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January 24, 2007

Spoken to the air, punctuated by idle whistling
Posted by Patrick at 02:56 PM *

Sometimes I think we need to make more of a point of explaining that, you know, we really have nothing against self-publication, small presses, fanzines, magazines that pay in copies, and all the other varieties of non-commercial literary culture. Hello, this is the Nielsen Haydens, who spent over a decade publishing thousands of pages of mimeographed science fiction fanzines; who worked as editors on the nonpaying “little magazine” The Little Magazine*; and who have run and helped run a miscellany of “small press” projects up and down the years. As Teresa says, “What is this, National Forget How to Google Month?” And what is Making Light, if not a variety of fanzine-like, small-press-like self-publication?

Then, other times, I remember that even if we recited that every other day of the week, the kind of people who are determined to be nitwits about these issues would find equally effective ways to succeed at their chosen task.

Right now, what I want to know is, what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it? What is this, Patriarchy Pretend Hour? Take it up with Teresa. Let us know how that works out for you.

Comments on Spoken to the air, punctuated by idle whistling:
#1 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:16 PM:

the kind of people who are determined to be nitwits about these issues

If you build a nitwit-proof device, the world will go and build a better nitwit.


what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it?

I don't know that it's patriarchical thinking. I recently had someone who had an issue with me do an end run and complain to someone else only distantly connected with the actual issue they had with me. And then this poor person was caught in the middle. So I get ahold of the person with the actual issue and turns out it really was a nonissue due to a misunderstanding and a number of inccorrect assumptions they made about my actions. No good deed goes unpunished appears to be the moral of that story.

But my initial reaction to the whole thing was why in the heck didn't you just talk with me?

#2 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:16 PM:

Now I want to establish "National Forget How To Google Month." Not sure January's right, though; maybe February, and they started early?

#3 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Now I want to establish "National Forget How To Google Month."

Lawrence, try joining a knitting community, where every month is "National Forget How To Google Month"!

#4 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Right now, what I want to know is, what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it? What is this, Patriarchy Pretend Hour? Take it up with Teresa. Let us know how that works out for you.

Oh, really, Patrick, isn't it obvious? They're afraid of Teresa. That cheerful confidence strikes fear in their souls.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Lis Carey @ 4

The idea of Teresa with a tommy gun should do wonders for their mental state, also.

In the matter of 'National Forget How to Google Month', possibly they forgot to Google to find out when it is?

#6 ::: roach ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Right now, what I want to know is, what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it?

Perhaps the same sort of person who would try to win sibling arguments with the dire threat of, "I'm telling Muh-ther!"

#7 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Wait...they were offended by Teresa and took it up with you?

Personally, I'd be much more afraid of a man who's been seen with an axe.

#8 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:30 PM:

Right now, what I want to know is, what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it?

Damn it. I'm on one of those really high computer chairs, surrounded on two sides by sharp counter edges, and I could get hurt badly falling off my seat laughing. I'm used to the funny looks (cats do that most of the time anyway); it's the concussion I'm worried about.

Somebody's confused the adult world with the place where tattling to Daddy gets someone else spanked.

#9 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:32 PM:

I didn't know people still did that sort of thing. WEEEEEIRD. Deeply weird.

Somehow I wonder if they knew going to you would pour oil on the flames of general Nielsen Hayden ire....people can't seriously expect you to tell Teresa she's wrong and have her buckle down. Nor expect you NOT to take her side. I would think they're just trying to get under yer skin further, but they've showed a remarkable amount of cluelessness about everything else, so....no bets.

#10 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Greg #1: If you build a nitwit-proof device, the world will go and build a better nitwit.

Surely that's a worser nitwit. If you see what I mean.

#11 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Just for that, I'm going to tell your wife. (VBG)

#12 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:42 PM:

the world will go and build a better nitwit.

Surely that's a worser nitwit. If you see what I mean.

Unfortunately, the nitwits don't see it that way.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:47 PM:

I'm all grown up, and just to prove the fact
I'll tell on you, I'll tell on you to Dad!
I'm sure that'll make you sorry, just a tad,
but I'm not big on common sense or tact.
I know I'm always right, I've got the exact
answer every time, and how that makes you mad!
I'm telling father on you, just be glad
he's not in the kind of mood to have you racked.
I'm all grown up, I'm a real bitch and all,
I've got my work published in a real magazine,
I know I'm better, I've got the big award
given out by the truckloads, I am your downfall.
I'm the real thing, you're faker than margarine,
I'll annoy you and annoy you till I get bored

#14 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Oh gods. First of all this isn't one of the lunatics from the PB thread of January 22, is it?

Total insanity.


Second, regading both the NHs efforts in the small press fanzine community, "Thank you." And for this little haven of semi-sanity, "Thank you very much."


Now, what kind of person is it? Well four answers come to mind:

#1 One of the red crayon crowd, who has found "truth" and must share it immediately. And since, of course, this is an obvious "truth" once explained, anyone who doesn't understand it or agree is part of a conspiracy to hide it and others must be duly informed.

#2 A steroidal troll who has confused e-mail with posting. (Or maybe their fingers are too big and they sent it via e-mail by mistake.)

#3 A cultural traditionalist who believes that as the man of the household you can (and should) "control" read "dictate" the behavior of any female co-occupants. And if such is the case, probably also firmly believes you will share there opinion of whatever is wrong.

#4 Someone who through capacity or caprice is non-socialized, and does not truly understand freedom of action. Indeed, if they themselves have been forced to live a "supervised" or "assisted" life, they may logically project A) that everyone does so, and that B) the person who has outside employment is the "controling element"

I suppose it's possible that there is also a category 5 for non-linear thinkers who would think this the right choice "just because" ...

Oh wait, was that a rhetorical question ...Sorry

Crap! Back to grading mid-terms.

#15 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Hey, if the nitwits aren't insisting you never worked in the small press, they're insisting that you have no right to leave your job in the small press.

There's no winning against the nitwits.

#16 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Dave @ 11 and Greg @ 1 & 12

I believe this falls more under the province of:

"It is impossible to make anything nitwit-proof because nitwits are too ingenious"

Or possibly

"The problem with trying to make something nitwit-proof is that somewhere between design and implementation it becomes obsolete"

#17 ::: grndexter ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:52 PM:

#7 Dave Weingart

An ax in the hands of a man
would not bother me
as I'm not a tree.

A blockhead I've been called
but the caller hadn't the courtesy
to specify concrete or wood.

Should I quail at the sight
of sledge, then? Or wedge?
I am confused.

#18 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:12 PM:

...what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it?

I can hypothesize an explanation.

You've been hearing from a (small) circle of people who seem to have a very hazy understanding of what "professional" means.

That being the case, it's then quite likely that they have NO comprehension of someone who draws a boundary between their "professional" and "private" activies. To them, a professional editor must be a professional editor, all of the time.

The NHs are professional editors, part of the 'secrit elitist cabal' dedicated to keeping works of genius from being published. Therefore, Making Light can only be an aspect of their professional identities. (Thus, the threat to drive to Brooklyn to visit Tor to complain about Something Mean that was said here.)

To my thinking, an email to Patrick indicates only that someone thinks that Teresa's opinions about PB were part of her day job.

#19 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:23 PM:

My initial reaction--maybe they thought that was a surer way to piss her off?
And to Chris @#15 :
Nice. Isn't it just so much fun when people prove stereotypes?

#20 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:31 PM:

... ... ... ?

So stupid on so many different and separate levels, yet, somehow, it all fits.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:46 PM:

"people can't seriously expect you to tell Teresa she's wrong and have her buckle down"

Well, to be fair, we tell one another that the other's wrong all the time. You should see our arguments about punctuation.

The "buckling down" part, not so much.

#22 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Obviously, those magazines and literary clubs are exclusive cliques, for the in-crowd only. Because the only way to get published (besides being a Bestselling Hack) is to be a Friend of an Editor, and get published out of nepotism.

Remember: to THEM, you're not just money-grubbing hidebound reactionaries who can't even stand to LOOK at a novel if it's not something you've seen before from someone you've heard about, but the only books you'll ever look at besides said Bestselling Hackery are ones by friends/relatives/sycophants. Hence the popularity of not only "write a pitch/query/summary that gets you noticed (but is false and even more derivative than your already derivate schlock)" workshops, but the "Learn the secrets of the publishing industry (because it's a secret cult centered around gloriously wealthy, incredibly egotistical publisher/editor hybrids)" workshops.

The same mindset holds among those who peddle/purchase the "NEVER PAY TAXES"/"FREE LICENSES"/"SOVREIGN CITIZEN"/"SECRETS LAWYERS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW" workshops, lectures, and resources.

#23 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Gosh, a fossil talking to you...

I was going to say 'communicating', but decided that was stretching meaning beyond breaking point.

I thought the whole point of evolution was that it didn't breed a better class of nitwit (although surely the words 'better' and 'nitwit' are mutually exclusive)

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:52 PM:

#15: Chris Clarke, I just now followed your link. Holy moley, what a dingbat.

I liked the way your own commenter "bdaggerlee" characterized it:

Hi!
I’ve got poor impulse control and a large reservoir of unexamined anger!
I’m also narcissistic and boundaryless!
How dare you give up a job I wish I could have!
I’m going to smear some poo on you!
I believe that accurately summarizes some interactions I've had myself over the years.

#25 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:55 PM:

I thought the whole point of evolution was that it didn't breed a better class of nitwit

Today we're stuck with Dubya; Cheney is a fright.
What more proof do you need to know that Darwin can't be right?

#26 ::: grndexter ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Darwin may be right as rain
but entropy trumps him just the same.

#27 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Martyn @ 23 and Susan @ 25

I thought the whole point of evolution was that it didn't breed a better class of nitwit (although surely the words 'better' and 'nitwit' are mutually exclusive)

Today we're stuck with Dubya; Cheney is a fright.

What more proof do you need to know that Darwin can't be right?

I had a friend who loved to talk about the negative, unintended social engineering being generated by modern medicine. This was before I'd ever heard of the Darwin awards ...

Given that Darwinism is survival of the sexual fittest, and much control is maintained through the "death before reproduction," my friend often complained modern medicine was messing up the gene pool by saving people who had proven themselves to stupid to be allowed to live and allowing them to contribute (or continue to contribute) to the gene pool.

Another point in favor of this theory: Notice Checney and Bush come from the economic class with the money for health insurance to ensure their genes cannot get lost, no matter how badly the gene pool may need the cleaning.

#28 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Well, unfortunately, I took a survey around my village regarding a political question. You would not believe just how many women said they either had to talk to their husband or I had to talk with him.

That's this scar over here (points to head). Had to get "teh stupid" out before it infected me.

#29 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:17 PM:

I should've credited the lyrics - they're borrowed from the song "Moral Majority" I learned back in the 1980s, at which point it was Reagan and Mondale in the lyrics. This is a different song than the one by the Dead Kennedys or the one by Green Day.

Names made current, the song doesn't feel dated at all, sad to say.

Now don't call me a censor - you all know that you're free.
Free to do just what you want if it's approved by me.
We're with the moral majority...

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Pixelfish (9): "[P]eople can't seriously expect you to tell Teresa she's wrong and have her buckle down."

I like to think it's possible, if I agree that I'm in the wrong. On the other hand, if what they're telling Patrick is something like "Please tell Teresa that we're not as dumb as she thinks," the chances of success are pretty slim.

I have no idea what's actually going through this lot's collective heads. I'm pretty sure they haven't been reading Making Light. It puzzles me that they're already so wary this early in our acquaintance.

#31 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:55 PM:

To be absolutely honest, their wariness doesn't puzzle me at all. The post you made (which was, after all, about them) was dismissive in an extremely thorough way which is awfully hard to answer at all reasonably, particularly if you're at all likely to take something personally.

And then commenters were also dismissive (and condescending).

Why /wouldn't/ they be wary?

Mind you, were it me, I just wouldn't comment in the first place, but I can certainly understand the urge.

(Although not, I admit, the urge to run and tell your husband. The hell?)

#32 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Steven at #28: I'm not saying it was the case in your situation, but there are times when "I'd have to talk to my husband first" is a polite way of saying, "No, I don't want to buy that" or "Go away, I don't want to waste my time talking to you", or sundry variations on this theme.

I ran into this from the other side, when I was attempting to buy double glazing, and could not persuade one firm to send someone to measure up and do a quote unless my husband was present, even though said husband was working on another continent and was not even legally an owner of the house. Apparently the reason for this behaviour is because it's easy for a woman on her own to resist the pressure to sign there and then by saying "I'll have to ask my husband first."

#33 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Gee. Whiz.

I don't think I'm cut out for minioning. I don't think I'm foolhardy enough to get between Teresa and someone who's pissing her off, particularly when it would almost certainly annoy Patrick.

#34 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:01 PM:

One tiny, tiny, possible pedantic explanation (a post #14, sub-#5 type): Patrick's email is listed for registrant and administrative contact for nielsenhayden.com.

That moves the dopiness from assuming men-in-charge-of-opinions to assuming sysadmin-in-charge-of-opinions. (No wonder the common carrier idea is so hard to defend.)

#35 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:04 PM:

Argh! Sorry, Steve. I *know* how to spell your name -- my excuse is that I'm skiving off from working on a manuscript with a main character called Steven.

#36 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:30 PM:

I thought “What is this, National Forget How to Google Month?” would make a nice sigfile, but I fear it is about to become a catchphrase that instantly sweeps the culture before I have a chance to deploy it.

#37 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Teresa @30 and Patrick@21: I should have qualified that statement with a "in this particular case." I'm sure you exhibit the flexibility of being able to admit you are in the wrong when you genuinely have erred. :)

This case, of course, does not qualify, since Julie and her sock puppets have failed the Google IQ test.

Chris Clarke@15: Ooooooo, maybe we can break out Franklin Habit's strategy. I'd love to see somebody's head implode.

#38 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:30 PM:

BSD @ #22 - don't forget to add to your list on the bottom the bane of my ex-profession* Matthew Lesko, Mr. "Get Free Government Money".

If I get asked one more time "Do you think I could get a grant for (insert loony idea here)" I might scream.

*Grant and Research Administration. Wonderful people, interesting work. Never a dull moment. Give it try.

#39 ::: TruthProbe ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:45 PM:

I think the drugs are starting to kick in.

#40 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:46 PM:

It's *always* National Forget How to Google Month -- when I was working for a computer help-desk, you wouldn't believe the number of problems I solved by plunking the right terms into Google. (Most often, I didn't know the answer myself, but I was able to extract enough information from the question to run a useful search.)

#41 ::: grndexter ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:23 PM:

# 40 Kevin:

Can we say "vocabulary"? I think a lot of the inability to Google comes from stuntified vocabularies. People just don't know what to CALL things any more. It gets especially tricky sometimes because the people who are supposed to know, don't know the proper names of things either. And just FYI - the word "thingie" nets you 1,740,000 hits. Happy hunting!

#42 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 08:48 PM:

Julia Jones @ #32: there are times when "I'd have to talk to my husband first" is a polite way of saying, "No, I don't want to buy that" or "Go away, I don't want to waste my time talking to you", or sundry variations on this theme.

Chad occasionally does this, telling charity telemarketers that I make the financial decisions. I'd like to think he's trying to subvert gender stereotypes, but I suspect it's really just that he's less comfortable with saying "no" than I am.

(I say, "We give money to UNICEF and blood to the Red Cross [*] and that's it, sorry, please don't call us again, bye."

[*] Only possibility in our neck of the woods.)

AFAIK no-one has ever complained to Chad about my behavior. Perhaps not sharing a last name is good for weeding out more than just telemarketers.

#43 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:27 PM:

#35 Julia Jones, about my name, no worries. It's close enough and it wasn't meant as a slam, so I'm good. Having a silent "ch" in the last name has lent me a large amount of patience when it comes to my name. As an FYI, technically I'm a "Stephen." So, you can see, I'm already going with a nickname (as the diminutive of "Stephen" is "Phen"). Just don't call me late to dinner. :)

If it was a "I don't want to answer or sign," I could respect that. I don't think it was in most cases, as they were talkative about other things.

If my wife calls services locally, most don't respond. They do if I call. We use those that respond to her.

#44 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Now don't go telling people about this new-fangled googly thing. It makes me look so good at work. I overhear a teacher wishing they had information about "x" and moments later I place it in their hands unasked for. They think I'm smart. I think I've just bought myself a little more peace and quiet for the sock knitting that takes up much of my down time these days.

As for talking to PNH about Theresa, that's just silly but I see that every day here in the burbs. Everyone has to check everything with the husband. Now, I get that in a relationship it helps to let each other know some things, but I will never, ever get why you need to check with your husband when asked about stem-cell research.

My husband's pet peeve are people who praise him for "baby sitting" his children while I am somewhere else. He tries hard not to rant but sometimes can't help it.

#45 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:43 PM:

clew@34: That moves the dopiness from assuming men-in-charge-of-opinions to assuming sysadmin-in-charge-of-opinions.

That might fly, except one of the Pitch Bitch group said, in the Pitch Bitch thread, that she would drive to the Tor offices to talk to Patrick and his boss (sic) about Teresa.

Also, this group does not habitually Google. I doubt they understand what "sysadmin" means, much less what one does. If by chance they do, one wonders why "Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden" right above the comments section doesn't sink in.

#46 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 09:43 PM:

Sometimes, I think life just watches "Venture Brothers" on adult swim and does whatever nitwittiness is occuring there.

#47 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:25 PM:

What is this, Patriarchy Pretend Hour? Take it up with Teresa. Let us know how that works out for you.

They must think she snuck into the Tor offices and is borrowing your computer to pick on them. Maybe that's how they operate and they're extrapolating.

#48 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Also, this group does not habitually Google. I doubt they understand what "sysadmin" means, much less what one does. If by chance they do, one wonders why "Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden" right above the comments section doesn't sink in.

The Teresa (as in, not Therese) bit never seemed to sink in, so...

#49 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:40 PM:

I'm forever amazed at how many people don't know from Google and Wikipedia, and can't use those and many other tools to gather basic information. Of course, after years of listening to my dad talk about his Bibliographic Competency classes, I shouldn't be that surprised.

#50 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:42 PM:

I must raise a small voice for those of us with impaired google-fu. I keep wanting search terms to work like LC or DD subject descriptions, and they just don't.

However, I try not to combine my google deficiencies with bad manners.

#51 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Aconite @45 That might fly, except one of the Pitch Bitch group said, in the Pitch Bitch thread, that she would drive to the Tor offices to talk to Patrick and his boss (sic) about Teresa.

Net Assessment: $78,600 2006 ; Tax: $1,108.26

Unless Kaley's made her Lincolnville, ME residence tax payment this year on her waitress salary there won't be any plane tickets being bought anytime soon.

My suggestion to her is to keep a very low profile, and keep her friends away from making idle threats. There's a lot of imagery that I can paint between public records and an internet digital trail...especially when you leave "fictional stories" that read like sloppy memoirs.

Between the "up your meds" comment and badmouthing of James MacDonald (fellow Navy vet here)---well, let's just say I'm good at digging up dirt.

How's that Noonan Family Trust?

You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling?


#52 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:16 PM:

We've got a preferred contractor who does renov things around here that we're not quite up to doing, like gutting the kitchen and putting in all new everything. We cut costs by having him subcontract out the no-brain work, like painting and spackling, to us for free.

And he's our preferred contractor because of interactions like this one, more or less verbatim:

Dave (the contractor): “… and that way there’ll be room for Becky to start putting urethane on the windows this morning.”

Me: “Actually, Becky’s gotta be at a training today. I’m going to do the first coat of urethane.”

Dave: “Hmmm. [Moment of silence.] Well, I guess we can sand any big mistakes off before Becky does the second coat.”

#53 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:17 PM:

Susan, #25 & 29: Just making sure that all nits are properly picked and sorted...

The original song was "The John Birch Society", performed (and I think written) by the Chad Mitchell Trio. The version you're quoting is called "The Moral Majority March", the lyrics of which were written by Murray Porath sometime during the Reagan era, as you noted.

And yes, it's discouraging (and more than a little frightening) how current the damn thing still sounds. The same can be said for much of Tom Lehrer's ouevre.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 11:31 PM:

The original song was "The John Birch Society", performed (and I think written) by the Chad Mitchell Trio

And if you really wanted it (as a single) you were much better off ordering under the flipside title: 'The Golden Vanity'. Or so my mother found out from experience. I think that one is in my brother's collection now.

Oh we're meeting at the courthouse
At eight o'clock tonight:
You just go through the door
And take the first turn to the right.
Be careful when you get there:
We'd hate to be bereft;
But we're taking down the names
Of everybody turning left.
Oh we're the John Birch Society...

#55 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Friends, do you want Justice Warren to be your Commissar?
Do you want Mrs. Khrushchev in there with the DAR?
You cannot trust your neighbors, or even next-of-kin --
If mommy is a Commie then you gotta turn her in.

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I bought a book from the spinner rack at the bus station, a book of True Thrilling War Stories. It started off with true thrilling stories of Revolutionary soldiers fighting the British. Well enough. Then it moved on to valiant Confederates against the perfidious Yankees. After that, it moved on to Brave SS Troopers on the Eastern Front. It finished up with the True Story of John Birch.

Which is how it comes that I know who John Birch was, and what he did to get a Society named for him.

#56 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:51 AM:
I'm forever amazed at how many people don't know from Google and Wikipedia, and can't use those and many other tools to gather basic information. Of course, after years of listening to my dad talk about his Bibliographic Competency classes, I shouldn't be that surprised.
It's not just online resources people don't know how to use or don't think of. Back in the days before one could look up telephone numbers online, I used to regularly astonish people by the brilliance of my method of calling directory assistance in towns and cities where I thought the people I wanted to talk to might be (e.g., TSR's business manager).
#57 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Due to recent urgently-needed plumbing repairs, I had to haul about two cubic yards of assorted stuff out of my office to give the workmen room to do their job. I dumped it in the family room, and am now working my way through the heap, sorting it out, putting away the stuff that needs to be kept, trashing the stuff that doesn't.

Some of this stuff dates back as far as 1969, having been moved from drawer to box to folder to to box to heap over the decades.

And what amazed me about the stuff from 1969-1994 is how much of it is simple lists of facts I thought I might someday want, and therefore typed up or photocopied or wrote down, and filed away. Because nowadays I'd just google for it, I don't feel any need to keep a hardcopy record.

Google has changed the way I think and the way I live -- but obviously, not everyone's caught on yet.

#58 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:46 AM:

grndexter, #41, it's not that I don't have a good vocabulary, it's that my brain loses words sometimes. I had to look at kitchen goods at Amazon to figure out I wanted "potholders" rather than "hotpads."

And by the way, the silicone potholders are working out quite well.

#59 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Lee & PJ @ #53 & 54:

Thank you! I never had a full cite - I learned the song from Julia Ecklar back in the 1980s.

#60 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:22 AM:

Lawrence Evans @57: Similarly, for years I had been creating a clipping file collection of magazine photos to assist in illustration projects. And a lot of books I bought, I bought because they might be useful reference of something I might need to illustrate someday. At the time, I did a lot of ad mockups; typically rushed (pick up 4:30 in the afternoon and due by noon the next day not unusual), and almost never given everything I would need; it helped to have my own library.

It is a lot easier to find pictures of things, places, and celebrities on Google.

Harder to find specific examples of people in a particular pose seen from a particular point of view, a specific expression, hands (say, a woman's hand gripping a hammer, as seen from a particular point of view), and textures.

The images are not tagged with words indicating all the possible ways they might be interpreted, nor do the search engines give us the means to look for them this way.

That said, I now have file cabinets full of mildewy magazine clippings. Any ideas (preferably cheap) how paper in bulk could be de-mildewed?

#61 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:23 AM:

Adding somewhat of a flourish to the "better/worser nitwit" (nitwittier?) ruminations, I think it's also been succinctly expressed by:

     "Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain."

#62 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:34 AM:

It's not just online resources people don't know how to use or don't think of. Back in the days before one could look up telephone numbers online, I used to regularly astonish people by the brilliance of my method of calling directory assistance in towns and cities where I thought the people I wanted to talk to might be (e.g., TSR's business manager).

I went to K-12 with basically the same group of kids, so I know that we all got some variant on "How to Look Stuff Up" every year from first grade on. But in my junior year of high school, a bunch of my classmates cornered me (the local egghead) in the library and wailed that some research assignment or other was just too hard because they had no idea where to start. So I had to explain what an encyclopedia was and how an index worked. I tried to keep it simple and they weren't stupid people, but they still looked at me as if I were Neo demonstrating his Hack Fu.

#63 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:32 AM:

Pedantic Peasant @ 27: The Darwin awards are funny. What you're talking about is eugenics, and it isn't. Being sick is not a moral failing. The great majority of accidents are not caused by "stupidity".

Apart from that, yay smackdown of trolls who are sexist as well as other kinds of stupid.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:50 AM:

James Macdonald @ 55... Which is how it comes that I know who John Birch was, and what he did to get a Society named for him.

My wife and I once briefly stayed with a Phoenix relative of hers who was a Bircher. He was a very attentive host, but it was a very weird experience. It didn't help that his son-in-law (who looked like David Hemmings and sounded like Marvin the Martian) was the grandson of someone who had left France at about the time the Nazis were defeated and moved to South America. Yes, you may insert "Boys from Brazil" jokes. (Jewish writer eluki bes shahar certainly did when I told her.)

It's my understanding that the Birchers see public transportation as a plan by Government to eventually control the comings and goings of the People.

#65 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:40 AM:

Lawrence @ 57: Google has changed the way I think and the way I live

AOL.

Which is quite scary, as so much what I need is now dependent on one commercial entity, no matter how benign.

#66 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:16 AM:

#51 - If you guys here weren't already top of my "don't piss these people off" list...

I love you all dearly, but, goddamn. Like my partner, I love partly becuase I know what you're capable of, and you ain' afraid to use it in a good cause.

As for "I'll talk to your HUSBAND and his BOSS..." like Greg said at 1, actually doing it would be classic passive aggressive behaviour, not actually fixing a problem but getting bystanders involved.

Threatening to do it... I don't know about a technical, psychological term, but the phrase from Chris' blog "wearing the ass-beret" seems so apposite.

#67 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:44 AM:

Rbo @60

Any ideas (preferably cheap) how paper in bulk could be de-mildewed?

I had an infestation of mildew in leather in my bindery last summer. Here's what you do.

Kill the active infestation. Put the stuff into Ziplock bags (to prevent moisture and, well, food transfer) and pop it in the freezer overnight. Take it out and let it warm up, then do so again. Three cycles is about the optimal, if you have time.

Then spread the stuff out in the sunlight, if you can. At the very least, let it get warm and dry.

You'll still need to clean off the markings (a soft dry cloth to brush the marks off, or, if a damp cloth is needed, a freeze/dry treatment again), but you should kill the actual mildew with this process. And though it takes a lot of elapsed time, it shouldn't take a lot of actual effort until you're cleaning the pages.

#68 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:45 AM:

Rbo should be Rob, of course. I do apologise.

#69 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:59 AM:

#25: After Calvin Coolidge succeeded Warren Harding, Calrence Darrow said that the progress of presidents made him doubt the direction of evolution. Bush inspiring nostalgia for Ford, who inspired nostalgia for Truman has a similar effect.

#70 ::: grndexter ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:04 AM:

# 57 Lawrence Evans:
And what amazed me about the stuff from 1969-1994 is how much of it is simple lists of facts I thought I might someday want, and therefore typed up or photocopied or wrote down, and filed away. Because nowadays I'd just google for it, I don't feel any need to keep a hardcopy record.

Google has changed the way I think and the way I live -- but obviously, not everyone's caught on yet.

Ummm a cautionary note here. One of my long term projects is a book set in the first half of the 1800s in New Orleans. I thought, as you say above, that I didn't really need to print off most of this stuff, but I DID print off some of the more valuable (to me) information - which turned out to be a good thing as ALL of the information has vanished from the internet, and probably from the world. Katrina ate it.

#71 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Chris @ #15: Mother. Of. Pearl.

(busily sends link to friends)

As for the "I'm calling your husband..." Here's my theory, borne from (unfortunately) lots and lots of experience. When I get into an argument with someone who starts flinging poo, I usually roll my eyes and walk away. Poo-flinger then decides because I'm such a cast-iron beeyotch, husband must be a milquetoast. Thusly, they'll complain to him, and possibly he'll say stuff such as "She's very exciteable, and I'm very sorry." Then, lo! next time poo-flinger and I meet, they can add "Your HUSBAND agrees with me!"

And then they meet my husband.

(Insert evil laugh here.)

#72 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:20 AM:

When I was doing scholastic bowl in high school, we had to introduce ourselves before every meet. The captain, often me, went down the row starting at one end. Since we played the same few teams a lot (small conference) we joked a lot. "To my far left, the Amazing Erick!" and such.
Our adults thought I should end with, "And to my extreme right, John Birch." Chances are, no one holding a buzzer would get it.

#73 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:22 AM:

Individ-ewe-al @ 63

The Darwin awards are funny. What you're talking about is eugenics, and it isn't. Being sick is not a moral failing. The great majority of accidents are not caused by "stupidity".

I agree eugenics (and genocide) aren't funny. But I'm not talking about eugenics. I'm also not talking about sick people.

You said you think the Darwin Awards are funny. Note their motto/intro from Darwin Awards.com:

A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises
We salute the improvement of the species
by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it, thereby ensuring that the next generation is one idiot smarter.
Of necessity, this award is (generally) bestowed posthumously.

Essentially the same thing I said. I'm talking about the number of cases where someone fifty years ago committing certain types of idiocy would die, while today between safety tech and med tech we can save their life. Are there, in fact, a larger percentage of the population that are nitwits today than in years past? And if so, is it environmental or genetic?

I am not suggesting we should deny care or prevent reproduction. I was merely stating the idea as a possible (humorous) intersection for evolution and nitwits, and a possible explanation for the seemingly larger percentage of the population that are nitwits today.

On the other hand, what if there is truth to the theory? Still doesn't make it eugenics. To be eugenics would require an attempt to control their reproduction. Besides, bottom line is it's more likely to be environmental than evolutionary.

#74 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:26 AM:

If there is anyone here who has not at some point in your life done something so profoundly idiotic, imprudent, or dangerous that you realized afterward (or at the time) that it could have got you killed, please raise your hand.

If you haven't made yourself a Darwin Award candidate at some point in your life, I don't think you're alive.

#75 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:46 AM:

One might make the case that developing the intelligence and social will to create and use medicine and safety technology is an example of a species' increase in fitness, she said mildly.

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Because nowadays I'd just google for it, I don't feel any need to keep a hardcopy record.

'If you don't have it on paper, you don't have it.' - Mom, speaking about genealogical data (before CD-ROMs)

It's still good advice, but you need to know what's worth keeping in hardcopy. And have room for it. (In my case, it would require at least a case of paper and a dozen or so D-ring binders. Space may be a problem.)

#77 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:06 AM:

If there is anyone here who has not at some point in your life done something so profoundly idiotic, imprudent, or dangerous that you realized afterward (or at the time) that it could have got you killed...

Something? Only one something? Not exactly.

#78 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:37 AM:

Scraps at 74 and vito @ 75

Good points both.

Again, it is intended humorously, and at least in my mind referrs not to the occasional "learning experience" accident as to the habitual offender who doesn't learn and has an escalating idiocy curve.

Oy, let's just forget I mentioned it

#79 ::: grndexter ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 11:47 AM:

# 76 PJ Evans:
'If you don't have it on paper, you don't have it.' - Mom, speaking about genealogical data (before CD-ROMs)

Listen to Mom! A CDs expected life is only about 15 years. Any scratches on either side (and the label side is more fragile than the other side) and this term can decrease RADICALLY! (The silver stuff oxidizes.) Having it on CD is a convenience, not a reliable method of long term storage.

#80 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Oh, I still keep anything obscure on paper, but I had stuff like lists of Oscar winners that can now be looked up so easily there's just no reason to save them.

#81 ::: Mum ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:18 PM:

what sort of person is it who, offended by something Teresa said in a Making Light post, decides the right thing to do is…email me, and not her, to complain about it?

Obviously, someone who has previously argued with Teresa.

#82 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Dan @ 56: Oh, certainly. And growing up with a historian/librarian for a father impressed on me the wealth of resources available, especially at the local library. But those generally take far more effort to get to than Google et al, which are available through the same browser you're using to get today's sports scores. With the barrier for entry that low*, why not use it?

P J @ 76: Amen, amen, amen. Just because it's online now doesn't mean it'll be online tomorrow, or that something like the Wayback Machine will have it. If I'm going to need it later, it goes on my local machine and I print out hardcopy backups.

* It's only that low for people who have ready access to computers and internet access, which is one of the big reasons I support local libraries.

#83 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Re #74. James Nicoll need not respond.

(That might be an explanation for those of us who have not done anything so dangerous that it might get us killed: James did it for us. Fortunately I did my 'might get you killed' when I was born, so now I can take it easy. I'm safe. ;) )

#84 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:40 PM:

Using Search engines is a skill*, and every search engine has it's own quirks you need to be aware of. Getting into the habit of googling everything before doing anything (on- or off- line) is a new habit that didn't exist 10 years ago.

That said, I don't see why someone who'd get into an online fight wouldn't have gained these sort of skills and habits; then again, I've been known to google with one hand while reading a Harry Turtledove novel held in the other**.

* Like all skills, some people are better at it than others, and some people pick it up quicker than others.

** "That name sounds familiar - are they real? And what does that tank look like?"

#85 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 12:55 PM:

Marilee @ 58: I wouldn't call that "losing words", I'd call it a difference of vocabulary. I've run into it myself.

Me: Hand me the hotpad.
DH: Huh?
Me: The hotpad! The thing you use to pick up hot things with or put hot things down on.
DH: Oh! You mean the potholder.
Me: No, as an East Coaster you may mean the potholder; as a West Coast kid, I mean the hotpad.

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Lexica and Marilee:

As a West Coast kid with Midwest parents, I pick up stuff with a potholder, and put it on a hotpad. Or maybe a trivet (which for us was something that had airspace under it, rather than being solid.)

#87 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:19 PM:

> Now I want to establish "National Forget How To Google Month." Not sure January's right, though; maybe February, and they started early?

It should be September, surely? But of course it's always September.

#88 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Lexica, Marilee, and P J -

Oven gloves. Don't forget about oven gloves. I started calling them oven gloves during my teenage Anglophiliac stage (what, didn't you have one?), and still do.

#89 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 02:40 PM:

#88: I know them as "oven mitts," and the flat ones as "hotpads" -- the ones that are flat squares with a space for the hand (I have one of those, and it's a weird thing) are still "hotpads," though.

#90 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:12 PM:

I confuse hotpad w/ heatpad, which has wires and lives on the bed.

#91 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Oven gloves are oven gloves. Hotpads or potholders were, previous to my reading this discussion, "thingies." And I just realized that.

I have a good friend who lives in Toledo, OH, and practically takes care of every aspect of home improvement and big project budgeting. She gets to hear "we need to talk to your husband about that" a lot when searching after things like gutter covers, and her default answer is a variant of "no, no you really don't." Habitually, she gives her business to those businesses who don't reflexively ask for the husband. I like to think that in her own way, over the years, she might have made at least some difference in the mindset of her particular town and its businesses.

Not being married, I didn't get the "I need to talk to the husband," yet. I think that if/when I do, I'll steal my friend's answer.

I have to agree with Patrick and some of the commenters here that it was probably a very, very misguided "keep your woman in line" attempt coupled with a weak "I'll tell on you! Daddy!" attempt. I don't think that Patrick being the sysadmin entered the equation; that requires a better understanding of how web communities work. If they had had that understanding, they would also have lurked/read around here/or Googled, I think.

#92 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:53 PM:

I confess to being mightily becroggled about "keep your woman in line" coming from a woman in this day and age. Unless we've been really confused about Kaley's gender?

#93 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:54 PM:

They're afraid of Teresa. That cheerful confidence strikes fear in their souls.

[/ends thread] as some would say. ^_^

One might make the case that developing the intelligence and social will to create and use medicine and safety technology is an example of a species' increase in fitness, she said mildly.

How much then can the general level of a given species increase while the overall particular level of specimens decreases ?

I thought the whole point of evolution was that it didn't breed a better class of nitwit.

What if a better, larger class of nitwit happens to be the most efficient and cost effective solution for survival of the species ? The Leviathan only needs so much brain cells after all, and viable mutable emergency replacements may be expensive at best, and hazardous at worst.

I've had that question lurking in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and I don't like it one bit.

If you would build a nitwit-proof device, built one that cannot be put to use.

#94 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 03:57 PM:

#85: I'm nearly as West Coast as they come (brief stint in NYC for college) and the implement you mention has always been a potholder.

#95 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Alan @ 87, on when National Forget How to Google Month should be:

It should be September, surely? But of course it's always September.

There's a passphrase for those who've been kicking around the Internet for a while.

#96 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Pedantic Peasant, I'm sorry I snapped. My cranky biologist self was annoyed at imputing to Darwin the idea that human society will get gradually better over time. And it's especially annoying when "better" implies containing a higher proportion of People Like Us. But my cranky disability rights advocate self grabbed the mike and the biological pedantry remained, uselessly, in my head.

I'm jaded by way too many scary creationists knocking down a straw man version of Darwin, and way too many scary pseudo-Nietzschians trying to derive authority from an equally false idea of Darwin to justify vile inhumanity. I didn't really think you were among the people who make that kind of argument seriously, but it's got to the point where I can't find it funny any more.

#97 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Oven mitts and potholders to this New Yorker, though it took me a day or two to remember the term after a friend of mine gave me a hand-knit potholder as a holiday gift. (In my defense, for years we've had only oven mitts here, and when I visit my girlfriend I'm more likely to just grab one of the flat thingies than ask for it.)

#98 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:50 PM:

John Bickerson: I can't find my pants.
Blanche Bickerson: Just let me take this casserole out of the oven...OK, here they are.
JB: You used my pants for a potholder!
BB: Why not? That's what you use them for!

#99 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Pot holder, oven mitt.

However:

I, um, liberated from . . . ah, got from a . . . aw, heck, plucked from a dumpster two of what I will gladly call a hotpad. They are made of what might be called seriously thick terrycloth, about a 10" on a side, with elastic strap handles. They have the look of serious chef equipment. Not as handy for picking things up as a classic potholder; wonderful for protecting countertops.

I washed them with hot water and bleach and pressed them into service.

#100 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 05:43 PM:

#53 and 54 --

I want to thank you so much for this info -- I grew up listening to a reel-to-reel of their stuff, but my Dad told me it was the Limeliters, so I have been fruitlessly searching for non-existent albums trying to locate these songs.

I adore this blog.

#101 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:01 PM:

One could say (and Garrison Keillor did) that the GWB administration is evidence against divine creation,intelligent design, and progressive evolution (actually, he just said evolution; as I am not an English major, I know that evolution is directionless).

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:32 PM:

I, um, liberated from . . . ah, got from a . . . aw, heck, plucked from a dumpster two of what I will gladly call a hotpad.

That is, you went dumpster diving and trash-picked them.

#103 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:40 PM:

What do you call it when you take something not in a dumpster, but left out next to it in a clear attempt to invite re-use?

That wasn't the case with the hotpads, but it happens fairly frequently.

#104 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:46 PM:

It's recycling! Unless Stefan has a special stick* he uses while engaged in said activities. If that's the case, Then Stefan is a Dumpster Diver.

*it's all in the details and accessories

#105 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:48 PM:

Stefan - you would fit in up here. We have re-use areas provided at the transfer stations, where people place things for re-use purposes.

You have a special stick, don't you?

#106 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Potholders or oven mitts for picking up pans, hotmats for setting them down on.

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 08:10 PM:

No, no special stick. And if something is so far in that I need a special stick, I generally don't bother.

I did once stand on a box to extract a PC* from a dumpster. That was an extraordinary find, the kind that tempts me make deliberate visits to dumpsters, as opposed to going when I need to dump something.

(* P4, 1.8 GHz, 768 MB Ram, DVD and CD-RW drives)

#108 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 09:52 PM:

Stefan at 107: I think that's nearly as well-specced as my six month old machine. Admittedly, mine's a Thinkpad T43 and thus Shiny, but still...

#109 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Mum, #81, nice to meet you, Teresa's mum!

Nix, #83, now that James has a CPAP, he hardly ever almost kills himself. Apparently getting enough sleep is a good thing.

Lexica, #85, the neurologist calls it aphasia.

Tania, #88, I have really small hands and I can't use those oven mitts or rubber gloves. There's too much fingers sticking up and getting in the way.

Tania, #105, here that's called the Too Good To Waste Place.

#110 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Well given all of the discussion about bits of cloth to handle hot things with, and Google, I googled hotpad.

Most of the 10 entries on the first page appeared to think that potholders are things that you can use to protect your hands from hot pots (and probably pans, as well).

Hotpads are things you put between your counters and hot pots or pans.

Now I have a set of 8" square potholders that also are pockets - I can put my hand inside them. I wear size 6 gloves, so I really like these - most oven mitts are way too large. But darned if I'd know how to ask for another set by name.

#111 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:52 AM:

Like Zack@94, born in Oakland CA and lived in the SF Bay Area literally my whole life, and I've never heard the word "hotpad" before today. Potholder, oven mitt.

Marilee@109: Having used CPAP myself for almost a year now I am here to tell you that enough sleep is a really seriously good thing. I feel better-rested after five hours these days than I used to after ten. (And I don't feel particularly well-rested after five hours...I need 6-8 most days.)

This reminds me: Bill Higgins, Beam Jockey! Are you out there?

#112 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:05 AM:

MD^2 @ 93:

How much then can the general level of a given species increase while the overall particular level of specimens decreases ?

I am disputing the idea that the overall particular fitness level of specimens is decreasing. Saying that modern humans would not be well adapted to our environment without our current level(s) of technology makes about as much sense as saying that ants are maladapted because without their anthills they could not survive or reproduce. It's not relevant.

Incidentally, I personally think the jury is still out on intelligence as an adaptive trait. If this is one of your interests, I recommend you read Blindsight, by Peter Watts. But maybe not right before going to bed.

#113 ::: sharon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:29 AM:

gmdexter: Have you checked out the Internet Archive (aka the Wayback Machine)?

You see, stuff doesn't disappear from the Internet that easily. The WM isn't perfect, but it catches almost everything that's been online for more than a few months (unless access was restricted in the first place). At least, it's always worth a try. The main limitation is that there's no keyword search; you have to have a record of the URL of the site/page. (And if need be, you can always use the WM to find an old version of any sites that used to link to it and get the URL that way.)

http://www.archive.org/

#114 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:56 AM:

It's always Patriarchy Pretend Hour somewhere!

*headdesk*

I actually recall both "potholder" and "hotpad" to mean different variations on the same thing. A hotpad is one of those little square ones that kids do on looms with the weird elastic fabric bands. I imagine this may have something to do with the fact that these may either be set under a pan, or used to wield it. I remember making many of these little elastic squares for relations. A potholder is a more general term, covering these, the storebought ones, and mitts.

(For reference: I grew up in LA County, but my dad's from Canada.)

#115 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:06 AM:

vito excalibur @112:

Thanks a lot for the link. And here I was thinking I had been sleeping too much recently. It is true: a solution always pops up in time for every problem.

#116 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:41 AM:

As another Californian (4th-generation, yet), I say "potholders" too.

And Marilee (#109), they do make those yellow rubber gloves for dishwashing in a smaller size now. Very useful for my own stubby fingers.

#117 ::: roach ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:19 PM:

As a Wyomingite transplanted to Chicago I use both potholder and hotpad depending on which word pops into my head first at the moment. We also have a trivet and I even remember to call it that at times.

#118 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:29 PM:

#104: There is a wonderful on-line community here in New York called Freecyle. Folks post the stuff that they need/stuff that they want to get rid of...and folks post sites on curb-side stuff that they see and don't want. Kinda like Craig's list but no money changes hands. It's all part of the "nothing should go to waste" gig.

--claire

#119 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 01:46 PM:

claire @118 - I believe that Freecycle, like Craig's List, has its tentacles in every US city. Here in Boulder, one of my best friends swears by them.

Margaret Organ-Kean @110 - "Hotpads are things you put between your counters and hot pots or pans." Those is trivets, ain't them? Maybe only if them's got legs.

#120 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Nicole #119: Those is trivets, ain't them? Maybe only if them's got legs.

Only if they got three legs?

(Should they be so unbalanced as to have four, I have no idea as to what to call them. Worse are the tile thingies that you can set stuff down on. Usually they're framed in cork, and they have no name that I know. Except tile.)

#121 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:37 PM:

I have never, prior to reading this thread, heard the term 'hotpad' used in that sense before. Actually I may have read it, but probably I assumed they meant what I would call a hot plate: a flat appliance that applies heat to a dish, pan, or pot.*

I grew up in Michigan, but my parents are from Chicago; I distinguish 'pin' from 'pen' and all like that.

An insulated cloth square is always called a potholder in my dialect (possibly idiolect). A trivet is the same shape (or any other flat shape) but made of some solid material. It may have legs or not, though the core of the term in my own mind is one with exactly three legs (possibly folk-etymology on my part).

The big insulated mitten is an oven mitt.

*Interesting in itself: in my native lect a "pot" is deeper than it is wide, while a "pan" is the reverse. I seem to recall meeting people for whom a "pan" has a single long handle, while a "pot" has two short handles. A "saucepan" is a pot in my lect, and most saucepans are in the other as well.

And if you really want to open the can of worms, let's talk about 'spatula'. Oy veh.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Oh, damn. Strike the bit starting "and most saucepans..." I got mixed up there.

#123 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Xopher #121:

And then there's "saucepot," which I've heard, and even said, without paying serious attention to fine distinctions. I think I used it about the samll Revereware saucepan I use for making gravy and hollandaise.

#124 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Xopher @121
And if you really want to open the can of worms, let's talk about 'spatula'. Oy veh.

My home ec teacher in middle school (whom you did not cross) told us that a spatula is a tool with a long, flexible blade of metal, rather like a thin and unsharp knife.

The other items that the class might have described as a spatula were termed a "rubber scraper" and a "pancake turner".

Here in Scotland, what I would (after that home ec class) call a pancake turner is known as a fish slice.

(And my family, ranging from six to two generations Californian depending on the line you follow, used "hot pad" and "potholder" interchangeably and without bias to refer to the square things I wove out of terrycloth. Trivets were hard and footed.)

#125 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:01 PM:

I always used the term "hotpad" to mean a device that you plug in to an electrical outlet, it warms up and you place it on your back or shoulder or wherever you've strained a muscle or where warmth will provide symptomatic relief.

All cloth (insulated or not) objects that you use to protect surfaces from hot pans or pots or kettles, we call "potholders" around here, except for trivets which, as Xopher said, are made of wood or tile or metal. Some have legs, some don't.

I read a story not that long ago, in one of my SF magazines (I think), about someone who was ordering massive numbers of decorative trivets from the Home Shopping Network (?) and hiding the fact from their significant other for some weird reason. Now I'm going to go mad trying to remember where I read that.

#126 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:32 PM:

The advent of the Internet is going to force an update of the DSM to add more diagnotic categories. Candidates:

• Cyberpathy

• Multiple Persona Disorder

• Wikipedian Personality Disorder (inability to belive in the existence of anything that cannot be linked to online and accessed for free without paying a fee)

• Googlenesia (chronic inability to remember to Google the obvious before shooting off one's mouth)

• Internet hypervigillance (relentlessly checking one's own name on search engines to make sure nothing bad has happened; this usually follows exposure to Cyberpathy)

And the many specialized classes to trolls probably need their own taxonomy. I was astonisted to discover a new yesterday. The general run of Wikipedia "editors" really deserve their own diagnostic category. I just haven't figured out what to call it yet.

#127 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:45 PM:

I thought Googlenesia was when you forgot something, because your brain decided you could google it as needed.

Joann @ #120:

(Should they be so unbalanced as to have four legs...

They're obviously quadrivets.

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:22 PM:

abi 124: Your home ec teacher's definitions match the ones from my lect, except that the "pancake turner" is a "lifter" when I'm at home (or rather at my parents' home, since when I'm at home and in cooking mode, words don't enter the little gray cells—not words for cooking implements, anyway).

However, neither the rubber scraper nor the lifter would ever, ever be called a spatula in our house. I own half a dozen rubber scrapers and at least that many lifters, but not a single spatula (nonstick bakeware renders this possible).

Why do I have the sudden urge to go buy a spatula? I've tried before, but in these parts people try to sell me lifters and rubber scrapers, and stare at me blankly when I try to describe the "flexible metal thing...like a dull knife." It's not that they aren't getting my explanation, it's that they've never seen one.

#129 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 04:41 PM:

i always called anything flat & broad that you could turn things over with-- metal or plastic, slotted or no-- a spatula, & had never seen a real spatula until i had occasion to buy one.

i've still never cooked with a real spatula: the occasion that i had to buy one, is that there's nothing like 'em for scraping the ink off a silkscreen, efficiently & without danger of slicing your screen.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Xopher @ 128

Try someplace where they sell cake-decorating stuff (e g, JoAnn's, Michael's). Wilton has some nice spatulas. I like the longer ones, because they'll reach the bottom of the peanut-butter jar without my getting pb all over my knuckles (not that this is bad, just messy).

#131 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:35 PM:

abi (124): So that's what a 'fish slice' is! I had been envisioning something more like my mother's cake (and pie) server, with a smaller, wedge-shaped head.

Xopher (128): I would probably call the thing you're looking for a 'spatula'; at least, I can't think of another name for it. To me, however, 'spatula' by itself means the pancake turner/lifter. The rubbery thing would be a 'rubber spatula' (unless context makes it clear without the 'rubber').

Dawno (125): I call that a 'heating pad'.

Generally: Am I really the only one in this conversation that uses 'hotmat'? I never heard the word 'hotpad' until this thread.

#132 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 05:35 PM:

I thought Googlenesia was when you forgot something, because your brain decided you could google it as needed.

Wasn't that why Plato complained about writing?

#133 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:02 PM:

FWIW, the hotpads we had when I was growing up were wood with a layer of cork on top (a set of three, in graduated sizes). Anything that we didn't want to actually touch the tabletop (it was a teak Danish modern table, with pull-out leaves) went on one of them, whether it was hot or cold.

#134 ::: drieux ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:30 PM:

and the difference between a fanzine and the so called evil liberal media meatpuppets who have been pushing the 'war', is what again????

#135 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:41 PM:

These fish slices are somewhat more high end than the definition of fish slice might lead one to believe.

#136 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Mary Aileen #131:

We appear to have been raised in the same place, as I go along with every one of your definitions.

#137 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Well, abi @ 124, and I'm hoping I'm not going to regret this, in my Home Economics class, down on the English south coast where I went to school, your spatula would be a palette knife. Almost all culinary uses for this related to cakes.

We did indeed have fish slices as you describe, metal or plastic to protect non-stick pans, while a spatula would be a blunt, flat, square-ended implement, made from either plastic, rigid or flexible, or most commonly, from wood.

#138 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Juliet @137:
That does it. I'm going to go find Mrs Bradish and sic her on you. Or your home ec teacher. (or not)

I think we've hit a transatlantic difference. Thank you for giving me the British term for what I would call a spatula; maybe now I can find one for my kitchen. It was always good for loosening the sides of cake layers from their pans.

(Actually, once I really got greasing and flouring pans down to an art, the spatula became much less of a neccessity.) (Non-stick? Hah. That just means less stick, if the cake is moist enough.)

#139 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:25 PM:

joann (136): Atlanta, with a mother from California and a grandmother from Indiana?

#140 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Mary Aileen #139:

No, Kentucky w/ both parents from same. I've also lived in California, Texas and BlandingsAndWimseyShire.

It is quite clear to me that when Bertie Wooster gives a fish slice as a wedding gift, he is referring to a highly ornamented sterling silver object that I would not ever use to turn a pancake. (Besides, what I do use is sort of spade-shaped with slots; these high-end things in precious metals are triangular and look like what I'd call a pie server, although my pie thingy has an extremely sharp edge on one side.)

#141 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Kathryn @126:

I was astonisted to discover a new yesterday.
I'm astonished, too. All I've ever managed to find were new tomorrows.

Were you playing Chrononauts?

#142 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:18 PM:

Faren, #116, they've made small rubber gloves for a while, but they're still too big for me. All of my hands are small -- I have children's gardening gloves.

#141, Nicole, I insist on reading over the doctor's/staff's shoulder when they type on my chart and today I found out that the appointment page has:

FUTURE appointment history

and

PAST appointment history

I joked about the FUTURE history, but the staffperson didn't get it.

#143 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:23 PM:

#142 ::: Marilee wrote:
Faren, #116, they've made small rubber gloves for a while, but they're still too big for me. All of my hands are small -- I have children's gardening gloves.

I'm not sure I should want to know the answer ... but how many hands do you have?

#144 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:36 PM:

And the many specialized classes to trolls probably need their own taxonomy. I was astonisted to discover a new [one] yesterday. The general run of Wikipedia "editors" really deserve their own diagnostic category. I just haven't figured out what to call it yet.


They're either Star Belly Sneetches or Sneetches with no Stars on thars.

#145 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Abi, I so totally agree on non-stick. I believe in PAM, even if the pan itself says it's non-stick. Especially if I'm cooking something with fruit or cheese in it, or a lot of sugar.

At my mom's house we use trivet and hotpad interchangeably, mom has a lot of the cork-backed tiles and cork-backed round thingies that protect her lovely real-wood tables against the evils of hot plates/serving dishes. Potholders and oven mitts are the other thing. And I totally loves my Orca oven mitts....

#146 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:45 PM:

Spatula, via my childhood, is definitely a pancake turner. The Snead, who is from the DC area, thinks it is one of those rubber or silicone flat things, which baffles me because I have no idea how you would turn a pancake with one of those. Hmf. You people and your silly dialects.

I am reminded of a comment from Portnoy's Complaint about the panic experienced in school upon being unable to remember the English for "spatula", which was obviously a Yiddish word.

#147 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 01:33 AM:

Re: Spatulae
At culinary school we have been informed that any of the following may propering be called spatulas:
pancake flippers/turners/lifters, slotted or solid, of whatever material; metal offset spatulas for the grill, also called hamburger flippers; rubber or silicon scrapers (we almost always call these spatulas, because a bowl scraper has no handle); palette knives, both straight and offset (also known as cake spatulas or baker's spatulas); and fish spatulas, which are gently curved, slotted metal utensils used for lifting fish out of poaching liquid or off a grill. Any of those items may also be called by their other names, as long as whomever you're speaking to know what you're talking about. However, a spatula is always a cooking tool, never a serving utensil, such as a pie server or a fish slice.

I'm not saying that's definitive, I'm just saying what they told us at school. Yes, it does cause confusion, since you always have to specify which kind of spatula, or you're sure to end up with the wrong thing.

#148 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2007, 12:29 PM:
Those is trivets, ain't them? Maybe only if them's got legs.

Only if they got three legs?

(Should they be so unbalanced as to have four, I have no idea as to what to call them.[)]

duvet, trivet, ivet.

#149 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 02:07 AM:

xeger, #143, I meant all aspects of my hands!

#150 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 02:13 AM:

#149 ::: Marilee wrote:
xeger, #143, I meant all aspects of my hands!

This could be so much fun to cross-reference with Open Thread 79. Just think of all of the aspects your hands could have...

#151 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2007, 04:43 AM:

On Google-Fu -- if you have friends, colleagues, loved ones who will ask you stuff that is available in less than three seconds on the internet, I recommend directing them to http://www.justfuckinggoogleit.com .

We're clearing clutter at the moment. Much of that clutter is books, and a significant amount of it is reference works and encyclopedias. We're keeping a few. But for most of them, we went through the thought process 'I haven't opened that for years. Why not? Because I'm googling for it. But this book is *better* than Google and Wikipedia. But it's slower. And you need to choose which book. How much is it available for on Amazon Marketplace if I want it again? Oh. £0.01. [NB: plus £2.75 p&p]. What is the opportunity cost of storing it in my London house? Oh.'

In fact, it appears that Amazon is offering a highly cost-effective offsite storage solution for 99% of my books, with no charge for storage, and a one-time £2.76 charge for retrieval. And a few days wait.

#152 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Dawno @125: Your story is one of Patricia Cornwell's novels featuring Andy Brazil. The character collecting the trivets was the mayor's (?) wife, who had some sort of obsessive-compulsive thing going about acquiring them.

Spatula: any long, handled kitchen thingie for flipping things in pans, on grills, or onto plates. Also rubber scrapers. The long, metal dull knife-like thing was a cake froster.

Square cloth thingies for protecting one's hands against heat: potholders. Square things with pockets for the hands were also potholders.

Thick fabric gloves for protecting one's hands against heat: oven mitts.

Solid flat things, footed or otherwise, used to protect countertops from hot pots and pans: a word I've spent a couple of days now trying to remember, but haven't. It was not 'trivet', because that's something other families had. Probably hotpad. Possibly potholder. Cloth potholders got used for the purpose a lot, too.

#153 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 05:42 AM:

Regarding Google and vocabulary, I do wonder if the 'Algonkian' workshops are designed to be found by those radically misspelling Algonquin (reminds me of the 1-800-OPERATOR vs 1-800-OPERATER story).
Oh, and the term for trollish wikipedia editors is 'deletionists'

#154 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 05:50 AM:

Abi, glad to be of service thus enabling you to hopefully find what you need - and yes, that's pretty much what I use my palette knife for, that and spreading cake mix evenly in the tins before baking.

Just for general info, because it occured to me to be curious enough to go and look it up, possibly because the alternative is sorting out major chunks of paper for the accountant...

According to Lewis & Short's Latin dictionary - the really hefty one you get to buy if you're studing Classics at Oxford.

Spatula. I A broad piece. II A small palm-branch.

Diminutive of spatha, I a broad flat wooden instrument for stirring any liquid. II a batten or broad piece of wood used by early weavers for driving home the threads of the woof. III a broad two-edged sword without a point.

#155 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 06:18 AM:

You do know that Lewis and Short is entirely available online these days, right? Here. I actually tend to find "Elementary Lewis" more generally useful. The Perseus Collection also has Liddell and Scott's Greek dictionary (and is in general an indispensable resource for anyone interested in classical languages).

#156 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 01:24 PM:

David #155:

Wow, thanks. All I've got is the "Elementary."

Which raises an interesting question. Is there such as thing as a decent English-to-Latin larger than the appendix in Moreland and Flescher's "Latin: An Intensive Course"? Online is a plus, of course ...

#157 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2007, 01:30 PM:

My mother had a metal spatula (longish straight blade with a round end) that had one finely-serrated edge. We called it a 'cake knife'. (Used it for slicing and serving cake, especially single-layer (sheet-type) cake.)

#158 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 12:45 AM:

There's a tool at Perseus that lets you search the English definitions in the Latin (or Greek) dictionaries. This is not as useful as a real English-to-Latin, but my focus has been on reading not writing, so I haven't really looked for such a thing.

#159 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 01:54 AM:

David @158
Perseus is more useful for English to Latin if you already know something of the language. It serves as an excellent reminder of words I had forgotten I knew, and gives me additional options where I have the skills to understand their context.

I would not, however, point someone at it to create a motto, even if I also supplied them with a link to a good grammar (Allan and Greenough is online in several places).

This is my little reminder of the difference between information, much of which is available online, and knowledge, which required four years of university study.

#160 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Oh, and the term for trollish wikipedia editors is 'deletionists'

Wrong. The term for trollish wikipedia editors is "troll".

Signed, Actual Wikipedia Editor

(Ironically, I would be termed a "deletionist" on Wikipedia because I do things like tag the Algonkian and Pitch workshop articles for speedy demise. Thanks for the heads-up, by the way.)

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