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April 24, 2007

Global warming and those wicked liberals
Posted by Teresa at 03:44 PM * 151 comments

Ambitious Wench says the following letter really was published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on 15 April 2007, and that its author, Connie Meskimen, is a lawyer in Little Rock, AR.

The letter:

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

CONNIE M. MESKIMEN
Hot Springs

Thanks to Patrick, and to James Nicoll’s LJ, which is where Patrick found it.
Comments on Global warming and those wicked liberals:
#1 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:15 PM:

There's so much stupid in such a small pair of paragraphs in that letter. It reads like a "letter" in The Onion.

#2 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Please let it be satire. Please.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Ambitious Wench has supporting detail on her LJ. It looks real.

#4 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Oh, I believe it's real. We get this sort of tripe in our local paper. But I want it to be satire. If I hadn't grown up with horses, I'd say I also want a pony.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:26 PM:

I tell you, it's tough, being a wicked liberal 24/7.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:27 PM:

This woman is a lawyer, but she thinks Congress legislates how many hours of sunlight there are in a day. What scares me are all the other things she has to not understand in order for her to think DST affects global warming.

#7 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:28 PM:

That has to be parody. It reads like parody, at least to my ears--like something we'd get in our often delightfully snarky Memphis Flyer. I know some people--Little Rock people and law people--and will ask around to see if anyone I know knows the letter writer. I just can't believe that anyone could pass the bar exam (even in Arkansas), believe that kind of tripe, AND be able enough to write a coherent, concise, and reasonably grammatical letter to the editor about it.

#8 ::: Kristin B ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:31 PM:

And wasn't the DST change passed under a Republican-controlled Congress? I'm almost certain it was, in 2005.

#9 ::: Swedish Chef ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Modern Republicans are demented.

#10 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:32 PM:

... be able e/n/o/u/g/h/ to write...

(darn! what code do I use for a strikethrough?)

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Were there any follow-up letters?

I bet Ms. Meskimen could get a job as an analyst for the EPA.

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:35 PM:

These are also people who think daylight savings actually does something other than shift an hour of light from one end of the day to the other.

(I had to spend forty minutes on the train this morning listening to non-stop chatter from two guys who Know Everything even when they don't, same general idea or lack thereof. I'm considering a phaser set for 'heavy stun'.)

#13 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Googling on "Connie Meskimen" suggests that he's male, FWIW.

#14 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:38 PM:

According to a comment on James' LJ, it's a man (not a woman) and there seems to be some indication from people who are acquainted with him that this is almost certain to be satire (although that would just displace the horror to the paper which seriously printed it).

#15 ::: Kristin B ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Me @ #8: Oops--just went and read the LJ this came from, and someone there noted that, too. Damn, I can never be first.

But here's an interesting link regarding the DST change's effect on our gasoline consumption.

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Well, a quick search at Ancestry says there is a Connie Meskimen in Arkansas. (I didn't bother to log in, so I don't have details.)

#17 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:39 PM:

To me it drips with obvious sarcasm, like his other letters.

And yes, there was a response that took him a face value.

#18 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Apparently she is a bankruptcy lawyer. You have to wonder ... what sort of bankruptcy?

#19 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Reminds me of when the state was repaving the highway though our village. The road is above the level of the lawns, which causes run-off issues when it rains. With the repaving, the road was going to be raised about an inch (we had to raise sewer grates and access holes). People were upset with raising the road another inch because of all the extra run-off that would occur. Seriously.

#20 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Well, I wouldn't be surprised if he is kidding. Most bankruptcy lawyers are adept at finding the humor in just about anything.

And by the way, did you notice that the headline reads "...exacerbates warning" rather than "warming"?

#21 ::: thanbo ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Little Rock, Alaska?

Long way to send a letter to the Arkansas Gazette.

#22 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Clearly intended to illustrate that some newspapers will print virtually anything in the Letters column. Still quite funny.

#23 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:59 PM:

I've been bored enough to write something like that, but never bored enough to mail it.

#24 ::: Mandalei ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Reminds me of the brouhaha over the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, when people believed those days were "lost".

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:02 PM:

A satire? Thank goodness. That was just too much stupidity within too small a compass.

#26 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:08 PM:

15: Aha. I've been wondering why the Republicans passed something with no obvious benefit to their corporate masters. I'd been blaming the electricity lobby--all those people having to get up in the dark.

I'm still waiting for a little kid to get run over on the way to school.

#27 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Really? And here I thought the DST shift was a massive plot by Microsoft to force Exchange 2000 admins to upgrade to Exchange 2007.

#28 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:13 PM:

On a second reading, I think it's pretty clearly written tongue-in-cheek. The writing strikes this amateur as too good to be the product of a mind capable of believing what the writer affects to believe.

(I imagine there are professionals here who could speak with some authority about the quality of writing one can expect from mediocre minds.)

The stink of fear and hate and ignorance that accompanies genuine expressions of such thinking is somehow absent. The whole thing puts me in mind of a good-but-not-great actor playing a drunk.

#29 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:14 PM:

I figured it had to be satire--if it weren't, it wouldn't be so elegantly written. I tend to assume that people who write like that understand how Daylight Savings works (maybe I'm too optimistic).

It's very good satire.

#30 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:20 PM:

thanbo @ #21 - Little Rock, AK. So that's why the style being parodied is familiar. It's from Alaska.

I am relieved that the letter is satire.

#31 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:36 PM:

I hope this is satire as well. But sadly I think it's really an example of orc logic as sidelighted by Patrick.

#32 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:46 PM:

#17: The letter immediately following Meskimen's in Andy Vance's link is apparently not satire:

"Re Vance M. Greenfield’s letter on the removal of religion from school, etc.: I concur that religion has no place in government. But there is a vast difference between Christianity and religion. You can make a religion out of anything. Islam is a religion. Buddhism is a religion. There are many religions in the world, but only one Christianity.

Greenfield stated that God should be kept out of schools and government. I can understand his thinking that, since he is a Unitarian. His is convenient religion. They don’t really believe anything except what is convenient.

The Lord said [he is] God and there is no other, and Christ said no one comes to the father except through [him]. He also said there is no other name under Heaven whereby men might be saved. If you don’t believe these three statements, then you may believe anything you like, because it won’t make any difference. Many moons ago, I heard an old preacher say, "The greatest fault of Christians is that they fail to take their Christianity to the market place." He said Christianity, not religion. I am not preaching. I just know that we need God in everything we do, every hour, every minute and every place we go. There really is no such thing as convenient Christianity. Religion, yes. Christianity, no. JIM HENDERSON SR."

#33 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:55 PM:

#31: Now THAT'S what I'm talking about:

"The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine."

When I said that the global warming letter was lacking the stink of fear and hate and ignorance, this right here is what I'm talking about. This article reeks of it. Obviously the genuine product.

#34 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:56 PM:

#31 The letter you link to has an excellent example of "We wouldn't be so nasty except that you liberals force us to be, damn you!"

#35 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:57 PM:

There's this sort of thing, also, concerning a petition to change an area from 'dry' to 'wet' in TX. (This letter is mild; a previous one was up in arms about all the drunk driving deaths that would result. As if there weren't already. And bootleggers.)

I read the article concerning a petition and a possible vote to make it legal to sell beer, wine and whiskey in Plainview.

I don’t understand the statement from a committee member who said, “It would increase the quality of life.”

I don’t believe it would increase the quality of life that we now enjoy in Plainview.

I am asking you to ask yourself, “What would God want me to do?”

Pray about it before signing a petition or voting yes to have “beer, wine and whiskey” available in Plainview, if it comes to a vote.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:59 PM:

satire or no, there are some knuckleheads out there who read that and nodded there heads. It's like you can feel the stupidity in the air sometimes.

#38 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:09 PM:

I should have noted that the guy who wrote that insightful screed, Andrew Klavan, is a novelist (he wrote True Crime, which was made into an Eastwood flick).

#39 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Teresa, when did they relocate Little Rock to Alaska? It didn't seem like that long a drive today.

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Andy Vance #31: "This is leftism’s great strength: it’s all white lies. That’s its only advantage, as far as I can tell. None of its programs actually works, after all. From statism and income redistribution to liberalized criminal laws and multiculturalism, from its assault on religion to its redefinition of family, leftist policies have made the common life worse wherever they’re installed."

I've heard this tripe from some right-wingers. I'd love to see how most of them would handle living in, say, 1890s New York or 1870s London.

#41 ::: Samuel Tinianow ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:29 PM:

March was particularly WARM in Arkansas? Bastards.

#42 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Fragano #40: I'd love to see how most of them would handle living in, say, 1890s New York or 1870s London.

They're convinced they'd do fine. You see, it would never occur to them that they'd be anywhere but the top of the heap.

#43 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:43 PM:

I think what struck me more than the boilerplate wingnuttery was the attempt to find nobility in being a raging prick. Worse still, he thinks he can pass off projection as introspection. What kind of writer has never read Catcher in the Rye?

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Mandalei 24: Reminds me of the brouhaha over the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, when people believed those days were "lost".

You're a pieceworker. You get paid for the number of doohickeys you can make, no more.

You pay the rent every first of the month. It's the same rent on October 1 (Gregorian) that it was on September 1 (Julian). And it's 1752, so if you don't pay, your landlord will turn you and your family out into the street.

Eleven days worth of doohickey-making lost plus heartless landlord plus rent still due equals hungry children.

Don't be so quick to condemn their stupidity. That one really did make a difference. These days the rent would be pro rata by law if such a change were made (but we'd rather have Solstice in March than reform our calendar, so unlikely), but in 1752? No way.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Oh, and when Michigan was voting whether to go on DST, there was a serious letter in the paper from a lady who said that her grass would die from too much sun.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:50 PM:

In the interest of ... something ... I've changed AK to AR in the post. Clarity. Yeah, that's it. Clarity.

Typos delenda est.

#47 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:51 PM:

joann @ 42

it would never occur to them that they'd be anywhere but the top of the heap.

Oh, I wish I had a time machine. I'd set up a little travel agency in DC, advertising specials on vacations in the conservative past, say mid-18th century England. Then ship the neobarbs back there and let 'em see how they like it. We could empty out K street in a month.

#48 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:00 PM:

This reminds me of the article in the April Fools issue of the Economist, years ago, when they explained both inflation and the expansion of the universe with the new observation (from the Department of Empirical Mathematics at some madeup university) that the numbers were simply getting *smaller*.

#49 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:14 PM:

This is satire, but it's not beyond belief. My sister-in-law came back from a holiday in Norway, and told her co-workers at the bank about the midnight sun. "The what?" North of the Arctic Circle in summer, the sun doesn't set, it just dips down towards the horizon at midnight, and then starts back up.

Actual reaction: "If it's not going to set, why does it bother dipping down?"

I have it on good authority that stunned silence is the only possible response.

#50 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Reminds me of the brouhaha over the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, when people believed those days were "lost".

Never happened. Those riots, with people shouting "Give us back our eleven days"? Utterly fictional. Hogarth depicted it in a satirical painting in 1755, three years after the changeover in 1752, as a way of mocking partisan politics.
In fact, the act that imposed calendar reform also said that financial contracts (such as wages, rent and taxes) would run an extra eleven days to make up for it - which is why the financial year in Britain ends on 6 April rather than (as before) the old New Year's Day of 25 March. There was suspicion of the reform, which was seen as "popish" - but nothing more than that.

#51 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Meskimen does not show up on an Arkansas Bar Association web look up.

http://www.arkansasfindalawyer.com/

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:23 PM:

joann #42: That's always a problem with people who are nostalgic for 'the good old days' -- they assume they'd be at the top of the pile, as opposed, say, to living crowded in a sixth-floor walk-up firetrap.

#53 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:26 PM:

But he/she does here. Which one is right?

http://pview.findlaw.com/view/1096575_1

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Bruce Cohen #47: I'd favour seventeenth century Germany, myself. I'd love to hear how someone who complains about 'political correctness', there being no differences between men and women, and who thinks that everyone but them these days is a wimp would handle life back then.

(I have students who insist that this segregation was good for black people. In one or two cases, I've managed to cure that.)

#55 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I've long been intrigued that AK is the standard wrong abbreviation for my home state. When I lived there and would give my address over the phone, invariably the person at the other end of the line would say, "That's AK, right?" I expect it's because people think, "It can't be AR. That's the first two letters of the state; that's too easy." I blame IA, the Old Ones State.

Of course, when your last name is "Granade" you're already in trouble. To continue the discussion of common wrongness, the two most common mis-pronunciations are grah-NAHD and, oddly enough, Grenada.

#56 ::: Mandalei ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:06 PM:

Sorry, I was under the impression that the first push to change to the Gregorian Calendar was in 1582; England didn't change over for some time thereafter.

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:06 PM:

Fragano @ 54

Me 'at's off to ya, guv! Anyone who can cure that pox is a force to reckon with.

Yes, 17th Century Germany might be ... educational. Or maybe Bohemia sometime in the early 1620's, during the revolution. Let them see what Protestantism can really do!

#58 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Stephen Granade @ 55

I blame IA, the Old Ones State.

What, Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep are from Iowa? Dubuque, perhaps?

#59 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:11 PM:

It gave me a good laugh, and I vote for satire because, as has been pointed out, it's well written and not hateful. As satire, it's pretty sly.

#60 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Ok, assuming the Meskimen letter is satirical, who is the target? I think it really is a subtle and well-placed dig at liberals (and not just because it's meant to trick them, er, us into thinking it's written by a yokel).

#61 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:58 PM:

Samuel, it was indeed beautiful today in Arkansas--I just drove the daughter back from the library with the top down on the convertible--and in much of March, but we also had a hard freeze that killed much of our fruit crop throughout the state.

The invaluable Arkansas Times Daily Blog mentions in passing the "joke letter" in the local joke of a newspaper, so you can put that question to rest.

#62 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:16 PM:

Re: attorney directories: the one where the author doesn't show is a paid site (I'm not quite sure about the other). Neither are an official list of all members of the bar.

#63 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:29 PM:

#44 Xopher, re: work vs. rent at the Gregorian changeover
These days the rent would be pro rata by law if such a change were made (but we'd rather have Solstice in March than reform our calendar, so unlikely), but in 1752? No way.

I won't claim there weren't any cases of landlords using the change this way, and powerless renters unable to defend themselves, but the law was pretty clear: no rent, interest, bond payment, etc., was due any earlier than it would otherwise have been; if your rent was otherwise due on September 30, 1752, after this change it would be due on October 11, and on the 11th from then on.

See the full text of The British Calendar Act of 1751 for more information; in particular, the sections beginning with "Times of Payment of Rents, Annuities, &c".

#64 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:30 PM:

#60: Looks to me like a three-pronged joke.

First target is the sort of wingnut that's being parodied. Our writer is dressed up as your garden variety liberal-hating global warming-denying Bushite, and he's putting obviously stupid words in such mouths.

Second target is the newspaper. Will they print a gag letter? Let's see.

Third target is anyone who can be enticed to engage the argument seriously, as at least one reader of the paper did. As they say: YHBT. YHL. HAND.

Overall, I'm impressed. When I try my hand at that sort of thing, I always overdo it and nobody bites. This guy is good--the sort where you won't even notice he cut you until you count your fingers later on.

#65 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:33 PM:

Er, yeah, what Ajay said 2 hours earlier. In my defense, I did read to the end of the thread before replying. I just forgot that I'd loaded the page 3 hours earlier and gotten distracted before reading it.

#66 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:42 PM:

#60 Andy Vance: ...I think it really is a subtle and well-placed dig at liberals...

Naw. I think it's satirizing people who look to guys like Bill O'Reilly or Rush to explain their Moral Outrage to them, but who occasionally show some initiative and come up with a violated principle on their own. Usually a big mistake. They end up with all the invigorating outrage but with none of the semi-plausible logic to purportedly back it up.

And then they write a letter to the editor about it.

#67 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Elise, #34: aka "I wouldn't beat you up if you didn't MAKE me!" Not that the parallels between domestic abuse and neocon rhetoric haven't been pointed out before, but another example never hurts.

Joann, #42: In the opening natter to one of Asimov's F&SF essays, he relates a conversation with a woman who thought it would be wonderful to have lived "in the days when we could get good servants." Asimov replied that no, it would be terrible! Why do you say that, the woman wanted to know.

"Because we'd be the servants."

(Of course, Asimov himself was from a working-class background; his parents were small shop-owners, barely a step above the servant class themselves. One can understand why he would have a more realistic outlook.)

Niall, #49: "Stunned silence" was what you got here, too. I would have NO idea what to say in that situation!

Stephen, #55: You owe me a new keyboard! This one has chai all in it...


#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 10:08 PM:

Todd 65: No, actually you clarified a point I was going to ask about. I'm glad to know they thought about that, and I'll stop saying that about it...but I bet there were some landlords who didn't follow the law.

In fact...landlords who follow the law are the exception in my experience, even today.

#69 ::: Ambitious Wench ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 10:14 PM:

*waves*

Er. Ah. Not my find, but shared on a mailing list by a good friend. I did extensive googling to find out if it was published on April 1, and (without having to pay for an online membership or reproduction rights) determined that the article was published on April 16th of this year.

The scan of the print edition letter is not mine, but to be honest, I can't remember where I found it. There are several copies on the web now, and I didn't want to steal bandwidth by hotlinking directly to the image url.

Hence the link to my Flickr account.

Frankly, ya'll should check out what another friend of mine has done with this article:

http://www.jamescronen.com/blog/2007/04/23/say-what/

And thanks for the mention, Teresa. Makes this humble photographer kinda surprised to hear she's on Making Light!

Edie

#70 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 11:09 PM:

Laertes #64: There is a fourth target, though I'm not sure this target was intended: the sort of half-clever wingnut who hopes, by spreading more obvious bullshit that no sane person truly believes, to contribute to the ongoing pollution of the discourse about global warming. The joke is to see whether wingnuts like that can be enticed into seriously pushing such obvious bullshit.

Come to think of it, having read more of Free Republic than I care to admit, and having seen with my own bloodshot eyes what passes for an intellectual rebuttal of Antonio Gramsci there*, I'm not sure the original author wasn't one of those wingnuts.

#71 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Michael: And then they write a letter to the editor about it.

I think the meta-joke is that, contrary to liberals' fondest hopes, this is what drives politics and policy. Never mind that DST was changed by a GOP Congress as part of an egregious energy bill; in the end it's all a pinko commie plot.

#72 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Andy Vance @ 71 Never mind that DST was changed by a GOP Congress as part of an egregious energy bill; in the end it's all a pinko commie plot.

And as soon as it becomes so clear this war is an unmitigated disaster that people start scraping the W stickers off their bumpers, the war will be all our fault, too.

(OT--Psst, Xopher. We have a business proposition for you over in the Amaryllis thread....)

#73 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 11:49 PM:

Lee @ 67: You owe me a new keyboard! This one has chai all in it...

As Flip Wilson used to say, Cthulhu made me do it.

#74 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 12:04 AM:

Most of Saskatchewan does not use daylight savings time. You will often hear it explained that the farmers are afraid the extra hour of daylight will burn their crops. This explanation is often delivered with a wry grin. I sense just such a wry grin in this writer's letter.

#75 ::: Melanie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 12:19 AM:

I don't know if this will work here, but the html for strikeout is <s> with the appropriate closing. Hmm, let's see.... ...nope, doesn't appear to work here.

#76 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 12:42 AM:

I've heard from two different Arizona residents that the reason Arizona does not observe DST is because some farmers complained to state legislators that they would be losing an hour of working sunlight because of DST... This is probably an urban myth though...

Or maybe not so mythical... see this Wikipedia footnote: 'Farmers complained that they cannot get into the fields any earlier than under standard time … because the morning sun does not dry the dew on daylight savings time'. Aren't farmers supposed to have an internal sun-driven clock so DST shouldn't be an issue to them? (Damn those Commie inventions called 'clocks'!)

Yes, I know that the official reason for AZ's lack of DST is to conserve energy that would have otherwise been used for additional air conditioning...

#77 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:17 AM:

Personally, I've always felt that Arizona didn't observe DST because it offended the Goldwater family's libertarian bones.

#78 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Hmm, poking around further on reports of farmer opposition to DST. There appears to be a reasonable objection to DST in that it makes farmers' work schedules different from the townies, although I don't see why farming communities couldn't just adjust their schedules (instead of opposing or not observing DST) to accommodate the farmers.

There was also a bunch of instances of the same basic dairy farming anecdote, stating that dairy cows want to be milked regularly on a fixed every 12-hr schedule, but the creameries want the milk at the same fixed clock time, DST or no DST (alternate version: the part-time farmer has to go to his day job). So like I said, why is this issue? Are businesses with farms in its immediate supply chain too inflexible to schedule around the sun instead of the whatever the clock officially says?

#79 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:28 AM:

#10, #75 -- the usual HTML strikeout tag is <strike>, but it doesn't seem to be supported here.

Considering all the fans who've had input into on-line standards, I'm almost surprised there isn't a <fanstrike> tag which would overwrite each letter with a separate slash in the classical f/a/n/z/i/n/e/ m/o/d/e/, rather than just putting a legal-style horizontal line through the whole phrase.

#80 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Re #77 by Linkmeister

Heh. I was going to put in a slightly snarky comment about Arizona libertarianism in that post, but thought better of it... Something about DST being too much of a Fascist/Commie/Socialist (because, look!, all those regimes (and most of the Allies too) adopted year round DST during WWII!) plot for Arizona to adopt.

#81 ::: sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 06:40 AM:

Hee hee, it made Snopes!

http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/daylight.asp

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 06:43 AM:

Bruce Cohen #57: In a couple of case I've been able to get students to read books that have opened their eyes to what life was actually like.

Bohemia around 1620 would be perfect. I have a little list of people who need defenestration...

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 06:50 AM:

Many years ago (back in the late 1970s), I worked for the Gleaner Company in Jamaica (newspaper publishers since 1834). One morning I was startled to see that a letter had been published with the signature and address 'Mary Lykes, Cockwell Inn, Tillet, Herts, England'. I would have thought the editor responsible was knowledgable enough to have caught it.

#84 ::: malachite ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 07:25 AM:

I admit to falling for the letter, if only because I have seen letters just as stupid/ignorant printed in my local instant birdcage liner. Not to mention a lot of things I've heard IRL.

And then there's my grandfather's brother who went to Florida for the first time and was astonished to discover that he couldn't see Europe on the other side of the ocean. He wasn't a stupid man, just dropped out of junior high (if that far) during the Depression.

#85 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 07:53 AM:

Until you folks have seen the letters page of the Democrat-Gazette, you really haven't looked into the abyss. That letter looks like sweet reason next to the sort of swinishness that dominates that sheet.

#86 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:15 AM:

> in the days when we could get good servants

That reminds me of a story I read years ago, (probably in Reader's Digest in a dentist's waiting room).
A passenger on a flight from South Africa makes a complete pain of herself all trip. Finally, once they have landed and are unloading, she turns to the air hostess and says "Tell me, it's years since I've been in England - what is the servant situation like these days?".
The stewardess, with a totally straight face, replies "Don't worry madam, I'm sure you will find no problem finding a situation".

#87 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Here in Indiana we've just switched to DST. The debates over it were...hilarious, particularly for those of us who didn't grow up here.

Some of the more entertaining trivia:

1) We're right between the Eastern and Central zones. For a while, the state govt. was going to let each county decide individually which time zone it would be in.

2) Point #1 led to one county telling another that if it didn't decide to be in central time zone like its neighbors it would be considered "tantamount to an act of war."

3) There were several outraged letters to the papers about how helpless children, forced to wait for the school bus in the pitch dark of a DST morning, would be plowed down by unwary motorists.

4) You mean Indiana children would have to go to school at the same time as children in MAINE? Oh, the insanity!!

5) The day the changeover happened, the "Living" section of the paper had an extended list of suggestions from child therapists on how to help your child adjust to the trauma of the new time.

That's all from the banks o' the Wabash...

#88 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Fragano, #54: Is there any particular argument that seemed to be the clincher?

#89 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:34 AM:

Bruce @57: Let them see what Protestantism can really do!

I'd like to add Muenster (in its short incarnation as the Anabaptists' New Jerusalem) in 1534/35 to the list of destinations.

And Bamberg 1631 and Trier 1590 might be educational for people believing in good intelligence through torture. (Unless they believe in witches, too.)

#90 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:46 AM:

Frangano #82: Well, you got one USian to Google for "Mary Lykes"! (When the search "failed to converge" I looked back and got the pun.)

#91 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:55 AM:

In the UK, we have British Summer Time *because* the farmers wanted it. It's part of being a long thin country oriented north-south, starting far enough north that you notice the dark winters.

But this letter ought to be etched on glass as a cautionary message to future life, as in On the Beach.

#92 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Sarah @ #87-

I moved from Indiana to Ohio in 2000--- I've watched the whole debate from afar. From DST arguments, to the debate over privatizing the Toll Road-- yeah, I don't miss Indiana politics.

#93 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Bill @ #92

Really? I grew up in Cleveland!

I left out all the nonsense about the evils of electing to depart from "god's time" and get onto "government time."

My fingers can only type so much nonsense in one day.

#94 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 10:26 AM:

#78 Bernard Yeh: If you assume that much flexibility, you could just do away with DST and ask everyone to shift their schedules around. "Spring is here, and the President would like to ask business owners and local government officials to please consider adjusting their schedules to allow for later opening and closing times, in order to save electricity."

#95 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 10:55 AM:

#94:consider adjusting their schedules to allow for later opening and closing times

To simulate the effect of DST in standard time, you need earlier opening and closing times. (e.g., 7am DST is 6am ST.) This makes me think that we have DST, in part, because there are a lot of people who don't think of themselves as morning people. The ostensible purpose of DST is to shift more daylight into people's waking hours.

I keep waiting for legislation to define sunrise as 7am, year round. (I don't actually want this. It's just the obvious end point. Our timeservers will simply adjust the time they serve such that it is always exactly 7am at sunrise. It'll all be vaguely Roman.)

Now if they can also forbid winter until December, and make it exit March the second...

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #88: Descriptions of what segregated public education was like in the rural deep South seem to do it.

#97 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 10:58 AM:

David Harmon #90: And then you wished you hadn't? (Got the pun, that is.)

#98 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 11:08 AM:

#67 Lee: Isaac would have been thinking further back. His parents may have been small merchants, but the generation before that were Jewish peasants. Probably wouldn't have been allowed in the house even as servants.

#99 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 11:17 AM:

JC @ 95: Now if they can also forbid winter until December, and make it exit March the second...

That was done once. It ended in tears, pyres, swordfights, and watery tarts.

Our current administration would love that.

#100 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Since I added some off-topic musing to this discussion, let me now add on-topic information. A friend from college who is a practicing lawyer in Little Rock has confirmed that Connie Meskimen is a bankruptcy lawyer who has practiced in Hot Springs and Little Rock, and who "has a pretty good peer rating".

#101 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Vaguely tangential from #95

I have always been romantically taken by the notion of true local time, back before train scheduling eventually led to standard time. Standard time is an homogeneous consensus reality imposed on regional, national, and global scales. The uncomfortable feeling of being shackled to that consensus reality is what has always kept me from ever wearing a watch. Local time creates smaller pockets of reality, decentralising power in the reality making business. Participative consensus reality, if you will. The ontological anarchist in me grooves on that.

I actually treat the days we change our clocks as almost sacred events. It is one of the very few instances of people coming together to change such a fundamental aspect of our consensus reality. I keep wishing it would inspire us to do more. I personally think we should rename the days of the week from time to time - or for that matter, why not make weeks 8 days long? I could really use longer weekends.

Better yet even, maybe we should take a page out of the Mayan calendar and give each day a completely unique name. It has always seemed a criminal stunting of our imaginations to repeat the same 7 day template over and over again, ad infinitum. I think the world would change if we every day woke up to a truly brand new day, rather than just "yet another Tuesday".

#102 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 12:09 PM:

Riffing off Graham #101:

One of the more striking (pun not intended) things about living in Venice for me was the church bells. At seven sharp each morning, the bells start ringing. During the night, they don't ring, and there is this curious feeling of being "off the books" and out of the normal flow of time. But everyone who can hear rejoins a consensus reality at seven sharp. Except not all the bells go off at once. For me in my attic loft, San Geremia began the parade. When it was done, another church (probably San Marcuola) started its tolling. And so forth. And they're all different, each with different tones, with a different interval, a different pattern. Since everything echoes round, and the same sound can take two or three different paths to get to you, there are overlaps and echoes: many different temporal realities arrive simultaneously at your ear, while a single reality is splintered into discrete shards of sound.

(Venice seems to be much more driven by/tolerant of bells; Other places I stayed or visited had nowhere near the same aural qualities.)

As to the effects of DST: when I was in Italy, European DST stopped several weeks earlier than in the US. Somehow there being only a six-hour difference from Texas instead of a seven-hour one made home seem closer. (Possibly because it was slightly easier to arrange phone calls and expect to find anyone home or awake or whatever.) Then US standard time set in, and I felt further away again.

#103 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 12:35 PM:

so if it is a satire, as the consensus now seems to be, perhaps the front post should note this and perhaps even praise it as a rather clever bit of satire.

#104 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Graham Blake(101):
Local Apparent Time is what sundials show. Local Apparent Sidereal Time is what observational astronomers use (same thing, more precise. I've never seen a sundial marked with seconds). Due to various astrophysical wobbles, they vary considerable from clock time.

Me, I go around muttering on the clock change days about "Guvmint interferin' with the Laws o' Nature" mostly because it screws up my sleep cycle, and it comes at a bad time in the spring (I get up around 6 or 7 most days, but in ski season I get up at 5 on weekends to get to my ski job).

"Spring Forward, Fall Over"

#105 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 01:11 PM:

It appears to have been a joke that I took at face value. In expiation for this, here is a perfectly serious site on a new and groundbreaking model of the Earth:

http://www.nealadams.com/nmu.html

Yes, it's _that_ Neal Adams.

#106 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 01:22 PM:

#95 JC: Arghh! There were only two ways to do the @#$% calculation, so naturally, I chose the wrong one.

#107 ::: Jonathan Versen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Global warming is caused by the atmospheric friction caused by striking the keys on your keyboards when you leave comments at really popular blogs. That's why I'm thankful everyday that hardly anybody visits my blog, let alone leaves a comment. I probably should feel bad about leaving this comment too, as well as using punctuation and the extra keystrokes this entails. For this reason I'll stop rambling forthwith and I won't end this with a period

#108 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:11 PM:

The claims about farming time are substantially correct, but somewhat incomplete. I was affected by the morning dew during the wheat harvest. You could start a couple or three hours befopre noon, and then you began to notice the damp again, affecting the behaviour of the straw as it was cut and passed through the combine harvester, sometime around sunset.*

But you were pretty busy doing maintenance in those daylight hours before you could start.

As for dairy farming, it's true that cows are creatures of habit. And the food processing industry runs by the clock. But a modern dairy farmer will be passed the warm milk (bovine body temperature) through a chiller before it goes into the bulk tank. These days, UK dairies don't even collect milk every day.

* The moisture levels affect the power needed to drive the cutter bar on the header, which is maybe more noticable in the UK where we can get yields of arounf 10 Mg/Ha, two to three times what's usual in the USA. It then affects how the straw bends as it passes through the threshing drum, affecting the balance between optimum drum speed and the rate the corn is cut. It can even make the straw a little sticky, leading to straw wrapping around the drum, even jamming the drum, which does the drive belt no good at all.**

**Been there, done that, got the barley awns in my navel.

#109 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Graham Blake, #105: "I have always been romantically taken by the notion of true local time, [...]"

Solar, or sidereal?

#110 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Bernard @ #80,

My family's from Phoenix. I went to school at the UofA in Tucson for several years. That may explain why I'm conditioned to see a Goldwater hand in a lot of things that happen in Arizona.

Ah, for the days when it was Udalls v. Goldwaters.

#111 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Graham Blake #101 - Better yet even, maybe we should take a page out of the Mayan calendar and give each day a completely unique name.

The Church tried something like that with the Calendar of Saints*. Of course then there were schisms and heresies and reformations and things, leading to it being of specialised interest.

* The wikipedia entry says "This calendar system, when combined with major church festivals and movable and immovable feasts, constructs a very human and personalised yet often localized way of organizing the year and identifying dates." Which is sort of what you were saying.

#112 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:38 PM:

James @105: That is a really impressive piece of crackpottery there, but I'm afraid I don't know what you mean when you say "_that_ Neal Adams"... would you mind explaining a bit?

#113 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Heck, let's just reinstate the Republican Calendar.

#114 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 03:42 PM:

Zack @ 112 -- won't mean anything if you're not into comics. Neal Adams is an artist who worked at Marvel, DC and other companies from the late 60s onwards, in a highly detailed style that influenced many subsequent artists. All of which is an excellent grounding for revolutionary geological scientific theory, naturally.

#115 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Graham Blake @ 101

I think the world would change if we every day woke up to a truly brand new day, rather than just "yet another Tuesday".

Going the other way might be interesting too: change everything to metric time, measured in seconds from some arbitrary epoch*. I've always thought that this sort of calendar(?) would induce a very different view of time, a progressive rather than a cyclic view. And a 2 gigasecond lifespan sounds better than 3 score and ten.


* January 0, 1970 springs to mind.

#116 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:42 PM:

I assume you've read _A Deepness in the Sky_, right? The Qeng Ho side of the narrative flows much better once you work out about how long a ksec is in minutes, and an msec is in days.

#117 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 07:38 PM:

Yep, I've read Deepness. I did try to keep track of time in familiar units, but after awhile it was too distracting, so I just let the kilosecs flow.

Charlie Stross used that kind of time recently in Glasshouse, and it was an effective device for isolating the history given in the story from our own. You know that it is about 20 gigaseconds from now, and you can work out that that is about 700 years, but that intuitive feel for the amount of time doesn't stick with you, especially since he built in a Dark Age between us and the time of the story, in which almost all the connections got lost. It's also a way of indicating how different time is to someone who's effectively immortal, and doesn't spend time on planets.

#118 ::: David K. Gibson ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:00 PM:

I managed to sneak a similar letter into my local paper in March. If this one isn't satire, then it just goes to prove that satire is no longer possible.

http://aspentimes.com/article/20070323/LETTER/103230063&SearchID=73279159949579

#119 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Bruce and Albatross,

Metric time vs. conventional--I get a shiver when I think about how far back the unit of 7 days goes. It's an unbroken chain between me and... the Bronze Age? Cave paintings?

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:52 PM:

Brenda Kalt #119: Well, back to ancient Mesopotamia. See this for more details.

#121 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Bruce Cohen @115

I have to admit that the notion of switching from a cyclic timeframe naming system to a linear one causes me to feel vaguely uncomfortable. I'm used to seeing the cyclic nature of the world, and having a cyclic calendar (repeating the names of days, months, hours etc) seems to fit, somehow. I'd agree the calendar could do with a bit of reorganisation - why not have 13 months of 28 days each, and maybe a name for each of the weeks (oh, hang on, we already have something like that... only it's done by advertisers). Maybe a nine-day week (and watch all the fun and games trying to name the extra two days?).

But I'd rather keep the cycles. Mind you, playing with the calendar is a rather common human pastime. I'm surprised old Pope Gregory's effort has lasted this long.

#122 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 12:30 AM:

On the other hand, or possibly the gripping hand, there are three letters about global warming in the April 14 Science News, all of which seem to want to deny it's real. (Two of them are from people who say they read the IPCC report.)

#123 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 02:30 AM:

Meg Thornton @ 121

As long as I'm living here on Earth, I agree with you. The cyclic calendar serves an important purpose in tying us to the rhythm of the seasons, it's not something I want to lose. Same with the monthly cycle; for most of my life I've been at least vaguely aware of what the current phase of the moon was, and where I would have to look in the sky to see it at any given time. And I've been a city boy for most of my life, so there must be a powerful resonance there to break through all the urban distractions.

But, if I live long enough to get out into space for an extended period, I think linear time would make more sense than trying to jam-fit Earthly seasons and the lunar cycle onto a completely different way of life.

#124 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 03:20 AM:

Regarding time travel and social class, I remember a lovely short story with that premise in Analog in the mid 60's by either Christopher Anvil or Piers Anthony in his pre-twee phase, where a time traveller promised to restore a chap to his rightful place in medieval history...

I really wish my mum hadn't thrown those out when I went to university...

#125 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 03:26 AM:

Pray about it before signing a petition or voting yes to have “beer, wine and whiskey” available in Plainview, if it comes to a vote.

Sadly, this is more or less how the first round of prohibition happened. Activist women, along with churches (and for that matter, church-based activist women) were huge supporters of prohibition, since then-current laws left women and children pretty much completely at the mercy of husbands-and-fathers who drank.

Problem was, of course, that they came up with an incredibly bad solution because they were pragmatic enough not to be willing to expend any political capital on the far more effective but politically improbable goal of giving women and children rights. Easier and more satisfying to people looking for a quick moral superiority fix (though less effective and more damaging to society) to Make a Statement and deplore the consequences later as a sign of how fallen Those People are.

Hot damn, I believe it's a metaphor. Centrists please note.

#126 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 03:53 AM:

It's just struck me that the Mayan calendar runs out of uniques in 2012 *because they assumed IPv6 would be deployed by then*.

#127 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 03:58 AM:

124: Coooolll. That's essentially a practical demonstration of John Rawls' Veil of Ignorance.

#128 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 09:05 AM:

I can't remember what the weather here in Kensington was like in April. All I know is that I'm chilly, but there are lots of pretty things in bloom. In London, it's concrete all year long from my front step, so there's not really a comparison.

(Help me I'm locked out of my brother's networks and can't get online with my own PC! Argh!)

#129 ::: Richard ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 10:23 AM:

The Connie Meskimen of the letter is NOT the Little Rock lawyer. She is a woman who lives in Hot Springs, as the origiinal letter indicated, and writes a humor column for the local paper, the Sentinel-Record. Apparently, she got to some of the folk on this list.

#130 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Albatross @ #94

I actually think that voluntary schedule adjustment vs. fixed clock adjustment wouldn't be too bad of an idea. I like the idea of greater flexibility overall in people and society in general, but see below.

Dave Bell @ #108

Thank you for those comments. It confirms my suspicions that those dairy farm anecdotes weren't entirely accurate (or at least obsolete) given my feeling of what modern supply chains are supposed to be like. (ob Computer Geekery: Of course! Unsynchronized input and output is solved by... buffering!)

[I]t's true that cows are creatures of habit.
Sadly for all my liking of my ideas of flexibility above, so are most humans, thus the complaints and grumblings around DST changeovers. The question is whether DST has been around long enough for it to become the habit...

#131 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Richard @ 129: Really? At the end of the Snopes article on this letter, they mention the voicemail message at the lawyer's office talking about the letter.

#132 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Richard, are you sure about that?

I ask because the Sentinel-Record and the Democrat-Gazette are both deplorable-Hussman papers. It strikes me as unlikely that a columnist from the first would appear unannounced as a letter writer in the second.

#133 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Re: comment 102

I remember waking up to the sound of the bells at college almost every morning my freshman year. Russian class always seemed that much more bearable afterwards.

#134 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Mr. Cohen @ 58:

What, Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep are from Iowa? Dubuque, perhaps?

Bettendorf, obviously. I mean, try saying it two* times aloud. Doesn't it sound like a dwelling place for Great Old Ones?


*Author of this comment is not responsible for the consequences of saying it thrice.

#135 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 11:43 PM:

Ah, Bettendorf. Bettendorf got a case of slogan envy a while back, tried out a couple of civic slogans. One of them was "Iowa's Most Exciting City!". Trouble is, Bettendorf is not even the Quad Cities' most exciting city. They also tried "A Special Place for Special People". That was just...special. I think the city has since given up on slogans.

#136 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 02:07 AM:

Iowa seems a little, well, landlocked, for a giant squid god. But, hey, there was ocean there a few million years back, right?

#137 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 02:31 PM:
* January 0, 1970 springs to mind.
Surely you mean January 1st, yes?

But seriously, everyone knows that the one true time zero is midnight just before November 17, 1858, UTC.

And that time is stored on machines as a 64-bit number that represents the number of 100 nanosecond ticks since time 0, and that the proper way to write dates is "17-NOV-1858", right?

Ah, memories of corrupted notebook files in VMS notes that had their timestamps zeroed out...

#138 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Daniel Martin @ 137

I actually meant 12 midnight, January 0, 1970. But you make a good point: asking Unix about times before 1970 is like asking a physicist about temperatures below 0 Kelvins. When a physicist can't answer, ask a spiritualist. And that's probably what you're going to need to communicate with OpenVMS these days :-)

#139 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Daniel Martin: (137)
And that time is stored on machines as a 64-bit number that represents the number of 100 nanosecond ticks since time 0, and that the proper way to write dates is "17-NOV-1858", right?

Goes back before VMS, TOPS-10 used it as well. 17-Nov-1858 is important because that is a reference day used for keeping track of satellites by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory referenced here.
A bit different than I first heard it when I was working with that date format in the '70s, but close.

#140 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 09:14 PM:

Oh, I wish I had a time machine. I'd set up a little travel agency in DC, advertising specials on vacations in the conservative past, say mid-18th century England. Then ship the neobarbs back there and let 'em see how they like it. We could empty out K street in a month.

This reminds me of the Stanislaw Lem story in The Star Diaries where Tichy is press-ganged into heading an agency with the mission to improve all of human (and pre-human) history. The agency and its functionaries are incompetent of course, so it eventually is responsible for every catastrophe in history.

If we allowed right-wingers to time-tour in Puritan New England, we'd find that they went native and were responsible for the Salem witch trials. Let them loose in eighteenth-century Englnd, and they'd become hanging judges.

#141 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:18 PM:

sara @ 140

Let them loose in eighteenth-century Englnd, and they'd become hanging judges.

Yes, when to send them is a delicate question. That's why Fragano and I decided on early 17th century Germany or Bohemia. They'd make excellent cannon fodder for Tilly or Wallenstein.

#142 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 06:31 AM:

sara @ #140 If we allowed right-wingers to time-tour in Puritan New England, we'd find that they went native and were responsible for the Salem witch trials. Let them loose in eighteenth-century Englnd, and they'd become hanging judges.

That might be so in their own imagination, where they would, of course, belong to the upper class. But if they would actually be dropped there without knowing anyone, what makes you think that they'd get any powerful position in society at all?

#143 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Bruce Cohen #141: On maturer thought, I'd want Victor Davis Hanson sent to somewhere, anywhere, on the shores of the Mediterranean in the 1st century BCE.

#144 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 01:42 PM:

#138: time_t is often signed, so times before 1970 work better than temperatures below 0K
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2038_problem

#145 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Tilly and Wallenstein? Indeed. I can just imagine Wolfowitz and Co being flogged into the battle line by Habsburg military police as the future 1st Battalion, the Royal Scots, at the time still a mercenary force in Gustavus Adolphus' Swedish army, charge towards them with bayonets fixed.

#146 ::: BamaDave ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2007, 09:45 AM:

I would have written sooner about this article, but apparently I had forgotten to wind my watch and the sun did not come up for three entire days. Clearly again, this is caused by those blasted Liberals who voted against long life watch batteries for every american citizen.

Yours Truly, Concerned Conservative

#147 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 143

I'm thinking galley slave. Although, if this is to be an educational experience, that one might be quite brief. How about a century or so later, and sell him to a latifundium manager? We can split the proceeds.

#148 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2007, 01:28 PM:

I'm recalling a story published in a 70's Analog (and I'd tell you title and author, but I think this box is tucked away somewhere worse than the attic...) A professor with a weasly sidekick is sending mobsters who want to avoid the heat of the law, into the past.

In the final paragraphs, this operation eventually comes to the attention of the FBI, and gets rolled up. The agents, looking over the apparatus, give grudging respect to what the guy had done with a few blinking lights, naq n gencqbbe bire bar bs gur qrrcrfg nonaqbarq zvarfunsgf va Arinqn.

#149 ::: dana ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2007, 05:07 AM:

hii im writting this letter because im asking you to try and stop global warming because its ruining the earth if everyone gets together everyone will stop global warming so please stop this for earth thank you please write bak with an answer thankyou

#150 ::: Charles ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Congress is not that smart BUT they'd probably sponsor a bill for a nocturnal mission to the sun.

#151 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #147: That would certainly be educational.

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