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October 22, 2006

Open thread 73
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:11 PM *

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

Comments on Open thread 73:
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 07:38 PM:

The drought is over, finally?

#2 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 07:47 PM:

It's notable just how much the Night-mare Life-in-Death and that awful Coulter woman seem to share: in appearance, and in morality...

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 07:50 PM:

The rain it raineth on the just,
And also on the unjust fella;
But mostly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just's umbrella.

Not mine, alas. I can't remember where it comes from.

#4 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Feast in my hall, O foemen, and eat and drink and drain,
You never loved the sun in heaven as I have loved the rain.

GK Chesterton

#5 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:18 PM:

"Think the rain will ruin the rhubarb?"

"Not if you put it in cans."

"What, the rain?"

"No, the rhubarb."

#6 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:20 PM:

Open Thread Squeal-of-Incensed-Outrage time.

Your bureaucrats have lost it. Seriously. Invading countries or electing, supporting (failing to throw into a deep hole) a congenital idiot is, heaven knows, bad enough. But now, they have banned Vegemite.

They are searching incoming Australians and confiscating their carefully packed jars. My expat friends are very sad indeed. Call this a
Free Trade Agreement, 'cause I sure as hell don't.

#7 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:20 PM:

The water has drowned the Matterhorn as deep as a Mendip mine,
But I don't care where the water goes, if it doesn't get into the wine.

also G.K. Chesterton

#8 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:31 PM:

There is a Mark Foley action figure for sale on EBay. The congressman is depicted holding a bottle in one hand and a cell phone in the other, and with his pants puddling around his ankles.

I am not making this up.

#9 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:38 PM:

I don't know if anyone's noticed it but Julie Philips's biography of Alice Sheldon (James Tiptree Jr.) has a 3/4 page review in the latest TLS. They're a bit late, but welcome to the party.

#10 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Vian #6: But now, they have banned Vegemite.

Patched the link you wanted. I tried Vegamite once on impulse (bought it at the corner store, I think). Seems odd that its been banned because it contains folic acid; I thought that was available as a supplement.

#11 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:58 PM:

More on Vegemite: my husband, over there on the computer that actually works, went to the FDA site and came up with a long list of refusals for import certification, all of which had to do with labelling problems, none of which had to do with Folate (which, as B6, is easily available OTC).

The creepiest one was "food composed of more than one ingredient without all ingredients listed on lable."

#12 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 09:59 PM:

Apparently, only bread may be folic acid enhanced.

Might be some law bought by the bakery lobby.

#13 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 10:00 PM:

Ahh, Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Gotta love the classics.

Of course, Chesterton's great too:

The great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad.
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.

In other news ...

Who wants to start a pool on:

A) How many Homeland Security alerts we have between now and Nov. 7 to remind us who we should believe is the real danger;

B) How much lower the gas prices will plunge between now and Nov 7 to (1) lull people's concerns over republican ties to oil, and (2) bugger the social security formula so payout are lower;

C) How many times after Nov 7 (if God still loves the US) GWB comes out to say that the elections were NOT a referendum on Iraq and his presidency?

#14 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 10:04 PM:

Rob #10

Thanks, Rob. I tried to patch it meself, but I suspect I just deepened the hole.

Apparently by US FDA fiat, folic acid can only be added to bread or cereal. Of course Vegemite is added to bread, which should be good enough for most folk, IMHO. Not to mention that it was bought a few years ago by an American company, so sales benefit Americans, which adds injury to insult.

I mean, folate. Beware the evil side effects of folate consumption - eating folate can seriously help the development of foetal neurosystems and prevent spina bifida. Quake with fear!

This, from the people who seem to think olestra is a good idea. Gah!

#15 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 10:13 PM:

It is an ancient moron-er
He lies two times in three.
'By thy lazy smirk and shiftless eye,
Now wherefore speakest thou for me?'

Now six long years had trickled by
And he had trickled us more
The country grim could now see him
Past the platitudes of yore.

He pleaded him with a grasping hand
'We must see it through,' quoth he.
'You've lied!' we cried, and still he tried
To convince despite what all could see!

#16 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Hey, how did the Capclave silent auction thingie go?

#17 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 03:35 AM:

On vegemite @6 and 10,

No, there isn't a ban, I'd bet a large bottle of a much tastier yeast extract on that.

I predict snopes will be covering this story soon, based on how far it's been spread. It doesn't pass the sniff test. Looking around the internet, the sources all seem to be extracts from an ur-rumor, with no link to actual government data.

Supplements that have been banned get heavy coverage on US gov't websites (search on ephedra or stevia as examples). But supplements aren't often banned, and essential nutrients- no, there is no law *against* folate. (Looks like there was a fight in New Zealand about *requiring* folate in breads.)

Just looking about my desk... the "nutrition bar" (the 21st century reality of meal replacement pills) I had earlier today supplies 20% of my USRDA for folate.

#18 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 03:44 AM:

OK, so who watched Torchwood?

Death, sex, alien monsters in the Cardiff sewers, and Captain Jack "Scarlet" Harkness. Plus some seriously cute young ladies with not a blonde in sight.

#19 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 03:54 AM:

Ah, good old Samuel Taylor, the dope fiend... no; not my observation, but that of the incomparable Hunt Emerson, whose interpretation of the pome deserves a place on every bookshelf.

Apropos of Chesterton, I find myself drawn to Lepanto of late.

#20 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:30 AM:

Haven't seen Torchwood yet. Thanks for the reminder to go off and find a torrent!

#21 ::: kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:39 AM:

More on the Vegemite rumor...

That really is an annoying story. How did it get in there? Could they not do fact checking? I mean, if only there was a giant interconnected network of computers containing every trivial fact... perhaps we'll have that in the 22nd century.

I can imagine the equivalent story in the US: "Australia bans import of peanut butter." I can find that the largest grocer in Australia is Woolworths and that it carries peanut butter.

Similarly, with 10 minutes of online searching, one ought to find online grocery stores in the US and see if they stock vegemite. [15 minutes pass. Unable to make clever example work. Darn, because I know I've seen it recently here in the US]

Hey- I found what looks like a source of the rumor. People were trying to carry bottles of vegemite in their carry-on luggage, and they couldn't persuade security that it was an essential medicine. Seeing as how people couldn't even carry essential medicine as essential medicine, the confiscated vegemite jars aren't surprising.

#22 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 05:27 AM:

Dave @18, alien monsters in the Cardiff sewers? Couldn't they think of something unlikely, as in something that doesn't happen every week? ;)

Pedantic Peasant @13, I don't think even GWB can directly influence the gas prices (except by declaring war on more Middle-Eastern countries, which is of course quite likely to happen simply because declaring war always boosts the party in power, *sigh*, Thatcher, Putin, and Bush, a gallery of rogues and incompetents).

And, um, I'm not sure which way the elections would go 'if God still loves the US'. After all, the party which most alleges (with ludicrous fervour and occasional acts of criminal stupidity) to 'love God' is the one which every thinking person would rather spent some time out of power (including a considerable number of that party's own members!)

#23 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 06:46 AM:

I am quite unreasonably pleased that Gwen in Torchwood has the same bookcase as me.

Has anyone who didn't read the Radio Times or another spoiler source guessed where the hand in the jar came from?

#24 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 08:27 AM:

So, now that the high-profile Tiptree biography has attracted attention overseas (pace #9), I keep wondering when someone's going to do a high-profile reissue of Tiptree/Sheldon's actual work. Nothing yet on the shelves of even the specialist SF store in Cambridge, MA....

#25 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 10:02 AM:

Lies two times out of three? That's got to be inaccurate and way low.

#26 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 10:31 AM:

Random (?) Chesterton connections: I just happened to have re-watched the Buffy Season 1 episode "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" which always reminded me of the Chesterton story "The Invisible Man." Essentially they have the same theme. "'Nobody ever notices postmen somehow,' he said thoughtfully; 'yet they have passions like other men, and even carry large bags where a small corpse can be stowed quite easily.'"

#27 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 11:27 AM:

kathryn from Sunnyvale #21: More on the Vegemite rumor...

Someone on this thread on MetaFilter asserts the problem was Kraft Foods failure to file proper licenses with the FDA; but it does sound like it has been banned on account of this.

#28 ::: Andrew K ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 12:30 PM:

[mild Torchwood spoiler warning]

Eleanor @23, yeah I understood the hand when Captain Jack showed he cared more about it than pursuing the monster-of-the-week. I saved reading the inevitably spoilerful Radio Times article until after I'd seen the episodes. That said, I think RTD's minions showed a new subtlety in the info-dump


[severe Torchwood spoiler warning]

with a nice bit of misdirection in having biographical data on all the members of Torchwood and implying how each of them will develop.

#29 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 12:56 PM:

Xopher @ #489 on the previous open thread -
Off all previous topics: Anybody going to Philcon? *raises hand*

I'm probably going to be there Friday night, part of Saturday, and maybe briefly on Sunday. I have a gig in Gettysburg Saturday night which will take me away from the con that evening.

#30 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Seen, one bumper sticker:

"I sacrifice to the gods, and I vote."

#31 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:11 PM:

re: #30

I had friends in college who made up stickers reading:

"I feed on the flesh of the living, and I vote."

The same crew was also the source of my favorite t-shirt:

"Knowledge is power.
Power corrupts.
Study hard.
Be evil."

#32 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:31 PM:

I think several people might be a little disappointed if I don't go to Philcon ...

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Anyone know when Torchwood is coming to the US?

Susan, we'll talk later about how we can meet during the con (though if I can get my boyfriend to come (to the convention, I mean), my reliability for meetings will not so much fly as plummet).

I love bumper stickers, but I never buy them, because I utterly lack a bumper.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Oops, Charlie, now I have to hurry up and read all your books! (I think I HAVE them, or some of them, just...my TBR pile hasn't moved in months.)

#35 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Xopher -- If you've got enough bandwidth and know how to use BitTorrent, Torchwood is here now.

#36 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Arrrggh. I have the bandwidth and I bet I can figure out how to use BitTorrent, but my conscience won't let me do it.

One of these days I'm going to have my conscience removed, or at least replaced with a smaller, weaker model. But for now, I'm stuck with it.

#37 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Is there anything in the American diet that is remotely similar in taste to Vegemite?

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:11 PM:

Greg, I've had Vegemite, and the closest things I know of are in big lumps in cow pastures. Not that I've tasted those.

#39 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Hm, maybe I should have directed that question at someone who actually likes Vegemite.

#40 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:29 PM:

#39 Greg

1) First, find a Vegemite fan (this may be harder than it sounds -- even the Aussies I've known aren't particularly enamored of the stuff)

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:31 PM:

I hear that Vegemite is used in the hazing rituals of particularly nerdy fraternities.

#42 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:42 PM:

Rob @27,

Interesting- an importer forgot to fill out standard paperwork for importing vegemite from the UK.

I was wrong: the FDA does prevent folic acid from being added to certain foods because of claimed health risks from too much folate. (The FDA mandated reporting the level of folate, and adding it to bread, in the 1990s ( short history here).)

However, that alone wouldn't cause the story in rumor form, because individual travelers can bring in just about any prepared food*.

Given the choices of rumor source:
1. Tourists have their vegemite confiscated from carry-on luggage, during a time when almost everything of a paste texture was forbidden in the cabin, Or

2. The food regulation agency stops imports from the UK because standard paperwork isn't filled out, the label isn't standard, or it contains a food coloring not approved in the US. Or

3. The food regulation agency gets the border agency to single out Australian tourists for searches for their stereotypically favorite food.

Source 1 has far more rumor explaining power than 2: it contains actual confiscation from tourists.

* except alcohol- must be declared. Raw cheeses (boo). Low-heat prepared meats (boo). Raw vegetation (not-boo. Plant diseases are worth worrying about.)...

#43 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Nix at 22:

I don't think even GWB can directly influence the gas prices (except by declaring war on more Middle-Eastern countries, which is of course quite likely to happen simply because declaring war always boosts the party in power, *sigh*, Thatcher, Putin, and Bush, a gallery of rogues and incompetents).

All true. But also, Bush worked for oil companies and there is a sort of symbiotic relationship: He supports them, with middle-east war, oil reserves, and not looking too closely into gas prices, and they support him by lobbying. Furthermore, oil is one of the biggest of big business, which at some level has a vested interest in keeping Republicans in office. Whether GWB is responsible or not, oil companies drop the price around election time to try to "dim" gas prices as an issue ...

Likewise, the annual drop of gas and oil prices each year in Sept. and Oct. could have nothing to do with big corporations and/or a Republican party that wants to reduce the expenses under social security. It is entirely possible it is an annual event triggered by reduced demand for driving and AC as summer ends and before heating needs go up. But with a steady drop of at least 36 cents per gallon in the past two months, with no other obvious outside reasons, one is entitled to question the likelihood of a motive, or at least the possibility of price fixing.

And, um, I'm not sure which way the elections would go 'if God still loves the US'. After all, the party which most alleges (with ludicrous fervour and occasional acts of criminal stupidity) to 'love God' is the one which every thinking person would rather spent some time out of power

Yes, which would be my argument for why He/She/It may not like us anymore ... "You did what in My Name?"

But seriously, don't by into godless Ann Coulter's -- I mean Godless's Ann Coulter's -- claims for everyone who does not support the Republican (far) right. Just because we don't agree with or believe in their version of God doesn't mean that we have none (OK, it doesn't mean all of us do either, but still.), or that their view of God is the only one, or even the correct one.

In many ways the Republican Right seem like the Puritan Predestinationists: Based on their behavior, they would seem to believe that they are saved by their very belief, and need not subscribe to the actual actions demanded by their own faith.

Either that or they're just hypocritical. I'm not sure.

But, to paraphrase Patrick Henry, "There is a just God who presides over the destiny of nations, and he shall raise up friends to fight our battles for us" ... Hopefully in Congress.

Or if you prefer Lincoln, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time" but hopefully he can't fool the people (again) this time.

#44 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 02:59 PM:

Blushes and curses

That should, of course, be don't buy into godless Ann Coulter


Sorry

#45 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 03:06 PM:

Greg, vegemite tastes quite salty and somewhat yeasty. I think the secret to eating vegemite is to spread it as thinly as possible. A little goes a very long way.

#46 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 03:15 PM:

Point of general information:

Live Journal, and apparently all or most of Six Apart, is down.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 03:34 PM:

Everyone knows that the one true yeast extract is Marmite (which I am forbidden to eat, alas, because of its salt content). Vegemite is but a pale Aussie imitation of the true nectar.

#48 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:08 PM:

Followup to JESR in #46: LJ et al. are back up.

#49 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:33 PM:

The "Rain it raineth all around" above is Ogden Nash.

And if spreading Vegemite very thin tastes better, imagine how good spreading none at all tastes!

#50 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:35 PM:

"Charles Dodgson": I keep wondering when someone's going to do a high-profile reissue of Tiptree/Sheldon's actual work.

Don't hold your breath...

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:36 PM:

If you spread it homeopathically thin, I suppose it might have some beneficial effect, without tasting too bad...but actually, I'm not entirely certain that it wasn't Marmite that I tasted once. Hmm. I'm not inclined to find out by a retaste, for some reason.

#52 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:52 PM:

It's odd that vegemite has a taste that doesn't map to anything american. Yeast? someone was just telling me a couple weeks ago that they're on a diet and use brewers yeast because it was OK for their diet but tasted like salted butter, sort of.

I didn't actually try it, but vegemite as a salty-butter spread doesn't sound as bad as everyone's making it out. do yeasts have different flavors? I guess I'll have to try the international section of the grocery store next time I'm there...


#53 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 05:41 PM:

#31 Sarah, the band Ego Likeness is now selling the "Study Hard, Be Evil" shirt! I bought it from them last year around this time.

#52 Greg, I've never tried Vegemite, only Marmite, which I adore, but yes, different yeasts have different flavors. Ask a brewer or a baker! This is why sourdoughs have such individual characteristics.

#54 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 06:02 PM:

A random observation of the really obvious which someone else could still find helpful:

Really sharp kitchen knives are a wonderful thing. I recently found my set of good German knives, the ones I'd let get buried in a box during my last move. I'd forgotten how much ease they add to cooking.

They add a +2 to all things culinary- shopping at farmers markets, browsing recipes- because any ingredient's food prep time/ effort is cut by half. Thus the complexity of recipes I'm willing to try for a given time-budget has gone up correspondingly.

And it wasn't that I was using butter-knives on raw squash, just good, not great, knives.

(Now, should I add a santoku knife?)

#55 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Having tasted Vegemite when I lived in the South Pacific, and later in New Zealand, my reaction was that it tastes very much like soy sauce only more concentrated. Think of soy sauce boiled down into a paste. I didn't think it was as horrible as some people claim, but also not much to my taste. I put shoyu on some stuff, e.g. vegetables or tofu, but not on plain rice and definitely not on bread!

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Different flavors, different textures, different colors even. I used to eat something called "nutrient yeast" on popcorn; it also enhances the flavor of anything with mushrooms in it. It's pale yellow and has a sour, tangy flavor.

Brewer's yeast, which I tasted only once years ago, is dark reddish brown and tastes so bitter that even I who love strong flavors never tried it again.

Bread yeast is beige and tastes—beige. Not a flavoring yeast at all.

#57 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 06:48 PM:

WRT the rain sub-thread thing, here's one of my favourite poems:

There are holes in the sky
Where the rain gets in
But they're ever so small
That's why rain is thin

#58 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 06:52 PM:

A completely random question--well, random in the context of the thread, though I need to know for mundane and dull reasons--that I pose here because, having had no luck with Wikipedia or general googling, I turn to the largest source of intelligent people from a variety of backgrounds that I know:

How long can a seal stay awake? (Any type of pinniped will do in a pinch, though I'd prefer answers for the phocidae.) If this information is entirely unstudied, how long can a seal stay out at sea, awake or otherwise?

I know this information must be out there somewhere, but for the life of me I can't find it.

#59 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 07:03 PM:

Re #54 on the usefulness of good kitchen knives - the best one I've ever owned is a ugly-looking square-ended blade recycled from part of a car suspension spring. It's carbon steel, and whilst not ultimately sharp (I like my chopping boards relatively intact, so whilst a monomolecular edge would be extremely cool in principle, it wouldn't necessarily be a good idea. Come to that, I like my kitchen counters relatively intact. And the floor) it's a lot easier and more pleasant to sharpen than the stainless steel ones. The sound is a pure pleasure.

#60 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 07:07 PM:

In a world of Tivo and DVR's, this might be tough info to find, but here goes: There's a Volkswagon Beetle commercial going around that has John Mayer playing guitar on it. Anyone know the name of the song he's playing?

#61 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 07:23 PM:

#58 Fade,
Try writing to these folks at the U of Hawai'i Marine Mammal Center, or the Dolphin Institute, also affiliated with UH.

#62 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 08:41 PM:

Vegemite and Marmite, both of which I've tried, remind me of misu.

Kathryn @ 54, don't cut raw squash. Stab them all around and zap them. It's much easier to cut them and take out the seeds & strings then (use a hotpad). (I had acorn squash stuffed with mushrooms, kielbasa, and cheese yesterday.)

#63 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 08:46 PM:

#55 ::: Clifton Royston ::: Having tasted Vegemite when I lived in the South Pacific, and later in New Zealand, my reaction was that it tastes very much like soy sauce only more concentrated. Think of soy sauce boiled down into a paste.

Excuse me while I boggle ... I'm quite familiar with the taste of both Vegemite and soy sauce, and I wouldn't have said they resembled each other in the slightest. I think at least one of us must have very strange taste buds.

#57 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: WRT the rain sub-thread thing, here's one of my favourite poems:

That's a Spike Milligan you've got there, I believe.

#64 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 08:59 PM:

#63 Ross,
Clifton resides in Hawai'i, as do I. Everything's laden with shoyu. It's permeated our taste buds.

#65 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 09:07 PM:

#58 Fade -- a seal? Or a selkie?

#66 ::: The Avocado Of Death ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 09:09 PM:

I know that Cory Doctorow wrote his own "I, Robot" (not to mention "I, Row-Boat"), partially to demonstrate that different authors can use the same title to create different (and legally unrelated) works.

So, if I write a story called "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Have Ice Cream" which bears no other material resemblance to the classic Ellison story, what are the chances that I will bring the Litigious Hammer of Doom (+2) down on my head?

Note that I'm asking for a probability of "Will I be sued?" rather than "Should I be sued?". I understand the difference.

Also note that I'm not (at least as far as I know right now) writing a parody, or otherwise trying to antagonize. And it sounded like a good reason to write a story about ice cream.

Please respond with your unofficial legal advice, as well as your favorite ice cream flavor--real, imaginary, or complex.

#67 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 09:15 PM:

Marilee @62,

Usually cutting them raw can't work because of all the bumps. But last night I made Moroccan winter squash and carrot stew with quinoa (yum- I give it 3.75 forks, also added cinnamon) using butternut squash from the farmers market. The good knives made peeling and cubing it almost as easy as cubing summer squash, no worries about overcooking it (or cooking my hand peeling it hot).

Before regaining my good knives, I may have thought twice about the recipe. Overall, this change of knives counts as the biggest effect by a single kitchen item for me in recent years. I love cooking: if I could forget the difference, perhaps others have too.

#68 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 09:27 PM:

The Mark Foley action figure noted by Lizzy at #8 is auction number 230039721735 on ebay. And very nice it is too...

#69 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 10:24 PM:

Re #3, Fragano Ledgister:

The rain it raineth on the just,
And also on the unjust fella;
But mostly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just's umbrella.

Not mine, alas. I can't remember where it comes from.
Charles, Baron Bowen (1835-1894)

I've used that as a Usenet sigquote for years.
 
 
Re #22, Nix:

I don't think even GWB can directly influence the gas prices....
It's no secret: he leaves that to his great good friend Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia.

#70 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 10:28 PM:

Oh, and the version I know has...

The unjust steals the just's umbrella.

#71 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 11:26 PM:

Weep, weep for our nation:

http://billmon.org/archives/002871.html

#72 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 11:30 PM:

From a page one article in today's "The Oregonian":

"Human beings are not machines. They need time to recharge their batteries."

#73 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 11:57 PM:

the paper on human stupidity is down.

And thank you for the middle english cooking dictionary. It's made explaining some things a whole lot easier, and will make teaching this class a lot more fun...when I get around to teaching it.

#74 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 01:09 AM:

Speaking of Torchwood, I did not like it: too glitzy, not enough depth and somewhat on the cliched side (more on my weblog).

Meanwhile, this is the funniest Torchwood commentary I've seen so far. (Requires .GIF animation)

#75 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 01:26 AM:

On kitchen knives: Got the sharpening stones down from the top shelf earlier tonight and did a (somewhat overdue) session on one of the larger kitchen knives. Ahhhh... 16th/inch slices of tomato and onions for tonight's hamburgers. I'd forgotten what a difference a good sharpening can make; need to do the rest of the knives (and more often).

(What I'd -really-like to learn is how to replace knife handles. Most of our knives go back to the early years of our marriage -- close to thirty years -- and some are from previous generations of family, passed on to us. The blades are fine, but some of the handles are wearing out.)

#76 ::: little light ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 01:45 AM:

#72:
That's the Oregonian, all right. A bastion of unmatched writing prowess and careful copyediting.

#77 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 02:00 AM:

Kathryn: After my wife bought me a set of Wusthof knives as an anniversary present one year, I added onto them a bit and bought the Wusthof Santoku knife. It's a thin stainless blade with a Granton edge, probably the one knife I use most when cooking, followed by their "sandwich" knife, which is sort of like a 5" long paring knife. (Not that I'm doing much cooking lately...)

OTOH, I love ugly high-carbon knives too, even if they're more work to care for. I found a genuine bolo knife from the Philippines for $25 in an import place here, which I now use for all my yard work chopping brush and vines. It was a pain to get all the rust off, and I've got to keep it oiled or it rusts up again, but man does it take an edge! (Gardening in Hawaii has less to do with coaxing things to grow, and more to do with keeping them from growing, or at least from overgrowing and pulling down your house.)

#78 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 02:33 AM:

Ross @63,

Vegemite, like soy sauce, anchovy sauce, nam pla, and marmite is a very umami flavored sauce, that is, it is tickles our umami taste buds, one of the five basic tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, umami and sour).

Umami comes from the free glutamate content of foods- foods high in glutamate include tomatoes, mushrooms, and some shellfish. Plus msg.

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 04:02 AM:

Stefan, #72|, I've seen that "recharging batteries" line somewhere else, very recently...

Well, I saw it recently. Freighter Tails is quite irregular, and that's not been that many strips. There's other moments that might appeal to the regulars: cats, hot sauce, robots and unicorns, oh my!

#80 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 04:47 AM:

On Vegemite whose champion I am, and its taste which is unrivalled (and even its detractors must agree with that):

It tastes of salt and yeast, like soy sauce or even fermented shrimp paste. I use it as a substitute for nam pla or shrimp paste - I don't eat seafood, and I have vegetarian friends who also use Vegemite where you need strong salty savoury taste. Unlike marmite or promite, there's absolutely nothing sweet about vegemite. Marmite and promite are jarring (npi) because yeast is supposed to taste savoury, dammit.

It doesn't taste like anything other than itself, which is why it tends to divide people, but for Vegemite Kids it's the breakfast, lunch and tea of champions. Hence, the song.

Now, to taste: Have you ever tasted a really good morbiere cheese? I appalled a bunch of high-falutin' gourmets recently by enthusiastically noting that it tasted like a Vegemite and cheese sandwich, the perfect and iconic Aussie school lunch. Vegemite grilled cheese sandwiches taste like Welsh rarebit, only better, and you get to drink the whole bottle of beer instead of mixing some in the cheese.

Some people are traumatised when they spread vegemite like it was chocolate spread (which young Vegemite might be mistaken for - it gets darker as it gets older), or even like it was Marmite, which is milder. A couple of people I know were scared by vegemite sandwiches as children and suffer culinary PTSD to this day.

It seems that our newspapers did their research (ZOMG - the FDA have banned Vegemite on a technicality!) in response to Sad Little Vegemites having their stash confiscated, and assumed a causal link between the two. The Australian Embassy has been making enquiries about the heinous and cruel partition of wayfaring Aussies from their culinary heritage.

#81 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 04:48 AM:

On Vegemite whose champion I am, and its taste which is unrivalled (and even its detractors must agree with that):

It tastes of salt and yeast, like soy sauce or even fermented shrimp paste. I use it as a substitute for nam pla or shrimp paste - I don't eat seafood, and I have vegetarian friends who also use Vegemite where you need strong salty savoury taste. Unlike marmite or promite, there's absolutely nothing sweet about vegemite. Marmite and promite are jarring (npi) because yeast is supposed to taste savoury, dammit.

It doesn't taste like anything other than itself, which is why it tends to divide people, but for Vegemite Kids it's the breakfast, lunch and tea of champions. Hence, the song.

Now, to taste: Have you ever tasted a really good morbiere cheese? I appalled a bunch of high-falutin' gourmets recently by enthusiastically noting that it tasted like a Vegemite and cheese sandwich, the perfect and iconic Aussie school lunch. Vegemite grilled cheese sandwiches taste like Welsh rarebit, only better, and you get to drink the whole bottle of beer instead of mixing some in the cheese.

Some people are traumatised when they spread vegemite like it was chocolate spread (which young Vegemite might be mistaken for - it gets darker as it gets older), or even like it was Marmite, which is milder. A couple of people I know were scared by vegemite sandwiches as children and suffer culinary PTSD to this day.

It seems that our newspapers did their research (ZOMG - the FDA have banned Vegemite on a technicality!) in response to Sad Little Vegemites having their stash confiscated, and assumed a causal link between the two. The Australian Embassy has been making enquiries about the heinous and cruel partition of wayfaring Aussies from their culinary heritage.

#82 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 04:59 AM:

When I went over to the US, the Aussie taste that everyone deplored wasn't Vegemite, it was musk lifesavers. Ah, poor fella my country!

#83 ::: Bez ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 06:22 AM:

Ah, musk lifesavers. It's not just for deodorant any more. The flavour also comes in chewy sticks and 'muskettes', which approximate lifesaver holes.

My corresponding experience in America was wintergreen lifesavers, which taste like Dencorub (q.v. IcyHot) smells. They also seems to be the same flavour as root beer.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 08:06 AM:

Raven #69: Thanks! I had a thought that it was Sir Walter Raleigh, who wished he loved the human race, but I also had a thought that it wasn't.

#85 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:32 AM:

Not only is the "Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" page down, a Google search for alternate sources reveals copyright issues that mean that it is unlikely to be back up.

#86 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 11:03 AM:

in #85 ::: Paul A. said:
Not only is the "Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" page down, a Google search for alternate sources reveals copyright issues that mean that it is unlikely to be back up.
Meh, I found three different sources (albeit one was a google cache.) The weird/funny/racist(?) illustrations that accompanied it in the Whole Earth review were on a separate site, though, so if you want the whole thing you have to open the first eight or nine search results to find all of it.

#87 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 11:17 AM:

found over on keromaru,
"If bestselling authors were Transformers, what would they turn into?"

Sample response: (see the link, above for more)
Carl Sagan: Voyager 1
Dan Brown: a weird, floating pyramid that shoots lasers out of its eye.
...
George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and Ursula K. Le Guin would all join together to form Fantatron.

The last one cracks me up, but then again, I watched a lot of Voltron* as a kid.

-r.

*Golion, I know, I know.

#88 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 11:50 AM:

It's time to put the lawn furniture away. I was sitting here, struggling to get my eyes open and sorting out my breakfast batch of pills when the flock of BlacK Brandts flew over, several hundred of them in a scribble across the sky, yipping like pomeranians.

#89 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 12:26 PM:

Couple comments about knives.

"high carbon" and "stainless" aren't mutually exclusive categories; Grohman knives, available on the web via knivesdirect.com, manage both quite nicely. (My kitchen knives are a mix of antique Sabatier knives from France and quite modern Grohman knives.)

While sharpening stones, whether oil or water, are handy to have around for lots of things, for kitchen knives -- assuming you're not brute-force jointing buffalo carcases or something -- you generally don't need them. Normal cooking operations don't damage the edge enough. Fine ceramic stones (the stuff over 2000 grit) or a good strop with some honing compound or those clever 3M mylar backed abrasive sheets will give you a finer edge and a longer lasting knife. (Since you grind less of it away.) Regular honing in particular -- a couple-three strokes a side before each use -- will do a lot of good for the edge and very little bad to the blade.

And yes, the other school of thought is that a thousand grit water stone gives you an edge that has some "tooth" and will bite better on the tomato. My preference is for the surgically fine edge all the same.

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 12:47 PM:

I have serrated knives that "never need sharpening" and in any case can't be sharpened. They're great for things like bread and tomatos, and the minor loss when chopping with the rocker knife is hardly noticeable. Their only serious drawback is that scraping a bunch of chopped whatever from a cutting board into a bowl isn't as effective.

#91 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 12:54 PM:

in #90 ::: Xopher wrote
Their only serious drawback is that scraping a bunch of chopped whatever from a cutting board into a bowl isn't as effective.
I was taught that the way to go is to flip the knife over and use the dull, flat, edge to move stuff. (Keeps the blade sharp, longer.)

Graydon, do you have a link to a site that tells (or shows) proper sharpening technique? I've never gotten it right. (A specific product name for those 3m sheets would be nice, too. And a pony.)

-r.

#92 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 01:03 PM:

I use a serrated knife for tomatoes and bread, and a Wusthof for everything else that's large. (I had a Sabatier years ago, but wasn't totally pleased; nor was it with me.) I do a lot of stuff with a super-cheap paring knife from Target that was bought specifically because of its very small size; I'd have gotten a more expensive one if they'd had one that small. (I have very small hands that can barely do an octave on the piano.)

Back when I was a kid, we had a set of kitchen knives that looked exactly like table knives (some sort of plastic handles resembling bone, dinner knife shape) that received no care, looked like hell, had nothing that could be called balance, and magically remained sharp (too sharp! say any number of old scars) for at least 20 years. The metal had turned a mottled charcoal grey with brown spots. I should check this Thanksgiving and see if any are left.

#93 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 02:41 PM:

Kathryn @ 54

Should you add a santoku? Yes.

Well, maybe. If you have a chef's knife and you love it lots, then you might not have much need for a santoku. I've never quite been able to get the hang of a chef's knife (I, like joann, have little hands), but my santoku (can't recall if it's Henckels or Wusthof) does all that I've ever wanted out of a chef's knife and then some. Plus, with it, I can slice meat into the nearly paper-thin shavings that are required for Japanese dishes like sukiyaki and shougayaki--and I'm nervous around knives. (I like to cook, but have the mutant ability to find sharp objects with personal body parts--I will unfailingly slice my foot open on the single tiny shard of broken bowl that escaped the broom, or accidentally attempt to remove my thumb with the paring knife sitting innocently on the counter.)

#94 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 02:47 PM:

thanks for the description alsafi,

I'll have to look at getting a santoku. I've been using a big chinese cleaver for a number of fiddly trimming procedures, and the fact that it is big helps keep my fingers much further away from the operative end than regular large knives. (The heaviness helps with edge control too, since I'm not actually using it to chop, but to slice instead.)

#95 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 02:51 PM:

A short while ago someone here posted a link to a short story about predestination. It was written as a warning sent back into the past, and involved a small device that gave off a signal several seconds before you pressed a button. Can someone provide a link? I keep thinking I read it on Popular Science's website, but I haven't been able to find it there and I remember the site layout being different so I may be mistaken.

#96 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 03:43 PM:

Pantechnician @95,

You'll always know What's Expected of Us. (Which I'd linked to in the End of author productivity thread.)

Chiang falls into my "only read during daylight" category of authors. Because when you're done, you ought to walk outside and see that there's a bright big world around you, which *might* be enough to prevent the stories from burrowing too deep in your mind.

#97 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Behold, I am Marmite Man. I feel panicky if there's less than a half pound jar of the stuff in the kitchen cupboard.

However, Marmite has a fairly high salt content. (When evaluating foodstuffs for salt content, beware mistaking the quoted amount of sodium per 100 grams for the salt content. Sodium has an atomic weight of 23 Daltons, but it's only one component of salt; NaCL weighs 58 Daltons, so multiply by 2.5 to get the actual salt content of the product. Bloody lying nutritional statistics ...) So I recently went searching for lower-salt yeast extracts to put on my daily bread.

Trouble is, they all taste sufficiently different that they're distinctly unpleasant to my Marmite-tuned palate. Even though they're all salty as hell, the underlying other flavours are ... well, let's just say that Vegemite is bogging and leave it at that, shall we?

Yeasts: they're near as dammit a whole kingdom. Expecting two different yeast extract products to taste similar is a bit like expecting a piece of broccoli to taste like green peppers.

#98 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 04:26 PM:

#96 Thanks, Kathryn!

A friend of mine brought up the topic of free will a few days ago and I couldn't find the link. I was beginning to think I'd imagined reading the story, which would be scarier in a way.

#99 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Charlie, I bet they'll come out with a low-salt version soon. (In the US we have low-salt tamari, which to my mind is just wacky.)

About your NaCl calculations...isn't the sodium the dangerous part? That is, the Na+ ions are the ones that cause the trouble in your body, not the Cl-? Hmm. But I guess if you're given a number of grams of salt you can have per day, that doesn't work. Of course you could divide that number by 2.5, and just compare THAT to the listed sodium. I'd think that would be more convenient (make the calculation once, rather than every time you pick up a jar), but maybe I misunderstand your situation.

From my brief stint in hobby-level liqueur-making, I also had this idea: Try mixing some Marmite with distilled water in a small, transparent jar, closing up the jar, and letting it sit undisturbed for several days to a week. If it doesn't settle out, throw it away and give up. If it does, carefully open the jar and taste the liquid at the top. If it's salty, do the same thing with a bigger jar and a lot more Marmite and water; decant it and reduce the residue until the texture is about right. You now have somewhat desalted Marmite.

I have no idea if this will work. That's why I'm saying start with a small amount and see what happens. Maybe Marmite will sit undissolved in water like a lump of rancid butter. It might work and completely destroy the flavor, for all I know. But it just might get you the flavor you've been craving, with less salt.

By the way, I assume you have some specific medical advice to cut your salt intake. Even high blood pressure doesn't automatically indicate that course of action, because only one in seven hypertensives is salt-sensitive (that is, their blood pressure goes up when they eat more salt). But I'm sure you know that.

For the rest of us: if you eat more salt, drink more water and sweat a lot. No problem.

#100 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 06:27 PM:

Xopher, here's the fun bit: we're generally told how much salt we should have in our diet per day, but food vendors tend to quote the sodium content instead -- same information, kinda-sorta, but it understates the actual salt content by 60%.

I don't know that I'm salt-sensitive, and I'm not trying to cut salt out -- but I have a taste for Marmite, which is very salty, so trying to keep it under control appears to be prudent. (Mind you, earlier this week I got a reasonably plausible blood pressure measurement that was half what my BP was 18 months ago, so there's some hope I'll see 70 yet ...)

#101 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Clifton @ 77 and bought the Wusthof Santoku knife. It's a thin stainless blade with a Granton edge, probably the one knife I use most when cooking

I love my Santoku knife, although I bought a cheap Wusthof from Target. I use it mostly for slicing and when neat dicing is required. It's also my favorite for handling onions. It's not so great for chopping garlic or herbs, though.

I also have one issue with the design. Since a Santoku has no bolster (the thick bit of metal right up against the handle) it's really easy to knick yourself with it if you're used to holding your knives right next to the blade. (Well, I find it's really easy to knick myself.)

Still, despite the occasional bloodletting, it remains my second most used knife. The big chef's knife remains in first place.

#102 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 08:51 PM:

Rhandir --

A site? No. There are books, though; I've seen care-of-chef's-knives books, they're out there. (I'm in that category of people handed a file when I complained about the state of the ax used to knock ice out of the watering trough when I was 10 or so. Three hours later, I almost had the idea and the ax worked much better.)

The 3M product can be found for sale here

The most basic thing is to remove as little metal as you can, as gently as you can. Which isn't much help but it's a subject that needs diagrams and many pages.

#103 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 08:55 PM:

I am sorry to burst in with an irrelevance, but this place is the best to ask advice on this topic.

I am ethically challenged. (Yes, yes, I know, but this is serious.)

I review fantasy for the local daily newspaper. (This is the only daily in Western Australia, with a paid circulation of 300K or so, small beer I know, but important locally.) I have been given the new Raymond Feist novel, Into a Dark Realm. The wordage requested means it will get a half-page or so in the Saturday review section.

Those who've read the book know (semi-spoiler coming) that there is a graphic torture scene early on. The good guys torture a baddie to make him tell them where his boss is. He won't talk, but someone reads his mind once the pain has broken him down so much that he can't help thinking it. And we are then treated to a Wise Old Man telling the boys that sometimes, you just have to do this sort of thing to keep the world safe for (insert value here). Or whatever.

There might have been a time when I'd have passed over this, but not now I've had my "Making Light" shots. Now it seems to me that I am looking into the face of a monster, and I've fallen right out of the book. The author has drastically forfeited my goodwill.

So I find myself very resistant to the rest of the text: wincing at the clunking word choices, tutting impatiently over the swodges of past pluperfect exposition, shaking my head about badly realised action, that sort of thing. Yet I know it's a big seller, and I'm sort of aware that, wearing my fantasy reader's hat, I'd have passed over that stuff before, to get at the meat of a story and to revel in a setting.

OK, so the question: what do I say? I know that I hate the book. I know I can make a case that it's badly written. But would I be making that case if it hadn't outraged me? I think perhaps not - although in the nature of things, I can't absolutely know that. Yet if I am to pan a book because it espouses values I find repulsive, am I not in the very same position as the bigot who excoriates "Brokeback Mountain" because it generates sympathy for homos?

I appeal for your understanding, and ask your counsel.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 09:01 PM:

Dave @ 103

No. (IMHO.)

#105 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 09:03 PM:

Nix and PP at #43 and above -- I'd been wondering when somebody would ask this kind of question. Gas prices have dropped here by a dollar a gallon since August. As for direct influence on prices by the executive, I wonder what the fill level of the strategic petroleum reserve is right now... though I honestly don't have any idea whether releasing crude oil would actually ease gasoline prices.

In defense of the oilmen, I have to note that this is shaping up to be an El Niño year, suggesting a warm winter in the Northeast US with reduced demand for heating oil.

#106 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 09:21 PM:

On knives and sharpening things: Leonard Lee's Complete Guide to Sharpening is a comprehensive treatment of the subject, and is available through many libraries. It's definitely aimed at woodworking, but covers kitchen knives as well.

I've used a number of devices with mostly poor luck, and fall back on two tools for sharpening: the manual Apex Edge Pro for when I'm prepared to do some work, and the electric Chef's Choice 100 for when I'm in a hurry. I'm never happy with the edge I get from the electric, but it's better than not sharpening the knives.

Of course, my two favorite kitchen knives are a large and a small cleaver, each of which I got for under $10. I may not be in the mainstream of culinary thought here.

#107 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 09:46 PM:

Oddly enough, the View Single Posts style sheet appears to have wigged out grotesquely. The banner is huge-huge and the comments go the full width of the screen, black TNR on gray. No sidebars present.

(Firefox 1.5.07 here.)

#108 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 09:55 PM:

Boy, all the posts here tonight are huge! (Hi-keeba!)

Wow, that's strange: the posts go back to normal Making Light size when previewing...

#109 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:00 PM:

Dave, have you finished the book? There's always the chance that the events of the novel prove the torturer wrong.

Anyway, your job as a book reviewer is to review the book. That includes commenting on any ethical issues that strike you as you read it.

#110 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Dave @ 103

If your assignment is to provide a review, then it's entirely appropriate that it should include your opinions on the work. Let them know you didn't like it, and why.

As a bookseller, I almost always provided a summary rather than a review. Only the most egregious of offenders earned a personal comment - but for something like this I may well have made the exception.

#111 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:08 PM:

#102 Graydon - you didn't respond to the Lepanto link in #19, just to knives? I recall that you introduced me to that poem, a yoink or two ago.

Leonard Lee wrote a book on sharpening; Lee Valley has it at this page and also listed is a video. The latter sounds like a good idea.

#112 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:16 PM:

Here's the best Web article I've found on knife sharpening. I resharpened my kitchen knives using the "mousepad trick" and the difference was nothing less than startling. It feels like I don't actually "cut", but just sort of guide the knife.

BTW, I found that there are a couple of "meta-tricks" in the mousepad trick. I'll post some notes if anybody's interested.

#113 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Dave #103:

IMO, what you said here is just fine for your published review. If one of the purposes of fiction is to remove us from this world, and this one fails to do so in some way, then you shouldn't feel restrained from noting that fact.

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:49 PM:

Dave #103: finish the book. Trash the shit out of it.

#115 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 10:50 PM:

#61 Linkmeister:

Thanks for the link! I'll drop a hopeful little email in the direction of the address they provide and see if they have time to write back. (I'm terribly self-conscious about writing to organizations with my questions, despite answering exactly those sorts of emails for a few years in my last job. I always wonder if I'm going to be bothering someone with more important things to do.)

#65 Rikibeth:

...yes, I'm extrapolating from seals to selkies. I mean, so long as I have shapeshifting creatures with oddly-shaped souls I probably could just make it up, but it seems more elegant to sneak in actual research when making declarations about these sorts of things.

#116 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 11:23 PM:

Dave at 103: Write your review, and say in it what you just said to us. You may trash the book or not -- but such a review, asking your readers to look squarely at a real moral issue, is a gift to serious adult readers of genre and non-genre fiction alike.

As for the non-serious, non-adult readers; if they're disappointed, that's too bad.

#117 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2006, 11:40 PM:

Dave: echoing others, I advise that you review the book and say straight up that you're not sure your comments on style, plot etc. are objective because of your moral objection.

A review that says "This book or movie sucks" is useless. A review that says "I didn't like it because a, b, c" gives the reader a good chance of predicting whether he'll like the book based on whether he shares your opinion of a, b, and c. (For example, people who are bothered by torture but not by clunky writing; those bothered by neither; those bothered by both; and those bothered by clunky writing but not torture.)

#118 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 01:11 AM:

OK, I've now watched the first two episodes of Torchwood. Interesting setup, though the whole "time-space rift" thing seems too reminiscent of Buffy's Hellmouth. Like John Barrowman, like Eve Myles, think the two have good chemistry (though I hope they don't have the two characters get together). Didn't like the plot of the second episode -- I'm sure they thought it was edgy and adult, but it struck me as downright teenage.

At one point watching the pilot, I thought, "Hey, they sound like Jo"; and then I thought, "Well, duh..."

Eleanor @ 23 asks if anyone has guessed the nature of the hand in the jar without seeing spoilers. Well, I haven't seen any, and I have a guess I'd bet money is right -- it follows, rot13'd.

V guvax gur unaq pnzr sebz gur Qbpgbe; vg'f gur bar gung tbg phg bss va gur svtug fprar va "Gur Puevfgznf Vainfvba". Frrzf n gevsyr hayvxryl gung vg jbhyq fheivir gur snyy naq or erpbirerq, ohg jr pna unaqjnir gung vg jnf vashfrq jvgu gur "pryyhyne raretl" gung yrg gur Qbpgbe tebj n arj bar, naq guhf jnf zber qhenoyr guna gur nirentr frirerq unaq. V fcrphyngr gung Wnpx Unexarff pna hfr vg fbzrubj gb xabj jura gur Qbpgbe ergheaf gb Rnegu, naq ybpngr uvz.

#119 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 01:13 AM:

OK, I've now watched the first two episodes of Torchwood. Interesting setup, though the whole "time-space rift" thing seems too reminiscent of Buffy's Hellmouth. Like John Barrowman, like Eve Myles, think the two have good chemistry (though I hope they don't have the two characters get together). Didn't like the plot of the second episode -- I'm sure they thought it was edgy and adult, but it struck me as downright teenage.

At one point watching the pilot, I thought, "Hey, they sound like Jo"; and then I thought, "Well, duh..."

Eleanor @ 23 asks if anyone has guessed the nature of the hand in the jar without seeing spoilers. Well, I haven't seen any, and I have a guess I'd bet money is right -- it follows, rot13'd.

V guvax gur unaq pnzr sebz gur Qbpgbe; vg'f gur bar gung tbg phg bss va gur svtug fprar va "Gur Puevfgznf Vainfvba". Frrzf n gevsyr hayvxryl gung vg jbhyq fheivir gur snyy naq or erpbirerq, ohg jr pna unaqjnir gung vg jnf vashfrq jvgu gur "pryyhyne raretl" gung yrg gur Qbpgbe tebj n arj bar, naq guhf jnf zber qhenoyr guna gur nirentr frirerq unaq. V fcrphyngr gung Wnpx Unexarff pna hfr vg fbzrubj gb xabj jura gur Qbpgbe ergheaf gb Rnegu, naq ybpngr uvz.

#120 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 01:33 AM:

Sigh. When it said the server stopped responding, I assumed that the post hadn't gone through. Sorry. (Perhaps some helpful deity can remove one of the two twins, and this post?)

#121 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 04:58 AM:

David, look on the bright side: if we rotate our screens (or heads) 90° and let our eyes assume the thousand-yard-stare position, we can read your doubled post in stereo!   Such depth!   Such perspective!   Such three-dimensionality!   We may never go back to reading flat prose again!

... until our necks start hurting, maybe....

#122 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 07:56 AM:

Dave @103:

I'm with these other guys: say what you think, regardless. Be honest. If you find you're hating the book (and it sounds like for very good reason), then say so. You're doing nobody any favours if you for whatever reason hold back.

#123 ::: “test” ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:33 AM:

“test”

#124 ::: “test” ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:51 AM:

“test”

#125 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:51 AM:

#123 ::: “test�? exclaimed:
“test�

Gesundheit!?

#126 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:55 AM:

I'm trying to get curly quotes and such to print correctly.

I've removed the line <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" /> everywhere it appears in the templates, without getting special characters to work.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

#127 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 09:14 AM:

Dave (@ 103),

It's entirely reasonable to say something like "the protagonist's attempt to justify torture ruined my suspension of disbelief, and before I could regain it I noticed these other problems."

Turn it around: you're also in the same position as any number of reviewers who praise books for teaching ideas and ethical positions they agree with. Which means you can reasonably point out that the author has joined a long line of people who want to believe that evil, including torture, isn't evil if people in white hats do it. (It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that, by Feist's own reasoning presented there, it is sometimes necessary to behave unethically in order to achieve a higher good, so he has no business complaining when it's done to him.)

Also, you're under no obligation to give a book a good review because it, or the author's previous works, sell well: if your editor thought that way, they wouldn't have asked for a review, just printed "Much-loved author Feist's newest book, $title, now available in local stores!" in large friendly letters.

#128 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 09:58 AM:

Re #126, James D. Macdonald:

Are you using the tags “&ldquo; and &rdquo;”, ‘&lsquo; and &rsquo;’?

#129 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 10:01 AM:

Jim, if I manually change my browser window's character encoding to Unicode (UTF-8), then I can see your curly quotes just fine. I think (that is, I do not know, because IANA webmaster) that you need to put the meta tag back in, but change the charset attribute to charset="utf-8".

Users will still need to make sure that they are either defaulting to the charset defined for the page (i.e., "Autodetect" in IE), or they will need to change the browser encoding for Making Light to Unicode, in order to see special characters. But that's true everywhere.

I found some more info here, but I haven't read it thoroughly. It should give you a place to start, though.

#130 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 10:15 AM:

Re #129, Howard Peirce:

Rather than use the character encoding of your particular system and expect every reader's system to correctly interpret it...

... wouldn't it be better to use the system-independent HTML tags (ampersand-tag-semicolon), and let each reader's browser serve those up in the characters of that particular system?

#131 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Raven,

That's not what Jim's asking for. I tend to use the ampersand codes when I'm writing comments, but only because I'm fussy. And only for simple things like ®, ™, †, ü, é, etc. But there's lots of memorization involved, and it slows you down when composing, particularly if you have to go look things up in a table.

The larger issue here is that, as I read the w3c articles, XHTML (which is what Movable Type is using) requires Unicode (UTF-8), but the meta tags were overriding that. Imagine that a character stream is like water running through pipes (or, if you prefer, a series of tubes). Each template, stylesheet, etc. is a valve. All the valves have to be at the right setting, or the flow gets choked off. Since we're being XHTML-compliant here, the charset="iso-8859-1" attribute was choking the flow of characters. So to a degree, it's a coding esthetics issue. But curly quotes are only a small part of the potential character data being lost.

If he defines the charset correctly throughout, 90% of browsers will pick up the right character set correctly 90% of the time. Odds are, you won't even know it's happening. I'll still see web pages where there's a bunch of boxes or garbage characters, and then I try changing the encoding manually. (This is the one thing that IE does better than OOTB Firefox, IMO: right-click in the window, and choose Encoding, then select an encoding from the menu).

It's more than just special characters; it's also language support. If Making Light is set up to use Unicode throughout, then, for example, people can include Hebrew or Cyrillic or Kanji if they want to. (Browse some of the posts at Language Hat to see this sort of thing in action.) Try doing that with ampersand codes.

Again, I'm not a web designer, and I've never done any of this stuff. So take this with a grain of salt. I am a technical writer, I know how to translate technical specs into English, and I've written extensively on similar (but not identical) DTD, XSD, and XML customizations.

#132 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 03:05 PM:

One of the sad things about moving away from Virginia is that I now have no source of Marmite flavored Walker's Crisps. Gah, I miss them.

Musk Life Savers! Wow. I remember, decades back, dreaming of some strange purplish ultra-violet Life Savers with a nearly intolerable flavor -- I couldn't remember what it was when I woke up, so I've called it "carbolic" for years (after a flavor of lollipops mentioned in "Herbie").

#133 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 05:17 PM:

#155 Fade -- I agree, the research is a nice touch.

And the nicest thing is that if the answer provided doesn't suit your story needs, you can always invent a logically consistent reason why your magical creature is different from the garden-variety one.

I think that was how a half-Seelie character wound up with such a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, in a story of mine.

#134 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 05:32 PM:

In comment #133, Rikibeth replied to Fade at #155.

Time travel! You saw it here first.

#135 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Fade @ #115
Those folks are pretty ebullient at the moment, since they (or some of their counterparts here) just managed to get a couple of monk seal twins healthy and ready to release up in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. I suspect they'd be happy to answer questions anyway; who doesn't like to respond to a query about the work he/she does?

#136 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 06:16 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #17: I predict snopes will be covering [the vegemite] story soon

Here you go. Their verdict: false.

#137 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:40 PM:

#129 ::: Howard Peirce wrote:
Jim, if I manually change my browser window's character encoding to Unicode (UTF-8), then I can see your curly quotes just fine. I think (that is, I do not know, because IANA webmaster) that you need to put the meta tag back in, but change the charset attribute to charset="utf-8".

Thank you for an absolutely disconcerting few momments of wondering why on -earth- IANA had suddenly wandered off into W3C territory. Bah. Acronymn overloading. Bah!

#138 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:49 PM:

Vegemite and marmite both map tastewise to the famous Golden Bowl at The Grit, a local vegetarian comfort food restaurant. The first time I had it I thought "marmite"! The recipe is in their cookbook, and there are some versions on line as well. The menu describes it as "browned tofu sauteed with soy sauce and nutritional yeast, served over brown rice." It's really good with the addition of steamed veggies, and some folks like it with melted cheese, which I think is a bit over the top. However, I do like a thin spread of marmite or vegemite on a grilled cheese sandwich.

#139 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 08:49 PM:

Re #136, Bruce Adelsohn:

Oh, that's just because they got one detail wrong....

What was really banned was     Vitameatavegamin !

Bet you none of that's been coming through the airports!

#140 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 10:27 PM:

I love the Grit. (Tracie, it's a pleasure to see someone else who lives near the Tree That Owns Itself.)

#141 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2006, 11:37 PM:

#133 Rikibeth:

Entirely how I see it. Where I can get the real facts to use in my fantasy, it's a nice touch. Where they don't match up, well, I come up with some way of explaining why.

(At the moment I'm desperately trying to come up with a plausible reason for why a particular Victorian-esque era city would be digging its new subway system using a drilling/tunneling method rather than a trench method, as I explicitly don't have the excuse New York did for this change from how it's usually done. I'll come up with some clever explanation aaaaaany day now.)

#135 Linkmeister:

Oh, that's good to hear! I'm sadly nervous about speaking up in public when I don't know people (textually or vocally), but the worst they can do is ignore the email, right?

#142 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 12:40 AM:

Oh!

I bet the brain trust here could help...

A couple of days ago, I found a watch while out walking the dog. A gold women's watch, kind of dressy.

I put up posters around the vicinity of where I found it. (A sidewalk running along the outside fence of a upscale subdivision, used by many joggers and walkers).

So . . . if I don't get a call within a week or so, what do I do next? Turn it into the local police?

#143 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 01:15 AM:

Stefan: Check in with a local jewelry & watch-repair shop. There may be markings that would help trace it.

#144 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 05:45 AM:

Dave @103

From you're description, this sounds like a deliberate "justify torture" scenario -- if you have a mindreader available, you don't need to torture somebody to make them think about a topic.

Which is, I think, bad writing. You set up a reason for the characters to do something wrong, and get the necessary results, yet the setup is one which removes the need to do wrong.

OK, so there's torture which a lot of people would accept, such as the brow-beating intimidation of the Hays-Code constrained film noir of Hollywood. I can see why people can disagree about whether such things are torture, or whether they're evil or not.

And if the scene is in that area, you might have to think a bit about how you describe things. But if the author has shown the instruments, go for it.

#145 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 08:39 AM:

Raven #139: I bet you're right; it's not coming in via the airports. I just don't know whether that's because it's a domestic product, or because the advertiser's used it all :-)

#146 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Open thread, right? OK, open thread.

I've got a friend with a bad case of Man's Disease--you tell him you have a problem, and he starts offering ways to fix it. Doesn't matter how many times you say, "Yes, I tried that, it didn't work"--if it worked for him, it'll work for you too!

How does one go about explaining that this is a problem? Because I have a feeling that the rather angry email I sent him was not the way to go, and now that I've calmed down a bit I kinda...well, I actually don't regret it, but I'd like to know if there's something more constructive to try next time.

#147 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 01:43 PM:

Carrie S,

You explain it to him by explaining it to him. "Look dude, you have a problem communicating with women, and here's how to fix it." He won't like it, but it works, and he'll respect you for telling him.

Okay, ideally he'd respect you for telling him. If he doesn't he's an ass, and you can tell him I said so. But you get the idea.

I'm a guy, and my significant other has to tell me - often - that "this is one of those times when I don't want you to fix it." Guys aren't brought up* to be a sympathetic ear, they are brought up to be "handy". Handy in a fight, a repair job, in financial distress, as a reference book, etc. If you can persuade a guy that "being handy" can be operationally defined as "sitting still and listening", that's good. But nurture isn't destiny any more than nature is, and some guys aren't stupid, and can learn new ways of behaving.

That said, when my best friend is moved to tears by something that upsets her, I get a strong feeling that I ought to make rash vows and run off seeking vengeance.** Not very practical, but I love her, so what can you do?

You said that you responded by saying "Yes, I tried that, it didn't work." Sorry, for guys like me, that's just temptation. ooo! shiny! A really hard problem to solve! You get the idea . Notice that I am...trying to solve your problem. eheh heh. Oops.


*in my white, middle-class, suburban, protestant, midwestern etc etc subculture. Results may vary-past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
**which came first, rash vows and rushing off in literature like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or guys being stupid about that kind of thing? Extra credit, 5 points.

#148 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 01:50 PM:

I've got a friend with a bad case of Man's Disease--you tell him you have a problem, and he starts offering ways to fix it.

Excuse me, but I must roll around on the floor for a moment laughing uncontrollably....

....

...

Ahh. OK. I'm back.

Do you want the person to stop trying to solve the problem? Or is it that he just doesn't believe that you tried what he suggested and it didn't work, but he doesn't believe it didn't work?

Honestly, sometimes I'll have someone come over and debug something on my computer and they'll ask if I did XX, and I'll say yes. And at some point, we'll regress all the way back to checking power and rebooting, and then I'll try XX and it fixes it.

But if he's fixated on XX, and you re-tried XX, then he isn't actually solving your problem. Which is basically the conversation to have with him. I tried XX. I tried it again after you asked. It doesn't work. I need a new suggestion. Or I need a new reason to try XX again.

If you don't actually want him to try and fix the problem, then he might not be the person to discuss the problem with until after its resolved.

#149 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Found things.

I found this:
I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to misattribute this quote to Voltaire.
here.

I also saw a review of Emma, not by Jane Austen, but a graphic novel I like very much. Unlike most such reviews, it includes enough pictures to get some idea of what it is like.

On a typical English afternoon at the turn of the Twentieth century, a gentried young man named William pays a visit to the woman who used to be his governess. He pauses before knocking on the door, only to have it opened in his face by her live-in housemaid, Emma. Apologies are offered, formalities exchanged, tea is served and a quiet little Victorian romance novel begins.

This was also unrelated, but pretty.

#150 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:13 PM:

#103.

missed that. sorry for the late answer. hope it isn't too late.

OK, so the question: what do I say? I know that I hate the book. I know I can make a case that it's badly written. But would I be making that case if it hadn't outraged me? I think perhaps not - although in the nature of things, I can't absolutely know that. Yet if I am to pan a book because it espouses values I find repulsive, am I not in the very same position as the bigot who excoriates "Brokeback Mountain" because it generates sympathy for homos?

I believe the Bill Maher response to that the Brokeback Mountain bigot is "Do not tolerate intolerance". And I think a similar train of thought applies to abusing basic human rights.

To advocate that sometimes torture is needed is to advocate a lie. To write a story whereby torture saves the world from the ticking bomb is to ignore the realities of terrorism and replace it with a fiction that plays into the fears of the readers. To play into the fears of your readers to sell books is a cheap trick.

There's a line about fiction, that I can't quite recall, but its something like this: Fiction is a series of lies which together tells a deeper truth. If this story you're reading is a series of lies that points to a deeper lie , then it is propagada, and certainly doesn't deserve your respect.

If a fundamental assumption of the book is that torture produces good results, is not subject to abuse, and does not attract the sadists, then the book is propagating a lie no less absurd than a story based on the premise that Hitler was a nice guy and people just misunderstood him.

And truth is not a "value" equivalent to homophobia. Homophobia is based on lies and fears. Racism is too. Religious zealotry. All are based on some deep underlying lie that twists reality so that the lier is the righteous one. Those advocating torture are basing their arguments on a fundamental lie, that it works, that it produces useful intelligence, that they would never abuse the power to torture, and that they would never do it to anyone innocent.

Do not compare the truth of the horrors of torture with the lies used to justify it.

Telling the truth about torture is in no way similar to a homophobic telling a lie about gays.

#151 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Random request:
Does anyone have a link to a really classic "I'm quitting teh internets" post? Preferably with one of those rare, fully formed "the lurkers support me in email" lines? I recall that there was a bit about lurkers in part of the AW dustup, but I don't recall anything in the "I'm quitting you" genre.

I'm planning on reducing the amount of time I spend on the 'net a great deal, and I want to make sure I get the bombast and rehtorical flourishes right. I was thinking, perhaps making a madlib out of a really good one might be a fun way to start.

#152 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:17 PM:

Carrie S. - Yep, that's Man's Disease, alright! [snickering]

My wife is very good about telling me when necessary, "I just need you to listen to me about this and be sympathetic; I'm not asking for suggestions about what to do." Gradually I'm getting better about recognizing when that's true in the first place. Yes, you really need to spell that out up front, because most men will not recognize it otherwise. (Note I say most, and you can assume all the culture-bound disclaimers, etc.)

Come to think of it, that's what I was doing last night when listening to my daughter's roommate troubles - making suggestions about what to try. So was her boyfriend, from what she said. Urrgh. I should call her up again this week and focus on just being sympathetic.

The other thing to try to remember is that listening sympathetically often feels to men like me as though they are not doing anything useful or helpful. On an emotional level all the "try this" is often an attempt to express sympathy in some concrete form, however oblique. It doesn't always have to be taken literally; sometimes it's just an expression of "I wish I could help." (Not meaning to put the burden of communication on you, but if it makes it easier to hear the suggestions, maybe that's useful to you.)

#153 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:21 PM:

Does anyone have a link to a really classic "I'm quitting teh internets" post? ... I want to make sure I get the bombast and rehtorical flourishes right.

Oh, that's easy. There are plenty of examples of recent speeches to this very effect online now. Just take a look around Wikipedia. If you want the really indignant bombast, find an admin or better yet, someone formerly on arbitration committee, who has thrown in the towel. They generally do not go quietly into the night. There was one admin in particular I recall who left wikipedia at least three times while I was editing there. Each time he swore was the last. Each time he recounted the slings and arrows he suffered from the trolls and troublemakers. And each time, he would eventually come back. There are some notorious drama queens over there.

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Clifton,

You make me wonder if I'm really a man. I do that - I'm almost completely incapable of just saying "there, there" without trying to solve the problems my friends describe to me.

However, I've got a good deal of evidence that I am, in fact, a woman.

#155 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Clifton Royston said the following:
The other thing to try to remember is that listening sympathetically often feels to men like me as though they are not doing anything useful or helpful. On an emotional level all the "try this" is often an attempt to express sympathy in some concrete form, however oblique. It doesn't always have to be taken literally; sometimes it's just an expression of "I wish I could help." (Not meaning to put the burden of communication on you, but if it makes it easier to hear the suggestions, maybe that's useful to you.)

Which is precisely what I wanted to say, and I endorse it wholly as truth, es la verdad. This is what goes on in my head and heart. Boys* want to show their affection through action, or at least, action simulated in their minds by imagining the outcome of their advice. (Thus things like rash vows, also.)

I'm just spitballing here, but I'm guessing that we were brought up to deal with pretty much any situation with actions, particularly symbolic actions, instead of words or named feelings. (We're not so good with identifying feelings, let alone discussing them.) We use symbolic conflicts as a way of dealing with interpersonal stuff. This might be a reasonable way to explain the amount of cartoon violence men like in their genre fiction, video games, board games, movies, manga, or sports and why we don't see violence in fiction/fictional activities as a social problem.

--tangent--
I've seen violence in media critiqued in feminist circles as being negative in and of itself, which has always puzzled me, since "fake" violence in symbolic combats is one way otherwise unequal men negotiate an equal relationship. Of course it is a way for some men to dominate others, but those who are really truly interested in doing that are trolls, pundits, and the worst kinds of salesmen, lawyers, politicians, middle management beaurocrats. In other words, abusers tend to be abusive wherever they can, which should surprise no one.

The significant thing about symbolic combat in games of all kinds is the amount of effort poured into rulemaking so that abusers can't abuse through cheating - in other words, so you can pound the crap out of your evil boss at fusball on the company retreat and he can't do a damn thing about it. That's kind of what I mean about "unequal men" gaining equality through symbolic violence - in the real world few of us have really equal power footings, so we have elaborate social structures for creating equality.

--additional disclaimers--
*The terms "we", "men", and "boys" are not meant to be universal, exclusive, or Truth, they were just convenient for how I percieve things from in my limited worldview, from my own, narrow cultural perspective. I would love to hear from women who share the traits I describe or men who do not, to cure my ignorance, please.

#156 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:52 PM:

Greg asks, in 148 Do you want the person to stop trying to solve the problem? Or is it that he just doesn't believe that you tried what he suggested and it didn't work, but he doesn't believe it didn't work?

Well, kinda both--he's offered many solutions to the problem, and in each case it's something that worked for him; this makes it tough for him to believe me when I say it didn't work for me. I'd also like him to stop offering new suggestions because it's getting kinda tedious saying, "Yeah, I had tried that already because it's advice that can be easily found by Googling for [name of problem]."

What's getting to me is that he seems to think I could solve all this if I just tried a little harder. This makes me unhappy (and was the reason for the angry email). I can't really stop discussing the problem because it's both ongoing and of a type that normally comes up during social situations.

Meanwhile, rhandir (thanks, BTW, for clearing up your gender for me; I was unsure. :) asks which came first, rash vows and rushing off in literature like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or guys being stupid about that kind of thing? Extra credit, 5 points.

That's a really good question. I'm glad you asked it. There will be a quiz at the end of the period.

You all know the joke about the chicken and the egg in bed, right? The egg rolls over and lights a cigarette, and the chicken says, "Well, I guess that answers that question."

#157 ::: harthad ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 02:52 PM:

Apropos of nothing: Thank you, thank you, TNH, for the Particle about the Secret Lives of Dresses. What delightful little stories, and what a fabulous blog they live in (A Dress a Day). As a collector of vintage dresses, I'm in heaven.

#158 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 03:10 PM:

Carrie S.
What's getting to me is that he seems to think I could solve all this if I just tried a little harder. This makes me unhappy (and was the reason for the angry email).
Boy does it burn me up when people tell me that! I'm not sure if thats a guy thing, or stubborn WASP-culture thing. Its the whole "work harder, not smarter" thing. Burns me up wether its people blaming poor people for being lazy or blaming mothers for not breastfeeding. (Reasons why "trying harder" doesn't always work in the two cases cited left up to the imagination of the reader, note however, that they have been covered on ML before.)

BTW, thanks for the chicken/egg joke. I hadn't heard that one in years! I can't remember if it was Lewis or Tolkien who hypothesized a that you can't have Norse legends about Thor's thunder and lightning without simultaneously having short-tempered young viking farmers for context, but there you go, another cultural chicken/egg.

#159 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Well, kinda both

OK, you'll probably be getting two bills from me in the mail.... ;)

I don't think you can forbid him from offering solutions, but you can make it clear that such is not what you're looking for from him.

You can control your behaviour, so I wonder why the problem keeps coming up in conversation when he's around, such that he can offer yet another suggestion. Really, if possible don't discuss the topic with him. If not possible, well, then that's where it gets tricky.

The other question is do you think he's offering suggestions to help or as a putdown. if to help, then you can try to make clear to him what you're looking for him that would actually help you. Maybe just to vent. If you must discuss said problem when he's around, convey the idea that you're notion of help around the problem is to be heard, to vent, without walking away with extra things to-do. Those of us afflicted with uncontrollable man-disease can usually adjust as requested in the moment. Just keep in mind that once man disease matastisizes, memory is shot, and you'll likely have to remind the person that you need to vent and not get more things to-do each time you broach the subject, at least until it burns into long term memory.

Lastly, positive and negative reinforcement. Do you reward teh behaviour you want? If he were to just listen and not try to solve, do you tell him thanks? As for negative reinforcement, if suggestions of things to do begin to rattle off, do you figuratively whack his nose with a newspaper in the moment? Or do you wait till later, and bring it up indirectly. Remember, man-disease generally affects memory, which means you need to correct unwanted behaviour as it happens, not later, not indirectly.

A simple, "I'm sorry, I just need to vent. I can't handle more suggestions right now." is a nice neutral way of saying what you want without making him wrong for his behaviour.

This is another key point. Man disease is not a bad thing. If you take a group of individuals who are all afflicted with man disease, their behaviour ticks will mesh fine with each other. It is not inherently bad behaviour. It just isn't what you want. So correction should not condemn the behaviour, since the behaviour itself can be good in certain settings, rather, correction should simply be clear of the sort of thing you want or you are looking for, such that the person suffereing man-disease will be reminded, in the moment, of what you would like from them.

#160 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 03:26 PM:

offtopic, spotted on Fanthropology:

"My answer is that insanity is communicable, especially over the internet." - wanderingwidget
"Ah, so it's a textually transmitted disease, then?" -rhi_silverflame

#161 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Open thread + earworm = Ode to being a disgusting slob on a slushy, snowy day

Yesterday's clothes
Don't punish my nose;
They still smell just fine.
Yesterday's shirt
Is not gonna hurt;
It's a favorite of mine.
And yesterday's jeans, they're still fairly clean,
And my undies can say the same -
  Some days it ain't worth it to change -
  Just put 'em on again.

(bkgd vocals: Just put 'em on again, baby)

  Just put 'em on again

Yesterday's bra
Will make no one "ha-ha"--
It's not like they can see.
Yesterday's shoes
Are never bad news--
I find them comfy.
And yesterday's socks won't go in the box
'Cause the laundry pile's getting too high -
  As long as they're still mostly dry,
  Just put 'em on again.



[wild applause]

...Thank you, thank you. We'll be here all night. If you're leaving early, remember to be kind to the waitstaff.

#162 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 04:13 PM:

Nicole,

This somewhat sarcastic and wry call
Doesn't mean that you're taking the Michael.
As long as your garments
Are lacking in varmints
Then reduce, reuse and recycle!

#163 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 04:24 PM:

So I'll be in the Boston area (specifically Worcester) around Thanksgiving time visiting my Grandparents. Any recommendations for must-do activities while I'm there? I've never been to the New England area before, so I'm quite open to suggestions.

#164 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Carrie #146 (and abi #154, and rhandir #155):

Uh oh. Apparently I am a man with a functioning uterus.

Not only do I have "let me butt in with annoying and useless suggestions" disease, I also have the symbolic-combat trait (D&D in my youth, taekwondo now, verbal and academic competition always).

#165 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Lila #164:

I always thought I got it from working in a hardware store. Come to think of it, I was the only female selling paint and screwdrivers; a hardware store is probably the ultimate Guy Wants To Help locale. So did it rub off on me, or was it the obvious place for me to get a job?

I do get annoyed at Excessive Helpful Male Syndrome, because in its most extreme/virulent form, it becomes (almost?) indistinguishable from the guy taking control.

Sometimes, I'm not even looking for a sympathetic ear; I just want to exercise my constititional right to bitch, whine, moan and kvetch.

And sometimes, I haven't even brought up whatever it is as a problem; I once dumped a guy for (inter alia) spending much too much time telling me about how I ought to find another place to live. (This ignoring the fact that it was all I could afford, was close to campus, and was right on a bus line, which was sort of important since I didn't have a car.)

#166 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 05:11 PM:

abi, your vote of confidence is much appreciated. Certainly my current wardrobe thanks you.

#167 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 05:12 PM:

I haven't seen this posted on this site yet. (If it has, I apologize for being redundant.)

Neil Gaiman's Journal Post for 10/26 has some information about John M Ford's memorial service tomorrow and about the book endowment fund that has been set up in his memory at the Minneapolis Public Library (link to LJ post about the endowment).

For every $500 dollars deposited in the endowment funds, the Friends purchase a book for the library system annually with the interest earned on the endowment. This really is the gift that keeps on giving. You can specify what genre or library location/branch the books are intended for. Some people just specify "where most needed". We prepare bookplates and have them inserted in each book before they are shelved. Patrons will see Mike's name each time the book is opened! I think it is important for people to know that these funds are 'permanently restricted' to the annual purchase of books. The money will never be diverted to other use.

It seems a very fitting tribute.

#168 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 07:40 PM:

Rated laughable: http://www.iilaa.com/

Recognize any of them?

#169 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 08:00 PM:

Carrie at 146:

I don't think of this as Man's Disease, because I, like abi, do it. It's a terrible habit, I've been fighting it for decades.

#170 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 09:24 PM:

Carrie S. #146: I've got a friend with a bad case of Man's Disease--you tell him you have a problem, and he starts offering ways to fix it. Doesn't matter how many times you say, "Yes, I tried that, it didn't work"--if it worked for him, it'll work for you too!

How does one go about explaining that this is a problem?

Late on this thread, and no real answer. Deborah Tannen did a book titled You Just Don't Understand, talking about the cross communication modes between men and women; the male mode of “you're telling me this, I can offer these solutions” was described.

That said, when you lay out what you've already tried, and you still get it offered as a solution...

I'm on a technical forum for some software; when you've got a problem, you describe what you're trying to do, and what you have already tried. Sometimes (not frequently) someone responses with a suggestion which:
A) you've already tried, as explained in your post, or
B) you are not able to do, for reasons explained in your post.

C) answers might include "upgrade to the latest version of the software", or "buy this other program which will do a much better job for this task".

Not helpful.

You could slap him; it probably won't help, but it might be satisfying.


#171 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 09:50 PM:

No doubt it's old hat by now, but I only today succumbed to the "write an sf story in six words" meme that most recently surfaced at Wired. Here's what I have so far (leaving out some I did before realizing I was just giving a synopsis of a story everybody else knew, which is not the same as writing a story).

horror
Slimy tentacles, ichorous face... Dad? YOU??

sci fi
Nuked! Two left... Madam, I'm Adam.

twilight zone
Nuked! I'll read... oops! My glasses!
Kill the monsters! What, they're us?
I'm dreaming... must wake up! (repeat)
Ugly-- Make pretty, like us. Oink!

sci-faiku
Uncontrolled warfare;
Fireball anticipated...
Martians intervene!

And here's my newest one, composed while driving around:

Frankenstein's dog just buried himself. Again.

#172 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 10:13 PM:

Rhandir at #156:

Does anyone have a link to a really classic "I'm quitting teh internets" post? Preferably with one of those rare, fully formed "the lurkers support me in email" lines?

I don't have a good answer, but I suggest you track down (using groups.google.com) the famous song parody Jo Walton wrote:

To the tune of "My Bonny lies over the ocean")
The Lurkers support me in email
They all think I'm great don't you know.
You posters just don't understand me
But soon you will reap what you sow.

Lurkers, lurkers, lurkers support me, you'll see, you'll see
off in e-mail the lurkers support me, you'll see.

The lurkers support me in email
"So why don't they post?" you all cry
They're scared of your hostile intentions
they just can't be as brave as I.

Lurkers etc.

One day I'll round up all my lurkers
we'll have a newsgroup of our own
without all this flak from you morons
my lurkers will post round my throne.

Lurkers etc.

And look at messages upthread of that, to see what prompted her to write it.

This thread may also be of interest.

#173 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 11:47 PM:

Barry Gehm once composed a pretty good three-word science fiction story, for which he collected rejection slips. It would be unseemly for me to reproduce the whole thing on the Web, however.

Six words? Maybe Barry will write a sequel.

#174 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 12:43 AM:

Carrie S.@146:
"I've got a friend with a bad case of Man's Disease--you tell him you have a problem, and he starts offering ways to fix it. Doesn't matter how many times you say, "Yes, I tried that, it didn't work"--if it worked for him, it'll work for you too!

How does one go about explaining that this is a problem?"


So... the problem isn't the problem? The solutions to the problem are the problem?

Whoa, hang on a minute, I think I'm about to channel Danny Kaye:

The problem is the cobblin'
of the answer that is cocksure.
The solution with the notion
that a good mick does a quick fix,
a Walter Mitty for a pretty
woman's worry that can surely
be all fixed up; what a mixup!
She'd much rather, than your blather
A handy shoulder, arms to hold her,
not a "try this", but a sweet kiss.

(Ehh, not bad for off the cuff...)

#175 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 03:52 AM:

Dave @168

Ugh. Myst graphics and scam language. The horror, the horror!

#176 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 07:43 AM:

From site at #168

5) Websites such as SFWA, Writers� Beware, Predators & Editors [sic], along with associated blogs and chatrooms/forums are operated and monitored by people who are dedicated to you, the writer.
    * The operators/monitors of these groups have an agenda�and it isn�t to protect you. Their agenda is to destroy the reputations, and therefore, the business of independent agents. They do not do this out of the kindness of their hearts, or because they truly care about you, the writer. They do this for a reason!
&interrobang;
uh-huh.
<agrees with abi #175>

#177 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 08:14 AM:

Re #150, Greg London (re #103):   Muchly agreed!   Extending on your remarks:

To advocate that sometimes torture is needed is to advocate a lie. To write a story whereby torture saves the world from the ticking bomb is to ignore the realities of terrorism and replace it with a fiction that plays into the fears of the readers. To play into the fears of your readers to sell books is a cheap trick.
This is why I quickly came to despise the TV show 24 (with Kiefer Sutherland), which seemed and still seems to me like propaganda for a Bush Administration worldview.   ("Of course we've got to torture or murder these helpless, powerless prisoners who are already confined and completely under our control, in order to save the world!")   It's fiction, but it's fiction of the sort Norman Spinrad's alternate-universe Hitler (the pulp-SF author in The Iron Dream) might have written.   You can see all too clearly what life under such a ruler could become.   Or worse yet, has already become for too many.
There's a line about fiction, that I can't quite recall, but it's something like this: Fiction is a series of lies which together tells a deeper truth. If this story you're reading is a series of lies that points to a deeper lie , then it is propaganda, and certainly doesn't deserve your respect.

If a fundamental assumption of the book is that torture produces good results, is not subject to abuse, and does not attract the sadists, then the book is propagating a lie no less absurd than a story based on the premise that Hitler was a nice guy and people just misunderstood him.
I'd say it's "propagating a lie even more absurd" — or, in the terms of your previous paragraph, an even deeper lie.

Just as truths and lies can be deeper than the specific events of a novel, they can be deeper than the specific events of history.

Hitler's character and biography are, in a sense, accidents of history.   Before he was born, they hadn't happened at all.   Had some scene-setting events gone differently (say, no WWI), perhaps Hitler might have been a nice guy — or just a miserable pulp-SF author whose fantasies harmed no real person.

But the corruption of torture is due to things like human nature and the existence of sadism, not the character and biography of any one individual.   The truths and lies of that issue are deeper than the truths and lies of who-and-what any one man turned out to be.

An alternate-history story with a nice-guy Hitler might conceivably be done with enough plausibility to allow the suspension of disbelief.

An alternate-history story where torture isn't corrupting?   Where it's compatible with having a humane society?   Not nearly so plausible.

The closest anyone's come to that is Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" — and only because she makes clear how much of a fantasy it is.

It's credible (in fiction and in life) that many people eould avert their eyes from the suffering of "even the least of these" — from the starving, the sick, the maimed, the dying, and the dead — and blithely accept "the way things are" (counting their own blessings)... oh yes, that happens.

To our eternal shame as human beings.

But the redeeming aspect of LeGuin's story, the one lonely hope for human nature that it offers, is that some people refuse to accept the diabolical bargain, and at least... at the very least... walk away from the lure of the benefits it so temptingly offers.

#178 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 08:20 AM:

#175 and 176. I should have gone there before now and looked. Yes, I recognised them. "Independent", hah! Independent of what, I ask. Ethics?

And did you get the wallpaper, with that image of solid, conservative worth. Brass telescopes! Antique maps, yet!

#179 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 09:36 AM:

The Webb vs. Allen Senate contest, as mediated by Drudge, seems to be making sure that while you can get elected to national office if you are an idiot, a criminal, a sexual predator, etc., we will be secure against that most evil and corrupt of professions: fiction writer.

#180 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 10:36 AM:

One of the corners of the net where I hang out calls a related habit "geek answer syndrome," in part because at least in that context, the tendency to try to offer fixes isn't gender-correlated. [The phrasing had been "male answer syndrome" until someone pointed out that the gender labeling was inaccurate and sometimes harmful.]

This tagging has the advantage that people who hang out there have learned to recognize it in ourselves (not always, but often), and will either stop, post asking "do you want suggestions?" and not make any right away, or start with "[Geek answer syndrome]" as a way of noting that we realize the person may not be seeking solution-type brainstorming, in which case, they should skip to the next post.

I think it also has the bonus of encouraging people to say, explicitly, when they are looking for advice in situations that could be either requests for that or simple venting.

#181 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Vicki, when we first saw the cartoon that discussed Male Answer Syndrome, my friend Deb said "but all our friends talk that way!"

And so it was and is.

#182 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Sorry, just posted a bunch of spam alert comments to posts that individually would probably just make me go "huh?", but seeing six of the same pattern makes my spidey sense go all tingly

#183 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Xopher,
Male Answer Syndrome cartoon? where?

Male Answer Syndrome is a pretty good test case for why "sex" and "gender" refer to two different properties. MAS, Man's Disease, Geek Answer Syndrome (its a gas!), etc. Whatever you want to call it. It "looks" gendered the same way pants look gendered - it is suggestive of male traits without requiring identity. Now if only capes were a litte more masculine...

#184 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 01:09 PM:

which came first, rash vows and rushing off in literature like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or guys being stupid about that kind of thing? Extra credit, 5 points.

I read a ten-years-after type of preface to "Fight Club", in which Chuck Palahniuk [thank you IMDB, for spelling what I could not] talks about the fact that, basically, what one male can invent, hundreds have done previously. . . like facial expressions, guy stupidity is universally recognized in every culture.

Tangent: when I heard about "Rhinoceros", my thought was "that's totally stupid and, yet, oddly appealing." You take a plastic six-pack holder, empty, and a beer can, empty; put the can in the middle ring, put the end rings over your ears so the can is in the middle of your forehead... and run straight into a wall, crushing the can.

#185 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Xopher @ #33:
Susan, we'll talk later about how we can meet during the con (though if I can get my boyfriend to come (to the convention, I mean), my reliability for meetings will not so much fly as plummet).

It would be fun to actually put a face and voice to the name, but don't make yourself crazy - we could always, say, meet for dinner in NYC. I wander through there at least once a month.

My reliability about reading this blog has plummeted lately and is about to go subterranean as I enter the month of my schedule in which I remember what an impossible thing it is to combine a full-scale creative career with a demanding full-time day job. November is one of those "if it's Tuesday it must be the 1830s" sorts of months for me: nine separate dance things covering 350 years of history in twenty-two days! Whee! And in the middle of recruiting season at the day job with the accompanying twelve-hour days! Who needs sleep?

Advance apologies to anyone I've ignored or am about to ignore.

#186 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 02:29 PM:

Skwid wrote:
So I'll be in the Boston area (specifically Worcester) around Thanksgiving time visiting my Grandparents. Any recommendations for must-do activities while I'm there?

Worcester isn't that close to Boston - upwards of an hour drive in traffic -- so keep that in mind. There's a pretty good science museum in Worcester called the Ecotarium, and of course the Museum of Science in Boston proper is one of the best science museums in the world. You can see actual dead skinned bodies there now. The New England Aquarium (also in Boston) is also world-class; not as good as the National Aquarium but still worth it if you like fish.

Harvard Square is worth a visit - one of the best urban collegetowns. Drop by Pandemonium Books in the Garage. You also might take tours of Harvard and MIT.

Boston also has a fantastic restaurant scene, some of which are out in the western suburbs (Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger is in Wellesley) so would be somewhat convenient to Worcester.

If you tell me more about what kinds of things you like, I could steer you more specifically.

#187 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 02:32 PM:

The Male Answer Syndrome cartoon would presumably be Eyebeam, http://www.eyebeam.com. There are quite a few archived strips there, but that particular set doesn't seem to be posted.

#188 ::: dajt ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:06 PM:

#186: Pandemonium isn't in the Garage anymore. They moved to a better, cheaper space in Central Square. It's still worth going to, but it's a bit of a walk if you're already at Harvard Sq.

#189 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:12 PM:

Hey, Alex. Thinking of things in North Texas terms, I guess. 30-40 miles or so is definitely "close" around here; but then you guys have, like, terrain and stuff.

Is Pandemonium an SF specialty shop? Those are rare-to-nonexistent in these parts and would definitely merit a trip.

The Science Museum sounds fun, too. I haven't been to a decent Science Museum in ages.

I'd like to hit at least one of the historical-type attractions in the area, but am unsure which to choose.

#190 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:15 PM:

My own MAS has been acting up a lot lately. My apologies if my suggestions above about Jim's XHTML/Unicode problems were unappreciated.

----

Many years ago, when Oberon was still a kitten, I lived in a small town where Halloween was the big event of the year. All the neighbors competed good-naturedly to see who could come up with the best decorations, out-of-towners would drive through the neighborhoods just for the show, everyone trick-or-treated, and the older kids still did the traditional pranks.

Oberon, a pure black cat, was just over a year old for his first real Halloween. The front door had a full-length sidelight, and he lay down and went to sleep right in front of the glass. Every time some trick-or-treaters would ring the bell, he would wake up, arch his back, and meow loudly, showing his teeth. A living Halloween decoration; the best cat ever.

We came back from the vet this morning. Kidney failure. There's not much to do but keep him warm, comfortable, hydrated, and loved.

#191 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:28 PM:

Howard Peirce @ 190

The love may be the most important part. (My cat is now about twelve years old, give or take six months or so. Still lively, but time marches on her, too.)

#192 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:41 PM:

Qwoth Skwid:
So I'll be in the Boston area (specifically Worcester) around Thanksgiving time visiting my Grandparents. Any recommendations for must-do activities while I'm there? I've never been to the New England area before, so I'm quite open to suggestions.

The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester is worth a look.

#193 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:44 PM:

I guess. 30-40 miles or so is definitely "close" around here; but then you guys have, like, terrain and stuff.

It's not the terrain, it's the traffic. Boston has a great public transit system, though.

Yeah, Pandemonium is a specialty sf bookstore and worth a trip, although as dajt pointed out, I foolishly forgot that it's moved away from Harvard Square.

History? Yeah, we've got some of that. If the weather is decent, you can do the Freedom Trail, a walking tour of the highlights of the Revolutionary War-era landmarks. The U.S.S. Constitution is worth a trip; Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall is essentially a mall now but is still fun to visit.

Boston Common & the Public Gardens are fantastic urban greenspace.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) has an excellent collection, including a world-class Ancient Egyptian room.

#194 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 04:56 PM:

OMG, OMG, OMG! Susan, that is so up my alley it's actually pulled into my garage and is honking its horn! And the Sunday I'll be there they're doing a Roman Legionary presentation! ZOMG!!!1!elevensies!

Seriously...it's utterly absurd how excited I am right now...

#195 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 05:18 PM:

DaveL @179: "we will be secure against that most evil and corrupt of professions: fiction writer."

Meanwhile, NBC is refusing to accept commercials for Shut Up And Sing on the grounds they are "disparaging to the President of the United States" and selling certain books now can get you kidnapped, waterboarded and imprisoned without trial until they're done with you.

Drip drip drip drip drip drip...

#196 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 05:37 PM:

I hope this isn't inappropriate, but since there are a lot of fen who spend time here, I have some sad news I want to pass on in case there are any interested parties here who hadn't otherwise heard.

Long-time Chicago/Midwest fan Phil Friedman, probably known better as Cyohtee, passed away Wednesday in his home. There will be a wake at Windycon.

#197 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 06:18 PM:

I thought the Male Answer Syndrome comic was a "Sylvia" strip.

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 06:43 PM:

since the "view all by" doesn't work yet, here's a cut and paste of potential spam spots:

Greg London on "Open thread 73"
Greg London's spam sensors blink yellow on "Dumbest of the Twenty Worst"
Greg London's spam sensors blink yellow on "Folksongs Are Your Friends"
Greg London's spam sensors blink yellow on "Slushkiller"
Greg London's spam sensors blink yellow on "What we did on our vacation"
Greg London's spam sensors blink yellow on "Odd cheat, now binned by vicar*"
Greg London's spam sensors blink yellow on "Fckng Ralph Nader, fckng Public Citizen"

Sorry, no links. But at least this should make it easy to track down with a bit of work.

#199 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 06:57 PM:

DaveL, yes, indeed, nothing like the Republican incumbent claiming that steamy passages from the Democratic contender's fiction reflect the candidate's real beliefs.

Howard, James Nicoll's vet said the same thing to him about Hillary, but she's still alive and getting better. Most of his posts about her are flocked, or I'd refer you.

#200 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Oh, Skwid, if you like that, then you'll also want to go to Hammond Castle:

John Hays Hammond, Jr. built his medieval-style castle between the years 1926 and 1929 to serve both as his home and as a backdrop for his collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts. In addition, the building housed the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Dr. Hammond produced over 400 patents and the ideas for over 800 inventions. Second only to Thomas Alva Edison in number of patents, John Hammond was one of America's premier inventors. His most important work was the development of remote control via radio waves, which earned him the title, "The Father of Remote Control."

Remote control! Roman artifacts!

Oh, and if you're in the North Shore territory for that, also check out the Peabody Essex Museum. For kitschier stuff, there's the rest of Salem, with its tourist-oriented Witch Museum.

#201 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 11:09 PM:

Didn't see where anyone answered Elise's question about the CapClave silent auction. I don't know exact numbers, but I do know it raised a bit over $800 (or, a book and a half a year). I'm chuffed because my donation was one of the more actively bid on items: an atlas of Civil War maps printed in newspapers of the time. I'd found it the day before in a library book sale, and it screamed "Mike!" at me; leveraged a $5 purchase into at least $65 for the fund.

#202 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2006, 11:53 PM:

Skwid: I don't know anything about the Roman legionnaires, but their sword guild does very good research - their work in historical combat movement parallels what I do in dance (and, indeed, my dance mentor is also a member of the sword guild.)

I just want to share with the world how frustrating it is to score two bingos in a Scrabble game and have one's opponent go all sore-loser and refuse to finish the game. Thank you all for listening.

#203 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 02:46 AM:

Cheap books: buy.com has its usual 35-40% off. Google checkout offers $10 off any order over $30 (through the end of October). Combining them gets books at about 45% of cover. (pnh said it's fine to post this here; he's a publisher, he wants you to buy books, and it doesn't matter from which store; and if google doesn't know the Internet free-money bubble burst a few years back, I say stand under it with a bucket.)

#204 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 07:50 AM:

Susan @ 202: I once got three bingos in the first five turns. Fortunately, I was playing with someone where we had a history of not being competitive with each other, and playing for the best cumulative score (total of all players). We both still talk about the game fondly. I recommend you dump the sore loser. And two bingos in a single game is not that uncommon.

#205 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 11:05 AM:

Pandemonium is actually an sf and game store; I've not been in there since they moved to Central Square, but in the old location I think they had good stock in both areas. (I'm not a serious gamer, and was in there looking at books, but I also bought a pouch, probably intended for dice, to use for our Scrabble letters.)

#206 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Greg London said (#150):
There's a line about fiction, that I can't quite recall, but its something like this: Fiction is a series of lies which together tells a deeper truth.

One version of that line, at least, goes back to the 12th Century writer John of Salisbury: "The lies of poets are lies in the service of truth."

#207 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 12:30 PM:

It's been a while since I've played Scrabble, and I don't remember “bingos” in the game. What is meant by this?

#208 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 12:34 PM:

"Bingo" is some Scrabble players' slang for playing all seven of your tiles (which comes with a fifty-point bonus). It always sounds odd to me, and isn't in the rules as printed on my set.

Andy and I tend to just say "seven-letter words" even though many of them wind up being eight letters (one already on the board) and a few are nine or even more. (For example, an existing "re" [in the sense of the musical note] can then become "recovered."

#209 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 01:06 PM:

Re #208 (and looking up to #205) another conceivable "bingo" of "nine or even more" — 11 in this case — would be to fill in a space between horizontal "pan" and a vertical-word's "m" (or vertical "pan" and horizontal "m") with the seven letters d,e,m,o,n,i,u.     If you can fill in the gap between two horizontal (or vertical) words, or even three, to make one word — exceeding rare but possible — your word length might be limited only by the width of the board.

Exercise for the reader: find sets of words (not just single letters) that can joined in such ways.   "Pan" and "mon" (Japanese insignium) → "pandemonium" would be a fairly short example; try for the longest words you can create from shorter ones, not by simply sliding them together (*"after"+"word"), but by filling in gaps with up to seven letters.   Should we call each set of words a "Bingo", and name this playing with them "Bingos" (as distinct from the game "Bingo")?

In actual Scrabble, of course you have to deal with whatever's already on the board — but here let's just consider possible (legal) words, presumed placed wherever we need them.

#210 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Oh, and Skwid, it's not just Pandemonium — the blocks just south of Harvard Yard have the highest-density population of bookstores (new and used books) I've seen anywhere, standing out even against the overall Harvard-neighboring area of Cambridge... where a booklover might easily spend an entire vacation, or at least the budget for it.

Not to mention the conversations you may have along the way.   (Last time I walked around there with my mother, she had a sidewalk chat with George Wald.)

#211 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 02:03 PM:

Re: Scrabble -- There's a terrific site that lets you play it online: http://thepixiepit.co.uk. (I have no financial connection here -- I just like it.)

As for bingos -- I assume someone somewhere made a seven-letter word and shouted "Bingo!" and it caught on.

#212 ::: Eva Whitley ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 02:09 PM:

Tom, do you know if there's any way to find out if one has won a particular item? (I got delayed coming back to the con on Sunday.)

#213 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 02:26 PM:

Lightning @112,

thanks for the knife-sharpening link-- quite helpful. Please do write more on the mousepad method.

(Here on MakingLight, "Please, do go on" tends to have wonderful results, I've found. I learned to throw parties for 400 people using that phrase.)

#215 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Over at firedoglake, someone using the name wial posted a GW Bush 419 letter.

#216 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Tom: clearly we should play some time, and clearly you will wipe up the floor with me. I don't play at a level where more than two bingos per player in a game is common, alas - no time to really study and practice. Shane Tourtellotte could give you a better game. Both he and I are ferociously competitive, but he has the skill to match.

In this case I was playing online (Internet Scrabble Club) and managed two bingos on consecutive turns, which is good for me, but not remotely my best-ever, and I was completely pissed off when my opponent promptly accused me of cheating and refused to continue.

I suppose I should feel sorry for anyone who thinks you need an anagrammer to come up with ROADIES and SCUTTLE.

(I should also note that I play three-minute games, and it's hard to process fast enough to come up with more than a couple of bingos in speed games; I've only broken 450 a few times at that speed.)

#217 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 08:38 PM:

Vicki -

"Bingo" is some Scrabble players' slang for playing all seven of your tiles (which comes with a fifty-point bonus). It always sounds odd to me, and isn't in the rules as printed on my set.

I didn't pick up the term until I started playing semi-competitively, but it's the standard term in tournament play. I don't actually play in tournaments, but I use study materials aimed at people who do, and the terms rub off.

#218 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 08:41 PM:

I just want to share with the world how frustrating it is to score two bingos in a Scrabble game and have one's opponent go all sore-loser and refuse to finish the game

Could be worse: you could get four bingos and then lose to the guy who played "quixotry" for 345 points.

#219 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 10:02 PM:

PJ, I swallowed my sip of wine before I hit the link, I'm glad I did, it's a brand new keyboard....

That said, I would not be surprised by anything shrub or his business interests did. They're all a bunch of amoral opportunists.

#220 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 10:21 PM:

Vian #80


Unlike marmite or promite, there's absolutely nothing sweet about vegemite. Marmite and promite are jarring (npi) because yeast is supposed to taste savoury, dammit.

It's important to note, in discussions of this kind, that there is more than one "Marmite". The Marmite found in Australia and New Zealand [image], which Vian is talking about, is made by the Sanitarium Health Food Company* and contains sugar. Most other mentions of Marmite in this thread probably refer to the original Marmite found in Britain and elsewhere [image], manufactured by Marmite Ltd.** This does not contain sugar, and is if anything stronger-tasting than Vegemite.

Comparison of (the British) Marmite, Vegemite, and Promite (but not Sanitarium Marmite).

* Owned, interestingly enough, by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
** Less interestingly, now a Unilever subsidiary.

#221 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 10:44 PM:

Vicki (#205) wrote: Pandemonium is actually an sf and game store; I've not been in there since they moved to Central Square, but in the old location I think they had good stock in both areas.

Their new place is directly across the street from my apartment, and I finally made it in there - I can't speak to the gaming side, but they have a decent SF section (although light on both Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod, which is my usual metric for how much the SF buyer's taste in an independent bookstore lines up with mine). It's a proper community space, though, both for gaming and SF - Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman did an in-store signing a few days ago, and Joe Haldeman was there today.

#222 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 10:54 PM:

Anyone else going to the Skinny White Chick CD release concert tomorrow (Sunday) night somewhere in downtown Manhattan?

#223 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2006, 03:33 AM:

The Worcester Art Museum (near Worcester Polytechnic Institution, WPI is the up the hill from it) has I think free entry before noon on Saturdays. Its collection includes a number of Dutch Master paintings.

The first liquid-fueled rocket flight occurred in the vicinty around Worcester (Goddard was a Clark University professor at the time).

There's Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) out a couple Mass Turnpike exits west of Worcester, which is a site that lotsof historic old houses were relocated to and the place set up as a New England working village, complete with farmed fields, clockmaker, working oxen and such, sheep, goats, a blacksmith, a tinsmith, etc. It was one of the original historical recreation sites in the country, where the employees dress up in period clothing and work as people would have centuries ago.

I think the website is something like www.osv.org (not sure, though).

There's Tower Hill Botanical Garden(s) in West Boylston, which is what the Worcester Horticultural Society mutated into. It has some gorgeous views looking down (it's at the top of a hill), along with acres and acresa of different types of gardens--there's an orchard with more than 100 different varieties of antique apple trees, there are formal gardens, there is an Orangerie, there's a folly, there's wetlands (it may have been cold enough there to kill off the mosquitoes, it's a couple towns north and maybe slightly east of Worcester (which in this part of the country, is ten or fewer miles).

Worcester has several colleges-- WPI and Clark as noted above, Holy Cross, and various others. I don't know what they have e.g. for museums and such on-campus--Harvard and MIT for example both have museums, but they're Harvard and MIT, WPI and Clark are second tier, not top tier instituations.

Worcester's developed a thriving arts and cultural life, with shows around the city on a regular basis these days. THere are also some galleries in the city. (New England cities tend to be compact, the distance from Boston to Worcester, which goes through e.g. Brookline, Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Framinghan, Southborough, Westborough, and Shrewsbury before getting to Worcester and I may have missed some independent localities--each of the ones listed above is an independent city or town), one would still be -in- Los Angeles, or Atlanta, or perhaps Denver, and not have crossed out of the city!

What else--oh, Hebert's Candy Mansion, in Shrewsbury. The facility actually manufactures candy and ice cream there, I think, and sells and serves...

http://www.bostoncentral.com/events/tour/p1129.php

Cost: Free
Location: Route 20, Shrewsbury, MA map 1-800-642-7702
Schedule: Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:30 am through 2:30 pm.
Admission: Free


"Discover the Hebert Candy Mansion and take the free tour offered every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:30 am through 2:30 pm.

"Actually see candy being made, and learn the history behind America's First Roadside Candy Store, The Candy Mansion. Visit the tank farm that stores over 100,000 lbs. of chocolate! Best of all, samples for everyone! Then browse through the store and enjoy the ice cream sundae bar and wonderful bakery. Call for reservations.

#225 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2006, 07:00 PM:

The Higgins Armory is terrif. It even kept Sarah entertained for a while, and she was 3 at the time. I'll also second the art museum in Worcester, which has a Roman floor and some other cool stuff.

Must go now. Daughter says it's bath time.

#226 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2006, 07:11 PM:

Change of topic; don't forget to get your flu shot.

I got mine yesterday, and for the first time in a long time I felt lousy afterwards, and my arm hurt, and I haven't felt great today either. Which probably means that I am more susceptible to this particular flu strain or combination of strains than in previous years, and it's a damn good thing I got the shot.

#227 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2006, 07:20 PM:

Arrrgggh! I've been meaning for a MONTH to drop by the Kaiser-P branch to get my shu flot. I should tape a picture of a phage to my windshield.

(rustle-rustle, scratch-scratch)

There. I now have a picture of a phage scrawled on a post-in tucked in my pocket.

I also just remembered to set my wrist watch back an hour. Which is a good thing, since I was about to get ready to go to an engagement an hour early.

#228 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2006, 08:41 PM:

Next Saturday is the flu shot clinic at Olympia Group Health and my husband and son will be there with me; I need to nag my daughter, off at UM, to get her shot, too.

Remember, if you share space, or a keyboard, with a high-risk individual, you owe it to them to get the shot; the immunity from a flu vaccine isn't robust enough to stand up to constant exposure to an active case of influenza.

#229 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2006, 10:39 PM:

Saw 'The Prestige' today. A very interesting movie, I think well suited for this crowd.... I would expect most readers here to get the key plot twists ("The Prestige" as it were) at least somewhat in advance of when they're finally revealed. I could tell from the comments of some audience members leaving behind us that some people still aren't getting it after all is revealed.

Plus, well, Nikola Tesla! (Looking a lot more like Nikola Tesla than like David Bowie.)

#230 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 12:04 AM:

If you're in need of some high-bandwidth amusement, some delicious mockery of educational films:

Maths -- Look Around You

Apparently the first in a series.

#231 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 12:38 AM:

We all get flu shots on the job, which isn't much comfort since in a pandemic we're probably the first to fall anyway. Or maybe being in a hospital means they'll issue us respirators?

Thoroughly annoying evening: miss early train to NYC. Train station a mess; Amtrak took out a car south of Providence and the passengers in CT are stacking up. Greyhound useless. Take late train and frantic cab down to concert, only to discover that S.J. is held up in traffic in PA and had to cancel. Arrgh. Not that I'm dismayed to have a leisurely dinner with friends, but this would not have been the night I'd have picked. End up in a restaurant so overheated that (being in a bad mood because of missing concert) I threaten to take off my shirt if they don't turn down the heat or open a window. They don't. I do. Pleased to find no one the least bit peturbed. Note to self: bring easily-removable clothing when dining out in NYC in the winter. I don't even have the heat on up here, where it's ten degrees colder (I did close some of my windows this week), and people in the city are walking in around in scarves, wool hats, and bright-colored mittens. I didn't even think it worth grabbing a coat that closes in front.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

#232 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 12:44 AM:

"people in the city are walking in around in scarves, wool hats, and bright-colored mittens."

Maybe it was fashion-consciousness rather than weather?

#233 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 12:54 AM:

Maybe it was fashion-consciousness rather than weather?

Um....maybe?

Since I was walking around in a long leather coat with a hairstyle that looked like a Swiss miss attacked by an anime character, I can hardly complain about peculiar fashion sense. I certainly don't have any idea what's in style. Don't they get hot?

#234 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 01:50 AM:

I have the advantage of living near Kaiser's Oakland hospital, and seeing their flu-shot banners. So I went and got one the first day they were giving them, two weeks ago. No side effects beyond being slightly sore in that shoulder for a day or two -- the usual thing.

#235 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:22 AM:

Re The Prestige: I also liked it very much, but those who have read the book should be aware that nothing of it remains except the central conceit. I was going to say that they filmed the blurb, but I looked at the blurb again and even that is contradicted by the film.

I didn't mind. Usually when I see a film made from a favorite book there's a sort of double-vision effect where my memories and what I'm seeing compete for my attention. In this case, the film was so different that I was able to watch it almost as if it were an entirely new story, and quite a good one. I think that it's a better film than a more faithful adaptation would have been--I don't think the book's narrative structure would have translated to film very well.

But I highly recommend the book (by Christopher Priest) to anyone who hasn't read it.

#236 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 04:01 AM:

YAQID [yet another quote ID, except this is my first iirc, so MFQID]:

There is a quote, possibly from Pratchett (it has Pratchettesqueness) along the lines of...

"If a person's life is saved [if great things happen] due to a series of improbable events, and we attribute these events to God, then when dreadful deaths [if horrible things] occur because of a series of improbable events, we also must attribute these to God."

Any bells rung? [Thinking of bells- now one can hear a 12-bell change ringing set in the US. In Manhattan. Wall Street meets The Nine Tailors.]

Of cource the quote sounds much better than my paraphrase, and if I could remember any of that fine phrasing, I'd be able to find the quote.

#238 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 05:58 AM:

Kathryn #236: your half-remembered quote sounds like a conversation between Aziraphale and Crowley from Good Omens, by Pratchett and Gaiman.

I'll go and see if I can find the exact words.

#239 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 08:24 AM:

Kathryn in 236: I think that's from Soul Music, where he's discussing miracles and accidents in the context of Mort and Ysabel's carriage going off the cliff. My copy's at home or I'd check.

#240 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 08:39 AM:

Kathryn, I think it is Prachett, specifically Interesting Times, because I am reading it now and I think I remember giggling at it. I've been reading all the Prachett I can get my hands on lately. I'll go downstairs and check and see if I can find the quote.

#241 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 09:30 AM:

Nancy C #240: you're right, it IS from Interesting Times (but I enjoyed having an excuse to skim-read my favourite bits of Good Omens). Here's the relevant bit:

When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events : the oil just spilled there, the safety fence just broke there : that must also be a miracle. Just because its not nice doesnt mean its not miraculous.

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 12:10 PM:

Heard on Saturday... Capsule description of The Day The Earth Stood Still by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz:

An alien lands in the middle of Washington DC and Ann Coulter immediately blames Bill Clinton for it.

#243 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:25 PM:

This weekend, I was uncharacteristically watching football while waiting for some folks to show up and take away my old sofa. I was truly shocked by a GM ad, and I'm wondering what others were thinking of it.

The setup shows the memorial lights at the WTC site, aeriel views of the flooding in New Orleans, and then some folks raising a house with supplies heroically delivered by a GMC truck, all while a rock tune with patriotic lyrics is running in the background.

Am I imagining things, or did this ad actually run? I think GM just lost itself a customer (not that I'd willingly buy any of their products anyway) - it was perhaps the most crass thing I've seen on TV in a long time.

Did anyone else see that thing?

#244 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:30 PM:

Larry @ 243: It happens that the last thing I was reading before I jumped over to Making Light was a NY Times editorial condemning that ad.

The Media Equation: American Tragedies, to Sell Trucks

"When it comes to selling bars, trucks or even politicians, you can wave the flag or you can drape one over a coffin. You can�t do both."

#245 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Tim Walters: I never heard of the book; I think I'll have to go find and read it now. (Particularly if it's completely different from the movie - as you imply, that's often when the movie works out best.)

#246 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:37 PM:

I haven't seen the movie, but The Prestige is one of the best books I've read. Astonishing.

#247 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:42 PM:

The whisper came from the autopsy folks fifteen minutes ago: flu shots, now. So off we all go to the lounge, and lo, there are flu shots, and we have been stuck. I suppose the concept of using the email lists to tell everyone about this in advance would have been lacking in drama or something.

#248 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Thanks to all of you for the Boston/Worcester suggestions...especially Paula, wow! I'm very excited about my trip now!

In other news, I threw a tremendously fun Halloween Party this past weekend. Next time I hope to see some Making Lighters there...

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Speaking of patriotism, Larry...

I made a surprising discovery on October 28. The Pledge of Allegiance had acquired the words ?under God? in the Fifties to emphasize that we were not like those Godless commies, right. It would appear that, when George Reeves's Superman was advertised as fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way, his mission statement had really undergone a recent change.

So, what did happen on October 28? Turner Classic Movies showed the first 5 chapters of 1948?s Superman serial. Early on, Jonathan Kent explains to his son what must guide him as he uses his great powers.

"Truth, Tolerance, and Justice."

#250 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 04:19 PM:

I've seen that ad a lot (I'm a baseball fan), and I have to admit I didn't get it, coming from Mellenkamp. A few years back he was on Moyers' "Now" and was furious with Bush and the entire Administration, and now he's lending his voice to that kind of advertising?

It's not like he's desperately broke, I shouldn't think.

#251 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Way back to #197 (and several earlier): I first ran across "Male Answer Syndrome" meaning something else -- the tendency of some men to hold forth at great length, lecturing you on things they actually know nothing about.

This is distinct from problem-solving conversation, which is something I (a woman) do all the time. In fact, if someone just sympathizes with me without engaging me in conversation about how to solve my problem, I assume they don't really care. (My problem-solving conversations spend a lot of time analyzing the problem and talking about what has already been tried, what happened, and why it didn't work, drawing to a conclusion about what to do next. I don't like it when people say "Just do X" without listening to anything.)

Apparently the Male Answer Syndrome article is originally from the Utne Reader (Jan/Feb 1992), by Jane Campbell. Text-only link.

#252 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Serge - sign me up for a return to the retro-values Superman.

Clifton - Thanks for the link to the NYT article. That ad was so crass, I didn't believe what I had seen.

Linkmeister - Artists don't always have creative control of how their matieral is used. GM's agency may have shown Mellankamp's people one set of storyboards and produced something different based on how creative projects evolve. Let's wait and see if he says anything.

I'm also shaking my head because I've been so overwhelmed by work that I completely missed watching all but bits of the NLCS and the World Series. (Don't care about the ALCS - call me when the DH rule goes away.)

#253 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Larry, you and all but ten million other people. This year's version had the lowest ratings for a World Series in TV history.

#254 ::: Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 08:17 PM:

Clifton Royston @229 (Prestige):

I could tell from the comments of some audience members leaving behind us that some people still aren't getting it after all is revealed.

. . . my mind is boggling. I was thinking as I left that I'd rather have had /less/ closing exposition.

How do you not get it? There's *spoiler* which is very very strongly implied for the last forty-five minutes or so and then spelled out quite clearly, and there's *other spoiler* which is spelled out even more clearly and quietly hinted at all along! Or are these the people who yelled at me when I mentioned that the boat sank in _Titanic_?

David Bowie's Tesla, however, was nothing short of phenomenal. Wow.

#255 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 08:18 PM:

From TPM: Democracy Corps, the polling firm of Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum, has just released its latest strategy memo -- and it finds that thanks to the steady stream of bad news from Iraq, majorities in GOP-held districts are now for reducing the number of troops in the Iraq war. The firm surveyed 50 competitive House districts -- all of them held by Republicans -- and found that 54% in these districts only favor beginning troop reductions. Another key conclusion about these exclusively Republican districts: "For the first time, disapproval of the Republican incumbent, asked by name, exceeds approval."

I am, despite myself, finding reasons to hope.

#256 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 08:24 AM:

Caroline:

Apparently the Male Answer Syndrome article is originally from the Utne Reader (Jan/Feb 1992), by Jane Campbell.

The comic strip Eyebeam cited an article about it that predates the Unte reader by at least a decade: Eyebeam ran the better part of a week's strips on it and even had a couple of female characters call the article's author. It's in one of the collections--if I get a chance I'll look it up.

#257 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 09:20 AM:

Bruce @256: It's The Mind's Eyebeam, 1986.

#258 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 09:22 AM:

#250 Linkmeister--
A lot of people who don't see anything wrong with that sort of advertising (it hits them in a particularly uncritical, sentimental, schmaltz-loving part of the brain, where it tweaks the limbic system into producing a weird wash of patriotic, proud-but-sad emotions) are just the sort of people to end up mad with Bushco because of the administration's misuse of the military and assorted other failures. It's a very populist crowd, and I think Mellencamp has always had a pretty good feel for their pulse. I grew up with people like that, am related to people like that, and would not be surprised if some of them picked up a subliminal feeling of "Chevrolet--a good American brand" as a result. Of course, it would make no difference, since they buy Fords when they need trucks, but I can see how the effect would be generated. It's the same reason Toyota is so quick to tell you about all their American factories, complete with lovely rural and small-town scenes.

All that aside, he may not have had any control over how that ad was done--it's entirely possible that all he was asked was "Are you willing to let Chevrolet use the rights for an ad?"

#259 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 09:29 AM:

As one of those other rare baseball watchers, I saw the ad a lot -- and then before(?) one World Series game, Mellencamp sang the song as "the first single from his new album." Product placement indeed! Still, it could alienate his fans, and certainly makes G.M. seem like pseudopatriotic jerks. The only thing it has going for it is some good landscape photography, unless you try to focus on the ambiguity -- right after the Nam shot, dancing hippies, and the forest fire and flood don't reflect all that well on Amurricanism, etc. As for using Rosa Parks and MLK, totally unacceptable!

#260 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 09:31 AM:

O'Reilly Radar has a neat bit on the perils of getting the wrong publishing data out there:

We face this problem all the time with book metadata in our publishing business. Retailers demand notification of upcoming books as much as six months before the book is published. As you can imagine, titles change, page counts change, prices change -- sometimes books are cancelled -- and corralling the old data becomes a game of whack-a-mole. You'd think that the publisher would be an authoritative source of correct data, but this turns out not to be the case, as some wholesalers and retailers have difficulty updating their records, or worse, retailers sometimes overwrite newer, correct data with older bad data from one of the wholesalers who also supply them.

I took it as an opportunity to engage in Male Answer Syndrome :)

#261 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Faren @ 259:

I saw it and thought it was a good commercial, except for the truck at the end. But I couldn't tell until then what they were advertising, so it was an interesting set of images (and as images of the US, Rosa Parks and MLK do belong in there).

#262 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 11:58 AM:

I was complacently reading the Neil Gaiman blog entry on the Creative Property Trust from the Particles when it suddenly hit me that I have creative property. Gah. Sent to my tame lawyer for his perusal...I remeber discussing Jill Paton Walsh's continuations of Dorothy L. Sayers' Wimsey novels with Connie Willis at Mythcon a few years ago, and she mentioned she hoped that sort of thing wouldn't happen to her own work. Definitely a damn good idea to make a will dealing with your creative property, fiction or non-fiction or whatever.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 12:15 PM:

Larry at #252... The thing is that Superman already subscribes to those guidelines of Truth, Tolerace and Justice. I suppose it is implied that this is what the 'American Way' means. Makes it kind of redundant.

Meanwhile, I dozed thru most of that Superman serial, due to having pulled yet another all-nighter telecommute. Silly stuff, especially the villainess, who calls herself the Spider Lady. She definitely is no Sonia Braga. For one thing, who ever hard of spider ladies with blond hair? The frills on her domino didn't exactly instill fear in me either.

#264 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 12:20 PM:

Speaking of Neil... Although he didn't mention it recently in his blog, he has a short bit of fiction/essay in the editorial section of the New York Times today: Ghosts in the Machines. I've been reading Fragile Things lately, and I have the sense that this story belongs in that book. I suppose it will end up in the next collection. Happy Halloween!

#265 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 01:16 PM:

I'm having a strange, strange day. Latest development: a phone call from my sister and mother, to tell me that my mother is getting married this coming March to an old newspaper crony of hers she's known nearly sixty years.

Bends my head out of shape, it does.

#266 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 01:17 PM:

Aargh! The 2007 Eastercon is cancelled, on the very day that I posted my membership form.

Apparently there was an issue with security at the hotel - either that or they didn't get enough members. Does anybody know more details? I'm haunted by the idea that if I had applied sooner, it would still be going ahead.

#267 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 05:38 PM:

I saw the ad, and didn't know it was a truck ad until the end.

The more I saw it, the more it seemed a political ad, and somewhat anti-administration.

I don't know who meant it to do what, but it struck me as subversive.

#268 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 06:24 PM:

TNH #265: Is that a matter for congratulations or concern? (My mother, for the record, has been fending off interested men for the past few years...)

#269 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 06:40 PM:

Musical ups and downs:

Sad: I was sorting through some papers and found a bunch of sheet music I picked up in New Orleans back in 2003, which led me to wonder mournfully whether the places I stayed and researched and danced are still around or as lovely as I remember them and whether that wonderful sheet music collection drowned or not. I don't have the heart to try to find out right at the moment. I made copies and sent the music off to musician-friends.

Glad: I have not necessarily missed S.J. Tucker after all. If I can get enough people to Connecticut on Friday night, she's willing to do a house concert at my place. I mention this here in case anyone should happen to have an interest in this, but also just 'cause Skinny White Chick is a wonderful singer-songwriter-musician that more people ought to know about. If she gets up here, we'll finally get to hear the third part of the Wendy saga - the tale of green-eyed Sue. (I have no financial interest here; I just like her music.)

#270 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 07:29 PM:

In the Annals of Things that Were Bound to Start Happening:

Airline's medicine ban leaves passenger in coma

I'm a little gobsmacked that it happened on an internal flight here.

#271 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 10:00 PM:

Kip W: Thanks! From what I remember of how long it took for the strips to be collected, I wasn't too far off in saying it predated the Unte Reader article by a decade.

And Sam Hurt is one of the tallest cartoonists I've ever met. And probably the nicest. I'm told there's a weekley in Texas somewhere that runs the occasional Eyebeam, and I wish it was syndicated further...

#272 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 10:22 PM:

Today I went and got a NJ State ID (like a driver's license for non-drivers). I was pretty impressed. (One thing McGreevey did right was clean up the old DMV into the new, efficient, user-friendly MVS.)

The guy behind the counter was having the other guy look me up in the system. Couldn't find my record at first, so he said "Look him up by birth date. It's" (reads) "September 11, 1959 Oh my God."

"Yeah," I said. "Sucky birthday, huh?"

"In a terrible year, too," he replied.

"What happened in 1959?" asked the kid.

"Castro took over Cuba," said I and the first guy together.

"How'd you know that's what I meant?" he asked me. I said that I didn't figure he was heated up about Alaska and Hawaii becoming states, and that's what was left, but the truth was I knew he was Cuban by the time he'd said three sentences.

I was disappointed that there was no box on the form for "Organ Donor." But then when the woman behind the Official! Counter! was going over stuff with me, she said "Do you want to be an organ donor?" "YES!" I replied, that being the main reason I got off my duff to get the damn ID card in the first place.

Everyone was real nice. Had some fun conversations, I was there about half an hour TOTAL, and that was only because there were problems with my file. When my first pic made me look like a serial killer, they took another one ("I'll try my evil smirk this time," I said, to the MVS worker's amusement).

So: I'm an organ donor. Good. Now I can get that recycle symbol tatooed over my heart.

#273 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Aquila, I read the news article you linked to in #270, and what really jumped out at me was:

"Mr Russell said Qantas had offered him a free return flight from Auckland to Christchurch, but he also wanted help from the airline to recover $500 in hospital and medication bills."

He was hospitalized for two weeks, and his hospital bills only came to $500? Man, I knew New Zealand was a nice country, but....

(I'm just a little sensitive on medical costs right now because our insurance company is trying to disallow coverage on one of Hilde's medications. The one that --surely by coincidence-- is the most expensive, and that paying full price for would cost close to $800 per month. We're appealing.)

#274 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 10:58 PM:

Bad day. I am sorry, folks, may I complain a little here, tonight? Feel free to skip this. This morning at 8 my mother's blood sugar was 42. This evening at 5, 44. In between, all the fuck all over. I've spent the day talking to doctors, worrying, trying to figure out what's going on, worrying...

I've been doing this for ten years. When I started she could walk, and see.

Tonight, for some reason, I am really, really tired.

Thanks for listening.

#275 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 12:08 AM:

I'm not surprised to hear about the Qantas thing. This evening, Minneapolis airport security -- the same guys who mixed lots of disallowed liquids in a barrel in the middle of the security-check area, and generated a reaction that drove everybody out of the building -- decided to object to my asthma inhalers. This is a first. If anyone can tell me what dreadfully dangerous thing you can do with a little inhaler that dispenses tiny aerosol puffs of the drug, but is designed to not be able to emit a continuous spray, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

#276 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 12:48 AM:

The folks at Worldchanging are trying to game the Amazon rating system to put their whopping new source book on the radar:

11:11 11/1

I ordered early and got my copies today; one to keep, eight to give away.

It's a lively, hopeful book.

#277 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 12:52 AM:

Lizzy L: Sympathies.

#278 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 12:53 AM:

Teresa, it's security theater. Fckng security theater.

I travel in 2 weeks, and I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what comes on the plane with me, what gets left behind, what could be objectionable. I actually bought a cheap crochet hook just so that if I was not allowed to carry it, I only lost $2. And I will be carrying 2-self addressed padded envelopes with me to send anything back to myself, rather than subsidize some airport's operations when they sell my junk on e-bay.

#279 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 01:14 AM:

Teresa - Two weeks ago the goons at MSP took the Rx nasal spray that I use for allergies. Their argument was that it wasn't labeled as being mine, never mind that there's noplace to actually adhere an Rx label to the sealed glass vial, and it was less than 3oz and fit in the stupid plastic bags they were distributing. This was after I successfully took it through security at SeaTac and Newark. (Full cost = $75, FWIW) Plus I was surrounded by cow-like people who started to chime in that the scary nasal spray made them afraid, so they were happy the security guy was taking it away.

Admittedly, my need is less acute than yours, but it does indicate a pattern of overzealousness being played out at MSP. What a bunch of officious idiots.

Soon, we'll all have to strip and wear Tyvek jumpsuits festooned with corporate logos before we can get on a plane. Of course, it'll be because real clothes are just to scary to be allowed on planes.

When did we become a nation of bedwetters?

#280 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 01:18 AM:

too scary.

OK, somebody please tell me why I make so many uncharacteristic typos/goofy grammar errors on a blog run by a couple of editors. Sheesh. :-)

#281 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 01:37 AM:

Re #280, Larry Brennan:     Stage fright?       (Page fright?)

#282 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 02:30 AM:

Same reason that when I'm posting on a subject I've thought about and studied for years, I make a complete dick of myself by typing "Iraq" when I mean "Iran".

#283 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 02:39 AM:

Teresa @275,

At the security forum at flyertalk (the best site for all things flight related), I've read of security power-trips (1) on just about every type of passengers' medicine.

The chain of logic that agent used to object to your inhaler was forged from pure ignorance- including forgetting the TSA's quite clear rules on medicines. Medicines are allowed.

If you (any readers) get hassled because of your medicines, please take the time (if you have a few extra minutes) to complain right then to that agent's supervisor. That agent is essentially acting as a medical professional: unless they are, in fact, a medical professional, they are behaving very badly- illegally, really. Even if they are a medical professional they cannot second-guess your own doctor, the one who told you to use prescription *or OTC* medicines.

A few notes- you should find, check or print out the TSA medical guidelines as appropriate.

1. Medical equipment /supplies in their own bag does not count towards your baggage limits- either in the security line or in boarding the plane.

2. Medicine does not go into your freedom baggie. (They shouldn't tell you to put your medicines there.) This includes OTC medicines.

3. The TSA requests that all liquid medicines greater than 3oz, includes saline solution, be "declared." This usually means simply mentioning them, or simply not putting them in the freedom baggie. (I have read of power-tripping agents wanting written lists, but I think that's rare.)

4. If security is going to inspect your medicines or medical equipment, you should ask them to put on clean gloves, and they should do so without hesitation or complaint. Yes, it's sad that you have to ask.

5a. If you can't take your shoes off for medical reasons, when you tell the TSA agent this they must let you through. They'll then do an inspection, including a swab test.

5b. Similarly, they can't tell you to take braces or other medical devices off, or tell you to stay standing or hold your arms up if you tell them you cannot do so. They will xray walkers and canes, but you can ask for - and they must give- assistance in standing or walking while waiting for the xray to finish.

6. If the agent gets belligerent, if facing medical bullying, it's good to ask for the agent's supervisor as soon as you can see the agent is being weird. Even though you're right, the agent doesn't have to listen to you. They do hear their supervisor.

6a. If the supervisor can't quickly resolve the problem, a helpful person is your airline's "Ground Sercurity Coordinator." You can ask for (have the right to ask for, I think) the GSC to be present, although the GSC might not be able to arrive right away.

Again, unless you've got no time, please complain- the agents won't learn, otherwise. If the agents delay or detain you, also write it up for flyertalk: it's documentation and the forum participants give good advice.

(1)"You shouldn't take that medicine, it's addictive," or "You don't look sick," or "How dare you say you can't take your shoes off."

#284 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 02:52 AM:

Teresa @275,

What the TSA says about inhalers is:

"Non-liquid or gel medications of all kinds such as solid pills, or inhalers are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. Please make sure your medications are labeled."

@279,
Sometimes you have to cut your losses- but the guy was still wrong... Same url

"You may bring all prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including KY jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes.

"Additonal items you may bring include:

* Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;
* Life-support and life-sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs;
* Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids; and,
* Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions.

"You are not limited in the amount or volume of these items you may bring in your carry-on baggage. BUT if the medically necessary items exceed 3 ounces or are not contained in a one-quart, zip-top plastic bag, you MUST declare to one of our Security Officers at the checkpoint for further inspection"

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 06:07 AM:

Ah yes, Nancy C... It IS all security theater. Three weeks ago, I flew from Albuquerque to the Bay Area. Before I got onboard, I found yet another new security device. Before you walk thru the metal detector, you step into what looks like a phonebooth. You wait. Then a blast of air is blown at you. Kind of like in DisneyLand's Indianan Jones ride. But without the fun. Turns out that the thing's purpose is to shake loose any chemicals you might be carrying on your person. And to turn you into a hairdo scofflaw. (Yeah, I saw Hairspray again the other day.) Now, how long do you think it'll be before any potential bad guy finds out about this and simply puts the bad stuff in a ziploc in his undies, thus turning this presumably expensive device into one more pointless annoyance for the rest of us?

#286 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 07:58 AM:

Lizzy L @ 274, were those readings in mmol/l or mg/dl? Either way, bad, bad.

#287 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 08:07 AM:

Thank you, Kathryn. Since you know all these other useful things, is there any chance you can explain the function of the Freedom Baggie?

Serge, if I were a wicked terrorist, I'd sprinkle some of those chemicals onto the upholstery and carpeting of every cab I took. Sooner or later they'd get transferred to the clothing of people heading for the airport, generating multiple inexplicable false positives. All of the people thus tagged would be extremely irritated, and would lay the blame on DHS.

#288 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 08:22 AM:

I agree that Qantas story is scandalous, but I think either that man must have been very ill before he got on the plane, or there's something wrong with the article.

It says he "had a severe attack on the plane". Flights between Auckland and Christchurch normally take 1 hour 20 minutes. Let's say he was separated from his insulin for 4 hours from baggage check-in until the flight landed (of course it could have been more if the plane was delayed, but the article doesn't mention that). An insulin injection delayed for 4 hours shouldn't put you in a coma. What you do in emergency situations where you really can't take your insulin for a few hours is avoid eating anything (I've done it when I locked myself out of the house, and my blood sugar stayed normal-ish - normal for me, that is). If he did eat on the plane, it shouldn't have caused him any serious problems until a couple of hours later.

Or do they mean he had a hypo and it was glucagon, not insulin, that they wouldn't let him take on board? It seems odd that it took him two weeks in hospital to recover, and that it got as far as needing glucagon when he evidently had some warning and could have eaten some sugar. Hospital bills only $500? Maybe it was two days, not two weeks. Either way there's something wrong.

#289 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 08:50 AM:

Teresa... Probably. For some reason, your comments bring to my mind William Wyler's How To Steal A Million... If I remember correctly, Audrey Hepburn finds that her slightly crooked dad has sold a statue of his as an antique, not realizing that these days it is quite easy to detect a fake. She gets involved with Peter O'Toole and they plan to steal the statue from the museum before they run their tests. But how to get thru the impenetrable security? Well, you keep tripping that system's alarms without people realizing you're doing it, to the point where, in disgust at the apparently flaky system, the night guard just turns the damn thing off so that he can spend a few minutes without jumping out of his skin.

#290 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 08:54 AM:

#279 When did we become a nation of bedwetters?

Bush and his cohorts have spent five solid years trying to induce terror, and by golly, they have!

We've gone from "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," to "Be afraid! Be very afraid!"

#291 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 09:15 AM:

#266 The business about the 2007 Eastercon isn't something I've seen much about, and I'm in the UK. The security story—thefts from hotel rooms in Liverpool—seems to have been sparked by local politics and journalistic enthusiasm. The Adelphi is one of the biggest hotels in the city and so will always suffer a high number of thefts, compared to other hotels.

I expect more details to trickle out in the next few days. The security scare may have affected memberships: I know there was concern that the membership, a couple of months ago, was lower than the committee was comfortable with. It may have other causes.

Right now, everybody seems to be guessing. Including me. I don't expect any revelations until the post-Novacon gossip-fest.

#292 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 09:42 AM:

David at 277, thank you.

Eleanor at 286, my mother's meter results are shown in mg/dl.

She is very strong. I have seen her (in hospital) as low as 29 and as high as in the 600s somewhere. She routinely (once a week, once every two weeks) jumps between 50s and 400s.

The hardest part of dealing with this is going to be reaching her doctor -- pray he's not on vacation -- to change her insulin orders so that the folks who give her insulin at the place she lives (assisted living) won't blindly keep giving her the current amounts -- which they are required to do by law, unless she (read: me) refuses it. They, not being drs, can't adjust the amounts, they can only give, or not give, what's ordered. And her doctor, while technically competent, is a) hard to reach and b) difficult to deal with.

No, I will not go off into a medical rant, I will NOT...

#293 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 10:32 AM:

Lizzy, no wonder you're so tired. A constant diet of rage and uncertainty will do that.

Medical rants. Yeah.

#294 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Bruce #271

Eyebeam does a strip of the day. If you explore the site you can find other stuff, such as a Peaches-of-the-day.

#295 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 12:34 PM:

Teresa: see your "yeah" and raise you two.

Less tired today, by the way, thank you. This morning Mom's blood sugar was 97, i.e. totally normal. The dr, thank God, was available. We are holding her long-acting insulin (NPH, for those of you who might know and/or care about the details) and only using a sliding scale for regular as needed. It may not be needed. I cannot tell you all how weird this is. She got 20 units of NPH insulin at 8 am, no regular, and no insulin of any kind last night. Her blood sugar was in the 40s and 50s yesterday all afternoon and evening. For those of you who don't deal with diabetes on a daily basis (lucky you), that's low, even dangerously low. Between 5 pm and 10 pm she ate a good dinner and three bowls of ice cream, and her sugar finally struggled up to 88 at midnight.

It's insane. It's as if her pancreas had started to work again. I suspect that ain't actually what's going on, but who the fuck knows?

I don't rage much, actually. (Only when necessary, she said...) It's the uncertainty, as you say, and the fact that I can never, never take a break, which makes me tired.

#296 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 12:41 PM:

Lizzy,

You have my sympathy. I manage my own diabetes with insulin and I have a diabetic cat I care for. I live by my meter and the low-carb diet. Caretakers who are not allowed to adjust the amount of insulin given have a hopeless task. With careful monitoring and control over what I eat I keep my blood sugar between 80 and 100 with only an occasional excursion slightly higher or or lower.

Champagne our cat ranges between 20 and 500 despite blood sugar checks 4 times a day and careful adaptation of insulin doses to his needs. It is tough to manage someone else who cannot cooperate in their care. I can understand how frustrated you are watching your mother's physical condition deteriorate because of the poor control.

I feel special sympathy for the parents of diabetic children. Their children will live their whole lives with the consequences of any inability to keep the blood sugar stable.

My greatest fear in life is that I will someday be in the circumstances that your mother is in. Unable to care for myself and left to the mercies of a system that cannot care for me properly.

#297 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Lizzy,

Sounds like she has gastroparesis caused by neuropathy. This impairs the emptying of her stomach and causes an unpredictable delay as to when food will affect her blood sugar reading.

I'm surprised her doctor is still using NPH for her basal dose. Initially I used Lantus and switched to Levemir as soon as it became available.

Lantus and Levemir are touted as 24 hour insulins. Don't believe it. I shoot half my basal dose every 12 hours. I use Novolog for my short term insulin. Lunch is my main meal of the day and I shoot an hour and again at a half hour before I start to eat. My post-prandial number seldom gets above 100 if I manage my dosing properly.

The cost of all this is that I never eat anything spontaneously and this level of self care requires a lot of attention and emotional energy. The results are worth it.

#298 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 01:19 PM:

A tidbit for those who don't read Charlie Stross's blog:

An annotated collection of selected reader reviews from Amazon, entitled
"The book is not that interesting, as tales of desperation and survival are actually quite common."

#299 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 02:11 PM:

Stuart at 296 & 297: yes, she does have gastroparesis, has had it for many years, but she has been on Reglen for about a year, which seems to keep it regulated. She has used Lantus in the past, but her current doctor prefers NPH. However, we may need to switch back to Lantus. The whole thing is made more complicated by the issue that the medical staff at the facility cannot use any insulin which requires syringes -- it must be an insulin which is given by a cartridge, which until very recently, did not include Lantus. I just found out that Lantus is available through the Opti-Pen system.

She is a brittle diabetic and is super-sensitive to insulin, so changing anything, including what insulin she uses, is a very big deal. Because she is in a facility, which manages her medication for her, the system allows for little spontaneity or adjustment. She cannot see nor give herself her own medications; everything must be given to her.

As for not eating spontaneously -- eating and petting her cat are two of the few pleasures she has left. She cannot walk, hold a pen, or read, and can barely see a television. She sleeps 15 hours a day. If she wants to eat an apple or some grapes, or a cookie, that's just fine. My concern is not her long-term survival -- she's 88 -- but her comfort.

Sorry if I sound testy, I don't mean to. I appreciate your concern and support, especially since you understand exactly what this is like. I wish you all the best in your own battle with this f*cking disease. It sounds like you are doing well; congratulations!

My mother's cat, Taffy, was diabetic for a while, too. But cats, unlike humans, can convert to normal -- and Taffy did, thank God, because the logistics of caring for a diabetic cat (I would have had to do it, since she can't) would have proved impossible.

#300 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 03:53 PM:

Over at DailyKos, Hunter has a wonderfully pissed off post up. Worth a read.

#301 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Stuart says, at 296: My greatest fear in life is that I will someday be in the circumstances that your mother is in. Unable to care for myself and left to the mercies of a system that cannot care for me properly.

As much as managing diabetes is a day-to-day pain in the ass, I look back on where my father was at my age (struggling with control when his only ready feedback on BG levels was urine testing, and dealing with a physically demanding job while on the high-carb, low fat and protein diet standard for that time) and even worse, my grandmothers (neither of whom were even diagnosed until they were well into retinopathy and neuropathy) and feel a little lucky. Being able to check my blood glucose with an accurate and simple machine and balance my activity against food and medication (I'm still on oral meds) makes life much easier, and the prospect a whole heck of a lot more optimistic for our generation of Type 2 diabetics.

The range of insulins alone... Dad was one of the first group to take Humulin, because he'd developed allergies to animal source insulins that made every shot an extreme sport; there was, at first, only fast-acting Humulin, and he had to be awakened in the middle of the night, tested with a BG machine that took a lot of blood, and given another shot. The different injection systems alone, like the optipen, would have given him a measure of autonomy which would probably done a lot to forestall depression.

It's not great, but it's a hell of a lot better than it was, and that "hell of a lot better" all adds up to less complications, and a better long-term quality of life.

I hope. I believe. I have to believe or else why fiddle around with all the damned math?

#302 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 04:39 PM:

JESR at 301:

I want to second your statement that it is a hell of a lot better than it was. It IS.

It's just very, very hard. Hardest of all, for me, is what the disease has done, and continues to do, to someone I love.

But I must add, despite all I have said: I am grateful beyond all measure that I have the opportunity to take care of her.

#303 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 06:14 PM:

New from UC Press (I didn't want to add to Darwinfish):
The Counter-Creationism Handbook
Mark Isaak

"Mark Isaak's book is thorough, up-to-date, readable, well argued, and clear. It provides citations for every argument or claim that is made about the usually inaccurate claims of anti-evolutionists. Indispensable and fair, it should be welcomed by all interested in these questions." - Kevin Padian, Museum of Paleontology, University of California

Those opposed to the teaching of evolution often make well-rehearsed claims about the science that sound powerful and convincing. And many people who support the teaching of evolution - students, teachers . . .

http://go.ucpress.edu/10701.html

978-0-520-24926-4, paper $19.95

#304 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 07:03 PM:

LizzieL.

My dad was born a year before your Mom- he'd be ninety next April; he was diagnosed in 1962. The difference in treatment of type 2 diabetes in the thirty-five years between his diagnosis and mine is amazing, but the pattern of treatment back then took its toll on our parents' generation.

I'm glad your mother is around and able to take pleasure in her cat and her small indulgences. Being an orphan sucks, no matter what the age.

#305 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Lizzy and all:

Anyone dealing with (their own or others) diabetes, especially but not limited to if neuropathy is occuring, should consider benfothiamine (also spelled benfotiamine).

You can look it up on Medline. (Please look it up on Medline.)

The articles like
"Benfotiamine accelerates the healing of ischaemic diabetic limbs in mice..." and
"Benfotiamine in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy--a three-week randomized, controlled pilot study" and
"Benfotiamine blocks three major pathways of hyperglycemic damage and prevents experimental diabetic retinopathy."
are in respected peer-reviewed journals.*

As you'll read, you'll see that
1. it helps with neuropathy,
2. studies have shown *why* it helps. (it helps stop glucose toxicity- certain sugar oxidation pathways.)

You'll also find that benfotiamine is a fat-soluble type of vitamin B1: because of this, there can be resistance from doctors, as it isn't stocked in North American pharmacies.** You'll have to buy it online, most likely. It's a common and expected treatment in Europe, and there's at least one Canadian company making it. ***

I know people can sound like cranks when writing about vitamins. however, benfothiamine is too useful to be linked with the standard supplement scene. Anyone else with a science background [Charlie? Jim?] want to corroborate my claim that the studies are good solid research?

(I can empathize with the nursing home situation. My relative ended up in the ICU via diabetes and inflexibility. I'm not yet ready to write about that- it's too recent.)

-------
* Mostly European journals, so North American doctors aren't as familiar with it. However, articles published in journals like Nature Medicine have helped. It started getting more N.A. press about 4-5 years ago.

** I know from personal experience, in trying to get it for a close relative when he was in a nursing home. It was like trying to get them to prescribe, say, fish oil supplements.**** There isn't a (mental or bureaucratic) mechanism for prescribing supplements, even when the 'supplement' is a full-fledged medicine elsewhere.

*** Marketing it as a health supplement, as they must. In random web searches you'll often see it marketed for anti-aging: don't let that turn you off from it as a neuropathy treatment. btw, email me for the company name.)

**** Not that there's anything wrong with Fish Oil- studies show it to be useful, especially for heart attack victims (It's prescribed in EU for that).

#306 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 07:49 PM:

More on the 'Airline's medicine ban leaves passenger in coma' story:

No hospital records for 'comatose' airline passenger (also includes a 'diabetes expert' saying much the same things Eleanor said @ #288)

#307 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 08:50 PM:

Lizzy, deep sympathy. Hard stuff. Sending you the very best compassionate touch an old friend can, via this paticular medium. If I can do more, you know how to call me.

Stupid, stupid medical rat creatures.

#308 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 08:56 PM:

Teresa @287,

Freedom baggies- to prevent evildoers from filling 200 tiny toothpaste tubes with evilstuff, thereby bypassing the liquid 'n pastes limit. To make the xray / searches faster- the potential evil is concentrated in one bag (nevermind that one can have medicines, and that prescriptions are easily faked). To make us dance on command before their mighty power.

I've read that the Forces Of Good worry about total liquid volume carried on board, in that bottles could be emptied and then evil mixed up within. (Nevermind that the baggies themselves could become mixing bowls, or that on-board water bottles could be repurposed, or that [Warning, blood pressure spike detected, closing badthink now]

#309 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 11:19 PM:

joann: Thank you! The last time I visited the site there was only eight or ten Eyebeam strips done a year or two before. I'll put it in my bookmarks!

#310 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 11:26 PM:

BTW,

Thanks for the links to the TSA and the frequent flyer website. I'll peruse them toward the end of next week, when (please God) it becomes clear that I will actually have work to present at this conference.

I knew I should have planned to take the train, but we're down to the wire on the work, and that would not have been a good overall choice...

#311 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 12:24 AM:

So.

I joined a new credit union. Got a savings account, checking account, ATM card, credit card. Took advantage of a special rate CD.

Got my checks. Decided it was time to join the 21st century and arrange for automatic payments to various utilities. Set up wire transfer accounts between my checking account and E*Trade and PayPay. Switched my automatic payroll deposit over to the new account.

Ah, sweet mail free convenience!

Got a call this morning.

My checking account number had been "improperly generated." But they made a new one for me! And would send out new checks.

Of course, in addition to all the automatic transfers I'd laboriously set up, I *had just dropped off my rent* with one of the old checks, and had a payroll deposit due to drop in there on Friday.

Fucking idiots.

Is there any chance I can extort something out of these fools for the inconvenience?

#312 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 01:09 AM:

Kathryn@208 - Stupid freedom baggies. We should ban both freedom and baggies.

Teresa - Weren't they aggressively handing out baggies at MSP to put all of your potentially evil (and scary) fluids and gels into? Those are freedom baggies - limited freedom for limited people.

#313 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 01:10 AM:

Stefan... You could make some vague refrerences to being acquainted to Ma Teresa and her being unhappy when her boys are unhappy. Oh, and add something about going for a 'ride'.

#314 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 01:12 AM:

308, not 208. Yet another stupid typo.

To quote Charlie Brown, "Aaaargh!"

#315 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 01:21 AM:

And Lucy van Pelt would say "Waugh!!!", right, Larry?

#316 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 09:49 AM:

Bruce #309

Most welcome. Apropos of your comment about Hurt's height, this Peaches strip ran yesterday.

#317 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 10:27 AM:

Over at The News Blog, Steve Gilliard posts a NYT piece about a combat medic in Iraq.

The article is extraordinarily gripping by itself, but you should also check out the comments Gilliard's readers have posted, particularly several by Jesse Wendel, a former medic and EMT.

#318 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 04:30 PM:

This is the first year I've ever followed politics through the blogosphere. I'm not sure if it's been a good thing or not. I used to get my news in controlled daily doses of the New York Times with occasional excursions onto online news sites. No TV or radio, so everything came at a fairly rational pace. This year I'm reading DailyKos, well, daily. Multiple times a day. And I've spent the last several months in a frothing political tizzy with the constant flood of polls and essays and political passion I'm mainlining.

I'm going to spend some time this weekend sandwiching phone banking in between teaching three dance classes in two states, hosting a concert, and making a hoop skirt. I feel like I should have done more; paying this level of attention seems to result in increasing guilt for not being more involved myself, even though I've done ever so slightly more than I ever have before - I'm now sending campaign postcards to my local friends and pressing yard signs on coworkers.

My pre-election anxiety is becoming uncontrollable.

#319 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 04:44 PM:

Susan... Does it currently look likely that Lieberman will lose to Lamont in spite of the Republicans planning to vote for Joe?

#320 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Serge -

No, currently it looks like Lamont loses to Lieberman, though the gap is narrowing this week.

It's all making me feel extremely tense. And guilty. I don't think it's out of reach, but it's a long shot.

#321 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 05:29 PM:

Doesn't Joe have any shame, Susan?

#322 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Great billboard sighted on my way back from work:

Enough with clowns - vote Democratic.

#323 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Speaking of billboards, this one is up on a road in Connecticut.

Short, simple and true.

#324 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Serge -

No shame at all. For him, it's all about Joe and what Joe deserves.

I just got back from a Lamont debate-watching party. I don't think I've ever watched a debate before (no TV). It was a great relief to blow off steam with a lot of kindred spirits. I received a new Ned sign, a Ned shirt, and a Ned cap, all of which read "Stand up for Change". I think I will make an accompanying "honk for Ned" sign and go stand by the highway off-ramps over the next few days. I also procured a rally ticket for Saturday night's big party and finally got to see the kiss truck live. It now sports a pot of gold with $387,000 on it to represent Joe's unaccounted-for petty cash spending.

Ned came by afterwards and spoke briefly. He's got a reasonable public speaking manner now, but he's still endearingly insecure - he came up the steps to all of us cheering, shaking hands and asking every single one of us if he'd done okay in the debate.

This was a two-way debate between him and the rather entertaining Republican candidate. Lieberman didn't deign to show up for this one. I don't much care for the debate format (panelists ask questions, rather than an actual, you know, debate between the candidates), but it was reasonably substantive, if full of more standard stump-speech lines than I'd like. Both candidates beat up on Lieberman. Schlesinger (R) got off the best line in his closing remarks: (paraphrasing) "The other two have spent $30 million dollars to tell you why you shouldn't vote for one or the other of them. I agree with both of them. Vote for me instead."

I'm all nervously overstimulated by the politics with no immediate outlet.

#325 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 09:53 PM:

For those who responded to my request for advice regarding the review I had to write. Thank you all.

I can't link it, because it hasn't appeared yet, but this is it. It'll run Saturday, or maybe Monday in the review pages.

After carefully examining my conscience on the matter, I believed that I had to say what I found good about the book - and there was good in it - and then state my objections and their root.

"Into a Dark Realm" by Raymond Feist. HarperCollins rrp $49.99 hb

This is the second of a new fantasy series, and I cannot tell how many more books will follow. Several, probably. It begins in media res and ends with the viewpoint characters in the direst of straits, with the resolution awaiting another volume.

Raymond Feist is a wonderful visualiser of societies and physical setting, and he possesses the marvellous knack of making the reader want to believe in his creations. Certainly part of it is craft skill - the sure eye for the telling detail, the small revelation that will make an airy creation suddenly concrete and real. Part of it is simply size and scope and richness. The reader wants to explore further, because what is presented is fascinating and inventive and colourful, but creating that urge and satisfying just enough of it to lead the reader on without becoming tedious is a delicate art. Feist has it.

The scope and richness is much assisted in this case by the fact that Feist has been setting stories in his creation, the world of Midkemia, since his first published novel, Magician, in 1982. Details have accumulated. Societies have been realised, their institutions created, described and expanded, their trade worked out, their conflicts, alliances, politics and economy filled in. The use and limitations of magic have been made clear in action. The characters themselves have mostly been on stage well before this novel opens, and the reader is largely assumed to be familiar with them. But I think it is fair to say that the world itself is the star of the show.

But it's not only one world. To Midkemia, Feist has added another whole layer of worlds, accessible through interdimensional portals, and a trading community between them, a sort of clearing-house. From these worlds come societies stranger yet, working to different rules, but with the same realisation of customs and culture. The whole is a wonderful concept, and the execution of it is well done.

Most readers of fantasy will enjoy the setting for its own sake alone, and picturing it a pleasurable and well-understood exercise. The plot also uses tropes that will be familiar to them - an invasion by the blackest of evil, a desperate journey to prevent its success, a Dark Lord, a traitor in the midst of the highest of the Councils, a transition to adult responsibilities by feckless youths, and magic itself. There is a fascinating study of what a self-defined evil society would be like, told from the point of view of one of its denizens.

Forgive me if I find all this insufficient. I regret that I fell out of the book rather early on, when the senior wizard Pug, a boy in Magician, but now a wise old man, says to his students, "What makes us better than those we oppose is that we know when we are doing evil... we justify it by saying we serve a larger good."

Pug had just had a prisoner brutally tortured to provide information, and had then killed him. It was already the second time in the book that a Bad Guy had been tortured for information.

It's always a mistake to take a character's words or actions as indicative of the attitudes of an author, so I won't. But I was waiting for Pug to have demonstrated to him the utter invalidity of his words. For we know different, or we are supposed to. By their fruits shall ye know them. Evil is as evil does. One cannot fight the Dark by turning off the lights.

That episode forfeited, for me, all sympathy for the character, and, to a certain extent, for the plot, because the information extracted was right on the money. Torture had worked like magic. Actually, of course, it really does work like magic. That is, not at all.

But Pug's enlightenment and his penance does not come in this book. I believe it was required, if he is to be accepted as sympathetic, that is, for us to care about whether he survives or not. Perhaps it is to come. I hope so.

#326 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 11:16 PM:

Nicely done, Dave!

#327 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 11:46 PM:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/02/haggard.allegations/index.html

"Evangelical leader quits, denies male escort's allegations.

"Story Highlights
"Top evangelical leader denies Colorado man's claim that pastor paid for sex
"Rev. Ted Haggard quits national leadership post, steps aside from church pulpit
"Accuser cites Haggard's support for same-sex marriage ban as motivation
"Influential religious figure also denies accusation of drug use .."

#328 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 06:17 AM:

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you're stupid. Yes, they do.

The first line from today's column in the NYT by Tom Friedman. Read it if you can (unfortunately, they are both behind the wall), and also read the other one by Paul Krugman.

#329 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 09:53 AM:

Thanks, Susan. Considering all that has come out about Lieberman, I do wonder how he made it thru the Democratic Party to the point where he once was the VP nominee.

Meanwhile... We have a close race here too in Albuquerque, but I don't think it got noticed much by the national news outlets, or even by blogs. For one thing, it's a House seat. Incumbent Republican Heather Wilson is in a tight race against Patricia Madrid. When I think of Heather, which is something I try to do as little as possible, I remember her comment after the Janet Jackson sporting event: "I cried when I saw her breast on TV." As for why that made her cry, men and women suggested it might have to do with bosom envy. Anyway it's going to be a close race and the national Democratic Party has brought in some big guns: Nancy Pelosi and the mayor of LA (who looks like he has barely hit 30) last weekend, and Bill Clinton himself last night.

Can't wait for Heather to be told to hit the road and to come back no more, no more, no more...

#330 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 09:53 AM:

For those without subscriptions, sometimes NYT columns appear a few days later at:
http://truthout.org

#331 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Serge -

Oh, I've heard about Madrid-Wilson; the blogs are following that one. I'm hoping, I'm hoping. It looks like the Dems are doing a last minute push against Kyl as well.

Was that Mayor Villaraigosa that came to stump? I love what he and his wife did with their last names.

#332 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 10:31 AM:

Re. the "Research Beyond Google" sidelight:

How can any list like that fail to include the utterly critical PROQUEST and the extremely useful COPAC? The former is the best I've found for old periodicals (they actually have scans!), and COPAC incorporates the catalogs of most of the academic libraries in England and Scotland. When I was planning my research trip around the Glasgow worldcon I printed out list after list from COPAC to decide which libraries were most critical to hit.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 10:34 AM:

Yes, that was Villaraigosa, Susan. I wasn't sure of the spelling so I decided to spare myself the embarassment. Say, what did he and his wife do with their last names? 'Villaraigosa' is a merger/modification of their original names?

#334 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Serge -

He and his wife combined Villar and Raigosa into their mutual last name Villaraigosa.

#335 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:05 AM:

Dave Luckett: VERY well done. It makes it quite clear what you like and don't like about the book, and allows the reader to make hir own decision.

Of course, as a Wiccan I take slight exception (as in, not offense, just disagreement) to the idea that magic doesn't work. It's worked quite well for me. But of course your definition of magic is different from mine.

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Ah, that's what they did, Susan. Thanks. When my wife and I got married, we each kept our own names. Simpler that way. Besides, I dread thinking what the merger of 'Krinard' and 'Mailloux' would have yielded.

#337 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:14 AM:

Maillard. Krinnoux.

Oy.

Yeah, I see what you mean.

You could do as some friends of mine did, and take each other's surnames as middle names.

#338 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:27 AM:

On names:

"de Guardiola" would not combine well with most things, but I don't expect to have the marriage issue arise, so I'm not too worried. The one time it came up, I told the guy in question (who blithely informed me that Of Course I would change my name since otherwise it wouldn't match his and that of the hypothetical babies - two giant assumptions there) that if he thought matching names were important, he could change his. Since he turned out to be a fairly awful human being, it's just as well that entire topic went no further.

On Ned Lamont:

Assorted Nedheads last night after the debate. Note our stylish Ned hats, Ned shirts, Ned buttons, and Ned signage!

#339 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:31 AM:

Maybe we should have come up with something totally different, Xopher, like the parents of the main character in Haldeman's Forever War. Anyway, I have gotten used to my name being mangled into 'Maalox' anyway. Yes, if you have an upset tummy, I'm the best remedy. As for 'Krinard', it already went thru a transformation. It originally was German name 'Kreinert', but got changed in the middle of the 19th century into its current version after my wife's great-grandpapa landed in America. Apparently he wound up here because he just didn't want to serve in the Kaiser's military. Yes, I enjoy reminding my Republican father-in-law that his ancestor was a draft-dodger.

#340 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:35 AM:

(addendum) And on his mother's side, my father-in-law counts, among its ancestors, good ole Benedict Arnold, who lost one foot in my home town, circa 1760.

#341 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Google on the surname "Pine-Coffin".

John Trenchard Pine-Coffin

Robert Geoffrey Pine-Coffin

John Edward Pine-Coffin

Soldiers all...

#342 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Susan@338:
"The one time it came up, I told the guy in question (who blithely informed me that Of Course I would change my name since otherwise it wouldn't match his and that of the hypothetical babies - two giant assumptions there) that if he thought matching names were important, he could change his. Since he turned out to be a fairly awful human being, it's just as well that entire topic went no further."

The worst argument I ever had with my parents was when Hilde and I were engaged, and Hilde wanted to keep her own name after we married.

"Argument" as in, screaming, threats of disownment, etcetera. Over a name. I had always thought of my folks as fairly reasonable people (well, my dad; Mom and I never had what you could call a "comfortable" relationship), but I was just flabbergasted and horrified by how demanding and intransigent they were over the issue.

So horrified, that I was ready to walk away from them forever. But Hilde didnt want to break up a family, so she agreed to take my last name legally.

Legally, but not socially. For offical purposes (governmental, medical, insurance) she's Margaret H. Arthurs, but socially she still goes as, and is known by everyone as, M.R. Hildebrand aka "Hilde".

Looking back, I suspect that the issue of Hilde taking my last name was actually just cover for deeper concerns of my parents, especially my mother. I think Mom thought I was rushing foolishly into marriage with an older divorced woman with a two-year old son and a disabling disease.

And I sometimes wonder if what was actually going thru my mother's head wasn't the thought "He'd be SO much better off if he'd gotten serious with that charming young blond girl he dated a bit, and introduced me to once."

(Teresa, feel free to wipe the sweat off your brow and mutter, "*whew* Dodged that bullet.")

#343 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 12:23 PM:

Xopher #335: [..] as a Wiccan I take slight exception [..] to the idea that magic doesn't work. It's worked quite well for me.

Not so well, though, when Tibetan magicians tried to turn back the invading Chinese army...

#344 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 12:27 PM:

Never in the cards, Bruce; wherefore you dodged my grandmother, the Sherman tank.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 12:36 PM:

The Sherman tank, Teresa? Reminds me of early 1993, when we rescued a dog and her litter. When the puppies were old enough, we found homes for them. One wound up with a little boy named Sherman and can you guess the name given to the dog? Oh, and our dogsitter's family name was Tank.

#346 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 12:50 PM:

Serge #339 & 340:

I have ancestors and cousins who fought on both sides of the Civil War. That is, the same guys started out fighting for the south, then were captured/deserted and fought for the north.

#347 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Bruce #342:

The part I found most interesting/horrifying about the whole thing was that while he might possibly have been brought around to the concept of me keeping my own name, his automatic assumption (and not his alone) was that any possible children would nonetheless have HIS name because they were, you know, HIS. I, apparently, would have been just the incubator for his property. I come across this a lot among my otherwise-liberated friends: "Oh, I'd keep my own name but then it wouldn't be the same as my children's" and it disturbs me more every time. It's another assumption even more unspoken than "of course she'll change her name."

The point at which I told that guy bluntly that he had four breeding brothers but I had no one else of my last name, and that any children I bore in my body would have my last name, not his, pretty much was the down-in-flames end of the discussion. He did eventually find someone more, um, tractable to marry. I feel I had a lucky escape.

#348 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Stefan @ 311: In my experience with banks/CUs/etc. if they've made the screw-up, you can usually at least get them to cover any bounce fees or late-pay charges that result. I've never had them create then close the account, but have sometimes had large deposits misdirected into some other account. Never tried asking for a nuisance fee though.

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 01:02 PM:

That's pretty funny, Susan. My wife's family was on the side of Johnny Reb and had owned a plantation. Sue and I winced when her almost century-old granny described her family as having been benevolent slave owners.

#350 ::: typodiatrist ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Hey, I don't know what thread to put this on, so this'll do.

Someone's doing something right. Michigan.gov/vote leads to a site where the first thing displayed is "Are you registered?" and a little form to fill out to find out if you are. If you are, it tells you, shows the election calendar, a map of the polling location you go to (with links to interactive maps, route planners, etc.) AND gives you a pdf link for the ballot printout. (Bubble sheets here.)

But wait! There's more! Info on absentee ballots, voting equip, ballot proposals, candidates, the list just goes on and on!

So, in other words, if you know someone who lives in Michigan, harass them into going there. Clicky clicky!

#351 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 01:21 PM:

Serge -

Yeah, I have relatives like that on the Applachian redneck side of the family. They all want me to move south so they can protect me from the damnyankees. I'm going to go visit them for the holidays, during which time we will avoid discussing politics. (Well, maybe not completely. I'm sort of curious as to my Vietnam-vet uncle's opinion of Dubya.) None of my ancestors on that side were slaveowners as far as I know - more like poor sharecroppers. My grandfather (the family history nut) would know for certain.

#352 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Susan,

The name change thingy is an excellent jerk-o-meter. Anyone who isn't okay with the fact that I am keeping my name is not someone I would want to date. (If the same last name is so important, let him change his.) And for the kids, we mash something together, or pass on family names that come from both of my parent's families as third names (first, middle, third, last) or flip a coin and alternate the kids. Or they all get my last name because I am the one whose body is doing all the damn work before they get born, whose health is affected, and who risks losing her bodily autonomy by getting pregnant.

(Would'ja believe I had an ex who would whine, "But I won't feel married to you! I'll be more likely to cheat!")

#353 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 01:38 PM:

Where did they get the idea that you would need protection from anybody, Susan?

Nancy C... My wife told me how, even as a kid, she openly said she never wanted to have kids and people would say suuuure, just wait until you've grown up. Before we got married, we must have spent about 5 seconds on the subject or however long it took me to say "If you want kids, fine, if you don't, fine too." About your ex, did he really say he'd be more likely to cheat?

#354 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:09 PM:

Can anyone suggest fun (i.e., not stupid) party games? We're having an Emergency Too Broke to Go Out Friday Night party (people can come by, and bring some food, amusement, and good cheer to share, hang out, eat the baked goods I will provide, pet the cats, and generally help us make the best of our straitened circumstances), and I'd love some ideas for games we could play if we run out of amusements.

Thanks!

#355 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:15 PM:

jennie -

Snapdragon? :)

#356 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:21 PM:

Susan, doesn't Snapdragon involve raisins?

#357 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Serge,

Yes, yes he did. Hyphenating would make it hard to find my records, are they under Mine-His or His-Mine or Mine or His? And if I didn't have the same name as the kids, they'd be teased at school! And it would be unthinkable for him to change his name, if it was that important for all of us to have the same name. Why, I was the woman!

One of the best things I ever did for myself was dump him.

#358 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Meanwhile, Nancy C, did you ever watch Star Trek - The Next Generation? I gave up pretty quickly, but not so soon that I didn't stumble upon a episode about which I remember nothing except that some woman was introduced as Mrs. William Ryker. So much for the 24th Century. But that can't beat one problem a co-worker of mine had against Voyager, which was that too many of his main characters were women.

#359 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:51 PM:

jennie -

Raisins, yes. Burning raisins! Burning raisins in brandy!

You could use almonds if raisins are a problem.

#360 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Latest in Credit Union FudgeUp saga:

My salary wasn't auto-deposited this morning.

I don't have any bills pending, but I have maybe $80 in my (valid) savings account, and I'm down to $24 in cash.

I could buy a small car with my available credit, but the thought of getting cash advances is hateful.

#361 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:58 PM:

And in the conservative tactics department, today in CT, Lieberman's crowd of thugs swarmed Lamont's campaign bus and blocked the doors in an attempt to physically prevent him from leaving the bus to visit a senior center. They also attempted to physically block senior citizens from coming out to speak with him. I'm told it will be on the news tonight with a state rep who was present denouncing him.

I guess we have some idea what the $387,000 in petty cash that he refuses to account for is buying.

In other news, Lieberman apparently said he'd caucus with whichever party would respect his seniority. So along with boosting Republicans in House campaigns, he could also potentially keep the Senate from flipping.

I am just speechless with rage right now. I'm just barely restraining myself from incorporating the new epithet for Lieberman's crew into my own speech because I think it's a borderline case of Godwin's Law. But I'm right on the edge of going there.

#362 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:03 PM:

Susan: CTBob has another picture with, I believe, you and Julie and Julie's sister.

Go Ned!

#363 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:05 PM:

Susan,

Raisins are teh eewsquick. Likwise brandy, come to that. The Editorial Eyrie is a banana-and-raisin-free zone.

We do, however, have almonds, and I should acquire some more brandy for when I next get sick.

#364 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:08 PM:

P J - I'm trying to get rid of my Lieberman photographic cooties from several years ago.

jennie - I think setting brandy or other alcohol on fire is a fun party game even if you don't play snapdragon. But I'm weird.

#365 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:12 PM:

Nancy @ #352: tell 'em, sister. What you said. Yes.

I'm going to go get bled and see if that helps reduce my skyrocketing blood pressure and choleric mien. Tomorrow I hit the streets and the phones and go to a rally.

Gah, gah, gah, gah.

#366 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:13 PM:

It's the same as the one you posted, just a different angle. (No liebercooties that I could see.) I must say, a remarkably good looking group of people!

#367 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Susan,

Setting things on fire is always fun. In a harmless kinda way, of course. I'm doubting that my landlady would approve of excessive pryromania, alas, but we might be able to play Snapdragon or a variant thereof.

Snapdragon is an excellent game, combining as it does, flame and playing with one's food.

#368 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:41 PM:

jennie at #354: The best party game I know is Cricket, Cricket, I'm on Fire. It has many other names, and the way it works is this:

Player 1 takes a piece of paper and writes a sentence or phrase across the top. Proverbs are good to start with. Player 1 hands the paper to player 2.

Player 2 takes the paper, reads the sentence, and illustrates it with a picture. Then the player folds over the top of the paper so that only the picture is visible and hands it to the next player.

Player 3 looks at the picture and writes a sentence explaining what the heck is going on there, then folds over the top and passes it on.

Repeat as necessary. Once everyone's had a shot at it, unfold the paper and see what bizarre mutations the poor innocent sentence has gone through. Anywhere from 5 to 10 players is good, but it starts getting unwieldy with more. Not that unwieldy is necessarily bad! Usually, we have everyone start a paper at the same time so that everyone's got something to do and you don't just have people dropping out of the conversation to write/draw in turns.

Necessary materials: Lots of paper, pencils or pens for everyone, clipboards or large books for drawing on.


Personally I'm also quite fond of charades, but that requires a little bit more organization (although fewer materials) and isn't quite so universally adored.

If you want game games, with cards and stuff, Apples to Apples is good for parties. I don't like it quite so much as, er, everyone I know seems to, but it's entertaining for a round or two.

#369 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 03:47 PM:

The name thing:

I'm a social hyphenate but have kept my father's name as my legal identity. The S is Smith, though, so there was little discussion about what the kids would be called- my husband's family name is hard to spell, impossible to pronounce correctly (it's a Texas pronounciation of a German vowel-sound not found in English) and only a handful of people in the US share it. My name, on the other hand, is a guarantee for getting other people's mail and other confusions.

The real conflict in my parenting history was infant baptism; Mr. R is an Episcopal PK and I am a sort of old-line Friends Meeting meets BA Anth skeptic. As usual when strong belief meets moderate skepticism, the belief won.

#370 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 04:04 PM:

P J #366 - You must be talking about Ned, who is very attractive in a gawky/geeky way (which is a good way to me), and Julie and her sister, who were quite nice-looking.

jennie #367 - I am my own landlady and I have fireplaces. Maybe I will go home and set fires before company arrives for the concert. Unfortunately, there is no fireplace in the spare apartment where we're going to be singing and feasting. Maybe I'll get out some candles. Or I could get a tiki torch and streak around the back yard waving it and screaming.

They rejected my blood because of a bouncing blood-drop. I am frustrated. Who'd have thought it was so tough to be leukopheresed?


#371 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 04:16 PM:

When I got hyphenated, we were living in West Virginia but had our wedding ceremony performed across the river in Ohio, at the nearest Unitarian church. But the local Social Security was half a block from our apartment, so I figured I'd slip down there to take care of my name change.

Guy was downright indignant when I tried to fill out the paperwork: "You can't just assume somebody's name!"

I didn't know Netspeak at the time, which is a shame, because *facepalm* would've summed it up nicely.

(To Ohio's credit - or at least Marietta's - when I sucked it up and went there to do the same thing, a big hairy male announcing that he was going to hyphenate his last name with his wife's didn't even stir an eyelash.)

And some people still wonder why in the world I'd want to call myself a feminist.

#372 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Susan #351

The thing to remember (and I can't remember who said it) is that in the north, they teach the Civil War as history; in the south they teach it as current events.

I rarely say anything about it, but the "my ancestors were too poor to be slave-owners" is hardly a moral stance. All it means is "if they'd had the money, they would have owned human beings too." You (don't hardly) never* hear "my ancestors were abolitionists", "my ancestors had plenty of money but refused to own slaves" or even "my ancestors realized the error of their ways and freed their slaves." The form for manumitting a slave was standard in 19th century legal forms books (probably earlier, but all I've seen were 19c). I wonder how often it was used, and why.

*"Don't hardly never" is standard English in Georgia, onacounta they don't hardly never teach grammar no more. Or much history neither. And whadya need math or science for, anyways.

#373 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Rob #343: Magic is no good for that sort of thing (though I know people who claimed that Wiccan magic persuaded Hitler not to invade Britain, I am skeptical). That doesn't mean it doesn't WORK.

A flush toilet won't retrieve your email. When you try to use it to retrieve your email, you may say that it doesn't work, but everyone else will laugh at you. The toilet works fine. It's your confusion about its function that needs fixing.

#374 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 06:33 PM:

I rarely say anything about it, but the "my ancestors were too poor to be slave-owners" is hardly a moral stance.

I wasn't trying to take any particular stance about it; the living members of my family are sufficiently bigoted (racist, sexist, anti-Semitic) as to be ashamed of anyway, with or without ancestral sins. But I think that assuming that "if they'd had the money, they would have owned human beings too" is a bit of an imaginative leap - how do you know one way or the other? My ancestors might have been abolitionists (though I tend to doubt it); maybe the ones who deserted the Confederate army and became Union soldiers did so on moral grounds. I've no way of knowing what was in their heads if it didn't get put down on paper. And neither do you. All I have is the boring old facts, which may not be quite as exciting to get huffy about, but I prefer not to get too far ahead of the evidence. Comes of being a historian.

Come to think of it, I suppose there's at least as good a chance that the branch of the family that ended up in New England could have been slaveowners, but the split was so far back (early 18thc) that I've never really traced down that side of the family. The branch I descended from was the indentured servant/convict branch. The New England branch was vastly more respectable.

It's a complete mystery to me how my grandparents and mother managed to come out completely different from most of the rest of the family, but I'm grateful for it, since it means I have some relatives I can talk politics with without getting heated and unpleasant.

#375 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 07:18 PM:

The Maryland GOP sent out pamphlets to their pollwatchers telling them to challenge as many Democratic voters as possible, and how to do it. The Democrats are complaining.

#376 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 12:45 AM:

Sally was always going to keep her own name, and this was one of my life's great "so what?" moments. When our son was born, we flipped a coin to decide what name he'd take as a surname, and I lost (for some value of "lost" that doesn't include a sense of personal deprivation) so he was registered as Evan John Luckett Beasley, the "Luckett" being only a given name that he could use or not as suited him later. He was enrolled in school and so on as "Evan Beasley" and still is that for all purposes. My father thought it was all a plot to get back at him.

Xopher, I think we can agree that magic - not even black magic, the sort that I'm absolutely certain that you and your people would never, never do - would not help to make torture more effective. If it did, no doubt the CIA would be using it. I would be very troubled if I thought that any magic was ever effective, though. One of the few insights I have into human nature is that if a thing is in any sense physically possible, there exists a population of human beings that will do it.

#377 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 09:49 AM:

Dave Luckett: I assume that by 'black' magic you mean baneful magic; we're oathbound not to do it. I wasn't actually addressing the torture question, just the issue of magic.

It's kind of like what people say about science fiction. There's no good science fiction, because anything they recognize as good they say isn't "really" science fiction.

Similarly, every time I give an example of magic working, they say "but that's not magic, that's—" whatever label makes them comfortable. Magic is NOT comfortable.

Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will (among other things). A change in consciousness can have profound effects on the body, more than most people realize. I have a spell (concentration only) for getting rid of hiccups. How quickly it works depends on the cause of the hiccups (sometimes I get them when I've eaten something spicy, and that takes longer), but I never have hiccups for more than about 10 minutes anymore. This is very different from the case before I developed the spell.

#378 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 10:59 AM:

That's an interesting definition of magic, Xopher. I had always thought that magic was something like: "the art of using the will (sometimes with other elements) to change physical and objective facts in the real Universe". If it is the operation of the will to change consciousness, one might say that it is using the mind to change the mind; which is of course perfectly possible. "Cognitive behavioural therapy", it is called, I believe, where "cognitive behaviour" includes habits of thought that are bad in themselves. In essence, a new regime of behaviours replaces the old one.

I think the therapists using this technique - and I was treated by one - would be surprised to learn that they were working magic.

#379 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 11:06 AM:

The combination of Cricket, Cricket, and the heading quotation reminded me of what we used to call our wicketkeeper (catcher, except we never call things by sensible names in that game) in our cricket team. He was the Ancient Mariner, because he stoppeth one of three.

#380 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Thanks for the party-game suggestions. Everyone was busy (Friend A was tired from trekking about in the cold with his camera all day, Friends B had an anniversary dinner to attend, Friend C couldn't get to Toronto from out of town, and friends D--Z all seem to be in funds, and have made plans accordingly. Oh well.), so we made pseudo-Mexican food for dinner (huevos con soysage, pimentos, queso, tomatos, y frijoles, eaten with tortillas), and tried a new recipe for peanut-butter-chocolate brownies, then lit candles and amused ourselves arguing about music and books.

We're pretty good at that.

#381 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 12:27 PM:

Here's Krugman's column:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/110306M.shtml

Serge, I watched the occasional episode of TNG or Voyager, less than one every 2 months. I grew up without cable, and when I went to college, no TV set. Amazing how they can re-imagine all sorts of things, but not imagine a woman keeping her own name....

#382 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Re: Magic

A lot of magic can fall under the "be careful what you ask for, you might get it" category.

Case in point: Yule 1996. One of our traditions is to make a wish when lighting the Yule log. Mine for the coming year was "We wish to buy a new house in a pleasant neighborhood before next Yule."

Well, I was thinking we'd find the house in the spring or summer and be able to move in before the weather got cold...

We moved in one week before Yule 1997...we were VERY lucky that the weather stayed pleasant that year.

In addition to being careful what one asks for, one must be careful about what time limits they impose on the desired situation!

#384 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Today, I harvested the peppers from the greenhouse. Nothing exotic, but quite small. Ten minutes ago, in the middle of the Leningrad Cowboys version of Stairway to Heaven, my father came hot-foot (and hot lip, etc.) to warn me against trying to eat them.

"Drink milk," I said.

The cat may have sniggered.

Since then, I have reviewed the recipes from September 2005. But, tonight, with the fireworks around, I am with the cat. Who got really curious about the Rolf Harris version of the song. She also seems to like Japanese surfer guitar.


#385 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Dave Bell, ever try Bulgarian Carrot hot peppers? They're about the same Scolville rating as Jalapeno, with the same rough, robust flavor as the un-hot components of Habenero.

I'm in the middle of compounding jelly with Bulgarian Carrot and Pineapple Quince; will report on the edibility of same when the jelly sets.

#386 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 02:47 PM:

"huevos con soysage"

Wow. What a lovely coinage that is. Mexican-Brooklynese?

#387 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 03:02 PM:

Thanks for the pointer on the peppers. Sticking "UK" into the Google search gives me several sources for the seeds.

But I'm not sure it would be wise to suggest buying any until my father has cooled down a little.

#388 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Woohoo! Geek Cred +1! I'm browsing on Firefox on a Linux system I installed awwwww by myself.

I've put together Linux boxes many times, but this is the first one that is connected to the net, and has a working X11 install.

I found the computer in the trash the Friday before last. It's on its way to becoming a MythTV box, so I don't have to suffer the horrible shame of using a VCR in this high-tech age.

#389 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 07:58 PM:

I suppose this would be appropriate for the End of Author Productivity thread, but since that's harder to find....
FandomWank reports on one of the first cases of wank following the trail that Anne Rice blazed, of starting arguments with one's fans in the Amazon Reviews. Nickolaus Pacione takes issue with negative reviews of his self-published work.

#390 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 09:10 PM:

Barbara Gordon: Ow. Now what did we ever do to you?

From this that eludes me which I pen this-- as what I say what eludes me is sleep, and from the sleep becomes the etchings where the dreams begin. In them as they are typed, from the tired fingers I would draw from them in the eyes which sagged on with the thoughts that keep me awake. The waking thoughts as they would be there are what caused me to awaken violently a few days ago-- that it would be still in the waning darkness which it would be described.

This is worse than the vampire elf novel out of Publish America. It's even worse than anything at thog.org. It reminds me of my favorite comment by a New Yorker copy editor: "If you tapped that sentence on the end it would never stop rocking."

Uck.

#391 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 10:36 PM:

Long, long ago, Bruce, I sniggered in print at the Ern Malley "poems", which were deliberately written to be as awful as possible, but which were and are hailed by the litterocracy as brilliant. I was instructed from a great height that they actually are brilliant, and the intention of their authors is neither here nor there.

The passage you quote does not appear to me to be worse. Be careful. I don't say you're wrong, mind, but be careful, is all I say.

#392 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2006, 11:56 PM:

Barbara #389:

"... takes issue with negative reviews of his self-published work."

N*ckl**s has been taking issue with negative reviews of his self-published works, all over the web, for years. This is nothing new for him. You might say that Anne Rice was following in N*chl**s's footsteps, except that Anne's rant was better spelled, more grammatical, less scatological and homophobic, more firmly based in reality, and addressed a greater grievance than the standard N*cky response.

If only this could decrease his productivity....

#393 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 12:12 AM:

Dave Luckett: I tried to limit myself--notice that McGonagall and Ros were not mentioned. (Although I can't picture McGonagall churning out a mess like that. Ros, on the other hand...)

#394 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 12:44 AM:

Dave Luckett, that definition is actually quite conventional among people who practice magic. It's in Starhawk 1979. I'm not sure when she defined 'spell' as "a symbolic act done in a deepened state of consciousness," but that one might startle you too.

The change of consciousness is not the long term one of therapy, though such changes are often the goal of magical (or magicospiritual) practice. It's the quick one that lets you DO the practice in the first place. Well...actually it's both. This isn't the usual mode of discourse for such things, so it gets a little confusing.

#395 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 03:16 AM:

Xopher, I take part of what you say to suggest that magic is a process of self-transformation. But then I don't know how to interpret what would be meant by “black” or “baneful” magic; how does what you do have an effect on another person who you may have no contact with? You and a few other people were discussing, a while back and on another thread (if view by all was working, I'd go back to the source), the ethics of “putting the whammy” on GWB (pardon the facetious tone, you used a different term, which is why I would have liked to check the source). You all agreed that it shouldn't be done; but my question is, if it had been done, would it have worked? And how would it have worked?

My line about Tibet wasn't pulled out of the air; I had read a description of the Tibetan “Professors of the Dark Arts” practising their dire best as the Chinese armies were approaching; unfortunately, I can't remember enough of it to recover where I read it. In the essay, it had the tone of a sad finale to the last days of an independent Tibet.

One theory of magic which I'm familiar with, I'd describe as political; it's who you know, who owes you favors, who's willing to work with you. This goes back to ancestor worship; the spirits of your deceased ancestors are your natural allies in the spirit world (a good reason to be respectful of your elders). But, you could always negotiate with other spirits. James Blish's Black Easter, and C.S.Lewis's The Screwtape Letters portray this. I don't know whether Blish believed this, but I think Lewis did. In The Screwtape Letters, he described the “materialist magician”, working with what he thought were “forces”, which were in fact demons who were disguising their true nature.

The other theory of magic, I'd describe as Jungian (as in Carl Jung). But I can't think of a good, one paragraph description of what I mean by that, and I don't want to attempt an essay on Jung. It might be “carrying coals to Newcastle” anyway; I'm sure any contemporary magician is better read in Jung than I am. As an aside, I think it had been an essay by Ursula K. LeGuin which got me interested in Jung in the first place.

The idea that magic is a process of self-transformation, fits in with Jungian perspective. I could see how attempting negative magic could be harmfuls one's self; it is less clear how it affects the intended victim if he has no social relationship with you. Demons seem more useful in “doing harm at a distance”.

So, what's the paradigm?

#396 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 03:25 AM:

D'oh! — For “could be harmfuls one's self”, read “could be harmful to one's self”.

#397 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Nancy C wrote, re Mrs William Ryker: Amazing how they can re-imagine all sorts of things, but not imagine a woman keeping her own name...

Yeah. I got the same feeling reading a collection of Cordwainer Smith's stories a few years back. There was one story from 1948 (?) where the concepts (was that the one about using pain to trigger a man's capabilities for hyperspace travelling?) and their execution would not have been out of place in a modern publication. That was kind of undermined by all the characters being men, aside for the main character's wife being a housewife with apron and all.

#398 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Susan wote at #374: It's a complete mystery to me how my grandparents and mother managed to come out completely different from most of the rest of the family.

My own wife said the same thing about me after meeting my family. They're not mean although my brother is a jerk and his French wife finally dumped him now that the kids are grown up, but I digress... It's just that my family has no intellectual curiosity at all and none of them ever read a book in their lives. I got my love of reading at a very early age, but I have no idea where from.

#399 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 12:17 PM:

I did my democratic duty on Friday night. I hope the 2-hour wait at the strip-mall's early-voting location isn't an omen of things to come. It is a bit disquieting to notice that, above your head, is the building's alarm box and that a long-dead pigeon is lying on top of it.

#400 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 06:23 PM:

My wife volunteered to work on Patricia Madrid's campaign against Heather Wilson by being a poll watcher on election day. This afternoon, she went to the campaign HQ to pick up the stuff she'd need and found a total state of disorganization. Things not ready that should have been ready. No phone for her to call the HQ if she sees something funny going on. You name it. She made her feelings clear about that. The other person's response was, to say the least, very disquieting:

"Oh, we're Democrats. We don't think in a linear fashion."

#401 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 10:04 PM:

Rob Rusick, some of us do believe that magic can have an external effect on the real world. But those aren't magical effects that I can definitely attest to; I've only seen the internal effects, and things that might have been the effects of magic, and might have been coincidence.

Add to that the fact that I believe very different things about all this when I've shifted my consciousness into the mode required for actually DOING magic (called "inside circle" below), and things start to get very confusing.

Outside circle, I believe that magic is mostly for the person doing it, or the person it's being done for (for, not to: their consent to it is the channel that lets it affect them).

Inside circle, I believe that by drawing up power from the Earth, and focusing it with my body, my mind, my will, my heart, and my spirit, I can change the world. Sometimes. Sometimes the wind is just not with you, and you have to furl your sails and wait (Starhawk's metaphor). I need to believe these things in order to get the effects I wanted when I was outside circle.

Each of these bleeds into the other, of course. I believe in magic the way a Christian believes in prayer: whether or not they think prayer works (and this varies between and even within individual Christians), it's still a good thing to do. Can't hurt, might help.

Since I also believe in the Threefold Law of Return, I believe that baneful magic is not just wrong, but foolish. Whether it reaches out and zaps the person you're targeting or not, it's certainly going to zap YOU, if only in that you now know you're a person who tried to lay a curse on someone, which is quite bad enough.

So: outside circle: skeptical, open minded. Inside: true believing, confident magician.

I've seen some things I thought were probably the result of magic (the extraordinary recovery of my friend Brian after we did ritual to help his broken neck heal, or my doubling my salary within a week of my first-ever Ganesha puja). Would I testify in court that magic wrought these things? No. But I would testify that I think it most likely did, and I would testify that magic makes my hiccups go away (and many other mental changes).

Does that make sense? There's no simple explanation for something this complex, unfortunately. (Can you tell that I'm a Democrat?)

#402 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 10:40 PM:

Xopher, what you said. It's wise enough for two of us wiccans.

#403 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 12:39 AM:

Election fraud, vote tampering, election rigging, criminal interference...


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-abrahams/the-two-faces-of-diebold_b_33138.html

"Stunning Document Surfaces to Show That America's #1 Voting Machine
Manufacturer Hides Security and Operation Flaws from The State of Maryland and the Country

[excerpt]

The issue is whether Diebold has implemented the critical changes in its software and hardware called for by the full, genuine un-redacted SAIC Report. What makes this so very important is that the software, including the core "source code" that runs the machines that process and count almost all of America's vote on November 7 is as secret as the formula for Coca Cola and recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Why
tabulators, for example, which act as nothing more than an elaborate abacus, have "proprietary software", hidden from election officials,
Secretaries of State, Attorneys General and even the Governor of every state, is a true mystery and raises huge and angry suspicions within the
computer scientist and cyber security communities.

And no one, except these four private, for profit corporations, Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart, is allowed to see or inspect the software (and the core source code) to EVER know if the machines have operated properly or if there was, or is, malicious software that could alter the
vote ..

TREASON
Violation of the US Constitution.
Federal crime
Accessory to crime
And those who facilitated the contracts, awarded them, blocked investigation, etc., are equally culpable and responsible.

Oust those responsible, all the way to the top, and every judge who provided any sort of rubber stamp for this obscentity/refused to put any sort of injunction against using the equipment from those companies, and appoint independent prosecutors.


http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3719

EXCLUSIVE: LEAKED 2003 REPORT ON MARYLAND'S DIEBOLD VOTING SYSTEMS REVEALS SERIOUS SECURITY CONCERNS WERE WITHHELD FROM ELECTION BOARD, GOVERNOR, PUBLIC!"

[excerpts of report]

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

"American computer programmer Clinton Eugene Curtis is seen in this video testifying under oath in front of the U.S. House Judiciary Members
in Ohio. He tells the members how he was hired by Congressman Tom Feeney in 2000 to build a prototype software package that would secretly rig an election to sway the result 51 / 49 to a specified side."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzBI33kOiKc


#404 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:01 AM:

I regret, Xopher, that the complexities of this question escape me. Either magic works (sometimes) or it never works. I'm sorry, but I can't see how both are possible, and I can think of ways of finding out which is right, in principle, so I can't see the problem.

#405 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:12 AM:

Serge:

"I'm not a member of an organized political party. I'm a Democrat." Will Rogers.

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:44 AM:

I think I had heard that one about my Party before, Bruce. Didn't Mark Twain once say something along those lines, in the days before Democrats became associated with social justice? (That, it is my understanding, happened thru the likes of William Jennings Bryant. Yes, the prosecutor in the anti-evolution Scopes trial.)

#407 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:29 AM:

It's just that my family has no intellectual curiosity at all and none of them ever read a book in their lives. I got my love of reading at a very early age, but I have no idea where from.

My sister is the nonreading changeling that way - my parents both read, though not quite as voraciously as I do. I had plenty of support as a child in my library raids (twelve books twice a week), and it's still an ongoing family joke that you can do all the holiday shopping for my extended family in one trip to Barnes & Noble.

With my mother's family, it's bigotry and politics. Some of my uncle's racial comments I can't even bring myself to repeat here; I can't type these things even as quotes. He does seem to be able to get partly past his prejudices on an individual basis some of the time; at my sister's wedding, he got into a long conversation with my date about guns, and at the end proclaimed that my date wasn't too bad for a long-haired Jew. Fortunately my date had a good sense of humor. (My father had approximately the same reaction, but is slick enough to not say these things directly.)

Somehow out of this background, I got my grandparents, who quietly comment that it "just wasn't right" (from my very reserved grandparents, that's overwhelming disapproval) to segregate back in Carolina in the 1930s and who supported my mother in her private little civil rights crusades when her school was integrated. Part of the reason my mother hasn't moved south to her family on retirement is that she isn't willing to live among their politics and prejudices. That's also why they'll never manage to rescue me from the damnyankees.


#408 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:49 AM:

So, Susan, liberalism is what your southern relatives think you should be saved from? It sounds like you consider yourself hopelessly corrupted and unredeemeable. As for your uncle who proclaimed that your date wasn't too bad for a long-haired Jew... He forgot to include a reference to money-grubbing in his string of stereotypes.

#409 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Coming down to the wire here electionwise. I've managed to run myself into exhaustion with work (day job) and work (dance) and am fretting that I haven't done enough for Lamont. I've turned my car into a campaign ad with Lamont posters and I carried campaign stuff on the train to NYC with me yesterday and made my seat a small display. I convinced a conductor to vote for Schlesinger (anyone but Joe!) and terrorized a tourist in Grand Central Station who timidly interrupted my blue streak directed at broken metrocard machines and the crowd of idiotic tourists trying to get to the marathon to confess that he was a tourist ("I can tell!" snapped I) but (placatingly) he was definitely voting for Lamont.

My house concert Friday turned out to be full of Dems and we tried hard to keep the focus on music rather than bonding over anti-Joe rants. Fortunately the music was excellent, and we determined that the musician had already voted absentee in Tennessee for Ford. We passed around dramatic hats and sang about pirates and alligators.

The dance festival Saturday likewise turned out to be full of Dems; I danced in my Ned shirt and my Ned hat and talked him up. Some of us went over to the campaign rally Saturday night, which struck me as much like what I imagine it was like in the Vietnam era. We had rockers singing protest songs and antiwar/antiBush songs and we waved flags and signs and cheered madly for Ned, who still has a chance, and our gubernatorial candidate, my mayor, who really doesn't. I was entertained by the mix of, um, crunchy-granola grey-haired people who looked like they haven't ever stopped protesting since Vietnam and young college kids. I now have two Ned hats. Would anyone like a Ned hat?

I haven't looked at Joe's stuff, but Ned's is all about time for a change, stand up for change, etc. What does Joe push - stand up for more of the same?

Even if we don't win this time, I think even my modest involvement in this campaign has changed things for me politically. I've never before gone to campaign events; I've always followed politics closely, but always filtered through the newspaper. It's intoxicating to feel hope, to feel like my vote might actually mean something, to feel like a candidate is willing to actually stand up for changing things. I hope that I can channel this into more political activity in the future, and if Ned doesn't win, I hope he has a plan to channel some of the energy of his following into positive action.

#410 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:59 AM:

Dave: It works, sometimes. If I'd known that was enough for you, I'd've stopped there.

To get back to the original topic: magic is different from torture, because magic at least occasionally works.

#411 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:32 AM:

Xopher, thanks for the answer. It sounds like you are in the “magic as self-transformation” school of thought; which does make sense to me. Entertaining as it is, I don't know if I like the thought of politics (consorting with demons and bribing angels) extending beyond this world and clear into another.

Speaking of politics, thanks, Susan, for your efforts. I'm in the next state over, but it's time for Joe to go; thanks for trying to help him along.

#412 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 12:05 PM:

Serge -
So, Susan, liberalism is what your southern relatives think you should be saved from? It sounds like you consider yourself hopelessly corrupted and unredeemeable.

Pretty much. I don't ever intend to live below the Mason-Dixon line again. It's family tolerance that lets them think I just need to be saved, as opposed to shot. Christmas dinner should be interesting this year.

The weird thing is that this aunt and uncle are the only other members of my family who read SF, and are indirectly responsible for getting me into congoing.

As for your uncle who proclaimed that your date wasn't too bad for a long-haired Jew... He forgot to include a reference to money-grubbing in his string of stereotypes.

To be fair, my date had hair as long as mine (nearly hip-length at that time). My uncle keeps his boys' hair buzz-cut. I was fascinated to watch my uncle and my date bond over the intricacies of different kinds of weapons; I knew my uncle kept dozens of guns (he built a secret room in his basement for them), but - speaking of stereotyping - I wouldn't have expected the knowledge base in my date.

#413 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 12:28 PM:

Rob, the consorting with demons and bribing angels is mostly Ceremonial Magic, which has deep roots in Christianity. My magic is much different.

But the Greek word daimon is actually something more like a nature spirit, IIUC. When Christianity came in, they...well, demonized...the opposition! Did you know that in premodern Europe the ancient gods were not so much held to be nonexistent as simply evil? Talk about demonizing the ancien regime!

I use the term to mean the source of information that I can't understand how I know. For example, I say I have a daimon who tells me when a word on a printed page is misspelled, before I have time to read it. I suspect that I'm subliminally noting it, but it works better for me to think of that little piece of info as coming from outside myself; if I knew I was doing it, I'd probably try to do it consciously, and that would spoil it (since the unconscious processing is fast).

#414 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Paula Helm Murray: *bows*

#415 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Linkmeister:

huevos con soysage ... is Latino-vegetariano, Torontonian accent, but I suppose it could be easily confused with the Brooklyn regional variant.

Whatever. It was teh yum.

#416 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 02:53 PM:

the musician had already voted absentee in Tennessee for Ford

I read this the first time as "the musician had already voted absentee for Tennessee Ernie Ford."

I can think of worse ideas.

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:46 PM:

It was bound to happen.

Sue, my wife, went to a local arts & craft fair last Friday, where the local Humane Society had a booth and a few non-human creatures, one of which was what is usually described as the-cutest-puppy-ever. We now share our home with three doguettes and a tiny 3-month-old terrier-mix puppy boy. Deranged Freya snaps at him, and Nahla for the first time ever has been seen baring her fangs when he gets too close, but it has been explained in no uncertain terms to them that such behavior will not be tolerated. As for our oldest, Brownie, she stays out of the way of the whole circus, just like bad cat Jefferson does.

The little guy hasn't been the death-of-carpets I had feared. In fact, within 24 hours of being with us, he had figured out what we mean when we say it's time to do you-know-what and goes straight to the backdoor. Yes, he is a smart one. He even already responds to the name we chose for him.

What is his name?

I suggested Fenris. Sue nixed that. I suggested Kodos, from the old Star Trek's Kodos the Executioner in episode The Conscience of the King. Nope. Our boy flipped his fat tail so much like a metronome that I suggested Metron, the ambiguous character from Jack Kirby's New Gods. Definitely not.

We did agree on a name though, from our watching so many old movies on Turner Classic Movies. What would be appropriate for someone small and scrappy and fearless?

Cagney, of course.

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:11 PM:

Susan... Have you seen the mockumentary Confederate States of America? It sounds quite interesting. And extremely depressing.

#419 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Congrats on the new pup, Serge!

Naming adopted animals is tough. My roommate and I had several possibilities picked out, but when we finally met the 3 y.o. mutt of indeterminate origins (looks like a Corgi in a german shepherd suit) they didn't seem to fit. She had been called "Ester" by her previous people, but didn't respond to it in any way. I had my heart set on Bielebog, but my roommate but the kibosh on that. After a nervous landlord nearly reneged on his verbal contract, we ruled out Mumakil.

While driving home, I tossed names to the backseat, but the dog was just too distracted to respond. After her complete freak-out at PetCo, and two days being called "doggy", she finally looked up from her squeaky lobster when I said "Ardala".

We thought the name was unique - after all, how many 70's Buck Rogers fans could there be? But our hairdresser knows at least one person with a dog called "Ardala".

#420 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:29 PM:

how many 70's Buck Rogers fans could there be?

I dare not ask, nerdycellist. Speaking of 70's skiffy... A few weeks ago, I was at the Oakland airport waiting for my flight back to Albuquerque when the PA system warned Gate 21 that there was a runner on his way. Being tired, I took this literally, that someone was late and rushing thru. Then three 'mundanes' ahead of me started making jokes about Logan's Run. Of course I'm not sure how mundane a female bodybuilder in her late fifties can be considered.

#421 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:53 PM:

I'm guessing there are enough 70's Buck Rogers fans to make last week's South Park as uproariously funny to a significant portion of the population as it was to me.

#422 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:57 PM:

Did Southpark crush Twikki into a pie plate, Skwid? I'd pay good money to see that.

#423 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Aw, crap - I missed it. I'll have to look for the rerun.

We're currently looking for a small squeaky Tigerman for Ardala; she's already got a little orange pumpkinheaded man we call Buck.

#424 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Serge @ #418 -

No, haven't seen it. I see very few films, and I don't really seek out ones that are depressing; I have enough problems without courting depression. It sounds good but awful, if you know what I mean.

Congrats on the new puppy. My previous cat successfully resisted his intended name (Boswell) until I gave in and just called him Monster. The bloody scratches on my legs from his alien attack mode also had something to do with it.

Daily Kos just took the crack and predicted a Lamont win. I wish I was more confident about this.


#425 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:02 PM:

Susan... Yeah, I heard that CSA is NOT a feelgood kind of story. On a more cheerful subject.. My cat Jefferson has an alternate name he actually responds to: Bad Cat.

#426 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Serge - I've seen once not-feelgood film recently (within the last few years) that I highly recommend: The Pianist, with Adrian Brody. Absolutely stunning.

I've been playing phone tag with the Lamont people all day. If they don't assign me a task for tomorrow afternoon I shall take a hand-made sign and improvise.

#427 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:16 PM:

I'm very interested in CSA, but since I have avoided BSG after this season's premier ep*, maybe I'll give it a pass for another few months.

* yay, another show in which most female characters get to have storylines involving children. Between that and Stockholm Syndrome Starbuck I'm not exactly running to the DVR to check them out. I'm sure I'll watch them eventually, but I'm kinda burnt out on "grim" right now.

#428 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:21 PM:

The Great Cat Sophie was called Patches at the pound. This seemed a bit too abject, so (as I'd been rereading Sayers and she had shag-cut fur with large spots) I called her Harriet Panda. She was never happy about this, and a few months later, she got a name change, and was very pleased. We usually address her as SophieCat or MissMadam. She has a small English vocabulary: "treats", "fresh box", "love kitty" (signal to purr monstrously loud), and "upsycatsy", which means "jump up on the bed".

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:24 PM:

I shall take a hand-made sign and improvise.

Reading that, Susan, I am reminded of that famous painting of the country of France as a woman leading the Revolution.

To the barricades!

#430 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 06:02 PM:

#429 To paraphrase:

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men...

#431 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:25 PM:

Xopher, your spelling daimon reminds me of hearing conversations between my characters. Once or twice, one has actually walked up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, and informed me that (s)he wouldn't do that. It was really very inconvenient, since it necessitated rejigging an entire plot line.

But see here, that's what it felt like, and 'feels like' is not the same as 'really is'. I know what it really was. It was my own mind, those parts of it that are not under my conscious control, checking patterns and making new ones. Human minds do that. It wasn't under my conscious control, but it was still me, not some spook whispering in my ear, no matter what it felt like.

#432 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:33 PM:

nerdycellist #419

Could your Ardala be a Swedish vallhund? "Corgi in a German shepherd suit" is a pretty good description of a vallhund.

And here are the Tor vallhunds.

#433 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Dave, sometimes it's more useful to think of things in a way that's different from how you know they technically work. If you tried to delve into your subconscious to figure out where that was coming from, it wouldn't work as well.

I'm perfectly aware that my "spelling daimon" is part of my own mind. It's useful to me to think of it in another way. Therefore I change my consciousness so that I experience it that other way. I know the difference.

#434 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:34 PM:

Serge, Lori:

To the barricades indeed! I was just by local HQ to pick up a kit for tomorrow. I am to be a poll stander (one of those people who stands at the 75-foot line and hands out literature) and then monitor the machine counts at poll closing. The instructions include a firm reminder not to get drawn into verbal or physical altercations with my opposite numbers, who may try to incite such. I don't know if that's a standard part of these instructions or added specially for this campaign. (We have some straaaaaange bedfellows here - the LaRouche nuts are out in force against Joe.)

My schedule tomorrow is something like this:

6:00 - vote
6:15 - arrive at highway interchange near work with Honk for Lamont sign
6:55 - go to day job
2:45 - leave day job and follow Mapquest to polling place in Milford
3:30-7:55 - poll standing
7:55 - monitor results when they open machines
8:00 - call in results to HQ
8:30 - back to HQ
9:00 - to Meriden to fret in company with campaign workers

I've been motivating with Sooj's Pirate Wendy songs ("I will sing you pirate songs and tell you pirate stories of Wendy when she'd had her fill of Pan and the other Lost Boys..."), but I could switch to Les Mis:

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free...

I'm nervous and excited and it's going to be very hard to get to sleep.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Well, Susan, as Murrow used to say at the end of his broadcasts, and as Olberman now does... Good night and good luck.

#436 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:51 PM:

Serge: thanks.

One last link and then I really am going to at least get in bed and lie there:

This essay pretty much sums up why I'm working for Ned Lamont.

#437 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:51 PM:

Serge:

I think I had heard that one about my Party before, Bruce. Didn't Mark Twain once say something along those lines, in the days before Democrats became associated with social justice?

Well, Twain may have come up with a version but it's pretty uniformly credited to Rodgers. Now if you want a real hassle, try a Google search for this: Mencken for every problem. You'll find a phrase that everyone agrees Mencken should be credited for, but no agreement on what the wording should actually be.

And I still haven't had any good suggestions as to what "To cranch the marmoset" refers to...

#438 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:50 PM:

Dave Luckett@431:
"Xopher, your spelling daimon reminds me of hearing conversations between my characters. Once or twice, one has actually walked up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, and informed me that (s)he wouldn't do that. It was really very inconvenient, since it necessitated rejigging an entire plot line."

Back in the early 90's, when I spent about four years concentrating on trying to sell movie scripts, I decided to write a Schwarzenegger movie, something that would be a natural for Arnold to star in.

It was an epic historical-Western, set in the "Bleeding Kansas" of 1856, and just as I reached page 10 of the script...

...the damn Schwarzenegger-type character went and got himself killed.

"How the hell did that happen?" I muttered, scratching my head.

I did finish the script, though it turned out to be about the dead character's nephew, trying to live up to the example set by his uncle, against the backdrop of 1856 Kansas. (There was a lot of interesting stuff going on there that year, and a lot of interesting real-life characters doing it.)

Good enough a script that it got me called out to a couple of Hollywood meetings with production companies, but never so far as to have anyone actually put money on the table, *sigh*.

#439 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 12:05 AM:

You know that episode of The Simpsons where Bart finds his dog grinning over the torn-up remains of his homework, and says "Hey, I didn't know dogs actually did that!"

Well . . . I left the cake out in the rain.

Actually, honestly.

Background:

On the last couple of Election Days, I brought several dozen fancy jumbo cookies to work, and set them out with instructions that they were for people who voted.

Non-voters were invited to take a ginger snap from a ripped open box.

This time, I thought I'd make cakes. Pillsbury mix cakes with frosting from a can. Nothing fancy.

I made four layer cakes. Two of them I put in this nice sealable plastic containers that a caterer used to deliver lunch sandwiches; supposedly disposable, but sturdy and airtight and easy to clean. I sealed them and put them out on the balcony where they'd keep cool.

A few minutes ago I thought I'd get a head start on loading up the car. When I picked up the two containers from my balcony table I noticed . . . sloshing.

The upper container was half-full of rain water. It was air-tight but not water-tight. The cake was sitting in a pool of rainwater up to the dividing line between the layers. The frosting had washed away, revealing a grey-brown soggy mass.

I had one slice before I threw it away. I can attest that soggy cake is not worth bothering with, especially if you have to brush your teeth again.

#440 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Gosh, Stefan.

How can you take it? Will you ever make the recipe again?

No? Oh, no?

Ok.

Now I'm back to my reading the official election booklet for amusement. And back to lurking.

#441 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 01:04 AM:

Dunno. If I find it too painful, I could switch to Duncan Heinz or Betty Crocker.

#442 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 01:36 AM:

That would be easy - and then you wouldn't have to worry about the recipe.

Since this is the open thread -- for all of us word lovers, the NY Times had an article this weekend by James Gleick called Cyber-Neologoliferation, about the lexicographers working on the OED. I don't know if you have to log in or not to read it.

#443 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:47 AM:

I left the cake out in the rain.

Sounds like a line from a musical, Stefan, maybe with Gene Kelly.

#444 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Tracie #432

Wow, that does look a lot like Ardala! We got her from the humane society; she was an owner turn in. They had her for three months and had gotten her from a different pound, so I doubt she's anything as exotic as that (although you never know). Also, she does have a long tail. I think she might be a little Australian Cattle Dog too. Some pics can be found here:
wee beastie

Whatever she is, she's an excellent mutt and pretty smart! We've taught her to sit, down, stay, come and go to bed (the command for that is "Heave to!") and we're working on having her "play dead" when we say, "Look, Ardala! It's George Clooney!"

#445 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 12:56 PM:

Just got back from my (mostly empty) polling place. Sadly, I almost filled out more LIB boxes in races where they were the only party contesting the Republicans than I did DEM boxes...

I wore my hoodie and my "I Should Have Pulled Out" T-shirt, to which my "I Voted" sticker is now proudly affixed. I love voting.

#446 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 01:40 PM:

OK, so salmon swimming across the road is "old meme" as the saying goes, and yes, I know, it rains here every November, yada yada, lived here all my life. But: dayum! It's wet out there.

#447 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 02:06 PM:

Puppy Cagney just discovered he doesn't like eating those big crunchy snails zipping around our backyard, based on the crunchy feel of what he just barfed. At least, his stomach doesn't like escargots, even if his brain does. He probably was trying to imitate Nahla, who has the digestive system of a goat. Yes, she now puts up with him, and has in fact decided he's fun to play with. Heck, he is definitely safer than trying to play with bigger and deranged Freya, who's more likely to clamp her jaws around Nahla's muzzle.

#448 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 09:38 PM:

I was home sick today. Posing a minor risk to my co-workers health, I made a replacement chocolate layer cake.

Which will join the other three as Day After Election Day cakes.

Publically.

Privately, they'll be Victory Cakes.

Well, maybe that's a bit premature, but one can hope.

#449 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 11:49 AM:

I was just reading about the new stage version of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It's a musical, of the kind that uses pre-existing songs, and it apparently includes an entirely gratuitous scene in which a character leaves a cake out in the rain, and a chorus line appears out of nowhere to sing about it.

#450 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Paul A... Didn't Priscilla star Guy Pearce and... gasp... General Zod? I mean, Terrence Stamp?

#451 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 08:04 PM:

Help! Urgent! Expert editor needed! I'm being driven mad by a trivia point:

What is the typographical sign for a section properly called? I'm referring to the thing that looks like a hurricane symbol and is made on a manual typewriter by typing a capital S twice with a half-line vertical offset. (That dates me, doesn't it? Too bad.)

I know it has a proper name. Earlier today I said it was called a cedilla, but someone else questioned that - pointing out the cedilla is (also?) the thing under a French soft-c - and I no longer feel sure.

#452 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 08:20 PM:

Back when I was a secondary school pupil, in the early 1970s (a.k.a., the neolithic era), I read a story (I think it was an Ace Double) involving intelligent rats that had taken over a space warship and named it 'Distriyir'. Does anyone know the story, or has my memory played tricks on me? Help. Auxilio. Au secours....

#453 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 11:06 PM:

Typed in 'Distriyir' for a Google-search, and got this link to the sale of an Ace Double titled “Contraband from Otherspace” by A. Bertram Chandler on eBay. Searching on that title, I found this review; sounds like it's likely the book you're thinking of.

#454 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 09:53 AM:

Serge: Yes, it did.

Neither of them are in the stage version, of course.

#455 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 10:23 AM:

Paul A... Having General Zod in Priscilla Queen of the Desert gives a whole new meaning to being told to kneel before Zod.

#456 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 10:32 AM:

About Denver's worldcon in 2008... It appears that the con's main hotel is the Adam's Mark. Better than the Mark of Cain, I guess. Anyway, the web says of the hotel: "Located in the heart of Downtown Denver, The Adam's Mark is 3 1/2 blocks from the Convention Center." How much of a distance is that in standard measurement units? Won't stop yours truly from attending the con. I just like knowing in advance.

#457 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 10:59 AM:

Okay, here is a map and directions from the Colorado Convention Center to the Adam's Mark Hotel. They are driving directions so they don't account for walking inside the buildings. The distance is 0.4 miles. In standard measurement units, that would be about 700 Standlees.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Thanks, TomB. I guess 700 Stanlees isn't too bad. (By the way, how many of the old Galactica's microns are there in one standlee?)

#459 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:31 AM:

Taking the metric time interpretation of a micron as 10 micro-days or 0.864 seconds, a walking speed of 2.5 miles per hour is about 1.06 standlees per micron. For practical purposes, you could treat them as equivalent.

#460 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:36 AM:

Thanks, TomB. My favorite line from the original Galactica was a scene where the Cylons are again approaching the Galactica. One of the bridge crew turns to Adama and announces that the Cylon ships are only 10 microns away. ("Man, that's way too close.") That led to Mad Magazine's parody where Starbuck realizes his Viper is about to crash because he's got only a few anchovies of fuel left.

#461 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 12:06 PM:

nerdycellist #444

Here is my Bella, who has been mistaken for a strange vallhund by folks who had seen the local vallhunds but not recently. She's about the same size and shape. In addition to the chow tongue, she's got a big fluffy chow tail, or at least it was fluffy until she chewed on it over the summer. I accused her of wanting to look like a corgi, and she assured me that it will grow back (as it always has).

#462 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 12:23 PM:

She's a cutie, Tracie.

#463 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Update on #384--Cooking Peppers

The homegrown North Lincolnshire peppers are indeed fierce, and my father retreated from the kitchen while I was still at the cutting stage. After a couple of hours of intermittent radiation treatment in the microwave, I have seperated the oil, dumped the mush, and made a very careful trial of the result.

As described, last year, it takes a few seconds for the heat to come through the taste of the oil. The result is, indeed, strong. Use with caution.

#464 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Response in re hot peppers:

I'm not going to make any more hot pepper jelly until I get a pot with a much more tightly fitting lid than my vintage Revere Wear. On the other hand, both my son and I have the clearest sinus passages ever.

Not that I've finished making the jelly (American jelly, which is clear jam), as I'm mostly terribly inefficient about these things. I'm currently stuck at the "juice" stage, as the jam jars haven't been sterilized yet.

#465 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Clifton, the § is definitely not a cedilla. As far as I can recall it's just called a section sign. I did some searching too and found no reference to any other name for it.

To my surprise I found that in Europe it's sometimes used as the paragraph mark. In America we use ¶, which does have an official name. It's called a pilcrow. Where this came from I have no idea. (But OED does...they say it's from 'pylcraft' meaning "paragraph.")

Btw, to put those signs in here, use &sect; and &para; respectively.

#466 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Dave, I got two quarts of habaneros for $3 at our local greenmarket a couple weeks back. I will make hobby oil in due course, and hope it works better than it did last year (the oil is tasty, but I don't think I got all the water out).

#467 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 06:37 PM:

For what it's worth, the Unicode standard (which, in loose terms, attempts to assign a number to every character in existence) just calls the section mark a "section sign". Considering that it calls "/" a "solidus", and the paragraph mark a "pilcrow", it seems likely that the Unicode people couldn't find a proper name for it, either.

#468 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 06:57 PM:

The Corner sidelight...actually, sending Dubya out to hunt a bear with only a knife sounds like a really good idea.

Only make it a grizzly, not a black bear. If he survived, we'd have to shoot him (hey, Dick Cheney, where are you when we need you?).

#469 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 09:59 PM:

actually, sending Dubya out to hunt a bear with only a knife sounds like a really good idea.

"Where's that woman I'm supposed to fight?"

#471 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:12 PM:

A link across to 'Remember' #57, the Anniversary post for The First 9/11 — Broken Glass & Ashes (in Australia 9/11 = November 9th): Remembering Kristallnacht - 9/11/38.

I had planned to put it here in an Open thread, but it seemed to fit with discussions of politics and violence in 'Remember', which is also an appropriate title.

#472 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:26 PM:

Bringhurst calls it "section"—and he's a man who calls an octothorp an octothorp.

#473 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:36 PM:

Being as this is an open thread, I've just finished The Android's Dream. I couldn't see that ending coming, and I did a lot of snickering (Quaker Oats???) too.

#474 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Jack Palance has answered the great casting call in the sky.

Believe it . . . or not!

#475 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 09:22 PM:

More importantly, Stefan, so has Jack Williamson.

#476 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 09:25 PM:

American Science & Surplus has a wind-up flashlight for sale for $6.95. Put 92807 into the Search field.

#477 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 09:42 PM:

Much earlier in the thread were some Dr. Who references. I found today's Sheldon amusing.

However, this strip is one of my all time favorites.

PS for Stefan -- I bet the cakes (Victory, etc.) were delicious.

#478 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Thanks all. I figure this place would find me the authoritative answers. Time to go eat crow.

#479 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 11:07 PM:

Anyone know anybody involved in running Philcon? I emailed their hotel liaison to try to get a room reservation (from someone else's cancellation), and was told that they did have one and would "do this next week."

That was back in October. I sent the requested information at once, and have heard nothing since. It's very nice of them to even do this, of course, and all like that, but it's now less than a week away, and I still don't know if I have a room at the Sheraton for $87/night or if I need to be in another hotel for $260!

I've emailed repeatedly to ask for an update, even a "we don't know yet," and haven't been able to get any response at all.

I'll stay elsewhere if I have to, but if I can possibly pay less and be in the con hotel, obviously I'd prefer that.

#480 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 11:31 PM:

Xopher - email me privately re. Philcon; I have a contact.

#481 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 11:36 PM:

I'm definitely showing signs of overbooking and stress. One free evening before a pair of Boston gigs this weekend. Do I sew the blouse I need to wear Sunday? Nope. Do I prep my music? Nope. Do I even make an attempt at catching up on paperwork? Nope. Do I write my Lamont campaign analysis? Nope! I don't even manage to do the desperately-required laundry and dishes.

Instead, I play serial three-minute Scrabble games while watching the banned video of "Relax" on YouTube and sending email about English country dance to a mailing list.

What a waste of an evening. But I do feel more relaxed.

#482 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 04:39 AM:

Apparently, Dr Who is an English icon, along with Sherlock Holmes, the mini skirt, Routemaster buses, and Stonehenge.

Apparently, all this is backed by the government.

Oh dear.

#483 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 04:47 AM:

Help!

Somewhere, I was certain on Making Light or Electrolite, someone, and I thought Jo Walton, but possibly EBear, made a comparison that involved certain kinds of figurative language as being akin to pasting a small photograph of something else onto a corner of a painting. I'm phrasing it badly, but it *is* almost 4 AM.

I've tried searching under all the terms I can think of, and I can't find it. Can anyone help?

#484 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 10:31 AM:

(Since my connection is sloooow, I'd rather have a new Open Thread than a pony. Oh well....)

I just had to mention this article on what might be described as "moon farts". On a more serious note, Science Daily also has a new audio file (under Health and near top right of present screen) where someone is discussing narcolepsy, but my machine's lousy for anything with sound.

#485 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Susan #480, I have sent you all the email I've exchanged with them (one big email chain that you can pass on to your contact). Thank you very much!

Faren #484, I think it's obvious that the Ina structure was created when the aliens in charge of observing Earth destroyed their base when it looked like we'd be on the moon soon. And we were, but not for long, so perhaps they were a bit hasty.

#486 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 12:20 PM:

I was looking at DDB's photos from the memorial and wake for Mr. Ford, now in the Sidelights, and this time, looking at the thumbnails with their captions, I was quite disappointed to realize that, frex, Lynn was not "The John M. Ford memorial Litterer," nor was Patrick "The John M. Ford memorial Nielsen Hayden," nor Jon the. . .

Somehow, though, it felt like a momentarily Fordian view of things :-)

#487 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 12:42 PM:

Re #470:
Mariners report new island in South Pacific..

And now said mariners have posted photos of R'lyeh on their blog.

I find the third and fourth pictures, showing the pumice "raft," particularly surreal.

#488 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 12:49 PM:

From pictures of R'lyeh to photos of my slightly lovecraftian Bestiary...

#489 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 01:09 PM:

The pictures from Mike's memorial are so good, as I looked at them, I could hear everyone's voices and the music being played. The wacky word wrapping on the captions seemed entirely in spirit with the whole.

I also like the idea that we are discussing Minneapolis in Open Thread 73.

#490 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 04:09 PM:

The photos from Mike's memorial are wonderful. Thanks for sharing them.

Bonus - now I know the name of someone I met at the DC Fragile Things reading.

#491 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 10:19 PM:

Rob Rusick #453: Thank you! That's the story.

#492 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 12:37 AM:

And from the memorial photos, now I know something of what jayembee (a Big Name in rec.arts.comics back in the day) looks like.

#493 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 09:35 AM:

Re the Googlism particle:
"john houghton is executed by king henry viii for refusing to pledge loyalty to the king"

Wow, I didn't know that I've been dead for that long!

#494 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 09:42 AM:

Wowza. I was just listing to NPR, and they said someone mailed in a ballot to Broward County using rare stamps, including an Inverted Jenny.

And the ballot was disqualified, because it lacked proper identification.

#495 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 09:44 AM:

Dave Bell [482]:

Apparently, Dr Who is an English icon, along with Sherlock Holmes, the mini skirt, Routemaster buses, and Stonehenge.

For which my mind photoshopped an extraordinary image -- Dr. Who actor of choice in deerstalker, scarf, and miniskirt, on bus, at Stonehenge.

#496 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 10:21 AM:

"Sorry, Google doesn't know enough about Christopher Hatton yet."

Story of my fucking life.

#497 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 11:14 AM:

But one gets a few hits from googling 'Xopher'.

#498 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 11:19 AM:

I couldn't find 'Fragano Ledgister' but I did find this:


Googlism for: ledgister

ledgister is a longtime apple observer and works for a software company in the upper midwest
ledgister is right
ledgister is a senior account executive for an advertising agency in the heart of wisconsin
ledgister is a graduate of the university of windsor

#499 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Googling 'Serge Mailloux', I got quite a few hits about people who are not me, amazingly. No, I'm not conceited. It's just that I grew up hearing of very few people who had the same family name OR the same first name so it is quite a surprise to come across non-me combinations of both. The first hits are about yours truly, either for my semi-pro attempts at writing (definitely attempts), or as the matrimony-induced appendage of writer Susan Krinard. Hmmm... That doesn't sound quite right.

#500 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2006, 09:02 PM:

I always think of the "section mark" (§) as a "galaxy." But no one else calls it that.

#501 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 04:24 AM:

#275 This evening, Minneapolis airport security -- the same guys who mixed lots of disallowed liquids in a barrel in the middle of the security-check area, and generated a reaction that drove everybody out of the building -- decided to object to my asthma inhalers.

More security theatre from Minneapolis (is that where the truly stupid TSA guys get sent as punishment?)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- Six Muslim imams were removed from a US Airways flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday and questioned by police for several hours before being released, a leader of the group said.

The six were among passengers who boarded Flight 300, bound for Phoenix, around 6:30 p.m., airport spokesman Pat Hogan said.

A passenger initially raised concerns about the group through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways. She said police were called after the captain and airport security workers asked the men to leave the plane and the men refused.

"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," said Omar Shahin of Phoenix.

The six Muslim scholars were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Shahin, president of the group. Five of them were from the Phoenix-Tempe area, while one was from Bakersfield, California, he said.

Three of them stood and said their normal evening prayers together on the plane, as 1.7 billion Muslims around the world do every day, Shahin said. He attributed any concerns by passengers or crew to ignorance about Islam.

"I never felt bad in my life like that," he said. "I never. Six imams. Six leaders in this country. Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible."

Way to go, guys.

#503 ::: protected static sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Odd (botched) trackback spam?

#504 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Nah, that was me. Finally getting cut-n-pasted special characters working. (See about #125 and following.)

#505 ::: TomB (testing) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Let's see if these work now:

Le musée de l'Armée (pasted from Google)
Le musée de l'Armée (composed on keyboard)

#506 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Yeah! Much appreciated, James.

#507 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Well, they look the same, anyway. On my screen they look like Le musée de l'Armée. Is that what you intended?

#508 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 11:53 AM:

That's what I get for watching the recent comments list. ;-) Using IE7 it looked like garbage characters - using Mozilla, I can now see "test".

#509 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Xopher - what browser are you using?

#510 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 12:49 PM:

They look the same to me as what Xopher wrote. I'm using IE 6.0.

#511 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Same as alsafi, except I think I'm on IE 5.

#512 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 01:20 PM:

#509: IE 6.0.

#513 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Yeah, it looks like a UTF encoding issue of some kind. Since folks are reporting it for IE 5, 6 & 7, my guess is that other browsers support a different way of implementing extended character sets than that chosen by Microsoft. IE is probably expecting clues about what language to display from the UTF encoding of the text itself, while the text being displayed is probably UTF-8 - which doesn't provide that kind of information.

There are probably add-ons to IE that fix this, but I can't point you to any URLs.

#514 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 02:29 PM:

Firefox wasn't displaying the extended characters correctly -- and it is, now.

It'll be heck if IE was displaying them correctly before but isn't now.

#515 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 02:33 PM:

For IE (I'm looking in IE right now) -- go to View, choose Encoding, then UTF-8.

#516 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Lemme go change browsers...

#517 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Bing, bing, bing... Our friend, UTF-8 it is! Now I see 'em (in IE6 - I can change computers to see if it works in IE7, but I suspect that it will).

#518 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 02:43 PM:

In MSIE-7, UTF-8 works, but you have to re-set the encoding every time you move to another page.

Formerly, the line <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" /> produced gibberish in Firefox (and I suspect other Mozilla flavors).

Now the line <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" /> produces gibberish in MSIE.

Omitting the meta http-equiv line entirely didn't help with Firefox.

Anyone have any other thoughts?

#519 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 03:29 PM:

This is *so* not my thing... Maybe there's a fast one you could pull with CSS? You could probably provide conditional formatting information depending upon the User Agent string.

#520 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 03:59 PM:

There's a typo in the meta tag. I can't make the tags appear in comments the way Jim did, for some reason, but the only problem is that the semicolon should be replaced with a double quote. When I edited the source of this very page this way, it came up fine in both IE 6 and FireFox.

#521 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 04:24 PM:

The source for this page has

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset="utf-8" />
According to this W3C article on Character Encodings, the double-quote between charset= and utf-8 is a typo. The examples they give also don't have a space after the semicolon, but I don't know if that matters.

#522 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Yeah, it also works with the double-quote before utf-8 removed (the space is irrelevant). It appears that as long as the quotes balance the browsers can interpret it properly.

#523 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 02:31 PM:

How's it looking now?

“test”

“test”

“test”

#524 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 03:06 PM:

Well, it still looks garbagey unless I set utf-8 encoding. But that does appear to be sticky in my browser, and I haven't seen anything against it, so maybe I'll just leave that set.

#525 ::: Larry Brennan sees very crude spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 04:19 AM:

Oy. Surprised that one got past the filters.

#526 ::: abi has flashbacks to the previous spam incident, which was not ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 04:40 AM:

My mythic prose style allowed me to win
A marvelous statue of UK Le Guin.

I wrote in verse, and won my award:
A statue of the late John M Ford.

For insightful prose that no one saw
They gave me a statue of Bob Shaw.

I could go on, but I won't.

#527 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Thank you, Larry. That's surprisingly thumbfingered spam.

Abi, are these seated statues? Because I could scratch-build a pub table and some pints to scale, the better to pose them together and imagine their conversations.

If you were doing a series of statues of SF and fantasy authors, wouldn't you have them all in drinking-in-the-bar poses? One or two of them standing up might be all very well, but if you started accumulating them in any quantity, it would look unnatural. Or it would look like the Worldcon's annual pre-Hugo Ceremony reception for nominees, presenters, convention guests, and the significant others thereof; though, come to think of it, that's a fairly unnatural-looking occasion when seen in the flesh.

#528 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Teresa,

I'm afraid I was picturing Oscars, or formal poses, like medieval saints with their symbolic objects (Bob Shaw with a small circle of slow glass, Ursula Le Guin with a snowflake and a wizard's staff...that sort of thing).

They could stand on a shelf and peer down at the writer with serene and wise gazes, as innocent of writer's block as a saint is of sin.

#529 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Shaw with slow glass, abi? What about Leigh Brackett? A saber and a blaster, or a circlet and ankle bells?

#530 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:20 PM:

Cap'n Bob with a door that had just irised open. The Good Doctor with a book of the Laws. Gordy Dickson in green and black.

Oh, lord, before you know it there'd be manuals out with their official attributes. All of them.

#531 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 07:42 AM:

Certain standards would develop.

Writers who specialised in science fiction would have one sort of attribute - a holstered ray gun, a BEM on the shoulder. Fantasy writers would have a staff somewhere about them, or a sword, or a small dragon curled around their feet.

(Who, within this context, is Cap'n Bob?)

#532 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:04 AM:

Heinlein, abi...

For Charles Stross, you'd need a ray gun, and some 'thing' squamous and rugose.

#533 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:16 AM:

For Clifford Simak, abi... You'd need a robot with a hoe, and a dog by his side. Definitely a dog.

#534 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:40 AM:

abi #531: Hmm. For writers of alternative history you'd need a constantly revolving hourglass. (Or, in the alternative, little statuettes of Hitler, Napoleon, Lee, and George Washington.)

For writers of African-based fantasy, you'd have to have a miniature drum, or, perhaps, a spider.

#535 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:58 AM:

This is dangerously close to turning into a parlour game.

Hear ye the rules*, therefore, since I invented** this one:

I want a rhymed couplet, second line ending with the author's name, plus the statuette's iconic attributes.

-------------
* which are made to be broken
** "invented" in the sense of "stole from Xopher"

#536 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:01 AM:

Example:

My fairy tales caused me to win the
Statuette of Robin McKinley.

Her statue holds a rose and a sword (blue, if the statues have colour).

#537 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:36 AM:

abi... Do the writer's attributes (*) also have to be mentionned in the second line? I'm about to go off to the laundromat and coming up with a couplet would be a good way to spend the time.

(*) Nip that thought in the bud right now, Xopher.

#538 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:48 AM:

My posthuman gathers no moss
So I have a statue of Stross.

(VR goggles and a ThinkPad.)

#539 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:49 AM:

My Disneyland tales are so hoary
They gave me a statue of Cory.

(Mouse ears. Duh.)

#540 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 10:02 AM:

With saber and blaster, and talent, I might hack it,
And win ankle bells, and a statue of Brackett.

#541 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Serge,

I hadn't added the statuette's attributes to the second line. I might have to do some rewrites if we're going to do that.

I leave it to the player to choose, I guess.

#542 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 10:20 AM:

I like these, BTW.

#543 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 11:55 AM:

I found an alternative version of my love
and won a statuette of Turtledove.

I told stories of a world in the mind of Joe,
and got a statuette of Eric Flint to go.

I took the 'nansi stories I learned as a boy,
and got this image of Gaiman; o, what joy!

#544 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Told I tails of dogs that heal warts and talk,
Kind robot Jenkins might hand me a Simak.

#545 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 07:18 PM:

With a pair of jewelled dice, a poignard crossed with cleaver,
And a watch with hands at midnight on my statue of Fritz Leiber.

#546 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:42 PM:

The man that no one ever did see
wrote under the nom of James Tiptree.

Wait! Agberg grabbed his socks and held on,
when told that Tip was Alice Sheldon.

#547 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Screaming out "The horro'! The horro!"
I fling away books by Pel Torro.

#548 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:58 PM:

With elves and androids and saddlebags full
I sing to my statue for the great Emma Bull.

(guitar and mirrorshades)

Were I to watch instead of to read on,
I'd look for a statue of old Joss Whedon.

(stake and browncoat)

Works for both the pro and layman
Lead to a statue of Neil Gaiman.

(black jacket and stubble)

#549 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:05 PM:

If I could be ever so bold
And write of the tyrants of old
Transported to space
As a post-human race
I'd be Lois McMaster Bujold.

Sorry, couldn't thing of a couplet.

#550 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:34 PM:

If I could write with the grace of a lord
I'd get a little statue of John M. Ford.

#551 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Where chimps and dolphins swim and grin
I'll be uplift'd by thoughts of Brin.

#552 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 07:15 AM:

For finding a slab rectangular and dark
I received a statue of Sir Arthur C Clarke

(Which would have a dark block in geosynchronous orbit above it)

#553 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 09:46 AM:

For past that's future, words that dance
(And deviltry!) I'll take Jack Vance.

[crossed emblems: pointy wizard's hat and Hugo-shaped rocket ship]

#554 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:42 AM:

abi... Is it allowed to post a new version of an earlier couplet?

#555 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Serge,

I would be fascinated to hear how exactly you think I would be able to stop you, were I so inclined.

I did already specifically say any rules that there were were there to be broken, and this is an unlicensed* parlour game anyway.

So go for it.

--------
* Gosh, that sounds wicked. I just mean that I'm not exactly a site owner here!

#556 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:58 AM:

abi... I would be fascinated to hear how exactly you think I would be able to stop you, were I so inclined.

Simply by asking me. But since you pointed out you can't stop me, I'll briefly go "Bwahahahahah!!!", then catch my breath. Here goes.

With saber and blaster in hand, and talent, I might hack it,
By Mars's old canals, women ankle-belled'd grant a Brackett.

#557 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 11:18 AM:

For cobbling together bits rotten and smelly,
I'd like a figure of Wollstonecraft Shelley.

#558 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 12:22 PM:

First Sculptor:

I carve, and I make an extremely good livin'
From selling, scrith statues of one Larry Niven.

Second Sculptor:

While I find I prosper equally well
From battle-scarred figures of Jerry Pournelle.

Third Sculptor:

There's nothing of value left in my cupboard
Save eight unsold carvings of bloody Ron Hubbard.

Chorus of Sculptors:
Of success and of failure we've each had our ration -
As SF, like clothes, is a matter of fashion.

(they utter strange cries and begin to dance)

#559 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 12:27 PM:

For news of Voskosigan in third-person voice well-told,
Here's ImpSec Eyes and auditor's chain on Lois Bujold

#560 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 12:27 PM:

My Iain M Banks idol has but one egregious fault -
It clutches Johnnie Walker, not a decent single malt.

#561 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 12:28 PM:

I've written a story of questing and war
and obtained now a statue of old J.R.R.

#562 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 05:43 PM:

This graven image that I've won
honors Zenna Henderson

#563 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Dragons and harpers and sequelized naff'ry
Got me this statue of dear Anne McCaffrey

#564 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Crossing a boundary to evolve was the fillip
that allowed acquisition of Patricia McKillip

(picture a Kinuko Craft designed statuette moving from a mundane setting to something fantastical)

#565 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 06:34 PM:

That person has gone and done something so daft
they must be a disciple of old Lovecraft

#566 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 07:10 PM:

If I could with Occitan sprinkle my yarns,
I'd get a statuette of one John Barnes.

#567 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Blue wine and mosaics are on display
in the effigy of Guy Gavriel Kay

#568 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Voluptuous perversity
Wreathes the statue of Tanith Lee.

#569 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Sheep, green skin, and flatulence (wheezy)
adorn the likeness of John Scalzi

#570 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:38 AM:

Spy cameras hidden in magical flowers
Are found on the statue of author Tim Powers.

#571 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:10 AM:

Grim-browed and pulp-thewed, past haunted tombs and cities sinister-tower'd,
I stride with red sword, for the jeweled idol of Robert E. Howard.

(Statue has sword in hand, optional scantily-clad maiden clinging to his side -- or just chose your favorite Frazetta image.)

#572 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 09:27 AM:

The cyber-statue that I call dibs on
A mirrorshaded William Gibson

#573 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 10:46 AM:

When through the pathways of the dead I win
The prize is an image of Ursula LeGuin.

#574 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:03 AM:

NOTES FOR CONFUSED FICTIONAL CHARACTERS

If guilt, love and Russians relentlessly harry
You're stuck as a character by John Le Carre.
But if you are just an amnesiac hoodlum
You're stuck as a character by Robert Ludlum.
And if raptors - or women - are putting the bite on,
You know you're a character from Michael Crichton.
And if on the other hand you find that your entire fictional edifice is about to come down with a terrific crash
It's Ogden Nash.

#575 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 01:56 PM:

I love what you guys are doing to the meme...I don't know whether I enjoy the good rhymes more, or the bad ones (bite on/Crichton ?!?)

My stories of death, desperation and woe
Earned me a statue of Edgar Allen Poe

(With, natch, a raven)

#576 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 02:18 PM:

For stories of Arthur, with women, we know
None tells them better than one Walton, Jo.

But for Morgan le Fay, I am telling you, there's
No better book than Elizabeth Bear's.

#577 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Abi (575): I almost posted almost exactly that same couplet, almost.

Howzabout:

To anyone who's ever dabbled in the Cthulhu mythos--

For Hastur, Carcosa, and Damned Things so fierce,
We all deserve statues of Ambrose G. Bierce.

#578 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Spears, dice, and dragons (rampant) cordon
my incomplete figure of Robert Jordan

Thranx for the memories, is Pip on the roster
of characters to accessorize Alan Dean Foster?


#579 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:49 PM:

These alien statues, in fortunate threes,
Are due to some fine books of C.J. Cherryh's.

#580 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:49 PM:

For wizards and wars and trees all awoken;
For traveling tales: a statue of Tolkien.

#581 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Hokas with swords decorate one
of the statues honoring Poul Anderson

#582 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:21 PM:

When Martian, Venusian, or Logrean the brew is
you get a statuette of C.S. Lewis.

If Shakespeare's working with Lope, then, heavens above,
you've won a shiny image of Harry Turtledove.

If you've gone beyond never you're no zany
but winner of the statue of Samuel R. Delany.

#583 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:26 PM:

If you're never tempted to scuttle 'er,
The statue must be Octavia Butler.

(holding doulbe helix of DNA perhaps?)

#584 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:02 AM:

I'm sure my scansion is as bad as many here.

But damn, most of these require major tweaking to make them actual couplets where the first line and the second line actually scan with each other. It's hard for me to make them work. I dropped out of a communal limerick making thread in another online community because people didn't understand how limerick scansion actually works.

Perhaps I'm just too much of a copyeditor at heart.

On the other hand, I'll point out David Goldfarb's at 570 as a particularly good example of one that didn't feel right at first, but functions perfectly when read aloud.

#585 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 03:03 AM:

Tom,

Don't take it too seriously - I'm defining a couplet as "two lines that rhyme". I love the ones that scan, but I really like some of the ones where the rhyme is amusing.

It's a parlour game, not for publication.

So what is rattling round your keyboard? If you post it and want a discussion of scansion, I can do that. I do the odd poem that scans, from time to time...

#586 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:28 PM:

abi, thx. Lots of odd bits rattle around, and I didn't intend to kill the discussion -- just raise the bar a bit.

I'm only a small contributor here, after all, and I try to leave things a bit better than I found them.

I still haven't managed to make the acrostic sonnet I want to about John Milo Ford (current acrostic sentence: John Ford Genius, which has the major advantage of being a 4-4-6 breakout so each part fits well into the sonnet form, with the first two as quatrains and the last as a sextet). But I can't come up with anything that I think he'd have looked at with other than disdain.

Sigh.

#587 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Tom,

You didn't kill the thread. There are all kinds of other discussions; the collective attention just sort of wandered off. It looks like people had fun, and left some amusing nuggets for future readers.

So, while it's just the two of us, let's talk about writing sonnets, and the late, great Mr Ford. It's something I've been wrestling with since very shortly after his death. That's when I started getting serious about writing sonnets, after a ten-year hiatus. Like you, I find his ghost peering over my shoulder a lot when I do so.

I didn't know him at all, and I am not at all certain he was aware of my existence. So what I know of him, I know from what he wrote here, and from his influence on other people. I derive his character the way that we learned about Neptune - by his influence on his surroundings.

Some of my guesses about him tie into my feelings about writing sonnets - I think that, as a mental discipline, it creates or fosters certain characteristics. I don't mean that everyone who slams 14 lines together once in a lifetime is changed by it, but that the process of writing sonnets repeatedly, and mindfully, teaches one certain attitudes about other people who do the same. And I know that he did things mindfully, so I trust that what I have found, he did too.

The key characteristic is respect, frankly. Anyone who knows how hard it is to wrangle the words and syllables into place, so the meter runs and the rhyme flows, respects others who put the effort in. Even when the thing emerges in a single burst from the bemused brain, there is a consciousness of all the practice that led to the magical moment.

Nowhere in that is disdain, not even if all of the labour leads to something, well, laboured. Everyone who writes this stuff has an archive of poems and fragments that never jelled, and all but most egotistical can remember the moment each one fell flat. Seeing someone else do the same elicits sympathy, not contempt. (And anyone who can see someone struggle and not remember their own identical struggles is unlikely to write very good poetry. Good poetry grasps some piece of the universal human experience, and you can't do that without empathy.)

Fragano, another of the sonnet people here, says, "What matters, I believe, is that the poem wants to come out, and you give it the opportunity so to do." That's part of it, but part of it is the consciousness that the heart of the poem can emerge in a variety of wordings. Once you trust that there is a poem in there, a nub of something to be expressed, then you can abandon rhymes, phrasings, even entire quatrains that don't work, because you've found the thing that doesn't change, the thing in which to place your trust. Contrariwise, if you don't have that, the thing won't jell, no matter how much heart you put into it.

(I've been musing a lot about this, as I am sure you can tell. I've got a technical screed here on my blog, and I think I'm on my way to a more emotional description at some point.)

One other point, not particularly related to Mr Ford - we learn by practicing things, not by expecting the first efforts to be perfect. If you write it and it stinks, write another one. Or save it and rewrite it later. We learn more from our flawed creations than our perfect ones.

And we are all our own worst critics, whether we put our harsh words in the mouth of the ghost peering over our shoulders or admit to owning them ourselves.

#588 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 05:48 AM:

Shorter me, after sleep:

1. Poets are empaths. They therefore identify with other poets' bad poems, as well as admiring their good ones. Trust that.

2. That little voice you hear criticising you isn't John Ford's. It's yours. Ignore it.

3. Find the heart, then write the poem. If the poem won't get writ, look for the heart again.

#589 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Replying very belatedly to abi's:

And never forget that a poem that looks to its writer like a waste-of-time clunker can be deeply moving to another reader.

I wrote a number of poems in college that were meant for writing, not reading: that were necessary in an emotional-vomiting sort of way, trying to plumb the extreme depths of a feeling I was stuck in as a way to get it out of my head and out of my life. I felt (and still feel) that most of them, read many years later with a cool head, are somewhere between obvious and boring ... but some other people who've happened across them the few times I've shared them were of startlingly different opinion.

Goes back to Picasso's idea that every great work of art needs two artists, one to make it and the other to take the brush away. Only sometimes you need an artist and a curator -- the later to decide (and new ones to re-decide periodically) which efforts get binned and which get shared?

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