have grandpa autograph it and then give it to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund auction.

I'm pretty much home alone this weekend except for my weekend job at the Renaissance Festival (which is a Good Thing, it keeps my mind occupied and not mourning), so I'm just kind of meditating and thinking things out.

Our local news email group, KDL@yahoogroups.com, has lots of memorial notes, I'm going to suggest they make a site to remember on their Web page, because Bob was a big supporter of fandom in Kansas City.

#196 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:05 AM:

Can any Battlestar Galactica fans point me to a good discussion / discussion board on BSG 3.0? i.e. where is the Making Light of BSG discussions? Haven't seen much on usenet or the blogs I usually read.

Especially one which has artful plot speculations (heck, spoilers with actual foreknowledge) on the next 15 chronological minutes of New Caprica. Last night's ending was stressful. Sleeploss inducing.

The SciFi.com board was mostly "if you're patriotic then bsg jumped the shark" "I am and it didn't" "did so"... The Americans taking bsg as merely a redo of current events remind me of the Carly Simon song 'You're so Vain': "you think this episode is all about you..." Don't they have any friends or relatives who lived under occupation elsewhere?

#197 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:27 AM:

I don't remember if I mentioned this here or not:

The guerilla-war-against-occupation-army -of-space-lizards started out as an adaptation of Sinclar Lewis's anti-fascist novel It Can't Happen Here.

#198 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:39 AM:

Whoops. Missing from 197:

". . . mini-series 'V' . . ."

#199 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 03:23 AM:

just finished reading "Spin".
yeah. thumbs up.

#200 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 03:34 AM:

Speaking of books newly read, I just finished "How Much for Just the Planet" and have about fifty pages left in "The Dragon Waiting." I have to admit that the former was much more easily read and understood than the latter.

#201 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 09:12 AM:

As a supplementary question to Victor's #135, sparked by Lizzy's response #142: what is the 2006 equivalent of sewing diamonds into one's sleeves? One thing that really scared me in The Handmaid's Tale was the realization that everything I own is numbers in a computer. If a hostile government declared people like me to be Untermenschen, I could be penniless from one day to the next.

I feel I should have a running away fund. Actually a couple of thousand Euros stashed under my mattress might make the difference in that kind of emergency, I don't know. Does anyone have any suggestions for a form of liquid wealth more portable and more hideable than that, though? Maybe it is still diamonds these days, but I'm suspecting that it's much harder now than in the 30s to own anything that could be used as currency in a worst case scenario.

#202 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 09:48 AM:

BSG is currently arguing, I think, that suicide bombing is never justified, even if fighting a completely legitimate guerilla war against an inhuman oppressive occupier. It's presenting the other side, but it's pretty clear what the answer is.

It's also making some other political points, like the fact that just saying "we don't torture" doesn't make it so. (Apparently Gaius Baltar's definition of torture does not include gouging someone's eye out and making him look at it lying on the floor, which puts him right up there with Bush, Gonzalez, and Woo.)

Remember that 'patriotic' means "supporting the Bush administration except when they're too fucking librul" to the freepers. If we accept their definition of the term we've already lost to them, because our fight for our country is, and always will be a patriotic fight.

#203 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 10:20 AM:

Marilee @ 191,

The fuel gauge has been weird for years, but I've gotten used to that. This was a new weirdness. And the weather hasn't been appreciably different from Thursday to Sunday.

I've long been tempted to call in to Car Talk with some of the tales about the Goldsmobile, but I reckon they'd throw me off the air for having made it all up. (It's only got 151K on it. And only surface rust. In these parts, that's practically new.)

#204 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Individ-ewe-al #201, re current functional equivalent of diamonds as emergency currency:

I don't know the short-term answer to your question (are you ruling out U.S. currency because dogs can sniff out cash, or because you expect it to be abolished overnight?), but long-term I think the answer is marketable skills. Store something in your brain that gives you a decent chance of making a living under a wide variety of circumstances. Food prep skills? Medical/nursing skills? Electrical, plumbing, carpentry, auto repair skills?

#205 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Individ-ewe-al wrote:
I feel I should have a running away fund. Actually a couple of thousand Euros stashed under my mattress might make the difference in that kind of emergency, I don't know. Does anyone have any suggestions for a form of liquid wealth more portable and more hideable than that, though? Maybe it is still diamonds these days, but I'm suspecting that it's much harder now than in the 30s to own anything that could be used as currency in a worst case scenario.

I would avoid any specie currency - especially non-American, if you're worried about American interference (after all, a citizen carrying large amounts of unmutual currency can be up to no good), beyond the immediate "get out of Dodge" funds - which should be in local currency.

Diamonds in the sleeves - or the toothpaste, or where-ever - is still a valid policy. Buy them legitimately, tuck them away safe somewhere in your home where they are non-obvious, but where you can get them in a hurry. Insure them, etc. just as you normally would, other than keeping them in a safe deposit box - you want them in your home safe, where you don't need to make a special trip to get at them if you need to leave on the bounce.

Gold currency is the traditional stockpile, but most modern gold coins are minted for display, for collection, or as hedge funds against inflation, rather than as currency - making them often somewhat annoying to transport (a gold coin the size of a quarter would be ideal - two or three M&M Minis tubes of them would be a substantial "cash" reserve). Still, something like a necklace of gold coins, or belly-dancer's hip belt, might be something to consider.

I might consider small stockpiles of higher-value materials if going the bullion route - a single ounce of Platinum is currently retailing at over a thousand dollars US. Easier to hide and disguise, but harder to liquidate as well.

Jewelry has long been the hedge fund of last resort - even when private ownership of gold and silver bullion and coin was illegal in the US, we could still own jewelry - and people did. Jewelry has the advantage of being easily transportable, but is sometimes hard to liquidate quickly. In this respect, more pieces of less-valuable jewelry may be more useful than a handful of very expensive pieces - easier to find jewelers who will deal in them.

At more sophisticated levels, holdings in European or Asian corporations can be stored off-continent for safety - they can then be sold for emergency funds when necessary. If you feel the need, those can be invested through non-American brokers, and the physical stock certificates managed (especially useful if handling as a hedge fund - get a lawyer in London or in Switzerland, or somewhere like the Cayman Islands, let them handle the dividends and stock certificates). Same thing goes with bond certificates, property, etc.

Of course, you should have a couple of hundred dollars in your wallet (hidden away, likely in traveller's checks), and another few hundred in your jump bag as well, simply for disaster purposes - but that can be hard to maintain (I know I haven't got it in my wallet right now).

As for getting things over the border - purloined letter method would be a good place to start. A little girl's bejeweled tiara attracts little attention on her head...

#206 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Linkmeister @ 200
'The Dragon Waiting' is probably easier to follow if you've met the Wars of the Roses already. (Also the Mithras cult and the Byzantine official structure - all those names for officials! Was Mike an encyclopedia reader?) I won't say that you need the Complete Peerage as a program to tell the players with, but it doesn't hurt.

#207 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 12:45 PM:
'The Dragon Waiting' is probably easier to follow if you've met the Wars of the Roses already. (Also the Mithras cult and the Byzantine official structure - all those names for officials! Was Mike an encyclopedia reader?) I won't say that you need the Complete Peerage as a program to tell the players with, but it doesn't hurt.
I agree that knowing something about the Wars of the Roses helps, but it doesn't need to be in-depth knowledge. Seeing or reading Richard III would be fine, I think (and most appropriate). Me, I played Kingmaker in my younger days.

I don't think that having heard of Mithras before is at all necessary - I certainly hadn't when I first read the book. I believe the book actually tells you a large fraction of what we know about Mithras-worship, plus of course some things Ford invented.

As for Byzantine officials, I just completed a re-read of the book, and I honestly don't recall any except "strategos" and "coronal" (which latter is not actually a Byzantine term, it's just first used in that context).

#208 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Dan Blum @ 207:

Probably you're right. My copy is somewhere in a box. (So is my Complete Peerage, but I have other references for the period. Genealogy can be so wonderful.)

#209 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:35 PM:

Lila @ 204: Store something in your brain that gives you a decent chance of making a living under a wide variety of circumstances. Food prep skills? Medical/nursing skills? Electrical, plumbing, carpentry, auto repair skills?

This reminds me of another thing I heard a German refugee say, one of the wisest things I think I've ever heard: They can take everything away from you, but they can't take away what you know. So learn everything you can.

This was more about how to live as a person rather than how to make a living, though. Though skills are good, of course.

#210 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:38 PM:

Linkmeister: I was thinking of saying something about that...

I'm no slouch when it comes to difficult reading, but there are a couple sections in The Dragon Waiting which I think are intended to make you slow down, go "What just happened?" and reread. The "locked room" puzzle at the inn in the snow is one of those, and is important to understand because it has lasting psychological effects on at least one of those present. (Mike Ford's characters are not cardboard soldiers.) The whole struggle over possession of the child princes is another. Events move very fast at the end, and it is hard for a while to tell who is friend and who is foe; betrayal can occur in the course of a single sentence. If you finish some passage of the book, and are seriously confused about what's happened, just go back 10 or 20 pages and go through again more slowly.

P. J. Evans: There is a handy list of important characters at the beginning of the novel, giving the dual names and titles for most of the "Wars of the Roses" cast. It helps me to consult it and realize that George (for example) is more often called Clarence, not because it's his given name, but because his title is of Clarence. (But sometimes his intimates do call him George, adding to the confusion.)

#211 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Re the Mithras cult in The Dragon Waiting: The John Clute obituary says something about how the book has no religion at all, which makes me wonder what he considers religion. (Can't quote from the obit because registration is now necessary, and I didn't feel like it.)

I'm one of those people who didn't get some of Dragon Waiting the first time I read it, and admired it more the second time. Though probably I still missed stuff.

#212 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:47 PM:

Aaargh!!!

I know Talk Like a Pirate Day is over and past, I just needed to scream. Two posts folks should look at...Over at DailyKos, it's being reported that in Patrick Murphy's PA district challenge to the Republican incumbent he's being "swiftboated;" the accusation is, he was "just a lawyer", and "not on the front lines." According to his web page, Murphy was in Bosnia and Iraq. He's an attorney, yes, but he did two tours with the 82nd Airborne and was awarded the Bronze Star -- I'm pretty sure you don't earn that award at a desk. Oh and no, the Republican incumbent never served. Why do you ask?

Take a look; it's interesting and infuriating.

Over at Firedoglake, a post says that Lt. Cmndr. Charles Swift, who took the Hamdan case to the Supreme Court and won, is being denied promotion. That's the way to keep the respect and loyalty of the troops, Donnie.

Wankers, all of them.

#213 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale asks Can any Battlestar Galactica fans point me to a good discussion / discussion board on BSG 3.0? i.e. where is the Making Light of BSG discussions?

Battlestar Gallactica reviews and discussion at The Soulful Spike Society may not quite be at Making Light level; our prior claim to fame was as the home of Nan Dibble's Buffy and Angel reviews. However, there is a strong bias toward literate expression and reasonable levels of polite discourse.

I'm having trouble thinking long enough about Friday's episode to participate in a discussion- have to admit to being a complete wuss about dark drama.

#214 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 03:18 PM:

{sigh}

http://scubiefan.proboards48.com/index.cgi?board=galactica

Julia, something there is that doesn't love a link...

#215 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 03:24 PM:

This may be too little, too late, but it appears that an archaeologist has been helping train (at least some) pilots who are going to Iraq to recognize religious and archaeological sites (including Muslim cemeteries):

#216 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 04:28 PM:

Diamonds would be a poor choice of emergency funds, as they have very little retail resale value. Gold's probably a better idea if you are going for something you could sell fairly easily without huge loss.

#217 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 04:46 PM:

TexAnne way back at #10, if you're still reading this: I think the book is Shine by Jill Paton Walsh.

I read this as a kid, it is a good, rather melancholy book: exodus from a dying Earth seen through a child's eyes. The new planet is named, according to standing instructions, by the youngest member of the settlement group.

The other bit I remember is the members of the party packing for their one-way journey. They have terribly limited space and are allowed to take only two books per person, and one item such as a game or small musical instrument. One of the characters is too young to choose a book sensibly, and insists on preserving for eternity some sort of Famous Five-style mystery, which she has to read hundreds of times over and over in the years of travelling to the new planet.

The book-choosing bit really tormented me as a child. (Of course nowadays you could take a whole digitised library).

In other news, I have ordered a copy of The Dragon Waiting with the intention of giving it as a present, but only once I've test-read it myself. I read the first few pages on Amazon and am now suffering with wanting to know what happens next.

#218 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 04:58 PM:

ah, I missed the post at #28 where someone already said that. But I think Shine was the first book and The Green Book is the sequel.

#219 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:03 PM:

nope, I was wrong, they're both the same book, it was reissued under a different title.
Jill Paton Walsh is a really good children's writer. Fireweed, set in London in the Blitz, is completely heartbreaking: the kind of book you still think about decades later.

#220 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:22 PM:

Jenny: thank you anyway. I didn't know about Fireweed, at all. In fact I've read only two books by her: the Lord Peter one, and some Very Grown-Up load of tosh about oh, I don't even remember, free love and the wickedness of religion in someplace similar to Renaissance Sicily. Or something. (It might not be as bad as I'm remembering, given that I was in the throes of my diss at the time--I hated everything that wasn't genre, and this was most distinctly Lit'rahchah.)

#221 ::: Fran ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Just testing to see how open the thread really is ...

I'm improvising my first soup of the fall and I need some advice on a complimentary flavour note. The ingredients so far are: sweated onions, chopped rutabaga, a pile of cauliflower florets, and a mix of chicken and beef broth. (This is also a clear-the-fridge soup, obviously). The onions and rutabaga have just started to simmer in the chimera broth, and I'll be adding the cauliflower when the rutabaga is nearly done (that is, deep russet and full of umami). Then I'll puree the whole thing and add a little cream.

I generally like to add some cheddar and dillweed to straight cauliflower soup, and our classic holiday mashed rutabaga is combined with butter, salt, pepper and maybe a little nutmeg. I'm trying to think of something assertive that could work with both vegetables and stand up to the strongly flavoured stock. A squirt of Dijon? Some red wine or beer? Or just go for the cheese and dill?

#222 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Over at Firedoglake, a post says that Lt. Cmndr. Charles Swift, who took the Hamdan case to the Supreme Court and won, is being denied promotion.

Well, that's the end of his career, because no major firm in America is going to hire him while this regime is in power.

I suppose he'll get the Medal of Freedom, posthumously, in a few decades. But now he'll be lucky if he ends up flipping burgers.

#223 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Fran: I know naught of the rutabaga. But white wine and nutmeg go nicely with cauliflower. So does beer, but IME it's better to stay on the pale end of the spectrum. Guinness wouldn't just stand up to the stock, it would shake it down for its money and jewelry.*


*Kindly notice that I did not say "mug." Thank you.

#224 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 06:29 PM:

I'm going to have to go back into "The Dragon Waiting" again, because I did get confused/bemused by the end. My Wars of the Roses knowledge is pretty limited (Lancaster v. York or Red v. White being about as much as I remember).

I liked the dig at Morton's acolyte Thomas More re Richard III and the princes; that one I knew enough about to appreciate.

#225 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Portable specie for the gold/diamonds discussion:

Krugerrands and Maple Leafs are popular gold coin purchases, because each is exactly one oz and they have essentially no numismatic premium. You may also want to look into British sovereigns. They have modest numismatic value as there were so many minted over centuries, so their pricing reflects only a moderate premium over the gold bullion value. At the same time, they're readily recognizable and hence have good trade value, they're only a little large than a nickel so easily portable, and their gold content - just under 1/4 oz - is small enough to be reasonable for normal purchases. I bought a few in the $75-80 range in the mid-'80s when worried about the US economy; right now they're selling in the $140-150 range. The Austro-Hungarian 100 korona is another traditional coin which has primarily bullion value. (I went through a brief period of being a gold nut and moved on, but kept a few coins in the safe deposit.)

I expect the "sewing diamonds into your coat" discussion reflects the tradition that the wholesale diamond trade was a stronghold of Jewish families. Still is, in NYC at least. Wholesale uncut diamonds probably made good sense. Diamonds bought retail, no. Also: diamonds in general now that synthetic gem-quality diamond production is ramping up - emphatically no!

Gold is safe from that problem until we get commercial volume matter transmutation, so... yeah. Should hold value for a while, anyway.

#226 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Thena @ 203, my van will be 20 years old next month and it has 105K miles on it. About nine months ago I had the rust removed and the van repainted.

#227 ::: Fran ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 08:54 PM:

TexAnne, we had no white wine in the house, but I'll keep your combo in mind for the next cauliflower soup. (My final additions: 1/2 bottle non-Guinness, non-predatory beer, a squeeze of Dijon and a sprinkling of dill weed.)

#228 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 10:57 PM:

Various stuff:

1. What about packets of seeds of easy to grow high-yielding varieties of food and floral crops? They aren't necesarily of terribly high value but there's demand, particularly if people are relocating, and some types of seeds are very tiny.

Hmm, intellectual property is low bulk on electronic storage formats but of high value... in Tripoint one of the products that one of the lead characters made money on, was rights for various entertainment products. For that matter, a digital camera and a bunch of memory card for it, loaded with interesting images, and/or other types of data... Ugh. There;s ALWAYS a demand for porn. A portable printer that can print pictures from memory cards, a stock of p0rn pix and perhaps some others, and a bunch of printer cartridgse and refill kits and paper.... and a digital camera, take pictures of scenery, people, cartoons about the Schmuck...

2. I haven't see BGS the current incarnation. The first one bothered me for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which was the plot. Let's see, back in what year Jack Williamson wrote.. and there was E.C. Tubb with the Cyclan much later and its evil AIs take over the universe, and I forget how many others. Cylons, Cyclan, whatever Williamson called it (and I think he was probably the first one with the particular idea, long long ago), it's an idea that to me was as trite and hackneyed as it got. Talke about stereotyped Evil Overlords... there was something-or-other The Forbin Project. There was Brainiac, and Computo goes Mad! in the DC 1000 years forward comic universe. Etc.

3. Trebuchet!
I saw Yankee Siege toss a pumpkin far beyond the castle into the woods... ex-offico New World Record!

#229 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 11:40 PM:

Paula notes:

"I haven't see BGS the current incarnation. . . . it's an idea that to me was as trite and hackneyed as it got."

Trite and hackneyed for us, but remember that SF on TV and movies always lag the written stuff, and comics.

The real problem with the original is that it was as dumb as a bag of hammers. Part kid-pleasing juvenile glop, part pretentious religio-political allegory, part grade-C action-adventure.

As for the new incarnation:

My observation about TV lagging written SF is still true, but the lag time is much less. It wasn't concieved and written by SF fans, but the folks behind the scenes are at least aware of the SF&F of recent times.

More to the point, the new show . . . well . . . the new BSG shares the same basic setup as the original. Some of the characters have the same names. The ships look a bit alike. The bad guys have the same name. But . . .

Bruce Sterling once wrote, in a book review:

"For those familiar with Vance's work, the effect is odd and disquieting, like seeing a favorite uncle stumble in, blasted on bad acid and mumbling cosmis obscenities."

Watching the new BSG gives me that feeling. It's characters suffer. They are as far from the chuckling action figures of the first show as you can get. Some are delusional, some are self-destructive, some are well-meaning but way over their heads. Horrible things happen to them. Few punches are pulled.

A sample of disturbing-ness from Friday night:

But first, a counter-sample. In an episode of "Star Trek Voyager," 'Chakotay' (sp?) is imprisoned and tortured by some bad guys. He's eventually released. The female villain sends him a message: "While you were in my clutches, I took a sample of your genetic material. Now I'm carrying your child!"

"Took a sample of your genetic material." How dainty!

In a previous season of BSG, troubled space pilot Starbuck is imprisoned in a facility where the Cylons are using captive women as baby factories. Starbuck escapes, helps blow the place up, but comes out of it with a scar on her abdomen she refuses to discuss, or face up to herself.

Last night, in the clutches of a human-form cylon would-be romeo, she's told that some things were salvaged from the baby factory. "Like your ovary."

None of this tidy "genetic material" circumulocation; the revelation, or confirmation, of a brutal violation was like a kick in the gut.

And the cylons . . . they're not just clanking robot targets. They are amoral posthumans, with flaws and weaknesses and dangerous, dangerous delusions of religious mission.

#230 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:06 AM:

I was discussing TV remakes with mmy brother (prompted by the new BBC Robin Hood), and he said that the thing to do was to pick something that had been done badly. Compare original BSG with the current version, and there's so much that OBSG just didn't touch.

We decided we were not the target demographic for the new Robin Hood. We're old enough to rememmber Michael Praed, Jason Connery, and Richard Greene.

#231 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:12 AM:

#229 ::: Stefan Jones wrote some things that I'd rather have seen in context...

For the sake of those of us who lag just a smidge behind in our watching, would you disemvowel or warn about spoilers?

#232 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:27 AM:

Dave Bell, your comment reminds me that, when I checked online a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Michael Praed/Jason Connery ROBIN OF SHERWOOD television series doesn't have a DVD version out.

Well! My word! Why the hell NOT?

That series had what was probably some of the most... enthusiastic... fans of any show I can think of. If it hadn't only been on pay cable (Showtime, as I recall), it would probably have been even more popular.

#233 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:40 AM:

I wonder how much of the enthusiasm and networking came from a combination of home video and a lack of commercial video release. I know that Blake's Seven fandom had a core of fans with video machines. And in those days they were expensive hardware.

#234 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 04:07 AM:

Bruce Arthurs #232: There're DVD releases of Robin of Sherwood. They might be region 2 only, though. 47UKP delivered from Play.com for the entire series (on eight discs).

#235 ::: MD^2 ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 09:34 AM:

124:Sexuality ------------ Solipsism

Which would put sexuality equidistant from love and hatred. Would explain a lot of things actually.

148: Or, it coud be that when you draw the cat sitting next to you on the chair, you do not rely purely on the actual, real, cat there. You use the knowledge you of have of cats in general, and then combine it with the specific features of that cat to arrive at a reasonable approximation.

Cook's biologists didn't have that luxury; they saw a kangaroo, they just didn't have enough background knowledge about the marsupial anatomy to draw it well.

Remind me of two nicely parallel experiences I had.
I own a copy of the depiction of a japanese city made by a French visiting the place around 1650. Given the the lack of details, you can mostly ignore the fact that the general shape of the buildings seem like a bastardization of the european's and the japanese's. But the rules of urbanism used are clearly europeans, and it just throw the whole thing off. Even with the clearly japanese elements, you don't feel like you're looking at a japanese city at all.
The elements are japanese, but the patterns by which they are organized aren't.

Now in reverse: I once saw an episode of an anime called Noir, which was supposed to be happening in Paris. The buildings definitely had an old, tourist postcard european feel to them. But the whole thing was off: they had used rules of japanese urbanism to arrange them.

All that to say I think you're on to something here.

Chip@171:
Thanks, may actualy have to do with me changing my config since last time I posted, hadn't thought about that.
Will have to look into it, I guess.

#236 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 11:20 AM:

cd@234, thanks for the info on the ROBIN OF SHERWOOD DVD set. The link you provided is, indeed, for a Region 2 version...

...but it gave me enough of a lead that I found this Region 1 version available. (Unfortunately, only from the UK, and priced at a hundred pounds. Ouch!)

#237 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 11:48 AM:

emergency funds:
Caveat: civil forfiture laws allow the authorities to "arrest" large sums of cash. 10,000$ is the threshold, I think. Not sure if that is specific to paper money, or if other valuables apply too. Any lawyers want to chime in? (No trial, no appeal for your cash either.)

The point above about the non-resalability of diamonds is well put. Some things are quite resaleable, but only to specialists. I was told, years ago (c.1990) that a handy way to make money as a student doing a semester in Britain was to buy a moderately expensive guitar and sell it on arrival to a private individual. Between not charging VAT and Britain having a competitive (smaller) used instrument market apparently one could make a great deal of money. I'd think this would depend on the UK tax authorities not auditing what people take back home with them when they leave, and the US customs folks not caring on re-entry.

Other plans suggest themselves, with any kind of small, specialty item that has value overseas. Collectible stamps, Elvis memorabelia, autographs, etc. A particularly nice geode or other item that would be interesting to an institutional collector might be a way to go.

The lack of consistent appreciation in value is a bit of a problem. Hmm. I wonder how much of the froth, speculation, and implausible stories about how things increase in value in collector's markets is all about money laundering?

The trouble with all of these discussions is that the same methods are all applicable to moving money around illegally, and have the same three weaknesses:
1. the authorities know to look for them
2. if they are looking, foreign bank/stock holding dodges don't help
3. if you aren't holding investments overseas, you are losing vs. inflation. Calculating how much depends on measuring against inflation in the target country, not your own, and then converting back. Difficult to do right.

Note that Cringely has an essay up on how a newly enacted anti-net gambling law only helps terrorists by creating a market for secret transactions.

#238 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 12:46 PM:

I'd like to draw your attention to The Sandbox, which is a blog written by US servicepeople in Iraq. It's part of the Doonesbury Town Hall. Apparently it's just started, but the few entries there so far are very moving.

#239 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Knitted hats for dogs. Very very strange hats for dogs.

#240 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 02:25 PM:

[Apparently I didn't post in here... by sheer happenstance yesterday, I got to see Yankee Siege hurl a pumpkin into the woods at what might be a new unofficially world record... I was headed to the Wool Arts Tour and was going through the locality of Greenfield, NH, on route 31. There was a construction site, with a crane, a bunch of cars lining the roadsides, dozens of spectators, a crane, a big flatbed tractor-trailer truck, and a big metal device on big metal wheels... it was a trebuchet in a state of being cranked....]

#241 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Paula in #240:

Wow. It's that time of year.

The Morton, Illinois event is 21-22 October. One of these years, I should attend.

The more famous Lewes, Deleware Punkin Chunkin contest is 3-5 November, right after Halloween. Originally, the contest served as a way to get rid of excess Halloween pumpkins.

#242 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 02:57 PM:

#239...oh, that poor dog. At least dogs handle being laughed at better than cats!

#243 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:15 PM:

Bill:

I knew there were contributors here who would be envious!

The weather yesterday, BTW, was gorgeous in central NH.

#244 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:19 PM:

What the bleep happened to the good, old-fashioned, traditional-family-values method of running guns and/or dope across the border in exchange for funds deposited in an account in Liechtenstein? Did they really up and sell completely out?

#245 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Paula writes in #243:

Bill:

I knew there were contributors here who would be envious!

Yup.

The weather yesterday, BTW, was gorgeous in central NH.

Always desirable on a launch day, right, Paula?

#246 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Lisa Goldstein in 211:

The relevant sentence of Clute's obituary reads:

"The Dragon Waiting ... poignantly comments on the world that made us through its vision of an alternate medieval Europe without religion."

But The Dragon Waiting is currently on my to-read list, so I can't say what "without religion" means if the novel also has Mithraism in.

#247 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 05:56 PM:

an alternate medieval Europe without religion

It isn't without religion, though. It's a universe where Christianity is underground (and minor), because it was never made the state religion. To say it's without religion, you'd have to miss every reference in it to the temples. (Which pretty much requires not reading it, because they're an important part of the story.)

#248 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Paula #228: it is often illegal to bring seeds from one country into another because of prohibitions intended to prevent the spread of plant diseases and pests. Seeds are, as a general rule, cheap and widely available, at least in any area you'd want to flee INTO. Don't get in trouble with your new homeland's authorities.

Or for those more cynical readers: if you're going to smuggle contraband, don't waste your time with CHEAP contraband (see also porn, which at least has the advantage that the airport beagles won't alert to it, at least not in electronic form).

#249 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 07:02 PM:

This evening I drove a few miles out of town to get away from the streetlights, and there was Neptune, between Iota and 29 Capricorni, perfectly clear in my 10x50 binoculars. Now I've seen all eight planets with my own eyes.

#250 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 07:23 PM:

P J @247: Some people, and perhaps Clute is one, think Christianity is the only "real" religion in the world. They go around saying that they "have religion" and no one else does. People sometimes think 'Pagan' means "without religion" for that reason. No, it's just not like YOUR religion.

I know nothing about Clute. He's probably a better person than the above would indicate (most people are), but if the book is as you say, it's hard to imagine how someone could write something so massively ignorant, and still be smart enough to one of Mike's friends.

#251 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 08:16 PM:

Xopher: I don't know John Clute at all, but I remember reading an interview with him in Interzone in which he railed against joyless religion of any kind, particularly Christianity, if I recall correctly, and specifically stated that he was an atheist. (My pile of Interzones is on the other side of the country, I'm afraid, so I can't cite or quote directly.) So I don't think he's the kind of person to think Christianity is "the only 'real' religion". In any case, I got the impression he was far too intelligent to say any such thing, though I admit I'm something of a naif and you shouldn't take my impression too seriously.

So why would he do this? I'm just guessing, but I think there's two possibilities. Either an interfering subeditor changed the line, or he specifically "dumbed down" his obituary on the grounds that either people would have read the novel and know what he meant, or they wouldn't have and so wouldn't notice the error. He only spends one sentence on it, after all.

They go around saying that they "have religion" and no one else does.

True, sadly. Theological tangent, as this is an open thread: Karl Barth argues that it's the opposite way round: that Christianity is the only religion that's not a religion, if you see what I mean. He does this by defining "Christianity" as "God revealing Himself to Humanity" and "religion" as "Humanity blindly groping after spiritual things, sometimes God, sometimes not". Religion, like Humanity, is thereby intrinsically flawed as spiritual endeavour; Christianity only so far as the individual humans are flawed. (That's something of a caricature, as it's not an area I know particularly much about; but I think it's basically right.) It's a useful way of explaining to Christians why Life of Brian isn't heretical.

#252 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 09:00 PM:

#211/246/247/250/251/etc: I agree it makes no sense, and it's hard to see how any reader could remember the book as being without religion. Maybe the Clute obit description of The Dragon Waiting originally read "no state religion" and some newspaper editor "tightened it up"?

#253 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 09:49 PM:

Re 160 -

A lot would depend on the reasons given for overturning Roe v. Wade, as to what the legal consequences would be.

Is it overturned by saying the fetus is a person, and the government can compel a woman to use her body against her will for the benefit of the other person?

There is no particular reason why the ability to force one person to use their body to preserve the life of another should be limited to fetus-people and women's uteruses. What about a newborn who needs a blood donation from a parent? Or a teenager who needs a kidney from a parent or sibling? Or one stranger who's life could be saved by a liver section from another stranger? What about hearts - if a woman must give use of her uterus even if it means loosing her life, why not give other organs without regard to the donor's life?

Or, if they say that the state has a complelling interest in the population of the state and nation, allowing the state to limit access to abortion or birth control to meet population ideals, then the state could as easily insist on mandatory birth control or abortion, if their interest was to limit population instead of increase it.

The anti-choice folk have a lot of ways in which they think about legally justifying government bans on abortion. Any of those justifications, translated into broader legal principles, becomes scary very fast, including scary in ways that pro-life people would find scary.

#254 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 09:51 PM:

Things I've recently learned:

Tequilla is like Uranium.
Nachos are like control rods,
which moderate the tequilla reaction.

Brokeback Mountain, when properly referenced, is dangerously funny: Use with extreme caution.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

#255 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 09:58 PM:

This isn't enough, but -- another thing about diamonds is that they're durable. If they're sewn into the hem of your trousers or skirt, you can still launder the garment, wear it daily, and so on. I'm as bearish as the next person about the return on investment, but small, light, valuable, and durable is an awfully good combination. Of course, if things really get bad, lots of other people may be selling jewels too, a la Casablanca...

Something for people to ponder -- which risk(s) are you hedging against?

Most of these have come up already, and may need to be untangled and considered as separate risks:
* Massive inflation of the US dollar;
* General deterioration of freedoms (past whatever reference point you've selected);
* Government action directed at a group;
* Government action directed at an individual.

Can anyone speak to the historical case? It seems to me that pre-positioning your resources outside the risk area is likely to be better than trying to pack it all in your jump bag.

#256 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 10:39 PM:

#255 ::: Victor S wondered:
Can anyone speak to the historical case? It seems to me that pre-positioning your resources outside the risk area is likely to be better than trying to pack it all in your jump bag.

Well - one thing I'd suggest is not relying on the sanctity of your neighbours ...

#257 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 03:01 AM:

In case anyone was desperately curious, here's a list of the winners of the 2006 Ig Nobel Prizes. There's a link inside to the Annals of Improbable Research site, which has links to the webcast.

I particularly like this year's Peace Prize, which went to a guy who invented teenager repellent (a device which emits a noise too high for all but teenagers to hear). Apparently it's now in place at a number of convenience stores.

(Note: I have two teenage nieces; they are not the type which needs to be repelled. In fact, getting the IPod plugs out of their ears is a problem.)

#258 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 08:55 AM:

Anders Sandberg devotes some thought to new warning signs for threats beyond "flammable materials".

#259 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 12:20 PM:

Re 258: the home computer needs the "motivational hazard" symbol already: be it Klondike, 4K PWP fics, chasing Wikipedia links, or flamewars, there's an addictive substance just a few clicks away.

#260 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 252 -- You know, I think you're right -- someone must have edited out some meaningful word or phrase. Because the first thing I thought of when I read the obit was -- Clute -- very smart guy -- what the hell?

#261 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Apparently, criticizing Cheney to his face is assault.

#262 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Non sequitur...

Anybody else reading the Lemony Snicket series?

I just finished The Beatrice Letters, and considering all the disdain with which Dan Brown's "puzzles" are held, I wonder what other folks think of these books?

#263 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 06:03 PM:

For those making emergency plans, I'd add knowing a route or three out of town that doesn't involve any major expressways.

The moment a crisis strikes, gridlock hits the highways. But at least around here, there are lots of smaller state and county roads that will get you out of town fast, and without everyone else in town heading for the same road.

#264 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 06:23 PM:

I realize this probably varies on a state-by-state basis, but I wonder if anyone here has any idea of what rights allowing someone to live with you bestows upon them.

A friend of a friend allowed her boyfriend to move in with her, into a house of which she is the sole owner. He was contributing to the bills for a while. Then he lost his job and she was effectively supporting him. Then they broke up. And now, he is simply refusing to move out. And somehow he is successfully claiming that having permitted him to live there, she has no right to make him leave, and indeed is required to maintain the house in condition for him to live in and to continue supporting him. He apparently plans to stay indefinitely. She can move out, but he claims that if she does, she is required to continue to maintain the house for him, keep the utilities on, etc. That just doesn't sound like it can be right.

I've never lived with anyone I was involved with, but I'm a landlord, and I have certain rights in regards to my tenants which allow me - in the absence of a lease - to evict them on 60 days' notice. I'm not clear on how this yahoo can have more rights than a legal tenant.

My friend refuses to pass on any of my more colorful suggestions on how to get rid of the guy, but will communicate my strong recommendation to consult a lawyer ASAP. But this situation is really bugging me. I've come close a couple of times to allowing temporarily-homeless friends to stay with me, and I've occasionally considered the virtues of a live-in boyfriend. (I wasn't particularly likely to allow that anyway, and I'm even less likely to now.)

This is in Connecticut, which is not a state with common-law marriage.

Does anyone have any idea how this could be possible?

#265 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Susan, I think she should have gotten it on paper to begin with; now she's in the position of a landlord doing an eviction on a tenant who is all-too-familiar with housing law (not unusual, and she should be able to find a lowyer to help). I wonder what would happen if she told him 'pay rent (including at least part of the past expenses) or get out'?

#266 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 06:54 PM:

Susan @264 -

Maybe she could write a formal letter informing him that as of October 1st the use of her property which he has heretofore been renting for $0 will have the rent raised to $AMOUNT, payable in cash on the first of the month, and if he doesn't pay up he can take a hike.

Probably should run it by a lawyer, though. Couldn't hurt, except in the wallet, and if she gets rid of the mooch then she could find a responsible roommate instead.

#267 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 07:37 PM:

Susan @ 264 -

A lawyer is probably her best bet, and definitely before she gives him anything in writing. This may not be a landlord-tenant case, it might instead be a matter of trespassing. Which might be better for her, since tenants have rights, but trespassers don't.

If there is a domestic violence agency in her area, she may want to contact them - they probably have experience in helping people get rid of unwelcome exes.

#268 ::: temporary ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Tresspassing is the relevant portion of the law. In some states this is as simple as asking a police officer to stop by with a form to fill out-when the relevant person is present. The police officer then removes the tresspasser. (Presumably this can be done out-of-order at the policeman's discretion. I'm sure a polite conversation about the matter while displaying her copy of the deed at the police station prior to showing up with the officer would be helpful.)

Lack of traditional elements of contract, such as consideration, etc. makes it unlikely that the ex can prevail in a legal dispute, unless he magically gains standing by her behaving as if there is a contract. See a lawyer.

Sounds like a person who has been manipulated by the "be a good (polite) girl" nonsense in our culture. I will place bets that she will end up needing a restraining order.

#269 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 08:34 PM:

According to Glenn Greenwald, Jose Padilla, an American citizen imprisoned in a military prison and labeled "an enemy combatant" by the U. S. government, has been tortured for years. Read Glenn's post for details.

#270 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 08:53 PM:

Susan @264

For legal questions of all sorts, I've found the legal forums at freeadvice.com to be quite useful. The forums have a critical mass of competent people answering questions.

Because you specify what state you're in, the answers are better than what you'd get on Craigslist, say. Although the legal or real estate forums on craigslist aren't a bad start, either.

My understanding for California (had a friend go through this years ago- a distant relative houseguest overstayed) is that a houseguest is not a tenant. They have no legal protections and can be kicked out for squatting.

Sounds like the ex is using manipulation- they're a bully. While your friend is getting her legal case ready, she should also read about bullies and the techniques they use to make their victims feel guilty. I highly recommend the website bullyonline.org, which has plenty of detailed info- for instance Am I being Bullied? Being able to define and label the manipulator's techniques is an important start in protecting against them. It'll help reduce the stress your friend is very likely in: bullies are draining.

#271 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 09:11 PM:

Susan @ 264: You and she should understand that him claiming he has some kind of legal right, or even presenting a letter from a lawyer claiming he has some kind of legal right, means less than nothing. There are a lot of lawyers who for their hourly fee will write a letter making any kind of bogus claim. (In certain Internet circles, these are known as "cartooneys", because it's like a cartoon of an actual legal opinion.) As a lawyer friend says, "These are the 95% of lawyers who give the rest a bad name." For now advise her to ignore the claims, and refuse to give him anything in writing, until she can get some independent legal advice. Giving him anything that could be construed as a lease or rental agreement might be a bad thing.

The advice from Ursula and anon advice from temporary sounds good, as do Kathryn's recommendations for where to get better advice.

#272 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 03:19 AM:

Lis Riba, #262...

I've not read any of the Lemony Snicket books, but I've read and much enjoyed Daniel Handler's "The Basic Eight". Handler, I'm led to believe, is Lemony Snicket's, um, ghostwriter.

#273 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 09:16 AM:

Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's raining, and I have drips from my skylight!

Beyond sharing my annoyance, I'm wondering if the collective wisdom here has any suggestions on how to deal with the problem of Procyon Lotor (Raccoon) digging at the shingles around my skylight?

I've had one suggestion of putting a few drops of the wolf piss sold at hunting stores under the shingles - the houses here are too close together to really make it possible to keep them off of the roof by removing branches (and cutting down a 15' circumferance tree would be sacrilidge anyways!).

#274 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 10:40 AM:

xeger @ #273:

Try either ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs. Both seem effective at getting rid of possums. Whether they work on raccoons I don't know.

#275 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 11:04 AM:

An alternative to diamonds in one's sleeves: I've always heard it said that if you can teach math, you can always find a job. This assumes civilization has survived to the extent that anybody wants/needs to learn math. Alternative to this alternative: learn how to make beer and/or moonshine.

#276 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 11:09 AM:

What kind of tree is it? If it is dropping nuts, seeds or other edibles on your roof, that will attract raccoons. Cleaning those off your roof may cut down on the attraction factor.

#277 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 11:58 AM:

#274 ::: Susan suggested:
Try either ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs. Both seem effective at getting rid of possums. Whether they work on raccoons I don't know.

Thanks! Would those be something I'd scatter or attach to the roof shingles? They're not actually in the house, so I'm having a bit of trouble picturing how to set this up...

#276 ::: Ursula L wondered:
What kind of tree is it? If it is dropping nuts, seeds or other edibles on your roof, that will attract raccoons. Cleaning those off your roof may cut down on the attraction factor.

It's a big silver maple - it's possible that things are managing to stay on the roof, but it's quite steeply pitched, and all the crap seems to end up in the eaves (which the raccoons don't appear to be abusing - apparently 3 stories down is worrying to them, too!)

#278 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 12:56 PM:

Xeger -- Offer them more attractive food, like leftovers on the back porch -- if you don't mind having them around, but do want them off your roof. However, if you live in a built-up suburban area this may not be a good idea. But you could get a live trap and try to capture and relocate them.

#279 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Some states (Massachusetts is one of them) have laws against taking live-trapped animals and moving them to somewhere else....

#280 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Raccoons are a strong rabies vector as well. There's a huge blob of information here, including "How can I raccoon-proof my home?" Haven't read it, don't know if it's any good.

#281 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 01:57 PM:

In other news, Googling "barbara bauer" now shows WB's 20 Worst as the first entry, which you probably knew, but also ML's "Dumbest of the 20 Worst" as the second! BB's own site is down at #4.

#282 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 02:12 PM:

Could some of the maple seeds have gotten caught in the space between the window and the roof? Sometimes there is a slight crack there, and just one or two seeds getting caught, and then dug out, might be enough to leave a gap that lets water in, as well as catching more seeds and encouraging more digging. Plus, if the window sticks out above the roof, there would be a ledge created across the top to catch things.

#283 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 02:47 PM:

For that matter, the maple seeds themselves could be part of the problem. If they get caught in the area between skylight and shingles and then sprout, the roots could be forcing the area open...

#284 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Seeing as how this is an open thread, I figured it's a good time for a Great Internet Book Hunt:

I'm looking for a YA SF book, involving a pair of orphaned psionic twins. AFAIK, it is _not_ written by Alexander Key. (That is, I don't think it's one of the Witch Mountain books, and I can't find any other title by him that fits).

The ending of the book involves one twin teleporting away from the baddies into a van containing the rest of the now-reunited family.

I think the twins names were something like Jon/Jan, but I may be conflating them with the Wonder Twins.

Form of a group mind, activate!


Thanks in advance.

#285 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 03:30 PM:

Farg . . .

Small Aircraft Hits Building in Manhattan

"NEW YORK (AP) -- A small plane crashed into a high-rise on the Upper East Side, raining down debris on Manhattan and unleashing what witnesses reported was a gigantic fireball, police said."

#286 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 03:40 PM:

Following from Stefan, 285:

Google news headlines.

Could be a plane or helicopter; they don't know yet. Crashed on the 20th floor of a 50 story building. No news on casualties yet. "No indications this is linked to terrorism" sprang up pretty quickly, thankfully.

#287 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 03:58 PM:

Malthus, something by Zenna Henderson? I'm not recalling plotlines or anything, but The People had powers.

#288 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:01 PM:

Any idea on a publication date, Malthus?

#289 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Well, I read it something like 20 years ago, from my local library. It was a paperback, with a badly damaged cover (which is probably why I can't remember the author or title -- I tend to associate such things with a visual image of either the cover or spine).

So, early 80's sometime, is my best guess.

#290 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Malthus, Paula--I'm pretty sure it's not a People story, but other than that I can't help.

#291 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:17 PM:

Malthus, this seems like a possibility:

http://www.sfreviews.net/outofsight.html

#292 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:39 PM:

New topic: trademark usage

My publisher doesn't want me use the word 'dumpster' without a capital because, as it turns out, it's actually trademarked. I?m not averse to following the rules, but I think this particular trademark has been diluted. Every time I saw it in my ms. with a capital D, I stopped dead and thought it?s a typo and I think readers will too.

I?ve tried searching, but while I find lots of references to it being trademarked (usually writer?s sites discussing the rules), I don?t really see that in conjunction with their enforcement as opposed to the way Xerox defends their mark. It?s also hard to tell when a mark is considered diluted?all the references are to old trademarks like escalator or aspirin. My American Heritage Dictionary says the mark is often used lowercase, if that means anything.

So.

Does anyone know 1) is it in fact ?illegal? not to capitalize and, if so, what are the possible ramifications? 2) is dumpster diluted? and 3) I really hate it---do you all think I?m being stubborn for no good reason?


#293 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:45 PM:

Thanks Jen, but it doesn't feel right -- although the bit about a plane crash sounds familiar?

Were there really that many YA books about telepathic twins written in the '80s?

Also, as a side-point, does anyone know the last names of the twins in Witch Mountain (if they were given last names in the book)?

#294 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:54 PM:

#292 -- Mark DF -- Check _Book of Night with Moon_, one of the cats in the story dumpster dives, but I can't remember if the term "dumpster" is capitalized therein, and I loaned my copy to my mother, or I'd check it when I get home.

#295 ::: Berry ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 04:56 PM:

According to Wikipedia, in Escape to Witch Mountain, the twins Tony and Tia were fostered by the Malones, so I guess they would probably have been Tony and Tia Malone.

#296 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 05:28 PM:

#285, small plane hits NYC building -

It seems to have been a plane belonging to and probably being flown by a member of the Yankees (baseball team). Tragic for all involved, but not terrorism.

Deep breathing. Calm now.


#297 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 05:30 PM:

I can't seem to find a couple of web sites I had bookmarked on an old computer, and I'm pretty sure I found the sites on Making Light.

One was a series of very funny bad fashion photos, complete with snarky comments.

The other was a catalog of spectacularly awful 70's home decorating, with lots of whorehouse red shag carpets, mustard and avocado drapes and, of course, snark.

I found the Lilek's Dorcuswear for Men site, but the others are eluding me. Can anyone help?

#298 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 05:37 PM:

One more clue:

I seem to recall that the twins last names were something like Castaway? I might be conflating this with Witch Mountain, but I'm remembering them making a big deal about their last names (and also something about them being aliens -- the book was really very similar to Witch Mountain).

#300 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Harry #297: the second one sounds like "Interior Desecrations", a Lileks feature that is now in print in book form. He has posted these pages that didn't make it into the book.

#301 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Harry Connolly, one of the sites was, perhaps, Go Fug Yourself ( http://gofugyourself.typepad.com/ since I still am not allowed to make a link)?

#302 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 06:08 PM:

re 297/ There was some snarky amusement (and I had a blast spoofing it at Worldcon's masquerade) about this summer's offerings by John Galliano for Christian Dior:
http://www.style.com/fashionshows/collections/F2006CTR/review/CDIOR

Re decor, the snarking thereon, I have nothing, alas.

#303 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 06:23 PM:

Perfect! Thank you, Making Lighters!

#304 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

Wow, there's a time travel spell invocation if I ever saw one...

#305 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 09:46 PM:

TexAnne #220 [re Jill Paton Walsh] In fact I've read only two books by her: the Lord Peter one, and some Very Grown-Up load of tosh about oh, I don't even remember, free love and the wickedness of religion in someplace similar to Renaissance Sicily. Or something. (It might not be as bad as I'm remembering, given that I was in the throes of my diss at the time--I hated everything that wasn't genre, and this was most distinctly Lit'rahchah.)

Actually there were two Lord Peters, the second being A Presumption of Death; it wouldn't surprise me if there were more, although I had my quibbles about the second one, mostly suspicions about proofreading coming from the wrong side of the Pond.

The other book is very likely Knowledge of Angels, which adorns my never-finished-it-but-may-want-to-someday shelf. I think I ran out of steam rather than patience, or just got distracted by something shinier. I keep meaning to find some of her own mysteries.

I had some of the same problems with reading material the last year of my own diss, compounded by the fact that I couldn't read anything set in Venice for fear of infection. Or watch movies set anywhere near there.

#306 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 10:36 PM:

In the Witch Mountain books, the twins were Tony and Tia Castaway.

Changing the subject, I was following links around earlier today, and came upon this discussion of the difference between Red and Blue people - essentially a difference between families as "given" and families as "choice." It was very interesting to me, and I wonder if anyone else has a comment. (I'm guessing that a goodly percentage of "everyone else" has already seen it, but even so, I'm interested in comment.)

#307 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2006, 10:56 PM:

Joann @305: Knowledge of Angels rings a bell. I didn't know about the second Ld Peter, but I think I'll pass--the first one was a beautiful pastiche, and I'm afraid that I don't trust her to do it again. I too want to see what her own mysteries are like, but I never remember to look for them.

All: is anybody going to WFC in Austin? Wanna have a beer?

#308 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:56 AM:

Juli Thompson, Suzette Haden Elgin has had discussions of that topic at her Live Journal. Discussion has been good. Then again I adore Suzette, she is a great lady and a damn good linguistics professor. As well as Verbal Self-Defense instructor. and a bunch of other stuff.

#309 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 02:58 AM:

Susan #296: "It seems to have been a plane belonging to and probably being flown by a member of the Yankees (baseball team). Tragic for all involved, but not terrorism."

How can we know for sure?

Perhaps, the players and management of the American League should all be arrested and detained until the end of the Glorious War On Terroir. The entire pitching staff of the Yankees might have to be rendered to a secret facility on the border between Lebanon and Syria for extensive interrogation sessions. Harsh methods may need to be applied to extract the information on which the safety and security of all Americans may now depend. You know it's true— we must act decisively now, before more sports franchises activate their terror cells and strike at the hearts of American cities.

#310 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 03:25 AM:

Harry Connolly (#297) wrote:

> One was a series of very funny bad fashion photos, complete with snarky comments.

Don't know if it's the one you want, but I love reading Stitchy McYarnpants. The main blog is ok, but tends to drift into prosaic 'yesterday I went to the shops' territory - but her special 'themed' sections on great knitting disasters are beyond reproach.

Ah - I see she's moved all of the good stuff - 'The Museum of Kitschy Stiches' over onto a new blog. Good for her.

http://www.stitchymcyarnpants.com/moks06/

(the old blog is http://yarnpants.blogspot.com)

Steve

#311 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 03:53 AM:

Mark DF: I think it's too late for the original owners of the "dumpster" trademark. Once it is in common use for the general item, they CAN'T use it as a trademark anymore. The meaning has changed, and they can't force it to change back by bribes or legal action. Not only is the (lowercase) word "dumpster" in common use for the general non-trademarked items, but it's being used as a textbook case of a dead trademark. http://www.trademarkgroup.com/article_keepingtms.html

#312 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 04:03 AM:

Trademark law varies a lot between countries, and I've seen some very odd-looking claims on American products, as well as misinterpretations of just what was claimed. But "dumpster", in a specified font and colour, might still be protectable as something painted on the side of one of the things. The comopany could call it "The original Dumpster".

But it wouldn't surprise me if they have to try for the whole thing, even knowing they can't win, so as to make sure they get all they can.

#313 ::: MD^2 ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 07:00 AM:

j h woodyatt @309 the Glorious War On Terroir

Next in news: America sends troops into French Countryside.
Head of our glorious Presidom declares: "As a civilised nation, as a nation of faith, we can't allow a whole generation of innocent geese to be tortured by a bunch of evil French unbelievers' private corporations... and I mean, have you seen what they eat ? I have been given intelligence and I have to say... Choucroute ? Cassoulet ? Bouillabaisse, for God's sake ? Those people make me sick !"

"All right, bring it on, you know where to find us" French Resistance said.
They'll be drinking leisurely at the nearest cafe, or, you know, working, shit happens.
Well, except for Boubakar Yatera, who's been fortified within his wine cellar ever since. "Over my dead body they'll take my Cotes de Beaune" was he last heard saying.

Silly first generation immigrants.


...

Sorry, it reads really bad (I knew there was a reason I don't do funny), but I couldn't help it.

Damn, seems I can't even use the accents.

#314 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 09:38 AM:

Was there teleportation in the Witch Mountain books? If so, then that's probably it, and I'd just completely forgotten the book. Otherwise, I'm conflating the Witch Mountain books with something else, and given how little I remember, I'm not likely to be able to figure out what the something else was.

#315 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:37 AM:

Re. Dumpster™: Back when I edited trade computer books, the lawyers made me change every instance of "CorelDraw" in a manuscript to "CorelDRAW!" (complete with italics).

"Whether you're new to CorelDRAW!, or a seasoned user looking to make best use of the new features in latest version of CorelDRAW!, you'll find How to Use CorelDRAW! the most complete guide to creating CorelDRAW! drawings."

I still shudder when I think of it, CorelDRAW!.

#316 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:38 AM:

#311, #312: Adrian and David Bell: Thanks for the advice---especially the weblink. I'm going to send them the info I have to support the lowercase dumpster for next time because.....they're not going to force the issue on this book (!) for which I am pleased. I think they are letting it go because of schedule and dumpster is not something to really worry about.

I understand why they were asking me to capitalize (I used to work with lawyers), but this case seems so obviously a non-issue, it was all head-scratching. Thanks again.

#317 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Thanks, Steve Taylor.

#318 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Re #309, j h woodyatt:   ... the Glorious War On Terror....

After the Dumpster™ discussion, please, it's "the Glorious War On Terror."

Now that appearing on an al-Qaeda videotape constitutes treason, all that's left is for al-Qaeda to start including news clips of Bush in all future videotapes.

Treason is a sure-fire ground for impeachment, isn't it?   Well... if torture wasn't already....

#319 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Hey, TexAnne...what's WFC? Not that I've got a lot of time or money, given that it's Faire season and I've got a massive Halloween party coming up this year (Any Making Lighters who want to come are certainly welcome...It's on the 28th, just drop me a note...), but I'm curious nonetheless.

#320 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:23 AM:

Malthus:
Other books you might have been thinking of:

Chester Aaron, Out of Sight, Out of Mind (1985)--"teenage twins are pursued by Russians who want to use their ESP powers."

Kathryn Lasky, 'Starbuck family' series--*two* sets of telepathic twins having adventures. Double Trouble Squared (1991), Shadows in the Water (1992), A Voice in the Wind (1995).

--Mary Aileen

#321 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:33 AM:

I have a vague memory of teleporation in the Witch Mountain books. Hey, wow, I'm not the only one who read those books! Cool!

#322 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:35 AM:

The question now is, what is teleporation?

#323 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:40 AM:

Xopher - I really like your comment about BSG at 184. Would you mind if I run it as my one sentence review for tomorrow's weekly column?

#324 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:45 AM:

The question now is, what is teleporation?

Poring over a book, remotely?

#325 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Nancy C #s 321/322: Obviously exfoliatory action at a distance.

#326 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Please, the correct term is teleproration: charging by actual length of your phone call, rather than to the next full minute. For instance, a 30-second call charged @ $0.10 / minute should cost only $0.05.

#327 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:03 PM:

As opposed to telepotation, the reason I'm getting quietly drunk in this corner without having been served, while you're looking puzzled at your empty glass over there.

#328 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:16 PM:

Skwid: World Fantasy Con, first weekend in November.

#329 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:22 PM:

I don't know if Xeger is still reading this for information on raccoons, but the Audubon Society in Portland has some good general information on their website here:

http://www.audubonportland.org/livingwithwildlife/brochures/raccoons

If you have a local wildlife hospital, I would suggest calling them as a first resource and your local animal control office second (the wildlife hospital generally knows more in my experience).

Xopher is correct, raccoons are a strong rabies vector and frequently also a vector for canine distemper. If you see a raccoon acting strangely (not in the clever-bastard sense, more in the falling-over or twitching sense), call the local animal control immediately. The adults, males in particular, can be very aggressive.

Relocation is illegal in many states (Oregon being one) and in general is inhumane (ironically) to the raccoon in particular and the population as a whole. The link I put up above has some comments on that down towards the bottom.

good luck!

#330 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:28 PM:

Georgiana: Be my guest! *blush*

#331 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 01:22 PM:

W00t! Thank you very much.

Re raccoons - the Real Live Preacher had quite a time when he was invaded by them. His account is quite funny, but probably not so much when you're faced with a similar problem. The first entry is here.

#332 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 01:55 PM:

#329 ::: Varia wrote:
I don't know if Xeger is still reading this for information on raccoons, [ ... snip ... ] Relocation is illegal in many states (Oregon being one) and in general is inhumane (ironically) to the raccoon in particular and the population as a whole.

Yup - and much appreciated. Relocation hadn't occured to me - apart from the rabies problem, the raccoon population is high enough that I'd be spending all of my time catching, driving and releasing raccoons - I'd be more successful trying to help Sisyphus push boulders uphill.

#331 ::: Georgiana - Thanks! That was a good giggle :)

#333 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Paula Helm Murray - Thanks for the information. I did a LJ search for "Suzette Haden Elgin" and nothing showed up. Do you know her LJ username?

#334 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Juli, try http://ozarque.livejournal.com/

#335 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Juli, look for Ozarque, that's her LJ name.

http://ozarque.livejournal.com/

#336 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 02:24 PM:

From the much-spammed, now-closed "Die, spammers, die" thread: All invalid ladies should send for our special circular addressed to ladies only, which treats on a subject of vital importance.

Hmm. Clearly they only send it to real, valid ladies. But it's for invalid ladies, so that means they can't send it to anyone at all.

#337 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Xopher, wouldn't an "invalid lady" be a strumpet?

#338 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Cadwaleder's Thorium Unguent. Restores virtue. Specific for raccoon nuisance. Quick cure for catahrr, supression of menses, teleporation, consumption, dipsey, micturation, church disease. Agents wanted.

#339 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 03:00 PM:

Holy Moley! How did I miss that Con happening practically under my nose?

Sadly, there's no way I can make that weekend (or that cost). Ah well.

#340 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 03:13 PM:

Stefan

I am so glad I didn't have a mouthful of diet Pepsi.

And I managed not to make my coworkers think I'm choking to death.

I especially need a tonic for micturation. It seems to be a persistent state given the political climate lately.

#341 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 03:56 PM:

An "invalid lady" could also be one who was suffering from consumption or similar chronic condition, nicht wahr?

Georgiana, your "what's happening now" colleague at SM might be interested in the Hawai'i International Film Festival (this year's program). Starts in a week or so. Six islands. Prime junketing opportunity.

#342 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:17 PM:

TexAnne #307 WFC anyone?

Well, definitely me, since it's almost literally right down the road from here. Not a beer, since the road's twisty, but certainly something liquid.

#343 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:19 PM:

Stefan #338:

What's "church disease"? Too much or too little?

#344 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Harry #297 -- Hey! I resemble that remark!!

... spectacularly awful 70's home decorating, with lots of whorehouse red shag carpets, mustard and avocado drapes...

When I first saw my house in Dayton OH, the master bedroom had whorehouse red shag carpet and mustard gold flocked curtains. (No mirror on the ceiling, however.) The other bedrooms had electric avocado (not normal avocado) and electric turquoise carpet, both sculptured, and the rest of the house was a relatively restrained rust shag. Looked like someone had gotten a real deal on carpet remnants. Oogly, even for the 70s. Before I moved in, I turned it all a pleasant (if boring) champagne beige.

#345 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Linkmeister - thanks so much, that looks like a terrific event. I will pass the message along to James.

#346 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:57 PM:

... spectacularly awful 70's home decorating, with lots of whorehouse red shag carpets, mustard and avocado drapes...

In the mid-60s we moved into a house where the master bedroom had red shag carpet, sandalwood pink walls and Formica vanity top, and the woodwork was black and sandalwood. It was, well, ugly. The rest of the house wasn't much better (aqua and 'Granada Gold' paint, mostly).

#347 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 06:20 PM:

Linkmeister, I was punning on 'valid' and 'invalid', the one pronounced inVALid as opposed to INvalid. The latter is derived from the former, of course, but they have very different meanings.

This pun is also used in Gattaca, if anyone cares.

#348 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Joann asks: "What's "church disease"? Too much or too little?"

No idea. It sounds like something you'd find in the description of one of those cure-alls.

Durham & Peed's Juvenile Pills. Miracle specific. Fast cure for Yellow Fever, Red Fever, spermatorrhea, Whig cholera. Pure ingredients only. Cure and prevent idiocy, pluresy, codded bile, willfulness, Pope's knee, self abuse, scolded lung, black wind. Insert nightly. Guaranteed wholesome.

#349 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 08:19 PM:

Xopher, I just have a weakness for homophonic wisecracks.

#350 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 08:49 PM:

Mark DF asked (in #292) for advice on using "dumpster" as a generic.

I don't really see that in conjunction with their enforcement as opposed to the way Xerox defends their mark

Says one web site, "According to enteract.com, 'lawyers in charge of protecting the Dumpster trademark are infamous in media circles for sending friendly letters of admonishment year after year to reporters and editors whenever news items erroneously refer to a large metal trash receptacle as a Dumpster instead of a dumpster unless it really is a Dumpster.'" That sounds like they're serious about protecting it.

It's also hard to tell when a mark is considered diluted

I think that's decided by the courts. Or by the trademark owner. Clearly, Dumpster doesn't consider it "diluted", and no one's gotten a court to rule otherwise that I can discover. (Trademark owners can simply abandon a mark. Westinghouse did that with "laundromat".)

is it in fact illegal not to capitalize and, if so, what are the possible ramifications?

I suspect that, strictly, writing "dumpster" without acknowledging it as a trademark probably is indeed illegal, since you're using the mark for products not made by the Dumpster company. Ramifications: their lawyers send you and your publisher a nastygram, followed possibly by other actions if the nastygram doesn't get the desired effect.

is dumpster diluted?

As I said, I couldn't find a clear statement that it had been declared as such. However, that may be only because no one's actually gone to the trouble and expense of challenging it in court.

do you all think I'm being stubborn for no good reason?

Depends. What counts as a "good reason"? So far, all you've said is "I think using a capital looks funny." You've provided no background or context. How you're using it may make all the difference. For example, if it appears in dialog, you could argue that real people don't distinguish between Dumpster-brand dumpsters and other brands, so your characters shouldn't either.

Taking another tack, you might ask your publisher whether they also insist on proper trademark indications for bake-off, bubble wrap, baggies, fig newtons, ping-pong, pablum, seeing-eye dog, tabasco, velcro, welcome wagon, and ziploc, all of which the Patent Office considers active trademarks (all from a list of "at risk" trademarks I found). Is the policy one of protecting all trademarks, or only the ones they recognize to be trademarks?


Nancy C asked (at #322),

The question now is, what is teleporation?

Punching holes in something from a distance.

#351 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:12 PM:

...the master bedroom had whorehouse red shag carpet and mustard gold flocked curtains.

It's a sad commentary on my standard reading habits that I spent a few moments puzzling over how, exactly, curtains would be locked to a friends list before realizing that "flocked" was a legitimate word in its own right without being a LiveJournal-derived contraction. (Elision? Abbreviation? What's the technical term for a word that's made of small elided bits of a larger phrase?)

#352 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:42 PM:

Since the link for The New York Times isn't free, I can't give the primary source. But here's a good rundown that raises the question: anyone else want to read An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin?

#353 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Fade @ #351: "What's the technical term for a word that's made of small elided bits of a larger phrase?"

Portmanteau? Syncope?

#354 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 12:40 AM:

Bruce - I do! My boss heard about it on NPR, dug up the story and sent me the link, saying it was the kind of thing I would enjoy and he was right as usual. If you go to the NPR site you can hear some of the music and read an excerpt from the book.

As my boss pointed out, even the author photo is a work of art.

#355 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 01:57 AM:

Bruce, Georgiana,

As a veteran I'm entitled to military honors and the playing of Taps at my funeral. I wonder how receptive Punchbowl Cemetery would be to Funerary Violin instead. That's fascinating.

(I know, I know...first, find your violinist.)

#356 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:22 AM:

The Dow Jones index may not be a good way to measure the overall stock market, and the stock market certainly isn't a sufficient way to measure the overall health of the economy, and presidents don't have as much control over any of it as many would like to believe...but nevertheless, with the DJIA closing at its 5th record-setting level in two weeks, I'm starting to hear mumblings about how Bush and his tax cuts have saved the day. I decided to put some numbers together.

If we completely ignore the index prior to January 1 1900 (since I haven't found the raw data for those few years), and if I haven't made any mistakes, the record end-of-day records stand as follows:

021 McKinley
041 T. Roosevelt
025 Wilson
187 Coolidge
025 Hoover
142 Eisenhower
030 Kennedy
112 Johnson
016 Nixon
153 Reagan
045 G. H. W Bush
267 Clinton
005 G. W. Bush

W just needs 20 more to meet Herbert "Great Depression" Hoover, another 20 on top of that to match Bush "It's the economy, stupid" Sr's 4-year record, and then another 222 to tie with Bill "it's all his fault" Clinton's.

#357 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:55 AM:

PJ - I was at a housewarming in a similarly-decorated place a month ago; horrible flock wallpaper, swirly red carpets, avocado bath set etc. The owners had bought it to refit, so the party finished with the guests merrily ripping the house apart down to bare timber with shouts of "Crush! Tear! Destroy!" Great fun.

#358 ::: Eimear N&iacute Mh&eacuteal&oacuteid ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 06:32 AM:

In case anybody who knew him hadn't heard: sad news about Irish fan David Stewart.

#359 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 09:02 AM:

Corrected link for Eimear Ní Mhéalóid's sad news.

(Eimear, you'll want to terminate HTML special-character tags with a semicolon.)

#360 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 09:09 AM:

Re #352, Bruce E. Durocher II: Since the link for The New York Times isn't free,...

Try running it through the NYT blog link generator.

#361 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 10:12 AM:

Over at Salon, in an interview about his new book "The God Delusion", Richard Dawkins adds the Flying Spaghetti Monster to the list of religions that he doesn't believe in.

But I am as agnostic about God as I am about fairies and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Is FSM going mainstream?

#362 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Well, I did see a Flying Spaghetti Monster emblem on the back of an ordinary sort of car yesterday - one of those things that's a parody of the Christian "fish" ones, you know?

#363 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 01:25 PM:

Ajay #357 -- I was at a housewarming in a similarly-decorated place a month ago; horrible flock wallpaper, swirly red carpets, avocado bath set etc.

We once rented (and got out of as soon as human[e]ly possible) a house that had flocked wallpaper on the only wall in the bedroom against which the bed could be put. Only trouble was, they'd painted it. So there we were in our headboard-less state, reading in bed with these scratchy pointy *things* poking us in the head. This was also the house with the black tile (with little gold flecks) bathroom with the pink walls and fixtures. The only charming note in the entire place was a circa 1962 GE wall oven with little double doors opening out sideways. Massively more convenient, and a friend of ours still remembers it fondly.

When we bought our current place, we discovered that the original owner (not the guy we bought it from) had had a pink fetish to end all such--strawberry ice cream walls, cranberry carpets, cranberry tiles in the kitchen, cranberry veining and grout in the entry tiles, and kitchen counters of an incredibly lurid fluorescent pink. Most of it had been replaced or covered over, but my husband spent a week painting all the closets, and the garage (including the ceiling). There is still one small relic that missed depinkification: the hot water heater closet. We keep that as a warning to others. And the entry tile isn't that bad.

The owners had bought it to refit, so the party finished with the guests merrily ripping the house apart down to bare timber with shouts of "Crush! Tear! Destroy!" Great fun.

This sounds more like a house *cooling*. Of course, in the more historic areas of town, it is fashionable to leave it at the bare timber stage. What no one seems to have realized is that historically, the bare wood was covered with stretched muslin to which wallpaper was applied.

#364 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 01:56 PM:

I once rented an apartment where all the walls were stucco. My friends were always cutting their hands on it (sitting on a sofa, you stretch your arms above your head...and bleed profusely from the knuckles).

Also, the bedroom floor was covered in linoleum that had been chosen by a preteen girl some years earlier. It was a zebra pattern (!), but the once-white bits were yellowed and stained, and the whole thing was scarred and pitted. It was unbelievably hideous, and the landlady wouldn't let me change it even at my own expense. I put a carpet over it.

#365 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Xopher, you shoulda seen some of the paint jobs in the individual rooms at my fraternity house at UofA back in the late 1960s-early 1970s. The place was cinder-block construction, and one friend painted each block in an alternating black and white pattern. He also covered the ceiling in aluminum foil (now that's conspiracy-theory weirdness, even before "tinfoil-hat" became synonymous with same).

Another guy, a budding civil engineer, practiced his drafting skills by painting the Budweiser label (complete with all the verbiage -- "This is the famous Budweiser beer, blah blah blah") on one of the long walls.

#366 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:41 PM:

#364 ::: Xopher wrote:
Also, the bedroom floor was covered in linoleum that had been chosen by a preteen girl some years earlier. It was a zebra pattern (!), but the once-white bits were yellowed and stained, and the whole thing was scarred and pitted. It was unbelievably hideous, and the landlady wouldn't let me change it even at my own expense. I put a carpet over it.

I'm happy to say that my parents have finally replaced the wallpaper I found absolutely delightful at the ripe age of seven-or-so.

#367 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 05:37 PM:

The house my husband and I moved into when we were first married had a wide selection of the horrors previously mentioned, including a violently pink bathroom; it was the master bedroom which was particularly horrific, though, with walls, ceiling and carpet all an intense lilac. I repainted the walls cream and the wood-work peach, and pretended with all my heart, until I was convinced, that the carpet was grey.

Typing that, though, I'm reminded of a friend who moved into a house where the only bathroom was done in bright avocado green. The idea of facing that in the mirror each morning makes violent pink seem downright friendly.

#368 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 05:37 PM:

Our family once moved into a house with one bathroom painted a sickly coral (with gray fixtures), the other(with yellow fixtures) painted a sickly dark turquoise to match the dark turquoise master bedroom. The living room had one brick wall with built-in fireplace and the "accent" wall was black. Height of fashion in the 50s, I suppose. Took a lot of paint to make it livable. Curiously, the two "kids" bedrooms were a normal landlord white.

While in college my room mate and I got to redecorate our house, which had some water damage, on our landlord's dime. So we took our $250 and painted the bathroom light green, installed alternating red and green carpet tile and painted the wood and the rusty outside of the clawfoot tub red. (Hey, we were in college! In the 70s!!) The kitchen was done in tasteful shades of yellow and turquoise to match the wallpaper border (a cheap remnant) and the dining room and one living room wall were covered in ... you guessed it ... gold flocked wallpaper, to go with lace curtains, fringed lampshades and the whole Victorian whorehouse theme. The landlord liked it, even the red and green bathroom. And we had money left over.

#369 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 05:57 PM:

Anyone else really pleased about Mohammed Yunus getting the Nobel Peace Prize?

#370 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 06:20 PM:

I hope our nation someday looks back at the politics of the "oughts" with the same disgust and disbelief as we look back at 1970s interior decor:

"What . . .were . . . we . . . thinking?

#371 ::: Sajia ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Mr Yunus's good fortune, and the discovery of the underwater city off India, have been the best pieces of good news I've heard in this enormously depressing year.
And don't quibble that he doesn't fit the definition of peace activist. The economic violence of poverty is still violence, as any Third World (I know, I know, imperfect moniker) leftist would tell you.
You know, back when Republicans were obsessing over Clinton's satyromania, Bangladeshi NGOs like Grameen Bank were fighting off misogynist fatwas by "Islamic" extremists who objected allegedly to the empowerment of women but also I think to the injection of progressive activism in general into the rural regions of my country.

#372 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 08:13 PM:

joann @363, you can still get side-opening ovens. If I ever build a house, I'm getting one. Not that I use big ovens often, but I want one I can use just in case.

We once knew a couple that moved in near us and made the entire house angry orange. Orange shag carpet through the entire house, orange and other colors wallpaper. Ick.

#373 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 08:45 PM:

The first house that I can remember living in had orange shag carpeting (in multiple shades of orange) and my parents had put in bottle-green and orange velveteen furniture to 'coordinate' with it. I recall vividly that all of the sofas and chairs had little accent pillows in the (violently) contrasting colour.

My modernist tastes came out early; I remember repainting the French Provincial bedroom set I shared with my sister in white and charcoal grey, to cover up its original cream-and-gilt colour scheme.

I like to think that my apartment will still look tasteful (if a tad austere) in twenty years. I'm looking forward to biomorphic adaptable furniture and/or cheap 3D fabs, though, so I fully expect that in a couple of decades people are mostly just going to be surprised that everything is so static.

#374 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 12:04 PM:

Since this is an open thread, and since I know there are a lot of computer-savvy people here, may I ask a question?

We are subscribed to Norton antivirus and firewall programs, and up-to-date with systems scans. However, recently my wife has been getting an awful lot of emails to the effect that emails she never sent have been rejected or undelivered, various reasons. All, so far as I can see, have subject lines related to finance - loans, stocks, etc.

As soon as they started showing up in the in box, I ran a complete system scan with Norton Antivirus, as updated last week. Nothing. I then tried Panda software's antivirus, and it showed a list of low-threat cookies, apparently picked up from the internet, but nothing really malicious.

Question: Despite the protection we thought we had, has our machine been turned into a zombie, and is being used to send spam? Or is this a really cunning phish?

#375 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 12:36 PM:

When my father bought his house a few years ago, it was fairly clear that it hadn't been redecorated since the seventies. Almost every colour of the rainbow was present in the shag carpeting of that house, and they were all defiled by their inclusion.

#376 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 12:47 PM:

A dumb question: When Nintendo's Wii device comes out there's an application I'd like for it that I doubt will be available commercially. Is there any sort of developer community shaping up for the device where I could mention what I'd like and someone might say "Hey, that'd be interesting" and have the skills to do something about it?

#377 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Dave Luckett @ #374: " Despite the protection we thought we had, has our machine been turned into a zombie, and is being used to send spam? Or is this a really cunning phish?"

The short answers are: no and no. What's almost certainly happening is that spammers are using your wife's email address to send forged email to servers that send bounces, trying to get their messages past your spam filter disguised as legitimate meta. They don't have to have control of your computer to do this. No, it's not particularly clever at all. Really, really cunning phish looks almost indistinguishable from the real thing, except for the telltale demand for your private personal information.

#378 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Added note on email Spam: I've seen the rate jump by about 60% this week. That's a weekly comparison, and the current rate looks to be even higher. But I didn't see any obvious sign of them being bounce messages.

#379 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Any idea what's causing it? I've received more spam in the past month or so than I used to get in six.

#380 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 04:55 PM:

374/377: My guess is that it's something else going on -- a spammer has found your wife's e-address and is using it as part of a rotating fake-address attempt to get past others' spam filters. I get these occasionally. They tend to die out quickly.

#381 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 06:31 PM:

A collective memory request-

Where are 3 or 4 good short critiques of Thomas Friedman's recent work, where the critiques are available on the net? This is to refresh my memory for a free-trade discussion tomorrow (sunday the 15th).

I've seen the particle from Prospect-- what are others like that, perhaps with more details but not a whole lot longer? I know I've read some good stuff, perhaps on Delong's blog, but I didn't bookmark them then.

#382 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 06:51 PM:

Kathryn,
This link is a search result of DeLong's blog with Thomas Friedman as the search term. That's the good news. The bad news is there are 280 results.

#383 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Bruce,

You can count on it that someone will port Linux to the Wii. What sort of application do you have in mind? From the descriptions I've read of the wireless controller that comes with it the hardware hacking community will have a field day.

It would be simple to repurpose the Wii as a sound synthesizer. It is a PowerPC processor and it would be easy to port James McCartney's Supercollider synthesis language. You could then equip a modern dance company with one per dancer and they could generate their own accompaniment as they danced.

Hacking will begin as soon as the system is actually on the market.

#384 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 12:02 AM:

"Invalid ladies" is an English rendition of "demoiselles des Invalides" -- naughty ladies who hang around the Tomb of Napoleon.

PS: Yo no sabe ein bisschen Francais.

#385 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 03:21 AM:

Thank you, j h woodyatt and Tom Whitmore. That's somewhat reassuring. I was about to leap to the conclusion that something new had been added. I can only add the traditional and ritual cursing of those spamming bastards, may they die soon and in great pain.

#386 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 07:08 AM:

#385 Dave Luckett

You're far too kind. I'm being deluged with fake eBay messages - I don't do ANYTHING on eBay - and Nigerian scam emails, plus 'update your details because they're defunct' messages from Paypal (in that case, how did I manage to pay for that Idgy Vaughn CD this week, or my son's Megabus ticket the week before?)

May the deaths of all spammers be immediate, just taking a l-o-n-g time and introducing them to excquisite degrees of pain hitherto existing only in the imagination of Clive Barker.

#387 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 09:56 AM:

May spammers be cursed with nothing but spam in their mailboxes, with their own address as sender!

(I get those eBay/Paypal messages too, and I don't even have an account with them.)

#388 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 10:43 AM:

The mountain of PayPal and eBay spam I receive daily is one of the main reasons I don't do business with either PayPal or eBay. I would NEVER be able to sort out the real stuff, if there were any real stuff.

#389 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 11:23 AM:

Stuart: Having heard and seen the original instrument in use, I want Wii software that if I bought a second controller would allow me to do this without having to spend $1995.00 plus $45.00 shipping and handling. It wouldn't sell like an extra-spiffy game would, but there's a lot of musicians that would buy one for this alone...

#390 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Lila, I've never had any difficulty sorting out the real stuff, so far (may this remain true, may this remain true, may this remain true). Anything that isn't real doesn't have my correct eBay user name, or anything that identifies my PayPal address; and mousing over any internal address identifies it as a spoof when the address is different from what it claims to be.

The only one I've ever responded to was a "You've won this particular Masonic grant". With the whole "Raiders of the Lost Basement" story, there's a slightly measurable chance that that one was true. No response yet, a week later. If it does come true, folks here will hear very quickly!

The ones that aren't caught by ATT's really unreliable spam filter (which takes out real companies without asking, while allowing "virgilio.it" to get into the "filtered" bin, and occasionally the unfiltered) are pretty obvious. Seconds per day. I object to them. I wish them painful rot of body parts I won't mention here. And they're not even mosquitos. They're midges. Seconds per day of discomfort, not even pain.

This part of living in a capitalist economy is "in the noise". Yeah, it's a pain. So is keeping records for the IRS.

And every so often, I hear from someone I hadn't thought of for years, and that makes the obvious, evil, filterable spam just a bit more tolerable.

#391 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 04:29 PM:

In the department of interior design misfortune, the first house my family lived in after moving to Washington state has to qualify. When we first saw it, one room had a psychedelic day-glo sunset painted across an entire wall; the bathroom was carpeted with carpet samples haphazardly nailed to the floor.

Later, my father and uncle perpetrated something simpler but still amusing; they picked paint colors for the non-master bedrooms based on small sample swatches, without taking into account how they would appear when scaled up....

This resulted in my room having all four walls a deep royal blue that could easily induce claustrophobia, while my brother's room wound up in an eye-searing Big Bird yellow.

#392 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 04:34 PM:

I hope the folks who regularly post here from Hawaii are okay. I'm guessing that most of them are on Oahu - and 95% of the power grid is out there[0].

[0] How is it that I can't think of disasters any longer without thinking of Mike Ford - both his absence now, and his wisdoms?

#393 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 05:49 PM:

re: various home "decorating" projects

When we bought our house, the back bedroom had been painted stark white. When we bent over to look under the built-in headboard, we found the room had been lime green. Very lime. Very green. There was no carpet.

However, in the garage was a rolled up chunk of very shaggy middlin' dark maroon carpet, about the right size to fit in that back bedroom.

The house had been on the market for some time before we saw it. Maybe someone got a clue and took the carpet out and painted the room to stop frightening potential buyers.

#394 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 06:56 PM:

Re #392, xeger:

This in from the folks in Atlantis:
"Now don't tie a knot in your panties,
     There's nothing to fear,
     We're all fine down here,
Except for some outlying shanties."

The quake's long since over in Mu,
But inhabitants say, "It's a zoo:
     The squid are a-quiver
     Because that last shiver
Freed the Kraken from offshore Guangzhou."

The Old Ones checked in from R'lyeh,
And assured us, per Negra Via:
     "The shaking has ceased,
     But our mean depth's decreased,
And Rising Day's coming soon; see ya!"

#395 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 07:40 PM:

Bruce,

It looks like I read your mind. I've been a fan of Buchla's instruments all the way back to the Buchla 100. The controller that comes with the Wii is based on silicon accelerometers made by Analog Devices. A Lightning like device should be well within the hardware capacity of the Wii. I rate this as something that is highly likely to be undertaken.

I'll make a note of your email address in my projects file. When I see any projects underway that look adaptable for this purpose I'll let you know.

#396 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 09:12 PM:

Paula Helm Murphy, Harry Connolly - Thanks for the link. I checked out her LiveJournal, and the discussion (and additional links) were very interesting. Thanks!

#397 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 09:23 PM:

xeger, thanks. Oahu is getting its power back in increments. The system shut down entirely (and automatically) this morning at 0720hst, and they're being very careful in restoring it. We got ours back at 1320hst.

My experience here.

#398 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 11:34 PM:

Linkmeister - glad to hear things were startling, but not decaffinated!

Raven - a much appreciated giggle, thank you.

#399 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:05 PM:

#389 Lightning.

Interesting device. Using LED's to triangulate? Hm, that's probably outside the realm of possibilities for a generic FPGA. I wonder if you could do it with omnidirectional ultrasonic transmitters. speed of sound is a lot slower than light. probably could clock the difference fairly easily. An accelerometer in the baton would not give you an absolute coordinate, but might also give you a usable signal that is slow enough that you don't need special analog hardware. Combined with a small processor...

woops. I almost started waxing a new cat there.

never mind.

#400 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:07 PM:

If anyone hasn't been reading The Sandbox, I recommend this post. Also, that same post will help anytime you hear someone diss the US Military.

I have to say, while the Iraq war has made me feel worse about America, and there have been many bad moments, I feel proud of our folks in uniform overall. I could not have honestly said that a few years ago.

#401 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:16 PM:

On Paypal/ebay phishing etc. -

I can tell spam from real easily. The spam all comes to my yahoo account, the real mail comes to the account I actually use for Paypal and ebay. I'm not sure why the spam doesn't find the latter account, but it's fine by me.

#402 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Anyone up on what to expect with severely premature babies?

I've just become an aunt to two baby girls who were not quite at 30 weeks and weigh in at a roaring 2 lbs 9.5 oz and 1 lb 11 oz. They were born yesterday by emergency C-section when my sister's blood pressure suddenly went through the roof. She'd been hospitalized for the last couple of weeks because they were worried that the smaller twin was in trouble, so they were able to intervene very quickly when the situation went critical. My sister's still in the ICU (or whatever they call it in London) but doesn't seem to be at risk, and the girls will probably be in the NICU (ditto) for months.

After basic survival, the next question on my mind is what chance we have of having two normal children here.

The background is an anorexic mother and four rounds of fertility treatments (hormones, IVF, etc.); the pregnancy has been high-risk from day one.

#403 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Interior decor horror stories...

I bought my house as a foreclosure property a few years ago. It had been more-or-less abandoned by the previous owners and was in pretty bad shape overall. (Now it's in slightly less bad shape, but I have a long way to go.) The outside is a sort of aggressive mauve. I hated the thought of living in a pink house, but it's sort of grown on me over the years. If I can ever afford to paint it, I plan on making it a brighter and more obnoxious fuschia.

On the inside, it was originally a single-family since split up into three apartments. The top floor featured blue shag carpet and gold linoleum along with track lights and a loft. My mother took one look at it and said "swinging bachelor pad!" I've replaced the carpet, but I can't afford to replace perfectly functional linoleum.

The second floor featured pink and white linoleum and all doors and trim painted what I can only describe as Caucasian flesh tone - the same color as the old Crayola crayon. I've repainted most of that, though I still have a door or two and the kitchen cabinets (flesh tone) to go. The linoleum is hopelessly damaged and needs replacement - there are enough holes to see the exciting gold linoleum underneath - but since that kitchen is not intended to be my permanent one, I probably will never bother.

But the first floor is what made it really special. The foyer (which is the reason I bought the house) featured red carpet against a dark pink front door and a dark green door leading into the apartment. The entryway was painted a sort of dingy green with a drop ceiling covering the light fixture. The living room was painted dark rusty orange with charcoal gray trim. The bedroom was painted tan with dark rusty orange trim. The bathroom was painted four clashing shades of blue. The kitchen was painted four really painfully clashing shades of green, none of which matched any of the three visible layers of damaged green linoleum. The little hallway between the four rooms had one wall and its trim painted to match each room. And there were strange puffs of white spray paint on random walls throughout. We theorize that the previous occupants went to a paint sale and got only one can of each color.

I've repainted the living room, which got much bigger when painted white. I've laid one layer of white on the bathroom so I can bear to go in the door without dark glasses. I've repainted half the bedroom (which I use as a sewing room) so that I could set up bookshelves and never have to move them. I haven't touched the kitchen (which I use as a closet).

The house has enough redeeming features (starting but not ending with the fabulous price) to make it worth it, but it's a long slog.

#404 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Also on eBay/Paypal phishing. Don't let the fake emails scare you off from doing business with these sites. Just don't open anything through your email that claims to be from eBay, Paypal, Etsy, etc. It's safer to go to your account at their site and open your message there. Just use the email as an alert that there MIGHT be legitimate mail in your account and you should go check it.

Our current house was decorated by someone who went mad for the striped-wallpaper-with-wide- floral-border look. Like living in a hatbox or something. After 5 years I finally got it all scraped off. The black-and-white checkerboard linoleum kind of grew on me eventually, so I embraced it and painted the upper walls mustard yellow for a kind of neo-classical look. Unfortunately, we can't afford to get rid of the carpet yet. Why anyone would install white carpet in a red-dirt state is beyond me...

#405 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 03:15 PM:

Why anyone would install white carpet in a red-dirt state is beyond me...

My parents used white mostly for ceilings. (Three kids and a cat: recipe for muddy footprints.) White furniture and carpeting - never!

#406 ::: harthad ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 03:46 PM:

On the subject of interior decorating horrors: We once rented a fully-furnished house from a family who were temporarily out of the country. The house was from the 50's, and the bathroom was pink. What's so odd about that, you say? Every conceivable surface and object in this room was PINKPINKPINK. The tub, toilet, and sink were pink porcelain. The tub surround was pink plastic. The flooring was pink. The countertops were pink tile. The cabinets had been painted pink. The walls and the ceiling were pink. The curtains were pink. The blinds were pink. The towels were pink. The shower curtain had pink polka-dots. The rugs were pink shag. The silk flowers, candles, wall decorations, tissue holder, and yes, even the soap, were pink. And they weren't merely pink. No two items in the room were the same shade of pink. (You'd think they might have managed to get, say, two towels the same color, but no!) One day I unwisely counted all the different shades, and I believe the total was 23. It was a nightmare painted in Pepto-Bismol.

#407 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 04:35 PM:

Open thread tangent:
North Korea and nukes.

Seismic measurements put the weapon at around 1 kiloton or less, which is a very weird number. Of all the initial nukes we built in WW2, they were all in the ~20kt ballpark. The NK nuke is at least an order of magnatude smaller than expected from a critical mass of material. Either it was so poorly designed that it failed, or it was a fake.

As to fakes, one of the odd things that happened with this was that NK announced the test before it happened. And that comes with the risk that if the bomb fails to mushroom, then you've broadcast the fact that (1) you tried and (2) failed, which doesn't seem like somethink that pride-ego-driven NK would risk. Much better to work in secret, repeatedly try and fail in secret, and when it works, everyone will know because the seismometers will peg. Your failures are hidden and your success is known. Not to mention, if it were real, announcing it before hand might have triggered some unwanted military action from the US. It seems awful risky, and I can see no benefit from pre-announcing the blast.

If it was a fake, however, announcing it before the blast has the advantage that it would cause everyone to watch their seisometers and radioactive detectors, and then when the conventional explosives buried underground go off, the bump they produce would be noticed. A kiloton of conventional explosives would apparently require a cube of fertilizer and fuel oil that is 6 meters on a side (according to the physics for future presidents course). That amount of boom isn't outside the realm of a third world country.

And I still can't figure out how radioactivity samples of air from a site hundreds of miles away from the explosion would prove that the explosion was a fissile weapon. How much radioactivity will get into the atmosphere from a buried bomb? If you do have some uranium and a moderator, I think you could make the exact same fission fragments. I think reactor grade uranium can make some radioactivity that might pass for bomb-grade uranium, but I'm not the nuclear expert.

I've heard some stories after the initial blast that said the blast was not a nuke. Now I've read some that say it is nuclear. I'm not convinced either way yet, and both seem possibilities yet. At this moment, I haven't read anything specific enough about the details to feel any certainty either way.

I suppose it doesn't matter. The shite has hit the fanne, either way. I'd just like to know whether it was real or hoax because it would tell a little bit about the mentality of NK.

The Bush administration's relationship to NK reminds me of the Waco/David Koresh flustercuck. Clinton tried detente and seemed to be succeeding. Bush quickly tossed that, repeatedly used beligerent language, declared NK part of an axis of evil, and the invaded one of the members of that axis. My understanding of what happened at Waco was that the negotiators were trying to use detente to end the crisis with as few people dead as possible, while the knuckleheads upstairs ordered tanks to drive around their front yards, drive over their cars, and have helicopters fly around.

How is it the most militant idiots seem enthralled with war, yet fail to read its first user manual? Sun Tzu has an important bit about cornering your enemy: Never do it. Always leave your opponent an exit. If cornered, your opponent will invariably turn and fight to the end. If allowed an exit, they will attempt to retreat through it, giving you the field.

What I've been reading about how Bush has been relating to NK, it seems to be nothing but six years of cornering them and barring all exits. Whether NK has a nuke or not, they are not doing anything unexpected. Once cornered, an army will turn and fight to the death like a trapped rat. And yet Shrub, with his wooden brain, continues to close more exits and push harder on the lines.

Sometimes I wonder if we'll even make it to 20 January 2009.

#408 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 04:39 PM:

Then there's the more cynical part of me that considers the option that the bomb was conventional, NK was bluffing, but Shrub ordered fissile material be released into the atmosphere from a US navy nuclear submarine off the coast of NK. If the world believes its a bomb, this might make it easier for Shrub to get what he wants, which is tougher sanctions, blockade, and eventually a regime change. Which would make this one very twisted game of Thing.

#409 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Open-thread type comment:

I obediently note that the "Note:" box above this text entry window says "If you want to comment on an thread that's been closed..."

Surely "a thread that's been closed..."?

</pedant>
My American upbringing makes me twitch when I put a question mark outwith quotes, even though it's correct in this case.
</pedant>
</pedant>

Outwith. Darn it, I'm stuck in pedant mode!

#410 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Susan #402:

My mother was born weighing exactly 2 lbs. I don't know how close to full-term she was, but I know she didn't have fingernails when she was born (they grew in later).

She just turned 89.

She has been hospitalized 4 times in her life; each of those was in order to deliver a healthy, full-term baby.

She had a long and successful career as a high school English teacher and part-time voice teacher. She still lives independently though she no longer drives a car.

Best of luck to your nieces and their mom.

#411 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Stuff dealing with certain classes of WMD and analysis thereof gets very classified very fast. I remember someone getting annoyed about test results that were classified because the while the tests being performed weren't, the systems that got used for the measurements, were used for other stuff that was classified--and so, because the test systems (as opposed to the system under test) had classified applications, the results of the testing and analysis got classified, too. The person who was talking to me was quite annoyed about the situation.

The translation of the above: the test results for a test weren't available to the general public because some of the test equipments used, had used on secret programs. This is like saying that one can't get a copy of a fanzine because the printer used for printing it, sometimes also got used to print private distribution apazines.

#412 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Susan @ 402: My neice was born six weeks early, at 3lb 11oz. Then she lost 11 oz. I mention this because I understand that some weight loss is fairly normal (their digestive system isn't fully developed), but when they're so small already, it can be pretty heartbreaking. So don't panic if that happens.

Liz is an incredible, talented, bright college freshman this fall.

Ooh -- Don't let me forget; I owe her an email.

#413 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 07:47 PM:

Susan (#402)-- My brother was born 12 weeks early in 1972. I don't remember his weight, but I have a photo of Mom holding him in the palm of her hand.

The doctor said that his lungs were unusually developed for his age and that the cord was wrapped so tightly around his neck that he probably wouldn't have survived if he had been carried to term.

Back then, none of the doctors expected him to survive much past his birth, but after three months in an incubator my parents brought him home and he met all his developmental markers just like he was supposed to.

Nowadays, he gets frequent migraines, but nobody has ever connected that condition with the circumstances of his birth. Otherwise, he's a healthy, smart, creative guy.

#414 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:43 PM:

Greg #407:

The trick is not so much the radioactivity, while that does help in knowing you have something in your trap. What you are looking for are specific fission products. A graph of the relative concentrations of the different elements is a signature of the kind of reaction that produced them, reactor or bomb, and sometimes including what element fissioned to produce them. Also, in the case of a reactor, if you get a lot of coolant released, you may be able to tell the condition of the reactor itself and the age of the fuel. For example, certain isotopes of the noble gases xenon and krypton build up in nuclear fuel. (Xe135 is a fission poison that causes problems in some reactors.) The presence of radioactive krypton in an air sample downwind of a suspected facility is considered good evidence of a fuel reprocessing facility.

My limited understanding from my reading is that radioactive cesium is of particular importance. What you want is the ratio of Cs134 to Cs137 -- in products from a bomb there should be little to no Cs134, but significant amounts of Cs137.

This kind of work started with the original Trinity test, and air samples taken off the Soviet Pacific coast provided conclusive evidence of the first Soviet test, thousands of miles upwind. Use good filters, and a well calibrated mass spectrograph.

#415 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:57 PM:

Susan,

I have a friend who was born around 24 weeks. She's had a host of physical problems, complicated by the fcukedupness of her family, but she is a very nice person who is absolutely brilliant. Even if there are physical complications for the babies, that doesn't preclude them being great people.

#416 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:01 PM:

#409 (abi): Fix'd.

#417 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:46 PM:

A long time ago there was a C-135 stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base, back when the USAF kept a few planes there, with lead blankets lining the inside of its airframe for shielding... Guess what it was used for... that was back in the days when the USA was doing nuclear weapons testing. (My relative who's been at MIT Lincoln Lab going back to the days when it was the Radiation Laboratory, was someone who went out of his way to avoid being on-board it, working with radar was one thing, flying in a plane that had lead shielding to cut down on the broadband radiation exposure, was quite another thing...)

#418 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:31 PM:

flaring said:
Nowadays, he gets frequent migraines

He might want to get checked for a hole in his cardiovascular system, which has been connected with migraine in a number of cases, mostly because of people who have had their migraines diappear after having the hole closed.

#419 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 11:38 PM:

Stuart:

It looks like I read your mind. I've been a fan of Buchla's instruments all the way back to the Buchla 100.

I've wanted an instrument from him ever since the old "Buchla Box" came out, but never had the budget. What I'd really like is the "glowing marimba thing" (sorry--can't remember the proper name) that they flew up for the Silent Movie Monday showing of "Women in the Moon" and which was hauled off to some sort of special concert at the R&D end of the Microsoft campus. Looked like a hell of a lot of fun, but considering I couldn't even afford a Lightning I didn't even bother to do more than glance at it so I didn't get sick about not being able to afford it.

The controller that comes with the Wii is based on silicon accelerometers made by Analog Devices. A Lightning like device should be well within the hardware capacity of the Wii. I rate this as something that is highly likely to be undertaken.

Oh, good. Based on the description Gabe and Tycho gave us at Foolscap I thought it was possible, but it's nice to get another opinion.

I'll make a note of your email address in my projects file. When I see any projects underway that look adaptable for this purpose I'll let you know.

Thanks! I appreciate it!

Greg London:

Having seen and heard one in use it's pretty spectacular. As I remember it, the operator had set up a particular position to switch between each instrument so he could toggle between drums and cymbals and flutes and bassoons without having to touch the control box. Pretty impressive.

#420 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 11:54 PM:

Susan at 402, I was born 3 months premature in 1946. The doctors were sure I would be stillborn, not alive, and were stunned to find me breathing. I weighed two pounds at birth, and yes, I could fit in the palm of my father's hand. I spent 3 months in an incubator (in which, wonder of wonders, I was not given pure oxygen, as so many premies at that time were, and therefore I did not end up blind) and then my parents took me home. I didn't walk until I was nearly 3 years old. My parents were told I might have weak lungs. If I did, I don't remember it.

I'm fine. Not perfect -- nobody gets perfect. But what's wrong with me is in my genes, and would probably have been wrong even if I'd had those full nine months in my mother's womb. No, my mom wasn't anorexic; and no, there were no fertility treatments to confuse the issue, and I have no idea how those will impact the girls, but believe me, they have a good chance of being -- fine.

Do they have names yet?

#421 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 12:21 AM:

#406 ::: harthad winced:
On the subject of interior decorating horrors: We once rented a fully-furnished house from a family who were temporarily out of the country. The house was from the 50's, and the bathroom was pink.

I've been slowly scraping the wallpaper paste whose love for the pink primered wallboard vastly exceeded its weak affection for the hideous dark green floral wallpaper from the walls of my front bedroom. I'm not sure if the oppressively dank green, or the pepto-bismol pink is more distressing - but I think I will paint the ... walls ... beige.

#422 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 08:35 AM:

Lizzy L @ 420:
Do they have names yet?

Allegra Grace Callanan (larger)
Olivia Giselle Callanan (smaller)

Thanks to all who've responded with reassurance and rational assessments here. This has been the subject of much family panic the last few weeks; at one point the blood flow to Olivia was so minimal they were afraid she was dying in the womb (that was when they hospitalized my sister). So we're considering it a big accomplishment to have two live babies at all.

If I seem a little emotionally disconnected about this, it's because I am not at all close to my sister and have not the slightest maternal instinct. While I am faintly and oddly pleased to have nieces, I don't tend to go all gooey over babies, even ones that are related to me. The whole thing is still a little abstract - I haven't actually seen or spoken to my sister for more than about a minute for the whole duration of the pregnancy. I do have a strong preference for live, healthy nieces and a sane sister and mother over the alternative, but overall I'm a little confused and have a sneaking suspicion that I am not feeling the proper emotions in this situation.

I'm babbling. I shall stop now. Thanks again for the testimonials about the success of teeny-tiny preemies. I shall be hopeful and optimistic.

#423 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 09:29 AM:

Allegra - good name for a premature arrival...

Best thing to do is remember that the first day of your life is the most dangerous - every day after that, your odds get better. (This is probably a good philosophy for Life in General, if a little trite.)

#424 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:04 AM:

#411, #414:

I figure there are things about detection technology that's classified. Part of me is wondering how easy it would be to fake the results. If it had been ~20kt, I'd be certain it was real, but if it's >1kt, I wonder how hard it would be to fake the radioactivity.

But I guess I was really just trying to understand the mental process.

If the nuke was real, I cannot fathom why NK would broadcast their intentions before the test. What if it were a dud? All that tough talk, and then nothing happens? And NK seems to be a somewhat ego-driven country. Then there would also be the slim possibility that a pre-test announcement might have brought a preemptive strike against NK before the bomb was proven. Or preemptive blockades, or preemptive inspections, or preemptive UN resolutions. And if the test failed, they gained nothing and lost a lot in the process. The risks they took in pre-announcing the test were rather huge, in my opinion, and I can see no benefit to doing that. Better to test it in secret, keep your failures hidden, avoid any preemptive repercussions, and only reveal your success after it's happened.

If it was a nuke, I can't understand their line of thinking in the way they approached it.

#425 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:14 AM:

How do folks do that thing where they change the subject line to reflect the discovery of spam in some old comment thread or other?

#426 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Harriet, use the "Type your name here" box for that sort of thing. If you enter your name as "Harriet sees spam," that's what will show up.

#427 ::: Paula Lieb4erman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:03 AM:

Greg:

Why do computer industry companies, particularly software companies, pre-announce products and delivery dates, particularly, products that aren't anywhere near ready for actual customer use and for which the delivery dates are fantasy lacking any credible willing suspension of disbelivability?

It's all about posturing, perceptions, mindshare, and outfootworking one's competition/opponents, and effecting market change to one's benefit and the loss of prestige, power, market, etc., to one's competition/opponents.

#428 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Andrew Willet: D'Oh!

I could see that "Type name here" was one of the only field accepting user data-entry, but somehow couldn't make that leap. Oy.

#429 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:37 AM:

Paula, I get the idea in general. The difference I see is that Microsoft could pre-announce the release of some new application with a near zero probability that the mere announcement of said product would result in a UN resolution authorizing a naval blockade, a military strike, or other repercussion.

For NK to preannounce the test, they took a huge risk. Worst case scenario, they get all sorts of bad things (blockades, inspections, military strikes), and the bomb turns out to be a dud and doesn't work. Cost=-100, Benefit=0.

The options I can figure are:

(1) they were confident the bomb would work, because then the benefit is positive, rather than zero, so may be worth the risk. But the bomb obviously didn't work too well. A 1kt says to me that they cobbled something together but pooched the design somewhere. If they knew what they were doing, a basic nuke should have gotten them 15-20 kt. That they got 1Kt says to me that they don't know what they're doing, and if they were confident pre-test, then that confidence was undeserved.

(2) They knew their bomb might not work, but were willing to bluff, hoping the response would have been different. Rather than applying further pressure, perhaps they hoped the announcement would cause The Wooden President to back off his cowboy stance, so then they wouldn't need to explode the bomb. The actual response was not what they wanted, pressure against NK increased rather than decreased, and they were then forced to detonate, hoping it would work.

(3) NK thought some kind of punishment was emminent, and thought a preannouncement, and a preamature test, was needed to prevent an American strike.

(4) insert insane reason here, such as egomania. Think Hitler micromanaging the German army and blowing the war. Not a good sign to have a political leader who thinks he knows the military better than the military.

There are other possible reasons, but these are the big ones that come to mind. The thing is that (1) and (2) show poor strategic thinking, (4) requires insanity, and only (3) reflects strategic thinking on NK's part, but it also indicates that we were either goading them with threats of military strikes or they've become paranoid. In the end, none of the explanations I've come up with shows that anyone (NK or US) is thinking this whole thing through to the logical conclusion of their choices.

Best case, Bush is acting beligerent and threatening to NK, and NK is feeling cornered and isn't thinking long term anymore. Both should be red flags that things are seriously messed up.

#430 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:39 AM:

xeger #421

I understand your need for a neutral color after overexposure to dank green and PeptoBismol pink, but try not to pick a depressing shade that doesn't go with anything else (too much brown/pink). Go for a really good rich cream, or an ivory with just a whiff of yellow--the latter will respond beautifully to sunlight. If the room gets a lot of shade, go lighter.

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:46 AM:

xeger @ 421

In a south or west-facing room, try the palest green or blue you can get them to mix.

#432 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 12:35 PM:

I had a green bedroom in one rented duplex. Medium green walls, pale green carpet. I think the ceiling may have been white. I found it soothing.

On the other hand, another place I rented had a living room that appeared to have been painted with salmon cat food - orangy pink and lumpy. It was exceedingly ugly.

#433 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 12:50 PM:

xeger #421

Also, there are products that can improve your paste-removal abilities. Drop by the wallpaper shop and ask them. I seem to recall "Zan" or some such.

#434 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 01:10 PM:

An a completely different topic, what's the latest word on the "view by all" button?

#435 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:03 PM:

PJ at 418: Thanks for the info. I'll pass it along.

#436 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:27 PM:

joann #430:

This talk of neutrals reminds me of how I swung in completely the opposite direction last year. After a couple years of living in landlord-white apartments, I bought a house. The boyfriend and I got a little overexcited about our newfound ability to have non-white walls . . . to the point where we painted the bedroom two different shades of orange. Not even a nice juicy tangerine. A vaguely muddy dark yellow-orange and a rust/dried-blood dark, burnt orange.

I was having visions of a bright, bold room that would be the antithesis of Landlord White.

I regretted it almost immediately.

It is now a color called "Pearl," which is about the creamy neutral you'd expect with a name like that, and looks about twice as big.

We were a little smarter about the other rooms we painted, and did them in a nice light grey, which is a quite calm and modern-looking neutral. Looks especially good with light-colored wood -- pine or such. (That was the home office and the TV room.)

#437 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:29 PM:

More NK news. They have announced a second test will be conducted in the near future (what are they thinking?). Also, the articles that I've read more recently don't even suggest that the first test was a fake. I did read an article that suggests the first bomb was made of plutonium, rather than uranium. So, I guess it's confirmed.

As I understand it, plutonium is easy to get from a nuclear power reactor (no centrifuges, etc, needed), but friggen hard to build into a bomb (high explosives timed just right to create an implosion on the plutonium). Uranium nukes are hard to get material (centrifuges or calutrons etc), but easy to make the bomb (simple cannon design). That would likely explain the low yield. Bad implosion produced small yield. Either that, or a severe lack of sufficient plutonium.

North Korea does / ?used to? have a nuclear power plant, which could be the source for its plutonium.

Insert doomsday plot of choice....

#438 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:35 PM:

It's sorta like the Imperial Robes Of Sublime Beauty... the DPRK doesn't really need nukes so much as it needs the consensus that the DPRK has nukes.

The White House thinks it needs this right now just as much as the DPRK does, so it doesn't really matter whether the test was successful or not. Even if the test had been an actual nuclear engineering failure, the news of the test can easily be managed by the judicious leakage of disinformation^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hintelligence to what still passes itself off as an independent press in America, and the consensus will arrive where it needs to be for everyone involved.

Thus, the DPRK has nukes. And every right-thinking man, woman and schoolchild knows it's true.

#439 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:47 PM:

Wall color choices always have the possibility of offending someone; my bedroom is the greyed green the Victorians called "Bice",walls and ceiling, with candlight cream woodwork. The color is one which retreats, rather than advances, and the room is dark when I need it to be dark, and light with the lights on because I went for a satin surface. Very flat white paint makes a room darker, and cold or muddy whites can feel cold and claustrophobic.

This is a bad conversation for me to be reading, as I'm well into my second year of being fed to the back teeth with the color scheme in my main living space, which is gold, with hunter green fabrics and deep red accents. I want to do it over in pale lemon-yellow, with Swedish Blue fabrics and coral accents, but that would involve, like, money.

#440 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:52 PM:

can easily be managed by the judicious leakage of disinformation

right, from a US nuclear submarine just off the coast of North Korea, or maybe some cargo plane flying in the currents, dumping plutonium-whosits into the atmosphere so as to convince all the world's cartographers to rename NK to "Mordor" with a towering great eye in pong-yong-meeso-meeso-ali-ali-bison-free.

Is it me, or did all this NK shite just sort of happen right before election day?

Georgie-porgie puddin pie,
stuck plutonium in the sky,
when the NK's came out to play,
the whole f-ing earth was blown away.

#441 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 02:59 PM:

I have a mostly dark, north-facing living room. It has one small westward facing window, but basically, it doesn't get much light. I painted it the brightest matte white I could find, and did the window trim and the front door in brilliant matte yellow-gold, with a scarlet area rug, and lots of bright colors (red, gold, blue, yellow) in the artwork on the walls. Cream curtains.

It looks great.

#442 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 03:15 PM:

Xeger -

(You wanted advice on colors, right?)

Pratt and Lambert has a lovely color called "Muffin Tan." It's a dumb name, but a wonderful color. It is neutral enough to go with everything. Colors (in furniture, art, etc) really show well against it. But it is a nice warm color. There is the barest, invisible hint of pink in there, visible only when the rising or setting sun hits it. It is restful and rich, subtle and mixes well with everything.

I love that color. With God as my witness, I will live where I can choose the colors of my own walls again!

#443 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Joann at 433 told xeger at 421 about a commercial wallpaper removal product. My mother taught me this trick. Just use liquid dishwashing detergent, diluted down to about a squirt per cup of water. Dawn is good. Score the paper really well, and spray it and let it sit a few minutes. It can be bear to clean up because if you use a lot, it gets really sudsy when you wash down the walls the last time before painting. But it's probably better for the environment (and definitely better for the pocketbook) than expensive removers. I stripped five rooms this way. No more wallpaper in the house, yay!

#444 ::: Charlotte Perkins Gilman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 04:00 PM:

We rented a summer house a few years ago, and the master bedroom had this hideous yellow wallpaper with a sort of seaweed-green pattern on it. I wanted to remove it, but my husband acted like I was being silly. That wallpaper drove me nuts.

#445 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 04:05 PM:

#443 ::: Janet Brennan Croft and Joann at 433 both suggested good things to do to wallpaper:

The wallpaper's long gone - unfortunately the person who put the wallpaper on was astoundingly exuberent with the paste, to the point of it being an easy 1/8-1/4" thick in some places. I'm currently using DIF, and spraying it on, letting it sit for ~5m, spraying on a second lot (working in small areas, to keep everything damp), and then using a combination of The World's Kindest Nail Brush and an oft rinsed sponge. It's working surprisingly well, mostly thanks to the nail brush, which doesn't tear the wallboard[0], but does shift the paste.

#430 ::: joann suggested:
I understand your need for a neutral color after overexposure to dank green and PeptoBismol pink, but try not to pick a depressing shade that doesn't go with anything else (too much brown/pink). Go for a really good rich cream, or an ivory with just a whiff of yellow--the latter will respond beautifully to sunlight. If the room gets a lot of shade, go lighter.

I've just realized that my 'beige' is almost certainly lighter than what's coming to mind for most folk here. I'm thinking "very milky tea", not "slightly adulterated coffee" :)

On the colour front, my local paint store sells the tiny testers (for SICO paint, some colour links approximated), (horribly practical of them - they're just cheap enough that you don't feel bad about trying a few...), and I've tried 'Coconut Cream' (Ewwww! Bad pancake makeup pinky-beige), 'Japanese Paper' (Ewww! Worse! Yellowy cold beige), and 'Rice Paper' (also an icky browny-yellow beige). Right now I'm contemplating 'White Chocolate' which is a pinky beige against the white primer - and probably a warm off-white when it's not actually against true white.

The room faces west, and varies between quite dark and much too light, depending on the season and how the trees are doing. I keep on thinking of being able to do photography and/or project against the walls - but then again, there's always hanging up a sheet :)

#441 ::: Lizzy L said:
I painted it the brightest matte white I could find, and did the window trim and the front door in brilliant matte yellow-gold, with a scarlet area rug, and lots of bright colors (red, gold, blue, yellow) in the artwork on the walls. Cream curtains.

The main spaces of my house are all a rather cheerful yellow - nothing I'd have picked myself in a million years, but very agreeable in place, and I can't imagine changing it.

[0] I tried using nylon scouring pads from the kitchen, but even the soft ones tended to scrape a bit too much.

#446 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 04:13 PM:

The default color for my new apartment (back in '99) was this sort of vomit-yellow. I paid someone to paint it, and they kind of did a shitty job. After toying with the idea of lavender with royal-purple trim, I settled on green: pale green walls, less-pale green trim, extremely pale (as in, it looks white unless you hold up a sheet of white paper next to it) green ceilings. Forest-green furniture.

I'm into this green thing. I'm getting a little bored with it, though.

#447 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 04:37 PM:

yesterday's Astronomy Picture of the Day:
the far side of Saturn, and, if you look just above the left side of the bright rings, there's a little blue dot - that's Earth.

#448 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Well, speaking as part of the Hawaii contingent, I just got back late yesterday afternoon from a somewhat too-exciting weekend on the Big Island. We were attending a wedding Saturday night at the Mauna Lani resort. Early Sunday morning that turned out to be just 6 miles from the epicenter of both the 6.7 quake and 6.0 aftershock.

Lemme see if I can get this Google Maps link to work.... We were at the lower corner of the funny triangular/arrow shaped building near the center of the map here. If you zoom out 3 clicks on the scale, the green arrow shows you where the center of the quake was, just a little bit southwest down the coastline - so we were pretty much dead center.

We have been assuring everyone that if you are going to experience a natural disaster, a luxury resort is the place to do it. Once everyone fled the building - and we needed no encouragement to do it, after the first big aftershock - we evacuated on foot to high ground at the golf course clubhouse, where the staff plied us with food and iced bottled water and sodas all morning. I was one space too far back in the line, and missed getting the smoked salmon Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Oh the humanity! After a bit the staff began fetching out essential medicines and supplies from the guests' rooms and bringing them to people. Eventually they decided that they were going to close down the top 3 stories of the hotel until repairs could be made, and we were able to go back in small groups and pack up our stuff to leave. They also reserved rooms for everyone they evacuated at another resort down the coast. We couldn't fly back to Honolulu as planned, because the Kona airport was operating normally by afternoon, but the Honolulu airport was still only barely running due to the Oahu power outage. We rebooked to Monday afternoon and spent another way-too-expensive-but-nice night at the Sheraton in Keahou.

Our 4 year old took it amazingly well; he was sleeping on a makeshift cot on the floor when it hit, and some magazines fell off the desk onto him. He was only slightly scared, more confused. (If we had put him over by the bureau, he would have been seriously injured by the falling TV; I keep thinking about that.) We grabbed him off the floor after that and put him on our laps on the bed. When the second shock hit 7 minutes later, he was huddled to us getting hugged on the bed, along with the teenage foster daughter who had run over from her room next door. That might be the only time she's ever wanted us to hug or hold her. The only sign he showed of disturbance the rest of the day was being a little grumpier and whinier than he usually is. By the morning he was back to his usual cheerful self.

It's hard to believe, but the worst earthquake-related injury on the whole island was a broken arm. We were all incredibly lucky.

#449 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 05:17 PM:

Greg:

Plutonium is extremely vicious nasty stuff regardless of whether it's involved in making something go BOOM! or not. The Soviets dropped a significant amount of uranium on Canada from out of orbit (instead of getting boosted up into orbit, a satellite that had had a Topaz reactor powering its mission payload came -down-) leaving a radioactive mess that the Soviets got hit with the bill for cleanup of. Uranium is a majorly less nasty and poisonous that plutonium. A "dirty bomb" doesn't have to actually explode to spread bad news around...

#450 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Clifton, I wondered where you were. Glad you posted.

#451 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 06:19 PM:

#448 ::: Clifton Royston wrote:
Well, speaking as part of the Hawaii contingent, I just got back late yesterday afternoon from a somewhat too-exciting weekend on the Big Island. We were attending a wedding Saturday night at the Mauna Lani resort. Early Sunday morning that turned out to be just 6 miles from the epicenter of both the 6.7 quake and 6.0 aftershock.

Oh good! I'm glad to hear things were exciting but okay. Er. Maybe that came out backwards. I'm glad you and yours are alright.

#452 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 06:29 PM:

xeger @ 451:

As a resident of CA, I can say that 'exciting but okay' is a perfectly good description! It's what we hope for (as opposed to 'exciting and cleaning up major messes').

#453 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 06:31 PM:

In case anyone cursed with white carpet is currently thinking "maybe I'll replace it with black carpet!" please lie down with a cold compress over your eyes until the feeling passes.

We live in an apartment with black carpet. It is the most effective lint-magnet (and cat-hair-magnet and bird-feather-magnet and cat-litter-magnet and...) that I've ever had the misfortune to live with. You vacuum, and before you can put the vacuum cleaner back in the closet, something else has landed on the carpet that needs to be vacuumed up. I actually miss the landlord-brown multi-level shag carpet we had in the previous place.

I have daydreams about forcing the architects and builders responsible for rental housing to live in their own buildings — horrible carpet, stark white walls, inadequate drains, nonexistent insulation, and all. *sigh*

#454 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 06:47 PM:

#452 ::: P J Evans wrote:
As a resident of CA, I can say that 'exciting but okay' is a perfectly good description! It's what we hope for (as opposed to 'exciting and cleaning up major messes').

Heh. I can see that. I could definitely have gone without experiencing the last major quake to hit near Gilroy in a basement parking garage ... exciting, but okay, and that was a small one :)

#455 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 07:04 PM:

My husband was down in a Stanford steam tunnel doing something to some network cable when a small one hit back in the 80s. He reported feeling somewhat seasick, and didn't discover it had been a quake until he was back topside. (I think this was the one where my chair rolled clear across my cube. It was at another job that I witnessed the receptionist saying into the phone, "I'm sorry, but I have to get under the desk now--we're having a quake". I went and stood in the center of the room, because all the walls were glass.)

#456 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Clifton, I was about seven miles from the epicenter of the Nisqually Quake in 2001, and 6.7-6.8 is exciting, indeed (although I'm sincerely glad we got no aftershocks in that quake). I think, as natural disasters go, earthquakes short of great-quake status have the advantage over hurricanes and tornadoes: they hit fast, with no tedious weather-channel preliminaries, and are not nearly as wet and noisy.

#457 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 07:16 PM:

The house I grew up in had salmon-pink walls from the previous owners. We finally repainted them off-white, with yellow trim in the kitchen. One (smallish, north-facing) bedroom was a dark chocolate brown when my parents moved in, but that they repainted immediately.

painted the bedroom two different shades of orange. Not even a nice juicy tangerine. A vaguely muddy dark yellow-orange and a rust/dried-blood dark, burnt orange.

I got home from camp one summer to discover that my mother had painted the bathroom orange. Just the trim, though. The rest of it is white, pale gray, and a touch of black, so the pumpkin-orange trim is rather nice. But it was quite a shock to the system!

--Mary Aileen

#458 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 08:07 PM:

Everything in our new house is green. A different shade of green. The bathroom is mint green- with dusty pink tile. Ick!

Cleanup is proceeding here in Buffalo; we have power (& heat!) back in my house for the first time since Thursday, and my s.o. is cooking the contents of the freezer, which still contained ice!

If anyone is somewhere in this area, and wants to come to dinner, please post and we can figure out how to get in touch...

#459 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 08:17 PM:

#458 ::: Nancy C winced:
Everything in our new house is green. A different shade of green. The bathroom is mint green- with dusty pink tile. Ick!

I once saw a house being sold which was deep forest green everywhere. The bathroom, the carpets, the drapes, the fixtures ... and a permeating smell of burnt something, which somehow managed to also be a disagreeable deep green.

#460 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 08:55 PM:

"Exciting but okay" is just fine with us. (We're still getting small but noticeable aftershocks; my wife was woken up by another one around 4 this morning.)

#461 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:02 PM:

Re #456, JESR:

I think, as natural disasters go, earthquakes short of great-quake status have the advantage over hurricanes and tornadoes: they hit fast, with no tedious weather-channel preliminaries, and are not nearly as wet and noisy.
As long as the location of the quake and the formation of the seafloor and shorelines don't result in tsunami.

#462 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 03:08 AM:

#444: ROFL!

(Surely I can't be the only one reading here to have caught that? That's always been a favorite creepy story of mine.)

#463 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 09:33 AM:

Do any of the publishing-savvy people here know anything about Booksurge, http://www.booksurge.com? It's apparently a subsidiary of Amazon.com but at a first persusal it doesn't look much better than other vanity presses, and less worth doing business with for things where self-publishing makes sense than lulu.com. Booksurge charges $99 if your book is already completely edited and formatted in PDF form, and various higher prices (up to $2,499) for formatting, layout, etc. services. Yog's Law, etc.

#464 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 10:23 AM:

Some previous residents painted the back wall of our otherwise-white living room a sort of dusky Pepto Bismo pink (I'm told the original color was brighter, but the landlord toned it down a bit after they left). It still should be dreadful, but I discovered that a judicious placement of artworks including masks -- Balinese, Mexican, a nice one by Mikey Roessner-Herman -- above the (thankfully white-tiled) fireplace makes it seem merely exotic. It also helps that the back wall is the smaller one in a rectangular room.

Back in the Horrid Seventies in Berkeley, we painted my bedroom a pale pumpkin & cream color, to go with the oversize quasi-Art Nouveau olive and orange and gold paper that we put on some of the walls. At least I didn't go for shag carpeting!

#465 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:04 AM:

#462: ??

#466 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:44 AM:

# 465: Ajay, click on Charlotte's name in post 444 for the answer.

(One of these days, I'm going to get in trouble with our hosts for posting under assumed names. But I figure it's almost Halloween, and it's okay to show up in costume, as long as I unmask myself once discovered.)

#467 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:58 AM:

As long as the location of the quake and the formation of the seafloor and shorelines don't result in tsunami.
says Raven at 461.

Me, I say disclaimers are the death of small, poor quips.

#468 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:18 PM:

Howard: Ah, congratulations on your masque. I was wondering who to credit for that. I was wondering if it was Mr. Stross, perhaps.

I read once that that story was widely circulated among administrators of mental hospitals, and is one of the reasons that they are now always painted in "calming" pastel colors, with no wallpaper. (The hospitals, not the administrators.)

#469 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:27 PM:

The administrators have "calming" pastel personalities, instead.

#470 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 01:51 PM:

re 444 "yellow wallpaper..."

It is speculated that Napoleon died from arsenic poisoning from arsenic that outgassed from the green wallpaper in his house on St Helena

#471 ::: harthad ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:16 PM:

Those tiny tester cans of paint that xeger mentioned in #445 are a real lifesaver. I point this out because I was, alas, unaware of their existence until comparatively late in my home-decor phase (says the unwary homeowner who once painted the entryway a shade of screaming florescent yellow). You may have to ask your paint outlet for them; they aren't always advertised. For a pittance amount, you can paint a fair-sized section of wall and discover what the color really looks like in your environment. If you don't want to muck up the wall, try a piece of scrap drywall, or even white posterboard. That way you can move it around to catch the light in different areas.

#472 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 06:16 PM:

# 468: I was wondering who to credit for that. I was wondering if it was Mr. Stross, perhaps.

You flatter me, sir!

If anyone hasn't read Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), it's a quick read, a terrific story, and the full text is online at numerous sites.

I like the richness of the story, in that it supports any number of interpretations, none of which detract from its power. If there's a better interior decorating horror story, I don't know what it might be.

If you're into radio dramas, seek out Suspense's adaptation of this story starring Agnes Moorehead. Agnes Moorehead and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are a perfect match. And as great as Moorehead was in films and on TV, she owned radio.

#473 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 02:47 AM:

There's no way we outdo Texas and Fred Head on the other thread, but with two debates this week, the CT senatorial race is heating up and getting wacky again, and the bloggers at MyDD are doing themselves proud:

"It's not that Lamont has overperformed, or that Joe has melted down, it's that Connecticut Election 2006 has gone off the deep end. It's not your normal white picket fence suburban election, with attack ad facing attack ad. No, this is more like a white picket fence election that suddenly gets bored with life and decides to live in the forest, take a bunch of LSD, trout-fish naked, and taunt a bear cub before ending its life suddenly and with total and inexplicable resolution on November 7."

"How often do you get a three-way race in which the Democrat is supporting the Republican while fighting against the Democratic infrastructure, the Republican party is supporting the liberal New England Jew instead of the right-wing millionaire, and the Republican nominee is running against the Republican party?"

#474 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 02:55 AM:

#473: Susan: Is that what's really happening? Goshaloolie. Who's got the popcorn concession?

I haven't heard of anything quite so baroque since the Queensland Nationals and the Queensland Liberals were both trying to present themselves as somewhat to the right of One Nation, only in a green, caring and sharing fashion. Gadzooks!

#475 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 03:37 AM:

How's this for baroque? WJS/NBC poll:

With just 19 days until the midterm elections, a new poll shows both President Bush and his party in worse shape among voters than Democrats were in the October before they lost control of Capitol Hill a dozen years ago.

Support for the Republican-led Congress has eroded to its lowest point since the party's watershed 1994 victory that brought it House and Senate majorities.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll illustrates the political toll Republicans are paying for rising discontent over the Iraq war, as well as a spate of scandals including the disclosure that Republican House leaders knew of inappropriate emails to House pages from Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned late last month. Voters' approval of Congress has fallen to 16% from 20% since early September, while their disapproval has risen to 75% from 65%.

Please let that hold steady for the next three weeks.

#477 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 02:07 PM:

#476: wow.

I want the complete Keith Olbermann comments on DVD. The man does not do anything so clumsy as stab and twist, more like he cleaves a presidency in two with a single strike.

#478 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:48 PM:

I agree with the commenter who compared Olbermann to Edward R. Murrow.

Finally, a high-profile, articulate, forceful, clear statement of WHAT IS WRONG.

#479 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 05:45 PM:

I think that Keith Olbermann is, to some extent, deliberately channeling Murrow. He's adopting Murrowish affectations.

But y'know, we need a Murrow right now. And it's not like Olbermann is channeling Murrow to sell something that Murrow would detest.

#480 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 06:06 PM:

About the only thing Olbermann missed yesterday was Shrub's line "Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat."

One of Glenn Greenwald's commenters said this (in part):
Bush has said repeatedly that his job is to protect American citizens. He's wrong. The oath of office for the POTUS, from the Article II of the Constitution, dictates the President's primary duty:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

#481 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:58 AM:

There are 196 habeas cases in front of the US District Court right now; Wednesday the Dept. of Justice notified the court that, subsequent to Bush's signing of the Military Commissions bill, that court no longer has jurisdiction over those cases.

I hope to God the current members of SCOTUS still have enough integrity to say that this new law is unconstitutional.

#482 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Dave #474: Is that what's really happening? Goshaloolie. Who's got the popcorn concession?

More or less. I wish the print media were covering it better.

I've been wearing a Lamont button every day for the last couple of months, and suddenly people are coming up to me to voice support - yesterday, a lab tech in the hospital and a Vietnam vet in the grocery store.

#483 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:57 PM:

A bit of housekeeping: the link in the title of this now-closed thread needs disabling somehow. The page it originally linked to has been taken over by a gay porn site.

#484 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Susan: Has your friend with the won't-leave live-in made any progress towards getting rid of him? Just wondering.

#485 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 03:08 PM:

Headline guaranteed to get fannish attention:
Scientists Build Primitive Cloaking Device

The reality is much more limited. They figure it will be really good for, say, directing microwave signals around corners. If it could be built big enough to hide somone (or something), said person (or persons inside thing) wouldn't be able to see out any more than those outside could see in.

#486 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 03:25 PM:

In a fit of exuberence, I decided to pry up some of the plywood covering the floor in my front bedroom, which an earlier fool had unfortunately spent equal exuberence on nailing down.

I'm absolutely pleased to say that it appears that the plywood was dropped on top of the original wood plank floor. I'm substantially less pleased by the cacophony of dreadful colours however - it looks as though the floor was subject to a paint shop of experiments in fearsome and dreadful colours.

#487 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Headline: North Korea says it won't explode second nuke.

Crikey. This still allows several possibilities. The first was an embarrasing dud and they don't think they can get the others to even work. Or that was all their fuel, and now they're out and the second test was a bluff. Or they have a couple more bombs and want to save them. Or the first test was to up the ante so they could "compromise" by not doing the second test, which they weren't planning on doing anyway, but hoped would get them some concessions from the rest of the world. Or, somebody, somewhere in the decision making process, is just plain nuts.

More and more, that last option seems to be the most likely answer.

#488 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 04:22 PM:

Xeger: If you continue feeling ambitious, rent a drum sander and large disk sander from your local equipment rental place (with appropriate sandpaper sheets of course.) They're big scary machines, but they'll take the paint and the top 1/16" or so of the wood off leaving you with a nice fresh wood surface that you can finish with a clearcoat. The main challenge in using the drum sander is to keep it moving evenly enough that you don't leave ripples in the wood and have to sand them all out again. We did this whole house with those before we moved in (also having to replace a bunch of termite-eaten flooring boards) and we ended up with a gorgeous oak floor.

#489 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Off all previous topics: Anybody going to Philcon? *raises hand*

#490 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Xeger, I bet the salmon pink and the red were originally all dark red but there was some kind of furniture on the red and the rest of it faded to pink in the sun.

#491 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:34 PM:

xeger #486:

If the plywood was nailed down, what about the nail holes?

#492 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:48 PM:

#490 ::: Marilee conjectured:
Xeger, I bet the salmon pink and the red were originally all dark red but there was some kind of furniture on the red and the rest of it faded to pink in the sun.

They're distinctly different paint layers - I'm wondering if somebody thought it might be a nice accent?

#491 ::: joann wondered:
If the plywood was nailed down, what about the nail holes?

They're not particularly noticable, and I'd just fill the worst of them, if necessary ... or am I missing something?

#493 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 10:59 PM:

Sugar (#483) has a point, but Joe Maller in that thread posted a copy of the puzzle and a solution at http://joemaller.com/2003/01/27/278
Perhaps that could be swapped for the non-operative link, or there may be another link to the puzzle somewhere.

Note that this mirrors somewhat the experience of a friend who closed/deleted his blogspot blog, then found the address hijacked by an "information" site, mostly advertising "auto insurance" — which probably means it's US, 'cos I've always seen it called car insurance, or green slips, or CTP here.

#494 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 09:55 AM:

linkmeister@475:

Voters' approval of Congress has fallen to 16% from 20% since early September, while their disapproval has risen to 75% from 65%.
Please let that hold steady for the next three weeks.


Perish that last thought, linkmeister. There are still sixteen more percentage points to lose. Surely we can reach single digits?

(On a related bit: I've been thinking of setting up a CafePress site to promote the slogan SPAY & NEUTER CONGRESS. Think it would be a success?)

#495 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 10:46 AM:

Bruce, I don't like it. Congress is already spayed and neutered. We want to give it its ovaries and balls BACK so it'll be a check on the President.

Personally, I like

                CUT AND RUN
CUT
out the crap and RUN the country.
     of course the GOP is against it

#496 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 11:11 AM:

P J Evans @ #485:

In other "this is the future, right here" news, University College London has a holodeck.

Admittedly, it falls quite a bit short of the fictional vision (due to limitations of the underlying technology, it can only be used by one person at a time, and there's no mechanism for solid objects), but it's still pretty darn cool.
The article where I first heard about it mentioned that one of the signs that they're on the right track is that every now and then somebody will walk straight into a wall because they've lost track of where it is.

#497 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 01:23 PM:

#492 xeger:

No, you're not missing anything if the holes aren't particularly noticeable. I've seen jobs where they were.

One unfavorite house on the market a couple of years back had had the carpet and vinyl removed so that the concrete slab could be trendily stained. Looked truly terrible in several of the door frames, where you could see where edging stuff had been screwed in.

#498 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Bruce @ #494,

Well, if the approval rating goes to zero, will people even come out to vote?

#499 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 03:43 PM:

I assume all of us have already heard of no-knock raids that went to the wrong addresses — terrorizing innocent people.*

I didn't know this also applies to wrong IP addresses.

That extends the range of possible error much further than simply getting an apartment number, building number, or street name wrong.   IP addresses cover the world, and depending on which digits or bits someone gets wrong, your own IP address might be mistaken for one on the other side of town, the county, the state, the nation, or the planet.

Side comment #1: such "paramilitary" raids sure seem to treat ordinary civilians like "enemy combatants"... which leads me to suspect that denying them habeas corpus the same way may not be far off.

Side comment#2, and I hope this is the "bright side": the more citizens who have their noses rubbed in it this way, or who know someone else who did, the more will be aware that their own rights and liberties are under attack.
 
 
(* Some of these innocents died of heart attacks during the raids. Some others were shot by the raiders.)

#500 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Raven - EEEEEEPPP!!!

Mapping an IP address to a particular subscriber or (usually) location at a particular point in time is not conceptually hard, but can be a bit painstaking and finicky work for an ISP. (Particularly where it's not automated, as it's usually not because usually there's no reason to do it.) As you'd expect, the bigger ISPs like telcos and cablecos are often pretty slipshod with their logging and are more prone to make mistakes.

I'd make a wild guess (based on professional experience with the RIAA and similar morons) that in this case the authorities contacted a cable provider about something "suspicious" recorded 8 months earlier from a certain IP address, demanded address information for that IP address, and didn't give a date or time. The ISP checked their database and told them who had it now, which could well be in the next state or county, and boom! Some innocent gets terrorized.

But that's just the surface of the problem. The real problem is that for someone sufficiently skilled, it is not necessarily easy but quite possible to "spoof" IP addresses and make it look as though you're connecting to some site from one location, when actually you are connecting from some other location. Depending on what protocol you're simulating and the network your victim resides on, it may be very easy or very very hard.

In that context, if you have the right "tools" and knowledge at your disposal and know what the authorities consider suspicious or threatening - like, say, child porn distribution? - you have a great way to terrorize and harass people at will, almost without risk. Lovely.

In my limited experince most LEOs are pretty ignorant about Internet and IT related subjects; the smart and humble ones know it and ask for help appropriately.

#501 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 05:25 PM:

Clifton:   Add in the detail that in some systems the users' IP addresses are assigned "dynamically" — so your number may be different every time you connect to the Internet(s), and the same number is used by many different people, without anyone trying to "spoof" anything.

Or, for a simple low-tech "spoof" — give a fake mailing address for your registration.

#502 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 05:57 PM:

On related news (wrong-number becomes political issue), pity Democratic candidate Mike Arcuri.   He or an aide had tried to call the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, and got the last seven digits right, but the area code wrong, apparently believing it was an 800- number.   The 800-prefixed number belongs to a sex line.   Within a minute of calling the wrong number, records show, he then called the same seven-digit number with the right area code (518).   But his Republican opponent for Congress, Ray Meier, is still using this call as a character issue in attack ads.

Story HERE.   More links HERE.

#503 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 06:07 PM:

Ooooops, I've done Ray Meier an injustice.   The attack ad came from the NRCC (the National Republican Congressional Committee), not Meier's campaign, and Meier himself has criticized the ad.   And TV stations are refusing to run it.   Could this be the start of something new?

#504 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:36 AM:

This-here and Chris Clarke's Creek Running North are probably my two most-read blogs. The current message on that address is:

"System offline
"After family discussion regarding a commenter's threat of violence against our dog, Creek Running North has been taken offline."
Quite a shock. Not nice. I hope it resolves well.

#505 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 10:48 AM:

Raven @ 502-503:

Could be basic sanity creeping in: maybe the NRCC people never dial wrong numbers, but it's safe to say the rest of us have.

#506 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 06:06 PM:

Now that Allen & Webb are tied in the polls, Allen has started backing off on how right Iraq is.

#507 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 06:10 PM:

My Social Security COLA is $43/month for next year. The Medicare B premium is increasing by $5/month. Kaiser's premium (including Plan D) is increasing by $10/month. Kaiser's co-pay for doctor visits is increasing by $10/visit and I average two visits a month. I'm going to have $8/month left over for increases in gas, food, etc. Bah.

#508 ::: ed ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2007, 01:51 PM:

so today i read about the lack of opiates or cocaine on a stuarts cathrr box ca. 1908, that was used to house rocks from the collection of f.h.wales, and on entering this info into the internet i find your discussion on coordinates and geology and commerce { rocks and catahhr pills.?

so i think the center of the six axis's is god,since the 6 solutions to superstring theory point to the place where all six solutions are seen to be reflections of the truth only.

who the heck are you people ?

#509 ::: Vicki detects word salad ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2007, 02:59 PM:

OK, not quite word salad, but "surrealism" and "off topic" don't quite seem to cover it. Comment 508 is not spam AFAICT, but some sort of weird religious reference combined with "why did google send me here?"

Ed, if you're seriously asking, "we people" are a varied bunch, but your hosts include two professional editors (TNH and PNH) and one novelist.

#510 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Vicki @509:

I think it's just an example of Rule 1 of the Internet: The odds are good and the goods are odd.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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