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March 10, 2007

Open thread 82
Posted by Patrick at 09:31 AM *

Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: (looks up at him) Lie to me.
Giles: (considers a moment) Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.
Comments on Open thread 82:
#2 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:40 AM:

I'm reminded of Where have all the cowboys gone? as well.

#3 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Where do we go from here?

#4 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Happy Buffiversary!

Here's a question which some of you are possibly the best people in the world to answer: my mother is tutoring a kid who reads at a fairly low level (perhaps 2nd or 3rd grade). He loves the Star Wars movies, and keeps asking for books "like that." Is there any good science fiction out there for younger kids? I remember I was reading Asimov and Herbert and Verne around that time, but I don't think he's quite ready for them yet.

#5 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Sheesh. Ten years. This passage of time thing is something of a pain in the ass. I recently subscribed to digital cable and have ever since been obsessively making dvds of movies I record on the dvr. I keep a little entry in my "dvd library" folder for each film which includes the year of production, of course, and I am *repeatedly* shocked to discover how UNrecent so many "recent" movies are. What is it with these people? I don't know why the world can't just agree to let me be as old as I see myself being in my own mind.

#6 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:01 AM:

When I was in about 4th grade I loved just about anything by H. M. Hoover or William Sleator.

#7 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Mimi, you didn't mention the kid's actual age, which can make a huge difference in subject matter, but my first thoughts are Diana Wynne Jones, the Harry Potter books, and I suspect some Andre Norton would work for modern kids. If it's macho adventure the kid is after and he's about ten or so, try him on John Carter of Mars.

#8 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Happy Buffyversary. Anyone want cheese?

Depending on the kid's age and interest, the Bruce Coville Magic Shop books and My Teacher books are fun and not very difficult (although they're pretty earth bound--no space opera per se).

#9 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Madeleine 8: I wear the cheese. The cheese does not wear me.

#10 ::: Christine L ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:09 PM:

I'm a lurker but I love this kind of question.

I would try Jane Yolen and Daniel Pinkwater. But most SF for that reading level will tend to be funny or involve kids as protagonists, which precludes the kind of gun & lightsaber action he would know and expect from Star Wars.

Also consider comic books. If the reading level is too difficult, the pictures will help draw him through the story. But do screen for content. Single-issue comics that say "All Ages" next to the barcode should be OK. Marvel has a whole line of these, including "Marvel Adventures: Spiderman" that are printed in collected editions about the size of manga. Ask your local comic store guy for help.

#11 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:18 PM:

OK, does anyone know how I can tell if my computer has been auto-updated for the DST change? I've run various updates that XP has suggested, but I can't tell if the update described in this Microsoft KB article has been installed or not.

Microsoft KB articles are distinctly unhelpful, I find.

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Just as a data point, Andre Norton never worked for me as a kid. Teresa's experience was the same. She remembers saying to her mother, "It doesn't make pictures in my head."

I say this fully aware that Norton's work is dear to many readers. They're not wrong. It's a value-free thing, like being able or unable to appreciate Tolkien or Dune.

#13 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:21 PM:

mimi: Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet books are the easiest reads I can think of. They may not be quite what he has in mind, though. How old is he?

#14 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Er (she said shamefacedly)... what about the Star Wars books for kids? My seven-year-old loves 'em. Jude Watson et al., I think. And if I remember correctly, there are a couple of different series at different reading levels.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Uh, never mind. I found this page, which Explains It All. I ran the thing and I'm already updated.

Patrick 12: Andre Norton never worked for me as a kid.

I wasn't even alive when Andre Norton was a kid.

Seriously, I read all the Andre Norton I could get ...but now I can't remember a single thing about any of it. I remember finding it really dark. I remember that I liked it better than books intended for kids my age. I don't remember a single story or character. That's generally a bad sign.

#16 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 12:42 PM:

My favorite Buffy quote is "That'll put marzipan in your pie-plate, bingo!"

It's probably not actually my favorite, but it is the one I say the most.

Ten years, Jesus.

#17 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:05 PM:

If he might be receptive to fantasy, how about the Diane Duane 'So You Want To Be A Wizard' series? Simple reading, but it gets into big adventures and serious issues very fast.

Hmmm... If he enjoyed Star Wars, why not try him on some of the as-it-were literary predecessors of Star Wars: Heinlein juveniles, Leigh Brackett (arrgh, looks like all out of print), Kuttner & Moore (arrgh, ditto.)

OK, looks like you're left with the Heinlein juveniles, but there's some great stuff there: Red Planet, Starman Jones, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, The Star Beast, ...

Reading Andre Norton is very tied up with my discovery of how much I loved SF, so while I recognize not everyone feels the same about her, I can't be objective about a discussion of her merits. I still clearly remembered the settings of Galactic Derelict, or the stories of Dread Companion or Moon of Three Rings, 30 or 40 years after I read them.

#18 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:15 PM:

mimi@4: I can't recommend any specific books off the top of my head, but it might be worthwhile to check out the Golden Duck Awards site.

#19 ::: Michael Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:18 PM:

The Eoin Colfer Artemis Fowl books might be good. They are caper/adventure stories from the viewpoint of a criminal "mastermind." With magic.

Ooh there are the new Tom Swift books.

And I second the My Teacher books (though definitely not Starwarsish)

#20 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:20 PM:

10 years of buffy didn't hit me as hard as, say, finding out that Fight Club [the movie, that is] was HOW many years old?

I mean, going "season four... season five... season seven" helped give me a sense of scale, at least.

The buffy moment that comes to me isn't really a verbal one. It's when the scoobies see Giles playing "Behind Blue Eyes" and they just ... stop.

First comic of season eight, next week [they say.]

#21 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Ten years?!

Lots of things have been making me feel old lately, but for some reason this is really hard to take. :}

I feel a DVD marathon coming on ...

#22 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:26 PM:

10 years of buffy didn't hit me as hard as, say, finding out that Fight Club [the movie, that is] was HOW many years old?

I've been having moments like that a lot recently, with all kinds of things but especially with music. Just the other day in my blorg I had cause to mention The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and as I did I realized it was nine years old.

#23 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Oh, hey, speaking of ME and my blog, I have a question that arises out of my stupidity and total inability to Just Google It, Stupid.

You know how it's possible to link to a specific part of a page? A specific line? Like how this is a link to my comment at #22 on this thread? I've been wanting to do it a lot recently on the blarg, to refer to a specific paragraph of a previous entry, and I have no idea how, or if it's even possible to do it the way I want to. Anyone? (If it matters, I use blogger, because of course I can't bear having any part of my life be untouched by Google.)

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Heinlein's Between Worlds... It's got a teenage boy caught in a war against an oppressive regime. That should sound familiar to the kid. No robots, but the hero befriends a multi-limbed Venusian dragon who gets drunk on corn syrup.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Mimi: Perhaps A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, which I remember loving as a 10-year-old.

#26 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Thanks so much for all the suggestions! My mother says he's in fourth or fifth grade, so I guess around ten years old; she's taking him through How to Eat Fried Worms right now and he's really enjoying it, if that helps to give a sense of reading level. I think he has been reading the Star Wars books for kids on his own already and is looking for something new--though this is, apparently, a child so not interested in books that he hasn't heard of Harry Potter. I have trouble believing that, but mom swears it's true.

As for Buffy, it's weirder to me how long the show hasn't been around. Only three years? Really? It seems like forever.

#27 ::: sharon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Ethan, you need the anchor tag. I'm not sure how helpful this tutorial is but if it doesn't work for you at least it'll give the key words you need for googling ('name' and 'href', basically).

#28 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Ethan:

Assuming blogger lets you put in general HTML tags, the original and common HTML way to refer to such things is to create an HTML "anchor" with the <A NAME="foo"> tag, where "foo" is whatever name you want to give it, paired up with a </A>. You can then link to it with a regular <A HREF="..."> by adding "#foo" to the name of the page itself, or within the same page by just using <A HREF="#foo"> as the entire link (paired up with a </A>, of course.)

It looks like Movable Type won't let me put in the "name" attribute to an A tag, so I can't make this post an example.

A less well-known way to do it is with the "id" attribute to another tag, such as <P ID="mypar2">. Again, Movable Type is stripping out the example, so I can't use it here. No big loss.

#29 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:37 PM:

ethan @23

The way I know how to do that is to use the name anchor

(a name="$name"),

replacing the paranthesis with less than/greather than signs, having the word you want the tag anchored to, for instance, the first word in a paragraph, and then closing the tag (/a), with the same replacement rules.

Then, to reference the tag, use the url of the specific entry and add #$name directly after the .html eg:

http://www.example.com/entry5.html#$name

There might be more elegant ways to do this, but I do know it works on blogger citing this example

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Wow, I always wondered how to do that but never asked. I'll make use of that.

#31 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Y'all are the best, I mean seriously.

sharon, Clifton, Scott W, anyone who may have posted a response in the time it takes me to type this: thanks. It works, and it's easy!

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Mimi, if he's a baseball fan John Tunis' books pleased me no end at that age. Chip Hilton and Rick Brant are high-school age boys, so he might not yet identify with them.

#33 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:44 PM:

How about the Star Wars manga? It's never too early to get a kid into reading books back-to-front (though I think a couple of the issues we've checked out of the library recently have read plain old front-to-back).

My son suggests Mary Pope Osborne's Odyssey series and Lloyd Alexander's Time Cat as other possibilities he's enjoyed.

On the nonfiction front, in addition to the eighty-eleven DK Star Wars Encyclopedia-type books, we've recently enjoyed an awesome book called Incredible Comparisons by Russell Ash. It features side-by-side, beautifully illustrated rundowns of everything from the volume of various oceans (the Pacific Ocean could hold all other seas and oceans combined) to sundry natural and manmade disasters (the area destroyed by the Yellow River flood of 1887 was half as big again as the entire area of Ireland). Sadly, it seems to be out of print--we've renewed it twice from the library and need to bring it back, so I guess it will go on the "search at used bookstores" list in my planner. I've seldom seen a book that captivated my entire family so thoroughly; just needed to mention it.

#34 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:46 PM:

will@7: Wow, I haven't thought of the John Carter of Mars books in years. I devoured those as a kid, but I think all my copies disappeared in the Great Book Purge of '88 or thereabouts.

I've also now reminded myself of how I plowed through the Alfred Hitchcock mystery series at that age. I wonder if those are even still in print?

#35 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:14 PM:

Two of the three winners of the EFF Pioneer Awards are stfnal people: Cory Doctorow and Bruce Schneier! The third honoree is Yochai Benkler and I'm pretty sure he's mundane.

#36 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Mimi: At that age, I was just starting to get into SF. My trajectory into the series was via the Norby comics in Boy's Life, so I got started on the novellas by Janet and Isaac Asimov, and then some of the old Tom Swift books. I recall reading Bruce Coville, and some other juvenile series I can't remember at the moment. But it wasn't long until I got into "adult" SF - Asimov's and Niven's and Clarke's short story collections, which led me right into Ringworld and Foundation and such, and I was hooked.

#37 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:36 PM:

I remember I saw the TV debut of Buffy when I was in LA for what must have been the spring Internet World of 1998. My team were just shipping the first residential broadband hardware at the time. That was a while ago, wasn't it.

#38 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:45 PM:

OK, since someone else has already brought up an HTML question ... I'll take this one step further and submit a plea to the JavaScript gurus out there. I'm having a devil of a time tracking down an example of exactly what I want to do on the page I'm working on ... and my JS knowledge isn't yet to the point where I can just whip up a script on my own. (I can modify existing scripts to do what I want, though.)

What I want to do is this:

1.) image 1 loads when you first view the page.
2.) when you mouse-over image 1, it rolls over to image 2.
3.) image 2 is an imagemap containing links to the other pages on the site.
4.) when you mouse over the various hotspots in image 2's imagemap, new images showing the text of the name of each linked page appear. (these new images aren't themselves links, though -- they're just there for show.)

I've found several scripts allowing me to take care of steps 3-4 quite easily ... it's the bit about step 2 being a rollover from step 1 that is driving me round the bend.

If anyone knows of a page where this is done, or better yet, can point me to a script that would accomplish this, I would be most grateful... thanks much!!

#39 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:48 PM:

re: kids/YA books

Are Asimov's Lucky Starr books still in print? Not only are they aimed at about that age, but according to the Wikipedia entry, supposedly the "Force-blace" may have inspired the Light Saber in Star Wars.

#40 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:53 PM:

For a 10 year old, and allowed Fantasy as well as SF, I'd go for the kid's Pratchett (Truckers/Diggers/Wings and the Wee Free Men/A Hat Full of Sky/Wintersmith) although the latter triology might be a bit deep in places.

#41 ::: Kevin Yaroch ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:58 PM:

On the topic of Heinlein, I'd recommend a few of his other youth books including The Star Beast, Have Spacesuit Will Travel and especially Red Planet, which was one of my favorite books when I was in about fourth grade.

#42 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 04:15 PM:

I read the hell out of E.R. Burroughs when I was a squirt. All the kids in my neighborhood did. We didn't care for Tarzan so much but the Mars books, the Venus books, Pellucidar... they were read with all the enthusiasm a bunch of pre-pubescent boys could muster, which is quite a bit in case you didn't know.

You can find some e-texts of his books here.

#43 ::: Bruce SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 04:24 PM:

How about Heinlein's juveniles? Some of them are fine for kids younger than the books were ostensibly published for. Red Planet, for instance, or Between Planets might work. There's action, but the violence itself is usually offstage.

#44 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Bruce Coville: MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN, SPACE BRAT etc.

Jane

#45 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:06 PM:

Will H @ #3: Thanks for the link! Now my life has meaning again.

#46 ::: Constance Ash-Sublette ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:20 PM:

Like beer!

Beer bad.

Klunk the guy who was mean to us on head with club and drag him out of danger.

Beer bad!

I loved that ep. (Thank you, Mad!)

Constance

#47 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:23 PM:

#12 PNH: Just as a data point, Andre Norton never worked for me as a kid. Teresa's experience was the same.

I'm unreasonably fond of Norton (in the abstract, at least) because a couple of her books (Galactic Derelict, Time Traders) hit me hard when I was very young: it might have been the first genre fiction I found.

But, yeah, shortly thereafter, I discovered the Heinlein juveniles, and then I was off, alphabetically through the library stacks - and I've scarcely looked back at the Nortons....

#48 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Re children's SF, I remember enjoying Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left by Robin Klein.

#49 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:36 PM:

I only got into Buffy recently, when my sister gave me season 1 for my birthday and season 2 for Christmas. I'm getting near the end of season 2 now (I've just been watching the one in the hospital with the monster only children can see). I think I'll have to acquire some more soon. I keep wanting to talk about it and have had to explain to certain family members the difference between being obsessed with something because it plugs into some hole in my brain (which I am not, yet, about this, and believe me I know what it feels like) and merely liking something very very much because it's good and wanting to talk about it because I have just been watching it.

#50 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Patrick @ #12: I read and loved a TON of Andre Norton in my late-elementary to early-high-school years, but it never made pictures in my head either. In fact, one of the reasons I stopped reading her stuff is I found it increasingly unpleasant to put down a finished book with the sensation that the entire story had occurred in a very dense fog.

Recommendations other than those already made: E. Nesbit, especially Five Children and It; Terry Pratchett, Johnny and the Dead; Howard Pyle, Otto of the Silver Hand (this might be too difficult due to archaic language--I don't remember--but I remember it pushed that "hero" button for me as a kid). And of course, Treasure Island.

Also, never underestimate the value of choosing a book to read TO the child, a chapter at a time (e.g. Treasure Island or The Hobbit); eventually you will be "too busy" to read and the child will pick up the book and struggle through a chapter on his own, if he gets hooked tightly enough.

#51 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Scott H @ #45:
You're most welcome. Did you click through the cover to the first few pages? The Serenity comic gave me a feeling of photoshoped weirdness with its actor-likenesses, but the pages of Buffy 8 resemble Sarah Michelle Gellar without giving the impression that she met a grisly end in a pressed fairy book.

Constance @ #46: Foamy!

#52 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:59 PM:

"the pages of Buffy 8 resemble Sarah Michelle Gellar without giving the impression that she met a grisly end in a pressed fairy book."

Has that started being published yet? I'll be waiting for the collected edition, but I'll certainly want to track its publication schedule.

#53 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:11 PM:

SF for a young reading level:

Katherine Applegate's Animorphs series
Jane Yolen's been mentioned upthread, but specifically, she has an early reader series about Commander Toad that is worth looking into.
Seconding Bruce Coville and Artemis Fowl.

The Star Wars: Young Jedi Apprentice books are also right around that level. And, in "books we can't keep on the shelves at our library," there's the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne, though that's time-traveling historical fantasy and may not be science fictionny enough.

#54 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Bob Oldendorf, #47, et al.: I've also got a possibly unreasonable fondness for Andre Norton, based in part on the fact that her Ordeal in Otherwhere just happened to be the first sf novel I ran across with a female pov. (I know there were others out there, even back in the Dark Ages of my childhood, but there weren't many in those days and that one happened to be the first I found.) I'd been reading sf for a while at that point, Norton and the Heinlein juveniles and a few others, and never noticed that the pov characters were exclusively male--and then there was this book that was different.

Mind you, I don't want to overstate the case--it didn't bother me that so much of the young adult sf I was reading had been written from the male pov, and I never had any problems identifying with a male hero. However, suddenly realizing that it was POSSIBLE for "the girl" to be the hero was a Good Thing.

#55 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:37 PM:

I agree - Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville have many good 'reluctant reader' books. He might also like the Angie Sage 'Septimus Heap' books - they're like a step down from Harry Potter, but with terrific characters.

The "Butt" books and there's always Captain Underpants, which seem to be a hit with young boys, because, yanno butts that try to take over the world and toilet humor are funny when you're a ten year old boy.

I think bigger boys find them funny too...

#56 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Not to imply that HP doesn't have terrific characters. But SH is just less intense, and still has terrific characters.

You know what I mean.

#57 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:43 PM:

I can't believe you guys are celebrating Buffy on my birthday!

mimi, my mother always read The Borrowers to her fifth-graders.

#58 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Happy birthday, Marilee!

#59 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 06:55 PM:

If it's the adventure aspect of Stars Wars that he enjoys, he might like the Tintin books. In the last few months, they've been a big incentive for our kids to learn to read more proficiently, because they want to be able to read the adventures on their own. And the pictures make a good supplement to the text for newer readers.

Some of the books have SF elements too, like _The Calculus Affair_, involving a new invention coveted by the bad guys as a possible superweapon. There's also a pair of books involving them going to the moon (written before the Apollo program), though we have yet to read those two.

(I will note that there's some degree of ethnic stereotyping in the series, particularly the earlier titles, so you may want to review particular titles before buying. The early _Tintin in the Congo_ for instance was considered un-reprintable for a long time, and I've heard Tintin fans recommend it only for completists, though I haven't yet read it myself. On the other hand, the late title _Tintin in Tibet_ was specially commended by the Dalai Lama.)

The books are a lot of fun for us and our kids. And we're quietly amused that the "colorful metaphors" that kids pick up as they get older are turning out in our family to be from Captain Haddock's repertoire. (We nearly lost it the first time our younger daughter broke out with a loud "billions of blistering barnacles!")

#60 ::: Janine ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Mary Frances #54: I felt the same way the first time I read The Blue Sword. Not only is the main character a girl, but she's carefully described as not pretty and she stays not pretty throughout the book. I first read it when I was a pudgy twelve year old. Twenty-ish years later, it's still as comforting as a hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Also, it has horses and big cats, always a plus.

#61 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 07:05 PM:

Happy birthday, Marilee!

Rob Hansen, #52: I've heard conflicting reports about when the Season 8 comic will ship, but it'll either be this week or next.

John Mark Ockerbloom, #59: I can't believe it didn't occur to me to mention the Tintin books. I grew up with them and, as many people here know, I'm a total fan. I have a copy of Destination Moon in my office as a talisman of my seven-year-old proto-SF-fan sensibility.

The piece of Tintin pelf I truly covet is the matched pair of angel-Snowy and devil-Snowy cloisonné lapel pins I've been reliably told were made at one point.

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Happy birthday, Marilee!

#63 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 07:38 PM:

Happy Buffyday, Marilee!

#64 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 08:02 PM:

I'm so very disappointed that the proposed Ripper miniseries looks like it's never going to happen.

What strikes me, watching the show again after all this time, is how very, very tired Buffy is by the end of season 5. There are episodes I can't watch now; they cut too close.

I notice, too, how much of an asshole Buffy is sometimes. And these days I more admire Xander's quiet, ordinary heroism. He's a mensch.

#65 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 08:28 PM:

Aconite @ 64

Ripper just can't happen as long as Tony Head is happy doing what he's doing, and I suspect he's happier doing it in England. Which, I agree, is bad for all of us who would like to see more of Rupert, especially the angst that he always kept so carefully hidden, except when some high-powered nasty had him by the short-hairs.

You know, I really liked that Buffy was an asshole every now and then. People that focused on an extremely demanding and important job often are; nothing personal, mate. It made her a lot more believable than your average superhero.

That was what really made the series for me: Joss Whedon's absolute insistence on making the tone and themes of the show as wide-ranging as possible. Humor, horror, drama, and really bad puns, all in one episode, with the mix constantly changing from one ep to another.

The one that really got to me was the ep where Buffy's mother died. It was like ripping the backdrop away and revealing real people trying to deal with situations that fictional heroes always manage to shrug off after they've chewed the scenery long enough to register their distress with the audience.

#66 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Oh, by the bye, does anyone out there remember seeing Tony Head in "VR5"? For that matter, did anyone see "VR5"? Yeah, that's what I was afraid of, I guess that's why it only lasted 8 episodes.

#67 ::: cathy ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Bruce: I was very fond of VR5, although I preferred the earlier half of the series with the stand alone episodes.

Mimi: What about the John Bellairs books such as The House with a Clock in its Walls.

The only Andre Norton juvenile I ever read as a kid was Outside, which I remember really liking. She doesn't do much for me now that i'm an adult. Don't dislike her stuff, don't love it. Of course, when I was seven I loved the Ruthven Todd Space Cat books, so what do I know.

#68 ::: heather ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 08:59 PM:

My 10 year old son adores the Pendragon books - and there's quite a few, so they'll keep any reader going for quite some time...

#69 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:02 PM:

Cathy @ 67: Jeezly-crow, I forgot all about the John Bellairs books. I read holes in every copy the Stockton Public Library had, I think. Some of his images still stick in my mind (every time I wear corduroy pants, I think of his line about "the kind of pants that go 'whip-whip' when you walk"). Wonderful, spooky and infinitely memorable. Thanks for the mind-jog.

#70 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:36 PM:

Am I the only person on the InnerTubes who has never seen an episode of Buffy or any of the spin-offs?

Anyway.

Where is the conversation about knitting? Is that in the other open thread? I think I have discovered a temporary cure for Second Sock Syndrome.


#71 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Dark Horse has a preview up of Whedon's new Buffy comic. Cover and first five pages, and the publication date is this coming Wednesday, 14 March. (I'll probably wait for the trade.)

#73 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Another item in the "things to make you feel old":

After 36 years, the Gentle Strength Co-op in Tempe, AZ has closed for good.

#74 ::: Constance Ash-Sublette ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:13 PM:

Buffy is my best beloved. Don't usually go all googly that way, not ever. But compared to whatever else has come along since -- aiee.

Vaquero (a.k.a. the Spouse) does not comprehend any of this in any way -- he's never ever watched a single episode, and will never watch a single episode, and why, really should he, since there isn't a hole in his creative, inner, sensory world that needs Buffy to fill it? He is entirely sympathetic to my admiration for Buffy though. Just as I am to his always-opened heart for something that I don't comprehend.

The night of Buffy and Angel in the cemetery after Joyce's burial -- I have wept every time. And so perfect. A perfect night of love and support for Buffy. In a cemetery.

Constance

#75 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:18 PM:

I'm a longtime reader, but not a con-attending fan. Books that grabbed me as a kid:

  • The Danny Dunn series (somewhat obsolete in the seventies, really so now, but so much fun.)

  • The Oz books (not so much the first famous one. A young friend had the opposite reaction (as did his mom, a poet: they found the first original and the rest derivative. I found the first melodramatic with a trite ending, but the rest sparked my imagination.)

  • The new Tom Swifties were great (and so many!) especially since there were only the five Danny Dunn books.

These were pageturners that got me thinking about what-if, even when the action was implausible or the characters not that interesting. Seems like that would be a plus for a reluctant reader (but since I wasn't one, maybe not).

#76 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers)@65: You know, I really liked that Buffy was an asshole every now and then. People that focused on an extremely demanding and important job often are; nothing personal, mate. It made her a lot more believable than your average superhero,

Uh huh. Nobody gets to be spotless in Joss' worlds. One of the things I liked best about Spike is that even when he was good, he wasn't nice. One of the ironies I particularly loved is that even before that thing that happened in Season 6 (trying not to post a spoiler for those still working through the show for the first time), he--the souless monster of the group--was the most emotionally honest one of the bunch.

#77 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Ten years ago, my sister and I consulted and decided that we would try out that new show that was coming on TV.

Half an hour in, we consulted again and decided that it was boring.

What on earth were we thinking? I don't know--perhaps the same general squeamishness that kept me from watching Star Wars for so long (because it was about war). It's only thanks to the musical episode* and file-sharing and Netflix that I've started to catch up now.

And I listen to the Spanish dub to improve my Spanish (with the subtitles turned on so I don't miss the puns and one-liners). If any hispanic vampires frequent the library where I work, I'm golden.

*I love musical theatre on odd subjects. In my YA novel-in-progress, the characters are putting on a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.

#78 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:43 PM:

Thena #70: No.

#79 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:10 PM:

Mimi.
When I was 10 I started on Roald Dahl and the like, next year it was Narnia and it's peers, then straight into Bradbury then next year P.K.Dick, then I got a crush on Carl Sagan and became a PBS addict. I was an odd monkey child.

#80 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:36 PM:

#64: In fact it's very important to BtVS that Buffy herself is often, as you put it, an asshole.

Of course she's an asshole. She's been put in an impossible situation. She's never had even a fighting chance to be a reasonable grownup human being. Instead she's a horribly self-absorbed narcissist. She's grossly unfair and horrible to the people who love her the most. Spike in particular, but Willow too. Xander too. On a regular basis.

BtVS is in so many ways a tragedy. That's one of the many things that's great about it.

Mind you, I'm one of that crazy minority of people whose favorite season is #6.

#81 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:47 PM:

I'm overwhelmed by the number of wonderful suggestions--thank you all so much! I can tell I'm going to have a lot of fun winnowing these down to pass along to my mom. This kid will become a reader yet!

#82 ::: JamesK ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:53 PM:

One of the things that I really like about the later seasons of Buffy is how they explore just what it means to be The Slayer for so long. After all, until Buffy came along, Slayers seldom reached their 18th birthday. Heck, Buffy got killed her second year in and only got to keep going on through a Plot Device.

Slayers aren't supposed to stick around that long. They aren't supposed to last for years, to gather friends and obligations, they aren't supposed to survive long enough to deal with all the trials of getting through highschool, collage, and into the adult world while still dusting vampires and battling demons.

Slayers are the hand-grenade in the arsenal of the Forces of Good. Small, compact, and they do a whole lot of damage when they go off, but they're a one shot. Until Buffy.

And they way they explored that in the final seasons worked for me in a weird twisted way.

#83 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Thena, if you've discovered a cure for Second Sock Syndrome, out with it! Tell us how you did it.

Mimi and all, I'll apologize in advance for recommending one of my own titles, but once he's gotten through all the Tintin books, you might want to try him on Tim Eldred's Grease Monkey.

In re Buffy: I staved it off for years. Then Anna Genoese got tired of waiting and tossed all of Season One on to Patrick's desk, with orders to watch it. And then, Buffy ate my brain.

My head is still full of Buffy. There's a map in my head of the automobile-oriented suburban ring around the older Sunnydale town grid. I can't discuss the universality of law, and the corruption that invariably grows up when the protection of the law is not universal, without thinking about the treatment of Spike. I have elaborate theories about the history and bad practices of the Council of Watchers, and how their social roles dovetail with Wolfram & Hart's. Strange things bloom in my imagination, like the localized Linux distribution used in the vicinity of the Hellmouth, the sneeze reflexes of Fyarls, and the universal role of proximate redundancy in prophecies. I wonder about the strange confluences of privileged information that would occur if Drusilla entranced Files & Records. For some time now, a part of my brain has been chewing on the question of why magical tomes are so scarce and expensive.

Nobody warned me before I uploaded it that the Matter of Buffy isn't inert.

#84 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:55 PM:

Not to break the Buffy theme going here, but I saw "300" tonight. Not great, but... decent. Probably give it a matinee rating, because you'll probably want to see it on the big screen if you're going to see it at all.

#85 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:02 AM:

I staved it off for years.

I'm still staving it off, I guess. I'd watch an episode here or there, but maybe the lack of continuity kept me from really getting into it. There were lines like "fire bad, trees pretty" that stick with me to this day, though.

then, Buffy ate my brain. ... For some time now, a part of my brain has been chewing on the question of why magical tomes are so scarce and expensive.

Hm. I still haven't caught up on BSG, and now I have this feeling I may need to add another series to the DVD stack.

#86 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:05 AM:

Tom Swift is a good idea -- the text isn't challenging. Good for intro material. Tintin -- jeez, they're going to try another movie. Give me strength. Who would we cast? I'll just say Daniel Radcliffe in a wig. It's hard to know what to say for the purposes of someone who reads at a low level.

But what did I love? Ah... Half Magic and Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager (I only read his other five books in recent years). It broke my heart to pick up the latter title for a quarter at my library here. They discarded it! To make shelf space for more ghost-and-booger series fiction, no doubt. Grumble, grumble.

Freddy the Pig. The Mad Scientist's Club! Homer Price! The Mrs. Coverlet books. Alice in Wonderland, repeatedly. I'd say Marvel comics, but they've changed beyond recognition. I have a hard enough time just scanning recent comics. Lord help me, I'm o-o-o-o-old!

Also, I find I can't go wrong with anything by Beverly Cleary. She wrote adaptations of "Leave it to Beaver" stories that take us right into Beaver's head. Dunno how they go over with the younger set, though -- you know, people 40 and under.

#87 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:30 AM:

PNH #80: You're certainly far from alone - Season 6 is my wife's favorite too. (Me, I'm in that rare made tribe of Season 7 supporters, though my personal all-around favorite is 4.)

We were also late converts (I actually, ahem, brought the first season home after it started coming regularly into the conversation around here). I wonder if coming to Buffy on DVD has any impact on being able to appreciate the later seasons that were unpopular when they aired, the same way some comics only really hold together once they're collected into trades.

#88 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:42 AM:

Just got back from a sneak preview of The Last Mimsey, which is loosely based on the Lewis Padgett short story, "Mimsey were the Borogroves," about kids who find a sliding-bead toy from the future that teaches them how to think in four dimensions. That story has a tragic ending (at least from the point of view of the parents); I was really curious how the film makers would let things play out.

I was kind of worried at first; the theater was packed with parents and little kids. What little I saw of the publicity suggested that it was more of a thriller. I imagined hordes of scared kids, or me bored by what turned out to be a kiddie movie.

Anyway . . . . this was a hoot! Maybe a hoot and a half. It takes the central notion of the Padgett story (toy from the future found by kids, who learn to Think Differently) and embeds it in a movie very much like E.T. in feel. The toys the kids find are really freaky and futuristic in a mineralo-organic way. The "Mimzey" of the title is a stuffed rabbit / supercomputer teaching tool.

Rainn Wilson, who plays the arrogant dweeb assistant manager on "The Office," is great as a space cadet science teacher.

There's some borderline new-agey stuff, but you can forgive it as technology indistinguishable from magic.

As I bonus, I got two miniature Mimzey dolls. I'm not sure whether I'll give these to my nieces or save them for ten years and then sell them on eBay.

#89 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Stefan's mention of The Last Mimzy reminds me that we also went to a preview showing of a movie this week, Starter For Ten. As the title implies, University Challenge is a central part of the movie.

My short description: it's a British version of the 1980s John Hughes movies, with a protagonist who'd be right at home in Making Light comment threads. Recommended.

#90 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:29 AM:

Thena @70, Fragano @78, me neither. Not out of snobbery; just never heard of it when it began and I don't watch much episodic television anyway. I'm beginning to regret getting into "Lost" since I have other things I'd (almost) rather do for the last hour before the late local news on Wednesdays.

#91 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:37 AM:

#70: No, I've also never seen any of it. Enjoyed the original Buffy movie with Kristy Swansen, and enjoyed Firefly (another tv series by the same guy who made Buffy), though. Don't want to give up n days of my life to watch all of Buffy, though; maybe irrational.

Also, the only cure I know for Second Sock Syndrome is just to knit two in tandem. Have two sets of needles of the base size; two skeins of yarn. Cast on and knit cuff #1, then set it aside and cast on and knit cuff #2. Knit down to heel turning #1, knit down to hell turning #2; and so on.

#92 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:40 AM:

(notice how I snuck in that "hell turning"? I thought you might like that.)

Seriously, though -- parallel sock knitting is the only way. I do all my socks this way. Learned the lesson on my first sock, which was a pain, and I finished it, and have never even managed to cast on for the mate. The only way for me to finish a pair is for #2 to never be more than one section behind. That way when I finish #1, there's only a couple of hours of work left.

#93 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:41 AM:

I avoided Buffy at first because it sounded silly. The movie was good, but where could they go from there?

But then, when I heard it was a smart and rich show, I avoided it because it sounded like too much of a monkey puzzle. Too much brain-share required to follow it. This is why I avoid Lost and why I feel bad, sometimes, about following the new BSG.

#94 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:02 AM:

meredith #38: You had to upstage me, didn't you? Though I see no one's answered you yet...

Emily H #77: I love musical theatre on odd subjects.
Have you seen Jeanne and the Perfect Guy? French musical about AIDS; one of the very best movies I've ever seen.

PNH #80: Mind you, I'm one of that crazy minority of people whose favorite season is #6.
Oooh! Oooh! Me too! Although my favorite villain is the Mayor, I'm still season 6 all the way.

Actually, ooh ooh me too to just about everything everyone's been saying about Buffy. Especially the stuff about her being an asshole. She doesn't get to not deal with things just because she's the main character of a TV show. One of my favorite things about that show is that it seemed like every season (and, on a miniature level, almost every episode) stripped away another layer of comfortable illusion about the universe it took place in. You think vampires are all bad? Nope. You think watchers are all good? Nope. You think slayers are all good? Nope. You think the system of slayerdom is good? HELL no. Genius show.

Now I'm all pissed off, again, that Whedon's no longer on the Wonder Woman movie.

#95 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:26 AM:

I can remember being in fifth grade or so and wandering through the stacks of my public library looking for a particular kind of book. Title and author didn't matter. It had to have a rocket ship on the sticker on the spine and the jacket had to be obviously old: sketchy cover art in two or three colors at most, dust jacket scratched and dulled by years of handling, pages thick and speckled with bits of fiber. The ones that had a blank cover, usually some color seen only on institutional furniture, with the title and author stamped on the spine were also worth a look.

I had no idea that I was immersing myself in the heroic age of science fiction. I just knew the stuff was good. A similar hunt in your public library might yield some gems as well.

#96 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:33 AM:

Can't add anything to the recommendations except Hugh Lofting's Dr. Dolittle books, and to enthusiastically second Edward Eager and John Bellairs. And Narnia, especially "Prince Caspian," which a 10-year-old boy ought to appreciate, what with all the kids camping out on their own in the woods and the big swordfight between Peter and the evil King Miraz. As for Andre Norton, I've always felt that some of her books were wonderful and the rest terrible -- no in-betweens. I loved "Star Gate" and read it dozens of times when I was about 12 -- read it again recently, in fact -- but the Witch World books left me absolutely cold.

#97 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:46 AM:

JamesK, it's only in the last couple of centuries that a teenager would have been considered non-adult for so long. OK, there's a lot of cultural variations, and being a woman complicates things enormously.

But it occurs to me that the death rate is a partial answer to the problem of how just one Slayer can cover the whole world. The Watchers are still a problem--how can they organise--but maybe if the Slayer isn't within reach of the most threatening place, she has to die.

And, until Buffy, nobody has ever been able to finally finish off a Hellmouth because, sooner or later, another becomes more threatening.

#98 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:47 AM:

Patrick's initial quote recalls an earlier cinematic moment that may have inspired Buffy's and Giles's exchange, or that anyway hits a similar note. Though more compressed.

In Luc Besson's 1994 cult thriller/comedy THE PROFESSIONAL, Jean Reno portrays Leon, a reclusive, somewhat childlike European hit man living in NYC. Down the hall lives a tough kid named Mathilda, played by the 12-year-old Natalie Portman. Leon zealously ignores his neighbors, but he's seen Mathilda around.

One day he encounters her in the hall, smoking and gazing darkly into the stairwell. She sits so as to conceal her eye, blackened for no good reason by her worthless drug dealer dad.

After a pause, Mathilda asks, "Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?"

Leon considers a moment, then decides to tell her the truth. "Always. Always like dis."

Like Whedon and his writers, Besson expertly interweaves light notes and dark, tragedy and pathos and asskicking all shot through with humor ...

You know. It all definitely helps with the delightenment.

#99 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:22 AM:

Happy Birthday,Marilee!

#100 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:27 AM:

Season 6 of Buffy is not by any means my favorite, but I didn't dislike it the way so many other fans of the series did. (S4 was my least favorite, hands down.) I just think they could've expressed the same storyline in, say, half the episodes they chose to use, and been far less heavy-handed with the 'magic as a drug' thing. But it also contains a couple of my favorite episodes (the musical and Tabula Rasa come to mind), and while it may have not done it in the smoothest way possible, it was inevitable that they'd have to do at least one good arc on the downside of non-Slayer power.

Though frankly, I've yet to forget ME for the way they chose to set off that final storyline, as obvious a choice as it was.

I avoided Buffy for two seasons because I generally greatly dislike series spun off from movies. However, I was talked into watching it, and the first episodes I saw were the closing episodes of S2 and the first episode, then new, of S3. That hooked me, in a way I honestly think S1 would not have -- S1 is not by any means bad, but it suffered the usual growing pains of a new show and that probably would've lost me, at least for a while.

#101 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:34 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy:

PNH #80: You're certainly far from alone - Season 6 is my wife's favorite too. (Me, I'm in that rare made tribe of Season 7 supporters, though my personal all-around favorite is 4.)

At the moment, my ranking is 3,2,1,5,4,7,6 but we're currently rewatching and this may change.

We were also late converts (I actually, ahem, brought the first season home after it started coming regularly into the conversation around here). I wonder if coming to Buffy on DVD has any impact on being able to appreciate the later seasons that were unpopular when they aired, the same way some comics only really hold together once they're collected into trades.

I suspect that's certainly true of 7. Fortunately, the first time I saw it was as bundles of bootlegs, months ahead of UK transmission. I gather it was shown in the US just a couple of new eps at a time, interspersed with gaps and repeats, which given the nature of that episode in particular would have just killed it as a viewing experience. We're also interleaving the Buffy episodes with contemporary Angel episodes and so picking up continuity we missed first time around since the two shows were shown months out of phase and not even on the same TV channels over here. Great, great TV.

#102 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:39 AM:

which given the nature of that episode in particular

Season, damnit, given the nature of that season.

#103 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:44 AM:

Out of the books I read as a kid, I remember the Asimov robot books especially well: they were one of the few things I read as a kid that didn't seem radically different when I reread them as an adult.

I'm fond of Garth Nix, especially his Sabriel series, though it is a bit dark. Shade's Children, a stand-alone novel, is amazing. He also has a new series targeted even younger, which is nonetheless shockingly readable for adults.

(It's worth mentioning again that Dianna Wynne Jones can do no wrong.)

#104 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:44 AM:

Biggles, if you can get it. Perfect for boys who are not sure if they like to read. Biff! Zoom! Watch out for ejaculating natives!

Seriously, a couple of the early wartime short story Biggles books might be perfect. Biplanes on the Western Front would no doubt seem alternate universe to him, rather than historical fiction.

#105 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:03 AM:

#70: Am I the only person on the InnerTubes who has never seen an episode of Buffy or any of the spin-offs?

[sticks up an embarrassed hand]

Owing to general hearing difficulties I somehow lost the habit of TV. 2006 was an unusually indulgent year, when I watched subtitled DVDs of both Howl's Moving Castle and The Incredibles. I'm still recovering from this excess....

#106 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:10 AM:

#87 Dan Layman-Kennedy: "I wonder if coming to Buffy on DVD has any impact on being able to appreciate the later seasons that were unpopular when they aired, the same way some comics only really hold together once they're collected into trades."

Well, I watched all of Buffy on DVD, in less than a year, and I love the hell out of seasons six and seven*. The friends of mine from whom I borrowed the DVDs, who had seen Buffy as it was aired, didn't like the later seasons at all.

#94 ethan: "Now I'm all pissed off, again, that Whedon's no longer on the Wonder Woman movie."

Joss Whedon was on the--*sigh* I hate it when I hear good news in the context of "Hey, did you hear about awesome thing X? Yeah, it's not happening anymore."

*Excepting the part where Joss Whedon KILLED MY FAVORITE CHARACTER, THAT JERK.

#107 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:30 AM:

This thread confirms my suspicion that some of you are too intelligent for your own good. Mimi asked for recs for a kid who reads at a fairly low level, and people are suggesting Andre Norton and CS Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle and E Nesbit. Seriously, people! I can believe that no-one here ever struggled with reading, but have you never come into contact with anyone who doesn't devour highly complicated intellectual books effortlessly and with glee?

For a kid who is vastly intelligent but has a specific problem with reading, such as dyslexia, a sophisticated book can work for reading aloud or reading with a lot of support. But there's more to reading than just deciphering the words.

#108 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:50 AM:

Apropos of practically nothing else in this thread, the "50 States in 10 Minutes" test (linked in Particles) is made much easier when one was made to memorize the song "Fifty Nifty United States" in grade school. I clocked in at 8:05 to spare without trying particularly hard, which almost made it feel like using the song was cheating. (Incidentally, Google informs me that the song was actually a Ray Charles song! I had no idea my teachers played me Ray Charles songs in school.)

Silly tests of memory recall.

#109 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 06:18 AM:

JamesK wrote:

Slayers are the hand-grenade in the arsenal of the Forces of Good. Small, compact, and they do a whole lot of damage when they go off, but they're a one shot. Until Buffy. And they way they explored that in the final seasons worked for me in a weird twisted way

Okay, comment coming up with major spoiler for those who haven't yet seen season 7, which is why I've hidden it behind ROT-13:

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#110 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:23 AM:

Just to satisfy my inner Trickster, I'll point out to all the people out there who have to yet to get serious about Buffy that after you've finished watching that show (or better yet, in parallel with it), you should really see Angel.

The themes aren't quite the same: Buffy is, at least partly, about growing up Slayer, and Angel is a bit older than Buffy (maybe a couple of centuries), although he's still not really comfortable with his true nature. But there's that same mix of comedy, tragedy, drama, and general geekiness that makes up anything that Whedon does.

Oh, and I just looked at the timestamps on the last few posts; I'm not the only one who's up talking about old TV shows at 4 in the morning. That helps a little when I get into arguments with the little voice in my head that tells me respectable people don't do things like that, you know, the voice that was implanted in early childhood by the Ministry of Social Conformance. It's nice to have something to say other than, "I've known for decades I wasn't respectable."

#111 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:25 AM:

Teresa @83
For some time now, a part of my brain has been chewing on the question of why magical tomes are so scarce and expensive.

Because some things can't be printed on paper with moveable type and perfect bound. Magical tomes have to be hand-written on vellum*, hand sewn and bound.

-----
* Or parchment. Or whatever you call it when it's made, not of sheep or cow, but of some other beastie (human vellum for the black-covered tomes on the left-hand side of the shop, demon** vellum for the white-covered tomes to the right.)

** The vampire vellum books, written in fluorescent ink, are in the windowless back room. If you buy one of them, do it at night, or we can wrap it in blackout cloth for you.

#112 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:32 AM:

I knew a severely dyslexic* kid in school who got very deeply into reading with graphic novels. He was big into ElfQuest, but there's a lot out there to choose from.

-----
* he never noticed when I decorated a birthday cake in mirror-writing.

#113 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:45 AM:

#111: no, grimoires are expensive for the same reason that university textbooks and scientific journals are. They're produced for a small and highly fragmented market - there aren't that many wizards around, after all, and with the exception of some of the most basic compendia (Huskbinder & Matterstraw, for example, or Kipvern & Tercell), each grimoire will only appeal to a small fraction of them. Also, wizardry is a fast-moving discipline; a grimoire rarely goes into a second printing before it becomes obsolete. So publishers have to break even on a small number of hardback sales. And then there's the hassle of peer review...

#114 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:49 AM:

Rob Hanson @ 101
I wonder if coming to Buffy on DVD has any impact on being able to appreciate the later seasons that were unpopular when they aired, the same way some comics only really hold together once they're collected into trades.

Probably so. My wife and I started watching Buffy somewhere into season 3, and Angel in the middle of season 1. We caught up with Buffy because the local schlock TV station was showing it as 3 different series: one in season 1, one in season 2, and one in season 3. Juggling who knew what and when was a job worthy of a Presidential assistant. But we picked up the thread of Angel on DVD much later, and the two experiences were very different.

I think I prefer to do it in massive loads if I can afford the time. In the case of Buffy I was recovering simultaneously from surgery and the dotbomb implosion and had a lot of time on my hands. And that's also how I read Sandman: after all the collections had come out, one huge, mind-boogying (stet) lump of Mythos every few weeks. I think I may have fried a few neurons in the process, but it was well worth it.

It also makes a difference if you see or read a series in the expected order or not. With Sandman, I started with "A Game Of You" which is somewhere in the middle of the 10 collections, but I think it burned out all my evaluation circuits, and I was hooked immediately.

#115 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:01 AM:

ajay and abi

All true for your mass market grimoires and such (holy crap, I'm seeing recently published books in some of the scientific fields I track at over $180!), but there's another consideration for the books of great power. Any book containing power beyond your basic spells for sex, drugs, and violence requires infusion from a distilled source of the power. This usually means putting a human sacrifice in the juicer (sorry, that image popped into my head and it won't go away). As you can imagine, just paying protection to the local witchfinder ups the cost of production considerably, and sacrifice has a lot of other costs (the soprano chorus runs over $400 an hour at scale).

Now in the words of the bard (no, the other bard): "And now I hie me off to bed, to sleep off all the nonsense that I've said."

#116 ::: eliddell ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:02 AM:

mimi @#4: For what it's worth, the first book that popped into my head when I read your question was Martyn Godfrey's The Vandarian Incident.

#117 ::: CEO Tome Home ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:13 AM:

From the comments we have perused we do not judge the largely ignorant audience from this site to be our customers. Our clients are mostly high net worth magicians or magical firms that are well-versed with grimoire production. They recognize quality materials and workmanship and are knowledgeable about costs. This is wholly unlike many readers here who are bent on propagating sweat-scriptorium facilities, especially in less developed dimensions.

If you're willing to settle for machinery-sewn poor quality spellbooks or inferior grade typography passed off as Mystic Runes, etc, I suppose that's your choice. But that is book publication, not provision of magical tomes. You pay top grimoire publishers for accuracy, illumination, spells that don't require you to turn a page at the wrong moment, pronunciation guides in the International Phonetic Alphabet*, and quality materials meant to last no matter how much candle wax you drop on it. That's what differentiates our works from the rest.

Our customers are not just high net-worth magicians with a degree of refinement but also, more importantly, well- and broadly-educated. From long habit, they buy good quality and are not averse to paying fairly for it.

This may seem high-handed, but it is necessary to be so when dealing with riff raff. You may "have magical talent" - anyone can claim that nowadays - but you obviously don't know how to use it wisely.

Regards, CEO, Tome Home Enterprises
------
* so that your Southern accent doesn't summon a demon when all you wanted was a nice cup of Earl Grey, black, no sugar

#118 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:23 AM:

My big problem with season 6 of Buffy is that it wasn't any fun. I watched the show for witty banter and cool magic and character interaction, not to see people working in fast food restaurants. Maybe that's escapism; if so, I'll make the most of it.

My season ranking is 2135764, although the first three are quite close and I can easily deal with people of other tastes ranking them differently.

I got into Buffy in the middle of Season 2, owing to all the buzz about it on RASFF, much the same way that I later wound up getting into Veronica Mars. I didn't have BitTorrent back then, but luckily I did happen to know someone who had most of the episodes on tape. (Also Buffy was a bit more new-viewer-friendly than Veronica -- which I admit is setting the bar rather low.) I remember that the first new episode I saw ("Phases") had a scene with evil Angel attacking a girl, and I could tell that even though of course I didn't recognize him, I was supposed to.

(I almost never watch new shows, I wait for the buzz to mount. This leaves me with more time for reading books and Usenet and Making Light. I'm toying with the idea of getting into Heroes.)

#119 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:26 AM:

I note that -- for thems that have it -- Fox Movie Channel is broadcasting Buffy tVS (the movie) at 4pm Eastern Stand-- er, I mean, Daylight Time today.

#120 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Incidentally, at Worldcon last year they had a showing of the musical episode with audience singalong. I was afraid it was going to be excruciating, but actually nearly everybody was quite good, and it was a lot of fun. It was obvious that a lot of audience members owned the album. (Including me.) Perhaps the coolest bit was the audience spontaneously self-organizing by sex for Xander and Anya's duet.

#121 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:13 AM:

#107: I didn't know any English when I entered first grade. I read below grade level until 4th grade. So I could knock this question out of the park... if I could better remember what I was reading then.

I was definitely reading Madeleine L'Engle. I remember skipping the first three chapters of _A Wrinkle in Time_ and reading them later. Even then, I had a thing for wordplay. So I kept reading stuff like Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth or anything by Ellen Raskin.

Other than that, I think I read more short story anthologies than novels. I was up for anything as long as I knew that, even if I was way over my head, it would be over soon. It's frustrating, but there's something to be said for getting over your head occasionally, as long as you're not left to drown. I may owe my ability to read to the SF anthologies that were in the library in the early '80s. However, even now, I favor short stories over novels. I think the reason I sped [heh] through Accelerando is because it's structured as a set of novellas.

I read LotR by 7th grade. So it's possible to catch up. (OTOH, I'm also not dyslexic.)

#122 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:25 AM:

#119:That reminds me, I noticed that NPR has been exceptional about referring to the shifted time as "Daylight Saving Time" (singular, not "Savings"). Have they always been this diligent about this?

I don't mind the time shift now. I don't know I'll feel the same way in November. Does anyone else find it weird that we spend more of the year in DST than we do in standard time? (Then again, I also worry that, one day, the gov't will define sunrise at the middle of a time zone as 7am.)

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:32 AM:

I saw the movie "300" last night. It was worse than I expected, but better than the time I slammed my car's door on my finger tip. And better than Highlander 2.

#124 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Yes, yes, sigh, the Buffy season 6 where she didn't waitress [which she KNEW HOW TO DO] and worked in fast food instead. Some of the absolute best moments of the show, stuck into a whole lot of jngpuvat n sevraq fperj hc gurve yvsr ubeevoyl, bar jrrx ng n gvzr... naq vg qbrfa'g trg nal orggre.

It was either season 5 or 6 where a friend [who didn't watch] came up to visit on Buffy night. Every commercial break I was like, "And that's Anya, Xander's ex-fiancee who's a [long story], and that's Dawn, who's a [nother long story]"... Buffy was the exact opposite of a soap opera, where you can start watching after six years off and be caught up in a day.

#125 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Individ-ewe-al@107: We are, perhaps, not so clueless as you think. My sister teaches learning-disabled elementary-school kids. She regularly gets them to read several grade levels above their "ability" by giving them something they're really interested in. They rise to the challenge. One of her favorite things to do is to give her kids a particular Charles de Lint story, and once they've finished it, tell these LD 5th-grade kids that they just read a story on an 8th-grade level. The impact of that on kids who've been told they're dumb all thir lives is significant.

Back to Buffy: If Season 1 had been the first I saw, I wouldn't have bothered watching the rest. Season 6 is my favorite, although I have not forgiven ME for wimping out and going for the stupid, heavy-handed "magic as a drug" metaphor, and that completely lame reason for Buffy's sudden reinterest in life. Puh-leeze. It would have been more believable for Buffy to turn to Dawn and say, "I feel so much better now, because there are six minutes left in this season and we need to set up my emotional state for next year." (Barb of Sleeping Jaguars does a much better Season 6 arc-ending than ME did.)

That season is why I can't listen to Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You" without bursting into tears, which is so wussy of me that I can't stand myself.

#126 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:59 AM:

Re: Second Sock Syndrome -

I'm not sure if it's a cure as such, but what got me knitting the second sock of the first pair was that I'd *bought more sock yarn* and only had one set of #3 double points, so I had to finish the second sock to get it off the darn needles so I could use them for something else.

This obviously won't work for experienced knitters who have multiple sets of each size needles.

(As it stands I now have 1.6 socks and the heels have somehow turned out to be very different sizes even though I used the same yarn, same needles, same pattern, and same stitch count, so I can only conclude I've done something weird with the tension, and will have to just figure out which of my feet is smaller so I can put the smaller sock on it because I'm not undoing all that work.)

#127 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:16 AM:

At that age - or what I'm guessing is that age, I'm not up on the grade system - I was reading juveniles by Asimov (Heinlein's came later, when I was old enough to look through second-hand bookshops on my own - until then, I was restricted to my local library and my family's collection), anything by Harry Harrison (I spent years looking for another copy of The Men from P.I.G. and R.O.B.O.T.), and anything by Monica Hughes.

I also have very fond memories of anything issued under the Dragon Books imprint - the dragons on the spine were almost as good a guarantee of quality for me as the name 'Kay Webb' inside a Puffin paperback. Speaking of which, one of the books I fell most in love with at that age was James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks & The Wonderful O. It's a pair of funny, magical, poetic fairy tales, and for me it deserves to sit up there in the same golden-light-and-silver-bells category as Diana Wynne Jones.

I've never met anyone else who was brought up on it, though, and only ever seen three copies, two of which I own. Reassure me that others have encountered this book too?

#128 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:45 AM:

I was once required to write a story for reluctant readers. It had to be action-packed, fast, exciting, SFNal (because that was what I was picked to provide) and short, because that was the name of the series. Ten thousand words, restricted vocabulary.

I did my level best, and, oddly, I'm quite proud of the result. Gave it the ol' elementary school try. But the thing is, I doubt that it hit its target audience. Kids that don't read, don't read. The problem is far larger than giving them something that they might read, if they read. They come from places, cultures, homes, backgrounds, where people don't read. So they don't read.

Beats me what the answer is. I seem to be saying that a lot, these days.

#129 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Ah, Buffy. I didn't start watching it for years (lack of TV always puts me behind on these things) - not until a friend decided to run a Buffycon and drafted me to help. At that point I figured I should find out what the fuss was about. The first concom meeting was utter confusion for me - discussing actor guests, shifting back and forth between actor names and character names, while I sat in a corner and went "what? who? huh?" and my friend tried to give me two-line character summaries by way of orientation.

I watched the first season over a few weeks right before Buffycon and enjoyed it. Then I started the second and spent most of the convention by myself in the green room with a laptop watching it episode by episode (not as antisocial as it sounds; I was running the green room and was supposed to be there. When feeling out of place at a con, find people and feed them.) When I left the room I wandered confused around the convention trying to stay unspoilered. The third season I watched a week or so later. The fourth nearly turned me off - least favorite so far. The fifth, I watched in one completely mad marathon over about 36 hours two years ago January, eating in front of the nonTV and barely stopping to sleep. And then I stopped dead. I've never gone on. And while I've watched the first four seasons a couple more times, I've never managed to re-watch five. It just hit so hard.

I've been thoroughly spoiled for seasons 6 and 7 at this point and I, um, downloaded some clips of what I consider the juicy bits of season 6. But I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the actual episodes. I did read some post-5 fanfic, which was mostly bad but occasionally excellent.

I had an amusing moment at the last show I sold at, when a customer wandered into my booth, pointed at a rather expensive piece, and said "See. Want. Buy." I added 50% to the price on the spot and he paid it and bought several other items without a quibble. I love customers like that.

I'd be curious to hear what other Buffy fans thought about Fray. I really liked it.

#130 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:04 AM:

#88 ::: Stefan Jones

"Mimsy" was indeed horrific, and not just for the parents. So the kids jaunt off to another dimension, presumably a one-way trip. They may be time-distant from anyone else that will be there, marooned alone.

It's bothered me for decades. Did anyone else have this reaction?

#131 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Re: suggested reading for children - I have no idea if he's still in print, or whether his books made it across the Atlantic, but Nicholas Fisk's worth checking out. Cracking Good SF Reads which I devoured with great glee when I was a young'un.

#132 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Another non-Buffy viewer here, sigh. I'm putting it in the Netflix queue, along with various others recommended in this thread.

Thena, after the ML Blue Moon post, which prompted reading through the Yarn Harlot archives, I got back into knitting and am on my second pair of socks. The deal with myself was,
1) ONLY socks, and
2) finish each pair before starting another, and
3) not to buy more sock yarn until finished.

The excellent yarn store in Boulder and ebay have blown #3. I do find myself regularly, absent-mindedly, adding "another set of Addi Turbo circs and DPNS" to my shopping list. I will go cross them off again.

#133 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Andrew Brown #104: A couple of the 'Biggles' books might be less than perfectly suitable if the young man in question is not white (Biggles in the West Indies comes to mind). I say this as a man of colour who adored Biggles as a lad.

(They're also not easy to find in the United States.)

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Abi #111: But where do you keep the books on elf vellum? The ones with the spells that will take one to any place in Middle Earth or Aman that one desires?

#135 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:38 AM:

CEO Tome Home #117: That's all very well, but if your grimoires are only written in languages like Indian, with limited spell-casting capacity, then they're not going to be much use. A cheap grimoire, with spells in a language with real spell-casting capacity, like Fbcubzber or Yrrgfcrnx or Erchoyvpna or even Jungrire vg vf gung Ohfu fcrnxf, works as well or better as a well-bound grimoire in Indian or 54|35p17(h.

#136 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:40 AM:

And, of course, Fbcubzber should have been Fbcubzbevp. Silly me!

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:40 AM:

Fragano @134
Long answer:
Elves don't seem to die quite like humans and demons. Some sentience seems to remain in them until long past the point where it's possible to make vellum out of their skins. Combining that residual consciousness with a teleportation spell is...problematic, because the book itself can invoke the spells*.

Short answer:
Go off in the woods and catch the damned things yourself. I'm done trying.

-----
* yes, even the ones with a spoken element. Page vibrations can make sounds, you know. Or sometimes they simply coerce the weak-willed** who come into their proximity to say certain things.

** student wizards, Elf Liberation Front*** activists, cleaning staff

*** yes, ELF activists; they're weak-willed and have bad taste in acronyms. We use them for the sinister-side books.

#138 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Karen #75: even better than the Oz books is Baum's Queen Zixi of Ix, available from Dover. It's more tightly focused than Oz, with less random stuff and a smaller cast; more like a traditional fairy tale in themes and setting, but with Baum's wackiness (and puns) in full force. Also it could be regarded as a precursor of the X-Men, as there is a group of characters with weird and very limited powers who learn to use them to best effect.

Kevin @ #108: I "cheated" by using Rockapella's "Capital Song" and got done with about a minute to spare.

Dave Luckett @ #128: I don't disagree with your assessment, but I feel compelled to point out that many people of my acquaintance are "the only person in the family who reads". That had to start somewhere.

#139 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:43 AM:

I think everyone agrees that the magic-as-drugs thread of Season 6 was badly-conceived. Also unnecessary. Vg jnf nyernql jryy-rfgnoyvfurq gung Jvyybj'f jrnxarff jnf n gnfgr sbe cbjre, sbe pbagebyyvat bgure crbcyr; vg jnfa'g arprffnel gb pbagevir na Rivy Pnpxyvat Chfure fgenvtug bhg bs n 1971 qeht-jneavat svyz va beqre gb znxr vg oryvrinoyr gung fur pbhyq tb bire gur yvar. That said, I think the strengths of the season survive its weaknesses.

I certainly agree that if I'd been watching it on a week-by-week basis, it would have been a miserable slog, because Season 6 is all about everything falling apart. Inhaling whole seasons of episodic TV at a time, via DVD or coughdownloadingcough, really is a different experience. I think I've made this observation before.

Ethan, #94: "One of my favorite things about that show is that it seemed like every season (and, on a miniature level, almost every episode) stripped away another layer of comfortable illusion about the universe it took place in. You think vampires are all bad? Nope. You think watchers are all good? Nope. You think slayers are all good? Nope. You think the system of slayerdom is good? HELL no. Genius show." That's as concise and perfect an expression of what I like about it as I've read anywhere.

#140 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Abi #137: Unfortunately, the state legislature has shortened the hunting season (usual nonsense about endangered species), so it's rather hard for me to track one down (though I do have convenient woods).

On the other hand, I am in the market for a grimoire written on unicorn vellum. There's a lot of demand for that kind of spell these days.

#141 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Fragano @140
Unfortunately, the state legislature has shortened the hunting season (usual nonsense about endangered species)

That only applies to sport elf book hunting. You can hunt them year round for scientific purposes.

On the other hand, I am in the market for a grimoire written on unicorn vellum. There's a lot of demand for that kind of spell these days.

Those have a long pre-order list.

Material supply has been a problem lately, because our prime unicorn vellum source (K Haggard & Son, t/a Red Bull Enterprises) appears to have gone out of business. We've been forced to fall back on exotica suppliers (Fortuna's, in particular), but the quality of their wares are uneven at best.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Happy birthday, marilee!

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:12 PM:

Recommendations for a kid... Yes, Tim Eldred's Grease Monkey. (More coming, Teresa?)


And Girl Genius... The later stories are available on the net so you can decide if they're appropriate for the kid.

#144 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:15 PM:

CEO Tome Home... pronunciation guides in the International Phonetic Alphabet so that your Southern accent doesn't summon a demon when all you wanted was a nice cup of Earl Grey, black, no sugar

"I asked for a chtonic menace, not a tuna sandwich."

#145 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:27 PM:

#130:

I always figured that the kids went off to the future to play. They couldn't understand their parents anymore, and vice-versa, so for them it might not have been a bad move. Your Mileage May Vary. Still, a gut-punch of a story.

The movie depicts some of the scary-alienation stuff, but has a happy ending.

Neat film.

#146 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Thena (70): No. I haven't either. In my case, it's because I can't handle vampires. At all.

#147 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 01:43 PM:

#139
One thing I've become very conscious of ever since I watched the first 5 seasons of the Sopranos, one per week, is how the pacing of broadcast TV shows is so much different than it is for non-commercial TV. This was greatly emphasized by watching a few seasons of Buffy, Firefly and NYPD Blue where there isn't any commercials. So you really notice all the mini-climaxes, which now seem to have no real purpose. I've come to greatly prefer the uninterrupted block of TV as the pacing seems much more natural. Now I'm wondering how something like Buffy or Firefly could have been improved if they'd have been able to use the same format. (Not that there really can ever be an answer in this sector of the Multi-verse). But still.

#148 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Thena (70) and Mary Eileen (146): Vampires? Fine with me. Buffy? No.

#149 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Sam Kelly (127): I haven't seen that particular edition, but I adore both of those books. Look for Thurber's The White Deer, which is equally wonderful.

#150 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Carol Kimball @130

I first read "Mimsy were the Borogoves" at the age of 11, and it bothered me then. I've reread it several times since then, and it bothers me every time. Just because those kids learned more than Alice doesn't mean they've learned enough to survive either physically or psychically in what's clearly a most alien evironment.

It's supposed to bother you; however light the tone of the story, it is, deeply and most sincerely a horror story. That's what "Lewis Padget" did best, whatever pseudonyms they happened to be using. Read "Two-Handed Engine", or "The Devil You Know" or especially "The Twonky"; if they don't scare you, you're probably related to the boy who left home to learn about the shivers.

#151 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:26 PM:

CEO Tome Home @ 117

I assume by "Southern accents" you mean London accents like Cockney and suchlike?

#152 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Abi #141: Unfortunately, it's been ruled that travel to Middle Earth and Aman is not a scientific purpose. I was advised to seek a scientific porpoise, but that might be a problem of accent.

You might want to consider J. Fallwell Enterprises as a source of mythological supplies. I gather they now have a surplus of eye of newt.

#153 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:36 PM:

Patrick @ 139

While I agree with everything you say about season 6, I'm forced to admit 2 guilty pleasures in watching that arc: V ybir jngpuvat Wrss Xbore purj gur fprarel, naq V unir n pehfu ba Rivy Jvyybj. Fur'f fb zhpu zber sha guna Jvzcl Jvyybj, rkprcg jura fur'f va Cebgrpgvir Zbgure zbqr qrsraqvat ure ybire.

#154 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:52 PM:

I was advised to seek a scientific porpoise

Ay Aay iye iye brgrgrgr klik.

Ok, that's not really the weird part. The weird part is that "porpoise" and "wookie" are actually the same language. The only difference that you might hear is really an outcome of the acoustic differences of water versus air.

How it evolved in this manner is a mystery.

#155 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:55 PM:

PNH #139: Thanks! Also, re: Inhaling whole seasons of episodic TV at a time, via DVD or coughdownloadingcough, really is a different experience. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but TV shows on DVD is the greatest invention of the new millennium. (Thanks, spelling reference.) The only show I'm watching as it airs currently is Veronica Mars, and as each season ends I'll buy the DVDs and rewatch it all as quickly as possible. Even aside from the fact that I'm rewatching a mystery knowing its conclusion, it's an entirely different (and in some ways even better) experience.

Jason #147: So you really notice all the mini-climaxes, which now seem to have no real purpose. I've come to greatly prefer the uninterrupted block of TV as the pacing seems much more natural. Now I'm wondering how something like Buffy or Firefly could have been improved if they'd have been able to use the same format.

Whedon's said (er...somewhere) that the five-acts-broken-up-by-commercials format was a great help in teaching him how to pace a story. I think I agree; just about any truly great hour of television I can think of (right now the two that come to me strongest are the first season finale of Veronica Mars and the episode of Buffy that dealt with Joyce's death) are particularly strong in the way they took advantage of the act structure and commercial breaks.

#156 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Bruce 150: "The Twonky" gave me nightmares. And if there's one thing I hate more than horror movies, it's movies with happy endings based on stories without. If the movie of MWTB has a happy ending...that would suck.

I saw that story as a metaphor for the sentiments expressed in this poem. I've certainly moved on to places where my parents can't follow. They can understand what I do for a living, but little or none of what I do for enjoyment.

#157 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:05 PM:

To chime in with the two (?) people upstream: no, I've never watched Buffy the TV show.

I've been thinking about renting the DVDs lately, on the grounds that anything which this many smart people adore this much can't be all bad.

#158 ::: Lisa Spadafora ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:05 PM:

re: SF for young readers

The first book that came to mind is the truly wonderful Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH , because I was the age your reader is when I first encountered it. Then I thought "but is it SF?" which is patently silly...I have somehow never thought of it in that context before, but of course it is! I remember how excited I was a few years later when I realized what those letters stood for and that NIMH was a real place.

It so happens I work for mental health agency these days, and have had to learn to spell the letters out, because I was clearly annoying my colleagues by referring to our major grant-giving resource as "Nim".

As far as the other major theme in this thread, I just want to say that, as someone who came way late to the party, I'm enjoying all the Buffy talk...after refusing to be drawn in for years, my wife and I devoured all 7 seasons in about 6 months (yay, Netflix).

#159 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:24 PM:

I stopped watching TV two years ago, and have only recently come to realize that I can watch TV series on DVD. I loved watching Firefly on DVD. I enjoyed the hell out of Buffy when I did have a TV, and wouldn';t at all mind buying the DVDs. I never saw Rome or The Sopranos, and probably won't because the level of violence in those shows is so high, but if I want to, I can. This is cool. This also means that I need to get a larger TV set; the 13" TV I do have is simply too small for the lean-back-in-recliner-eat-popcorn kind of viewing that I anticipate. Oh dear. Is there a cheap flat panel TV in my future?

#160 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Xopher @ 156
Gotta agree with Gibran's sentiments. Especially after having my own kids grow up and take up lives I wouldn't have wanted, but which seem to suit them well. I "sort of" understand what they do, but then I was never well anchored to my own generation's norms, so I'm probably doing better than average.

There was a movie made of "The Twonky" in the 1950s; I haven't seen it, out of fear that the director, Arch Oboler, made his usual dogs' breakfast out of it.

#161 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:35 PM:

#156: RE movies saddled with inappropriate happy endings:

If Kubrick had directed "A.I.", I believe it would have turned out much as Speilberg's version but vg jbhyq unir raqrq haqre gur frn, jvgu gur yvggyr obl ebobg'f onggrevrf ehaavat bhg juvyr jvfuvat, jvfuvat, jvfuvat gung ur pbhyq orpbzr n Erny Obl.

Gur gnpxrq ba sne-shgher jvfu-shysvyyvat ebobg raqvat jnf na njshy orgenlny.

* * *

I can forgive "The Last Mimzy" for its happy ending because it is such a different story. There's no real pretense of adaptation or hommage.

* * *

"The Twonky" . . . that was way creepy.

#162 ::: Leslie in CA ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:37 PM:

RedMolly:

If your local used bookstores don't have Incredible Comparisons in stock, abebooks.com has several copies, just fyi.

#163 ::: JillC ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Xopher @156 - Wow, thanks for that poem link. I know Sweet Honey in the Rock's a cappella setting of it, but the song leaves out the last five lines, which give the parents some credit and also some hope, I think. The truncated version always seemed a little harsh to me, though it was a great song for both orientation weekend and graduation at college, getting parents to let go of their precious kids.

As for Buffy, I've watched on and off - I saw all of seasons 2 and 3 in real time, but only bits and pieces of the rest. I'm too interested in everything to have remained unspoiled, but when I get free time (hah!) I'm planning on going back and watching the whole thing straight through. I'm not much for horror, though (even with levity), so I may have to do it in measured doses.

#164 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:34 PM:

SpeakerToManagers @ #114:

It also makes a difference if you see or read a series in the expected order or not. With Sandman, I started with "A Game Of You" which is somewhere in the middle of the 10 collections, but I think it burned out all my evaluation circuits, and I was hooked immediately.

Hell yes. I actually bought The Kindly Ones (volume 9) first. A few pages in I knew I had to go back and read the beginning. So the next day I bought and read the first book, but then there was that copy of The Kindly Ones sitting at home which wouldn't let me not read it. After that, I filled in the ones in between in order, rationing them out over a period of about a year. The effect was rather odd, because I thought there were things that had to happen before The Kindly Ones that never appeared (e.g. more stories about Thessaly, more stories about Rose) and as I read each book and didn't find them, I kept expecting them to be in the next one. In the end I was confident that they would all be in Worlds' End, but then Worlds' End was mostly about brand new characters. The impression I got, in the end, was that I had read only a tiny subset of the stories that were there to be told. Which was entirely in keeping with the philosophy of the series, and part of what I love about it.

Oh, something else I love, related to some of the Buffy comments, is that Dream is a complete and utter idiot, especially early in the series. The fact that, as the hero, I expected him to be entitled to my automatic approval, and the amount of suffering he causes for himself and the people who are supposedly under his protection, makes his idiocy even more stunning.

#165 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:57 PM:

Another book recommendation: the Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton.

#166 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:00 PM:

#134: But where do you keep the books on elf vellum? The ones with the spells that will take one to any place in Middle Earth or Aman that one desires?

Well, for a start, elfskin can be both very fragile and very flammable. So keep it away from naked flames, cigarettes, burning pipeweed and so on. Smoking can seriously damage your elf.

#167 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Leslie, thanks for the tip. I recently unloaded a bunch of clutter on eBay and invested the proceeds in a Powell's gift card (in anticipation of being very poor after our upcoming move and having no book money), so I was hoping to be able to buy it through them... but abebooks will work just fine. It's really a fascinating book.

#168 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:10 PM:

All: Yes, the John Bellairs books are fantastic. I love the way the stories are built on the real surviving American folkloric magic of the "Powwow Books", hexcraft, the pseudo-Agrippa grimoires, etc., vs. the wholly synthetic fantasy-story pmagic.

Eleanor @ #164:

I was fortunate enough to get introduced to Sandman right after The Doll's House collection came out, and was able to find (most of) the missing issues between then and when the storyline had got to, and keep up with it monthly, so I got to see most of the storyline as it unfolded. (That's the only comic book I've ever done that with.) Anyway yes, Thessaly just srung into the story fully developed in A Game of You. When you're following along, it doesn't seem so disconcerting.

If you've been missing her, there have been some other light but enjoyable storylines involving Thessaly, done in the Thessaly: Witch for Hire series. They really play up the contrast between Thessaly as one of the most powerful human beings in the world and she presents herself - mousy looking college student.

#169 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 161 on A. I.: I hated the ending too, but for a different reason.

Gung jnf abg n unccl raqvat. Gur yvggyr obl tbg uvf zbgure onpx sbe bar qnl - fb jung? (Naq jul qvq vg unir gb or bayl bar qnl?) Ur'f n ebobg jub srryf yvxr n uhzna, naq ol guvf cbvag ur'f frireny gubhfnaq lrnef byq naq unf fcrag gur infg znwbevgl bs uvf rkvfgrapr va pbaqvgvbaf gung whfg qba'g dhnyvsl nf uhzna yvsr. Naq abj ur'f tbvat gb yvir sbe rire va n jbeyq jurer ur'f gur bayl uhzna yrsg. (Hayrff, jung unccrarq gb gur bgure ebobgf?) Hayrff Fcvryoret'f cbvag jnf gb fubj ubj vauhzna gur obl jnf nsgre nyy, juvpu V qvqa'g guvax vg jnf, vg jnf na hggreyl fghcvq raqvat.

V frr n pbaarpgvba gb vffhr bar bs Fnaqzna urer, ohg gurer, V gnxr vg gung qrzbafgengvat Qernz'f ynpx bs uhznavgl jnf Arvy Tnvzna'f cbvag.

#170 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Clifton @ 168: my introduction to Thessaly was when she turned up in The Kindly Ones calling herself Larissa and looking for Lyta. Since she was angry with Lyta by the end, I'm still not sure what her motivation was, so I was hoping there would be some explanation earlier in the series. Did I miss something?

#171 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:19 PM:

The Google ads aren't sure what to make of this thread. Three out of five ads are Buffy-related, but the other two are for textbooks - in one case, medical textbooks.

#172 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:20 PM:

ajay @166
The flammability of elf vellum is another reason we don't spend a lot of time trying to keep it in stock.

There are magical booksellers who try, but the logical place to keep them is a locked room*. Unfortunately the only locked room in most such establishments is in the rear of the dexter side. You know, the lightproof one.

It's a little-known fact that the premises next to Thomas Farynor in Pudding Lane, London was a magical bookseller's. September 1666 saw the employment of a new apprentice, who didn't know why the recto rear door was always locked, and left it open in the late autumn sunlight**. The light hit the vampire vellum - WHUMP - which ignited the elf vellum - KABOOM!

The baker got the blame. It was the cow in Chicago, but the story was much the same.

-----
* Mind control, spoken spells, yadda, yadda

** Elf vellum misses sunlight. And sometimes it gets suicidal.

#173 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Individ-ewe-al (107):

"Seriously, people! I can believe that no-one here ever struggled with reading, but have you never come into contact with anyone who doesn't devour highly complicated intellectual books effortlessly and with glee?

For a kid who is vastly intelligent but has a specific problem with reading, such as dyslexia, a sophisticated book can work for reading aloud or reading with a lot of support. But there's more to reading than just deciphering the words."

I've run into lots of people who don't scarf down books like alligators eating marshmallows, but they seldom ask me for YA reading recommendations.

You're right that I've never sorted books into easy to read and hard to read. If I sorted them at all, it was into boring and not-boring; and boring always came with the proviso that they might turn interesting later. I have a few vague memories of having to work at stringing together what had come before in the book, and relating it to what I was reading at that moment. I have clearer memories of looking at what had previously been incomprehensible marks on the page, and having them visibly melt and re-form into a readable word.

I know that early on I read some novels that were only partly within range of my reading comprehension (and thank goodness for that; one of them was by Frank Yerby), and what I remember about them is that they took place in a strangely flat, undetailed universe. What I didn't understand was simply not there for me. I understood enough of the story for it to drag me forward through the pages.

Sometimes I think the single biggest thing I had going for me was my faith that I would be able to read and understand. That's why I get so angry at pedagogy that goes out of its way to tell kids that they're dumb.

#174 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:37 PM:

#107 Individ,
As some one who was pegged as learning disabled in elementary school I can tell you Fantastic Mr.Fox and James And The Giant Peach are not out of reach of poor readers nor is the first half of Narnia. Add to that Wind In The willows, Jacob Two Two and The Hooded Fang, and Lewis Carol. Unlike everything thrown at me for my 'level', which were duller than dirt and patronising, they engaged my attention. The stories engulfed me. I read them just a touch slower and more carefully but still read them and got hook on speculative fiction in general enough to want to take on the challenge of meatier work. Don't sell poor readers short. If it grabs their attention enough they will find their way through it. I've got one really bad young reader hooked on Kit Williams cause it's surreal enough to get out of him a "weird cool" response.
Some of the big comic characters like Batman and Superman have hardcover anthologies in libraries of specific decades so if you chose the golden age 40s & 50s it will be kid safe.

#175 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:46 PM:

ajay #166: That's why you keep it in a dark, cool place such as a cellar. A salt-cellar is not an adequate substitute.

#176 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Greg London #154: Wise you are, but from even the wise hidden are such things. Well said it is that one should meddle in the affairs of Jedi not, for subtle and quick to anger they are.

#177 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:52 PM:

@#84, Re: 300, & Buffy

I think the movie is potentially germane to Buffy, and might even take place in the Buffyverse.

The producers appear to have decided that in addition to having overwhelming numerical superiority, the Persian army included demonic forces, and perhaps King Xerxes was a demon of some sort.

#178 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Also Individ(107), once I was into stories I liked and enjoyed to be worth the struggle I caught up, then exceeded my grade/age levels by the hard sf phase and went on to hounors courses with the English teachers telling me to consider writing as a future as much as the math/science teachers wanted me to get the Nobel Prize. Were it not for the beatings by school thugs taking it all away in the final years I just might have.

#179 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 06:19 PM:

Perhaps related to Teresa's response to Individ-ewe-al, or perhaps just piggybacking: My first introduction to Madeline L'Engle was A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I was determined to read it because there was a unicorn on the cover. But probably what kept me slogging through the first chapter (which, at age seven, I found profoundly boring with its politics and its absence of unicorn) was Mom's comment: "Are you sure you want to start with that book? A Wrinkle In Time is probably closer to your reading level." At that point I would have chewed ground glass sooner than put the book down. I had to finish it just to show her.

(If Mom had said, "A Wrinkle In Time is the first book in that series, you know," I probably would have dropped Planet immediately and taken her advice. I suspect Mom knew exactly what she was doing.)

Re: Second Sock Syndrome: I learned that the surest cure is knitting two socks at once, but not as Anne describes it above, but rather one inside the other alternating stitches. (Teresa posted a link to an excellent article on that some time ago. It mentioned chocolate a lot.) I'm fairly good at it from a "don't cross the streams" standpoint, and it saved my butt when I started late on a pair of sock-moccasins for a wedding present... but I find that the inside sock tends to wind up an entire shoe size larger than the other. I just can't seem to keep the inside sock's gauge from coming up much looser.

Does anyone have a cure for that? Is my problem that I knit left-handed, and carry the second sock's thread over the left middle finger? Does it work better if you carry it on the other hand and resign yourself to throwing thread?

Carol @132: Shuttles Spindles & Skeins would be the death of my "no new yarn" resolve, too, if it weren't that I live at the northeast end of Boulder and my husband always seems to have the car. We have an excellent bus system, but still, the BOUND/SKIP trip down there with its unnecessarily pain-in-the-butt change at Broadway & 27th means it's more of an undertaking than a walk to the nearest coffee shop. I try to go to Shuttles for third Tuesday's community knitting, but by the time I'm there, the shop part of the shop is closed and product-buying at that point is restricted to "Damn! You mean I needed a sixteen-inch circular for this? Not a twenty-four? *Sigh* Roxanna, sorry, would you open up the resgister and sell me one pretty please?"

(We should probably meet up sometime for in-tandem tandem sock knitting, btw. I mean, if you're still in the area.)

I am honor-bound via friendship with its owner's son to mention Mew Mew's Yarn Shop in Louisville. I mean, as long as we're talking about Shuttles.

#180 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 06:27 PM:

All this talk about Madeline L'Engle is forcing me to add her to my already-too-long reading list, because while I remember loving those books as a child I don't remember a single thing about them. Not a one. Except maybe there was something about tesseracts?

#181 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 06:49 PM:

#159: Is there a cheap flat panel TV in my future?

Lizzy, you may want to consider a projector and a good, grey screen. A friend of mind is a media-holic and has the latest, greatest everything, and was going to get a massive plasma to upgrade his LCD TV, but got a projector instead. He says it's a high def projector, amazing quality, and with the right screen (apparently the grey ones work better in situations where you have the lights on than white screens) it's like a movie theater, without the gum on the bottom of the seats.

He projects onto a 8x4 foot screen (10 foot/120 inch diagonal), and I gotta say, I'm fairly impressed.

Also, if you own stock in theater companies, I'd recommend you sell.

#182 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 06:53 PM:

#176: Fragano: For you are crunchy and barbeque nicely with a light saber?

#183 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Aconite (125) completely lame reason for Buffy's sudden reinterest in life

It wasn't sudden. The recovery process took most of the season with multiple advances and reverses. And it was basically completed in "Normal Again" with the episodes from Seeing Red through Grave testing the solidity of the recovery.

Serge (143) And Girl Genius... The later stories are available on the net so you can decide if they're appropriate for the kid.

Also the earlier stories. The "Girl Genius 101" section contains the pages from the beginning of the story through (as of 3/9) Volume 4 page 25.

#184 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Greg London #182: Possibly. Or I might have tarried in Arvernién.

#185 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Greg, thanks for the suggestion, but no way. I don't want anything larger than a 26" screen, and will probably be most comfortable with 20". I have a small house, and more books than I know what to do with, even though I cull regularly, and I truly have no room for something that large -- and also, I would hate it.

Um, I usually see maybe one movie a year at a movie theater, and very few on DVD. By thinking that I might actually watch Buffy on DVD I am taking my first hesitant, tentative steps towards technology that you have all been wallowing in for years.

On the other hand, I've been using a computer for 26 years. Gotta be some points in that.

#186 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:20 PM:

#97 Tehanu: I loved Dr. Dolittle as a kid, and my local library had all of them. When my kids were the same age, I looked for them, but all that was in print was heavily edited versions with (blasphemy!) new illustrations.

#187 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Eleanor #171:

That's odd, for me they're about knitting, ringtones and Buffy (and the last two in combination).

#188 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:50 PM:

ajay #166: Well, for a start, elfskin can be both very fragile and very flammable. So keep it away from naked flames, cigarettes, burning pipeweed and so on. Smoking can seriously damage your elf.

So did I miss the bit in LOTR where Legolas or one of them told the hobbits to stop already with the pipeweed? Could have been a classic. (I know, Gandalf was considered slightly outre for indulging in such a declasse pleasure.)

#189 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Andrew @ #104, I have a collection of WW1 Biggles stories out from the library, The Camels are Coming, and I'm pretty sure that it's one I read aged about 8.

The first page of the foreword has two footnotes, the second, one, the third page, three. Flipping through the stories, I found one paragraph with three footnotes. It's very science fictional stuff with a whole world of strange technology, unfamiliar skills and alien characters explained for children.

The stories and action are much as I remember them, but I had completely forgotten all the spoon-feeding in the footnotes. Good stuff.

#190 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Pardon my language, but it is warranted.

We have achieved full parody status as a nation.

Halliburton to move corporate HQ to Dubai.

These cocksuckers run detention facilities, V.A. hospitals, shabby mess halls in Iraq . . . ah, fukkit to hell.

In a proper over-the-top comic story, this is when a masked genius starts dealing with corporate officers in horribly ironic ways.

Hello? Masked genius? Please get to work. Announce yourself. I don't want this to be reality.

#191 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:05 PM:

#169: Yes, I agree. This makes the tacked-on ending even more problematical.

#192 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:12 PM:

I was never a huge Buffy fan. I watched an episode here and there, never a hardcore, can't miss it fan. Charmed was the series I devoured, from first to the last, eight seasons lagter. Still watch re-runs, though my hubby remids me often I've already seen them. I miss that show.

Yes, Buffy was occasionally an a-hole. Remember the movie (which I LOVED, btw): she was a perky cheerleader who wanted to "marry Christian Slater and die."

She never wanted to be a slayer; she was a spoiled brat. She occasionally reverted, I think.

#193 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:15 PM:

ajay (166): Ouch! I caught that pun.

#194 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Lizzy @ 185

Sorry, I meant to reply before, and have gotten snowed under all the posts, as well as the things I've been doing in RL today.

If you're cool with computers and want a relatively small screen, I suggest a flat panel computer monitor. It will be higher resolution than an equivalent TV (and more expensive :-(, so the picture will be as good as you're going to get in that size. And don't let anyone kid you, nothing but the very top end of plasma or LCD flatscreen TVs will have as good a picture as a good computer monitor.

And if you're got a recent computer, you can plug the monitor right in, straight digital, and not have to get any more additional equipment but perhaps a cable. Play DVDs on the computer; if you really want HDTV off the air, buy a tuner that plugs into the computer for less than $150 at this point (and everything gets cheaper over time). If and when you want to play high definition disks you can install a new drive in the computer for less than a player will cost you, and the monitor will show it all.

#195 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Joann @ 188

So did I miss the bit in LOTR where Legolas or one of them told the hobbits to stop already with the pipeweed? Could have been a classic.

That got dropped from the final draft and ended up in "Bored of the Rings."

#196 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 193

Please. It's only a bid for attention don't provide encouragemen. Ignore it, and maybe the puns will go away.

#197 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:57 PM:

All this talk about grimoires by people who obviously don't own or even read them, Fah!

I've been a Witch and a Magician for many decades. Elf-skin is far too fragile for bookbinding, though the bones are useful for various, uh, instruments. Most of what passes for elf-skin is either lamb or kid. Some of it kid as in human kids. Demon-skin can't be used for bookbinding because demons generally burn up when you destroy them. Demons are occasionally bound to a book, not by physical means but by magical linkage. There are certain books that it is NOT a good idea to own unless you have the proper container for them that includes the right pentagle.

The difficulty with grimoires is that most people tend to say what they are copying under their breath, which makes it very dangerous for the scribes. Some grimoire-publishers have taken to using scribes who do not know any of the languages used in the grimoire, and thus cannot accidently use the spells. Some even take the precaution of having one scribe write one word, another scribe the next.

Books of Shadow are FAR safer, since those are written yourself, and or by someone you know, passed on to a coven member or student. And they are usually annotated, so that you know that when old Agnes used this, she found she got the best results at full moon, for example. Grimoires seldom have that sort of personal touch.

Having said that, I will add that if you are looking for a grimoire, the best place is an old second hand store, bookstore or general odd and ends place. Ones with basements are preferable, because I have heard they are often found jammed under stairs at an angle.

Good luck grimoire-hunting.

(And a belated happy birthday to Marilee!)

#198 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Thanks, folks! I'm 52, 14 years older than the doctors said I'd get!

Individ-ewe-al, #107, my mother's fifth-graders were the special class. Most of them were slow, but back in those days, the physically disabled got stuck in there, too, and they all managed The Borrowers just fine.

#199 ::: deadmuse ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:11 PM:

John Christopher's White Mountains (Tripods) series is a classic for young SF readers.

#200 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:39 PM:

I dunno, I bought a 27" Westinghouse (of all brands) HDTV a while ago for under $700 at Best Buy. It does the 1080i stuff beautifully, plus the lesser definitions. It does not have an HDTV tuner in it, but I'm using the cable box for that. It has a way better picture than most of the HDTVs I see in the stores, but maybe that's just because the sales staffs don't know how to set up their screens.

#201 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Off topic (or maybe Tolkein is on topic) & funny:

"A Balrog is come!"

#202 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:52 PM:

Sam Kelly (#127) & Mary Aileen (#149) Oh yes, indeed. The UK/Australian edition I remember from my childhood was the combined illustrated paperback The Thirteen Clocks & The Wonderful O. It had a lovely cover drawing, black on sea-green/blue washes. Probably 1960s.
Somehow I have to deal with three or four household's boxed books — and the rest of their goods & chattels, stashed in different places across Sydney — mentally & physically it's a huge struggle, but I'm gradually, mentally, sorting a group of books & other things that will, I hope, fit into one home with many bookshelves & still allow me room to live. You've just reminded me of another book I'd want there. Do you remember the plaintive plight of Ophelia Oliver?

Lizzy (#185) & Bruce Cohen (STM) (#194): I have a television-hating friend who agrees with Bruce's idea of the large flat computer monitor to watch high quality images of films & the odd television-related DVD.

I kept thinking of John Wyndham with 'The Twonky'. A quick visit to www.isfdb.org shows I'm remembering Chocky, as well as reminding me of his lovely swag of noms-de-plume. It also says he died exactly 38 years ago; and that it's Douglas Adam's birthday, whose viewpoint on the world I sorely miss. Thank you Cushing Library at Texas A&M University; All Hail the InterTuben!

#203 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 161
The ending of AI would seem, alas, to be exactly as Kubrick wanted it.

The New York Times ran a piece shortly after Kubrick's death but long before Speilberg took over, that detailed the last great Kubrick film that would never be... and described the ending pretty much as it eventually came to be.

It's still available in their archives.

#204 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Stefan 190: These cocksuckers run detention facilities, V.A. hospitals, shabby mess halls in Iraq...

I'd just like to point out that if there were no cocksuckers in the world, no one would ever get a blowjob. Please don't deride the cocksuckers of the world by comparing them to Halliburton, who would never do anything so selfless.

#205 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Maybe assholes are a better metaphor, Xopher? Or mother fskers, that's more abhorrent (like you, I have mixed feelings about the act you mentioned).

#206 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:29 PM:

#203: That's a let-down. I imagined the happy robot ending as Speilberg's attempt to pull the story from the edge of unspeakable tragedy.

* * *

On the subject of tragedy:

I saw the Korean monster movie "The Host" today. Grim, grim, grim comedy of errors. Wonderfully made, but not your standard rip-roaring cheery adventure fare.

#207 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:56 PM:

Now you're dissing fsck? :-)

#208 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 10:59 PM:

Michael I @183: It wasn't sudden. The recovery process took most of the season with multiple advances and reverses. And it was basically completed in "Normal Again" with the episodes from Seeing Red through Grave testing the solidity of the recovery.

I didn't see those so much as reinterest in life as acceptance of her duty and an effort to conform to what she thought she ought to be and do. She would have been better off, I think, accepting what she really was, and learning to set limits for the parts she felt weren't acceptable to express while acknowledging that yes, those things were part of her. Then I might have been more convinced that she found joy in life, in her way.

I'm about to start Season 6 tonight, as it happens (I've discovered I can stockinette stitch while I watch, but Ghu help me if I try to do ribbing), so I'll see if I still feel the same way, or if I see the development you do.

#209 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:00 PM:

... is it time to mention the thing that flew, not a cloud for it did not move with the wind, that was considered to be, perhaps, a Balrog? By some of the few living witnesses to the 'Rog ?

I didn't think so.

#210 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:01 PM:

Er, I meant I'm about to start rewatching Season 6.

#211 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Demons are occasionally bound to a book, not by physical means but by magical linkage.

And to tie into the Buffy thread... one friend got hooked on Buffy (his SO was already watching) from the first season episode where a demon possessed a network when the book it had been trapped in was "read" (scanned) with a computer on the network. This struck him as sufficiently imaginative that he started paying attention to the series.

Me, I started watching when it went into syndication on FX, and got two episodes a day, five days a week.

#212 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:13 PM:

Oh Resident Fluorospheri, glowing with resonant fluorescence,

I have a question about the slushpile.

Imagine a representative sample of incoming short stories. What percentage of them would count as "considered readable by an average (sf reading) audience?"

This would include not only publication quality stories but also the not-bad stories. I'm not sure how to define"not-bad": perhaps that if a bunch of readers spend time reading those stories, then those readers would consider that time to be at worse neutrally spent. The stories are no worse than, say, watching a basic news show, or browsing at a store, or reading magazines while waiting for a train.

#213 ::: larkspur ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Oh my god, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. She's my girl forever. Oh, ten years that shook my world. I exist here on earth, but part of me is always in the Buffyverse...and also the Angelverse and the Fireflyverse.

Reading for younger humans: I enjoyed the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom books even though I was a little bitty girl who didn't know she could dream of being a superhero.

I also loved the earlier Andre Norton books, despite having to picture myself as a boy in order to spin fantasies.

I also LOVED Joy Chant's "Red Moon and Black Mountain".

Also, I think that Ursula Leguin's "Earthsea Trilogy" is within reach of younger readers, as is James Schmitz's "The Witches of Karres".

And there you have it: the off-the-top-of-her-head recommendations of Larkspur, aka Betty Louise Plotnick of East Cupcake, Illinois.

#214 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Bruce at 194: can't do that. I am totally an completely self-employed, and my office (space, equipment, utilities, etc.) may not be used for anything other than work stuff. And also, I don't want to watch Buffy in my office. I watch to hang out in my recliner, eat Thin Mints (bought two boxes today) and be nowhere near my office for a few hours.

#215 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:35 AM:

P.S. Happy birthday Marilee! The little bits you've mentioned of your life have left me incredibly impressed that you've survived to this point, let alone with the grace and humor you display. May you have many good years to come.

#216 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:38 AM:

Xopher @ 204

Let's face it, all the really meaty obscene derogations insult people or acts which are at worst morally neutral. Bastards didn't have anything to say about their condition; why diss them about it? Any term for the performer of any consensual sexual act or the believer in any theology or the member of any race or ethnic group likewise.

But there are still politicians and lawyers, right? That's probably not enough variety, so I propose we start calling them what they really are: Bushes, Cheneys, Roves, etc. How better to insult them?

#217 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:02 AM:

Lizzy, #214: "Bruce at 194: can't do that. I am totally and completely self-employed, and my office (space, equipment, utilities, etc.) may not be used for anything other than work stuff."

If you're paying someone for tax advice that has led you to believe this, then fire them.

The idea that a World Fantasy Award-winning novelist can't use her office space and equipment to watch fantasy TV shows is K-R-A-Z-Y. Yes, I know you haven't written lots and lots of novels lately. It doesn't matter. You are hundreds of miles--thousands--from being in any sort of peril. You are entirely entitled to use your office equipment to watch Buffy. Or American Idol, for that matter.

You're in the entertainment industry. Keeping up is a legitimate business expense. End of story. If someone is telling you otherwise, they're incompetent.

#218 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:54 AM:

To be fair: Lizzy's take on the office space matter is quite common.

I once attended a superbowl party at a friend's house. He had a barren little office which he insisted could only be used for his freelance work. "We need a betting matrix." he said as I entered the house. "This is my office. That's my office computer*. I'm going to go in the living room. If you happen to turn on my computer and whip something up when I'm not looking . . . "

I'm not sure if I'd personally feel comfortable claming an office space deduction. I make maybe three hundred a year on my writing, and a lot of that is for royalties on things published years ago.

* An Osborne. Man, that was a ways back . . .

#219 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Happy Birthday Marilee!

And many happen returns of your confounding your doctors! Long may you run.

#220 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:45 AM:

Fragano Ledgister: "But where do you keep the books on elf vellum? The ones with the spells that will take one to any place in Middle Earth or Aman that one desires?"

Those? Generally found in the sf/fantasy section, filed under "T".

Eleanor: "my introduction to Thessaly was when she turned up in The Kindly Ones calling herself Larissa and looking for Lyta. Since she was angry with Lyta by the end, I'm still not sure what her motivation was, so I was hoping there would be some explanation earlier in the series. Did I miss something?"

Thessaly's emotional state during the The Kindly Ones is complex. It helps to know that Gurffnyl unq n guvat sbe Qernz. Fur naq Qernz unq n syvat gung raqrq ubeevoyl, evtug orsber gur Jbeyq'f Raq fgbelyvar (Gur jubyr "Fur qbrf abg ybir zr" naq zbcvat nobhg va gur enva sbe zbaguf guvat.) Vf guvf rire rkcynvarq rkcyvpvgyl va gur pbzvp? V pna'g erzrzore vs vg'f ncbpelcun be pnaba, naq V'z gbb sne njnl sebz zl Fnaqzna gbb purpx. Naljnl, fur unf rabhtu bs n ybir/ungr eryngvbafuvc jvgu Zbecurhf gung fur pna obgu or pbzcyvpvg va uvf qrfgehpgvba naq srry onq nobhg vg nsgrejneqf.

(ROT-13 is fun! I'm tempted to learn to decode in my head, but on further consideration, that would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn't it?)

#221 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:56 AM:

Re AI

I'm not convinced the ending we saw is the one Kubrick would have ended up with. He was an incredible perfectionist, perfectly capable of throwing away large chunks of movie that was already finished in production if he thought there was a better way. Brian Aldiss, who was working on the story with him, wrote that Kubrick was not happy with it as it sat when he died; he just didn't know what he should do about it.

The other reason I'm not convinced is that, while Kubrick was willing to segment his movies into acts or chapters (viz "Barry Lindon" or "Eyes Wide Shut") he was always careful to keep the tone and pace of the different parts consistent if not the same. In my opinion, this is not true of AI.

#222 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:06 AM:

PNH: "If you're paying someone for tax advice that has led you to believe this, then fire them."

I just figured she enforced this rigid segregation for the sake of her own sanity.

P.S. This thread led me to discuss Buffy with my SO, who hated 6 pretty hard and refused to watch 7. Over the course of explaining how I think the end of seven redeems the unrelenting suck of six,* I managed to convince her to try it again. So we just started watching seven. Thanks, Making Light!

*You can't really critique six on its own. It isn't meant to stand alone--six and seven are two halves of a single story arc. Buffy has to realize how absolutely terrible and abusive the status quo is before she can really challenge it.

#223 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:27 AM:

Lizzy @ 214

My wife tried being a writer for a few years, before health problems got in the way. We set up the taxes showing 50% usage of the computer, printer, etc. for her work, considering the rest as either used in my work (I was not self-employed) or for the family, and therefore not deductible. We had a small house and 2 teen-age boys, so we didn't have a physical home office. But we worked out that we could do all that and up the deduction if her income increased.

The point is that even if you don't think that Patrick's right that it would be completely deductible (and I think he is), you could still take a few percent off the computer writeoff for personal use, and get it back by considering the monitor as dual-use. And depending on how you're depreciating the equipment, you might be able to adjust the accounting and pick up still more in deductions.

#224 ::: Christian Severin ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 05:46 AM:

Re #196: Reminds me of a T-shirt I made for a friend:

"Incorrigible punster -- please do not incorrige!"

#225 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:16 AM:

Ethan #180: the one about tesseracts is, indeed, "A Wrinkle In Time".

#226 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 07:09 AM:

In re: Teresa at #83:

"the localized Linux distribution used in the vicinity of the Hellmouth

OK, I'll bite. Pray tell?

#227 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Buffy should have ended at the end of 5, diving into the light. A perfect end. On the other hand, even less than wonderful Buffy has to be better than no Buffy.

The scene of Willow and Terra dancing in the Bronze is my favourite tv scene of all time - so much said and no words used at all.

My reading challenged eldest got into reading via comics, whereas my reading challenged youngest got into reading via Warhammer books. Both now don't so much read as inhale books and write their own.

#228 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Kip W @ #86 wrote:
I find I can't go wrong with anything by Beverly Cleary. Dunno how they go over with the younger set, though -- you know, people 40 and under.

I have fond memories of Beverly Cleary's work from when I was a nipper, considerably less than 40 years ago.

(Just yesterday, in fact, apropos of nothing in particular, I found myself thinking about important lessons her books taught me when I wasn't looking.)

#229 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:11 AM:

Paul A @ 228

If you get a chance to go to Portland (the left-hand one, not the one in Maine, way over on the upper-right), check out the neighborhood of Klickitat St. Beverly Cleary is remembered fondly there. There are statues of her characters in Grant Park a few blocks from Ramona's house.

#230 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:26 AM:

If you're paying someone for tax advice that has led you to believe this, then fire them.

Patrick and Bruce: while I appreciate your advice -- I am a tax professional. I have been preparing other people's taxes for over 20 years -- it keeps food on the table and my mortgage paid. Believe me when I say that for my particular tax situation, which is quite complex, it is better if I do not turn my computer and its monitor into a home entertainment center.

But as a matter of fact, Heresiarch is precisely right. I don't want to use my computer for watching DVDs because if I were to spend any more time in the office than I do now, especially between February and April, I'd go batshit crazy.

#231 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:29 AM:

So did I miss the bit in LOTR where Legolas or one of them told the hobbits to stop already with the pipeweed?

Two Towers, chapter 8, "Road to Isengard", and it was Gimli:

"You rascals, you woolly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling - and smoking! Smoking!"

#232 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Greg @154
The weird part is that "porpoise" and "wookie" are actually the same language...How it evolved in this manner is a mystery.

Two words: Sea monkeys.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:25 AM:

abi... Manymanymany moons ago, when she was a mere slip of a child, my wife bought sea monkeys from those comic-book ads. She was very disappointed.

#234 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:54 AM:

TNH @ #83: In re Buffy: I staved it off for years. Then Anna Genoese got tired of waiting and tossed all of Season One on to Patrick's desk, with orders to watch it. And then, Buffy ate my brain.

My temptation to mail you Fullmetal Alchemist just went up by quite a bit, though if it ate your brain as much as it ate mine (I must have written well into 5 figures' worth of words on it while watching, including this recommendation post) you might not thank me for it.

#235 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Heresiarch at 220: The Sandman scenario you describe is indeed canon, and made more-or-less explicit, IIRC, in The Wake. It takes reading all of A Game of You, Brief Lives, The Kindly Ones, and The Wake to really put it all together, but it's there.

Heresiarch again, at 222: You can't really critique six on its own. It isn't meant to stand alone--six and seven are two halves of a single story arc. Buffy has to realize how absolutely terrible and abusive the status quo is before she can really challenge it.

I agree, and this is one of the things that makes the post-resurrection story arc all work for me. (I think you could do a very interresting study of the way the two seasons mirror each other: the banality of the Trio versus the transcendent, omnipotent evil of the First; the explorations of the use and misuse of power; the two finales that deal with two different lenses of gender and destructive force; the bookends of the two very different kinds of sacrifice*; and of course, the general balance of Slayerhood with which that arc begins and ends.

*For all that I can appreciate some of the criticism leveled at the storyline dealing with gur snyy naq erqrzcgvba bs Qnegu Ebfraoret, I think it's a lot more nuanced than is often given credit for. For one thing, I have a theory (heh) that gur snja va "Onetnvavat" vf Gnen, jub vf gur *erny* fnpevsvpr jub zhfg or znqr gb oevat onpx gur gehr Fynlre, naq cneg bs Jvyybj'f gentrql vf gung fur qbrfa'g haqrefgnaq guvf jura fur frgf ure Jvyy ybbfr va gur jbeyq. (One of the things I appreciate about the way power works in the Whedonverse is that There's Always A Price - and that price is not only Too Much, it's more than you thought when you made the bargain.)

#236 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Susan @ 129... I'd be curious to hear what other Buffy fans thought about Fray. I really liked it.

What was Fray, Susan? I looked for it on IMdb.com, to no avail - unless one considers it a hit to get something called Saturday Night Frayeur...

#237 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Serge, Fray is a graphic novel set in a cyberpunk future of the Buffyverse, written by Joss. It's good, if perhaps not quite sufficient to scratch that post-Season 7 itch; we'll see if the new comic series does better at that.

(Actually, I have a couple of relatively minor issues with Fray, but not enough to really quash my enjoyment of it.)

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Ah hah... Thanks, Dan.

#239 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:28 PM:

Thena @ #70:

I have never seen any of Buffy or its spinoffs either.

#240 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 12:33 PM:

Wait, vampire vellum? In the Buffyverse? Does that even work? Do we know what happens to chopped-off bits of vampire in that universe?

I can see three possibilities, in descending order of probability:
1) The chopped-off bit turns to dust immediately
2) The chopped-off bit stays around till the vampire it was chopped from is killed, then dusts
3) The chopped-off bit sticks around even if the donating vampire is dusted.

With 1 you clearly can't make vampire vellum at all absent some kind of elaborate ritual. With 2 you'd best make sure you didn't have anything important written on that vellum, lest your donor vamp have a Close Encounter of the Buffy Kind. (You could also keep him/her locked in the cellar, I guess.) 3 is the only one that allows for permanent vamp-vellum books, and I consider it extremely unlikely that it works that way.

#241 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:04 PM:

It would work if the vellum was being sustained by blood from somewhere, wouldn't it?

Can't you just picture the small charm in the abattoir drain, and the sluicing tide of blood and bits trickling into a fine, fine fall of dust?

#242 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:05 PM:

Stefan@190--I expect Haliburton is moving to Dubai because it's a fine tax shelter, near where they have a lot of business. But also, I expect, their execs want a bolt-hole, for protection from criminal prosecution.

Lizzy@230--are you not wanting to spend office time in between Feb & April because of darkness & rain?

#243 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Well, Tamora Pierce is what I tend to recommend for 4th graders who don't read all that well. Lots of books (some of them you have to watch out for content), enjoyable, if juvenile, stories.

Diana Wynne Jones is a much better writer (IMHO), but only some of her books are good for that age range. For science fiction, some of the Heinlein juvies are good (Star Beast, Tunnel in the Sky, Time for the Stars, etc). Some of them are more difficult, and some you have to watch out for content.

#244 ::: Jeffery ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:21 PM:

I didn't see Buffy until 2001. WB wasn't available without an expensive cable format. I wasn't interested, no matter what people or critics said because all I had to go on was the movie.

However, when it went into reruns my wife introduced me to Buffy and has regretted it ever since.

"That's something you don't see everyday."

"Unless you're us!"

#245 ::: Audrey ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 229:

If you get a chance to go to Portland (the left-hand one, not the one in Maine, way over on the upper-right), check out the neighborhood of Klickitat St. Beverly Cleary is remembered fondly there. There are statues of her characters in Grant Park a few blocks from Ramona's house.

They put the statues in while I was a student at Grant. The stoner crowd figured out that the dents that form Ramona's eyes are just the right size and shape that you can stick lit cigarette butts in there to make her look possessed.

Not that I would recommend anything of the sort. I still have all of my Beverly Cleary books from when I was a kid.

#246 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Audrey #245:

You and other Beverly Cleary fans *do* know she write an autobiography, right? _A Girl from Yamhill_.

#247 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Jon Meltzer #231:

What I was speculating on was the "smoking's a nasty habit for hobbits" lecture, the one where it's suggested that elves disintegrate at a whiff of smoke. Or something.

(Note please that I don't smoke, but my father and various inamorati did.)

#248 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Graydon @ 241

Is that really any different from keeping a chicken heart culture alive? In one case you have to periodically invoke the power of the Dark Gods, in the other you have to periodically call on the Colonel. Hey, black magic is black magic, whatever Powers you invoke.

#249 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:47 PM:

Lizzy, #230: "Patrick and Bruce: while I appreciate your advice -- I am a tax professional."

Oops. My apologies for lecturing you! Also, of course, Heresiarch's point is a good one.

Still, I hear all the time from writers and (particularly) aspiring writers that they dasn't surf the web or watch DVDs on their Official Writing Computer because the orbiting network of IRS spy satellites peering into every American home will then deny them their home-office deduction, and it's has always seemed to me silly, which was the context of my reaction. Leaving aside the spy satellites, the fact is, it's entirely legitimate for entertainment-industry professionals to pay attention to the entertainment industry. No, you probably can't deduct the cost of your $4000 home theater if you sold one short story to a web site last year. But if you're a working fantasy writer, the IRS isn't going to freak out over you using your office computer to keep up with your own industry. I'm sure you know this.

#250 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy, #235: Wow, terrific theory.

#251 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Patrick, thanks! I think it fits in with the fact that the narrative cosmos of the Whedonverse pays attention and gives you what you ask for even if you didn't intend the consequences ("Don't speak Latin in front of the books, Xander"), and collects the bill with impartial and implacable exactitude. I get the impression that one of the defining characteristics of the Powers That Be is that they are relentlessly and terrifyingly just.

#252 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Patrick at 249: ah, yes, the ubiqitous IRS -- not! You are of course right, it is perfectly legitimate and appropriate for an aspiring writer or a published one to watch Firefly, Buffy, Angel, The Sopranos, whatever: who knows, she/he might want to write a screenplay some day. I remember that the one and only time I was personally audited, many years ago, I had deducted some amount -- about $800, I think, but it was a long time ago -- for books and research, and the auditor asked me what percentage of the books I purchased I had used for research. I said, quite firmly, "All of them."

After a moment, the auditor nodded, and continued. There were no more questions about books.

Randolph at 242: It stopped raining in my office after we got the troll off the roof...

#253 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Sorry. Ubiquitous. U after q, check.

#254 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Teresa, if this post transgresses the boundaries of polite usage just delete it and send an email to scold me.

Would anyone who has contacts in the professional photography community in the London area and is willing to help me contact a long-lost relative please email me at BruceCohenPDX at gmail dot com? I have tried various net searches, with no luck on contact info, and sending email to her agent got no reply.

Thank you.

#255 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Lizzy, I apologize for preaching to the bishop. Of course you know your situation best. I just hate to see people taken by the deceptive marketing of the entertainment electronics industry, so I tend to be somewhat vehement about alternative solutions.

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:56 PM:

I have a question for users of LiveJournal...

Let's say I want to post a comment on your LiveJournal blog, and an alternate userpic is more appropriate for this specific post - for example, Ming the Merciless instead of my default picture of Mister Scott inside the Jefferies Tube. Or maybe I want to post a new entry on my own LJ blog, but with a different userpic just for that entry. How do I do any of that without changing my default userpic?

#257 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:00 PM:

I wonder what the IRS would do if I tried to deduct my bedroom, since I do most of my dance reconstruction work comfortably ensconced in bed surrounded by enough books and papers that I'm thinking of getting a bigger bed, since the books are almost squeezing me off the edge.

(Joke, it's a joke.)

(The deduction, not the bed-eating research material.)

#258 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:16 PM:

Serge, there should be a field marked Userpic with a little drop-box above the subject field when you post or comment (if you're not in Quick Post mode, anyway) that when you click on it will have the keywords you listed for your various icons. Select from that list, and it will show the userpic you want.

#259 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:18 PM:

On Geoffrey Chaucer's blog: "Thys Is Just to Saye": http://houseoffame.blogspot.com/2007/03/buy-myn-anthologie.html

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Dan @ 258... Thankyouthankyouthankyou, Dan!

#262 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Carrie S @240:

It is indeed option 3. When Brum and Stohr wrote The Care and Feeding of Magical Books*, they didn't pick the title to be cutesy.

I could tell you more about the production of the various vella (the light of which constellations strengthens elf hide, how to pare a dragon thin enough, what salinity of solution causes a mermaid-skin to shed its scales cleanly, what to do with ticklish elves**), but they are trade secrets, and I would have to kill you. I don't want that; I like you guys***.

-----
* Romanian Library Institute, 1834

** You have to stretch them on...no. I really can't describe this without pictures. Never mind.

*** And besides, I have enough vellum for the black books for some time to come****.

**** That probably falls under Don't Ask as well.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:44 PM:

abi @ 262... I would have to kill you. I don't want that; I like you guys

I feel so much better knowing that.

#264 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Susan @ 257

Fritz Leiber once wrote (in "Our Lady of Darkness") about the "scholar's mistress", the collection of books that shared the bed with his protagonist. Although he was writing a horror story, it always seemed a comforting idea to me, having an intimate relationship with knowledge.

#265 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Imagine a representative sample of incoming short stories. What percentage of them would count as "considered readable by an average (sf reading) audience?" This would include not only publication quality stories but also the not-bad stories. I'm not sure how to define"not-bad": perhaps that if a bunch of readers spend time reading those stories, then those readers would consider that time to be at worse neutrally spent. The stories are no worse than, say, watching a basic news show, or browsing at a store, or reading magazines while waiting for a train.

Fanfiction dot net is pretty much an enormous, unsifted slushpile. It proves Sturgeon's Law. Somebody online nicknamed it the Pit of Voles because if an infinite number of monkeys banging on typewriters will eventually produce King Lear, then whatever lurks at ff.net, it ain't monkeys.

It's also the place to find those magic carpets to Middle-Earth mentioned upthread. But if you decide to ride, beware of the sticky stains. (IOW, if you love Tolkien, DO NOT read at the Pit without a recommendation from somebody whose taste you trust.)

#266 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 04:17 PM:

abi @262

And besides, I have enough vellum for the black books for some time to come

All well and good, but you should be sure to stock up on ice demon and Fenris hides. According to a recent report from the C. A. Smith Institute of Thaumaturgical and Eldritch Ecology, they are likely to be most affected by global warming in the next decade or so, possibly ending in their extinction before 2020.

Of course, there's always a bright side. Firedrake and salamanders are likely to become common enough to be neighborhood pests in some areas. Nature gives, and nature takes away; she's fickle.

#267 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 05:14 PM:

Off topic (any previous topic), but in the open thread: Any good utilities for converting text strings to either ascii numbers, or HTML entity numbers?

I use the LeetKey Firefox extension for my ROT13 needs, but unfortunately it does not provide this option. Any ideas?

Working on a PC with Windows XP...

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Rob, I don't know if there are any utilities for doing that, but languages like Basic have a function that returns ASCII values. (Numbers are, IIRC, 60-69 decimal, space is 32 decimal. Lower case letters start at 101, upper-case at 71. "There is no 'O' in army because 'O' is 4F.")

#269 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Several of my songs for Whisperado were partially inspired by BTVS.

One of the funniest moments, to me, in the whole series is Aimee Mann's line (I won't spoil). I think it is the only time when a BTVS musical guest had a line in the script. Pretty sure it was in S6 or S7.

#270 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Just getting caught up on this thread. Three comments, vaguely connected --

Re. Young reader recommendations: Whatever happened to short stories? When I was seven and eight, I gobbled up those Scholastic "Great Ghost Stories" anthologies that popped every October. One thing I liked about these is that they weren't necessarily kids' stories (Poe, Saki, Bierce, M.R. James, LeFanu, etc.), which is good for young egos. (Also, you can reread these stories as you grow older and find all kinds of richness at each stage in your life.) Also, they're short short stories -- short enough that you can read slowly and carefully and still feel like you're finishing something. And each story has that one powerful image you can hold on to. They're all in the public domain, too (hence all the Scholastic anthologies), so the tutor could, say, go to Gutenberg.org and grab "The Open Window," bring it into Word and bump up the font and add a quick glossary, and print it out to see if it appeals to the kid.

Re. Buffy: Speaking of short stories, I really liked season 1 of Buffy, when the episodes were mostly self-contained, the cast of characters was limited, and there was more menace and less mythos. As the story arcs became more prominent and the Buffiverse expanded, I lost interest. (I had the same problem with X-Files: Loved season 1, but progressively lost interest with each successive season.) But clearly I am in the minority -- every show's a soap these days. What I wouldn't give for a good, new, writer-driven anthology series.

Re. Knitting: I recently rewatched Belgium's only horror film, Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971). There's a scene in which a thoroughly modern Countess Bathory (played by the astonishingly glamorous Delphine Seyrig) is sitting in the lobby of an otherwise empty resort hotel in Ostend, knitting. She is knitting An Impossible Thing, using three needles. As far as I know, it is the only knitting-vampire scene in film history. You don't see Dracula or Carmilla knitting, that's for sure. Don't know about Angel or Spike.

#271 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 07:06 PM:

#267: You know, I was about to mention Leet Key, which has been very handy for dealing with the outbursts of rot13 in this thread. Firefox users should install it. And, of course, all humans should be Firefox users.

#272 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 07:12 PM:

<really_really_heavy_sarcasm>
Oh yeah, I can just see Spike knitting. He's certainly got the patience and the attention span.
</really_really_heavy_sarcasm>
Although it might make sense; he could knit a burkah to wear in daylight.

#273 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 07:35 PM:

Patrick, thanks for reminding me of the obvious... I looked among the extensions for Firefox, and found ASCIItoUnicode, which does what I wanted.

#274 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 07:35 PM:

Oh my. Those ghost story anthologies. The Monkey's Paw. The one about the ghost mother who came to get milk to sustain the living infant in the coffin. The vanishing-hitchhiker one that I first read with trappings of horse-drawn carriages and country roads, and later encountered as a fifties-sixties pop song called "Laurie." (She asked me if she could wear my sweater /She said that she was very cold.)

If he likes horror as well as adventure -- some of the Lovecraft shorts might actually work well. "Pickman's Model" kept me from changing for the Red Line alone for at least a year!

#275 ::: vjstewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:00 PM:

RE: #213 larkspur

Someone else loved Red Moon and Black Mountain! Hurrah! Though I didn't like the sequel much. Did you ever read Excalibur by Sanders Anne Laurenthal?

For kids, but probably older than 2nd-3rd grade unfortunately: Swallows and Amazons, all E. Nesbit, Emil and the Detectives, My Great-Grandfather and I, Big Tiger and Christian, The Adventures of Nils, Octagon Magic, Gone-Away Lake, Green Knowe, Eleanor Farjeon, The Pushcart War, best stop now, hadn't I?

Re: Buffy. Watched erratically. Am about to start from the beginning via Netflix. Viva Netflix!!
V

#276 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:19 PM:

More Buffy stuff.

Best Season: 2 (one complete story, and all parts relate to the whole)

Best Villain: The Mayor

Best Season Premiere: 7 (despite the train wreck of the rest)

Favorite Season (note distinction made between "best" and "favorite"): 6

Favorite Moment: Last episode of Season 6. Tvyrf unf neevirq. Ohssl furrcvfuyl fhzf hc rirelguvat ur'f zvffrq fvapr ergverzrag (" . . . naq V'ir orra fyrrcvat jvgu Fcvxr"). Tvyrf ybbxf fubpxrq. Gura ur fgnegf ynhtuvat. Ohssl, vavgvnyyl bssraqrq (naq cebonoyl rkcrpgvat n fyvtugyl zber cngreanyvfgvp ernpgvba), wbvaf va. Gurl'er fgvyy ynhtuvat frireny zvahgrf yngre. Orfg cresbeznapr gubfr gjb funerq va frira lrnef.

Biggest Disappointment: I heard Nancy Kress describe the beginning of a story as a series of promises which the end must meet (put another way, each promise might be a deal struck in the Whedonverse, and each fulfillment is the anticipated-yet-surprising price of the deal). The show made a promise at the end of Season 4. Ohssl: "V'z abg n qrzba." Nqnz: "Bu ernyyl?" Svefg Fynlre (aneengrq ol Gnen): "Lbh guvax lbh xabj jung lbh ner. Lbh unira'g rira ortha." Gur riraghny oevrs fubjqbja orgjrra Ohssl naq gur Svefg Jngpuref qbrfa'g fngvfsl. Vg vfa'g gur qenfgvp erivfvba bs Ohssl'f frafr bs fynlrearff gung jr jrer cebzvfrq. Vg'f whfg n gvr-hc-ybbfr-guernq rcvfbqr. Fvtu.

#277 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:23 PM:

213, 275: I, too, loved Red Moon, Black Mountain. In fact, I think I still have a copy around here somewhere. I should pull it out to re-read.

#278 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:27 PM:

Video of crocheted hyperbolic manifolds

If you like that sort of thing. (via discovermagazine.com).

#279 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Re: Howard Peirce's suggestion of short stories in comment 270.

Dover has many books of short stories out in their thrift editions, if the kid in question finds a time period or theme that (s)he likes.

#280 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:58 PM:

Will A, 276: Best Villain: The Mayor

Oh, hell yeah.

One of the best tricks I think the writing team pulled off was making the Mayor evil beneath his wholesome exterior, and yet not a hypocrite. The thing that makes Wilkins so unsettling is that he's thoroughly sincere in his aw-shucks folksiness and family-values convictions, and utterly sincere in the way he feels about Faith. (That's one of the more cleverly resonant metaphorical puns of the series: Faith is his weapon, but his devotion to her is genuine.) It would have been so easy to make the Mayor's persona a mask, and put something in his closet other than black magic; but they don't, and he's even more terrifying for it.

#281 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:00 PM:

Another thought about the movie 300:

I've seen suggestions that it's "really" about the US vs Iraq, or the US vs Iran, or Free Society vs Slave Empire (that last was apparently Herodotus's intent, in his Histories).

But going by what they chose to put in the movie, I kinda suspect that the real visual intent was the more visceral "Freaks vs Jocks".

The Persians (in addition to often being of far darker skin hue than seems plausible for the region), are almost uniformly either physically deformed (often looking completely demonic, as noted), or have extensive body modification in the form of piercings, usually connected by chains. There's one particularly large and bloated fellow whose long, handless arms have blades attached (he's serving as an executioner).

The Spartans, in contrast, are white Europeans with heavily muscled bodies. Besides the cloak, all they seem to wear is... a jockstrap.

This thought was brought to the fore because a large proportion of the audience I was in was made up of loud, college-age youths, possibly frat boys (Greek letters...?), cheering on the carnage.

Hm.

Another tie-in to Buffy: Buffy (early seasons) as metaphor for high-school.

#282 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers@272: Oh yeah, I can just see Spike knitting. He's certainly got the patience and the attention span.

But he does. No, really. He just wouldn't use...yarn.

#283 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:27 PM:

Oh my. Those ghost story anthologies. The Monkey's Paw. The one about the ghost mother who came to get milk to sustain the living infant in the coffin.

"The Monkey's Paw" sparked the first honest-to-God literary discussion I cam remember from my school. I've never heard the story about the ghost mother. Does the baby get out? (Eeeeergh.)

If he likes horror as well as adventure -- some of the Lovecraft shorts might actually work well. "Pickman's Model" kept me from changing for the Red Line alone for at least a year!

I dug a paperback book from a box in my attic when I was about seven. I then discovered why my mother had put it in the attic. It was called something like The Scariest Stories the Editors Have Ever Read, Mostly by Lovecraft. It was like watching a gory highway accident: I couldn't stop reading . . .

Besides scabrous hybrid tentacular cyclopean squooshy things from Beyond Rational Reality, there was this story about a little girl whose imaginary friends give her all kinds of neat out-of-body experiences and then promise that she will be free of her body forever if she just says "yes." The next day, her parents find her sweetly smiling, angelically sleeping HEAD on the pillow. And there was the one about a boy who figures out how to jump between alternate realities. But he's only seven, so he gets lost. I couldn't think of that one for years without icy fingers down my spine.

#284 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:41 PM:

#280--Yep! Perfect summary. Love that the Mayor is the only successful parent-figure Faith ever had, and that this relationship is absolutely genuine for both of them. The actor had a few minor roles in West Wing, which was a bit surreal. "Don't let him in the oval office! He's a giant snake!"

#281-- I always thought there was a jocks vs. freaks rivalry between Boromir and Faramir . . .

#282-- I've just snorted my drink up my nose, thanks to you. I really, really wish I'd been drinking wine.

#285 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:42 PM:

On a old topic, today's Kevin & Kell with a new use. Or sort of new.

#286 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:57 PM:

One of the best anthologies of my experience is Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. Guaranteed to scare the heck out of anyone age eight and up. It includes stories by Poe, Collins, Bierce, Lovecraft, Kipling, Blackwood, and MR James. Heckuva bargain, too: $17 for 1,000 pages.

#287 ::: Viola ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:13 PM:

"Lie to Me" is my favorite Buffy episode ever, and I think it's also objectively the best (for whatever value of "objective" you can use when you're talking about a story). S2 is definitely the best season, especially for those of us who (like me) look closely at plot and structure.

I thought the best seasons were 1-3, and I wrote off the show after watching the utter silliness that was "Wrecked." I kept watching till the end of S7, but I regarded it as a poorly-written piece of filmed fanfiction. I couldn't take it seriously as a story anymore.

For my money, the best villain was Angelus. "Passion" was another damned good episode.

#288 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:15 PM:

I do not have SSS (I do have Second Mitten Syndrome, though...). My problem is that I prefer toe-up and a stretchy bind-off; the tubular bind-off that I favor the most is also the one I least enjoy doing. I will slip the stitches to scrap yarn and let the socks languish. Any recommendations for stretchy bind-offs which do not involve kitchener stitch?

#289 ::: Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:29 PM:

DaveL at #186:

Yes, unfortunately, some of the Dolittles are no longer politically correct (the character Bumpo, specifically), so they (the copyright owners) felt they had to clean them up. I can't really fault them, although I loved Bumpo and thought he was funny when I was a kid. On the other hand, there's no excuse for trashing Lofting's illustrations. You can still find old copies secondhand, though.

#290 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:31 PM:

I loved the Bradbury juveniles...R is for Rocket, S is for Space, but usually I just read anything with horses in it -- the Black Stallion series foremost. I also got into reading mysteries pretty early, and straight fantasy (Narnia, Earthsea).

Two of my three kids fought reading -- until they discovered Captain Underpants. Then we stocked our bookshelves with things that we and their brother had loved: Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Beverly Cleary, J.K. Rowling. No dice -- they stil hated reading.

But then the middle child discovered Agatha Christie. The youngest fell in love with E.L. Konigsburg and Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain and The Other side of the Mountain.

[Cliché alert] Reading really is such a personal thing.

About movie endings, I swear I read a review online for Zodiac which was disappointed at the lack of an arrest at the end. (I loved the movie, although I thought the ending could have been handled a little bit differently. Robert Downey Jr. was terrific.)

#291 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:41 PM:

MK @ 288

Well, you could do crochet chain bind-off (best for lace, but, hey, it doesn't involve kitchener stitch).

Actually, if you don't have Montse Stanley on your shelf, you need to raid either a knit shop or a library and look at it. Abour a zillion cast-ons and bind-offs: surely one will work.

#292 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:49 PM:

Abi #262: I would appreciate advice on vellum made from rolling calves, old hige (you have to scroll down), or moko jumbie .

#293 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:04 PM:

Patrick, thank you so much for the link to the Firefox extension. I can't wait to go back through the thread and read all the coded parts!

#294 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Another idea for a kid who doesn't like to read might be nonfiction. Some kids just aren't into imaginative stories, but like reading about how to do things, or history, where they know the story is true.

There are books that are collections of short story biographies about historical people - I've seen this sort of book about scientists, or medical researchers, sports figures, politcal leaders, etc.

#295 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:37 PM:

@283:

And there was the one about a boy who figures out how to jump between alternate realities. But he's only seven, so he gets lost. I couldn't think of that one for years without icy fingers down my spine.

Which connects to the earlier-mentioned Mimsy were the Borogroves (@88, @130, @150).

The boy and girl in that story were 7 & 2, respectively (although I think at some point they might have aged a bit), and while they figured out how to step outside our reality, it seems rather clear that they don't really know exactly what they're doing. I suppose we are supposed to hope that the toys programmed in survival reflexes sufficient to wherever it is they will end up traveling to, and through.

At one point, earlier in the story, salmon are brought up, and the boy appears to be under the impression that our world - our universe - is like the river that those animals spawn in, but there's a whole "ocean" that could be reached.

My own thought about the ocean analogy, though, is that the ocean is full of predators and other deadly dangers...

#296 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:01 AM:

As to slushing, my wife Sally reads slush for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, which is a paying market (just). This magazine's policy is that all, repeat all, submissions, are read blind.

From my observations, about a third of the submissions are unreadable - that is, they make no sense at all, have no idea of what a story is, or (frequently, alas, "and") are written in a language whose relationship to English is distant, at best.

Another two-fifths are merely incompetent - the characters are automatons, the dialogue wooden, the complications childish, the action contrived, the problems facing the protagonist picayune, the resolution simple, the description, setting and plot replete with obvious holes. (This last, I believe, is more often the case with fantasy than with science-fiction, for reasons that would require an essay.)

Of the rest, most are competent stories, but boring. Either they've been done before, and always much better, or there's just no spark to them, nothing new. The characters are believable, but they aren't memorable or engaging. The plot is logical enough, but hardly involving. The setting is plausible, given the premises, but humdrum - or at least its possibilities are not explored or exploited.

Occasionally, a story will arrive that at least manages to avoid one of those shortcomings, and in addition manages to be entertaining. These, generally, get into the magazine - on present performance, about one in every hundred of the submissions. Very occasionally, one is found that sparks on several different levels, for a number of different people, and whose appeal is more than simple entertainment. So far, I've seen three or four of these out of those published by ASIM - or about one in five thousand of those submitted and around one in fifty of those actually published.

I'm sorry to be saying these things in present company. I'm absolutely certain that Teresa or Patrick could say much more, but are observing a professional discretion that becomes them.

#297 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Ursula L, that was my youngest. He wanted science books -- he especially loved anything to do with physics, and has read things above his age level. His current knowledge of astronomy (he's ten) exceeds mine.

We have yet to find an age appropriate -- or any, really -- book on monotremes, especially echidnas, which are a particular obsession of his.

#298 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:37 AM:

PJ Evans @ 291,
Oh, I've got Montse Stanley, who recommends tubular bind-off as the best for 1x1 ribbing. I don't really mind grafting so much, but at the finer gauges, I get rather cranky. I've tried simply binding off loosely, but I don't like the way it looks.

#299 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:41 AM:

#269 Jon, which Whisperado songs were partially inspired by BtVS?

(Also, hi!)

#300 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:50 AM:

Owlmirror @ 295

Yes, that's precisely why I called it a horror story way upthread. The finest horror stories are the ones that don't have to tell you what's going to happen, they just have to imply what might happen, and let you obsess over it. The horror for the parents is obvious, the horror for the children is only implied, and potential rather than actual, at that. But you can't help thinking ...

#301 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:09 AM:

#251 Dan Layman-Kennedy: "I think it fits in with the fact that the narrative cosmos of the Whedonverse pays attention and gives you what you ask for even if you didn't intend the consequences ("Don't speak Latin in front of the books, Xander"), and collects the bill with impartial and implacable exactitude. I get the impression that one of the defining characteristics of the Powers That Be is that they are relentlessly and terrifyingly just."

Hmm, that casts the ending of seven in an interesting light. Whose comeuppence is being served there? Creuncf Ohssl'f riraghny erivfvba bs gur Fynlre flfgrz vf gur pngpu gung gur Svefg Jngpuref qvqa'g nagvpvcngr. "Url, lbh nfxrq sbe n Fynlre gb svtug gur qnexarff sbe lbh. Vs lbh qvqa'g jnag ure gb unir serr jvyy, lbh fubhyqa'g unir pubfra n tvey."

#302 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:40 AM:

Heresiarch:

Oh, absolutely. Buffy is given her task at the beginning with the expectation that she'll be perhaps a somewhat better than average Slayer, amd we all know how long they last. But, fur unf orggre fhccbeg guna cerivbhf Fynlref (n uryy bs n ybg orggre, cha vagraqrq), naq yrff vagrerfg va sbyybjvat beqref. Gur cbvag vf znqr n ahzore bs gvzrf guebhtu gur frevrf gung bayl uhznaf pna znxr zbeny qrpvfvbaf, orpnhfr gurl nybar unir pbzcyrgryl serr jvyy. Ohg gur pbairefr vf nyfb gehr: znxvat zbeny qrpvfvbaf erdhverf serr jvyy. Fb lbh unir gb tvir gur wbo gb n orvat jvgu serr jvyy naq bapr lbh'ir qbar gung, fur trgf gb qrpvqr jung'f zbeny. Naq vs fur'f yvxr Ohssl, fur qbrfa'g pner zhpu ubj ure qrpvfvbaf jvyy or npprcgrq ol gur crbcyr jub tnir ure gur tvt.

Ba gbc bs juvpu, bs pbhefr, va gur raq fur znxrf gur qrpvfvba gb or n Fynlre, vaqrcraqrag bs gur snpg gung fur jnf erpehvgrq naq genvarq jvgubhg nal erny haqrefgnaqvat bs gur pbafrdhraprf. Univat npprcgrq gung, vg orpbzrf cbffvoyr sbe ure gb znxr gur ovttrfg qrpvfvba bs nyy, gur qrpvfvba bs ubj gb svanyyl qrsrng gur Uryyzbhgu. V guvax gung vs fur unqa'g znqr gung qrpvfvba, vs fur whfg pbagvahrq ba nf n eryhpgnag qensgrr, gur bayl cbffvoyr ivpgbel sbe ure fvqr jbhyq arprffnevyl vaibyir ure bja fnpevsvpr, tvira gur onynapr bs gur sbeprf. Ohg fur znxrf gung haarprffnel ol npprcgvat vg nf n fhpprffshy bhgpbzr.

Sounds more than a little paradoxical, but it makes sense to me in the context of the story. I might even be willing to accept it as a good way to run a universe.

#303 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:56 AM:

Since I'm here, on kids-books I may as well weigh in: Diana Wynne Jones wrote the best books that I never understood when I was actually a child (but loved, nonetheless) and I came back to them years later, and even have a tattoo based on one of the haunting images in her work: the NOW/HERE NOWHERE vases from [i]Fire & Hemlock[/i]...

She's a keeper, in ways that few other authors have been for me. Very re-readable. Unmuddles my head. I hope she lives, and writes, forever.

#304 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:24 AM:

#270: [Bathory] is knitting An Impossible Thing, using three needles

"Whateley, this sock was fashioned to fit no human foot."

It's possible to knit not only a Moebius Scarf but also a Klein Hat... "Put this on, it's cold inside/outside".

And, yes, the Mayor.

Xander, at the end of the Initiative arc: "Does anyone else miss the Mayor? You know, 'I just wanna be a big snake'?"

#305 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:24 AM:

ROT13 for those who don't use Firefox (you could only stop me using Opera by taking my computer access away):

put this into a bookmark, drag the bookmark to a bar where you can click it (recombine the lines first):

javascript:inText=window.getSelection()+'';if(inText=='')%7Bvoid(inText=prompt('Phrase...',''))
%7D;if(!inText)%7BoutText='No%20text%20selected'%7Delse%7BoutText='';for(i=0;i%3CinText.length;i++)
%7Bt=inText.charCodeAt(i);if((t%3E64&&t%3C78)%7C%7C(t%3E96&&t%3C110))%7Bt+=13%7Delse%7Bif
((t%3E77&&t%3C91)%7C%7C(t%3E109&&t%3C123))%7Bt-=13%7D%7DoutText+=String.fromCharCode(t)%7D%7Dalert(outText)

#306 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:24 AM:

Owlmirror @295: At one point, earlier in the story, salmon are brought up, and the boy appears to be under the impression that our world - our universe - is like the river that those animals spawn in, but there's a whole "ocean" that could be reached.

My own thought about the ocean analogy, though, is that the ocean is full of predators and other deadly dangers...

There was a PBS series about evolution which ran a couple of years ago, which suggested one of the reason that limbs evolved is that it allowed their owners to get out of the water and away from their predators.

Speaking of salmon (and predators)...

#307 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Rob @ 306... There was a PBS series about evolution which ran a couple of years ago, which suggested one of the reason that limbs evolved is that it allowed their owners to get out of the water and away from their predators.

I much prefer Gary Larson's theory: they were playing baseball in the water, but one of them knocked the ball way of it and onto the beach.

#308 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Am I hopelessly dim? I've just been plugging the ROT-13 stuff into www.rot13.com.

#309 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:05 AM:

Serge,

That makes us descendants of outfielders. I was a lousy baseball player in school, so I was always chosen last for a team, and always stuck way out in the outfield. Perhaps its hereditary?

#310 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen: Yeah. I think that it's qlvat naq pbzvat onpx gung tvirf Ohssl gur zragny qvfgnapr gb ernyvmr ubj onq gur fgnghf dhb vf. Gurer'f n ybg va frnfba svir nobhg ubj rirel Fynlre riraghnyyl trgf n ovt by' qrngu jvfu (Znlor orpnhfr orvat gur Fynlre vf n evttrq tnzr?) naq trgf urefrys xabpxrq bss. Gura gur arj, anvir Fynlre gnxrf bire, shyy bs raguhfvnfz. Ohssl vf ab rkprcgvba--ohg ure sevraqf jba'g yrg ure bss gung rnfvyl. Jura fur whzcf va frnfba svir, fur'f qbvat rknpgyl jung fur vf fhccbfrq gb: fnpevsvpr urefrys sbe gur tbbq bs gur Jngpuref--hu, V zrna, uhznaxvaq. Ohg ntnvafg ure jvyy, fur'f fhqqrayl onpx ng gur byq tevaq, naq V'z abg pbaivaprq vg'f whfg ergheavat sebz gur qrnq gung znxrf gung fb uneq. Fur jnagrq bhg, naq qrngu jnf gur jnl. Gung qvqa'g jbex, naq fb gur bayl bcgvba yrsg vf gb punatr gur flfgrz. If it had ended with five, it would have been a status-quo affirming moral. Seven's ending is far more radical.

#311 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Back to Grand Unified Theory for the Buffyverse for a moment (I clearly spend too much time thinking about this stuff. ... Ughhhh ... Must ... get ... life).

It occurs to me that the Buffyverse differs from our mundane universe in 2 fundamental ways:

1. The power of will as a force of nature as compared to the power of gravity or the strong nuclear force is much greater there. For instance, a vampire's will can keep its body, and even portions of its mind from distintegrating after death, despite all the physical forces.

2. There is yet another fundamental force in the Buffyverse, and it is at least as powerful as any of the others: the force of drama. In that universe, dramatic arcs are a fundamental geometric entity, just as parabolas are here. (Corollary: in the Buffyverse Drama Queens are ever so much more important and powerful than they are here)

#312 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Bruce @ 309... That would explain a few things, wouldn't it? I'm not sure how that fits in with San Francisco's new ballpark being literally right by the Bay.

#313 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:40 AM:

mk, I'm going to end up trying that tubular bind-off on something this year, having done the tubular cast-on (the one with chain stitch over the needle: it does look good). Ususally I just do a loose bind-off, it being easy. I'm not sure there are any really good ways, other than something weird like a sideways border.

#314 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Serge @ 312

Clearly that's just another example of the degradation and devolution of our society. Even our popular sports are regressing to their beginnings.
Western civilization has about 10 more minutes, I'd say.

#315 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:38 AM:

#314:Clearly that's just another example of the degradation and devolution of our society.

Today's Washington Post has an article about the dumbing down of TV quiz shows.

#316 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Heresiarch@310: That fits. We know that Fynlref ner npgviryl qvfpbhentrq--ol Jngpuref, naq, vg frrzf gur fcvevg bs gur Svefg Fynlre--sebz univat erny yvirf naq znxvat sevraqf naq rkcrevrapvat yvsr va nyy vgf pbzcyrkvgvrf. Vfbyngvba vf fb unaql sbe xrrcvat lbhe gnetrg qbja. Gur Fynlre vf fhccbfrq gb or n frperg--lrnu, evtug. Sebz jubz? Nyy gur qrzbaf xabj nobhg gur Fynlre. Gur frperpl gur Jngpuref jnag xrrcf gur Fynlre sebz univat nyyvrf.

JVgubhg Jvyybj, gur fcryy znxvat nyy Cbgragvnyf vagb shyy Fynlref pbhyq arire unir orra pnfg, naq Jvyybj jbhyq arire unir unq nal ernfba gb qb gung jvgubhg ure sevraqfuvc jvgu Ohssl. Vfbyngvat gur Fynlre xrcg rirelbar ohg n unaqshy bs Jngpuref sebz rire xabjvat gur pbfg gubfr tveyf cnvq. (Tvyrf' erfcbafr gb gur Jngpure Pbhapvy'f fgngrzrag gung "jr'er svtugvat n jne" jnf: "Jr'er jntvat n jne. Fur'f svtugvat vg.") Pbafpvbhfyl pubbfvat gb or gur Fynlre jnf gur frpbaq fgrc va orvat noyr gb znxr nyy Cbgragvnyf Fynlref; gur svefg jnf pubbfvat gb unir n yvsr bs ure bja (Ohssl gb gur Svefg Fynlre: "Gurer ner gerrf va gur qrfreg fvapr lbh zbirq bhg, naq V qba'g fyrrc ba n orq bs obarf").

Ohg Ohssl'f fgvyy abg pbzcyrgryl oernxvat gur fgnghf dhb. Nsgre nyy, fur whfg qensgrq jub xabjf ubj znal tveyf gb or Fynlref, naq V znl unir zvffrq fbzrguvat, ohg V qba'g guvax gurl jrer tvira pubvprf nobhg vg.

#317 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Age-inappropriate monotreme thing:

http://www.cafepress.com/goats_all.2901234

On Buffy: There's the "Fray consequence"... Gnxvat na ragver trarengvba bs Fynlref naq rzcbjrevat gurz ng bapr frrzf gb unir yrsg abobql gb fgrc va sbe gur ARKG trarengvba. That tends to hollow out the victory a little, in my mind... but to have Fray, you need a starting place.

On 300: Seems to me there's ammo for nearly any reading- freedom vs. slavery, Iraqis vs. Americans, neonazis vs. lesser peoples, jocks vs. freaks. Kind of a Rorschach blot. My wife Helen is not just Greek by heritage, but specifically Spartan... so we were mostly seeing it as the thing itself. And, yes, we have had to explain to people already that there really is a stone at Thermopylae that says "Go tell the Spartans..." and there really are statues of Leonidas in the town square of Sparta.

Bodywise, on 300: Portraying the Spartans as anything but "heavily muscled" would be, actually, less realistic - think "Active duty soldier" for a start. [I have issues with the Spartan dress code- but it starts with round shields and lack of armor is the SECOND thing on the list. There are contemporary stories about Spartans wearing minimal clothing normally, by the way.]

#318 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Solely from memory, and I am, in fact, somewhat inebriated.

"Stranger who passes: go tell the Greeks.
Here we lie, in obedience to their laws."

Their laws, dammit, their laws, not to the whim of some King, some autarch. Their laws.

And by the way, made such a story as will live when the west is no more than legend.

I think of old Leonidas
The howling mob, the Asian mass,
And Spartan spears that barred the pass
Still called Thermopylae.

At the bottom of the pass is that stele to the Three Hundred. Not far away is the memorial to 2nd New Zealand, who also held the Pass against the barbarians. They're in good company, all of them.

#319 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Ohg Ohssl'f fgvyy abg pbzcyrgryl oernxvat gur fgnghf dhb. Nsgre nyy, fur whfg qensgrq jub xabjf ubj znal tveyf gb or Fynlref, naq V znl unir zvffrq fbzrguvat, ohg V qba'g guvax gurl jrer tvira pubvprf nobhg vg.

V guvax vg'f n ybg rnfvre gb or n Fynlre guna gur Fynlre. Sbe bar guvat, vs lbh ernyyl unir n ovt ceboyrz gb qrny jvgu, lbh pna trg gbtrgure n jubyr ohapu bs crbcyr gb tb junpx vg--abj gung gur pbaprcg bs "grnzf" unf orra cebira gb jbex--naq lbh xabj gung gur bgure crbcyr ba lbhe grnz unir lbhe ersyrkrf naq fgeratgu naq novyvgl gb urny; lbh qba'g unir gb chg lbhefrys va unez'f jnl gb xrrc gurz svtugvat, ng yrnfg abg nf zhpu.

Bar nyfb vzntvarf gung vg'yy znxr gur inzcverf naq nffbegrq bgure anfgvrf n yvggyr zber pnershy vs gurl xabj gung gurfr qnlf xrrcvat genpx bs bar tvey vfa'g tbvat gb phg vg. Jura nal enaqbz srznyr ba gur fgerrg zvtug or noyr gb qhfg lbhe inzcvevp nff, lbh fgneg ybbxvat sbe nygreangvirf snveyl snfg, V'q fnl.

#320 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:25 PM:

Sandy B. at 317 - What's you're describing as the "Fray consquence" is one of the minor issues I have with Fray. I'll be interested to see if it turns out Fray is canon or not with the way Buffy's timeline develops; I'm sort of crossing my fingers that it turns out to be some sort of alternate timeline, or that the backstory is unreliable, only because I dislike "gur zntvp tbrf njnl" as a resolution to fantasy storylines. (Of course, I suppose that the point of Fray is that it doesn't, really; but still.)

#321 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:02 PM:

the way I heard it [many translations exist]:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

#322 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:21 PM:

I have to say, any time I hear one side of a long-ago war being characterized by the supporters of another as a "howling Asian mob," I start looking around for the propaganda staff responsible for dreaming this stuff up.

Given the choice between living in Sparta and living in Achaemanid Persia, I'd choose Persia and so would you. Sparta was a podunk city ruled by a kinky cult of hypermasculinity, who showed no particular loyalty in the crunch to their fellow Hellenes. Persia was a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic superstate notable for its religious tolerance.

#323 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:24 PM:

(It's particularly ironic to see Jewish neoconservative intellectuals blithering about the wonderfulness of 300. Haven't they read the Book of Ezra? Exactly which Spartan leaders are praised as righteous rulers therein? Idiots.)

#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:31 PM:

My wife tells ne that Steven Pressfield's novel Gate of Fire is a much better treatment to the whole Battle of Thermopylae.

Say, Patrick, has anyone ever written a novel of what would have happened if the Persians had won?

#325 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Serge 324: Um...they did win. When are you talking about? They changed ownership when Alexander conquered them, but not policy...it was the internal squabbling after his death that tore the empire apart.

#326 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:40 PM:

I'm really going to have to finish that post about Persia/Iran.

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Xopher... I don't know what I'm talking about. This isn't the first time I've embarassed myself, and probably not the last. Sigh.

#328 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:49 PM:

#324: "Say, Patrick, has anyone ever written a novel of what would have happened if the Persians had won?"

Beats me. Interesting idea, though.

I don't actually know much about ancient Persian culture. Several years ago, though, Teresa and I stumbled on an exhibition of ancient Persian ceramics at the Brooklyn Museum--vessels in the shapes of everyday things, like cows and boots. What startled us about it was the sheer whimsicality of many of the pieces. This wasn't a culture of inscrutable howling-mob alienness. This was a culture of people who found fun and humor in life.

#329 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:49 PM:

I tell you, living in China during the Cultural Revolution would have been preferable to living in Sparta.

It was the most regimented society ever. Not a democracy. You know that phrase "spartan existence"? There's a reason for it. The laws specified everything you could own, everything you could eat (and when). What work you did, when you did it, and how. It was illegal to own a cloak!! Even in the winter. Every boy and man was a member of the military from weaning.

They were tough, no doubt about it. That was because if they weren't, they died. I would so rather have lived in Persia. They had literature, music, art, architecture and cuisine. Relative freedom (given the absolute monarchy).

#330 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:52 PM:

#316 Aconite: "V znl unir zvffrq fbzrguvat, ohg V qba'g guvax gurl jrer tvira pubvprf nobhg vg."

Weren't they? V inthryl erzrzore n ovt tebhc zrrgvat evtug orsber gurl fgbez gur Uryyzbhgu jurer gurl nyy fvta ba. Also, what Carrie S. said.

#276 Will A: "Biggest Disappointment: The show made a promise at the end of Season 4. Ohssl: "V'z abg n qrzba." Nqnz: "Bu ernyyl?" Svefg Fynlre (aneengrq ol Gnen): "Lbh guvax lbh xabj jung lbh ner. Lbh unira'g rira ortha." Gur riraghny oevrs fubjqbja orgjrra Ohssl naq gur Svefg Jngpuref qbrfa'g fngvfsl. Vg vfa'g gur qenfgvp erivfvba bs Ohssl'f frafr bs fynlrearff gung jr jrer cebzvfrq. Vg'f whfg n gvr-hc-ybbfr-guernq rcvfbqr. Fvtu."

Though wouldn't this be a fun thread to pursue in season eight? Nsgre nyy, abj gurer ner n ohapu bs gurz. Ubj znal jvyy ghea bhg rivy? Jung vs Ohssl whfg jrag nf nppvqragnyyl perngrq n arj oerrq bs qrzba? It would be holding with the whiplash Whedonverse ethos.

#331 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:54 PM:

I took Serge's "won" in #324 to mean "prevailed in world history the way the Graeco-Roman cultures did." Arguably you can say that Persia never really completely "lost" (indeed, it's right there), but it would be interesting to contemplate a world in which that empire, rather than Rome, is the thing to which dozens of modern cultures look back.

#332 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:58 PM:

#297: Monotremes are cool.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. I am very surprised that not even Turtledove has written an alternate History where Persia prevailed in Europe.

#334 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:04 PM:

#322 PNH: "I have to say, any time I hear one side of a long-ago war being characterized by the supporters of another as a "howling Asian mob," I start looking around for the propaganda staff responsible for dreaming this stuff up."

I'm right with you there.

#328: "This wasn't a culture of inscrutable howling-mob alienness. This was a culture of people who found fun and humor in life."

I know! Almost as if they were human! Shocking!

One of the things I really liked about the movie Kingdom of Heaven, despite its thoroughly anachronistic protagonist, was how utterly human its portrayal of Saladin was.

#335 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Heresiarch 330: V inthryl erzrzore n ovt tebhc zrrgvat evtug orsber gurl fgbez gur Uryyzbhgu jurer gurl nyy fvta ba.

No, because gung jnf bayl bar grnz bs fynlref. Gurer jrer gubhfnaqf hcba gubhfnaqf guebhtubhg gur jbeyq. Erzrzore gur tvey uvggvat gur onfronyy vagb beovg? Gubfr ner gur barf jub qvqa'g trg n pubvpr. Ohg V org gurl jrera'g haunccl!

#336 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Persia was an eastern god-kingdom, ruled by a despot whose word was life and death to his subjects. Sparta's laws were horrid, but they were made by its people, capable of improvement and in fact improved. Sparta is long-gone, but its successor, after many travails, is a democracy. Persia is still a god-kingdom. Maybe I would have lived there, given the choice. That's testimony to my own indolence, cowardice, and lack of moral fibre. I would have been wrong. And so, Patrick, are you.

#337 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:08 PM:

#330:V inthryl erzrzore n ovt tebhc zrrgvat evtug orsber gurl fgbez gur Uryyzbhgu jurer gurl nyy fvta ba.

I think Aconite is refering to gur zbagntr jurer jr frr tveyf nyy bire gur jbeyq trggvat gurve fynlre cbjref. Gunaxf gb Jvyybj'f fcryy, nalbar jub pna or n Fynlre unf orpbzr n Fynlre, abg whfg gur Fynlref-va-genvavat jub unccrarq gb or ng gur Uryyzbhgu.

#338 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:13 PM:

Persia is still a god-kingdom.

With a government which is at least nominally democratically elected.

Their cuisine is very much worth meeting, their poetry is still being read in many translations, and their decorative arts are part of our cultural vocabulary.

#339 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Heresiarch@330: Weren't they? V inthryl erzrzore n ovt tebhc zrrgvat evtug orsber gurl fgbez gur Uryyzbhgu jurer gurl nyy fvta ba. Also, what Carrie S. said.

Bayl gur Cbgragvnyf ng gur zrrgvat tbg n ibgr, naq gura znwbevgl ehyrq; gurer jnf ab jnl gb bcg bhg vaqvivqvnyyl. Ohssl znqr gur pubvpr sbe rirel Cbgragvny va gur jbeyq. Gurl qvqa'g trg gb pubbfr; gurl jrer qensgrq, whfg gur jnl fur jnf, whfg gur jnl rirel bgure Fynlre unq orra.

V'z ubcvat gurer'f fbzrguvat nobhg Fynlre zntvp gung jba'g npprcg n gehyl hajvyyvat Cbgragvny nf n Fynlre; znlor orvat n Cbgragvny zrnaf fbzr cneg bs lbh unf gb nterr gb or jvyyvat gb or gur Fynlre vs Pnyyrq. Ohg V qbhog vg; gur zra jub perngrq Fynlref boivbhfyl qvqa'g pner nobhg gung xvaq bs guvat.

#340 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Hmm. As someone who's been pretty wound about seeing 300 (I plan on going this week) but aware that anything with Frank Miller's name on it is going to be, to greater or lesser degree, a load of macho bollocks, this discussion has had me thinking about to what degree and in what direction I'm willing to suspend my personal political convictions to enjoy entertainment-as-entertainment, and whether or not that says something about me that I ought to be uncomfortable about. (I mean, for context, I love both Sin City and Braveheart, despite knowing several good arguments why I perhaps shouldn't.)

I haven't really made up my mind one way or the other, but it's given me something to ponder.

#341 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Serge #324: There's Harry Turtledove's story 'Counting Potsherds'.

#342 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Serge (#333), Harry Turtledove did write a short story about a world where the Persian empire triumphed and set the cultural standard. It's in _Departures_, and I think it's called "Potshards" or something very like it.

I was confused by some of the references to "300" in the last few dozen comments. I thought people were referring to comment #300. (Page up...no, that makes no sense. Page back down. Maybe they meant some number close to 300 and typed it wrong?) I finally figured it out.

#343 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Dave:

So had Greek civilization lost the war with Asia during the '50s when Greece was ruled by a military junta? Or during the Middle Ages when it was ruled by feudalism? How about Iran - IIRC that was a democratic constitutional monarchy just prior to the (secular dictator) "Shah"s coup-d'etat? Does that make them the natural successors of Greece?

I am all for democracy, but it makes no sense to portray it as running in some geographical and temporal straight line from the Spartans. (In fact I recall Sparta had hereditary kings, unlike Athens.) Our heritage owes far more to the Athenians than the Spartans.

#344 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Dave, Iran isn't still "a god-kingdom", it's one again. They went through a brief period of democratic reform before somebody overthrew their government and reinstalled a puppet monarchy for the sake of controlling their oil. That somebody, of course, was us.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Thanks, Fragano and Adrian. I'll look for it.

#346 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Aconite @ 316:
Agreed, up to a point, but I suspect it's a little more complicated than that. Gur arj Fynlref qba'g trg n pubvpr nobhg gnxrvat ba gur cbjre gb or Fynlref, ohg V guvax gurl trg n pubvpr bs jurgure gurl unir gb qb gur wbo. Bs pbhefr, gur Ohsslirefr orvat jung vg vf, V fhfcrpg gurl'yy unir zhpu orggre (vs creuncf fubegre) yvirf vs gurl qb gnxr hc gur jbex.

#347 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:52 PM:

The thing, Dave, is how do we know that Persian's conquest of Europe would have wound up like the Persia we are familiar with, only bigger?

#348 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Re Persia:

I vaguely recall that Poul Anderson wrote one of the Time Patrol stories based on the idea that Cyrus the Great was a Patrol agent who got stuck in the past and (in one branch) managed to keep Persian civilization dominant in Asia Minor for several extra centuries.

While I don't know much about Persian history, I have met a number of Persians, and to a person they have been open-minded, humorous, intelligent people. Makes me sad I didn't get to go on that trip to Teheran back in '76. It was planned up until 2 days before we left, then the company CEO changed his mind and went alone. Big mistake, too, his demo blew up on him.

#349 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Dan @ #340 -

I saw the 300 this past weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it - this despite agreeing with everything PNH has said on this thread.

It helps that ancient greek history is not one of my strong suits; not that I don't know how anachronistic/wacky the stuff in the movie is, but that I am able to "read" the entire film as complete fantasy.

Conversely,"Elizabeth" made me pig-biting mad, and upcoming "Golden Age" promises to once again squander wonderful cast and costume by ruining the story - at least that's my experience, being an aficionado of late Tudor England.

If you are able to view the film as completely make-believe with no connection to the real world, and don't mind feeling like you're spending two hours in the middle of a Boris Vallejo painting you will probably enjoy it.

#350 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Gur arj Fynlref qba'g trg n pubvpr nobhg gnxrvat ba gur cbjre gb or Fynlref, ohg V guvax gurl trg n pubvpr bs jurgure gurl unir gb qb gur wbo.

Bu, zbfg qrsvavgryl--jura lbh'er Bar Tvey Va Nyy Gur Jbeyq, lbh qb gur wbo be vg'f Senapvf Sbeq Pbccbyn gvzr. Jura lbh'er bar bs frireny gubhfnaq (be zber) fynlref, lbh pna va tbbq pbafpvrapr fvg onpx naq fnl, "V'z tbvat gb hfr zl rkprcgvbany fcrrq, fgeratgu naq urnyvat gb wbva gur Znevarf". Be ragre gur Bylzcvpf, be orpbzr n yhzorewnpx...be whfg unir n erthyne yvsr va juvpu lbh qba'g unir gb nfx lbhe oblsevraq gb bcra cvpxyr wnef.

#351 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:27 PM:

nerdycellist... Would that be the "Elizabeth" movie with Doctor Who's ristopher Eccleston as Norfolk, and 007's Daniel Craig as a assassin monk?

#352 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:29 PM:

nerdycellist, 349: ...not that I don't know how anachronistic/wacky the stuff in the movie is, but that I am able to "read" the entire film as complete fantasy.

Yeah, that's pretty much my outlook - I just assume that this takes place in some alternate Earth where "Persia" is some sort of Evil Fantasy Empire. The spending a couple of hours inside a Boris painting is more or less what's interesting to me about it in the first place.

(This has been my approach to "historical" film for a while now, actually; I assume there's more poetry than history in any of it unless given a very good reason to believe otherwise. Which is probably why I enjoyed Elizabeth too, despite knowing what a complete flight of fancy it was.)

#353 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:34 PM:

CarrieS@350: Bu, zbfg qrsvavgryl--jura lbh'er Bar Tvey Va Nyy Gur Jbeyq, lbh qb gur wbo be vg'f Senapvf Sbeq Pbccbyn gvzr. Jura lbh'er bar bs frireny gubhfnaq (be zber) fynlref, lbh pna va tbbq pbafpvrapr fvg onpx naq fnl, "V'z tbvat gb hfr zl rkprcgvbany fcrrq, fgeratgu naq urnyvat gb wbva gur Znevarf". Be ragre gur Bylzcvpf, be orpbzr n yhzorewnpx...be whfg unir n erthyne yvsr va juvpu lbh qba'g unir gb nfx lbhe oblsevraq gb bcra cvpxyr wnef.

I'd like to think so. Rkprcg gung, tvira jung Fynlre oybbq qbrf sbe qrzbaf, qb lbh guvax na hagenvarq, hanssvyvngrq Fynlre vf tbvat gb unir zhpu punapr gb tebj hc? Fb qbrf fur ernyyl unir n pubvpr, bapr fur'f n Fynlre? Joss' worlds are never that simple.

Y'know, there's something in me that's just terribly tickled that we're quoting one another in cypher.

#354 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:34 PM:

One thing that really annoyed me about "300" (besides the racism and the homophobia and... pretty much everything about it) is that its idea of larger-than-life means that you must shout every line of dialog. The movie could have taken a few cues from Lord of the Rings. (Speaking of which, wasn't the narrator of "300" the same actor who played Faramir?)

#355 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Serge @ 347
The thing, Dave, is how do we know that Persian's conquest of Europe would have wound up like the Persia we are familiar with, only bigger?

Right. How could we have predicted the rise of democracy in Western Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries looking at European feudal civilization of the 12th century? Or worse still, the Roman Empire of the 3rd?

#356 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:40 PM:

And then the EFF goes and does something I support. The EFF's interest, money, and credibility got them into the Digital Video Broadcasting Project meetings where the new Content Protection and Copy Management for digital video was designed. I've just read the EFF's Who Controls Your Television? on the proposal and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in such things, which I suppose is anyone who has a VCR or DVD recorder and would like to keep on using them.

#357 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:42 PM:

#328: "What startled us about it was the sheer whimsicality of many of the pieces."

There's a piece in the "Pre Columbian" section of SF's De Young art museum that could fit that description. Incan, as I recall, but I'll need to double-check next time I'm in town.

It's a clay model of a ceremonial hat. Draped on the top is a little dog figurine. It looks like a clay model of a toy dog, with floppy limbs toy and the most amazing goofy expression. It's a caricature, and a really silly one.

* * *

I heard an interview with Miller on NPR a month or so back. He sounded like he had, to steal a line from Bruce Sterling, a great big cranky burr under his saddle.

I'll stick with Larry Gonick for comic book renderings of the Persian invasion.

#358 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:47 PM:

My word, this thread has turned into the proverbial internet firehouse (and my RSS reader, FeedDemon, can't cope with the thread RSS feed. Woe, woe.)

By the way, Patrick, thank you for sidelighting New Mecca.

#359 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Well, the thing to really keep in mind with Joss Whedon's writing is that ardhr cbeeb dhvfdhnz rfg, dhv qbyberz vcfhz dhvn qbybe fvg nzrg, pbafrpgrghe, nqvcvfpv iryvg, frq dhvn aba ahzdhnz rvhf zbqv grzcben vapvqhag hg ynober rg qbyber zntanz nyvdhnz dhnreng ibyhcgngrz.

#360 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Well, you may want to inhabit a Boris painting for 2 hours, based on my reaction to Sin City, I doubt I'd last 10 minutes. It's funny, I've never been especially fond of his paintings, or of Frazetta's for that matter, but I didn't understand why until I saw a TV special on Frazetta last week. and got to look at a few dozen paintings in the space of a few minutes. It doesn't matter to me that Frazetta, at least, is a truly great craftsman, though that usually does matter to me, but I just don't like artists whose only theme is grim violence, with no sense of humor.

Give me Kelly Freas or Boris Artzybasheff for an illustrator. Unfortunately, they're both dead. Well, there's always Leo and Diane Dillon.

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Bruce @ 360... Living in a painting would be as exciting as watching paint dry. Oh, wait...

#362 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Rkprcg gung, tvira jung Fynlre oybbq qbrf sbe qrzbaf, qb lbh guvax na hagenvarq, hanssvyvngrq Fynlre vf tbvat gb unir zhpu punapr gb tebj hc? Fb qbrf fur ernyyl unir n pubvpr, bapr fur'f n Fynlre?

Jryy, lrf. Tvira gung n fynlre qlvat haqre zlfgrevbhf pvephzfgnaprf vf tbvat gb oevat qbja gur jengu bs nyy gur bgure barf. Vapyhqvat gur Fynlre, nf ybat nf Ohssl'f nebhaq.

Demons may be bloodthirsty, but they aren't stupid (usually).

#363 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Jon Sobel @ 269:

The line Aimee Mann spoke was in the BtVS s7 episode "Sleeper," one of my favorite episodes partly because it aired when I had just fallen head over heels for the entire Whedonverse at once. I started with Firefly, which makes me an unusual Buffy fan. Within about two weeks of watching "The Train Job" and then "Deep Down" and then two episodes of BtVS a day on FX and a Hallowe'en marathon which included "Smashed," I could recite whole chunks of script from memory, had dozens of BtVS and AtS sites bookmarked, and was well on my way to being the nutcase I am today, sometime fic writer and primary contributer to the fanfic threads on the Reading Recommendations area at the Soulful Spike Society.

This post is by way of a coming out: my LJ is now linked, as it has not been previously because I really am not seeking attention for my fic or the pictures of my garden. Indeed, I've become lazy about posting because the social pressure to answer comments got oppressive after I hosted Nan Dibble's LJ wake on my journal, a year and a week ago.

Sorry for being incompletely informative before. Buffy got me out of a very long period of lurking online (after first participating in online fandom as part of The Borg Intergalactic Conspiracy, in about 1991-92) but I'm still, in 3-D, the person who stays on the farm and avoids social contact most of the time.

And also the person with at least one cow in labor right now, and a pressing need to rescue my elderly "Happy" rose from the clutches of a vampire Claridge Druse geranium.

#364 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:08 PM:

#355:How could we have predicted the rise of democracy in Western Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries looking at European feudal civilization of the 12th century? Or worse still, the Roman Empire of the 3rd?

This reminds me of a question that I've had for a while now.

It's always seemed to me that English history has been relatively straightforward and stable. IIRC, England didn't have as many bloody revolution as did the rest of Europe. The country made more or less monotonic progress towards restricting the power of the king and increasing the power of parliament. OTOH, I've always had problems keeping French history straight. For a while, it seemed like France changed forms of government every few decades. IIRC, at one point, given a free choice, the French people effectively chose monarchy. Compared to England, France seems to have zig-zagged itself to democracy.

(I haven't forgotten about Oliver Cromwell. But didn't the Restoration happen by the consent of Parliament? So despite there still being a king on the throne, after the dust settled, the English Civil Wars did decide the question of the divine right of kings, right?)

Is this a fair assessment of English history compared to French history? If not, what am I missing? (European history is not my strong suit. I apologize for any errors I've made.) If so, why were the courses of their progress to democracy so different? (My best guess is that progress in England was slower and more incremental than progress in France. I guess that doesn't actually answer the question though.)

Anyways, this is a question that I've had for a while and I've never found a venue to ask it. (Also, it turns out to be pertinent to a story I'm writing.)

#365 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:11 PM:

I second the graphic novel recommendation for people who need tempting into reading (and I'm reminded of some stories my father told me about tutoring students who scored in the fourth percentile. They had no exposure in their family lives to anyone who read for pleasure...)

I recommend the Dark Horse Tales of the Jedi series - good clean Star Wars fun, with more thought, care, and continuity than Lucas can muster. Not, ahem, that that is saying much.

One author I didn't see referenced was Beam Piper - I think a lot of geekish kids would enjoy Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen and/or Little Fuzzy.

And because I can't pass up a good ROT13'd Buffy discussion... V'ir jbaqrerq jurgure gur pbfzvp onggrel gung cbjref gur Fynlre pna pbcr jvgu gur vapernfrq qenva. Of course, my perspective is that the role of Slayer is a Shadow of Deirdre, just so we're clear.

One last scattered comment - I think one aspect of grimoires is that they challenge our notion that the content of books is the important thing, not the structure and the form.

#366 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:14 PM:

::bows to Avram:: I am but an egg.

CarieS@362: Dang, this is fun. I haven't had anybody to talk to like this forever.

Nffhzr gung'f gehr. Nffhzr arj Fynlref pna or rnfvyl vqragvsvrq naq jngpurq bire ol gur bguref. Nffhzr gurer ner rabhtu Fynlref va gur jbeyq gb qb gung.

Rira vs gung'f fb, rira vs gur qrzbaf jvfr hc naq yrnir gurz nybar, jung znxrf nalbar guvax gur Vavgvngvir be fbzrguvat nanybtbhf gb gur byq Jngpuref be Jbysenz naq Uneg be gurve rdhvinyragf jvyy? Gurer znl or n ybg zber Fynlref guna gurer hfrq gb or, ohg gurer ner fgvyy zber qrzbaf, zber fbyqvref, zber bs gur guvatf gurl svtug naq gur guvatf gung jbhyq yvxr gb rng be hfr gurz.

Ohssl'f erfcbafr gb nalbar jub fnlf, "V qba'g jnag gb qb guvf" unf nyjnlf orra, "Fb jung? V qvqa'g jnag gb qb guvf, rvgure. Fhpx vg hc." Fur qvqa'g tvir gubfr tveyf n pubvpr. Fur qvqa'g punatr ubj Fynlref pbzr gb or; fur whfg znqr zber bs gurz ng bar gvzr. Abj, znlor gung'f nyy gur zntvp pbhyq qb. Ohg n ernyyl enqvpny bireguebj bs gur fgnghf dhb jbhyq unir orra abg whfg gb znxr zber Fynlref, ohg gb znxr "Fynlre" n ibyhagrre cbfvgvba.

#367 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:17 PM:

With all of you Buffy-enthusiasts here, I ought to ask you about this while I'm thinking about it. Does the show use a lot of visually-challenging tricks? I get sick if I try to focus on moving pictures, which means I shouldn't watch action movies. And flashing lights give me migraines. So my enjoyment of movies/tv/video is pretty well limited to watching scenes where good actors stay in one place and talk to each other. Or maybe sing. I can skip a few battle scenes, but I can't watch a show at all if it's mostly battle scenes. Or if the director thought all the stand-and-talk scenes needed to be filmed with the lights or camera mounted on a skittish horse.

I've seen a few bits and pieces of Buffy, and not been able to tell if the visual problems were intrinsic to the show, or if I was seeing it on an unwatchable tv. (Some tv sets just flicker too badly for me to watch them at all.) An awful lot of my friends speak well of the show, and I saw a very short excerpt recently that really caught my interest. Even though there wasn't any action, there was something weird and nauseating about the lighting and camerawork. I don't have the words to describe it. I don't know if it was an effect of the show itself, or of the YouTube excerpt.

#368 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Dave @ 318
Their laws, dammit, their laws, not to the whim of some King, some autarch. Their laws.

Upon sober consideration it may be clearer that you have placed too much weight upon a single poetic translation. The actual Greek form, "rhemasi", does not specifically refer to laws; it can mean anything spoken or uttered, sequences of words, phrases, and so forth. I have seen translations of Simonides that use "commands" or "orders"; probably "laws" is the most common translation because as a monosyllable it helps with the meter.

#369 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:39 PM:

JESR... I was wondering where you were. I had figured that what you've described as an obsession about roses had gotten the better of you, what with Spring being almost back.

#370 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:39 PM:

#366:Fur qvqa'g punatr ubj Fynlref pbzr gb or; fur whfg znqr zber bs gurz ng bar gvzr. Abj, znlor gung'f nyy gur zntvp pbhyq qb.

Jryy, V thrff jr qba'g xabj gur rknpg angher bs Jvyybj'f fcryy. Jr bayl unir Ohssl'f jbeq gung nal tvey jub pna or n Fynlre unf orpbzr n Fynlre. Znlor Jvyybj'f fcryy dhrevrf rnpu cbgragvny Fynlre naq bayl gheaf ba Fynlreubbq sbe gubfr jub jnag vg? V unir ab vqrn ubj lbh'q rire or noyr gb gryy jvgubhg fpbhevat gur Rnegu gb svaq n tvey jvgu gur cbgragvny jub qvq abg orpbzr n Fynlre.

Gur guvat V jbaqre nobhg vf fbzrguvat envfrq va gur ynfg frnfba ohg arire erfbyirq. Gurl rfgnoyvfu gung gur ernfba gur Svefg vf noyr gb nggnpx vf orpnhfr Ohssl vf fgvyy nyvir. v.r., fur fperjrq hc gur fhpprffvba sebz bar Fynlre gb nabgure. Fb jung ner gur enzvsvpngvbaf bs npgvingvat nyy cbgragvny Fynlref fvzhygnarbhfyl?

#371 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:40 PM:

How odd. That familiar piece of dialog just made me cry.

#372 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:42 PM:

I should clarify. The tears had nothing to do with Buffy.

Jesus wept.

#373 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Re the comments on Dr. Dolittle @186 and 289:

The first two Dr. Dolittles are out of copyright in the US, and the texts (but not yet the pictures) are posted on Project Gutenberg. Their _Story of Dr. Dolittle_ is expurgated but only slightly-- they're using the 1960s text that silently changed some of the less polite ethnic terms, not the 1980s revisions that omitted or rewrote chunks of the stories.

As far as I'm aware, their _Voyages of Dr. Dolittle_ matches the original. Since ALA for a long time didn't allow their Newbery medal to be displayed on expurgated books, that book didn't get the same little edits that some of the other books did.

Folks who are in Australia and countries that still have life+50 years copyrights (Canada and NZ being two English-speaking countries in this class) can download later Dr. Dolittle books from the Gutenberg Australia site. I don't know offhand what text versions they're using.

#374 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Jennie #283: yes, the baby gets out. After two or three repetitions of this non-speaking woman who takes a bottle of milk from the store without paying, they follow her out, and they wind up in the graveyard, where there's a grave with empty milk bottles on it, and they HEAR CRYING, and they dig and find the weak but living baby in there with its mother's body.

I may be remembering some of the details wrong, but the gist has stuck with me since I was seven.

Your stories sound even CREEPIER. I was thinking (besides Pickman's Model) of the Lovecraft one with the guy who gets shut in the mausoleum overnight and the skeleton grabs his ankles. Shriek!

#375 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Serge, it's spring here, and in my case that means even the roses take a back seat to the cattle. We spent the next-to-the last day of February dealing with a rolling bovine obstetrical disaster (one of those where I'm glad, at the end, that we managed to save the cow) and since then my life has been a festival of mud, blood, and occassional frenzied outbursts of pruning (and less frequently, cleaning house) and dentistry.

And of course the random amusements natural to living on a place that's been under the plow since the 1840s, like falling flat on my face after tripping over the latest piece of random ironmongery that's eroded out of the pasture. This time it was merely a modern hay rake spring tooth- the last time it was a 19th century plow shoe, buried vertically. Much less shovel work.

#376 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:30 PM:

JESR @ 375... a festival of mud, blood, and occassional frenzied outbursts of pruning

That almost sounds like a capsule review of the movie 300...

#377 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Serge #376:

Not having seen it, where does the pruning come in?

#378 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:43 PM:

stefan,

I'll stick with Larry Gonick for comic book renderings of the Persian invasion.

hear, hear. i've never read any frank miller, that i know of. from all the things i hear (here, & since i started lurking around the comics internet), i don't feel any need to.

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:44 PM:

No, joann, not the kind of pruning you'd expect from a bunch of guys clad only in leather hot pants. But there are few decapitations.

#380 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:03 PM:

"Don't know much about history..."

Seems to me I remember that Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon, whose ruler Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the temple and enslaved the Jewish people ("by the waters of Babylon/where we sat down/and then we wept/ when we remembered Zion...". Cyrus freed the Jews, sent them home, and allowed them to rebuild the temple and to worship as they chose. I believe Herodotus is fairly complimentary about him, and the Old Testament is positively lyrical.

Dave at 336: Sparta's laws were horrid, but they were made by its people.

No. They were made by its free men. The helots (slaves) had no vote and few other rights. They outnumbered the freemen by about 7 to 1. Spartan women had no rights at all. That is not a democracy as I understand it.

#381 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Was Persia like Rome, in that it didn't care what you worshipped as long as you paid your taxes and as long as you recognized the king/emperor/whatever as the Final Authority on this Earth?

#382 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Too much going on here! Small de-lurk to add a recommendation to (I'm sure someone already recommended, though I didn't see it) Tamora Pierce, a great read for both boys and girls (girl-coming-of-age, almost always, in a boy's adventure kind of setting -- helps balance things out).

And it was wonderful to meet Texanne at Potlatch! Good conversations in person, as well as online. ML was well represented there.

#383 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Dave Luckett, #336: "Persia was an eastern god-kingdom, ruled by a despot whose word was life and death to his subjects. Sparta's laws were horrid, but they were made by its people, capable of improvement and in fact improved. Sparta is long-gone, but its successor, after many travails, is a democracy. Persia is still a god-kingdom. Maybe I would have lived there, given the choice. That's testimony to my own indolence, cowardice, and lack of moral fibre. I would have been wrong. And so, Patrick, are you."

To quote a British SF professional who will remain unnamed, there are almost as many errors in this passage as there are words. Where to begin?

Sparta's laws were "made by its people"? Spartan "citizenship" was restricted to those who had been trained in the rites and exercises of the ruling military cult--and the only people eligible for this training were male descendants of the founding families. No one else--civilians, serfs, slaves, and of course women--had any say whatsoever. By contrast, Athens at least sorta-kinda abolished slavery, and gave voting rights to the thetes, the landless poor. Glorifying Sparta as a wellspring of democracy is like claiming that Maoist China was a democracy because some groups of Red Guards occasionally decided things by voting among themselves.

Persia was certainly an empire, and (unexceptionally, in the fifth century BC) its ruler's word was law. Achaemenid Persia--the folks portrayed as slavering kohl-eyed punk-rock crypto-Orcs in 300--was, however, a place that produced rulers with crazy ideas like letting the conquered people have whatever religion they wanted so long as the taxes got paid. You can call the place a "god-kingdom" or whatever other term out of Conan the Barbarian you prefer, but you know something? If modern Saudi Arabia or Egypt were run by "despots" as practical and tolerant as Cyrus the Great, life in the Middle East would be healthier all around.

Most to the point, however, adducing special democratic virtue to Sparta because modern Greece is more or less democratic, and claiming that Iran's modern condition was foredoomed by the political arrangements of Persia 2500 years ago, isn't just wrong, it's fantastically wrong. It's "I invest in the stock market based on what unicorns tell me while I shave every morning" wrong. Avram has already pointed out (#344) that if modern Iran is a "god-kingdom," it's because, in 1953, Britain and America conspired to overthrow their fledgling democracy and reinstall their god-king. But more to the point, are we really to believe that the rocks and stones and watercourses of a patch of land utterly determine its political fate over millennia? If so, my goodness, I can think of a lot of patches of land whose inhabitants had better give up on these modern ways of organizing themselves, and go back to good old rule by big guys on horseback. I think not.

Finally, as for the idea that preferring ancient Persia over the totalitarian cult that was Sparta is "testimony to...indolence, cowardice, and lack of moral fibre" ... well, perhaps the less said the better. I would prefer to think that Dave Luckett is just a nice guy who really, really doesn't know much about the ancient world.

#384 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:36 PM:

It is however important that we recognize Sparta for a few of its contributions to modern civilization:

  • Infanticide;
  • Slavekeeping;
  • Regular massacres of unarmed and helpless civilians;
  • and sodomy.
OK, so they weren't all bad.

#385 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Damn, crossposted with Patrick. The two summaries go nicely together though.

#386 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:56 PM:

I never thought that Dave Luckett at #336 was trying to convince any of the rest of us; I just figured he was trying to persuade himself.

Conservatism is a hothouse flower. It requires constant attention and artificial conditions in order to flourish.

#387 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:04 PM:

I teach my students that the Spartans tend to get a bad press because all of the written sources come out of Athens, with most of them written during the Peloponnesian War. I'm not sure the helots were strictly slaves - and although this is hair-splitting, a little, in that they were certainly unfree, and more like serfs, it's worth remembering that the Athenians did have honest-to-goodness slaves; infanticide - at least, infant exposure - was common throughout the ancient world; and many of the stories about cruelty and unprovoked attacks on individuals and peoples seem likely to be just that - stories. It is hard to tell, though. Sparta tends to act most effectively as a way of bringing out people's own prejudices.

Airing my own prejudices, I suppose, I would mostly endorse Patrick's account (for what little my endorsement is worth). Whatever Sparta was, it wasn't democratic. It wasn't even democratic by the standards of Athens (limited, as Lizzy rightly says about Sparta too, to the minority of men who were citizens), what with the dual hereditary monarchy already mentioned and the apparent system of voting (when that was required) by acclamation. And according to the Spartans themselves, apparently, those laws they were obeying at Thermopylae were created at the whim of a king (Lykourgos) and handed down unchanged for centuries. This is not popular sovereignty. It is, I suppose, kind of impressive in a way. No doubt it makes for a good movie.

I find the Spartan system fascinating. I don't find it enviable, and it was anything but fair. And some vague idea of fairness is very important to me.

#388 ::: straight ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Season Seven has perhaps my favorite Buffy episode, "Story Teller". Andrew's narration and perspective on the Scoobies is comedy gold. But then the way Buffy confronts his storytelling and the specific wording of his confession is one of the best portrayals of true repentance that I've ever seen in fiction.

The thing that drove me batty about the series is that right up front they establish that a vampire that looks like your friend is not your friend. Your friend is completely dead and the vampire is a demon who has taken his place. (So don't hesitate with the stake.)

But then what's with all the guilt Angel has about what Angelus did? And what's with everyone acting like he ought to feel guilty? Angel didn't kill people, a demon who looked like him did. Same goes for Spike later on.

Now it makes sense that Angel, Giles, etc. would feel blame/guilt unjustly, but I never got the sense that anyone recognized this as unjust. Giles never getting over it, sure. But never once admitting, "of course it wasn't *really* Angel's fault"?

#389 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:17 PM:

I realise I missed the sentence in Patrick's post talking about Athenian slavery, so obviously that had been pointed out before. As I recall, debt-bondage (ie. of Athenian citizens) was abolished by Solon. Aristotle, though, was still assuming the existence of "natural" slaves in the middle of the fourth century BC, and the Athenians clearly carried on enslaving "barbarians" until the Macedonians and the Romans made the issue of Athenian political organisation kind of irrelevant. (Although the big slave market at Delos kept on going for another few centuries.)

But I totally agree that making any of this into a struggle for the origin of "western civilisation" ignores most of the real development in between. Very little in the modern world descends directly from ancient Greece, and modern political organisation seems to me to stem at best from a romantic misunderstanding of the various institutions and cultures involved.

I think. It's late over here, and I figure I'll try to forget about Sparta and go directly to bed.

#390 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:27 PM:

I don't know if the little boy is still looking for books to read after almost 400 posts, but why doesn't he try "Bone," by Jeff Smith? Comics really don't pollute your regular reading. Trust me.

#391 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Straight at 388 Angel didn't kill people, a demon who looked like him did. Same goes for Spike later on.

It's more complicated than that. There is a continuity in memory and self-identity between the original person, the soulless vampire, and the souled vampire.

Perhaps more to the point, everything that made Angelus Angelus is still there in Angel, just as everything that made soulless Spike soulless Spike is still there in ensouled Spike. The soul allows the possibility of being good, but the demon is still there, it hasn't been erased.

#392 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:34 PM:

383: It's "I invest in the stock market based on what unicorns tell me while I shave every morning" wrong.

Ahem!

I take great exception to that, sir!

Good day to you!

#393 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 07:53 PM:

candle: I don't mean to say that the rest of the world didn't do such things, but the Spartans codified them.

What I had in mind with the "massacre" reference - I should have been more specific - was the periodic Spartan slaughter of the helots. Quickly skimming some references suggests that despite the permanent declarations of war on the helots, wholesale massacres were a lot more rare than I had remembered, but there were several. I had remembered it as happening on a regular basis, like the annual ritual flogging of the helots.

#394 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Clifton,

Let's be fair, though, the Spartans didn't invent sodomy.

Someone mentioned the Steven Pressfield book Gate of Fire. I read it a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it a great deal, constantly thinking how little I would like even passing through Sparta. How accurate it is I can't say; it seemed so based on what little I know of the subject.

Seeing almost immediately from the trailer of 300 that it was about the same battle, I was turned against the movie because it looked very much as if it completely disregarded any consideration of the history, or the sentiments expressed by that stele, in favor of fancy graphics and superhero-style acrobatics.

#395 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:42 PM:
Seeing almost immediately from the trailer of 300 that it was about the same battle, I was turned against the movie because it looked very much as if it completely disregarded any consideration of the history, or the sentiments expressed by that stele, in favor of fancy graphics and superhero-style acrobatics.
Among other things, I assume from the title that it ignores the fact that (according to Herodotus) the pass was defended by 700 Thespians in addition to the 300 Spartans. I further assume Frank Miller ignored this as well.
#396 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Leetkey vf .... . .-.. .-.. .- 66 75 6e .
Hm. 01010111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100111 01110011


********* *** *** *** ******* ****
********* *** *** *** *** ** **
*** ********* *** **** **
*** ********* *** **** **
*** *** *** *** *** ***
*** *** *** *** ******* ***

..oot ,sdrawkcab dnA.

#397 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Some people mentioned the Narnia books for kids who need some temptingly delicious adventures in order to get into reading. I vote instead for Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books.
Two kid protagonists, Lyra and Will. Lots of swashbuckling, the kind where the kids have to decide, and act, beyond what they think they can do. Fabulous supporting grown-ups, including a female physicist, a Texan balloonist/ aeronaut, and a sentient, speaking polar bear. With armor. From Spitsbergen. Powerful, really nasty villians, but rational and consequently both believable and banal in their evil. And, of course, Saving the World in every book.

Pullman has discussed and written about how misogynist and racist and, apropos Frank Miller, violence-loving the Narnia books are (completely aside from the heavy-handed Christian indoctrination): "Death is better than life; boys are better than girls; light-coloured people are better than dark-coloured people; and so on."
I *knew* there was something wrong with leaving Susan out at the end, even as a kid. And with the kid-kings being superior to the kid-queens. And with the badguys all being women: the snow queen, the underground green fairy, the Jezebel character.
Yuk. Read Pullman instead.

#398 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Oh, and the loathed Second Sock Problem?
Knit them both at once.

I'm knitting two fingerless mittens right now.
Much easier than fingerless gloves, but just as warm.

#399 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:57 PM:

@395:

Among other things, I assume from the title that it ignores the fact that (according to Herodotus) the pass was defended by 700 Thespians in addition to the 300 Spartans. I further assume Frank Miller ignored this as well.

Of course. But Miller ignored so many other things about ancient Greece, ancient Persia, and much else deriving from actual historical sources, that that numerical difference is but a small thing.

And to give credit, they do show that some of the other Greek fighters were there, leaving only after the betrayal that leads to the Persian victory (which appears to have been what happened, except, of course, for the Thespians).

#400 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:24 PM:

straight, #388: "The thing that drove me batty about the series is that right up front they establish that a vampire that looks like your friend is not your friend. Your friend is completely dead and the vampire is a demon who has taken his place. (So don't hesitate with the stake.) [...] But then what's with all the guilt Angel has about what Angelus did? And what's with everyone acting like he ought to feel guilty? Angel didn't kill people, a demon who looked like him did. Same goes for Spike later on. "

Reread Ethan's #94. What we're told early on in the show isn't necessarily true. Vaqrrq, gur zber jr svaq bhg nobhg gur Jngpuref, gur zber yvxryl vg frrzf gung fhofgnagvny nzbhagf bs jung gurl fnl nobhg, sbe vafgnapr, gur zrgnculfvpf bs inzcvevfz...ner syng-bhg yvrf naq cebcntnaqn.

#401 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:27 PM:

#390: Jeff Smith's Bone is a great suggestion. Likewise, just about any of the Walt Kelly Pogo collections, if you can find them. (Kelly having been an obvious influence on Smith. I've been known to describe Bone as "Walt Kelly does Tolkien, with visits from H. P. Lovecraft.")

#402 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Most to the point, however, adducing special democratic virtue to Sparta because modern Greece is more or less democratic, and claiming that Iran's modern condition was foredoomed by the political arrangements of Persia 2500 years ago, isn't just wrong, it's fantastically wrong.

Indeed, by that logic, the Roman Empire was a democracy. Under Caligula.

I think Dave was pulling the fluorospheric leg here. He's too smart to believe some of the things he wrote.

I went to Michigan State, whose football team is called the Spartans. Sometimes we were all called Spartans. A more inappropriate symbol for a university cannot well be imagined.

#403 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:34 PM:

straight, @288: the definition of the difference between vampires and the live humans they replace (which is the one stated in "Welcome to the Hellmouth) is from the ultimate unreliable narrator: the Council of Watchers. One of the long themes of BtVS is the many ways in which the COW "Doesn't know anything, as usual."

If I was all revved up, I'd expand on the COW as a mature institution, dedicated mostly to conserving its own authority, but at this hour, this day, I'm mostly revved down.

#404 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:36 PM:

candle, as you probably realize, I'm not putting forth a brief for ancient Athens as a fun place to be any other than upper class.

#405 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:36 PM:

#397: I would be slightly wary of recommending the Narnia books without knowing a child myself because of all their rather antiquated and culturally-biased squidgy bits, but I would not recommend Pullman to anyone I actually liked or wished to keep as a friend. If I'd been given the His Dark Materials books as a child, instead of as an adult, I can only imagine I would have slogged all the way to the end of book three, as at the time I didn't know I was allowed to stop reading a series I'd started just because I hated it. Which would, I suppose, have resulted in about 33% more residual loathing and snarling whenever the series comes up.

...which only goes to show, I suppose, that there's no accounting for taste, and that Pullman's at least as good a recommendation as any I'd make in its place. He's certainly better (in an objective quality of writing sense, as opposed to the sense where I want to read him) than my preferred reading at that age, which included a long series of highly stupid but entertaining stories about a magical bicycle and the struggle against such evils as Toys That Say Mean Things and LARPs.

#406 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:37 PM:

PNH: I've been known to describe Bone as "Walt Kelly does Tolkien, with visits from H. P. Lovecraft."

And Dave Sim's use of solid black. And the sense of comedic timing that Sim got from Chuck Jones.

#407 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Xopher, #402: I love the fact that there are people in East Lansing with bumper stickers reading "I'm a Spartan Lover" who don't get that it's a joke.

#408 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:41 PM:

#402: I went to Michigan State, whose football team is called the Spartans. Sometimes we were all called Spartans. A more inappropriate symbol for a university cannot well be imagined.

My high school's official mascot/team name for everything was also the Spartans. My high school, which was a small Christian missionary school, staffed almost entirely by the sort of people who my Republican-voting missionary parents found a bit too stuffy and hidebound and conservative...

Finding out what the historical Spartans were actually like has had me boggling at that particular choice by the school's founders ever since.

#409 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Holes by Louis Sachar. How could I forget that book? It was made into a movie, which could be a plus.

#410 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:42 PM:

Adrian@367: Does the show use a lot of visually-challenging tricks?

Some episodes do. There are a few episodes that use visual tricks to indicate altered reality. In some episodes, the fight choreography is an essential part of the storyline; you can't understand "Fool for Love" if you don't see the fights, for example. Often, though, you can take a bathroom break during fight scenes and not miss anything critical. And there aren't too many episodes where the special effects are of the let's-set-off-an-epilectic-seizure variety. Usually, you will know when those are coming because of the musical cues.

Joss does often use techniques like long, unbroken scenes where the camera tracks characters across the scenery without cutting. Rarely, if ever, is this vertigo-inducing. It's not even something you consciously notice unless you're aware of the technique and how rare it is to see on TV.

#411 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Regarding objectionable aspects of Narnia, Dr. Dolittle, early Tintin, etc.: I think we should give kids, even kids with reading problems, credit for not being stupid. Let them learn early on that powerful storytelling can coexist with stupid and obnoxious views. There's nothing about being reading-disabled that makes that kind of realization harder, because it's the sort of understanding that's rooted in common-sense observation of the world, not the ability to quickly process written text.

#412 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 10:49 PM:

Straight: Angel didn't kill people, a demon who looked like him did. Same goes for Spike later on.

No, a demon living in Angel's body did. A demon that took up residence in Angelus's brain, and used his personality as the template for its actions.

Whedon's vampires aren't totally distinct personalities that pop into your body after you die; they're motivating forces that pick up where you left off, but evil. The vampire version of you does all the things you would do if you (a) were super-strong, (b) hungered for blood, and (c) had no conscience.

And then, in Angelus's case, he got his soul back, and the conscience with it, but all the memories of the evil acts were still there, in first-person point-of-view, with the contextual chains of motivation intact.

Spike's case proves you wrong. Spike, re-souled, doesn't suddenly revert to being William, as he would if your totally-separate-person model were accurate. He's still Spike, just with a fledgling conscience.

#413 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:09 PM:

For whatever reason I tried reading my Tarzan of the Apes books a few years ago. At 10 or so when I first read them, I had no idea of racisim. Oh My Farking Ghu. I was so appalled I quit and didn't try to reread the Mars, Moon or Pellucidar books.

(I'm also realizing how much freer kids were then, I bought my first book at the Crown Drugstore at 103rd and State Line, I lived about 15 blocks away and that was my premier book store. I rode my bike down to there. The Tarzan's are the Ballantine re-release starting with 1966. I bought most of the non-Tarzans at Scholastic school-affiliated or Weekly Reader-affiliated book sales.)

#414 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:12 PM:

JC, #315, I saw that (haven't read the whole paper yet) and last Friday I was still online at 8pm and watched "1vs100." Not only did I know all the answers, but one of them could have been solved logically. You didn't need to know how much blood is in the human body to get the right answer.

#415 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:36 PM:
Jeff Smith's Bone is a great suggestion. Likewise, just about any of the Walt Kelly Pogo collections, if you can find them.
Fantagraphics is going to be doing a series of books reprinting the complete newspaper run of Pogo, much like their Peanuts volumes. In the meantime, their older Pogo reprints are relatively easy to find (as opposed to the books done when Walt Kelly was alive, which are not).
#416 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:49 PM:

A more inappropriate symbol for a university cannot well be imagined.

My high school's football rival was Vestal. They were officially the Bears, but, well ...

#417 ::: straight ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:08 AM:

I like the various responses about how the nature of vampires is more complicated than the Watchers initial setup. But it smacks a little bit of fanfiction justifying things after the fact. I watched every episode, but I really couldn't tell whether the treatment of Angel and Spike was actually Subtle New Information About the Nature of Vampires or just inconsistent writing, bending the rules for the sake of keeping interesting characters around (waves at Harmony). You never see any of the characters saying, "Hey, maybe the Watchers were wrong about vampires."

If what you're saying is true (if any vampire could potentially be a Spike) then isn't it obscenely immoral for Buffy to stake vampires on sight the instant they rise from the grave, before they've ever menaced anyone?

#418 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:20 AM:

Straight, who said that "any vampire could potentially be a Spike"?

Angel had his soul restored because an angry Roma cursed him. Spike had that chip implanted, which gave him an experience roughly similar to having a conscience, and let him live around humans long enough for some humanity to rub off on him. Neither was likely to come around on his own.

#419 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:35 AM:

Interesting piece from the Toronto Star about the 300's slanted take on history:

Sparta? No. This is madness

"History is altered all the time. What matters is how and why. Thus I see no reason to quibble over the absence in 300 of breastplates or modest thigh-length tunics. I can see the graphic necessity of sculpted stomachs and three hundred Spartan-sized packages bulging in spandex thongs. On the other hand, the ways in which 300 selectively idealizes Spartan society are problematic, even disturbing."

#420 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:41 AM:

Fade at 405: I recommend Pullman's books to adults, but I don't think I would recommend them to anyone under 13. They are complex, grim, and in some places, nightmarish. I like them but I understand why they make you (and others) snarly.

#421 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:06 AM:

PNH, 411: ...powerful storytelling can coexist with stupid and obnoxious views.

...Which dovetails nicely with the Frank Miller/300 discussion, proving once again that all narrative threads are as one to Making Light.

#422 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:28 AM:

I think we should give kids, even kids with reading problems, credit for not being stupid. Let them learn early on that powerful storytelling can coexist with stupid and obnoxious views. There's nothing about being reading-disabled that makes that kind of realization harder, because it's the sort of understanding that's rooted in common-sense observation of the world, not the ability to quickly process written text.

Yes. I was a big fan of Enid Blyton's various novels when I was 7 or 8, and even at that age I resented the sexist treatment of girls. I haven't mentioned these previously on this thread because they aren't SF/F, but Blyton wrote hundreds of children's adventure novels in the 1940s and 50s.

I can't remember which library those were in (I was cutting a swath through several branches of the Dallas Public Library by that age), but I can visualize a couple of shelves full of them just a few shelves from the Dr. Dolittle books in the YA section. I wonder if they're still there.

#423 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:35 AM:

Gorsh, I go away for two days and I come back to this? I've missed participating in a huge part of the most fascinating discussion of Buffy I've ever witnessed. Wow.

Dan Layman-Kennedy #235, let me echo PNH at #250 and say, wow, what a great theory.

Re: the recent discussion of the whole "demon setting up shop" theory of vampires, I definitely agree with those who say that any information given to us by the Council of Watchers (directly or through what Giles learned from them) is suspect. straight #417 asked if it might be horribly immoral for Buffy to stake vampires left and right if there's a potential for them to regain their souls (after all, we witnessed it twice in seven years), to which I say, yeah, maybe it is. Isn't that a scary thought?

Sure, some of the seeming inconsistencies might result from sloppy writing (though I'm inclined to be more generous and say that it's not sloppy so much as thought-of-as-they-went-along), but pretty much all of it is explained beautifully by the revelation of the CoW's deep corruption. Which I'm probably more impressed with than if it were obvious that the Mutant Enemy crowd had had every little detail planned out from the beginning.

My goodness, but I wish I hadn't missed all this. Makes visiting my brother almost seem not worth it.

#424 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:46 AM:

Crap, I forgot to mention one other thing.

Va gur qvfphffvba bs jurgure Ohssl'f qrpvfvba ng gur raq bs frnfba 7 gb znxr nyy cbgragvnyf fynlref jnf zbeny be abg, tvira gung nyy gubfr tveyf unq ab pubvpr va gur znggre (gung ceboyrzngvp zbenyvgl unq fbzrubj arire bppheerq gb zr orsber, naq vf abj tbvat gb xrrc zr hc avtugf, ol gur jnl) Npbavgr ng #366 fhttrfgrq gung n erny eribyhgvba jbhyq unir orra gb znxr gur cbfvgvba bs fynlre ibyhagnel.

V, sbe bar, pna'g vzntvar nalguvat zber greevslvat guna tvivat fynlre cbjref rkpyhfviryl gb crbcyr jub jnag gurz.

(Bs pbhefr, jura V fnl V pna'g vzntvar nalguvat zber greevslvat, gung'f zrgncubevpny naq rknttrengrq, ohg fgvyy.)

#425 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:49 AM:

dr. doolittle was too racist for me as a kid. so was oliver twist, but i don't know if i would have felt that way about it if i weren't jewish.

i read tarzan & tintin as an adult. tintin i liked well enough to see the bad parts as mostly a product of the time, but tarzan was painfully, gratuitously, sensationally racist, & i couldn't take it at all.

but i think it wouldn't hurt a kid's immortal soul to read material with ... outdated ideas about people. some kids will be bothered & yanked out of the story for different reasons than other kids. basically like any turn-off or point of squick.

#426 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:51 AM:

Lizzy @ #380: No. They were made by its free men. The helots (slaves) had no vote and few other rights. They outnumbered the freemen by about 7 to 1. Spartan women had no rights at all. That is not a democracy as I understand it.

Even the U.S. has only been even theoretically democratic for less than a century. I find it annoying that women tend to not count when people determine whether a country is democratic or not. Oppressing men = evil! Oppressing women = quaint cultural tradition which must be accommodated, especially if the country has oil.

My un-PC position on the first Gulf War (Bush I): we "rescued" Kuwait's women from an invading country that granted rights to women to return them to the authority of a government that repressed them? Big improvement.

(Yes, that position was overly simplistic, and taken partly out of sheer youthful contrariness, and took no account of Saddam Hussein's brutality towards his own people. But still.)

#427 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:13 AM:

#359: Bad, bad Avram! Bad!

#366 Aconite: "Ohg n ernyyl enqvpny bireguebj bs gur fgnghf dhb jbhyq unir orra abg whfg gb znxr zber Fynlref, ohg gb znxr "Fynlre" n ibyhagrre cbfvgvba."

V'z abg fher gung gur crbcyr jub jbhyq ibyhagrre gb or Fynlref ner gur fbeg bs crbcyr jub jr jbhyq jnag gb or Fynlref. Cbjre pbeehcgf, ohg vg nyfb cer-fryrpgf gur rnfvyl pbeehcgvoyr.

#395 Dan Blum: "Among other things, I assume from the title that it ignores the fact that (according to Herodotus) the pass was defended by 700 Thespians in addition to the 300 Spartans."

Thespians, eh? From the descriptions of the film so far, I can only imagine that it would be greatly improved by the addition of 700 mimes in the background doing *Wall!*

#428 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:15 AM:

Susan #426: Interesting how those who rail against "moral relativism" have no problem with it (though not in name) where oppressed women are involved.

Aaaand the unspoken subtext of that is....

#429 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:56 AM:

Susan @426

And it's still the case, even in the US, that paragon of democracy, that woman don't count as much as men (nor do black men count as much as white men or ...). It cracks me up that everyone is so excited that we might actually be ready to have a woman run for the Presidency. Well, we should be excited that some of the barriers are falling, but, bloody hell, as Spike would say, this is where we should have been generations ago.

As long as I've mentioned Spike, it occurs to me that univat n cnffry bs Fynlref nebhaq jbhyq qb jbaqref sbe gur vzonynapr va cbjre orgjrra gur traqref. Fbzrbar zragvbarq gung qrzbaf jbhyq unir frpbaq gubhtugf nobhg fbzr bs gur guvatf gurl qb vs gurl pbhyqa'g or fher vs gurve vagraqrq jnf n Fynlre. Jryy, fbzr zra ner qrzbaf.

#430 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Spartan women did have some rights. Not equals to their men but more than what other Greek states gave their women(zero). Athens would bitch about how Spartan women had too many freedoms and power and that it was morally suspect.

#431 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:11 AM:

Catching up on a buncha stuff here ...
*Indecision*: I'm really tempted to get that rot13 plugin, but OTOH, I'm now almost persuaded to start working my way through some hired Buffy DVDs. I saw a few minutes of a couple of episodes I taped for a friend who was away during the Sydney Olympics. Like almost everything decent, it was shown at odd, late & movable hours on Oz TV, so I'd check the top & tail to make sure of the tape.

Serge (#354) David Wenham, who played Farimir in Peter Jackson's LotR films, is listed in the cast of 300 as Dilios, who may be a narrator.
He's played a wide range of characters in his career so far, including funny, brainy, stupid, noble, & a very chilling one in The Boys (1998). But to Australian women over a certain age range, he'll always be, and own a place in our heart as, Diver Dan from the (Australian) ABC TV series Seachange. Sigh <melts> (Hmm. Youngest of seven, with five sisters, according to imdb, and in a long-term relationship, with offspring; curses.)

Rob Rusik (#306) "which suggested one of the reason that limbs evolved is that it allowed their owners to get out of the water and away from their predators"
From Werner Herzog's 'Minnesota Declaration': "Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of hell that during evolution some species--including man--crawled, fled onto some small continent of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue." (Herzog's film, Lessons of Darkness, is one of the more astonishing feats of filmmaking I've experienced; *sublime*, in the more terrifying aspect of that definition.)

... and as others have mentioned Elizabeth; that was one of those rather frustrating films I could only 'lay back and enjoy' — and there were enjoyable parts — by periodic beating back of rebellious brain-cells with a sharp, heavy mental stick.

Also, 'hear, hear!' to Susan (#426) about how often the situation of women (and, often, the rest of the majority of the population) seems to get airily waved aside when considering how 'good' different societies through time were. And a breathtaking ignorance about the very short time that, say, reliable medical treatment for quite common problems, has been around. Not to mention communication that doesn't depend on someone carrying a message physically. <derails start of hobbyhorse ride before it gallops away too far>

#432 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:27 AM:

I have a weird feeling about Pullman. I mean, I agree with him about Narnia, and I love the idea of Heavenly Parliamentarians, and so-on. And the writing, aside from a possible overdose of Smeerps, is fine.

But. I've always hated, absolutely hated the man's drivel about fantasy. It's the sort of Margaret Atwood, I don't write about talking squid, let's us all point and laugh at the books with dragons and overly muscled men on the cover rubbish. I have to wonder about:

The effect on fantasy's reputation if Pullman had come straight out and said that he wrote F/SF, that he thought it was a perfectly fine way to tell a story, and that if you disagreed you could talk to the awards. (I don't think that this would have changed much, but every time that dross about `I don't write Fantasy' gets repeated, he climbs on to the shoulder of a giant, puts on hobnailed boots, and jumps for the Apple of Critical Approval. So what that the poor giant is in agony? He was only a cardboard cutout, with no emotional development.)

Secondly, on his own writing if he was prepared to admit to himself that he was writing F/SF. I've always wondered if (frex) the preponderance of smeerps, and the odd technology level of his alternate worlds related to a NIH syndrome. Maybe reading more F/SF would have helped him work through that. I think that recently he has began to be more accepting of the fantastical nature of his books, but I'm not sure.

So, to sum: one, I liked the books. Two: I like the man's ideas, except for a very small subset, on which I differ in only a few ways. Three: I care too much about those differences, and probably am ascribing to him positions he doesn't hold anyway. Oh well. I enjoyed the rant.

#433 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:16 AM:

Kate Nepveu@305: Thank you! That's much easier than cutting and pasting into rot13.com.

y@368: Darn you for beating me to discussion of the Greek. :-) I've seen the epitaph translated as "...obedient to their word, we lie".

#434 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 06:20 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden #383 "I think not."

I told my two year old it was time for bed the other evening, as she was trampolining about on the sitting-room sofa.

Her reply: "I think not!"

#435 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 06:31 AM:

Pullman--my sense of His Dark Materials is that he made up the metaphysics and ethics of his multiverse as he went along. There's a lot of beautiful things in the books, but there's a philosophical incoherence which bothers me. Lewis drawing on neo-Platonism and Christian ethics, had a much easier time of it, but I like Pullman's characters much better; Lewis had a limited social life, and it shows in his books--he simply didn't know that many kinds of people.

Hunh. I suppose, really, we are still developing the metaphysics and ethics of the world we find ourselves in. 200 years ago, young earth creationism was defensible. And now time is deep, space is deep, and there are probably more species extinct in the history of the earth than there are now extant. One place I do agree with Pullman (and Ursula K. Leguin) is that creation is a work in progress--evolutionary. This is just so obvious at this point in our knowledge that I wonder we even have to debate it any more, but of course we have a lot of unlearning to do.

#436 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:15 AM:

#419, Stefan: Ha! I came over here to post exactly that link, only to find you'd beaten me to it. Okay, instead here's Nick Mamatas's review of 300.

#437 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:24 AM:

Clifton Royston #384: There were, however, no dinosaurs.

#438 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:30 AM:

Dan Blum #395:

But we, actors and critics of one play,
Of sober-witted judgment who could see
So many ways, and chose the Spartan way;
What has the popular report to say
Of us, the Thespians at Thermopylae?

(Norman Cameron, 'The Thespians at Thermopylae'.)

#439 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:32 AM:

Patrick @ 404: Absolutely - one of the things I keep emphasising to my students is that most of what we know about ancient history deals with the upper classes. It's like the way people who remember their past lives seem suspiciously often to have been Cleopatra and not her kitchen slave. Mind you, maybe those are just the ones who talk about it.

Clifton @ 393: I actually realised that you meant the massacres of the helots, although I tend to be kind of sceptical about those too. (Although I'm not supported by many of the specialists on this, so I don't really expect to convince anyone. The massacres look to me like they were in part made up by the Athenians in bafflement about how the Spartans could fight side by side with their helots (ie, they could, but they had to kill them afterwards). And I tend to explain the ritual declaration of war as mainly a way to maintain ritual purity if a helot was accidentally killed - because shedding the blood of anyone not officially an enemy of the state meant you lost your Spartan citizenship. That law, I think, was intended to discourage private feuds, and the helots had to be fitted in somewhere. I don't think any flogging was required (although it no doubt took place). And quite a bit of this is just me trying to see that there might be alternative explanations.

It still sucked to be a helot, though.

#440 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:41 AM:

Stefan Jones #419:

Leaving aside the much-ignored Thespians,it was, of course, the oarsmen of the Athenian demos (among them Aeschylus, whose account in The Persians is still the definitive one)who put paid to Xerxes Greek ambitions at Salamis, but free artisans and peasants make far less attractive heroes than aristocratic bullies.

#441 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:10 AM:

epacris @ 431... And last but not least, David Wenham was Hugh Jackman's sidekick monk in van Helsing. Hmm... Maybe I should have written 'And last and least'...

#442 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:12 AM:

Susan... What is un-PC about your position on the Gulf War? True it is un-PC among the Right-wingers, who came up with the expression 'un-PC' to clad their bigotry in faux iconoclasm.

#443 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:21 AM:

Avram's (395) rot-13'd text is a quote from M. Tullius Cicero's de finibvs bonorvm et malorvm (of the limits? of the goods and evils).

One translation (by Rackham) reads:

Abe ntnva vf gurer nalbar jub ybirf be chefhrf be qrfverf gb bognva cnva bs vgfrys, orpnhfr vg vf cnva, ohg orpnhfr bppnfvbanyyl pvephzfgnaprf bpphe va juvpu gbvy naq cnva pna cebpher uvz fbzr terng cyrnfher.

The reason I recognised it is that it forms the basis of the Lorem ipsum. I suppose that reveals me as a typography geek wannabe.

The full text can be found at The Latin Library. (Caveat: if you look to Cicero for moral guidance, be aware he was one of the wingnuts of his time. I read his de officiis and had to stop at his praise of Sulla the mass murderer. I shall have to resume my reading after that section.

Thespians

The Spartans were assisted by actors? No wonder they were rubbish (hence ignored) at Thermopylae.

#444 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:30 AM:

Yes, Stephan, the Spartans were assisted by actors. And Xerxès was a drama queen.

#445 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:49 AM:

Perhaps more to the point, everything that made Angelus Angelus is still there in Angel, just as everything that made soulless Spike soulless Spike is still there in ensouled Spike. The soul allows the possibility of being good, but the demon is still there, it hasn't been erased.

I disagree, and it's why Spike/William is a better person than Angel/Liam. Liam was a drunken, sadistic lout; becoming a vampire just made him free to ignore the repercussions of his actions and killed off the last bits of conscience he had. Note that Angel, upon getting a soul, spends eighty years or so moping about feeling sorry for himself because of how howwibwy giwty he feels over the things he did without a soul, and that the only thing that seperates his Angel behavior from his Angelus behavior is whether he has a soul and feels guilty about being evil--to the extent that being drugged enough to lose inhibition can cause him to revert to Angelus-like behavior.

Spike, meanwhile, actually changed his behavior on his own. He went and voluntarily got a soul because his behavior had already changed. When people talk about the horrid things he did pre-chip, his response is to say, "Yeah, but now I've learned better", and there's never any hint that losing the soul would cause him to revert.

It's the difference between an internal morality and an externally-imposed one. Spike, just by being around people and over the course of about five years, went from "Happy Meals with legs" to willing to sacrifice himself. Angel is one good orgasm* away from elaborate sadism. Which means Spike's the better person, because Angel had most of a century for "humanity to rub off on him" and it never did.

...Fbzrbar zragvbarq gung qrzbaf jbhyq unir frpbaq gubhtugf nobhg fbzr bs gur guvatf gurl qb vs gurl pbhyqa'g or fher vs gurve vagraqrq jnf n Fynlre.

Rknpgyl, naq irel fhppvapg.

Yrg'f fnl lbh'er n uhatel inzcver. Lbh tb bhg sbe n avtug ba gur gbja, naq lbh'er znyr naq fgenvtug fb lbhe cersreerq ivpgvzf ner tveyf. Lbh unir n ahzore bs pubvprf: lbh pna whzc bhg bs nyyrlf va nccebirq zbafgre snfuvba; lbh pna cvpx jbzra hc va pyhof naq trg gurz fbzrjurer dhvrg; lbh pna eha n ybat pba ba gur "inzcverf ner whfg zvfhaqrefgbbq" pebjq.

Va gur jbeyq orsber gur ovt Fynlre fcryy, gur bqqf gung lbhe pubfra ivpgvz jnf gur Fynlre jrer rssrpgviryl avy hayrff lbh jrer va fbhgurea Pnyvsbeavn, naq rira gura dhvgr fznyy rkprcg va Fhaalqnyr vgfrys.

Va gur jbeyq nsgre...jryy, jr qba'g xabj. Jr qba'g xabj n ahzore bs vzcbegnag inevnoyrf, fhpu nf gur abezny hccre naq ybjre ntr yvzvgf sbe Fynlre npgvingvba naq jurgure be abg gur fcryy punatrq gurz. Ohg nsgre gung gurer ner zber fynlref sbe fher.

Naq lrnu, n srj bs gur arj fynlref ner tbvat gb or nggnpxrq. Ubj znal zber bs gurz jvyy znantr gb svtug bss gurve nggnpxref guna jbhyq jvgubhg gur fynlre-cbjre? Naq gura fbzr hayhpxl inzc vf tbvat gb tb nsgre n tvey, ernyvmr fur'f n fynlre, naq obnfg nobhg xvyyvat ure nsgrejneqf...naq gur jengu bs gur betnavmrq fynlref jvyy pbzr qbja ba uvz/ure yvxr n gba bs oevpxf sebz n terng urvtug.

Univat bar fhcreureb vf pbby naq znxrf sbe tbbq GI. Univat gubhfnaqf bs gurz vf zhpu, zhpu orggre, rira vs fbzr bs gurz qba'g qb fhcreureb guvatf.

*: Yeah, "true happiness", whatever. It was code for sex.

#446 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:00 AM:

On the question of whether it's moral for Buffy to stake brand-new vamps given that at least one (Spike) changed from evil to not basically through force of will...

I say, yes. Absent other influences, vampires will kill people and be generally evil. The Scooby Gang doesn't have anything resembling the resources to trap each individual vampire and rehabilitate it, and we've got an example (Angel) that shows that even the greater part of a century with a soul isn't going to rehabilitate every vampire. At best, even after the big Slayer spell, they might be able to catch and rehabilitate some vampires...so then how do they pick?

I'll tell you the big moral dilemma, though: Angel (and only Angel) knows of a way to make a vampire fully human again. How does he justify not using it on at least vampires like Harmony?

#447 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:10 AM:

Happy Π Day everyone!

Have some PIe!

Don't forget to stand up and turn in a circle at 1:59:26 local time. It's good luck for the next circular year (I mean until next Pi Day rather than in 2008).

#448 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Reading over the '300' comments makes me itch, for any number of reasons.

One itch comes from the idea that a movie based on a graphic novel is likely to exhibit any degree of historical accuracy. Not that the concept is inherently ridiculous, but comics and Hollywood are famous for this sort of thing. So, a kind of beating-a-dead-horse thing is going on here.

Another itch comes from the rampant whiggism exhibited in the denunciations of Sparta (and Athens, for good measure). Yeah, Spartan civilization sucked by modern standards, and even by (many) contemporary Greek standards. Yeah, Athens ragging on Sparta was the pot calling the kettle black. And yet... must all references to history be whiggish? If so, we will find nothing to admire in the past, we risk discarding the good (Aristophanes, Sophocles, Pericles) with the bad (slavery, oppression of women, rule by aristocracy).

Much of this sort of discussion privileges the present over the past in a very disturbing way. The past was another country, as the saying goes. The institutions and habits of the ancient Greeks existed for social and economic reasons that no longer apply in much of the world. Marx, among others, seems to have understood this. I also find it odd that people are bashing the Spartans for engaging in sodomy (a common feature of the classical world) when the same sentiments would be considered impolite at best (viz., General Pace) if expressed in reference to homosexuality today. (As partial explication of the social relations of the ancients, I refer you to "The History of Private Life," recently recommended by TNH on these pages.)

Western civilization came to admire the virtues of the Greeks, and tended to ignore their faults. This was in many ways a failure of perspective, but so is doing the opposite.

#449 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:58 AM:

402/408/416: My high school teams were the Red Devils. In Georgia. At the time I left, they were trying to tone down the icon a little to make it cute rather than menacing.

#450 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:06 AM:

I also find it odd that people are bashing the Spartans for engaging in sodomy (a common feature of the classical world) when the same sentiments would be considered impolite at best (viz., General Pace) if expressed in reference to homosexuality today.

The reason you find it odd is because that's not what people are doing. People are saying, "Sparta had just as much homosexuality as any other Greek city, but Frank Miller decided to make them homophobic jocks because he's Frank Miller, and that sucks".

That is, one of the ways you can tell Xerxes is a Bad Guy, in the film, is that he's homosexual (I haven't seen it, so I'm going on reports here). Everyone who's commented so far thinks that's both bizarre* (given that Sparta had just as much homosexuality as any other Greek city) and bad (because homosexuality shouldn't be an indicator of Eville).

*Another one for the spelling reference?

#451 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:29 AM:

I must be one of the few people in the world who is allergic to the works of Joss Whedon.

I don't recall ever watching Buffy. I watched all of Firefly (because it was so highly recommended,) and spent the whole time alternately (or simultaneously) fascinated and repelled.

My final verdict: Whedon is a great filmmaker (one who works in the medium of film), but I don't like any of his ideas.

#452 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:40 AM:

DaveL, #448: "I also find it odd that people are bashing the Spartans for engaging in sodomy (a common feature of the classical world) when the same sentiments would be considered impolite at best (viz., General Pace) if expressed in reference to homosexuality today."

Nobody in this thread has "bashed the Spartans for engaging in sodomy." This is an egregious mischaracterization of the (rather few) references to the issue that have come up at all.

You're right that we should always be a little suspicious of the tendency to measure past human societies by how perfectly they live up to contemporary standards. But you're doing your point no favors by the way you're portraying the discussion so far. And, by the way, "whiggism," in historical studies, refers to the belief that history constitutes the tale of a struggle to become what we are today. It implies a belief that history has telos, has a direction and an end. To observe that this approach has flaws is not tantamount, as you appear to believe, to saying that we must never observe that some societies are verkakte. I said that I'd rather live in the Persian Empire of Cyrus, Xerxes, and Darius than in the Sparta of Thermopylae. This isn't "whiggism," it's a frank statement about myself. I also think modern North Korea would be a rotten place to live. This doesn't make me "whiggish," either.

As for whether discussing the gap between 300 real history is "beating a dead horse," perhaps you haven't noticed the number of right-wing blogs, web sites, and pundits that have been extolling the movie as inspirational. Perhaps you haven't noticed that works like 300 don't happen in a vacuum, but are, rather, part of a centuries-old tradition of characterizing the culture of whatever powerful polity lies eastward of Europe as sinister, hive-like, depraved, gender-ambiguous, and farting in airlocks. And perhaps you haven't noticed that in the world we live in right now, today, this morning, 10:30 on a pleasant Wednesday in eastern North America, the leaders of the most powerful country in the world appear to be doing their level best to gin up a new war with the country that used to be called Persia. Perhaps, in your view, none of these things make it worthwhile to discuss the ways we think about and talk about these things, because after all it's just a movie based on a comic book, so who cares. Perhaps you're mistaken.

#453 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:49 AM:

When we talk about the Spartans' shortcomings, we might want to remember the conquest of the city of Messenia and the conversion of its people into neo-helots, so that the Spartiate class could increase its numbers. Of course, that playhouse got torn down by the last of the Pythagoreans, Epaminondas, who was capable of what the Spartan system made difficult--innovative thinking.

In fact, aside from any issues we may have with the inherent brutality of the Spartan system, this was one of the great weaknesses of the Spartan state--they trained themselves out of the habit of having new ideas. Of course, this was one of the things, besides their military discipline, that aristocratically-inclined Greeks from other cities (I'm thinking of Xenophon and Plato here, but they weren't the only ones) liked about the Spartans, because New Ideas complicate things so much.

One of the other great weaknesses of the Spartan system was the tendency to attrition among the ranks of the Spartiates. This was not all due to deaths in battle--in order to be a Spartiate, you had to have a set amount of land, which was considered to be sufficient to allow you to arm yourself and pay your mess bill. Wealth tended to do what wealth ususally does, concentrate itself for one reason or another, and the Spartans ended up with a group of men who were, by birth, qualified to be Spartiates, but who did not have the means to support this status. They did see to it that these men were given the "proper" military training, and some managed to come up with the wealth one way or another. But the maintaining number of available Spartiates was always a problems. They attempted several times to make reforms to fix this but never managed to reverse the trend.

FWIW, Lycourgos was not a king of Sparta. In fact, his reforms included things that turned the kings into near-figureheads.

And loincloths* are, as far as I can tell, an entirely non-Spartan notion. Once they shed their tunics (assuming they were wearing them at all) and dropped their cloaks, they were naked, and unashamed about it.

Mamatas' review rocks. Great is the snark of the son of Ikaria!

*Really, they could have made just as interesting an impression on the audience with this movie by resorting to cleverly-draped cloaks, and letting us speculate on whether the Spartans had anything on under them or not. Maybe even a more interesting one.

#454 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:00 AM:

PNH #404: The complaint of the Athenian upper class in the classical period (as articulated by Plato) was, in effect, that it wasn't fun to be upper class with all these middle-class so-and-sos trying to run the country.

#455 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:11 AM:

nerdycellist @ #349, Epacris @ #431: You might enjoy this.

(what it is: Mystery Historian Theater 3000 does Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth)

#456 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Re having the villains be flagrantly gay: I recently watched Mad Max on telly (first time I've seen it in decades), and was struck by the deliberate effeteness of most of the bad guys there. (Was that why this motorcycle gang actually wore helmets?) Powerful sissies as bad guys make the hero seem much more "manly", yes? Of course there was also a rougher type who baaaed jeeringly in one scene -- an indication of his preferences?

#457 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:22 AM:

I wonder how much of the myth of the Spartans in the English-speaking world is a reflection of English history, and the general myth of the heroic last stand saving the day. Sparta itself doesn't get the attention until the era of the English Public School, and the study of the Classics, but it is an instance of a suicidal courage that is scattered throughout the history of England. And sometimes successful. There is the Battle of Maldon, and the Battle of Agincourt. There were the Whitecoats at Marston Moor and the Bluecoats at Naseby. Rorke's Drift, Gordon at Khartoum, the Great Mutiny.

Other countries have their own myths. The French Foreign Legion has Camerone. How much of Horatius at the Bridge was Roman, and how much Macaulay? And, as well as the great last stands, there are the little ones. Every Victoria Cross, every soldier who is remembered for not giving up, they are what make an Army, rather than an armed mob.

And it doesn't really matter what tune Piper Findlater played.

#458 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Patrick, another aspect of whiggism is to evaluate the past entirely in terms of how it contributes to the presumed forward progress you mention. That's the aspect I was referencing. Perhaps a better term to use would have been "presentism."

As for Frank Miller's contribution to the current tensions with Iran and how to resolve them, I just don't see it as a significant part of the work or the political situation. I think the person who characterized it as the Jocks versus the Freaks got it right, and that's about the level Miller and Hollywood operate at.

#459 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:46 AM:

DaveL, #458: "Another aspect of whiggism is to evaluate the past entirely in terms of how it contributes to the presumed forward progress you mention. That's the aspect I was referencing."

Then I don't know what you're saying, because nobody here has been evaluating the past in that way.

#460 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Meanwhile... My wife came across some comments made by Frank Miller about the movie version of "300". I understand that Leonidas's Queen Gorgo was barely present in the graphic novel and that her role was increased so that the movie would appeal more to young women. Apparently Miller objected strenuously to the greater feminine presence because, well, this is a boy's adventure story.

Why do I find myself thinking of Calvin and how he hated having Suzie around?

Cooties!

#461 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:06 PM:

#458 DaveL: "I think the person who characterized it as the Jocks versus the Freaks got it right, and that's about the level Miller and Hollywood operate at."

Sadly, that's also the level at which our current administration operates, along with most of our media.

#462 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:10 PM:

The more I think about it, the more "crazy people like this so you shouldn't" seems like an unconvincing argument about the artistic and literary worth of anything. Crazy (and dangerous) people have from time to time found lots of things to like about The Nibelungenlied, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the Bible, Shakespeare, the Beatles, and Batman too. (Some of which do indeed contain stupid and regressive ideas independent of what was read into them by nutbars of one stripe or another, but that seems sort of beside the point.) And I seem to recall a lot of right-wing pundits who got similarly whooped up and inspired by Return of the King a few years ago, for similar reasons.

Of course, Frank Miller really is something of a wacky chauvinist, in several senses of the word, and that's worth addressing, as are the problematic themes in fantasy of swarthy hordes and Dark Lands to the East. (And I'm certainly not crazy about the use of queerness/effeminacy as a way of upping a villain's Evil Quotient, either, thought I've grown accustomed enough by now that I can more or less sigh and let it go.) Was it somehow irresponsible to make a film like 300 in the current political climate? Well, maybe, but I'm not so fond of those arguments when they come from across the aisle, so I'm not finding myself inclined to give them much weight when Our Side makes them either.

#463 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Dave Bell, #457: Excuse me, and I suspect completely irrelevant to the current discussion . . . but how did the Battle of Maldon get into this list? I croggled slightly--and couldn't resist asking.

#464 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Mary Frances --

Standing and dying to man to defend the corpse of the idiot who got you into the completely unnecessary no-win situation strikes me as an excellent example of "suicidal courage".

(Yes, there's a poem about it, but also uncontested evidence that the events in the poem more or less really did happen.)

#465 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Graydon, #464: Okay, "suicidal courage," yes, if that's the criterion for the rest of the list, but--"saving the day"? I know the argument that Bryhtnoth was trying to pin the invading fleet to the shore, to protect other shores, but it's always seemed to me that he had about as much chance of succeeding in the long term as I do of becoming Pope--and I don't think it worked in the short term, either, did it?

But (as I said) it probably isn't really relevant to the discussion or to the point that Dave Bell is making (which I find interesting for its own sake, by the way)--and if you add "Charge of the Light Brigade" or something like that to the list, even I stop croggling. Maybe that's the problem--my knowledge of military history is, ahem, highly irregular. Are there maybe other unsuccessful (or less than successful?) last-stands on that list that I'm not aware of?

#466 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Trying not to weep at all the Buffy discussion in code; even if I was any good at adding programs to the tottering, whining hard drive of my geriatric iMac, I've got, at most, an occassional ten minutes here and there to indulge in Making Light.

A word about the relative virtues of Spike and Angel, a discussion which can still get you on Fandom Wank if you aren't careful: Angel, whatever else he is, is the result of evolution upon an 18th century spoiled rebellious alcoholic. Spike is a self-created construct on the base of a late-Victorian neoromantic, a vampire whose first impulse after rising was as idealistic as anything he did in BtVS s5 (see "Lies My Parents Taught Me"). Writing fic about Angelus is easy: he behaves like Angel with a hangover. I've got a novel/novella length 1867 fic to prove it. Trying to write a convincing and uncliched Spike is a different matter; I've had him stuck at dawn on a toll bridge for eighteen months.

And as to the whole retcon/ contradictions of canon question: there are themes and ideas which are consistent throughout, but, like any competent storyteller, ME was willing to tweak the interpretation of previous events when they got in the way of a good plot. It's an advantage BtVS and AtS have over, say, Bab5.

#467 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:30 PM:

JESR #466: like any competent storyteller, ME was willing to tweak the interpretation of previous events when they got in the way of a good plot.

Thank you. Slavish devotion to 100% continuity gets you nowhere, and there's a difference between changing a detail or two and betraying the spirit of the work which the continuity squads don't seem to get.

#468 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:44 PM:

Trying not to weep at all the Buffy discussion in code; even if I was any good at adding programs to the tottering, whining hard drive of my geriatric iMac, I've got, at most, an occassional ten minutes here and there to indulge in Making Light.

Open www.rot13.com in another window, cut and paste. That's what I do, I can't install things on my computer here.

#469 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:49 PM:

#459 (PNH) "Then I don't know what you're saying, because nobody here has been evaluating the past in that way."

There have been a lot of comments about the deficiencies of Greek civilization, usually in "presentist" terms: they weren't really democratic (of Athens), they held slaves, oppressed women, etc., as though those weren't essentially universal characteristics of civilization until rather recently.

Sparta was no prize, but at least when the chips were down they held firm and helped save Greek civilization from conquest. In my book that forgives some other sins.

#470 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:57 PM:
There have been a lot of comments about the deficiencies of Greek civilization, usually in "presentist" terms: they weren't really democratic (of Athens), they held slaves, oppressed women, etc., as though those weren't essentially universal characteristics of civilization until rather recently.
Those comments were in the context of discussion of a movie which apparently (I haven't seen it) presents Spartan civilization as being vastly better than Persian. Pointing out the negative aspects of Spartan civilization seems perfectly reasonable to me, in this context.
#471 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:59 PM:

I hate Match Week, I hate, I hate, I hate.

Just saying.

The tension is making me twitch.

While I wait for the clock to count down to 2:00 and turn the suspense of not knowing into the pressure of keeping secrets (is there any employment system as insane as the Match???), I wanted to issue a general invitation to anyone attending Lunacon or in the New York City/Westchester area this weekend. This Lunacon marks the 25th anniversary of my first Lunacon, which was also my first convention, so I am throwing an anniversary party and inviting everyone at the con or who feels like dropping by. This will be Saturday night at the Rye Town Hilton, fondly known as the Escher Hilton. It will begin after the initial run-through of the masquerade and go until I or my suitemates feel like going to sleep. Much food and (nonalcoholic) beverages will be provided, and I expect good conversation to generate itself. I'd be happy to have ML'ers there, whether I know you in Real Life or not.

I don't expect to be on-line from the convention, so signage at the hotel will direct you.

#472 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:04 PM:

For what it's worth, the effeminacy wasn't designed to make Xerxes look evil, it was used - along with the CGI to turn him all giant - to make him into a god. (the director was quoted as stating that a god would have both male and female aspects)

I for one thought the Spartans, with their heavily muscled, hairless, good-looking, all-boys club, came off as more stereotypically "gay" than the "orcs" on the bad guys side.

Haven't read the source material, and probably won't, since I'm having a hell of a time reconciling my general enjoyment of the movie with the fact that it's a hyper-violent plotless cartoon with a black & white misappropriation of history, and from what I've read, Miller would just push it over the edge. Hmmm... maybe I am easily distracted by manboobs.

#473 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:15 PM:

JC: The answer to your question is that it's too complicated to answer in a little text box in a few minutes, which is probably why nobody has answered you.

The thing you want to compare though isn't just England and France, but all the other European bits and pieces as well.

I could offer you a reading list? But it would be quite a long one.

To the wider thread, it's not long since I was thinking how democracy in Iran these days was looking like democracy in Britain in the eighteenth century -- a franchise limited by religion and wealth, men only, but where the legislative body really passionately mattered and debate on issues was fierce. Interestingly, that parliament -- Burke's parliament, not Iran's -- is where Britain and the US parted ways, we both have democracies descended from it, but along different evolutionary branches.

Thinking of how we view Persia, and Thermopylae (they didn't change the film so much that the Spartans won, did they?) makes me wonder about the angle from which future civilizations will consider ours.

#474 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Straight @ 417:

Vampires being more than pure evil is supported in the first season by Giles. When Buffy is upset about falling in love with Angel (and who wouldn't be, he's a selfish SOB), Giles says that it's complicated, and that there are demons that are pure evil, but that Angel isn't necessarily one of them.

As for fan-wank, the one thing that Angel and Spike have in common is that they both drank the blood of their sires with indecent willingness. Oh, and Darla, too. I think that that willingness has something to do with their very human-like emotional existence as vampires.

#475 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:21 PM:

fidelio:
FWIW, Lycourgos was not a king of Sparta. In fact, his reforms included things that turned the kings into near-figureheads.

Yeah, I was conscious I was doing that, and that it was kinda inaccurate. Lykourgos (if we trust Spartan tradition) was more of a god-king figure or (for historicisers) a warlord of some sort; but my point was that he was credited with setting up the (undemocratic) Spartan constitution by personal decree, which was then taken to be more-or-less unchangeable tradition. This was in order to suggest that Spartan laws are not easy to place in opposition to the whims of a divine (Persian) god-king. But obviously it all gets a lot more complicated if you look deeper, as does everything.

DaveL:
There have been a lot of comments about the deficiencies of Greek civilization, usually in "presentist" terms: they weren't really democratic (of Athens), they held slaves, oppressed women, etc., as though those weren't essentially universal characteristics of civilization until rather recently.

That certainly wasn't what I was arguing. I was mainly interested in opposing the Whiggish tendency which likes to see Athens (or Sparta, even) as modern civilisation in embryo. Stuff that identifies 'modern', 'European' civilisation as a direct descendant of Greek civilisation. Stuff that seems to lie behind this, in fact:

Sparta was no prize, but at least when the chips were down they held firm and helped save Greek civilization from conquest. In my book that forgives some other sins.

Why do we place so much importance on saving Greek civilisation? It seems to me that it is largely because we identify our own (modern, European) civilisation with it, or at least as having some connection with it that isn't there with regard to Persia. There are good things in lots of civilisations. The Greeks get all the attention, and it is worth arguing about why.

But in the end, I think, historians have to stand somewhere, and that somewhere is surely always the present. Escaping from "presentism" seems to mean pretending that your understanding of the past has nothing to do with what you think about everything else in the world. And that seems a little disingenuous.

Oh, what Patrick said, essentially. Now that we've all called each other whigs, can we move on? It's like Godwin's Law of historical debate. Oh, and I have nothing against sodomy - ancient, modern or prehistoric and saurian.

#476 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Various:

Spike did however long before he was chipped, stop a worldwide catalysm that would have changed the world, explaining that he liked the world the way it was and didn't want The Forces of Dark and Evil taking it over and changing it. He rather liked humans as they were to be his "Happimeals on feet" and such.

The life of women in ancient Persia I haven't heard that much regarding--Vashti the chief Queen was put into a no-win situation according the Book of Esther, her husband the King/Emperor of Persia insisted that she come dance in front of him and his [presumably all male] associates, she said no saying that that wasn't allowed by the society, so her husband put her to death....

That sounds rather like purdah combined with homicidal autocratic patriarchy. Esther got picked to take the empty spot that opened up in the emperor's harem on the basis of her beauty. She still could get messages out to her uncle after entering the harem, but her life in the harem didn't really much get dealt with as regards freedom or lack thereof that I recall.

How much of the Book of Esther is real, how much is fabrication, how much of it is compendium/conflation of various legends, histories, etc., I have no clue in bucket.

Jewish tradition (a fine word that, tradition--it covers a multitude of exigencies and situations, tradition may have something to do with literal history, it can also be based on legend, allegory, wishful thinking, fabulation, revisionism, necessity, etc.) put ancient Persia mostly in a heroic mold, regarding Perian conquest being instrumental in allowing Jew displaced out of Judea and Samaria back to the Levant, and regarding Jews being allowed to practice their religion with minimal repression and intolerance. There is also the tradition of the Book of Esther, but again, how much of that is historical is to my mind questionable.

Ancient Persia's accomplishments includes a lot in things like botany, Cyris the Great and others were very interested and proactive regarding collecting trees and plants and growing them, supposedly the spread of citrus and many other types of useful flora from more easterly parts of Asia, to Persia and lands west of Persia, was explicitly directed by Cyrus and other Persian rulers before and after him.

Regarding the ancient Greeks, they were not apparently on the most admired peoples lists of my ancestors...

Regarding treatment of women--Sparta was a more desirable locale than Athens for women who weren't slaves. For women who were slaves, I don't know enough about slavery in Sparta. In Athens, UGH! Persian treatment of women, it's not clear to me what the status was below the royal level of women-locked-in-purdah. Prior to royal bride status, Esther seemed to have some level of emancipation and self-determination, -maybe-. For that matter, the records that exist from the Genizah of Fustat, describe a situation that contrasts the restrictions on Muslim women which did not apply to Jewish ones--Muslim women in Cairo (Fustat was part of what today is Cairo) were locked in purdah; Jewish women ran businesses that include teaching reading and writing to small children, making textiles, selling textiles to women locked in purdah.. but Jewish women also had no rights for being freed from a marriage where the husband had run away or was suspected but not known to be dead. Therefore, there were women who betook themselves travelling all over the Mediterranean to track down their delinquent decamped husbands and require the husband to sign the official piece of paper agreeing to terminate the marriage [source--the volumes of A Mediterranean Society by S. D. Goiten]

In Fustat, there were multiple different cultures and religions and their members living under some very different legal and social rules, as evidenced by the very different lives of Jewish versus Muslim women, regarding freedom of movement, legal and social privileges and rights, status of control of funds, marriage, inheritance, attire, etc.

#477 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:26 PM:

#462, Dan Layman-Kennedy: "The more I think about it, the more 'crazy people like this so you shouldn't' seems like an unconvincing argument about the artistic and literary worth of anything. [...] Was it somehow irresponsible to make a film like 300 in the current political climate? Well, maybe, but I'm not so fond of those arguments when they come from across the aisle, so I'm not finding myself inclined to give them much weight when Our Side makes them either."

What is this, Red Herring Day on Making Light? Who has been arguing that it was "somehow irresponsible" to make 300? Or that nobody should like and appreciate art that happens to get used by nuts to make odious political points? I personally like all kinds of things in that category.

The discussion I've been reading has been about the way the movie portrays the Spartans and Persians, the contrast with the historical reality as we now understand it to have been, and how all this relates to the way these historical actors have been portrayed in art and deployed to make various political points. If anyone in this thread was saying that anyone else "shouldn't" like the movie, or said it was "irresponsible" to make it, I certainly didn't see it. Perhaps these remarks were made in the same alternate timeline where DaveL witnessed thread participants dissing the Spartans for their evile sodomizating ways.

When I brought up the fact that various pundits are extolling 300 as a fable of Western martial virtue, and observed that all of this is happening against the background of leaders trying to start a war with modern Iran, I was answering DaveL's suggestion that it's silly to talk about this stuff because it's just an action movie based on a comic book. I don't think it's silly to talk about this stuff any time, and it seems to me to be particularly topical now. I really don't know where you're getting the idea that I or anyone else is wagging their finger and saying you "shouldn't" see the movie. As I felt when DaveL hallucinated a whole thread about Spartan sodomy that didn't actually exist, it seems to me you're mischaracterizing the discussion in order to build a platform for observations you wish to make.

#478 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Meanwhile, a brief swipe at James Fenton[*]

Thermopylae
is a pretty pass,
and dead men lie
beneath the grass.

And no-one knows
enough to care
how the story goes,
but the dead are there.

And no-one knows
why they came to die;
and the dead are there,
but dead men lie.

And no-one knows
who’ll take the blame
for Thermopylae;
but the Spartans came.

But the Spartans came
to a pretty pass,
and dead men lie
beneath the grass.

[*] Quite unfairly, since his heart at least was in it, whereas mine emphatically is not. And yes, I know the geography is screwed up.

#479 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Unrelated to anything:

Over on boingboing there's a link to a (really awesome) photo set from Bush's visit to Brazil. The protesters' primary slogan seems to be "Fora Bush," sometimes with the S in "Bush" turned into a swastika and occasionally accompanied with pictures of Bush as Hitler. I don't know any Portuguese, so I used my Mac's translator device thang, which, weirdly, tells me that "fora" means "it are." Which, y'know, can't be right for several reasons. Anyone know what "Fora Bush" means?

#480 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:47 PM:

@461:

#458 DaveL: "I think the person who characterized it as the Jocks versus the Freaks got it right, and that's about the level Miller and Hollywood operate at."


Sadly, that's also the level at which our current administration operates, along with most of our media.

And, as the one who came up with the original characterization, I would just like to add that I don't think that that kind of simplification of any conflict is a good thing.

@458:

As for Frank Miller's contribution to the current tensions with Iran and how to resolve them, I just don't see it as a significant part of the work or the political situation.

Simplified narratives are always used as justifications for waging war.

There are people who supported (and perhaps still do support) the conflict in Iraq because they honestly believe that it was foretold in the book of Revelation, and that it is one of the signs of the return of Jesus.

There are people who believe that the Mongols were the "good" guys because in their time they fought and conquered the countries that in our time are currently labeled "the Axis of Evil". Yes, I know that's confused and stupid and wrong. But I saw the editorial for that one with my own eyes.

I don't think it was the directors or producers intent to make the Spartans map to Western civilization, since even though they toned down many of the homicidal, xenophobic, neophobic, nationalist-socialist and totalitarian aspects of the Spartans, and put in a totally specious appreciation for freedom and reason, they left in, and indeed, lead off with, the endemic infanticide of that city-state. But nevertheless, it should not be any surprise that some people would try and make pro-war political hay from the simplified conflict portrayed in this movie.

#481 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Thank you, Patrick! I spent some stupid time scrolling back through comments to find the argument I had evidently missed -- which wasn't there, which is why I missed it.

Good thread, though.

I have a request -- and perhaps it would be better suited for a new thread, rather than this one, which is interesting -- I am wondering what people here think of the fired prosecutor fiasco, and whether Gonzales is going to resign, or get canned by Bush a week after Bush tells the world he's doing a heckava job, a la Rumsfeld's departure. Any thoughts?

#482 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:53 PM:

And I'm certainly not crazy about the use of queerness/effeminacy as a way of upping a villain's Evil Quotient, either, thought I've grown accustomed enough by now that I can more or less sigh and let it go.

It's always (!always!) a sign of a bad writer, bad director, bad actor, or some subset thereof. Example: Duke Harkonnen in Dune. (Yeah, I think Herbert is a cheesy writer.)

#483 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:54 PM:

$482:

I'm trying not to pay too much attention to Prosecutor Gate.

I don't want to get my hopes up too much.

This way, if it quietly gets snuffed out by the start of Operation Iranian Liberation, I won't be too disappointed.

On the other hand, if it manages to take out Gonzales and Rove in one swell foop, I'll be all the more surprised and delighted.

#484 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Lizzy L @ 481

I want it to be the last hurrah for Gonzales and for Rove (who was certainly up to his ears in it). I don't think there's any way to get to Cheney or Bush through it, unfortunately.

Shrub saying that he was unhappy about the firings had me wondering: unhappy because of the firings, or because the reasons for the firings became public? (He won't fire Rove; he needs Rove to tell him what he's thinking and feeling. But maybe Rove is impeachable.)

#485 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Serge @ 460: Meanwhile... My wife came across some comments made by Frank Miller about the movie version of "300". I understand that Leonidas's Queen Gorgo was barely present in the graphic novel and that her role was increased so that the movie would appeal more to young women. Apparently Miller objected strenuously to the greater feminine presence because, well, this is a boy's adventure story.

Actually, the film would have been MUCH better without the tacked-on love story and bits with Queen Gorgo, who for all the movie's protests that Spartan women can take care of themselves, was both powerless and stupid. I go into this a bit more in my sorta-review sorta-rant on my blog.

I'd actually agree with Miller's objections, to an extent -- the Queen Gorgo storyline adds nothing to the movie. Everything she does is useless, not to mention the parts she's in are predictible and painful to watch. So why is she there? From a story perspective, she doesn't belong.

#486 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:14 PM:

Patrick, 477: As I felt when DaveL hallucinated a whole thread about Spartan sodomy that didn't actually exist, it seems to me you're mischaracterizing the discussion in order to build a platform for observations you wish to make.

It's entirely possible that I am, in which case, my apologies. It wouldn't be the first time I tilted at windmills that had more to do with my reflexive defenses than anything actually being said.

In any case, mea culpa; what I inferred was not what you meant to say. Sorry about that.

#487 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:22 PM:

As I said, buried in the paragraph, sometimes suicisl courage does succeed. Not always for the soldiers making that last stand, but by holding Thermopylae the Spartans bought time. Sometimes, as at the Alamo, that time is partly bought by the stupidity of the enemy commander. Sometimes, as at Rorke's Drift, the enemy gives up. They can't afford the time, or the casualties.

And battles such as Maldon and Agincourt are a part of the mythology of England. They're what Tolkien was building on. That dread cry of "Death!" as the Rohirrim charge, that's where it comes from. And the old 17th/21st Lancers, now merged into ghostly semi-oblivion, they had the cap-badge with the skull and the motto "Or Glory".

And never forget: the Light Brigade captured the guns.

Even the myth of the bayonet still holds; I don't know how close those Highlanders got to their enemy, but who would stick around to call their bluff.

#488 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:32 PM:

I wondered why l'Affaire Abramoff had dropped out of the news and the corruption investigations and indictments from it evaporated. The answer appears to partly be,

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/031407L.shtml

"US Attorney Removal Halted Abramoff Investigation
"By Nicole Belle
"CrooksandLiars.com
"Tuesday 13 March 2007
"...
" Boston.com:

"A US grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor, and the probe ended soon after.[..]

"In Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court reform bill then pending in Congress. ....
".. US Attorney Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black...."

Guam, the Marianas, forced abortion, slave labor work conditions, DeLay and buddies on junkets praising the industries running slave labor condition businesses, and the Oaf of the Oval Orifice and his associates engaged in a protection racket extorting the wages of the American public to keep these outrages against the principles that USA was founded on, from not only being stopped, but to shield those operations, their perpetrators, and shield the corrupt unethical immoral hypocrites in the US Congress from any and all inquiry and prosecution and conviction.

Malfeasance. Obstruction of justice. Etc. Impeachment? I want REMOVAL FROM OFFICE, and I want it timetravelled back....

#489 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Carrie S. @ 446 says:

I'll tell you the big moral dilemma, though: Angel (and only Angel) knows of a way to make a vampire fully human again. How does he justify not using it on at least vampires like Harmony?

I don't remember that Angel knows anything about restoring human souls. I would have said that the only person who knew how was Willow.

#490 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:39 PM:

ethan @ 479 - fora means means get out, leave, etc. Remember, it's Portuguese, not Spanish.

One of my pleasures that I'm less than proud about is Wonkette, where they covered it last week, and I almost shared it here.

#491 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Ahh, thanks, Tania! (Though I must point out: I said Portuguese!)

#492 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:59 PM:

I was the one who dragged in the comment about sodomy, as I had thought the ironic tone would be transparently obvious here. First, the whole post was - I thought - clearly phrased as ironic; second, sodomy references are part of the standard in-joke fodder here; moreover, I added immediately after that word "OK, so they weren't all bad."

Beyond my oblique joking, I think sodomy makes an interesting example of how moral standards change, and not in some continuous expansive line of progress. Some of the classical Greeks expressed strong disapproval of homosexual sodomy, even though we think it may have been common in many of the Greek city-states. (It's unclear, but some of the Greeks may have felt that certain sexual acts were perfectly acceptable between men while others such as anal penetration were shameful. Sadly, they failed to fill out Kinsey surveys with statistically acceptable sample sizes.) Jumping forward a couple of millennia, the Victorians found the ideas of both homosexuality and sodomy so horrific that they tried to ignore them completely, while simultaneously idealizing Greek civilization. (Yes, of course this doesn't necessarily match what they were doing in private.) Today much of Western culture has moved towards fully accepting homosexuality - not fast enough - but those who don't accept it tend to view homosexuality as the problem or sin, and any sexual acts between same-sex partners as evil, while (usually) finding most of the same sexual acts acceptable as long as they occur between men and women.

Obviously I'm handwaving wildly here, but my point is that there's not simply been a shift in the "moral spectrum" over the last couple thousand years, it's that the very axis of True North on the moral compass has spun wildly in different directions over that time. This is the very antithesis of what DaveL is mistaking for "whiggism".

#493 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:02 PM:

I don't remember that Angel knows anything about restoring human souls. I would have said that the only person who knew how was Willow.

I didn't say "restoring souls", though that's part of it--Angel knows how to make a vampire human again, alive again.

First we have the thing with the soul. Angel may not know how it's done, but he knows some subset of the Slayerettes know how to do it.

Then there's the first season of Angel , in which he is fighting a demon that regenerates and gets some of its blood into his system. Whereupon he becomes alive again, complete with beating heart and walking in sunlight.

This is later reversed in a time loop by some emissaries of the Powers That Be, leaving only Angel with the memory of how it worked.

So he knows the soul can be replaced and that once it is the vampire can be returned to full life. And he's the only one who knows...

#494 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:12 PM:

I'm sorry ethan. ::looks abashed::

I used to work with a Brazilian grad student, and she would always make sure we remembered she DID NOT SPEAK SPANISH. That was my previous indoctrination sneaking out. The voices in my head reminding me "It's Portuguese, not Spanish. Don't annoy XXXX by asking her about Spanish."

#495 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:14 PM:

#473:I could offer you a reading list? But it would be quite a long one.

Yes, please. Thank you, Jo. I've been flailing about trying to research this for a while. I'd really appreciate a long reading list.

(Oddly, it finally crystallized itself into a form where I could ask a coherent question after I saw Stoppard's Coast of Utopia marathon a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure this means something, but I'm not sure what.)

#496 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:23 PM:

P.S. I am certainly not a classicist; I just read some of the Greek classics in translation back in my college days, and dimly recall some of the class discussions about them.

I take candle to be a genuine classicist, and I greatly appreciate all his or her comments on the subject, as opposed to my minimally informed spouting. I particularly appreciate the reminder that most of what we have on the Spartans written down by their contemporaries, was written by their enemies.

#497 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Dan @ 462

Speaking of wacky you reminded me of this review of The Lord of the Rings by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. My ribs hurt after I read it.

#498 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 04:55 PM:

#492, Clifton Royston:

the Victorians found the ideas of both homosexuality and sodomy so horrific that they tried to ignore them completely, while simultaneously idealizing Greek civilization.

Surely it's also important to mention that up until the 20th century, Western culture believed in a notion of "platonic love", or same-sex affection that was completely nonsexual. So they could glorify the love of Greek men for other Greek men, while denying that there was anything nasty about it. We really can't do that anymore.

#499 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:06 PM:

Hmm. Maybe I was seeing remarks about Spartan sodomy that weren't there, but I definitely felt a kind of "heh, heh, well the Spartans were gay too!" vibe going on. Sometimes I do think I'm in an alternate timeline: where the hell are our jetcars, our L-5 colonies, our stardrives? Alas.

I think candle goes more to the point of what I was trying, however ineptly, to say:

Why do we place so much importance on saving Greek civilisation? It seems to me that it is largely because we identify our own (modern, European) civilisation with it, or at least as having some connection with it that isn't there with regard to Persia. There are good things in lots of civilisations. The Greeks get all the attention, and it is worth arguing about why.

While Western Civ got a fair amount from Persia and ultimately the Muslim world that Persia/Iran is now a part of, it's pretty obvious that culturally we owe a lot more to the Greeks (often via the Romans, of course). There's no direct line of descent, except in narrative, and that narrative was (at least in my opinion) very important in the Renaissance and Modern movement to greater democracy and freedom. The narrative goes something like: "Democracy was born in Greece, but died in the Peloponesian War; it rose again in the Roman Republic, but died at the hands of the emperors and the barbarians; it has risen again in [choose one or more: Britain, the US, Revolutionary France, the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution, and so on...]"

This narrative is in most ways a myth, especially where actual historical facts are concerned, but as a legend, it's not unlike the story of Arthur, or Frederick Barbarossa, or other Campbellian myths.

The point of it is that while democracy and freedom have risen and been put down in the past, they have always risen again. It's a great myth, and it's not really about how Greeks are better than Persians or Americans are better than Iraqis, it is, at its best, about how freedom ultimately wins.

I think that's what the Greeks left for us (along with mathematics, philosophy, some great myths of their own, comedy and tragedy, and of course, Homer).

Maybe if the Persians had beaten the Greeks, we would have gotten most of it anyway, via the Romans. I'm not certain exactly how much the Roman Republic owed the Greeks politically, for example. As has been pointed out, the Persians weren't demons by any means, maybe Greek civilization would have been diminished but survived. Perhaps Hellenism would have spread through the Persian Empire earlier than it did in our timeline.

It's actually an interesting thought, to consider a smaller, more Western Empire-ish Rome and a larger Persian Empire successor that includes Greece and Egypt (sort of the flip side of our Rome versus Parthia). One outcome might have been no Christianity and no Islam; we might all worship Zoroaster or Jupiter. Alternatively we might have Christianity in the successor states of the Persian Empire and paganism in the West.

All in all though (and this is whiggish, I fear) I think what the Greeks bequeathed to us culturally and politically is important, and we would be different and probably worse had we not gotten it.

So, I thank those Spartans and Thespians, not to mention the wooden walls of Athens.

#500 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:21 PM:

ethan 3479: 'Fora Bush' = 'Bush out!'

#501 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:39 PM:

The Persian Empire's troops included Greek mercenaries....

The semi-mythic (how much is myth, how much might be real, is another one of those things...) age of the Judges in Judea and Samaria, is one of democracy... the conversion into a kingdom was beset with all sorts of dire comments from Samuel, was it, who tried to convince other that it was A Really Bad Idea.

And, there was also the story of Deborah, who obviously was NOT locked up in purdah the way the Athenians locked up citizen's wives and daughters.....

I repeat, my ancestors from long ago were NOT admirers of the Greeks, who seem to have included the Philistines (alleged to have been from what today is called Crete). And the uncomplimentary,
"sons of the uncircumcised" very much applies to the ancient Greeks, who regarded circumcision as mutilation.

#502 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Carrie S., if you're referring to what happened to Darla in AtS s1, you must also remember that much of the paraphernalia, and possibly also an individual necessary to the process, didn't make it out of that episode.

Or do you mean the process in "I Will Remember You?"

(Taking a brief rest prior to more dental hijinks)

#503 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:51 PM:

The stories we are told feature rich muscle boys
(you bulk up big if you spend each day in the gym),
who with swords, spears, and suchlike murder-toys,
and after chanting their great battle-hymn,
proceeded to show invading foes the joys
of battling men with huge reserves of vim.
At least that is the tale that we've been told,
it's hoary now and certainly very old.

So they were brave, and they stood at the pass,
and their press spokesfolk knew how best to spin
the story, so that when they lay dead in the grass
they scored a kind of virtuous late win
and who says otherwise is condemned as an ass.
So others fought with them at that grave hour,
but from the page their efforts we will scour.

And when some fellows make a picture show
to hearten friends and remind them of brave deeds,
we see these heros bathed in the noble glow
of men who had transcended human needs;
they fought in honour, trading blow for blow,
planting our liberty (or at any rate its seeds).
That's not what really happened there, of course,
but someone thinks we need a fellow on a horse.

Now freedom's a thing which no good man will lose
but with his life itself, or so it has been said;
there are some fellows (no names now) who'd choose
thralldom instead since it beats being dead.
But they're the folks whose path we cannot use,
and so we cut the cord and burn the thread.
We'll laud our heroes to beyond the skies,
though, frankly, we'll have to spin lots of lies.

But we're told nothing of the humbler type
the artisans and craftsmen, the hoe men
come from their fields, and boats, and ripe
with honest sweat, to take up the old job again.
without histrionics, screams, or other tripe,
the just ask where to row and pull and when
to drop their oars and grab their spears and swords,
common they are, but they fight as well as lords.

Sure, you can write an epitaph or two,
name heroes, speak of mothers' quick-dried tears;
allow their actions to pass in full review,
and speak about them all for years and years.
Until no one will ask 'what did they do?'
but think of how they conquered all their fears.
They're large now that they were in real life,
each of them a hero, even to his wife.

But Aechylus tugged on a long wood oar,
he saw a battle and he took his part.
His play's the thing, it will not lull nor bore,
he was the master of the playwright's art.
There's blood indeed, offstage, and guts, and gore,
but still the enemy's shown to have a heart.
He took his place, beside the common folk,
who fought together to resist the yoke.

The moral here, if I'm allowed to preach,
is not that epitaphs are no great guide
(or that they're job is to instruct and teach),
we know they fought by the mountain's side
knowing that victory was past their reach;
we know that they took the most somber pride
in holding on even well past the breach.
It's certainly a major point of honour,
if you fight on knowing that you're a goner.

We're fed on lies proclaimed historic fact,
we're told that we should honour these brave souls;
we're told to exercise restaint and tact,
acknowledge that these men had noble goals.
And now their bodies have been cast in holes,
we can't our praise and honour now retract.
It angers us, though, that the rich and proud
should have their virtues so proclaimed aloud.

Victory came from quite ordinary chaps,
men who did their jobs, and then went home;
we don't see their burials marked on any maps,
no one in their honour has put up any dome.
They ran their race, they reached the final laps,
but they didn't stray or run or roam.
Instead they fought just to defend their land,
victory came from the hard rowers' hand.

#504 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:51 PM:

(And reading Carrie's post more completely I find it was the IWRY method. Which does require a rather rare demon).

#505 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 05:52 PM:

The stories we are told feature rich muscle boys
(you bulk up big if you spend each day in the gym),
who with swords, spears, and suchlike murder-toys,
and after chanting their great battle-hymn,
proceeded to show invading foes the joys
of battling men with huge reserves of vim.
At least that is the tale that we've been told,
it's hoary now and certainly very old.

So they were brave, and they stood at the pass,
and their press spokesfolk knew how best to spin
the story, so that when they lay dead in the grass
they scored a kind of virtuous late win
and who says otherwise is condemned as an ass.
So others fought with them at that grave hour,
but from the page their efforts we will scour.

And when some fellows make a picture show
to hearten friends and remind them of brave deeds,
we see these heros bathed in the noble glow
of men who had transcended human needs;
they fought in honour, trading blow for blow,
planting our liberty (or at any rate its seeds).
That's not what really happened there, of course,
but someone thinks we need a fellow on a horse.

Now freedom's a thing which no good man will lose
but with his life itself, or so it has been said;
there are some fellows (no names now) who'd choose
thralldom instead since it beats being dead.
But they're the folks whose path we cannot use,
and so we cut the cord and burn the thread.
We'll laud our heroes to beyond the skies,
though, frankly, we'll have to spin lots of lies.

But we're told nothing of the humbler type
the artisans and craftsmen, the hoe men
come from their fields, and boats, and ripe
with honest sweat, to take up the old job again.
without histrionics, screams, or other tripe,
the just ask where to row and pull and when
to drop their oars and grab their spears and swords,
common they are, but they fight as well as lords.

Sure, you can write an epitaph or two,
name heroes, speak of mothers' quick-dried tears;
allow their actions to pass in full review,
and speak about them all for years and years.
Until no one will ask 'what did they do?'
but think of how they conquered all their fears.
They're large now that they were in real life,
each of them a hero, even to his wife.

But Aechylus tugged on a long wood oar,
he saw a battle and he took his part.
His play's the thing, it will not lull nor bore,
he was the master of the playwright's art.
There's blood indeed, offstage, and guts, and gore,
but still the enemy's shown to have a heart.
He took his place, beside the common folk,
who fought together to resist the yoke.

The moral here, if I'm allowed to preach,
is not that epitaphs are no great guide
(or that they're job is to instruct and teach),
we know they fought by the mountain's side
knowing that victory was past their reach;
we know that they took the most somber pride
in holding on even well past the breach.
It's certainly a major point of honour,
if you fight on knowing that you're a goner.

We're fed on lies proclaimed historic fact,
we're told that we should honour these brave souls;
we're told to exercise restaint and tact,
acknowledge that these men had noble goals.
And now their bodies have been cast in holes,
we can't our praise and honour now retract.
It angers us, though, that the rich and proud
should have their virtues so proclaimed aloud.

Victory came from quite ordinary chaps,
men who did their jobs, and then went home;
we don't see their burials marked on any maps,
no one in their honour has put up any dome.
They ran their race, they reached the final laps,
but they didn't stray or run or roam.
Instead they fought just to defend their land,
victory came from the hard rowers' hand.

#506 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 06:15 PM:

My job description says I'm a classicist, but I like to think I'm a historian. But Sparta is a long way from my specialism - I teach it very briefly and for the most part play off a more traditional lecture course given by a real expert. So for ghod's sake don't assume I'm right about details, or I suppose about anything else. Funnily enough the one time I have had to engage properly with Sparta was in writing about Thomas More's Utopia, which I think takes a lot from [Renaissance ideas about] Sparta.

I have no problem with anything DaveL says at #499, as it happens. I just spend a lot of time trying to get people to stop thinking of the ancients as people exactly like us, only in fancy dress.

And Paula@501: you've reminded me that, according to Paul Cartledge, more Greeks fought on the Persian side than with the Spartans...!

#507 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 06:19 PM:

@501

I repeat, my ancestors from long ago were NOT admirers of the Greeks, who seem to have included the Philistines (alleged to have been from what today is called Crete). And the uncomplimentary, "sons of the uncircumcised" very much applies to the ancient Greeks, who regarded circumcision as mutilation.

You've reminded me of the more complex account in Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt, which among other things, describes Seleucid-occupied Israel (long after the era of the Philistines, I should add), where the people were somewhat more conflicted over Hellenism: Some were attracted to the material culture of the gymnasium, and even wanted to undo their circumcisions. Others were interested in the analyses of the philosophers, finding them as attractive (and some perhaps more so) than anything in the Bible.

Of course, the ones who felt as you describe are the ones who eventually won out, leading to the fairly short Maccabee dynasty, which itself ended in Roman occupation, and we all know what happened after that.

Yet the interest in the Hellenic intellectual heritage continued throughout that era, although I don't recall all of the details of how it was intermixed with native Jewish thought.


But then, I am pretty sure that Spartans contributed little if anything to the Hellenic intellectual heritage. It should be recalled that, as with all cultures, Hellas was not uniform and monolithic.

#508 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:04 PM:

Fragano, that was gorgeous.

#509 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:08 PM:

Carrie @ 445
Yeah, "true happiness", whatever. It was code for sex.

It certainly appeared that way from the incident in Season 2 of Buffy but over the course of Angel ur unf frk ba n ahzore bs bppnfvbaf (jvgu Qneyn naq, zbfg abgnoyl, jvgu Avan gur jrerjbys) naq qbrfa'g erireg gb Natryhfarff. Gur jbeqvat bs gur phefr fcrpvsvrq "cresrpg unccvarff" naq ng gur fgneg bs gur Natry frnfba 5 rcvfbqr Cbjre Cynl ur naq Avan cbfg-pbvgnyyl qvfphff gur snpg gung, gubhtu gur frk jnf terng, ur'f abg cresrpgyl unccl.

#510 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:10 PM:

ethan@424, Heresiarch@427: "Volunteer" may have been the wrong word. How's "voluntary"? I didn't mean ones who sought it out; I meant ones willing to accept it.

Though this brings up an issue I kick around from time to time: What, exactly, is supposed to be better about having someone who doesn't want power have power? Yes, you do get some power-mad people who seek it out and use it badly, and that leads to problems. But if the person is truly unwilling--and not just putting up a facade because everybody knows you're not supposed to want power, so if you do, you'd better not show it, just quietly put yourself in positions where it falls to you*--that can lead to some spectacular abuses, too. I'd rather have someone thoughtful and willing to take on power and the responsibility that goes with it than someone who's never given thought to the rights and wrongs of exercising it because they didn't want it.

It's like saying the only people who should be doctors are the people who don't want to be doctors.

*This is, in my experience, what's really going on in the situations where people point to examples of how people who don't seek out power or want to have it should be the ones to have it, because that system is working so well in Place X. Yeah, right. And behind the scenes is some of the most predatory scheming on the planet to obtain power without looking like you want it. Guess what? People who truly don't want power generally don't accept it. If they said yes, odds are they wanted it. And nobody can talk about that, about what's really going on, because wanting power means you're power-mad. How can you ever have realistic discussions about power if you can't even talk accurately about what's going on?

CarrieS: I see what you're saying, and it makes sense. But as cool as the idea of being a Slayer is in my imagination, I really wouldn't want to be one, and being made one against my will would be revolting.

#511 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Wow. I take off a couple days and miss an entire subthread about 300->Sparta->Persia->My god is better than your god.

I thought the movie was... OK. Definite guy flick. Lots of chest beating, blood, guts, violence and whatnot. I certainly wasn't going to give it any historical credence. I mean, when I saw the man-thing who had his arms removed below his elbow and replaced with swords, I sort of figured, this probably isn't historically accurate.

Probably. But what do I know.

After seeing Sin City, I also got the impression that Frank Miller's view on the use of force, violence, war, and the like is, well, how do I put this, young. He has an infatuation with war and fighting, which I recall having when I was a kid. And an infatuation with violence is a perfectly fine infatuation to have if you're someone writing comic books and movies, but certainly not the sort of thing I'd base any adult/realworld decisions on. (And did someone say he's a homophobe?)

As for the historical realities of persia and greece, I don't know who was better as far as culture and civilization goes. I'm perfectly fine accepting the idea that Persia was far more advanced than any city in Greece.

But the lesson I think human kind needed to learn (still needs to learn) is self determination, and if some foreign ruler marches his army on my land, and says they're "liberating" me, I have some qualms with that. Likewise, if my army marches on someone else's land and tells them we're "liberating" them, I take issue. Spreading democracy by force seems to have missed the entire fricken point... But back to Greece/Persia, I suppose one could argue whether "self determination" applied to a place like Sparta if only the warrior class had any say, but one could also argue that the idea that Xerxes or Darius was invading Greece to liberate the Greeks who were not represented by their local government, is a load of bullocks not unlike the idea that we invaded Iraq to free the enslaved Iraqis and that oil had nothing to do with it.

Xerxes was in it for earth and water, just like Bush is in it for oil.

That doesn't make Sparta or Iraq the ones with the white hats, the ones completely free of sin, but part of the problem is trying to put modern-day morality hats on people who did things thousands of years ago.

#512 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Owlmirror 507 -- Strongly Hellenistic-influenced Judaism was wiped out partially I suspect due to the massacre of much of the Jewish community in Alexandria during Roman times. The best-known today member Hellenistically-oriented Jew was Philo of Alexandria, whose philosophy and writings apparently became a strong influence on Christianity, but died out essentially completely in Judaism.

Fragano-- the names of at least some ancient Greeks who were artists, scientists, poets, musicians, scuptors, etc., have survived, though--Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Pindar, Sappho, Homer, blanking-on-his-name-known-for-Balatea (scupltor), Daedalus (legend mostly there, though), varous of the Pythagoreans, Archimedes (though he was around when Rome was expanding, and its expansion was lethal to him)....

#513 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Greg London, 511: After seeing Sin City, I also got the impression that Frank Miller's view on the use of force, violence, war, and the like is, well, how do I put this, young.

Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up (and you can probably add sex to that list as well). I definitely think he has a teenage boy's fascination with strength and warriorhood as an end in itself, and it colors the way he seems to look at society; I remember China Mieville once pointing out that one of the themes of The Dark Knight Returns is "people are sheep who need a strong shepherd." I'm sure this accounts for some of his fascination with, and idealization of, the culture of Sparta as he imagines it to have been, as well as his weird equation of "democracy" with "warrior elite."

Guy sure does Pulp like no one else, though.

#514 ::: JamesK ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:26 PM:

It's probably a worrying sign about my Geek-Quotient that my first thought after reading the whole vf vg rguvpny gb ra-Fynlre gur znffrf jvgubhg gurve pbafrag thread was "You know, 'Hunter: the Reckoning' could be the basis of a great Post-S7 Buffy game."

...

Dammit. I need to run this.

#515 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 08:38 PM:

and you can probably add sex to that list as well

The view of women he portrays in his stories is something I would expect in a 13 year old male. I don't know if that's him or just what he writes to sell to his audience, but then, either way isn't really a good thing in my book.

the themes of The Dark Knight Returns is "people are sheep who need a strong shepherd."

Well, that's what I meant by "young". An infatuation with war, violence, and force, subscribing to the belief that it can somehow be used for good with harm to no one undeserving is the hallmark of a child's thinking. Some grow out of it when they get older and more experienced. Some don't.

#516 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Aconite @ 510 510????!!!! Any bets on 4 figures?

if they said yes, odds are they wanted it. And nobody can talk about that, about what's really going on, because wanting power means you're power-mad. How can you ever have realistic discussions about power if you can't even talk accurately about what's going on?

In the US, at least, power itself is considered vulgar, almost obscene, so the desire for power is clearly bad. That's very similar to the view of money. That is, no one respectable wants to talk about it, but most people want it. A lot like porn, for that matter.

Until you can get people to accept that power is morally neutral, like any other tool, you can't have a rational discussion of its uses.

#517 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:32 PM:

Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers @ 516: Any bets on 4 figures?

There's Buffy, sodomy, and politics. It's not a matter of if, but how soon.

#518 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 09:38 PM:

To veer in the direction of "Open thread"ness, about that 50-states thing:

How fast can you visit all 50 states, as opposed to naming them? How about doing it all in one week's vacation?

http://www.barrystiefel.com/50_states_in_a_weeks_vacation/50_states_in_a_weeks_vacation.htm

#519 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Greg London:

"Well, that's what I meant by "young". An infatuation with war, violence, and force, subscribing to the belief that it can somehow be used for good with harm to no one undeserving is the hallmark of a child's thinking."
At the foundation level, it's the belief that your actions have only the effects and consequences that you intend.

#520 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:12 PM:

Carrie S@#493:

It's true, as you say, that Angel knows how to make a(n ensouled) vampire "human again, alive again." However, doing so not only requires knowledge of the ensoulment spell, it also erdhverf gur oybbq bs n fragvrag, vs qrzbavp, perngher, naq bar juvpu vf -- onfrq ba vgf oevrs nccrnenapr va gur frevrf -- dhvgr ener naq n snveyl gbhtu phfgbzre gb obbg.


So while Angel may have the theoretical knowledge, the actual process isn't one that would lend itself to widespread replication. "Svefg, pngpu lbhe Zbuen qrzba...."

#521 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Lawrence @ #498:

Did we stop believing in platonic love? Other than, I guess, the kind of idiots who say "Men and women can't really be friends, because, y'know, SEX."

Anyway, I think I do believe in platonic love. I must have missed the memo.

Sorry if I'm misunderstanding what you were getting at - I only got about 4 hours sleep last night, so I'm a bit woozy.

#522 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 11:30 PM:

JamesK What does it say about my geek quotient that when I read "vf vg rguvpny gb ra-Fynlre gur znffrf jvgubhg gurve pbafrag" (and any other large chunks of rot-13'd text) I think of Cu'atyhv ztyj'ansu Pguhyuh E'ylru jtnu'anty sugnta and wonder if reading the wrong spoiler aloud might precipitate an apocalypse.

"Knaqre, qba'g fcrnx ebg-13 va sebag bs gur oybtf."

#523 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Paul Duncanson @ 522

As a long-time computer wizard I can tell you that there are some spells that can be catastrophic if used at the wrong time, or in the wrong circumstances. "Xander, don't say 'rm -rf /*' to the computer."

#524 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:40 AM:

When I see large amounts of rot-13, I think of Vogons.

#525 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:51 AM:

Way uptopic, someone was speculating that you couldn't bind books in vampire skin because, at least in the Buffyverse, vampires turn to dust when they're killed.

Well, duh, simple answer for that: You don't KILL the vampire. You just FLAY him.

#526 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:56 AM:

#499 DaveL: "All in all though (and this is whiggish, I fear) I think what the Greeks bequeathed to us culturally and politically is important, and we would be different and probably worse had we not gotten it."

It might help to dispel your whiggish cloud to note that Greek philosophy and medicine was mostly introduced to Europe in translation from the Arabic: the language of the barbarian horde who brutally conquered Persia. Not only did they preserve the Greek ideas, but they expanded and improved upon them. We owe as much (I would argue more) to them as we do to the Greeks.

#511 Greg London: Frank Miller strikes me as someone who is really good at coming up with deeply resonant images but has nothing to say with them. Or rather, nothing to say that isn't really, really, quite impressively wrong-headed.

#516 Bruce Cohen: "Until you can get people to accept that power is morally neutral, like any other tool, you can't have a rational discussion of its uses."

Power is morally neutral like a gun is morally neutral. When people show excessive interest in accumulating a great deal of firepower (literal or figurative), I get a little wary. Why do they want it, unless they intend to use it?

#520 Debra Doyle: "So while Angel may have the theoretical knowledge, the actual process isn't one that would lend itself to widespread replication."

I dunno. Gur guvat ertrarengrf, evtug? Whfg bar jvyy cebivqr n cbgragvnyyl hayvzvgrq fhccyl bs syrfu. The real problem you'd run into, trying to de-vamp vampires on a large scale, is getting the vampires to cooperate. By all reports, most of them rather enjoy being evil.

#527 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:01 AM:

Heresiarch: Frank Miller strikes me as someone who is really good at coming up with deeply resonant images but has nothing to say with them.

Wow, thanks for saying that. I'm not familiar (at all) with Frank Miller directly, but you've just explained to me why my only reaction to the movie of Sin City was to be vaguely unimpressed, which has bugged me since it came out.

#528 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Heresiearch

Yup, guns are morally neutral too. When you suspect someone with a lot of guns, you're worried about the motives of the person who has some reason for amassing guns, not the guns. The guns are an indicator, not a cause. I'm definitely not saying "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Sure as sunrise, guns kill people; but people pull the triggers.

About Frank Miller: My wife recorded a 15 minute TV show about 300, figuring we weren't going to want to see the movie, but would want to see if it had the kind of visual style that Sin City had. We both thought Sin City was visually interesting and otherwise repugnant. This despite our usual willingness to forgive a lot for good visuals, as she's an artist, and I'm a photographer.

We watched the recording earlier this evening, and were really blown away by the drama and beauty of the visuals. They were considerably better than Sin City. Taken one at a time the images are ravishingly beautiful, and that is not hyperbole. Seen as a whole movie, they're hyper-violent and very gross, and I agree, don't appear to be connected into any interesting story.

#529 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:11 AM:

For a taste of Miller's political views, see:

http://hangrightpolitics.com/2007/01/26/frank-miller-on-the-state-of-our-nation

#530 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:13 AM:

I'm not sure that Sin City is entirely hollow, but if it were a can of beans you could say you had been given short measure.

In the post-9/11 America of Bush's wet dreams there is an applicability of some plot elements. There's the corruption and the brutality and the torture.

And since Frank Miller was so closely involved in making the film, he can't escape the blame for the hollowness, or for the effect of blending together several comic-stories. But he's not the only person who can be blamed. There's some of the same hollowness in El Mariachi

Thinking, consider Yojimbo and Seven Samurai: how the first western remakes still kept the meat, and how as time passes, the ideas get reused as, eventually, dry and hollow bones.

Hooray for Hollow-wood

#531 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:24 AM:

This is an open thread, and you guys are the largest sampling I know of people who might know this, and it seems like an interesting topic beyond its immediate relevance, and also, quite honestly, I'm, well, shaking in my boots.

So. I understand I'm breaking a sort of shame taboo by speaking about employment in a way that implies I have none, but the answers people might have here interest me enough -- not just for my own sake, but also out of curiosity -- that I'm going to dare it anyway.

What does an erudite, slightly aspie, fairly nocturnal, not especially squeamish person with reasonable tech skills, too much non-trade-related school, and minimal job experience actually do?*

If any of that describes you, what do you do? If that described you after college, what did you do then?

The answers I'm turning up via the usual sources are things like "have lots of family friends who manage companies" and "starve", but I'm hoping someone here can share a more heartening story.

*Yes, I know that quite a few of you write for a living, but there's that time gap between the onset of the attempt to do so and the actual point at which sales hit livable dimensions, and I don't think anyone would call the size -- or terminability -- of that time gap predictable.

#532 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:35 AM:

Heh. And, re-reading the top quote, I just realized that perhaps my last post even counts as "on topic" for this particular open thread.

#533 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:05 AM:

The last thing I can say about seeing "300" was that I got to see the coming attraction for the latest opus from the minds of Tarantino and Rodriguez, Grindhouse.

#534 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:20 AM:

Some years ago, some clever clogs here in Ireland invented a process for making a weird product called "Billy Roll". It's a big cooked sausage made from different coloured meat-like substances which reveal a picture in cross section. Each slice shows a teddy bear's face, or (in a seperate sausage) a clown's face.

This stuff is very popular with people who want their kids to eat slices of meatlike stuff, since kids think it's funny.

I just spotted this new version while browsing in flickr, and thought it would be of interest here.

#535 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 07:05 AM:

JC (#364) - as Jo says in #473, it is more complicated than that. As you asked for a long reading list, I'm assuming you have time. If you're in a hurry to write the story, you might want to note that although the English Civil War(s) settled, along with a whole bunch of other points, the Absolute Monarchy/Divine Right of Kings/Sovreignty issue, not everyone agreed with these resolutions, leading to the Glorious Revolution, and several other conflicts. After that, I get into a reading list as well.

On Thermopylae, all my good points have been made better by other people, but I haven't seen this way of mapping the battle onto current affairs: The Spartans fought and died as martyrs to defend their homeland against an overwhelming invader.

#536 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 07:39 AM:

A.J. Luxton wrote -
What does an erudite, slightly aspie, fairly nocturnal, not especially squeamish person with reasonable tech skills, too much non-trade-related school, and minimal job experience actually do?*

Well, in any place that has a decent IT industry, try to find a job as a night operator for a datacenter.

The job requires nocturnal-friendly, attention to detail and ability to document, a process-oriented nature, (usually) little human interaction (except maybe with other members of the datacenter night team), and some basic level of technical competence, without getting to the point of requiring (usually) extensive technical knowledge (most places running a data center don't expect their operators to be unix wizards - but they have to know enough to do canned responses, etc.).

Pay is usually okay, not great, but there's a shift differential usually, and often overtime availability. And often it's the sort of job where, other than a few semi-automated tasks that have to be coaxed or monitored, swapping some tapes around, inventorying, etc. - there isn't a whole heck of a lot to do.

In many cases, the night operator is there to feed blank tapes into the tape array when it kicks out full ones, and keep an eye on processes to make sure none of them fail in spectacularly unhelpful ways, and then either kick them back into shape, or escalate to a system admin who was asleeep before you woke them up. Which leaves you plenty of time for your own pursuits.

#537 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:22 AM:

AJ Luxton, I'd add this to Scott Taylor's remarks:

Among other places to try for such jobs, look into various civil-service positions, on the local, state or federal levels. The pay, depending on the place and the governmental entity, may not be as high as the private sector, but it comes with benefits like insurance and such, and they're typically very glad to get people who will come and stay, rather than wandering off after the Next Good Job Offer.

#538 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:30 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 534... some clever clogs here in Ireland invented a process for making a weird product called "Billy Roll". It's a big cooked sausage made from different coloured meat-like substances

As Charlton Heston would say:
"It's made with people!!!"

#539 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:33 AM:

Gur jbeqvat bs gur phefr fcrpvsvrq "cresrpg unccvarff" naq ng gur fgneg bs gur Natry frnfba 5 rcvfbqr Cbjre Cynl ur naq Avan cbfg-pbvgnyyl qvfphff gur snpg gung, gubhtu gur frk jnf terng, ur'f abg cresrpgyl unccl.

V unir gb fnl, V guvax gung gung jnf xvaq bs n ybbcubyr gung ur naq Ohssl pbhyq unir hfrq (hz, ab cha vagraqrq...). Ur tbg pnhtug ol gur phefr gur svefg gvrz jvgu Ohssl orpnhfr ur qvqa'g xabj jung pbhyq unccra. Nsgre gung, vg'f cerggl rnfl sbe uvz gb xrrc va zvaq, "Url, vs V'z abg pnershy guvf pbhyq eraqre zr n fbhyyrff zbafgre ntnva", juvpu V'q pnyy n cerggl tbbq vzcrqvzrag gb gehr naq cresrpg unccvarff.

[Gur inzcver-erirefny cebprff] erdhverf gur oybbq bs n fragvrag, vs qrzbavp, perngher, naq bar juvpu vf -- onfrq ba vgf oevrs nccrnenapr va gur frevrf -- dhvgr ener naq n snveyl gbhtu phfgbzre gb obbg.

Bu, irel gehr. V'z abg fnlvat gurl pna tb vagb jubyrfnyr inzc-erirefvat; jr qba'g xabj ubj pbzzba Beof bs Gurffryn (erdhverq sbe gur rafbhyvat fcryy) ner rvgure. Whfg frrzf gb zr gung Natry bhtug gb unir gbyq fbzrbar.

Vs Zbuen qrzbaf ner rivy vg zvtug abg or vaqrsrafvoyr gb xrrc bar va n pryyne fbzrjurer, gerngrq jryy, sbe checbfrf bs oybbq pbyyrpgvba.

You don't KILL the vampire. You just FLAY him.

Which leads to the my question of whether removing the skin counts as killing it, thus causing it to turn to dust even though the rest of the vampire is still alive (and pissed off).

#540 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:54 AM:

#538: "Billy" is Irish slang. Charlton Heston should be shouting "It's made with Protestants!" (Billy=Protestant, after King Billy, Dan=Catholic).

#541 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:58 AM:

Clifton@521:
Did we stop believing in platonic love? Other than, I guess, the kind of idiots who say "Men and women can't really be friends, because, y'know, SEX."

I understood Lawrence to mean that the Victorians tended to use the term 'platonic love' (or 'Greek love') to describe something very different from what Plato and/or other Greeks might have been indulging in. The distinctions here are very difficult, though. We tend to use 'platonic' to mean non-sexual and generally non-physical love (I think). Some Victorians seem to have included physical affection and perhaps even some sexual element under the same heading. And the Athenians and Spartans seem to have included a similar variety of things in their various male-male relationships, with quite a bit of debate going on in all directions. The cultural boundaries of love/sex and acceptable/unacceptable seem to shift around all the time. No doubt that's all to the good.

Using 'platonic' to mean 'non-sexual' is still common enough, and it's fine with me; but I think the irony was that the Victorians (some of them) used Plato's authority to make a distinction he would probably not have recognised. Mind you, nothing new there.

#542 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 09:06 AM:

#526 Heresiarch: Of course (hence Algebra, Almagest, Alcohol, and any number of other Greek->Arabic->Renaissance lines of descent). I think a lot of that stuff came by way of Byzantium as well (or maybe Byzantium can just be counted as Greece). Some came via (Arab) Spain as well. I'd love to know if anyone has tallied up the provenance of our ancient manuscripts: Byzantium? Spain? Ireland? etc. Did we get 90% in translation from Arabic, or 10%?

Byzantium has always gotten a bad press in the West, for a combination of salient and prejudiced reasons. Gibbon was particularly scathing.

#318 Dave Luckett: Did you ever give a source for those lines of verse? If not, please do! I tried to google them and didn't find anything.

#543 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Heresiarch@#526: Gur guvat ertrarengrf, evtug? Whfg bar jvyy cebivqr n cbgragvnyyl hayvzvgrq fhccyl bs syrfu. The real problem you'd run into, trying to de-vamp vampires on a large scale, is getting the vampires to cooperate.

No, the real problem that you'd run into is that sooner or later you'd end up turning into The Initiative.

Dave Bell@#530: Given that Yojimbo was inspired, plot-wise, by the novels of Dashiell Hammett, and that Kurosawa found directorial inspiration in the Westerns of John Ford, the question of exactly where, if anyplace, original-source strength and purity can be found would seem to be a rather pointless one.

#544 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 09:52 AM:

AJ Luxton #531: Are you me? As an also unemployed example of what you said, I've been wondering the same thing.

#545 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 09:59 AM:

#526 ::: Heresiarch @ 526: Power is morally neutral like a gun is morally neutral. When people show excessive interest in accumulating a great deal of firepower (literal or figurative), I get a little wary. Why do they want it, unless they intend to use it?

When people show excessive amounts of interest in anything, I approach with caution. But--see, that's just the kind of thing I'm talking about: in any discussion about power, the conversation almost inevitably leaps to examples of the extremes of power-hunger. Most of the people who want power aren't excessively interested in it, the same way most of the people who want money or other tools or resources aren't excessively intrested, but the social taboo about admitting you want power means the non-extremely interested people learn to hide it.

Not only can you do good things with power, you have to have it in order to do good. If you are powerless, you cannot effect change. Yet we tend to view the desire for power as a negative, suspicious thing, possibly by being selective about what we define as "wanting power." The ninety-year-old grandmother who starts a protest against a toxic waste dump being built near the local elementary school isn't usually seen as power-hungry, even though she clearly wants power, in the same way someone who wants to be a Slayer in order to protect the kids at that school from the ghoolies and ghosties is.

Power and the desire for it are neutral. Motivations aren't. We can't have honest and realistic discussions about power as long as the desire for it is seen as a bad, dirty thing in and of itself.

#546 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Aconite #545

I would like to throw a parade for you.

#547 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Frangano, the poem was fantastic! I have two minor editorial quibbles:

"(or that they're job is to instruct and teach)"
should be "their".

The penultimate stanza changed the rhyme scheme (from ABABABCC to ABABBACC). You could just as easily have swapped those two lines with a minor word-change and retained the rhyme scheme, e.g.

"We can't our praise and honour now retract,
now that their bodies have been cast in holes."


On another note: I've read a good bit of military SF, and it seems to me that there is a very different subtext when people refer to Thermopylae than when they refer to "the 300" or the Spartans (at Thermopylae). Has anyone else noticed this, and if so, do you know if this distinction is at play in, say, military textbooks?

#548 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 534

-- sits there for a few seconds, gobsmacked --

Well, things really do come round, don't they? The technique of putting pictures in the cross-section of a cylinder that you expose sequentially by slicing it was developed for film animation by Otto Fischinger back in the 1930s (he later fled from Germany to the United States to avoid the brown-shirted art critics, and worked for Disney most of his life).

Fischinger would take colored clay and make it into various shapes, then put the shapes together lengthwise into a cylinder. He'd point his camera at the end of the cylinder, shoot 1 frame, then take a slice off the end of the cylinder and shoot another frame. Repeat a few thousand times and you have an animated film.

Now if you did that with a Billy Roll, you could eat your actors after principal photography, something I suspect many Hollywood producers would love to do, for numerous values of "eat".

#549 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Carrie @ 539:
"You don't KILL the vampire. You just FLAY him.

Which leads to the my question of whether removing the skin counts as killing it, thus causing it to turn to dust even though the rest of the vampire is still alive (and pissed off)."

No, no, no. The really interesting question is, if the skin stays intact after you've flayed the vampire, and then the vampire gets staked, does the skin instantly dust? This of course leads to
Vampires As Message Protocol (Superluminal).
A little costly, though, since each bit requires one vampire.

#550 ::: Marith ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:33 AM:

AJ @ #531: Something ITish. Anything to get a foot in the door to start with: tech support, customer service, operator/datacenter monkey, any low-level job that's open. They tend to be painful and not terribly well-paying jobs, but they build up experience and resume fodder fast.

QA may also be a useful field to look at. Attention to detail, ability to communicate clearly, and general tech skills were enough to get me started there.

Oh, and temp agencies can be useful too, both the tech-oriented ones and not.

Best of luck! I know that nervousness far too well...

#551 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Perhaps of interest to the poetic Fluorospherans:

"By and large, we know nothing of these people. They are permanently lost to history. But these poems show us that poetry was once central to the way working-class communities expressed themselves both politically and otherwise.[...]

I find it incredibly moving that people invested that kind of energy and commitment into poetry."

Lost voices of Victorian working class uncovered in political protest poems.
Labourers expressed fight for social justice in thousands of lines of verse

#552 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:47 AM:

not especially squeamish person with reasonable tech skills actually do?

Scott Taylor beat me to it. By all means, try for the data center job.

If I was you, I'd spend about a week absorbing everything I could about Linux. With that accomplished, post a resume on careerbuilder.com containing the words "junior Linux administrator". Tech recruiters will begin calling you the next day.

I'm completely serious about this and I believe it's got a better than even chance of working.

Occasionally such jobs have some sort of phone screen prior to actually hiring you. Google for "sysadmin interview questions" to get an idea of where to begin studying.

#553 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:51 AM:

By a circuitous route from a global warming thread, I found this: Bussard Fusion.

There's a link to a video of a lecture on the topic he gave at Google. Many other interesting links pop up from a search. This is the same Robert Bussard who came up with the Bussard Ramjet, a favorite of Larry Niven.

The idea that simple, cheap fusion power is waiting out there if someone can come up with $200M is very enticing, of course. It seems a trivial amount of money to risk to find out, and Bussard doesn't sound like a crank.

Anyone know any more about this topic?

#554 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:53 AM:

A.J. @ #531:
After school, I temped my way into the sort of high-data, low-people job I wanted and did it for seven years until I got sick of it. Then I discovered my True Passion in Life, which unfortunately is considerably less reliable than writing as a way to keep food on the table. After several years of starving, I went back to temping, focused my temping on the local university, and used the resulting insider knowledge to find and pounce on a desirable job that would overlook my extremely peculiar resume. I plan to do this for a couple of years to get out of debt and reroof my house, then find an equally tolerant PhD program and return to starving.

#555 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:10 AM:

candle @541, responding to:

Clifton@521: Did we stop believing in platonic love? Other than, I guess, the kind of idiots who say "Men and women can't really be friends, because, y'know, SEX."

I understood Lawrence to mean that the Victorians tended to use the term 'platonic love' (or 'Greek love') to describe something very different from what Plato and/or other Greeks might have been indulging in.

Yes . . . that is pretty much what I meant. There was a time when it was possible to say with a straight face, "There is a love of man for man which is pure and noble, and stronger than anything a man can feel for a woman, but men who love each other that way are not disgusting perverted homosexuals, which is something entirely different."

I categorized it as a pre-20th century attitude, but I've read (for example) a description of Shakespeare's sonnets which must have been written in the 20th century, and was very much along the lines of the above.

The concept of "platonic love", whether hetero or homo, does still exist. But it seems to me that it applies more to individuals. There's a difference between "Those two particular people happen to love each other in a platonic way" and "That group of men (Greeks, Spartans, Oxford students, major-league sports teams) all love each other in a platonic way, and there are absolutely no faggots among them, no sir."

(Just to be clear, I'm all in favor of sodomy. Registered member over at dinosaursandsodomy.com, I am.)

#556 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:13 AM:

the vampire gets staked, does the skin instantly dust?

Of course not. From the point in time when the vampire gets staked, the soonest the skin would turn to dust would be delayed by the amount of time it would take to travel from the vampire to the skin at the speed of light.

#557 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:17 AM:

#519: At the foundation level, it's the belief that your actions have only the effects and consequences that you intend.

That's actually a really concise and accurate way of putting it without resorting to complicated vocabulary. May I borrow that line?

The only way I know of to say it shorter is to say "magical thinking" or "wishful thinking", but then I have to explain what that means.

#558 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:37 AM:

#543 ::: Debra Doyle

Dave Bell@#530: Given that Yojimbo was inspired, plot-wise, by the novels of Dashiell Hammett, and that Kurosawa found directorial inspiration in the Westerns of John Ford, the question of exactly where, if anyplace, original-source strength and purity can be found would seem to be a rather pointless one.

I'd argue that this reinforces Dave's point: that strong, original source material can survive several reinterpretations (particularly when transposed and augmented, as Kurosawa did), but that copies that simply reproduce what seem to be the major plot points eventually dilute the concepts to banality.

#559 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:39 AM:

SarahS: I blush, in a very happy way. Thank you, ma'am. Could there be elephants?


Laurence @ 555: That group of men (Greeks, Spartans, Oxford students, major-league sports teams) all love each other in a platonic way, and there are absolutely no faggots among them, no sir."

That sounds much like the Promise Keepers I've heard.

#560 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:43 AM:

AJ @ #531: What exactly do you mean by tech skills? Everyone so far has been assuming computers, is that right? Or do you mean lab skills (chemistry/physics/other), amateur electrician/weekend plumber, or something else entirely?

#561 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 12:45 PM:

#548 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers)/
...The technique of putting pictures in the cross-section of a cylinder that you expose sequentially by slicing it was developed for film animation by Otto Fischinger back in the 1930s (he later fled from Germany to the United States to avoid the brown-shirted art critics, and worked for Disney most of his life)./

Fischinger would take colored clay and make it into various shapes, then put the shapes together lengthwise into a cylinder. He'd point his camera at the end of the cylinder, shoot 1 frame, then take a slice off the end of the cylinder and shoot another frame. Repeat a few thousand times and you have an animated film.

The technique has been around at least several hundred years longer, used by glass blowers and confectioners. Think paperweights with sprays of little flowers - cross-sections of carefully built-up rods five to seven inches across, which are then heated and pulled to miniaturize - and candy canes, also a core with red stripes down the sides, twisted. I've done all three. The great advantage of using clay is that, unlike the other two, it doesn't give a nasty burn if your attention lapses. Unfortunately, paperweights made of plasticine don't look particularly attractive, and tend to leave grease spots.

#562 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 558

I'd argue that this reinforces Dave's point: that strong, original source material can survive several reinterpretations (particularly when transposed and augmented, as Kurosawa did), but that copies that simply reproduce what seem to be the major plot points eventually dilute the concepts to banality.

I think this is a special case of a very general distinction between copying and "being inspired by". You'll find this in all aspects of human behavior and everywhere in the living world as well. It's the distinction between the way insects react to their environment and the way reptiles do. In my more snarky moments I like comparing B film-makers to insects.

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Susan @ 554... I plan to do this for a couple of years to get out of debt and reroof my house, then find an equally tolerant PhD program and return to starving.

Is your house's need for reroofing why you had a fledermaus infestation last August? Has ti tried to make a comeback since then?

#564 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Thank you, Carol. I've seen caning done in glass, and, now I think of it, watched my wife do caning with Sculpey and similar kinds of clay. It just didn't occur to me to put them together with Fischinger's methods as instances of one technique.

D'oh! -- smacks forehead --

#565 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Susan @ 554 said: I went back to temping, focused my temping on the local university, and used the resulting insider knowledge to find and pounce on a desirable job that would overlook my extremely peculiar resume.

That's how I got my current job. I signed on with the local university's in-house temp pool and got a job as an admin assistant. The job is changing now, due to having a manager who says things like "We need to get you reclassified as an analyst so I can have you do more interesting things and less clerical scutwork. And you should join [Professional Organization X] — here's the application form. Oh, and let's also have you work toward becoming a certified project manager. Sound good?"

Now I'm working on putting conviction in my voice when I say "Sure, boss, sounds good!" instead of a bemused "Who, me?"

One of the advantages of working for a university is that there are a wide range of jobs that need doing. Once you get your foot in the door, you have an advantage when it comes to finding out about interesting new job postings, and internal applicants usually get priority over external applicants.

#566 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Martha @ 550, on job-hunting:
I know that nervousness far too well...

That's not nervousness, that's terror.

I've been steadily employed (not always happily, but steadily) with the Postal Service for nearly thirty years, but I can still remember how depressing and scary it was the last time I was unemployed and looking for work: Scanning the ads, and the jobs bank listings, trying to find something to fit your meager experience and odd interests. Application after application, interview after interview, and hearing nothing back from any. Watching your savings dwindle away week after week, and wondering if you should start grocery shopping in the dog food aisle. Oh yeah, fun times indeed. Still runs a shiver down my back to remember, even this long after.

#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Lexica @ 565... "We need to get you reclassified..."

No, not the reclassificator!!!

#568 ::: John Aspinall ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:39 PM:

AJ @ #531: I will second Marith @ #550, but with a refinement. Find yourself a technology startup. Startups tend to be doing something that no-one has done before; it follows that some of their ideal candidate skill sets aren't yet embodied in real people. And then it follows that they may be willing to substitute "tenacity in acquiring and harnessing new stuff we just figured out", for the missing skill.

I speak from experience at a previous employer (now defunct, alas) where a friend of mine bootstrapped himself from the shipping dock to a engineering development position. It was only possible in an environment where there were always far more things it would be nice to do, than people with time to do them.

#569 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:40 PM:

You are my pickle-faced, consumptive Mary Jane!

What is that? Where is it from? I'm watching The Last Unicorn, where the butterfly's conversation is mostly spoken and sung quotations. I can track the rest of them down, but that one eludes me. Did Beagle or the scriptwriter make it up? I thought y'all would know, if anyone.

#570 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Serge: as far as I know, the bats and the leaking roof are separate problems. The leaking roof is most likely a chimney in need of reflashing, but at this point in the life of the roof it makes more sense to do the whole thing. Unfortunately, the downside of living in a Small Decaying Mansion is that a new roof costs a fortune.

Lexica: for me, the big advantage of a university is that I started with 22 vacation days, 4 personal days, and 6 recess days. I need those to pursue my True Vocation In Life.

Bruce: I'm not sure why, but being unemployed has never terrified me all that much. I can easily make $30K/year temping if I do it steadily - anyone who can use a computer and present themselves with reasonable professionalism can probably do as much. And I miss one thing about temping: it left my brain free for my True Passion. My current job actually requires thought.

#571 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Bruce@566:
I can still remember how depressing and scary it was the last time I was unemployed and looking for work: Scanning the ads, and the jobs bank listings, trying to find something to fit your meager experience and odd interests.

What's really disgusting is when you have over 10 years of programming experience, and you still can't find that next job, because people look at the "Visual FoxPro" and go "Oh, we don't need that," ignoring the fact that I'm smart enough and fast enough to learn just about anything you throw at me...

And when your state benefits run out in 6 weeks unless you start doing volunteer work, and nobody is interested in having you volunteer in your field...

#572 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Susan @ 570... the downside of living in a Small Decaying Mansion

Cue to a photo of you running away from your dark Mansion in the middle of the night, chased by a flock of bats that erupted from the tallest tower, which of course has the house's one and only light.

#573 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:16 PM:

This from an idle mind last night.

Somewhere in the depths of the paper shufflers, there's a mixup and the government funded a Large Hadrosaur Collider and a dig in the Badlands for Hadrons.

The thought of dinosaurs at close to the speed of light delights me for some reason.

#574 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:25 PM:

The thought of dinosaurs at close to the speed of light delights me for some reason.

And they would be so heavy!

#575 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Ethan & A.J. Luxton:

On getting a job, if I may quote Douglas Adams, "Don't Panic!"

My experience is that most intelligent people fortuitously stumble their way into more-or-less what they want to do, or at least something that they enjoy doing.

Frex, one friend, who graduated college with a BA in art and anthropology, took a job in the coffee-shop of a local coffee company to get started. Within a few months she was the coffee-shop manager; in less than a year, if I remember right, she was managing their retail division, then their mail-order division, and after some side stints managing production (the actual coffee roasting factory) ended up as their creative director. That sent her into a career in marketing, which she really liked, and she's now working in outreach for the local ACLU which she considers her dream job. Sometimes the lousy job is just a lousy job, and sometimes it's a stepping stone by which to blunder into something you really like.

Temping with agencies works too. I did that when I first got out of college, and it kept me alive until I could find a oomputer job more to my liking. My daughter did that a couple summers ago when she was home from college; she rapidly learned she did not want to work in a bank or mortgage loan company, but it paid OK.

The IT datacenter job suggestions are pretty good, and another one to strongly consider is technical writing.

If you're graduating college, one thing you have probably picked up is the ability to master new ideas rapidly and put them onto paper in a form that others can understand. Most companies badly need that. If you decide you don't like tech writing, it can still get you in the door to a company or organization where you get to find out about the more interesting jobs.

Good luck - I'm casting around a bit panicky myself right now, trying to find a next meaty assignment.

#576 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:32 PM:

A.J. @ 531 - Universities, Hospitals, Temp Agencies.
Hospitals are better for the slightly nocturnal, they always have night shift jobs.

For the first two, if you're willing/able* to work in a low pay job to get your foot in the door, they are organization types that are usually good about promoting from within, developing staff, and working with personality quirks.

In academia, the more letters you have after your name, the more seriously they will take you. It doesn't have to be degrees, certifications count. Aptitude, ability, and attitude can take you far in academia, if you hook up with the right group.

In healthcare, if you have any sort of clinical background, you are considered a different class of employee. A preferred class. I don't have a problem with that, and I completely understand the reasoning.

After I quit my job in academia and finished out my MS project, I signed on with a temp agency. I wanted to check out my options without the feeling of obligation I would have had in a different type of employment situation. Temping is a good way to see what kind of interesting/weird-ass jobs are out there, things that might never have occured to you, but suit your personality.

*there have been times I would have been willing to work in a job that had great opportunities in the long run, but in the short run I had to take the one that would pay my bills, therefore I was not able to take the better job.

#577 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Jenny Islander writes in #569:

You are my pickle-faced, consumptive Mary Jane!


What is that? Where is it from? I'm watching The Last Unicorn, where the butterfly's conversation is mostly spoken and sung quotations. I can track the rest of them down, but that one eludes me. Did Beagle or the scriptwriter make it up? I thought y'all would know, if anyone.

I believe it's from a song.

Music and lyrics here:

She's my darling, she's my daisy. She's hump-backed and she's crazy,
She's knock-kneed, she's bow-legged and she's lame;
And though they say her breath is sweet, I would rather smell her feet
She' my freckle-faced consumptive Mary Jane.

I know at least one guy who renders this "pickle-faced," and he's approximately Peter Beagle's age.

#578 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Serge:

Alas, I have no tower. I wanted a turret badly. I do have a balcony. And a plan to break through the corner of the roof to build a turret. Turrets are common in my neighborhood, so I feel a little left out.

And before you get too into the goth image with the bats and all, I should point out that my house is, um, pink. I didn't choose this, but I have grown perversely pleased with it and plan (when I can afford it) to paint it an even more obnoxious shade of pink. Or maybe purple and pink. With turquoise trim. Yeah!

(This is the same spirit that makes me alternate between black leather and spikes and lavender maribou deely-boppers.)

#579 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Apparently someone who works for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a fan. They made alliterative titles for all the panels, including Tentacles of Terror. (Scroll down to The Sultan of Sobriquets.)

#580 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:52 PM:

If publishing were like the Match:
- all the mss. would be simultaneously submitted to all the publishers
- the publishers would make a ranked list of which they wanted to publish
- the writers would make a ranked list of whom they wanted to be published by
- a computer would then sort out which book went where and which books went nowhere, attempting to maximize overall collective happiness
- any publishing house that then had an opening would be deluged (by phone, fax, and email) with the entire contents of the worldwide slushpile in one afternoon, from which they would have to choose one ms. to fill the spot

I'm not entirely sure this process beats the alternatives.

#581 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:56 PM:

#562 In my more snarky moments I like comparing B film-makers to insects.

Recall that "B-film" is a term of art. It's a marketing designation for the second feature on a double-bill.

#582 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Susan @ 578... You suffer from Turret's syndrome?

#583 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Yesterday's WashPost had a story on Nikolas Schiller who takes aerial maps of cities (mostly DC so far) and makes art out of them.

#584 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:17 PM:

John Aspinall @ 568

My experience with tech startups is similar: they're a lot less concerned with what you have done that with what you can do. And they're usually staffed with very bright people; I know of no better way to learn than to work with people smarter and more experienced than me.

There's one downside: you have no way to predict how long a startup will remain viable. You can at least get a minimum lifetime by asking them how long their current funding will last, but that's at best an estimate. The reason this is a problem is that of the 3 times I've been laid off, 2 of them were from startups, and I left another startup voluntarily because it was obviously going to tank soon.

Yes, being laid off sucks, but it's survivable. The trick is that you have to look at searching for a new job as a full-time job in itself. That's why taking temp jobs to tide you over is not always the best course. And yes, things can go south if your luck is bad, but unless we're in the middle of a depression or really deep recession there are going to be jobs out there.

The first time I was laid off I was terrified the whole time (5 months), and finally took a job that was really, really bad for me. But, after 6 months I happened to go to lunch with some old colleagues and got a tip on an open position that turned into more than 8 years of the best job I ever had. Obviously, YMMV.

#585 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Bussard blew through a rather largish fortune contributed by whoever-it-was-who-funded Omni (Guccione?) trying to make cheap fusion generators, a decade or two ago.

========

As for Miller, sounds more to me like "immature" or "arrested development" than "young"

#586 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Susan (578): There's always my family's favorite funky color combination, pink with purple polka-dots.

#587 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:24 PM:

James D. Macdonald @ 581
Recall that "B-film" is a term of art. It's a marketing designation for the second feature on a double-bill.

True, but I've been hearing it used both ways, even by people in the biz, for a long time. And, let's be honest, we all know there's a difference in status between the A team and the B team. Now, I personally would rather work on a B-unit camera crew than principal, but if I did, I'd know my place.

#588 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:35 PM:

I'm presuming, perhaps presumptuously, that Patrick is tickled mauve that Patti Smith was inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame on Monday?

#589 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Garrett Fitzgerald @ 571:

ignoring the fact that I'm smart enough and fast enough to learn just about anything you throw at me...

Can I just say Amen?

You might have run an entire company's computer system for 10 years, but since it was two generations of computer back those skills are certainly not (gasp!) transferable.

#590 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:40 PM:

#531:

One word: Plastics.

#591 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:19 PM:

On jobs, and temping:

I started at my current job as a temp. The agency told me they needed someone who knew Excel. That was several years ago. Now I'm a web developer. (Yes, I was lucky.)

One nice thing about temping is that you get to bypass HR for the most part, and work directly with people in the trenches. They get to see what you're actually capable of; and if they're impressed, they will try to keep you around.

This is especially good if, like me, you fear that you don't interview well. In fact, I've never successfully landed a job as the result of an interview. It was either personal recommendations or temping that got me in.

(PS: I just noticed the "spelling references." Ha.)

#592 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:29 PM:

#589: You might have run an entire company's computer system for 10 years, but since it was two generations of computer back those skills are certainly not (gasp!) transferable.

A lot of companies are interested in hiring people who can hit the ground running, with no learning/training time required. This of course overvalues skills that will be obsolete in two years over skills that are never obsolete (the ability to learn quickly), but you probably won't convince them of that; you especially won't convince their HR people of that, and the engineer-types who might agree with you will never see your res.

Many bigger companies have HR departments that screen resumes based on keyword matching with their open reqs (and of course web sites like Monster have technology that encourages this behavior). This is not a very efficient way to do it, as it turns up tons of false positives and turns down people who would do just fine but lack the right keyword, but it's a problem if your resume lacks the keywords they are looking for.

My short-term advice would be to bone up on something more current than Visual FoxPro (Java? Python? Ruby? MySQL?) that will pop up for them. If you can say you've been studying/dabbling in them it's not as good as firing line experience but it's better than nothing. Long-term, get more varied experience.

#593 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 04:40 PM:

PPS: Name that quote!

"You told me to start by impressing you, General. I hope I have."

#594 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 05:14 PM:

Breaking News, Folks!

Karl Rove was the originator of the fire all 93 of the US Attorneys plan in January 2005:

Rove's Email

#595 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 05:17 PM:

#594: Yeah, but he didn't lie about it under oath, so he didn't do anything wrong. Republicans have standards, you see!

#596 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 05:38 PM:

My friend Clive, who is a science journalist, posted about a paper published last year in which the authors estimate the number of vampires in the Buffyverse by using population ecology to find an equilibrium:

Math proves that the Buffy universe harbors no more than 512 vampires

You can go join the argument about the calculations. :)

#597 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Clifton 575: My experience is that most intelligent people fortuitously stumble their way into more-or-less what they want to do, or at least something that they enjoy doing.

I sure would like to move to your universe, because it sounds a lot better than the one I live in...where none of my core talents is saleable (at least not within the law), and where, once in the door of a company, I get shoved, will I nill I, from thankless assignment to thankless assignment, always carefully avoiding anything that doesn't leave me feeling drained and vaguely angry at EOD.

My professional career started in 1982, and it has been that way the whole time. Except when I was out of work so long I'd take anything just to keep a roof over my head.

#598 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:30 PM:

A.J., #531 - I did QA at defense contractors. I had to get up too early regular days, but when we were actually testing, I worked nights.

Paula, #585, OMNI was Guccione's wife's baby. When Kathy died, it died, too.

#599 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:19 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 586

As in 'I'm dreaming of a pink purple-polka-dot Christmas, Just like the ones I never knew'?
(Sorry, it appeared in one of my high school classes one day, and hasn't yet escaped my memory.)

#600 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Scalzi is now a write in candidate for SWFA president.

Detailed explanation of platform, etc, on his blog.

(long live Scalzi)

#601 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 02:22 AM:

Mars is now known to have giant polar ice layers, from MARSIS evidence.

details about how this evidence was formed, etc. on the ESA website.

Green mars!

#602 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:38 AM:

I heard about WordHoard from one of the developers (who is way cool) and am in the process of trying it out. I primarily want to use it to read Chaucer. It also has Homer and Hesiod (in Greek), Spenser and Shakespeare. It has lots of tools for analyzing word usage. I'd be interested in what the experts on Making Light think of it.

Caveat user: WordHoard requires an internet connection because the texts are stored on servers at Northwestern University. When it says to be patient, it means it. The Java Web Start feature that saves an application shortcut didn't work for me: If I click "Yes", the application never finishes loading. If I click "No" or "Later" it works. It's not a big deal because you can save the "wordhoard.jnlp" file and use it to launch WordHoard without downloading.

#603 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:22 AM:

Ok, I know I'm very late chiming in on this, but Buffy #1 definitely shipped this week. I have it in my hands right now. It made me laugh. A lot. It's good to have them back.

"Sssstupid human, I am no vampire. You think I fear the cross?"
SHUUK!
"Might wanna start."

"That were a wee bit repulsive."
"Went okay. 'Cept I feel a little weird about using a crucifix to kill someone."
"Yeh dinno much about religion, do yeh?"

And since I'm more or less off-topic and it's the Open Thread, I veer to another tv writer and say I saw a workshop production of Aaron Sorkin's new play, The Farnsworth Invention, last night. Also great fun. For any of the other Sports Night fans who remember the episodes with William H. Macy, yes, Farnsworth's brother-in-law gets a speech about how he's not that smart, but he can learn to blow glass. :)

Oh, and then my butterfly mind flits to mention that Stoppard's latest, Rock'n'Roll, is now listed on Amazon. It helps to have iTunes open when you're reading it. (grin).

#604 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:55 AM:

I bought that Buffy comic. "The thing about changing the world is, afterwards the world is all different." I'm on, at least for the ones Joss writes.

#605 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:05 AM:

Re: Buffy season 8

So, this is probably a silly question, but...how does one go about buying a comic book? Can I subscribe and get them home delivered? Can I get them mail order, but single issues at a time?

If I wait for them all to be collected into one graphic novel, is there any way to know how long I'll have to wait and whether I'm guaranteed the wait will terminate?

Or do I just deal with the fear of the unknown and go find a comic book store? And if so, how soon do I need to do it to keep from missing an episo..er...issue?

#606 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:35 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy #508: Thanks!

#607 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:46 AM:

Paula Lieberman #512: The names of great artists have certainly survived, but those of plain artisans? (Hmm. I thought I explicitly mentioned Aeschylus.)

#608 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:53 AM:

Vg znl or gung guvf sbez vf engure grefr,
jvyy trg gur ernqre abg zhpu fngvfsnpgvba,
ohg vf orfg-fhvgrq gb Ibtbavp irefr
(juvpu pbagnvaf ab bar-ba-bar frk npgvba).

Jr'ir ab qrfver gb pbashfr be zlfgvsl,
whfg gb xrrc fcbvyref sne sebz celvat rlrf,
vs fbzr fnl bgurejvfr, vg'f whfg n yvr;
naq jr jvyy ynhq qvfpegvba gbg ur xfvrf.

Abj vs jr znxr guvf irefr gbb evpu be ybat
jr'yy ober gur ernqre nyzbfg hagb qrngu;
fb jr jvyy chg erfgenvag vagb bhe fbat,
naq yrg gur gverq ernqre pngpu gurve oerngu.

Guvf zbeavat V'ir tbg whfg n yvggyr gvzr
gb ghea zl intnevrf vagb cynva eulzr.

#609 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:55 AM:

Malthus #547: Thanks!

#610 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:06 AM:

I particularly liked naq jr jvyy ynhq qvfpegvba gbg ur xfvrf.

#611 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:08 AM:

#545 Aconite: "Power and the desire for it are neutral. Motivations aren't. We can't have honest and realistic discussions about power as long as the desire for it is seen as a bad, dirty thing in and of itself."

I've been trying to write an elaboration on what I said earlier, but it just didn't gell until I read your post. Sometimes I feel like I can't think unless I have something to argue against.

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here: Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom. Thus, in general principle, its use and very existence must be opposed.

Power doesn't exist in a vacuum: when someone says "power," nine times out of ten* what they mean is "power over other people." If what you want is power over other people, I, being one of those people, have a problem with that. Because what I want is inevitably going to be different from what you want. If you have the power, and I don't--well then. And if you are willing to forego the use of your power in order to give me a share of the decision making, then why did you want the power in the first place?

So power is either irrelevant or immoral, except in one case: when used to counter other power, unjustly wielded. In this case, the best possible result is that you end up with a balance--which is precisely where you began, with no power at all.

Of course, in reality no power at all isn't a choice. There is a great deal of power which is unjustly wielded, and it must be fought. There are dragons, and there is a need for paladins. Nonetheless, we ought to scrutinize those who call themselves palidins closely, lest they turn out to be dragons themselves.

*(And if what they want power over isn't people, then I really couldn't care less.)

#612 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Teresa #610: I know it should have been "naq jr jvyy ynhq qvfpergvba gb gur fxvrf", but it isn't possible to go back and edit (naq vg vfa'g rnfl gb jevgr jura gur jbeq lbh frr ba gur fperra qbrfa'g ybbx yvxr gur bar lbh'er glcvat, be guvax lbh'er glcvat).

V cyrnq thvygl, lbhe ubabhe, gb gur pevzr
bs jevgvat onqyl va guvf plcurerq eulzr.

#613 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:47 AM:

Heresiarch: the phrase you are looking for is "collective action problem". That's why we give people power over us. I happily give people the power to take money from me, in return for their using it to tackle collective action problems like building roads.

#614 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:01 AM:

Fragano @ 612

If you want better control over your rot13 entries, type them in plaintext first, edit as desired, then convert all the text at once. Also, when you preview your comment, you can convert the comment display just to check. Since that's read-only, you don't have to worry about accidentally changing Tvyrf to Fcvxr.

#615 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Hmm...I guess rot13 only rhymes unpredictably.

Still great.

#616 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Frangano Ledgister # 607:

In the course of 2000-3000 years most things that are ordinary Go Away. Take a look around even in the modern world, how long do buildings last before they're torn down, rebuilt, or collapse and leave little trace left behind of their existence? How long do the names of ordinary people remain today? How long are tombstones readable even without vandalizing, and that's with a cultural that has much higher literacy that ancient Greece had.

If someone went around torching libraries how many copies would there be left of bestselling novels after 100 years? One of the caches of ancient documents found in the past couple hundred days, was in a monastery where the monks were burning them for was it heat or cooking fuel or both? And then there are those who like the Mongols invading Baghdad and the vandals and looters and nihilists and extremists and thieves in Baghdad that that goon in DC and his misadministrations of intellectual fascists facilitating the destruction and torching of centuries old archives, libraries that may have had up to 2 MILLION books and manuscripts destroyed (I never saw a final figure, the sites that I'd gotten the information from--check back in Making Light several years ago, I cited the references and quoted the content back then, never seemed to get updated past a certain point... I don't know if the anarchy and orgy of destruction of property and the nonexistence of policing that Rumsfeld and the Schmuck and Rove and Cheney and the Pentagon declined to do anything to avert in the wake of the Iraqi government and all its social control (including street policing and enforcement of such things as suppressing robbers, rapists, vandals, arsonists, thieves, murders, and committers of all manner of other violent and/or harmful to property and others' well-being) created the greatest concentration of destruction of books and archives in modern times, but I wouldn't be surprised....

Taliban didn't indiscriminately torch entire libraries, did it? It selectively went after anything that it found offensive to its values, but it didn't e.g. torch libraries with religious texts in it that the Taliban regarded as of merit

[And yes, I really, truly do believe that the Executive Branch of the USA is guilty of "crimes against humanity." I listed them years ago regarding the malfeasances regarding the failure to follow the Geneva Convention provisions following the invasion of Iraq, this half-decade later the situation in Iraq regarding daily life and ability to live a life without fear and threat of violence and live a life of prosperity ahd without the prospect of deadly attack, is much worse than it was five years ago.

Where's the World Court indicting the Schmuck?

=====

Getting back to ordinary stuff, though, people throw things out that they don't value, and what one generation values, the next may not... or there may be Taliban, or Gorge the Schmuck and his neo-Huns out promoting the extermination of past cultures' records and the contents of libraries and archives because it's not their personal values to allow anyone to preserve libraries or material which disagrees with their beliefs (federal website censorship and removal of material which conflicts with the attitudes of Schmuck's evangelical crusader buddies like Mr Dobson on reproductive health issues and such, rewriting of scientific studies to provide analysis and conclusion and data complying with the Schmuck's worldviews, federal gag orders regarding canary-in-the-mine species including salmon in the Pacific northwest...)

While the Schmuck might not have acted deliberately with the intent of turning archives and libraries into ash, various archaeologiest in the run-up to the Iraqi Invasion Adventure sent a delegation to the US Executive Branch to plead with it to please provide patrolling/protection of archaeological sites and musuems and archives and such... to which the US Executive Branch was completely non-responsive and not interested--shows how much Schmuck cares about libraries and archives and ACCURATE records of the past and culture other than rightwing self-gratifying evangelical Christian (that is, the branches of evangelical Christianity which promote greed and acquisition of wealth and the hell with anyone who won't convert to their religious branch, and the same attitude basically as, "my holy books are sacred and to be preserved, anything ELSE is garbage and burning it's appropriate!" --an attitude that helped effect the destruction of the library of Alexandria, the villain there was a Moslem, but his views and the Executive Branch of US Government seem congruent... on the other hand, at least that Moslem ruler allowed others of other religions to cart books away first....)

#617 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Heresiarch @ 611

I think it's a little more complicated than that for a couple of reasons. First, as is implied by your comment, what's important is not power, but rather differential power, how much power one has relative to the other. That sounds like a quibble over phrasing, but thinking of it like that has consequences for how you think about more complicated situations where more than two people or factions are involved.

Second, you said "And if what they want power over isn't people, then I really couldn't care less." Well, but power isn't divisible like that. If I have the power to build a dam, then I indirectly have power over the people who live near the dam site, since it will affect their lives. That's a fairly direct example, in actual cases I think the key factor is that the power may not be recognized by anyone, including the person wielding it, because it is so indirect. So the philosophical question is how do you talk about power without talking about every act committed by every human ever. The practical and ethical question is how to know what powers and what acts affect you enough to warrant your acting to prevent, modify, or aid them.

#618 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Todd @ 605... You could look in the yellow pages for 'bookstores' and 'comics'. Bookstores that specialize in comics would either carry the "Buffy" comic-book, or they could order it for you.

#619 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:18 AM:

re. the Sidelight on Garrison Keillor -

Um, read the entire article rather than just the out-of-context excerpts and you will find that it's, y'know, humor. I don't think it's very good humor, but I don't care much for GK's style in general, and this is pretty typical.

I like Dan Savage, but this is not one of his finer moments.

#620 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:27 AM:

P J Evans (599): I have no idea. I never heard that particular line, but that could be where my mother got it in the first place.

#621 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:31 AM:

About skills that become obsolete... Do they still teach kids about mainframes and COBOL programming? Or is that skill set kept alive by those of my generation who haven't moved on to the new! exciting! unstable! world of unix machines and their databases? I can see the newspaper headline of the near future telling us that the last mainframe programmer has passed away and there's nobody left to deal with the year-2050 bug.

#622 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:54 AM:

#619:Yeah, I think the GK piece was supposed to be humor. So I suppose one could instead be disappointed in GK that he didn't come up with any actual funny observations about gay men.

#621: If we're going to worry about any date based computer problems, I think we should worry about the 32-bit time_t overflowing in 2038 first. (Maybe we will have all migrated to 64 bit platforms, which use a 64-bit time_t, by then. That will allow us to represent current time up to the year 292277026596.)

#623 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Paula Lieberman #616: Assuming that you were directing your statement at me, I would say that I don't disagree. But not to disagree does not mean that I don't lament 'the short and simple annals of the poor'.

#624 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 11:00 AM:

JC @ 621... I think we should worry about the 32-bit time_t overflowing in 2038 first. (Maybe we will have all migrated to 64 bit platforms, which use a 64-bit time_t, by then. That will allow us to represent current time up to the year 292277026596.)

Bwahahahah!!!

That sounds like what they used to say in the last decades of the Twentieth Century, when they assumed that, by 1999, all those systems that use 2-digit years would have become obsolete.

Like I said...

Bwahahahah!!!

#625 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Fragano @ 608

Bravo!

@612
First rule of public presentation: don't spend time apologizing for your mistakes. If they're small ones, it may that no-one noticed, or they just thought it was a failure of their own understanding. I thought you were using partial disemvoweling to make the point that second level hiding might be useful, since rot13 is idempotent and so can't encrypt itself usefully. Now I'm disillusioned and cynical :-)

#626 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 11:08 AM:

The names of daughters and wives even of Famous Men often didn't get recorded. How much of it was institutionalized marginalization ofwomen where it wasn't outright misogyny, and how much of it was modesty and respect considerations where women weren't considered dispensible interchangeable commodities useful only as regards them bearing legitimate male heirs and being used as chattel of business and political deals to tie families/political regimes together, is very unclear.

The women's names either got lost, or were not recorded in the first place.

(Livia's name is known, as a scheming Roman matron. The names of the wives and if any daughters of lots of famous people from European history, often, again, are not known....)

#627 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 11:10 AM:

#622 -
Yeah, I think the GK piece was supposed to be humor. So I suppose one could instead be disappointed in GK that he didn't come up with any actual funny observations about gay men.

...or blended stepfamiles or multiethnic classrooms or anything else he discusses in it. (Wow, more than four grandparents, what news! What a big hoo-hah!) It wasn't a piece about gay marriage or gay parents. As best I can tell, the joke is about spending huge amounts of money to determine what is good for children.

It makes me neither more nor less inclined to read GK or listen to PHC than before. I yawn in his general direction.

#628 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 11:46 AM:

#619, 627 --

I read the whole Garrison Keillor piece. After I read it, it just didn't make any sense.

I'm inclined to doubt that his point was to bash gay marriage, but that's just based on my assumptions about his politics. Well, it's also based on the fact that he doesn't actually make that point in any kind of direct way. However, if we remove that point from consideration, then I don't have the faintest clue what his point was.

It was poorly written and he shouldn't be shocked that people are taking offense. If you drag out offensive stereotypes like that without making an actual joke or doing something to show that you're aware they're offensive stereotypes, then it's not good satire.

Also, if it's satire, what is it satire of? The beginning and end reference "things that are obviously good for children," but the wandering off into criticisms of blended families and gay parents doesn't seem to have anything to do with that. I don't see where the joke is.

So basically, I just don't get the point of that piece at all. (And I listen to PHC twice every weekend and have for years, so it's not like I don't understand GK's sense of humor.)

#629 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Phil Frank's Farley comic-strip serves us a groaner of a pun today.

#630 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Heresiarch@#611:Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom. Thus, in general principle, its use and very existence must be opposed.

Power is agency, the ability to act and to cause things to be done, and is thus an aspect of free will. Absent agency, the only freedom available is the internal freedom of the mind, which is a nice thing to have but not the same thing as the external variety. (Pace Lovelace, iron bars usually make a fairly good cage.)

In my opinion it does no good, and potentially a great deal of harm, to talk about power as though it were something that decent people didn't admit to wanting.

#631 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:07 PM:

My mother's father was born into a blended family in the latter half of the 1800s--he was the product of the marriage of a widow and a widower.

There are gravesites in cemeteries in Massachusetts, showing in one case, a husband who outlived four of his five wives (childbirth particularly was high risk to women before modern times)....

[No, I haven't read the piece. I don't like Garrison Keilor's material/style and was never an appreciator of Prarie Home Companion, to me it was lacking in verve and depth and anything but smarmy surface pseudo-feel-good-ery--sort of like the smarmy slime in the Oval Office.

#632 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Paula @ 626

This applies not just to the wives and daughters of men, but also to their lovers and colleagues.

Even as recently as the end of the 19th century the women who were recorded often had their stories twisted to support the prevailing prejudices, and aspects of their lives that made them seem object lessons of the evil of going against the status quo were emphasized.

I'm thinking specifically of Camille Claudel who was Rodin's student, mistress, and, ultimately, peer as a sculptor. What was for a long time the typical presentation of her life was: "she was Rodin's mistress, and so he let her in the studio. She tried to be a sculptor, which is a man's profession, and eventually she went mad," with the implication that trying to work in a man's profession was the cause of the madness.

This representation completely ignores the fact that Rodin treated her rather badly: made her his mistress (and isn't that a telling phrase), but refused to leave his long-term lover for her, even after he impregnated her.

Even more recently, Emmy Noether's work and reputation seem to have deliberately downplayed through most of the 20th century. She was a major figure in the development of the theory of algebras, and one of her theorems is fundamental to modern physics, yet her name was rarely mentioned when these subjects were discussed. The mysterious circumstances of her death may have been considered an indication that there was something scandalous about her life that made it less worthy of relating than those of her male peers.

Both of these women had brilliant careers despite the opposition of their colleagues and professional institutions. Yet the extent of their work has only in the last few decades become known to as large a public as their contemporary male peers.

#633 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Huh oh...

"...Warner Bros. Pictures is teaming with producer Lionel Wigram to adapt Wigram's upcoming comic book Sherlock Holmes for the big screen. Neil Marshall (The Descent) will direct, while screenwriter Michael Johnson penned the script for the action-adventure. (...) "Sherlock" is expected to be Marshall's next directing project, as the studio is eager to push ahead, says Variety. Helmer is currently filming Doomsday for Rogue Pictures. (...) The trade says the exact storyline is being kept under wraps, but creative executives at Warners say they are looking for the "Sherlock" team to reinvent the sleuth and his loyal No. 2 Dr. Watson in much the same edgy way that Christopher Nolan has reimagined Batman for the studio. (...) Wigram's vision has Holmes losing some of his Victorian stuffiness and being more adventuresome, including playing up his skills as a bare-knuckle boxer and expert swordsman as he goes about solving..."

Maybe they could get the Rock to play Sherlock.

#634 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:38 PM:

#621: Do they still teach kids about mainframes and COBOL programming?

Yep. Right after dinosaurs, and right before Reaganomics.

...

what?

#635 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:42 PM:

So glad to hear people saying they don't like GK and PHC, since I thought I was the only one. He and his show are pretty much the platonic ideal of blandness, as far as I'm concerned.

Re: the discussion of wanting power, which I suppose I helped set off, I feel like it's probably wrong to make the blanket statement that "wanting power is wrong." Certain sub-statements, though, I think are true and useful. The case that started all this off, of wanting Slayer powers, is one--I think it's probably good to second-guess the motivations of anyone who wants to be superhero strong. What will they use it for? Giving that kind of power to anyone who wants it is dangerous.

In terms of political power, I don't think wanting it is necessarily wrong, but wanting it combined with having the resources, aptitude, backing, dedication, etc., everything that's needed to actually get it...that whole system of desires and abilities and personalities is something that should always be examined as at least potentially dangerous.

Am I making any sense, or do I need to take a nap?

#636 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 12:46 PM:

#611: Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here: Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom.

Er, what? I haven't been following the "power" discussion closely, but this made my thread-skimmer hit a speed bump.

The ideal in my mind woudl be a world of powerful individuals, each pursuing powerful careers that interest them, powerful relationships in marriage, friends that empower them, sinking their teeth into life and sucking out its marrow.

Certainly, when two individuals bump into each other some sort of method to arbitrate and resolve things is needed, but again, ideally, I envision it as a sort of respect for each other as equals.

Power in any form? individual power is nothing more than the drive that spurs us on, versus the various excuses and reasons that leave us in inaction.

#637 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 01:04 PM:

JC... I hope I didn't offend you with post #624.

#638 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Re Jenny at #569 and me at #577:

Overnight, the phrase "consumptive Sarah Jane" came to me.

Beware, there are many variations on this folk song. (What a surprise.) Start googling.

Sara Jane.

Saro Jane.

Looks like Saro Jane may be cross-eyed in some versions.

#639 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 01:18 PM:

I started listening to PHC over 20 years ago, and ultimately decided it was the saddest, most depressed show on radio. I eventually read GK's "Lake Wobegon Days" when it came out, and realized that the ironic nostalgia, the low-key tone, and the smooth voice mask an incredible degree of anger. I think that's what finally began to make the show wear thin.

#640 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 01:18 PM:

ethan @ 635... You're not alone. My wife never cared much for Prairie Home Companion. As for myself, I've never heard it, but I know some of the jokes, mostly from Mystery Science Theater's The Day The Earth Froze...

#641 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Re Prairie Home Companion

The joke shows are worth listening to, or at least the jokes on the joke shows are. Sometimes you even here one you've never heard before.

GK bothers me, because he is a gifted story teller with no stories of real import to tell. Story tellers, bards, whatever you want to call them, exercise great influence for good or ill, and GK seems not particularly to care which, underneath the liberal guise.

And every time I hear GK doing a monologue I miss Jean Shephard.

#642 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Open thread sharing here:

Mailboxes decorated to look like R2-D2, from the Washington Post

#643 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:17 PM:

#637: I hope I didn't offend you with post #624.
Um, no. Did you say something offensive?

About 10 years back, I read a terrific SF anthology called Far Futures. It doesn't really fit with the theme of that anthology, but after your post, I wondered what a story in the style of Cory Doctorow where it's the year 292277026596 and software engineers have to deal with the 64 bit time_t overflow problem would be like. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the premise that it's the year 292277026596, not only can we comprehend that future computing technology, but it has a 64 bit time_t with midnight, 1/1/1970 as the start of epoch. That tech would be literally billions of years old. Talk about backwards compatibility!

#644 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:25 PM:

JC... Just making sure my social-skill subroutine hadn't stumbled...

the year 292277026596

I'd rather not think about it. Meanwhile, I wonder how they do software upgrades in Asimov's Empire. And I'm glad that, in our Reality, we didn't have to deal with robot maids when the year 2000 came around.

#645 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:28 PM:

JC @ #643: There are some not-identical-but-related thoughts buried in A Deepness in the Sky, along with mentions of the important trades/disciplines of Programmer-Archaeologist and Programmer-At-Arms.

The need for Programmer-Archaeologists is because after thousands of years of spaceflight and thousands of years of rebuilding ships with interface software system on top of interface system - while repairing instead of replacing the old stuff because you can't quite be sure of replicating everything it does - you've got an inconceivable layered mess of history to dig through to fix anything.

At one point this segues into a brief mention of how some of the most ancient space software systems, in the lowest logical levels, reference time not to the date of the first moon landing - which would make sense - but to the beginning of the following year.

#646 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:35 PM:

#645:

I won't ruin the surprise with details, but there is a wonderfully silly bit in The Last Mimzy that is tangentially related to the programmer- archeologist notion.

I spotted it before the rest of the audiance, causing me to literally laugh out loud.

#647 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Clifton @ 645

The need for Programmer-Archaeologists

No fooling, we need them now. I'm right now trying to build the control software for a church organ using code that we wrote on top of linux configured by an open source tool that includes 2 other open source packages, one of which is getting misconfigured and not replacing a still older library from the standard unix distribution of n years ago. Just trying to find the right file to change is a major headache, even after you've figured out what the problem is.

If there are any Programmer-Archaeologists out there please bring your shovels.

#648 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Paula @ 626: The names of daughters and wives even of Famous Men often didn't get recorded. [....] Livia's name is known, as a scheming Roman matron.

I was under the impression that in classical Rome, patrician women barely even *had* their own names, but instead were merely known by a feminine version of their fathers' family name, which makes me wonder what happened with large groups of sisters-- if there were only two sisters, you could nickname the younger one with a diminutive (Livia/Livilla, Julia/Julilla; I'm not sure whether there's an intermediate feminine form "Drusa" between Drusus and (diminutive?) Drusilla), but three or more?

(Wikipedia has a bloodcurdlingly intertwined schematic of the Julio-Claudian family tree; it looks like in later generations, the women's names started to just glom together various feminine derivatives from the various intermarried families.)

#649 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Remember when Tom Toles had an editorial cartoon with a soldier in bandages rated as "battle-hardened" by Rumsfield and Gen. Peter Pace wrote a letter to the WashPost and complained? Well, yesterday, Toles drew a cartoon in response to Pace's recent homosexuality statement. Compare and contrast.

#650 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Heresiarch @ 611: I, too, find that having somebody to go back and forth with helps clarify my own thinking.

The power you're talking about it only one kind of power: power-over. Power-to and power-with are other kinds of power. If I have the power to determine the course of my own life, I don't have that at the expense of your ability to do the same. Power isn't zero-sum--or, at least, it doesn't have to be. Seeing the only power there is as power-over--and the amount of power as finite, so if I get some, you have less--leads to thinking power is bad and wrong and dirty. Defining all power as power-over is like defining all sex as intercourse, and furthermore, as intercourse without consent.

So power-over isn't the only kind of power, but even power-over isn't necessarily a nasty thing. This forum, for example, has a moderator who will, when she judges it appropriate, disemvowel or delete posts, and ban ill-behaved users. The result is a spam-free, civil forum for the exchange of ideas, which could not exist in a free-for-all situation.

People have power through influence, as well as force. My grandmother has a great deal of power in our family; it was she who, at a time when it was common and socially unquestioned to slap your children in the supermarket, used the weight of her disapproval to put an end to that practice in our family. Her refusal to participate in discriminating against gays and people of color took the wind out of the sails of several people in her vicinity. Not because she forced those things on anyone--she didn't have that kind of power--but because she was respected, and that gave her opinions weight.

ethan @ 635: Being superhero strong is being exactly as strong as they need to be to do the work they have to do. In that case, being superhero strong isn't having excessive power; it's merely sufficient to do the job. What would be wrong with wanting to be as strong and powerful as you had to be to do what you needed to do?

#651 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Linus Torvalds has a not insignificant amount of power over me. He can't do anything hugely bad, thanks to the GPL, but still, as lead developer of a widely used operating system, he could do all sorts of nasty stuff. He could take down Stross' blog for a couple of days. He could take out Google for a couple of hours. At a much lower level, he could knock this machine I'm tying on over.

Or, if he were feeling subtly malicious, he could slowly retard the progress of Linux, causing small but significant amounts of damage to the internet, and probably without anyone noticing. Just a few odd decisions on technical matters, and performance degrades a tiny bit, but hey, both approaches are arguably correct. None of this is remotely technically implausible.

And the guy says he's interested in world domination! So, why aren't we worried about him?

Because, really, what he wants is for everyone to be able to run the best OS possible. The power is just a steppingstone.

#652 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:39 PM:

Everybody needs to take the Taxidermy in Reverse for Beginners class!

#653 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:41 PM:

#651: Thanks a lot Keir. Now I'm going to have nightmares about my MythTV box going into Obey The Master mode and throttling me with Cat 5 cable as I sleep.

#654 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:10 PM:

Marilee @ 652

Hey, neat! I assume this is prerequisite for the advanced course where you learn how to reanimate people?

#657 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:59 PM:

DaveL #639:
...the low-key tone, and the smooth voice mask an incredible degree of anger.

This is a man who's face is made for radio, not because he's unattractive, but because all you have to do is look at him to see that the incredible anger isn't masked very well at all. In person he's scarier than in photos, and an alarming number of these photos are his official publicity photos. Creepy.

#658 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:19 PM:

#654: The zombie thread is over here now?

#659 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Jon Meltzer #657: One of the scariest things about zombies is the way they spread.

#660 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Keir at #651

Or, if (he) were feeling subtly malicious, he could slowly retard the progress of (Linux), causing small but significant amounts of damage to the internet, and probably without anyone noticing. Just a few odd decisions on technical matters, and performance degrades a tiny bit, but hey, both approaches are arguably correct. None of this is remotely technically implausible.

Not to go all conspiracy-theory, but that sounds exactly like what's gone on with (A Certain Other Famous OS).

#661 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:05 AM:

ethan @ 658

Yes, you usually only need a butter knife.

#662 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:48 AM:

Todd@605:
how does one go about buying a comic book? Can I subscribe and get them home delivered? Can I get them mail order, but single issues at a time?

Probably; try googling something like "comic book subscription service". That's not the way I'd do it, but then I've been making weekly visits to my local comic shop for very nearly as long as there have been comic shops.

If I wait for them all to be collected into one graphic novel, is there any way to know how long I'll have to wait
and whether I'm guaranteed the wait will terminate?

Not really, although in today's marketplace I would be quite astounded if they weren't all collected eventually. They might wait until the whole season 8 shebang is over (in which case your wait will be a few years) or (I think more likely) they may bring out collections of mini-arcs over a matter of months. I'd guess the first one would be out sometime early next year, depending on how well the first arc keeps to a regular schedule.

Or do I just deal with the fear of the unknown and go find a comic book store? And if so, how soon do I need to do it to keep from missing an episo..er...issue?

Here's a handy store locator. The first issue came out just this week, which means you have at least a month before it stops being "new".

#663 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:48 AM:

#630 Debra Doyle: "Power is agency, the ability to act and to cause things to be done, and is thus an aspect of free will."

Power is also that which binds; it is the ability to force and to cause people to do, and is thus the antithesis of free will.

That's what makes it so tricky.

#635 ethan: "I feel like it's probably wrong to make the blanket statement that "wanting power is wrong." Certain sub-statements, though, I think are true and useful."

I think almost the exact opposite: In general, using power is wrong. There are, however, many exceptions to this general rule.

#650 Aconite: "The power you're talking about it only one kind of power: power-over."

That's what I'm focusing on, but as Bruce said, power isn't easily divisible into this and that. Your power to determine the course of your own life interferes with mine all the time: Bruce's dam is only one of thousands of possible examples.

Let's be clear: power isn't always bad. I can think of a lot of examples of benevolent uses of power. That caveat I wrote up there, "in general principle," leaves an awfully big loophole for case-by-case exceptions. I don't disagree that, in the Whedonverse, having the Slayer is a good thing.

But imagine that all the demons vanish--would you still want a Slayer around? In my view, if you want power, you'd better have a damn good and pressing reason why. Power can be used to accomplish worthy goals, no argument. But minus an urgent need, we're much better off without it. Not to mention: most of the problems power can solve were caused by power in the first place.

Corporations are a good example. Back in the day, they were formed for a limited period of time, in order to accomplish a specific goal: digging the Erie Channel, for example. This makes perfect sense: creating and applying power only as needed. But then some amazingly bad Supreme Court rulings removed these restrictions. Since then, corporations have pursued their own interests with all the power at their disposal, and I don't think that it's worked out very well for the rest of us.

(As a side-note, among sf/f geeks is an interesting place to have this argument. I think that spec fic, and fantasy in particular, is probably the genre that grapples with issues of power most directly. It's the primary theme of BtVS s7, for example.)

#664 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Serge & David: thanks! There's apparently a comic book store not too far from me; I'll see about getting myself to it this weekend.

#665 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:31 AM:

Glad to be of service, Todd.

#666 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 09:10 AM:

Heresiarch @ 662

I understand that the worst bit to come out of the courts, the statement that makes corporations 'artificial persons', isn't even a ruling. It was written by a clerk outside of the decision, and it shouldn't be binding. But IANAL.

#667 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 09:38 AM:

#662 ::: Heresiarch

#630 Debra Doyle: "Power is agency, the ability to act and to cause things to be done, and is thus an aspect of free will."

Power is also that which binds; it is the ability to force and to cause people to do, and is thus the antithesis of free will. That's what makes it so tricky.

It isn't that Power is tricky. It's that you've got some worldview going on that bins Power into "Bad". To quote:

#611: Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom.

When I'm working as a life coach, most of what I do is get people to be self empowered, to be self driven, to have that agency that Debora mentioned. The problem in nearly every case is that the client has been told it's wrong to be selfish, that it's wrong to want something they don't have, that it's wrong to be aggressive in pursuing what they want.

It isn't wrong to have agency, to be selfish, to be driven, to want something and aggressively pursue it.

It's just that most people don't know how to negotiate when their agency collides with another.

My theory about how this comes about is that parents find it easier to arbitrate between children, and to enforce whatever decision they've made on their kids, so a lot of kids never learn how to work out an answer amongst themselves. They end up taking their experience of their parents layign down the law, and taking that into adult life. Then they'll either try to avoid confrontation as long as possible, and when finally pushed to the brink, they'll take on a parental-style position of thinking they're going to lay down the law, and there's no negotiation, because when children question why, the response is often "because I said so".

From this point of view, all power, in any form, is a threat to freedom.

But the thing is it's a young view of power that comes from the parent. It isn't an adult's view of power among equals.

to me, power IS freedom. I'd go so far as to say that any threat to freedom can usually be traced back to people NOT exercising their power. When one person is exerting their power, and another person is not, then freedom can be lost as one person exercises their will and the other doesn't say "stop". If both people exercise their power, then a place of freedom for both can be found.

The young worldview might say that freedom can only occur when no one is exercising their power, but that's because they don't know how to negotiate, so power to them looks like "because I said so" rules being laid on top of them.

#668 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:04 PM:

At a tangent to everything in this thread, I give you a pink tank.

Well, more of a tank-cosy, I guess.

#669 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 05:51 PM:

After Bush was in Guatamala last week, the priests had to ritually clean and bless a religious site he visited. Scroll down to Banishing Bush's 'Bad Spirits'.

#670 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:07 PM:

The book group is doing Mike Ford's The Last Hot Time next month and only a few of us are familiar with his work so I gathered the collection links here, plus the LJ community to preserve his memory to send to them. I figured as long as I'd gathered them, I'd post them here in case any of you guys would like them all together:

First of all, we have an LJ community to remember Mike. This is the first page:

http://community.livejournal.com/nemesis_draco/2006/09/30/

and at the bottom, you click on "later" until there aren't more pages. A lot of his work is linked on these pages.

Then at Making Light, there's been collections of his posts and poetry and such:

Part One:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008034.html

Part Two:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008050.html

Part Three:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008060.html

Part Four:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008071.html

Part Five:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008083.html

Part Six:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008279.html

Part Seven:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008280.html

#671 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:13 PM:

# 666: Very interesting observations, Greg. (And what a fine post number to discuss Power and Will.)

Part of how I've tried to bring up my kids, in both marriages, is to start with a whole lot of restrictions - as one must have for a toddler - and then steadily expand their privileges through a process of negotiation and being persuaded by the child as he/she matures.

Part of the lesson for both has been that whining, yelling, complaining, unfocused grumbling usually go nowhere, but that if they can make a persuasive and correct argument in a calm voice, they have a decent chance of getting what they want. I won't claim this will work for every parent or every child, but so far it has produced one very mature and capable 20-year-old, and an unusually well behaved 5-year-old who has already entered the Age of Reason in many respects.

Obviously, this gives them exactly the experience you are talking about most people lacking in their upbringing.

You need to start young, though. The same approach has failed disastrously when it came to our foster daughter. I don't know if anything would have worked, but it was far too late to start this approach with a 15-year-old who already had serious problems.

# 667: That is by far the best pink tank or pink tank-cozy I have ever seen.

#672 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Greg London @666: [..] they'll take on a parental-style position of thinking they're going to lay down the law, and there's no negotiation, because when children question why, the response is often "because I said so".

That's because I'm the Decider.

#673 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:22 PM:

NelC @ 667

I love the pompom on the gun tube. Although the only place I've ever been where that would be useful camouflage is in San Francisco in the late '60s. It would be great for sneaking up on narks.

And it's a very appropriate picture for a comment that's in the neighborhood of the Beast.

#674 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:59 PM:

The pompom is my favorite part, too. In case we're voting.

#675 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 10:22 PM:

I think it's a very small tank!

#676 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:38 PM:

Heresiarch, IJWTS how really amused I am, in light of the current discussion about power (particularly power over people) and our relative stands on the issue, that you thought what Buffy did was mondo kewl and I was questioning whether she had the right to do it.

Of course, I am very easily amused when on allergy medication.

#677 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:40 PM:

Thanks to all for advice in response to my question (and to all who have chimed in, sharing the pain.)

Part of my problem here on the West Coast is that tech jobs at my level of competence usually want a few years more experience than I have (technical writing and phone support are both at my level; unix/linux anything is not, with the exception of unix/linux jokes, which I can usually understand for some probably osmotic reason. Ha!) This is probably due to oversaturation. However, you guys have convinced me as to the usefulness of holding out for some such job: tech support sounds far more ideal than screwing around at a copy machine endlessly. I like jobs that can be divided into individual solvable problems.

P.S. I, too, am inclined to think the GK piece is misplaced satire.

Satire because "and we started down the path toward begetting children while Mom and Dad stood like smiling, helpless mannequins in the background," "Nature does not care about the emotional well-being of older people," and the emphasis on how "The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men" all read to me as a little pointed, begging the question, in each case. 'Helpless mannequins' is hardly a thrilling and beautiful picture of a situation; the emotional well-being of older people is obviously fairly important to Keillor, who's sixty-five; and the third sentence seems to lack a participant author.

Misplaced because sentences that lack a participant author are weaselly in an opinion piece, and if it doesn't seem to be saying what it's saying, it also doesn't seem to be saying anything else, either -- leading readers to believe that it is, in fact, saying what it's saying.

I frowny my eyebrows.

#678 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Ouch.

I watched Logan's Run tonight and realized that it was even worse than I remembered. Luckily, in the morass of bad cheese there was Jenny Agutter and Peter Ustinov. And one trekkie. If you look closely at the climactic scene (1), after the city blows up because the computer running the place didn't like being told something that didn't fit its conception of Reality (2), a bunch of people go Outside and there is much rejoicing (3) and waving of hands and, if you look carefully, you see someone doing the Vulcan (4) Live Long and Prosper sign.

(1) I'm being very loose with my use of the word.

(2) Sounds familiar?

(3) "Say, did you remember to save a few of the babies from the Nursery when things started going kabloo-ee?"
"Me? I thought you were going to take care of that."

(4) I Know, it really is Jewish, not Vulcan.

#679 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:20 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 675

the emotional well-being of older people is obviously fairly important to Keillor,

Well, I'm not so sure of that. Certainly, you can't assume that he cares about old people just because he is one. I know a lot of old people who are in denial about it. In fact, the only reason I'm not in denial myself is because it hit me up side the head with an anvil when I was in my mid-50s, and it's taken far too long to get back even a little way for me to be able to pretend.

GK has been through 3 marriages, and the middle one was with a woman very much younger than him. This is not usually a sign of acceptance.

#680 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:35 AM:

I'm willing to give Keillor the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to bad writing. His Salon column rarely rises above tepid, rushed, and muddy.

#681 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:39 AM:

#666 Greg London: "It isn't that Power is tricky. It's that you've got some worldview going on that bins Power into "Bad"."

That's a very strange thing to get out of "power is also..." which, one would think allows for good aspects of power. Is there something about "Let's be clear: power isn't always bad. I can think of a lot of examples of benevolent uses of power" that continues to elude you? I'm not sure how much more explicit I can get.

"Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom."

A threat is an unrealized danger. So when I say power is always a threat, that's what I mean. It needn't be actualized, but the potential is always there. The police exist to serve and protect, but once they have the power do to that, they can just as easily use it do the opposite.

"to me, power IS freedom."

Your power is your freedom. It is not, however, mine. The more power you have relative to me, the more likely it is that when our wills conflict the "negotiation" will consist of you dictating terms. "Power among equals" is a non-sequitur--if they are equals, then there is no power differential and power is therefore irrelevant.

"I'd go so far as to say that any threat to freedom can usually be traced back to people NOT exercising their power."

You assume that everyone has power to exercise, which isn't necessarily the case.

"But the thing is it's a young view of power that comes from the parent. It isn't an adult's view of power among equals."

I'm curious, Greg. Why do you feel this need to provide a psychoanalytical account of every disagreeing viewpoint? Last time you accused me of being a crypto-Christian peddling a version of Original Sin. This time I'm what, poorly potty-trained? It's a particularly filthy combination of ad hominem and strawman. Argue about my ideas, not me, and argue about my ideas, not your screwball account of their origins in my subconscious.

Even more than that, it's just stupid. How are you ever going to prove any of it? You've never even met me, you don't even know my name, but you feel comfortable telling me why I think what I think? The only thing you can reasonably hope to accomplish is piss people off.

#682 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:59 AM:

#674 Aconite: "Heresiarch, IJWTS how really amused I am, in light of the current discussion about power (particularly power over people) and our relative stands on the issue, that you thought what Buffy did was mondo kewl and I was questioning whether she had the right to do it."

Very true =)

Allow me an attempt to reconcile my positions: Nf vg jnf, gurer jnf bar Fynlre. Guvf zrnaf gung, ivf n ivf rirelbar ryfr, gur Fynlre vf rabezbhfyl, havdhryl cbjreshy. Jvgu zber Fynlref, ure cbjre vf qvzvavfurq, eryngviryl fcrnxvat. N cresrpg fbyhgvba, va zl zvaq, jbhyq or n jbeyq jurer rirelbar unq Fynlre cbjref--be n jbeyq jvgu ab Fynlre naq ab qrzbaf, gubhtu fhcre-Fynlre jbeyq jbhyq or pbbyre.

And how about a quote which has been on my mind recently: "Only he who has measured the dominion of force, and knows how not to respect it, is capable of love and justice."

#683 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:27 AM:

Personally, I'm uncomfortable talking about power as if it is something that people can possess. Power, I think, is a relationship; I prefer to think and talk in terms of agency and independence and authority.

Power between equals is a very different thing from power in a hierarchical system, on any scale. It may be useful to persuade people that they ought to be relating to one another as equals; but sometimes the relationship will resist unilateral redefinition that way.

Or perhaps I'm being too pessimistic. Because there is always the point to be made that "power" can vanish or diminish sometimes when faced with someone who doesn't accept it. That image of the man in Tianenmen Square suggests that it's not always as simple as it seems. There is part of me that makes a virtue of refusing to accept that things have to be the way I'm told they are.

This is all very vague. Sorry. I think it's that I have particular people and situations in mind that I don't want to drag out in public.

#684 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Heresiarch 679:"Power among equals" is a non-sequitur--if they are equals, then there is no power differential and power is therefore irrelevant.

This is true only of power-over. Equals can have great power-with each other, and will accomplish much more than if they don't; people with power-within accomplish more, in general, than people without, and equals can have more or less of it without infringing on each other at all.

#685 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Ohboy. The centipede stomps. Deborah Jeane Palfrey has given the records of her DC escort service to some major news organization or other. "There are so many shoes left to drop in this ruckus, that we could outfit a centipede."--Bruce Sterling

#686 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Julie L.

Looking back over the last few hours' posts I find I have been exceedingly remiss in not telling you how much I appreciated the Charge of the Undead Brigade, and the link to Houseplants of Gor. I blame society for the omission, but promise to do better in the future, should any of us survive "The Last Wave".

#687 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:13 PM:

(catching up with yesterday's posts after a trip to the semi-wilds of AZ): I showed the pink tank link to my husband, who's into military modelling, and he said "There's a model in that!", so I ran out the picture for him. Yep, he has a great sense of humor. (And wow, the skyful of stars seen from the countryside outside Williams AZ, alt. about 8000 feet, on a clear night!)

#688 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 09:29 PM:

The guy who was the primary funder of the Swift Boat ads has joined Mitt Romney's campaign as a fundraiser.

#689 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 10:59 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 686: You're very welcome-- and my goodness, I'll have to check if The Last Wave is available for rental around here; Richard Chamberlain would've been starring in it right in the middle of the years when I had a moderate crush on him from The Slipper and the Rose and Shogun. For that matter, I've been seriously remiss in not yet seeing his Musketeers movies; I've caught snippets those here and there while channel-surfing, but that's the most of them I've seen so far.

#690 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:58 AM:

Julie,

Absolutely, see the Musketeer movies. They were directed by Richard Lester, one of the finest action movie directors who ever lived. Unlike so many such, he understood the need for a mix of suspense, drama, and comedy (not unlike Buffy). Oh, and the Musketeer movie screenplays were written by George McDonald Fraser (the "Flashman" series), so the writing is as good as the direction. And the acting.

#691 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:38 PM:

I have to say I'm terribly disappointed by the information about Garrison Kiellor. I've been a fan of PHC for decades; now I'll stop listening. I really thought he was a good guy.

#692 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Argue about my ideas, not me, and argue about my ideas, not your screwball account of their origins in my subconscious.

Oh give me a break. I wasn't talking about you. I was talking about your worldview. I happen to believe the idea that how a person "frames" a discussion dictates what can be said about it. And your worldview, or your frame, is clearly got a particular bias to it. When you said:

"Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom."

I commented on it, and then you reply with something like this:

A threat is an unrealized danger. So when I say power is always a threat, that's what I mean. It needn't be actualized, but the potential is always there.

You're last post is acting as if you're completely unbiased and free of any framing issues. But no where in any of your posts have I seen you say power is a good thing. You always frame it as bad, or as a potential for bad. You don't talk about power as good or poential for good.

When I said:
"to me, power IS freedom."

You negate any positive frame or worldview with this:

Your power is your freedom. It is not, however, mine. The more power you have relative to me, the more likely it is that when our wills conflict the "negotiation" will consist of you dictating terms. "Power among equals" is a non-sequitur--if they are equals, then there is no power differential and power is therefore irrelevant.

Your worldview is that power among equals is IRRELEVANT. My worldview is that power among equals is the whole point to strive for.

Your worldview is that power IN ANY FORM IS A THREAT. My worldview that power among equals is the ideal situation.

Your worldview does not see any positive effect of power. Mine does.

And the thing is, I can argue about your ideas or whatever till I turn blue, but if I have to argue inside of the frame that ALL POWER IS A THREAT, then I can't argue inside the frame of POWER IS NEUTRAL or that POWER AMONG EQUALS is good.

Frames and worldview affect the bounds of the discussion. If someoen talks about Iraq in the frame of "cut and run" and "cowards" and the notion that pulling out is "disrespecting oru troops", and then that someone insists that I only discuss the debate inside fo that frame or that worldview, then I'm not taking that bait.

So, I say your worldview or frame about power is extremely limiting. I tried my best to point it out to you. I tried to explain what it looks like to me, so that maybe you could see what I'm talking about. Because the thing about worldviews and frames and all that is that they are meta-views. they are the filter through which we see the world. We don't see the filter, we see the world through the filter. And I'm trying to poitn out that your filter is WAAAAAYYYY different than mine. But if you can't see your filter, you will never understand mine. And if you insist on discussing power inside the frame that ALL POWER, IN ANY FORM, IS A THREAT, and if you insist that any attempt to change the frame is psychobabble, then I'll stop wasting my time.

But I'll try one more time.

Say you've got two people, Alice and Bob. Say they have the worldview that ALL POWER, IN ANY FORM, IS A THREAT. Then they would probably take on the notion that the best situation is that no one have power, that everyone be stripped of power, and that everyone be prevented from having power.

that is an entirely different scenario than if Alice and Bob have the worldview that POWER is nothing more than a FULLFILLING OF SELF, that power is the only way Alice and Bob can exercise their individual identities. This worldview would actually ENCOURAGE Alice and Bob to both take on their individual power, because it empowers who they are. And the endgoal would be that Alice and Bob are fully empowered individuals. And that this state would be far better than two individuals who are completely powerless.

Your response to two fully empowered individuals was:

"Power among equals" is a non-sequitur--if they are equals, then there is no power differential and power is therefore irrelevant.

It is NOT irrelevant. It is irrelevant TO YOUR WORLDVIEW.

There is no power differential if Alice and Bob are both completely powerless or both completely empowered. But both completely empowered is a far better state, in my worldview, than both completely powerless.

POWER, IN ANY FORM, IS A THREAT in your WORLDVIEW, not mine.

Power, as a fullfillment of individual, is highly desired in my worldview. And you're worldview is that power of one individual must neccessarily mean that individual must exercise their power OVER all other individuals less powerful than them.

The more power you have relative to me, the more likely it is that when our wills conflict the "negotiation" will consist of you dictating terms.

This is NOT a truth. This is a worldview. It's no different than assuming that anyone put into the prison guard simulation must neccessarily abuse their position or their power. Your frame says they must. My frame does not.

#693 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Xopher, I hope you're kidding about being swayed by the comments here. There are bits on PHC that I find myself liking quite a lot, though one is never sure when they're going to be. Enough among the dross to tune in on weekends.

#694 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Next up on the Confessions of the Abused Indefinite Internee Saga, '"Enemy Combatant" confesses to the murder of Mohammed, Ali, Harou al-Rashid, Vlad Dracul, the Grand Duke of Austria-Hungary, John F. Kennedy Jr, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hoffa, Princess Diana, the royal family of Bhutan, and Tinkerbelle!'

#695 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Myself, #694

I left something out, regarding how wonderful the food is, particularly mushrooms... I wonder if that would stike a chord with Mr McCain.

[Reference, one of the "guests" at the Hanoi Hilton a generation plus ago was interviewed for the PR photo op claiming to show how well the guests were being treated (people like McCain who's been flying over North Vietnam who ejected from airplanes and were captured). "They're feeding us mushrooms," said the fellow being interviewed, a cipher for, "They're keep us in the dark and feed us bullshit."]

How wonderful it is today, Abu Ghraib versus the Hanoi Hilton, which prison guards were more abusive, and the rumors of captured US service members taken to the USSR in what today would be called "rendition" versus the CIA ghost prisoners shuttled in the dead of night like stolen artwork perhaps smuggled from one secret jail to another....

#696 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:14 PM:

#691: Greg, Heresiarch, are you two sure that you are both working with the same definition of the word "power"?

Posit the existence, for the sake of argument, of Power Generating Stuff (PGS). It seems to me that Heresiarch's definition of "power" is that the amount of power one has correlates with the difference between the amount of PGS he has and the amount someone else has. Hence, power is always something one has over someone else. If everyone has the same amount of PGS, there is no power. Greg's definition, OTOH, seems to be that the amount of power a person has correlates with the amont of PGS he has. It is not relative to the amount of PGS anyone else has. Other people don't really enter into the equation.

Until you guys decide on some common definitions, I suspect that there will be some misunderstandings.

#697 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Paula @ 695 --

You left out Judge Crater . . .

Your mention of the cuisine at the Hanoi Hilton reminds me of a contemporaneous story a bit to the north. My father was one of the UN negotiators at Panmunjom that worked for the release of the USS Pueblo crew. I heard from him the famous story of the Hawaiian good luck sign. The North Koreans made a number of propaganda films of the crew. Early on, one member of the crew, wishing to discredit the film, flipped the bird to the cameraman, and got away with it -- their jailers had no idea what the gesture meant. The crew worked up some backstory and explained that they had trained together in Hawaii and that this was a traditional good luck gesture there. with a consistent line, they managed to sell this to the North Koreans, at least for a while.

When Time magazine published a picture with an explanation, their captors discovered that they had been had, which marked the beginning of Hell Week.

#698 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Patrick, the Lethem review in yesterday's WashPost Bookworld was good, but you missed the review of graphic novels, and Dirda's column on Waldrop (which included a sly reference to Capclave 2005 when Dirda met Waldrop -- you guys were there, too.)

And Teresa, in today's WashPost Style section, illustrating an article on knots, there's a picture of the crocheted Lorenz Manifold. It's not in the online article, but the bottom of the fourth page does mention it and give a link.

#699 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 08:57 PM:

#696: are you two sure that you are both working with the same definition of the word "power"?


No. I'm not sure now that you describe it that way. I'm trying to imagine power as a relative measure. And the problem I'm having is that even if Alice and Bob have equal power, they can still exercise self agency. They can still do stuff. They can exercise their individual wills.

It isn't like matching power levels cancels out an individual's capacity for exerting power.

If Alice wanted to do something and Bob wanted to prohibit it, and they're equal power, then you've got one of a number possible race conditions, but they don't always have to cancel each other out.

#700 ::: gurnemanz ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:16 PM:

Xopher@691 - Savage may appear to have his knickers in a twist, but I think it's for purposes of creating a deliberate misunderstanding, much the way Windows pundits talk trash about Macintosh to raise their site hits (which raises income).

In other words, I think it was a ploy.

As read one of the comments following the Savage screed, it seems like a case of frame, distort, smear, smear the frame, smear some more, smear until target unrecognizable, smear until target smeared indelibly - kinda like the Swift Boat Gang's technique.

Having read Keillor for a long time, I doubt his commentary was anything but a satire. I could be wrong, but I just don't see him as a homophobe. A human-o-phobe, yeah, pro'lly, but I'd bet he has enough views askance to go around.

#701 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Todd @ #605: if you're not blessed with a comic book store, you can try the local big-box bookstore...they mostly carry comics now. Grubby, thumbed-through comics.

If you want to order online, http://www.tfaw.com/ has a good reputation. I haven't tried them because I just stroll around the corner to 10th planet and those nice folks order me whatever I want...spoiled, I am.

#702 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:35 PM:

gurnemanz 700: why would Savage do that?

#703 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Keillor's comments didn't read remotely like a "satire" to me. They read like one of the standard homophobic messages: we'll put up with you people as long as you aren't too blatant, and stay the hell away from our kids. Keillor has pulled this sort of thing before. Having a gentle voice and a droll sense of humor isn't a guarantee against being a jerk.

#698: Marilee, I didn't "miss" any of that stuff, I just didn't sidelight it. As it happens, I discussed Dirda's Waldrop review in this thread on John Scalzi's weblog.

#704 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:25 AM:

I gotta agree with Mr. PHN at #703; it doesn't read as satire to me, either. It reads as confused, nasty drivel.

Speaking of confused, nasty drivel, I saw Black Snake Moan today, which I mention only to say that my reaction felt very similar to Teresa's "Review of American Psycho" in Making Book. In this case, sure, there was a lot to be outraged about, both obvious and subtle, but why bother when they can't get the length and weight of the fucking chain to stay the same from moment to moment? I mean, my god.

#705 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Oopsy--that's PNH, not PHN.

#706 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 03:08 AM:

#692 Greg London: "You're last post is acting as if you're completely unbiased and free of any framing issues."

I am not unbiased--that would be silly. The arguments themselves, however, are. They are just ideas, to be judged, like mathematical equations, on their own merits.

(That is a frame, of course. But it's a useful one.)

"But no where in any of your posts have I seen you say power is a good thing. You always frame it as bad, or as a potential for bad. You don't talk about power as good or poential for good."

That is a lie. Go read this, this, and this. I have always, from my very first post, freely admitted that power can do good. You, however, seem quite hesitant to admit the possibility of any bad.

"And the thing is, I can argue about your ideas or whatever till I turn blue, but if I have to argue inside of the frame that ALL POWER IS A THREAT, then I can't argue inside the frame of POWER IS NEUTRAL or that POWER AMONG EQUALS is good."

Funny, but "All power is a threat" isn't a frame. It's the argument itself. Arguing against it isn't "taking the bait," it's engaging with what I actually said. Changing the argument into something else isn't "changing the frame," it's "attacking a strawman."

If we were to talk about the positive aspects of power, I think you'd be surprised to find that I actually agree with you on any number of points: I am passionately in favor of empowering individuals, and I agree that equally powerful individuals is a superior alternative to equally powerless individuals; I even think that power truly is essential to self-fulfillment. But since I don't think that those arguments are incompatible with the argument that I am making, they don't really constitute a counterargument in my mind.

What I am trying to do here is sound a note of caution. Because as much as power is a source of fulfillment and self-realization, it is also the source of suffering and diminishment. The same thing that can set you free is also what cages you. Power is a two-edged sword.

#707 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 06:45 AM:

The Hub was listening to Radio 4 this morning, and caught an interview with Jeffrey Archer about his new novel, The Gospel According to Judas. He mentioned it to me when he got home.

"It works on the theory that Judas wasn't so bad, really. He didn't do it for the money, but out of principle. And, listening to it, all I could think is that it sounded like Bible fanfic."

"Well, if he's secretly good, then it's God/Judas slash, isn't it? Unlikely pairings?"

"Uh, huh. And considering Archer's own history, there's a Mary Sue element too. Is he trying to say he didn't do any of his things for money? Is it God/Judas Mary Sue slash Bible fanfic?"

#708 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:07 AM:

Bible fanfic, abi? Holee...

#709 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:14 AM:

Sure there's Bible fanfic. If The Infancy Gospel of Thomas isn't Bible fanfic, I don't know what is. Most of the really egregious stuff is considered non-canonical, of course. (All you have to do to understand why Thomas didn't make it into the canon is read it.)

To be sure, my standards of "what is fanfic" are a bit low. I'm happy to think of Virgil's Aeneid as Homer fanfic, frex.

#710 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:01 AM:

G: You don't talk about power as good or poential for good."

H: That is a lie. Go read this, this, and this.

Uhm, OK.

#611: Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom. Thus, in general principle, its use and very existence must be opposed.


#633: Power ... is thus the antithesis of free will.

#681: The more power you have relative to me, the more likely it is that when our wills conflict the "negotiation" will consist of you dictating terms.

#706: Funny, but "All power is a threat" isn't a frame. It's the argument itself. ... What I am trying to do here is sound a note of caution. ... Power is a two-edged sword.


So, what I said was you are biased in your viewpoint. And the above quotes seem to continue to reinforce my opinion. You said in 706 that you are passionately in favor of empowering individuals, but that does not mean you have a neutral viewpoint of "power".

In 633, saying "power is the antithesis of free will" is not a neutral viewpoint of power.

Your viewpoint of power is that it is a threat. That it is something to be feared. If you passionately favor empowering individuals, all your prior posts would seem to indicate that you feel that way because you fear anyone else having power.

If someone is put into the prison guard experiment, your viewpoint is that they must abuse their power. And we've already had that conversation: the numbers from that one experiment don't support that viewpoint.

But I do not hold the view that if you were to have power that you would dictate the terms of any of our interactions. The many moderators on this board have the power to completely banish me from this forum, but they do not abuse their power in that way.

There is more governing life than simply who has the power. Plenty of people are driven far more by principles such as free speech than the restricted notion of power projection.

And, no, "All power is a threat" is NOT an argument. It is an assertion. You haven't argued from premise, through logic, to that conclusion. You stated it as truth.

You, however, seem quite hesitant to admit the possibility of any bad.

You came out with several absolute statements that present power, in any form, as a threat. That power is the antithesis of free will. And that whoever has more power will always use that power to dictate terms.

I was disagreeing with these statements as untrue. That doesn't mean I think the opposite must be true.

There are people who abuse their position and power every day. Do I think everyone must do that? Hell no. Do I think power, in any form, such as an individual who stands up for their rights, is a threat? Hell no. Do I think power is the antithesis of free will? Hell no.

Do I think the the very existence of power must be opposed? Hell no. But just because I'm saying that's got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, doesn't mean I think power can never be misused.

#611: Power, in any form, is a threat to human freedom. Thus, in general principle, its use and very existence must be opposed.


#633: Power ... is thus the antithesis of free will.

It is impossible to say absolute statements like this and leave any room for any positive benefit for power. You cannot oppose the very existence of power while supporting individual power. You cannot claim you think power has some good when you just said it is the antithesis of free will.

#711 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Ah! Bible fanfic. The scourge of amateur biblical scholarship, and an eternal pain in the ass for professional theologians of all stripes. From the gnostic gospels to Joeseph Smith's tablets, all the way to the da Vinci Code.

Much more pernicious than regular fanfic, because in addition to the usual fan-dumb characteristics (narcicissm, self-righeousness, petty infighting, fanwank, etc etc ) you also get genuinely deranged individuals contributing. I'm quite serious - people with delusions of reference, obsessive/neurotic ideation, and miscellaneous schizo-typial symptoms are attracted to this stuff like zombies to brains. At least your average Anime or 'Potter ficcer knows that their interpretation hasn't been beamed into their head by LGMs. (Or if they do believe that, at least they are fairly polite and restrained about it around mundanes.)

Not to knock fanfic wholesale - clearly it is a force of nature, and something to be treasured. Mmm. Maybe there's some good hairsplitting that can be done by distinguishing people who know that their fanfic is non-canonical (C.S. Lewis or Donne) from those who don't. (insert favorite example here)

#712 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Would Ben Hur and Life of Brian be considered to be Bible fanfic?

#713 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Greg London, you truly have a talent for misapprehension.

#611: "There are dragons, and there is a need for paladins. Nonetheless, we ought to scrutinize those who call themselves pal[a]dins closely, lest they turn out to be dragons themselves."
#663: "Let's be clear: power isn't always bad. I can think of a lot of examples of benevolent uses of power. That caveat I wrote up there, "in general principle," leaves an awfully big loophole for case-by-case exceptions. I don't disagree that, in the Whedonverse, having the Slayer is a good thing."
#681: "A threat is an unrealized danger. So when I say power is always a threat, that's what I mean. It needn't be actualized, but the potential is always there."

Selectively quote much?

No matter how hard you want me to, I'm still not arguing that power is bad!bad!bad! woo scary urrgh! (bad). I'm still going to be arguing that power always can be bad, not that it necessarily will be. I will still be arguing that that potential is justification for caution.

You on the other hand, are tossing around things like "to me, power IS freedom." Who is it who's making absolute statements again?

"It is impossible to say absolute statements like this and leave any room for any positive benefit for power."

Yeah, that's the part where the "also" comes in, and the two-edged-ness of the sword, and the "Let's be clear: power isn't always bad." Hint: I'm not making the absolute statements you think I am making.

"You cannot oppose the very existence of power while supporting individual power."

That's funny, because that's actually the position I hold. Kind of like I support affirmative action while decrying the existence of non-merit-based admission practices. It's a general rule with, as I have said numerous times, many exceptions.

"You cannot claim you think power has some good when you just said it is the antithesis of free will."

Sure I can, because power is also, like Debra Doyle said, "agency, the ability to act and to cause things to be done, and is thus an aspect of free will." The same muscles that allow me to strike and injure people are the same muscles that allow me to move about. Power allows you to throw off your chains; power also put them there. It's complicated.

(apologies to all those trying to have a reasonable conversation here)

#714 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:53 AM:

#696 JC: "It seems to me that Heresiarch's definition of "power" is that the amount of power one has correlates with the difference between the amount of PGS he has and the amount someone else has. Hence, power is always something one has over someone else. If everyone has the same amount of PGS, there is no power."

In my mind, power is always a relationship: something has power over something else. It needn't be people. If I can lift a rock, that is power over it. If I can operate a car, I have power over it. Power between people is just the specific case I am focusing on. The thing is, power bleeds: power over one thing often has ramifications for other situations. If one has power over a sword, that can have interesting effects on one's personal relationships.

Power is always a relationship, but a relationship doesn't imply power. There are relationships without a power component.

I'm wary of positing the existence of PGS, because while power can bleed, it isn't interchangeable. Power in one context can affect another, or have no effect at all. It might even have an inverse effect, canceling out power. The idea of contextless power, well, what would that even mean? Treating intellectual force and physical might as though they were interchangeable? It's hard for me to imagine.

#715 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:17 PM:

"There are dragons, and there is a need for paladins.

Note that this asserts that there are dragons with power, and because power is evil, there is a need for paladins who are allowed power to fight this evil.

You didn't say, "there are dragon, and there are paladins".

You start with individuals with power, and because they have power, they are evil. (Dragons). Because of these evil dragons running amuck, and only because of these dragons, will you acknowledge that there is a NEED for other individuals with power to fight the evil dragon.

That is fundamentally different worldview than saying there are lots of individuals with power, some are good and some are bad, and that "power" has no connection with how "evil" they are.

This is your fundamental worldview, that power, in any form, corrupts any and all. That all must fail the prison guard experiment.

I don't disagree that, in the Whedonverse, having the Slayer is a good thing."

Same thing. All these evil things running around with power doing evil deeds, and in that situation, you will allow for a slayer.

But take away the evil dragon or take away the evil undead, and you would strip away the paladin and the slayer. You only allow power as some sort of "lesser of two evils". Take away the greater evil, and you would take away the lesser.

Which is to say that you present power as evil.
Dragons are big evil, power.
Paladins are lesser evil, power.

Hint: I'm not making the absolute statements you think I am making.

Hint: I'm talking about your worldview. You're talking about your statements inside your worldview. Inside you're worldview, your statements don't look absolute. Outside, they do.


"You cannot claim you think power has some good when you just said it is the antithesis of free will."

Sure I can, because power is also, like Debra Doyle said, "agency, the ability to act and to cause things to be done, and is thus an aspect of free will."


You said "power is the antithesis of free will".
Debra and I both said that power IS free will. Power is nothing more than agency of the individual manifesting in the world. Without power, an individual has no free will, has no identity.

Power is free will. Not it's antithesis.


#716 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Julie #689:

Have you seen Petulia (another Richard Lester film)? Given Chamberlain's character, it might quell your crush rather than reinforce it, but it's a brilliant film and he's great in it.

#717 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Another way to crush any crush on Chamberlain would be to watch the mid-Eighties version of King Solomon's Mine. Ghastly is a good way to describe that movie.

#718 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Gag, gag, gag, there's a McCain ad on the side column of Making Light! Somehow I don't think that ad is going to get many of the regular contributors here to support the campaign that the ad is promoting....

(Clearly, it is a case where those paying for the ad, are NOT driving the editorial content of the publication the ad is present in/on!)

#719 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Wishing all here equinoctial happiness!

After a morning of rain the sun is out, the pollen count is low, the weeds have lost their grip on the soil: could be a metaphor for the happenings in D.C., could also be springtime in the yard.

#720 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 12:36 AM:

The McCain ad is driven by Google Ads. We trust that all of our readers will give its message due consideration. We certainly have.

#721 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 12:43 AM:

#719, Sunny from Kathrynvale: That equinox is of course Teresa's birthday. For which, Ms. Zero Degree Aries this year got a knife. After all, a girl needs a knife.

#722 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 01:39 AM:

don't remember where it came up, but some birds do have some kind of penis, some don't. the Parrot family don't and I recall budgie breeding as kind of like kissing where there aren't any eyes. With the couple of pair of American budgies, this was no problem and it kept me in cash, albeit in $4 each baby parakeets.

I think it's dependent on family of bird. Just saying, haven't looked it up yet.

#723 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:24 AM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa! I hope you like your knife!

Yesterday's WashPost had an article on how bookstores can sell ebooks.

#724 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:28 AM:

Happy birthday Teresa! Many thanks for all the great posts.

#725 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 04:14 AM:

happy birthday, teresa! long may you reign o'er us.

#726 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 04:49 AM:

I once more throw myself upon the mercy and capacious memory of this bunch of voracious readers.

Yonks ago, I read an apocalyptic novel set in England in which London is made first uninhabitable, then superfluous. There is a scene toward the end of the book in which various city folks who refuse to join the new society are wandering around their overgrown street wearing clumsily recycled bits of carpet and upholstery fabric and pretending to sell things in their broken-windowed, leaking shops, although the Bright New People feed them and they could leave at any time they chose. But it was a long time ago and I'm not even sure that I remember it clearly.

I went looking for the scene in Wells's works at Project Gutenberg, but I just finished skimming In the Days of the Comet and frankly I have had a gulletful of Wells's lesser works for tonight. So I will go to bed and hope that some kind soul here recognizes that scene.

PS: Happy Birthday and many happy returns of the day!

#727 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 06:23 AM:

Joyeux anniversaire, Teresa, mes voeux les plus sincères.

#728 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 07:11 AM:

Feliz cumpleaños,doña Teresa. ¡Que cumples mil más!

#729 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:20 AM:

I am not Mike Ford, nor was meant to be. After 3 hours of sleep last night, I'm not even sure I'm me.

But some things are inevitable.

We stand between the darkness and the light:
The balance-point, when coming day reveals
Details that the darker time conceals,
And watch the sunlight overtake the night.
This equinox marks more than balance struck
Between the darkness, velvet cloak swept back,
And gold-robed daytime, mirroring the black.
This is the coming of the light. What luck
This luminiferous date also brought
Our hostess forth, whose writing more than glows:
Her fractal grasp of language yields prose
That's filigreed with sunlight, finely wrought.
So happy birthday. May your day be bright.
From me, and all of us on Making Light.

#730 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:25 AM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

#731 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:28 AM:

#729:OMG, Abi. That sonnet may be your best so far.

Many happy returns, Teresa.

#732 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:41 AM:

Happy happy!

#733 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Zorionak zure urtebetetze egunean, Terese*!
(Euskera)

Which is what you think it is, in the alien but quite terrestial language/dialect** Euskera.
And since I have no proper knowledge of that language, I must in honesty reveal that I found it here, through this set of links, at Jennifer Runner's fine language site

*That wasn't misspelled.

**Is Basque six dialects of one language, or six closely-related languages?

I know, links aren't nearly as cool as a knife.
You did remember to give him at least a penny in exchange, right?

#734 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:08 AM:

Happy Birthday!

Pretty cool that the sun and earth aligned themselves so nicely for your birthday.

#735 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:35 AM:

Serge (629) Phil Frank's Farley comic-strip serves us a groaner of a pun [March 16].

Google shows that one on rec.humus in 1991. A blind ungulate could tell you where it originated.
I mean "ab-rlrq qrre" .

#736 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

On this bright shiny morning I send you three bags full of the finest VirtuWool and the hope that Light may indeed be growing more abundant in our land after a long season of darkness. To the accompaniment of glorious sounds by that erstwhie sharer of your natal day, J.S. Bach.

#737 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Besides J.S.Bach and Teresa, others born today include Maurice of Saxony (Royalty 21-Mar-1521 9-Jul-1553 Elector of Saxony, 1547-53), actor Gary Oldman and movie director Russ Meyer.

#738 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Oh, so this is the day that day oerpowers night and Teresa increments her tally. Fortunate coincidence.

Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!
Happy Happy!
Birthday Birthday!

Gaudi Vernum!
Equi Noctus!
Equi Equi!
Diem noctem!

And someone will be surely be able to correct my inflections. Please do. Then <s>eunt domus</s>I will be enlightened.

#739 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:42 AM:

I join in the chorus of Happy Birthdays, Teresa! You and Bach are the pick of the bunch. And abi, that poem is glorious -- nicely complemented by today's sunrise in Prescott, which began with just a sliver of light under clouds then blossomed into complex radiance and shifting colors. (Now the sky's dull gray again, but that's the way it goes.)

#740 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:46 AM:

Many more happy, Teresa!
(Monday was my sister's, tomorrow is my brother's, it must be Birthday Season!)

#741 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:54 AM:

This isn't the bookbinding thread, but I wanted to do two things: point out this compilation of bookbinding links, and ask how one determines the grain of a piece of paper if one lacks the instinctive knowledge of it.

#742 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:55 AM:

abi @ 729... And gold-robed daytime, mirroring the black.

Hats off, abi.

#743 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Where time is both progressive and eternal,
and where there is both world enough and time;
where the autumnal turns into the vernal,
and thoughts and arguments can turn to rhyme;
where pedantry has not become a crime,
nor ignorance a reason for dismissal;
where the ridiculous is made sublime,
and careful judgement comes to blow the whistle;
there comes a time when every new epistle
directs itself toward the host of hosts,
and every commenter decides that This'll
surpass all of the other birthday posts
:
and then the world may witness as we fight
to join in giving thanks for Making Light.

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

#744 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Hippo birdie, Teresa.

#745 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 11:42 AM:

#726 Jenny: Your post-apocalyptic London reminds me somewhat of the one in a section of Ken MacLeod's "The Cassini Division." I think that's the one: the protagonists are trying to convince The Grumpy Professor Who Knows What Man Was Not Meant To Know to join them. He lives in a London not unlike the one you describe, while the rest of the world is a libertarian socialist utopia, more or less.

That wasn't "a long time ago," though.

#746 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Happy Birthday Teresa!

#747 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Regarding the Spelling reference section, I have a candidate for inclusion: supersede

It's one of those which are out of consistency with e.g. concede, recede, etc., and I've seen it miscopyedited (I've seen at least two SF/F novels books in the past year or two which have "supercede" instead of "supersede" in them.)

#748 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Also for the spelling reference: "Nielsen Hayden."

#749 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:52 PM:

Hats off to abi and candle!

You and the warmer time we celebrate
lady whose virtual home is kept so bright,
whose wisdom and good thinking, day and night,
allows us our small stories to relate,
to praise you would be a matter of much weight
but here and now is time for making light
of troubles past and future, it is right
to celebrate this notable recurring date.
Spring is the time when hope and long desire,
kept by the winter from achieving fruit,
combine to let us go outside and dance;
we've kept things going, kept the lonely fire
alight through all the coldest times, the root
of all our satisfactions. Now, let us advance.

#750 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:07 PM:

day and night, equal
Teresa is without par
fête her on this day

Happy Birthday TNH!

#751 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:13 PM:

May better living through chemistry contribute to a happy and prosperous and amusing and enteraining in positive manners year.
May your meds agree with you and your provisioning thereof be secure and affordable and of high quality.
May the Darknesses and Reeks in DC get speedily purged, and spring House cleaning begin redeeming the reputation of the USA...

#752 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Kate @#748:

Also for the spelling reference: "Nielsen Hayden."

But is that one really necessary? If someone is posting here, the URL, with the correct spelling (albeit combined), is in the address bar.

It's also on the right column of the page, under the "Dire legal notice".


Happy birthday to Teresa, of course.


And an open-thread open question: I've sometimes wondered if "Making Light" meant "to generate photons" or "to gently mock" ("make light of"), or perhaps both at the same time. OR am I once again overthinking the issue? What does "Making Light" mean?

#753 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Owlmirror (#752) Also "to buoy up", I believe. Do not underestimate the possible meaning in here(nt in the title).

#754 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:45 PM:

I'm trying out the comment-thread RSS feeds, and they work just fine for notification of new comments, but (in my current feed reader, Vienna, at least) not for actually reading the comments.

The text appears as something like "p p" or "p p p p", depending on how many paragraphs there are in the comment.

The feed validator[1], once we find a thread small enough it's willing to look at it, complains about "Undefined content_encoded element: p".

I suspect there's a bit in the template that looks like
[content:encoded][MTCommentBody][/content:encoded]
that should insteda be
[content:encoded][MTCommentBody encode_xml="1"][/content:encoded]

(with the appropriate bracket to lt/gt conversion, of course).

[1] http://feedvalidator.org/check?url=http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008772.xml

#755 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Carrie @741
Thanks for the link. I'll add it to the links page on my site when I do my next update. (Trying not to be grumpy that my place didn't make the list, but it is out of date...)

As for paper grain, the best resource I have found on the web is here, but it doesn't really tell you how to determine it. I know of three common ways:
1. Try to tear it. It will tear more easily with the grain than across it.
2. Wet it. The paper fibres get fatter, but do not bend, so the non-curly direction is the grain direction.
3. Just bend it. Picture one of those bamboo mats on which one rolls sushi as you roll the paper in your hands, first one direction, then the other. It will be perceptibly stiffer when you're bending the paper fibres.

Also, note that only machine-made papers have a grain - it's a product of the manufacturing process. Handmade papers have the fibres all over the place rather than in orderly rows.

#756 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 04:29 PM:

Happy birthday Teresa, long may you run! I would write a sonnet, but I came late to the party and I could only repeat with poorer words the sentiments that have already been put to verse. My thanks for your felicitous phrases, abi, candle, Fragano, and tania.

#757 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Happy birthday, Teresa! I hope you are too bedazzled with birthday goodness to reply. :-)

#758 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Unoriginal, but heartfelt: May this coming year be the best so far, Teresa.

#759 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Hippo Birdies to another March-born person.

Mine's 3-16, my sister's is 3-15 (-6 years).

#760 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:43 PM:

Happy Birthday Teresa!!!! May spring be in your step, in your heart, and in your mind.

#761 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 10:01 AM:

A belated Happy Birthday to Teresa as well - that's what I get for not reading comments for a while.

Providing me with minor amusement today, Wikipedia's featured article is on the Fourth International. That should give Conservapedia plenty of new ammo...

(Did anyone ever figure out if they're a joke or serious?)

#762 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Last night, I caught an interesting repeat of MythBusters, one I had never seen. It proved that it does not save money to keep a light on all day, instead of turning it on and off. It also showed that, if you fall from a great height and a bomb goes off on the ground just before you're about to hit that spot, it won't do you much good.

#763 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Eragon just came out on DVD. Is it something that one should stay away as if it were the Plague?

#764 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:11 PM:

#763: It didn't get universally mediocre reviews. Some commentators thought it was really bad.

#765 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Stefan... So, Eragon was not as bad as getting a colonoscopy with a brillo brush and without any painkiller? That's a relief. I think.

For some reason, when the coming attraction showed Our Young Hero exclaiming petulantly "I'm the dragonrider!", I found myself thinking of the Decider.

#766 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:43 PM:

(Belatedly. This started out as a Frost pastiche until it wasn't.)

Some people work only at making heat,
Creating friction just to pick a fight.
But others share warmth, hoping to defeat
The billowing clouds of smoke, creating light
And energizing all to glowing spheres
Of bright plasma that, flowing and afloat,
Is less coherent than the focused spears
Of laser cannons fired across a moat,
But also is more fun as it careens
Through prisms and diffraction gratings and
Nested dependent clauses such as these.
The rainbow sprays of color illume scenes
Of knitting hamsters and of zombies bnnd.
Happy birthday, TNH, if you please!

#767 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Merchandise slogan ideas:

MAKE LIGHT NOT WAR

DON'T ELIMINATE, ILLUMINATE

#768 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:08 PM:

#763 Serge--

My thoughts on the movie are here. It is not without is merits. You can have a lot of fun mocking it. I did.

#769 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:22 PM:

ajay @ 767

So that's how we deal with the Daleks: reprogram them to shout "ILLUMINATE!"

#770 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:59 PM:

fidelio @ 768... "It's not without its merits." Like, it makes you forget for a couple of hours who is in the Oval Office? Your comments have convinced me that I should pass on the chance to even rent the darn thing. Thanks. And I mean it.

#771 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Serge, the scenery is wonderful. I say that sincerely and without any snark whatsoever.

#772 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Yes, fidelio, but is the scenery worth the DVD's rental cost? I guess the movie can't be worse than Ron Howard's Willow or Peter Yates's Krull...

#773 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Serge: "One of these things is not like the other..." I've always thought Willow was very enjoyable, with a lot of fun parts, even if the plot was mostly pasted together from fantasy cliches. Krull is nearly up there with Manos: The Hands of Fate as a Bad Movie (with a capital B.M.)

#774 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 05:07 PM:

True, Clifton. Willow did have those leprechauns (?) with the French accent. And it had Val Killmer as Mad Martigan. As for Krull... I shudder to even think about it.

#775 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 06:57 PM:

We're all doomed, the Japanese have brought out man-eating robots.
http://www2.neweb.ne.jp/wc/ebara71/a/h/robo.htm

(Courtesy of the always offensive Idiot Toys)

#776 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 07:18 PM:

fidelio @768: My thoughts on the movie are here. It is not without is merits.

I had a chance to see the movie when it came out, thanks to a free pass (although a free pass is not really free; you typically have to get to the theater at least half an hour before the start time to get a good seat). I agree with you; the animation was excellent, the landscape was beautiful.

The movie was never so bad that you wanted to gnaw your arm off in despair, as if to escape from a trap (Dick Tracy and Batman and Robin were that bad). I did not come out of the film regretting the time spent. I never read the book the film was based on, so I have no idea whether it would have been considered a good adaptation; from what I've heard, the movie possibly suffered from being too literal an adaptation.

#777 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 07:48 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 776... The movie was never so bad that you wanted to gnaw your arm off in despair

That's certainly reassuring.

Oh, why did you have to remind me of Dick Tracy? Why? Why? Why?

#778 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Sorry I'm late. Happy After-Birthday!

#779 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 07:59 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 775

Ah, but do they mumble "Braaaaiiiiinnnnnssss" as they eat us? Or do they broadcast "42 72 61 61 61 61 69 69 69 69 69 6e 6e 6e 6e 6e 73 73 73 73" over WiFi N?

#780 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Serge:

Peter Yates's Krull...

Paul Allen, Washington State's semi-fun billionaire, did a $11 million rebuild of the Seattle Cinerama theater, including a full set of Cinerama projectors (found covered in guano in a warehouse in Rio and painstakingly restored). It's incredibly pleasant to see a movie there anyway, and when they take a day to convert the screen to the lenticular Cinerama screen it's amazing. Every few years they do a widescreen week. The first one was all Cinerama titles and was flipping incredible. The second one was all stuff shot in 70mm, like Lawrence of Arabia. Know what the guy taking tickets was excited about when I got out of Lawrence?

A fresh print of Krull was scheduled for the next two days.

Talk about inappropriate use of technology and mental whiplash...

Oh, and more importantly, Happy Birthday Teresa!

#781 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Bruce @ 780... From Lawrence of Arabia to Krull? Ow.

#782 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 12:00 AM:

(belatedly)

This is Just to Say

Happy Birthday
to you
happy birth-
day to you,

glædmod
(Blíthe?) cennesdæg,
happy
springtime, too.

#783 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 01:33 AM:

For Christmas last year, my son got me a DVD set of the Dick Tracy movies from the 1940's. (These are the features, not the serials.)

They're actually... not bad at all. The scripts have some of the same merits and problems the comic strip had. (Chester Gould apparently started story arcs before figuring out how they would end.) But the b&w cinematography was surprisingly good, and the acting is... effective, if sometimes overblown. (Boris Karloff is wonderfully menacing as "Gruesome".) Worth watching, though probably not for repeated viewings.

#784 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 02:19 AM:

#783: Got the same set. I've seen it at the Dollar Tree and also Walgreen's.

I agree. Fun popcorn movies. Karloff was great; you could tell he was overqualified for the part of a local tough, but he was a real pro and played it straight.

By contrast: I got a collection of four SF movies from my brother. Another dollar store item. Italian and Japanese and Russian SF from the 1960s. Bad, bad, bad. Not MST3K funny-bad, but dull and stupid and pretentious.

(There was one interesting performance in the lot; Archie Savage, apparently an African American expat who was a noted dancer, as a sardonic space pilot in "Assignment Outer Space.")

(Basic Rathbone was spliced into the Russian film ("Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet"), in scenes set in mission control. Kind of sad. The same movie was chopped up and released under another name, "Planet of Prehistoric Women."

#785 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 03:41 AM:

Bruce @ 783... The Dick Tracy I was thinking of is the big-budget one from 1990, with soft-jawed Warren Beatty playing the chiseled-chinned Tracy. Great art direction and makeup, but... The best thing I can say is that this is the first movie where I realized tat Al Pacino bears an uncanny resemblance to my late father.

#786 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 04:21 AM:

Just finished reading the Turnip Disambiguation Page (currently at the top of the PNH's Sidelights list) and discovered that a yellow rutabaga is also called a "neep". I figure it should be possible to substitute a yellow rutabaga for the salami from the classic unfinished Breakfast Club Joke and somehow work in a reference to smoffing and neepery, but it's after 3am and my brain function currently rivals that of said rutabaga....

#787 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 02:24 PM:

I have a technical question about email services.

My wife and I each have an email address as part of our Comcast account. Since last night, no email gets thru to my wife's address. They don't bounce back. They just never make it to Comcast - the latter sees no trace of those messages anyway. Interestingly, she can send messages out. This happens whether or not we're using Outlook, or if we use Comcast's own site. They of course tried to blame it on my wife's computer then on mine (even though my own email address is working fine and dandy) until I pointed out that it is highly unlikely that the same problem would occur on all computers in America that tried to send anything to her. (And, yes, she does normally get a lot of emails.)

They've escalated this to someone who might actually know his/her way out of a small paper bag, but I thought I'd ask here because, as was recently pointed out, all knowledge is contained in fanzines - or in their internet counterparts.

#788 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Serge, there is no knowing for anyone outside of Comcast, and probably for few within it.

This could be part of Comcast's "curiously strong" antispam measures - the kind that led to them bouncing all mail from the Well, for example - but it is more likely that her account name somehow got deleted from one internal database but not another, and the messages are either floating in limbo within Comcast's system, or "gone whither the woodbine twineth." Only someone at a higher tier inside Comcast will be able to tell what's going on.

#789 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Thanks, Clifton. I'll print your response and ask those bozos about that possibility. Of course I won't call them bozos, not within their hearing range anyway.

#790 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 03:36 PM:

I've always been fond of Larry Kramer. Here, he writes on hate.

#791 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Susan... Are many non-HBO tv shows where gays are portrayed positively? Not including comedies, I can only think of cop show Cold Case. There was The Book of Daniel, but it questionned so many conservative positions, besides homosexuality, that it got canned very quickly.

#792 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Happy Belated, Teresa.

#793 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Serge @ #791:
You're asking a person who hasn't had television in over two decades about current TV shows.

How on earth should I know?

#794 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Dan Savage has this to say about 300:

With nothing but time on my hands this week, I slipped out of the office and went to the movies. Have you seen 300 yet? It's about a handful of lightly armed ancient Greeks—the Spartans—who take on the mighty and massive Persian army. Some feel the film is homophobic; some feel it's a conservative, pro-war piece of agitprop.
Homophobic? It's Ann Coulter on a meth binge.

The Persian army is an armed gay-pride parade, a threat to all things decent and, er, Greek. The king of the Spartans—among the most notorious boy-fuckers in all of ancient history—dismisses Athenian Greeks as weak-willed "philosophers and boy lovers." The Persian emperor? An eight-foot-tall black drag queen—mascara, painted-on eyebrows, pink lip gloss. Emperor RuPaul is positively obsessed with men kneeling in front of him. Why gay up the Persians? So that straight boys in the theater can identify with the Spartan king and his 300 soldiers—all of whom appear to have been recruited from and outfitted by the International Male catalog.
What isn't up for debate is the film's politics. The only times the Persian army doesn't look like a gay-pride parade in hell, it looks like a crowd of madly chanting Islamic militants. And if the Spartan king has to break the Spartan law to defend Spartan freedoms? Well, sometimes a king's gotta do what a king's gotta do. Because, as the queen of Sparta points out, freedom isn't free. And, yes, she uses exactly those words. George Bush is going to blow a load in his pants when he sees this movie.
There's a lot of stuff before that on that page...mostly to do with women of high libido, so I decided to quote the 300 section in full.
#795 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Susan @ 793... I had forgotten that your demeure is TV-less. Oopsing and slinking away in embarassment...

#796 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Serge 791: Law and Order: SVU has gotten good marks—even awards—for that. The L&W series generally have been pretty good, except for the ep where McCoy destroys same-sex marriage in the whole State of New York in order to trap one murderer. It's more interesting to watch it, though, realizing that he's not a crimefighting hero, but just another selfish scumbag who likes to win.

There's generally a dearth of gay-positive shows, though. You're right about that.

#797 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 04:42 PM:

True, Xopher, there are the various L&O shows. The only one I still watch is Criminal Intent and it too has a good track record with its depiction of homosexuals. On the comedy front... Ugly Betty has Rebecca Romjin's transsexual character (*), and there's also Marc, but he falls into the cliché of the flamboyant type.

(*) she looks quite different from the way she did in the X-men movies, doesn't she?

#798 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Stefan:

Upthread you described the sneak preview of The Last Mimsey as very good. I'd like to see it, but it is so damn hard to tell what "PG" means these days.

Is it appropriate viewing for a sensitive 5 year old? For example, does it avoid loud scary stuff and kids-in-danger scenes?

(He found The Incredibles a bit scary, for instance - he ended up enjoying it, but has not wanted to see it again.)

#799 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Four Sooj concerts in ten days, woo woo! And this writeup of a concert I wasn't at both 1) gets the description of her and what she does Exactly Right and 2) has an interesting take on the house concert circuit as a way for people who are really committed to making a life in music to make it work.

#800 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Serge: A simple and useful test for your problem just occurred to me. What happens when you try to send email from your account on Comcast to your wife's account? This should likely stay entirely within their mail system and avoid any inbound or outbound spam filtering. Have her access it via their webmail, to rule out any problems on her computer. Tell them what the results of this test are.

#801 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:33 PM:

There's something that bothers me about a recent Particle and the parent NYT article, about cooking with 'cheap wine'; the article purports to debunk Julia Child, but Child did not write that you oughtn't cook with cheap wine, but with poor wine. I realize the NYT lifestyle sections are professionally dubious that cheap and bad, or expensive and good, aren't synonyms; and the article quotes the relevant sentence in Child, so she is not actually traduced; but the accent is on the wrong syllable throughout.

After all, in, er, novels, the French generally have a simple but appreciated house wine for daily meals, which would fulfil Child's requirement that you be willing to drink your cooking wine. What I love Mastering the Art... for is its reliable instructions for making wonderful food out of fairly simple ingredients, plus butter. Neither that book nor its authors should be blamed for excesses in the style of Escoffier and Lucullus.

#802 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Clifton 798: A friend told me that when she took her 3-year-old to the planetarium, and the "sky" suddenly burst full of stars, he screamed in terror "I like it! I like it!"

Would that adults were so honest.

#803 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Clifton @ 800... One of the first things I tried was to send a message from my Comcast address to my wife's, all to no avail. The only thing that works is if she sends messages out, or to herself. Thanks for the suggestion though...

#804 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:48 PM:

clew #801:

I'd been slightly worried about that, too, because the NYT people didn't quote what I remembered from some Julia Child source or other: as being against cooking with wine you wouldn't drink.

Where it gets a bit fuzzy is what makes a drinkable wine, and Moskin seems to be going against the entire grain of the tastings that Eric Asimov runs in the same pages, by suggesting that price is always a principal discriminant.

For that matter, I find a lot of Australians drinkable that I gather would horrify Moskin. And yet I cherish my every New Year's Eve bottle of Montrachet; but I don't put it in the veal chops I traditionally braise for that evening's meal.

#805 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:49 PM:

#790: Hmmm. Tough call.

As mentioned above, "The Last Mimzy" is a LOT like "E.T."

There are no explosions or loud scary stuff.

There are black-clad soldiers with guns swarming a house, and some spooky special-effects danger.

#806 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 05:57 PM:

clew @ 801: There's something that bothers me about a recent Particle and the parent NYT article, about cooking with 'cheap wine'

IIRC most chefs' advice I've seen is simply not to use the pre-salted "cooking wine" shelved near the vinegar and salad dressings in the supermarket aisle. Usually our fridge has a partial bottle of Two-Buck Chuck that's only used for the initial quench when making risotto. The whole flap strikes me as silly for several reasons--

1.) Most of the subtle flavors/aromas in wine are probably created by volatile esters etc. that'll either evaporate or degrade when heated, like duh, gourmet snob wankers;

2.) if I followed any of their advice about never cooking with wine that I wouldn't drink, I'd never cook with wine at all, because I just don't like the taste of it on its own; and

3.) far from being a "supertaster", I'm practically a non-taster in that other than alcoholic beverages and really ammonia-wafting stinky cheese, I'll consume pretty much anything that's offered. I don't think that I actually lack the physical ability to taste certain off-flavors, but rather that I just don't care. Yeah, I can tell that Valrhona is much more intense and chocolatey than a Hershey bar, which by comparison is an oversweetened and only faintly cocoa-tinged waxy substance, but if the Hershey is what's in front of me and the Valrhona is in the next room, the Hershey's going to get eaten first.

#807 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:01 PM:

I don't drink, and don't know wine. Until a few weeks ago, the only bottle of wine in the house was an Oregon vintage given to my co-workers and I when we relocated up here.

A few weeks back, I "found" a couple of pounds of stew meat way in the back of the freezer. I flipped through my slow cooker book and found something called "beef stifado" that sounded interesting. It called for some red wine.

A guy at Safeway saw me looking puzzled. I let on that I needed cooking wine. "Are you going to drink it, too?" he asked perceptively. When I answered no, he gave me a four-pack of small bottles of a Gallo red. Maybe $8.00.

I used 2/3 of the bottle in the stew, the rest as a salad dressing base.

I'm sure it was cheap paint-remover stuff, but hot DAMN did it smell great as it cooked! I overcooked it (tough meat) but the taste wasn't bad at all.

#808 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:08 PM:

# 800&ff: But the piece does include both the comment about "wine you wouldn't drink" and an acknowledgment that wine available in this country in a given price range has changed out of all knowing since Julia's day.

I thought the piece was pointless for that reason, since it pretty much includes its own rebuttal without even going into the cooking comparisons.

#809 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Stefan #807:

Gallo red (Hearty Burgundy, to be specific) was at the center of a cause celebre sometime in 1972/3, when it won a blind taste-off in Paris against a bunch of really expensive French wines. So not necessarily cheap paint remover. Anymore, I'm not sure what would fall into that category other than the fabled Boone's Farm, Strawberry Hill, and Mad Dog 2020. (Well, and anything from Manischewitz, I suspect, particularly if it came from blackberries instead of grapes.) Ooh, take it back, there's a Michigan winery I will not name ...

#810 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:14 PM:

joanne@809: You don't have to name it. I think anyone who drinks wine, or knows anyone who does, knows of it, and knows to avoid it except as a gag gift.

#811 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:18 PM:

I find a lot of Australians drinkable that I gather would horrify Moskin. And yet I cherish my every New Year's Eve bottle of Montrachet; but I don't put it in the veal chops I traditionally braise for that evening's meal.

Is it because Moskin doesn't go for the concept of a vin ordinaire/vino da tavola for weekdays (you cook with it, you drink it - it's not a revelation, but it's a good reliable quaffer) and Proper Wine (as opposed to proper tea) for meal-matching/cheese platters/dinner parties?

Most of my quaffers are Australian, which is hardly surprising (big Rutherglen reds or Victorian Pinots) but OTOH, so is most of my proper wine. It's not the tattered remnants of patriotism; I just don't know much about the International wine scene.

If this Moskin fellow drinks (say) Rosemont, it serves him right. It's the wine equiv of Fosters, most of the time. We export it to the unsuspecting - we don't actually drink the stuff.

#812 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:18 PM:

"Gallo red (Hearty Burgundy"

I don't think so.

#813 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Shoo. There was meant to be a link in there.

But Google "California wine tasting Paris" and you'll see it wasn't Gallo plonk (which I'd certainly rather cook with than drink), it was genuine Napa Cab and Chard from Stag's Leap among others.

#814 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Well, the cooked-wine tasteoffs were useful in undercutting the assumption that the best wine to drink is the best wine to cook with. That was a silly assumption for an actual wine aficionado, though (and suspiciously reminiscent of all the people who only liked espresso once they could get it in a pint of steamed milk)*. After all:

1) if being simmered with onions were the best thing for a wine, the best winemakers would do so, with onions of the local terroir, before bottling it.

2) Peter Wimsey would surely disapprove.

* I don't think there's anything wrong with preferring your wine and espresso moved more or less towards gravy and milkshakes. I do think there's a loss to the world when those who don't need the subtlest wines/coffees use up the limited stocks.

#815 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:47 PM:

I do think there's a loss to the world when those who don't need the subtlest wines/coffees use up the limited stocks.

Surely noone here wants to cast wine before churls ...

... but how are they (er, we?) to learn about wine/coffee? If you grow up in a house where "wine" means fruity lexia out of a cask and "coffee" means "instant coffee" you have to dip into the global supply of The Good Stuff in order to get educated.

Now, OK, your first espresso might be a bit overwhelming, and it might be a while before you can identify secondary fruit characteristics (or, indeed, apply any adjective other than "delicious"/"*spitting-into-spittoon noise*") but I defend my right to have used up some of the limited stocks in order that I might grow to appreciate them.

#816 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Serge @ #803: If she sends mail to herself she actually gets it, but no other mail? That's more than a bit odd.

Hmmmm... I can only think of three ways of that happening. First is if either her email program settings are pointing to the wrong (but working) server - and in that case, she should be seeing all the email when she went to webmail. Second is if Comcast divides their users among a clustered group of mailservers, and the specific mailserver she is assigned to is somehow isolated or cut off from the rest of their mail system. That's just possible, but would probably take someone high up in their systems group to correctly diagnose and fix. Third is if Comcast offers a user option for "only allow mail from whitelisted addresses through", and via a database error that somehow got turned on for her account.

I'm sure there are other possibilities, but that's all I can think of.

Stefan, thanks for the response. Sounds like it's right on the border of what he's been OK with. We may try it or may not.

#817 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Clifton @ 816... Thanks. More than a bit odd, indeed... Thanks again for your latest suggestion. I'll print it and mention that possibility to the helpdesk zombies.

#818 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Re: Gay-friendly TV, Veronica Mars, while it has some iffy moments, is generally very queer friendly (its first season had a great episode about a teenager finding out his father had become a woman, and there's been a bunch of gay characters throughout).

#819 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Vian @ 815: I think the original point wasn't that the fine stuff shouldn't be used to educate palates, but that it shouldn't be used in situations where its fine qualities cannot be appreciated because the method of preparation renders it indistinguishable from the mediocre. If you're not going to be able to tell the difference in the end because whatever you use is going to taste about the same, why waste the limited supply of good stuff?

#820 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Any comment would spoil this.

#821 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 08:20 PM:

#745 DaveL:

Found it! I was misremembering the epilogue of The War in the Air. People Wells calls suburban parasites have become neo-savages squatting in Bun Hill villas, wearing clothing scavenged in ruined London, unable even to sew what they find, much less make more. They don't know how to bake bread or preserve what they manage to grow. Their highest art is hog butchery.

#822 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 08:23 PM:

We do not drink very much at Chez Unholy Trinity. Okay, I drink more than most of the people in my close family, which means I down a couple of drinks every other day or so (and because of how I was raised always wonder if that makes me a lush until the next time I pick up a Raymond Chandler novel and then I don't worry so much.) So when we open a bottle of wine we don't always finish it, and if not more than two of us are drinking we have a high likelihood of retaining some wine days later. I won't drink it past three days.

We have left bottles of red wine on the counter for several months and discovered that, when mushrooms are cooked in the stuff, they taste... like mushrooms cooked in red wine, no better, no worse. I would have been afraid to try it, but Snead is an experimental (and very good) cook. Now, with the NYT's nod, I can talk about this household tendency proudly instead of sheepishly. Who'd'a thunk it?

On Gallo: it might've been good in 1972, but presumably rests on its laurels like Pabst on the Blue Ribbon it won in 1882. That sort of thing is always dodgy, like an out-of-date resume for the brewers in question.

#823 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Further: the bottles of "cooking wine" sold near the vinegar are mostly a way for people under 21 to be able to cook... and are saleable in spots where actual wine may be unavailable.

Anecdotal: while the aforementioned Snead visited our other partner's family once, in Arkansas, he was shocked to discover that no wine could be obtained for cooking as they lived in a dry county. I don't know whether there's an exemption for cooking wine or not. There didn't seem to be, there, but he was looking for Chinese cooking wine, and that area had first seen a restaurant selling sweet-and-radioactive-sauce American Chinese food in the mid-eighties, so it would have been hard to tell. I think he wound up using some combination of soy sauce, grape juice, and vinegar.

#824 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Nice link, Xopher (820) though it relies on people having an outdated image of Steve Jobs. They got the uniform right.

#825 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 09:10 PM:

My, Patrick, that certainly is a roomy desktop you have. Lots of places to pile manuscripts. Plenty of light, too.

#826 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 10:14 PM:

#825: That's Teresa's desktop. Mine is a picture of Maxwell Perkins pulling the wings off flies.

#827 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 10:25 PM:

I currently have the view of Saturn-with-rings-from-the-far-side on my desktop at work. (I've also had the Lagoon Nebula, the pillars in the Eagle Nebula, and a galaxy on it at one or another time.)

Someone asked me once if it was a black hole.

#828 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 10:30 PM:

If you're not going to be able to tell the difference in the end because whatever you use is going to taste about the same, why waste the limited supply of good stuff?

That goes perilous close to things I've actually heard people say of the young and feckless: "Oh, s/he won't appreciate that - it's all the same to him/her - give 'em this instead ... "

The spectre of some theoretical person cooking with what you would save and treasure as drinking wine is a bit jarring, but if it makes them happy, and they've not gotten the wine by evil means, I don't see the harm. The supply of good stuff is limited, yes, but not small, and not even very hard to come by in these globalised times, unless you are shopping at the very lofty end of the market.

So they put a dash of Pol Roger '98* in their split-pea soup, or whatever. How does that diminish your cellar?

*and let's assume that the '98 vintage is a good one.

#829 ::: Nike ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 11:34 PM:

#791 Are many non-HBO tv shows where gays are portrayed positively?

Serge, you should poke around the TV sections of After Ellen and After Etlon. Their archives are arranged badly, so you will have to poke around for 2007 info.

Off hand, Brothers and Sisters on ABC has a decent gay guy. He's one of the brothers. But, there's a paucity of regular gay characters on broadcast, so you're in much better luck if you have basic cable.

And speaking of Law & Order - "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" will never stop being completey ridiculous and utterly hilarious.

#830 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 11:53 PM:

Serge, at least Erols/RCN told us upfront (on the phone) that the entire east coast network was down yesterday.

#831 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 12:22 AM:

And speaking of Law & Order - "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" will never stop being completey ridiculous and utterly hilarious.

I took the line to indicate how inconsequential the character's orientation had been to the performance of her job; AFAIK that had been the first and only mention of it.

The line itself is clumsy. I imagine this might have been included in a 'writer's bible' description of Serena, to help define her relationship to other characters (particularly McCoy), but otherwise buried. When they wanted to reveal it, they left themselves no time to show it.

#832 ::: Nike ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 01:07 AM:

I took the line to indicate how inconsequential the character's orientation had been to the performance of her job; AFAIK that had been the first and only mention of it.

It the first and only mention and that is what makes it ridiculous. For all of the straight characters, their orientation was also not relevant to the job. Yet you knew way before 4 years in, and their second to last line on the show, that they were straight.

The line itself is clumsy. I imagine this might have been included in a 'writer's bible' description of Serena, to help define her relationship to other characters (particularly McCoy), but otherwise buried. When they wanted to reveal it, they left themselves no time to show it.

I disagree. I don't think that her sexuailty was included in Serena's bible. I think it was a last minute thing, probably decided on soon after it was known for sure that /K/a/t/e/ Rohm would no longer be on the show. I think it was probably a retcon. And that she came out (to the audience) with the "because I'm a lesbian?" line in her last scene of her last episode because the writers/producers thought it would be really cool!!1 and they knew it would water cooler talk the next day. However, I only half-watched the show during her years, so I'm not going to pretend to be up on the nuances of her characterization.

#833 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 01:32 AM:

Naked Ladies With Their Legs Crossed and other strange things from the kitchen. (Safe for work, but not your waistline.)

#834 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 07:45 AM:

Joann @809

About a year ago I found a very cheap bottle of red Spanish table wine in a grocery I frequent that carries whatever happened to get shipped that week, so everything on the shelves is a one-shot. I bought the wine, figuring I could always use it for cooking if I didn't want to drink it.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It was the vilest industrial effluent I have ever tasted (and I used to drink cheap New York chianti when I was in college). According to plan, I left it in the pantry to use for cooking, but the memory of the taste was so bad I didn't use it, and finally poured it down the drain in disgust.

The trauma was great enough that I've blanked on the brandname, or I'd warn the world against it.

#835 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 08:08 AM:

A. J. Luxton @ 822

We're in the same boat wrt leftover wine. I drink perhaps 3 or 4 glasses of wine a week, and Eva doesn't drink at all; after a few days we've got 1/3 - 1/2 bottle of wine that used to be good to drink. So we have a lot of wine-based sauces. I don't remember anyone mentioning this, but wine sauces are handy because they reduce fairly quickly, so cooking the meat in the sauce doesn't end up with overcooked meat.

Of course, the low demand has an affect on my choice of wines. I'm hardly a connoisseur*, but I can tell a good wine from a bad wine (with maybe a shade or two of gray in between. There are certain wines I prefer: pinot (noir or blanc), merlot, a very few, very dry whites. This turns out to be a good thing, as I can use Vian's approach of patriotism: I drink a lot of cheap or moderately-priced Oregon wines. They're not as cheap as they used to be.


* Teresa, please add this word to the spelling list. I had not a clue how to spell it, and no interest in finding the dictionary at this late hour; the only thing that saved me from using "expert" instead was the Google suggestion feature in the search box. After 3 tries I got as far as "connis" and Google suggested "connoisseur". The only reason I actually performed the search was to be able to copy the word and paste it in here; I don't trust either my fingers or my brain just now.

#836 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 09:13 AM:

Vian @828:That goes perilous close to things I've actually heard people say of the young and feckless: "Oh, s/he won't appreciate that - it's all the same to him/her - give 'em this instead ... "

I clearly stated I was talking about situations where the method of preparation, not your palate, made the fine stuff indistinguishable from the mediocre, and would for anyone. I also explicitly stated that this was not a matter of a fine wine or whatever being used to educate a palate. If you're determined to take offense at that for some reason, I can't stop you, but you don't get to claim I said something I didn't.

#837 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Marilee @ 830... Comcast's people are usually responsive. After all, they spent a couple of hours with me yesterday trying to figure things out before they decided to escalate. What I don't like is their tendency to assume the problem is with us, not with them. Like, one morning, our internet access had gone belly up so I called and they said no network issue had been reported so it must be just us. When I called later, they said there was indeed a problem. It just had never occurred to them (or to me) that I was the first person to report any problem. Grumble grumble grumble...

#838 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Nike @ 829... By that time, I had long given up on the original Law & Order. I couldn't stand watching pompous Fred Thompson's face for even one second.

#839 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 12:58 PM:

cmk #813:

Pardon a bunch of 35-year-old memories; obviously they took some alpha rays in the interim. There was indeed a Gallo tasting incident, but it was sponsored by Time, with with domestic wines, and the winner was a Gallo Pink Chablis, gawdhelpusall. (I don't think I've seen such an object anytime since.) All hail Time Magazine, who put their archives online for free, unlike certain Newspapers of Alleged Record.

#840 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 02:19 PM:

Since computerish problems are being discussed... Can anyone help me update my AVG to 7.5? I spent an hour and a half downloading it (having no wireless), but then it vanished on my computer and I can't access it in order to run the setup program. In some online checking, I discovered that other people with Windows 98 have had the same problem, but not what to do about it. And though AVG may be free, you have to *pay* for their help service.

Any suggestions?

#841 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 02:50 PM:

#840: Might it have been copied into your temp directory? I was about to spell out where that should be, but realized I'm looking at Win XP, and have forgotten where the temp directory should be for Win 98.

Another possibility would be to look in your browser's cache. The cache for Firefox in Win XP on my account is located: C:\Documents and Settings\rusick\Local Settings\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\50m0scwq.default\Cache (The '50m0scwq' is some random name created by Firefox when I set up an account). The cache is filled with files with hexidecimal names and no extensions; these correspond to all of the html files, images, and downloads you've done while you're browsing. The file I had downloaded to install avg75free had been named 'avg75free_430a848.exe', and was 17,105 KB in size. If you find one of these hexidecimal named files that is that same size, it would be a good bet that it is the cached copy of the same file. Copy it from the cache to your desktop, rename it 'avg75free_430a848.exe', and you'd be good to go.

If you're using Internet Explorer, its version of the cache is called 'Temporary Internet Files', and on my machine is located: C:\Documents and Settings\rusick\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files(again, probably somewhere different on Win 98). The files found here do not have that same hexidecimal naming scheme; they would have the file's original name. If you find the .exe you downloaded, you can copy it to your desktop.

There is a utility called Cache View described as "a viewer for the Netscape Navigator, Mozilla and Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer web caches." It makes it easier to copy things out of your web cache. But I'm assuming that you don't want to go downloading more utilities just now.

#842 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 03:19 PM:

I am amazed that Faren's Computer managed to get into this thread without needing CPU ressucitation, considering how many entries there now are.

#843 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 03:48 PM:

News item: The Mormon Church is objecting to a coffee shop's depiction of the angel Moroni on a t-shirt.

I can understand the upset about associating a Mormon angel with a coffee shop, but... "the angel Moroni" is a registered trademark? Really?

#844 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 843

but... "the angel Moroni" is a registered trademark? Really?

Why not? Joseph Smith invented Moroni, and I assume intellectual property rights devolve to the LDS Church as his heir. Although I doubt that's how the church hierarchy would express it.

Maybe I should check to see if anyone's registered the Prophet Abraham.

#845 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Bruce @#843:

"the angel Moroni" is a registered trademark? Really?

Well, the trademark database is searchable.

The only hit on "Moroni" is this one:
  http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=qdevh5.2.1


There are 33 hits on "Mormon"; indeed, "Mormon" appears to be a live trademark itself (showing up twice, for educational services and for religious services).
  http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=qdevh5.9.1
  http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=qdevh5.9.5

But I see nothing indicating that the image of an angel with a trumpet is a Mormon trademark.

Disclaimer: IANA(IP)L, and I may not have searched correctly.

#846 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Since I was curious, I went searching for, and found, a page that has an image of the t-shirt in question:

Coffee shop pulling Moroni advertisements

I find myself wondering about the image of Moroni being a "trademark" - is the image indeed a mark used in trade? Does the Mormon Church sell things that are marked with that image? I have no idea. I also have no idea of whether they can claim something as a trademark if it is not used in trade. See previous disclaimer.

#847 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 05:26 PM:

I'd like for someone to invent a red wine that tastes like German Mosel white wine, so that I can have wine with a steak dinner without having some pretentious cretin look askance at me for drinking the wrong color of wine with beef. I suppose I could always sneak in a vial of red food coloring...

#848 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 844: [...] Joseph Smith invented Moroni [...].

I would be very interested to learn if the CLDS claims Moroni is the intellectual property of Joseph Smith. I imagine doing so would create fascinating theological situations.

#849 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 834, 835:

I found something of that nature myself recently, but it was Italian. I looked up "cork taint" and was thus able to identify the nastiness, so took the bottle back to the store in exchange for Something Completely Different Thank You.

I tend to prefer whites in the low cost range I normally buy in; it has been explained to me that this is probably because whites are less ageable than reds, and so are more likely to be sold faster and cheaper when they're good.

Earl Cooley III @ 847

That would probably make it look more like cinematic blood, but that has its own set of advantages when dealing with people annoying enough to snark at your wine preferences. "Eet eez... a special vintage. Your young tastes vould not prefer it. Now leave me be!"

#850 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Serge @ 837 - Comcast responsive? The best thing I can say about them is that their technicians are friendly and professional. I should know; I think I've met most of them.

There's a signal problem in my neighborhood and every time my internet or digital converter goes belly-up, they schedule a technician for several days later. The technician shows up, checks the signal and says, "Yep, the problem's outside." Of course, all the folks on the phone can do is send another technician. It's never been fixed, but they readily acknowledge that there's a problem.

It's been going on since September. I'd get DSL, but it costs more, is slower and isn't necessarily any more reliable.

#851 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 09:23 PM:

For PNH and any other Patti Smith fans-

Salon had the cover of Gimme Shelter up as a song of the day earlier this week.

Here's the link to the mp3 download.

#852 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 09:25 PM:

For one thing, there's more than one Mormon church. The RLDS are headquartered in Missouri. They're smaller, their descent is from Joseph Smith's immediate family, and they have as much right to Moroni as anyone else.

#854 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Best thing about the "Witch of Coos" particle is the Google ad for "Cellar Bulkhead Door" that pops up under it.

#213--Good God, I had completely forgotten "Red Moon and Black Mountain", but I too loved it once upon a time! "Ooooh, beloved of the Lady is Li'vanh Prachoi!"

# 365--Little Fuzzy, too. "English is the result of the attempts of Norman soldiers to make dates with Saxon barmaids, and no more legitimate than any of the other results."

#382: I heartily agree re Tamora Pierce, though I could never get into the "Circle of Magic" series.

#397: I love Narnia in spite of all the things Pullman mentions; but I found myself unable to forgive Pullman for turning the 3rd Dark Materials book into a plotless, characterless axegrindfest. YMMV, of course, and obviously a lot of people loved the whole thing.

Laurence @ #498:

Surely it's also important to mention that up until the 20th century, Western culture believed in a notion of "platonic love", or same-sex affection that was completely nonsexual. So they could glorify the love of Greek men for other Greek men, while denying that there was anything nasty about it. We really can't do that anymore.

Which brings up C.S. Lewis, who was apparently completely unable to believe that those Greek and Roman guys were, you know, DOING IT:

"... all those hairy old toughs of centurions in Tacitus, clinging to one another and begging for last kisses when the legion was broken up...all pansies? If you can believe it you can believe anything.” --The Four Loves

(see also the extreme shock in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century when it was discovered by the general public that a "Boston marriage" was a lot more like a marriage than they had assumed)

#556--so Greg, you're saying that the vampire and his/her skin are not entangled?

#678--Serge, for my money the best thing about Logan's Run is the U.S. Capitol covered in what appears to be kudzu.

#855 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Thank you, thank you, Tania! I'm a huge Patti Smith fan.

#856 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Mine is a picture of Maxwell Perkins pulling the wings off flies.

Things the brain does when we're not looking... My eyes scanned this, and my brain muttered, "Maxfield Parrish pulling wings off flies? WTF?"

Nymphets, Doric columns, blue blue California skies, and -- oh, never mind.

#857 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 10:07 PM:

So speaking of Buffy, as we were long ago when the world was younger, I just read Fray today and loved it. Just one question: was the mystical slayer scythey thing introduced first in the comic or on the show? I can't figure out when things came out.

#858 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Patrick, in an effort for something (I'm not sure what, distancing themselves from the Mormon church or whatever), RLDS underwent a name change a few years ago and are now the "Community of Christ."

http://www.cofchrist.org/

A puzzle. Not sure of the rationale, but the again I'm kind outside the whole thing, including any kind of Christian church these days.

#859 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Lizzy L @ 856: I'm so glad I wasn't the only one.

ethan @ 857: Fray hit the stands in June 2001. Season 7 of Buffy started in the fall of 2002. Does that help?

#860 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Aconite #859: Hm. That makes it sound like it was probably about simultaneous. I was just curious because when the scythe is introduced toward the end of season 7 it felt like I was supposed to recognize it, though of course I didn't.

#861 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 01:53 AM:

Larry Brennan @ 850

It's been going on since September. I'd get DSL, but it costs more, is slower and isn't necessarily any more reliable.

Not sure about the first; my DSL cost is close to Comcast cable cost here, and since I'm not going to deal with them because of past bad service it doesn't matter. Slower, yes, in the spec. Since I have all of a 1.5 Mbit line, I think it's worth more than a party line that will allow me 5 with no one else on it. As for reliability, I've had DSL for 6 or 7 years now, I can't remember exactly when I got it, and so far I think the total outage has been a few hours, not more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. I've never had to call Tech support except when my first 2 wireless access DSL modems were fried by the power in my house; put a power supply on it and there's been no problem at all.

Of course, the real solution is fiberoptics. Since Verizon hasn't yet offered its 15 Mbit service where I live (you have to be about 5 miles west of here to get it), I'll have to wait.

#862 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 08:46 AM:

Lila @ 854... the best thing about Logan's Run is the U.S. Capitol covered in what appears to be kudzu

And in said Capitol one finds lots of cats surrounding Peter Ustinov who keeps quoting from T.S.Eliot's naming of kitties. (It was quite obvious, from the lame responses of York and Agutter that Ustinov was doing a lot of adlibbing throughout the whole scene.)

#863 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Larry Brennan @ 850... Your own Comcast problem sounds like the one we had on and off for two years. Yeah, we too would lose our internet access and we'd schedule an appointment for a technician three days later and very often the problem would disappear, or it'd still be around and the tech guy would say that the problem was outside. He'd do something and tings would be back to normal. Until the next time. Someone eventually did a thorough inspection and figured out that the problem was with their wiring inside the house, and with the cable jacks. We never lost our itnernet since then except when everybody in the neighborhood did too.

Meanwhile, my wife still can't receive emails. Well, it's been 48 hours since this started and they said that the superduper tech would look into it within 72 hours. Which mean he'll look by the 71st hour.

#864 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 09:15 AM:

I have just been looking at the Alternative 300 trailer, up in the Particles.

Oh goodness me!

Unless somebody has been doing stuff with the look of the footage to make that video, it looks like a sepia-tinted movie with simply lashings of homoerotic subtext.

Is there, I wonder, a Xena-verse retelling of Thermopylae?

#865 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 09:44 AM:

I saw The Last Mimzy. Enjoyable, especially when the young boy, who at first appears to be the main character, realizes that he really is just the hands for what his kid sister needs to do to save the world.

#866 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 12:26 PM:

The Panopticon's take on The 300.

#867 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 01:04 PM:

Rob Rusick (#841): Thanks! I'll give that a try.

Serge (#842): My computer *was* "limping and gasping" by the time it got back into this Thread, but the plucky little thing did manage it.

#868 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Still, Faren, it seems like it might be time to initiate a new thread. Anyway, has your problem with AVG been resolved?

#869 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Alice Bentley, the bookseller who shut down her Chicago SF store some years ago, writes about how things changed during the years The Stars Our Destination was in business.

#870 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Is there, I wonder, a Xena-verse retelling of Thermopylae?

Of course there is! In the episode One Against an Army Xena sets out to stop a Persian vanguard, Gabrielle gets shot by a poison arrow, won't let Xena go for the antidote because the Persians would get through, and then the Persian ninjas all conveniently attack the barn Xena and Gabrielle hole up in, rather than just running on past and attacking Greece.

It is one of the great subtext episodes.

http://www.whoosh.org/epguidearmy.html

#871 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 04:51 PM:

About the Hillary's "F*ck You '07" Tour. Particle, the National League of Cities web site is back (if they ever vanished) with their distinctive logo. Now if anyone can find a political organization with a logo that resembles G**ts*, maybe we can get one of former Sen Rick "Spreading" Santorum's colleagues to visit.

#872 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Serge (#868): Alas, the problem persists. Rob's directions didn't work on this computer, but while checking all the temp files I finally found what seems to be a botched download. The "details" said the installation failed because of "general failure in the initialization of the language file C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\RAR" -- possibly not the complete filename, because the box was small and wouldn't open further. So I guess I'll have to do without AVG until I get a new computer, and I won't feel very friendly about them in future.

#873 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 12:12 PM:

All this discussion of wine and cooking...

I found a bottle of Two Buck Chuck merlot that had spent three years sideways at the back of my wine stash, quietly, on its side, in the dark. It's actually pretty decent wine given a little rest.

The reason that it was there is that we have a friend with a small vineyard in Newberg, and a bottle of her stuff was broken out at the annual summer fest; a glass of hand-made Tualatin area Pinot Noir each and nobody felt like drinking the cheap stuff for a long time after.

(Fresh from the store, Charles Shaw makes a pretty fine marchand de vins sauce).

#874 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Lila #854: It's clear from others of his writings that Lewis assumed that all gay men were effeminate to some degree. But he does make a good point in The Four Loves: In the former conventional wisdom, friendship was considered the truest of all loves because it depends the least on physical passions, but nowadays, the opposite is true.

There is a lot of bad fan fiction online "correcting" The Lord of the Rings by putting in the scenes Tolkien "left out" between Frodo and Sam, or Merry and Pippin, or Aragorn and Legolas (who are assumed to be lifelong dear friends because Legolas defends Aragorn in the movie version of the Council of Elrond). I'm not talking about the slash that people write because they want to imagine the actors naked; "friends with benefits" stories have a definite flavor to them, more soppy romance and less bow-chicka-wow-wow.

In the real world, I remember an angry woman writing to Ann Landers or someone of that ilk a few years ago. A divorcee with children to support, she had moved in with a widow ditto to share living expenses. Everybody in their small town assumed that they were having sex with each other and treated them accordingly--smirks, cold shoulders, veiled offers of cures of one type or another, requests for threesomes, preaching, etc., etc., etc.

#875 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Faren @ 872: Anything under WINDOWS\TEMP should indeed be temporary and it should be safe to delete without trashing your computer. Try deleting all the files in there which begin with RAR, then reinstalling. (I do not remember Windows 98 fondly...)

#876 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 03:30 PM:

There is a lot of bad fan fiction online "correcting" The Lord of the Rings by putting in the scenes Tolkien "left out" between Frodo and Sam, or Merry and Pippin, or Aragorn and Legolas (who are assumed to be lifelong dear friends because Legolas defends Aragorn in the movie version of the Council of Elrond). I'm not talking about the slash that people write because they want to imagine the actors naked; "friends with benefits" stories have a definite flavor to them, more soppy romance and less bow-chicka-wow-wow.

It's true, and it perplexes me terribly. One does get the idea, from the movie Fellowship, that Aragorn and Legolas knew each other previously--and I defy anyone to watch that film and not at some point look at Frodo and Sam and say, "OK, we get it, they're friends!"

Why does that translate into "They're having sex"? It makes no sense to me. Why do people assume that Every Relationship Goes Better With Sex? It didn't make sense with Kirk and Spock, it didn't make sense with the guys from the A-Team, and it doesn't make sense now.

#877 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 03:56 PM:

DSL vs. cable: I've had DSL for several years and only once had a noticeable outage - it lasted nearly ten minutes and resolved without any calls by me. I've had others I didn't notice at the time but detected later because AIM had restarted. It's vastly cheaper than cable since I don't get cable TV and don't plan to ever again. (The last time I had cable, albeit without an actual television, was when I worked for Comcast in 1991-1994. Not as a technician.)

post-films Tolkien slash: Cassie Claire's Very Secret Diaries; accept no substitutes. There is no Gap in Rohan.

mistaken assumptions: my dance partner and I look like a butch/femme couple and I get compliments on how "devoted" she is to me when I teach GRF groups. They don't believe me when I tell them she's straight.

#878 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Carrie S @ 876

My theory, feel free to shoot holes in it, is that we're seeing exactly the same behavior that we saw fifty years ago when you weren't supposed to have sex outside of heterosexual marriage, and everyone talked about how awful having sex was. The rationale, as far as I can tell was that what I believe is right is what everyone should believe.

Now it's acceptable to have sex outside of marriage, so that's what everyone has to do. If someone doesn't, it's obviously a rejection of the Only Right Way to Do Things.

In other words, what is not forbidden, is compulsory. Note: I don't believe in this stuff, I just observe it.

#879 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Susan @ 877... a butch/femme couple

Is 'femme' always pronounced 'fem' in English?

#880 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 04:46 PM:

Carrie S, the answer to that, as to all questions about fanfic, is "Because they want to." If you don't want to, fine, but, really? Life is easier if you just let the people who do want to write or read ships and situations you don't like do what they want, and don't try to cure them of it.


#881 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Serge #879: When talking about lesbian "types," the idea of pronouncing femme the French way just caused me to crack up profusely. Especially in the form femmy. (Or however that would be spelled--femmey?)

Actually, thinking about it a bit more, I don't know if that usage would be spelled femme...is it just fem?

#882 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Carrie @ 876: One does get the idea, from the movie Fellowship, that Aragorn and Legolas knew each other previously--and I defy anyone to watch that film and not at some point look at Frodo and Sam and say, "OK, we get it, they're friends!" / Why does that translate into "They're having sex"?

Maybe because lots of people can't conceive of intimacy outside a sexual context?

#883 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 05:23 PM:

ethan @ 881... I had to ask because I've heard some people say "Cherchez la femme" and pronounce it 'fem', not 'fam', and I doubt they were really telling us "Look for the lesbian."

#884 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Carrie @ # 876:

Why does that translate into "They're having sex"? It makes no sense to me. Why do people assume that Every Relationship Goes Better With Sex? It didn't make sense with Kirk and Spock, it didn't make sense with the guys from the A-Team, and it doesn't make sense now.

It makes no sense to me either, but perhaps the problem is the implicit assumption that sex makes sense...

As best as I can tell, sex making sense is by far the exception rather than the rule.

#885 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Many critical writers have addressed the topic of slash and its functions better than I might in years, much less five minutes. One of these critical arguments is, over-summarized, that the big draw of what could best be called "schmoopy slash" (as opposed to "sexy slash") is that the female writers who write this stuff are using it as a way of exploring their own relationship roles, while stripping some of the ideas attached to female gender from the context. If anyone's interested, I can see if I can dig up these essays.

"Femme" is generally, IME, pronounced "fem" in English. There is also "femmy", which is generally used as an adjective to describe clothing, and I don't know how that might really be supposed to be spelled but I spell it "femmy".

#886 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 07:34 PM:

I may be the only one who uses 'femme' only when I mean a feminine woman, and 'fem' when I mean a feminine man. I have seen 'domme' used for a female dominant, but never 'subbe' for a female submissive.

#887 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Idle curiosity question:

Say, remember how junglescan.com used to track the rise and fall of Amazon Sales Rankings for books you selected?

Why did it (seemingly) go off the air?

Is there something else out there that logs or plots sales rankings?

I recognize that obsessively following sales rankings can become a vice, especially for authors. Perhaps Junglescan was taken down as a favor to the book-lovers of the world, to prevent the loss of valuable writing time.

#888 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 07:50 PM:

Hey, I keep forgetting to ask this. Are Meyer lemons hard to come by? I've never seen them before , but they have them at my neighborhood fancy-fruit store.

They're really interesting. Lemon-shaped, but orange and smooth-skinned. Clearly lemons in flavor, but much less sour. It's odd but interesting. Or odd AND interesting.

#889 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Designer Kathy Sierra abruptly cancelled her appearance at the O'Reilly ETech conference here in San Diego this week, after receiving graphic and sexual death threats that made her afraid to leave her house, she wrote on her blog today.

She writes: "They posted a photo of a noose next to my head, and one of their members (posting as "Joey") commented "the only thing Kathy has to offer me is that noose in her neck size.""

#890 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Serge @ 883--English gets to alter the pronunciation of its loan words. But 'fam' is quite an odd pronunciation, since the French say something much more like 'fum'. But feem, fime, foam, or fum, only context will tell you whether they mean "idiomatically French woman" or "feminine-acting lesbian" or probably some other meaning that doesn't come to mind just now.

Speaking of which, David Sedaris had an excellent essay in the February 19/26 New Yorker on how the question "Which one of you is the woman?" is a symptom of how so many straight people are

...trying to determine what goes where, and how often. They can't imagine any system outside their own, and seem obsessed with the idea of roles, both in bed and out of it. Who calls whom a bitch? Who cries harder when the cat dies? Which one spends more time in the bathroom?"
As always, he has fun making fun of the question. He claims to have responded "'Oh, we live in New York,' as if that answered the question."

#891 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Dan Hoey @ 890... But 'fam' is quite an odd pronunciation, since the French say something much more like 'fum'.

Hmm... I grew up in Québec City, where Frecnh is the language spoken by the locals. I also had access to lots of French movies. No matter what the context, 'femme' has always been pronounced 'fam' in French. I know, that's not what one would expect, looking at its spelling, but it's one of those bizarre quirks of human languages.

Oh well.

#892 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Xopher @#888 - I don't know about the rarity of Meyer Lemons, but I know all my various cooking magazines, podcasts, etc. go into raptures over the wonderfulocity of the Meyer Lemon about every two to three years. Bon Appétit carried a small feature on them in February 2005, it's up on Epicurious.

Lemon Scones, Lemon Curd, Lemon and Herb Risotto, Lemon Chicken, Shaker Lemon Pie, Lemon Bars, Lemonade. Mmmm.

You've inspired me to see if I can get John's uncle in AZ to ship me some lemons from the tree in his yard. They are much better than what we get in the stores up here.

#893 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 09:20 PM:

On the How do you lose a steel mill? particle, I'd think the answer was obvious. With so much use of steel, they probably had to run the steel factories faster and faster, whereby they were found naughty in the eyes of the lord and struck down.

#894 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Xopher @#888,

No? Yes? Here I have to walk 20 feet to our meyer tree, which provides for us in all seasons (although the late fall crop is small and only good, not great, in taste). I merely have to sacrifice to it yearly* to call for its bounty.

It also feeds hummingbirds, a rat (swearword), insects (lesser swearword) and a flock of cute wee small birds that feed on the insects (kawaiii).

At my local farmer's markets (or small produce markets), I see them at $.3-1.00/each. I have no idea how this compares with regular lemons, because I don't notice those. Why would I? Meyers are the lemons of the gods.

----------------------
* blood, this year, in xmas light stringing and frost-clothing it before the big freeze hit. I also used our fan heater for the first time. Outside, under the lemons.

#895 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:36 PM:

I'm finally annoyed enough with a spammer that I'd happily see them turned over to "Liver-eating" Johnson, or someone else appropriately ruthless. At least once a day someone attempts to spam one of my LiveJournal posts that I mentioned her long ago--I'm assuming that was the thing to make it popular enough to be worth going after--with crap content spam. It never works because I have that entry set to keep posts screened unless I unscreen 'em, but the fact that it's the one LiveJournal entry that I've done which folks liked makes it stick in my craw like you wouldn't believe.

May they have carnal knowledge of a cheese grater, a bucket of rock salt, and a bottle of tequila, in that order.

#896 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Xopher:
I may be the only one who uses 'femme' only when I mean a feminine woman, and 'fem' when I mean a feminine man. I have seen 'domme' used for a female dominant, but never 'subbe' for a female submissive.

(sarcasm on)
That's because submissive is a natural state for a female, so it doesn't require a special term, whereas dominant is a naturally male state, so female doms are a special case. Sort of like "author" and "authoress". Didn't we get rid of this reasoning some decades ago? It's a not-too-subtle bit of sexism that infuriates me - taking a gender-neutral term and genderizing it so it only means men, then coming up with a variant for women to flag their abnormality.

Playing with gender, however, is amusing. FWIW, I'm the visually femmer of the pair with my dance partner, but I almost invariably dance the "butch" role of leader. We argue about costuming - I think the short-haired non-curvy-chest person should have to wear the male clothes and I should get to wear the corsets and not have to hide my hair and chest. And she should learn to lead. So far I have lost the costume argument every time (though I have hopes for mid-17thc) and the leading argument about 95% of the time. (Mostly I want to lose the latter, since for teaching I strongly prefer the lead role. But I want the dresses, damnit!)

#897 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:40 PM:

The bastards just did it AGAIN!

#898 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 12:14 AM:

apropos of nothing but an open thread, the dog mascot of Eskimo Joe's in Stillwater, OK is named Buffy.

#899 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Susan #896: So if I understand right, what you're saying is that when you and your partner dance, it's two danceuses rather than a dancer and a danceuse. Is that right?

(Har har har.)

#901 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 09:10 AM:

Susan @ 896... But I want the dresses, damnit!

This reminds me of the time Mystery Science Theater (*) showed the serial Undersea Kingdom, kind of like the old Flash Gordon, but not as good and set in sunken Atlantis. Anyway, at some point, Joël and the 'bots launched into a song that went "Hey! It's the undersea kindom, for you and for me, where men wear dresses!"

That being said, is it femme-rhymes-with-jam, or femme-rhymes-with-gem?

(*) I know, you don't watch TV, but you might have seen this.

#902 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 11:37 AM:

At least once a day someone attempts to spam one of my LiveJournal posts that I mentioned her long ago

If they're using the same username each time, you can ban that user from commenting on your journal at all, and not have to screen everybody else.

I think you can do it when you delete a comment of theirs, via a checkbox or something, but the few times I've done it, I used the console. I think it's as simple as "set_ban $USERNAME", but if you've got the patience for it I'd search the FAQ to verify.

Of course, if for some reason you want this person to be able to comment on other posts of yours, this won't work.

#903 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Am I the only one who's noticed this?

OK, Elizabeth Edwards's breast cancer has come back and is now treatable, but not curable.

So with all the flap over the fact that her husband is not dropping his campaign, why hasn't anyone given more public consideration to the fact that two of the three leading Republican contenders (not their spouses, the candidates themselves) have also been treated for cancer, John McCain for melanoma and Rudolph Giuliani for prostate cancer--both of them types of cancer with a strong tendency to recurrence despite treatment?

#904 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Meyer lemons (which are suspected to be a hybrid between lemon and something more like a tangerine) are mostly a home variety in southern California. There used to be serious problems with them carrying some kind of virus, so they pretty much disappeared as a commercial variety, and out of a lot of garden stores. Now the nurseries have virus-free stock, and they're more available again.

The lemons in supermarkets are usually Lisbon or Eureka. For Meyers you might have to go to a farmers' market or or a specialty place.

#905 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Open Thread Share Time:

I have a serious Lego problem. Oh yes, I do. But who cares about that? Check these out:

Beatles album covers made with mini-figs and photoshop.

ooh, they are so cute.

#906 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 03:20 PM:

I just saw a report that Barbara Bauer has issued legal action against a number of people, including our hosts here, along with Jenna Glatzer, a person identified only as "Miss Snark, Literary Agent" (yeah, like that'll work), and the SFWA. And Wikipedia.

Hope everything works out OK for you all.

#907 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Meyer lemons: You all have caused me to wonder what variety my two tiny lemon trees are. They're from cuttings of lemon trees that originated in St. Augustine, Florida, and rumor has it the original trees produced giant lemons. Meyers aren't known to be huge, are they?

Their leaves smell exactly like Froot Loops when brushed or clipped. I did not think that smell occurred in nature, but it seems I was wrong.

Femme: Saying it to myself repeatedly, I agree that the French word is pronounced "fam" but with a much shorter, clipped "a" than I would use in jam, for example. I say "jam" almost as a dipthong, kind of like "jee-aaaa-um" but less dramatically exaggerated. I say all rhyming words (dam, scram, Pam, blam, ham) similarly. The French phonetics are pretty different.

I once took a French conversation class wherein we had tests and homework on transcribing French words in the International Phonetic Alphabet. The idea was to force you to pinpoint the correct sounds, and eradicate your American accent as far as possible. It was actually a great class.

#908 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 03:47 PM:

... and I noticed this from Mr. Petit, on his blog, noting that he's representing "at least one, but less than all, of the defendants in Bauer v. Glatzer et al." and mildly suggesting that his clients at least should consider this to be a gag order.

I can think of a different high-profile SLAPP-like lawsuit, where lawyers for and lawyer friends of the defendants have been openly wishing the chief defendant would just stop talking about the case in public, no matter how much right is on his side. It only hurts; it really never helps, not unless you're raising money for defense funds.

So if Patrick and Teresa were in fact named as co-defendants - which as yet I can not find any indication of - they are indeed doing the right thing by saying nothing whatsoever. Cheers and best wishes.

#909 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Folks, the Senate is debating stripping the timelines to bring our troops home out of the supplemental, and Senator Webb is reinstating his No Attack Iran provision.

Please call your Senators and tell them to keep the timelines IN the supplemenal funding bill and to add the "no attack Iran" language to it.

The Congressional switchboard number is 1-800-459-1887 or 1-202-224-3121.

#910 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Caroline @ 907... True, the phonetics are different. I was trying to come up with the closest sound. Not a perfect match.

#911 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Has anyone ever been arrested for political comments they've made in Making Light? I just read over on fark.com that they've had that happen to four people.

#912 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 10:12 PM:

Here's what my dad had to say about the "Cooking with Cheap Wine" link:

I think a point that should have been at least mentioned is that cheap wines nowadays are almost always of drinkable and cookable quality; even the ones she referred to as unpleasant aren't the "old tennis shoe" of early 20th century wines. This was not the case even ~20 years ago when Julia Child issued her directive/opinion on the subject. If you buy a wine only for cooking, it could go off before you use it up, unless you cook with that wine on a daily basis. Think Julia Moskin might have shares in Two Buck Chuck?I think a point that should have been at least mentioned is that cheap wines nowadays are almost always of drinkable and cookable quality; even the ones she referred to as unpleasant aren't the "old tennis shoe" of early 20th century wines. This was not the case even ~20 years ago when Julia Child issued her directive/opinion on the subject. If you buy a wine only for cooking, it could go off before you use it up, unless you cook with that wine on a daily basis. Think Julia Moskin might have shares in Two Buck Chuck?

#913 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Jennifer Barber:

If they're using the same username each time, you can ban that user from commenting on your journal at all, and not have to screen everybody else.

They're posting as anonymous. Haven't wanted to block anonymous since I posted that way a time or two myself when I was starting to use the service.

#914 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 07:10 AM:

Owlmirror @ 884

As best as I can tell, sex making sense is by far the exception rather than the rule.

If you think sex makes sense, you haven't ever looked at it. (This may be porn's redeeming social value :-) Sex is the best evidence I know of that god has a sense of humor.

#915 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 07:27 AM:

Susan @ 896

Is "genderizing" anything like "tenderizing"? Do you do it with a big wooden mallet?

And while I have your attention, on a semi-serious note, it seems to me that role, especially gender-role, terms are very often asymmetrical. For instance, I've heard "gay" normally applied only to homosexual males, and not females. And I can't think of (and this may just be my memory going) a male-homosexual-specific non-colloquial term equivalent to "lesbian". This always seemed unfair to me. And now that I think about it, I wonder if this didn't happen because of the Victorian notion of the "love that dare not speak its name."

#916 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 08:29 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 915: For instance, I've heard "gay" normally applied only to homosexual males, and not females.

The new generation doesn't bother with the distinction. None of the kids (and only a few people my age, both within and without the GLBT community) I know use "gay" to mean "male homosexual" specifically. To them, "non-straight" is "gay," regadless of sex or gender. YMMV: This may, of course, be different in different geographic regions, and if I called myself "gay" at certain lesbian gatherings, I could probably expect a speech or two on how I'm identifying wth men, but I think that, overall, the trend is for "gay" to be generic.

As an aside, Jo Walton's Farthing made me smile, with Lucy's "Macedonian," "Athenian," and "Roman" categories.

#917 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 08:35 AM:

V'z Zvff Fanex!

#918 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 08:42 AM:

Bruce Cohen... Susan with a big mallet? As a goddess of thunder maybe? That sounds positively wagnerian.

#919 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 09:26 AM:

Aconite @ 916

Then I see I've dated myself. Not a problem; dinosaurs have a place in the ecosystem too.

#920 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 09:33 AM:

Serge @ 918

So why should Thor have all the fun? And I'd bet Susan wouldn't ride around in anything so tacky (not to say smelly) as a cart drawn by goats. Frankly, I think we need gods with a little more sophistication, a little more class. Come to think of it, can you name me a single modern god, and here we are in the post-modern age? Who fits in today, except maybe Loki and Coyote, and the rest of the Merry Pranksters?

#921 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 919: dinosaurs have a place in the ecosystem too.

Absolutely. Nothing's better for global warming than old dinosaurs! And then there's sodomy.

Seriously, though, for all I know, the distinction is still used as you described in other areas and in other subcultures. I can only tell you what I observe here and now, in the states I've been in, in the last decade or so.

And, just to bring this all back around to Buffy, because we're headed for four figures, here (Buffy, sodomy, and politics--yep, it was a sure thing), Willow is referred to and refers to herself as "gay." Of course, she's also called "a wicca," which drove me half-nuts until I simply decided that the Buffyverse had such a thing and it just coincidentally had the same name as a neopagan religion in our world and that people used it to mean a practicioner of whatever it is "wiccas" practice. ("Bunch of wanna-blessed-be's" is one of my all-time favorite Buffy lines.)

#922 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Actually, Bruce, I was really thinking of the Marvel comic-book version of Thor, who perambulates by swinging his hammer above his head a bit then off he goes into the air. Much easier in this day and age. No need to find a parking spot for a goat-drawn cart. (The latter being better than Freya's cart that's pulled by cats.)

#923 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Niall @ 917: Ab, V'z Zvff Fanex!

#924 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:03 AM:

I just want to go on record as saying, in company with some who may sympathize, that waiting until 2008 to find out what the FRAK is going on on Battlestar may either kill me or entirely erode my interest.

What *were* they thinking?

#925 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Sarah S... First, the BSG bunch probably doesn't know any more than you do what's to come next. My understanding is that they make things up as they go. Second, the next season should start at the end of this summer, not next year.

#926 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Serge--

The BSG page at SciFi.com says "Production will resume in May with an eye toward a early 2008 season premiere," and that was also the implication of the stuff at the end of the finale episode from this season.

#927 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Sarah S... I blame my wife for that flawed assumption as she won't let me watch that last episode unless she's out of the room. Well, that is a stupid decision on the part of the BSG people, about on the same level as bumping off one of their main characters.

#928 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Serge--

Exactly.
It's a long time to ask people to wait and to stay interested. I think they're making a lot of foolish assumptions that we're not going to spot something else, say "ooooh, shiny!" and wander off, never to be heard from again....

#929 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:30 AM:

It just occurred to me that this is a group of people I can ask.

I have a thing that I'm writing. It needs a title. It's about two women who are thieves in a sort of Fafhrd-Mouser kind of way and the things that happen to them in a new city, except that what it's really about is love and loyalty and friendship and what to do when these things conflict. And I can't come up with a name for it!

So writery-type people: how do you come up with titles? And everyone: what about a title makes you want to read it (if titles indeed do that for you)?

#930 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:30 AM:

McCain is saying the surge is working...CNN differs.

#932 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Look in Shakespeare, Carrie, or in mythology. The old Star Trek did that quite a bit, with titles like "Whom The Gods Destroy" and "The Conscience of The King".

#933 ::: I'm Not Miss Snark ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 10:54 AM:

I'm Not Miss Snark,

But I laughed, out loud, for at least three minutes after reading the particle on The Trial of Agent B.

Thank you Teresa and Patrick!

#934 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Serge, I thought of that. But it seems pretentious (for me, not for Star Trek).

#935 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 11:02 AM:

V nz obgu Zvff Fanex naq n Onpba Fnaqjvpu. V yvxr vg gung jnl.

#936 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Carrie S... It wasn't pretentious for Star Trek (*) so why should it be for you?

(*) Meanwhile ST-TNG came up with such brilliant titles as "Elementary, My Dear Data" for its Sherlock Holmes episode. Almost on the same level as the non-shakespearean "Spock's Brain".

#937 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 11:56 AM:

John McCain's MySpace was hacked, with... ah... interesting results.

http://slev.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/john-mccains-myspace-just-got-jacked-up/

#938 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 12:44 PM:

(Thinking of Thor, superglued to an oaken floor, his hammer flying up and down like the needle of a sewing machine).

#939 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 12:52 PM:

JESR... I don't think Thor would take kindly to such pranks.

#940 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Speaking of Thor in comic-books... Way back in the early 1990s, there was an issue of Gaiman's Sandman where Morpheus is at a banquet with gods from various pantheons, and Bast winds up sitting next to Thor. The latter, to impress her, shows his hammer, a rather small thing, he admits but then adds it gets much bigger when he rubs it. Bast is not impressed.

#941 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Serge @ 922

The latter being better than Freya's cart that's pulled by cats.

That settles it. Freya has got to be the engineers' deity. Only a god who can control cats can herd engineers.

#942 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Bruce Cohen... Not only that, but Freya is already the goddess of Love. Engineers need love too. How is that for job synergy?

#943 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 01:47 PM:

Carrie, 929: I don't know where to find a title, but I sure hope you include a shady merchant named Zvff Fanex.

#944 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Carrie, 929: I don't know where to find a title, but I sure hope you include a shady merchant named Zvff Fanex

I'm now picturing the Star Wars adventures of the notorious Zivf Fanex. Because that just sounds like a Star Wars name. :)

#945 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Serge, not a Dirk Gently fan, then?

#946 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 02:00 PM:

JESR... For various reasons, I've never read anything by Douglas Adams, so I don't really understand how my earlier comment applies to Dirk Gentley.

#947 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Bruce 920: Come to think of it, can you name me a single modern god, and here we are in the post-modern age?

Trihstahtey, the goddess of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Usually spelled Tristate, but pronounced as above.

Reticula, god(dess) of the internet. Depicted as a fat, smelly old man standing behind a body-sized mask of an attractive 18-year-old girl, or as a 15-year-old girl behind a mask of a 25-year-old supermodel. Money flows from one hand, but her(?) other hand is in your pocket; stands on a crushed and broken clock.

Hivpos, god of AIDS. Looks exactly like King Leopold of Belgium (the way he looks now, I mean).

Want more?

Serge and Sarah, 924-928: SciFi upped its order for season 4 from 13 to 22. Presumably this played havoc with the production schedule they originally had in mind. As for staying interested, I understand they're planning a TV movie for later this year, giving some backstory on the Pegasus. (Myself I have misgivings about this; I hope they don't try to make Cain into a sympathetic character.)

#948 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Thanks for the BSG information, Xopher. Speaking of the Pegasus, whatever happened to its crew? It looks like they easily blended into the Galactica's ranks. That's rather amazing, considering the different management styles on those ships.

#949 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 02:40 PM:

They don't seem to be terribly interested in exploring that issue. Social-group problems come up for the episode or short story arc, and then are forgotten, in general. They don't have them hovering in the background, which is a flaw in the writing IMO, but overall I still like the show.

#950 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 02:42 PM:

By the way, V nz Zvff Fanex, naq V ungr oneonevna snezref.

#951 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Xopher @ 949... Yeah... There were story possibilities in that and they just dropped it. Anyway... In case you're interested, there's an interview with BSG's creator on Salon.com. It was posted this last Thursday.

#952 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Fragano @ 935

Jryy, gura qba'g trg naljurer arne Fpnymv'f pngf. Gurl unir rabhtu ceboyrzf jvgu onpba naq purrfr nf vg vf.

#953 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:03 PM:

Re: "Gay," in my experience it can be used for men and women, but skews towards the male side. As far as I've ever heard, it does not mean not-straight, but specifically homosexual. The only blanket term for not-straight I know is "queer."

Re: BSG: Hush, everyone! I'm way behind, and while I'm catching up, I'm only on the second season. Don't let me know anything!

#954 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:06 PM:

ethan @ 953... Don't let me know anything!

The episode ends with Starbuck suddenly waking up on Caprica and thinking to herself "Phew! What a dream!"

#955 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:07 PM:

I knew it!

#956 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:21 PM:

ethan @ 953

So is "queer" acceptable when used by a straight person, or is this the "Q-word"? If straights can't use it, then they have to use circumlocutions like "not straight", which to my ear sounds rather too much like "not normal" for polite conversation.

#957 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Serge @940 - It's been a while since I looked through the Norse myths, but I'm pretty sure Thor's hammer Mjolnir changing in size comes from them. The wikipedia entry mentions that "Mjolnir may also mean fertility, the phallus that impregnates the earth." - so, as with so much in the Sandman, Neil Gaiman didn't have to make it up.

#958 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Xopher @ 947

Want more?

Nope, I'm going home to hide under the covers. With gods like that, who needs demons?

#959 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers @ 956:

I use "queer" to refer to myself. My first assumption, hearing it from someone I didn't know well, would be that it's being used as a pejorative until I had reason to think differently, just like "dyke." Ethan's subculture is obviously different, but the word I hear in supermarkets and schools to mean "not straight" is "gay."

#960 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Neil @ 957... Thanks. Still, the way Gaiman wrote the scene made the whole thing hilarious, especially with Bast's disdainful expression.

#961 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2007, 03:36 PM:

I see that we're slouching toward another 1000-post thread. We ought to be ashamed, considering what it does to Faren's Computer.

#962 ::: ethan :::