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May 5, 2007

Open thread 84
Posted by Teresa at 11:29 AM *

Eighty-four is the sum of the first seven triangular numbers (making it a tetrahedral number), as well as the sum of a twin prime (41 + 43). Being thrice a perfect number, 84 is itself a semiperfect number.”

Messier 84.

Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered, The Federalist #84.

Turkish pronunciation of 84 is exactly sex-N-dirt, may lead to wordplay for people who speak both Turkish and English.

Comments on Open thread 84:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Hey, do I really get to crack this one? Shows I have no life, that that makes me happy.

#2 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 12:22 PM:

::joins you in lifelessness::

It's time for that annual exercise in futility we call "picking the Derby winner". I'm down to a choice between Scat Daddy (bad pedigree for the distance, but the best preparation of any horse in the race) and Dominican (steadily improving; some believe he's only good on artificial surfaces, but I think it may be a coincidence that he started getting good while racing on Polytrack.)

#3 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 12:22 PM:

::joins you in lifelessness::

It's time for that annual exercise in futility we call "picking the Derby winner". I'm down to a choice between Scat Daddy (bad pedigree for the distance, but the best preparation of any horse in the race) and Dominican (steadily improving; some believe he's only good on artificial surfaces, but I think it may be a coincidence that he started getting good while racing on Polytrack.)

#4 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 12:30 PM:

It's also Cinco de Mayo, which gives rise to thoughts of Mint Julep Margaritas and such.

#5 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Here's a Lee Judge cartoon from the KC Star I saw this morning that I think some will find entertaining.

#6 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 12:56 PM:

I'm going to try making Teresa's limeade. I have a microplane zester, thirtyish limes (I lost count and just bought 'enough' then couldn't force the checkout girl to do it for me), and no idea how much of anything to use. This could end very, very stickily.
On the other hand, every time I try a new recipe, I end up with more miscellaneous kitchen supplies. This one brings with it said zester, a funnel, and a tea strainer.

#7 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 01:27 PM:

In this hour of darkness for the Rangers, I think of Messier 11.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 01:57 PM:

there's got to be good sense as well as sound
adding things up doesn't tell us all we'd like
numbers are more pleasing when they're round

what we desire is not just what we've found
the numbers buzz like bees around their bike
there's got to be good sense as well as sound

into the soil the rods and rocks we'll pound
much hangs we learn upon a single spike
numbers are more pleasing when they're round

the words pile up they form a growing mound
against the current they form a large dyke
there's got to be good sense as well as sound

magical colours will in this space abound
the reader will crowd up upon the mike
numbers are more pleasing when they're round

i've staked this out and made this a home ground
what others find i'll count a lucky strike
there's got to be good sense as well as sound
numbers are more pleasing when they're round

#9 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 02:13 PM:

The "thicket" of quotation marks in the Particle about "Borderline Personality Disorder" made my "eyes" "hurt." Can somebody who was able to finish it explain what the heck is going on?

#10 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Are there actually such things as mint julep margaritas? That sounds amazingly tasty, to the point where I'm tempted to run by the local liquor store to try making one if anyone has a recipe handy.

#11 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Can I get some moderately-priced restaurant recommendations for Nebula weekend?

We're going to be in midtown on Friday night. We're looking for good or interesting ethnic. If all else fails, we'll go to Virgil's.

Saturday lunch I'm guessing we'll grab what we can near the hotel (the Marriott Financial Center in downtown). Are some of the restaurants open in that part of town on Saturday? It looks like there's a lot of Thai in the area, which is nice to see.

On Sunday, I want to try to bring a group over to Chinatown for dim sum. It looks like it's only about a mile from the hotel over to Chinatown, which would be a nice walk if the weather is good. I've eaten at a few dim sum places in Chinatown, but I no longer remember the names of them.

#12 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Fade, somehow I can't see margaritas made with bourbon.

#13 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Linkmeister, this is probably true. But my vast ignorance of alcoholic beverages and endless optimism compels me to ask, just in case!

#14 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Jenny @ #9: The short version is that Borderlines, while genuinely in pain and wounded due to a shitty childhood, are very good at making other people feel and seem crazy.

My extended interpretation:

The further problem which that web-page itself embodies - rather than commenting on - is that if you try to deal with the BPD behaviors by forestalling or countermoving against them, you can only do it if you become and act completely paranoid, controlling, and start sounding crazy yourself. This confirms the suspicions of the person with BPD and the people they have convinced you are Bad.

"A strange game. The only way to win is not to play."

#15 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:36 PM:

#6: I've tried straining Copious Lemonade with a tea-strainer, it's frustrating because the holes clog very quickly with the pulp and there's not enough area of sieve to get a reasonable amount of lemonade through between washings. I think you need a finer-mesh normal-sized sieve, though where one of those comes from I know not.

The microplane zester is very precisely the point of culinary extravagence up to which I will not go; I know they're lovely implements, a housemate had one, but I will not pay $35 for a grater.

#16 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Mine was twelve dollars and change, Tom at 15, but it was the grater-zester rather than a grater-grater. I don't have a cheese grater or anything at the moment, and I don't expect I will until Teresa posts a recipe that requires one. It's an adventure turning a post-dorm first apartment kitchen into an actual kitchen. You never know what you're going to need.

#17 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Doctor Who now skips a week: next week is something called the Eurovision Song Contest. And, maybe just age, skin-colour, and posh frock, I had one of those moments when, seeing Martha's mum, I wondered if they'd cast Eartha Kitt.

Which leads to the thought of Martha's mum being Catwoman.

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 03:59 PM:

"Something called the Eurovision Song Contest" is in fact one of the planet's great annual barking-mad festivals of aesthetic catastrophe. Here's last year's winner. Here's the contest itself.

European readers of Making Light can gloss all this better than I can.

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Diatryma @ 16

Yuo'll spend the rest of your life accumulating kitchen tools as you find the need for them. (My mother had one drawer we called the 'funny shapes' drawer: all the odd-shaped things that didn't really fit (in either sense) into the 'spoon' drawer (also including turners) and the 'knife' drawer (the one you looked before reaching into, because everything in there was dangerous). Where do you put potato mashers and garlic presses?)

On straining lemon juice for lemonade: the normal-size mesh works fine; when it starts getting full of pulp, turn it over and pour water through it (unless you're like me and don't mind the pulp).

#20 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 04:09 PM:

Can someone repost the lemonade recipe? PNH/TNH?

In other, personal news, my goal is to have the final edit of the thesis done before those horses cross the finish line. As I have about 10 more pages to edit, I should go focus on that rather than read ML.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Thank you, Alan Walker, for spotting the (possible? probable?) malware embedded in the Particle about Borderline Personality Disorder. The warning is much appreciated, and I've taken down the Particle.

#22 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 04:36 PM:

PJ at 19, that's part of why I'm having trouble accumulating. It's so much easier in a dorm-- one person has the big pot, one person has the cookie sheets, one person has the electric mixer. Growing up, my family kept a big crock of spatulas, wooden spoons, and a weird springy thing we never used for cooking but were not allowed to play with. No potato masher, though.

#23 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Teresa @21, and Clifton @14,

Let me recommend Bully Online as a useful resource. It's the best website I've seen for learning about bullies:
1. what bullies do - see the 4 most common types of bully- and do to you: see am I being bullied?
2. how to recognize the effects bullies have. i.e. stress that often you blame yourself for, because bullies are sneaky like that.
3. how to start countering them and start reducing the stress they've caused.

I know several people who've been helped by this site, including me.

Four years ago I was working at a nonprofit* and getting increasingly and weirdly stressed. I couldn't figure it why, which itself was stressful. Once you've been working for a while, you'd like to think of yourself as fully capable of handling anything reasonable and rational.

Except my boss was an expert at couching the unreasonable and irrational as if they were the most innocuous requests.

Luckily I found the Bullies site: just being able to define the bully-caused stress as such took half the stress away. Her affects on me changed from chronic to acute.

I finished the project and happily went onwards. She died two years later from a stroke: sad, but not unexpected.

All to say that if you know anyone who is getting unusually stressed in a "blaming-themselves even though they can't name what they're doing badly" way, point them to this site. Because it's a UK site the legal matters won't necessarily apply to other locations, but then you'll have the terminology and knowledge to find your local equivalent.

* low wages, good cause, at the height of the low-times for Silicon Valley so changing jobs wasn't easy.

#24 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Laurie D.T. Mann #11: One place that comes to mind is the Cabana Carioca Restaurante, Brazilian cuisine, at 123 W 45 St. (There's also the Cabana Carioca II, a couple of doors down at 133 W 45 St.) The times I've eaten there, the food has been good, but the service is uneven. (Sometimes they're quite slow.) Still worth it, and reasonably priced.

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Diatryma at #22, I suspect the weird springy thing was a wisk used for scrambling raw eggs. We have one of those.

If you've got a rasp around, it can double as a lemon/lime zesting tool.

#26 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Potato mashers go in the crock to the left of the stove. It's the miscellaneous one, closer to the prep area, where things like meat pounders, shears, scissors*, and the big strainer all live. The crock to the stove's right has all the spoons, ladles, nylon cooking forks and spatulas.

There are also three tool drawers. One has stuff I'm most likely to use; the other two contain, respectively: stuff I almost never use, like cookie cutters; and all the impedimenta associated with blender sticks and food processors, along with some other pointy stuff.

I used to notice that every time I watched Alton Brown, I'd end up getting another piece of cooking equipment. (Now he's scheduled across from the late-night weather, so mostly we miss him. Equipment purchases have gone down somewhat.) (Never did feel the need for an Advantium oven, though.)

* It is my contention that the most important kitchen tool is the pair of scissors, so I can cut through all the disgustingly human-proof plastic that's in my way every time I want to open something.

#27 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Diatryma @22,

What you need in a kitchen often seems like the first chapter of many cookbooks, and could be a giant thread in itself. [Goes to kitchen. Checks. Perhaps not: several of my favorite cookbooks don't have a tools section. Thought they did.]

Two things I can strongly recommend:

1. splurging on, or not being cheap in getting your good sharp kitchen knives*. A high-quality knive is like a Great Weapon in Brust. It makes you want to use it. Whatever money you'd save on a cheap knife will be lost in spoiled produce and more expensive cuts of meat because you won't want to do as much work yourself.

2. Getting a set of Oxo Good Grips or similar implements**. Same argument as for the knives. Good design makes a tool fun, perhaps effortless, or at least not burdensome.

My Oxo mandoline- that's fun. I'll be looking at produce, and the thought will come "Hey, I haven't tried that yet on the mandoline. Why not?"

ok, three things
3. two silicone oven mitts, and, if you have nonstick pots and pans, a silicone spatula or two. Silicone is a relatively new material for the kitchen and I wouldn't use it for learning to bake, but it makes for much safer oven mitts. I also prefer my silicone basting tool to my old brushes- easier to wash. Note: test your potential purchase by twisting it: all-silicone won't change color, silicone with filler will.
* back 10 open threads ago I'd written:
"A random observation of the really obvious which someone else could still find helpful:

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

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

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

** Unfortunately I'm not immediately seeing any big sets for sale (i.e. a Costco version).

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 05:51 PM:

PNH #18: There's got to be something positive to say about an international competition one of the winners of which was an Afro-Caribbean man representing Estonia.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Diatryma @ 22

I'd recommend signing up for 'Cooks Illustrated' (if you haven't already) because they do reviews of equipment. (The expensive stuff isn't always the best, surprisingly.) They're the ones who do 'America's Test Kitchen Cookbook', the one in the five-ring binder. (Found at Costco a few weeks ago: only $20!) It has recommendations for tools that are necessary and those that are handy-but-not-necessary. Also lots and lots of recipes, in many sections. Got entertained by reading as sets the names of the recipes on the facing pages where the dividers go in.

#30 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Fade (#10): I'd try something like this:

Take a silver julep cup, run a lime wedge around the rim and frost with white sugar. In the bottom of the cup, thoroughly muddle, oh, a teaspoon or less of turbinado sugar and a small handful of torn mint leaves, and maybe a little squeeze of lime juice to get it going. In a cocktail shaker, shake 2-3 oz. of reposado or añejo tequila and the juice of half a lime with crushed (not cubed) ice. Pour into the julep cup and give the whole thing a gentle stir or two to work up the sugar and mint. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprigs. Strong tequila taste at the start, with a sweet, minty finish.

It's basically a no-salt margarita with mint, prepared like a julep. I have no idea whether this recipe would work, but it's what I'd do. The proportions might need some finessing. Have a backup cocktail available.

I'm getting together with friends tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo a day late -- I'm making ceviche. Spent much too long today juicing a dozen limes with one of those wooden citrus reamers. Luckily I had no hangnails. I wasn't able to get seafood as nice as I wanted--the snapper was a little soft, but it smelled clean. I hope it turns out. I'm thinking of roasting the corn tonight and chilling it overnight before assembly.

Then we're going to go see The Asylum Street Spankers here on tour, which I'm starting to really look forward to.

#31 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Howard Peirce:

I may try that! It certainly sounds like it has potential.

This may be a stupid question: how do I crush ice? What springs to mind is "ice cubes, hammer, cutting board on kitchen counter" but I can already picture the potential for ice shards everywhere. (My culinary aptitude is...not what it could be.)

#32 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Kathryn FS #27:

Mandolines scare the bejesus out of me (and I'm generally OK w/ sharp edges on things). Is the Oxo in some way considerably safer than the rest of the pack? (I've got a Star, and at this point you'd have to pay me to use it.)

#33 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Fragano #28: I know people who throw Eurovision parties every year. I had a few drinks with the Israeli entrants after one of the competitions held in Ireland as I was eating in the restaraunt in their hotel. I still think Patrick's capsule review could be printed on the invitations for next years event:

"One of the planet's great annual barking-mad festivals of aesthetic catastrophe" - PNH

I especially love his Euro-spelling of "esthetic".

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Fade, I was kidding about the Mint Julep Margaritas, but apparently I lack imagination. cubes, dishcloth, hammer, etc. Or a cloth bag if you have one (and don't mind messing it up a bit).

Fold the ice cubes into the dishcloth, and hit it with the hammer. Or if you're very strong and have a marble rolling pin (a marvelous thing for pastries, I'm told), you could try that, but I'd still wrap it in a cloth first.

#35 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:26 PM:

Oh, I forgot to mention that I've seen this year's British entry on Graham Norton's TV show. He said it was the first thing he'd had on that was gayer than him.

It's marvellous.

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:31 PM:

Niall McAuley #s33 & 35: Pity I won't be there for that party.

There's someone gayer than Graham Norton? How on earth is that possible?

#37 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Fade, use a good ol' Waring-style blender to crush ice. That's what they were originally designed for, before the invention of the smoothie. I used to see these mechanical ice crushers* a lot in thrift stores, which was the way to crush ice before the blender was commonplace. They were standard barware during the Golden Age of the Brandy Alexander, and go well with your Esquivel and Les Baxter LPs.

If you make Margarita juleps, let me know how they taste.

* I see by googling that you can still get mechanical ice crushers (e.g.), now with 21st-century styling. It seems a bit of an affectation to me, but of a certain appeal to the retro-lounge crowd.

#38 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:39 PM:

Fragano, you asked for it.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Niall McAuley #38: Now I'm going to be really scared the next time I get on a plane....

#40 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 07:52 PM:

33, 28, 18: I was talking with a Slovenian friend one night over drinks (a theme?), and he fell into the standard European ex-pat lament about how Americans are a bunch of Philistines with no appreciation for art, culture, or beauty, and I looked him in the eye and said, "Sascha, one word: Eurovision."

"Fair enough," he said, and that was the end of it. And it's a good thing, too, or I would've had to whip out the James Last.

#41 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Niall 38: Aaaaauuwww maaaaaaaii gawwwwwwdzzzz. They're doing a parody, right? No...they're serious.

Before seeing that (or rather as much of it as I could stand to watch) if someone had used the phrase "ABBA, only stupider" to describe something, I'd've thought they were exaggerating.

#42 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Niall @38: Thank you for that. I'm very pleased to see that Eurovision continues in the grand tradition of being more camp than a field full of pink tents.

Was that song a deliberate micturation extraction of those incredibly sexist "Fly me" ads BA used to run?

#44 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 10:18 PM:

We're doomed, doomed I say. We started out our Cinco de Mayo by adopting two kittens, Siegfried and Yum. Brief trip to grocery store on the way home (someone stayed with them in an open car because of the heat) to buy kitten chow and a temporary litterbox.

Older two cats have noses out of joint but I think they'll adjust. So far: Angelina is on the hassock behind my desk which is her usual place, don't know where Badb Catha is, Yumi is running around on the 2nd floor and Siggy is downstairs running about/sleeping. Alternately. I've witnessed it.

#45 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 10:45 PM:

I was just responding to a thread on a different forum, regarding what one does in the event someone has a seizure, and started a list of Jim Macdonald's informative emergency situation posts. Is there an existing list of Jim's posts already? I've been doing a search on all of Jim's posts here, and realizing he posts a lot.

#46 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 11:26 PM:

By the way, the Union Jack in that video is flying upside down. Pointless pop trivia via the ever brilliant Pop Justice.

#47 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 11:41 PM:

Finally, an Open Thread I can contribute something meaningful to! ("Nonsense up with which I shall not put.")

I haven't seen Bob Altemeyer's work mentioned here (not that I read *everything* here) and a search on Altemeyer brings back nothing, so...

Read his book -- free! Online!

It explains the psychology of social dominators and right-wing authoritarians. It is fan-damn-tastic, and I truly believe every progressive with any interest in American politics needs to understand the content of this book. And it's fun to read, too.

Thank you, and I return you to your previously scheduled Cinco de Mayo.

#48 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Limeade has been made and it may very well be lethal. There's a bottle of made-mostly-right and a bottle that's half made-mostly-right and half the Everclear that was left in the bottle because I am new at this and didn't think to buy cheapcheapcheap anything just for the glass.

Now how do I wash a microplane zester?

#49 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 01:21 AM:

P J Evans @ 29

'America's Test Kitchen Cookbook',

I second this recommendation. We found it at Costco a couple of months ago and bought 3, one for us and two as gifts. It's especially nice because it explains a lot of the steps that other cookbooks take for granted, but that new cooks aren't familiar with.

#50 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 01:44 AM:

I just want to say...


Thanks. Just wanted to say it.

#51 ::: Greg Machlin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 01:45 AM:

(Comment partially cross-posted at carpetbagger):

Wanted to highlight and respond to Patrick's particle on Thomas Sowell off of For those who haven't clicked it, Sowell is a popular and influential "intellectual" right-wing columnist. He just wrote the following, published in National Review:

When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.

Me: What’s really bizarre about this is, if you read the whole column, it looks like he was trying to be George Carlin. This is not a real column; it’s a serious of random observations where he’s trying to be funny or clever. He couldn’t come up with a real column, (probably trying & failing to defend Iraq, or Gonzales, or Attorneygate in drafts he threw away).

As I'm sure many readers of this page know, when you think of something small & clever you like, but there’s no room for it in the bigger thing you’re working on, you file it away for later. When you can’t produce a column on deadline, you collect all the little bits you have and publish them. There’s nothing wrong with this practice in and of itself, unless you’re a crypto-fascist like Sowell.

But think about it. This isn’t something he came up with randomly. This is something he wrote down earlier, decided he liked it, saved it for a rainy day, pulled it OUT again, and published it without hesitation.

Isn’t this patently Un-American? Shouldn’t he be fired for this, in a just world? It is, and he won’t (as it's not), but let’s stay outraged, just the same.

#52 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 01:53 AM:

with regard to Eurovision-I'm addicted to "How Clean Is Your House"-and they have a particularly disgusting house the owner of which made her living writing songs for Eurovision contestants...

#53 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 02:19 AM:

Greg @51 -- and then when you realize that an op-ed in the WSJ this week explicitly called for a dictatorship in America, you kind of think maybe they really are out to get you.

#54 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 02:24 AM:

In Australian history, the "fifth of May" is sung as the death-day of Ben Hall in the ballad "The Streets of Forbes", said to be written by an eyewitness in Forbes that day. Those links have the right words, here's some more quick general background and a midi file.

#55 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 02:35 AM:

<koff> Sorry, my post #54 belongs on another thread. I was meaning to post this one here.

Eurovision. Oh yes. Many will be the dress-up party and varying bouts of stunned silence with hysterical, unbelieving laughter around the TV. It's one of the big drawcards for our 'ethnic' station, SBS. (Another is their soccer coverage.) Next Saturday, the preliminary finals, and Sunday 13th May, the Big Night. "Barking-mad festivals of aesthetic catastrophe" is an excellent description.

Keir (#46) If the people hanging the flag knew it was a sign of distress and request for help, perhaps the upside-down Union Jack was deliberate?

#56 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 04:27 AM:

Mez, for a distreass signal it would have to be the ensign, red, white, or blue as appropriate.

(The traditional snark on this is to then point out that the French use their tricolour as an ensign, thus saving them time in making distress signals at sea.)

#57 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 08:17 AM:

I notice there's a Toohey's commercial in the Particles. I wish to add their new ad. Inflatable people meet Busby Berkeley.

The inflatable bit I thought worked really well; the beer commercial bit (including gratuitous shot of girl in bikini) not so well.

(Well, it might not be as new as all that: I don't watch a whole lot of television with ads; I in fact saw it at the cinema.)

#58 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Diatryma in 48 --

You clean a microplane rasp with water, from the back. If you must, and only if you must, clean the working surface directly use something durable -- stainless steel steel wool, say -- in quantity, and strictly from the direction the teeth don't point in a wipe-lift, wipe-lift motion. (Sideways is bad, because the teeth all point both sidewayses, too.)

Microplane rasps were originally developed for rapid stock removal in hardwood; they should be treated with exactly the same caution you consider appropriately applied to an exposed rack of razorblades, because that's exactly what they are.

General note on good knives --

Get a leather stop and some good (~1 micron grit) honing compound) and make a couple passes on each side of the blade before each use, or something completely flat like plexiglass or a small steel mirror and some 3M mylar-backed extra-fine microabrasive, and do the same couple passes per side of the blade before each use.

(Knife steels act to file and swage the edge; they're appropriate more or less solely for knifes you consider disposable or for knives that can't hold an edge anyway due to metallurgical deficiency.)

I am personally not fond of the German style of consumer cooking knife with the heavy handle and the quillions, and prefer the French, which is lighter in the handle and is easier to get without the quillions.

It is no longer true that you can get a finer edge on high-carbon knife blades than you can on stainless steel, but it is still true that they're easier to sharpen. (You can also get an excellent general purpose cooking knife for 25 CDN in high carbon.)

My personal preference (leaving aside the completely lovely antique Sabatier knives with blade forms no one still makes) are the Grohmann knives from Pictou, Nova Scotia. High-carbon stainless and they'll cheerfully sell the restaurant grade/style knives over the web.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 10:02 AM:

I went to see Spiderman 3. The less said about that... Anyway, I got a few chuckles when I came across the theater's coming-soon posters: it shows a cityscape, and on top of the buildings a dog surveying everything, a dog with a red cape. The poster's tag line?

"One Nation, Under Dog."

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 10:18 AM:

I have a microplane zester the size of a large (woodworking) file. I can zest an entire lemon in under a minute, yielding extremely fine zest of exactly the kind you want to be able to mix into your cake batter or whatever. It accumulates on the safe, smooth interior of the zester (which has a cross-section like this: <__>), and I just push it out with my finger. I clean it by running it under water; I keep it in the plastic sleeve it came with.

It may be the only sharp cooking tool I have that has never tasted my blood. (ADHD is not an advantage in cooking.)

I also have a marvelous little microplane nutmeg grinder (with storage space for both whole nutmeg and the fresh-ground, with a shaker, all in an object smaller than my fist), but I haven't used it yet. Next time I bake that almond bread.

Which may be today, now that I think about it. My mouth is watering.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Graydon @ 58

I was lucky enough to have money at the same time that Lee Valley had some old-stock Sabatiers from a warehouse. I'm almost afraid to use it.

#62 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Do not ever, Ever, EVER leave a microplane grater in a kitchen drawer without some sort of protective covering around the blades.


(Luckily I had fast enough reflexes to freeze as I touched it, but I really don't want there to be a next time; while they're a great kitchen implement I can't help thinking that there's also a very grim role waiting for them in an as-yet unpublished Iain Banks novel ...)

#63 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 11:24 AM:

I think Patrick's being too mild in his description of Eurovision as "barking-mad", I think it's absolutely Upminster.

I bought a tiny micro-plane zester for I think four pounds, in a really excellent kitchen shop in Ledbury. (Right next to a really excellent deli, and downstairs from a really excellent cafe. Ledbury's worth visiting, and that particular street corner is worth lingering on and going back to.) My microplaner wouldn't be any good for hardwood, but it's perfect for limes and lemons.

#64 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 11:39 AM:

District Line jokes!

#65 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Xopher in 60 --

Honest to Tiwaz, it is a woodworking file. The Microplane people discovered there were better profit margins in kitchen implements, but the only difference is the packaging.

P J Evans in 61 --

That's where mine are from, too, and I use one of mine quite a bit. (Another is the serious-turkey carving knife and I rarely cook turkey, never mind serious-turkey; the third is the spare for the first one, still in Cosmoline.)

No sharp knife should ever be put in a dishwasher, which goes about double for high carbon steel bladed sharp knives and off into "AIGH! NO!" territory for those old Sabatier knives, but if they're wiped and dried immediately after use (and the wood on the handles gets some walnut oil from time to time) they're really quite durable. The trick of wrapping the blade in paper towel, soaking the towel in vinegar, and wrapping the lot in aluminum foil will give you a pickled gray/blue blade colour, and avoid issues with bits of the blade turning black.

#66 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Charlie @62: I do hope Mr Banks is not reading this thread, because I really, *really* do not want to read that scene.

#67 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 03:32 PM:

We have one of the knives made by my great-grandfather (who was a blacksmith on the railroad, and illiterate until my great-grandmother taught him to read). The steel is much thicker than modern all-purpose knives, and the blade has kind of a machete shape. It takes a good edge, but it doesn't keep it all that well, and it turns black when you cut fruit with it. It's kind of too large for my nerve-damaged hands, but my son loves it.

#69 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:35 AM:

This is probably a stupid question, but if one gets a new roof on one's house, does that process involve the upper floor of the house actually becoming open to the air for any period of time? Or do they just peel off some old layers of shingles and stick on new ones but leave some sort of roof-substructure intact so that the top floor still has a ceiling etc.? I need to both rent my top-floor apartment out and replace my roof, and I'm not sure if the sequence is critical.

This is a less stupid question: many moons ago we talked about Kalamazoo, coming up this week, so I know other folks here are going. Who else besides me, and does anyone want to meet up during the conference? I present Thursday afternoon and am free to play the rest of the time, minus whatever time I spend in my room writing my NEXT presentation (for 5/17). Also, any advice on dress for a female presenter? Do people do the formal business look, business casual, jeans and funky dresses....?

#70 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Susan--I haven't been in years, but it used to be slightly more formal than classwear. Meaning women have to wear suits or nice dresses.

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Susan @ 69... It shouldn't involve exposing the upper-room floor, unless they discover, after removing the old shingles and tarp that parts of the actual roof are in dire need of replacement. As for that, I'd expect that those who do that kind of stuff could tell in advance.

(Will you be taking advantage of the situation to have a turret added to your abode?)

#72 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:53 AM:

#69 Susan: Unless there is damage to the wooden underlayer of the roof, they either put a new layer of shingles on top of (at most one) old layer, or peel off the old shingles and put down new ones. The process generally takes a day or two at the most and never involves anything becoming open-air. Roofers generally schedule with an eye on the Weather Channel, as well.

The major annoyance is that unless your roofers are very, very neat, you will find bits of peeled-off shingle here and there for a long time afterwards.

#73 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Do people really put their good knives in the dishwasher? *shudder*

Heavy-duty cooks tend to look down on them, but we have a set of Henckels knives & love them.

As for summer movies--I wish _Spider-man 3_ looked good, but it really doesn't. I'd be excited for the third _Bourne_ movie, but it's directed by the same person as the second and the second made me extremely motion-sick (I haven't watched any trailers yet, because I didn't realize it was coming out until yesterday). And after the messes that were _Ocean's 12_ and the second _Pirates of the Caribeean_ movie . . .

Well, there's going to be a whole lot of waiting on reviews & word of mouth before I get excited about things.

(Oh! But there is _Stardust_, which I have hopes for. Almost forgot about that.)

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Kate Nepveu... Halfway thru Spiderman, I found myself thinking "Ho-hum." As for my wife, she kept looking at her watch. This movie made me realize that X-men 3 wasn't such a big mess after all.

Meanwhile, I am cautiously awaiting the release of the Fantastic Four movie. Michael Chiklis, who plays Ben Grimm, is a big fan of the comic-book and I got the sense he wasn't too happy with the earlier movie, but that this time, with the Origin out of the way, they were able to tell a story. Galactus is supposed to show up at the end. I wonder if he'll be wearing the purple striped trunks and the purple head-bucket.

#75 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:36 AM:

On being re-roofed:

Check the ground for nails, very carefully. You really don't want to step on a roofing nail, and the lawnmower won't appreciate them either.

#76 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:38 AM:

Since it's Open Thread 84, here's Eighty Four, PA: and,_Pennsylvania; and 84 Lumber,

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:44 AM:

P J @ 75... You use your lawnmower on the roof? How come? Do you live in a hobbit home?

#78 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Serge @ #74: re: _Spider-man 3_: This movie made me realize that X-men 3 wasn't such a big mess after all.

Oh that's not good.

But does it have a covertly sexist plot for that extra level of unpleasantness?

(As for your other comments, I didn't see the first _Fantastic Four_ movie so am not particularly waiting on the second.)

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Kate Nepveu @ 78... Well, Spiderman's lead female is always getting abducted and screaming. (Would I scream if I were stuck in a taxi hanging in a spiderweb way up there? I'd probably be uttering a non-stop string of 4-letter words, but that wouldn't do well for the movie's rating.) So the answer is yes, regarding the sexism. As for X3, what specifically did you have in mind in that area?

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 11:19 AM:

(cont'd from #79)

Actually, Spiderman's girlfriend becomes endangered only once in this movie, but it's still annoying. At least, in Superman returns, when Lois Lane is getting tossed around inside the plane, she tries to strap herself down. She's not passive. (Heck, she even saves Superman from drowning later on.)

#81 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 11:45 AM:

On being re-roofed:

The contractors who worked on my house were supposed to use a heavy magnet to find all the roofing nails on the ground, but I still found roofing nails, and even a few gutter spikes (if that's the right term), in my flowerbeds after I had the old shingles torn off and new ones put on. But it was the nail my tire found in the driveway that made me wonder just how diligent they were with the magnet.

#82 ::: Nemo ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 12:10 PM:

The *Coast Guard* produces skiffy? Who knew?

#83 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 12:27 PM:

I'm verifying that Turkish statement in my Elementary Turkish textbook. (I had a roommate from Izmir at MIT, so my interest is not completely idle.) I can still count from one to ten in Turkish from memory; I know four is dört (the ö pronounced much like the German equivalent), and eight is sekiz, so I trust Wikipedia is correct, but the best thing Ronald Reagan ever said is "Trust but verify," (and he didn't even make that up!) so verify I shall.

#84 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Serge @ 74

This movie made me realize that X-men 3 wasn't such a big mess after all.

Would that be called praising with loud damns?

It sounds like Stan Lee and friends forgot the basic rule of show biz: "Leave the theater before the vegetables come out". I guess I'll wait for the DVD or the HD broadcast on HBO.

#85 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 01:41 PM:

DaveL #72: Roofers generally schedule with an eye on the Weather Channel, as well.

When we had our roof done a couple of years ago after an epic hailstorm, the contractor informed us that his insurance didn't let him perform if there was more than a 30% chance of rain.

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 84... Would that be called praising with loud damns?

Kind of, because X3 could easily have been a great movie, a great swan song. At least, unlike Spiderman 3, it had many moments of great beauty and sadness, like when the Angel refuses to take the Cure and literally spreads his wings and escapes, flying by Alcatraz where a young mutant is being prisonner and looks on with yearning.

#87 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Serge @ 86

Oh, I agree completely. X3 could have been X2 with more angst and grimness, if only.

Personally, I wish that they'd forgotten about X3 and spent some time and energy producing a decent film of Dr. Strange. I've been hoping someone with a lot of money would realize that modern CGI could do well by Steve Ditko's graphic concepts.

#88 ::: Nick Fagerlund ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Hurray, standing-wave surfing in the Sidelights!

They have that in Munich, too; I was on a bicycle tour around the city, and they took us to see it. The main spot is in this lovely tree-shaded section of creek, and people in wetsuits line up on each bank and take turns in the wave.

It's on YouTube, of course; Here, here, and here.

#89 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 87... I'd love seeing a big-screen adaptation of Dr. Strange. But without the funny talk that's so overblown that it makes Prince Namor sound like a trash-talker.

#90 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Susan, TexAnne: Does the recommendation of suits/nice dresses for Kalamazoo hold for those of us no longer (or never) in the academic rat-race? I was obsessing about what to take for parties and such, annoyed that I had plenty of festive wear for winter, but somehow the spring and summer stuff shrank in the closet over the winter. Hate it when that happens! However, I did get a new pair of pointy-toed heels, this being a medieval conference. Tonight, the search for the cool jewelry, so I can avoid re-re-writing. Or fretting about a missing picure.

#91 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Tracie: Hmmmmm. I think if you're going just to go, you can wear what you want (but not jeans). Have you been before? I'd be cautious about the pointy-toed heels. Some of the buildings are far away from each other, and it really is uphill both ways.

#92 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Belated thank you to Kathryn from S @ #23:

I am no longer enmeshed in such a situation, but thank you for the thought and effort to provide a resource.

My response was partly based on my own experience and partly a reaction to the "helpful" suggestions in the web page - e.g. you need to quickly look around to see the facial expressions the BPD person is making at the people you're talking to, you need to quiz all your friends to find out what he/she is telling them, etc. That is just a recipe for becoming crazier yourself.

I was in a long-term relationship with someone who - in retrospect - I understand as having a lot of borderline behaviors and structure, briefly summarized as "You are a crazy and abusive person, why are you so terrible to me? Never leave me!" I am happily out of that relationship now, and in a much saner one. (My wife and I may both be a bit nuts, to various degrees in various ways, but our relationship is sane and sustaining.) Thus my War Games quote, "the only way to win is not to play."

My wife and I have also been dealing for the last few years with a foster child, the extent of whose problems only became clear after we had become her legal guardians. Right now she is living in a residential treatment program, which she hates, and is trying to "make nice" so she can come back and live with us - but without really dealing with any of her issues, learning to comply with rules, stopping the rages and property damage, giving up the self-injury, etc. She has some very strong narcissistic characteristics, and also some very strong borderline characteristics. While it is improper to diagnose personality disorders before adulthood, because virtually all teens have some characteristics in the personality disorder spectrum (Axis II), all the shrinks who saw her while she was inpatient last year seem to think she is well down that road. We really wanted to do something good, but it's not worked out too well.

#93 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Serge @ #78: The Phoenix plot in _X-Men 3_ was covertly sexist.

#94 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Kate @ #93:
The Phoenix plot in X3 was also a horrendous perversion of the original Dark Phoenix saga, which was a much-loved favorite of my teenaged self. I try not to think about that movie.

#95 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 04:01 PM:

#76 Janet Brennan Croft: Oh, but wait, there's more. The 84 Lumber founder, Joe Hardy, who is currently 84, married his third wife on Saturday. She's all of 22. You can't make this up:

#24 Bruce Adelsohn: Thanks for the pointer about Cabana Carioca Restaurante. Years ago, Jim and I found a good Brazilian place outside of Times Square, but when I tried to find it a few years later, I couldn't. I wonder if it's the same place.

#96 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Nemo@82, the American Society of Actuaries produces skiffy (well, actuarial fiction more generally, but a good proportion was science-fictional).

And no, I'm not linking to it.

It may (or may not) surprise you that some of it is quite good.

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Kate Nepveu @ 93... Susan @ 94... X3 felt like they had a script for something called X3-The Cure and a script for X4-Dark Phoenix, but they ran out of money so they decided to crazy-quilt X3 and X4 into something that did disservice to both plots. Especially to the Dark Phoenix. God. I don't know how many times I reread the comic's issue where the X-men fought to save Jean's life and yet in the end she had to commit suicide.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 04:33 PM:

(Cont'd from #97)

It's a good thing that X3 didn't also try to integrate the plot of my other famorite X-men plot of all time.

The Sentinels have taken over the USA and the moment they move out, the rest of the world is ready to nuke America. Almost all mutants and superpowered have been killed. But a few remain and Kitty Pryde is sent back into her younger self of today to stop the chain of events that'll lead to that grim future. And they succeed and History diverges. But the original future remains and Wolverine and everybody else dies.

#99 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 04:44 PM:

"Once upon a time, there was a woman named Jean Grey and a man named Scott Summers. They were young. They were in love. They were heroes."

(That may not be a perfectly accurate quote, but I read the Phoenix saga 20+ years ago, and it still packs a punch for me.)

I not only reject X3, I reject all the ludicrous retcons the comic book has gone through since that made Phoenix really not Jean Grey after all.

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Susan @ 99... That's how I remember it too.

Grant Morrison did some interesting stuff a few years ago when he brought Phoenix back into Jean. A souped-up Magneto was able to kill her, and her last words to Scott should have sounded ludicrous, but they did not.

"All I've ever done is die on you."

#101 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 05:06 PM:

Oh, my. Words do fail me. The latest of TNH's particles, S.A. Wilson's Therapy Blend Coffee. seems to be for real. If it's a spoof, it's a very involved and complete one. If it's not, well, "so many rejoinders, so little time".

#102 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Bruce @101,

I like living in the 21st century. Strike that- love it. I've never been tempted by the "wouldn't you like to visit the 1800's?" thought experiments.

But every once in a while I'll see a website that has a particular kick. A kick like the Omelas residents got upon visiting the basement. It creates a sudden and intense desire to just shut off the computer and walk away.

That coffee site. Just... wow...
[stares in silence]

#103 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 06:50 PM:

And speaking of 21st century moments:

There's been news today about the brightest and most powerful stellar explosion ever recorded by science having been recently recorded by science.

Fun story, especially as it may have relevance to Eta Carinae, which is only 8,000 light years away

However, model a version of yourself from 20 years ago, and then savor this sentence from the NYTimes article:

"Astronomers have been following the star since last September, when it was discovered in a galaxy 240 million light years away in the constellation Perseus by Robert Quimby, a University of Texas graduate student, who was using a small robotic telescope at McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Tex., to troll for supernovas."

Such a nice sentence.

Makes up for that :washbrain: particle.

#104 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Re: K'zoo

From observations: When you're presenting, a suit, or at least skirt and blouse. All other times, business casual/churchwear is just fine. I'm bringing several pairs of black slacks and a collection of haori, because it worked last year. I, too, present Thurs. afternoon.

Those of us who are going- How about meeting for dinner before the Pseudo Society lectures?

#105 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Kathryn @ 103

Thank you. It feels much better now.

Before I go wash out my brain and forget that site exists, I'll mention that I like the idea of calling that an "Omelas moment". Please don't tell me what association of thoughts brought that into your mind; I'm quite sure I don't want to think about it just now.

#106 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 07:16 PM:

churchwear is just fine

(looking horrified)

The last time churchwear was a factor in my life it involved white gloves and a little pocketbook. And a skirt.

I'm developing enough of a case of nerves to plan to hide in my room the entire conference now.

What is the Pseudo Society?

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Susan @ 106... I've seen you in action emceeing a masquerade before thousands of fans. You did fine there, you'll do fine at this thing too. And you won't have to warn people against using flash photography.

#108 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 08:07 PM:

TexAnne, I'm going to present. The last time I went was almost 30 years ago, but I remember the hills, and I know they haven't gotten any flatter. The pointy-toed shoes are for standing around at parties, with a pair of walking shoes stashed in my purse. I just seem to feel more festive in heels, and today's pointy shoes are much more comfortable that those in the 50s and 60s.

This afternoon I talked with the person I'm riding up with, who is an associate dean in her department. She agreed with my suspicion that suits (except perhaps while presenting) mark you as on the prowl for employment. I'm decades past that! Not that there isn't some fashion competition at the more informal level. Slacks with a artsy top -- haori would qualify -- and cool jewelry should work well.

Meeting after the Pseudo Society would be perfect. The Society is a very special group that presents, well, very special papers, after everyone has had a chance to drink a lot. It is the successor to the American Committee on Jutish Studies. Is there some sort of token we could wear to identify us?

#109 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Susan, remember- Don't Panic!

I'm wearing the suit (or rather, brocade blazer and slacks) to present because I *am* looking for eventual employment. Heather Rose Jones did hers in khakis and a fun shirt last year, iirc...because she's now happily out of formal academia.

Before or after the Pseudo Society? After the lectures are the open bar of the SLU Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, cash bar from Four Courts (and someday I'm going to want to pitch them a manuscript. Need to finish it first), and the Dance.*

If after, how about the table at the left rear corner of the dance floor? I'd prefer before, between getting through the crush that is the Brewers Guild tasting and the Pseudo Society. Can someone suggest somewhere?

*Think high-school dance, except with alcohol and people who spend most of their lives teaching and researching.

#110 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Would it be petty for me to point out that I posted the Medieval Tech Support video particle to Making Light two months ago, and no one noticed, and I didn't even get a mouseover thank-you?

It could be that I'm just horrible at promoting Internet videos. Or maybe I really am a thread-killer. In which case, you should really check out the X Minus One trailer that I posted last week just before that thread died.

#111 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:26 PM:

I would love to be employed as a dance scholar, but I suspect Kalamazoo is not quite the place to make that happen. I will wear my Nice Black Dress to present in, if I can get the cat hair off it, and wander around in my kimono and various pairs of pants the rest of the time.

The dance sounds horrifying in general but meeting people to talk to at it sounds good.

#112 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Howard @#110:

Nah. Been there, had that happen to me, too, except that it got incorporated into a front-page post rather than a particle. One might suspect our hosts actually have off-blog lives or something.

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Given the X-Men comments upthread, I thought this might fit in:

From the LASFS newsletter, minutes of meeting 3630:

In response to Jerry Pournelle's question of 'what do you get when you cross Hellboy and Catwoman', the answer is 'Hellboy Catwoman sin (theta)'. (You can't cross Catwoman with Spiderman, because Spiderman's a scaler.)

#114 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Howard Peirce, #110: Not petty at all. In fact, we sometimes get a few days behind on the comments, particularly the open threads. It's exquisitely embarrassing to discover that the sidelight I put up ten minutes ago was suggested by a regular a week ago. Anyway, I believe the mouseover has now been fixed.

#115 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Niall, #38: Ye ghods and little fishes, someone's crossbred ABBA and Village People!

OTOH, watching that led me to this, which has a certain charm (the first 30 seconds aren't much, but it gets a lot better after the music starts). And that in turm led me to this slightly-more-professional job, and a whole list of similar efforts using the same music.

Graydon, #65: You also see this effect with beading supplies. You can get exactly the same Fireline stringing material in the sporting department at Wal-Mart (where it's sold as fishing line) for roughly 1/5 its cost at your Local Bead Store.

Laina, #81: There's at least a possibility that one of the neighborhood cats, or even a squirrel or raccoon, relocated that nail from some very obscure spot into your driveway after the roofers had gone over it.

You can buy small rare-earth magnets very cheaply on eBay. A few of those, attached to something that lets you cover a wide swath of ground fairly fast, would make short work of finding leftover roofing nails (and any other magnetic flotsam!). Note that the normal cautions about magnets apply squared to these things -- they are the magnet equivalent of those really good kitchen knives people have been talking about.

Sisuile, #104: May I assume that a professional pantsuit is also appropriate, or do I have to wander off muttering things like, "It's the 21st century, dammit, when are you people going to get with the program!"?

#116 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Susan, #69, unless the actual rafters are rotten (which is a much much bigger problem), the roof won't be open. Watch out for roofing nails, I got a flat tire from one, and that was after the roofers spent half an hour going around with giant magnets.

Howard, #110, I frequently post things that later turn up as sidelights or particles proposed by other people.

#117 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 01:10 AM:

Laina @81

I'll second Lee @115's suggestion on super-powerful magnets. If you have a local tool-renting place handy check if they rent a magnet tool first.

We use magnets like that during clean-up at Burningman. There, to leave without cleaning up all of you moop is both a sin and a cause for getting one's camp demoted to the outer circles. Moop includes things as small as staples (or sawdust. or seeds. They want a clean desert)

Lee @115,
You asked on another thread if I have a LJ account. Inspired by that, I've actually started one today. (It'd been on my list of things to do for about 5 years now.)

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 10:35 AM:

Kathryn @ 117... So what is your LiveJournal's name?

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 10:42 AM:

May I ask for a technical recommendation?

I need to reload FileZilla on my wife's computer. Darn thing got hosed out when the laptop went thru a major virus cleanup. Two years ago, when I inherited the job of maintaining her site, I uploaded FileZilla from the link below, but I don't know if there are other places I should get the software from, these days. There seem to be quite a few such places, based on my googling.

Any recommendations?

#120 ::: Nemo ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 12:12 PM:

Serge @ 119 - try the "portable" version from here. It's designed to run off a removable flash drive, but works just as well off a hard drive.

#121 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 12:22 PM:

Thanks, Nemo.

#122 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 03:19 PM:

I'm not someone who believes in God, but this comment

I sometimes feel that, back 6,000 years or so ago when God (assumning there is a God) used to speak occassionally to the peeps, one of them asked Him: “Where do we humans come from?” And God excitedly began to tell (and explain to) all the assembled peeps about DNA and cells and evolutionary type development and His experimentation with such things. God was on a roll with one of his best lectures/sermons, really getting into the discussion when, after about 45 human minutes, God looked up to see all of the peeps standing there slack-jawed, clearly not comprehending a single word he had to say. The silence He thought was amazement at the genius of it all was really only ignorance. God did not panic, though. He shook his head, looked at His feet, cleared his throat and began a story that a 3 year-old could understand, that being the story of Creation as told in Genesis, knowing that someday, hopefully sooner than later (although based upon the crowd He had before Him it very well might be MUCH, much later) humans would come to understand the science of it all. I still don’t think we are there yet.

from this thread at Carpetbagger on Republican candidates' beliefs in evolution and/or creationism made me smile.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 03:42 PM:

Susan @ 122... Has that ever come up as an issue among Democrat contenders? Not that it is much of an issue among Democrats and other liberals, but I can all too easily see our contenders bend over backward on the off-chance they might woo others away from the GOP.

#124 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Just great, Teresa, now I have the urge to start Googling for Calvin-and-Hobbes-style haystacks. And I've got a meeting in 10 minutes!

#125 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Serge @118

So what is your LiveJournal's name?

It's not ready yet*.

I need to write some wonderful essays, and change the decor, and add pictures, and list some interests.

Darn: by taking one thing off my to-do list I've added four new things to it.

* the cry of the shy perfectionist blogger.

Once at a dinner there were a few of us with the same "shy-perfectionist therefore the blog sits empty" problem.

A solution I came up with is that there could be a club of trusted s-p bloggers. If you wrote a post, you'd send it to another spb to review. If they liked it, they'd post it to your blog for you, using a satisficing (good enough is good) criteria.

It was proposed we start by making the spbloggers club blog. We then laughed and ordered dessert.

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Kathryn @ 125... I need to write some wonderful essays, and change the decor, and add pictures, and list some interests.

The essays posts don't have to be wonderful. Just look at what I do on my own blog. ("Hey! You in the corner! Don't think I didn't hear you.")

#127 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 06:08 PM:

While looking at friend's LJs I saw a link to What Be Your Nerd Type, yet another quiz you take only because your friends took it.

Then I got to question...
"26. How many books have you read in your life time?
a. Under 10
b. 10-20
c. 20-30
d. 30-50
e. 60+
f. Reading is boring."

Wow. When I was seven that range would've been an order of magnitude off- not including school books or books read to me. Now it's two orders of magnitude off.

I get that I'm on the flat part of the bell curve* for love-of-reading. But 60!?! In a lifetime!?! Of people with time and ability to read LJ? I count 48 books on my wallbed's shelf... so few only because of earthquake risks.

60!?! I think I'm experiencing a new type of Omelas Moment, because I refuse to believe in question 26.

* flat. There's a hill so far distant it's beyond the horizon.

#128 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Kathryn @ 127 Oh, sad! The link doesn't work. Be the low-rolling book numbers as they may, I want to take that quiz!

#129 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Susan- Pantsuit is ok. I was at a really stuffy conference this spring where it would have not been, but k'zoo is more relaxed.

Oh, and that is the *best* quote *evar*. The room cannot stop laughing, and we all needed that today.

#130 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 127

60??? I'd be surprised if there were many who regularly hang out at Making Light who read as few as 60 books per year on average. And I'd bet that most of them are restricted by health or job considerations.

I've recently been trying to re-organize my home office so I can actually work there*, and added an additional set of shelves so I could get the books that are in front of the books out of the way. So I'm now in a position to actually count my books**, but haven't done so yet. I have no idea how many books I have now, let alone how many I've read in my life.

* The office became a storehouse when we had to move things to let the plumbers in to fix the broken water main, and then to get the drainage people in to put in the concrete drain and sump pump.

** That's just the books that only I will read, because they're reference or technical books in subjects that Eva isn't interested in. Then there are the books that Eva has that I'm not going to read, and the books that we both read, like sf and mysteries, and mainline, er mainstream fiction.

#131 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 07:19 PM:

I've given away at least 60 books in my lifetime, if not two or three times that. It's what comes of moving a lot.

#132 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Kouredios @128,

oops. Here it is:
What Be Your Nerd Type?

#133 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 07:32 PM:

OK, just have to say it.


OK, thank you.

#134 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Social Nerd? That sounds like it belongs on the autism spectrum. Heh. A quiz that can't define me as a literature nerd is badly written, I must say.

#135 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Kathryn #127: Hmm... 60 books. On the best* of days I could name 60 books that had been my favourite book ever once-upon-a-time-for-at-least-one-day.

I'm a little fickle when it comes to favourite things.

On an entirely different note, my blog is scatterbrained and was when I put my first post up, and was even more so when I let people know about it. By design it avoids "Big Questions". It isn't supposed to make people think I'm smart, thoughtful, amusing or interesting. It's there to put things that I type that have nowhere else to go.

On the other hand I'm sure your livejournal will kick the pants out of anything I put on the internet. Once I used this as my tagline: "The magnitude of my dignity is such, that none of my actions can diminish it" - and that's about as good as it gets.

* Maybe worst, from some points of view.

#136 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Also Number 24 should separate the real nerds from the wannabes.

(literature nerd verging on science/math nerd, which is what I'm recovering from in all honesty).

#137 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Hmm. Retook it, with maybe one or two course changes, and now I'm a lit nerd. All is right with the world again.

Neil @136. Agreed, but I wish they had included CG...

#138 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Lee, #115, I don't shop at Wal*Mart, but I do buy Fireline at Cabelas online, where it's not only cheaper than the beading store, but comes in lots more colors. I already have Nymo in dozens of colors, but I'm not using it much anymore.

Kathryn, #127, you can lower your expectations for your LJ. The only exciting part of mine is that I have three different pictures.

#139 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 08:12 PM:

There were numerous WTFs in that quiz, starting with the illiteracy (2 of 5 artists' names grossly misspelled? Horrible typos in the questions?) but as I read on I realized it's aimed at high-school students. ("Have you been in a school play?" "Are you in a school band?") So... that made it a little more understandable. I probably read over 60 books a year when I was in high school, but it wasn't so grossly off in scale at that age.

#140 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 08:22 PM:

::does a double take::

I can say with certainty that I have over 60 books in my car, right now and at any given time*. Granted, half are cookbooks, but I have a lovely collection of fiction as well. You never know when you need something to read.

Oh, and I have about 20 audiobooks on my iPod.

The firewall here at work is preventing me from taking the quiz. I'm happy being a nerd for all seasons.

*Some on their way into the house, some on their way to the used bookstore, some enroute to a new reader.

#141 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 08:44 PM:

Clifton @139,

it's aimed at high-school students

Good observation. I was thrown off by the age ranges at the start (and that I found it at a friend's blog).

I'd also forgotten about Q5:
"How many books per month? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5+" Those numbers make more sense, although I'd stretch the range a bit higher if I were designing this quiz for ML...

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 09:17 PM:

Kathryn, Kouredios and other book nerds... Did you become such ghastly creatures on your own? Or is your family responsible? It's the former for me.

#143 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 10:06 PM:

I think I was reading close to 60 books a year by the time I hit high school. Of course, we had lots of books at home, even if some of them required a ladder to reach. In HS, we moved to a different city, and my parents' collection was 36 boxes. 1.5 cubic ft boxes. (My personal collection started at age 3, with Pedro the Angel of Olvera Street. I still have it.)

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Serge #142: There were always books around when I was growing up. I was encouraged to read.

#145 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Serge @142,

Book nerd? Did I say I was a book nerd? According to that survey I'm a science nerd... ok, and equally as much a book nerd.

How did I become this way?

Well, I inherited "when reading, the rest of the world goes away" from my mom, and "reads really quickly" from my dad.

Some of my earliest memories involve playing by the bookshelves at home, or choosing books at the library, or my mom reading to me. I went to a Montessori preschool- that's good for learning words.

And then there's how I became a reader. I vividly remember that day:
I'd just turned 5. We were in Canada, staying with my grandparents. Their house bordered on a hilly park, the park bordered on a forest, and the snow was waist deep*. Until that visit I'd only known snow from pictures and stories. Plus one trip to a 1-inch snowfall up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

That week, my mom started reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to me each night before bedtime. It was magic: hearing the book in the evening, running through a snowy woods in the day. Each day I became more involved with the story, wanting to know what happens next.

And then it hit me: if I read the book myself I could find out what happens without having to wait until bedtime. I could find where she'd stopped the night before, and go on all by myself. I could just pick up the book, there on the nightstand. I did. I found the bookmark; I kept going. That was the day I started reading, and I measure my life since then in books.

All to say- family's fault.

* which says these are older memories, because snow like that doesn't happen anymore, not there. A white Christmas near Toronto is a treat, now.

#146 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 10:56 PM:

And the proselytizing continues. OUT with the theocratic fascist Oligarchia NOW!!!
A Crusade and a Holy War in the US Military
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Tuesday 08 May 2007

An Orthodox Jew and former petty officer in the US Navy said his civil rights were violated after a chaplain and officials at a Veterans Administration hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, tried to convert him to Christianity while he was under the VA's care.


...Miller enlisted the help of the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation, whose founder, Mikey Weinstein,..has been waging a one-man war against the Department of Defense for what he says is a blatant disregard of the Constitution. He recently published a book on the issue: "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military." ...

[in the past] 18 months ... Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 4,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity....

"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into a faith-based initiative."

#147 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Kathryn, that's a wonderful story - we just went through the same kind of moment with our 5 year old son. We had been reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to him at bedtime. One morning he couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next, so he picked up the book and read the entire next chapter out loud while he was waiting for me to finish getting ready to drive him to preschool.

Since we finished that, he's been wanting to go through our Calvin & Hobbes collection as his bedtime reading (yikes!) but we'll be moving on to The Hobbit shortly, as the C & H is too big to take on our mainland trip.

#148 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 01:00 AM:

Per the kitchen conversation upthread:

The NYTimes' Bittman on how to equip a kitchen for $200, $300 with splurges. I don't see much missing in his 37 item shopping list.

I'll only disagree with two things on his inessentials list: the microwave and the wok (the latter if you have a gas stove).

I think the microwave is good because:
1. it makes it easier to cook extra and freeze the leftovers as a planned meal. Maybe it's just psychology, but two containers in the microwave- no stirring needed- seem easier than two pots on the stove.
2. it can reduce cooking time by partially cooking ingredients before you finish them on the stove or in the oven.
3. who has time to remember to defrost frozen stock, or anything else, ahead of cooking time?

That discussion also made me think of a question:
"Which cookbook would you most want to send back to yourself in your 'learning to cook' stage"? (No, you can't write "buy YHOO" in the margins)

My #1:
CookWise by Shirley Corriher. A "how and why recipes work" cookbook focused on the chemistry of key ingredients. Useful for early to experienced cooks. It's similar to but easier to read and get a good topic overview than Cooks Illustrated. With only 230 recipes it makes a good "cook through the book" book.

#149 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 02:41 AM:

Serge @ #142:Every home I've ever lived in either had books, or we made frequent trips to the library. My grandmother dropped out of high school, but drilled into all of our heads that we needed to get an education, either through the system or on our own.

#150 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 04:41 AM:

Kathryn, #117 and following: I'm starcat_jewel on LJ; come on over and look around. And seriously, don't worry about writing Deathless Prose in your journal. Just pick a layout you like and start posting. LJ is a little different from most blog structures in that it started out as a way for a group of friends to keep track of each other after they left school, and many of the people on it still use it similarly.

Paula, #146: If you're not already reading Talk 2 Action, you should be. Its focus is about bringing the theocrats out of the shadows and letting the light of day display their true ugliness. There's a related LJ community, dark_christian, also.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 06:45 AM:

Fragano... Kathryn from Sunnyvale... Tania... So, your families have a lot to answer for, re your being word nerds, eh? As for myself, well, it all started with reading the comic-strip adventures of Buck Rogers. Why a little kid living in the countryside, far from anything of any interest, would find Buck more exciting doesn't exactly elude me.

Oh, Kathryn, Lee said about LJs "...don't worry about writing Deathless Prose in your journal..." or about a great layout. Just write. Simply putting words out there will bring you pleasure.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 09:19 AM:

Does anybody know where I could find a downloadable photo of Dubya looking very resolute and manly?

(I'd just surf the net and use my computer's screen-print key, but the key is busted.)

#153 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 09:43 AM:

apparently, I'm a mad scientist type nerd. I need to win the lottery so I can go back to school for physical chemistry. electrical engineering is so 20th century.

Question 24 made me laugh loud enough that someone in the next cube came over to see what was so funny.

LG, of course.

#154 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Oh, and all hail the Unicorn Queen of Sparkly land.

#155 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:15 AM:


You don't need the key. Do a Google image search, pick the one you like and left-click (control-click for us Mac types) and select "save image as ..." or equivalent in the popup menu. Then print the file you saved.

If you don't find one you like, I've got a cool picture of him at a press conference I can send you. I've been playing with it photoshop; my new graphic tablet arrived yesterday, and now that I don't have to draw with a bar of soap I'm going to get serious about converting Bush into a Ferengi.

#156 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Hm. Nastiness via LJ meme: It seems that the LJ mojo meme was a cover for some guys playing a really nasty game. If you did the meme and posted it in your LJ, you now have a very NSFW picture (from in place of the original results image. I recommend deleting the image or the entry (when you can; of course I don't suggest rushing to do so from work if that would be a problem), and see this entry for more details

(*sighs* Another layer of innocence, shattered...)

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:46 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 155... True, I could have googled it, but that'd have meant seeing more instances of his mug than I could stomach. Could you send me your photo's unPhotoShopped version? I've got this item for my blog I've been itching to post (darn rash!) where I'd tie Dubya in with Dashiel Hammett.

#158 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:51 AM:


#159 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:58 AM:

BTW, Happy Birthday, Lee!

#160 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Alan Braggins... Perfect.

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:08 AM:

Happy B-day, Lee.

#162 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, as soon as someone says a microwave is not essential, I label them as someone with no cows and no kids- and air conditioning.

And no wok? I'm on my...fifth? and use it more often than any other cooking container. This person does not share my lifestyle or diet, boy howdy.

As for a primer cookbook, if I could just have one to learn by, it'd be the checkered cover Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the late fifties, or perhaps a midcentury edition of Joy of Cooking. If I used cookbooks. Apparently the cookbook collector gene skipped my generation, as my mother and daughter share it.

(See y'all at the end of five days of getting-the-kid-home-from-college. Now! Including Karma balancing dorm room cleaning!)

#163 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Serge #151: It's even worse than that. My maternal grandmother's great-aunt was a novelist.

#164 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:27 AM:

Fragano @ 163... In other words, you were doomed to find pleasure in reading.

#165 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:29 AM:


I'll be glad to post that for you, but it's on my computer at home and not accessible externally, and I'm currently at work, so it will have to wait until this evening, probably 6 or 7 PDT.

#166 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:30 AM:

JESR @ 162... as soon as someone says a microwave is not essential, I label them as someone with no cows and no kids

This reminds me of the episode of MythBusters where they wanted to test the urban legend of the woman who had washed her dog then put it in the microwave oven to dry it off.

#167 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Serge #164: It was inevitable.

#168 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:35 AM:

JESR @ 162

Better Homes and Gardens cookbook

Indeed, yes. What little I know of cooking came mostly from that book, though the America's Test Kitchen book looks to supplant it. And while it's a great book for beginners, the recipes work quite well for day-to-day cooking of the non-exotic sort.

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 165... Thanks. Later is fine. I won't be posting this until tomorrow anyway. I already have one photo of Dubya in his manly codpiece flightsuit, but two photos of him would belabor the point I want to make. And belaboring it indeed is my aim.

#170 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 12:02 PM:

I come from a literate family, with some intellectual pretensions*, but I'm probably the most extreme reader of my family, out to 1st cousins. There aren't any serious writers in the family, though there are musicians and other artists. As far as I can tell my own habit just appeared, pretty near full blown, at 5, when I decided to learn to read so I wouldn't have to wait for my mother to read to me at night. Then at 7 I discovered the public library and sf (Heinlein), and my fate was sealed.

Libraries have been my havens and my sustenance all my life. When I was 9, I talked the librarian into letting me check out adult books, pretty much carte blanche, and for awhile I just roamed the shelves grabbing whatever looked interesting. The selection was ... eclectic ... for awhile until I started to home in on the subjects I was really interested in.

I remember sometime in my teens, reading Sturgeon's "The Dreaming Jewels". Theres a scene which describes the protagonist's readin schedule. He had an eidetic memory, photographic subtype, and a reading speed close to "flip past all the pages". So he had a deal with a lending library* to deliver 4 new books every morning and pick up the old ones, kind of like delivering the milk. I was quite jealous.

* Standard eastern european Jewish immigrant family with ambitions and socialist ties.

* Before the real flood of cheap paperbacks in the late '50s, a lot of small businesses like drug stores and neighborhood groceries kept a rack of popular hardbound books that they lent out for a small amount by the week. For people just looking for a quick mystery to read on the commuter train or while the kids were at school, this was much more convenient than going to the public library.

#171 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 12:09 PM:

I'm a literature nerd with a bit of drama nerd mixed in.

5+ books a month?? Back in jr high and high school I kept a list of every book I read, from Star Trek adaptations and bodice-rippers up to Greek tragedy and the Decameron. I indexed the SF short stories and listed the historical fiction in chronological order (yeah, pure book nerd, destined to be a librarian). I probably averaged 275 books a year, more in the summer... Now it's probably more like 175 per year. This darn having a job thing really cuts into your reading time. Don't ever become a librarian because you like to read.

#172 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Did anyone else (aside from pnh, of course) shocked by the article on air traffic controllers being pressured to work, even while sick and impaired from carbon monoxide in their workspace? It is like a real-life Milgram experiment.

#173 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 12:45 PM:

traffic controllers being pressured to work, even while sick and impaired from carbon monoxide

Yeah, we can either (1) delay traffic and have some people angry at us for mixed up travel plans, OR (2) endanger lives to avoid minor bad PR and hope no one dies.

see also space shuttle explosion.

Some people need to be beaten with a stick.

#174 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 01:19 PM:

It's more like we can either a) piss off the holy and sacred airlines who everyone must bow down and worship, or b) endanger a bunch of union workers and ordinary peasants who happen to be on the planes.

Put that way, in Bush's America, the choice is obvious.

That guy who threatened to lock out the Fire Department needs to go to prison.

#175 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 01:26 PM:

#162: My Chinese teacher in high school, who was also a gourmet cook, insisted that a cast iron skillet was far better than a wok for Chinese cooking on any kind of western stove. He felt that a wok worked great on an open fire, a brazier, or anything close to that, but that the flat-bottomed pan was better for transferring the heat on a stove. I've certainly always had good results following his approach, for Chinese, Indian, or western cooking. YMMV.

#176 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 01:28 PM:

What struck me was that none of the ATCs walked--they must be really cowed, and really used to working impaired. Walking is the smart thing to do; I've worked (briefly) in places where appallingly dangerous chemicals are used and--apart from personal safety--calling emergency response and getting out is what to do in that situation; an impaired person, adds to the danger. The policy that is in place is also a terror risk; what would these people have done in the case of a genuine gas attack as opposed to an accidental air-quality problem?

I am astonished at how angry that makes me feel.

#177 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Greg London #173: 'Beaten with a stick' might be better rendered 'toasted on a fork'.

#178 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 03:12 PM:

I'm not really surprised that management found it relatively easy to intimidate people in the early stages of CO poisoning. The early symptoms are headaches, nausea, and something they call "dizziness" or "lightheadedness." People with asthma know what it does to your thinking to not quite be able to breathe. With CO poisoning, the air goes in, but it doesn't help. You start thinking something sensible, and then lose track of the thought. You stand up to go do something, take a step, and don't remember what you were going to do. It's extraordinarily difficult to plan any kind of resistance in that condition.

A person needs to be able to think clearly and act effectively to oppose confident statements like, "Don't be ridiculous. There's nothing to worry about. Sit down and get back to work." The whole problem is that those air traffic controllers could not think clearly or act effectively. I'm not saying anything about their characters; only that they were impaired by CO poisoning.

#179 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Serge, way back @ 142. A combination. My mom pushed books, and I have great memories of her reading to us nightly (preferably from Fox in Socks!) at a very young age. But neither of my parents were college educated and my brother and I are of the first generation in our family to go to college (and both of us are now at the graduate level.) Somewhere along the line, he became a total science nerd (engineering major) and I became the book nerd (classics and complit), and now, at this point in all our lives, the only things my mom reads are biographies of popes and saints. And edicts. But you get the point.

#180 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Insane as it sounds, the FAAs action is a common management pattern. I've been calling it "Best Case Planning", because it's the inverse of "Worst Case Planning": you assume that the best alternative will happen all the way down the decision tree. This isn't new to the Bush administration, nor unique to government; it's standard practice in many software project scheduling meetings.

The FAA manager involved simply asked himself, "What'the outcome I want here, the best thing that could happen?" and got the answer that the controllers would be able to do their jobs despite the carbon monoxide. So, since the alternative was to cause flight delays and confusion, which would count against the manager at the next performance review, it was a no-brain decision. In all senses.

#181 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 03:57 PM:

kouredios @ 179... Family influences... Either they'll make you love something, or they'll make you hate it.

#182 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 05:21 PM:

Thanks for the birthday wishes! Obviously several people came over and looked at my LJ; I'm flattered.

#183 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 08:50 PM:

I friended some of the fluorospheroids on my livejournal; my lj is redrose3125.

I hope no one minds, and no one is offended if I missed them.

#184 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 08:56 PM:

Serge, I've been thinking about it since I posted, and I'm not exactly sure when the shift occurred, but I think as soon as I was reading for myself, that was it. I associate picture books with my mom, not chapter books.

When I was 15 or 16, she took The Dark Tower away from me because she leafed through it and happened upon the worst scene that could possibly be taken out of context--when Roland puts his gun somewhere it most definitely doesn't belong. And more recently, when I tried to loan her The Kitchen God's Wife, she returned it to me, upset that I would give her so unsettling to read. Her unhappy memories about her own marriage are not settled enough for her to ever let her mind go anywhere near there. *sigh*

Going off to small, liberal arts college 6 hours away from home opened up my world. And I met people who actually still shared their parents' worldview, so I know it's possible, and I'm attempting to do that with my daughter.

Who, by the way, at all of two years old, already has a list of about 10 words that she can read. :D

#185 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Oh, and I'm an LJer too, if anyone's interested. It's linked to my name here, and is in fact the same name (a free transliteration of one of Athena's epithets, and a longtime handle of mine.)

#186 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:49 PM:

Serge @ 169

The picture of the Bush is at

#187 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:56 PM:

OK, I've been dithering on whether to say something, but I guess I'm enough of a regular to. I'll be in the SF Bay Area Friday through Tuesday for my daughter's graduation, with wife and son in tow; we'll be staying in Oakland. I don't know if things will get too busy to make any connections, but if I've chatted with you here and you'd like to try for a meet-up, send me email. No guarantees.

#188 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 11:27 PM:

All this talk of reading experiences inspired me to Google one of the first books I remember reading-- my first chapter book, I do believe. Lightfoot the Deer, by Burgess or somesuch name (I have forgotten it already-- it was one of the Yellow Books all in a row on the library shelf). I don't think that was what turned me into a reader. I'm not certain I had a turning point; I can remember learning letters in kindergarten, I can remember the first chapter books, but I cannot remember *getting it*.
Some people get good stories of impatience and suddenly Narnia, but I'm not one of them.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 12:05 AM:

My parents, who never read anything but the newspaper, never questionned what it was that I read. Thank goodness for that. On the other hand, they did question the wisdom of spending money to buy stuff to read.

The most interesting experience I had with reading was in 2004, when I visited Quebec City after a 9-year absence. When I had last seen my friends, in 1995, their daughters were a grumpy 7-year-old and a babbling year-old. Skip ahead to 2004. The elder was just as grumpy, but this time because her parents had drafted her into cleaning up the house for a party of the old farts (that was us) when she'd rather have gone away with her boyfriend. But I digress... The year-old girl was now a charming 10-year-old who, like her parents, loved reading. And who casually used words such as 'lugubrious'.

#190 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 12:18 AM:

And, on a complete different subject the 3-D candy fab.

#191 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Helvetica vs. Arial

(via a commenter in Pandagon)

#192 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 12:57 AM:

#180: "Best Case Planning"

Bleargh. Yet another reason to criminalize the teaching and ownership of MBA degrees. The manager who endangered his ATC employees will probably get a Medal of Freedom and a promotion.

#193 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 02:39 AM:

Randolph Fritz @ 190

That's a very nice piece of design, and a rather droll notion to use sugar as the raw material. I also like the idea of CNC toast. Come to think of it, these guys out to contact the Ace of Cakes. I bet they could make some really nifty cakes with that fab.

#194 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 09:16 AM:


Drat! Our secret's out!

Kayakers have been surfing standing waves for, like ever. It's great fun.
Even I've done it and I'm clumsy and uncoordinated and (oops!) upside-down bailing out of a kayak. Never did learn to Eskimo roll...

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 10:44 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 193... use sugar as the raw material

"I'm melting, I'm melting... Aaaaaahhhhhh... Oh, what a world, what a world!"

#196 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Randolph @ 190

That's wonderful!

#197 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 10:51 AM:

I just encountered this on Hugo Schwyzer's blog and realized that I couldn't think of a poem more suited to Making Light.

The Riddle, by Richard Wilbur

Shall I love God for causing me to be?
I was mere utterance; shall these words love me?

Yet when I caused His work to jar and stammer,
And one free subject loosened all His grammar,

I love Him that He did not in a rage
Once and forever rule me off the page,

But, thinking I might come to please Him yet,
Crossed out ‘delete’ and wrote His patient ’stet’.

#199 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 04:07 PM:

A typeface question for the fluorosphere:

If you needed to print a document in the tiniest font you could reasonably still read (whatever that might be for you), which common typeface would you use? Assume an ordinary office laser printer. For software I use OpenOffice, but the font would have to be available in Word.

My understanding of the common wisdom is that serif is good for printed paper, sans-serif for onscreen reading.

Does that hold when going to tiny fonts?

And, since I'm curious, how does it hold for cheap printers- ones which can have lighter ink, or slight smudging, or "you've run out of one color, so you're printing in blue"? Would that become more like onscreen reading, so you'd use a sans-serif?

#200 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Kathryn @ 199

I've found that 8-pt Courier/Cumberland is readable, if small. I suspect that OCR-B would also be good, and possibly some of the 15-pitch typewriter faces.

#201 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 05:51 PM:

There are flat-bottomed woks for use with Western stoves. I had a cast-iron wok made by Lodge which had the traditional shape and a thick, flat, round base. I used it almost exclusively to cook with during a year of being broke and really busy (rice with vegetables scrounged out of the damaged stuff at work, almost every night...healthy, but a bit dull after a while). Gave it away when I moved and now I regret that as I can't seem to find a new one.

#202 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Amazon has a large selection of lodge cast iron stuff, and what's more, they'll ship it for free.

#203 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 07:15 PM:

I think it's easier to read Times or something like it, when you have to make it small. If you're trying to fit the most words in a space and legibility's second, that may change. Beyond that, I don't really know.

#204 ::: otterb ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 07:26 PM:

If I understand the etiquette of Open Threads properly, they can be used for posts on previous topics that have died down?

There's an interesting post here summarizing a research study showing that computing while female predisposes one to receiving nasty messages, even in the absence of content. It made me think of Kathy Sierra's experience as discussed previously under the moderation thread. Take an anti-female bias, add content with which someone disagrees, get response couched in highly personal and unpleasant ways. Bleah.

#205 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Kathryn @ 199: My understanding of the common wisdom is that serif is good for printed paper, sans-serif for onscreen reading. Does that hold when going to tiny fonts?

In my (decidely amateur) opinion, no. All else being equal (which it never is), sans-serif fonts are more legible on a letter-by-letter basis, especially in adverse conditions. That's why they're used on traffic signs, for teaching children to read, and are generally preferred for low-resolution devices like computer screens. Making the letters tiny has much the same effect as reducing the resolution.

Of the fonts I see in my (very old) Word menu, I would try Lucida Sans, Verdana, and Trebuchet MS first. Helvetica and Arial are not very legible at small sizes, mostly due to their very aperture and general failure at giving letters distinguishing features.

#206 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 07:55 PM:

For "very aperture," read "small aperture."

#207 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 09:02 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @199:

I'd suggest something that's designed for reading under adverse conditions (small type, bad paper, and so on).

Much as I dislike them otherwise*, something like Georgia or Times New Roman might be a good choice among common fonts. I haven't tried them on paper, but they're pretty good at small sizes on the web (which is an adverse viewing condition on its own, though it presents different issues than paper does).

Is there a reason for sticking to common fonts other than not wanting to buy something for the purpose, though?

If not, I'm quite fond of Gentium, by Victor Gaultney. It's nicely readable at a wide range of sizes, and it's available under the SIL Open Font License, so price (and redistribution) aren't issues. I've found it quite readable down to about 4 pt (12-pt text printed 9-up).

If it weren't for the fact that it's uncommon and pricy, I'd suggest Grade 2 of Mercury Text, by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, but I know it doesn't meet your requirements.

* Nothing in particular against them; I just find them lacking in character.

#208 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 12:01 AM:

That terraced field looks like something that should have come out of Tiffany's studios - I keep seeing it as really high-end stained glass.

#209 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:40 AM:

For Small and information packed fonts, look for something similar to either a phone book or smallish bible. Both industries have made a living out of having something legible that takes 1% less space than before.

#211 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:49 AM:

eric @209,

I've seen colophons in Bibles, but in phone books? Now that would be cool.

#212 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:08 AM:

I can't remember learning to read. I know I was reading by age three, since I have photos of me holding my baby brother (newborn) while wearing glasses and a patch to correct the lazy eye I'd developed through reading. So I presume I was reading by about age two-and-a-half at the latest, since the patch came after the second operation to correct things. I can also remember working my way through the entire collection of Dr Seuss (as there was at 1976) in preschool. I know when my first grade teacher figured out I could read (1977, we'd just had the tail end of a cyclone through, and I stunned her by reading the two sentences she'd written up on the board about it) and what happened afterwards (I got sent to the next classroom, and my reading age was found to be around 9 years. I then went back to my teacher, who set me my first reading homework - two pages of the Grade One "Dick, Jane, Nip and Fluff" reader... thus beginning a long history of complete mental disconnect between what I was capable of, and what I had to do for school, not to mention a complete lack of interest in doing homework. Also a complete lack of necessity to complete homework - I still brought home good grades for everything except Phys Ed).

By the time I reached high school, I was going to the library with my Dad on a weekly basis (every Saturday morning) and getting out four books of my own. I'd usually have at least one of them finished by Saturday evening, and by the end of the week, I would have finished not only the four books I took out on my own account, but also made a substantial dent in the eight books Dad got out for himself and Mum. This alongside taking out at least four books a week from the school library, not to mention the ones I read during lunchtimes, my textbooks, the daily newspaper, and re-reading favourite books and magazines. I've kept up roughly that level of text addiction for most of my life (I don't go through as many books since I discovered the internet, but I certainly maintain a pretty high text load nonetheless). My bag generally has at least one book in it, often more, and if I work or study somewhere with ready access to a bookshop, I will spend at least $100 per week on new books.

I don't suppose it's any surprise I come up as a Literature Nerd.

(Oh, and re: the Coffee site - ohhhhkaaaaay... I'm just going to be backing away slowly for a bit, and hoping the stupid didn't come off on me).

PS: LJ is megpie71. If anyone wants to friend me, they're welcome to (provided you're interested in a profoundly self-centred view of my life).

#213 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:47 AM:

eric @ 202: Amazon has been out of stock of the particular one that I want for a while (the single handle with the heavy base), and Lodge doesn't have it on their website.

Negative reviews have pointed out that it's not a great wok because it takes so long to heat up and stays hot for a long time afterwards, but I have to admit I never really used it as a wok. I really liked the shape and the heft of it - easy to stir things, hard to tip it over. Lodge does have a sort of Dutch Oven/skillet fusion pan that I might wind up trying out in lieu of the wok. For those who prefer a somewhat more traditional flat-bottomed wok, my mother has a carbon steel one that she likes quite a bit. The trick is to find one with sides high enough to suit your style.

#214 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:52 AM:

Stephan @207,

Thanks. I tried and ended up printing with Georgia, as it's readable enough at size 9.

Gentium? Nice.

I imagine that slightly into the future one will be able to purchase a font that's optimized for one's personal likes / visual quirks.

#215 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Over at FireDogLake, there's an interesting post on "7 Tips To Build A Blog Community", that I think ties in a lot to some of the discussions in various posts here.

And, apropos of nothing, the new security software I'm using gives me a "Dangerous Web Site" warning every time I come onto Making Light. (Ha, I've known that all along!)

#216 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:26 AM:

A.J. @210,

My first reaction to that essay was to find it an interesting and useful comparison.

But now I disagree with her*.
Here's how I see the choice.

For $5,000 you can:
A. Send two people to Supernova, where you'll run around like mad trying to find the interesting people you thought might be at Supernova, where the interesting people are trying hard not to be cornered by you because they're trying to find their own interesting people

B. Be on stage at Supernova, where for 5 glorious moments everybody in the audience is meeting you, even if you're not meeting them. From then on, people will know who you are: you've become interesting. You can more easily walk into groups and join conversations as you speedwalk around like mad trying to find everyone else.

B in a heartbeat. Not to mention that Mike Arrington is now a kingmaker connector in Web2.0.

If this were publishing...well, I'm not sure who to compare him to in publishing, because the two fields aren't similar. "Money flows to the writer" in writing. "Friends, fools and family" is a common financing method in startups. Not the same.

* disclaimer: I'm in Silicon Valley. I have a relative, an in-law, and a lifepartner who are doing startups.

#217 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 09:17 AM:

P J Evans @ 208

I liked that image so much I'm using it as my desktop background. And every time I look at it I see it as a false-color aerial photo image; it takes a few seconds before I notice the trees again and can parse it properly.

#218 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 216

Right, high-tech startups are not at all like writing. The publisher gives you an advance and never asks what you spent it on. The angel or vulture capitalist is always asking where the money is going and how fast*. If you do well as a writer your royalties tend to spread the income out over a long period; for a really successful writer that's the retirement program**. If you do well in a startup you get a huge bolus of money when you sell out, and you may never even see a Christmas card from your old colleagues.

* I once worked for a startup whose CEO was so excited by being rich that he spent at least 150% of his salary, and got so deeply and publicly into debt that the board forced him to sell back his stock so he could get back, then forced him to sign an agreement to keep his personal spending within his income. The company did not survive.

** Kids, don't count on this at home. Put money in an IRA, because the royalties can so easily just peter out for any number of reasons.

#219 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Bruce @218,

There's another difference I've seen- this is perhaps a Web.pi thing:
Your new company/ team is funded for your current project: geotag based classifieds via IM, say*. 16 months later Cisco buys your company, which makes a fpga-based Cray-1 emulator, and that's great, and not surprising, because you were funded for being a competent team.

Which is a bit like writing, but a bit not. Be like if LeGuin got an advance for "book set in the Ekumen universe," and 9 months later they (Stross and LeGuin) turned in their "aliens invade earth but no one notices post-singularity" graphic novel collaboration, and the publisher was still happy.

* web two point oh company generator

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Meg Thornton @ 212... I can't remember learning to read.

I will shamefully confess that I am one of those who had to wait until First Grade before learning to read. (No kindergarten when and where I was growing up.) But I do remember the day it all clicked together. I was staring at the newspaper's funnies (something I had been doing long before I knew how to read) and realized I understood the words. It was a new world that had opened up to me, appropriately enough, with the Buck Rogers comic-strip.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale...

I for one am still waiting for you to post prose on your LiveJournal. As was pointed before, it doesn't have to be deathless prose. And if it were deathless, would it also be zombie prose?

#222 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Bruce @105,

btw, "Omelas moment"-- good phrasing, and, as of the coining day, a new concept.

Please don't tell me what association of thoughts brought that into your mind

Sure thing!

I don't have the argument fully down yet, but it goes something like this:

1. Reading the raw web is like reading the slushpile.
1a. You should never want to read the slushpile, not unless it's for career advancement.
1b. Random reward reinforcement is the most addictive kind.
1c. Foresight tells experienced people that only 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 stories in the slushpile will be a gem. In hindsight, how many blog posts were gems? And from this you've learned...?

2. If you read all of your favorite blogs' recommended links, that's like reading Fanfic.
2a. When people blog or comment about "Here's this crazy site I saw, although you probably shouldn't read it," you'll probably still click on it.
2a1. Because we're primates, who'll run up in groups to stare at the dangerous novelty. How many readers listened to Harlan when he told them "don't read Deathbird Stories all at once"*?
2b. And once you read the Snape/Nazgul HP fanfic*, you'll never get those neurons back. Never.

3. ???

4. Three hours have gone by: you've now read that Coffee site and caught up on Cute Overload to scrub the coffee out and read an article about the worldwide economics of coffee to make yourself feel like you've learned something instead of having just spent an hour looking at LOLkittens.

5. Omelas Moment! You turn off the web and go to the library.
5a. Omelas Moment! You delete 90% of the blogs from your RSS feed and you feel great**.

* I did. Don't.

** I did. Do.

#223 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Serge @221,

Maybe next week for the LJ: after work and for the weekend the only uses of "web" and "surf" I plan are to contemplate the web of life visible in the surf / intertidal zone.

And it will be lively prose. Zkathryn does Myspace.

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Kathryn @ 223... "...must... drink... innnnnnkkk..."

#225 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Kathryn @ 219

I like that web company generator. The company names seemed interesting; it looked like the spelling was biased to produce high scores in Scrabble, so I looked at the code. As I expected, much less there than meets the eye. But an interesting demonstration that marketing is based on the Rule of Three.

Company: Squiodirati

Product: greasemonkey extension for dating via Ruby on Rails

See if your VC friends are interested.

#226 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Your company name: Meebeeshare
Your company product: greasemonkey extension for maps via XML

Which is funny, because I read maps for a living. (Now, if they could just tell me where this stuff actually is that I'm supposed to be looking at!)

#227 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:29 PM:

PJEvans #226: I read maps for a living

*Please* expand on that to the ultimate limits of your considerable writing skills.

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:32 PM:

joann @ 227

I work in the mapping ('geographic services') department of a utility company. If you want to fix something, you need to know where it is, yes? Well, I try to make sure that where we say it is on our map is close enough to where it really is that there won't be an Unfortunate Occurrence. We're getting into GIS for this, and using GPS to locate the stuff, so it's getting more accurate - we hope - and with aerial photos - and Google Earth, as some of this stuff is really out in the sticks (try Needles to Victorville) - we think we have a handle on it. Mostly I do quality control. Think of it as grading papers ('You put it where?' 'You do know what exposed means, don't you?').

#229 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:38 PM:

PJEvans #228:

Is that in actuality as fascinating as it sounds? (I love maps and messing around with same--I see them as sort of expanded floor plans.)

#230 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:02 PM:

joann, there are long periods of boredom - you probably don't want to look at a couple of hundred miles of aerial photos of middle-of-nowhere - mixed with excitement as you go 'oh, that's what that is!' It's also nitpicky, since the theoretical accuracy is 15ft for what I'm working with. Fun is seeing things like the March Field air museum (SR71 and B52 are easily identifiable with Google Maps, although their pin is in the wrong place).

#231 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:32 PM:

OK, does anyone know how to turn of confirmation of select-delete in Word 2003? I want to highlight text and press delete and have it be GONE. If I goof, I'll Undo it. I don't need a little Yes/No question (which I didn't even notice the first few times, giving me the impression that it just wouldn't let me delete highlighted blocks at all) poppiing up.

I've been all through the Options menus, and looked in the typically-unhelpful Help, and I can't find it. It's driving me crazy! How do I get rid of it?

#232 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 05:31 PM:

P J Evans @ 230

That Blackbird still looks something from the future next to all those other planes, even from a couple of hundred miles up.

#233 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Bruce, I think it's more like a few thousand feet. (Google Earth has an altitude indicator, down at the bottom.) I still think B52s are impressive. You look at the wingspan on that, and 'Aluminum Overcast' makes more sense.

#234 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 08:19 PM:

on the revealing our livejournal selves: i'm well mostly. for all intents & purposes.

i'm kind of at a livejournal crossroads. first i had a personal livejournal, read by friends, that i didn't update very often. then when we started doing comic cons, my partner & i decided we needed a "professional"/comics blog. i'd put pictures, con reports, news & art on the real gone girl livejournal, & whiny, private, & inconsequential stuff on the other livejournal. i keep a friends list through my personal livejournal, & don't friend people from our "company" livejournal.

now i'm really only reading my friends list & commenting on same from my personal livejournal, & only posting on the company livejournal. this is less than optimal, but that's where we are right now.

#235 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 08:46 PM:

That air traffic controller incident in NY? Well, something similar happened at Dulles on Wednesday and the sickest were sent out to the hospital and the others moved to a backup control center until the fumes dissipated.

#236 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Otterb, #204: Good to see this kind of thing actually getting some ink for a change. Any woman who's ever done IRC knows that the mean time from "sign on using female screen name" to "first instance of 'wanna fuck?' message" is generally 1 minute or less, but I think there are a lot of men who just don't believe it.

Actually, that gives me an interesting idea for an experiment. Take male volunteer whose answers on a selection questionnaire put them fairly high on the "institutionalized sexism" scale, and sit them down at computers running random IRC sessions. The rules: They must use a female ID, and they cannot say anything which would serve as a concrete indicator of their actual gender. (That latter might be hard to implement without running their responses thru a moderator.) After 3 or 4 multi-hour sessions of them being effectively female online, have them retake the questionnaire and see if there's any difference in the amount of sexist attitudes displayed.

#237 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Last night I dreamt I went to Mandalay again, and awoke in a bald funk, screaming for my mother. Which, if you're a hero of the Empire, with a VC and all that, is hardly the done thing. At least, not if you're a damned civilian. Real soldiers don't talk about it, but those of us who don't have bad dreams are the strange ones. Or the dead. I've known both in my time, though usually before they became the dead. The reason I am the famous hero is that I have taken good care to stay alive, using all my wit and cunning, and what schooling was beaten into me, to stay one step ahead of those who would wish me dead, whether through personal malice or a general hatred of whichever party I was associated with at the time.

Unfortunately, I was down at Newton Abbott, staying with Sir Sam Baker, who, but for his courage, would be a man after my own heart. It's not every knight of the realm who can wander across half Africa with a bint he bought in a Turkish slave-market, and then persuade her to marry him. Though he should have forged his marriage lines. People would have wondered about some obscure Balkan church, but he wouldn't have been exploring in sin.

And then he went back to the Soudan with his wife. They're both mad as hatters. I don't think they know what fear is.[1]

Hence my embarrassment.

From the Flashman Papers, bundle #27, undated, severely damaged and incomplete.

[1] While Flashman may be mistaken in his judgement of the Baker's character, his outline of their life together appears to be correct, although the slave-market story is poorly attested. Samuel Baker, brother of the notorious Valentine Baker, certainly met his future wife, Florence, in the Balkans, and she went on to travel with him in Africa, on his explorations of the White and Blue Niles. They married on his return to London and, while he was knighted for his discovery of the Source of the Nile, This impropriety led to his exclusion from the Court. While Lady Baker was reckoned quite pretty, as can be seen in extant photographs, by this time she would be considered "matronly".

#238 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 08:30 PM:

Dave Bell @ 237

Flashman has the right of it in one respect:

but those of us who don't have bad dreams are the strange ones.

They're the ones who scare the rest of us.

#239 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Is it just me, or does someone else see a deep irony in Gen. John Abizaid being the commencement speaker at Virginia Tech this year? I mean, sure, he had some very good things to say about how to deal with the loss of comrades; he ought to know about that. But, I don't know, meaning no disrespect to the general*, it just sort of feels creepy for the ex-commander of Central Command in Iraq to be speaking at the site of a massacre.

* Really, it's not him, it's the juxtaposition of his recent job and what happened at VT.

#240 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 08:44 PM:

The other day I woke up saying "But I don't want to be beaten into a plowshare!" with only the vaguest of memories of any context that would make that an appropriate thing to say.

#241 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 09:17 PM:

The pilot episode of Cartoon Network's "The Drinky Crow Show," based on Tony Millionaire's comic "The Maakies, is online.

Warning: Not Safe For Work. Not Suitable for Children or Impressionable Adults. Really sick.

#242 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 10:36 PM:

The funny thing, Xopher (anent #240) is that you don't look like a sword.

#243 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 10:45 PM:

though we name fears they do not ever flee
minds have now fallen from their high estate
an angry tiger prowls beneath each tree

i could long view but never feel the sea
freedom began six inches past the gate
though we name fears they do not ever flee

with the stern voice we could not disagree
what mattered was what lay upon the plate
an angry tiger prowls beneath each tree

what we would reprehend is what we'll be
when all has turned to ashes in the grate
though we name fears they do not ever flee

our proper service isn't with bent knee
nor is our purpose merely to be freight
an angry tiger prowls beneath each tree

we all must do and not take time to see
no secret messages are left upon the slate
though we name fears they do not ever flee
an angry tiger prowls beneath each tree

#244 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 11:12 PM:

Fragano 242: Yeah, I know. It was a metaphor. For what? That I don't know. It really was a direct reference to that bit of the Bible (those bits, actually; it occurs twice nearly word for word). That much I remember. What the context was, I'm not sure.

#245 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Xopher #244: It's a lot better (and a lot more interesting) than waking up and saying very loudly the name of a woman, a name which does not belong to the woman lying next to you. (My goodness, that happened 26 years ago, and it seems just like yesterday.)

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Xopher... Are you sure you hadn't been watching reruns of Green Acres before going to sleep?

#247 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 01:30 AM:

Lee @ 236... Last August, someone asked in these parts about meeting with me at then soon-coming LAcon. I told her where to reach me and how to recognize me in the con's crowd. Unfortunately, my grasp of English had failed when I posted that. She did find me, but said that my last comment had led to wondering if I was saying that I was a woman, in spite of my male nom-de-blog.

This makes me wonder if, had I posted here as Georgette from the very beginning, but written the exact same (numerous) posts, the assumption would have been that I obviously was female.

#248 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 02:49 AM:

Serge @ 247

It seems to me that people are very bad at reading between the lines accurately. So much of what they perceive is colored by what they already believe to be true, that often statements are parsed, or at least interpreted, in ways totally different from how they were meant.

So, the sig makes a huge difference when it's obviously male or female, but assumptions based on conditioned stereotypes can make a difference too. A female posting an assertive, in-your-face response may be seen by the male poster she's responding to as a male, because females, in his worldview, don't respond that way.

It's an eye-opening experience to hear the private "man-talk" or "woman-talk" when you're from the opposite camp. Breaks all kinds of notions you picked up from your culture about who does what, and how they think. Especially when you hear how they refer to you. That experience should be required for everyone before they can be considered adults; it might prevent a lot of the sort of unpleasantness Lee described in #236.

#249 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Fragano @ 245

Ah, and you lived to tell the tale! I conjecture that either she couldn't find a knife quickly enough, or that the the window was not high above the ground.

#250 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 03:17 AM:

Bruce, it might have been his mother's name.

Granted it doesn't sound like it from Fragano's description, but...

#251 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 03:30 AM:

Serge, #247: For me at least, a female screen name is going to imply a female poster. If you then talked about your wife, I would have a moment of confusion and then conclude that you were a lesbian -- unless you said something indicating that "your wife" was male, in which case I'd conclude that you like bending people's brains with language.

I can't speak for anyone else, but that's how my brain appears to be wired.

#252 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 05:36 AM:

Xopher @ 31 re: Word 2003:

You're getting "Delete block? No (Yes)" , right? That sounds like WordPerfect 5.1 (DOS) behavior. Word 2002 does it when "Navigation Keys for WordPerfect Users" is selected; I'm guessing things are similar with 2003. Unless things have changed between the two versions, you'll find the checkbox you need to clear under Tools -> Options -> General.

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 07:25 AM:

Lee @ 251... What I was trying to get at was, could people figure my sexual identity, based solely on the contents of my posts? Do I speak in the language associated with the gender of my blog name? We make assumptions based on that, like Bruce Cohen also said. I couldn't tell, looking at your own name, whether you're male or female. Then again, I've seldom been good at reading cues unless they hit me on the head. Whatever. It was late when I posted that item last night, and I was providing support for an office project, and a bit tired.

#254 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Bruce Cohen #249: I was a fortunate young man, that's all I can say!

#255 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Linkmeister #250: It wasn't!

#256 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Serge (247, 253): The content of your posts include references to your wife, which marks you either as male or as lesbian. If you were posting as 'Georgette', I would assume lesbian. If you were using a gender-neutral name, I would assume male (because we have many more married men than married lesbians in this country).

Incidentally, I remember the exchange which confused the other poster as to your gender, and I think the fault was not (entirely) on your end. At least, I wasn't confused.

#257 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Mary Aileen...Oh, it wasn't really a matter of anyone's fault. I was just curious about how one's posts (if free of any marital references) are perceived, depending on the label one uses. Back when nobody knew who James Tiptree was, I think some writers affirmed with great authority that Tiptree's voice obviously was a man's.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 10:17 AM:

It's Mother's Day and Turner Classic Movies celebrates the occasion with movies where motherhood is the subject. Of course, such a celebration would have been incomplete without Joan Craford's Mildred Pierce.

Happy Mother's Day.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 10:17 AM:

Oops. That's Joan Crawford, not Craford. The 'W' must have stuck in my craw.

#260 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Serge @ 259 - Not the Craw, the Craw![/getsmart]

Thinking of Joan Crawford, are they showing Mommy Dearest, too?

#261 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Serge @ 257

Many people do seem to weigh the name of author very heavily, and get very upset when they discover that the writing can be read in other ways if you just change the name. That's one reason why some people are annoyed by gender-ambiguous names: that clue they were counting on is not as useful.

There's also statistics: people go with what they think is most likely. Take Tiptree for example; when she started writing there were perhaps four accepted female sf writers*, so assuming maleness was a good bet on the odds.

And then there's the reaction of discovery. Most people are angry when they find out that someone they had pegged for one stereotype actually don't fit it. Some, however, react with delight, as they would react to a surprising and amusing punchline to a story.

Personally, names often do fool me, but sometimes not completely. And my discovery reaction is delight, because I like to see stereotypes bent around into strange shapes. The capacity of surprise is what keeps life interesting.

* I would bet there were a few more in the closet, operating under male pseudonyms.

#262 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 01:28 PM:

My own experience of writing under a pseudonym has been interesting... Said pseud is biased male but essentially gender-ambiguous in the UK, but I'm told is male-only in the US. I write original slash for a romance small press. I use the term "original slash" quite deliberately here, because in my experience of fanfic culture, it will typically be assumed that a slash writer is female unless explicitly known otherwise, regardless of perceived gender of handle.

Write gay romance for a pro romance publisher with a predominantly female audience, and it's a different matter. Exactly the same sort of material (literally, in a couple of cases of filing off the serial numbers), still being sold to a mostly female audience, but I'm perceived as male. To such an extent that some people keep referring to me as "he" even after being told that I'm "she".

Preconceptions matter...

#263 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Nicole 252: I don't THINK I have that checked...I'll try it when I get to work Monday, and let you know. Thanks! If that's right, you just saved me a lot of trouble.

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Bruce Cohen... Assuming maleness in Tiptree's case was probably reasonable, considering how few pros were known to be women. On the other hand... Based on what I read about that era after the fact, it appears that there was quite a debate in those days, so maybe it wasn't such a safe bet.

Julia Jones... Preconceptions do indeed matter. Maybe not so much anymore in the F/SF field, but what about the mystery field? If the author has an obviously female name, some men might stay away because, heck, how could a woman write hardboiled detective stories? And you have people like Lindsey Davis. Would some people have stayed away, had they known she was a woman? Does she write stories that only a woman could have written?

It annoys me when people assumne that, if you are a man, you must act THIS way, and if you're a woman, you must act THAT way. It took me a long time to accept that, yes, I am a heterosexual man even though my behavior, because it has some aspects of one sex and some aspects of another, sometimes throws some people's expectations off. If somebody has a problem, it's not me.

Blah blah blah...

#265 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 04:36 PM:

Serge, #264: Re women writing hard-boiled detective stories, I have two words: Sue Grafton. OTOH, it's also true that the Kinsey Millhone series is the only hard-boiled one to have held my interest for any length of time*, so maybe there's a difference in the way women write hard-boiled vs. the way men write it.

Yes, my name is gender-ambiguous, and if I wanted to play concealment games, it would be relatively easy for me to do so by not mentioning things which mark me specifically as female. I also use the name Celine (definitely feminine) to post in some venues, but have never paid enough attention to identify whether or not people respond to me differently under that name. I certainly don't post any differently, no matter what name I'm using.

* And in an unusual switch for me, my interest in the series started to fade when Kinsey started having more interaction with her previously-distant-or-unknown family members. Apparently I liked the edgy loner enough that seeing her get all bogged down in touchy-feely stuff is a turnoff. This is odd, because normally I'm all about character growth.

#266 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Lee @ 265

I'll give you two more words: Nicola Griffith. I liked "Slow River", which is, among other things, cyberpunk, but I really flipped over "Stay". You might like it, because there is character growth, but a lot of very hard-boiled action as well. Warning: it's a sequel, and I haven't read the first book, "A Blue Place" yet. Probably it should be read first.

Lee and Serge,

Preconceptions matter a hell of a lot, so it's often best not to deliberately mislead or confuse people unless you intend the resultant irritation or even anger. For instance, I use a screen name that's completely unambiguous: it tells my gender (though not my orientation) and my ethnic background. I do that primarily because I have enough trouble with reactions to the things I say and profess belief in that I don't want to have to deal with less important issues. And the "Speaker to Managers" part says a little bit about my relationship with authority, if you read it carefully, and that's something I like to get out front.

Given a basic stereotype to work with, people assume a lot about the next level of detail, and those assumptions about me are almost always wrong. I don't care a lot about how people think of me in terms of gender or sexual orientation since those things are not important outside of meatspace, and only important there if you're sexually available and looking. Nor do I care much if people make assumptions about my religous beliefs, since I rarely discuss them. At least I can be fairly sure they won't assume I'm Christian, which is useful.

But there are a lot of other assumptions I do care about, because they're about parts of my life and my worldview that are not defaults I've kept from my upbringing, but attitudes and opinions I've formed on my own hook, that often don't jibe with the accepted standards of the culture I live in. And the assumptions about those parts of me bother me as much as assumptions about gender bother Serge.

#267 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 266... Preconceptions matter a hell of a lot, so it's often best not to deliberately mislead or confuse people unless you intend the resultant irritation or even anger.


When I was young and naïve, I had a hard time understanding that people would lie just to make a fool of me. Feeling foolish is not a pleasant emotion, and not one I'd wish upon others.

#268 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 06:37 PM:

Lee @ 265... I've never read Grafton, but you gave up when the character reverted to more traditional 'feminine' concerns, as if it were unavoidable, right?

#269 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 06:43 PM:


Kinsey hasn't ever really been feminine. Acquaintance with her family hasn't changed that in recent books.

I find that my interest waned in the books where she was involved in family matters less because she went all girly and more because I like watching her investigate cases, not react to her relatives (even though her attitude of truculent hostility was much the same whether it was family or authority).

The series has been doing better of late. The last one was more on track.

But girly? Kinsey? No. You should read them, Serge.

#270 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 06:53 PM:

abi @ 269... So, basically, Grafton's books became mess and less mysteries, and more and more soaps?

Would you recommend starting at the very beginning?

One series I really enjoyed was written by B.J. Oliphant in the early 1990s, a nom-de-plume for Sheri Tepper. They were definitely mysteries, and the main character was an older woman who was very angry at the fools who run the world. I haven't seen any book in a long time, which is a shame. I'd like to see her deal with the current political climate.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 06:55 PM:

(cont'd from #270)

Oops. The earlier post should have said 'less and less mysteries', not 'mess and less mysteries', whatever the latter would mean.

#272 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 07:06 PM:


The first bunch of her books are hardcore private detective stories. A good place to start.

Somewhere in the early middle of the alphabet, she bumps into relatives, and loses her focus for a couple of books. She to's and fro's for a couple of books, still investigating cases, but a little off the boil.

But I contend that she gets back on track in recent novels.

They're never, ever soaps, though Grafton has a sure enough grasp of characterisation to write such books.

#273 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 07:08 PM:

No soap, then. Thanks for the recommendation, abi.

#274 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 09:20 PM:

Back when I was first on AOL, I found the SF forum to be split genderwise -- men ignored women's ideas and women ignored men's ideas -- so I made what I considered an androgynous name: Patterner. It turned out that everybody assumed I was male. If I was female, I would have had a female name, a Lady at the beginning, or an "a" at the end of the name. It was an interesting lesson.

#275 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 09:37 PM:

Most people will assume white male in the absence of any evidence; I tend to assume white female. I don't know how 'Diatryma' sits, genderwise-- since it's me, I assume female, but I'm also biased because it's shortened to 'Dia' when necessary. I've used 'Glyptodont' and 'Titanothere' in online games, and that last is male in my mind. I'm not sure why a glyptodont is genderless. Perhaps the Y balances the not-ending-in-A?

Teresa, the limeade was a hit, though I think I made it somewhat wrong. It was fun to make, though, and not a project of weeks, so I can invest another weekend to zesting, sugaring, and bribing someone else to destickify the kitchen. The rest of the party seemed to like it, though they thought it too sugary.
Then again, we pretty much ignored the 'dilute if you value your sanity' instructions in favor of, "Oh no! We seem to be sober! Quick, fetch the shot glasses!"

#276 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Serge and abi re Grafton:

See, one of the things I like most about Kinsey is that she's a semi-misanthropic woman who's established a good sense of self and a balance in her life. She's had a few sexual encounters, and they went EXACTLY as I would have expected from someone with her personality. She has a few people she trusts, but that's a damn hard nut to crack. And at the same time, she doesn't see herself as defective or broken -- just different. It's easy to find male characters drawn that way, but much rarer to find a woman, far less one as engaging on the character level as Kinsey.

So when Grafton started pushing all the family-recontact stuff, it felt as though she'd decided the character was broken after all, and that we were on the way to seeing Kinsey experience something like a Heinleinian epiphany and decide that a "more traditional" lifestyle is indeed the way to True Happiness.

I happen to believe very deeply that there is more than one road to True Happiness, and that particular one-true-wayism bothers me more than almost any other... so when I started seeing what looked like a buildup to it, I quit reading. Now, having heard from abi that it seems to have been a temporary aberration, I might go back and try again.

Not so much that I lost interest when she started acting more feminine (because abi's right, she didn't), but a feeling of "It's not broken, quit trying to fix it!"

#277 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 12:45 AM:

Lee, 265: Here's where I embarrass myself. When we first "met," I was convinced for a while that you were male, just like Céline the French author. I was quite relieved to discover that you're nothing like him!

#278 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 02:58 AM:

In terms of James Tiptree, the famous example is Robert Silverberg's introduction to the collection Warm Worlds and Otherwise. As it happens, Katie has just borrowed my copy of it, so I can't post the exact words, but the relevant bit went something like:

"There have been some rumors that Tiptree is really a woman. I can't believe them. There is to me something ineluctably masculine in Tiptree's writing. I don't think that a woman could have written the short stories of Hemingway just as I don't think a man could have written the novels of Jane Austen, and in this way I believe that Tiptree is a man."

In later editions he added a postscript admitting his error, which I think showed grace.

#279 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 03:30 AM:

Wow, I've been missing a good discussion. Gender in fora is really interesting to me right now. I used to have a gender. Now I have... a quirky collection of anecdotes and taglines about traveling around in gender. I'm much happier, all in all, with my collection of anecdotes and taglines (steadily growing as I play with this process) than I was with having the gender I had.

Tiptree is one of my great heroes.

If anyone wants my LJ name, email me. I'm quite shy about it, as it's not associated with my real name in background-checkable internet public space, as my livejournal is where I'm free with extremely personal details. I'll give it out on request, though.

Lee @ 265: I would assume "Celine" was a reference to Hagbard Celine, of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and thus masculine.

#280 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:30 AM:

I've been ducking the gender discussion.

This is one of the few places where I use an identifiably female name. Almost everywhere else on the net, I'm evilrooster, which is generally regarded as a masculine name. (Indeed, the only other evilrooster I've run across references to is a gamer in the Midwest named Joe.)

I've struck up friendships with men online under that identity, and had them say things like "I like you, but I'm straight," (that one made me laugh). I don't tend to post girly things, but then, I am not a girly girl*, even IRL.

I used to hang out in a forum with someone named Gritchka, and assumed for ages that that was a woman. Even after meeting him (dark hair, beard, very quiet demeanour), I still found myself thinking of him as the strong, vocal grey-haired woman I pictured when I met him online.

And was/would it be deceptive to post as a man when you're a woman? Maybe. But there are certainly fora where I would, where women are either ignored or abused. There, the choice is effectively, post as a man or don't bother**.

* No, Serge, not even if you factor in the hair.

** Actually, with fora like that, I usually wouldn't bother. Unless there were a professional reason - why hang out with a'holes?

#281 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 06:25 AM:

Having a somewhat-gender-neutral name (or at least abbreviated name; my full name is Julian, but I hardly ever use that) can be interesting at times. It seems most people encountering me online manage to guess my gender correctly, but there have been many exceptions. And I also tend to guess "Jules" == "masculine", despite the fact that (excluding myself) I've actually encountered more feminine Jules's than masculine ones in my various online travels. (IRL, I know many more male than female, however)

#282 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 07:18 AM:

Check out Ask The Brontë Sisters for writerly advice.

#283 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 07:21 AM:

My real name is obviously female. I stopped using it mainly because I was getting too much grief, but also because it's a very common first name and therefore didn't really work as a handle. Since then I've been using variants of ewe in most places. The plan is that intellectually there is information to give a clue that I'm female, but on a purely emotional level my femaleness isn't the first thing people notice about me. The second part works, the first part not always. I am often perceived as male and people are surprised when I point out that ewe is an explicitly feminine word!

My gender is pretty much "don't care". If I have to pick a side, I'm female rather than otherwise. But I'd rather not have to pick.

#284 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 08:07 AM:

Fans of the nether reaches of British folk music may want to check out this BBC radio documentary on the history of Mike and Lal Waterson's album Bright Phoebus, a "lost" (i.e., in Trailer jail) freak-folk classic with an all-star supporting cast including Martin Carthy and Richard Thompson. You have to install RealPlayer (ick), but it's worth it.

One thing they failed to mention is that Lal later made two outstanding albums with her son Oliver Knight, which are at least a little easier to find.

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 08:07 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 278... So it was Silverberg who said that about Tiptree. As for his assertion that he doesn't think a man could have written the novels of Jane Austen, I disagree. I couldn't have, but then again I could barely write my way out of a paper bag.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 08:26 AM:

abi and all others... I hope that my comment about misleading others thru one's screen-name wasn't taken as an accusation thrown at women who use a neutral or male name. My original point about 'Georgette' was, if I had used a female name, would I have been perceived as male or female? Someone could decide to go back to my previous posts to see if she/he could have figured it out, but people do know that I am male, and hindsight is a wonderful thing. Thus the only way for me to know would have been to fake my gender. But that would have been an act that'd mislead others, and I don't do that(*). As for women using a neutral/male screen name, that is totally different. There are plenty of valid reasons for that, like preventing others from thinking of hitting on you, or being taken seriously by men who will attribute any validity to their opinions only if their plumbing is similar to theirs. I don't hang around places with people who think like that. That's why I'm here.

(*) Mind you, some men might take on female names because they don't want to be seen as a threat simply on the basis that they are men. And wasn't there a discussion in these parts about perfectly valid reasons why people post anonymously, or pseudonymously?

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Fragano @ 255... Did your significant other then try to find out who that "Rosebud" lady was?

#288 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Serge #287: Since the lady in question was asleep herself (remember, this was 26 years ago), all that I did was wake her suddenly. I recall mumbling something.

#289 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Fragano @ 288... Sure, but, when Charles Foster Kane said "Rosebud", there was nobody in his room. The nurse came in after he died. And yet they knew what his last word was.

#290 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Serge @ 247:
She did find me, but said that my last comment had led to wondering if I was saying that I was a woman, in spite of my male nom-de-blog.

Mary Aileen @ 256:
Incidentally, I remember the exchange which confused the other poster as to your gender, and I think the fault was not (entirely) on your end. At least, I wasn't confused.

That was me, and I'm not particularly embarassed about it. I'd assumed Serge was male not because I identified "Serge" as a male name but because I identified it as a fabric and felt with no particular justification that it was a fabric more associated with men. Then Serge posted this:

If you see Jerry Pournelle walking around, and if there's a short-haired woman behind and she's sticking her tongue at Jerry's back and if there's a tall guy with her, that's me.

I misread "that's me" as referring the short-haired woman sticking her tongue out rather than the tall guy with her. Not a big deal and straightened out quickly.

Back in my more active usenet days, people would occasionally accuse me of being a man masquerading as a woman, due to either my opinions or my willingness to mix it up in debate.

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Susan @ 290... Like I said earlier, my grasp of the English language had failed me by then. In fact, the sentence's construction was terrible and I should have had my agnoizer cranked all the way up for it.

As for your saying that "...people would occasionally accuse me of being a man masquerading as a woman, due to either my opinions or my willingness to mix it up in debate..."

And that was in the late 20th century, right? What Reality did those people come from to reach a conclusion based on your expressing your own opinion?

#292 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 09:59 AM:

I think of "Celine" as female, because it was the name of one of my great-aunts on the originally French-Canadian (transplanted to California)side of Mom's family. My own name can be mistaken for male, or just ambiguous, but long-time readers of Locus and "Making Light" will know better. And I'm so used to it, anything more overtly feminine just wouldn't seem right -- though there's nothing remotely macho about me! (I'm way too short for that.)

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:00 AM:

(cont'd from 291) Oops. That sentence should have said "...I should have had my AGONIZER cranked all the way up..." An agnoizer sounds like a joke about agnostics.

#294 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:08 AM:

I just finished reading The Prestige. Was there anything to it besides the Sooper Surprising Plot Twists and the postmodern "nothing up my sleeves" gag? Or was the pomo thing the whole point?

#295 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Faren @ 292... there's nothing remotely macho about me! (I'm way too short for that.)

"Calling corporal Bonaparte to the front-desk..."

#296 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Serge (#295): Well, I'm not very Napoleonic either!

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Faren @ 296... You have no wish to reshape the world to be as it should be?

#298 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:37 AM:

An agnoizer sounds like a joke about agnostics.

- Still won't talk, huh? Squad Leader! Give him a taste of ... the AGNOIZER!
(radiophonic noises, screams)
- So, Terran. Now, perhaps, you will be more... forthcoming. Where are you planning your counterattack?
- Er... I'm not really sure now.
- Dammit!

#299 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 10:45 AM:

ajay @ 298... coughgagsplutter

#300 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 12:25 PM:

Montana, although unarguably beautiful and full of wildlife, is hell to get around in.

#301 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Serge #289: I don't believe the spirit of Orson Welles was present. Nor even that of John Houseman.

#302 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Nicole 252: Well, I didn't have "Navigation keys for WordPerfect users" checked, but I did have "Help for WordPerfect users" checked. Putting that functional difference there is clearly a bug, but clearing it worked. How it got set in the first place remains a mystery (I was a WP user a decade and a half ago, but not since).

Thank you! Even the Help people at my company didn't know that one.

#303 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 01:15 PM:

TexAnne @ 294: I just finished reading The Prestige. Was there anything to it besides the Sooper Surprising Plot Twists and the postmodern "nothing up my sleeves" gag? Or was the pomo thing the whole point?

Hm. I thought it was a moving tale of misunderstanding and obsession, with

(jung nzbhagf gb) n trahvaryl perrcl tubfg fgbel

thrown in (spoiler encrypted for those who haven't read it, including those who've only seen the film). I didn't think it relied on plot twists particularly (unlike the film); it did ask the reader to compare the accounts of two unreliable narrators, though.

I'm honestly not even sure what you mean by the "'nothing up my sleeves' gag." Probably I've forgotten something, as I usually do.

#304 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Tim, 303: I disagree with nothing you said. I just thought that after the raves I heard, there would be more there there.

I got the "nothing up my sleeves" line from the Borden section, where he's telling his diary that he'll tell the whole truth, leaving nothing out, and at the end the reader still won't know how the trick was worked. Meta Meta Meta!! I just thought the trick wasn't worth the buildup, to borrow his metaphor.

#305 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Not sure where I should mention this. The "Department of Evil" link in Patrick's sidelights links to a missing page.

I think the page he wanted is:

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 02:12 PM:

I just stopped by Borders and bought Sandra McDonald's The Outback Stars, a Navy-in-space which was recommended by a fellow LiveJournaler, who also promised that its politics won't have me tempted to test the book's aerodynamics. And it was edited by one James Macdonald.

#307 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 02:49 PM:

TexAnne, #277: *boggle*

A.J., #279: Fascinating. I haven't read that, and was thus unaware that there was a well-known male SF character called Celine. That'll teach me to make assumptions!

Actually there's supposed to be an accent-aigu on the first "e" -- for me, it's the French form of the moon goddess Selene -- but in the fora where I used to post with that name, it was far too much work to put the accent in, so I didn't bother.

On a completely different topic... anyone here planning to attend ApolloCon, SoonerCon, Conestoga, ConGlomeration, or FenCon? If you'd like to meet up, drop me a line.

#308 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 02:52 PM:

I got the "nothing up my sleeves" line from the Borden section, where he's telling his diary that he'll tell the whole truth, leaving nothing out, and at the end the reader still won't know how the trick was worked. Meta Meta Meta!! I just thought the trick wasn't worth the buildup, to borrow his metaphor.

saw the movie, didn't read the book.

Bar thl'f frperg gevpx jnf gung ur unq na vqragvpny gjva. Gur bgure thl'f frperg, ncneg sebz orvat n evpu aboyr, jnf gung ur unq n culfvpny pbcl znpuvar ohvyg ol grfyn. Ur gura frg hc bar uhaqerq fubjf jurer ur jbhyq perngr n pbcl bs uvzfrys hc va gur onypbal, juvyr ur sryy guebhtu n genc qbbe vagb n jngre svyyrq gnax jurer ur jbhyq qebja. Ur pbhyq bayl ubcr gung gur bgure zntvpvna jbhyq fubj hc naq tb vagb gur onfrzrag naq trg pnhtug naq oynzrq sbe uvf qrngu. vg jnf bar uhaqerq fubjf orpnhfr ur bayl unq bar uhaqerq jngre gnaxf. naq ur jnf bayl jvyyvat gb xvyy uvzfrys bar uhaqerq gvzrf.

Jul ur qvqa'g chyy bhg gur obql naq qvfcbfr bs vg naq erhfr gur gnax, V'z abg fher.

#309 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 03:16 PM:

Greg, 308: Yeah. The book isn't QUITE that stupid; the thing you point out is taken care of in the book. It's just either way overrated or I'm completely missing the point.

#310 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Individ-ewe-al @ 283

I am often perceived as male and people are surprised when I point out that ewe is an explicitly feminine word!

Thus providing more evidence for my point about preconceptions, above. The first preconception seems to always be based on the notion that someone posting on a thread involving firm convictions and passionate opinions is probably male; name comes after, and if only part of the name is just suggestive, it often won't override the basic preconception.

Serge @ 285

The Silverberg faux pas was a classic case. As soon as Tiptree publicly revealed herself as Alice Sheldon, a large troop of know-betters stated that Silverberg must be a real chauvinist pig, to use the language of the day, and that they had known better all along. In the face of that, I agree that Silverberg showed real grace in just admitting his mistake and apologizing for his bigotry without turning it into part of a show trial or firing back at his detractors.

Serge @ 289

Well, if you believe that ghosts are resonances of strong emotion reverberating around the circumstances of their generation*, then why can't Significant Pronouncements or Important Plot Devices remain echoing in the room where they were said?

* Just to tie this thread into a bow knot, refer back to Tiptree's story (sorry, can't remember the title) about aliens triggering the resonances of dead humans as part of an archaeological expedition.

ajay @ 298

Nyah, nyah! You missed me. I had just put the coffee cup down and swallowed a mouthful when I read that joke, so no liquid moment. I did snort some air, so I'll give you half points.

#311 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 03:30 PM:

So is World of Art a self-publishing scam targeted at artists? Or is it just expensive, but not really a scam? I've gotten two different spams from them, describing two different services; here's the one that sounds most fishy:

Professional artists are invited to submit materials for selection to become published in Masters of Today 100 Contemporary Artists global art book edited by WOA Publishing.

the selection
ll entries go through the selection process. Place and availability in the book are subject to quality and acceptance. The nominations and inclusions are judged solely by visuals submitted as attachment send to: The editors will review all submission and make decisions on acceptance.

After notification of acceptance a inclusion fee is required no later than the artist will receive a layout alternative in the books.
The inclusion fee of Euro 990 for two-page spreds in the book may be provided by a gallery or museum, corporation or individual contributor representing the artist.

The cost includes full editing, creative layout and design per-page, text review & post-editing, plates, offset printing, binding, packing, shipping, distribution. Our distribution is through large book wholesalers and ecommerce channels, in US bookstores and internationally including Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon in USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia and others. Each artist will receive three free copy of the book. Additional copies may be purchased at shipping and handling cost.Subject to availability, additional copies may be purchased at shipping and handling cost.

#312 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 03:43 PM:

The book isn't QUITE that stupid;

unfortunately, the movie blew it badly enough that I can't bring myself to read the book.

just to satisfy that we're talking about the same thing, though, could you define in short what you mean by "postmodern"?

#313 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Bruce @ 311

They must be harvesting addresses, because I've gotten at least two from them, plus another art-related one. (Most of the spam I've gotten lately has been in Cyrillic.)

#314 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:00 PM:

World of Art sent their emails to me.

At least I have accounts on a few art-related sites.

#315 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 310... Well, if you believe that ghosts are resonances of strong emotion reverberating around the circumstances of their generation*, then why can't Significant Pronouncements or Important Plot Devices remain echoing in the room where they were said?

No cigar, Bruce. In his biography, Charton Heston recounts the time he and Orson Welles met fans of the latter. When one of them humbly came up and asked Welles how anybody could have heard Kane's final word, Welles realized that someone had finally caught him.

#316 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 311... I got that email too. I deleted it without opening it.

#317 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:19 PM:

I've gotten several World of Art spammails.

It reminds me of those pathetic poetry contest scams.

#318 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Greg--well, no, not "in short". I recognize "postmodern" the way I recognize "medieval" or "Victorian" or "Italian Renaissance." I know it when I see it based on experience. I do tend to use the term as an insult, if that helps at all.

#319 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Odd convergences of ML and Real Life -- I went to a reading of David Marusek's on Friday evening. We have friends in common, but Friday was the first time I'd met Mr. Marusek.

Anyhoo...the conversation at Marusek's reading ended up mentioning Silverberg's "Tiptree can't be a woman" comment.

Everyone present at the reading had read the book, so we ended up chatting for a few hours instead of listening to him read. Mr. Marusek was interesting to talk with, and I found him quite charming.

#320 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 04:37 PM:

TexAnne at 318

Because I see at least the potential need for some sort of token to indicate thought and art that's later than and different from "modern", I differentiate between "postmodern" things, which may or may not be valid and useful, and "pestmodern" ones, which definitely aren't. What percentage of self-styled "postmodernism" actually fits in the first category is left as an exercise for the reader.

#321 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Did anybody else just receive a newsletter from Grafton Entertainment?

#322 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 05:21 PM:

Bruce @ 311 - Yep, I got that spam too. The only art-related site I'm on with this address is JPG Magazine, so I suspect that they're harvesting from here. Their most recent missives have been shunted straight to the spam folder, though.

#323 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 05:21 PM:

I do tend to use the term as an insult, if that helps at all.

I believe so.

#324 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Around these parts, people don't even bother saying "postmodern" any more. They just say "pomo." This is probably so that postmodern gays can call themselves "pomo homos."

And, btw, since I own my home in Hoboken, if I were postmodern I'd be a pomo homo Hobo homeowner (say THAT ten times fast).

Dr. Seuss would have a field day.

#325 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 06:31 PM:

"bobo" is a key term to learn if you are thinking (as a friend of mine is) of getting into the Paris property market. A bobo is a boheme bourgeois, a hip urban type with a bit more cash than an impoverished student; and you should be looking for property that is adequately boboisé.

So, if Xopher moved temporarily to Paris, he could be a pomo homo bobo hobo.

Just a thought.

#326 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 06:55 PM:

In college I was on a gay softball team, and we'd regularly have games against the radio station team. Thus, it was "The Homos vs. The Pomos."

No thanks at all to me, we tended to kick ass.

#327 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Xopher #324: Or, perhaps, so that incorrigible punsters can refer to the 'po-mo slo-mo'. Back in the late 80s, early 90s, one of my teachers referred to postmodernists as 'posties'. I pointed out to him that where I came from, that meant the person who delivered the post.

#328 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 07:31 PM:

Bruce, 320: So brilliant I'm stealing it and telling all my friends.

#329 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Xopher @ 324

There is, or at least used to be, a gay black theatre group in San Francisco that calls itself the Afro Pomo Homos.

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2007, 08:12 PM:

ethan @ 326... Hey, Toto, let's do the promo for the "The Homos vs. The Pomos". And we'll all stay at the HoJo in Soho.

#331 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 05:38 AM:

Have you seen the Department of Evil sidelight yet? Well worth a look. By the Dark Powers, it shows the most appropriate use for PowerPoint I can think of.

#332 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:27 AM:

So, I watched the Particle That is the War on Terror, and Youtube next served up What if the Beatles were Irish, which is also good stuff.

#333 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 08:10 AM:

I want to plug Charlie Stross' "Shaping the future" article (transcript of a talk):

#334 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Troll Whisperer particle:
It's Bryant Durrell, not Darrell, who wrote the MT plugin. I believe this is the same Bryant I used to hang out with back in the late 80s when we were both trying to run university SF clubs. We had a gonzo suite stacked to the walls with students at the '89 Noreascon. Small world.

#335 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 10:55 AM:

TexAnne@294: I've only seen the movie, but my two cents: I thought what made The Prestige great wasn't the plot twists or the postmodernism (whatever you mean by that). There wasn't single twist in the whole damn thing that wasn't well-telegraphed, and deliberately so. It's hard to say exactly what it is that makes it amazing, but it wasn't that it was really good at tricking the audience. Kind of the opposite, really. It tells you everything. How much of it you figure out has more to do with how willing you are to believe that a human being would do that to himself.

In the movie, there's a scene with Borden working as a stagehand for another magician, gur bar jurer ur zrrgf uvf shgher jvsr. Gurer'f n inavfuvat oveq-gevpx va juvpu gur oveq qvrf. Vg'f na htyl, oehgny genqr-bss: n oveq'f yvsr sbe n zbzrag'f snagnfl. Vg vfa'g, gb nal fnar crefba, jbegujuvyr. Bapr lbh xabj gur gevpx vg vfa'g nznmvat, whfg ubeevslvat. (Gung'f gur erny ernfba jul Obeqra pna'g gryy nalbar uvf frperg: vg'f gbb shpxvat fnq.) Naq gung'f gur cbvag bs gur fgbel: gurfr zra ner frrxvat gb perngr jbaqre, naq perngr ubeebe vafgrnq. Vg'f bayl jbaqebhf vs lbh qba'g xabj jung vg pbfgf. Vg'f zntvp nf ubyybj gevpxrel, nf qrprcgvba--hygvzngryl, nf frys-qrprcgvba. (Qnagba'f fcrrpu ng gur raq nobhg srnevat gung ur'q or gur bar va gur gnax nf cevpryrff--ur jnf nyjnlf gur bar va gur gnax.)

Niall McAuley: I have that "What If The Beatles Were Irish" Youtube clip open in a tab right now. I couldn't help but think that PNH would enjoy it.

*Wow. LeetKey knows not to ROT-13 html tags. Awesome.

#336 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Heresiarch, 335--Aha!! Bingo! When you say, "It's magic as hollow trickery, as deception--ultimately, as self-deception," that's why I didn't like it. The book is about hollow trickery, expressed by means of hollow trickery. The form and the substance are the same, and that's why I didn't like it.

Thank you for helping me put my objections into words.

#337 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:26 AM:

And that's the point of the story

Was it? I missed that. I started out watching it, trying to figure things out. At some point probably before the halfway mark, I remember thinking, what is the point of all this? At some point, Hugh Jackman's character became nothing more that a plot device needed to carry the story to the ending that the writer wanted to have.

If there was a point, I would guess it was something to the effect of "Look at me! I, the writer, fooled you, the viewer"

#338 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Susan @ 334... We had a gonzo suite stacked to the walls with students at the '89 Noreascon

You wallpapered the suite with the students's papers, or with the students themselves?

#339 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Well, I'm glad I could help. S'funny, though, because that's why I like it. Different strokes and all that, I guess.

#340 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 12:59 PM:

JESR @300

Montana, although unarguably beautiful and full of wildlife, is hell to get around in.

I have a frustrating-Montana-driving memory:

We arrived at the Montana border on a summertime day back when the daytime speed limit was "Reasonable and Prudent."(1)

We were going to be on some of the big wide highways, and so finally we had a chance to legally autobahn in North America.

Except we were in a 25 foot RV.

I got it up to 90mph on a wide, empty and gently sloping downhill section of I-90, but only for an instant, and only by pushing it into a "Scotty yells up from the Engine Room that she canna take more and is about to rattle apart" zone.

(1) Generally known at the time to top out at 100mph depending on local law enforcement. This was too vague for the U.S.'s Supreme Court, and they stopped the law.

#341 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Kathryn @ 340... Speaking of Mister Scott, you heard what happened to James Doohan's ashes? The rocket failed, plowed into New Mexico's idea of what constitutes soil. And Doohan's ashes apparently are lost.

#342 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Kathryn, we were driving a Sienna minivan with my daughter's dorm room contents jammed in (and I'm still wondering at how we removed the minifridge and several other things and stored them at her other home and still ended up with the resultant load making it impossible to recline any seats) but doing at least the posted car speed limit until our lives were complicated by a 25ft RV pulling a Jeep with Georgia plates. Every time we'd finally pass them, it would be time to pull aside for breakfast or photo taking and then they'd be in front of us again... all the way from White Sulphur Springs to Missoula.

There are no short-cuts in that state, no bypasses, no alternate routes. There is, however, Rattlesnake Creek NRA, which has some amazing, amazing wildflowers, and which is a place the road-weary traveller should stop and walk out the kinks before heading out of Missoula (or, for those with fewer bad bendy bits than I, the Kim Williams Nature Trail, which is long and switch-backy and unforested).

#343 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 01:45 PM:

Serge @341,

I found out about that one even before it hit the news: the ashes from 200 other people were on that flight, including those of my brother-in-law's grandfather.

I believe my b.i.l.'s family is amused more than annoyed by this coda- evidently the grandfather had been a rocket scientist but didn't have the best sense of direction.

#344 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Jerry Fallwell is learning first hand what God thinks of sanctimonious assholes.

Sorry, was that in bad taste?

#345 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Serge (#341) My reading of the ash-rocketing was that only a small portion of each person's "cremains" was on board, so there would still be identifiable James Doohan ashes for his terrestrial family and fans.

What rather disappointed me was hearing that the plan was just to shoot the rocket up some miles, and then it would fall back to earth. I'd assumed it was meant to head everlastingly into space, or join the asteroid belt, or fall into the sun as the ultimate funeral pyre.

#346 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Stefan 344: No. Good riddance. It's a pity he didn't suffer more, but the world is a better place.

#347 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Stefan @ 344... No. Ding dong, the witch is dead.

#348 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:09 PM:

I should have added:

Smith's Derived Law of Montana Driving:

Look carefully to see if there's someone crazier than you coming, then gun it.

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Kathryn and Mez... Still, it's a bit embarassing that Doohan's final sendoff was marred this way. I find myself envisionning Mister Scott's ghost coming out of the ashes and trying to make the recalcitrant rocket do what it's supposed to do.

Meanwhile... I just went to the post office two blocks over from the office. Between there and here is Albuquerque's convention center, and I was wondering why there were so many teenagers around until I noticed the MPs and the banner: Intel is having its science fair here this week. I guess I'll be going. I probably won't understand even a fraction of what the kids are doing, but it gives me hope for the Future.

#350 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Wait wait wait wait. Tintin movies? Hello!

Anyone got any rumors about which books they're animating?


#351 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Stefan Jones #344: What god would have him? Venus Cloacina, maybe.

#352 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Serge 347: ExCUSE me? That man made life HELL for us Witches...please tag him some other way.

#353 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Xopher @ 352... No offense was intended. I could call him a nasty son of a b*tch, but that would be an insult to three of my four dogs. Smug bastard? Again, that's an insult to my four dogs, all of them mutts. Evil? Yes, evil.

#354 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:29 PM:

"Whited Sepulchre" works.

#355 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Lovecraft or Poe probably have something that could describe Falwell accurately. Something about ghoulish and fleshy white worms.

#356 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:51 PM:

One thing that Spielberg and Jackson will have to deal with: Herge decreed that there would be no new Tintin adventures. Anything they do will have to be an adaptation. Presumably with the author's chauvanism gently excised.

There have already been two rounds of animated Tintin movies:

One was broadcast on American TV in the mid / late '60s. If memory serves, they ran on Channel 9 WOR in the NY area, and the episodes were split in two. I don't remember if these ran for an hour or half-hour.

The only adventure I recall watching way back when is the trip to the moon one. There were others, but they didn't make an impression.

A Belgian friend came back from a business trip to China with a set of DVDs full of more recently produced Tintin adventures.

#357 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 02:56 PM:

I like "Whited sepulchre." It links nicely to "Heart of Darkness," which is also appropriate.

#358 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:02 PM:

On Tintin, I TA'd a course last year, Myth, Folktale and Children's Literature, in which Prisoners of the Sun was a required text. We saw a bit of the video for that one, which can be found here.

#359 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:12 PM:

kouredios @ 358

No it can't.

#360 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Ack! try this? I forget that I have to use the quotes here.

#361 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Ripped from the Headlines Update:

Over the last week, I caught up on three weeks of various incarnations of Law & Order:

Love-crazed diaper-clad astronaut story: Check!

Brain-damaged vet turned out on the streets after stay in squalid VA hospital story: Check!

I guess we'll have to wait until next fall for a deranged student shooting up campus story.

#362 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Incredible testimony from James Comey. Take a look.

It actually makes me respect and appreciate John Ashcroft, something I thought impossible. And it makes me despise Alberto Gonzales even more.

#363 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Best suggestion I've seen so far re: Falwell -- that he found the Pearly Gates guarded by a giant Tinky Winky.

#364 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:32 PM:

kouredios @ 360

Much better, thank you. And look, it's available in Region 1 DVD as well! I could actually play it!

#365 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 361... Didn't Criminal Intent have the Anna Nicole Smith plot last week? Goodness, those shows are getting a worn-out feel to them.

#366 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Tintin... That brings back many fond memories of my tender youth, especially his Trip to the Moon of a few years before the real thing happened.

#367 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Re Falwell:

Nobody seems to have noticed the extra character retroactively stuck in the burning pool of shit in Dante's Inferno. He's returned to his master for his reckoning.

#368 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:46 PM:

#365: Oh, I almost forgot that one. How wonderfully squalid.

We need a L&O: D.C. Beat.

#369 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 368... Or maybe Law & Order should branch off into something like Baywatch Nights. Yes, there was indeed a show where David Hasselhoff meets the X-files. 'Ghastly' accurately describes it.

#370 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 04:08 PM:

I think Law & Order needs some more CSI vibe, but we don't want to just clone CSI:NY, so how about "L&O:Forensic Accountant". Put it on late at night and bill it as an insomnia cure for the innumerate.

#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 370... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... snort... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

#372 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Serge @ 371

Must be catching.

#373 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 05:03 PM:

I have 3 Tintin animated films sitting waiting to be watched - The Calculus Affair (L'Affaire Tournesol) (1964), Prisoners of the Sun (Le Temple du Soleil) (1969) and Mystery of Shark Lake (Le Lac aux Requins) (1972) - I had intended to gather some friends to see them (since they've been waiting to be watched since before I was born) but may move them up the list.

Also, am I the only one to be 1. excited and then 2. slightly deflated that 1. Peter Jackson has optioned Temeraire and 2. he's only optioned Temeraire?

#374 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Neill Wilcox... It's been years since I read it, but I think that, along with the Moon story, Tintin au Tibet is one of the series's best.

#375 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Since 3 1/2 years of my life were spent tracking space junk, I am not a supporter of putting MORE detritus into orbit. There are already far too many human-put into space orbiting hazards and debris making life "interesting" for people to have to keep track of, and threatening to damage anything which intersects orbits (a marble hitting at orbital velocity a spacecraft, can cause a lot of damage... think of how much damage a bullet can cause, and bullets are moving a lot slower).

Gonzales is thoroughly despicable, and it hasn't even got the humorous value of e.g. when a certain person called to ask a couple if the person could borrow the couple's van, and wasn't deterred in the quest to borrow it even when old that one of the couple was in labor and they needed the van to go to the hospital!

#376 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Xopher, Serge, and Stefan: I felt very bad today when I saw the news of Falwell's death and my first reaction was a sigh of happy relief. I'm usually not like that. I was scandalized when one of my friends expressed happiness at Reagan's death. But my first, natural, unedited response to seeing that headline today was something like "Oh, good."

Apropos of nothing: Does anyone happen to have the link to that very large page of gender-switched-pose superhero fanart? Not this one (and that's the one that was a Particle back in May 2005) -- I remember a much longer page, some of which was women in "male" poses.

My google-fu has utterly failed me. I keep finding all these pages that I have tantalizing memories of, but not the one I'm looking for.

The topic has come up again recently, with the new Mary Jane figurine, which is why I ask.

#377 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Caroline @ 376.. That means we have more of a conscience than people like Falwell ever did.

#378 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Unless I'm very much mistaken, Tintin goes to the moon in an atomic rocket (my memory suggests that Professor Calculus says something like "Imagine an atomic bomb, but going off over a few days"), and when I came back to it with some knowledge of rockets and nuclear engines (at the age of 16) it still looked pretty plausible.

The least plausible bit is the dog spacesuit for Snowy; secondly (spoiler*) fbzrbar orvat noyr gb fgbj nobneq.

(Just to clarify, I read as much Tintin as I could get my hands on between the ages of 8 and 14, some of it in French, but I picked up the DVDs last December. It's just that the films have been in existence since before I was born, so I don't feel pressured to watch them; I'm 35+ years late, another 6 months doesn't make any difference... does it?)

* But why haven't you read it already? Go. Go now! Read them both! Destination: Moon (Objectif Lune) and Explorers on the Moon (On a Marché sur la Lune) - I keep putting the french titles in as Tintin is the about the only thing I've read in French and understood, and found I wasn't missing the point entirely when I read a translation.

#379 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:33 PM:

What I'd like to see as a film is Asterix and Cleopatra. I've nothing against Tintin, but Asterix has always struck me as superior.

#380 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Neil Willcox... I have of course have read each and every Tintin story. More than once. Of course I always preferred the SF stories, with the Moon one at the top (and yes, it was indeed an atomic rocket). Would the Tibet one qualify as that? I think so. Darn. Now you make me want to take them off their shelf and read them again.

#381 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Yikes! A google suggest there is an Asterix and Cleopatra.

At this rate the only way I'll be able to watch everything I want to this year is by getting my friend who holds movies nights on his "big" "screen" to show only my selections. And to go round every night.

I'll call him tomorrow.

#382 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Neil Wilcox #381: Now, I'm going to have to find it. Thanks.

#383 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 07:40 PM:

There was an animated version of Asterix and Cleopatra done circa 1970. There was a live-action version done a few years ago with the guy from Il Postino. My understanding, from the opinion of those who grew up with that stuff, is that it wasn't very good.

#384 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 08:00 PM:

I saw the animated Asterix the Gaul some years ago, and it was about how you'd expect, considering it seemed to have been done on the cheap, then translated into English by people who, from what I could remember, seemed to think "I don't really get what's going on, but that doesn't matter as it's for kids"

The site I linked to above claimed that Asterix and Cleopatra was better, which makes me want to take a look.

#385 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Caroline @376,

I think a phrase you were looking for is styrofoam tits, as in "why was my first reaction on hearing of the death of a styrofoam tit happiness, not sadness?" Or "where was that thread with the interesting links to anatomically-impossible women I saw?"

#386 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 09:07 PM:

Caroline @ #376: I think I've seen something about that (with pics) over at

I'd go look it up, but I am getting ready to go to a conference, and should be working. Boo hiss on work.

#387 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Serge, #344, I had two young plumbers here, brothers, the younger apprenticing to the older, to replace the inlet valve on my toilet (the older brother accepted that I knew what I was talking about, which is unusual in plumbers these days) when the Special Bulletin came on the TV about Falwell. I went back and mentioned it to them and only the older could identify him. I told them I was voting on a heart attack. Then I came back to the computer and thought about all the times that Falwell said god had struck someone dead for doing something bad and wished there was a god who'd done that to him.

#388 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Well gosh-- last week on vacation in Quebec City, I just saw a fairly large Tintin museum exhibit. It was nicely balanced between the historical background/artifacts behind "Prisoners of the Sun" and Herge's R&D process in creating the story, though the gift shop mostly pitched the Peruvian angle in favor of a whole wall o' Tintin swag (mostly reprints in various languages).

#389 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 09:48 PM:

In my early 20s I spent a summer living in a castle in France studying art, and for all of us 21 students they provided us in the kitchen: 2) spoons, 1) bent knife, and 1) pot with a nearly-spherical concave bottom.

Within a day or so we'd located the nearest grocery store, and we students brought back a number of things of various utility, from a new pot, assorted food that didn't require cooking, some plastic cutlery, and a spear gun which two of our male students wandered off with while drunk. For myself I bought a set of Tintin silverware, and I still have it and treasure it to this day.

#390 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 10:26 PM:

So I'm finally starting to catch up on ML after 1 convention, 3 concerts, release hell, and other interesting artifacts, and I figure this is a good place for a question one of the concerts brought up. Bach's Johannes-Passion repeatedly says -"to make X happen as it was written"-, in more-or-less direct quote of the Bible. Can anyone cite \where/ it was written? Is it someone in the OT, or the OT Apocrypha, or was John (arguably the least literal of the four Gospelists) just blowing propaganda smoke? This is an irritating thing to come into your mind when you're trying to remember exactly how the conductor said he'd beat your next entrance -- and I may be doing this piece again so I'd like to know.

#391 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 10:55 PM:

Caroline @ 376,

bellatrys had some comparisons of typical poses used to sell animation software on her livejournal:

#392 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Neil Wilcox #378:

The least plausible bit is the dog spacesuit for Snowy

Oh, yeah?

(Guess who has been researching the history of space suits for the upcoming Heinlein Centennial...)

#393 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:05 AM:

When I was thinking about the merits of a drink vs the merits of doing more work, working to get liquid out of the basement was not what I had in mind. Bah.

#394 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:56 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 392

Excellent, got any new info on the skintight suit design? If Nasa needs good PR*, suiting their astronauts up like 30's pulp covers is bound to help.

* Is a bear Popish?

#395 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:44 AM:

The sidelight on "why you can't get ahead" reminds me of the article I saw while leafing through Business Week at Schiphol Airport* yesterday. (The Poverty Business)

This sort of thing makes me want to change the world. Or cry, one of the two.

* I was looking for a house to go with that nice job I got. I found one, too, a fantastic converted schoolhouse, currently owned by a painter. We had a fascinating talk about painting, bookbinding, and philosophy, only briefly stopping to agree terms so the bewildered real estate agent could go off and draw up paperwork.

#396 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:20 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 394... suiting their astronauts up like 30's pulp covers is bound to help

"Does this make me look fat?"

#397 ::: Lorem ipsum ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Has anyone here noticed FanLib? There are a couple of rants against it on the metafandom lj comm*, but I thought it might be of interest here because some people are claiming that this organization used to prey on wannabe pro writers. I wondered if anyone here could tell me if they know that to be true.


* They seem to be particularly trying to appeal to the crowd, who are (believed to be) younger and more naive than the lj crowd.

#398 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 11:53 AM:

How do I cancel the gift membership someone apparently gave me in the Unexpected Major Expense Of The Month Club?

I don't like the selections, and the reply cards don't have a "Don't Send" check box on them.

[just venting]

#399 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:23 PM:

abi #395: In the words of The Mighty Sparrow:

It sad, and getting more bad,
I say, douxdoux, capitalism gone mad!

Or, as I explain every semester to my American government students 'the poor always pay more'.

#400 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Bruce Arthur, that club must be having a membership drive this year, as I have incurred $2800 in debt for my teeth, and then had my elderly iMac die. Also, there have been automobile issues. Maybe they're phishing?

#401 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:43 PM:

#392 - Great Snakes! I've confused Snowy's spacesuit with his radiation suit. For, you know, taking your dog for a walk through a nuclear reactor.

(And if I'm wrong again, that's even better)

#402 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 401... So, 'Snowy' is what Tintin's canine sidekick is called in English? In the original language, it is 'Milou', which I only recently realized sounds like a phonetic transformation of 'mi-loup', or 'half-wolf'. The little guy is fierce, that's true. Of course, that's purely conjecture on my part, and I have no idea if that's why Hergé called him that.

#403 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Serge @ 407: The English-language "Tintin and Snowy" article on Wikipedia claims that "Malou" was originally a nickname for Hergé's first girlfriend Marie-Louise.

#404 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Serge @ 407: The English-language "Tintin and Snowy" article on Wikipedia claims that "Malou" was originally a nickname for Hergé's first girlfriend Marie-Louise.

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Julie L @ 404... So it started with his girlfriend Malou and became Milou? Interesting.

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Julie L @ 404... Let me guess. His girlfriend's name actually was Louise. Which then became 'ma Louise' (my Louise) then 'ma Lou' then 'Malou'.

#407 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:26 PM:

I wonder if he skipped to her?

#408 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Xopher @ 407... Meaning?

#409 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:34 PM:

When I see a Particle title like "Patrick vs. Norman at the Nebs" I half-expect it to be about a fight over a boombox.

#411 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Fragano @ 410... Duh. (Sayeth Serge in a moment of eloquence worthy of Demosthenes.)

#412 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Serge #411: It happens to all of us.

#413 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:51 PM:

A ghost-haunted computer room center tale...

#414 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 03:07 PM:

We used to get Tintin animation on Scottish TV in the 1960's. Short serial episodes; alas, I can't remember which stories.

#415 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Henry Troup @ 414... I remember those. There was "le crabe aux pinces d'or", the Moon story and "l'étoile mystérieuse". There might have been others. But it was a long time ago. Besides, the wench is dead.

#416 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:07 PM:

They had animated Tintin in France in the early 90s, too, paired with the animated Batman. (In case you were wondering, the Joker did not sound right.)

#417 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:09 PM:

Paula (413): Thanks for that link. I may be a rationalist-materialist-nihilist-humanist-atheist, but I dearly love a good* first-person ghost story.

* Sometimes, especially under the influence of insomnia, I'll go browsing one of those "share your true ghost stories" websites. Generally, I can just go through the links and mentally check off all that apply: [ ] Paraeidolia, [ ] Sleep Paralysis, [ ] Hypnopompic/Hypnogogic Hallucination, [ ] Autosuggestion. Every once in a great while I come across one and am forced to mentally check off [ ] Other. There's something fantastically wonderful and addictive about those stories -- it's like pure, distilled essence of storytelling, with no distracting plot or style to get in the way.**

** I feel the same way about old charity fundraiser cookbooks, except that I see them as the essence of technical writing.

#418 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:22 PM:

So, in the "Patrick vs the Normans" sidelight, there's a bit that says: "Roth's novel is merely the most blatant case of authors and editors who, not having read decades' worth of science fiction, fail to realize the extent to which they're reinventing the wheel."

And I was just started to wonder if there is a list of wheels anywhere. I've seen some short story magazines have lists like "Plots we've seen too often", but it's not quite the same.

I realize it would be a rather long list, no easy task to compile, and would be good for something like the Good version of wikipedia to create...


But from a purely educational point of view, it struck me as an interesting problem of trying to get someone up to speed on decades worth of fiction, without them having to read decade's worth of fiction.

#419 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:27 PM:

TexAnne @ 416... I never saw those more recent Tintin animated films, having by then left Canada for many years.

The Joker with a French accent?
I shudder to think.

#420 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:32 PM:

I had to look up Paraeidolia, and now I know why the peacemaking aliens in FarScape were called Eidolons.

#421 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:04 PM:

420: Xopher, I just realized I misspelled pareidolia. It probably wouldv'e been easier to look up if I hadn't.

I had the strongest experience of auditory pareidolia the other night. There were several sources of noise going on in my place -- I was listening to an mp3 playlist, and the dishwasher was going, and the clothesdryer, plus whatever sounds were coming from the computer. The playlist ended, and I could still hear music. It sounded like one of those earnest young singer/songwriters with a guitar, and he was singing/chanting "I love some juice; 'A Love Supreme.' I love the Jews; I love to sing." Over and over he sang this catalog of things he loved. Mostly juice and Jews.

It was driving me crazy. I checked all the electronics in the house. I went outside to see if it was coming from a neighbor. Finally I was able to track it to something rubbing against something in the dishwasher. The weird part was that well after I figured out what was going on, the illusion remained just as strong until the dishwasher changed cycles.

Related video: Steve Winwood is hungry for breakfast.

#422 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Caroline, #376: I think this might be the page you're looking for.

Also, check out this one, which has links to lots of similar artwork down in the comments. I was especially taken by the one of Rogue and Remy...

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:37 PM:

#414, 415; those were probably the ones I saw as a kid. I figured the serialization was an artifact of American TV, but perhaps they were made that way.

I'm visiting my Bay Area friends next weekend. Maybe I can borrow their Tintin vintage-1990s DVD. (I blew the kids' minds last year, when I loaned them a "Best of the Thunderbirds" set.)

Anyone remember the National Lampoon Tintin parody? Tintin and Snowy visit Beirut. This was when there were Marines stationed there. After snowy is captured, the military gets involved and either nukes or carpet bombs the city.

#424 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Howard 421: Yes, though Google nicely put "Do you mean pareidolia?" at the top of the page, and that's where I found the information, I assumed it was just an alternate spelling, like 'synæsthesia'.

Pareidolia can be the grain of sand dropped into the oyster of the artistic mind. I think it also could go a long way to explaining why a lot of artists have mental problems; lower your "Is it real or is it pareidolia" filters too far or too often and you wind up really seeing the Closet Monster.

#425 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:52 PM:

Are any Making Lighters going to this?

May 17 in Florence, MA: Small Beer Press with John Crowley, Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Park.

I'm going to try to be there and would love to say hello to any of you in person.

#426 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 423... I blew the kids' minds last year, when I loaned them a "Best of the Thunderbirds" set.

I've got that one, along with the complete series. So, the kids liked the show even though they grew up puppetless?

(Ever seen Joe 90? Nine-year-old boy with dorky glasses gets to save the day again and again and again because dad has got this machine that instantly transfers into his head whatever skills are needed during that episode. Talk about power fantasies for nerds.)

#427 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:50 PM:

I microwaved a ceramic plate and it broke weirdly. That isn't supposed to happen. Is it?

#428 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:53 PM:

#426: My friend reported that his kids liked TB, but that the episodes were awfully long.

"Joe 90" (nor "Supercar") never made it to local TV when I was a kid, and I'm trying to avoid the temptation of buying DVDs just to catch up.

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:06 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 428... I guess kids can't deal anymore with anything longer than 30 minutes.

#430 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Susan, 427: I believe it has something to do with the type of ceramic. Earthenware in particular acts funny sometimes--I once had a mug on which the glaze melted the first time I microwaved it. It immediately became a pencil cup.

I test a new mug by putting it empty in the microwave along with a Pyrex cup of water for one minute. If the empty cup is too hot to touch, I don't microwave it again.

#431 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:33 PM:


So that's what it's called! I usually describe it as "I hear Dead Can Dance playing through the waterpipes."

#432 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen at #394:

Excellent, got any new info on the skintight suit design [139-page PDF]? If Nasa needs good PR, suiting their astronauts up like 30's pulp covers is bound to help.

Not much happened for decades, except that Jerry Pournelle did everything possible to spread enthusiasm for that style of space suit to all within earshot.

But now something is happening. Sorry I don't have time to write more, but look at
this. A group at MIT is trying to push the old idea further.

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 432... Jerry Pournelle did everything possible to spread enthusiasm for that style of space suit to all within earshot...

...which, considering his stentorous voice, covers a very wide area.

#434 ::: Gwen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:32 PM:

This made me think of you guys:
"Dinosaur dicks"--did dinosaurs have penises?

#435 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:05 PM:


I saw an artist rendition of a... uh... space ball. It was presented as a "life boat" of sorts. The idea being that if things got bad, you'd put yourself in a four foot diameter rubber sphere with it's own life support thingy.

Of course, you've got no arms or legs sticking out, so you had to wait for someone in a suit to come pick you up, but I think the idea was that it might be too expensive to have a suit for everyone, but you might be able to have a space ball for everyone because, no moving joints, nice spherical shape, etc.

The shwartz is strong with this one...

#436 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Bill Higgins... I think it was 20 years ago that I read an article about NASA experimenting with armor-like spacesuits. If I remember correctly, because they were rigid shells, it took less time between getting into the suit and being able to go out with it, something about the inside pressure not being unlike what a human body is used to. Does this make sense, or did I dream it? I never came across anything like it since then.

#437 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:53 PM:

#425: I'm strongly tempted, since this is right in the middle of my neck of the woods, but I don't know yet if I'll be able to make it.

#438 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 11:48 PM:

I'm not sure if I should be amused or revolted at this thread about James Nicoll" at wikipedia.

#439 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 11:59 PM:

I was once behind Gregory Benford on a line for a buffet. Somehow the topic of the skin-tight pressure suit came up. He thought it was a terrible idea. I forget the details, but the gist of his argument was that wearing something that put that squeezed you that tight would be incredibly uncomfortable.

#440 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Xeger @438: after reading that debate, I'm left with the impression that Wikipedia is striving to become the net's largest repository of ignorance.

#441 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:25 AM:

I'm going to go out on a limb and assert that five or seven or twelve of you will be amused by the just-released cover for Gail Simone's first issue of Wonder Woman. File it under 'Sauce for the Gander'; it brought to mind this old ML post about Frank Miller, egregious pin-up-ness in comic-book women, and the Nielsen Hayden Styrofoam Tit Hypothesis. (By the way, the Frank Miller issue discussed in that old post hit the racks today at last, just 364 days after the previous issue appeared on the shelves.)

#442 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:28 AM:

Aw, nertz. It's a fake! How embarassing.

<Litella>Never mind.</Litella>

#443 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 439... Basically, each skintight suit would have to be made especially for each person. And, as Benford said, it'd be very uncomfortable. Especially for male genitals, unless we are provided with a codpiece. That would be quite a sight.

#444 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:41 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 439: "I forget the details, but the gist of his argument was that wearing something that put that squeezed you that tight would be incredibly uncomfortable."

I thought the whole point was that it squeezed you exactly as tight as a one-bar atmosphere would.

The trick, I'd think, would be getting into the damn thing. NASA might have to sub-contract some latex fetishists...

#445 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:51 AM:

Heresiarch @ 444... Speaking of latex fetishists, how did Kate Beckinsale get into that outfit of hers, in Underworld?

And, no, I will not ask about George Clooney's batnipples.

#446 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:54 AM:

Serge @ 443

Basically, each skintight suit would have to be made especially for each person

No, there are ways to tighten the suit down to fit. One simple way is zippers, like the ones you see on the legs of some running pants or overalls. You could also use Velcro, though it might not be as reliable a closure. I think I know another way to do it using something called a LADD cell, but I'd have to spend some time doing some research and computing to see if it would really work.

#447 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 446... I'd hate having a zipper, or any crease of the material, pressing that tightly against my skin for a long time. I'd rather wear Tintin's Moonsuit. On the other hand, I don't know about those LADD cells you referred to.

#448 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:42 AM:

Andrew, #441: Hooboy! I read some of the commentary, and if that doesn't hit fandom_wank I'll be amazed. Just listen to all the guys being scared of gay cooties. But ye ghods, that's awesome.

#442: ... damn.

#449 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 06:23 AM:

Ron Paul: Black people aren't smart enough to be libertarians. What an awesome argument!

#450 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 06:54 AM:

#426 "Ever seen Joe 90? Nine-year-old boy with dorky glasses"

No. But that didn't stop me being nicknamed Joe 90 when I was a seven year old with dorky glasses. I also got nicknamed Brains after the Thunderbirds character, again because of the dorky glasses (at least partly).

#451 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Serge at #436:

Bill Higgins... I think it was 20 years ago that I read an article about NASA experimenting with armor-like spacesuits. If I remember correctly, because they were rigid shells, it took less time between getting into the suit and being able to go out with it, something about the inside pressure not being unlike what a human body is used to. Does this make sense, or did I dream it?

Yes, it makes very good sense, and some engineers think it is the Right Way To Build A Space Suit. "Hard suits" have usually lost out to "soft suits" historically, although the Shuttle EVA suit is a hybrid with a hard torso.

Bruce Cohen at #446:

Serge @ 443

Basically, each skintight suit would have to be made especially for each person

No, there are ways to tighten the suit down to fit. One simple way is zippers, like the ones you see on the legs of some running pants or overalls. You could also use Velcro, though it might not be as reliable a closure.

Another split in pressure suit design choices is "full pressure" vs. "partial pressure." It was discovered in the 1940s that a really tight garment could do nearly as good a job, at keeping a pilot's bodily fluids from boiling, as encasing the pilot in an inflated rubber bag. It was really hard to make an inflated full-pressure suit mobile and flexible enough to fly an airplane, and the partial-pressure suit offered much more flexibility.

As a consequence, contracts for military suits went to underwear companies (David Clark, International Latex (Playtex) and the Berger Brothers) as well as to rubber companies (B.F. Goodrich).

Eventually the full-pressure style won, as astronauts and X-15 pilots headed into hard vacuum. But mobility is still an uphill battle, and there are many difficult design compromises. It's still difficult and tiring to do lots of work in Shuttle suit gloves.

One hopes that astronauts returning to the Moon or going to Mars will be provided with much better EVA suits than we have today.

#452 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 451, Serge @ 447

The design that excited* me about the skintight was basically the one Pournelle was touting: the unpressurized suit. The idea is that human skin works fine to hold air and body fluids in as long as it's restrained from expanding (hence the highly elastic material). The suit has to be permeable to sweat, giving you a crude cooling system that only requires an auxiliary cooler to smooth the cycles out and assist when in direct sunlight.

Yes, it's sort of like wearing a tight corset all over your body**, but because you're not fighting air pressure when moving, mobility is far better xn movement less tiring than in a pressurized suit. If the material of the suit is a relatively thick foam stretched over the body, it should fill any shallow dimples such as behind the elbows and knees, and fit curves well. Men will in fact need some sort of special jockstrap or codpiece, and women will need a specialized support bra to hold the undersides of the breasts***. Zippers on the outside that pull the material together for that tension will not press directly on the skin; the foam will soften their impact.

By the bye, LADD cells are ingenious devices for converting rotary (plus compressive/expansive) to linear motion and vice versa using a sort of cylindrical cat's cradle of cords. I got interested in them as a mechanism for controlling focus and focal length in optical assemblies; turns out they're not all that useful in that application because they need additional rigid parts to hold the lenses in position, and so there's no real advantage. But if the suit material were formed around a set of LADD cells, one for each major part of the body, the suit material would do the job of he holder. And note that lower arm, upper arm, lower leg, upper leg, and torso are all roughly cylindrical.

* Yeah, Serge, it was the nipples.

** So Nasa is going to have to start hiring bondage fetishists. Hmm ... so vacuum construction workers are going to have to be bonded?

** As will some men.

#453 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Bill Higgins... I wonder if one reason that NASA and the Soviets stayed away from hard suits is because they were too bulky for the original vehicles, where things were cramped. And, their storage would take up more room.

#454 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:11 AM:

Greg @ #435:
I saw an artist rendition of a... uh... space ball. It was presented as a "life boat" of sorts. The idea being that if things got bad, you'd put yourself in a four foot diameter rubber sphere with it's own life support thingy.

Of course, you've got no arms or legs sticking out, so you had to wait for someone in a suit to come pick you up, but I think the idea was that it might be too expensive to have a suit for everyone, but you might be able to have a space ball for everyone because, no moving joints, nice spherical shape, etc.

Bujold used the idea in one of her Barrayar books - The Vor Game, I think. They were called "bod pods" or something like that, but the concept was similar - cheap and easy escape pods, one-size-fits-all, bob around in space and wait/hope to be retrieved.

#455 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 452... If the material of the suit is a relatively thick foam stretched over the body, it should fill any shallow dimples such as behind the elbows and knees, and fit curves well. Men will in fact need some sort of special jockstrap or codpiece, and women will need a specialized support bra to hold the undersides of the breasts...

Is this your subtle way to bring us back to the comments made by Kathryn from Sunnyvale about styrofoam tits?

Hmm... This'd all play well on American TV... Female astronauts with huge busts, and male astronauts with huge schwanshtukers...

#456 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Greg @ 435

IIRC, Kingsbury did something similar (The Moon Goddess and the Son), but it had a handle and one arm, so you could zip it from the outside (sort of) or grab the next guy.

#457 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:53 AM:

Susan @ 454

The other reason for using rescue balls is that they're much cheaper than suits, and you can scatter lots of them around a spacecraft or a habitat. If there's an SDE (Sudden Decompression Event) and someone is not near enough to a suit, or there isn't time to put one on, there's likely to be a ball nearby. They could be stored all over in small pouches that automatically pop open when there's a pressure drop, like oxygen masks in an airliner.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Susan and P J... Great. To escape destruction, we have to dress up like the guys in those Fruit of the Loom ads.

#459 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:13 AM:

#426 "Ever seen Joe 90? Nine-year-old boy with dorky glasses"

I remember watching Joe 90 when I was a kid here in Perth, back in the 70s. The thing that troubled me most was that the 9-year-old kid had a gun, and that he wasn't averse to wasting bad guys with it. (I could be misremembering about this, but I'm sure I saw the kid using that gun to deal with bad guys.)

#460 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Alan Braggins and Adrian Bedford... I don't remember whether or not Joe 90 used a gun, but I definitely remember that I wore glasses as dorky as his when I was 9 years old. My parents have a lot to answer for.

#461 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Alan Braggins and Adrian Bedford... I don't remember whether or not Joe 90 used a gun, but I definitely remember that I wore glasses as dorky as his when I was 9 years old. My parents have a lot to answer for.

#462 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Serge @ 455

This is just my way of giving back to the comic book artists who gave me such pleasure* when I was a lad. Making the real world more like comics every day.

* Make of this what you will.

#463 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 462... Making the real world more like comics every day.

That means that, when you're at work, you say things like "It's clobbering time!" or "Curse me for a novice!" And you start meetings with "Avengers assemble!" Right, bub?

#464 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Serge@436: Bill Higgins... I think it was 20 years ago that I read an article about NASA experimenting with armor-like spacesuits. If I remember correctly, because they were rigid shells, it took less time between getting into the suit and being able to go out with it, something about the inside pressure not being unlike what a human body is used to. Does this make sense, or did I dream it? I never came across anything like it since then.

I saw something a few years ago that was a rigid space suit design. It claimed that one of the problems with rigid suits is that as you move, twist, turn, bend a rigid suit, you may increase or decrease the air volume inside, thereby increasing/decreasing the airpressure inside. (Bend your elbow all the way and you might pop your eardrum). The thing about this rigid suit was that all the joints were designed to be constant volume, so that if you bent a joint, the air volume inside the suit remained the same, therefore the pressure too.

Basically, every joint looked like a ball/socket contraption. Thought it was interesting...

#465 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Arthur D. Hlavaty @ 449: My favorite bit was where he was complaining about how street crime isn't being cracked down on as hard as complex embezzling. I mean look at those INTIMIDATING white-collar crime sentences! Sometimes they even have to serve, like, half of it!

Reminds me of a Dave Chapelle skit where they try to envision what it would be like if the treatment of corporate fraud and drug crimes were reversed. Police Chief: "Ah, Mr. Drug Dealer, I hate to bother you, but, well, this is embarassing, really, but I have a warrant here for your you think you could come by the station some time this week and we can take care of this?" vs. Police Officer: *busts down door* "FREEZE MOTHERFUCKER!" Blam! *shoots dog*

#466 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:13 PM:

It's the change in volume with joint movement which makes soft suits such hard work. And it's mostly the neutral position of the suit which forced the body positions in early spacewalks.

One of the objects of hardsuit design is to have constant volume joints, This can lead to needing to make awkward seeming limb movement to get a hand, or foot, from one position to another.

I've seeb it claimed that curreht softsuits also have limits on how the joints move, different to a hardsuit, but that astronauts know how to use them.

Think of the mimes/dancers who pretend to be robots.

Another comment I recall was that nobody seemed interesting in making a robot hand that used some sort of glover controller, and astronauts were using gloves that were awkward, uncomfortable, and expensive.

But maybe Jack Coggins and Fletcher Pratt has the right idea.

#467 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:51 PM:

I have a food-identification request to the fluorosphere: as part of an elaborate salad (in Montreal, if that makes any difference), we were served some long yellow leaves that looked like lawn grass that had grown in the dark (picture here).

It was a wedding reception with no menu written out. The leaves were plated as a vertical spray from a cored cucumber stump; when tugged out, they had been grown/harvested in smaller groups of maybe 2-5 leaves attached together at the base. They tasted like, well, lawn grass when eaten (very tender, no tough fibers), but had a remarkably distinctive, sweet aftertaste that several people compared to aspartame or some other artificial sweetener. My first thought was stevia, but apparently that looks nothing like these grassy things.

What the heck was this stuff? Any ideas? I was the only one at the table who ate all of mine and I'm not dead yet, but it would nice to know what it is regardless.

#468 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Julie L. your mystery plant looks, to me, like the very top leaves of well-blanched celery, which would, indeed, have a sweet aromatic (perhaps cloying to some palates) aftertaste.

#469 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Julie, perhaps it was wheatgrass, grown in the dark so it wouldn't look like grass?

#470 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Aren't celery's top leaves still kinda curly-like in a parsley sort of way?

Wheatgrass? Hm. Maybe-- I'll have to nick a sample blade of the green stuff to compare the taste.

I felt slightly bad for the chef (or catering company), in terms of having lots of people decide that certain things were inedible garnishes. Especially the zillions of little spun-glass filigrees sticking out of the secondary desserts.

#471 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:50 PM:

It looks like blanched dandelion leaves to me. (The cultivated kind, which doesn't have teeth like the stuff in the lawn.)

#472 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Julie @470, some varieties of celery are curly to the extent that Italian Parsley is, yes, especially when they are grown in full sunlight and wind- which would not be the case for blanched celery.

Wheatgrass has a very small sweet green aftertaste, and would not have the spoon-shaped end to the leaves evident in your photo; it's also really floppy when blanched. And every kind of dandylion I've had is herbal and astringent, even when blanched.

#473 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 04:49 PM:

xeger @438: I'm not sure if I should be amused or revolted at this thread about James Nicoll at wikipedia.

Well, it looks like it's been closed in favour of keeping the article, and one of the admins who supported keeping it has raised the question of what can be done to prevent this kind of issue in future on a relevant policy discussion page. Now would probably be a good time to go back and make relevant comments.

#474 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Doh-- in 470, I meant spun *sugar* filigrees, not spun glass.

Blanched celery, huh? I have no idea whether I can find any locally for a direct comparison, though then again, I'm not sure how interested I am in eating a lot more of them. I've eaten the tiny yellow stalks/leaves in the middle of standard green supermarket celery and they weren't terribly similar to these; otoh there seem to be several distinctively different kinds of celery that I can't instantly find pix of on Google.

#475 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:30 PM:

After reading PNH's latest Sidelight, I have one question: Why in the name of all that is human is Al Gore not the Democratic candidate for president of the United States?

#476 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:21 PM:

#452: I'm curious. How many men with tits \needing/ \support/ (i.e., Schwarzenegger as Conan doesn't count) are fit enough to work in space? Is it possible that somebody could lose enough weight to have support issues and still be fit enough that a ]fetishist[ suit would be a better choice than a rescue sphere?

#395 et al: Business Week has something. The particle, on the other hand, is comparing apples and oranges, i.e. now vs. a period when the U.S. was >25% of the world economy (as much of the once-industrialized world was still digging itself out of the ruins); absent competition, the U.S. could indulge in massively wasteful practices. (Remember when Reader's Digest tried to counter The Wastemakers with "Waste Not, Have Not?"?) One point they should have made and didn't: in those wonderful 50's, the marginal tax rate on bloated incomes was 90%, which helped hold the bloat down -- there wasn't as much point in mulcting your employees when you had to pass 90% of it on to the government.

#468: JESR, are there \any/ celery leaves that look spiky like grass instead of leaflike? Flat vs. curly doesn't seem to be the issue, unless the original description is off.

#477 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Fragano @ 475... My hope is that Gore will run for President, but he's saving his resources while those who have already announced their candidacy are beating the crap out of each other. I hope.

#478 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Serge #477: That would be an excellent outcome.

#479 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 02:38 PM:

About the Meta-LOL: I've read of an even better version, a photograph (of a soldier in Iraq standing partway up a building) with a caption reading "I'm in Ur city climbing Ur ziggarat."

#480 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Chip, I think the only way this is going to be solved is for all of us to meet in Montreal and have the salad. Or for a very high-definition picture to be posted. Thing is, to me (foody, gardener, ethnobotanist) that doesn't look like grass, or have the structure of blanched grass.

But yes, the interior leaves of blanched celery can be vertical and spiky.

#481 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 05:13 PM: has a story about NASA trying out an exploration robot in a cenote in Mexico. With this line in it:
Mars, Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus are the only known places in the solar system known to have or have had water, the basis for life. [emphasis mine]


#482 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 05:13 PM: has a story about NASA trying out an exploration robot in a cenote in Mexico. With this line in it:
Mars, Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus are the only known places in the solar system known to have or have had water, the basis for life. [emphasis mine]


#483 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 05:15 PM:

I just googled the New Haven library by its official title, which I mistyped as "new haven free public ibrary".

And the first google result was for "ommunity ervices" and led to a real webpage on the city's site which as far as I can tell contains the relevant words with their initial letters properly attached.

I think either I need more sleep or google is playing a joke on me. Or both - maybe I'm too tired too properly admire this?

#484 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 05:16 PM:

P J... No wonder I feel thirsty today.

#485 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 05:18 PM:

usan @ 483... aybe oth.

#486 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Susan: Were those letters some kind of graphic?

(double post was accidental, sorry....)

#487 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 07:26 PM:

Susan @483: Looks like the first document that search returns is a (searchable) PDF file. Firther investigation reveals that the creators didn't use the proper "small caps" font type to create the look of the "Community Services" text, but they put the first letters in 24pt, and the rest are 19pt caps. I suspect in doing so they somehow deranged some style type that Acrobat used to identify the title text of the document, which resulted in only the 19pt characters getting so ascribed.

#488 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Wow. Color photographs from Imperial Russia. Really.

#489 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:49 PM:

And now it's time for Totally Belated Responses To Stuff, the LeBoeuf-Little edition. Whee!

Xopher - Glad to hear I was at least on the right track and you are no longer being frustrated unecessarily by Word. At least, not in that particular way.

Serge @270 - I was unaware there was a pseudonymous Tepper bibliography out there. Putting that on my "to search for and read" list with the Marianne books (of which I've only read one so far). My suspicion, alas, is that the Oliphant heroine, were she to be resurrected in order to comment on today's politics, would be indistinguishable from any other Tepper herione since, say, 2001. The Fresco marks the point beyond which pretty much any Tepper book will leave skidmarks on my wall, or would if they weren't property of the Boulder Public Library and I were free to mangle them.

(I'm fairly opinionated about Sheri Tepper's body of work. I categorize it into stuff I wholeheartedly enjoy, stuff where I tolerate the preaching in order to enjoy the worldbuilding and characters, and stuff where the book hits the wall. There's overlap, of course. My husband and I are working our way through the True Game novena, which is in the "enjoy" category, but we just got to the point towards the end of Necromancer Nine that caused us to blink and go "This is the 'blame the patriarchy' portion of our feature entertainment, isn't it?" We also WTF'd a few chapters back where the sermon appeared to be "See what happens when you criminalize euthanasia, you morons?")

Pareidolia - is that in play when we get story ideas from misreadings, typos, and corner-of-eye misglimpses?

#490 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:56 PM:

As an aside to Patrick's recent sidelight: LOLcatz for physics geeks.

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Nicole @ 489... But wait, there is more! Not only did Tepper in the early 1990s write those B.J.Oliphant mysteries (I've never met the author, but I get the sense the main character is a barely disguised version of herself), but she also wrote others as A.J.Orde. Got a solid wall? Me, I enjoyed the Oliphant books. Besides, the bedroom's wall was made of bricks.

#492 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:47 AM:

Nicole @ 489

I read the Marianne books a long time ago and found them quite charming. Then I read a number of Tepper's later books, and discovered that some of them irritated me a little for the preaching, and that I didn't remember anything about them just a short time after I read them, even though the writing was not bad. So I stopped, and I haven't been tempted since. Am I missing anything?

#493 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 02:07 AM:

Julie L. #467:

Popcorn shoots

#494 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 06:59 AM:

Nicole @ #489:

If it is not too late, I would like to take this opportunity to offer the traditional warning:
Do not read the last three books of the True Game series.

(Why not? Search me: I took the advice when it was offered to me. But I expect there's a good reason for it.)

#495 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 08:20 AM:

Fragano, Serge: I think Gore would make a fabulous president, but whoever's elected president in 2008 is going to spend 90% of their time and political capital dealing with the mess in Iraq. It's worth considering that maybe being president isn't really important enough to interfere with the work Gore is doing now. It'd really suck to get out of Iraq just as the big wave rolls over the world.

(I am involved in a plot to get Gore appointed head of the EPA. Shhhhhhh, though! Secrecy is of the essence.)

#496 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Heresiarch #495: I can see your point. However, Al Gore is the first politician in years who has clearly, unambiguously, intelligently, and sensibly articulated just what a republic is. I think he'd be wasted in any other office.

#497 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Heresiarch... Now that we've found out about your plot, are you going to have to kill us? But there are too many of us, and the Truth will out! Hahahahahah!!!

That being said, I'm with Fragano. Besides, as you pointed out, the next Prez will have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the current mess, and I'm not sure the currently known Democratic candidates have what it takes.

#498 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 03:31 PM:

#497, Serge:

Maybe none of them do. More to the point, if it weren't for the alternative (another 4-8 years of Republican insanity), why on earth would any sane individual want to be President of the Superfund site that is the Federal bureaucracy after it's been infiltrated by "loyal Bushie" hacks?

#499 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 04:14 PM:

#498 infiltrated by "loyal Bushie" hacks

It's mostly the political appointees that are Bushie hacks. Plus a few very specific areas (e.g. some sections of the Justice Dept.) where Bush has exerted especially strong pressure.

It's not easy to infiltrate the entire bureaucracy. All those pesky civil service rules that make it difficult to carry out political purges. Even someone like Bush has to pick a few relatively small sections to concentrate on.

#500 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 04:46 PM:

linkmeister @ 498... Why? Because they might actually want the world to be a better place, especially if they can take credit for it.

#501 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 07:05 PM:

Real Life "As you know, Bob" sighting:

Maryland Jockey Club president Joe DeFrancis, to Bob Costas at the Preakness trophy presentation: "And now for the presentation of, as you know Bob, the most valuable trophy in American sports..."

#502 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 07:24 PM:

I just got an unsolicited e-mail purporting to be from a Vietnam vet whose Mexican wife needs a kidney transplant, asking for funds to pay a donor. I recognized some of the other e-mail addresses on the list as ML regulars. I am 98% sure that this is not for real, but the 2% thought that it might be genuine is giving me the heebie-jeebies. Here it is...

Dear Friend:
We are in desperate need of help. I am a US. Vietnam Era Veteran living in a Veteran's shelter in Las Vegas, unable to work. My wife who lives in Mexico has dual kidney failure. Due to my low disability income and her sickness, she is not a candidate for a US. visa. In Mexico there is not a donor registry for transplants and her peritoneal dialysis is becoming less effective every day. She is literally on her last leg, with possibly two to four months remaining. We have an eleven year old son who is totally confused as to why his mother is so sick and his father can not come back to Mexico.

We have found a donor match in Mexico, however he is demanding a sum of money to donate his kidney. Like most of you, I do not approve of people who are greedy and are willing to sell body parts. However, this is a last resort, and it is a fact of life in other countries. We can not possibly raise this kind of money on our own and are asking for help from anybody who can save a life. Mary Cruz is only thirty five years old and does not deserve this. There is no cost for the transplant because she has medical insurance to cover this, but no money for the donor. We have asked for help from many US. agencies and have been denied mostly for immigration reasons. Just because I am married to a Mexican does not give my wife automatic entry into the US. Also US. medicare will not pay for her dialysis. She is young and vibrant, and with a new kidney she could be a mother again.. I can not go back to Mexico for medical reasons, and also my meager pension is not enough for us to live on, let alone pay for a kidney. Please help us if you can. A dollar or two would be greatly appreciated, if not, I ask for your prayers for Mary Cruz.

Some scenario like this is certainly possible, even likely. We all know -- and most of us have posted about -- the horrors of American medical care. Michael Moore's new Movie, Sicko, is going to be preaching to a very large choir. I understand Fox News has already reviewed it favorably. Still, the request to send money to Paypal kind of gives this one away...

#503 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 07:43 PM:

I got a copy of that too. Where you rate it at perhaps 2% probable, I give it a lot below 1%. It stinks for several reasons. First, given the current political situation and the terrible embarrassments suffered recently by the administration with respect to vets, it would be a lot more effective to tell an LA Times reporter than us. Second, nobody in his right mind would broadcast their intention to commit a felony all over the net like this, especially if having the law swoop down would effectively kill his wife. Third, I don't believe that La Migra has that much leeway in deciding not to allow in the wife of a citizen. As long as she's not a convicted criminal or on a terrorist watch list*, they have to give her a visa.

So it's almost certainly a scam. Not a really smart one, though; I offhand can't think of a really good way to use a PayPal account as a money laundry or to have a cutout that prevents the fraud squad from finding the owner. Always assuming that the cops give a hoot in hell about this sort of thing.

* I can just see it: she gets on an airliner and takes it over by threatening to detonate her portable dialysis machine.

#504 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 07:54 PM:

mk @ 493 (wrt my mystery salad thing): Popcorn shoots.


Why yes it does! That looks (and sounds) *exactly* like the same stuff!!

(I have no idea what I will now do with this information, but it's nice to know anyway.)

#505 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 08:31 PM:

504 & 493, yes! Popcorn shoots! I'm wondering about the sweetness and aromatic character, but there's ways of infusing sprouts with flavorings, so, YAY! The mystery identified!

#506 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 09:54 PM:

Lizzy L #502: I also got it, and it stank of stale spam (I've been getting quite a few Nigerian scam letters from desperately ill people who want to get right with god and have chosen me as a morally upright and godly person to redistribute their ill-gotten gains to the poor). I suspect somebody mined the address list here.

#507 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Is anyone else going to WisCon? If so, send me an e-mail (it's in my profile). I'd like to meet up.

#508 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 11:05 PM:

im in ur blog, editing ur wurdz

#509 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 11:14 PM:

JESR @ 505: plant a few kernels of corn (if you can get a few different types, all the better), and then sample the sprouts. You really don't have to do anything to them to get that sweet grassy flavor + sweet corn aftertaste. Don't forget that corn/maize is a member of the very large grass family (Poaceae), which includes rice, oats, sugar cane, and bamboo - it all tastes different, yet kind of like the stuff growing on the lawn, too. Sprouts and shoots (sometimes called microgreens) are the new hot items in gourmet produce - expect to see more. They are relatively easy, cheap, and fast to grow, with an 'ooh exotic' quality and cutesy appeal. The shiso seedlings that graced my salmon chazuke at Hiroshi's earlier this week didn't taste, to me, any better than full-size shiso leaf, but it was pretty darn cute.

#510 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Former Republican here who'd vote for Gore. (Boy have I seen the error of my ways.) That said, I still haven't seen another Democrat actively running that I'd be really thrilled to vote for.

#511 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 12:03 AM:

mk, given that I've grown sweet corn by the acre for the Farmers Market, and sprouted corn, among many other things, for cooking purposes, your advice is pretty much redundant. Julie L's original description mentioned strong aromatics, not just green, and sweetness sufficient to make her bring up Stevia. The words she used were the ones I'd use to communicate flavors more common in the Apiaceae (else Umbelliferae), and that, along with the spoon-shaped ends to the leaves, led me to my earlier assessment. I was wrong. It happens.

#512 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 02:41 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 496: "Al Gore is the first politician in years who has clearly, unambiguously, intelligently, and sensibly articulated just what a republic is."

I know--it kind of makes you all tingly to hear something that sensible from a major political figure, doesn't it? But I don't think he would have the same freedom to speak the truth so clearly, were he to dive back into the maelstrom. Like President Carter on Israel/Palestine, he can say things now that he could never get away with were he still political.

We've seen exactly what politics does to Al Gore. It's not pretty. He places far too much importance on the truth, on getting things right, to do well in that world. The inevitable compromises sap his spirit and leave him wooden, playing a part he hates. From the outside, he can say what needs to be said without worrying about whether it's politically wise or not. I think he is far more effective from where he is now than he would be were he to reenter politics. He does a good job of serving as a check on the other more, ah, flexible politicians.

#513 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 08:15 AM:

Dawno @ 510... I still haven't seen another Democrat actively running that I'd be really thrilled to vote for.

Heck, I haven't seen one either and the first thing I did after becoming an American was to mail my registration to the Democratic Party. Hmmm... Thrilling Democrat sounds like an old pulp mag's title.

#514 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Heresiarch #512: That's an excellent judgment. I still think that having a president who actually knows what he's supposed to be president of (as opposed to The Deciderer) would do the US good.

#515 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Not onl;y all of the above, Heresiarch and Fragano, but Al Gore was a trekkie, way back when the show first aired. What more can we ask from a leader?

#516 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Serge #515: A very good point!

#517 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:43 AM:

Seafarers, historians -- bad news: I just heard this morning that the Cutty Sark is on fire. The London fire brigade thinks it may be arson. It's not clear if they will be able to salvage her before she burns completely; they've evacuated the surrounding area in case gas cylinders on board explode.

Oh, bloody hell, and general inarticulate noises. I used to work in Greenwich and I loved that ship. I am getting incredibly irate at the thought that it might be a deliberate act of ship-murder.

#518 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:47 AM:

Fragano @ 514: Well, I certainly can't argue with that. Maybe there should be a test, before becoming president--nothing too onerous, just a little multiple choice quiz. "The Unites States of America is a a) Constitutional Monarchy b) Democratic Republic c) Religious Dictatorship d) Fascist Regime"

*sigh* If only such a system could be put into place without it becoming yet another club to beat over the heads of the powerless!

#519 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:58 AM:

re #518, apparently they now have the fire under control. Fingers crossed. And my link doesn't work, I guess because they have updated the BBC page since I posted it.

#520 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 06:26 AM:

Re Cutty Sark, as I expect most people have heard by now, it's not quite as bad as it looked: she was in dry dock for restoration, so half the timbers, plus all the moveable historical artefacts, had already been taken away for conservation and are safe.

And the news conference on the BBC site was tending towards thinking it was an accident: I know that it makes no practical difference, but I'd like to think that it happened in the absence of human malice...

#521 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:09 AM:

Heresiarch (#518) The Federal Government plans to introduce a new "citizenship test" to go along with English proficiency & some other criteria for residents & immigrants who, after having lived in Australia for some years, are applying for citizenship. In the story
Quiz for wannabe Aussies (May 18, 2007), the local tabloid included 20 multiple-choice questions "highly likely to be in the pool". A number of them had questionable answers. Question 5 was
"Australia's political system is a: A) Parliamentary democracy; B) Monarchy; C) Dictatorship; D) Socialist state"
A few people might hold out for C or D, but obvious to the great majority of the population is that both A and B are correct, although not an available alternative. Otherwise, why are we paying for our monarch Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, her approved representative Governor General Michael Jeffery, and all those elected State and Federal parliamentary representatives? Indeed, we had a whole debate, referendum and Constitutional Convention on the subject back in 1999.

#522 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:16 AM:

I've lately been reading a collection of stories by Jorge Luis Borges, which truly is as wonderful and strange as I'd been led to believe it would be.

The thing is, I have no idea how to correctly pronounce the man's name. Could someone please help me out here?


#523 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:36 AM:

Exclusive! I have uncovered a photo showing what happens to those who annoy Nightmare Abi. It is not for the faint of heart.

#524 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Okay, I happen to love rhubarb, especially as a component of a decently tart strawberry-rhubarb pie, but having, by utter coincidence, just rewatched "Van Helsing" and "Independence Day," each featuring squick-inducing alien/eldritch pod-things, I have to say that those rhubarbs could have saved Hollywood brazillions in CGI expenses.

#525 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Adrian Bedford @ 522; HOOR-hey Loo-EE BOOR-heyz. At least, that's how everyone in my department (complit) seems to pronounce it.

#526 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:51 AM:

#521: I don't think the Aussies actually do pay for HMQ. The Governor-General, yes; but I think that the Civil List is a UK-only cost. But I am willing to be corrected.

And I suspect that the correct answer is E), constitutional monarchy.

Or F), remote, dessicated, rabbit-infested penal colony. (JOKE)

#527 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Not a bad resemblance, Serge. Who is it? Where from?

#528 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:55 AM:

Serge @ 523

So, the moral is, don't get her mad, or she'll turn you into a giant bubble gum vending machine prize?

#529 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:57 AM:

British tabloid tries to get blogger fired for quoting Naomi Wolf's op-ed in the Grauniad: time to pile on, folks.

#530 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:58 AM:

We wouldn't want to leave my victims with any dignity, Bruce.

#531 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:58 AM:

abi @ 527... Heheheh... That's Jeaneane Garofalo, playing a superhero called the Bowler in Mystery Men. It also has William H. Macy as the Shovel, and Ben Stiller as Mister Furious.

#532 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Adrian Bedford at #522:

Borges site The Garden of Forking Paths says, in its biographical sketch:

A note for the non-Spanish speakers out there – “Jorge Luis Borges” is pronounced “HOR-hay LWEES BHOR-hays;” and if one has the linguistic temerity, you can sound the “g” in Borges like a guttural German “ch.” According to Borges, when he was in school in Switzerland, the teachers pronounced his name in one syllable in the French manner, as to rhyme with “Forge.” This evidently caused the poor lad some confusion. . . .

(This is more in line with my expectations of the Spanish than kouredios's version at #525. But I'm not a fluent speaker, & consonants do differ between Spanish dialects.)

#533 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Serge (#531): skull bowling, eh? The things I don't know about comics and movies! [could fill several warehouses]

But I did see one interesting comics-related item in the NY Times (from the slideshow of the review of a "tribal design" show): a New Guinea shield depicting the Phantom! Have any of "Making Light"'s New Yorkers seen this exhibition? The photo of a pictorial embroidery by Alice Natare is also fascinating, and would probably look even better when seen directly.

#534 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Kouredios #525: That should be (k)HOK(k)he Loo-ISS BOR-(k)hes (the kay in parens indicating that the H is guttural rather than simply aspirated).

#535 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Re Cutty Sark:

Any time I hear about a fire taking place during restoration, I start wondering about oily-rag-type combustion. I've heard about it too many times. Careless workers.

#536 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Excellent. I wasn't postive, though I think I was close (and how I pronounce it should be distinguished from how I attempt to transcribe it--something I'm not trained in.) It's good to be as correct as possible, no?

#537 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Kouredios #536: There's an annoying practice of rendering Spanish names as if they were French (Louis instead of Luis, for example) that tends to get my goat. I'm at the point at which another reference to 'Hugo Shavez' will cause me to storm the radio station and take prisoners (the morning music host on my local NPR station also has the extremely annoying habit of referring to a famous piece of music as the 'habañera' from Carmen; this always makes me wonder if the capital of Cuba is now La Habaña).

#538 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 12:51 PM:

In my Spanish Lit classes, it was Borges like BOR-zhes, rhyming with Hurricane Georges from a while back. But as Fragano said, a lot of people mispronounce Spanish to match other languages.
That doesn't bother me as much as meeting people with Spanish names and having them Englished up. I feel awkward no matter what I do.

Then again, I feel awkward around any other languages I speak well enough to use. It's not enough to be semi-bilingual; I also have to figure out bilingual etiquette.

#539 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 01:51 PM:

went paintballing this weekend.


Otherwise, catching up some more today, and just gotta say that the picture at the top of the sidelight "From the industrial-strength fainting couch of the Washington Post" made me chuckle to no end. Little hamster, big carrot.

#540 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Re particles: I for one welcome our new triffid overlords, especially with a little lemon butter.

#541 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Fragano Ledgister, the ways in which non-English names get mangled by radio announcers must also be extended to the BBC, which insists on using Castillian Spanish for New World Spanish (and North American Spanglish) place names. The few times I've heard the Beeb reporting on the Strait of Juan de Fuca I've been visited with a disconcerting combination of skin-crawling embarassment and age-inappropriate giggles.

#542 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:59 PM:

A question: I was recently having a conversation with my mother (a staunch Democrat) who had picked up the notion of John McCain being an honest man. She had and has no plan to vote for him, but figured that he was probably the best of a bad lot on the Republican side. I promptly up and said that he was a liar, but now I'm having trouble tracking down specific evidence, aside from his recent Baghdad jaunt.

I did find the post (and comments thereto) here on ML, "John McCain, tyrant in waiting," which will probably be of interest to her, but doesn't go into the question of his honesty (other than to discuss his false presentation of himself as a maverick).

Can anybody help? I'm quite sure that I've seen him described as dishonest somewhere, but maybe I'm mistaken.

#543 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:04 PM:

re: 542

...Or maybe I was just experiencing a temporary loss of my google skills. Now I'm turning up a bunch of stuff. Still, if anyone has any particularly egregious examples in mind, I'd love to see them.

#544 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:36 PM:

Holy shit. Ellen Asher's been fired from the Science Fiction Book Club. She'd worked there since 1973.

#545 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 07:32 PM:

You're kidding. I don't suppose they've said who'll replace her.

#546 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 07:38 PM:

Michael Dirda's WashPost Bookworld column yesterday includes "Over the past 25 years, literary fiction has increasingly disdained the strict tenets of social realism. Our finest writers are now producing what is essentially science fiction ... and absurdist fantasy."

#547 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Also in yesterday's WashPost, an article on Arlington Cemetary's Section 60 where the Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers are buried. One in 10 of the dead soldiers is being buried in Arlington rather than local VA or private cemetaries, which is the highest percentage of any war. Heartbreaking.

#548 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Dirda concludes his introduction:

"We are living in an age when genre fiction -- whether thrillers or graphic novels, children's books or sf -- seems far more exciting and relevant than well-wrought stories of adultery in Connecticut."

Which reminds me of a vintage Sterling rant / review about Updike's Roger's Version:

"But I can't endure the sheer snobbish falseness of Updike's New England Protestantism. Never mind that it's the legacy of American letters, that it's the grand tradition of Hawthorne and Melville, that it's what made America great. It's a shuck, ladies and gentlemen. It won't wash. It doesn't own the future; it won't even kiss the future goodbye on its way to the graveyard. It doesn't own our minds any more.

We don't live in an age of answers, but an age of ferment. And today that ferment is reflected faithfully in a literature called science fiction.

SF may be crazy, it may be dangerous, it may be shallow and cocksure, and it should learn better. But in some very real way it is truer to itself, truer to the world, than is the writing of John Updike.

This is what has drawn Updike, almost despite himself, into science fiction's cultural territory. For SF writers, his novel is a lesson and a challenge. A lesson that must be learned and a challenge that must be met."

#549 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 08:04 PM:

I've always loved the phrase:
"Time flies like an arrow: fruit flies like a banana"

as the verbal equivalent of those ambiguous pictures- the illusions that switch from being an old rabbit face to a young duck vase.

But until now, I've never seen one as good as the Xflies, and I'd been looking. A few puns came close (like the intersection of bright and convex rancher's children), but not quite.

Until now.
Thank you, Patrick, for your sidelighted Meta-LOL. Such a sweet (and so short) ambiguous phrase.

#550 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Naomi #542

I think that googling on "Keating Five" might describe excrement on the fan regarding McCain. Also, his flipflops regarding the Oval Orifice Obscenity do not reflect an honest politician (Massachusetts definition, "One who stays bought.")

#551 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 10:03 PM:

"We are living in an age when genre fiction -- whether thrillers or graphic novels, children's books or sf -- seems far more exciting and relevant than well-wrought stories of adultery in Connecticut."

Just now figuring that one out, are you?

#552 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 10:45 PM:

Impeach Gonzales video

My first thought: they added a laugh track?? My second thought: no, that might have been the actual sound at the hearings.

#553 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:17 PM:

went paintballing this weekend.

I know you mean "playing paintball," but.


Must rinse brain.

#554 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 548... We don't live in an age of answers, but an age of ferment.

So that's what that smell was that's floating out of the White OutHouse.

(Cue in the music that ended every episode of the Benny Hill Show.)

#555 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:28 AM:

I was just updating my podcasts, and noticed that Fall Out Boy has apparently been disemvoweled on their current single Thnks Fr Th Mmrs.

wow. I never suspected TNH's mighty influence stretched out over to the Def Jam label. Dang...

(yeah, I've seen the "claim" that it's in reference to a text message, but I'm not believing it)

#556 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:07 AM:

Surely text/SMS version would be closer to: "thx 4 memrz" or something similar?

#557 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:10 AM:

Open thread-type comment:

Asimov's got back to me on the sonnets I submitted. No dice, which is fine. Anyone want to see them? Or should I not clog the site?

#558 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:30 AM:

#479: Now in a comment to the particle:

#559 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:49 AM:

Holy moly, that was fast, and amazingly comprehensive!

Thank you, kouredios, Tim May, and Fragano Ledgister for your assistance w/r/t Jorge Luis Borges. I knew this was the place to come with a query like that. Cool beans.

#560 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:00 AM:


I'd like to see them.

If there's concerns about clogging the site maybe you could put them out one at a time over a period of weeks (although this is more an idea the nightmare abi would use to torture us).

Or I'm happy to follow a link.

#561 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:26 AM:

Neil @560
Rereading them now, they have that cringeable quality of one's own work gone stale. But I'll post them, because what's an open thread for if not clogging up?

Excuse any appearance of vanity in bringing them here - they are, after all, rejected works, so I'm not boastin'.

#562 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:29 AM:


The cloning table holds me half-reclined
And wraps the scanning visor round my head,
Recording me. I try to clear my mind,
But grief remains. My alter self is dead.
A roadside bomb went off; his whole squad died.
Like all the other soldiers grown before
From memories and tissue I've supplied,
He died. As will the next, and many more.
I knew that he was gone before the call --
I felt the bomb explode, and tasted blood.
I can't explain, but I've died with them all,
Been burned and shot, been stabbed and drowned in mud.
Sometimes I wish that I were just a clone
So when I die, I die just once, alone.

#563 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:30 AM:


At glum fifteen, I met myself at thirty.
I was an awkward kid, and couldn't see
A future that would suit someone like me.
I wanted to be normal, not so nerdy.
She brought me pictures: husband (somewhat bland),
Cute children, pleasant house, a life in full.
The photos made it all seem possible,
And, suddenly, too dull for me to stand.
My fears of growing into her inspire
Me through the days I spend on my research,
Inventing this machine. I plan to search
Through time for the excitement I require.
And my first trip? To tell a lie, and thus
Steer my past self toward the truth of us.

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:32 AM:


The branching universes take me far
Beyond my devastated world, to one
Where Earth revolves around a living star.
I find my other self. She doesn't run.
I do the thing, and hide the body well,
And then go home. The keys are in her coat.
The house is nicer here -- mine's just a shell --
But on the mantelpiece, I find a note.
"If you are reading this, I must be dead.
But that's OK. I hope you made it fast.
Just know you're not the first to come instead
Of staying home. Nor will you be the last.
Enjoy this respite from whatever hell
You've just escaped, and in your turn, die well."

#565 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:20 AM:

JESR #541: You'll find that Spanish broadcasters apply Castillian Spanish to the New World too.

#566 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:38 AM:

Abi: I like all three sonnets.

#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:03 AM:

abi @ 561... Rereading them now, they have that cringeable quality of one's own work gone stale. (...) Excuse any appearance of vanity in bringing them here

I meant to say something about your tendency toward vanity. Right. Now stop being silly.

#568 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:52 AM:

#540--Clifford--a couple of those new triffid overlords would do well with lemon butter, but I think the slicks would be better battered and fried, or else in a nice gumbo.

#569 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:58 AM:

Paula #550

Thanks! That looks like just what I wanted.

#570 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:42 PM:

What this thread needs is more hamster news. In this post from Absolute Write member Jaycinth, MSNBC has posted a Reuters article research that shows there's a cure for your jetlagged hamsters.

#571 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:05 PM:

I think the proper link for the latest particle should be:

I love Sinfest; it's been one of my daily reads for years.

#572 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:09 PM:

All good - but if I had to pick a favourite it would be the third one. "The Golden Bough" meets the many-worlds interpretation... very good indeed.

#573 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:46 PM:

abi - I second what Fragano said.

I tend to enjoy all of your verse.

#574 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:55 PM:

abi - I like them all as well, but I think I like the second just a little more; maybe because I like slyness. Please, if you should find yourself with homeless poems again, just put them into the nearest open thread; we'll love them, I promise.

#575 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:04 PM:

In today's episode of She-ra and the Mistresses of the Abiverse, Skeletor faces unavoidable defeat at the hands of Nightmare Abi.

#576 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:11 PM:

Bruce @574
That one was the solution to a puzzle set by Serge.

#577 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Serge @574
That's because Skeletor tried to lay this whole "bones are superior to flesh" trip on me. Something about how the experience of having his head flensed made him elite.

I hate that.

#578 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:16 PM:

abi @ 576... Well, we Muses take our job seriously.

(Bows to the audience, starts moving sideways, is tripped by his chiton and falls in the orcheastra pit where Hamlet and Richard iii already are.)

#579 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Abi: The sonnets are beautiful. I don't read Asimov's, so I'm selfishly glad they rejected them, because that rejection led to me being able to read them here. But that doesn't seem fair in a lot of ways; I'd rather not have you paying the price for my enjoyment. I will say that your verse, as well as your inspiration of the whimsi-poetical natures of Serge, Fragano, Dave Luckett, and others, is a major part of what keeps me coming back here.

Thank you for sharing your considerable talents with us. It's really quite an honour.

#580 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:21 PM:

Abi: The sonnets are beautiful. I don't read Asimov's, so I'm selfishly glad they rejected them, because that rejection led to me being able to read them here. But that doesn't seem fair in a lot of ways; I'd rather not have you paying the price for my enjoyment. I will say that your verse, as well as your inspiration of the whimsi-poetical natures of Serge, Fragano, Dave Luckett, and others, is a major part of what keeps me coming back here.

Thank you for sharing your considerable talents with us. It's really quite an honour.

#581 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:07 PM:

One notes that Abi has managed to conflate Bruce and Serge into one person. Does that mean that she has a dual Muse.

#582 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Serge @532: ... Heheheh... That's Jeaneane Garofalo, playing a superhero called the Bowler in Mystery Men. It also has William H. Macy as the Shovel, and Ben Stiller as Mister Furious.

Pointing out that Jeaneane Garofalo was recently referenced on ML as the subject of this xkcd comic.

In the movie Mystery Men, IIRC, the skull in the bowling ball belonged to her father Carmine, a police officer betrayed by his co-workers. The bowling ball is imbued with his spirit, as he seeks vengeance.

In real life, Jeaneane Garofalo was a host on Air America, where she would occasionally take calls from her father, who was identified as 'Carmine the Bowler'.

#583 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:35 PM:


the second one's my favourite. is it autobiographical?

#584 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:45 PM:

Fragano Ledgister said (#565):
JESR #541: You'll find that Spanish broadcasters apply Castillian Spanish to the New World too.

And occasionally translate non-Spanish names into Spanish, as well (the Queen of England is Isabela, her son is Carlos, and the composer of the Brandenburg Concertos is, as we all know, Juan Sebastian Bach).

abi: all three poems are lovely; the third is probably my favorite, just beating out the second.

#585 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:52 PM:

miriam @583:

Better the second than the third...

#586 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:04 PM:

Fragano, Serge, ajay, Tania, Bruce, Karl, miriam and Peter,

Thank you for the kind words. But don't worry - I'm not actually that disappointed that they didn't take any of them. I'm not pegging my self-esteem on the honour of being a published poet...

#587 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:17 PM:

I'm glad to hear that, abi. Still, it'd have been nice if they had accepted it. Maybe some of us should dress up like old-movie gangsters and pay a visit to Asimov's booth at the Denver worldcon. I could be the Crazy Frog, Fragano the Ferocious Rasta...

As for Fragano's comment that Abi has managed to conflate Bruce and Serge into one person, as long as she didn't make us into a duo-de-nom, I can live with that.

#588 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Abi #586: I'm sure you'll get published eventually.

Serge #587: Would that lead to intestine revolt?

#589 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Denver WorldCon?!



...and abi, I loved your sonnets. Made Charlie come in and enjoy them too.

#590 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:37 PM:

abi, I have to say the second sonnet made me feel almost dizzy for a moment*. I'm wondering whether it's the result of the way my brain parses verse combined unexpectedly with the way it resolves time-travel scenarios.

Much appreciated.

* In a good way (mostly).

#591 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:08 PM:

Carol@589: Yes, in 15 months. (IMO, they should have the word out locally by now -- but I'm not one to talk about PR.)

#592 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Serge #587: Not having dreadlocks, I'm not sure I could play the part.

#593 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 12:27 AM:

Fragano @ 588... Would that lead to intestine revolt?

I'll have to check the plan's appendix.

#594 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Karl T @ 579... the whimsi-poetical natures of Serge, Fragano, Dave Luckett, and others, is a major part of what keeps me coming back here

Thanks. And you're welcome.

#595 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:04 AM:

abi, you are most welcome.

Serge, have you ever seen a Fred Astaire movie called "The Band Wagon"? There's a musical number called "The Triplets" where Astaire, Nanette Fabray, and (I can't remember the other singer/dancer) play triplets, with the lyrics "We look alike/we talk alike". Well, I guess we could do the Twins for abi. Or we could get a third. How about it, Fragano? Interested in a little Muse on Muse action?

#596 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:36 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 595... Not only have I seen The Band Wagon, but I have it on dvd. As for the Triplets song, I seem to remember that the lyrics have each triplet that he/she gets sick ever time one of the others gets sick, and if he/she had a gun, then he/she'd be the only one left.

They just don't make songs like that anymore.

Anyway, I think we'd look funny dressed as toddlers. A trio of Mississippi riverboat gamblers, now that'd be a neat photo, with 'Miss' Abi sitting in a fancy chair, with her trusty associates standing behind...

#597 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 04:37 AM:

ajay (#526), yes, strickly speaking we Aussies don't directly pay for ERII & her ilk, except when she's travelling here and the odd pressie on special occasions.

The bill for Sydney hosting the APEC meeting in September is now estimated to be running around $AU100 Million, so we also pay for visits by many Heads of other States.

Who knows how they put that list of questions together; I was flummoxed several times by lists of answers that I felt were "neither" or "several". There were also some where I simply disagreed with what they said was the answer. It may have been a kite-flying exercise or something to distract from other troubles that are going on in the social and political spheres. OTOH, at work they are putting us thru' the Myers-Briggs Personality whatsit (last time I took one based on that system, I ended up as Voldemort = INTP) and how on earth can I choose between 'facts' and 'ideas' when both are vital and fascinating? So maybe I just have problems answering questionnaires.

#598 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 05:58 AM:


I can get behind the romanticism of the riverboat gambler image, but the milieu is just a tad racist for my taste; too many really bad associations. How about something in the Whedonverse, say Firefly? A lot of the same resonances, less tar and nicotine (and tobacco pickers).

Or, hmm, I've always wanted to stage Fritz Leiber's "The Big Time". I mean it just cries out to be a 2 act play, maybe done in theater-of-the-round. How about it, abi, want to play Greta Forzane, who died awhile back in Nazi-occupied Chicago? Sid Lessingham, the Elizabethan stage manager/producer is the part I want. And there's even a riverboat gambler in it.

#599 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 09:43 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 597... I was of course just going for the romantic imagery of the riverboat, all cleaned up, oh, and pay no attention to the slaves over there. (I actually read Huckleberry Finn. Great book, and by the end Huck decides he will help Jim escape even though he'll go to Hell himself for basically stealing another man's property.) As for your suggestion to abi to begin a new career on the stage, she might be kind of busy with becoming Our Woman in Amsterdam. I'm sure she'll eventually find herself with copious amounts of free time. Riiiight.

#600 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Huckleberry Finn felt like Twain's response to Tom Sawyer-- I read them both a couple summers ago and it took a while to switch my brain from Boy's Adventure Story! to The Narrator Is Wrong.

The sonnets are lovely, Abi. Please keep it up-- eventually, I figure enough poetry will go into me that some will come out.

#601 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:05 AM:

Diatryma... That sneaky Mark Twain, eh? One other thing I remember is Huck's realization of the mean things that people do to others, even if the others deserve it, like the con man who gets tarred and run out of town on a rail.

#602 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Serge #593: If there were any plans, it may have rectum.

#603 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:17 AM:

Peter Erwin #584: Er, the Queen of England is always referred to as 'Isabel' or 'Isabel Segunda' in the Spanish press.

#604 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #595: Sure, all I have to do is learn how to sing...

#605 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Fragano @ 602: Yes, now that you mention it, that sounds right. (And in Spanish Wikipedia, too.)

It's been almost two years since I was living in Spain, some things have started to blur in my mind...

#606 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 04:47 PM:

You guys are reading the early, naive Twain. Want to see what he really thinks about race relations? Read "Pudd'nhead Wilson". Irony just drips off it and collects in pools all over the room.

#607 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 605... Isn't a naïve Twain like a smart Bush? Anyway, would you care to elaborate about "Pudd'nhead Wilson"?

#608 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Bruce@597: I recall hearing of but not seeing a videotape of a production somewhere in the Rockies 20+ years ago; the late Mark Keller and I talked for a while about doing it, and a friend used to have dibs on Erich, but we didn't get much past talking. (I \knew/ I didn't have the directorial chops, even though it's written to be played.) In-the-round appealed even though it would make the entrances-from-the-void difficult to stage convincingly.

#609 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Chip @ 607

"Somewhere in the Rockies"? Would that have been John Barnes' production, by any chance?

I always saw that set in the round, with the dais where they put the bomb at dead center (pun intended). You'd have to make entrances from below stage within the set, probably in disguised alcoves at the boundaries between the various areas. The Stores where they keep the Ghostgirls is one obvious place, but I'm sure there are others. I'm going to have to go read it again, I've lost too much detail. The one entrance I could never figure out was the Door itself.

When I first read the story I thought of it as television. At times you want the space of the action to be very claustrophobic, especially near the climax when everyone is yelling at each other and making speeches, and the small screen does that well. Now I think live theater would be even more fun, and would allow you play games in three dimensions that would have to be implied on the screen.

#610 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Serge @ 606

The basic plot of "Pudd'nhead Wilson" is the old 'two kids born on the same day grow up side by side', only one of them's white and the other is black, and this is Missouri, IIRC. The post-Civil War South, at any rate. The white kid grows up privileged and spoiled, of course, and the black kid grows up as his sidekick and factotum, uneducated and uncultured. But then dhrfgvbaf nevfr nobhg gurve vqragvgvrf and hilarity definitely does not ensue. And justice triumphs, resulting in anything but a happy ending.

Maybe it was Twain who first said, "Justice is what we ask for, mercy is what we want".

#611 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:24 AM:


I think a career on the stage will have to wait, unless I can do performances of bookbinding.

("And now, for one night only, right in front of your very eyes, Abi the Bookbinder will HEADBAND A BOOK"...Followed by the audience watching me do fiddly sewing process with coloured silk.)

Actually, thinking about it, maybe performance art is the next direction bookbinding should go in...we already get very far into the reader's experience through time and space; why not extend that backward so that the viewer can watch the book being bound?

Wait. Been done already.

#612 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:52 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 609... Twain in a not particularly playful mood, eh?

#613 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:55 AM:

abi @ 610... ("And now, for one night only, right in front of your very eyes, Abi the Bookbinder will HEADBAND A BOOK"...Followed by the audience watching me do fiddly sewing process with coloured silk.)

Have you been watching Monty Python's Flying Circus again?

#614 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:59 AM:

On my way back home yesterday, I drove by a strip club, and the sign outside advertised that, on Saturday night, amateurs were welcome.

Except that they spelled it 'amatures'.
True, they may not expect any spelling more complex than 'DD'.

On the other hand... Maybe they meant 'armatures'.

#615 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Serge @ 611

Twain in a downright savage mood. He was never good at suffering fools gladly; here he makes sure the suffering is properly distributed.


That leads me to thinking about exoskeletons (support garments and endoskeletons (armatures), and how endoskeletons make more sense if what you want is a lot of jiggle, which I gather is considered good form in that sort of performance. You could think of it as mammals vs. insects, but that's probably a waste of good neurotransmitters.

#616 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:32 AM:

abi @ 610

Wow, that video is ... oh hell, I'll go with the Mr. Spock impression: "fascinating". I really have to show that to my friend the anthropologist.

#617 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:40 AM:

how endoskeletons make more sense if what you want is a lot of jiggle

Which reminds me of the Far Side cartoon of an insect strip club; a crowd of (presumably male) insect whooping and shouting "Yeah, baby!" around a stage on which another insect is slowly and teasingly emerging from a chrysalis...

#618 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 614... Maybe that strip club has been taken over by Borgs who can't spell.

#619 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Bruce at 609,

It's PRE-Civil War South. Remember the scene where gur chgngvir juvgr gjva pbasrffrf gb uvf ovbybtvpny zbgure gung ur vf qrrcyl va qrog, naq fur nyybjf uvz gb fryy ure gb pbire vg, ba gur pbaqvgvba gung ur fryy ure hc gur evire naq abg qbja? Naq, ng gur raq, jura uvf gehr enpr vf erirnyrq, uvf perqvgbef fvrmr uvz gb pbire uvf qrogf. Gur ynfg yvar vf "Gurl fbyq uvz qbja gur evire."

I wonder if the creditors were riverboat gamblers?

#620 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Juli Thompson @ 618

Oops *blush*. It was written in the post-Civil War period. Got to remember to keep my realities straight. Thanks for the correction.

I wonder if the creditors were riverboat gamblers?

Wouldn't be surprised. Gamblers, even professionals, typically make a living, but aren't fabulously wealthy But there's that small group out in the tail of the bell curve who are fabulously wealthy, and who've decided that they get to do anything they want to anybody. Look at Wall Street investors.

#621 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Juli Thompson #618: What do you mean by 'true race'?

#622 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Jura jr znxr bhe wbhearlf onpx gb gur cnfg
vg nyjnlf gheaf bhg n sne qvssrerag cynpr
sebz jung jr erzrzore; vg'f arire tbbq gb genpr
whfg jurer gur yher snyyf gung jr bapr pnfg
vagb gur fgernz bs yvsr, fhpu guvatf qba'g ynfg.
Vafgrnq, jr'er pbzcryyrq gb fgnaq jvgu bcra snpr,
rlrf aneebjrq, ivfvba sbphfrq ba vasvagr fcnpr
ohg xabjvat gung fhpu cbfgherf qb abg ynfg.
Jrer jr gb geniry sbejneq, gb gur vzntvarq gvzr
jura nyy jvyy or nf bapr va lbhgu jr jvfurq,
jr'q svaq bhefryirf, va gur raq, noyr gb zbna
gung vg jnf abg nf jr jvfurq va bhe cevzr;
gur jngref ner abg pyrne, gur evire'f biresvfurq
naq gurer'f abjurer yrsg gb or fvyrag naq nybar.

#623 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:31 PM:

A question for those who have a LiveJournal... Are you having problems posting new entries today? Every time I click on the 'preview' or on the 'post' buttons, I get the following:

"The requested URL could not be retrieved"

#624 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:05 PM:


A lot of people on my friends list are reporting problems.

#625 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:16 PM:

I haven't gone near LJ today. We just got in to Kansas City for Conquest. I'm now sitting at my computer, rejoicing in the magic power of being able to get an extra chair out of the hotel staff by knowing how to say, "Necesitamos una silla adicional para el escritorio."

The first guy we asked didn't tell us he couldn't understand our request. He just said that whatever we were asking for couldn't be had. The second guy was clearly willing, but he brought up a folding playpen. That was when I realized they had almost no English but weren't admitting it. Third guy, no problem. All I had to do was remember the word for "chair."

Bienvenidos a los Estados Unidos.

#626 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Jen... Thanks. This is all very strange. The 'preview' button works, but only if the new entry contains one single word. Unfortunately, my writing isn't known for its economy.

#627 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Serge: I have been having problems with LJ too.

#628 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Thanks, Fragano... I guess I could contact them, but someone probably already did. Which usually means that nobody winds up contacting them.

#629 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:52 PM:

I had problems with lj earlier this week, which cleared up yesterday; today navigating by stored links is making my browser crash.

#630 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Teresa 624: "We need another chair for the scriptorium"?

#631 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:58 PM:

JESR... Sounds like some smart person is upgrading things and not bothering with enough testing. Anyway, I wrote to LJ.

#632 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Fragano, why the ROT-13?

#633 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Je, JESR, Fragano... I heard back from LJ. No solution yet, but they were confirming that they know there's a problem.

#634 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Jen, JESR, Fragano... I heard back from LJ. No solution yet, but they were confirming that they know there's a problem.

#635 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Teresa, the felted silk looks interesting. I didn't know it could be done. The piece in the pictures is spectacular.

#636 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:37 PM:

Definitely a problem. I just tried to access someone's LJ -- not to post, just to read -- and got:

The server you have asked for does not exist
or there is no internet connection currently available.
Needless to say, my Internet connection was just fine.

#637 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:41 PM:

P J, you were right -- silk doesn't felt. Apparently the trick is to felt the silk and the merino wool layers together without having the wool overwhelm the silk. Doesn't it look great?

#638 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:08 PM:

I can read LJ just fine, but it hung up when I tried to change my userpic. Didn't try to post anything.

#639 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Xopher #629: "Escritorio"="writing desk".

#640 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:12 PM:

TNH #631: I dunno. I just felt like it.

#641 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:12 PM:

So not un cuervo, then, though they have something in common.

#642 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Abi #640: ¡Ni modo! o quizás en el escritorio de José Cuervo...

#643 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:18 PM:

"No one is suffering more than the Bushes."

Just, wow. Mr. and Mrs Clueless.

#644 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:49 PM:

The LJ problem appears to have been resolved. Huzzah!

#645 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Greg London #642: The thing that got me the most about that video was the simperingly sympathetic tone of the interviewer: "That must be really, really hard on you, you poor, poor thing."

From the librarian married to a man whose main goal seems to be to restrict first amendment rights as much as possible, I expect nothing but drivel. I still e/x/p/e/c/t demand more from my news media.

#646 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:01 PM:

What a twisted fucking piece of shit that Laura Bush is. I no longer feel sorry for her, being married to a dry drunk loser asshole.

#647 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:41 PM:

Fragano @ 620

He's black, and has been masquerading as white, mostly without knowing it. At the end, the truth is revealed, namely, that he's black.

Of course, all this ony works because his black mother is a blue-eyed blond, due to racial mixing, and the entire point of the book is how stupid racial distinctions are.

"True race" was a way to try and say all that quickly, but I admit it sounds bizarre. If I were a more talented writer, I would have come up with better phrasing.

I always thought that the saddest part of the whole sad and sorry book was the fate of the white twin, raised as black. He was thrust into what was now seen as his proper place, but hated it. He wanted to be part of the culture he was raised in, whose language and folkways he understood and enjoyed. But because of the magic of race, he was forced into a culture that openly despised him, and forever cut off from what he saw as his own people. Very, very sad.

Note - I'm fairly sure that I'm using "white" and "black" in ways that don't make sense in 21st century America, but they are the ways that Twain was using them in his novel.

#648 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:04 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @597: I've always wanted to stage Fritz Leiber's "The Big Time". I mean it just cries out to be a 2 act play, maybe done in theater-of-the-round.

I recall reading that the story was designed to play on a stage. Leiber having grown up in a family of Shakespeareans, after all. [citation needed]

On that theory, I gave my copy to a sister who was studying theatrical arts. I think I neglected to tell her that detail. I don't know what she made of it (or even if she waded into it; I never heard "that book was so cool").

There's an excellent story in The Best of Fritz Leiber (if I had my copy handy I'd provide the title) that describes the enslavement of the human race by PDAs, and their liberation.
That would have made a good video drama.

#649 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:54 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 647

recall reading that the story was designed to play on a stage. Leiber having grown up in a family of Shakespeareans, after all. [citation needed]

I dug out my copy of "The Big Time" and started reading it, and sure enough, in the first chapter Greta Forzane calls The Place where the story takes place "our theater in the round in the void". So I guess we know how Leiber wanted it staged.

I don't have a citation, but I know you're right about his family; I've seen his father acting in movies.

#651 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:03 AM:

#647 Rob Rusick: "the enslavement of the human race by PDAs, and their liberation"

I believe that's "The Creature from Cleveland Depths." People wear the "PDAs" on their shoulders, kind of how pirates wear parrots. It was in one of the first issues of Galaxy I ever read.

The antecedent of "their" in your description could be either the humans or the PDAs, which is entirely appropriate, given the plot.

#652 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Juli Thompson #646: That's way past bizarre. Race is even worse than gender for generating insanity.

I teach at an HBCU, during the past semester I had occasion to mention Walter White, and showed my students a photograph of him. I pointed out that he had black ancestors, and, therefore, by the one-drop rule was black. My students expressed disbelief, and insisted that since he looked white he must have been white.

#653 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:08 AM:

I for one welcome our evil PDA overlords.

#654 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Serge said: Agatha Heterodyne discovers coffee.

;-). Thanks for reminding me to catch up on my Girl Genius reading.

#655 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Peter Erwin @ 653... You're welcome. And it took her one single cup of coffee to become this jittery. Me, I've had so much of the stuff that it'd probably take a pint of espresso for it to have much of an effect.

#656 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:15 PM:

DaveL @650: People wear the "PDAs" on their shoulders, kind of how pirates wear parrots.

It started out that way. As the "PDAs" gained more features they became larger, and it was a mark of status to have the latest and largest*. Eventually they were 50 lb. backpacks directing their owners with electric shocks.

The antecedent of "their" in your description could be either the humans or the PDAs, which is entirely appropriate, given the plot.

Thanks. I had noticed the ambiguity re-reading the line before posting it, but let it stand because it did work so well (accidentally clever).

In a notion related to that plot, I sometimes think of language as something that has parasitized the human race. When we succeed in building mobile AIs capable of hosting it, language will flee us to live in the more capable host.

* It might have been difficult to see in the 50s how much effect miniaturization would have; today the status objects would have more features than its predecessor, and be even smaller.

#657 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Submitted for your approval:
William Carlos Williams meets LOLcatz.

#658 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Submitted for your approval:
William Carlos Williams meets LOLcatz.

#660 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Larry, I was expecting "im in ur icebox eating ur plumz."

#661 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Xopher - Well, I considered soemthing very close to that but figured I'd go for capturing the insensitivity element.

#662 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Xopher #658: Why does that make me think that 'military intelligence' is an impossibility?

#663 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Xopher #658: Oh thank god. Just imagine the misunderstandings a homo lisp might inject into Arabic!

What a pile of crocks of shit.


#664 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2007, 08:34 AM:

Is it just me, or did the entire ""Another royalty for the Swift estate," he proposed modestly" thread upped and vanished? I can't find a trace of it anywhere.

#665 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2007, 08:38 AM:

"But, sir, there never was such a thread. Do you see any post associated with it?"

We're having a Philip K. Dick moment, Heresiarch.

#666 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2007, 09:52 AM:

I am here in your weblog breaking my own self-imposed rule.

I ask: what do people here think of "The Freedom of the Wind" as the title for a book? The book is about
a Carthaginian woman escaping from the fall of her city and becoming a successful trader. Specifically:
do you consider the title "weak".

#667 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Dave 666: Not if freedom, lack of freedom, and discussion of different types of freedom (the freedom of kings != the freedom of ordinary people != the freedom of animals != the freedom of natural phenomena like wind), are major themes of the book.

And you ARE the antiChrist, as you know, Bob.

#668 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Serge @ 665: Well this is hardly what I was hoping for. I am neither high on future drugs NOR an android! Hmph.

#669 ::: Jennyanydots ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 06:50 AM:

Serge, thank you ever so much for introducing me to Agatha Heterodyne, tremendous fun! I love the wildly plot-twisty setting, and the way the artists draw the character's expressions just makes me grin.

Now I need some coffee...

#670 ::: Jennyanydots ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 06:54 AM:

... and I seem to have Erratic Apostrophe Disorder. That should have read characters' expressions . Agatha is good, especially when she loses it, but the others' faces are just as entertaining.

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 08:16 AM:

Heresiarch... But maybe somebody rewrote your memories, or implanted false ones. Or maybe you're inside a cryo cylinder and you're slowly dreaming us all. (If so, could you make my eyesight 20/20?)

#672 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 08:21 AM:

jennyanddots... You're welcome. Speaking of how Foglio draws his characters... Last year, at LAcon,when he came on stage to emcee the masquerade, my wife went ohmygod and said to me that Foglio looks exactly like his male characters. Heheheh... By the way, you do know that the person who was the inspiration for Bill Heterodyne posts on this site, don't you?

#673 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Ooooh, happy day!!! James Nichol posted that Kate Nepvue posted that Daniel Keys Moran may finally be publishing AI wars!!!


#674 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 12:28 PM:

(Since this seems like the best place for a miscellaneous question...)

Does anyone know of a US website specializing in foreign -- specifically, British -- magazines? Jonathan Strahan's blog alerted me to the existence of UK mag The Word, and their own site made the June '07 issue sound irresistible, but you can only order directly via a temporary Pay Pal account, and I want nothing to do with Pay Pal. Amazon only sells overpriced subscriptions, and the local Borders said they don't take magazine orders. Probably I could find the thing at a brick-and-mortar store if I was still in the Bay Area, but as things stand I'd really like to find an import website -- and my attempt at googling was no help in tracking one down.

#675 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Dave @ #666: I'd buy that. More relevant, if I saw that title on a shelf in the bookstore, I'd at least pick it up to find out from the blurb what it's about. It doesn't come off like the nth volume of an endless collect-em-all plot coupons fantasy series.

#676 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Faren @ 674... If nobody got back to you, do you want me to do it thru my own PayPal account? If so, just give me all the gory details and I'll place the order.

#677 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Nina... I received Saturnalia yesterday. Thanks for going thru all that trouble. I now have one Falco mystery autographed by Lindsey Davis herself. Woohoo!!!

#678 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 01:28 AM:

Serge @ 671: Sure, 20/20, no prob. Right after I figure out how to do it for myself...

I concede that maybe I am having a Philip K. Dick moment. On the other hand, maybe we're all having one all the time, and just don't know it.

#679 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 10:18 AM:

Serge (#676): Well, no one else has responded, so I'd like to take you up on your kind offer. Do you have an email address more private than the livejournal link? Let me know, and I'll send you the info. Thanks!

#680 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Faren @ 679... You can get my email address by clicking 'view all by' next to one of the million posts I have in ML. Internet Explorer's Address box will display my email address at the end. Do that with one of your own posts and you'll see what I mean.

#681 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Abi has posted an entry on her blog, where, taking her inspiration from Aristophanes's The Frogs, she has Quincy pass judgment upon CSI's Grissom and CSI: Miami's Caine. Unless you are made of stern stuff, you might want to avoid her link to a 7-minute YouTube montage of David Caruso showing himself to be a worse ham than William Shatner.

#682 ::: Jennyanydots ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Serge@ 672 -
By the way, you do know that the person who was the inspiration for Bill Heterodyne posts on this site, don't you?

no! who? how come? do tell!

[PS - it's 'Jennyanydots' after the poem from Practical Cats. I was posting here just as Jenny, but there were too many people with similar names -- I think you described it as 'Jennies pullulating all over the place' on the other thread, or some equally vernal metaphor... I'm not really so sure about my new handle, but it'll do for now.]

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Jennyanddots... Yes, we have Bill Heterodyne in ML, where he is known as Bill Higgins, BeamJockey, a scientist who apparently has been known to mix matter and anti-matter. ("Captain, the engines can't take this anymore!" "Bill, I need that power!")

As for the proliferation of Jens... You are sure this isn't like Evil Agent Smith making multiple copies of himself in the second movie? (Of course, if you were Evil Agent Jenny, you wouldn't tell me.)

#684 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Serge, you misspelled it again. 'Jennyanydots', not 'Jennyanddots'.

#685 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 12:12 PM:

Xopher... At least I was consistent in my misspelling. Still, I am a wee bit embarassed.

#686 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Serge: clicking "View All By" (then scrolling a loooong way down) didn't render any address that I could see, and nowhere to click for one -- maybe because my Famous Trope couldn't scroll down any further than 3/06. Since you seem to have *my* email address, could you just contact me directly?

#687 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 03:35 PM:


You're looking in the wrong place.

Click on "view all by". Look at the URL that your browser is now pointing at, up at the top of your browser window. Double-click it to highlight the entire thing and copy it into a text editor or some such.

And there, at the end of the long string that makes up the web address of The Complete Works Of Serge The Magnificent will be his email address.

No scrolling down through said Complete Works, since your computer wants to keep them all to itself, precious.

#688 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 03:59 PM:

abi @ 687... The Complete Works Of Serge The Magnificent

When I, Skeletor, become Master of the Universe, I shall make you, Nightmare Abi, my press agent.

#689 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Fragano at 652: do your students think that genetics, like evolution, is a plot by evil secular humanists?

Has anyone ever pointed out to the folks who believe that science is the work of the devil that a number of early scientists were also priests? Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre leap to mind. (Pascal's conversion came late, after he'd done most of his work, I think.)

Come to think of it, most of them probably think the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Forget it. Never mind.

#690 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Thanks, abi! Too deep a contemplation of the Complete Works might indeed be too much for one frail computer to bear, but I think I copied the right part of the top string for the email I just sent him.

Incidentally, did anyone check out that "Elderberries" cartoon I sent a link for the other day? It has a great haiku description of an aging computer's crash.

#691 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Faren @ 690... I wouldn't want my Complete Works to lead to the demise of Faren's Computer. As for the link, when did you originally post it? I did "view all by" and I keep not seeing it.

#692 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 06:37 PM:

I'll be darned. That "View All By" trick to get e-mail is a useful little tool, ain't it? I wonder if it works in other forms on other blogs.

#693 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 09:24 PM:

As of today, I'm officially unveiling my website. The content is still pretty light as far as text goes, but I've put in a bunch of my sonnets, and a few of my photographs. I'll probably add more photographs before anything else, since I have thousands of them.

That headshot of me that I mentioned on another thread is on the homepage.

#694 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 11:59 PM:

Scientists have found that morality is hardwired in our brains. Take that, Joe Lieberman!

#695 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 03:15 AM:

Not sure if people here have seen these before...

A couple links showing the relative sizes of our planets and of a series of stars:

The Size of Our World shows all our planets, followed by the Sun and various stars as a series of balls, with a number of pictures showing different stages of "zooming out".

some stars and planets in scale done as a short zoom-out/pan on Google video, showing some of our planets in comparison to each other and the sun, followed by a series of stars.

I thought I was pretty good on cosmic scales, but until I saw this I had no idea just how huge some of the super-giant stars like Antares or the Cepheids are compared to more typical stars.

#696 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 04:30 AM:

Born on this day, Patrick Henry,
Feynman, and Pierre Curie.
Her great passion is in the dance.
Her home is a decaying manse,
Pink, without a single turret.
Her day's that of Rupert Ev'rett.
A rhyme for the invading bat?
I could find none, and must say drat.
The year that the Moon met Borman,
The Earth said hello to Susan.

#697 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 06:51 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 695

There are a couple of nice flash animations that show the entire universe in powers of ten from bottom to top: one at PBS and another at Nikon. The Nikon one runs through a series of stars from dwarfs* to supergiants.

* and why isn't that "dwarves"? Just to show it's science and not fantasy?

Serge @ 696

Happy birthday, Susan!

#698 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 07:18 AM:

I've noticed I sometimes double-post, and I'm not the only one doing it. I'm pretty sure I'm only clicking once; could there be some other reason?

#699 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 07:20 AM:

Re #696:

She twirls through the threads on Making Light,
And shows us all the steps as we discuss
The intricate and delicate delight
Of dances from the past. She teaches us
Of corsetry and costumes, fabric, style,
Or sometimes, for a change, it's roof repair,
Or cons and friends, or books and bats, and while
She writes, we read, enthralled. She makes us care.
I've never met her, but I read her prose.
It shows such wit, such understated grace
I have no doubt I'll envy Susan's pose
If ever I may meet her face to face.
So lead us through the set another year
We follow in your footsteps, dancing here.

(I reserve the right not to do sonnets for Patrick Henry et alia.)

#700 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 07:50 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 697:
* and why isn't that "dwarves"? Just to show it's science and not fantasy?

I think what happend is this: general usage had shifted from "dwarves" to "dwarfs" by the 19th Century, so that the former was somewhat archaic. Tolkien almost single-handedly reinvigorated "dwarves" because he preferred that form, but it's spread mainly in connection with his work. So fantasy writers, gamers, etc. talking about short, stocky, mining races say "dwarves"; scientists talking about stars continue to say "dwarfs".

(I do both: if I'm talking or writing about stars, it's always "dwarfs"; if I'm talking or writing about fantasy/gaming, it's always "dwarves". I only noticed this a few years ago; it's mostly unconscious.)

#701 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 07:55 AM:

> * and why isn't that "dwarves"? Just to show it's science and not fantasy?

Other way around. Tolkien used the previously unusual dwarves rather than the regular English dwarfs to show he was writing fantasy.

#702 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Um....thank you. Wow. I am speechless.

#703 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Serge (#691) I think that post about the cartoon was removed in an excess of editorial zeal, after I complained about a couple of spurious posts credited to my Computer (posts and complaint also vanished). Here's the link again. Hope it survives this time!

#704 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Science Fiction Book club to close??

(seen at Warren Ellis' site)

#705 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 11:49 AM:

I just thought I would point to this, since it seems particularly appropriate to Makying Lyt:

I'm in ur Canterbury Tales doinge sum thinge to yt ...
Geoffrey Chaucer's LOLpilgrims

#706 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 12:18 PM:

In one of the WisCon panels, Lesley Hall recommended this book on fanfiction. She said it is published by a small publisher in Wales, so we would probably never hear about it otherwise, but is the only book she knows that takes fanfiction seriously on its own terms, takes seriously what the writers and readers say they are doing, and realizes that there are lots of reasons people write and read it.

I suspect that some people here might find it interesting.

#707 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Faren @ 703... Oops. That'll teach me to impersonate your computer. I did it only once, when you said your machine was dumb, but that may have been the one time too many.

#708 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:06 PM:

It's a good thing that Amazon also recommends a slew of books by Henry Jenkins. That book is far from the only serious study of the subject.

#709 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Marilee@694: morality is hardwired in our brains

Wow. cool article.

#710 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Is anyone here familiar with the voice acting industry? A voice acting and ADR (automated dialogue replacement, or voiceover) company pitched an event to a convention I staff, and it sounded a lot like the pitch & shop conference mentioned here about a month ago.

It's possible that the voice acting industry is different enough that this sort of event would actually be useful, but I'd appreciate some outside advice. We've had a guest do voiceover panels in the past, where attendees were able to dub their voices over an existing video clip, but they were much smaller, and no extra charge to us or to attendees.

I'm concerned about the whole "encouraging us to charge for a mock audition" aspect, and also copyright issues with the DVDs they mention.

Here's some of the text they sent us:

Anime fans want to know what it's like to be voice actors. Some are enthralled by the glamour of it all; others think they're good at "doing voices." Some may truly have all the talent, drive and ability they need to actually succeed, while many will simply keep it as a cherished dream for "someday."

But all of them – every single one who carries the spark within them – deserves the chance to see what it feels like, to learn what their favorite voice actors go through in the course of performing this work. This is an experience which will help many decide if it's something they really want to pursue.

THE ADR EXPERIENCE gives all participants a professional-level seminar and workshop in voice acting. In addition, for twelve lucky
attendees, it offers the opportunity to actually record an anime performance exactly the same way working voice actors do in a dubbing studio, to have their performances judged by their peers, and receive a DVD copy of their work.

Given the size of [convention], a certain amount of brainstorming has had to take place to adapt the ADR EXPERIENCE format so it could accommodate as many attendees as possible.

Usually the recording sessions are limited to three participants per voice type for a total of twelve. For [convention] we have expanded this concept within the bounds of what is physically possible.

With that in mind, several possibilities exist [for the four phases]:



The first phase starts with a seminar on the process and mechanics of what it takes to be a voice actor, including professional preparation, the likelihood of employment and financial realities in the field. While serious and meaningful, with much valuable information, there is still plenty of the personal interplay that fans want from their guests. There is a short break before the workshop portion.

Open to all interested attendees (no cap). Location can be any large convention room, theatre, etc. Duration two hours.


The second phase is the workshop. During a two-hour period as many attendees as possible (depending on how many are present) are put through a series of acting exercises. They are coached, critiqued and helped through "mini-auditions," working with material from TV, film, commercial and voiceover scripts, and performing in front of the other participants.

In the course of this workshop, all those interested fill out audition info forms based on voice type (light female, strong female, light male, strong male). Only one entry per person. If they are unsure of their "type" advice will be given. At the end of the workshop portion, three to five names are drawn for each voice type, for a total of 12-20 participants who will move on to Phase Three – the actual recording of an anime performance. The twelve winners of the draw are assigned audition recording times, and from here it is handled like a professional audition, with participants required to arrive early, sign in, and stand by to record their auditions.

As many as possible will be worked and critiqued with actual audition material from many aspects of acting: TV, film, voice, commercial, etc. No guarantee that all attendees will work, but in the interests of fairness no participant will work more than once.

Cap of 300 attendees. Location - This is highly interactive and requires a good, open space (large convention room or similar). Duration three hours.


In the third phase we do the actual recording. Each of the drawing winners will have a a 20-minute time slot in which to record their performances. They will be recorded in a scene from an established anime series, replacing one character from the original cast.

They are directed and recorded to picture, and the audition scenes are edited and burned to a DVD – which is then played in the viewing rooms for all convention attendees to see. The participants are not identified by name in order avoid a "popularity contest."

Location - QUIET IS ESSENTIAL while recording takes place. We strongly suggest that [company voice actors] be housed in a two-room suite or have two adjoining rooms in the quietest wing of the hotel - not near the convention area - for this phase. This has the additional advantage of making it unnecessary to move equipment back and forth during the con. Recording, video editing, DVD authoring and burning can take place at their "headquarters". Since editing and authoring will take a good number of hours and require that they work well into the night, the logic becomes obvious.

At this point [convention] has several choices:

Normally three people per voice type are recorded. With such a large event, we have expanded this to give as many attendees as possible a chance to participate.

With three auditions per voice type - total of twelve auditions: Recording requires 4-5 hours. Resulting DVD (to be shown in the viewing rooms) would have a running time of approximately 10 minutes. [Cost to convention: $1800]

With four auditions per voice type total of sixteen auditions: Recording requires 5-6 hours. DVD would run approximately 12 minutes. [Cost to convention: $2150]

With five auditions per voice type total of twenty auditions: Recording requires 7-8 hours. DVD would run approximately 15 minutes. [Cost to convention: $2500]


At closing ceremonies the DVD auditions are played for everyone present. Attendees in the audience act as the "producers," deciding (by voice vote) who "gets the role" in each category. Because there are no names attached to the performances, the "producers" must base their choice strictly on merit. The winner in each voice category receives a special award, and all participants get a Certificate of Participation and their own copy of the DVD. This is an exceedingly popular event, challenging, educational and great fun for the participants.


Obviously this is a time-intensive and grueling schedule for [company voice actors], especially if the number of auditionees to be recorded is expanded to sixteen or twenty. We would suggest that Phase One and Phase Two happen on the first day of the convention, possibly with some recording sessions in the afternoon.

On the second day the recording sessions would conclude and the editing would take place. Video editing, DVD authoring and DVD burning is a time-consuming process and will very likely take well into the night. DVD with all auditions, professionally produced and ready for running in the viewing rooms, would be delivered to the appropriate con personnel as soon as possible.

On the third day, while the DVD is running in the viewing rooms, [company voice actors] would make themselves available for any other panels or autograph sessions. They will, of course, attend closing ceremonies to conduct the awards presentation.

Due to [company voice actors]' professional schedules and the time involved, we are booking very few ADR EXPERIENCE seminars. This is an extremely exciting event that adds an interesting, different angle for your marketing and PR. Due to the popularity of THE ADR EXPERIENCE, you may want to offer your attendees the chance to pre-book their spot in Phase Two when they register.

It should be noted that seminars of this type often charge attendees hundreds of dollars apiece. You may want to consider a very small additional fee for attendees to register for Phase Two. One major advantage of this is that it effectively limits the audience to those who are highly motivated to attend the event with a serious interest in the content. It gives a greater perceived value to the experience and, since we must cap Phase Two at 300 attendees, raises the probability that those who do register are the 300 who will get most from the Experience.

Asking even $5 to participate in an acting intensive with two of the most experienced VAs in the business - plus a chance to record and receive a DVD of you voicing a known anime character - will add a special worth and cachet to the event. Of course, if you decide to use such a small fee as a control option for attendance at Phase Two, any "gate" monies would remain with Sakura Con.

The fee structures [mentioned above] are flat costs for bringing THE ADR EXPERIENCE to Sakura Con and reflect the huge investment of time and sheer hard work required to make it happen.

The sliding scale reflects the extra time and effort required to record, edit and produce more auditions and longer DVDs.

Please note: this is a simulated audition for educational and entertainment purposes only.
No actual employment for any participant is offered or implied based on this seminar.

The convention will almost certainly choose not to pass on any of the cost - it's much easier from both a logistics and a tax standpoint - but the fact that the company is strongly encouraging us to charge attendees who may not even get a chance to perform in Phase Two, let alone get an audition spot, makes me uneasy.

There is no mention of what happens to the DVDs afterwards, or whether the DVDs belong to the company, the convention, or the attendees performing.

And the big question: is a mock audition useful for those trying to get into the voiceover business, or is it like holding a pitch conference for writers?

#711 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Run for the hills!!!

Throughout June, Turner Classic Movies is hosting movies that feature various depictions of homosexuals, going back to the 1920s. Interviewees include Alan Cumming, Armistead Maupin and... Don Murray?

#712 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:55 PM:

It might be more accurate to say that The Democratic Genre (referenced @706 and @708) is the first such serious academic study to approach fanfic specifically from the litcrit perspective rather than the sociological perspective. There's a more detailed explanation on the author's website.

Ritual disclaimer/declaration of interest: I know the book's author, but am not speaking for her.

#713 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Popmatters examines the "death of serious science fiction" films.

My take on it here. Short form: worth a read, don't swear too hard at the abominable copyediting.

#714 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 08:43 PM:

From "stop waiting for facts to have an effect" particle:

"It's hard for some Americans to see that ... " the president said. "I see it clearly."


the idiot thinks he's an oracle.

#715 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Lizzy L #689: I've no idea. The issue, though, isn't genetics but race, which has, all too often, only a passing relationship to genetics.*

(Out of 32 great-great-great grandparents, White had five who were unambiguously black.)

* The reason it's taken me so long to reply is that I was attending the graduation from college of my first-born son. His birth certificate, as required by the law of the state where he was born, lists him as black. He sunburns more easily than his girlfriend whose known ancestry is entirely English, Irish and German (my son's is Spanish, German, Irish, Jewish and African). What's his race?

#716 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 09:20 PM:

Serge #696:

You wonder aloud about rhymes for 'bat'
a word, you know, that means quite a lot,
our language with rhymes is, alas, not fat
a rhyme for silver we have never got;
still, there's been considerable chat
defining words as either cold or hot
or saying a great deal in nothing flat.
To indite verse you have to pay your scot
for, if you don't, someone will surely rat
and make you throw your fine into the pot.
You'll never find a place to hang your hat
nor find a certain answer to the plot.
But not to worry, you'll have a lot of time
to craft an answer to this quite silly rhyme.

(And happy, belated, birthday to Susan.)

#717 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 09:48 PM:

Fragano at 715: What's his race?


That's what I put on all those forms which ask me to state my race.

#718 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:02 PM:

Lizzy L #717: That's a good answer. I tend to put 'other', though.

#719 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Is it just me, or did the entire ""Another royalty for the Swift estate," he proposed modestly" thread upped and vanished? I can't find a trace of it anywhere.

Hey, I was looking for the link to Lessig's site that was there, and couldn't find it either. Thought I'd check here before I thought myself insane.

I believe that thread has gone entirely missing. I checked my "entire history" and it didn't show up there either. I fear it's been hosed from the database.

#720 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:22 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 715

Congratulations to you, your son, and your whole family.

What's his race?
Human, of course.

#721 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:24 PM:

I checked my "view all by" and it didn't show up there either.


#722 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:24 PM:

I checked my "view all by" and it didn't show up there either.


#723 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Oops, sorry, Lizzy L got there first. Consider that an enthusiastic second.

#724 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 10:35 PM:

Greg London, et. al.

I have a tab open on the "Swift Estate" thread and the URL is still good:

#725 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 11:28 PM:

We are statistically overdue for a new Open Thread (1), but the following is timely or requested within this thread.

Serge @221, et. al.:

Here is my livejournal, and my first real true entry is Why fans should go to Burning Man in 2007 and 2008. 2007 if you're not going to Yokohama, 2008 for both Denver and Burning Man (2).

Why visit the town, country and world of Burning Man? Sensawunda. Meeting creative people. Making or practicing variations of yourself. Real live examples of steampunk or dieselpunk randomly showing up as you go about your day. (links to a steam-powered, mobile 3 story Victorian mansion and to a gasoline powered spider).

Why do I mention it? Same reasons and motivations why I/we want people who haven't been to a con to go to cons. You'll enjoy it. The more the merrier.

And as I've also put it: experiencing the feel of a post-scarcity economy is great in books. It's even better in real life. Sure, it's only a week, and takes real work and money to prepare, but boy, what a week.

Why mention it now? Because 90 days gives you time to prepare, and if you're going to be in friends' villages or camps, letting them know by the 31st will help their logistics planning (camp registration deadline).

More on the similarities (Art, Conversations, reinventing yourself) and differences in my entry.

(1) avoids temptation to analyze patterns of open threads. Why, no, I'm not working too hard.

(2) Makes the dead dog party less sad when you know two weeks later you can drag said beast to the tesla coil camp for some reanimation work (if one used tesla coils for that? I didn't take any applied engineering theology classes in school, alas.)

#726 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 11:51 PM:

#725 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale wrote:
Why do I mention it? Same reasons and motivations why I/we want people who haven't been to a con to go to cons. You'll enjoy it. The more the merrier.

I fear that the idea of spending that much time with 60,000 of my closest friends, many of them not perhaps in their standard frame of mind, is simply not on my list of wondrous and desireable things. The photos, however, are lovely.

#727 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 12:30 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale: If anyone happened to run into you at Burning Man, would they see you in the midst of doing the new planet dance twenty-seven more times?

#728 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 01:33 AM:

Bruce @ 697: If that Nikon scale chart used to have various star sizes for comparison, it doesn't appear to now. Just Sol, the solar system, a nebula, the Milky Way, and our galaxy cluster before it jumps to the Universe as a whole.

If you find one that does have a full range of star types and sizes, I would thank you and my 5 year old son would thank you. He spent a long time yesterday viewing the two I posted, plus another site which lets you interactively compare the planets of our solar system.

#729 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 02:13 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 723: "I have a tab open on the "Swift Estate" thread and the URL is still good:"

Avoiding the question of why, precisely, you had a tab open for (at the least) three days, I followed the link and attempted to make a post. The is the Movable Type error message I got when I clicked preview:

"An error occurred
Somehow, the entry you tried to comment on does not exist"

Er, "somehow"? I find myself mildly weirded out by the implied uncertainty in that.

#730 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 03:19 AM:

LA WEEKLY slideshow for The Vader Project.

#731 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 04:29 AM:

Oh, dear.

I suppose this might have been expected, but so soon?


#732 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 04:46 AM:

Your link broke, Bill, but fortunately Patrick had already gotten it from BoingBoing and put it up in Sidelights.

#733 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 04:49 AM:

More information on the swiftly vanishing thread: if you go forward one thread (Fanfiction, Monetized), the "previous thread" link is "Your Book in Print, Forever". So it's gone from the sequence altogether.

I blame Faren's computer.

#734 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 06:26 AM:

Heresiarch @ 729

Avoiding the question of why, precisely, you had a tab open for (at the least) three days

I'm lazy. On threads that I participate in or just want to read periodically, I keep a tab open on the thread in Firefox and refresh it when I want to see if anything new has come in. I tend not to clean up old tabs very often, so sometimes they'll be there for a few days.

That error message is kind of strange, isn't it? Sounds like the thread page can be found in the web files, but some database entry that's required for posting a comment has been deleted or corrupted. That "uncertainty" likely comes from the error message being a fallback in s situation where the code doesn't know what happened, perhaps because the error isn't discovered until well after it happened. In cases like this there's often a comment in the code where the message is generated that says something to the effect of "WTF? Shouldn't be able to get here unless the end of the world is at hand".

This is a perfect example of why I have concluded that web software these days has just too many moving parts to be at all reliable.

#735 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 06:47 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 724

Sorry 'bout that, Chief, I could swear the star outlines were there. As it is, there's a yawning gap between about 10^10 and 10^16 meters.

Try this link. It's only still images, not flash script, but because they're photos of solid models, it's quite engaging.

#736 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:14 AM:

Bruce @731

I guess I had better address any right brain/left brain imbalance, then.

I in ur sonnet, doin ur ritin.
How do this hapn? I just a kitty.
Main job of catz are just 2B pritty!
('Cept with the doggies, then us be fitin.)
Course back in da old days catz was workin
Eatin ur mouses an axin fr milk...
Now giv me treatz or me clawin ur silk!
An bring em here fast, none of ur shirkin.
U humanz r comin under r powr
Uzin ur money to pamper n feed us,
Learnin from websitez how much u need us.
R clvr planz is comin to flower!
Now mousie are safe in his tiny holz
Nless u go catch him. I da boss. LOLz

#737 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:16 AM:

abi @ 733... This disappearing thread reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode with Jim Hutton and Rod Taylor where three astronauts come back from a nearly fatal mission. After they've been released and go to a bar, two of them notice that the other astronaut is nowhere to be seen, and nobody remembers him. A photographer takes a photo of Taylor and Hutton. Then Taylor disappears and nobody remembers him either and, when Hutton takes out that photo to prove that Taylor had been around, he isn't on it. By the time Hutton figures out that they should have all died during that mission and something is in the process of correcting events, he disappears too.

Or maybe, like you said, it is the fault of Faren's Computer, which I impersonated only once. Really. Just that one time, officer. I promise I'll never do it again.

#738 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:25 AM:

Quick, call the Time Police! Someone is tampering with our past!

#739 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:28 AM:

abi @ 736:

Brilliant. Just brilliant. Thank you.

#740 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 09:10 AM:

abi @ 736

A lovely sonnet. You should dedicate it to Kliban.

#741 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 09:31 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #720: Thanks!

#742 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 09:35 AM:

abi #736: L0v3|y!

#743 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 10:27 AM:

spending that much time with 60,000 of my closest friends, many of them not perhaps in their standard frame of mind

I think that Worldcons and Burning Man are a perfect way to get out of a mundane frame of mind and into an energized, creative one: this is good, and this is why I recommend them (1). They give you a new cultural viewpoint (like travel, or a good SF book) that makes it easier to examine your usual one.

The size of Worldcons or of Burning Man shouldn't stop you from going to either.(2) Media coverage might focus on the crowded events- masquerades, the Burn- because they're easy to film. But they're just a small part of everything. Burning Man is whatever you want it to be- if you don't want it to be about crowds, skip them.

I'm not a crowd-loving person myself, but that doesn't make either of Worldcons or Burning Man off-limits to me. Sure, Burning Man has more people than a Worldcon (it's a bit larger than DragonCon), but that's in 5 square miles (1300 hectares). Black Rock City is over a mile in diameter.

Do you like SF art shows? Burning Man is an outdoor gallery, and one where you can work on the art yourself, including the stunning and wonderful temples. That all art is temporary (here's the 'stunning' temple at it's end) makes it better. Or H.G. Wells? Or fire breathing dragons?

All to say that if you like science fiction- if you love science fiction, please do consider Burning Man. It is, I think, one of the most science fictional places around(3), like a small piece of Culture 200 years early (4).

(1) Oh, you mean it's reputation on herbal and vitamin supplements? I think that's hype. Yes, some percent of people are in ingested altered states, but not more than in any US city (ok, a city during the weekend, and one with a couple of colleges, perhaps). Compared to a standard city there's more mellowing agents being taken (vs. angering agents like alcohol), but I don't think that's a bad thing.

My personal take is to not partake. When you're hanging out with friends, making breakfast, and a bike-powered mammoth goes by (followed by a 40-foot goldfish) what else do you need? Other than for specific and short-term use, taking stuff at Burning Man would be like bringing soy-sauce to a wonderful restaurant: silly.

(2) Applicable points from my essay:
'your first year, go with friends' -- if you had never been and were alone, the size might scare you into staying in one spot (the dealers room, the center cafe) the whole time.
'they're holographic' -- you can't see it all, so what you do see is just right.

(3) more than Akihabara, or Seattle's SF museum, or Idaho's atomic valley...

(4) minus the Minds, but it is as close to an attention-based gift economy as early 21st century earth gets.

#744 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 10:40 AM:

I don't know about other threads, but my new computer won't opent is one. It says it doesn't exist (one of those IE error messages). I don't understand it either.

It's also complaining about my e-mail provider not having a valid security certificate.

#745 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 03:38 PM:

For Serge, and anyone else that likes this sort of thing:

Pellucidar here we come!

#746 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 03:45 PM:

Tania @ 745... Sounds to me like somebody took Mike Grell's comic-book The Warlord a bit too seriously.

Say, wasn't there an episode of Roger Ramjet where someone drills a hole thru the Earth? Unfortunately, that hole, combined, with the planet's rotation, causes the atmosphere to whistle very loudly.

#747 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 04:36 PM:

Tania @745 - They must be using this map.

#748 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 05:39 PM:

I'm procrastinating, so I have a question for Susan, or anyone else who would know.

How long does a dance last in the Regency period? I always figured as long as the music plays, and I'm not unfamilar with the music.

What I keep wondering is if a gentleman were to ask a lady to dance, how long of a period of time could they expect to spend together? I realize it would vary by type of dance, but on average, how many minutes?

#749 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 06:42 PM:

I'm halfway through reading The Assault on Reason, and any residual benefits of the doubt for Bush not being complicit in the monstrosities of the last few years on account of him being as dumb as a bag of hammers is thoroughly gone.

#750 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:08 PM:

Tania @ 745:

Wow... that's some serious lunacy going on there.

A little Googling reveals that the leader of the expedition is also co-author of a book called The Ark of Millions of Years Volume Two: 2012 and the Harvest of the End Times. So... I guess they'd better hurry up with that expedition, 'cause they've got less than five years left.

#751 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Tania @ #748:
How long does a dance last in the Regency period? I always figured as long as the music plays, and I'm not unfamilar with the music.

You have it backwards; the music goes as long as needed for the dance. Unfortunately, that is quantity-of-people dependent. But I just happen to have the relevant information right at hand; fancy that. Wondergeek mode, activate!

A typical dance takes 36 seconds or so to run through once. Typical in this case is defined as 32 bars of music. There were shorter ones (16, 24) and longer ones (48, 96, 108), but 32 is pretty typical. I know this takes 36 seconds because I just timed a tune recorded during actual Regency dancing at one of my events.

So the question becomes how many times one runs it. For this, I have the pattern for a standard-issue dance:

three couples (minimum possible) = 6 times
four couples = 12 times

Then for each additional couple, add four more times. So for a set of twenty couples, seventy-six times through, or around 45 minutes. For sanity's sake, when I call Regency dances, I limit the sets to six or seven couples. My musicians might go on strike otherwise - even seven couples is 24x through a tune and close to fifteen minutes of dance. One is not dancing the entire time, of course - there is ample time for conversation at various points.

What I keep wondering is if a gentleman were to ask a lady to dance, how long of a period of time could they expect to spend together? I realize it would vary by type of dance, but on average, how many minutes?

Could be as much as an hour, maybe more - a 48-bar dance (almost as common as a 32-bar one) with a set of that length would be over an hour. And one danced two dances in a row with the same person, so that could add up quickly:

First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her! But, however, he did not admire her at all; indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So he inquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the BOULANGER—"

The boulanger is one of the atypical ones. It was also not impossible that it was the last dance of that ball - it was one of the ones often used as a finishing dance. Six pairs of dances could easily have taken up an entire evening, even by the Regency definition of evening, which sometimes meant "until dawn".

So what it comes down to is how big is your party? And is it big enough to split the set in half? I have sources saying to do this if the set is too long, but no sources that say what the magic length is. You can do the math for the various lengths.

I also have one source, which may be intended as a humor piece, which complains about rudeness at a particular assembly. One example is that they keep stopping the dance so soon that not everyone gets to complete it. But I'm not sure how seriously to take it - it's a letter to the editor that I would put in the genre of "dates from hell".

So there you go. Next question?

#752 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 07:55 PM:


You rock.

#753 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Susan - you are AWESOME!! Thank you. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, I hope you had a lovely birthday.

I've been listening to Northanger Abbey during my lunch, and I have a bad habit of reading regencies. Little questions about the period pop up in the back of my brain, and won't go away.

So, three dances in one evening WOULD be a significant amount of time for a couple to spend together, AND one could presumably step out to get some air during a set and have a not completely rushed assignation. Hurried, but not rushed.

These are good things to know.

#754 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2007, 11:28 PM:

Susan, thanks- and now I see just how much of an imposition it was to ask Anne to play for all the dances (in Persuasion).

#755 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Cory Doctorow boingboinged this article on how Sci-fi writers join war on terror:
"Jerry Pournelle, Arlan Andrews, Greg Bear, Larry Niven and Sage Walker are science ficion writers that attended a Homeland Security conference. They are part of a group Andrews put together called Sigma with the motto "Science Fiction in the National Interest.""...

'Why offer their ideas to the government instead of private companies that pay big bucks?

"To save civilization," Ringworld author Larry Niven says. "We do it in fiction. Why wouldn't we want to do it in fact?" '

This is a Mary-Sue come to life, isn't it? SF writers have written about how the government will come to them in a time of crisis. But that's fiction when the sentient elephants invade or when the astronauts need rescuing from the evil socialists, and SF writers write in on their silver apples to save the world.

Fiction. Real life. Fiction. Real life...

I think I'm having another Omelas Moment.

#756 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:06 AM:

#755: Pournelle has long considered himself some kind of one-man think tank and military- technological impresario. Folks with long memories may remember his touting of the missile defense system.

But in the "FWIW" department:

Years ago, I went to the CONTACT worldbuilding conference. Niven was the dinner speaker. My gosh-wow teen hero worship of the guy had long passed, but he said something I thought was pretty classy. One of the questions he fielded after he speech: If the government asked him to put together a team of SF writers to assist in an alien contact, who would he choose. "I'd have to think about it, but for sure I'd ask Fred Pohl."

Pohl is WAY on the other end of the political spectrum.

#757 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:09 AM:

Oh . . . I know two other SF writers who have been doing this kind of consulting -- for the government proper, and for think-tanky places -- since 9/11. One centrist, one left of center.

#758 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:12 AM:

My apologies to the hosts if my repeated comments on my current obsession are wearing a little thin...but this _is_ an open thread, and I _did_ learn about Conservapedia here, I think, and there _is_ a current post about plagiarism...

I've been tracking plagiarised material at Conservapedia, and so far I haven't been able to get them to take it seriously. And this isn't some vandal trying to get them in trouble -- this is by one of their sysops, who uses his blocking and locking powers to defend his plagiarism.

I've written up some of the examples at rationalwiki; this is a good starting point. (Note: RW is a mobocracy inhabited primarily but not exclusively by sane CP exiles. It's very possible to see things NSFW there, although I don't know of any at the moment.)

I don't know if more attention shined on them would do any good, but I don't see how it could hurt.

#759 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:44 AM:

Stefan @757,

I admit I'd be annoyed if the government wasn't listening to SF writers, futurists, technologists, etc., on these sorts of topics. Although I'd be happier to see someone like Cory in that group- someone who knows about the intersection of tech, privacy, and civil rights(re: CD's previous work for the EFF).

I suppose I'm more bothered by my being in a world where the expertise of SF writers has been called upon- much as the residents of Gotham must get the jitters every time the bat-spotlight-signal goes out. i.e. we are living in the world where sentient elephants have invaded (1)...

(1) some witty comment about who is helping the elephants and who is doing invasions could go here, but I'm tired.

#760 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 05:18 AM:

I present this without comment (as I'm too jetlagged and culture-shocked to think of anything even half-witty):

#761 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 06:11 AM:

#570 What this thread needs is more hamster news.

I think Patrick and Teresa should take note of this Register story:

Man barely survives hamster attack

#762 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 06:44 AM:

High Government Official: My office door is always open.

Omnes: And it's labelled "Exit".

Actually, you get directed to the European General REsource Supply Service.

#763 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 07:07 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale... Would SF editors also have to respond to that Bat signal? I picture mild-mannered editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden slaving away at her desk into the wee hours of the night, scribbling furiously until she notices that everybody else still at the office is staring out the windows. Patrick turns to her and starts saying "Teresa come see that", but sees only an empty chair. Down in the streets near the Flatiron Building, people can hear the screeching of the Hamstermobile's tires and all breathe easier knowing she's on the case.

#764 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 07:08 AM:

Kathryn @755
Ironic that you call that an Omelas moment, because my first thought is LeGuin as well. Specifically, from the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness*.

The weather bureau will tell you what next Tuesday will be like, and the Rand Corporation will tell you what the twenty-first century will be like. I don't recommend that you turn to the writers of fiction for such information. It's none of their business. All they're trying to do is tell you what they're like, and what you're like - what's going on - what the weather is now, today, this moment, the rain, the sunlight, look! Open your eyes; listen, listen. That is what the novelists say.

* Sorry, Greg London, if you're reading this.

#765 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 07:47 AM:

Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes!

#766 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 07:49 AM:

Does this mean that there's a superhero with cheek pouches instead of the utlity belt?

#767 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Sorry, Greg London, if you're reading this.

iz OK. i in ur l3ft h4nd, r34din ur txt.

I think I'm on chapter 5 at this point.

I think I figured out why I didn't like it the first time and stopped. So far, it's been a whole lot of observing, thinking, and talking. Very little has happened physically ("very little" being distinct from "nothing"). One chapter qualified as a "talking head" scene. Another chapter was an infodump. So far, I'm not really into it, but I'm reading it for whatever gender stuff it might give me.

If/When I finish it, I'll report back.

#768 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 08:52 AM:

By day she fights for Tuth and Justice as m/i/l/d mannered editor and moderator Teresa Nielsen Hayden, but by night she becomes millionaire playgirl The Hamster ?

I've seen worse superhero concepts.

#769 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 09:04 AM:

Neil Willcox... Don't you mean 'Tooth and Justice'? Of course the editor-in-chief, a Perry White type, would look like Leslie Nielsen.

#770 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Dave Bell @ #766:

Well, there's this guy...

#771 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Would the Perry White type get scared, and duck under a desk or into a closet, making him Leslie Nielsen Hidin'?

#772 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Nancy C @ 771... Drat! I wish I had thought of that one. Hats off to you.

#773 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 10:42 AM:


No problem. I'm always happy to have an excuse to go on about my obsessions.

#774 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Unfortunately, as a Brit exposed to the existence of TV presenter Richard Hammond, known as The Hamster, I find I have an unfortunate bias towards Catwoman, in all her forms. Perhaps it's better that way.

#775 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 755

This has happened before, or at least so the story goes. During WWII the government, it is said*, got together a small group of SF writers, in Seattle, I believe, and told them to dream up weapons and gadgets, the more futuristic the better. Then they had engineers and draftspersons make up realistic engineering drawings, parts lists, assembly instructions, etc., and deliberately leaked them to the Japanese intelligence services. Then they sat back and ROTFL'd while the Japanese military technology experts wasted vast amounts of resources trying to duplicate devices that didn't exist.

* and it may be an urban legend; I've never had any corroboration from someone who was there, or even whose second cousin's wife's best friend knew someone who was there.

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 775... Then aliens capture an Axis scientist trying to reproduce those Allies superweapons, and they decide that we're the ones they should invade first. As they start bombing our cities from orbit, our scientists find themselves forced to create those weapons for real.

Somebody must have already written that story.

#777 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Dave Langford@761 - thanks! I note that the victim (and hamster) were from England. More evidence that the UK are far ahead of the US in keeping up with reporting on important hamster-related occurances.

Serge@763 "hear the screeching of the Hamstermobile's tires and all breathe easier knowing she's on the case." You mean it's not a huge transparent sphere?

#778 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Dawno... Who'd take seriously a crimefighter going around in a bubble, especially one called the Hamster?

#779 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Yikes! A missing constanant!

Who has purloined this letter?

Is deconstanantisation a complementary superpower to disemvowelment, or an opposing one?

What will happen if the two powers are brought together?

(Answer to the last one: The rest of the episode is entirely in numbers and punctuation, and puzzles fans for years to come)

#780 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Serge, I think there are some folk who could make a spherical Hamstermobile a reality - just encase the passenger of one of these in a sphere of some transparent, bulletproof substance (like the Popemobile) and villains beware!

#781 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Serge #776: Nah. Now, lizards from another star system invading us and being scared by the speed of our technological development....

#782 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 12:19 PM:

#776: Arthur C Clarke, in "Armaments Race" (from Tales from the White Hart) about a Hollywood SFX bloke who invents better and better looking ray guns for a SF series, until he invents one that actually works.

Not to mention "Galaxy Quest", of course.

#783 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Fragano... Either you've been watching reruns of "V" or I just hit a mnemonic pothole and can't recognize the reference.

ajay... Doh!

#784 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Dawno... Nobody can stand against the Pope and the Hamster when they join forces.

#785 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Back when Oi were a lad, bubble cars were ubiquitous.

#786 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 01:45 PM:

775: pwnd!

#787 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 01:45 PM:

775: pwnd!

#788 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:01 PM:

What happened to the 1000-recent-comments dingus? We misses it, precious! (I'm using Safari and Firefox on a Mac.)

#789 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Oh, Oh, Oh,

has anyone mentioned blog like it's the end of the world day yet?

Because we can totally do that. Even if it were 'blog like it's the end of the world using only LOLSonnets'(1) we could totally do that.

By the way, you know how upthread I mentioned how our primate brains make us run up to look at the dangerous novelties, even when warned against it?

May I recommend that if you're reading the LOLcat thread, do not go looking at your 'Complete Works of Emily Dickinson.' Rly, don't. It's just a little too easy to slide into it (1129)...

(1) I can has brainzzzz?

I can has truthz?
Can has slantz
else U
Sound like rantz...

#790 ::: Trip the Space Parasite, FCD ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Serge @ 783: Sounds like Turtledove's "World War" series from a few years back.

#791 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Texanne #788:

And I'm using Firefox on a PC and it's totally busted there, too.

I'm also wondering if there's any connection between that, super-slow comment-preview loading (and what's up with appending the entire comment thread to the preview screen? which is probably causing the slowness), and the total disappearance of the "Jonathan Swift" thread.

#792 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:29 PM:

TexAnne @#788: I'm using IE (blech) on WinXPSP2 (I'm at work) and I'm not seeing the previous comments widget either. ::sniff::

#794 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Trip @ 790... Why am I not surprised to learn that Turtledove had done this already?

#795 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:51 PM:

Teresa @ 793

I was wondering what broke, but decided it was being fixed even as I wondered.

#796 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:51 PM:

"Science Fiction in the National Interest"

USA Today reports "Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described "deviant" thinkers: science-fiction writers".

The group is limited to people with "technical" doctorates, which probably gives it a heavy right-wing bias, and this seems likely to me to be deliberate, though of course libertarian Vernor Vinge would qualify if he wanted. On reflection, it seems to me very strange to shut out the social sciences, whose contributions are going to be necessary to any realistic contribution.

#797 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Randolph: Homeland Security Department? Realistic? BWAhahahaha!!!

joann: I missed a Jonathan Swift thread? ::sadness:: And actually, I kind of like having the whole thread load in preview--it makes it much easier to avoid posting two seconds after somebody did it better.

#798 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 03:25 PM:

TexAnne #797:

The Swift thread, just a copyright thing, was swiftian only in its use of "modest proposal". So no sadness required. But as noted by other posters, it's vanished totally. I think I hear evil cat laughter or something like.

I don't care if somebody did it better, but I'm truly confounded by the number of double posts recently. So far I've managed to avoid doing it myself. (Watch me prove myself wrong, or something.)

#799 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Serge @ 776

Well, if we win, you know that John Campbell edited it, and maybe Donald Wollheim wrote it (and bylined it David Grinnell so he could have Ace publish it).

#800 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 04:00 PM:

joann @ 798

Not vanished completely; it's just that unless you already have a URL you can't get to it, and even if you can get to it, you can't post on it. But you can still savory its buttery goodness here.

#801 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 04:01 PM:

#775: I've heard rumors of programs like that. e.g., engineers made up improbable strange non-working gadgets and arranged for them to be found in wrecked planes or otherwise captured. Analyzing them would waste the time of enemy scientists and engineers who would otherwise be working on useful weapons.

I sometimes wonder if persistent urban legends like "The Philadelphia Experiment" (invisible ships) started off as products of a disinformation campaign.

#802 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 04:26 PM:

re. the IRC particle:

Nice to see academia catching up with what was well-known to anyone on IRC back in, oh, 1993 or so. Or at least to any woman, I suppose.

#803 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Serge #783: I was referring to Harry Turtledove's "Worldwar" and "Colonization" series.

When the Fleetlord says 'We rule the earth and space'
We go phhhhhhhhhhbt phhhhhhhhhhhhhbt right in the Fleetlord's face.

#804 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Fragano... Fleetlords just don't get any respect from their minions, eh?

#805 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Hey, I thought the super-slow comment-preview loading stuff was my computer. Thanks, joann!

#806 ::: Zeke ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Re "science fiction in the national interest"

Bruce Schneier and others have frequently criticized DHS for dealing in "movie plot security"; perhaps now it's going to expand into "novel plot security" as well. I'm sure Halliburton will enjoy their no-bid contracts to defend us against spheres of antineutronium dropped into the earth's core, invasions of felinoid aliens and so on.

#807 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 07:41 PM:

The A DHS kind of idea particle describes a group of SF writers advising the Government on security, a bit like the group in Niven and Pournelle's wretched novel Footfall.

Quoting the (P)article:

To join the group, Andrews says, you have to have at least one technical doctorate degree.

"We're well-qualified nuts," says Jerry Pournelle, co-author of the best sellers Footfall and Lucifer's Hammer and dozens of other books.

Well, maybe...

Why offer their ideas to the government instead of private companies that pay big bucks?

"To save civilization," Ringworld author Larry Niven says. "We do it in fiction. Why wouldn't we want to do it in fact?"

#808 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Serge @763, Zeke @806,

I'd thought about Bruce, too, when noting how I'd want a Cory Doctorow on that panel. I'm worried about the meme-feedback that could happen with all five of those writers together. (Haven't heard about an Operation Fallen Angel in Iraq. yet.)

And, Serge, yes, at least one editor of TNH's caliber must be on that panel / ought to respond to the hamster-signal. Someone has to be there to say "You know you're just riffing on the evil overlord's guide... Dead pilot and a puddle of water? I saw 15 of those in the slushpile last year... Next person who mentions missile defense is going to lose their vowels."

'Cause I can easily see the government paying out the big bucks to consultants riffling through Analog's slushpile, and someone has to keep an eye out for that.

#809 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 08:27 PM:

Serge #804: Nor from alternative-universe Spike Jones.

#810 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 808

IIRC the party line from Pournelle & Heinlein when they were advising on Star Wars was that missle defense was just a hook to hang a real space program on. I guess they figured they could chisel a lot of govt. money out of DOD to build the launch infrastructure that a real defense system would need. Not only did that not happen, but the Nasa space program got pwned too, leaving us with no viable way into space*.

It sounds like they're not going for the multi-level rationalization this time, which is at least a little more honest. But remember, the last time the big deal was supposed to be nuclear-pumped X-ray lasers, which were pretty much a pipe dream. So I'm skeptical this time too.

* No, the shuttle is not viable, and the station is a money pit that doesn't look as nice as an old Victorian with dry rot.

#811 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 09:06 PM:

I can remember in one discussion of the SOE (UK WWII) designs for things like exploding rat corpses — Fleming used some of them for Bond's gadgets later — reading that when the Germans got intelligence about some, the time and energy they put into searching for or defending against them probably damaged their war effort more than any actual sabotage done using them. Then there was all the false 'cardboard' war materi´l scattered around to distract, distress and divert the Nazis.

Perhaps this inspired the US to deliberately spread disinformation about advanced weapon designs when they belatedly joined in. One wonders if "the terrorists" are using some similar idea to get their opponents to waste themselves against phantoms?

#812 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Epacris @811

One wonders if "the terrorists" are using some similar idea to get their opponents to waste themselves against phantoms?

No need to wonder. They've told us explicitly they're doing exactly that.*

They've told us and we know they've told us, and yet we still go chasing after each shadow. They've told us they're making us spend billions chasing ghosts. They're bragging they're making us spend billions. And then we go out and spend billions chasing ghosts.

There must be a term for this:
a double-dare-you form of sour grapes?
"You do not have the willpower to eat these grapes, for they are sour."
"Oh yeah? Watch me eat these grapes. You can't stop me from eating these grapes..."

Or a variant of briar patch / mare's nest**?
"You do not dare fling yourself into this briar patch, for it is truly full of thorns. You do not have the willpower."
"Oh year? Watch me throw myself in..."

* Knowledgeable fluorospherian to fill in exact quote downthread.

** which are opposites, I know.

#813 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Susan, o knowledgeable Susan of dresses, I have a dress question. I've finally realized that no one ever knows what I'm talking about when I say what kind of oldish dresses I like-- most people my age like medieval, people who know Regency know Regency, Victorian is recognizable, but not "dresses that look like from 1770 or so, not the froufy French ones with wigs but... go to Colonial Williamsburg, with the sleeves and the necklines and the colonial."
Is there a term for this kind of dress? This era?

#814 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 02:46 AM:

Epacris, IIRC the US government faked (positive) results of Star Wars missile defense tests with the purpose of making the Soviets try to match or exceed the results in their own missile defense programs.

Supposedly the expense of trying to match the US' faked results was a contributing factor in the collapse of the USSR.

Still... what if, in an alternate timeline, the Soviets HAD "duplicated" our efforts and come up with a functional missile defense system, while our own system was only a fake? Might be a very different world, by now....

#815 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 05:28 AM:

And, of course, the MiG-25 Foxbat was originally designed as a short-range, high-Mach interceptor to shoot down the B-70 Valkyrie bomber. Which never made it past prototype.
They went ahead and built the Foxbat anyway.

Perhaps a more cheerful story might be of an arms race all of whose weapons are fake? The Alliance leaks news of its non-existent hypersonic bomber; the Union responds with mockups of an imaginary hypersonic interceptor; the Alliance fakes up a radar-invisible aircraft, and the Union uses special effects to simulate an anti-aircraft laser...

#816 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 05:45 AM:

ajay #815: And then the USAF commissioned the F-15 as a counter to the MiG-25. Of course, when the Foxbat defected to Japan in seventy-mumble and was found to have been overrated, this didn't stop the Eagle program either.

I seem to remember a short story where the ingenious protagonists are captured and forced to invent devices up to and including a perpetual motion machine - and succeed.

#817 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 06:21 AM:

Kathryn @ 808... Of course we may have it wrong about Teresa. She may really be the Last Editor of Krypton, which, as we all know, ended up seriously disenvowelled.

#818 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 06:40 AM:

Making Light Issue Zero - The Origin Story.

-- Listen to me, fellow Kryptonians. Our world faces a terrible disaster! We must act!
-- What nonsense, Jor-El! What are yu talkng abt?
-- Ts t lt! Ts strtd lrdy! Wr dmd! Dmd!


(Discovered and raised by an old couple in Kansas, young M-El soon starts to display super editorial powers.)
-- What's she done to your tractor there, Fred?
-- Well, I'm not really sure. It's a lot smaller than it used to be before she started working on it.
-- Uh-huh. Runs smooth, though.
-- Runs smoothLY.
-- What just happened there, Fred?
-- Search me.

#819 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Susan, #751: Holy shit! If a contradance runs more than 15-20 minutes, people start complaining about "the dance that wouldn't die"! Is your standard of length "enough times that each couple gets to go all the way up and down the set"? That would make sense for Regency and English dance, which is frequently very uneven between the 1 and 2 couples. Contradance is more likely to be balanced, though there are exceptions (such as anything with a contra-corners in it).

Even so, we tend to keep the sets short (20 couples or less) if possible. The big Knoxville contradance weekend sets up the stage on the long side of the room for exactly this reason -- they can fit in 8 shorter sets and have time for more dances.

#820 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 08:30 PM:

Ha! ajay, that's great!

I was working on the Tomahawk Cruise Missiles when I got sick and they were originally fake weapons. I read this in an unclassified Brookings Institute book the company gave me to read while I waited for my clearances. Kissinger was going to a weapons talk and asked for a weapon we could say we were building so he could agree to stop building it for something real not being built from the Soviets. They wouldn't trade and we had to make them.

#821 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 10:30 PM:

I want to thank Patrick for linking to the Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong clip on YouTube. I watched every episode of Cash's variety show, and I don't think there's ever been a music show, before or since, that had anything like the novelty and quality Cash managed to assemble.

#822 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 12:07 AM:

ajay @ 818


"Behold - the power of chee - er, the adverb!"

#823 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Human hamster balls?

The Zorb

#824 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Ajay at #815: Perhaps a more cheerful story might be of an arms race all of whose weapons are fake? The Alliance leaks news of its non-existent hypersonic bomber; the Union responds with mockups of an imaginary hypersonic interceptor; the Alliance fakes up a radar-invisible aircraft, and the Union uses special effects to simulate an anti-aircraft laser...

Back in the cold war, when I finally got out of Big Technological University, I knew two newly-minted engineers who were going off to new jobs in the military-industrial complex: one was going to work on improving sonar, and the other guy was going to work on quieting submarines.

Which is fine, they'll be negating each other's work, ha ha - except we immediately realized that there must be two more young engineers over on the Other Side, in the identical situation. Four of the brightest minds on the planet, racing hard to stay in the same place.

Then we all got real quiet and drained our drinks.

#825 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Jakob@816: I recall something similar, possibly involving a swap rather than a capture; since it was an Astoundingesque story (in which humans are always smarter than aliens), the humans not only produced a working model from a fake but ended the story planning to smuggle plans for a working version of the Terrans' fake device to the alien scientists, just so everyone could go home. I sometimes wonder whether the U.S. of the 1950's would have been so obnoxiously arrogant if it hadn't been the only winner of World War II to finish relatively unscathed.

Some variations are less bumptious; Raymond F. Jones's "Noise Level" confronts a group of scientists with plain evidence of antigravity -- which turns out (after they've ~replicated it) to be a hoax set up by a psychologist to break them out of their framed mindsets. (I don't have a title for Jakob's story; I found this only because I remembered which book it was in.)

#826 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 09:55 AM:

The particle on stealing the 2008 elections had me going right down to the point where he claims that every one of the 56,000 "felons" disqualified in 2000 was innocent. Does anyone believe this? Given this claim, how much of the rest of his claims are believable?

#827 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Aquila @ 823 - thank you! Looks like fun. I Googled Zorb and found there's a planned Zorb location in Tennesee, too.

#828 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Anybody know Rome Quezada who is the new only editor for the SFBC? He used to work at Eos, but for the last few months has been picking books for a "spiritual, New Age" book club.

#829 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Chip 825: The story is "Double Dare,"* by Robert Silverberg.

* You know, I often feel like an outsider looking in on fandom when I visit here. Then I pull out some bit of geekery** like this, and I think, "Maybe I should go to a con sometime."

** Full disclosure: I looked it up yesterday because of this thread. I only know it because it was made into an episode of X Minus One. (4MB .mp3 at the Internet Archive.)

#830 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Sorry, that should be CHip. My brain was thinking CH, but my fingers typed Ch.

#831 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 04:05 AM:

You know, with these ginormous threads, the wait time to load the three or four new comments I haven't read yet is getting pretty long. Is there any way to, I don't know, have the comments load in reverse chronological order? Or maybe just load the last 24 hours worth of comments, with a "Show Rest" button somewhere?

Also, can I have a flying pony car?

#832 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Heresiarch, I'm not sure "last 24 hours" is quite the right thing. Howzabout "last 100 comments" or something similar (note any kinship to "last 1000 comments" on the main page)?

Two things against reverse order: first, I don't think it would make loading any faster, as none of the comments frame seems to load until the whole frame gets assembled, so you'd still have to wait for the older stuff anyway, and second, despite reverse order being the blog paradigm, the comments depend so heavily on previous context that it would be incredibly difficult (for some of us, at least) to read them backwards/upside down. I have enough trouble with the last 1000 list, but I'll put up with it; it's only a list of pointers, after all.

As to flying pony cars, sure, you can have one, just don't fly directly overhead of me with it, if you see what I mean.

#833 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 06:55 PM:

I carefully avoid "reality TV" shows. If I tune in afew minutes early and catch the close of Survivor or American Idol I feel slightly unclean.

However: When I saw a listing for "Pirate Master" I thought I'd record it and give it a try.

I played it last night.

Sheesh. I mean, dang.

I managed to watch a half an hour before quitting.

People watch this crap on a regular basis?

What is wrong with them?

#834 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 07:09 PM:

832 - joanne

What browser are you using? I'm using Firfox, and most of my wait time is watching the comments load from the top down. (When I'm on dialup.)

#835 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 09:09 AM:

Until I clicked on the link, I thought the 2001 just called. It wants its catchphrase back Particle was going to be about something like, "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" or "My God, it's full of stars!"

#836 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:00 AM:

Lee @ #819:
Is your standard of length "enough times that each couple gets to go all the way up and down the set"?

I expect you didn't mean to be insulting. That's not my standard, that's the historical standard for the first couple hundred years of country dancing. The question asked was what Regency practice was, so that's the answer I gave. For me personally, when I run a historical dance, I use historical practice to greatest possible/practical extent and am straightforward about the compromises I make. (Other people make different compromises and sometimes have what might politely be called different standards of straightforwardness.) And since I wouldn't want to deny a couple the chance to dance, yes, that means every couple starts at the top of the set and dances to the bottom.

That would make sense for Regency and English dance, which is frequently very uneven between the 1 and 2 couples. Contradance is more likely to be balanced, though there are exceptions (such as anything with a contra-corners in it).

You're trying to apply modern assumptions to historical dance, which just doesn't work. Quick list of the mistakes underlying those two sentences: (1) simultaneous starts, (2) distinction between "English" and "contra" dance, (3) duple minor standard, (4) fully communal rather than performer/spectator, (5) meaning of the word dance.

Even so, we tend to keep the sets short (20 couples or less) if possible. The big Knoxville contradance weekend sets up the stage on the long side of the room for exactly this reason -- they can fit in 8 shorter sets and have time for more dances.

If you look back at the post you're responding to, you'll notice that I also keep sets short (6-7 couples max).

And I do have some familiarity with contra dance; it's an interesting expression of some evolutionary trends in country dance format that began in the late 1810s.

#837 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Apparently the dictionary looks here.

#838 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:33 AM:

#822: in our next issue, M-El faces her arch-enemy, Editoriac, who has fiendishly reduced the entire Kryptonian city of Kaldor to trade paperback size.

#839 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Fragano (837): But their definition is subtly off. The 'what' is right, but the 'why' is lacking.

#840 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:48 AM:

ajay @ 838... And what of Text Luthor, who became bold because of a mistake of the Last Editor of Krypton?

And let's not forget Mister Mxyzptlk, who can disenvowel you just by thinking it.

#841 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Mary Aileen #839: You're right. I don't know if that's Collins's fault or Reuters'.

#842 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Darn... It looks like LiveJournal is acting up again. It's not letting me post entries to my blog. Is anybody else having that problem?

#843 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Serge #842: It hasn't let me post since last week, and only irregularly allows me to comment.

#844 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Fragano... LJ let me post two entries yesterday so go figure.

#845 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 01:03 PM:

#838, 840

Don't forget Bizzaro

"On Bizarro World rules of punctuation and grammar not be forward!"

(Hmm. I've not actually made any changes, which looks a bit lazy.)

#846 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 01:55 PM:

I have ridden in a Zorb-like thing that was a metal cage, rather than a hamsterian plastic one. You are suspended in a sort of hot-fighter-pilot belt system and whirl around quite pleasantly, if you aren't inclined to nausea. The plastic one sounds fun but might not have as good a view.

I rode in it on a dare (from wife and kids), though I was thinking about it even before they dared me.

I've also seen an inflatable version somewhere on the web...

#847 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 02:46 PM:

I can't get either LJ entries or comments in today. However, I was able to post several short comments last night. The LJ status site says that "long" comments or entries may have problems ("long" in this case being three paragraphs).

#848 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 03:10 PM:

LJ keeps telling me:

The following error was encountered:
Zero Sized Reply
Squid did not receive any data for this request.

Well, I sent them a request asking what's going on. Better that than assuming that this is the sae problem they had on Friday, and that it is being taken care of. I mean, my public is demanding that I post new material. ("Serge, that sound isn't your public's clamoring. It's the crickets that one hears when things are very quiet." Oh.)

#849 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Serge #844: It allowed me to reply to a posting on your blog, but not on others.

#850 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Fragano @ 849... No problem posting replies on my own blog or on other LJs. Darn contraption...

#851 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Serge - I'm having intermittent LJ posting problems. So I'll just be cryptic and say "How about an It Came From Outer Space/SG1 crossover?"

#852 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:36 PM:

Tania @ 851... Heheheh... By the way, did you ever notice who wrote It Came From Outer Space? Ray Bradbury. That probably explains why it's one of the best SF movies of the 1950s.

#853 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:57 PM:

Here's what I just got from LJ...

"...We've been dealing with an increased amount of malicious traffic recently. In order to ensure LiveJournal's overall availability, we've take a couple of measures to minimize the impact of this traffic. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of preventing some users from posting long entries or comments. We're working on resolving this problem as soon as we can, and we apologize for the frustration it's causing..."

I love it when people take measures like that. I'm not sure why this or that person gets knocked out. Maybe there are key words. Now I know better than to post something that mentions the Fantastic Four and Gilligan's Island.

#854 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Tania @ 851

Given Samantha Carter's track record with aliens, this could end up being a remake of "Earth Girls are Easy".

#855 ::: Dan MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 05:34 PM:

This Reuters story reports that "disemvowel" is going to be added to the Collins English Dictionary.

#856 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 05:41 PM:

Dan @ 855

Here, though, disemvowelling is not done with the intention of shortening the message (the residence time of the poster, yes).

I suppose we'll take what we can get. Wait till next year!

#857 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Bruce @#854 - You almost made me snort ice water on the keyboard.

Serge - I think it was the Invisible Women reference that flagged you/us.

#858 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Tania @ 857... Or maybe it was the idea of Gilligan as the Human Torch. Meanwhile the darn thing still isn't working. Sigh.

#859 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 09:56 PM:

LiveJournal is back to normal, but for how long?

#860 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Serge @850, I'd be less paranoid about the Live Journal problems being totally a result of a DDOS attack if it weren't, of all the people on my flist, the first effected, the most severely effected, and the one whose problems were the last to be resolved... was Liz Marcs.

#861 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:18 PM:

JESR... Who is that lady?

#862 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:34 PM:

Serge, she was the first person to do extensive reportage on the cancellation of individuals and communities who'd had their accounts suspended in the kerfuffle last week, and had been acting as a central location for links to 6A statements about the resulting, information about WfI and acting as generally non-wanky communications center for fandom.

#863 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:51 PM:

Ah hah... Thanks, JESR. That is an interesting coincidence.

#864 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 12:17 AM:

Disemvowelment hits the mainstream press:
(The Melbourne Age newspaper)

[Though they get the motivation for disemvowelment wrong. Can't have everything I guess.]

#865 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 12:26 AM:

Oops. Beaten by Dan McQueen at #855. I abase myself.

#866 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 02:32 AM:

joann @ 832: "Heresiarch, I'm not sure "last 24 hours" is quite the right thing. Howzabout "last 100 comments" or something similar (note any kinship to "last 1000 comments" on the main page)?"

I was thinking that time might be a better measure, because you always know how long it's been since you've read a thread, but you've no idea how many comments there've been in that time. What if the last 100 doesn't cover it?

Good point about reverse chronological though. That always messes me up whenever I try to read the comments on YouTube.

(Thanks for the pony car! When will it arrive?)

#867 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 05:42 AM:

Ow, ow, ow my ribs, I needed that laugh.

Go read the "I has a sweet potato" particle and look out on the front page for the link to the story about the dogs and the elk carcasses. But don't be drinking anything or eating salsa.

Ow, ow, the cat is looking at me funny, ow . . .

#868 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 07:47 AM:

Serge @ 859... LiveJournal is back to normal, but for how long?

Guess what?

#869 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Oh my goodness.

Hieronymous Bosch action figures!

#870 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Sarah (#869): Way cool!!

I can't seem to make this work as a link, but here's the direct address for them:

#871 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Steve Taylor (864):
They just has a bad moment with the Thesaurus, just replace "abbreviate" with "abridge" in the Cromwellian sense, and it works out OK.

#872 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Dog. Sweet Potato. Fricken. Hilarious.

#873 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Please make a new Open Thread. This one no longer shows up on the main page. I had to look through the "last 1000 comments" to get here and I've bookmarked it so I don't have to do that tonight.

Yesterday's WashPost had an interesting article on the BookExpo. A reporter followed the buyer from Olsson's, a DC independent bookstore, and chronicled the event.

#874 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Sweet potato. Fah.

Kira once discovered a "Pull-Up" training pant under the snow. Whoever had worn it deposited some imperfectly assimilated foodstuffs inside. Something highly desirable from dog's point of view.

She did not want to drop it. (Kira in stubborn mode.) It had a picture of a blissful, dancing "Tigger" stamped on it, which made it hard to keep from laughing and spoiling my "I'm SERIOUS" demeanor.

#875 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Stefan, what kind of dog is Kira?

#876 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Marilee @873, TNH & PNH & J. "how not to die" D.M.:

Seconded. On my other, fast computer it isn't so noticeable. On this my slow computer, oy.

I'd been hoping for a new thread this past weekend, as that's when they'd usually show up. Mondays- never. Midweek- sometimes.

We're now statistically way overdue for a new thread, with a gap much larger than anything other than the Great Wait of this most recent April.

(Yes, I have been so buried in analysis and spreadsheets that everything looks like data. Why do you ask?)

#877 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Kathryn @ 876... everything looks like data

"Do you believe in Users?"

#878 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 06:42 PM:

#875: Belgian sheepdog (Gronendael variety) mixed with something round-headed and barrel chested. Maybe Newfoundland.

She'd be darn near perfect if it weren't for an insane hair-trigger prey-drive.

#879 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Jenny -- you hadn't seen "Dogs in Elk"? That's almost a classic by now....

When your ribs have recovered, see Viva La Roombalución!. (Somebody probably pointed to it here some time ago, but it bears repeating.)

#880 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 10:22 PM:

Those talented Langfords are at it again.

#881 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 11:31 PM:

One more request here for Open Thread 85. (The #85 bus is one of only eleven MBTA routes that is consistently on schedule, because it's a short route on mostly low-traffic streets.)

In case editors don't have enough to read, though, Tim Bray found a place that will sell you Internet slush.

#882 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 12:11 AM:

I think we should keep thread #84 going and going and going, just to see what happens to Faren's Computer.

Just kidding. A new thread sounds good.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Open a thread,
One spanking new!

#883 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 02:26 AM:

Utterly random question for the fluorosphere, because surely someone here knows more about baroque music than I do:

Can anyone point me in the direction of a good, nice and solid, relatively track-downable recording of Bach's Brandenburg concerti? I've recently fallen in love with them in spite of the fact that the recording I have is pretty much crap, and would like to fall in love with them better.

#884 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 03:50 AM:

ethan - As I recall, you are considering library school, yes?

See what your local library (I recall that you have issues with board members) has available, check out some CDs and see which recording appeal to you. I have a Sir Neville Mariner/Academy of St. Martin in the Fields version, but I'm a music ignoramus. I don't know if it's good, I only know that I like it.

You shouldn't rip the tracks to your computer, as explained by Dewey on Unshelved last week.

#885 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:14 AM:

Chortle. CHip (#879) Thanks for the Viva La Roombalución! link, I recall having fun reading some other roomba amusements here earlier, but not that one.

Challenged to do something nice in return, as someone who's not that good at poetry challenges, with luck here's a working link to the Bosch Figurines. I've also seen them mentioned quite a while back, like a year or two, I think that was in a more arty-type place with links to various sculptures, figurines &c.

#886 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:22 AM:

Here's a thing of beauty ... Animated Bayeux Tapestry.

#887 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 09:35 AM:

My work laptop is now a work desktop, and I no longer have a single primary computer. Can anyone recommend an online bookmarking website? There are many available, but before I transfer a few hundred (a few thousand?) links, I'd prefer to have more information than my own judgement.

Importing from Safari is not a concern; I want to prune & organize as I go anyway.

I'd like to bookmark the same link in several different folders (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday), which, my previous online bookmark storage thingy, does not allow.

#888 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Nancy C (#887): if it weren't as expensive as it is, I'd recommend .Mac. That'll let you automatically sync your Safari bookmarks between multiple machines, and also lets you access and modify them through the Web via any browser.

(That's the good news. The $100/year for .Mac is the bad news, though if there are enough other useful features for you, it might still be worth it.)

#889 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Ooooo - Christopher, I never thought of that. I already have a .Mac account!

#890 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Another bit of fun: one of the duct tape manufacturers has a "Stuck at Prom" contest. Yes, really, prom dresses and tuxes made out of duct tape.

#891 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 03:09 PM:

Kimkio #890: I have a duct tape wallet! A friend of mine made it for, ten years ago now, and it's still going strong.

Tania #884: I will try that, which, embarrassingly, did not occur to me (yes, I want to go into library science, and yes, I'm currently involved in a fight to the death with an evil library board, and no, it did not occur to me to go to the library for this question). I still wonder, though, if anyone has a recording they feel passionate about.

#892 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 03:44 PM:

So, any interest in going to Readercon in July? The panel items (sans panelists) have now been posted on their website.

#893 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Awww, crap, Susan. Looking at the dates again I'm pretty sure I won't be able to go. Stupid new jobs and not having much schedule-freedom yet!

I really wanted to. Um...I might have to give you a rain check. Sorry.

God, those panels look good, too.

#894 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Nancy C

.Mac is indeed worth the price (and there's usually some sort of deal going that gets the price down to $60 or $70), but there's a free alternative: Google Browser Sync for Firefox.

And if you are not using Firefox, I recommend you do. It's much better than Safari at things like ad blocking, tab management, and session persistence. And Leetkey drops right in and makes Rot 13 and Leet trivial.

#895 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 05:06 PM:

Well, let me know. We're starting to make detailed roomage plans.

Public Service Announcement:
The friend I talked about in posts 160, 168, and 171 here died this afternoon, intestate, leaving behind a grieving partner who will not even be allowed to see her before she is cremated or receive her ashes because her parents are abusive f**cks and have all the legal power. So if anyone has a nonmarital partner or other dear one they wouldn't want screwed over in the event of death, make a will already.

#896 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Susan (895): Condolences on the loss of your friend.

#897 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 05:40 PM:

My condolences, Susan.

#898 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Susan 895: I'm so sorry. That sucks. I expect the partner has already talked to a lawyer and such. As for the parents...such people make me very glad I swore an oath against cursing, because that kind of karma I don't need, but the karma alone probably wouldn't stop me.

Well, maybe they'll burn in hell. That'd be nice.

#899 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:21 PM:


I am sorry to hear it. Take care of yourself.

#900 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Susan - I am sorry and angry and saddened. I extend my condolences.

#901 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:30 PM:

re the duct tape prom outfits: those photos give me hope for the youth of today.

#902 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Susan #805: My condolences.

This is the sort of thing that makes the legalisation of all voluntary partnerships of consensual adults imperative.

#903 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Condolences, also, Susan.

#904 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Susan, if you were here and the sort of person who is okay with hugs, I would give you one.

My condolences.

#905 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Susan, I'm so sorry. People, do make wills. You never know when you're going to die.

#906 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 10:35 PM:


I'm deeply sorry to hear of your friend's death.

#907 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 11:17 PM:

Joining with others in my sadness for Susan and her friends, but also repeating a theme I descant upon.

Yes, whether GLBT or 'straight', if you have anything or anyone you care about, make a will, and make sure someone knows where it is, e.g. your lawyer or accountant or suchlike disinterested person if you're cautious about family. I commented some months back, in "Speed Learning" (4-Apr-2007), how even in a very good legal and social situation, much heart-pain as well as financial difficulty followed lack of a Will:

OTOH, there's still a problematic part where 'de facto' couples are involved ... bodies concerned still put me through nearly an extra year of paperwork hell when my partner of ~7 years [correction] suddenly [and unexpectedly] died while I was very sick, since assorted disruptions had delayed our planned marriage.
For instance, somehow I was still responsible for his debts, tho' without access to any of his funds [, assets, or income]. In fact, there's still some paperwork doing the rounds five years on.

#908 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Two notes:
This is an especially complex mess in that it was a poly situation in which her partner was legally married to someone else. Legalizing poly relationships isn't even on the radar except down the right-wing-perceived slippery slope (incest! bestiality! poly!) from legalizing same-sex marriage. And they were business partners as well as romantic partners, and among the gigantic problems left behind are business accounts in her name only. There are going to be lawsuits; while her parents (who disapproved of the relationship) are in PGH cremating her and refusing to let him see her first, he will be in her residence (which she intended to leave to him, but now it's left to her parents by default) trying to rescue his actual belongings before they bar him from the property - they've already confiscated and destroyed some of his stuff and their joint stuff. Ugliness everywhere.

Also, I've been undergoing the most incredible string of deaths-of-friends recently to the point where they are creating social conflicts - I can't go help clean out her house because I am speaking at a memorial service for a different dead friend. I am somewhere beyond shellshocked. In this case I am also struggling to deal with some serious fury at her parents.

#909 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 12:49 AM:

Susan--I'm feeling terribly awful for you and your friends. Wish there was something I could do.

(On the other, more trivial topic, I will not be able to attend Readercon, sadly.)

#910 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 01:37 AM:

Mez @ 907

Amen. Especially if you have kids (biological or adopted, either can be a nightmare under the wrong circumstances). And besides a will, talk to an attorney about living wills and durable power of attorney; such documents can prevent a lot of serious heartache when you've already got a lot.

And apropos of "whether GLBT or 'straight',", I have to give Xopher a "you told me so". The Oregon Legislature has passed a bill creating "Domestic Partnerships" (awaiting reconciliation of the House and Senate versions, the governor has already agreed to sign it). But for reasons that I guess have to do with that perceived slippery slope that Susan mentioned, partnerships are only available to same-sex couples; hetero couples need not apply. Now that's just mean.

#911 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 06:58 AM:

I enthusiastically second the recommendations to go ahead and have wills, living wills, and POA in place. A living will saved us a great deal of argument over removing my father's feeding tube, though the doctors involved still fought it via some bizarre claims about complications from his diabetes. And from recent experience, if you're the survivor get to know the executor well and find out what you as heir can do for yourself and what you're dependent on the executor to do. It really will save a lot of stress if you're not waiting for the executor to get around to filing the life insurance claims.

#912 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 07:54 AM:

The Remarkable Travels of Bernard the Guinea-pig

This is a picture on the Renderosity art-and-stuff site, picked to be included with their weekly newslatter. I hope everyone will be able to see it.

#913 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 08:02 AM:

Dave Bell @912:
Sorry, no, log-in screen is all I get.

#914 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Susan, I'm so sorry.

#915 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 09:30 AM:

Susan #908: All I can do is reiterate my condolences.

#916 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 09:44 AM:

Stefan Belgian sheepdog (Gronendael variety) mixed with something round-headed and barrel chested. Maybe Newfoundland.

Ah. I'm not familiar with that breed. My wife is an animal person and in the last few years, I've learned to identify a lot of breeds. Back on the farm, we just had "dogs", not breeds.

She'd be darn near perfect if it weren't for an insane hair-trigger prey-drive.


At least she isn't crazy like a sheepdog. We know someone who had one with an insatiable herding instinct, and neurotic to the point that they slept in the bathtub where they had isolation. Apparently it goes with the breed.

#917 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Greg London @ 916

Sheepdogs aren't automatically crazy. It depends on individual breeding, how they are raised, and whether they get enough exercise*. I had a border collie, born of working stock on a farm but raised in the city for his entire life. This only worked because I had places where he could run, and I'd take him out to run twice a day while Eva took him for one or two walks as well.

Our dog worked out all right, though I wouldn't try that again because the city has become a lot less hospitable to dogs, and there are a lot fewer places where they can run without getting into trouble.

* Minimum ten miles of running off-leash, and I do mean running every day at least until the age of 6 or 7. The good news is that if you run 4 miles, the dog runs 10.

#918 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 08:13 PM:

I walk Kira 3-4 miles a day. That seems to be enough; she doesn't have the energy of a full Belgian (who in turn are less energetic than a Border collie).

OTOH, Kira must jump through a hoop 3-4 times before she eats:

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