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March 16, 2007

An efflorescence of zombies
Posted by Teresa at 12:42 PM * 420 comments

Back in November 2006, The Uselessness of Airleaf Publishing generated a nice chewy comment thread, which flourished, decayed, and fell silent. Then, a week ago, Epacris spotted comment spam in that thread, and posted a message saying so. Niall McAuley got in while the spam was still comment #52 and posted:

A spammer writes: We will appreciate if you will use the following information to link us back from your web site

I hope no-one on ML minds, but I’ve been running a Zombies simulation on a 2 Mqbit SQUID using the comment threads here as modelling data. This is not a Vingefied AI system with trapped, sentient copies of the contributors here: the agents modelled are guaranteed soulless empty software shells.

I’d just like to note that when I fed comment #52 above into the system, the Zombie Jim Macdonald said “No”.

After that, they were off and running. To quote some incidental bits:
I for one welcome our artifically intelligent/undead overlords. ::: Why did I just get an email from myself, containing a sonnet that scans and rhymes perfectly, but has no artistic interest whatsoever? ::: If I understand this correctly, Zkathryn necessarily knows everything Kathryn knows, but has no awareness of that knowledge. Zkathryn claims not to be a p-zombie, but that’s exactly what a p-zombie would claim, isn’t it? I mean, a p-zombie would need consciousness in order to make truth claims about its nature, and if it had consciousness, it would not be a p-zombie. “I am a p-zombie” is always a false statement. ::: People, can we not stereotype about zombies based on misrepresentations in really atrocious, campy movies? ::: In California, the workplace guide set (employment law, minimum wage, existential threats) includes the standard zombie warning chart. ::: The preferred weapon for personal anti-zombie defense is the chainsaw. For a horrifying example of what happens when you don’t have a fully-fueled chainsaw handy, see The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander. ::: HA! Has anyone seen this? Bush has even pissed off the Mayan spirit guides. … Sorry, wrong thread. ::: “My Favorite Things” ::: Kathryn, it’s twelve steps for the walking dead, but only maybe three for the living. ::: I Am Not A Politically-aware, Angry Mayan Spirit Guide (Abbreviated, for your convenience, as IANAPAAMSG…) ::: “Rezume” ::: I think that we need to stop trying to define liches and revenants, and start trying to describe them. ::: I can feel a post coming on titled Trauma And You… ::: IANAPAAMSG either, but I’m pretty sure it should be Yma Sumac as the zombie-summoning Mayan Spirit Guide, and Julie Andrews as the singing, chainsaw-wielding heroine who saves the day, because I just can’t imagine Yma Sumac doing the patter songs. ::: Me, I’d wonder about the utility of inducing zombies to follow me through any sort of heavy manufacturing environment; I can read the safety signs and they can’t, after all. A rolling mill would be nearly ideal. ::: Well, philosophical zombies like to start conversations about themselves any chance we get. Such conversations are often diverted into discussions about chainsaw sharpening, but this is clearly just a diversionary tactic: those with present qualia conspiring to confuse those of us whose qualia are MIA. ::: from “William Shakespeare’s Zombies” ::: The ritual deployment of “This is just to say” ::: “How will I eat thee? Let me count the ways” ::: “The Second Coming” ::: “Resume” ::: “When, running from the zombies’ prying eyes/I all alone beweep my outcast state” ::: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of brains. ::: Ok, now I’m officially creeped-out. Look: a zombie teddy bear ::: OH MY GOD THAT’S THE CUTEST AND I WANT IT. ::: Aw! His intestines are removable! I love him! ::: The Creature was part human, part livestock, and part chemistry set. I suppose he was Bavarian in the sense that BMWs are Bavarian…
Happy Friday.
Comments on An efflorescence of zombies:
#1 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Brains.

#2 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 02:33 PM:

I am trapped in a Chinese Room with an endless stream of copy-edited manuscripts coming through the input slot; I defy you to prove that I am sentient.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 02:45 PM:

ROFLMAO just reading the quotes, never mind the actual posts (again).

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 02:46 PM:

It is my understanding that one of the two movies comprising soon-to-be-released Grindhouse involves zombies. They don't seem to have cerebral leanings, as the main non-zombie character is a woman who loses a leg to a zombie and then replaces the missing limb with a nasty-looking rifle.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Igor, would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?
Igor: And you won't be angry?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby someone.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Abby someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Abby Normal?
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA?
[shakes and grabs him]
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME?

#8 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:11 PM:

An efflorescence of zombies

Just be glad it wasn't a deliquescence. Messy.

#9 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:41 PM:

During this very quiet day, since most of the staff have left due to the ice and snow, I've been able to scavenge a few quiet moments to read this thread. And laugh hysterically. :)

Thank you all for a fantastic Friday!

(writing from the hallowed (actually, mostly just empty) halls of social services, only two blocks away from Publish America...)

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Charles Stross:

"I am trapped in a Chinese Room with an endless stream of copy-edited manuscripts coming through the input slot; I defy you to prove that I am sentient."
Sure thing, Charlie. I just spent the better part of a work week decopyediting a badly copyedited manuscript. I can test your sentience.

Please answer or address the following queries:

1. You say this character has brown hair and blue eyes. People with brown hair never have blue eyes. Change?

2. (Book set in Ancient Greece) Query democracy: This seems awfully modern. Would they have had that word?

3. You've got a reference here to General Cornwallis. This seems awfully obscure. Replace him with another Revolutionary-War British general who's better known to U.S. readers?

4a. Your character Livia Plurabella has a husband named Marcus Plurabellus. This seems inconsistent. Change?

4b. When she's operating in this alternate timeline, the trader Dawn Stone is known as Aurora Petra. However, the Solter family's mother and daughter, Melissa and Amelia, do not change their names. This seems inconsistent. Change?

5. I have made the following changes to avoid the overuse of the word "luminous" to describe night-viewed astronomical objects. Confirm?

6. (In a near-future SF novel) Re: "He had a stack of paper books on his windowsill." Change "paper" to "paperback"?

7. I don't think communications systems on board U.S. Navy destroyers can work the way you describe. I have queried all instances where such communication occurs.

8. (In a rotating circular space station) See changes on pages [list of thirty-odd nonsequential pages]. There was a series of errors where characters used "up" and "down" to describe inward and outward movements along the ship's equatorial plane.

9. I've noticed you use a great many difficult or unfamiliar words and phrases in your writing. I have taken the liberty of substituting shorter, simpler terms. I think you'll find it an improvement.

10. Shouldn't he be ordering his meal from the lunchroom dispensers by speaking his order out loud? That's how they do it in other science fiction.

#11 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:54 PM:

...decopyediting. There's a word I would have preferred was never invented.

I particularly like #1. It would explain a lot about my mother.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Me too, Tina. I suppose we could call it "a bus ticket to Eraser Crumb City," but that would get unwieldy.

#13 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Teresa, I got to your point #9 before I began having flashbacks.

(I spent a chunk of yesterday evening trying to calm down a first-time-round-the-block author who's worried about the edits on his first book. It's a technical "For Dummies" type title about a web development thing that this guy is an expert on. He began to get a little worried when the sub-editor he'd been handed over to queried whether any readers would have heard of this "YouTube" thing ... and then asked what Linux was.)

In other news, the policeman's beard is still half-constructed.

#14 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Does spending too much time decopyediting leave you with a bad stetter?

#15 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Teresa, you understand that I now must request you write a book with that title. "Decopyediting: A Bus Ticket to Eraser Crumb City" is already a best-seller in the alternate universe in my head where you've fulfilled said request.

Alternately, I'd settle for a post with that title and more examples, sometime when you, haha, have some free time and energy.

Charlie: Thank you for waiting to post that until I was done drinking this cup of coffee, because cleaning nose-spewed coffee off my monitor is difficult.

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:12 PM:

Charlie: "He began to get a little worried when the sub-editor he'd been handed over to queried whether any readers would have heard of this "YouTube" thing ... and then asked what Linux was."

Oh my very word. In his place, I'd have been more than a little worried.

The point where my blood ran cold on this copyedit wasn't when I realized the c'ed had randomly deleted and inserted commas all over an award-winning author's prose. It was when I noticed that she was marking text ital and nonital. In all my years in the printing and publishing trades, that's a first.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Tina, you'd want to see the highlights of a blistering twenty-plus-page memorandum on the misdeeds and derelictions in the copyedit of James White's The Galactic Gourmet?

I can't discuss the time I got angriest over a bad copyedit. The author reads Making Light, and still goes into instant full-scale depression mode when the subject comes up. Bad copyedits do real damage.

#18 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:18 PM:

nonital

Gulp. Oh my word.

(Declaration: my ability to read proofreader's marks is eccentric and thoroughly wrecked by having initially learned on British proofreader's marks (which aren't the same), but even so ...)

All I have to put up with is my copy editor accepting the use of British spellings and usage, but querying whether American readers would understand "dreicht". Then correcting my British usage correctly. It's amazing how a woman I've never met can give me primary school flash-backs ...

#19 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:29 PM:

Nonital sounds like a drug. I'm not sure what it would treat, but I'm sure someone here will tell me.

Teresa: Maybe I'm weird, but yes? I'm not likely to ever be a professional editor, but I actually do like the editing process, including fact-checking (though I sometimes get lazy about that in my own stuff, I admit). Seeing the bad stuff is an incredibly good learning tool, quite aside from other reasons to be interested.

But if it would just tick you off to remember the worst examples, certainly, I'd understand not wanting to touch the subject. I thought you might have some 'look back and laugh' types of things you could share, though, and would love to read them if so, and I really do doubt I'm alone. If for no other reason than your writing style and commentary are engaging no matter what you're writing about.

#20 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Spam spotting makes us talk about zombies. Zombies make us talk about copyediting. But Buffy makes us talk about Buffy. What does all this mean?

#21 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:36 PM:

ethan @20: It means y'all are my kind of people.

#22 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:36 PM:

I defy you to prove that I am sentient

To quote Samuel Jackson Johnson: "I refute it thus" whereupon the great sentient philosopher warrior put a cap in his arse.

Afterward, he was overheard shouting, "I have had it with these m8therf9cking sentients's on this m1therf2cking thread!"

#23 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:36 PM:

What -do- you use to indicate unitalicization?

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:39 PM:

I don't know whether I'd want to read a whole book of bad copyediting examples, but an essay in a book with that title - it's a wonderful title! - would be good.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Talking in public about bad copyedits. Let me think about this.

Meanwhile:

ital = italics
rom = Roman (non-italicized text)

It's one of the first things you learn in text markup, and it's universal. Except for this copyeditor.

#26 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:02 PM:

#13: So that's where all the internet bubble headhunters went. Not real estate. Copyediting.

#27 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Jon at 23:

The usual marginal note to turn text that is already set in italic back into notmal text would be "Rom" (meaning Roman text). You would also underline the text to be set in Roman text.

#28 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Hmm. You wouldn't care for "<i>"- and "</i>"-style markup tags..?

#29 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:31 PM:

I'm glad this thread only appeared today, and not yesterday, when I was still slogging through copyedits on The Next Book. But I did think of Teresa and that chapter in Making Book when I hit the first of the instructions from editor to line-editor and proofreader about please to be leaving the British English alone, it's *supposed* to be that way. :-)

#30 ::: Z[ j h woodyatt ] ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:32 PM:

"...I defy you to prove that I am sentient."

What's in it for us?

#31 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:37 PM:

This is Just To Say

I will post a
comment
that is just
a sentence

in which
there is no content
nothing
but line breaks

reminding
without me needing
to look
up poems

#32 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:38 PM:
8. (In a rotating circular space station) See changes on pages [list of thirty-odd nonsequential pages]. There was a series of errors where characters used "up" and "down" to describe inward and outward movements along the ship's equatorial plane.

I'm not exactly sure why that particular one makes me shudder the most, but somehow it does.

#33 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Joel @ 28, while some publishers have copyeditors do XML markup on manuscripts, prior to formatting, and others request copyeditors edit onscreen, using MS Word's Track Changes feature, most publishers who adhere to the traditions of paper copyediting prefer that the traditional marks be used.

When I worked at the Textbook Mills, many of our copyeditors also did XML markup, either on paper, or in the electronic files (depending on the ms; a small number of our authors were incapapable of preparing a manuscript with a word-processor, and sent files to be printed and pasted into patch manuscripts. I still shudder thinking about some of those.)

Traditionally, markup and copyediting were different steps in the process: a copyeditor would edit the MS, the author would receive the marked-up MS, and deploy his or her STET stamp, muttering imprecations and dealing with queries, someone at the publisher would key in the changes and produce a fresh MS, which someone else would mark up for typesetting.

Or something. I've only worked on one MS that had to be marked-up this way, so I'm mostly working from tales told by editors older than me.

A number of the best copyeditors I know maintain that they don't work nearly as effectively onscreen, and prefer to use traditional markup on paper. They know the traditional symbols, you see, and would get tremendously muddled if they had to use new symbols. And the traditional symbols work.

Unless your copyeditor has never looked at a single book on the subject of copyediting, I suppose.

#34 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Isn't Rezume the name of the AI/meme in John Barnes books, notably mentioned in The Sky So Big and Black? The ones where The One True takes over minds?

#35 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 05:56 PM:

SKapusniak at @32: I think the shudderworthiness is because that one's not just ignorance, but *wilful* ignorance. Thirty pages' worth, and it never occurred to this copy editor that there might be a reason for the terminology?

#36 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Teresa wrote -
Talking in public about bad copyedits. Let me think about this.

Meanwhile:

ital = italics
rom = Roman (non-italicized text)

It's one of the first things you learn in text markup, and it's universal. Except for this copyeditor.

Note that this is not completely true in the tabletop gaming industry, which has different standards (since most of the original designers were not originally from the book industry, and some weren't even graphic designers before someone set them down in front of Pagemaker and said "start laying out copy").

A lot of companies have internal processes for copy that are only loosely related to that in other industries (those that are large enough to hire freelancers at all). Partly because they have evolved semi-independently, partly because of differing needs.

Most of the larger companies have a style guide for layout, but it often resembles HTML markup more than traditional book markup - [i] to italicize a paragraph, [n] to set back to normal text, etc. (this is not true of all companies, and each has their own variation - Check Your Style Guide).

There's also pretty wide variation in what is expected of authors in terms of layout markup - some companies just want to know what is header, what is body, and what is specially coded, and the layout dude(ette) will handle determining which header level is which, others expect the writer to do quite a bit of the layout markup (one company that will remain nameless essentially wanted all layout code - headers, TOC entries, marks for "include in index", bold and italics for words called out (rather than just bolding the word), etc. - entered by the author. My internal monologue ran something along the lines of wanting double my normal word rate, if I was also doing the layout person's work as well (that project ended up falling through, alas).

Of course, we are such a small (and specialized) branch of the publishing industry as a whole that this is not - at all - a reflection on the greater reality of copyediting. But it is something for folks who might want to do game writing or copy editing (why?!? Do you love ramen so much?!?) to keep in mind.

#37 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:08 PM:

#10 Teresa -- no sign of intelligent life there. If this were a Turing test, I'd say the manuscript was edited by badly-written software ....

:)

#38 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Teresa's examples lead me to wonder where copyeditors come from. I mean, shouldn't they be given some kind of test or something to show they're qualified? Or am I being totally naive and idealistic?

#39 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:13 PM:

#34, Scorpio:

Isn't Rezume the name of the AI/meme in John Barnes books

That's "Resuna", I'm pretty sure.

#40 ::: Wristle ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:23 PM:

#39, Todd,
Yep, Resuna

#41 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 06:36 PM:
One company that will remain nameless essentially wanted all layout code - headers, TOC entries, marks for "include in index", bold and italics for words called out (rather than just bolding the word), etc. - entered by the author.

Scott, #36, I recall that Steve Jackson Games went through a period where they insisted that the volunteer playtesters mark up all their suggestions for amended or additional text in just that way (Quark tags, I think). I don't hesitate to mention their name because they gave up the idea quickly and quietly.

#42 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:10 PM:

#41:

Shudder . . . last year, I tossed away the 5.25" floppy disks that had my Quark-format manuscript for "GURPS Uplift."

They use much saner formats now.

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:22 PM:

I think all those queries get the same answer: Stet.

I once wrote a short-short where the same ritual sentence appeared time and again (and I use those words advisedly), but in a different tense each time to indicate the time distortions happening around the main character. The English teacher (who, oddly enough, was not a native speaker of English herself) edited them all into the same tense.

Come to think of it, the character was called The Zombie. Full circle!

#44 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Xopher @ 43: As in "-- All you Zombies --"?

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 07:42 PM:

No, not quite. The Zombie was the agent of the destruction of the universe. Nihilistic teen-angst bullshit, but the shifting tense wasn't one of its flaws.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Teresa # 16: Perhaps that wasn't a reference to the text, but to Rastafarian food laws -- that is to say the distinction between 'ital' (natural and unsalted) and 'non-ital' (processed and containing salt). As Rastas said in the days of my youth which are forgotten 'Ital is vital'.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:06 PM:

Jon #23: Frank Sinatra singing 'Mrs Robinson'.

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Scorpio #34: That's Resuna.

#49 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:12 PM:

#10 -- Heh. In Roman times, almost all female names were male names with an 'a' -- Claudius/Claudia, Julius/Julia etc. But Aurora was a Roman goddess, and anyone with a dictionary could get that.

#50 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Typical. The publishing thread turns into a zombie discussion. TNH starts a new thread specifically about zombies and it turns into a publishing thread.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:32 PM:

This is because just as zombies in real life stagger and wander from side to side, zombies on websites stagger and wander from topic to topic.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Agatha's early success at reanimation.

#53 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Ethan @ 20

You talked about Buffy so consistently, intelligently etc., that I got curious, decided to rethink my kneejerk judgement from ten years ago (vampires? Funny instead of Gothy? Give me a break!), and nudged a roomie to hook me up with the first season. Just did the opening two parter as a break before finishing my last final for the quarter and what I have to say in response is brief.

I hate you all.

#54 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 09:45 PM:

And that's before they really get their act together. It gets better.

#55 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 09:50 PM:

anaea #53: Neener neener. We win! Weirdly, that seems to be going around--two of my friends recently started watching season 1 and shuffled (non-zombie like) up to me to mumble "you were right."

ajay & Xopher 50-51: As I've mentioned before, Romero zombies have a vague recollection of things they did when alive, but not why they did them or exactly how they did them. Seems Making Light zombies know they're supposed to be talking about copyediting, but not why or on what thread.

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2007, 10:09 PM:

Perhaps instead of an efflorescence of zombies we should speak of a deliquescence of zombies. Or, perhaps, we should focus on their dining habits.

Gurer'f abguvat fb zhpu znxrf guvf n oevtug ubhe
naq tvirf fbzr zrnavat gb gur qeno Znepu qnlf
(abg gb zragvba vafcvevat zr hagb gurfr ynlf)
nf frrvat mbzovrf va gurve shyyrfg sybjre.
Fheryl gurfr orvatf, jvgu gurve ubeevsvp cbjre
jvyy pnhfr hf gb syrr fpernzvat sebz gur jnlf;
gur oenvaf ner fheryl sbesrvg bs ur jub fgenlf
vagb gur ynvef jurer yhex gurfr orvatf qbhe.
Ohg, fvapr guvf vf n fbaarg, abg n onyynq
jr zvtug jbaqre ng jung ryfr gurfr orvatf rng,
jurgure gurl yvxr oenvaf fnygrq be hafnygrq,
jurgure rnpu zrny'f nppbzcnavrq ol n terra fnynq,
naq jurgure mbzovrf rng zrffvyl be ner arng;
abg gb zragvba jurgure gurve qevaxf ner znygrq.

#57 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 01:20 AM:

jennie@33: "A number of the best copyeditors I know maintain that they don't work nearly as effectively onscreen, and prefer to use traditional markup on paper."

When I edit my own stuff or do a pass on a friends' stuff, I invariably print it out and mark it on paper unless it's under 1000 words (and sometimes even then), and I spent 5 years working with SGML and XML markup (and its parsing from one or the other to HTML) in the online publishing field, and 2 years typesetting educational books with TeX. Professionally. Not mentioning miscellaneous other web experience, text- and data-processing programming, and similar things which have been my job over time.

Or, put another way: I have spent the majority of my adult life working in the field of automated text-processing, text-parsing, and markup, and I find text editing software to be the most useful invention EVAR for any kind of editing (other than coffee), but somehow, I would still rather print 300+ pages on paper and go through it manually when it comes to figuring out what the changes should be.

I have no explanation for this.

#58 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 01:28 AM:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
Out of the Valley of Death
Lurched the Six Hundred.
"Sharpen your stakes, my lass!
Aim for their hearts!" he said.
Out of the Valley of Death
Lurched the Six Hundred.

"Stake them straight through the heart!"
Was the brave girl dismayed?
Not though the Slayer knew
Someone had blundered;
Hers not to make reply,
Hers not to reason why,
Hers but to do or die.
Out of the Valley of Death
Lurched the Six Hundred.

Zombies to right of her,
Zombies to left of her,
Zombies in front of her
Ate brains and chundered;
Clutched at with rotting hands,
Boldly she took a stand
Against Six Hundred.

Brandished her stakes mid-air,
Kicking ass here and there
Wondering the hell where
Her Watcher studied;
Didn't that stupid git
Know that a zombie kit
Needed more chainsaws?
Still she fought on, unbit
By rotting jaws;
Zombie crud in her hair,
Bruised but unbloodied.

Zombies to right of her,
Zombies to left of her,
Zombies behind her:
"Bugger this for a lark!"
Rain flashed and thundered
O'er the desert park.
She ran back for an axe
To chop zombie heads with whacks;
No more live brains as snacks
For the Six Hundred.

Zombie confetti stained
The sand; good thing it rained
Into the Valley of Death.
"Looks like gazpacho."
The Slayer caught her breath
And fired her Watcher.

#59 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:13 AM:

Tina in #19: Nonital is prescribed to those suffering from inner-ear damage and/or other vestibular or proprioreceptive deficits. They take it and they can stand up straight again.

#60 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:12 AM:

Coincidentally via BoingBoing 700 Zombie names and their illustrations

#61 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:16 AM:

Andrew Willett #59.

At some point I will be able to pick myself up off the floor, and it will be no thanks to nonital. :)

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:34 AM:

Julie L @ 58... Heheheh.... Is the humor here sick or demented, or sick and demented?

#63 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:59 AM:

Fragano @ 56: I first thought you were trying to summon Chtulhu; I've never noticed that "terra" is "green" in rot13.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:22 AM:

"The brain... It does taste like chicken."

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 09:44 AM:

"The brain... It does taste like chicken."

But with the texture and consistency of grapefruit.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 09:56 AM:

"Brains. It's what for dinner."
(Cue to Copeland's Rodeo)

#67 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 10:40 AM:

jennie @ 33: If anything, I'm a bit surprised that some people in "real" publishing do use XML/HTML-style markup; the traditional symbols seem to be perfectly adequate for most purposes, and somewhat less subject to being misread, so why change? But I suppose it comes down to what set of symbols are most efficient/effective for a given task or environment.

The "rom" symbol does cause me a bit of a cognitive glitch since it appears to be specifying a font rather than a lack of italicization, bolding, etc.

I find it easier to edit/proofread something on paper than the same text on a screen. Or at least I'm better at noticing errors when they're on a printed page. Back when I was revising software manuals, and before that when I was producing thecal matter, it didn't matter how many times I went over text on a screen; I always found more things to fix when I read through a print-out.

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:04 AM:

Paxed #63: Hmm. That's a good title for it: Summoning Cthulhu.

#69 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Joel @ 67,

The publisher that used XML tags was a high-volume, high-production-value textbook publisher. They had an entire small department whose job was making sure that the processing worked.

XML markup for formatting was actually a pretty natural step for some of the old-time copyeditors we used; they'd all done markup for formatting on hard copy back in the days of hot lead type, or something.

What was different, at least at the Textbook Mills, was combining the copyediting and the markup.

In general, on-screen vs hard-copy editing tends to be one of those serial-comma vs not, Mac vs PC debates. For me, it depends on the kind of edit I'm doing. For a large-scale substantive (or heavy line) edit, where I'm going to make a dog's breakfast out of the author's words, re-organize the order of paragraphs, and delete significant numbers of words, working on-screen is much more efficient, tidier, and generally to be preferred. If I'm given the option, I like to do the first pass of my commas-and-verb-tenses copyedit on-screen, then print out a "clean" copy for my second pass.

I know people who do perfectly good work onscreen, and I know people who miss stuff on paper that they see onscreen.

In the end, I'm not fussy about how people get there, as long as the result is a clean manuscript that will make the author, the formatter, and me rejoice.


#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Actually, I find brains quite tasty when sautéed with some sage and green onions. Of course, I mean cow brains. What did you think I meant?

#71 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 01:03 PM:

I was. tjhis afternoon, looking for pictures of older American police vehicles, and trying to find out which insignia was used when.

I came across an official California Highway Patrol webpage, detailing the changes associated with the takeover of the State Police. One of the former State Police components is the Office of Dignitary Protection, which includes the Explosive Ordinance Unit.

What sort of laws do they pass in California?

#72 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 01:04 PM:

I had loaned a friend a catalog of medical themed novelties (don't know how I ended up on that mailing list), and she ordered a brain jello mold. She used it in some internally produced video for some product rollout (the mad scientist says "This machine has . . . BRAINS!", and throws open a panel to show a quivering brain).

You can order your own brain jello mold here.

#73 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 01:29 PM:

Rob Rusick wrote -
I had loaned a friend a catalog of medical themed novelties (don't know how I ended up on that mailing list), and she ordered a brain jello mold. She used it in some internally produced video for some product rollout (the mad scientist says "This machine has . . . BRAINS!", and throws open a panel to show a quivering brain).

You can order your own brain jello mold here.

The fact that there is a brain jello mold that you can buy is pure concentrated awesome.

That is all.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Fragano @ 70... Of course, I mean cow brains. What did you think I meant?

Isn't it risky to eat cow brains? Maybe Joe Lansdale has already written a western tale about comboy zombies whose brains are all pitted from Kreutzfeld.

#75 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Dave Bell @ 71
Laws that are not usually pyrotechnically demonstrative. (I've certainly wanted to blow up a few, though.)

#76 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:10 PM:

I'm not certain that Jell-O is the right thing to use for brains. Preserved brains are pretty held-together (okay, preserved *anything* is pretty held-together) but gelatin... I'm not sure about the texture.

#77 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Fragano @ 70 - I'm surprised you can still buy beef brains. When Alton Brown went to that restaurant noted for its brain sandwiches, they had switched to pig brains because of the whole CJD thing. I hope sautéed beef brains are not a regular part of your diet. Too much free verse might be a warning sign.

***

Re: Teresa @ 10, it's 6. (In a near-future SF novel) Re: "He had a stack of paper books on his windowsill." Change "paper" to "paperback"? that made me shudder.

Of course, in any non-apocalyptic near future, books are supposed to be largely electronic, with bound dead-tree versions assuming a market position similar to vinyl LPs. Even if it doesn't happen, like flying cars, the idea has enough mindspace that the reference needs no correction or clarification. Sheesh!

#78 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Dave Bell @ 71: What sort of laws do they pass in California?

I recall mailing my California state tax return to an entity called the "Franchise Tax Board". I couldn't decide if the state thought of me as just another Taco Bell, or if the board would review my return and then validate or repeal my right to vote.

#79 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Serge #74: It might be risky now, but back in the days of my youth (when my father prepared such delicacies as brains, lights, and balls) no one thought about it.

Hmm. Now I wonder if there might not be zombie cows lurking around. Mooooooooooooooo. Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains.

#80 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Larry Brennan #77: Not for a long time.

#81 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Larry Brennan @ 78

Property owned by utilities gets handled by the State Board of Equalization, who are also the sales tax folks.
On the other hand, in Texas oil wells come under the Railroad Commission.
Don't ask why; it just grew that way.

#82 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:54 PM:

P.J. Evans, #81: oil wells being administered by the railroad commission, that's not weird.

Your nuclear weapons program being run by the Post Office, now that's weird.

(It's also the Third Reich, but what the hell, this thread had to autogodwinate somewhere or other, didn't it?)

#83 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 02:59 PM:

PJ Evans @ 81 - By contrast, New York unashamedly has a "Department of Taxation and Finance". No question about what they do. Taxes.

"Franchise Tax Board" and "Board of Equalization" (which sounds like something from a Vonnegut novel) bespeaks a reluctance to admit that state services need to be paid for.

That denial seems like a western states thing. Washington has no income tax, but we have a very high sales tax, substantial property taxes, and crazy anti-tax zealots who keep pushing initiatives that would turn us into Guatemala within a decade.

#84 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 82 - Heck, the US's nuclear weapons may be in the possession of the military, but they're owned by the Department of Energy.

See, it's foreign aid. We just sent them some energy. It's their problem that they didn't put it to productive use!

#85 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:07 PM:

At least 'Franchise Tax Board' admits that it is dealing with taxes. My own suspicion is that is situations like this, they didn't want to create a new agency, so they stuck the work in one that sort of matched in some way.

The 'railroad commission' situation I think is because a lot of the land (and thus mineral rights) was owned by railroad companies (not unusual in itself in the western US). So, asking the guys theoretically watching over the RR to also watch the mineral rights and later the oil/gas stuff is a natural outgrowth. (Although by that reasoning, the medical licensing board would be regulating the zombies, yes?)

#86 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Brains au Beurre Noir
Serves 4

2 beef brains, halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)
water
salt
lemon juice or white vinegar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 French bread slices, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon capers, drained

1. Wash brains. Precook: In 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, place brains with water to cover. For each 4 cups water, add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes; drain. Cover with cold water to cool quickly; drain. Carefully remove membrane, being careful to keep brains in one piece. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. On waxed paper, coat brains with flour.

3. In 10-inch skillet over medium heat, in hot butter, cook brains until lightly browned on all sides, turning with pancake turner. Carefully place each brain on a French bread slice on warm platter. Sprinkle with parsley; keep warm.

4. Into drippings in skillet, stir 1 tablespoon white vinegar and capers; pour over brains.

LAMB BRAINS: Use 4 lamb brains (about 1 pound) instead of beef; do not halve.

Coulson, Zoe, ed. The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 1980.

There is, by the way, a full-color picture of the result. It looks like a brain with parsley on it.

I enjoy reading this recipe out loud to my friends.

#87 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Julie @ 58

Congratulations. You have a keen sense for finding rhymes for "thundered." Are you from Oz by any chance. I mean the one down under, not the abode of green witches.

#88 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Re: copy-editing in general, I've been wondering something for a while: What happens if/when an author grotesquely misuses a word, but objects strongly to changing it? "You're changing my authorial voice!", or something like that.

As an example, I'll approximately quote from a writer who gave a presentation recently. "He's out there in his space shuttle, and his life support system has failed. He's dealing with the worst thing a man can face: his own immortality. [...] So there he is, surrounded by the stars, overwhelmed by the sheer omniscience of it all."

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Joel 88: Do you mean the misuse of 'immortality' or of 'omniscience'?

If the authorial voice is going "Brek-a-kek-kek, co-ax, co-ax" any change is an improvement.

#90 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Xopher @ 89, both of 'em. This writer was particularly gifted.

I guess what I'm asking is who gets the final say on the text of a published book, if the author and editor can't agree on some mutually-acceptable wording? Does that depend on the contract?

(Beware of Greeks bearing... um... flies?)

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Hmm. I think this is akin to the principle of "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts." You're entitled to your own word choices, but not your own definitions!

#92 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Bruce @ 87: I've only made one brief(ish) jaunt south of the equator, but I also voluntarily consume Vegemite. I suppose that for greater antipodean verisimilitude, I should've used the spelling "arse" instead of "ass" in verse 4.

Meanwhile, the "Variety Meats" volume of Time-Life's "The Good Cook" book series has nine recipes under the main "brains" entry in its index, plus more detailed crossrefs to "lamb brains" and "veal brains". "Brain salad with eggs" turns out to be much less exciting than one might think, essentially "For each serving, arrange some diced poached brain with half of a hard-boiled egg on a lettuce leaf and coat with mayonnaise"; however, the Middle-Eastern recipes sound genuinely interesting, as do the Basque and Moroccan ones.

#93 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Paxed, #63: I've never noticed that "terra" is "green" in rot13.

See Open Thread 80, in particular this list.

#94 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Caroline @ 86

I can't imagine any zombie would have the patience to prepare such a dish. So I guess we can't expect to see the "Zombie Galloping Gourmet" anytime soon.

#95 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 06:49 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers):

So I guess we can't expect to see the "Zombie Galloping Gourmet" anytime soon.

I think the "Zombie Lurching Gourmet" is more likely...

#96 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:07 PM:

You realize, don't you, that if we keep adding to this thread, eventually we will have either discussed or referenced all of human knowledge. Of course, it won't be indexed, and we won't be able to find anything ...

#97 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Xopher @ 89

So publishing is yet another business where you have to kiss a lot frogs to get anywhere?

#98 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Re: Xopher @ 91, Humpty Dumpty: "Inconceivable!"

#99 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Newsday informs us, disapprovingly, that Nassau County has both a fire hydrant rental district and an escalator district.

They aren't opposed to Nassau having fire hydrants, and apparently renting them is not unique to Long Island: rather, the editorial writer doesn't think the county needs that sort of oddly horizontally sliced-and-diced government. (This is separate from the unsurprising fact that different cities and towns in the county have their own governments, which handle certain responsibilities, though others are handled by the county.)

#100 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Sorry, there was supposed to be a link in there: the editorial is at this overlong URL.

#101 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:08 PM:

We're missing a tie-in here to the "300" discussion, and we need to move fast. Quickly, before they trash the outtakes, we need to get them and edit them down into "Spartan Zombies Vs. the Persian Empire" with appropriate dubbing, of course.

#102 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Vicki @ 100 - Not surprising. I used to live in Great Neck, specifically the Village of Great Neck Plaza, within the Town of North Hempstead and Nassau County, each of which had its own government.

I was also in the:
* Great Neck Park District
* Great Neck Library District
* Great Neck South Fire District
* Great Neck South Water District
* Great Neck Union Free School District
All of which have different boundaries and separate tax assessments. There were others, but they didn't get broken out in my co-op's annual report.

I wouldn't be surprised if Nassau County had a Division of Fingernail Clipping Removal.

#103 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:33 PM:

And not a word about knitting. Typical.

#104 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 08:35 PM:

SpeakerToManagers@96 - Of course, it won't be indexed, and we won't be able to find anything ...

We have a home like that.

#105 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 10:18 PM:

Larry Brennan @84: See, it's foreign aid. We just sent them some energy. It's their problem that they didn't put it to productive use!

I'm envisioning what happens the first time someone *does* come up with a way to put a nuclear warhead to productive use on the fly.

*pop*

"Oh, shit."

#106 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Joel (88), it comes down to who has more clout, though few authors have enough clout to push through a truly ridiculous error

#107 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Bruce @ #101: Good lord, it happens that Charlie Stross did almost that movie on his blog months ago, well before "300" entered the picture. OK, it was a Macedonian zombie army in modern-day Afghanistan, but frighteningly close...

See Random movie idea

#108 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Julie L. @ 58, you have all my love for that final rhyme, which about took the top of my head off.

For some reason this whole copyediting thread puts me in mind of the Buggre Alle This Bible. Ezekiel Chapter 5, verse 5: Buggre Alle this for a Larke. I amme sick to mye Hart of typefettinge.

Dave Hutchinson @ 102, I'd put in a word about knitting, but I don't knit. I'm tempted to learn, however, just so I can buy this rather pricy kit and make "a knitted willy with realistic head and veins." (Also on the page: kits for a spliff, a lipstick and a grenade...)

#109 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 12:38 AM:

Can anyone recommend a few decent zombie novels? We thought we'd put up a display in our store to anticipate the coming zombie thaw, and to remind folks to break their Louisville Sluggers out of winter storage and tone up their machete arms. 'Tis the season to rid your neighborhood of undead before the summer heat makes 'em too stinky. Anyhow, suggestions?

#110 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 12:50 AM:

The Resident Evil tie-in novels and novelizations are actually pretty good.

#111 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 01:38 AM:

Bruce @ 101: I was deeply tempted during composition of #58 to change the number to "Three Hundred", but figured I didn't have enough background to integrate that, having neither seen the movie or read the graphic novel; the closest I've gotten to studying the Peleponnesian War is reading Gene Wolfe's Latro books.

AJ Luxton @ 108: Oh dear. I hope the top of your head has been successfully refastened and resealed to preserve freshness.

#112 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:26 AM:

Oh, did someone mention a lack of knitting content?
How about a Futurama brain slug knit pattern? The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art? And if one were to knit with intestines, what sort of needles would one prefer? I think my beloved Addi Turbos would be too slick, even if the intestines were carefully washed and prepared beforehand, but bamboo might be too sticky. I am only half joking - while I was an art student, dried pig intestines seemed to be the fiber du jour and I had to walk through more than one gallery that smelled funny (not at all like bacon, sadly).

#113 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:45 AM:

The proud parents of my devildaughter (being a lawyer, I can't very well be a godparent) reported to me that while out shopping, they asked her what she wanted to eat. Her answer:
"Brains."
She's not quite three.

#114 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:52 AM:

Clifton @ 107

Oh, so that's where my subconscious dragged that up from. Yeah, I was following that thread. Damn, I'm going to have to send my unconscious mind back to school to reinforce that lesson about filing off serial numbers.

#115 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:53 AM:

CE Petit #113: I don't usually like kids, but I think I like your devildaughter.

Zombie books: I don't actually know, which is odd considering that I a) love books and b) love zombies, but I've been hearing really good things about World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks--though I wouldn't consider it an authority in any way, as Brooks is also the author of the recently discredited Zombie Survival Guide.

Other than that, all I know of is a graphic novel about the British royal family and zombies that I can't quite recall the name of that's also meant to be good. Maybe, considering who I am, I should start reading books about zombies.

#116 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 03:03 AM:

Charlie Stross,

You seem to be the goto guy for undead fiction (and wouldn't Edsger Dijkstra's zombie come after you for that!). So what happens when a medusa is zombified? Seems like total disintegration is the only sure cure.

#117 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:01 AM:

Julie L. @ 111: I made sure to get all the little marbles back in.

Oh -- has anyone here taken a look at Urban Dead?

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:27 AM:

How about a zombiethoven?

(from Album: Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album )

Beethoven's gone, but his music lives on,
And Mozart don't go shopping no more.
You'll never meet Liszt or Brahms again,
And Elgar doesn't answer the door.
Schubert and Chopin used to chuckle and laugh,
Whilst composing a long symphony,
But one hundred and fifty years later,
There's very little of them left to see.

They're decomposing composers.
There's nothing much anyone can do.
You can still hear Beethoven,
But Beethoven cannot hear you.

Handel and Haydn and Rachmaninov
Enjoyed a nice drink with their meal,
But nowadays, no one will serve them,
And their gravy is left to congeal.

Verdi and Wagner delighted the crowds
With their highly original sound.
The pianos they played are still working,
But they're both six feet underground.

They're decomposing composers.
There's less of them every year.
You can say what you like to Debussy,
But there's not much of him left to hear.

Claude Achille Debussy-- Died, 1918.

Christophe Willebald Gluck-- Died, 1787.

Carl Maria von Weber-- Not at all well, 1825. Died, 1826.

Giacomo Meyerbeer-- Still alive, 1863. Not still alive, 1864.

Modeste Mussorgsky-- 1880, going to parties. No fun anymore, 1881.

Johan Nepomuk Hummel-- Chatting away nineteen to the dozen with his mates down the pub every evening, 1836. 1837, nothing.

#119 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:48 AM:

Teresa, 106: So who decides?

When I send my copyedit back marked "stet" all over, and in some cases stamped "stet" all over with my little stet stamp and great vehemence, who then adjudicates?

If it's you, that's OK, but I don't see how you could possibly have time.

If it's a dispassionate panel of neutrals, that's also OK, but I don't know how the publishers could afford one.

If it's the same copyeditor who has tried to bland everything down to NYTimespeak and reverse the meaning of my sentences, this is worrying, though I assume it isn't the case because I do read the galleys.

#120 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 09:33 AM:

Jo 119: Note to anyone who might want to get me a gift: I now voraciously crave a stet stamp, and will never buy one for myself.

#121 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 10:40 AM:

I am now imagining an author saying "Stet" to the copy-editor in the style of Pulp Fiction

#122 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 11:43 AM:

I think that one says 'stet' with more authority when wearing a stetson.

#123 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 12:00 PM:

#121: "Say 'stet' again. I dare you. I double dare you, motherfscker. Say 'stet' one more goddamn time."

#124 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 12:26 PM:

If only dealing with copy-edits was that simple ...

Let me give you a scenario:

A Very Good Friend Of Mine[*] is a British writer, selling their novels to a US publisher. They are subsequently copy-edited by an American copy editor and then republished in the UK without further editing.

Normally they write in American English and the copy edits are done in American English, so everything's fine. But they have just handed in a novel set in Scotland, in the near future, and it's written in .. well, it's written in what they expect to be a near-future Scottish English vernacular.

What does the copy editor do?

The copy editor does the obvious, logical thing and goes to the OED and their book of British English usage, and attempts to canonicalize everything to correct British English usage.

Except ...

Over here on Airstrip One, we consume a lot of American English media products. We're therefore bilingual (at the reading stage) in American English and British English. We understand "elevator" means "lift", "station wagon" means "estate car", and so on. We are also creepingly subject to the syndrome the Academie Francaise keeps yammering about, namely the uptake of foreign usage and words -- which we use whenever we feel like it, without guilt.

Scottish English is not British (English) English. It's got unique words of its own, and differing usage of some shared words. In some cases, the use is closer to American English than British English ... and in some cases it isn't.

Finally, the British Author is used to writing for an American audience and therefore uses Americanisms when some of their compatriots would not do so.

So: the British writer who is used to writing in American English has submitted a Scottish English novel containing both (a) intentional Americanisms and (b) accidental Americanisms, not to mention Scottishisms, to an American copy-editor who has to second-guess their intentions, before the novel goes into print in the United States and ultimately the UK.

Who decides what's right here?

I dunno, but one thing's clear -- the author owes the copy editor a bottle of Scotch.


[*] Chatham House rules, okay?

#125 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Charlie Stross in #124 writes:

Who decides what's right here?

I dunno, but one thing's clear -- the author owes the copy editor a bottle of Scotch.

I am always profoundly grateful when an author sends me a note with a heads-up about terms, dialect, special names, etc. Sometimes they include a list, but even a blanket statement about what they're doing is very helpful.

It may seem odd . . . but copy editing and reading is different from reading reading.

#126 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Somewhere way back on this thread, a woman who loses a leg to a zombie and then replaces the missing limb with a nasty-looking rifle, instantly made me think of Heather Mills McCartney. (Have you seen that ad for her on the next season of "Dancing With the Stars"?)

#127 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Jo Walton, #119: "Teresa, 106: So who decides? When I send my copyedit back marked 'stet' all over, and in some cases stamped 'stet' all over with my little stet stamp and great vehemence, who then adjudicates?"

As your editor, I do, and my tendency is to rule in favor of the author most of the time. It's their book.

I'm not an absolutist. I've overruled authors' stets, but only rarely. More commonly, further down the line, proofreaders, sluggers, and production editors have sometimes spotted flat-out errors that the copyeditor, the author, and I all missed--for instance, whole words left out of sentences, obviously by accident. In those instances, particularly when time is short, I've silently made the correction. It hasn't been an issue yet.

But leaving aside these occasional exceptions, by and large I'm the guy saying, no, we won't be making that change because the author doesn't want it and it's the author's book.

#128 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Regarding Charles Stross's #294, I recently had occasion to set down my own thoughts about copyediting British novels for American publication. These notes don't address the details of Charlie's project, but I think they provide a reasonable starting point:

Americanize spellings. "Metre" should become "meter," "recognise" should become "recognize," etc. However, do not Americanize spellings of proper names. The British Labour Party should not become the "British Labor Party."

The British hyphenate many compounds that we render as single words. Americanize these, generally speaking. Similarly, "co-operate" should become "cooperate," etc.

Don't change actual words. "Lorry" and "loud-hailer" shouldn't be changed to "truck" and "megaphone," in either narrative or dialogue.

British idiomatic usages such as "in hospital," "at university," etc., should be changed only carefully, and never in dialogue.

Remember that usage in dialogue is privileged. If characters make subtle grammatical errors in speech, be very careful before "correcting" them. Query. Remember also that usage in quoted written material (letters, e-mail, weblog entries, etc) is similarly privileged. For instance: It's fine to correct "OK" to "okay" in narrative. It is flat-out wrong to do it to a quote from a letter or an e-mail.

Conversely, however, cast a critical eye on dialogue spoken by American characters, and be alert to instances of them talking like Brits. Query such instances, of course.

Be alert to dialect, and be knowledgeable about it. For instance, a Scottish character may say "I've no had aught to do wi him." Do not change "no" to "not" and "wi" to "with."

Remember that most speakers of British English use "got" and "gotten" in subtly different ways than Americans do. Correct this in narrative when you must; leave it alone in dialogue and other privileged forms.

Before downcasing words referring to geographical features, check whether they are proper names. Do not, for instance, downcase "Highlands," "Borders," etc.

Capitalization of governmental terms: While it's fine to downcase "government" when referring to, for instance, the US government, in Britain the term "Government" means the leadership of the current party in power in Parliament, and it takes a cap. Terms such as Prime Minister, Home Secretary, etc., generally take a cap, so long as they're referring to a specific Home Secretary, and this is true whether or not that official is named. "Member" as in "Member of Parliament" is always capped. The term "Executive", used to refer to local government boards, is always capped.

#129 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:15 PM:

A propos of PNH's #128: It is possible for the occasional jarring bit to get past the best of copy-editors (for instance, an American character created by a British writer saying 'get sorted', or a knighthood causing one to be elevated to the House of Lords). Over many editions of one standard textbook in comparative politics, for example, the House of Lords is referred to as 'Lords' (as in 'life peers are appointed to Lords') which is particularly jarring as 'Lord's' is the cricket ground of the MCC.

#130 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:28 PM:

P.S. First person is a special case of dialogue.

Signed,

Rewrote whole paragraphs of first person to avoid any suggestion of "gotten" ever being appropriate in any circumstances.

#131 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:32 PM:

One of the former State Police components is the Office of Dignitary Protection, which includes the Explosive Ordinance Unit.

What sort of laws do they pass in California?

Dunno, but there's a sign on the University of Warwick campus that suggests visitors are permitted to inspect the University Ordnances at the gatehouse upon request.

#132 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Hell, it even says so on their web site.

#133 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 04:47 PM:

And while I'm on the subject of strange signs, I can only imagine the sign printer's reaction when they received their latest order from the nearby shopping centre's management.

"Just the same old boring signs," they'll have thought. "Ten mile-per-hour limit for the car park, no smoking signs, fire assembly points, disabled parking only, do not climb on the cannon. Wait... what?"

#134 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Charlie, I will see your Scottish English problems, and raise you English characters with Norn Iron writer and American publisher.

Please do not give my editor ideas about the bottle of Scotch, even if she has earned it.

And thank you, Patrick, for the comment about subtly different usage of got and gotten. It is not as simple as "British English does not use gotten", and I am minded to smack the next English person who claims that (some dialects of) English English and British English are identical.

(The copy edit is done, but I'm still feeling a little fraught.)

#135 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 06:19 PM:

PNH @128: those are indeed reasonable starting points. The only things I'd add to them is that it might be a good idea to be a bit tougher on a British author when they're putting dialog into the mouths of American characters ... and not to assume that the author's twigged that all of this is going on.

Copy editing is like management: when it's good it's invisible, but it makes everything flow more smoothly, and when it's bad it's painful. Luckily copy editing as a career seems to attract fewer nincompoops ...

#136 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Jo: I hear your first person rewrite, and raise you multi-viewpoint second person present tense, including at least one British character who uses "gotten", "0wnz0red" and "l8r" with intent.

Julia: Norn Iron? Aaaagh. (But wait, just wait until you read Ian MacDonald's new novel ...)

#137 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 07:21 PM:

pnh @ 127: And if the author is simply wrong, as in "that word does not mean what you think it means", but objects to having it changed..? I know that this is getting into bad-working-relationship territory and that there may not be a simple answer.

(My curiosity is prompted by recent messiness in my APA which hinges on unclear rules and people unwilling to try to come to a mutually-amicable resolution, and by my recently having read a couple of excerpts from a small-press-published book that had a number of those kinds of word blunders along with some serious problems in style. I know that the author and editor had conflicts, but I don't know if the editor was incompetent or was overruled by the author. These questions of process have been somewhat on my mind lately.)

#138 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 07:22 PM:

I recently read a novel in which an American character in San Francisco was described as "ringing up" another character, and at the end of the conversation he "rang off." Nope. And this was post-publication, not a galley or anything.

#139 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Julia, Jo:

Would one or more of you, and maybe anybody else who cares to take a hack at it please enlighten a USAian who seemingly never got any of the memos about "got" and "gotten"?

Abject kneelings and thanks ...

#140 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:50 PM:

joann 139: I've never gotten any of those memos, either. Or perhaps I've gotten them and forgotten.

Now I've got to end this rotten, misbegotten post about 'got' and 'gotten'.

#141 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:52 PM:

And there was just a commercial for Biography Channel's 'Dead Celebrity Soulmate' quiz/game. What is it about zombies?

#142 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 08:57 PM:

On UK -> US copyediting, what if a British author has American characters, in America and uses British-specific words in the narrative? Should they be Americanized? I'd say yes, and I'm thinking of a specific instance in which an American puts a kettle on the hob instead of on the stove. My brain jammed with cognitive dissonance, At least it wasn't an electric kettle, since they're pretty rare here. There were a couple more of these in the book (e.g. hire car for rental car).

Otherwise, I enjoyed the book and am eagerly awaiting the next volume in the series.

For a British edition, I'd say leave it alone, but for a US edition, Americanize. The Canadians would probably be fine with either, as long as they get their extra "u"s.

#143 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 09:49 PM:

@101:

We're missing a tie-in here to the "300" discussion, and we need to move fast. Quickly, before they trash the outtakes, we need to get them and edit them down into "Spartan Zombies Vs. the Persian Empire" with appropriate dubbing, of course.

Should it be "Spartan Zombies vs Persians" or "Spartans vs Persian Zombies"?

If it's Persian Zombies, this gives us a modification of a classic exchange:

Persians: "Surrender... your... BRAINS!"

Spartans: "Μολὼν Λαβέ!"

And we can make emphasized reference to the historical fact that Xerxes had Leonidas... decapitated


If we have Spartan Zombies, well, we can mangle a different line:

"Stranger, send a message to the Lakedaemonians:
Disobedient to their laws, and nature's, we do not lie here, but are marching to the agora for a bite to eat."


Speaking of which, when I was looking for the Ancient Greek word for brains (εγκεφαλος (enkephalos)), I found the following:

εξεγκεφαλιζω (exenkephalizô) : remove the brains.

κρατο-βρως (kratobrôs) : devourer of heads or brains

So there you go.

#144 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Larry Brennan, #142: "On UK -> US copyediting, what if a British author has American characters, in America and uses British-specific words in the narrative? Should they be Americanized? I'd say yes, and I'm thinking of a specific instance in which an American puts a kettle on the hob instead of on the stove."

I agree that this needs fixing, but I would say it should be fixed in the British edition as well.

Just as Scottish people speak the same way no matter where their readers are sitting, Americans don't put kettles on the hob, whether the reader is in Detroit or Daventry.

That's the whole point of my memo reproduced above.

#145 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 10:35 PM:

There's a pretty good mystery novelist that had a book partially set in Seattle. (The description of the Seattle reaction to those who move up from California and why was dead-perfect.) The paragraph where there was a Federal prison on Mercer Island caused quite a bit of comment--did the author mess up or did the copyeditor get confused on which island was which? (For those from other parts of creation, houses on Mercer Island range from upper middle class to "My God, They've Got Money." The Feds couldn't afford a prison there.)

#146 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 10:44 PM:

Owlmirror@143 gives us this Greek gem:

εξεγκεφαλιζω (exenkephalizô) : remove the brains.

Excellent. I hereby propose that the word 'disencephalize' should be a real word and used to described zombie (and Mad Scientist) behavior.

And 'exencephalized' is, of course, the state of the victim.

#147 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2007, 11:00 PM:

Tina, I prefer 'decephalate'. It feels more like a real word, if that makes sense.

#148 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:01 AM:

@#146:

I hereby propose that the word 'disencephalize' should be a real word and used to described zombie (and Mad Scientist) behavior.

Excellent indeed. I approve.

Igor: Marthter...
Dr. Von Übervald: Igor, wait a moment, please.
  [He puts up an umbrella]
Igor: Your new gadget ith working perfectly.
Dr. Von Übervald: Oh, good. Thank you.
  [Closes umbrella and puts it down]
Igor: Yeth, the dithenthephalither ith a thtupendouth thucthethth!!!!
Dr. Von Übervald [wiping his face]: You did that on purpose, didn't you?
Igor: I'm quite confident that I have no idea what you are talking about.

#149 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:16 AM:

@#147:

I prefer 'decephalate'. It feels more like a real word

Well, if it's real words you want, "anencephalic" does indeed refer to the condition of not having a brain, although that refers to a congenital condition rather than an induced one.

#150 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Owlmirror in 143 et seq:
I've always used "decerebrate" for that concept, because I love the way it can be used for so many parts of speech. "That decerebrate bunch of decerebrates tried to decerebrate me!"

#151 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:28 AM:

The crux of the get issue is covered in the Usage Note of this American Heritage dictionary entry:

http://www.bartleby.com/61/84/G0108400.html

#152 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:33 AM:

εγκεφαλος is Classical Greek for brain; and κεφαλος is head. So εγκεφαλος is εν-κεφαλος, "inside the head".

#153 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:18 AM:

Larry Brennan @142
The Canadians would probably be fine with either, as long as they get their extra "u"s.

Doesn't Teresa keep a box of spare vowels under her desk? Every time it runs low, Patrick posts a troll trap post so they can extract the vowels from the inevitable drive-bys.

(I realised in Dutch class the other week that they must ship the remaining vowels to the Netherlands.)

#154 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:50 AM:

I always thought the extra vowels went to Hawaii.

#155 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:49 AM:

Tina @154: Hawaii got the i's and some of the a's. The Netherlands got most of the o's and u's. Scotland just shifted every vowel one place to the right.

#156 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:03 AM:

The issue of nationality in language gets further confused when you consider that some Americans think in part-British and vice versa. I mean, I've never put a kettle on the hob in my gosh-darned life, but I totally ring people up -- and when I get something, I've then got it, not gotten it. (See the wikipedia entry for curiosity on this point.) I don't know why, but the subtler Britishisms creep into my vocabulary from whatever sources they can find me from, and stick around with a clinging sort of love. (I also find aggressively American styles less transparent to read than either British or that sort of neutral, in-between affect one gets occasionally with authors of one nationality setting books in the other.) Perhaps this can be ascribed to a surfeit of Beatles early in life?

I mostly deal with it by trying to avoid writing characters who talk too much like me.

#157 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 08:05 AM:

It gets further confused by the fact that widespread use of the 'net has meant more cross-culture communication. Talk to someone in another country (or even in another region of the U.S.) and you're very likely to pick up some of their habits.

I nearly invariably spell the word 'colour' with the u in, due to a great deal of e-mail correspondence with British publishers regarding images (not to mention having a close friend who lived there I discussed graphics with frequently). However I omit the u in 'favor' and 'honor'. Technically, this is an inconsistency and will likely drive some poor copy-editor nuts in the future, though at least global search-and-replace can fix this.

I am also inconistent about 'grey' vs 'gray'. I favor the former, but 'grayscale' has left my fingers far too many times for me to not sometimes type it 'gray' instead.

Also, it's "movie theater", but "seeing a show at the theatre" when discussing plays. However, it's always 'center' unless I'm referencing somewhere specific that spells it otherwise.

And while I would never say 'kettle on the hob' (and in fact would have to puzzle it out), I might well mention that, for instance, my ice cream has "chocolate bits in" (omitting the 'it' that would be more common for an American), which is decidedly an artifact of talking to friends from the UK.

(I blame 'bloody' and 'git' on BTVS though. All things must come back to Buffy!)

When it comes to my characters, though, it's rarely an issue. What a character would say is not what I would say. Frequently it is precisely the opposite of what I would say, but that's another topic altogether.

#158 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 08:47 AM:

"Honour?" I bellowed, working myself into a fine fury. "What do you Americans know about honour? You can't even spell it!"

--Flashman and the Angel of the Lord

#159 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 08:51 AM:

And is it really true that Americans don't have electric kettles? I find that very strange. It's like learning that you all still use washboards, or mangles, or typewriters.

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:22 AM:

ajay 159: They do exist in some environments, but typically for the home we use the stove (or range, depending on the dialect) to heat the kettle. If it's a gas stove this is much quicker than using an electric one OR an electric kettle.

Gas is better for cooking generally. In fact the command "reduce heat" means "move to a different burner" on an electric stove, whereas the heat going to a pan on a gas stove can be controlled with an astonishing degree of precision, as I discovered the other night when I was making a boiled-cream topping for a cherry pie (too much cream in too small a pan; next time I boil a pint of cream in a two-quart saucepan so I won't have to worry so much).

This has led to the expressiong "cooking with gas" to mean doing things in the best and fastest way possible.

Btw...in my dialect, "I've got it" refers to my state of possession of whatever "it" is, whereas "I've gotten it" refers to my completion of the action of obtaining "it." If I produce something myself, for example, I would use 'got' but never 'gotten'. Ordinarily I'd omit both and just use 'have'.

#161 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Ajay: some Americans have electric kettles, but they are unusual.

Joann: In my dialect of British English, the word "gotten" is utterly unknown, and the words "get/got" are considered to be slangy and inappropriate for use in formal discourse. "Have you got any milk?" is OK dialogue, but "Do you have milk?" is correct. I'd say this is also RP.

In other parts of the country, there are other standards. I am not going to write a character who speaks like that without checking, any more than I'm going to write an American without checking. When I wrote a couple of Irish characters in Ha'Penny I had every word of his dialogue checked by my Irish husband, and it was surprising how often it needed correcting. (And every word the copyeditor wanted to change of his dialogue had to be double-checked by Emmet too.) The American first person voice of the narrator of "What Would Sam Spade Do" (still online at Baen's Universe, and soon to be in the anthology Best of Baen's Universe 2006) got checked by two Americans... who sometimes disagreed with each other... before submission, as well as a copyeditor afterwards.

American English derived (a little while ago) from the dialects of assorted different parts of the UK. There's an interesting book about this called Albion's Seed. The oddnesses (to my ear) of US English are often because they have taken a different dialect usage as standard, or because they have retained an older form. "Fall" for autumn, for instance, has quite passed out of use. It may be because I've read plenty of US books all my life, but I've seldom(1) had any trouble understanding these different terms, and I tend to trust the reader rather more than copyeditors seem to be prepared to.

(1) Rutabaga puzzled me for years and years, but even then, I knew from context that it was a vegetable, if not precisely which vegetable.

#162 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:30 AM:

Nonital sounds like a drug. I'm not sure what it would treat, but I'm sure someone here will tell me.

Balance problems, clearly. Once you take Nonital, you can stand up straight again.

#163 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:32 AM:

#156: Hmm... I hadn't realized that "gotten" is "often regarded as non-standard" even in American English. I'm stuck with it though. My 6th grade teacher drilled it into my head. I'll have to keep this in mind too when I write English characters.
(I still remember reading that one character "knocked up" another character and wondering how he knew that it was at that very moment. Of course, I quickly figured out what it actually meant. Hey, I was younger then, not that I'm any wiser now.)

#159: I have a kettle that I heat with my stove (or would that be cooker?) I have an electric rice cooker though. Also, I know people with electric dispensing pots. (i.e., appliance which boils water then keeps it at a set temperature all day long.) Is that close enough?

#164 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:36 AM:

...aaaand I should have known someone would come up with it before I did. (The use of Nonital, that is.) This is what I get for not reading on the weekends.

#165 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Jo 161: I might speculate that the relative abundance of deciduous trees in North America may help account for our retention of 'fall' as an alternate word for 'autumn'. We notice a lot more things falling that time of year!

Have you noticed that all seasons have six-letter names? Autumn also has a four-letter name, as mentioned above; I have proposed four-letter names for the other seasons as well, but the only one I really like is 'rise' for spring. ("At the rising of the King's loins, the vines rise up and the fields rise up; at their mighty rising, all the desert fills with green, like unto a living garden.") 'Heat' for summer and 'cold' for winter are rather lackluster in my opinion.

#166 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:13 AM:

Jo, #161: You also shouldn't count on Americans to know what RP stands for. (I do, but I'd bet lunch there are readers here who don't.)

#167 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Jo Walton (161): I'm an American, and I'm still not sure what exactly a rutabaga is, other than some kind of vegetable.

I read enough British children's books as a kid that I don't usually have trouble with vocabulary differences in books. And it means I can never remember how many 'l's 'travelling' is supposed to have in American English.

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Mary 167: It's a fairly vile-tasting root vegetable, a kind of turnip I think. It's OK if it's pickled, I find, but mashed by itself? Yuck.

#169 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Some Americans use electric kettles. We have this one, which I recommend unreservedly.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Which is correct, "It's you and me", or "It's you and I" ? The former was uttered by Arlene Dahl's Scandinavian character in Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the latter was the correction immediately brought up by James Mason. Maybe his character was just feeling contrarian.

#171 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:35 AM:

A.J. Luxton (#156): Perhaps this can be ascribed to a surfeit of Beatles early in life?

Well, they did spearhead the British Invasion! I was hopelessly Anglophile in my mid-teens, though the main remnants of that now are an addiction to watching tennis and doing cryptic crossword puzzles (where I generally need all those extra "u"s, and "s" not "z").

#172 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:56 AM:

The reason electric kettles didn't catch on in America is very simple; 110 volt mains electricity. To boil a litre of water reasonably rapidly takes about 1.5-3 kilowatts. On a 230 volt European mains ring that's no problem, it only draws 6-10 amps -- but a 110 volt American mains supply you're going to be pulling a lot more current if you want the same power output. So either the kettle takes twice as long to boil, or there's more chance of things going "bang", poor quality wiring combusting, and so on.

Question: am I right in guessing that portable electric fan heaters are also relatively rare in the US?

#173 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 10:59 AM:

#143 ::: Owlmirror found:

κρατο-βρως (kratobrôs) : devourer of heads or brains

I remember one droll line from Hambly's Dark Hand of Magic, where Sun Wolf comes across an summoning spell for "the eater of heads" and remarks on the corresponding absence of a spell to make it go away.

(Hmm. Maybe it was the thaumaturgical equivalent of a trollbait blog post. I suppose even demons must have political parties...)

You wouldn't have a reference where κρατο-βρως appears would you? I recall Hambly had some classical education (Latin?) and I've been curious about her source materials for some time.

#174 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Charlie @ 172, I see portable electric heaters, in various styles, not infrequently. I haven't spent enough time in the UK/Europe to judge relative commonness. I'm under the impression that central heating is more common in North America than in Europe, which would reduce the need for portable heating units apart from any question of effectiveness.

#175 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:14 AM:

#159, ajay: And is it really true that Americans don't have electric kettles?

My household happens to possess a Russell Hobbs, but there's a long story behind that, involving a RH factory tour. More American HHs of my acquaintance own (Japanese) automatic rice cookers than own (British) electric kettles.

Generally, we don't bother with electric kettles because our wimpy 110v mains make them no faster than boiling water on the stove.

Oops, I said "mains". Britishisms do creep in, don't they?

Me, I blame a steady diet of Monty Python.

(And on preview: Charlie Stross beat me to it. Damn.)

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Charlie @ 172

Russell Hobbs makes tea kettles for export that work at 110 volts. I've been using one for several years. No problems yet: it's a grounded cord, and the electricity bill hasn't gotten noticeably larger.

#177 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Charlie @ 172 - Perhaps the voltage is the reason that electric kettles didn't catch on, but I doubt it. I think it has more to do with the American preference for coffee over tea. I like electric kettles, but I just don't have the counter space for one, whereas my old-fashioned kettle just sits on the stove 24/7, ready to go whenever I want it. Besides, a stovetop looks naked without a kettle on it.

I did, however, once own an electric kettle when I had an office without any other means of boiling water. We also kept a moderate stock of leaf teas to impress clients with. The kettle worked fine, but the next one I buy will beep when it's done.

Xopher @ 160 - It depends on the stove. I've used gas ranges that take forever to boil water, yet my ancient (circa 1975) electric range boils a couple of quarts of water really quickly.

Mary Aileen @ 167 - Rutabaga is also known as yellow turnip, and it's a softball-sized root vegetable, usually coated with wax for market. Ignore Xopher - they're delicious steamed and mashed with butter salt and pepper.

JC @ 163 - Electric rice cookers rule. I think that the word "cooker" got stuck on them by Hong Kong Chinese, who made them a common appliance in stores. (Or at least that's how I became familiar with them, which is probably East Coast bias.)

#178 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:38 AM:

#71: Peter Watts's excellent _Blindsight_ has a single most unfortunate typo in it:

`_Theseus_ was stockpiling ordinance.'

Laws! Made out of antimatter!

#179 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Xopher (168) and Larry Brennan (177): Thank you. I thought they were something vaguely turnip-like, but it's nice to have that confirmed.

(And Xopher, it's 'Mary Aileen' please. Thank you. :)

#180 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:53 AM:

Jo #161:

Thanks, that's all quite clear.

(Except for the part about rutabagas. I don't believe I've ever seen one either, even socially. The only context I have for them is Carl Sandburg.)

I think the thing to take away from the dialect/whatever discussion is that we're probably more likely to notice words that other people use that we do not; words that we use that you don't sort of get ignored. You'll notice me saying "got", I'll notice you saying "whilst", and we'll probably ignore each other *not* saying things that are our own favorite constructions.

#181 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:55 AM:

Patrick #166:

As the target of Jo's discussion, I've been well up on the meaning of RP for at least as long as they've been showing "Masterpiece Theatre".

#182 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:57 AM:

@173:

You wouldn't have a reference where κρατο-βρως appears would you?

Alas, while Perseus has a well-cross-referenced corpus of classical texts, they do not appear to have any link for the word other than as an entry in the Liddell-Scott Lexicon:

κρατοβρως

I see now that it says "Lyc. 1066", which the abbreviation list indicates means Lycophron. I have to assume that the text referred to is not in the corpus. It would take more time than I have now to do more research.

#183 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Charlie #172:

I own an electric fan heater (made in Italy) but rarely use it anymore. It was a necessity in the last house, which had a rather minimal wood floor over an all-too-well-ventilated crawl space; my desk was over the coldest spot in the house. I never regarded the object as entirely safe, and it did in fact once try to melt the rag rug. And it seemed to use up a phenomenal amount of electricity.

#184 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:06 PM:

Xopher #160:

My experience is that an electric stove is much faster than gas for water-boiling, particularly when you get up into the half-a-stockpot amounts I use for pasta.

#185 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Most American households have electric coffee makers. They are likely to have an electric kettle only if they drink a lot of tea. Also, most households have a microwave and if they need a cup of hot water they might just nuke it.

American house wiring is built to handle a lot of amps. Maybe not the older houses with post and tube wiring; a typical circuit will be fused for ten or at most fifteen amps, and I've seen some at five. To make it worse, a lot of old houses will have only a couple of circuits. My parents' house used to be wired that way. They could run an electric heater or vacuum, but not both at the same time. By comparison, my place was built in the '80s and has service for 150 amps total. Everything is on breakers. The outlets are on eight circuits at twenty amps each. There are also four circuits just for lighting, at fifteen amps each. Last but not least are the circuits for the electric stove and the dryer, which are 220V at up to 50A and 30A respectively. It adds up to 300A of capacity at the breaker panel, but we could use only half of that before tripping the big breaker at the meter. And we'd have to try pretty hard to do that. The basic unit of "sucks a lot of juice" is the hairdryer, which is typically 1500W. A microwave is about the same, as is a large vacuum cleaner. Since our household includes an anglophilic tea drinker, we have a very nice Cuisinart electric kettle and it is 1500W. My parents with their old wiring could run two hairdryer units simultaneously, one on each side of the house, without blowing a fuse. (They have new wiring now and it is much nicer, thank you.) At my house, we could run eight hairdryer units simultaneously, as long as we were careful to plug them into different circuits. This is way beyond what we actually need. It did give me an image, however, of trying to vacuum while drying my hair and boiling water.

#186 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:15 PM:

Serge 170: It depends who you're talking to. There are a few people who claim that their native dialect has "it is I" and so forth, but they're on the order of the fraction of the Indian population who claim their native language is Sanskrit (and their status as naïve speakers is dubious). In most colloquial speech, the verb 'is' is grammatically transitive and takes objective case in pronouns ('me', 'him', 'her', 'us', 'them').

This is descriptive grammar (i.e. based on observation of naïve speakers); prescriptive grammar (some self-appointed authority trying to dictate what should be used) takes the opposite view.

What is ALWAYS true is that the 'and' makes no difference, that is, the case effect of the verb is not blocked by the conjunction. If you'd say "It's me," you should also say "It's you and me." If you want to sound like a native speaker, I recommend that you do. (Less controversially, you know you'd say "for me," so you also know you should say "for you and me.")

You will hear people saying "between you and I," and other, similar abominations; their speech has been contaminated by incomplete exposure to the prescriptivists. This is called hypercorrection, and it most commonly presents as a phobia of using the word 'me', to the point where 'I' is substituted when even prescriptive grammarians agree 'me' is called for.

#187 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:18 PM:

"I still remember reading that one character "knocked up" another character and wondering how he knew that it was at that very moment. Of course, I quickly figured out what it actually meant."

In British English (or at least my dialect thereof) "Bob went round to Alice's house and knocked her up" can mean either "Bob got her out of bed" or "Bob got her into bed" (in fact, pregnant).

This sort of thing is the cause of the Scourge of Music Hall Humour, which made living in Britain between 1900 and 1975 such a grim and hopeless experience. (See Blackadder.)

No one's actually said what RP is: Received Pronunciation. "Proper" English.

Thanks for the explanation on why electric kettles are rare in the US.

Laws! Made out of antimatter!

"ULTIMA RATIO REGUM" is the phrase that comes to mind...

#188 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:23 PM:

thanks Owlmirror!

#189 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Mary Aileen 179: my apologies. My practice is to use first names only; my error came when my brain decided to use everything up to the first space as your first name. I'm aware that 'Mary Aileen' is your first name; I just goofed. Again, my apologies.

joann 184: That may be so. I rarely have occasion to boil that amount of water; I would suggest that the additional time it takes to get an electric burner up to its maximum heat-delivery capacity is not significant when a large quantity of water is being heated; heating two cups of tea-worth is a different equation.

AND I'd point out that when your pasta pot boils over, you have to move it to stop the process (opening it and fanning or blowing across the top may also help); on a gas stove, I turn it off and it stops boiling instantly. This is safer, because I don't have to lift a stockpot of boiling water (I'm quite aware that gas stoves do have some safety risks not shared by electric ones).

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Xopher @ 186... Thanks. On second thought, I think that Dahl's original line was "If someone should be offended, it is me", which Mason immediately corrected to "it is I." Since his correction is incorrect, based on what you're telling me, maybe his character was indeed trying to annoy her character. (No matter what, it was a fun movie, in spite of their using iguanas for dinosaurs.)

#191 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:28 PM:

ajay 187: Received Pronunciation. "Proper" English.

Thank you for those quotes. It's only "proper" British English, of course. And in my opinion it's not proper to pronounce someone's name ma-RYE-uh when she's just told you it's ma-REE-uh, whether you're British or not. I've heard BBC announcers do this, and I think it's downright disrespectful.

#192 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:32 PM:

Oh, yeah, rutabegas! I chopped up a couple (no mean feat -- they're big and surly) and threw them into a crock pot with onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and a slab of corned beef. Gonna do it again, since corned beef briskets are on sale now.

#193 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:32 PM:

Serge 190: He was invoking prescriptive grammar. Correcting the grammar of a native speaker is always rude, even if you're a native speaker yourself and even if you're right; correcting it to the prescribed form that virtually no one uses in everyday speech must be regarded as calculated to annoy, yes.

When someone says "between you and I" I only correct them if I'm angry at them already and want to piss them off in return. Or if I'm in some way responsible for their English, which occurs rarely to never.

#194 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:42 PM:

What is the Mareeah-Maryeah thing referring to?

#195 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Tracie 192: I've just realized who you are! The knowing what to do with a rutabega tipped me off. I'm pleased to see Your Grace in this venue.

#196 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Several people mentioned electric coffee makers vs tea kettles.

It's probably true that the American preference for coffee -- or rather, I suspect, a tendency to drink a lot of coffee but only a little tea -- is behind the relative rareness of electric tea kettles, given that even people I know who rarely drink coffee tend to have an electric coffee maker on hand, but I don't actually know anyone outside of this thread who owns an electric tea kettle.

And when I want tea, I do indeed use my microwave to heat the water as a rule.

Charlie Stross@172 on electric fan heaters: Well, the concept isn't as uncommon as all that, at least, though most people I know who have a portable heater have a radiant space heater sans fan. I'm inclined to think it's slightly more common in the lower-class income brackets, but that's purely based on my own experience.

#197 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Oh, and sorry to double-post, but I indeed would not have known what "RP" was prior to this thread; my mind parses it as 'roleplaying' or 'roleplay' by default.

"It is I" is something that I would only say if I were trying to be funny.

Okay, I think I'm caught up on comments now.

#198 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 12:56 PM:

ajay 194: Not a person's name, now that I think about it. I was listening to a BBC piece about a theatre company allowed to operate with an astonishing degree of political freedom, given that it was in Singapore; a member of the company remarked that her friends were always asking when the Black Maria (mah-REE-uh) would come for her; immediately thereafter the reporter explained that the Black Maria (mah-RYE-uh) was a paddy wagon.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Xopher @ 193... Thanks. What about the musical The King and I? Different context, different rules?

#200 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:11 PM:

For sundry silly reasons, I find myself wondering what would happen if the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard encountered zombies. So many of the catchphrases would fit. Frazer would say, "We're all doomed," and Jonesy would explain how "they don't like it up 'em". But a series of catchphrases isn't a story...

SCENE: Interior, the Bank Manager's office. The Windows are criss-crossed by white paper tape to prevent flying glass from bomb blasts, with several sandbags on the sill and a Lewis gun propped in the corner. Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson, in their civilian clothes, are poring over an account book.

Mainwaring: This just will not do, Wilson.

Wilson: Indeed, sir. I have diluted the ink as much as I dare.

ENTER Pike, very excited, wearing his overcoat over his suit. One sleeve is torn off.

Pike: Captain Mainwaring! Captain Mainwaring!

Mainwaring: What it it, boy?

Pike (takes a deep breath): A mob of Nazi zombies is shambling up the High Street.

Mainwaring: Stupid boy! Why would zombies be in Walmington-on-Sea. Zombies! Have you been reading one of those trashy American magazines?

Wilson (Looking out of the window): There does seem to be something happening, sir. Pike, is that Corporal Jones down there trying to bayonet one?

Pike (Also looking out of the window): He had five pounds of brains under the counter. Do you think they tried to take it?

Mainwaring: Wilson! Pike! Stop gawking. This is a respectable bank.

Wilson: I wonder if I might have the Lewis gun, sir?


#201 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Different time. And there was also a movie called W.C. Fields and Me. Free variant in writing; almost always 'me' in speech, just as 'for' is never used in regular speech to mean 'because', but it's definitely used in writing.

#202 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Thanks again, Xopher.

#203 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Some of the difference between gas and electric stoves is that electric stoves apply heat straight to the pot, whereas gas stoves can have the heat flow around the sides. I have heard that a larger percentage of the heat from an electric stove goes into the pot.
I like gas better because in case of power outage, I can still cook. And I can tell when the burner's on.

#204 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Serge, actually Mason's character's correction was correct; "I" is always nominative in English, and can never function as an object. Also, the construction in questions is one where the second pronoun "it" is the first, and "I" is the second is made equivalent to the first by means of "is". So the statement amounts to "it" = "I" In this case, you must have the nominative form; if it were third person, you'd say "it is he" or "it is she". It's true that this sounds stiff to many modern Americans. My mnemonic for this is a phrase my father would anounce his return home from work with "It is I, Digger O'Dell!"

Wikipedia on Lycophron. The number may be the number of a fragment, or possibly a line-number for a verse.

Use of space heaters depends a lot of how effective your heat is; since we don't have a separate bathroom heater, we do use one (a type called a milk house heater, designed for farm use, in dairy barns and such) in there, well-away from the water sources. The cats adore it, and have worked out that the tub makes a heat reflector, so they park themselves right by that fixture and bask.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:44 PM:

fidelio @ 204... "It is I, Digger O'Dell!"

I think I should try a variation of that tonight. It sounds so much classier than "I'm hoooooooome!"

#206 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:48 PM:

I've been thinking of writing a story where Lawrence of Arabia dukes it out with mummified zombies (or zombified mummies). The Skiffy Channel would surely snap it up.

#207 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:55 PM:

Charlie Stross @172: Sounds like a plausible argument, but electric kettles are common in Canada, even though they use the same electrical standard as the US.

I've never seen an electric fan heater in the US, but I can only remember seeing one in Canada (belonged to my grandfather).

#208 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Xopher (189): No problem. If I hadn't been replying anyway, I never would have said anything.

In thinking about the 'got' vs 'gotten discussion, I realized that, in my idiolect, 'have gotten' is the past participle of 'get', and 'have got' is a colloquial phrasal verb meaning 'have'.

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Jo Walton #161: A rutabaga is a swede. Vile in whichever standard dialect it's mentioned.

#210 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 02:48 PM:

fildeio @#204: (regarding κρατοβρως (devourer of heads or brains), Lycophron 1066)

The number may be the number of a fragment, or possibly a line-number for a verse.

Indeed, it is even so. Following the link at the bottom of the Wikipedia page to Lycophron's Alexandra, we see, just before the paragraph numbered 1067:
"the land of the son of the dauntless boar who devoured the brains of his enemy."

I think we have found it.


Better yet, I see that there is an annotated version of the same text, which explains that:

10. In the war of the Seven against Thebes (Aesch. Sept. 415) Melanippos was opposed to Tydeus (ibid. 377). Tydeus was wounded by Melanippos whom he then slew. As Tydeus lay dying, Athena brought him a drug which was to make him immortal. But Amphiaraus, who hated Tydeus, cut off the head of Melanippos and gave it to Tydeus who opened it and supped the brains (Apollod. iii. 76)."

Hm!

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:00 PM:

"Shut up Mr. Burton! You were not brought upon this earth to get it!"

(Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China.)

#212 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:06 PM:

I've been thinking of writing a story where Lawrence of Arabia dukes it out with mummified zombies (or zombified mummies).

Charlie Stross sort of has prior art on that - 21 SAS versus Alexander the Great's zombie hoplites in Afghanistan. (My own variation: the Long-Range Desert Group versus the Zombie Lost Army of Cambyses at Siwa Oasis.)

#213 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:07 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 207 -- a couple of weeks ago I saw electric fan heaters for sale at Costco. They had a demo running and everything. So around here, at least, many people probably now own them. (I'm in the Southern US.)

And on cats (fidelio @ 204): The box for that fan heater had a picture of a cat sleeping next to the heater, which I thought was lovely. I have a convection space heater that I cannot get my cats away from. I caught June actually licking the thing last night. Luckily it's constructed in such a way that she can't lick anything hot enough to burn her, or live enough to shock her. I don't understand why she would want to lick it, though. Keith suggested that perhaps she loves it so much that she wants to groom it.

I also have an electric kettle. Have had it since I went away to college. It made tea do-able in a dorm room where no hot plates or microwaves were allowed, and the kitchen was three flights down. But then, I drink a lot of tea. I think most Americans drink tea rarely enough that they'd see no need for a specific appliance for boiling water. As someone else said, we all have coffee makers instead. (I traded in my electric coffeemaker for a French press pot. I rarely drink coffee, so it was a waste of counter space.)

#214 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Xopher @ 193: He was invoking prescriptive grammar. Correcting the grammar of a native speaker is always rude, even if you're a native speaker yourself

It's even better when a non-native speaker pulls this trick on a native speaker. Back when I was in grad school, I used to volunteer in the writing center, which focused on tidying up resumes and cover letters. There was one student from the PRC who would come in with very stilted, but correct usage and would always argue with me about the grammar. His biggest defense was his verbal GMAT score, even though his spoken English was barely comprehensible. I eventually told him to work with someone else. I never revealed my own GMAT verbal score, which would probably have bolstered my credibility simply because I was offended by him and wanted him to go away.

***

Fragano @ 209 - Swede? I've heard "rutabaga" and "yellow turnip", but "swede"? Where is this common usage, and is the derivation derogatory?

And they are most certainly not vile. They're delicious. Maybe you've only had them boiled to death, which frees the sulfury compounds.

***

Re: Space Heaters, I own two. They're cheaper to operate and more effective than the baseboard heaters in my apartment. Both have fans, one oscillates. Perhaps more people have them in climates where the need to heat is relatively low?

#215 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:18 PM:

ajay @ 212... Drat. Next I was going to write a sequel involving the Rat Patrol.

#216 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Variously from above: I always prefer "grey" to "gray", probably because of Tolkien's influence but also because the two different spellings correspond to two slightly different colo(u)rs in my head-- "grey" is paler with a faint blue undertone; "gray" is darker with a brownish undertone.

I have an electric teakettle, but also a thermos-like dispenser that the water goes into as soon as it's hot, which I guess makes for redundant backup gadgetude but is nice in winter for making arbitrary quantities (up to 2L, anyway) of hot water instantly available for the rest of the day.

And then there are trans-Atlantic cookbook variations; where The Joy of Cooking etc. might say "season to taste with pepper and banana extract", Mrs Beeton's instead says "add pepper and banana extract if liked", which always gives me a subliminal hint of "Noooobody likes me; I'll have to eat blaaaand foooood."

#217 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:34 PM:

#212: the Rat Patrol?

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:37 PM:

ajay @ 217... The Rat Patrol was an American TV show aired in 1966.

"...Set in North Africa during World War II, this series chronicles the adventures of a 4-man team of commandos within the Long Range Desert Group. (In utter defiance of historical accuracy, the team consists of three Americans and one Brit.) Armed with jeeps equipped with .50-caliber machine guns--and endless chutzpah--they wage a highly irregular war against Rommel's Afrika Korps. Their most common nemesis is Hauptmann Dietrich, though Dietrich and the Rats join forces from time to time against a common enemy..."

#219 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:49 PM:

The use of portable electric heaters seems to be increasing the States, to judge by the numbers of them I see in the stores in autumn. I conjecture that the correlation with economic class that Tine @ 196 mentions is caused by the fact that heating systems in apartment ("flat") and lower-cost house construction tend to use zone heating electric radiators rather than central heating, and so they tend to leave rooms or parts of rooms colder or hotter than others.

Of course central heating isn't always as efficient as you'd like. The house I'm living in now was built about 50 years ago, and is in a solidly middle-class neighborhood (then and now). Although it has central heating, we've had to get a couple of electic heaters with fans. The downstairs (notice how neatly I avoided the issue of how to talk about floor numbers when British and Americans do it differently?) is completely buried in the ground on one side; those tons of heat sink make it difficult to tune the hot-air registers so that both floors are comfortable. Since we spend a lot of time in the "family room" downstairs, we keep a heater there.

Incidentally, so far as I know, all heaters sold in the US these days are double insulated, and have breakers in them, and I think they all have mercury switches or some similar mechanism so that if they fall over, the heat is shut off. They're quite safe; unless you have faulty wiring or a substandard electric service panel, even if you throw your heater into a full bathtub, you'll just trip a breaker, either in the heater or at the panel.

#220 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Oh, I see. So the Americans not only won the Battle of Britain and cracked Enigma, but they also defeated Rommel in the Western Desert.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:52 PM:

ajay @ 220... Yup.

Sticking with WW2... How about Battler Britton versus Nazi air zombies?

#222 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Julie L. #216: Wow, I make exactly the same distinction in my head between grey and gray. How bizarre.

#223 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 03:59 PM:

And as to electric vs. gas cooking, while I would prefer gas myself because it provides better control and faster heating, our current house was never plumbed for gas. We do have a pipe under the street in front, but this house is somewhat of a remodelling project, and switching to gas has to wait until some of the more urgent and expensive jobs get done (and paid for).

We made the best of the decision when we replaced the electric stove that came with the house. I don't have a clue how the previous owners could stand it; there was no way you could bake anything in the oven reliably. It either baked the inside of a cake to done and burnt the outside, or you got a done outside and slurry in the middle. Don't even mention bread. Anyway, we bought an electric range with a glass top; it heats up quickly, and is much easier to clean than more stovetops.

#224 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:02 PM:

most stovetops, damnit, not more stovetops. Bad fingers!

#225 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Ethan and Julie L, I'm the same way. Gray is bright-- elephants are gray, because the sun is beating down on them and they're the same color. Grey is the color things turn when there's not enough light. It's less... bright and elephant-like.
A couple years ago, I wore a lot of gray body paint for Halloween. Even when it wasn't turning blue (and that confused *everyone*) it was gray.

Now, do you pronounce the two differently, in your head or otherwise?

#226 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:17 PM:

I have an electric kettle at home and another one at work (my workplace actually allows them - there are workplaces that ban them!*). I think part of the lack of popularity has to do with availability and price. I got mine at a Japanese department store (we have Shirokiya and Don Quijote in Honolulu) for about $12 each. The only other places I've seen them (major US dept. stores, specialty kitchen shops), they usually only have brushed-stainless steel fancypants $50 and up kettles. My sister has one that she uses for coffee. I think the Folger's coffee bags make inferior quality stuff, but there's a Japanese brand which, while pricey, unfolds into a little cardboard filter that you put on the rim of a cup and yields a very nice cup of coffee. My Dad uses his kettle with a french press coffeepot. The kettles we have boil water fast enough so that I use the kettle to heat up water for cooking, and I can do boiled eggs this way - pour water over egg to cover in a big mug, slap a lid or saucer on, wait 5 - 7 minutes depending on how soft you like it. Easy and safe for the kids - the teen has boiled a pan dry once or twice. Which is not as bad as the time I welded a non-electric kettle to the burner of an electric stove, but smelled (smelt?) worse.

Sure, you can microwave water for tea, but please don't serve it to me. The water doesn't get hot enough to make a good cup of tea.

*something about being fire hazards, although I don't think they are any more of a fire hazard than a coffeepot is, and those are standard equipment in most workplaces.

#227 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:18 PM:

ethan @ 222 and Julie L. @ 216

Now that's interesting. I tend to think of "grey" as slightly bluish and less than 50% brightness, while "gray" is neutral and at least 2 shades brighter. And I have absolutely no excuse for this since I spend several years working with color scientists who were developing color spaces for printers.

Although any Unix hacker who remembers the old X-window color names is probably permanently damaged as far as coming up with appropriate color names. Where, for instance, did they get "PapayaWhip", or "GhostWhite"?

#228 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Julie L.@216 (and echoing ethan @222): I never would have thought of it, but that sounds about right. Maybe it is a synthesiastic difference between 'e' and 'a'.

#229 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Bruce #223:

One of the houses down the street recently sold and has been undergoing all sorts of regrooving. I was somewhat bemused when a bobcat and other heavy equipment showed up, and dug a neat trench out to the middle of the cul-de-sac. The neighbor who Knows Everything told us that those houses, built earlier than the ones at our end, had never had gas lines because the developer cheaped out, having been caught by a local but severe depression right in the middle of construction.

(Incidentally, a couple of younger friends rented a house in which the electric stove had only two temperatures, off and 500F. The girl was delighted to leave, as she couldn't bake anything the whole time she was there.)

#230 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:30 PM:

I think portable electric fan heaters are, in some parts of the country, less to do with socio-economics and more to do with climate and age of house. In the part of the Bay Area in which I lived, many houses, even in very plush neighborhoods, built in the 1920s and 30s, did not come with central heating; none of them came with central air conditioning. (Of course, you could spend a potload of money on a retrofit, but mostly it wasn't really worth the aggro.)

I lived in one otherwise fairly cute (and certainly not inexpensive) house that had one gas wall heater in the dining room as its sole nod to domicilary warmth.

#231 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:33 PM:

"Gray" is metallic, "grey" is smoky/misty. I pronounce "grey" with a shorter, less harsh "ay" sound than "gray".

#232 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Mmm.
Definitely I pronounce grey and gray differently. (grehy and graaay). Internet explorer doesn't know what grey is in css style sheets, but Firefox recognizes both. (Or didn't, I haven't checked since 6.0)

"Grey" is a more subtle, refined tone - thank Tolkien for that. Gray is a generic, uncolored middle value between black and white. Possibly because I learned "gray" as a child, when the colors that came out of cans and bottles were bright and distinct in that wholly artificial way that only non-hazardous paints for kids can be. (And correspondingly, I learnt "grey" when I was 10, from that wonderful old man who wrote the books about the Hobbits. Unless I learnt it a few years earlier from the slightly more dodgy fellow who wrote the books about the Chocolate Factory.)

#233 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:37 PM:

mk @226: I have an electric kettle at home and another one at work [..] there are workplaces that ban them [..] something about being fire hazards [..]

Re: water warming fire hazards — by request, years ago (clearly beyond the statue of limitations) I brought a device designed to electrically warm a single cup of water to a friend in Ontario; it was not allowed to be sold there, but was still available in NY. It was a small heating coil attached to a cord, designed to sit in a cup full of water. Apparently this had been banned in Ontario; either the water could boil dry, or the cup could be knocked over, and then you'd have a fire hazard.

#234 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Diatryma @ 225, wrt "gray vs. grey": Now, do you pronounce the two differently, in your head or otherwise?

Probably not most of the time, but when I consciously think about the difference in spellings, the vowel in "gray" has a relatively flat, stable sound, whereas "grey" has a more glidey diphthong that starts out sounding like "gray" but then opens up as the mouth curls outward as if smiling. Or something. (IANHWLT: I Am Not Hip With Linguistic Terminology.)

Though now that I consider it further, "grey" seems to fall into the same category of pronunciation for me as the very faint Southern-type drawl I grew up with the DC suburbs and sometimes revert to when tired-- not much twang, but the vowels just go slightly floppy like starched linen wilting in mid-August humidity.

...so, any consensus on "purple" vs. "violet"? For me, they're another example of warm vs. cool undertones, which seems to be supported by the labelled color swatches at the bottom of the "a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple">Wikipedia article.

#235 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Larry Brennan #214:
See this

#236 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:00 PM:

mk @ 226 - Boiling water is just as hot out of the microwave as anyplace else at the same air pressure. There are two possible sources of difference, the first being the quantity of air dissolved in microwaved water being different than in water heated conventionally. The second is that the microwaved water may not have been heated to a full rolling boil.

FWIW, I never microwave water because of the risk or explosive boil-over triggered by reaching in to remove it.

#237 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Purple is strong and big-- as Kimiko at 232 said, a child color. Purple is what you get when you mix red and blue. Violet is very associated with the flower, which makes it weaker and paler. Flower colors feel weaker to me, even if they're supposed to be strong. The names are the same-- purple is all Ps and urp and that weird L at the end. Violet is... not. Could be cause and effect.
The delicate, pale woman dying of consumption wears a violet dress. Her overbearing husband who's already pinching the maid wears purple.

I disagree with many people on whether purple has blue undertones or not. I can't find a good fountain pen ink; the Noodler's Nightshade I got a year ago is *maroon*, or something very like it. The best I've found came in a disposable pen I haven't been able to track down lately.

#238 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:08 PM:

ajay @159: And is it really true that Americans don't have electric kettles? I find that very strange.

I discovered this little fact when I mentioned electric kettles on a predominantly-US chat room, and was met with the blank virtual expressions of people who had no idea what I was talking about.

xopher @160: Gas is better for cooking generally. In fact the command "reduce heat" means "move to a different burner" on an electric stove

Bah. I keep having to repeat myself, but I guess I'll have to do it again and again: this may be true of the antique technology some people still think worthy of installing. They should throw it out and get one of these. It performs every bit as well as gas, provides a flat surface to work with which is much easier to clean (in fact, you can clean it while it's in use -- pick up a pan and wipe a damp cloth over the surface, which will only be warm, not hot), and doesn't have the risk of setting fire to stuff. Only downside is you have to use steel-bottomed pans; aluminium or enamelled bottom doesn't work.

Larry Brennan @177: Perhaps the voltage is the reason that electric kettles didn't catch on, but I doubt it. I think it has more to do with the American preference for coffee over tea.

Being a coffee drinking with an electric kettle, can I say I'm confused and would appreciate an explanation of why stovetop kettles are better for coffee making? Or do I misunderstand entirely...?

#239 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Rob @ 233

That explains why immersion heaters are so hard to find any more. (I was looking for one last summer when going out of town overnight. I'd have preferred the hazards to the coffee-flavored water that I was getting from the hotel-supplied pot.)

Larry @ 236

I'll do water in a microwave, but carefully. Mostly it's at work, to get actually boiling water for tea (get maybe-hot water from spigot on coffeemaker, put in nuker, push 'beverage' button which cooks it for 64 sec).

#240 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Larry @ 236: There are two possible sources of difference, the first being the quantity of air dissolved in microwaved water being different than in water heated conventionally. The second is that the microwaved water may not have been heated to a full rolling boil.

The latter sounds most likely to me. The problem will be that the upper surface will be heated more than the rest, so you will get a layer of boiling water on the top, with cooler water underneath. Heating from underneath means convection will mix it fairly thoroughly and ensure you have an even temperature. Which is why your concern exists, of course:

FWIW, I never microwave water because of the risk or explosive boil-over triggered by reaching in to remove it.

Dropping a metal spoon into the water before removing it apparently reduces the risk of this happening, if you ever have to do it. I still wouldn't recommend it, though.

#241 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Violet is darker to me than purple is, because of the bitty scentless wild violets I picked around my elementary-school playground and (paradoxically) esp. the white ones with dark indigo streaks around their hearts; for me it feels pretty close to Private Reserve's tanzanite ink.

#242 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Jules @ 238 - Most Americans use electric drip coffeepots to make coffee, so the water is heated within the bowels of the machine and splorted atop the grounds by steam pressure. The use of French Press pots, top-of-cup Melitta filter cones or Chemex carafes is relatively rare. And instant is NOT coffee. So, most coffee made in the US requires no kettle of any kind.

FWIW, I usually make my morning coffee using a Melitta cone, since I'll only want one cup, and I'll want it to go, so I do use my kettle. Most Americans wouldn't know a Melitta coffee dripper if it bit them.

#243 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:27 PM:


This is called hypercorrection, and it most commonly presents as a phobia of using the word 'me', to the point where 'I' is substituted when even prescriptive grammarians agree 'me' is called for.

god. what about the people so afraid of using "me" that when they can't say "i" they say "myself"? shudder.

& it's not that "___ & i" is always wrong & "___ & me" is always wrong. it depends on whether they're the subject of the sentence, just like any other instance of i vs me.

on electric kettles: i've got one. i use it for tea, ramen, & coffee (instant) (yes yes, i like the instant stuff, but i also sometimes make french press coffee, for which i also boil the water in my electric kettle. so there).

i know i picked up the habit in israel, where everyone has one (& calls it a koomkoom, which i thought was kinda onamotapoetic of when the water's just about to come to a boil). when i came back to the states, it seemed like a really good thing to have in a dorm room (for the aforementioned coffee, tea, & ramen), so i bought one at a kitchen store. of course, the automatic shutoff broke after a year, so perhaps soon i will investigate this russel hobbs fellow.

i wondered, reading this thread, whether my electric kettle is faster than heating water in my stove or nuking it in a microwave. probably not, based on what others have said, but it's still where i boil things. boiling on a pot on the stove means you have to wash the pot afterwards, & you can't hear when it's boiled (i don't own a non-electric kettle). & it really wouldn't occur to me to boil water in the microwave. i would also have no idea how long to put how much water in. because even though i have one now, i grew up in a non-microwaving household, & don't totally trust it.

#244 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:34 PM:

larry,

The use of French Press pots, top-of-cup Melitta filter cones or Chemex carafes is relatively rare. And instant is NOT coffee. So, most coffee made in the US requires no kettle of any kind.

heehee. this was not posted yet when i wrote my post. i knew i was gonna get smacked down for using an electric kettle for my coffee.

#245 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:41 PM:

I've seen a lot of French press pots in stores (IKEA and Cost Plus come immediately to mind). There are a lot of Melitta filters in my supermarket, including the gold-plated ones, and I believe I've seen the pots too.

#246 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 05:52 PM:

Oh, and there's another trans-Atlantic copy editing hangup right there: you say "French press", we say "cafetière".

#247 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:08 PM:

PJ @ 245 - Lots of electric machines use Melitta filters. I'm referring to the little plastic cones that sit on top of a cup or carafe that you put a filter and grounds into, and then pour near-boiling water through. I also know lots of people who own French Press pots and never use them. (Personally, I don't care for press-pot coffee.)

But, for the broad swath of America, Mr. Coffee and its floppy basket filter is the coffeepot of choice.

Charlie @ 246 - Cafetière. That's a nice word; I'll have to remember it. Recently I got into a discussion on flickr about Crème Caramel vs. Flan. I think food words have the most variance.

#248 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Larry @ 247:

Like American praline and French pralin? (I've been browsing the French Chef cookbook (and hearing it in my mind in Julia's voice).

I know which gadget you mean. I've seen those too, sometimes. As a tea-drinker, I don't have to deal with them, but one of my workmates uses a French press pot for his tea (cafetiere doesn't work for that use).

#249 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:39 PM:

fidelio 204: You have explained the prescriptive viewpoint. Very few people actually talk that way. When they do, they're being stilted either for humorous effect or because...they're being stilted. There are, as I mentioned, a few people who have claimed to me that they speak that way naturally, but they are extremely rare.

In everyday speech, the verb 'to be' is semantically an equivalence (in some cases, though the one you cite is actually a dummy 'it', which has no direct connection to any sememe), but grammatically transitive. If there were no interstratal discrepancies, it wouldn't be English...or any other language, for that matter.

#250 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:51 PM:

#249 Damn, you're good, Xopher.

I do know a few people who do it consistently, and most of them are old English teachers.

I do it inconsistently, because I hate to misuse "me"*, but usually I just find another phrasing that avoids the stiltedness. Most of the time, it's not that difficult to manage that.

Of course, for Mason's character, and the period of the movie, it's entirely appropriate.

*I think this may be the result of being drowned in noun/pronoun declensions while studying Greek and Latin, as well as German. Once you get it pounded into you in a foreign language, it's harder to ignore it in English.

#251 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Charlie at #247

Dow Nunder, a cafetière (more usually caffetierra, because we have far more Italian than French immigrants) is a stovetop espresso maker like this.

A French Press is called a plunger here, but people are strongly discouraged from chasing each other around with the actual plungy bit going "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

I'm getting ready to move, having recently committed Mortgage, and so far, I've packed 13 coffee toys, if you count the milk frother we never use.

#252 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Larry @ 247... Cafetière. That's a nice word.

Of course it's a nice word since it's in French. (coughgagsplutter) Everything sounds classier in French. For example, there was this SF restaurant called "Le Trou". It means "the hole" and is the colloquial French for a "dive".

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Xopher @ 249... If I may quote Sir Lancelot, from the musical Camelot...

C'est moi! C'est moi!
I'm forced to admit
'Tis I, I humbly reply
That mortal who
These marvels can do
C'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I
I've never lost
In battle or game
I'm simply the best by far
When swords are cross'd
'Tis always the same
One blow and au revoir
C'est moi! C'est moi!
So admir'bly fit
A French Prometheus unbound
And here I stand with valor untold
Exception'lly brave, amazingly bold
To serve at the Table Round

#254 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:06 PM:

fidelio 250: Thank you. I do my best.

I know what you're talking about re foreign languages. Myself* I took German and Russian, but they (and Latin and Greek) have something in common: they're not English. It was trying to impose the structure of another language on English that began all this "don't end a sentence with a preposition" nonsense, as well as all the "don't split infinitives" nonsense and (I believe) the "It is I" nonsense as well, though I haven't researched that last.

Nice thing about Russian? The verb "to be" has a zero realizate in the present tense, and the language has no articles. So to translate "I am the lecturer" takes two words: "Ya lyektor." This, among other weirdness, kept me reminded that what I was learning didn't really apply to English. Didn't Teresa say something like "English language Latin that same thing not is" a while back?

#255 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:11 PM:

I recall coming across a website on The Rat Patrol, which had a lot of comparisons with histiory, trying the nail down how it might fit with reality. Apparently, a lot of stuff is done right, but the presence of the American characters, and the timing of events, strains history.

For 1960s Hollywood History, it comes across pretty well. Maybe somebody put the producer in the jeep and, while he was being driven around the locations, kept whispering "Kasserine Pass" in his ear.

#256 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:18 PM:

I just wanted to support miriam beetle's point: "The King and I" is perfectly correct (and idiomatic) if the implied sentence is something like "the King and I are coming to dinner on Sunday". Conversely, I might correctly and idiomatically invite you around to have dinner with W.C. Fields and me. Although you wouldn't be wise to take me up on the invitation.

But Xopher's comment on the verb "to be" getting used transitively reminds me of a time I spent trying to convince a friend (who has a PhD in phonetics) that "Spartacus am I" implied something different from "Spartacus is me". I was sure at the time that this had something to do with why "It is I" seems awkward.

Supporting the coffee/tea thing is the fact that when I lived in Italy I could not find an electric kettle (for tea) except in a specialist household appliances store, and even there it was hidden on a top shelf at the back. Coffee machines, of course, predominate. But the house where I lived in Oregon came with an electric kettle as standard, probably because my landlady was the former manager of a coffee shop and had somehow acquired a taste for tea.

(Italian: "Sono io". Which is no help at all.)

#257 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Fragano @ 235

Before seeing that link, I would never in a million years have thought of the concept of a turnip disambiguation page.

#258 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:30 PM:

#254: Russian's lack of articles and "is" makes it great for punchy jokes. Alan Bennett (who speaks Russian; National Service language school, like Michael Frayn) had a great story about visiting Russia with a group of British authors and trying to see Chekhov's grave. Unfortunately, it was shut, except for family members, and the caretaker was adamant.
"A oni pisatel'i!" (But these are writers!) their guide exclaimed.

"I tak? Ya chitatel'," the caretaker replied, unmoved. (So? I am a reader.)

#259 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Huh: a thread about electric kettles. I guess that's my cue to tell my 'Russell Hobbs' story.

My wife and I were in England (we're Americans), and a college chum of mine came out to join us for a week's vacation. So the three of us were knocking around the English countryside in a rental car, and we drove up to the gate of the Russell Hobbs factory.

My friend introduced himself to the security guards. My pal's name? "Russell Hobbs".

Hilarity ensues.

We got the red-carpet treatment: the three of us got a tour of the factory, AND someone from PR came down and gave us all the swag we could carry.

Their slogan then was "No kitchen is complete without a Russell Hobbs", a sentiment my friend still invokes from time to time.

#260 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Xopher @ 254

I think you're right about where the correctionistas came from, though I still believe that learning Latin helped me understand some of the structure of English that was never taught in school. Probably a course in Linguistics would have had the same effect with fewer negative side-effects.

And you really have to wonder how much of the formal structure of Latin we are taught in school was actually recognized (in something like the diplomatic sense) by erudite Romans, and how much was the result of classicists of the 18th and 19th centuries trying to cram every last irregularity into some neat cubbyhole.

For instance, I don't believe for a moment that any commoner in Rome knew or cared about the difference between 3rd and 5th declension nouns, but I can accept that scholars, poets, and stentors would be knowledgeable and care. But how many 4th declension nouns are there? Would any contemporary care?

Maybe more to the point, I think it's rather suspicious that when I learned Latin, quite some ago, we were taught that there were 6 cases; now someone has gone and added the locative (which is almost never used). This begs the question of who invented it.

#261 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 08:41 PM:

Serge @ 252: here in Portland, Oregon, we have a rather popular restaurant called La Merde...

#262 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 08:53 PM:

A.J. @ 261 - No. Not possible. Has the Health Department checked their food safety?

#263 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:29 PM:

The locative wasn't "invented" but, more, retrieved: it's a perfectly respectable old Indo-European case preserved to a fuller degree in some other languages. The form is identical to some other case forms in Latin, though, so it's a little difficult to remember, and it's used only with some proper and a very few common nouns as a holdover. (It's covered in a late Victorian Latin grammar I have, so it's hardly a "new" addition in our lifetimes). The same is largely true of the instrumental case.

As far as I can tell, the "formal" structure of classical Latin really was how people talked, and it certainly preceded the scholars of the eighteenth century, or even those of the sixteenth. (Mediaeval Latin relaxed a number of rules, and the "rediscovery" of the classical grammar was part of what drove the humanist disdain for the mediaeval writers.) The case differences are well-grounded in older usage -- the fourth declension gradually is assimilated to the second in later Latin; but the third, fourth and fifth declensions are all close parallels to the older noun systems shared with languages like Greek.

People wouldn't have thought in terms of formal declensions, of course, but they would have used the "right" forms, much as is true of Greek, which is rather more irregular (it has been said that there are only four completely regular verbs in classical Greek.)

#264 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:35 PM:

I hate coffee so I have a tiny electric kettle that I take to cons for tea (those filters in the coffee machines make water taste like coffee). I also have an iced tea maker (which really makes hot tea and then you add water and put it in the fridge, or have it make hot tea over ice). I have a rice cooker and a baby crockpot, too.

When I want just a cup of tea, I put a mug of iced tea into the microwave. I've been doing this for many years and never had a problem.

When I want a pot of tea, I use the kettle my mother got for her wedding, then a ceramic teapot with a ceramic infuser, then pour it into a Corelle thermos thingie with fancy pourer.

No caffeine today, though; I get an EEG tomorrow. I have to find a winter-weight top that buttons up the front, too.

#265 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Am I the only one who knows electric kettles as hot pots? That's what we called them in the dorms at Iowa State, and that's what I've used for coffee and tea water ever since.

Did move up from instant coffee to a Melitta drip cone about 20 years ago.

#266 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:19 PM:

Larry Brennan @ 262: The implied sense, I believe, is slangy -- "That restaurant is the shit, man!"

#267 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 11:48 PM:

Like several others, I wonder about Charlie Stross's explanation (#172) that electric kettles are less popular in the US because of the lower voltage of our mains. I became convinced of the virtue and convenience of electric kettles after visiting Avedon-and-Rob in Britain and Jo-and-Emmet in Montreal. I haven't broken out a stop watch, but it seems to me that they produce boiling water just about as fast in Quebec, East Ham, and Brooklyn.

The other thing that happened in the last few months is that I went from being a coffee drinker who occasionally enjoys tea to being a tea drinker who drinks coffee only when he can't get acceptable tea. Not because I was worrying about my caffeine consumption, but because I find that I feel better and think more clearly when I drink a lot of high-quality, well-brewed whole-leaf black tea. (My favorite: any good Darjeeling, no milk, no sugar, just straight.) Teresa, on the other hand, is allergic to some component of black tea, so she keeps the coffee flag flying in our bixanthine household.

#268 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:18 AM:

Diatryma #225: I think I pronounce them differently in some ineffable way in my head, but not out loud.

Julie L. #234: not much twang, but the vowels just go slightly floppy like starched linen wilting in mid-August humidity. This from the person who just described herself as "not hip with linguistic terminology."

#269 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:45 AM:

PNH @267: Bixanthine? There's only one hit in Google on that word, and it's in a medical journal. Nonetheless, I get the sense of what you mean. Does Teresa have issues with green teas as well? If not, you can probably share a pot of Jasmine tea or Genmai-cha in harmony.

I've taken up the tea thing as well, but not first thing in the AM. I seem to need to have a caffeine two-by-four whacked over my head to get going. BTW, Peet's makes some really nice blended teas. My current favorite is Major Pumphrey's blend, which clearly has some Darjeeling and some Jasmine in it. I have a shelf in my office given over to little Melitta (or Japanese-made Dixie brand when I can find them) filter bags and tea tins. Thankfully, the office hot water dispenser spits out water that's exactly right for green/black blends and Oolongs. The cow-orkers find the whole set-up amusing, but they never say no to a cup of real tea.

#270 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 01:39 AM:

The coffee / water heating thread is a nice lead-in to an interesting puzzle.

First, a confession:

While I really appreciate fresh-brewed coffee (and I have a grinder and a french press to prove it), for five days a week the first cup of coffee of the day is . . . microwaved. I make big pots twice a week and save the leftovers to "nuke".

There, I said it.

Until a month ago, I put my morning mug on a turntable in the microwave, set it turning, and set the oven for three minutes. This resulted in a nice hot cup.

Then the turntable broke down. Replacements of the same sort cost -- a glossy white platform about 1 1/4" high (3.2 cm) -- cost upwards of $25. Youch!

I lucked out, and found a turntable in a Goodwill thrift shop. $1.99! It is a low (3/4", 2 cm) platform of some very dense Bakelite material, and it is NOISY! Kind of like a cross between a sewing machine and a popcorn popper. It also vibrates like crazy.

Now, for some reason, mugs of coffee take only TWO minutes to heat up. A few seconds more, and the mug boils over.

My two hypothesis:

* The lower platform puts the mug in a microwave "sweet spot".

* The vibrations cause convection currents, allowing more efficient heating.

#271 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 04:30 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 270

You are to be congratulated on your courage in admitting your secret vice. Now I can come out of the closet and admit that I, too, make several pots a week (only 8 cup pots, typically), and nuke the remainder on days when there's any left. And I'm finicky about my coffee too: I buy whole beans and store them in the freezer, then grind them just before brewing.

Our last 2 microwaves (3, actually, if you count the crappy one the old owners left behind when they sold us this house) had a special button combination for "reheat 1 cup of beverage" that in all cases has been just about right, and that varied from about 1:30 to 1:45. They were all about the same wattage, so that's reasonable.

Patrick @ 267

I've always wondered about people who insisted they would drink only tea or only coffee. Coffee has been my morning fuel since college (and became vitally important when I did shift work, 4 days on, 2 days off, switch shifts, which is really an insult to one's bio-clock), but I've always drunk it straight, no milk or sugar, maybe some cinnamon for spice. Oh, and before the cost went through the roof and starting knocking down passing planes, I used to put a piece of vanilla bean into the grinder with the coffee. At the same time, I've always been a black tea drinker, and again, no sugar, no milk. When I have a cold and a sore throat I'll put honey and lemon in the tea, but that's not for the flavor.

What bugs me is that, as far as I can tell, most of the people who insist on only tea or only coffee are drinking something that is only partially either, at best.

But I have to agree that cutting down coffee lately has been a good thing for me. It's easy to lose track of how much you drink, and start acting like Too Much Coffee Man.

#272 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 05:12 AM:

ethan @ 286: But it's not really proper linguist-type jargon like talking about bilabial fricatives or nasalized triphthongs or whatnot.

Meanwhile, there's the anecdote (from a White House chef's recent memoir) about Prince Charles' visit during the Reagan years, when a request for tea was fulfilled in the manner to which the Reagans were accustomed. As the conversation progressed, Charles left the cup completely untouched until the hot water in it had completely cooled off. Eventually, Reagan asked him why he hadn't touched his tea, and Charles said that he hadn't known what to do with the little bag that came on the saucer, as he'd never seen one of them before.

#273 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 06:23 AM:

It may be just that Americans (for reasons of Patriotism) don't drink enough tea, and tea is sort of the killer app for the electric kettle.

#274 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 06:27 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #257: Turnips are very ambiguous, at least in my opinion.

#275 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:01 AM:

James@263:

it has been said that there are only four completely regular verbs in classical Greek

Do you happen to know which four? I'm curious.

I would actually say that Greek has fewer really irregular verbs than Latin, but most of the verbs have more roots that have to be memorized. I've never been happier to have Perseus's morphology-analyzing tools than when I discovered that the dictionary form of εμόλε is βλώσκω....

#276 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 07:18 AM:

I used to work my way through about three or four jugs of filter coffee a day. Then, about ten years ago, my stomach cried "uncle"! And I had to switch to tea for my caffeine.

My preferred form is loose leaf Irish Breakfast Blend, about twice as much as you'd normally use to make a mug, left to stew, then with just enough milk added to turn the liquid orange: absolutely no sweeteners in sight. The goal is to maximize caffeine extraction. Spoons blacken and corrode in this stuff; ceramic mugs are essential. Picture my horror at trying to buy a mug of tea at a hotel coffee stand in the US, only to be presented with a styrofoam cup of tepid water and a feeble Twinings tea-bag ...

I can just about cope with one or two mochas a day, and I'm okay on funky novelty iced coffees, but they tend to be a bit heavy on the fat and sugar for my taste, and they're too much of a pain to make at home.

#277 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 08:41 AM:

Jesus Christ, Charlie, this is worrying. I get through a full-size cafetiere every morning and afternoon at work.

(Readers may be amused to know I used a snippet of text from one of Charlie's comments on this thread to test part of a program I'm working on.)

#278 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:49 AM:

PNH,
our bixanthine household
oh, do help us out a bit on that one. There's precisely one hit* for that word on Google.

*a hit, a palpable hit!

#279 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:20 AM:

#277: Readers may be amused to know I used a snippet of text from one of Charlie's comments on this thread to test part of a program I'm working on.

Alex is ahead of the game: after the Singularity all publishers will need programs that can reliably distinguish manuscripts by their own (uploaded) authors from manuscripts by cheap pirate copies of their authors. YoyoSoft's StrossTest 2010 (under development) will set the standard for this growing field...

(Embarrassingly, many of the authors most prone to pirating will be those who have been most vocal in their opposition to DRM. You'll change your tunes when the data that's being protected is YOUR SOULS...)

#280 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:26 AM:

our bixanthine household
oh, do help us out a bit on that one. There's precisely one hit* for that word on Google.

I am just as confused, because I doubt it means "pertaining to two shades of yellow", which is the best I can come up with.

#281 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Tina @ #19 (yes, 19. I'm slow.):

Nonital sounds like a drug. I'm not sure what it would treat, but I'm sure someone here will tell me.

Apropos of the old thread (originally) in question, it's for treating testicles the size of pumpkins.

Sebastian @ #105:

I'm envisioning what happens the first time someone *does* come up with a way to put a nuclear warhead to productive use on the fly.

Does God using warhead nullification to add +5 to his next Rapture Roll count as "productive"? Because then Left Behind would count, as divine magic is used to thwart a surpise nuclear attack on Israel.

Tina @ #146 and Owlmirror @ #149:

"Exencephaly" is already a real word, referring to an obviously fatal birth defect where the brain is outside the head. Another reason to be nervous about plastics.

Mr. Nielsen Hayden @ #169:

Oho, Bodum! As seen at Target (or Tar-ZHAY, to use the non-British pronunciation). We used the Curl model in our computer room for frequent tea infusions. I wonder if whoever appropriated it is still using it. (Yes, tea drinking is more popular in the Colonies than one might think. Both of my current coworkers are also primarily tea drinkers.)

#282 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:54 AM:

I love the way this thread has developed split ends and gone off in all directions! (Not a zombie to be seen for quite some time.)

joann (#230): Houses in the Bay Area almost never *need* central air conditioning, though global warming could change that. As for space heaters in the US, in winter the news shows always seem to be running stories about defective heaters that end up torching some trailer or other low-rent dwelling.

Larry Brennan (#242): Most Americans wouldn't know a Melitta coffee dripper if it bit them. Not true! Even chain grocery stores in Prescott AZ stock several sizes of filters, natural color and white, and my household certainly depends on them.

#283 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Faren @ 282... Houses in the Bay Area almost never *need* central air conditioning

They did in the East Bay's Concord.

#284 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:12 AM:

No one's actually said what RP is: Received Pronunciation.

I was thinking, "Right Posh."

Another American with an electric kettle (for tea) and an electric fan heater (which I would probably call a space heater.) I have central heating, but it costs money, so I keep the thermostat pretty low.

#285 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:50 AM:

The reason you can't make tea from microwaved water isn't anything to do with temperature, it has to do with dissolved oxygen. You can make some kinds of tisane acceptably with that water, but not leaf tea. This is also why you get better tea if you put a little fresh cold water in the kettle when you're going to reboil -- even a very small amount makes a huge difference to the taste.

If you really have to make tea with a coffee maker in a US hotel, take along a pyrex teapot, or a ceramic teapot with a metal foot (to avoid cracking the ceramic on the "warming pad") or a pyrex or metal mug. Remove everything in the coffee maker that can be removed, most especially the thing the filter goes in. Then run it, allowing the water at 80 degrees C to drip into the pot. When you have enough water, you can add green tea, tisanes, or fairly forgiving teabags (not Twinings, and not the new ultracool silk kind) and get something OK. The absolute best tea for this is dragon pearl Jasmine. Cthulhu Jasmine also works fine.

Kettles do boil faster in Britain on 220 electricity. (Imported British kettles, with plug converters, boil even more slowly in North America than you could possibly believe.) But even in Montreal electric kettles boil much faster than anything on a stovetop/hob. I frequently test this assertion by boiling an egg in a saucepan and putting the kettle on for tea at the same time.

(A few months ago, I asked Sasha if he'd like a cup of tea and he replied "Do you have to be so British and cliched?")

Rutabagas are what British people call "swedes" and Quebecois people call "navet jaune". They're delicious. Some characters in Marge Piercy's Gone to Soliders whined about having to eat them.

RP is of course as people have noted "received pronunciation" and the reason for the popularity of the term is, it seems to me, that it avoids making a statement about relative merit and correctness the way older terms like "The Queen's English" or "BBC English" or "standard English" all implicitly do.

#286 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Faren @ 282 - It's not the filters, which fit many electric pots that are unfamiliar. It's the plastic filter caddies that you can put on top of a cup or carafe and brew coffee sans coffee pot that people wouldn't recognize. Seriously, I've seen people pick them up in Starbucks (which no longer sells them) and speculate about their use.

#287 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:36 PM:

Zombie novels: There's a good trilogy (Monster Island, Monster Nation, Monster Planet) released CC online. The first two books have since made it into print.

Nonital: It's a placebo for hypochodriacs with no physical ailments whatsoever. Alternatively, a powerful antidepressant (Standard commercial: Adam: "Do you have problems?" Beth: "No, Nonital.")

Efflorescence -- this is due to the propensity of zombies to develop large and colorful fungal growths after the first few days. Species depends on the location of death/burial, but was commonly believed to have magical properties in the Middle Ages (see, e.g., "graveyard mold").

#288 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 12:44 PM:

Larry Brennan @ 286: Huh. That's what my father used to make coffee all through my childhood (1970-mid-80s) in the Midwest. I still have one hanging around my house for his visits from the days when he still drank coffee. I've never been a coffee drinker, so having something that was small, inexpensive, and worked well with boiling water from a kettle was ideal.

I love tea. I will confess to apparently being a Philistine on the matter, however, as I routinely microwave a cupful of water and then put black tea leaves in. I like it just fine, though I gather not everyone agrees with me. I do prefer making it in a pot, though. But then, I already knew I had odd taste in tea. I either like the more expensive stuff or the really cheap stuff: US store brand tea bags that cost about 1-2 cents a bag. I think of it as seaweed tea because the flavor reminds me vaguely of nori.

#289 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Bruce at #271: Someone who drinks only tea may well be a supertaster -- if they insist on having tea with milk or sugar, the probability is pretty high.

Put enough milk and sugar in very weak coffee, and I'll drink it. But most coffee other than heavily sweetened cappuccino tastes far too unpleasantly bitter to me.

#290 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 02:36 PM:

There's so much stuff that's accumulated in this thread since yesterday that attempting actual one-on-one replies would be foolhardy.

My coffee confessions:

I have an espresso machine. I feed it coffee which was ground sometime in the last ten days with a burr grinder that's such a pain to empty (static charge -> grounds all over) that I grind as much as possible at a time, and store it in a glass jar with a plastic lid.

I occasionally go to the effort of making a proper latte with the frother and all, but usually end up making about three-four shots of espresso and then filling the mug with cold milk, this being just about all I can handle pre-coffee.

We've had numerous coffee-making methods over the years; I was not a coffee-drinker at all until my husband-to-be came along, because my mother was a devotee of the worst sort of 1950s percolater, which got a ritual cleaning about once every year with some industrial substance. You can imagine the battery acid that came out of that!

Anyway, I was introduced to a Chemex, and found the experience sufficiently delightful that I converted to coffee at home, while sticking to tea at work. Later we got a Melitta that filtered into a thermos jug sort of thing, and then later still, as my husband moved into decaf, we got separate gold Melitta-type things from Krups (see Larry's link, and scroll up about two items from where he starts with the cones). The espresso machine appeared after my favorite coffeehouse closed down right after I finished my dissertation. (Thanks to all gods it didn't close *before* that point.)

He's now backed away from decaf, but uses different beans than I in a Mr Coffee. Every few Saturday afternoons, we get out the glass vacuum pot and make some truly amazing coffee; if I'm in the mood, I'll whip some cream to go along. It's quite a trip, just for the feeling of committing alchemy.

I had to learn to use the octagonal Italian drip contraption while living in Venice, but was never entirely pleased with the results. I vaguely recall that the flat had no kettle of any sort, and I just boiled water for tea in a saucepan.

I think there's actually some kind of difference between hot pots and electric kettles. The hot pot I had in the dorm 35 years ago was a small ceramic jug with a one-coil immersion loop sticking into it, and it took forever to get heated up. I've also seen slightly larger metal saucepan-shaped versions, that seemed more than a bit flimsy.

#291 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 02:40 PM:

The turnip disambiguation does not serve to do anything of the sort; it looks like you've got to know the speaker's antecedents before you can figure out what he really means. I'd call it reambiguation, meself. I was also somewhat fuzzled to discover that jicama was a turnipy thing. Who would have suspected it?

#292 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 02:54 PM:

mds @ 281 (quoting Tina @ 19):
"Nonital sounds like a drug. I'm not sure what it would treat, but I'm sure someone here will tell me."
Apropos of the old thread (originally) in question, it's for treating testicles the size of pumpkins.

Zounds! It's a veterinary medicine for folkloric tanuki?

From various upthread, the term "bixanthine household" probably just refers to parallel consumption of both tea and coffee, whose active wakey-making components are slightly different chemicals known as xanthine alkaloids: coffee is best-known for caffeine, tea for theophylline, and chocolate for theobromine. I suspect that theophylline was named last; theobromine's name comes from Theobroma, which is the genus name of the cacao plant and is supposed to mean "food of the gods" (no, it doesn't contain bromine. At least not normally). Otherwise, I'm not convinced that tea (despite my fondness for it) would independently give rise to a name that seems based on "leaf of the gods", unless at the time the name was merely intended to mean "tea leaf".

TNH may have some entertaining anecdotes of angel-hoedowns-on-a-pin LDS debates about whether all xanthine alkaloids are created equally verboten, or for that matter why the original proscription now covers cola Slurpees but not jalapeno-laden pho that could blister your tonsils off.

#293 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 03:08 PM:

I was about to explain my nonce coinage "bixanthine" myself, but I'm glad I delayed, as I wouldn't have wanted to miss Julie L.'s deployment (in #292) of the phrase "wakey-making components."

#294 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 03:09 PM:

265 & 290: To me, a 'hot pot' is shaped like an old-fashioned percolator, and an 'electric kettle' is shaped like a teakettle.

I drink neither coffee nor tea, but I have a hot pot so I can make instant for overnight guests.

#295 ::: JanetM ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Bruce at #145 -- Similarly, there is a Patricia Cornwell mystery that has the protagonist arriving in Knoxville, Tennessee, on a football Saturday and getting a hotel room downtown without a reservation. (For those of you not from The South, it is commonly believed that on football Saturdays, Neyland Stadium becomes the third-largest city in the state.)

#296 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Patrick @ 293

Yes, Julie beat me to it as well, and I'm very pleased about it. All I had was URLs, not witty lines.

Mary Aileen @ 294
And to me, a "hot pot" is a dish I order in a Korean restaurant. So many dialects, so little meaning ...

#297 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Jo Walton #285


Rutabagas are what British people call "swedes" and Quebecois people call "navet jaune". They're delicious.

That's definitely a matter of opinion. I leave the beet, turnip, and rutabaga roots to other people, having tried various ways of them prepared and being enthused about none of them. I don't care how much my father and his father liked e.g. borscht, I don't....

#298 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 06:30 PM:

_Sleeping with the Fishes_ by Mary Janice Davidson flunked my willing suspension of disbelief--Filene's even in downtown Boston was no longer a viable place to shop for anything except picked over unsold leftovers not sold at all the rest of the brand's no longer open stores before the end of 2005, and by spring of 2006 even though the downtown location still had merchandise in it, it was less prepossessing a place to buy clothing that Building 19's dartboard regarding what might be present (Building 19 used to use "Come in and get dirty" as a slogan--Building 19 is a chain specializing in retailing overstock, past-dated merchandise, fire sale and flood sale merchandise, merchandise from bankrupt wholesalers and retailers and manufacturers, merchandise from companies in financial distress, etc. And did I mention the propensity for grime on occasion on the merchandise? There's no predicting just-what- is going to be in a Building 19 in any detail--there may be sheepskin slippers, or not. There may be recalled from consumer use eyedrops, or not. There may be leather coats, or not. There may be golf clubs, or not. There may be hair dryers, or not. There may be plastic containers, or not. There may be bags of potato chips, or not. There are distressed books and remaindered books, whatever happened to have been sold to Building 19. Etc. Certain things include that there is uncertainty about what's going to be available as regards brands, titles, specific implements, specific types of garments...)

And then there's the lack of awareness of Harbor Cleanup effects.... the plot of the book gets a bit fat F from me regarding that, there are LOTS of pollution monitors all around and in Boston Harbor and have been for years.

#299 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 08:20 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 275:

Two of the "regular" Greek verbs are λυω and παυω; the other two I don't know. They are notable in not having a consonant for a stem (which always end up with some form of modification somewhere), not having alpha, epsilon, or omicron as a stem, not being mi-verbs, having simple initial consonants (i.e. not chi, psi, phi, etc.) making the forms with a reduplicated first syllable regular) etc.

On the coffee side, I don't think it's been noted that manual drip use of a Melitta filter is quite different from automatic drip -- in manual drip all the water goes in at once and the extraction takes place over a very short period of time; in automatic drip a thin stream of water is used over a longer period. This makes a considerable difference to the finished coffee.

#300 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 09:21 PM:

our bixanthine household
oh, do help us out a bit on that one. There's precisely one hit* for that word on Google.

Well, you see, Constantinople stood astride the trade route with China, and also engaged in substantial commerce with the Muslim world, which had access to East Africa. Thanks to the resultant ample supply of tea and coffee, its dominion was known to later generations as the Bixanthine Empire.

Um, let's just stick with "wakey making components."

(If I recall, caffeine and theophylline are adenosine receptor antagonists, which makes them "sleepy blocking," but that's just Piddling Pedantry.)

#301 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:09 PM:

mds @ 300

I'd defenestrate you for that one, but I'd have to put down my mug of tea and I need it right now.

#302 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:33 PM:

PJ 301: Judy Harrow used to say "Defenestration's too good for him! Throw him out the window!"

Yes, she knew what it meant.

#303 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Speculative babble ensues:

I came up with a funny theory the other day, after some sampling of wine: Coffee and wine are both thought of as "adult" tastes and "refined" tastes. While "adult" can maybe be explained by the fact that they're drugs, there seems to be more to it then that: then I thought, well, in order to get anything out of either one, you have to be paying attention to parts of your palate that are registering things other than the standard "nutritive" flavors.

Coffee and wine do not taste like food, so to speak. They don't taste like sugar, or like fat, or like protein. When you've become accustomed to either one to a certain extent, your taste buds notice that something is going to hit your brain in a few minutes and probably make you feel good, and start registering that as a "flavor". But that effect occurs as strongly with three-dollar swill as it does with something fancy, imported, and ten times the price. It took me a long time to be able to tell the difference, and it involved letting fade into the background the parts of my sensory apparatus that tag a flavor with instantaneous, "food/not-food", "this will have a certain effect on your nervous system" information.

Different people are going to have different settings for those flavors in the first place. But if food is an urgent survival element, I'll guess that those flavors get louder (at least, they've done so for me in brief fasting/dietary change experiments) and Manischewitz tastes a damn sight better than "oaky resonance with a nose of citrus". Kids also seem to have those things cranked up. Not all adults may like coffee or wine, but it's a much rarer kid who likes either. (I loved coffee when I was twelve, because of the drugs -- but I shoved about two tablespoons of sugar into each cup.) So "refined" has to do with having been living in a condition of some surplus for long enough both to be able to tune out the "real" flavors for the weird, squirrelly ones, and to have been trying wines for long enough to be able to tell the weird, squirrelly flavors from each other.

#304 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 01:37 AM:

AJ #303: "Kids also seem to have those things cranked up."

Kids seem to really enjoy extremely sour, puckery flavors, which in nature can indicate that something is going to give you a tummyache at the very least. I loved eating lemons, had raw spots on the roof of my mouth from eating Super Lemon candies, and still love sour gummy candy with li hing powder. My nephew, as a toddler, would drink most of my San Pellegrino Limonata if I would let him. He'd take a sip, screw his face up, gasp for air, and then do it again. There looks to be a fair amount of super-sour candy aimed at kids, and then there's the prevalence of "crack seed" stores in Hawai'i, filled with snacks and candies that slam your taste buds to the floor (I theorize that it's not the flavor so much as it is the way things like li hing mui hit all your taste areas at once).

#305 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:53 AM:

I like plain black tea, which can be hard to find in restaurants these days. At home, I use full-leaf Darjeeling. I do occasionally put maple sugar in it, not to make it sweet, but to watch the foam come up.

#306 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:25 AM:

A J Luxton @ 303

"Manischewitz tastes a damn sight better than" what comes out of my rain gutter in late March. I never, ever liked that stuff, even when they gave it to us kids at the family seder. I think a lot of the other kids said they liked it because it was wine, an adult drink, but I can't prove that at this late date. My wife agrees with me, but then she hasn't been able to drink any kind of wine for more than 30 years for medical reasons, and didn't like it all that much before.

#307 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:47 AM:

bruce,

I never, ever liked that stuff, even when they gave it to us kids at the family seder. I think a lot of the other kids said they liked it because it was wine, an adult drink, but I can't prove that at this late date.

my first ever alcohol ingestion was manischewitz at the seder, age five. i burst into tears, & ran & hid. i couldn't believe anyone would drink that voluntarily; i was sure i was being played a trick on.

#308 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 06:28 AM:

Jo@285: it avoids making a statement about relative merit and correctness the way older terms ... all implicitly do.

That rather depends on whom we're supposed to have received the pronunciation from, doesn't it? I always had the impression that it was meant to have been handed down from Heaven.

#309 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 06:35 AM:

"Bixanthine" - our house contains two sets of terrible Piers Anthony novels

#310 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:18 AM:

293: You do know what "nonce" means in British English?

#311 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:11 AM:

I'd just like to point out that the video Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead: Zombies vs the Beatles suggests that relying on zombies to be slow and shambling may be a mistake.

#312 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Serge (#283) (re Bay Area houses, which I said rarely need central air conditioning): They did in the East Bay's Concord. Concord? For all true Bay Areans, that's the entirely different climate Over the Hills.

Larry (#286): We have a pair of Melitta filter cones from sometime in the late '80s, so of course we know what the filter goes in. (Geez, I'm starting to sound like an elitist Berkeley snob, or something!)

Julia Jones (#289): I don't like bitter coffee either (my husband dotes on it), but Hazelnut Creamer is a wonderful solution. For coffee flavor, I find decaf Yuban the most satisfying. I got introduced to it at Locus headquarters -- CNB's house -- where that was the coffee of choice. For individual cups, we could heat the water in an electric kettle. (Wonder if that's still there.)

#313 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Faren... Indeed. What a difference those hills make to the Bay Area's climate.

#314 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 11:14 AM:

AJ, #303: Coffee and wine do not taste like food

When people ask me why I don't drink either, that's exactly what I say. I can swallow a few mouthfuls in the manner I take, say, cough medicine, if I'm in a situation that I feel it's polite, but any more than that and my throat simply stops working. I do wish I could enjoy wine, sometimes--it looks like great fun.

#315 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 11:25 AM:

TChem (314): At last, a kindred spirit!

#316 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 12:58 PM:

I am someone for whom coffee only tastes good if it contains sugar, a milk product, or both, though the degree to which I adulterate the coffee depends on the coffee -- er, if I'm drinking it as 'coffee' and not "I want an au lait, thanks". I cannot stand most dark roasts, as the bitter in them becomes much more obvious to me, and I do not like bitter as a rule. The only way I drink anything dark-roasted is in the form of lattes.

I suspect that a lot of people who dislike coffee dislike the bitterness and do not find the addition of sweetening does anything to help with it, since in theory coffee with milk and sugar in should taste 'like food'. (I find the phrase 'taste like food' to be nonsensical as it's like 'looks like colour' to me, but I think I know what's meant there.) Whereas, while tea can be bitter, it's rarely anywhere near as bitter and often isn't at all, which may account for its wider appeal.

I do drink both, but I'm more likely to be found drinking coffee than tea. Except iced tea, which I drink in large quantity in the summer.

I dislike a great deal of wine but have found wines I like. Not surprisingly given my coffee habits, the wines I like tend to be sweeter.

#317 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 01:22 PM:

I had an electric kettle in college for tea (I didn't drink coffee at the time) and ramen; at the time, I thought they were fairly prevalent among college students. Nowadays I boil water on the stove for my tea--which I drink with milk, same as my coffee. My sister says this makes me a Level Two drinker--Level One being needing cream and sugar to completely disguise the bitter taste, and Level Three that strong person who can drink it straight.

As for electric fan heaters, I've got one under my desk in my office. I'll admit I haven't quite figured out how the fan makes it any better than a radiant heater, though.

My Southern Jewish background meant that I only knowingly tasted a rutabaga for the first time relatively recently. I made a fairly tasty curry with mine, though the effort it took to cut the damn thing up means I probably won't be buying one again any time soon.

#318 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Mimi #317: My sister says this makes me a Level Two drinker--Level One being needing cream and sugar to completely disguise the bitter taste, and Level Three that strong person who can drink it straight.

I guess that makes me Level 2.5. I like my tea without milk; instead I prefer lemon. Sugar if it's hot, not if it's iced. But the thing that puts me below a real Level 3 is that I don't like it stewed. Which is why I prefer tea bags to loose; I can perform a sort of "Alice, tea. Tea, Alice" maneuver and trust that those nasty super-tannins won't get released. Visits to various parts of Britland have really made me wonder about the state of everyone's digestions.

#319 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 03:42 PM:

ajay @ 309

"Bixanthine" - our house contains two sets of terrible Piers Anthony novels

My condolences. Do you think counseling might help your emotional trauma from this tragic event?

#320 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 04:36 PM:

joann @ 318: The system was meant to apply to coffee drinkers, which I guess doesn't really allow for the presence of lemon. Perhaps tea-drinkers need four levels? I kind of love the idea that drinking tea can be more hard-core than drinking coffee, though as you pointed out, stewed tea is pretty foul stuff.

#321 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 05:57 PM:

mimi #320:

Then is lemon Level 3 or Level 4?

#322 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 06:04 PM:

I confess to being in a Starbucks recently. They had a display of all their espresso machines. One of them had an LCD screen. This is so horribly wrong ... Espresso is steampunk, not cyberpunk!

#323 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Joann @322: Starbucks coffee is undrinkable; they provide a choice of just one roast -- scorched. The stuff tastes of ash, and is truly vile.

If they'd offer a choice of different beans or different grades of roast I'd be willing to frequent their cookie-cutter establishments, but as it is, they're a bane and a pest.

#324 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Charlie #323:

I agree that their regular un-espresso coffee is horrible, and that their lattes are generic, with no attention to Proper Foam, but they're closer than the other two places I use, and I can always find a place to sit. (Plus sometimes it's a Good Thing that I don't subscribe to their wireless system. No temptations.)

I actually like really strong roasts, and buy an Italian roast for home use that would probably cause you to scream in agony.

I was just so cognitively dissed by that LCD screen.

#325 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Charlie @ #323 - My husband (the coffee drinker in the family) has informed me that Starbucks is known in coffee circles as "Charbucks" because they burn the beans.

We live down the road from a small coffee roasting company. The smell when they are roasting is nasty. Luckily, the prevailing wind direction is away from our house.

#326 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Mimi, 317: I'd be a Level Two on coffee, then (much cream, but rarely sugar) two-point-five on tea as I drink some teas straight, when they are not stewed. But, on the other hand, I specifically like the really strong super-tannin-flavor of stewed tea, when mediated by a few drops of cream or milk. It's the same kind of bitter I enjoy with coffee.

Joann: May I just say, I love the term "cognitively dissed"?

On Starbucks: I used to obsessively avoid it, even buying coffee in fast-food restaurants to be able to say that I did not ever frequent Starbucks. That was when I lived in the Bay Area, and my local coffee shops were all pasted up and down with anti-Starbucks stickers, and I couldn't bear to hurt them. (Conversely, I collected the occasional piece of merchandise when someone else went there -- the shoggoth-mermaid on one bag my sister gave me was just too much.)

I gave up this plan of attack when I arrived in Portland, Oregon. For one, I worked in bars for a while, and slowly decided that the ultimate origin of the establishment matters rather less than how nifty the employees are, because damn straight I'm going to tip them.

The coffee shops here are all usually sort of gourmet-esque places that do their own thing and can't really be competed out unless the Leviathan were to begin selling sorbet made from organic local fruit, or develop an in-house bakery, or offer beer and fancy desserts, or sell vegan doughnuts. (And I'm just talking about the ones you can reliably get out of for less than six dollars.) Very few of them seem to care about the Starbucks down the street, which does one thing, and does it pretty well.

That thing is not making coffee (as mentioned above, the espresso tastes like reasonable drip coffee; the drip, depending on the location, ranges from "possibly useful as hairspray" to "the beans just came from a Viking funeral by way of a pyrotechnic festival".) It's providing a certain kind of neutral, predictable environment. The lighting is balanced just right for solitary activity, like writing: and nothing about the place is an attraction, in the way that really good food and certain types of service are. The ambience is all set at levels I can tune out, and the tables are spaced such that I can avoid talking to other people.

#327 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 07:20 PM:

#319: no, that's a possible definition of "bixanthine". My home does not actually contain a single Piers Anthony novel. But thank you for your sympathy.

#328 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 07:22 PM:

For those here that are Starbucks loathers: imagine how you would feel if your mother's family name had become the symbol of obnoxious yuppiedom and bad coffee.

Feh.

#329 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 07:35 PM:

I wish I could drink coffee. It *smells* nice, when made well. It just tastes disgusting. The same goes for fine wine, and a number of other things on the "if you don't like most of these, you're probably a supertaster" list.

#330 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 08:04 PM:

I think ajay had it at #273: It may be just that Americans (for reasons of Patriotism) don't drink enough tea, and tea is sort of the killer app for the electric kettle.

The American equivalent of the Russell Hobbs might be the Revere whistling teakettle. Either way, unless you require cup-lots of boiling water frequently, it's a hassle to keep a specialized appliance around the kitchen.

For that matter, if you have never seen the trick done at 220v, you would never have any reason to think that the 110v version was taking "too long", so that's probably not the actual reason for their rarity in America.

I haven't done controlled tests, but I'm certainly under the impression that the 220v version is a lot faster than the 110v. The first time I used a 220v electric kettle, I recall peeking in warily, half-expecting to see Cherenkov radiation. It seemed to accomplish the task faster than I was used to.

#331 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:25 PM:

it has already been established that i fail at coffee snobbery, so saying that i hate starbucks coffee means nothing.

i enjoy cafes very much, though, so what i hate most about starbucks is their lack of for-here cups. somebody said ambiance, & comfy chairs or no, i can't have ambiance when i'm drinking out of a paper cup.

#332 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Julia, I love the smell of coffee too. It's the best part. I do have a small cup with milk and sugar about once every two weeks at my boyfriend's family's Sunday brunch.

I am a tea lover: green, black, oolong, flavored, decaf, red, herbal, bring it on!

I think the difference between a hotpot and an electric kettle is that the hotpot can be used for cooking things other than water, and is generally cylindrically shaped, while the electric kettle is vaguely tea kettle shaped, with a small mouth to pour from.

#333 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Those of you who like the smell of coffee but can't stand the taste: have you tried coffee ice cream? I live with someone who can't deal with the taste of coffee-as-coffee but who rather likes the ice cream. He finds the smell of coffee appealing but the only other thing we've found he likes the taste of is a light brew of Kona flavored with lots of cream and some sugar, which unsurprisingly tastes a lot like good coffee ice cream.

#334 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Somewhat back on the original topic of this thread:

I opened last week's Science News and found a full-page ad headed 'Are We Conscious or Merely Zombies?'

Can zombies read?

#335 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:11 PM:

joann @ 321: I'd put lemon at level 3 myself, but since I don't put lemon in my tea (unless I'm drinking herbal, which doesn't count), I'm hardly the best judge. Which do you consider more hard core, with lemon or without?

Also, I'm with you on fear of an LCD espresso maker. I want my espresso maker to look like this.*

*Okay, it's a coffee maker, not an espresso maker. Still pretty.

#336 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:13 PM:

Whoops--I fail at linkage. Here's the page I was trying to link to:

http://www.ping.be/coffee4you/soon.htm

#337 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Tina at #333 - nope, coffee ice cream tastes disgusting, as does coffee cake, coffee chocolate... Though I suspect that in the case of the ice cream this is more a reflection of the quality of the samples I've encountered, rather than an intrinsic property of the substance.

#338 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:17 PM:

joann:

They had a display of all their espresso machines. One of them had an LCD screen. This is so horribly wrong ... Espresso is steampunk, not cyberpunk!

I have a friend whose espresso machine is the price of a good used car. It's got an Ethernet connection so she can program it from work to brew up whatever she wants just before she walks in the door at home. I hope for your piece of mind you never see one like it.

#339 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2007, 10:25 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #338: How big a piece of Joann's mind are you talking about?

#340 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 12:03 AM:

Alan Braggins #311: The zombies in that Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead video are from the ridiculous 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. They have nothing to do with the reality of the zombie situation.

Zombies can't run. They have enough trouble standing. They're dead, remember? Even if they could run (which they emphatically cannot), they certainly could never outrun a car, as they are seen doing at some points in that wretched waste of celluloid.

#341 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 01:40 AM:

P J Evans @ 334

Can zombies read?

Certainly. They can write, too. They just can't write creatively. Or for deadline for that matter (ever watch a zombie try to hurry? Talk about Shambling Horror!).

#342 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:49 AM:

From zombies to coffee. *drunkenly raises glass* I love you guys! The Internet hasn't been this good since Usenet.

(Ironically, I'm posting from a Starbucks: not that I use their stupidly expensive network, but there's some happy little wifi juice drifting over from a nearby location.)

#343 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:03 AM:

Magagerspreeker @341:
Certainly. They can write, too. They just can't write creatively. Or for deadline for that matter (ever watch a zombie try to hurry? Talk about Shambling Horror!).

And now we know why the slushpile is so very...slushy.

And also, perhaps, why it eats your brains to read too much of it - could it be that whatever zombifies a zombie could stick to paper? Picture it: a poor, hapless slushpile reader touches a contaminated ms, then puts her hand to her mouth in horror at the sheer dreadfulness of the prose*. Soon she is shambling about the office groaning, "Braaaains..."

The solution, of course, is to feed her coffee.** Then she shambles around groaning, "Cooooffeeee," but who doesn't, on occasion***?

-----
* She's new, and she didn't really believe it could be that bad. Who can?

** Not rum. Really not rum.

*** And what does that say about the rest of us?

#344 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:55 AM:

Julia@#337: Ahh, well, it was just a thought; I figured since it worked for him, it might for someone else, too. Though if you ever wanted to hazard a sample (and have someone to give the rest if you don't care for it), I think highly of Haagen Dasz's coffee ice cream, which has the additional benefit of being all-natural.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 06:54 AM:

abi @ 343... And what does that say about the rest of us?

It does sound like some days at the office, doesn't it?

#346 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Does anyone know where I can get a nice decaffienated oolong tea? Loose or bagged is not important.

#347 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 09:37 AM:

I can't handle the milk fats in coffee ice cream anymore, but coffee yogurt is one of the mainstays of my life. (And lo-fat Hazelnut Creamer really takes the bitterness out of coffee.)

#348 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Tiramisu is another thing that can work for people who don't like coffee-as-coffee.

#349 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Mimi #335, #336:

That is one cool machine, a stainless version (with tubal additives) of our glass vacuum pot. Major cred just on design. How science fictional can you get?

My favorite machines are the big honking commercial espresso makers with all the gold trim; the very prettiest one has a big gold Lion of San Marco on the back.

On the is-lemon-Level3-or-Level4 front, I think Level 3 because it's an additive or adulterant that interferes with the pure operation of the tannins, just less blandly than sugar or milk.

#350 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Tina #333, Julia #337:

My husband likes coffee--as coffee. If it's used to flavor food, he's not a happy camper. Go figure.

#351 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Bruce #338:

Why am I reminded of the refrigerators that come with TVs or internet connections on the front? (Although I must say it makes more sense to program the coffee than it would to tell the fridge to do something or other--in fact, I can't imagine what that something would be.)

#352 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Tina (333): Those of you who like the smell of coffee but can't stand the taste: have you tried coffee ice cream?

Yes, I have. It's the only kind of ice cream I don't like.

#353 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 12:44 PM:

#351: (Although I must say it makes more sense to program the coffee than it would to tell the fridge to do something or other--in fact, I can't imagine what that something would be.)

Quite. You can't really tell fridges to do very much even when you're standing in front of them. They can either be cool, or not.

I think the idea of the Internet Fridge is that it knows what is inside it, so you can email it to ask "have I got any yoghurt left, or do I need to pick some up on the way home?"

Internet-enabled intelligent car alarms come into the Neal Stephenson short "Jipi and the Paranoid Chip" - well worth a read.

#354 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 12:56 PM:

ajay @ 353

For some reason I get this picture of the fridge answering, 'you don't want to buy yogurt, you really should buy cottage cheese.'

#355 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 01:00 PM:

PJ #354:

At which point I would tell the fridge, "You really should shut the +%^# up, before I get a new one and put you out on the curb."

(Of course, after that it's pure escalatio, with the fridge sending mail to the SPIF [*]-- "help, help, I'm being oppressed".)

[*] Society for the Protection of Intelligent Fridges

#356 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 01:02 PM:

ajay @ 353: You can't really tell fridges to do very much even when you're standing in front of them. They can either be cool, or not.

I'd like to be able to tell my fridge not to freeze my lettuce, but to keep that ground beef just above freezing.

You can tell that my fridge has caused too much lettuce (of both kinds) to go to waste.

#357 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Combining joann's comment 'You really should shut the +%^# up, before I get a new one and put you out on the curb.' with ajay's 'They can either be cool, or not.' gives me images of a Pulp Fiction era Samuel Jackson questioning his fridge.

'You don't want me to get all medieval on your plumbing, do you? You going to be like the Fonz?'
'...yes'
'And what is the Fonz?'
'Cool?'
'That's right... Cool.'

#358 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 01:47 PM:

Joann #355: "help, help, I'm being oppressed"

It occurs to me that given the nature of refrigerators, the Brave Little Freezer might also send out "help, help, I'm being compressed".

#359 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:24 PM:

joann #358: But is not the freezer at once, in a word, compressor and compressed?

#360 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:37 PM:

#359: yes. The sentient fridge has internalised its own compressor. Very Foucaultian of it.

I could do with a smarter fridge. I just defrosted my freezer for the first time in far too long, and there were Things frozen into the accreted ice at the back of the freezer compartment that I have no recollection of buying. Strange, radiate Things, with fivefold symmetry. I stuck them in the sink to thaw, and I can --
Oh God! They're at the door! Save yourselves!

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:49 PM:

ajay... there were Things frozen into the accreted ice at the back of the freezer compartment

Things? Things like a 7-foot-tall blood-drinking carrot from Mars?

#362 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:52 PM:

No, Serge, those are in the vegetable crisper.

#363 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 02:58 PM:

ajay, you have an industrial fridge/freezer? I'm impressed.

#364 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:20 PM:

You guys grow interesting stuff in your fridges. All I ever get is new shades of blue-green.

#365 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:25 PM:

#363: actually it's a transdimensional gate into a strange frozen world, where the reddening corpses of dying stars glow balefully over the fields of ice and information-devouring frost giants wait with deadly patience to squeeze through into our continuum.

But it was in the kitchen wall when I moved in. So I use it as a fridge.

#366 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:54 PM:

abi @ 343

It doesn't have to be something from another zombie that zombifies you. Maybe you get a craving for "Braaaains..." if you read really, really, bad submissions. I've read stories like that; so hideously bad they seem to turn your brain to mush and leave your mouth hanging upon with drool coming out.*

* Sorry to be so graphic, but this is a clinical discussion we're having.

#367 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Ajay #365: information-devouring frost giants


Aren't those called dickcheneys?

#368 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:01 PM:

P J Evans @ 354

And that reminds me of a short story by Robert Silverberg, "The Iron Chancellor". It'll make you think twice about dieting, let me tell you.

#369 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:10 PM:

A J Luxton @ 261

Looks like you started a rush on Google. I started to type in a search for "La Merde Portland Oregon"* and before I finished the 2nd word Google was already suggesting "La Merde Portland". I don't know what the threshold for hits on a search string are before it gets suggested, but it's probably several.

* I've lived in Portland for nearly 30 years and I had never heard of it before. Show's what a party animal I am.

#370 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Once I found an old mayonnaise jar in the back of the fridge that contained empirical disproof of Intelligent Design.

#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 04:19 PM:

This reminds of the Far Side cartoon where a man opens his fridge and find the bowl of potato salad holding the condiments at gun point. The caption? "When potato salad goes bad"...

#372 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 05:15 PM:

joann @ 350: I sympathize somewhat -- I like coffee as a flavor in some things, but not others: the tendency to adulterate fine chocolate with coffee beans strikes me as misguided simply because the coffee flavor overwhelms the best part of the chocolate flavor entirely. I do like it in simple pastries or ice cream, where the existing flavor is that sort of "protein/fat/sugar flavor" that tells the stomach-brain there's food here.

Bruce Cohen @ 369: It's new (an offshoot of Montage Bistro) and reportedly quite good, though I haven't been there myself, which shows what a party animal I am. I've been past it, though -- right by City Liquidators, in the warehouse alleys up against the East side of the Willamette.

#373 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Fragano #367:

Thanks ever so, I'll never be able to look at the the word "doohickey" again.

#374 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Ajay @365: *makes notes*

#375 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 06:19 PM:

A. J. Luxton @ 372

Adulteration of chocolate should be a felony. Just adding sugar should be controlled; I like dark chocolate, but it has to be bittersweet so I can actually taste the chocolate. I may be a bit weird about this: when I was 4 or 5 I loved to gnaw on a block of unsweetened baker's chocolate. I still do it sometimes, but I usually prefer bittersweet.

#376 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 06:30 PM:

I don't like coffee to drink, but I like coffee-flavored almost anything, including chocolate, and chocolate-covered coffee beans. Go figure.

#377 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Bruce Cohen, above: When I discovered high-percentage chocolate, I was staying with a friend; he did the grocery shopping, and between us we went through a bar of 77% or similar-grade chocolate daily. As thanks for all of this, at the end of my visit, I put in an order with chocosphere. It's even local, though it's entirely net-based. Valhrona 85% is my favorite eating chocolate, though expensive enough that I can rarely get my hands on it.

I do admit to actually liking chocolate with various sorts of fruits, nuts, or essential oils in it, as long as the cocoa content is at least seventy percent -- Dagoba Xocolatl is perhaps my favorite -- but on the other side of things, have you ever had Michel Cluizel Noir Infini 99%? It comes in a bar, and in pastilles. I haven't been able to find the pastilles in less than one-pound increments in the United States, which is a shame, because the last I had of them was a two-ounce packet bought in Germany that lasted several months and I'm certain a pound would go bad. It is an eating-grade, baking-strength chocolate, and entirely in a category of its own. Cliches fail me. The Cluizel Noir Infini is an experience best expressed by repeating the experience.

#378 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 07:01 PM:

#370: as in "I have discovered a wonderful proof of this theorem, but this fridge is too small to contain it."

#374: Sorry. But remember, we only plagiarise because we love.

That we all plage the thing we love,
Again let me rehearse;
Some plage (like Serge does) rather well
And some plage rather worse;
I mostly plage in boring prose
But abi uses verse!

Some plage the greats (like William S.,
Oft plaged by John M. Ford)
Some plage at length the whole darn book
Some plage a single word,
Our nimbly-plaging humble pen
Is mightier than our sword.

#379 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 09:08 PM:

A J Luxton @ 377

Michel Cluizel Noir Infini sounds terrific, so I did a little poking around. There's an online chocolate merchant in UK who will ship 30 gram bars of the Infini to the States (which their international shipping chart thinks is in Central/South America). The bars cost £1.35 each, and the shipping cost is £15.99. That's a little steep for one bar, but if you bought 20 or more it might not be too bad. I think you'd have to get a bunch of people to club together for that or it will never get eaten.

#380 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 09:43 PM:

Oh, yes -- the bars I can actually get easily (see the aforementioned Chocosphere link!) and they're quite good. It's oddly the pastilles I like most, though I don't think there's any difference in the chocolate: they simply are better shaped for melting in the mouth, which makes sense, as they are meant to melt in the ah -- what you call it -- the device used for turning couverture into moldable chocolate candy. I called up the site and explained my desire, since they're in Portland, but no, if I want the pastilles I must acquire no less than not a pound after all but a kilo. They've said the miniature squares are good, but the price per pound is so much steeper (18.99/250g) that I'm thinking I may just buy the kilo of pastilles, at 35.50, and see if chocolate-fancier friends want to go in on portions. Interested?

#381 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2007, 10:19 PM:

Fragano Ledgister:

How big a piece of Joann's mind are you talking about?

Depends on how big a piece of her mind she wants to give me.

joann:

(Although I must say it makes more sense to program the coffee than it would to tell the fridge to do something or other--in fact, I can't imagine what that something would be.)

Well, if it's true that on the Internet no one can tell you're a dog, I expect Gary Larson's infamous "Cat Fud" cartoon to be enacted with a refrigerator instead of a dryer as soon as my mother-in-law's dogs learn to type.

#382 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 12:00 AM:

A J

Sure, I'll go in for some. Let me know when you want to put it together, and I'll try to figure out how many I can eat before the world ends.

#383 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Very good. Now's as good a time as any. I take it your email address is your email address?

#384 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Yes, that's the public face, because Googlemail's spam filter is pretty good.

#385 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 02:21 AM:

#360 through #365:

*makes Herculean effort to stop laughing long enough to type*

You guys are marvellous.

#386 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 06:17 AM:

joann #373: That's an entirely different issue, surely?

#387 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Fragano #386:

They're both long words beginning with "d" and ending in "y". A skim reader might possibly confuse them. (Bog knows I have committed enough myslexia in my time.)

#388 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 11:24 AM:

#386, #387:

Or, says l'esprit de l'escalier, were you suggesting a link involving the word "thingy"?

#389 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 11:27 AM:

Bruce #381

For my peace of mind, refresh my memory on that cartoon. Or I *will* give you a piece of it.

It is, however, an observable fact that on the Internet, everyone can tell you're a cat person.

#390 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 11:47 AM:

#389: it's not around on the Net, but here's a mug with a picture on it.

#391 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 12:45 PM:

joann #s 387 & 388: Now I'll have the thought of Cheney's thingy in my head. Thanks.

(I was thinking of hickeys, btw...)

#392 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 01:40 PM:

ajay #390:

Puts a whole new spin on the FUD factor.

#393 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 07:51 PM:

joann:

For my peace of mind, refresh my memory on that cartoon. Or I *will* give you a piece of it.

Series of badly drawn arrows on papers scattered around a laundry room, all pointing towards a badly written "Cat Fud" sign just above the dryer door, with an arrow at the bottom of the sign pointing into the dryer. Cat standing there, looking at the dryer. Dog just around the corner, saying "Oh please, oh please..."

#394 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Not sure about the netiquette of linking to this guy's site without warning him, but here's a scan of the infamous dog luring cat into dryer with signs that say CAT FUD.

#395 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2007, 08:50 PM:

I spent many years sliding along a curve, liking stronger and stronger coffee and higher and higher percentage chocolate.

Finally my wife bought me a Gaggia espresso machine and her sister gave me a bar of 99% chocolate. I was very near pure caffeine and 100% cocoa mass, and I found that I didn't like it. The chocolate was disgusting and all that neat espresso started to hurt.

Having come close to the coffee and chocolate Scharzschild radius, something down in the realm of quantum flavour reversed its polarity, and my curve cleared the event horizon, swung around that caffeine and cocoa Singularity, damped itself and steadied into a stable orbit at 70% chocolate, double strength lattes at breakfast and the full double espresso only after a big meal with wine.

#396 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2007, 12:36 AM:

Kate, #348, I don't like chocolate or coffee. People keep offering me tiramisu and I hate it.

#397 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 01:23 PM:

I hadn't planned to "resurrect" this thread (or get it back to discussion of zombies), but then along came an item that's irresistible. In her column from today's SFGate, Neva Chonin mentions this:

Best. Mashup. Ever. Someone's gone and made a trailer combining footage from "A Hard Day's Night" with clips from zombie flicks, and the result ... well, you just need to see it. Meanwhile, picture this: Four beloved mop tops fleeing through the streets of London with a screaming, undead mob in hot pursuit. Yeah, it's that brilliant.

Anyone with a fast enough machine should check it out!

#398 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 03:47 PM:

#397: I guess you're referring to:
A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead

#399 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 04:01 PM:

JC @ 398... John! Paul! George! Ringo! Zombies! Gripping terror! Screaming girls!

#400 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 07:37 AM:

Serge @ 399

But where are the screaming zombie girls? Isn't that a basic element of the genre?

#401 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 08:00 AM:

Bruce @ 400... Zombies (male or female) scream?

#402 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Well, I grant you it sounds more like a croak, but still, "Paul's braaaaainsssss".

#403 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 10:50 AM:

John! Paul! George! Ringo! Zombies!

It's the time of the season.

#404 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 11:23 AM:

I just spent some time rapidly jumping around among the Making Light threads that I've been following for the last few days, and I am now convinced we need a cognate to Godwin's Law that replaces Nazis with zombies. Several of the longer threads have gravitated to discussing zombies, some more than once. And it only makes sense; after all, Nazis and zombies have much in common: lack of conscious (or is that "conscience"?), the tendency to wear black or brown, colors that don't show dried blood, and a common speech defect involving a lot of hissing and spitting (for screen Nazis, at least). Althoug I will say that Nazis goosestep much better than zombies.

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 11:27 AM:

The Beatles + zombies = rot & roll music...

#406 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 12:15 PM:

Bruce #404:

Many years ago I was partial to a concept I'd invented called Grand Unified Thread Theory. I think you're just seeing that. Sometimes it's zombies, sometimes it's fruitcake(s).

#407 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Nazis + zombies + terrifying aquatic action!!! = Shock Waves, the best movie Peter Cushing was in in 1977.

#408 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 01:33 PM:

#404: And then there's The Zombies' album "Odessey and Oracle" [sic], which leads us back to the copyedit subthread.

#409 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 01:54 PM:

joann 406: Many years ago I was partial to a concept I'd invented called Grand Unified Thread Theory. I think you're just seeing that. Sometimes it's zombies, sometimes it's fruitcake(s).

Well, no GUTT, no glory. And when you expect flutes, it's whistles. When you expect whistles, it's flutes.

#410 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Xopher #409:

Thou whistlest not Dixie.

(I had to think a bit about that conjugation. If it's wrong, and it should be whistleth, let me know.)

#411 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 06:32 PM:

joann @ 406: I was skimming through and read your phrase as Grand Unifried Bread Theory. I have no idea what that would suggest, but it might have something to do with frying bread on one side, and be an off-kilter branch of buttered cat physics...

#412 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2007, 07:22 PM:

"Odessey" is presumably a journey either to or from Odessa.

#413 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 05:45 AM:

ethan@407: You rate this Shock Waves film above Star Wars?

#414 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 01:48 PM:

A.J. #411:

Clearly, then, buttered-cat physics is the greatest thing since sliced^^^^^^fried bread.

#415 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 03:35 PM:

David Goldfarb #413: Not really, no. But in some ways it's more interesting*. It's number one on my "This movie deserves better than it got, if I ever make movies I'll think about remaking it" list. Only problem is that Peter Cushing really was perfectly cast and I don't think he'd be available today.

*The "to me" is understood, right?

#416 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 04:40 PM:

ethan @ 415: It's number one on my "This movie deserves better than it got, if I ever make movies I'll think about remaking it" list.

I have a list like that, too! Except that #1 on my list is Tombs of the Blind Dead. In this case the zombies are Knights Templar who were gibbeted and had their eyes plucked out by crows 700-odd years ago, who return once a year for blood sacrifices to their pagan Eastern demon-god. Director Armando de Ossorio used life-size puppets and an overcranked camera to create the undead Templars, and it's the stuff of nightmares. Of course, anything involving plot, character, or acting is sketchy, but the 20 minutes or so that the zombies are onscreen are mesmerizing.

I've never understood why the film industry always remakes films that were perfectly good to begin with. Why not pick a flawed film with one good idea and give it a shot with a real budget and a real director?

#417 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Howard Pierce #416: I've never understood why the film industry always remakes films that were perfectly good to begin with. Why not pick a flawed film with one good idea and give it a shot with a real budget and a real director?

Exactly! That's what bugs me about remakes--theoretically, there's nothing wrong with them (and they could be a great idea), but since it's almost always remaking a good movie into crappiness (see also Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and what was that other one? Oh yes, The Manchurian Candidate), they've got this bad reputation.

Shock Waves had a great concept, some great visuals (the zombie heads emerging from the water are absolutely terrifying, and I'm even pretty sure that Romero himself ripped it off for his Land of the Dead crapfest "comeback"), one of the best zombie-movie turning-point situations I've ever seen (they lock themselves into a disused walk-in refrigerator overnight, but one person has a claustrophobic freakout and fires off a flaregun, using up enough of their oxygen that they have to leave), and actually a pretty perfect cast, but it fails to take best advantage of pretty much all of these things. That's what I'd want to fix (if I could).

By the way, Tombs of the Blind Dead is now in my netflix queueueueue, though it'll probably be decades before I get to it. But you sold me. That technique sounds incredible. Do you know if that movie had a really cheesy sequel? Because I feel like I remember the video store in my college town having a movie with a title similar to, but not the same as, that, that looked utterly awful, with the hilarious tagline "They can hear your heartbeat," to which my horror-loving friend Beth and I always added, "...which is good for them, because they can't see you or anything."

...and now, off to go see The Host.

#418 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 05:10 PM:

ethan @415: Only problem is that Peter Cushing really was perfectly cast and I don't think he'd be available today.

ILM has already created the zombie Christopher Lee; they could probably create a zombie Peter Cushing.

Howard Peirce @416: I've never understood why the film industry always remakes films that were perfectly good to begin with. Why not pick a flawed film with one good idea and give it a shot with a real budget and a real director?

Excellent notion! It sort of fits in with the Stanley Kubrick idea that it is impossible to make a good film from a good book, but it is possible to make a good film from a bad book.

#419 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Ethan 417: Do you know if that movie had a really cheesy sequel?

I know that that movie had three cheesy sequels! Actually, there is a box set (which is probably out of print now) of all four Blind Dead movies, which is what I have. (It's in a novelty coffin-shaped box.) The original is the only one I've watched more than once. The first sequel was okay, but didn't make much of an impression on me. The second sequel is awful, and not in a so-bad-it's-good way. Just horrible. (For some reason, Blind Dead 3 is set on a ghost galleon. De Ossorio protested that 13th century Templars have no business on a 16th century galleon, but the producers were adamant that he use the galleon set they had from a previous movie.)

The third sequel is actually pretty good. I should watch it again. This time, the Templars attack a small Irish* fishing village, and the film turns into the typical "zombie siege" film, in which a handful of survivors barricade themselves in a church.

Your friend Beth is not far off the mark. The Blind Dead are in fact blind, and hunt humans by sound. They're also reasonably fast, ride undead horses, and use broadswords. So be very quiet.

* The movie is filmed in Spain, with the original dialogue in Castillian, and the English dub uses American accents. I was over an hour into the film before I figured out it was supposed to be in Ireland. But that's part of the charm of Eurotrash horror movies.

BTW: Shock Waves has on my must-buy list for a while now, but I believe it's currently OOP. At least, its not on the shelves anywhere I shop.

#420 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Andrew Willett @#59: LOL! You got me to actually Google to see whether "Nonital" was actually in use as a drug, and the only hits were this discussion., thus demonstrating that not quite *every* random sequence of syllables has aquired a brand name, anime character, RPG usage, etc.

Re: Grand Unified Thread Theory, I prefer a pseudo-Ptolmeic view: the threads on a forum will orbit around the leader's personality....

Some of the zombie jokes make me think of the web-comic Narbonic. One of its major plot threads was titled "Zombie Woof", and is perhaps best examplified by this kickoff.

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