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September 10, 2007

Open thread 91
Posted by Teresa at 06:18 PM *

1. The Error-Correcting Modem.

2. The Stud Finder.

3. The Universal Remote Control.

4. The Teleport (an installation on Staten Island).

5. Comment Registration Systems which require the use of True Names.

===

“The net is phenomenological. If you do a letter-perfect imitation of a jerk, you are one.”

—Bruce Baugh

Comments on Open thread 91:
#1 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:31 PM:

Am I first? Gosh.

Pity I can't think of anything relevant to say.

#2 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:35 PM:

"Blessed is (s)he who, having nothing to say, refrains from giving wordy evidence of that fact."

Things that sound magical, but aren't?

#3 ::: Supermouse ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:40 PM:

True Names, they burns, my preshussss!

#4 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:43 PM:

the spirit level!

not only is it a miracle that allows me, a terminally imbalanced woman, to hang pictures, it has such a mystical name.

like pizza stone.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Great Inventions?

(I have a studfinder, although it probably needs a new battery. Also I'm sure my modems are error-correcting. Now if Windows would do that for itself ... !)

#6 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Real things that don't actually do what it sounds like they do (or we wish they would do)?

#7 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Judging solely from the stud finder, the universal remote, and my experience, I'd say it's things that don't work.

#8 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Your experience doesn't work, ethan? How unusual...

I would like to point out that jumping up and down in a near-incoherent rage is *tiring.*

#9 ::: Brodysattva ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:01 PM:

I don't think Madeleine L'Engle's death has been noted here yet. She must have a good many fans among this blog's readers. I sure read a lot of her books when I was a kid, and when I think back on them, they really were unusually good for kid's books.

#10 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:05 PM:

Well, by observation, blogs that require True Names don't work either.

I've had a fairly well-known comic book writer refuse to let me join his blog because I won't use my True Name. Nevermind that Leva Cygnet might as well be my real name since I've used it in fandom for close to a decade. Shoot, I even get snail mail sent to Leva Cygnet. From business contacts. And my accountant.

If I'd used my real name nobody would have known who I was!

#11 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:08 PM:

I expect that a True Name registration system would lead to very, very polite commenters, simply because you never know who has your True Name or what they might order you to do if you trolled. It might include autodisemvowelment.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:17 PM:

“The net is phenomenological. If you do a letter-perfect imitation of a jerk, you are one.”

Is Bruce Baugh related to Alan Turing?

#13 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Er...things that were here just a minute ago, but you can't remember where you put them?

(Where DID I leave that comment registration system anyway? I had it in my hand, and then I went into the kitchen and now it's gone.)

Of #3 I would also like to add a quotation from a friend of mine: "Remote means far away."

#14 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Has anyone else noticed that the spelling references right above the comment box seem to take on a rather frightening amount of implied meaning? For example, reading them, I seem to hear a fragment of some obscure catechism...

Tolkien?
Minuscule.

Gandhi?
Millennium.

Delany?
Embarrassment.

Publisher's Weekly Occurrence?
Asimov.

Weird connoisseur?
Accommodate hierarchy.

Deity etiquette?
Pharaoh: Teresa.

It's Macdonald?
Nielsen Hayden

It's more?
Here.

#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:29 PM:

You forgot Radio Shack's Male-to-Female Converter.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Stephen Frug @ 14... Deity etiquette? Pharaoh: Teresa.

I like it.
"I'm ready for my closeup, Mister DeMille."

#17 ::: kelley shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:47 PM:

I am entirely too young. Decidedly. I say this because when reading 5. Comment Registration Systems which require the use of True Names, I thought "Wait, you mean like Facebook? That's not a great invention. Not even close."

#18 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Things that work at a distance?

I think if you hooked them all up together, added some paper clips and rubber bands, a particle accelerator, and a sequence of highly unlikely events, you might end up immortal. Whether you spend the rest of eternity insulting everyone is another question.

#19 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Things to which Good automatically accrues, but when put into practice inevitably fail.

#20 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Alex is an ex-parrot. ;-(

I gather Dr. Pepperberg's project continues with a couple of other parrots. I know about Koko & the Gorilla Project, but what other Human/Animal Communication projects are still running?

#21 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:57 PM:

#15: And the Donaldsonian/Feistian Grip.

(What did we ever do without Google?)

#22 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Stephen 14: even with the reference right there, you misspelled at least two things.

#23 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 08:14 PM:

#20: "but what other Human/Animal Communication projects are still running?"

I tell my dog to quit barking at cats every damn day, but I don't think that's what you had in mind.

#24 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 08:20 PM:

I'll vote with Tracie (6):
1. Error-correcting Modems don't correct the errors we care about, only errors that originate on the analog line between the modems.

2. Stud Finders only find studs in sheet-rock walls, don't work through tile or in plaster-and-lath walls which is where you really need them (magnetic compasses work pretty good for the plaster-and-lath wall).

3. The Universal Remote Control won't even control my TV properly (pre-standardization of IR remote control protocol), much less control the neighbor's dog.

4. The Teleport isn't what it sounds like (I had to Google, but then the memory kicked in, it's the Satellite-Dish farm hidden behind a dike on Staten Island).

5. The registrant must appear in person with passport in hand to get even close. And to what effect? They'll just be Trolls with "Real Names".

#25 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 08:21 PM:

Ha! Embarrassing.

My addition: Reciprocating saw.

#26 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 08:29 PM:

I asked this question in the "Bad sources" thread but only after (it appears) everyone who could have answered it had stopped reading the thread, so here it is again:

I wonder if anyone here has an opinion on Jane Jacobs' Cities and the Wealth of Nations. It's interesting to me because it tries to make a principled argument for something that I feel intuitively ought to be true -- that cities and nations ought to strive to produce their own goods for local consumption first, rather than becoming ever more dependent on global trade. I know nobody in mainstream economics takes the book seriously, because nobody in mainstream economics tries to argue that. But I don't know why.

#27 ::: Peter ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 08:52 PM:
I wonder if anyone here has an opinion on Jane Jacobs' Cities and the Wealth of Nations. It's interesting to me because it tries to make a principled argument for something that I feel intuitively ought to be true -- that cities and nations ought to strive to produce their own goods for local consumption first, rather than becoming ever more dependent on global trade. I know nobody in mainstream economics takes the book seriously, because nobody in mainstream economics tries to argue that. But I don't know why.

In general, economists reject her arguments because what Ms Jacobs is referring to is traditionally called "mercantilism" by economists. Mercantilism is the economic system that Adam Smith (the patron saint of modern western economists) railed against. Her books introduce no equations, nor any magical handwaving. As a result, they look down on her.

That being said, I happen to like that book, and think it accurately describes how countries get wealthy, or lose it. Any region that consistantly replaces imports with exports will end up becoming a city. In later books, she describes how some cities can manage to acquire wealth without manufacturing, or import-replacement, with an odd turn of phrase: "transactions of decline." Paper pushing, financial mismanagement are those sorts of things and usually national/state capitals specialize in those transactions of decline.

Weasel words: All typographical errors in this post are the fault of the error correcting modems that are currently taking a coffee break on Staten Island. I hereby certify that this is my true first name, and if your stud finder is detecting me, then it most certainly is broken. I may look like Al from Home Improvement, but my home improvement projects usually involve plenty of my blood, a minimum of 100 trips to the hardware store and all the NSFW curse words I can muster.

#28 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Brodysattva, we discussed L'Engle's death quite a bit in the previous open thread.

The Ellison/Fantagraphics thing is not over. Ellison is refusing to put Groth's rebuttal up on his site.

#29 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:07 PM:

I sometimes wish I had a Global Positioning System.

#30 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:07 PM:

I have an open-threadish sort of a question: I'm looking for a book (or website) about technical and/or business writing that's suitable for someone who doesn't speak English very well, and needs to learn how to write passable tech-writing type prose. Does anyone have any suggestions?

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:16 PM:

1. The Error-Correcting Modem.

Generally designed to handle N number of lost bits per M total bits sent without any loss of user data, where N might be 3 and M might be 24, or something. Lose more than N bits and retransmission should happen automatically.

2. The Stud Finder.

Hm, I've only had a stud finder mess up on me once. Not that I use it a lot, but when I do, it's usually pretty accurate. The one time I missed, it was off by half an inch for reasons I never did figure out. (wasn't anything in teh wall that I know of.) But I do spend something like half an hour fiddling with it before I'll drill a hole or pound a nail. Old, old house, original plaster. Can't afford too many mistakes.

3. The Universal Remote Control.

Ah, well, this is more like the "Remote control for common devices we could find the codes for".

4. The Teleport (an installation on Staten Island).

Dang thing still doesn't work.

5. Comment Registration Systems which require the use of True Names.

Hm. If the category really is "things that don't work", this really does cover quite a spectrum.

#32 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:22 PM:

John@24: Error-correcting Modems don't correct the errors we care about, only errors that originate on the analog line between the modems.

I assure you, that if modems didn't correct the errors in the analog line, you most certainly would care about them.

This is like saying that Compact Discs don't fix errors on a disc where "error" is defined as "music I don't like".

;)

The amount of scratched out bits that a CD can suffer and still play music flawlessly is actually pretty amazing.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Bob Webber @ 29

Your globe needs to be positioned?

#34 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:26 PM:

I'd like to add, I like the way the comment system is set up here, and I use my True Name with it even though it's not required.

What I don't like so much are comment systems that require new local registrations. (And yes, this means I've created a bit more work for one of our gracious hosts by sending a couple of Boing Boing comments through the "anonymous" mail-slot.) The problem is: basically it's Yet Another Authentication Credential to worry about, which means either (a) creating yet another username/password I'm likely to forget, (b) giving the site the same username/password I give other sites (or an easy-to-reverse-engineer variant), which raises all kinds of security issues, or (c) using password managers on my machines, which both has security issues of its own (e.g. if something compromises the machine), and also requires me to update not just one password manager, but the various password managers on the various machines I use.

For non-anonymous comments, I much prefer the "just say who you are and where you're from" schemes on sites like this one. A system that would allow me to use local authentication for registration purposes (e.g. OpenID or Shibboleth) could be okay as well.

Without something like that, I'm more likely to use the Anonymous route than go out of my way to register at yet another site. Or just not comment at all.

#35 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:31 PM:

It's probably just as well I can't find any studs, because I don't know what I'd do with them....

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:38 PM:

Greg @ 32

The amount of scratched out bits that a CD can suffer and still play music flawlessly is actually pretty amazing.

As long as all the scratches are on the side that faces the laser. Scratch the label side, and it's another story. [/potential ruefulness]

#37 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 09:48 PM:

Scratch the label side, and it's another story.

Hm, not sure what it would take. Always use a felt tip marker for writing on the label side of a compact disc. On the data side, I know that the error correction and layout is designed to handle a physical scratch of some measurable width for a scratch starting at the center and going out radially.

Never clean your CD's in a circular motion. If you must clean them at all, use a lense cloth, start at the center, and slide straight out to the rim.

The way everything is transfering to harddrives and solid state memory, this probably qualifies as equivalent to a "care of your vinyl records" post.

sigh.

#38 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:11 PM:

I have heard that the data on a CD is closer to the label side than to the shiny side, and that's why label scratches are worse. But I haven't experimented with it myself.

#39 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:18 PM:

Zack #26: Well, I tried. Did you look up Ricardo?

Short Ricardo: if Albany and Boston both need zymurgy and yarn, and Albany is better at making both, *both* cities will be better off if Albany specializes in the one it has a bigger advantage at and they trade the results. Usually this is explained with equations, but you could probably do it with pie charts.

Clew's Humorous Reductio ad Absurdum of JJacobs: so nu, why stop at cities? Why shouldn't the *boroughs* be self-sufficient? Neighborhood councils? Blocks? Households? Individuals? At one of these scales, it becomes obvious why we benefit from trade; why not trade at *any* level?

Peter (27); I don't think what Zack is describing is mercantilism -- I think it's autarky. She gets to mercantilism later.

#40 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Greg London @#32: Never clean your CD's in a circular motion. If you must clean them at all, use a lense cloth, start at the center, and slide straight out to the rim.

Picky, picky, picky! Just rub the thing across whatever boob is handy. Your butt also works, except that jeans are scratchy, and it's difficult to do while driving.

#41 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:26 PM:

1. The Error-Correcting Modem.

But I nvr mkae ne errors, so it's UN ecessary.

2. The Stud Finder.

I call that a mirror.*

3. The Universal Remote Control.

Belongs either to the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

4. The Teleport (an installation on Staten Island).

Not working very well, since Staten Island is still there.

5. Comment Registration Systems which require the use of True Names.

But what if my True Name is Phnowappoverbumcarobeatusvirginenominepatrisetfilioetspiritotuo, and 'Fragano Ledgister' is just a convenient label (and what's written on my birth certificate).**


* Or I would if I were Serge.

** Not counting the two middle names.

#42 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Diatryma @38: I have, though I didn't make the scratch.

Roughly speaking, the layers in a mass-produced CD are: plastic, aluminum, paint. The data is contained in the plastic-aluminum interface -- more precisely, that side of the plastic has pits which encode the data, and then the plastic is vacuum-plated with a very thin layer of aluminum to make it reflective so that the laser can see where the surface is. And then that's all painted over; the paint acts as a bit of protective layer as well as decoration. But it's a very thin layer, as such things go.

A scratch on the unpainted side of the disk really isn't a big deal for a couple of reasons; one of them is that the laser is focused with a very shallow depth of field, so that a scratch on the unpainted side is out of focus and doesn't affect the "view" much.

(And, even if the scratch is bad enough to cause skips, it can be polished out pretty easily.)

On the other hand, scratch the paint hard enough to go all the way through, and that data is physically gone. Just a wee tiny 5mm-long scratch on that side of the disk, and a couple of tracks on the Green Day CD I got at the library booksale are entirely unplayable.

#43 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Oxymorons? It took me several minutes to remember that word, being that I'm suffering from an advanced case of CRS...but that's what I thought of when I saw the list.

#44 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:34 PM:

Mary Dell, you leave me Really Happy I'm back friends with my flexi keyboard.

#45 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:46 PM:

My Universal Remote Control is definitely defective. It doesn't make the moon shine any brighter. It doesn't make meteorites steer better courses. It doesn't align the planets when I'm ready to view them. If I knew where to obtain a refund, I'd return it.

#46 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:49 PM:

1. The Error-Correcting Modem.

Parsed by me as the Error-Connecting Modem...

2. The Stud Finder.

Clearly created by those worried about having to pay a Stud Fee.

3. The Universal Remote Control.

Like the one size fits nobody garment...

4. The Teleport (an installation on Staten Island).

Separate from The Heliport or the Teleharbor?

5. Comment Registration Systems which require the use of True Names.

One Name to rule them all / One name to find them / One name to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.[0]

[0] We were talking about daemonology there, were we not?

#47 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Xopher @ 22: even with the reference right there, you misspelled at least two things

I knew someone would say that.

At any rate, I don't believe I did. I copied & pasted the text. Then I deliberately changed it to fit the grammar of what I was making it say.

The first thing I did was change "Publishers Weekly Occurrence" to "Publisher's Weekly Occurrence". The first is the name of a magazine; the second is an event, which belongs to the publisher -- the publisher has a weekly occurrence, which is "Asimov". I was using a different grammatical form, so I had to change the spelling.

The only other thing I did was change the first "Its" to "It's" (matching the second); in both cases it seemed like it was grammatically correct.

Anyway, there are a lot of editors here: if someone calls me on it, I'll cop to a grammatical mistake in either or both instances. But whatever it was, it wasn't a spelling mistake.

SF

#48 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 11:17 PM:

I'll take "Things that work in theory" for $200, Alex...

#49 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 11:30 PM:

G. Jules @30: I've been a tech writer for about 17 years now, and I was a copyeditor on technical manuals for several years before that. I have never seen a generic textbook that I would be comfortable recommending. (There are specialized books on certain aspect of technical writing that are pretty good, but they assume you're already a technical writer looking to expand your skills.)

Can I ask, is this something that your friend wants to do, or something that their boss is asking them to do? If it's for work, the short answer is that you get what you pay for.

Will your friend be producing customer-facing documents (i.e., online Help for software; installation or assembly guides, handbooks, etc. intended for customers) or internal technical documents such as specifications or P&P (policies and procedures) documents? The standards and requirements are very different -- obviously, customer-facing documents represent the public face of the company, and there's a higher expectation of quality in presentation.

Before you can do tech writing, you first have to be able to write. That's true in any language. Can your friend write well in his native language? Those skills will transfer. Most of the actual sentence-level technical writing is pretty formulaic. Once you have a handle on the basic tropes (Use X to do Y; click this; enter that), it goes pretty fast. And mechanical errors (grammar, typos, etc.) are all fixable, given time and resource.

The hard part is not the writing itself, it's the research and analysis of the audience and the information you're trying to present that makes the greatest difference in the quality of documentation. Good grammar and spelling are of no use if you haven't thoroughly analyzed the information and presented it appropriately for the intended audience.

How are your friend's graphical skills? Clear graphical representations of important concepts and a strong visual language for representing procedures are in high demand. That would bypass a lot of language issues. (Recently, a Japanese colleague reviewed a pilot course using courseware I'd helped develop, and his feedback consisted almost entirely of graphics, since his English was poor and our Japanese nonexistent. Worked out great.)

One aspect of technical writing that doesn't get much mention: You need to identify the experts in your organization and then interview them mercilessly. Formal Q&A, demos, drop-ins, emails. I like to use the "Columbo" technique -- I ask some simple yes or no questions, start to leave their cubicle, and then turn and say, "One more thing..." That's when I get the good stuff. But tech writers are generally an introverted group, and interviewing experts is something most of us work on our entire career.

I would advise your friend to concentrate on analytical skills -- especially audience analysis.* Make as detailed a profile of the audience as possible. Then analyze the information you want to present. Discard anything the audience already knows, because good documentation doesn't waste anyone's time.** Make note of the information that the audience needs to know. Avoid needless repetition. Strive for the most economical sequence of presentation. He can do all this in his native language, or graphics, or English, or some hybrid of all three. Then he can focus on mechanics.

* Google "audience analysis". There's a lot of good stuff available for free, especially on .edu domains.

** For some reason, manager-types are extremely resistant to this. Be firm. Don't document stupid stuff everybody already knows. The more things you document, the harder it is to find any one thing. Users will thank you.

NB: This comment is not an example of my technical writing. This is an example of my informal writing. If I were writing this for a technical manual, I would probably spend about two days on it -- at least 12 hours on research. As it is, I'm pushing on 90 minutes for this meandering mess of a comment.

#50 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 11:33 PM:

I love the folks who post on Making Light, you make me look up words! Autarky. Quick, find dictionary -- ah. Thank you. George Autarky, b. 1877, date of death unknown: obscure Austrian composer, known for his experimentation with twelve tone compositions: his music has been entirely lost, and his place in history exists only due to his having once played one of his experimental compositions for Gustav Mahler, who, it is said, recommended to him that he give up music entirely and enter a monastery, which, in fact, he did.

5 items which do not function as advertised.

#51 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 11:46 PM:

#49 ::: Howard Peirce recommended:
** For some reason, manager-types are extremely resistant to this. Be firm. Don't document stupid stuff everybody already knows. The more things you document, the harder it is to find any one thing. Users will thank you.

No, not all users will thank you. I've spent far, far, far too much time trying to find stupid stuff everybody already knows that's actually opaque and specific craft knowldege.

I'd be laughing from the Caymans if I had a dollar for every time some issue was [caused|fixed] by something "everybody already knows"!

#52 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:13 AM:

#37 (and co) - I had to obliterate some CDs for a reason or two. A scouring pad applied to the label side pretty well put the data beyond most plausible kinds of recovery. (Then I put the disks on the anvil and whacked 'em with a hammer to make sure.)

#53 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Back when I was single, I bought a Stud Finder, and it definitely didn't work! (ba-dump ching!*)

xeger, #51: I'm with you all the way on that! "Stupid stuff everybody already knows" -- especially about the reason why something is done X way -- disappears when the last person who knew it leaves, and sometimes it's damn obscure to dig out again.

Rule of thumb: No documentation should ever be solely in somebody's head.

* I can't believe no one beat me to that.

#54 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Mary Dell #40: Just rub the thing across whatever boob is handy.

For me, in most situations where I would be cleaning a CD, that would require an awkward phone call.

#55 ::: Wim L ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:57 AM:

Ha. In my job I've repeatedly discovered that "stupid stuff everybody knows" is often "stupid stuff someone else knows" and after exhaustive interrogation I discover that nobody knows it, and possibly nobody has ever known it. (For example, incomprehensible requirements sometimes show up in project plans, and after hours of meetings discussing what item 23(a) might actually entail in terms of time and effort and implementation expense, I go off to seek clarification from whoever put it there. Everybody tells me they didn't originate the requirement and don't really know what it means, it just got included from some other source. Eventually I run out of sources...)

#56 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Since this is an open thread...

Last night I had an email advertisement from a store I shop at. The subject line was "New Wireless Bras" which caused me to ponder "Why would my underwear need to have network connectivity?" and then I caught a clue.

When I mentioned it to my husband, he mentioned this possibility. I decided I spend too much time around technology.

#57 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:06 AM:

G. Jules #30: Joseph M. Williams has written several books on the subject of style. The one I own is Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. It is not for technical writing per se, but writing better English leads to writing better technical English.

I can best describe the book by mangling an aphorism that I don't have time to look up: The novice knows what happens. The journeyman knows how it happens. The master knows why it happens. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace is mostly on the how level and occasionally gets into the why. If I haven't made myself clear yet (writing!), I strongly recommend it.

Amazon has several copies of this book and Mr. Williams' other books.

#58 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:07 AM:

Serge,

I just finished going through the last Open Thread and discovered you recently had a birthday. Sorry, I haven't been around long enough to have everybody's birthday in my calender, or I would have posted this before:

Happy Birthday Serge!

#59 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:38 AM:

6. The Flying Buttress.

7. The Personal Digital Assistant.

8. The Heat Gun.

9. The Cowboy Coder.

10. The Manual Cleaning Oven (no, a strapping fellow named Manuel is *not* going to come over and clean your oven).

#60 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:45 AM:

#57, Brenda Kalt: Style: Towards Clarity and Grace is a fabulous little book. It's sitting on my coffee table right now. Every time I open it, I learn something new.

But for the situation G. Jules described, maybe the person should start with Strunk & White? Yeah, I know, I know it's a Freshman Comp book... but sometimes you need to go through Freshman Comp before you can run off and unlearn some of the lessons of Freshman Comp.

#61 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:50 AM:

One aspect of technical writing that doesn't get much mention: You need to identify the experts in your organization and then interview them mercilessly. Formal Q&A, demos, drop-ins, emails. I like to use the "Columbo" technique -- I ask some simple yes or no questions, start to leave their cubicle, and then turn and say, "One more thing..." That's when I get the good stuff. But tech writers are generally an introverted group, and interviewing experts is something most of us work on our entire career.

Have you noticed that the murderer in a "Columbo" story is always the guy with a certain answer for every question?

#62 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:13 AM:

Tania, #56, I suspect some of the writers in thai field get their anatomical knowledge from comic-books.

(And if I listed "Phone sex", how many readers would complain that a telephone is the wrong shape?)

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:24 AM:

Self Modifying Code

We're still nowhere near Babel-17

Bachman Turner Overdrive

And no sign of the Royal Canadian Space Force, though since they unified their military it wouldn't be so obvious.


#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:36 AM:

Perfect binding.

#65 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:42 AM:

#4: Ambrose Bierce wrote ...

The World, the Flesh and the Devil
Once went for a midnight revel.
The Devil he sunk
To the ground dead drunk:
Said the World, "There's a spirit level."

#66 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:45 AM:

Racing into the Open thread with news(ish-like report). Imagine my excitement/confusion when I spotted this headline on my local newspaper's website front page: "Hlp! My prnts cn cntrl my mbl".

Disemvowellment conquers the world!?

On reading, however, it's about a "software suite enabling parents to completely control their children's mobile phone usage", and this is an attempt to render a(n) SMS text message. Still a bit of a thrill to see.

#67 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Dave Bell @ 63

We're still nowhere near Babel-17

Probably a good thing or we'd all sit around trying to figure out how to pick our hammocks apart from the way they're named in the language. Though maybe it's good for something else?

You notice that Delany didn't think much of the idea himself; he wrote an afterword to the book that rained all over the concept.

#68 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:57 AM:

I had one post to make in response to the prompt, and it was stolen by Luthe @48. Stolen! Right out of my brain! Word for word!

"Get out of my teeth!!!"

#69 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:59 AM:

J. D. Bernal was a sage,
a marxist, a child of his age.
But he predicted with glee
a sort of singularity.
The text is right here at this page.

#70 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:02 AM:

Dave Bell @ 62

A dreadful thought: how many wouldn't?

#71 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:39 AM:

Fly tower. Dead ringer. Chirp radar. Private dick. Tea dance. Like mind. Hidebound. Hothouse. Crackpot. Car pool. Dead certain. Labor intensive. Land ho. Half-cocked. Dire straits. Brand spanking new. Loss leader. Naked flame.

And my favourite, though it comes from cricket: "Caught in slips".

#72 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:59 AM:

A Self-Cleaning Oven would certainly be an unsettling appliance for one to own.

They had comment registration systems requiring True Names back on Atuan, but for some reason nobody ever signed up.

#73 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:50 AM:

Since I've made it here in the first hundred, and the issue is still quite fresh, here's a BUG REPORT ATTN TNH/PNH:

The "Geek cakes" links in Particles from 3 Sep 6:43 are (still) empty (and the "via" links just the homepage and not the particular post).

Similarly, the list of "Thank you, political bloggers" links to The Talking Dog as merely href="v".

BTW, am I the only one who dislikes the way Our Esteemed Hosts join several links so that they look like a single one?

Next time, my pet peeeve: don't tell me there isn't a MT plugin that couldn't convert string of the form "@<number>" within comments to links to respective comments.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 06:59 AM:

Tania @ 56... The subject line was "New Wireless Bras" which caused me to ponder "Why would my underwear need to have network connectivity?"

This reminds me of 2005's big-screen version of puppet show Thunderbirds, especially the scene where they save the day by using the wire inside Lady Penelope's bra.

#75 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:30 AM:

Howard Peirce @49: Thank you for your comment. The idea of trying graphics, in particular, is something I hadn't thought of; maybe it'd help on training.

The situation in question is management-directed. The type of writing in question is writing of engineering reports, but I've been hoping for a tech writing recommendation because it's a much more closely allied type of writing than academic, business, or casual writing, which seem to be the big three ESL categories. (And I suspect presenting the situation as a new skill to be learned, rather than something remedial, would make the individual in question more likely to actually use the book.)

Ack. One of the things making this request hard is that it's due to a work situation, and I can't really get into the details and explain why I need to try to train this individual so far outside of their core competency. Management has its reasons, whereof reason, etc. (They're good reasons, actually; it's the intersection of those good reasons with the situation on the ground that's become messy.)

#57: It sounds like a great book -- I'll add it to the list for me. :-) I suspect it'd be over the head of the person in question, though, as they're still at the "how" stage.

#60: Strunk & White is usually my first thought. In this situation, it'd be much too advanced.

#76 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:43 AM:

I used to know a company that proudly boasted of being "Teleport Operator of the Year"..

#77 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:10 AM:

Mary Dell, #40: Picky, picky, picky! Just rub the thing across whatever boob is handy.

I should try this at the office next time a CD misbehaves? Is there an etiquette for this sort of thing? I guess I should ask politely first. "Hi, could I please borrow your breast for a minute?" (Is "breast" the proper word to use in a work setting? Somehow "boob" sounds unbusinesslike. Or should I go with an office-jokey "bazoomba" or some such word?)

Presumably some breast coverings clean CDs better than others. Velvet, da! Chain-mail bra, nyet.

Office etiquette. Always such a minefield for me.

#78 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:26 AM:

Greg Ioannou: @#77:

Cd's or no cd's, if you only know the boob in question well enough to call it a "breast," it's not "handy."

#79 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Christian Science.

Self-addressed envelope.

Jan 73: Next time, my pet peeeve: don't tell me there isn't a MT plugin that couldn't convert string of the form "@<number>" within comments to links to respective comments.

There are any number of MT plugins that couldn't do that. I can't imagine why you care. It would be cool to find one that could.

#80 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:41 AM:

Geek cakes: I know I found those links while working on Boing Boing. Can I find them now? I cannot. It's mortifying.

#81 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:47 AM:

#77 Greg:

You want the woman with the chain mail on for destroying data, but remember to scratch the label side. (This was new to me.) "Hey Helga, come here." ; *scratch scrape scratch* ; ***POW***)

The category seems more like "things that work at one level of meaning, but not at another." (Though I love the idea of being required to use my individualized copy of True Names to verify my right to comment.)

How about:

Unconditional security (think one-time-pads).

Permanent teeth.

Any high speed internet service which promises to be available in your neighborhood within the next several months.

And of course, you should only communicate with your broker using lossless compression.

Gay marriage ("Damnit Fred, I don't feel very happy right now.").

Optimized brute force search?

#82 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:49 AM:

Was this one of the geek cake links? It was linked in the Whateverettes a little while back....

#83 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Xopher #79:

I recommend a program which simply generates some random sequence of instructions, and which you can prove includes a sequence that would do what's required. You would then be able to prove that this program could convert numbers to links.

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:58 AM:

albatross 83: I should think that any program that could do something but won't would qualify as an AI.

#85 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:02 AM:

#10 If I'd used my real name nobody would have known who I was!

Either it's time for a legal name change, or else you have a very strangely constructed personal identity. (Or perhaps you exaggerate?)

#86 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Got it, Jules. Apparently that colleague of Titivullus who causes sites you know exist to become unfindable was only waiting for me to admit that I couldn't find them. Then it did the ketchup-bottle thing. I've reparticled the subject in a more substantial version.

Jan Vaněk, sorry about that, but I'm not going to stop. Does Patrick ever do multiple links from one word? It's mostly my bad habit. I over-research, and then I can neither bear to leave out all the interesting links I've found, nor clutter up the surface text with full-scale references to them.

#87 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:09 AM:

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) :wrote:
albatross 83: I should think that any program that could do something but won't would qualify as an AI.

... whereas I'd think it was standard operating proceedure, and part of the daily grind ...

#88 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:16 AM:

the mac cake is nice

#89 ::: makomk ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Stud finders, universal remote controls and comment registration systems requiring True Names have two things in common - they don't work enough of the time and they're a pain to use. (They do, however, work just well enough to still exist.)

Actually, I don't think I've ever encountered a comment registration system that actually enforces the use of real names. I don't doubt there are ones out there where the blog owner tries to enforce some such rule, but it's futile.

I even know of one blogger who deletes any comments not posted under the user's Second Life name - fortunately, (s)he isn't technically-minded enough to actually make the comment system enforce this. (It's a long story.)

#90 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:20 AM:

Teresa, beautiful geek cakes on the sidebar links.

Our wedding cake, in 1999, was also designed to resemble a stack of books, and we gave careful thought to which titles to put upon the spines:
photo alone, or
with a little commentary.

#91 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:30 AM:

1. The Muppet Show Cake. Per the Flickr tag, it was a blue ribbon winner at the 2007 Kentucky State Fair, and, IMO, deserved it. *Does the Kermit Flail and Cheer*

2. I skipped all the media hooraw about the date, and just reread 110 Stories. It took ten minutes for my eyes to dry out enough to see the screen to type this post. Thank you once again, Mr. Ford. Wish you were here.

#92 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:30 AM:

I'm in the same boat as Leva (comment #10). I think I know the writer that's walled her out, because he's done the same to me.

Go ahead, just silence all us pseudonymous people. (sniffle) We'll probably set up our own site eventually, and not let any of you true name people in.

(goes off to see if pseudonym.com is taken...)

#93 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:34 AM:

“The net is phenomenological. If you do a letter-perfect imitation of a jerk, you are one.”
—Bruce Baugh

Any sufficiently advanced imitation of a jerk is not an imitation of a jerk. I've always said, in cases where I've been told, "Oh, ASSTRON99 is really nice in person," that this just means A99 is a genuine jerk who's too cowardly to be himself in face-to-face situations. Mr. Hyde wasn't created from whole cloth: he was an excuse for Jekyll to give rein to his worst impulses.

I was going to say more, but my modem wouldn't let me.

#94 ::: Feòrag NicBhrìde ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:34 AM:

Kathryn #85:

What name is on my passport?

#95 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Kathryn Cramer @ #83
I don't know about that. A huge percentage of my personal contacts know me by my SCA name. And I naturally tend to use some fragment of it when I need a nick name for a some web activity or another and don't feel like sticking my own oft mispronounced (read: rendered unrecognizable) name in there. And somewhere in there my boss took to addressing me as Lord Avery.

All it would take is for me to do is take one or more of my little making stuff in the basement hobbies commercial and I'd pretty much be where Leva describes herself.

But a legal name change? That'd be too geeky.

#96 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:58 AM:

Here's geek cake (with instructions) that is not for the squeamish! But with Halloween just around the corner....

Also, shouldn't there be some kind of duration or percentage attached to that imitation of a jerk thing? I mean if normally happy friendly commenter takes a moment to get into the character of a troll to make some sort of point about trolls, it's not like he's become a troll. Now, if he starts moving his furniture in there....

#97 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:02 AM:

Remus #92: It is, but that's not its real name....

If you are really into the true name issue, you usually wind up asking what you are trying to achieve. Like, are you trying to get:

a. Each person can only have one ID

b. Each person can be held responsible for their actions in some way, perhaps involving the cops.

c. Each person must have some link between his account and some identity by which he is commonly known.

d. Each person must have someone else in the community vouch for him.

etc.

Many years ago, this sort of thing was a big, more-or-less endless topic on the cypherpunks list and among crypto people. It seems to have fallen off since at crypto conferernces, I think largely because so much of the current crypto research is never intended to exist anywhere but in a conference or journal article and on a publication list--if your scheme is utterly and hopelessly impractical and silly, then the difficulty of implementing it becomes a non-issue. Also, the main cypherpunk ideas have apparently all failed.

I remember when I was *sure* that widespread strong crypto was going to change the world, once we got past the RSA/PKP patents, US export restrictions, and slow processors that made public key operations too slow to be practical for small transactions. And that information technology improved privacy, and intrusive oppressive government was on the way out. *Sigh*.

#98 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Dumb weblog software question: Multiple duplicate successive posts are really common on pretty much all weblogs. This is trivial to detect and prevent. Why does it still happen?

For example, if you just remembered the SHA1 hash of the fixed part (poster name and text) of the most recent post, and refused to post anything with the same hash, it seems like that would stop nearly all of these annoying things. (It would still be possible to get into a race condition between two posters during a duplicate posting, but keeping track of the last 5 hashes would be sufficient to stop nearly all of it, I think.)

Is there some reason why this would be a bad idea?

#99 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Kip W #93:

Also, people are capable of being jerks in some situations, and not in others. (The common case is that tired, hungry, upset, and drunk people can often become really nasty, even when they're nice enough people at other times.) Anonymity, pseudonymity, lack of direct social feedback like shocked looks or clenched fists, lack of immediate conseqences like having nobody talk to you or everyone obviously mad at you at work, all these things affect people differently. Lacking that feedback or those near-term consequences, many people are jerks online who wouldn't be otherwise.

And most of us have been jerks in specific situations, both online and in the real world.

#100 ::: yuubi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:14 AM:

The International Earth Rotation Service doesn't oil the axis each year; pity.

#101 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:18 AM:

True names are weird no matter how you look at them. I have relatives who are one name to one side of the family and another to the other, a cousin who decided to change her name* from Lexa, through Britney (we were confused and gently mocked her, mostly because she didn't announce the change) to Alex. When it comes to nicknames, girls can have two names in one-- Ashley Lynn was a friend of my brother's, but he had to fight to convince every teacher that his name is John Michael. I'm a Catherine, called Cassie, and I switched to Dia for here** because there was another Cassie on Scalzi's Whatever, and Diatryma is my name in text. I am apparently growing a new True Name.

*Speaking name? Not her legal name, just what people call her in school and home.
**Some of my posts are as Cassie, some are not.
I am becoming addicted to footnotes. Please send help.

#102 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Xopher #84: Now you're making me think of the right verb tenses. I think my randomized program gets us to subjunctive tense: This program might turn numbers into links. A program that has the ability to turn numbers into links, but only does so when the local time shows that the year is 2000 or less gets us to conditional tense: This program could turn numbers into links (if it were before the year 2000).

Or am I mixing these? I have to admit, I only really got some of the English verb tenses by studying Spanish. (!Que estudiemos los tiempos!)

#103 ::: Fuzzy Gerdes ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:48 AM:

I most recently ran into the True Names problem at Facebook, who try to automatedly enforce RealNameness by forbidding some set of dictionary words. My name (which is, admittedly, not my birthname, but which I have used personally and professionally, in person and online, for 15 years now) is not "legitimate", their system says. Annoying (and not to jinx him) my brother Disco Gerdes was able to register his name just fine.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:51 AM:

When I'm wanting something explained, I find that asking the really basic ('stupid') questions gets the best answers. The person being asked frequently goes into detail when answering, because they're assuming you don't know anything about the subject. (If you do, it's better not to enlighten them.) And, as one of the people who has a whole lot of possibly-useful information stored in my head, that's also the easiest way to spread it to others, because I don't know what (or how much) they already have.

#105 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Happy Birthday Xopher!

#106 ::: Kelley Shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 11:11 AM:

A lot of this conversation reminds me of The Name of the Wind.

#107 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 11:16 AM:

#105--Yeah, dude, we're lucky to have you.

#108 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Xopher (#2): Was that a criticism, or did I avoid wordiness?

#109 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Avery @ 96

Cathyn changed his modern name to his SCA name. But he's a geek.

#110 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:09 PM:

My technique for cleaning CDs/DVDs, especially the disturbingly grungy discs one gets from a library, rental, or used-music/video/game store:

Soap and clean fingers, applied under running water; gentle rubbing from hub to rim. Dry label side with towel; remove large drops from optical side by blowing; let sit until completely dry.

I've never met a disc with a paper label, but I expect this would be a bad idea for those.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Nancy 105, fidelio 107: thanks.

Mary 108: It was praise.

#112 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Periodic acid.

Mean Solar Time.

Attitude gauge.

Alligator clip.

#113 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher!

(I'm still trying to figure it out.)

#114 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 12:51 PM:

I find myself moving a sofa
and wishing I had a gopher
who would do all my work,
neither shorten nor shirk,
and wish 'Happy Birthday!' to Xopher.

#115 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:04 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher!

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher. How many candles? Twenty-six, right?

#117 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Many happy returns of the day, Xopher!

#118 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Oo. I forgot "mother liquor".

#119 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Avery @ #96: where's the sternum?

Xopher: many happy returns of the day!

#120 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:49 PM:

How I destroy CDs:

Bring CD outside. Put label-side down on asphalt. Rub with foot until shiny silver stuff comes off.

Or:

Put in microwave, on top of scrap paper. "Nuke" for five seconds. Smells bad, but the brief display of fireworks is spectacular and the disk is rendered utterly, totally dead.

#121 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:52 PM:

A very happy birthday to you, Xopher. May you have many more.

#122 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 01:54 PM:

Xopher (#111): Then thank you. And happy birthday. (And it's 'Mary Aileen', but you knew that. :)

#123 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:04 PM:

I know we're just picking on the stuff in the list out of fun, but I wanted to present a quick defense and endorsement for the Harmony Universal Remote..

It's hard being a technology slut* in a household populated by non-technical family members who will disemvowel your keyboard should the 10+ component A/V system prove too complex to allow easy access to the latest episodes of Heroes/BSG, etc.

The Harmony Remote allows you to associate buttons with activities such as "Watch Tivo", "Listen to Music" or "Watch Movie". Press an activity button and the appropriate components are switched on, settings adjusted and remote controls tied to the right components (like volume).

The remote has a USB port that you use to connect to your pc/mac and access Harmony's free online programming service. You identify what components your entertainment system has and the control codes are looked up in their online database. You then program activities by identifying which components and settings are needed for that activity.

Initial setup took me about an hour, and it takes maybe 15 minutes to update my settings online when I add/remove components from the system. The rest of the family just uses the remote as usual, with no apparent changes to the interface.

When other alpha geeks complain about how much time they spend on household tech support, I like to tell them that I've been able to reduce mine by 95% with two things: Harmony Remotes and switching to Macs. At $150, the Harmony Remote is a much cheaper first step!

----
* As in I'll take any gadget home that looks purty, winks at me and promises me the time of my life

#124 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Thanks, more of everyone.

114:
Fragano, reply here from Xopher,
As he heats up a lunch made by Stouffer:
Your verse birthday greet
ing was really quite sweet.
Now get back to work. What a loafer!

Mary Aileen 122: Aieee! Aileen! Aileen! Mary Aileen!!! Yes, I do know that, I just spaced it. Sorry. Oh Mary,* Mary Aileen, I lean my head down and moan.

*I don't usually use archaic gayspeak, but in this case it seems called for.

#125 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:14 PM:

So, why does everybody think Real Names=True Names? Am I the only one who read Elfquest and A Wizard of Earthsea?

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Mary 125: Not everyone. In Wicca we never say "real name," because our in-circle names are just as real as our outside-circle names. We call them "Craft name" and "legal name" respectively. My ML name is Xopher, but it's no secret that my legal name is Christopher Hatton. I just like Xopher better for this purpose. There are online places where my name is Criostoir (or Críostóir if they'll allow it); I'm known as Absentminded Perfesser on MySpace.

All of those are "real names" in the sense that none is a deceptive alias, but none is my truename either.

The truename of the universe IS the universe.

#127 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Foolproof method for media destruction:

Watch the first half of Serenity. Pause to deal with latest household catastrophe. Come back to find youngest daughter watching Little Mermaid. Look around and see your dvd on the floor, under a leg of the step stool used by daughter to reach dvd player...

#128 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Teresa #@86:

I over-research, and then I can neither bear to leave out all the interesting links I've found, nor clutter up the surface text with full-scale references to them.

Also, you're an eensy bit of a typesetting geek. Fire bad, tags pretty.

#129 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:29 PM:

I want to mention this in a public place, and more folks I know read Making Light than any other place.

I'm separating from the Other Change of Hobbit. This is a result of mutual agreement that it's time I moved on, it's reasonably cordial, and it's for the best for all concerned.

Disconnecting from a relationship of well over thirty years is always difficult. I hope that folks who have found OCH a pleasant place to shop will continue to do so. I wish Dave and the others involved only the best.

I'm sad about this, and I think overall it's the best thing for all involved.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Best wishes, Tom.

#131 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Tom 129: I'm sorry for your loss, and theirs. Severing a relationship of that long standing is always a loss, even if both parties agree that it's best.

#132 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Xopher @#126: none is a deceptive alias, but none is my truename either.

The truename of the universe IS the universe.

Exactly. *That* would make for an interesting comment reg system. It would either discourage trolls, or possibly enable them to wield unspeakable power.

Elder gods would have free run of the place, because you would have to invoke their true names in order to block them...Maybe someone could come up with a CAPTCHA so they couldn't register in the first place. A CAPTEGHA, I mean.

#133 ::: Christopher Turkel ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Answer: A typical saturday night at my house.

#134 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 02:56 PM:

G. Jules @#75:

Basic tech writing, in my experience, involves two skills:

1. outlining to about 3 levels (headings, number lists, bullet points)

2. screen capture

With these two things, you can produce reams and reams of procedural docs that can be handed to whoever inherits a job. Producing more sophisticated stuff, like a technical overview or a cost justification, is really a business-writing skill with technical stuff tacked on. Even for that, the 3-level outline is a good starting point.

Probably what you really need is a set of templates, and then the person just has to practice filling them in. You can buy doc suites that have a heap of ready-to-fill specialized docs; he selects the kind he's trying to create and customizes it a bit and then fills it in. Or you can create the templates yourself as a starting point for the non-writers around the office, and teach them how to use them. It's easier than teaching writing from scratch, and it's less daunting for the trainee.


#135 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:00 PM:

clew @#39 Short Ricardo: if Albany and Boston both need zymurgy and yarn, and Albany is better at making both, *both* cities will be better off if Albany specializes in the one it has a bigger advantage at and they trade the results. Usually this is explained with equations, but you could probably do it with pie charts.

Until Miami comes around and produces one or both of these with a level of efficiency that the original producer city can't match, or at the same level of efficiency as the original producer city but to such an amount that the profit margin for producing it falls dramatically, or some new technology shows up that renders one or both of these products obsolete. In any of these cases, both Boston and Albany would be screwed if they had followed your advise and specialised too strongly in producing one particular commodity.

And, by the way, equations and pie charts are all fine and nice, but do you have some empirical evidence, too? What results did large-scale comparisions of the long-term economic development of highly specialised regions on the one hand, and highly diverse regions on other hand, with regard to enduring economic well-being, lead to?

Clew's Humorous Reductio ad Absurdum of JJacobs: so nu, why stop at cities? Why shouldn't the *boroughs* be self-sufficient? Neighborhood councils? Blocks? Households? Individuals? At one of these scales, it becomes obvious why we benefit from trade; why not trade at *any* level?

First of all, that's assuming that Jacobs argued that cities should be self-sufficient, and that trade doesn't benefit us. When and where did she say that? How on Earth do you get the idea that she said that? Doesn't her emphasis on export addition show that she didn't see trade as a generally bad thing?

Second, how do you get the idea that something that works well on one scale or level must therefore work well on another scale or level,
too?

Besides, one of Jacobs' main points was that cities and their surrounding regions work as economic entities in ways in wich smaller or larger units don't, so you can't simply choose an arbitrary level of territorial economic analysis. A simple empirical analysis of where businesses and individuals usually find most of their business partners (including employees, employers, customers and stores to buy from) could easily verify wether she was right or wrong there.

Peter (27); I don't think what Zack is describing is mercantilism -- I think it's autarky. She gets to mercantilism later.

Could you please explain how you get the idea that Jacobs was in any way in favor of autarky?

#136 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Rule of thumb: No documentation should ever be solely in somebody's head.

I'd like to testify to this:

For the last two years, I've been Catalog Librarian at a medium sized art school. The library hadn't had a catalog librarian in at least two years before I started and no one had updated the manual since 2000. My assistant had worked there for just shy of a year and only knew how to use the software enough to give me a crash course. When I asked the Executive Librarian for some training, she laughed and ran away. No one working there knew how to do my job and my supervisors had only the vaguest interest in telling me what sort of end result they wanted. I'm paraphrasing but, "Just do your job," was what I was told.

So, yeah: write down the most obvious steps because there's always the chance that you and your replacement may end up doing an improv show that resembles The Office crossed with The Lake House.

#137 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Xopher (124): Don't beat yourself up about it. I know you know; I mainly mentioned it so that the people who *don't* know wouldn't think it was all right. All right?

#138 ::: bill westmoreland's ghost ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:12 PM:

who's that guy who blogs about politics and posts old masters paintings in with the verbiage? I know he has, or had, a blogspot blog.


by th' way, I like the use of numbers for th' comments.

#139 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Tom Whitmore @129:
Well, drat. I'm sorry to hear it, mostly because it's such a pity that the long term relationship has broken down!

Where will you go from here, as it were?

#140 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Xopher,

Happy birthday!

I'd write you a sonnet, but I did that already.

So many happy returns, Xopher Prime!

#141 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Lee @ 53... Rule of thumb: No documentation should ever be solely in somebody's head.

Especially when the zombies show up and eat your thumb and your head.

#142 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Diatryma @101:

I am becoming addicted to footnotes. Please send help.

Welcome to the club*.

-----
* Actually, I have nothing to say in the footnotes**.
** This makes them footernotes†
† Particularly as they get lower down.‡
‡ Erm, yeah.

#143 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Rule of thumb: No documentation should ever be solely in somebody's head.

Oh, yes. For several years now, there has been a lot of turnover in the department I work in (which is a problem in itself). Because few of the procedures are documented, the institutional memory around here has huge holes and gaps in it. The usual answer to "how do I do [x]?" is "Um... I dunno... go ask Person Y." And, of course, Person Y refers you to Person Z, who...

And then, even if you finally find someone who knows how to do it (nice to meet you, Person G) and can explain it to you, by the time it needs to be done again six months or a year later, they've moved on to a new position and their replacement has no more clue than you do.

#144 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:25 PM:

abi 140: Yes, you did, and the stun hasn't quite worn off yet.

#145 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Mary Dell @134: Would you believe that we have templates, and it's filling them out that's the problem?

#146 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:28 PM:

First, Happy Birthday, Xopher.

Second, Keith @ #136, I was responsible for producing customer bills for a former employer, and I thought I had thoroughly documented the process (multiple multiples of steps, all to be done in specific order). I went on vacation for six weeks, encompassing two billing dates. Not only did I spend the better part of two hours on the phone each date (once while in LA, the other in Tucson), when I got back and walked into the office, I didn't get a "Hey! Have a good time?" greeting, I got "YOU! Write things down!" instead.

For the next year I spent each billing date flowcharting as I went through the process.

#147 ::: betsyl ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:30 PM:

#101, Diatryma: use name is what i say.

i also recently have been saying "i use elizabeth for paperwork and betsy for people" really quite a lot, because when i am filling out official paperwork it seems like it should have my legal name on it, which no one who actually knows me uses. (now that i've grown out of the 'ELIZABETH ANNE LUNDSTEN YOU GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!' phase of my life, anyhow... ;)

#148 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 03:43 PM:

G. Jules @#145: Yes, absolutely. I have a group of well-rounded sysadmins & engineers working for and with me, many of whom are astoundingly literate, so aside from some ESL & grammar quibbles, everyone can produce good procedural doc on demand. But I'm very, very, very lucky.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Mary Dell... I have a group of well-rounded sysadmins & engineers working for and with me

"You will bow down before me!"

#150 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 04:28 PM:

Serge @#149: Hell yeah! There have to be some perks to this management gig.

#151 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Keith@136: welcome to the club. Oh boy, do I welcome you to the club. Similar experience in a larger setting -- a whole Tech Services department's worth. Ouch. Still trying to get a handle.
Names are interesting, and True Names more than. I have a complicated relationship with them, as I have two legal names (under the jurisdiction I was born and the jurisdiction I am a citizen of), then I have three nicknames, depending on which time of my life and which level of closeness the person attained.
And, since my father is the God of the Dead, well, I get to have another personality overlaid on this one. :-) :-)

#152 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 04:45 PM:

betsyl @ 147, I'm Caroline to about half the people I know, and Carrie to the other half. Close friends and family know me as Carrie. Co-workers (even those I'm friends with), advisors, supervisors, and professors know me as Caroline. I answer just as quickly to either name, and both of them feel like "me," but they're just used in separate spheres.

I have two advisor-types who started calling me Carrie, and one friend who deliberately greets me as Caroline because he likes the name better. In both cases I can't help but feel a sense of role conflict every time, even though I get over it every time.

It is possible that I am two very similar people at once, one of whom is just a bit more formal than the other. I seem to have two equally true names.

(I'm Caroline here because Caroline is who I am when I'm doing any kind of analysis, and mostly that's what I do when posting here.)

#153 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 04:48 PM:

Teresa:

http://nielsenhayden.com/110.html still says "John M. Ford can be reached at [email address]."

#154 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 04:49 PM:

#148 ::: Mary Dell wrote:
G. Jules @#145: Yes, absolutely. I have a group of well-rounded sysadmins & engineers working for and with me, many of whom are astoundingly literate, so aside from some ESL & grammar quibbles, everyone can produce good procedural doc on demand. But I'm very, very, very lucky.

Is it a bad thing that I'm wondering if "well-rounded" is a euphamism for "overweight" ?

#155 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:08 PM:

Zack @26, clew @39 --

Despite invocations of Ricardo, what Ms. Jacobs was talking about _isn't_ self sufficiency and the replacement of trade; she noted that import replacement, the process by which you start making what you used to import and start spending the money you used to spend on that specific import on other, more diverse imports, explains the bootstrap process of city economies.

This is important because a pure Ricardan view leaves an economy specialized for cheap labour or raw materials or basic agricultural goods in a bad place, with respect to becoming a more capable economy. (Never mind the ugly results of being even a very capable specialized exporter when external circumstances change.)

There's a faction in Toronto politics which takes Ms. Jacobs' views very seriously; I am personally quite glad of this.

Optimizing an economy for profit isn't optimizing it for people.

#156 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Graydon @ 155

As colonies, we weren't legally allowed to do things like making glass or other important items. We were supposed to be buying them from the cousins in England, to help their economy. IIRC, it was one of the things that led to 'When, in the Course'.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Graydon @ 155... a pure Ricardan view

"Vengeance is a dish best served cold... and it is very cold in space."

#158 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:27 PM:

P J Evans --

Jacobs is, first and foremost, an historian; I don't know if you've read Cities and the Wealth of Nations, but she tackles the question of "where do city economies come from?" by starting back in the neolithic, and looking at specific examples along the time between then and now. The theory clearly arises from the data.

#159 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Serge #157: I've heard that one as "Revenge is a dish best served cold, on White House china"

#160 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Serge @#157: Tee hee!

#162 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:44 PM:

the tale's been told
time does not heal
memory's cold
we can't appeal
lies now are bold
we're told to feel
that brass is gold
under the wheel

the eye is filled
with many tears
the hopes then killed
the constant cares
innocents grilled
morons with airs
the grain is milled
it has been years

rules now are made
to hold pain back
but there's no shade
we know the lack
hate makes the grade
all fades to black
one more parade
then we attack

the ones who died
are all now dust
the ones who cried
have lost all trust
we know who lied
and feel disgust
no blushing bride
no golden crust

we feel the shame
of showing fear
we take the blame
we were not there
there's been a claim
no one would dare
snuff out the flame
let in the air

too little time
too swift a shove
under the grime
a single glove
it was a crime
they say above
the moment's prime
still we may love

#163 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 06:01 PM:

6. The Larch. The... Larch.

Albatross @99

There are all sorts of edge cases, yes, so I'll clarify that I'm talking about people who are predominantly abusive jerks online and who are invariably described as "rather nice, actually" by people who meet them offline.

#164 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Raphael #139; That is a good takedown of Zack's interpretation of Cities...., but is totally irrelevant to his wondering why his interpretation is not recommended by economists. Pray direct your ire at his (common) reading to him, not me.

The original question:

something I feel intuitively ought to be true -- that cities and nations ought to strive to produce their own goods for local consumption first, rather than becoming ever more dependent on global trade. I know nobody in mainstream economics takes the book seriously, because nobody in mainstream economics tries to argue that. But I don't know why.

I'm pretty sure that mainstream economists *do* recommend trade based on Ricardo; at least, one has to me. I don't know how they deal with Graydon's point that pure Ricardan trade is at best metastable; I brought up Late Victorian Holocausts and I don't remember where the conversation went; into a mass of detail, I think.

#165 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Jim Henry #153:

This may be a feature, not a bug. Consider the higher efficacy of letters to Santa Claus or to Juliet.

#166 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:12 PM:

An "occasional table": the only commonly-occurring piece of quantum furniture.

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Chapeau, Fragano.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Joe McMahon... And what of Schrödinger's hat?

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:47 PM:

I'm a QA person, but I spend a lot of time writing documentation.

Right now I'm working on:

When the Server Goes “boink:”
Expected Pre-Escalation Analysis for * and ** Problems

* Name of proprietary operating system

** Name of specialized server software

#170 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Serge, 168: As every knitter knows, Schrödinger's hat lives in the UFO* box, where it is in a state of uncertainty about whether it will be done in time for the recipient's birthday.


*unfinished objects

#171 ::: Essex ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Previous thread #909 ::: MD²: Welcome to the club. You do realise your brain will be eaten ?
Then turned to light.

Thank you, and I do like the 'turned to light' bit a lot, but, erm… brain, what brain? (imagine Yorkshiremen saying that last bit, and you are getting close). If you find anything edible in my head, you sure are welcome to it! But I am afraid that, as German independent movie maker Achterbusch had it,'Whether someone's got a brain, only the butcher can prove decisively'. Quite ghoulish, the man. Also, I am rather good at making escapes
In any case: why do zombies like brains so much? It gives you Mad Cow Disease or the Creutzfeld-Jacobs syndrome or something. Does that not matter to a zombie? Don't they have any left? And, yeah, sure brain's rather a tasty dish, but brains only - what a bore!

Say, what do I do if I myself am not finished with the previous thread? My most beloved friend Frank was visiting and I was off-line. Do I publish reponses I still really want to publish here, or there? If I do want them to be read? Since I noted the occasional zombie lurking about in this thread as well... Is there some sort of rhythm, like, a new thread once a week? or every 1000 posts? I suppose I could figure it out but I am too lazy.
Pray, tell me!

As for names: an alias is an alias, is it not, and not deceptive by necessity. I would use a different name every day and time I post something somewhere but usually am too lazy. With four given names, I think I am entitled to share a little of my lifelong confusion. Imagine all those official forms that require the full treat but never grant the space! I do, however, stop myself normally because the main difficulty in that (aside from confusing everybody else, becoming sort of borderline, and probably, trying to evade consequences such as being taken serious erraneously) is remembring who I was where. It would confse myself mre than anyone els. So it is a mattr of intrnal rgnstn wth m. RGH, utdsmvowlmnt wrks evn thn! NNNN!
I swear I shall be Essex to thee forever!
Whew, tht ws close! This parrot joins the choir invisibile.

CD cleaning? Usually, a soft cotton cloth does it. I LOVE thin-worn shreds of discarded t-shirts for that, well-washed, of course. Boobs when in a hurry only. That would be MY boobs most of the time. I also use water, soap, and finger if it's more obnoxious finger prints and other organic residue (worked in a library), but if there are scratches, that polishing stuff for mobile phone displays works wonders. It comes in very small tubes and is expensive, but lasts a long time and does a great job. We are talking only the shiny side here, that toward the laser.
As for the total wipe: why not just wait? I had some back-ups which were only about five years old that my current computer refused to acknowledge. They were readable on some older machine at work though, luckily.

#15 ::: Avram: You forgot Radio Shack's Male-to-Female Converter.
Could I get a working version the other way round somewhere, then? I bought me a "Mini-Gender-Changer", but only realized at home that of course it was female-to-female. Blast. So.

Work for money. Don't seem to be able to do it right and tend to get notice. Need money, like worthwhile work, miss the space inbetween.

Btw, probably pertaining rather to thread 90, since that was about logical puzzles: are you aware of the fact that most people have more legs than the average person?

Hence, statistics and quantification of most sorts for me, then, probably because I slip through the holes, always. May be ok if it's used just to get ideas of situations, but if legislations, health systems etc. are based on it, no.

#170, from TexAnne: ah, so it's a knitted object! Nit kat Knit wit!

#172 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:19 PM:

Xopher, many many happy returns! The world's a better place for you being in it; at the very least, this leetal corner of teh internets would be the poorer without you.

So here's a raised glass and a Blessed Be for you on your nativity, and here's to many more to come.

#173 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Doesn't anybody do the following anymore?

An interesting property of the number 91:

Subtracting 91 from a number causes the tens digit to go up by 1, while the units and hundreds digits step down. For example, starting with 336, we get 245, 154, and then 63. Since 91 is 7 times 13, these steps leave unchanged whether the resulting number is divisible by 7 or 13. So this reduction provides a convenient simultaneous divisibility-check for the divisors 7 and 13, which are notoriously hard to do arithmetic with.

If the number is more than 3 digits long, it may be necessary to subtract 910 instead of 91 at first: this operates on the thousands, hundreds, and tens digits of the number, as before incrementing the central digit while decrementing its neighbors.

Occasionally it is necessary to actually subtract 91 in the ordinary way, but one should never need to borrow.

An example: 958 -> 867 -> 776 -> 685 -> 594; at this point take away 91 in the ordinary way to get 503, and then 503 -> 412 -> 321 -> 230. This last is the product of the primes 2, 5, and 23, and therefore is not divisible by 7 or 13; hence neither is the starting number 958.

This reply was brought to you by the number 91 and the letter FLOOB.

#174 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Serge #167: Merci.

#175 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Essex: Wilkommen! With an email address like yours, you'll fit right in. (And that's the outer limits of my German.)

You can add comments to Open Thread 90 if you like, though the thread begins to load ever more slowly. Threads are closed after 1000 comments or so because it does bad things to the brownies, or the electrons, or the hamsters, or something.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:03 PM:

TexAnne @ 170... No matter what the subject, it always comes back to knitting, eh?

#177 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:07 PM:

#173

An interesting property of the number 91...

When I was little, my dad brought home href="http://www.amazon.com/Trachtenberg-Speed-System-Basic-Mathematics/dp/0313232008/ref=sr_1_2/102-5978349-5882517?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1189558803&sr=1-2">this book by a guy who spent far too much time in solitary courtesy of the Gestapo. He worked out complex systems for doing all kinds of arithmetic functions in the head, and the kind of cross-checking you mention. Our copy survived several moves but I can't lay hands on it right now.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:10 PM:

In memory of what happened 6 years ago, I present a reminder of what America is supposed to be about... The Consitution, handbound by Abi...

#179 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:12 PM:

I'll try again.Trachtenberg

#180 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:30 PM:

wrt documentation: amen, brother. I managed to move a lot of work off my desk and onto the people who made it by documenting a complex procedure -- and since the doc was empirical, \listening/ to everyone who asked a question and clarifying the doc as needed. I get a lot fewer interruptions now...

Writing doc can even be therapeutic; I've left references ranging from Dorothy Parker through Lost in Space as part of little essays explaining the thinking behind some oddball piece of code. Having just spent most of two days trying to figure out WTF somebody was doing with a peculiar piece of code 10 years ago, I'm likely to keep it up. I got lucky on this bit -- somebody had some 10-year-old paper that came from the process of putting the code in the system -- but other cases I've just had to guess (and document the guess).

#181 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:48 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher.

May each of your puns be a groaner,
May each of your loves be a moaner,
May your purse be filled up with kroner,
Now that you are a year growner.

#182 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 09:49 PM:

Ice box, flash flood, dry run.

#183 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Studfinder ... I think I saw one when I was leaving work today. It had 4-inch (or close to that) heels and knit trousers just the socially correct side of 'dipped or sprayed?' and was mincing down the sidewalk. Obviously (in the physical sense) female.

Or maybe it was a studsearcher.

#184 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 11:12 PM:

Ok, because I get to say it...

military intelligence/justice.

Xopher, many happy returns.

Serge: Thanks for the picture of the binding.

abi, we need to talk about pictures, because now I want one bound. I have lots of recently taken ones, some soon to be displayed.

In the too fun/silly dept: Geologists are an alcohol based life form (via Uncyclopedia)

#185 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Xopher, Happy Birthday! (I think I'm making it by four minutes.)

Tom, so sorry for the separation. It's always hard with long relationships.

And for the kitschish, a Star Trek montage to The Time Warp.

#186 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:04 AM:

"Floob is for Floob-boober-bab-boober-bubs...." - "On Beyond Zebra" was one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books.

#187 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Going back to the original post, The Set of Things That May Be Oxymorons, or perhaps it's just The Set of Things Ambiguously Named...

...it might just miss membership in this set, but my wife was struck with joy when hardware stores began selling tools specifically marketed as "cordless screwdrivers".

#189 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:29 AM:

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. It was about as happy as I've had in the past five years or so.

#190 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Because, of course, one needs the proper tool to unscrew one's wireless bra.

#191 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:47 AM:

Carol #179: That price is ridiculous. I do have a copy (somewhere in my boxes). I remember being given it while in elementary school to learn to do arithmetic from, and being told my great-uncle wrote it.

I've seen copies for sale intermittently, but at much more reasonable prices.

#192 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:04 AM:

Bob Oldendorf ::#187:

"cordless screwdrivers".

That fits this topic (which I think of as "terms that are obscurely or complexly bemusing or inherently Wrong")

Of course, hardware stores have been selling cordless screwdrivers for at least seventy years, to my personal knowledge. (I must have at least a hundred -- maybe two hundred -- Around Here Someplace, because it's often easier to buy a new one than to excavate.)


#193 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:14 AM:

I'm a day late, but I wanted to wish Xopher a Happy Belated Birthday. I've been (mainly) lurking here for some years now, and I've always enjoyed both the variety and the depth of your comments.

#194 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:31 AM:

#190 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) commented:
Because, of course, one needs the proper tool to unscrew one's wireless bra.

One might have fewer issues screwing in one's wireless bra.

#195 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Political Science

And let's not forget Civil Service.

#196 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:07 AM:

And here we have John Podhoretz's childhood memory of growing up with Madeline L'Engle as a neighbor. (And, it turns out, five blocks from where I spent 11 years of my young life.) Proof positive that neocons do have hearts.

#197 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:14 AM:

Randolph @ #196, it could also be said to prove that nurture overtakes nature. His acquaintance with Engle just couldn't overcome his family ties to that madman Norman.

#198 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:51 AM:

(Belated) Happy Birthday, Xopher!

Rule of thumb: No documentation should ever be solely in somebody's head.

Boy howdy, is this one true. The Director of Operations and Education at the small nonprofit where I work gave one week's notice (loooong story), and we're all scrambling to try and pick all of her brain before she heads out of the door.

Finally, I have not been around here the past week or so, so it's probably been mentioned in the other open thread, but I was pleased to see that Riverbend had posted and that she and her family were safe in Syria, although the post itself was enough to make me want to cry.

#199 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:15 AM:

I was thinking about "panic" gaining a "k" in the past participle (and in the present as "I am panicking"), and moved to check my spelling even came across a helpful general rule (from the BBC world service, no less: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv328.shtml ) -

"Verbs ending in -c change to -ck before -ing, etc, is added"

I'm sure you can agree that this is very helpful in the general case, but that rather highlighted my problem...I can't think of ANY other English verb ending with a "c" in the present tense. Is this a "general" rule with only one application, (sort of grammar googlewhack...)?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Sorry, I just couldn't think of anyone else to ask. Next time I'll try a knitting question, honest :D

#200 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:02 AM:

Tonic and magic can both be verbs, but neither "-cing" nor "-cking" feels pleasant for either, so I think my general rule is "write the sentence some other way".

(Shorter BBC: "Everything's -cked")

#201 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:13 AM:

Russ: mimic, mimicking.

#202 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:15 AM:

traffic, trafficking (ie, illicitly trading.)

#203 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:17 AM:

Ok; I'll buy magic -

"What the hell are you doing?"
"Magicking the parrot, of course."

Which is enough to give a second application of the rule.

...but how are you 'verbing' tonic?

#204 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:59 AM:

Dave Luckett #202; To traffic need not be illicit.

#205 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:59 AM:

Re: #184 In the too fun/silly dept: Geologists are an alcohol based life form (via Uncyclopedia)

Not only funny, but disturbingly accurate. *grin* As an undergrad, I did my field work in Australia. We took our final exam at the bar.

#206 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 07:33 AM:

Mary Dell @ 132: ...Wait, you mean that CAPTCHA is an acronym? It's not just a clever way of saying "capture"?

I am so not behind the curve. I am very, very hip. Really!


(Please let me not be the only person who didn't know that. Please?)

#207 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 07:37 AM:

Russ @203:

"My nerves are shot to hell. I shall tonic myself with a very large whisky and a very small soda."

A bit of a stretch, I admit.

#208 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 07:51 AM:

Linkmeister @#197:

it could also be said to prove that nurture overtakes nature. His acquaintance with Engle just couldn't overcome his family ties to that madman Norman.

Wouldn't that be nature over nurture, then? Although I won't argue that liking L'Engle is natural.

Heresiarch @#206:

I am so not behind the curve. I am very, very hip. Really!

Wired magazine, baby. It's what all the cool middle-agers are reading these days. Yee Haw! I mean, W00t!

Anyway, it stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. Which by my lights would be CAPTTTCHA, but apparently not.

#209 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 07:54 AM:

clarification: "I won't argue that liking L'Engle is natural."

actually means "I won't argue against the notion that liking L'Engle is natural"

Or perhaps I could simply say "it's certainly natural to like L'Engle."

Sorry, I have morning brain.

#210 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:03 AM:

Russ #199: frolic::frolicking, mimic::mimicking, wick::wicking, fuc...whoops, never mind!

And, perhaps as a variant of the rule, we use the term "colicky" as an adjective for babies with colic issues.

#211 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:23 AM:

Those last two aren't verbs ending in c, though.

"Tic" as in twitch becomes "ticcing", not "ticking". Collision avoidance with "tick"?

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:35 AM:

TexAnne... Remember when The Fountain came out, one year ago? You expressed great disappointment upon our telling you that at no point in the movie did Hugh Jackman take his shirt off. All this is to say that the filming of Wolverine starts in November.

"Think of it... A shirtless Hugh."
"A shirtless me?"
"No. Not you. Hugh."
"Me?"
"No! Hugh!"
"Me?"
"I'm outta here."

#213 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:48 AM:

Open thread, so though I'm off topic, maybe I'm not irrelevant...

A friend just sent me an announcement about this writing contest. No entry fee. $10,000 cash prize, with additional money possible if book is picked up by a publisher and does well.

http://www.mackinac.org/articlebef.aspx?ID=8361

There *is* a free market/libertarian political agenda to the group and to the fiction that they're seeking, but I thought it might be of interest to some folks here.

TNH and PNH, if this is totally inappropriate, please disemvowel the heck outta me.

#214 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:48 AM:

#153: Thanks, fixed.

#73: Unfortunately, like Teresa with her geek-cakes link, I can no longer remember what thing from the blogger who writes as the Talking Dog I actually meant to link to; it doesn't seem to have been a post on his actual blog, so I presume it was a comment somewhere. I've "fixed" the link to post to his front page.

#215 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Oh! Cordless screwdrivers!

They are among my favorite retronyms--along with "snail mail" and "black and white tv."

#216 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:54 AM:

To the guys who tonicked my panicking, frolicking in my ignorance but while mimicking magicking it away...thanks. I knew I'd come to the right place :D

#217 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Damn...remove either "but" or "while" from #216. Your choice which.

#218 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 09:05 AM:

Dave #201 Sorry I duped you!

So, I think I have one exception to the c-ck rule: arc::arcing??

#219 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 09:07 AM:

Or you could add commas-- 'but, while mimicking, magicking it away'.

#221 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 09:39 AM:

xeger @ 194

Reminds me of a girl I dated in college who insisted that her first sexual experience was so uninteresting that five minutes later she was completely unscrewed and a virgin again.

#222 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Mary Dell @ 209

Sorry, I have morning brain.

Rubbing the lobes with coffee will remove the fuzz and restore the normal color.

Heresiarch @ 206

I was clueless on this one too. I guess you only know this stuff if you're middle-aged; after that it's all uphill both ways in the snow.

#223 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Serge @ 212

You'll never get to First Base with a line like that.

#224 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:22 AM:

On the previous open thread, Paula Lieberman suggested Perhaps there should be a lulu.com or otherwise "published" printed collection edition of various selected poems as Poetry from Making Light....

Hmmm... I would probably like to have one of those, but I think half the fun is watching the improvisation unfold in real time. Not just "how do they think of these things?" but "how do they think of these things so quickly?"

#225 ::: Demosthenes ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:25 AM:

5. Comment Registration Systems which require the use of True Names.

A betrayal of what made the Internet interesting in the first place, but I'm a bit of a hardliner that way.

Also, in my limited experience, principally used as a preemptive strike by those who want to find a way to discard a comment before actually reading it, of the "you aren't a Name! You clearly have nothing to contribute" variety. Ugh.

And I'm with Graydon on Jacobs. The problem with Ricardian efficiency is that you inevitably end up with an economy specialized in doing things unwanted by those other economies that didn't follow the Guidelines in their past. It's part-and-parcel of that nasty little problem bog-standard neo-liberal economics has with long-term planning and development.

#226 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Yet-Another-Manuscript-Display-Site:

Novelmaker.

NovelMaker is Publishing 2.0!

NovelMaker.com is the world's first truly interactive community for fiction writers, readers, critics, literary agents, editors, and publishers.... Those reviews and ratings may take new and unpublished writers into a realm never before accessible to them – a large, interactive community participating with them in the creation, and potential commercial success, of new works of fiction...

Literary agents seek talent, and worthy works of fiction. Until NovelMaker.com, they have relied on over-the-transom submissions, query letters, and word-of-mouth. But with NovelMaker.com, literary agents can read new works of fiction online, see the results of ratings and reviews by users on our site, and see whose works may be commercially viable – because our large, online community has voted!

For editors and publishers, the opportunities are limitless. We will post their upcoming titles for free, and give them the opportunity to review new works of fiction, provide comments, and, most importantly, see what will sell based on our community response to new works. What better “testing ground” for an editor looking for the next best-seller?

You will be astonished to hear that NovelMaker's founders consist of a banker, a lawyer, an inventor, and a computer programmer.

#227 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:32 AM:

Sarah S (#213), when I hit the Disclaimer section of the entry form for that competition, alarm bells started ringing, You're giving them permission to poke their noses into your whole past life. Fourth and fifth paragraphs.

It feels a bit odd in other ways, but the process looks a lot like the business of submitting a book to a commercial publisher. Sample chapters, an outline, and $1000 for ten finalists who will compete for the $10000 prize by finishing the book.

And you can win even more if the book is published and sells 10,000 copies in the first year.

I'll let the professionals comment on the publishing side, but I think the nosey parker clause stinks. It's not limited to spotting another Atlanta Nights, or uglier fraud; it reads like a carte blanche

"Whatever the writer of this book has written, he has written by my authority and for the good of the state."

(Yes, I'm feeling very cynical today.)

#228 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Self Storage. The idea of just putting myself aside for a while until I really needed me again has always had a certain appeal.

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:40 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 223... You'll never get to First Base with a line like that.

THIS First Base?

#230 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:47 AM:

#199 ::: Russ

picnic

#231 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:50 AM:

I hadn't yet read it written this way, just skimming through the comments, and it's no longer such an interesting comment to make, but can't you think of the items in the heading as things that don't work the way you might imagine they work?

#232 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:53 AM:

Dave Bell @ #227

Agreed. That's a creepy clause. I can understand why it's in there, though, since there's such a decided agenda to the work they're looking for. They probably want to make sure that the winning submission isn't written by someone who's anti-market and anti-freedom...except when they're being paid to be pro-market and pro-freedom.

But yes, creepy.

#233 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Serge (212) and the other Jackman fans watching the film will be agog to see him as soon as possible. In other words, they'll be hoping Hugh's on first.

*koff*

Meanwhile, Patrick (#214). I suspect what you were attempting to link to at Talking Dog was this little mention (dated Sep 3) at http://thetalkingdog.com/archives2/000913.html

#234 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 11:55 AM:

Making Light, the place where a person can use the word 'agog' in reaction to someone's pleasant physical appearance and readers know what that means.

#235 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 11:55 AM:

I'm having to convert between degrees and radians, and octal, binary, decimal, and hexadecimal...

#236 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Serge @#234: Not to mention Gog and Magog.

#237 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Dave/Sara: That clause is creepy (for a publisher). It's as broad in scope as the similar clause used for security clearance background investigations (as used by the DoD and most police forces).

Which seems counter-intuitive (though not surprising) for a "L"ibertarian venture.

I really liked this bit "Entries that advance themes or characters who promote government-sponsored solutions; vilify entrepreneurship; degrade personal initiative, self-reliance and responsibility, or regurgitate discredited myths and misconceptions about liberty and free enterprise will not be favored.

One wonders just which discredited (and by whom) myths and misconceptions are heretical, and which are orthodox.

Even were I hoping to be the next Shulman, I wouldn't be doing it through so top-down and controlling a medium (not that I think them likely to spend the thousands, to tens of thousands of dollars such a background investigation would take; and thats with the help of an honest participant answering a whole lot of intrusive questions).

Were I them, I'd not care what else someone had written. If someone can crank out a good story, which feeds the tropes they want, it doesn't matter what else they've written, nor what they "truly" believe. The story will sell, or it won't.

I do point out the extra 90 grand is pretty much illusory. They don't publish the book, so the winner has a year to get it submitted to a publisher, bought, on the shelves, and sold.

Looking at the guy handling the contest, well his background is narrow (went to a special purpose business college, which boasts the campus is near Dow's Chemical and Corning Plants (wha? this is an incentive?) and Northwood is for students who are ready to get down to business and who have every expectation of success. Northwood is also for students who are ready to get caught up in the college spirit. Are you ready? This will be a great time.

In October it seems they are appealing to Geologists (as well as soldiers, sailors and journalists; the first two of which certainly predate geologists as an alcohol based life form; the last can't be any later than contemporanous. Being/having been in two of those professions... well perhaps it explains my interest in rocks) by having an "Alcohol speaker" to go with the ettiquette dinner, international car show and poster sales which fill the Michigan Campus Calendar.

I am also amused that this is the Mackinack Center for Public Policy fronting this excecise in political potboilers, given the discussion of "ck" transitions.

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Mar Dell @ 236... Does Gog live in Québec's town of Magog, near lake Memphremagog?

#239 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Damn it... Mackinac.

By the way, I read some of Mr. Marshall's writing.

For myself, Blyechhh.

The rest of the Mackinac Center's page is about what one would expect.

#240 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Alex #226: You will be astonished to hear that NovelMaker's founders consist of a banker, a lawyer, an inventor, and a computer programmer.

Doomed to fail without a VP of e-Piracy...

#241 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 01:04 PM:

I'm considering...self-publishing. Not for me, for my mom.

Before everyone jumps on me! I'm conflicted about this. I come from a nice academic family that believes strongly in traditional publishing*. But mom has a collection of very good poetry, of a sort that was fashionable about 50 years ago. Her family and friends would all like copies, and the bookstore at the small college where she teaches would probably be pleased to carry it. We'd prefer to go the normal route and try to publish poems in journals and such, and then try for a small press collection. But. She's 80 years old and not in good health.

I'm looking at Lulu and googling "self-publishing" and feeling squicked, but I think this may be the best way to go for this sort of thing. I haven't proposed it to her yet, because she will also be squicked initially, but I think she would ultimately really enjoy having a book in hand that she can give to people.

So, what does everybody think? If I do this, what's the best way to go? I can do a nice cover design, but beyond that, I don't know what to do, other than to avoid PA and other vanity presses. Selling at amazon or whatever isn't really important, so much as having a small & renewable supply of good-looking books in hand that we can distribute to interested parties.

*Dad's books

#242 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Mary Dell, I suspect that you may find more fans of Lulu around here than you may think.

Every sensible professional I've ever seen talking about the subject has said that self-publishing/POD is perfect for the kind of thing you're talking about, which isn't something a traditional publisher is likely to bite on in any case. I own a couple of Lulu books (including the one linked above), and they're perfectly nice little trade-sized paperbacks; for a book of poetry that looks and feels like an actual, yanno, real book, it's probably just about right.

#243 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Open thread!
A quiz to discover which book of Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles you are - of possible interest?

Mary Dell @ 241 ... not that I'm any sort of authority, but I've heard from more knowledgeable people that poetry, especially poetry meant for a fairly limited audience, is a good choice for self-publishing. And Lulu is both easy to use and honest, going by what I've read on Absolute Write and here.

-Barbara

#244 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Submitting one's manuscript to the Mackinac Center: mackinacking?

#245 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Barbara @ 243

ROFL!

#246 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Mary Dell @ #208, I was thinking that Norman was a member of the immediate family, thus a nurturer (although the idea of Norman Podhoretz nurturing anything other than a rabid wolf seems unlikely), while Engle was part of the younger Podhoretez's environment, thus nature.

If I've got the concept precisely backwards, somebody tell me.

#247 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:22 PM:

#221 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) reminisced:
Reminds me of a girl I dated in college who insisted that her first sexual experience was so uninteresting that five minutes later she was completely unscrewed and a virgin again.

Perhaps she'd have had better luck if she'd tried nailing instead of screwing. Then again, I can imagine that it could hurt a lot if you got nailed the wrong way.

#248 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Barbara @243:

Of interest all right. Should we use this to flush out Dunnett-lovers, do you think?

#249 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Linkmeister @#246: If I've got the concept precisely backwards, somebody tell me.

Indeed you do. Nurture is your environment & experiences; Nature is what's bred in the bone.

#250 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Jann @ 248... Should we use this to flush out Dunnett-lovers, do you think?

There goes Elmer Fudd.

#251 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Mary Dell @ #249, Oh hell. Getting that reversed in my brain is going to be a struggle. Ah well.

#252 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:03 PM:

243, 248: I'm Checkmate.

And oh by the way, Barbara, thanks...now I need to go back and reread them all, in my copious spare time. I borrowed them in early grad school, and I've forgotten nearly everything, except my mad crush on Lymond.

#253 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:23 PM:

I'd just like - again - to thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday, belated or not, as well as those who meant to and didn't, and those to whom it never occurred; not to mention those who will decide, at some point in the future, that they ought to have wished me a happy birthday.

Henceforth I will take it as read that everyone wishes, or will wish, that I had a happy birthday on September 11, 2007, unless they explicitly tell me they don't, in which circumstance I hardly think I owe them any thanks.

Seriously...thank you all. Yesterday was a rotten day, but significantly and noticeably less rotten because of the wishes expressed here and via email.

You are my family.

#254 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:29 PM:

Mary Dell @ 241: In my understanding, what's sleazy about PA & company is not the simple fact of "publish on demand." It's the fact that they con people by claiming to be a real publishing house. They promise fame and fortune, when that's not something you get through POD. It's not that POD in itself is bad -- it's that lying through your teeth and pretending you're a traditional publisher when you're demonstrably not one is bad.

Lulu is one of the decent POD companies. They don't lie about what their business is and they don't lie about what you're paying for. Seriously, just look at the difference in the Lulu website and the PA website -- even just the titles. Lulu says "Self Publishing," PA says "Book Publishing."

So yes, if you are publishing something for your own purposes, and just want something nicely bound that you or she can give to friends and family, Lulu is great.

#255 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:32 PM:

O HAI! I CAN HAS YASID?

Um. That is to say, can the phosphorosphere please perhaps shed some light on the provenance of some story identifications?

Date that stories were read is unknown, alas.

These may all be shorts in the same collection (the first one is most certain):

1) Man sits down in guard's chair in British Museum, near Egyptian exhibit. Falls asleep, wakes up after Museum is closed for the night. Sees guard, who is, by the way, rather swarthy, messing about in tomb/sarcophagus of a particular mummy that is on display. Guard explains that he is actually 4000-year-old Egyptian sorcerer who discovered elixir of immortality. Mummy was his former colleague, who discovered antidote to elixir of immortality, which sorcerer now wants.

2) Journalist goes to interview general. Finds that general has lost all his limbs.

3) Man waits for train in Underground. Falls asleep. Wakes up, sees that next train is in twenty years...

#256 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Xopher @253:
If I recall correctly, you are also in the "there but for fortune" set of people with regard to that late unpleasantness which has rather interrupted the unbridled joy that should always greet your natal day*.

If my recollection is correct, that's another reason to be grateful for a date which not only saw you into the world, but also saw your continued existence.

-----
* and my parents' anniversary as well

#257 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Let me consult my handy-dandy parts-of-speech dictionary. Let's see: arc, bivouac, frolic, magic, medevac, mimic, panic, physic, picnic, politic, shellac, sync, talc, traffic, zinc; and of those arc, sync, talc, and zinc are exceptions to the 'k' rule.

#258 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:13 PM:

y, 257: But of the exceptions, talc and zinc aren't verbs, and sync is short for synchronize; in fact a more common form is synch. So the only real exception is arc.

#259 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Owlmirror,

Your story #2 is a theme that pops up in several places. I think there's an English folk song uses the idea, while it was but the work of a moment to Google up The Man Who Was Used Up by Edgar Allen Poe.

#260 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Medivac: I always have trouble putting this verb in the past tense; ck, cc, ce, all of them look wrong to me.

Which is a pain, because I get to talk about it, having been medevac'd.

#261 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:37 PM:

The dictionary I am consulting definitely lists both talc and zinc as verbs, giving forms such as talced, talcing, and zinced. It also lists sync as informal, but gives synch only as a variation of sync; a bit of Googling says that sync in any form is several times more common than synch.

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:37 PM:

abi 256: You are, in fact, correct. And as a matter of fact the two facts are not unconnected; part of the reason I decided to go in at 10 that day instead of 8:30 was that it was my birthday and I decided to be self-indulgent.

#263 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Xopher (253) and abi (256) felicitations, and I too am nil nisi bonum about a date on which my wife survived open-heart surgery (as I mentioned in OT90). In response to abi's question, the recovery is going very well at this point; she's getting out of the ICU on the early side and may be returning home before the weekend. Then it's 6-8 weeks of light duty while her sternum recovers from the lizziebordenation.

All this arose from preparation for a hip replacement which, though postponed, will be safer with her ticker tocking on all cylinders.

#265 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Happy belated birthday, Xopher!

[reads #253]

Oh, good, now I don't have to say it. What a relief!

#266 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Serge, I don't know if you remember, but a little bit ago I said I was moving Forbidden Planet to the top of my Netflix queueueueueueueueue?

Well, weirdly, as soon as I did that, it went from Availability: NOW to Availability: LONG WAIT to Availability: VERY LONG WAIT, and now it's been moved to my "Saved Movies," where they keep movies they don't actually have. Did they only have one copy, and someone stole it? I don't understand.

Ah well. I guess that's why Yog-Sothoth gave us video stores.

#267 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:08 PM:

ethan @ 266... My offer still stands.

#268 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Serge, only if you literally never want your copy back. I try to be a good man, but I know myself.

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:12 PM:

ethan... Hmmm... I do watch it once a year so I guess I'd want it back. Say, do you want my DVD of Fantastic Four? That's something I'll never watch again.

#270 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Xopher #253
Wow.

#271 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Exploiting the open thread:

Did anyone else know that Larry Craig voted against the Patriot Act extensions, and that Bush apparently called him a traitor in public for it? Isn't that interesting?

It makes me wonder what fraction of Republicans, or congressmen in general, who voted against the Patriot Act or other laws of that kind, have since run into scandal or something.

Am I missing something here? This seems creepy as hell to me. Maybe I *do* understand why the Democrats went along with the warrantless wiretapping stuff now....

#272 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:39 PM:

Dave Bell @ #259: Excellent, thanks! That does indeed look exactly like the story that was described, including the bit about the General appearing to be at first a bundle on the floor until all of his parts are attached.

When the story was described to me, I was strongly reminded of an unnamed General who appears briefly in L. Frank Baum's John Dough and the Cherub (on the Isle of Phreex, no less), but none of the other details matched.

#273 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Kathryn @264:

They're just stealing from the ways that people have been kre8tyvlee naming their kids for years.

#274 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:10 PM:

albatross @ 271

Well, he does appear to have some personal problems apart from his not voting the straight Party line. (Apparently his private life has been the subject of rumor, speculation, and suppressed news coverage for about 25 years. And his kids are known to be his wife's from her first marriage.)

#275 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Mary Dell @ #241: Other people here know much more about this than I do, but I can confirm Lulu as a good way to go. An octogenarian friend of mine recently published a small run of her autobiography through Lulu. More accurately, one of her sons took her manuscript and, thanks to Lulu, gave her a birthday present of a small run of a nicely designed and produced paperback which she in turn has given to her grandchildren and sold for a modest sum to selected friends. I was one of the friends. I wouldn't have got to read her story otherwise, and I'm very glad I did.

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 07:47 PM:

<OT>
Being in love with someone who's emotionally unavailable is bad.
Being in love with someone who's physically unavailable is worse.
</OT>

#277 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Jonathan Shaw @ #275, agreed. The baseball blog I frequent published a collection through Lulu

A 325-page book featuring the top selections from this website from 2002-2005.
with the desired result: nearly everyone who comments there bought a copy (partially, no doubt, to determine whether their own deathless prose made it into the book; see index-checking).

#278 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:02 PM:

y @ 257: All those exceptions to the K rule have another consonant before the C. None of the others do. I expect that's why those four are exceptions.

#279 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Demosthenes #225, Graydon, et alia* on Ricardo and fair trade etc.:

Interlopers (like ?Miami? in a post above) disrupt a trade balance in the short term, but it's still possible to have the net benefit of trade to a city be worth the risk. (Ideally, the city would invest some of its profits in risk-management like, oh, farmland preservation and education and small-business incubators.)

And planning to export rather than importing only works if you can enforce it on another market; if the plan is good enough that every city can use it, we all have to import as well as export, at which point Ricardo-with-caution is relevant again.

#280 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Xopher @ 276... What happened?

#281 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Dan Hoey #263: There were a couple of important things I learned through my own quadruple bypass.

1. Supervised rehabilitation is a good investment.

2. Don't try to tough it out and not take enough pain medication due to fear of addiction. I received a fairly severe tongue-lashing from a charge nurse on that point, and it's one I won't soon forget.

#282 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Sarah S @ #215:

I've never seen "cordless screwdriver" used in such a way that it might be considered a retronym. In my experience, it invariably refers to that variety of electric screwdriver that runs off a battery, thus not requiring a power cord.

(Incidentally, my favourite odd Father's Day gift of those I saw advertised this year was a cordless screwdriver, or possibly a cordless drill, that came with a free remote-control car designed to run off the same battery pack.)

The old-fashioned manual-power screwdrivers are still just called "screwdrivers", with no additional qualifications.

#283 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:34 PM:

Dan Hoey: Look into getting some Occupational Therapy. Not just for her, but some for yourself as well.

OC isn't about employment, it's about how one occupies one's time. It's actually about everything one does.

PT is about being able to use your body, OT is about making it, even when impaired, do what you want it to.

#284 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Xopher - I should have wished you a happy birthday, but was a bit late to the party. May you have happy unbirthdays, starting....now.

#285 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Serge 280: Nothing. That's the problem. It keeps not happening.

#286 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Xopher #285: Sing it, sister.

Let's pretend I said something less gay that means that same thing.

#287 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 10:47 PM:

The Zombie Feeds Tonight

We-de-de-de De-de-de-de-de De-zom-um-um-ba-way
We-de-de-de De-de-de-de-de We-zom-um-ba-way

CHORUS:
A-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh, a-zombieweh

In the graveyard
The haunted graveyard
The zombie feeds tonight
In the graveyard
The eerie graveyard
The zombie feeds tonight

CHORUS

Near the village
The peaceful village
The zombie feeds tonight
Near the village
The quiet village
The zombie feeds tonight

CHORUS

Hush, my darling
Go hide, my darling
The zombie feeds tonight
Hush, my darling
Go hide, my darling
The zombie feeds tonight

CHORUS

We-de-de-de De-de-de-de-de De-zom-um-um-ba-way
We-de-de-de De-de-de-de-de We-zom-um-ba-way

#288 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 11:07 PM:

OtterB, #224: Yes, that's certainly part of the fun -- but the results are frequently of high enough quality that I'd greatly enjoy a more physical record. We have poets here who put every Poet Laureate of the past 50 years to shame.

Paula, #235: There's a quick-and-easy trick for converting from binary to octal. Divide the binary code, from right to left, into groups of three; then convert each group to its decimal equivalent (which will be 0 thru 7), and hey presto! you've got your octal number. Works for binary-to-hex too, if you use groups of 4 and include the letters. Furthermore, you can also do it in reverse to go from hex or octal to binary.

Xopher, #276: Ouch. Sympathies. However, based on personal experience, I'll argue that your second statement holds only if the first statement doesn't apply.

Earl, #281: ISTR hearing that one is actually less likely to become addicted to drugs which are being taken for physical pain, even if taking large quantities. I could, of course, be remembering this all wrong, and welcome enlightenment if so.

Random thought triggered by several comments: perhaps it would be a useful idea to have a "Reclaiming 9/11" party, where people who have birthdays, anniversaries, or other reasons to have happy memories associated with the date could get together and talk about them without fear of being shot down for daring to be happy on a Day Of National Tragedy. I'll bet the concept would become popular.

#289 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2007, 11:44 PM:

My new laptop has Windows Vista.

Windows Vista is like:

You go to an art supply store. You want a pad of bristol board, an X-Acto knife, and a can of fixative. You know where the store keeps them and what brand you need.

As soon as you walk into the store, a perky young clerk rushes up to you. "We have CRAYONS!" she says, in a happy enthusiastic voice, as though talking to a toddler. "Look all the cul-orrs! What's your favorite cul-orrr?"

When you try to explain that you're not interested, she looks puzzled and hurt. "You're looking for . . . bristol board? Is that wood? I think we have craft popsicle sticks?" She asks another clerk if the store has boards of wood.

"There's some basswood in the miniatures section? But it's really not a board?"

You explain that bristol board is a kind of stiff paper.

"OOOOOHHH!" the clerks shout, and you find yourself dragged to an aisle stocked with construction paper, and you're handed a pair of plastic safety scissors because they're safer for kids than X-Acto knives.

You get away and try your best to find what you need. You can see in the distance the sections where you know where the stuff you need is, but there is a maze of displays and new aisles in the way, full of Spider Man and BRATZ fuzzy-poster art kits and tubes of glitter and, for some reason, a rack of Baby Einstein videos and people selling car insurance.

And if you ask anyone for help, they bring you up front and try to sell you crayons.

#290 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:42 AM:

Bruce @ 222: "I was clueless on this one too. I guess you only know this stuff if you're middle-aged; after that it's all uphill both ways in the snow."

Before middle-age too, apparently.

What gets to me is that I didn't get it precisely because it's such a good acronym--the idea of "captcha"-ing bots masquerading as human was so natural it never even crossed my mind that it might be an acronym.

#291 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 01:13 AM:

abi @ 256

If my recollection is correct, that's another reason to be grateful for a date which not only saw you into the world, but also saw your continued existence.

I second this sentiment. And Xopher, I really want you to feel good about it the way we do, though I know that's not easy to do; there must be many mixed emotions involved. Yes, I do feel like part of your family.

#292 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 01:59 AM:

Thinking of the 9/11 conflict between personal joy and national sorrow, I briefly considered 11/11 and wonderwed what people did. But then I recalled that 11/11 was the day the shooting and killing stopped. While there was the sombre remembrance of the dead, and the uncanny silence at 11am, every 11th of November, it marked the End, not the Beginning.

We don't seem to do much about VE-Day and VJ-Day, but, as British life has evolved, we have that day to remember the dead of all wars, and mark in our minds that wars do end. That, after solemn music and the laying of wreaths, there are people who came back, marching past the Memorial to the brighter tunes of military ceremonial.

It seems obvious to me that 9/11 should be forgotten by most of us. Aside from personal grief, there is nothing good in remembering it. It is a gnawing canker in the soul of America, maybe even a cynical drumbeat to call men to the colours for an endless war. But until this endless war is ended, there's no dawn; no light to contrast with the darkness.

Maybe every political War on X is a false war; a cynical exploitation of patriotism. Maybe it has roots in rhetoric: some national struggle against a national problem. But war is a corruption of civil society: a throwing away of the normal rules of social intercourse. Even a police officer has to explain every death he might inflict. The soldier may question himself, yet is encouraged to kill.

Remembering 9/11 is turning us away from peace, whether it be the peace of Kings or Constitutions. And, unlike past wars, against the new Dark Ages that humanity can conjure, we have no clear marker for victory. There is no enemy capital to fly our flags over, whether that flag is the Stars-and-Stripes over Tokyo or the Golden Arches over Moscow. This is being fought as if it were a war between State and State, when the enemy is neither State nor Culture. It is a war between liars: between those who lie about the ideals of our culture, and those who lie about the ideals of Islam.

And all that 9/11 tells us is that this cannot end until we deny the deceivers.

#293 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 02:36 AM:

Dave Bell @ #292, my maternal grandmother's birthday was 11/11/1892. I wrote a brief birthday message to her back in 2002 on what would have been her 110th birthday.

She always felt joyous about her birthdate, as I recall.

#294 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 02:38 AM:

Xopher: If you are feeling conflicted about the date: You are not expendable. That you didn't die isn't your fault, and having been there would have made nothing better.

And you'd be pissed off at how people were playing with the fact of your dying.

Just my two-cents.

#295 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 02:50 AM:

Dave Bell @ 292

I agree that one of the great tragedies of 9/11 is how the deaths and injuries have been used for political advantage by cynical political operators and religious zealots. But that doesn't detract from the fact that the US suffered a real psychic and emotional blow that day, that we have still not recovered from.

That's not to say that the trauma justifies any action we've taken in revenge or retribution, or any bigotry we've explained by 9/11, but it is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Until the people of the US have recovered from the collective fear and anger and returned to a more rational view of the rest of the world all of world society will be distorted by it. I'm not at all trying to disown the rest of the people of my country for their feelings. I feel, however, that I have dealt with those emotions in the last six years, and don't feel I need to let them dictate my thoughts and actions, but I don't see that response yet from many of my compatriots.

The British reaction to the London bombing stood in sharp contrast to the American reaction to 9/11. I suppose it was because many people still alive in London remember the Blitz, and most of them remember the IRA bombings, so it's not a novel sensation, but one they've had to deal with before. That may be why I've been able to process it more easily than many other Americans, having been under fire myself. It's also true that on the morning of 9/11 I was recovering from a surgery which left me partially paralyzed and had no idea if I would recover any function in my right leg; I was horrified by what I saw on TV that day, but my emotional state at the time didn't have room for personal fear of harm from terrorists.

The US reaction to 9/11 is very much that of a person traumatized by violence: pulling in to oneself, away from others, denial of the trauma, irrational anger, etc. I wish there were some way to pull a vast couch up the country and have therapy sessions for the entire nation; failing that we're going to have to pull ourselves out of it the hard way, by finding all the reasons why disassociated anger and fear are detrimental to us, and why there are things in the world to be joyous about, no matter how much horror and evil may still be extant. In this respect we owe it to those of us who have birthdays, anniversaries, surgery, and memorials other than at Ground Zero to celebrate them as well.

We should always remember those who died in the Towers, just as we remember all our dead, because that's one of the things that makes us human. But remembrance is what we owe them, and ourselves, not martyrdom.

#296 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 04:27 AM:

Bruce, #295: A very large part of the problem is that America's political leaders and media powers are deliberately perpetuating it. It started the very day after the attack; you couldn't turn on a TV anywhere without seeing those horrible videos over and over and OVER again. I saw people I knew, unable to turn away from the TV, effectively driving themselves into PTSD. Some of them have been in that state ever since -- and the people who should be helping to lead us (collectively) out of it are instead doing everything they can to maintain that mindset. Bluntly, they keep picking at the scab in order to make sure it NEVER heals... because they can use people in that wounded emotional condition to further their own ends.

This is why I suggested "Reclaiming 9/11" parties upthread. On further thought, I think it might also be a worthy idea to spread thru the blogosphere. Next year, let's have an explosion of "Reclaiming 9/11" posts, wherein we give appropriate remembrance and then declare a moratorium on discussing the attack and turn the conversation to other things.

#297 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 06:05 AM:

#295: Good Things on September 11, according to Wikipedia:

Hungary opened its border with Austria. Thousands flooded into the West, and the Iron Curtain finally started to crumble. Within a year, eastern Europe was free. Today, a dozen former satellite states between the Oder and the Dnieper have fair elections. Europe, a battlefield either actually or in waiting for most of the 20th century, is prosperous and at peace. You can, at last, take a tram down Wenceslas Square and say to your neighbour "I don't think much of our present government".

Mars Global Surveyor reached its destination. After twenty years' hiatus, NASA was back at Mars. In the six years of its mission, MGS mapped our nearest planetary neighbour in unprecedented detail - and found evidence of flowing liquid water on the surface, not historically, but within the last decade. The volume of data now coming back from Mars is immense - and MGS was the first step in this new wave of exploration.

Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat met at Camp David, and agreed the accords (signed six days later) - the first significant step towards peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbours. Almost thirty years later, that peace holds.

Perhaps less globally significant - the referendum on the Scottish Parliament passed, and the Parliament was established again after an interregnum of about three centuries.

#298 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 07:19 AM:

Good things on 9/11... That's the day writer Sharon Lee was born. I make a point of remembering that, and of reminding Sharon.

#299 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Good things on 11 September:

The first act passed by the [Catalan] Parliament when it was created in 1980 declared September 11th as the Catalan National Day in the following terms: "(...) In times of struggle, the Catalan people used to mark a special day, the eleventh of September, as the National Day of Catalonia. A special day which, while representing the painful memories of the loss of liberties, on the eleventh of September 1714, and an attitude of struggle and active resistance to oppression, also embodied the hope of total recovery of its nationhood. Now that Catalonia is back on its path to freedom, the representatives of the People think that the Legislative House should sanction what the Nation has already unanimously decided. Therefore, the People of Catalonia, by the powers vested in its Parliament, establishes the following law
"Article one. The eleventh of September is declared the National Day of Catalonia.
"Article two. This act will come into force on the day of its publication in the Diari Oficial de la Generalitat.
"I hereby order that all citizens to whom this act is applicable cooperate in its implementation and that the Tribunals and Authorities to which it corresponds see to its compliance."

#300 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:35 AM:

Lee #296:

Yeah, for whatever reason, the emotional impact of the attack was massively amplified by showing those images again and again and again. It's like someone really wanted us to get those fixed in our minds. And the images were arresting.

I think a lot of the impact of this on national policy has to do with the main targets and victims of the attacks. These weren't random people on a bus or plane, they were largely people at the top of our society--the wealthy and powerful. The anthrax attacks re-enforced this for media types.

The emotional impact hit everyone, but I can't help thinking that the policy response might have been different if 3000 poor and powerless people had died. (Or even 1000 such, as in Katrina.) The people who were in the best position to make policy, and who usually would have hit the brakes on emotionally satisfying but unwise policies were largely frightened and enraged, and so they didn't. We got the Patriot Act by an overwhelming vote. We got invasion of Afghanistan, and even invasion in Iraq, with substantial support of the people who would normally have questioned such a thing.

People make bad decisions scared and mad. If Bin Laden and company's aim was scaring and enraging our decisionmakers into making bad decisions, it succeeded.

#301 ::: Del ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:59 AM:

Our equivalent of 9/11 isn't 11/11, it's 11/5. Four centuries after that religious fanatic conspiracy to blow up a public building was foiled, we still remember, remember the fifth of November. We stopped torturing again (after we started again after stopping the first time), and the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed after only two and a half centuries and a Gordon Riot or two, but America has a long way to go if it wants to match us for long memories. The year 2401 at least.

#302 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:30 AM:

Lee, albatross

ISTM there are components of both intentional malice and traumatic obsession in the media deluge of images. And I agree completely that some of it was the result of an unusual fear in high places that, for once, they were vulnerable to the fortunes of war, rather than being the arbiters of the fates of their subjects.

It is time we reclaimed the day and our psyches from the onslaught of denial and despair. Fragano, the Catalonian attitude sounds like something well worth emulating: this day marks a time of sadness and grief, out of which must come a renewed commitment to our real values. We owe this to the memory of those we honor on that day.

So, in no particular order, here are some people we should thank the day for:

Leo Kottke
Harry Connick, Jr.
Lola Falana
O. Henry
D. H. Lawrence
Carl Zeiss
Pinto Colvig
"Bear" Bryant
Herbert Lom
Amy Madigan
Moby

#303 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Xopher @ #276: as someone who endured a 4 1/2 year long-distance engagement , I venture to say that the badness level depends on whether the unavailability is temporary or permanent.

Stefan @ #289 : and every few minutes all the lights go out and the staff take simultaneous smoke breaks.

Dave Bell @ #292: I suggest rather that 9/11 should be remembered, and that on every anniversary we (the U.S.) should ask ourselves: are our current policies making a repeat of 9/11 MORE or LESS likely? As the bumper sticker says, "We are making enemies faster than we can kill them."

Terry @ # 294: and Xopher would still be spinning in his grave to have his death blamed on Teh Homasexyulls.

#304 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #302: Hear! Hear!

(Herbert Lom? Now that's an example of a good sport.)

#305 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:27 AM:

Born on Sept 11... Virginia Madsen.

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Oh goodness... This coming Saturday, the Skiffy Channel will be... ah... treating us to Adrian Paul in Highlander: the Source. As their slogan says, Saturday is the most dangerous night on television...

#307 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Bruce #302:

Cue falling towers
Terror season; be afraid
We'll protect you, dears.

#308 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Re #287: Since the whole thing about zombies came from Afro-Caribbean culture, are there any genuine (so to speak) songs or chants relating to them? Do any of ML's many scholars have info on this? Just curious.

As for birthdays, 9/11 is by far the most difficult at the moment. But I expect it's not much fun for 12/25 people either -- for quite different reasons. The whole thing could be grouped under Awkward Birthdays, or some such label. (I was relatively lucky, as a 9/3 kid. B'day usually falls on Labor Day, which is very appropriate for my Mom's efforts, and the only negative is that my husband always has to work on the "holiday". And no, I'm NOT angling for belated congrats on making it a measly year further into middle age.)

#309 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:25 PM:

Happy birthday anyway, Faren.

#310 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:28 PM:

I'm enjoying Thackeray's The History of Henry Esmond, which is the first of his books I've read (someone gave me a copy a few years ago). Is the sequel The Virginians as good? Which of his other books are or aren't worth reading?

#311 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Stefan: That's a pretty good analogy. I prefer to say instead that it's like having your computer designed by the Transportation Security Administration. "You've just tried to copy a file. Do you really want to do that?" "Yes." "Please show your identification card, comrade!" "Here." [pause] "OK, you may copy that file." It's a daily battering with annoyances.

Also, the quite capable graphics card in my work computer runs like mud under Vista, even without turning on the special effects. (And sometimes it will inexplicably slow down and run even slower.)

To those of you who aren't required by your employer to use Vista, don't. If you need to replace your computer and can't find a source to buy XP computers, you'll find it less traumatic to switch to a Mac. Seriously.

#312 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Clifton @ 311

I understand XP is selling as well as Vista. ('We just bought new computers last year. Why do we need to replace them?' is probably being said a lot this year.)

#313 ::: Christina ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:48 PM:

I don't know what Teresa's doing for Cylert these days, but today I ran across a plea from another user who's run out. Issues can spread very far, very fast via Twitter; hopefully this new crusade will cause a few ripples.

#314 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Lee 288: Ouch. Sympathies. However, based on personal experience, I'll argue that your second statement holds only if the first statement doesn't apply.

Perhaps. And vice versa, though.

"Reclaiming 9/11" party...without fear of being shot down for daring to be happy on a Day Of National Tragedy.

I like this idea a lot. I think I'm just about done with the "I can't celebrate my birthday because it's on the DONT" moping.

Stefan 289: Ugh. And there's no way to turn all that off? If not...I'm going Apple next time I need a computer.

Bruce 291: Xopher, I really want you to feel good about it the way we do, though I know that's not easy to do; there must be many mixed emotions involved.

Yeah, though not as mixed as it was at first. I literally spent a year wishing I'd gone in early that day. I have since dealt with that feeling in therapy, thank gods.

Yes, I do feel like part of your family.

Good; I'm glad it's mutual.

Dave 292: But then I recalled that 11/11 was the day the shooting and killing stopped.

EVERYONE SANG
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on—on—and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
--Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).
(I sang a setting of the above words with the NYC Gay Men's Chorus; it was commissioned to celebrate the development of truly effective drug therapy for HIV. Like the end of the Great War that Sassoon was writing about (his friend Wilfred Owen had been killed a week before the Armistice), we'd all lost a lot of friends, but while we continued to mourn them, there was joy in knowing we might not lose any more for a while, and certainly not so many, so fast.)

Terry 294: I know that now. It was hard to realize at first, and I keep having fantasies about showing up at 8:00 on that day and screaming at everyone to get out. Less and less.

And I AM pissed at how they've used the deaths of my coworkers. Only the prospect of being a vengeful ghost makes it at all tempting to be dead!

And you're not expendable either, despite your occasional declarations to the contrary.

Bruce 302: You forgot Ferdinand Marcos, though his birth isn't exactly a reason to celebrate. On the other hand, any of you know Stuart Stinson? He's also a 9/11 baby.

Lila 303: How about if every couple of weeks or so you keep being told the separation is going to end! today! and then it doesn't, and that keeps happening for a year?

Yeah, I know, DTMFA. But he's got a hook in my heart (I suspect it's in a ventricle), and I can't imagine surviving pulling it out. I just want to figure out what's wrong and fix it.

Faren 308: My BF was born "late at night on December 24," which given that December 25 is considered an unlucky day to be born in his native Greece, probably means he was born on the 25th. And if anyone is a Kallikanzaros, it's him! (I just hope he's as immortal as Zelazny's character.)

And my mom's BD is 9/4.

#315 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 01:08 PM:

Since the whole thing about zombies came from Afro-Caribbean culture, are there any genuine (so to speak) songs or chants relating to them? Do any of ML's many scholars have info on this?

There's always Zombie Jamboree (the song that killed calypso) originally recorded by Lord Vader and his twelve penetrators, but presented here in a more familiar version.

#316 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Xopher #313: Sure there is. Wipe Vista and replace it with Windows XP. Or with Linux (of whatever your preferred flavor is). I've made a solemn vow that, until work forces me to do so, I'm never using a computer with Vista on it, and that I will never ever own one unless it's absolutely necessary.

#317 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Faren, #308: Actually, 12/25 isn't as bad as the few days immediately before it. My partner's birthday is 12/21 and his daughter's is 12/25. She was always able to handle it by celebrating her "half-birthday" on 6/25, and everyone understood that and got on board with it. He didn't have that option, but still had all the problems of having a Christmas-season birthday. The one year his parents agreed to let him have a party, all the kids he knew were either out of town or busy with family stuff, and he ended up with a bunch of people he didn't even know -- mostly the kids of his parents' friends or their friends. Not. Fun. Birthdays are still a huge sore point for him; I've been trying to work on reframing that, but I've got almost 50 years of bad mojo to counter and it's not going very fast. :-(

My birthday is in early May, and every 7 years or so it falls on Mother's Day and I might as well forget about going out for a nice birthday dinner, because every restaurant in town is packed for the Hallmark Holiday. (Now that my mother is dead, I don't plan to recognize Mother's Day ever again.) But that's a very minor annoyance by comparison!


#318 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Xopher @ #314: Yeah, that would pretty thoroughly suck. You have my sincere sympathy, and a wish that your situation works out as well as, or better than, mine has (27 years married as of this December).

#319 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Lila @ 318... 27 years married as of this December

Congratulations! On Sept 25, my wife and I will have been together for 22 years. (We were married a few months later, 2 days before Challenger blew up.)

#320 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Today at work I was assigned to observe someone I hadn't met yet to learn the job he's doing (whee, data entry!!!), and I noticed that he had on his desk a battered old paperback copy of Dangerous Visions. I don't generally think of myself doing this kind of thing, but I realized that I immediately started talking to him differently than I do to anyone else at work, more friendly and more like my outside-of-work self. It's especially weird to me that that happened so automatically because very few of my Real Life friends are SF people (sadly).

I don't know what my point is, here. I just didn't know what to make of my reaction.

#321 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:13 PM:

My birthday's on February 2, so it didn't become relevant till I became a pagan. It's not like Groundhog's Day (or even Candlemas) is a huge deal for anyone.

I think the Reclaiming 9/11 party is a great idea. And on a related note, Dubya's official bio is no longer the first hit when googling "miserable failure"; apparently Google's changed its serach algorhythms to thwart googlebombing. Alas.

#322 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Lee 317: She was always able to handle it by celebrating her "half-birthday" on 6/25

I tried that for a while. Then Al Qaeda bombed the Madrid trains on 3/11, and I gave up.

#323 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Paul A. wrote at #282:

I've never seen "cordless screwdriver" used in such a way that it might be considered a retronym. In my experience, it invariably refers to that variety of electric screwdriver that runs off a battery, thus not requiring a power cord.

"Cordless electric drills" or "cordless electric screwdrivers" is how I think of them. And "them", plural, is the proper term. I have about five, one -- the first one I owned [1] -- which won't recharge anymore; two that I can't find the recharge-cords for; and a big one that's more a drill than a screwdriver, with removable batteries that's more like what a pro would use -- it's really too much for 99% of the use I have for it [2], so mostly it sits in the basement waiting. But the fifth is really nice. It has a pistol-like grip that makes it easier to hold while screwing or drilling.

[1] When I bought my house, the cordless/rechargeable screwdriver/drill was one of the first new things I bought, and it was the most useful thing for putting together diy stuff like IKEA furniture and doing other small stuff. I think everyone should have at least one, and remember where the recharger is!

[2] I bought it because I needed More Power to drill a bigger hole in the front door to install a new lockset. The little cordless screwdriver/drills that I normally use are too weak for a heavy-duty drill job like that, or for masonry drilling.

The old-fashioned manual-power screwdrivers are still just called "screwdrivers", with no additional qualifications

Unlike, say, acoustic guitars. Or manual typewriters. I think "desktop computer" fits into the retronym category by now, too. As the handheld PDA/cellphone sort of thing gets more powerful and common, maybe "laptop computer" is starting to edge into that area.

#324 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Landline is my favorite retronym.

#325 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:29 PM:

xoper @ 276

Amen. until very recently I ended up in a lot of long-distance relationships. They suck. Esp. when the light at the end of the tunnel keeps receeding.

Faren @ 308

My birthday usually falls during thanksgiving week. The years where I've had pumpkin pie with candles are numerous- and my friends can never come help me celebrate. And it's no fun to turn 21 on a national holiday where the only people you can drink with are your (teetotaling) parents and grandparents.

#326 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Dave, #292: Thinking of the 9/11 conflict between personal joy and national sorrow, I briefly considered 11/11 and wondered what people did. But then I recalled that 11/11 was the day the shooting and killing stopped. While there was the sombre remembrance of the dead, and the uncanny silence at 11am, every 11th of November, it marked the End, not the Beginning.

A better analogy, for us, would be December 7 -- the "day that will live in infamy", the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The earliest Pearl Harbor Day that I would have been old enough to have any real memory of would have been the 20th anniversary, in 1961, and in fact I don't remember anything about it. Perhaps those who are old enough to have memories closer to the event could compare-and-contrast the way America responded to that vs. 9/11.

I do remember thinking, as one of the many thoughts I had on 9/11, something to the effect of, "Dammit, we were JUST getting to the point of letting go of Pearl Harbor and now here's something else that will fit right into the same slot."

ethan, #320: I do that too -- or did, when I had a day job. I don't think it's an unusual reaction to discovering that you have an "outside" connection with someone at the office.

Xopher, #322: DA-yum, boy, if you didn't have bad luck you'd have no luck at all!

#327 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Re "cordless drill" and its predecessor tech:

Well, there was the "Yankee Screwdriver" which was... um, hard to explain; it had a spiral drive, you pressed down on the top and it went clockwise screwed in the fastener, and then when you released the pressure, the drive ratchet was released and it unwound so you could press on it again.

They didn't work very dependably, which I suspect is why they were replaced early on with driver bits in (corded) power drills.

I own two Makita 10mm 9.6v drills, which turns out to be a lot more useful than having one of those hinky pilot hole sets where you flip between drill and driver ends on a hex-mount bit, especially when you're setting a bunch of screws, not least because two people working together can drill pilot holes and set screws at the same time (I do a lot of coersion of my adult offspring on big projects).

With drills, as with all other cordless tools, from blood glucose meters to saws, all praise is due the constant improvement in battery tech.

#328 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 04:06 PM:

We used to live in Capitol Hill in Denver, where the wild life mentioned (okay, not the zombies) strolled.

Peter Lorre sings:

In the early morning rain
With blood upon my hands
And an aching in my skull
And my teeth all full of strands
I'm a long way from my isle
And no one likes my smile
In the early morning rain
I'll start leaking in a while

Out on ho stro' number nine
Big Lucille is set to go
Stuck my hand up through the grass
Lucille going down once mo'
Dura matter tasted good
Tho' her pimp was sure aghast
We sure dirtied up the 'hood
Brains all eaten up at last

Hear the mighty loa roar
With a new way to get high
Grabbed the bod of that crack ho
Far above the clouds she'll fly
She won't feel it when she lands
Likely splatter in the park
Entrails scattered on the sands
Masticated before dark

This old grind has got me down
Shreds are falling off of me
Want to creep back underground
Cold and rotten as can be
You can't jump a jet plane
With a rotten zombie brain
So I'd best be on my way
But at least I feel no pain


#329 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 04:16 PM:

I don't think Landline is a retronym. I seem to recall using long before cell phones were common (much less ubiquitous).

I know that, in the Army (and I'm told in ham/shortwave radio) we make the distinction between radio comms, and wire-based (a cable dog carried a spool of about 1,000 feet on his back).

The TA-312 field telephone is the classic, being capable of running 12 phones on a 3 mile circuit (with the interesting ability to operate a s voice activated/powered phone when the batteries are out; by the simple expedient of reversing the mouth/earpiece. Ringning is done with a generator; built into the phone, so getting attention, even when out of juice is no problem), and is always referred to as a means of landline commo.

There's some (anectdotal, like mine) support for this at Eggcorns

A friend says they were using it in '64, when he was in the AF in Nam, because they had radio, and land comms.

#330 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Lee: I think people didn't have the same sense of Pearl Harbor because it became a starting point for something everyone had a stake in.

This one (to separate it from what I was told was the seminal event of the age.... the shooting of JFK) didn't have that. We were told the world changed (which differentiates it from the shooting), and yet... we were called on to do nothing.

Rather the thing we were told we had to face is that the only thing we have is fear itself.

Our gov't tells us to wallow in it (with colored alerts, and links of every possible thing to terrorists with fell intent, until that fails to pan out and they just ignore it... which adds to the miasma of fear).

So the trigger for all that fear is kept alive; since none of the purgative effects of purpose which it could have been harnessed to actually took place.

We are in a state of arrested development.

#331 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 04:31 PM:

On birthdays: my daughter was born on April 1st. She was due on March 27, so we joked that if she gets teased for having an April Fool's birthday, we'll just tell her it's her own fault for being late.

#332 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Terry #330:

I think this is the kind of problem that can't be solved in a spectacular way, which is kind of what you can get from a conventional war. I can't see that we will ever objectively get a victory, so much as just notice that AQ-linked attacks fall off. It's not like killing or arresting OBL, or any of the thirty-five #2 men in Al Qaida we've captured or killed, ends the war.

I suppose a lot of other weird aspects to the war on terror also appear in conventional wars. You can suspect that the government is using the war as a pretext for power grabs and rewarding friends with sweetheart deals in a conventional war, and you can learn not to believe most of what you're told by the government or media.

#333 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:02 PM:

albatross: But I don't think it had to be that way.

We might rather have been told, "There are people who are willing to commit heinous acts to change what we do, who we are, and how we act.

We are not the only nation to face such problems, the Basque separatists in Spain, the Tigers in Sri Lanka, the IRA in Ireland; and the UK, all have afflicted those nations.

Like them we will remain true to our ideals. We will mobilise our police, streamline out intelligence. See where are failures were and close our vulnerabilities, but we will not cower.

As FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself," if we give in to fear we grant them a victory, in a struggle which will never end; just as poverty can only be ameliorated, not eliminated, so too will those who feel marginilised magnify their greivances, while those who are marginal will manufacture them.

If we overreact, and give up our liberties, villianize those who share nothing more than nation, language or religion with those who have attacked us, be they Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Jew; Nationalist or religious fanatic, then we not only grant them a minor victory in a skirmish, but cede to them the field of battle. For if we let them make us demonize those with whom we have no quarrel, we will forfeit allies.

No, rather we shall affirm what we have always been. We have made mistakes; and for those we must own up, but nothing we have done justifies the targetting, the killing, the terrorising of a nation, much less the random killing of those who were not Americans, but merely victims of circumstance.

The FBI, the CIA, Interpol, and all those who are willing to aid us in the search will bring the investigative powers of the offended to bear. Make no mistake, the people who did this will be found. The case will be solid, and they will be brought to justice.

We will persevere. We will find them. We will show the world, in open court, that they did this.

And they will be punished."

That would have put things in context. It would (had it been done) have kept the wealth of world sympathy which we were given.

We would have gained stature; for not resorting to the temptation to lash out. And; if we did that (made a plain case) we would have allies from those who are now against us.

But we didn't have anyone in power who could see that. If we did, they didn't care.

#334 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Oops.

"Our" failures. I did that all first/only draft.

#335 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:13 PM:

What if.. What if Al Gore had not had the Presidency stolen from him?... That of course assumes another big what-if, that the Democrats wouldn't then have done something stupid to prove to Fox News and to the GOP that they're not a bunch of wimps.

#336 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Very well said, Terry. It's a shame, no, more than a shame, it's a tragedy that we hadn't a President who could have delivered that speech.

#337 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Xopher #314: Your bf's name doesn't include 'Conrad', 'Constantine', 'Nomikos' or 'Karaghiosis' by any chance?

#338 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:38 PM:

"Internet People": the vid so nice, it was Particled thrice!

#339 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:47 PM:

@#337: Names are merely the wind blowing by.

Did he have a club foot? Did he ever say "Feathers or lead"? Was he tall, and unusually strong? Did he remember more about the past than made sense for someone of his apparent age?

#340 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 05:58 PM:

I have no idea why I used the past tense.

Say, speaking of Zelazny, I seem to recall reading as the introduction to a Zelazny story, "Sing, O muse, not of what was, nor of what is, but another tale", or something like that.

Google has been unhelpful in tracking it down, since I may be misremembering the provenance, and I am almost certainly not remembering the exact phrasing.

#341 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 06:06 PM:

I appear to have been one of the odd ones (so what's new?) who had a different fear on 9/11. My fear was that "they" would use it as an excuse to commit things like the USA PATRIOT Act. I really, really, did not like being proved right.

#342 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 06:11 PM:

VCarlson #341: The moment my mind calmed down enough to have reactions, that was my first.

#343 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Shellacking.

Another common exception: siccing (though sic can also be spelled sick [in that sense] according to Web. 11, so sicking is also acceptable--though I don't like it).

#344 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:07 PM:

I wear a headset radio during my evening dog walks, so I can listen to NPR or KBOO.

Tonight, I'm going to bring along my MP3 player and listen to an audio book about the history of the first Ponzi scheme.

You know, so I don't have to hear fracking @$$4073 commander in chief shove more bullshit our way.

#345 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:14 PM:

In my line of work, I deal with computer systems that panic.

Totally lose it, in other words. The Windows equivalent is the Blue Screen of Death. Macs display a sick computer icon.

Systems panic a lot during the early phases of testing a new release.

Some of my co-workers describe a system as panicing due to (circumstance).

That looks SO wrong.

Panicking. Ah, much better.

#346 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Stefan, a capital plan! For supplemental reading try the (new, in e-book form!) Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.*

Hmm. Who would be a good candidate to read that for an audio book?

*I've always thought Herb Caen would approve of the name of the guy who concoted the Mississippi land scheme: John Law.

#347 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Grr. "concocted."

#348 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:16 PM:

so I don't have to hear fracking @$$4073 commander in chief shove more bullshit our way.

...not listening. Not listening!

#349 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:27 PM:

Birthdays: Mine is also April 1st. And as I showed up two weeks early, there are stories about in-labor Mom saying, "No, really," to it's-April-Fools-Day Dad.

Side effects of the 4/1 birthday:
Some kids have a rotten sense of humor. But the sense of humor that you build is fun, if skewed and sometimes dark.
Saying "Wait, it's what? Really? *My birthday* is on April *Fools* Day?" totally straight faced (or really sarcastically) in response to ID-checking people can be fun.
People that know me rarely forget my birthday.(Can't imagine why. It's not like they see me and think of a foo-- oh. Never mind.)

#350 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Oddity. My Lj RSS feed just stuttered out Rats, Ship, Sinking to More Republican gay bathroom sex

I say stuttered, because it gave all of them to me as they happened.

#351 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Lee 326: I don't actually think it's entirely a coincidence. I think they chose the date because it was six months displaced.

Only in the middle of the night do I actually believe they will bomb something on any date whereon I celebrate my birthday.

Fragano 337: No, and he doesn't have a limp either. But no one ever said Conrad was the only kallikanzaros.

Owlmirror 339: He's small but perfectly formed, doesn't say "feathers or lead?"—yet, and remembers a good deal less about the past than you'd expect. And given his past, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

#352 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Xopher, I think you should pick a birthday, any day you like, and make it a tradition to blow stuff up. Pumpkins! Cucumbers! Old, nasty computers filled with viruses and dust! The possibilities are endless.

#353 ::: J MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:46 PM:

Ooh, I know somethng, just for a change.

Owlmirror (#255), your first story is The Ring of Thoth, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You can find it at the Gaslight website. Much good to be read there, yes!

Regards
Jo

#354 ::: J MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:49 PM:

Eeh, I know something, that is. I'll blame keyboard dyslexia, but we all know what it is, really...

Regards
Jo

#355 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:54 PM:

This talk about choosing birthdays reminds me of people who tried to time their kid's birth so that it would happen on the first minute of january 1, 2000. Ah, those innocent days...

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 09:58 PM:

J MacQueen @ 354... I'll blame keyboard dyslexia

Did you ever the story of the man who sold his soul to Santa?

#357 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Thanks, all, for the info about self-publishing my mom's poetry. I gingerly ran the notion past my parents, and they both loved the idea, as did my proper-academic-author brother, so I guess this is an okay way to go for this sort of thing, despite it being kind of against our religion. In fact, Dad wants me to put together a book of his poetry too, and maybe a little pamphlet of my late grandma's magazine articles, and whatever else they dig out of the attic. So now I get to geek out about book design and start making typographic ornaments and lino prints and stuff, while they edit the collection. Whee!

#358 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:12 PM:

Dan Hoey, I second Terry on OT. I've had it after every surgery and renal failure and it's really helped. A local hospital now calls it "Skills for Living."

Paul A., #282, I have a ratcheting screwdriver, which is a manual screwdriver, so there are indeed different types of manual screwdrivers.

Xopher, #314, that's survivor's guilt. I'm glad the therapy helped. I don't think mine needs therapy, but every now and then I'm overwhelmed by the thought that the three good friends who weren't as sick as I was (and am) have all died.

JESR, #327, my "yankee" screwdriver is a Craftsman and I've had it replaced by them once -- a drill bit broke. It's a big help to me since I'm not very strong any more.

(I tried to post the first two last night and the page kept freezing, so here goes....)

#359 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:17 PM:

My work life has been too full of drama these past couple weeks. See dragonet2 at LJ if you want details.

The thing I remember most about 9/11 was hoping that people I cared about were okay. I didn't know that I'd know and care about a lot of folks living in NYC and how close some of them came to peril.

Making Light is one of the bright points in my life. Meeting and getting to eat dinner with Patrick and Teresa at Conquest this year reinforced that my choices were right.

Happy belated birthday, Xopher, and many many more.

#360 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:22 PM:

Marilee: Living with an OT to be; that's not a bad title. It has the advantage of being something the patient can get her mind around.

There is, as I'm sure you know, a lot more to OT than just that.

Maia says I should have had some OT when I got to Walter Reed, and more when I got to Madigan. Mostly I made do, and it was more skills than serious changes in lifestyle that I needed, so I was able to do it by myself.

#361 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:44 PM:

J MacQueen @#353: Thank you kindly! A shining example of the luminescent power of the phosphorosphere.

That must be the story.

#362 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Marilee, it is possible that you are much easier on your tools than I am; my past is littered with broken and bent relics of Craftsmen past, and I once lost a pair of Felco pruners in the compost pile.

#363 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Hey!

Self-published poetry!

#364 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Re Stefan Jones at 289 and "skills for life:" my husband thanks you with the incisive analysis of Vista; the IT department of which he is part views with trepidation the moment MS will say that Vista is the one, true, and only operating system. Your piece did nothing to reduce the lingering fear, but he laughed anyway.

#365 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Serge@356: Have you read Fredric Brown's "The Angelic Angleworm"?

#366 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 11:17 PM:

CHip @ 365... I confess not having read that specific story by Fredric Brown. What is it about? An angel with geometry problems?

Someone should write a story about an angel who got a framing sword because the guy in charge of office supplies was hard of hearing.

#367 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Ad apropos of tools, I was Very Proud of my little Black & Decker cordless electric screwdriver. Until I got into my 1912 house.

It is no match for aged oak, and whatever is the structural framing for the wall behind the livingroom bookcases (both sides of the fireplace) is even proof against my Makita, I gave up when a drill bit broke in half and shot past my face...(I think it's 1912 oak framing and it has aged in place into rock-hard wood(\).

I got my professional Makita electric drill/screwdriverthe Christmas after we moved in and am still very grateful for it. Because the B&D one just went "Dink" when I tried to screw down a threshold piece in hardwood floor, then ran out of juice. At one screw....

#368 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 11:51 PM:

JESR #364: Vista is de debil. I look forward with dread the first time I have to rationalize Vista's malefic behavior to a consulting customer. It used to be that the standard fall back position for gnarled and twisty Windows tech support issues was to reformat and reinstall the operating system. The new standard fall back position, as far as I'm concerned, is to reformat and install Windows XP Service Pack 2.

"The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history" -- Peter Gutmann

#369 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2007, 11:53 PM:

Paula Hem Murray... apropos of tools

The wench with the winch wrenched her wrist as she hoisted the boy's buoy.

#370 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:14 AM:

When I graduated from college, my grandfather gave me a toolbox and some tools-- we'd hinted quite heavily that this would be a good gift idea. The idea, as I saw it, was to get his old tools, the ones he wasn't using, and possibly one of his grandfather's. He looked at his garage, thought, "Okay, that's not happening," and bought me a bunch of new ones.
I do have some old, old wire-stripper looking things, though.
I'm not completely thrilled with the tools, if only because I haven't gotten to know them yet. I bought a new toolbox so I could fit the hacksaw in, and have slowly added bits over the past year. My main tools are a magnetic screwdriver with changeable heads, a hammer, glue, and the Magical Glowing Knife.
When I want to use real tools, I visit friends who are learning woodworking. Routers are wonderful fun.

#371 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:20 AM:

Diatryma, the best thing I did (after our house was robbed and my late mother-in-law's tools were stolen) was to start going to garage sales and estate sales and buying old, crummy, grease- and sawdust-covered toolboxes; I got a whole millwright's case of grand old files that way. You can get other people's grandfather's tools, that way.

You sort of have to develop a feel for these things, though- sales that advertise tools are usually jammed, and often salted with WilMar and HarborFreight junk.

#372 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:36 AM:

Paula Helm Murray: Ah, old wood.

My grandmother's house was old (it had been moved to it's present location in 1896, a distance of some eight miles from it's previous location, which my grandfather remembered).

Back in the late fifties my grandfather (just barely keeping a promise to do it before she became a grandfather) was installing indoor plumbing (this was in Cleveland; just off the lake, how the world slowly changed).

Since he was there, she wanted him to replace the linoleum. The floor had buckled some. He (and muy uncle, whose wife was expecting my cousin John, who is nine years my senior) went to plane the ripples.

The plane chipped.

He sharpened the blade, and it chipped again.

The third time it chipped he'd exposed about half an inch of the wood, and could see the grain.

"Mildred, your linoleum's gonna have lumps." He'd been able to see that the wood was hickory, and not less than 70 years old.

#373 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:11 AM:

So I keep meaning to post this to an open thread, and <hamster>wow, like totally Sept. 11 apropos, dude</hamster>:

I have applied for my citizenship on September seventh, 2004 and passed all checks including the criminal background check and concluded my interview on December 10, 2004. Instead of approving my application, I was told that I needed to wait for my “name check” from the FBI to complete. Before filing suit, I waited for over a year without ever getting an answer from USCIS as to if and when my application will ever be approved, contrary to federal law, which strictly stipulates that the government has to make a final determination within 120 days from the date of the interview. Furthermore, I was approached and harassed by the FBI and was pressured to become an informant. All of the above caused me to resort to legal action.

—Zuhair Mahd, case background summary

A blind Palestinian computer whiz in Denver fought the FBI and Department of Homeland Security without a lawyer - and won. Now his case may help force the FBI to expedite background checks on aspiring citizens.

U.S. District Judge Walker Miller has ordered the FBI to complete a stalled background check within 45 days for Zuhair Mahd, 33, who passed all U.S. citizenship tests in 2004 but still couldn't get sworn in.

Denver Post, March 29 2007

The government began a last-ditch effort to deny citizenship for a blind Palestinian computer whiz in Colorado who recently won a lawsuit forcing the FBI to complete his long-stalled security background check....

U.S. District Judge Walker Miller in Denver last week ordered the government to prove why Mahd "should not be immediately naturalized." A hearing is set for Aug. 31.

Denver Post, August 15 2007

A federal judge bristled with what he called "sheer disbelief" at the government's failure to follow his order in the case of a blind Palestinian immigrant stalled in his quest for citizenship....

On March 22, he had ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to complete Mahd's background check within 45 days after Mahd filed a federal lawsuit on his own, his first legal case.

U.S. Attorney Troy Eid notified Miller that the check was done, with results forwarded to immigration officials, yet no documentation has been given to the court.

Today, before Judge Miller, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Weishaupl argued that the judge has no jurisdiction to handle this case.

"I have the jurisdiction to determine whether my order has been followed...," Miller said.

"What you are saying is: 'You have to have a name check.' But then there's nothing to show whether it's been done. I am not satisfied," he said.

Denver Post, August 31 2007

I did actually attend that hearing, and it was incredible. And by "incredible," I mean, it was a farce. I blogged my reaction at length already. Short story: They went around the mulberry bush something like 15 times: "But where is the documentation that the name check was done?" "There is no documentation, but it has been done." "How do I know that?" "Because a decision could not have been made on Mr. Mahd's citizenship application unless the name check had been done. Besides, you don't have jurisdiction in this." Lather, rinse, repeat. Burden of proof? What burden of proof? We don't carry burden of proof. We outrank the Judiciary. What we say is not to be questioned. I'm not exaggerating. Read the court transcript [PDF].

I can't find them now, but apparently one of the news stories online got a whole bunch of nasty comments along the lines that Zuhair and Judge Miller ought both to be deported. Sort of thing makes me despair for the country. Have to remember that people who comment on newspaper stories are part of a statistically insignificant self-selected group.

Anyway. Thought this sort of thing would be of interest to the ML community, and that more eyes should be on the case since (I think) it says so very much about what the current administration stands for. Zuhair's comment, over lunch after the hearing, was that the denial of his application explicitly cited his actions in bringing a lawsuit against the government as proof that he had not the necessary "attachment to the values and government of the U.S." for citizenship. That they'd deny him citizenship for, essentially, having the temerity to hold the government responsible to rule of law, says a lot about the kind of unquestioning obedience they want to see out of existing citizens. *shudder*

Tomorrow's Sept 14, the deadline for the defense to enter proof of the completed name check (and its actual results) into the record. I'm sure Zuhair will email me the moment he hears what happened with that.

Thanks for listening, y'all. *hugs*

And a belated happy birthday to Xopher. Another turn around the sun completed! Slainte!

#374 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Terry, when I was learning to make furniture, I found some gorgeous clear pine 1" X 12" at an architectural salvage store; it had been usd as shelving, lose on its brackets, and was... unflat.

I soaked it, set it under weights on a flat surface, and left it out in the sun.

Later, I told my daughter "don't try to straighten old pine, or change a man's eating habits."

#375 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:23 AM:

About Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time:

When my wife and I were in Boston for the 2004 Worldcon, we visited a bookstore where I found, among other things, a table of "Banned Books", which included the L'Engle (and The Diary of Anne Frank, too, for that matter). I've never read A Wrinkle in Time (would dearly love to, I have to say), so I have no idea what it is about that book that could lead it to be banned--but I figured if anybody would know why, it would be Fluorospherians. So, any ideas?

#376 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:56 AM:

Adrian@374

According to a cursory google, _A Wrinkle in Time_ has been challenged because the Happy Medium is an occult figure who uses Witchcraft, and apparently it was also challenged because some dipstick objected to having Jesus included in a list of people who fought darkness and upheld the light (philosophers, scientists, visionaries). Oops, did I say dipstick out loud?

#377 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:13 AM:

In the realms of... Christ on crutch.

Over at hullaballoo I've found someone who lives up the stereotype of the anti-war type who hates the troops.

She would say she loves the sinner, hates the sin, but since she thinks Xopher is wrong, in spades; I am not only expendable, but the value of it isn't in the end attained, but merely that I, or any other soldier, end up dead, "seen as a positive, in the struggle against the American, imperial terror occupation".

But, she hastens to add, by way of clarification that this is being tactful, and she has no hard feelings.

Well, I sure the fuck do.

Ok, enough whining, but damn she pissed me off.

#378 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:44 AM:

Re the Extermiknit Particle:

Nice one. It reminded me that I hadn't uploaded ny first Photoshop mashup to my webpage. It contains a Dalek.

#379 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:53 AM:

Earl Cooley III @368: The new standard fall back position, as far as I'm concerned, is to reformat and install Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Several months ago, I wanted to buy a new XP install CD at CompUSA, and was told that I couldn't; that they were only selling Vista.

I had a friend who bought a second-hand computer, but that computer didn't come with a XP CD, and had apparently been set up by a vendor with a one-time install license. Also, the previous owner couldn't remember the Administrator's password. Doing a fresh install seemed reasonable, but we couldn't go any further with it. It wasn't a pressing concern, so it hasn't been done.

Is it still possible to buy a new XP install disk?

#380 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:09 AM:

Terry @ 376

I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Take comfort from knowing that she's not at all typical of her biological species, at least the ones I know. She sounds to be about the same mental and emotional age as our old friend Swtjstr. Say, maybe we should get the two of them together for a blind-on-blind date?

#381 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:25 AM:

Giant lizards from another star have feelings too!

Seriously, that's stupid. One can clearly disagree with the Kaiser's foreign policy, without wishing for the German Army to all die. Luxemburg didn't want Liebknecht dead, just because he was serving at the front. And that's an extreme example, completely ignoring the complexities of Iraq.

But, well, she's a bit of an idiot, and a very extreme outlier. Most people disagree with her.

(Not, I'm sure, that you (or anyone else here), needs that pointed out...)

#382 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:29 AM:

Xopher: Belated happy birthday, and thank you. I think you've just given me a reason not to stumble over the name of the date. Instead it henceforth shall be Xopher's Birthday.

Possibly we may start a cult and all pretend to be Xopher? No, not feeling sufficiently ambitious. Maybe next year.

#383 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:38 AM:

Bruce: I know that, which is why I said I was whining. I think it was shocking, not so much what she said (I've had people tell me, in the abstract, as well as in the; decidedly, particular, that they wanted me dead) as the casual way in which she did it.

No hard feelings? What? How am I supposed to take that... you think my death would be a positive thing, and Christlike I'm supposed to accept that.

Or maybe I'm just supposed to accpet the guilt she shoves on me, and allow that being allowed to expiate, in the furtherance of her political agenda is reasonable.

She doesn't understand people if she thinks either of those are going to happen.

And she daft if she thinks I'm not going to jump on her for it.

But thanks for saying so. I shouldn't allow my being upset with her to keep me from saying that (and the same to everyone else who feels in a similar way; like Xopher you need not say it, I'll just take it as read).

#384 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:42 AM:

Diatryma @ 370: Veering back towards the original thread -- when "wire-stripper" shows up without the hyphen, I think, "Ah! Like unto a wire mother. That could be useful for conditioning. Ish."

I used to work at Radio Shack and sell gender changers. Also known as female-to-female or male-to-male couplers. Your schoolboy joke goes here. One of my genderqueer friends wears one around hir neck and enjoys the reactions when explaining the purpose of this little connector doodad to others.

#385 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:53 AM:

Rob Rusick #378: Is it still possible to buy a new XP install disk?

Yes, and you'd want to get the full edition and not just the "update" edition. CompUSA has them in stock on their website, and my local store has a few in stock as well, so your mileage may vary from store to store on availability. Amazon.com also has full versions of XP for sale.

#386 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:07 AM:

Rob Rusick @378: Yes, XP is still available, at least here in the UK, but only if you look around at specialist suppliers. You may have better luck online.

However, if the only issue is resetting the password, there is an easier way: See this article as a starting point.

#387 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 05:37 AM:

A question for the Making Light Brains Trust...

Where does the word "padawan" come from?

On the net, it's thoroughly entangled with the Star Wars story, but does it have any origin out of that?

I'm sure I saw the word used in a non Star Wars book series some time between the original trilogy and the sinister arrival of Jar-Jar Binks. But when did it pop up in Star Wars?

#388 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:23 AM:

Terry Karney #372: (just barely keeping a promise to do it before she became a grandfather).

For some reason, this makes me think that your life was scripted by Joanna Russ.

#389 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 07:06 AM:

Dave Bell #386: Padawan is a town in Sarawak (East Malaysia).

#390 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 07:12 AM:

In Boston*, Microsystems (the largest computer store in the area) is now advertising "WINDOWS XP!!" systems.

*(okay, really Cambridge)

#391 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 07:37 AM:

#382: That one has been posting on Digby for a while. Most ignore her; that's why there may be little apparent response.

#392 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 07:39 AM:

Diatryma @ 370... My main tools are a magnetic screwdriver with changeable heads, a hammer...

What? No sonic screwdriver?

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:05 AM:

"How much have the village elders told you?"

"Only that people have been disappearing."

"It's been about six weeks… The first few who disappeared, people thought it was just the usual… Zombie warriors, giant insects… Hideous extra-dimensional intelligences from Herr Klopman's well…"

"That's the usual around here?"

"The rents are very cheap."


(Not that bizarre a conversation for Agatha Heterodyne, powertool girl extraordinaire, and her friends)
http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20070912

#394 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:16 AM:

Terry: It's people like this who convince the ignorant that if you're against the war, it's because you hate America. She's giving aid and comfort to the enemy with every word she writes.

Xopher: I've been away, and I missed your birthday. I'm sorry. Happy birthday, brother.

#395 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:23 AM:

I don't ask much of my tools, really. I like the changeable screwdriver (now doing its duty as a cat toy-- I have a weird cat) and as long as I have a hammer that is not also a jar candle, I'm pretty much good. The wire-stripper-cutter-thingything might be useful someday, assuming I have wires to cut; I've done it before with a pair of fancy tweezers.

#396 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:27 AM:

#392 ::: Serge - I consider it a good thing that I recognized the quote before hitting the end of the first line.

For Science!!!!!

#397 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:32 AM:

xeger @ 395...

For Science!

Oh, and those giant flesh-eating rabbits were pretty scary, eh?

#398 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:35 AM:

vian@375
Many thanks for the info re A Wrinkle in Time.

#399 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:43 AM:

#389 Jon

Do you mean MEI/Microcenter? It's in a strip mall in Cambridge on Memorial Drive, overlooking the Charles River, with the border of Cambridge and Boston in the middle of the river, some minutes' walk from MIT and Harvard, and BU on the other side of the river.

================

Meanwhile, on the continuing topic of don't let the schmucks continue getting away with raping the planet and its inhabitants, it occurred to me that Alito, Scalia, and Thomas a lice, and that Kennedy and Roberts have a lot of lousy characteristics, too (they aren't at the level of lice, I regard Scalia and Alito and Thomas as almost completely lacking in redeeming social value. Roberts is far less of a louse than the louse he replaced. Alito, however, again, no redeemng social value, a rightwing theocrat let-no-mercy-season-justice white male bigot replacing a relative centrist woman--that's like replacing an Indira Ghandi with Ayatollah Khomenei....

#400 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Do I have some alternate-reality version of Vista on my computer? Because I don't find the occasional extra click to verify some procedure all that odious.

As someone whose geekitude lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from technoware, choosing between staying with Vista, where something freezes up maybe two or three times a month, or going back to Windows and having to reset two or three times a day, is not a difficult choice.

The gist of what I've heard about Vista is that installing it is a royal, major, hemmorhoids-and-lighter-fluid pain. When it comes pre-installed on a new computer (as in my case), it's a lot more likable.

#401 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Terry @ 382

However much you are aware of how your friends feel about you, it still does need to be said at least once or twice. Having your humanity denied in such a casual way is a chilling thing for anyone with any sensitivity at all, and sympathetic words are an antidote for the chill.

I think the person who said those things to you must be very lonely, living in a universe containing only herself and her sockpuppets.

#402 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Serge # 396

Nah, they were lightweights. How can you be concerned by an adversery that lasts less then 3 pages, and doesn't even get in one good damage-point hit before being disarmed?

On the other hand, the costume that girl is wearing could cause serious charisma loss among female-oriented party members. It has to be measured in square millimeters of coverage, and leads me to ask once again how a girl is expected to keep a decent complexion with all her skin exposed to the elements and hungry magical broadswords like that.

#403 ::: Essex ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:18 AM:

A hundred posts later... (at what speed do we go, Holmes?)

#175 ::: TexAnne: Thanks a lot for both the kind welcome and the info! Technical reasons again where one might suspect a deeper meaning...

#282 ::: Paul A.: Now that seems such a sweet idea! Wow! You pick the drill from your toolbox, put it onto the van (it WAS a van, I hope?), drive it to the place where the hole is to be made - nnggghngngnh-, and, when finished, drive it back to the toolbox again… nnnghgghggnnnnggghngngnh! I'd love that! Might be a great help to keep some order among them tools, too, instead of having to yell or to whistle each- and everytime they are needed. On the other hand, I might get the idea to play "tool export"…

#276 ::: Xopher :
Being in love with someone who's emotionally unavailable is bad.
Being in love with someone who's physically unavailable is worse.

MEN!!! My sympathies as well, no less. Erh... You ARE male, Xopher, are you not? I would not know. With such a statement, you just MUST be! No offence or discrimination intended!

#288 ::: Lee : However, based on personal experience, I'll argue that your second statement holds only if the first statement doesn't apply.

Now that, I would not contest.

Earl, #281: I remember hearing that, too, and a long time ago. But where did I get that from? Is it true, or merely wishful thinking?

#404 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:27 AM:

Bruce, 399

One of the metrics for level of effort using computers is the number of keypresses. I find Vista utterly obnoxious, for my needs and computer employmeht... just try to get wireless working on a UMPC with it, and try to find out where all the pieces have to be gotten to and settings to set to enable it... the instruction blow dead goats for navigation and getting to the different piece parts, and all the help is Simon Says Do/Try This serial linear crap--and I am not a serial linear sort (INTP, not FSJ and such, who apparently are ferociously serial-linear in nature as regards reactions and cogitation.) I want the instructions and options in front of me while I'm doing them, NOT "here you are at this stop not allowed to look ahead of behind or jump around (me jump around from topic to topic? Never... snort 'When I get to heaven, tie me to a tree, or else I'll start a-roamin' then you'll know where I'll soon be...")

I tend to have scads of windows open (there are 46 open on this machine at the moment) and use up all available display space (got two 1600 X 1200 displays covered). This drives most people bonkers, they can't handle the apparent chaos and confusion level....

But back to Vista, getting derailed by the stupid Do You Really Want to Do This popup is counterproductive in at least five ways:
1. It wastes my time
2. It distracts me and derails my chain of thought, with the computer interrupted what I was doing thought-processing-wise (third party interference when multitasking...)
3. It doesn't work--that is, it becomes automatic to Just Close the Damned Popup whatever the Damned Popup is, without even thinking about it... automatic response, such as driving past the exit you meant to get on because your daily default is mindlessly blowing past that exit because it's not the one you take to e.g. go to work
4. It's annoying to having to keep closing Damned Popup that waste my time and distract me and do nothing really useful--I don't have control over it
5. I don't have control over it to have the notifications that I consider worthwhile/useful show up instead of crap that some jackass who's less competent than I am THINKS that I should be forced to comply with (that he--occasionally she, but usually he) himself probably does NOT have enabled on his or her DEVELOPMENT system.
6. I am supposedly a Power User sort, and get irritated with Simon Says Do Everything the Way I Tell You To... I want an environment from me, stripped of stuff that for ME is irritating and distracting, I want elegance, and maximum display area for MY crap, not some braindead lobotomized flatworm vidiot sort who thinks animated icons and sliding menus and neat wonderful things... me they give migraines to and annoy me immensely. And I resent the display space eaten up for "features" that are pure annoying visual clutter/noise/garbage to me. the FIRST thing I do when setting up a machine is go on a search and destroy mission to try and shut all that crap off, if possible... it's NOT, though, in Vista....

#405 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:45 AM:

One of my workgroup got a computer (laptop, IIRC) with Vista on it. He couldn't get it to run wireless and secure network at the same time.
He returned it and got a Mac laptop.

I'm glad I got my new computer a couple of weeks before Vista was released.

#406 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:58 AM:

The Windows firewall appears to be in the way, among other things...

"See your network administrator"
Right, su-u-u-r-r-r-e-e-e....

#407 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:18 AM:

#401: Must be painful pulling off all that double-stick tape.

(Someone I knew tried that kind of costume in college. Ouch ...)

#408 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Paula @#398: Thanks for the correction.

I had noticed a gray market in XP systems developing for a while, but MicroCenter's ad was the first explicit recognition that dealers have realized that some just won't buy Vista.

#409 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:27 AM:

I run XP in Classic mode, which is generally ice and clean.

I've hit what are essentially public use systems (naive users) which have UK keyboards running with US keyboard drivers. I'm not sure what the system or software localisation is set to; they're seriously locked down.

Last time I installed XP it told me the localisation it was picking up from the previously installed system, and asked me if I wanted to change that.

I've recently been told by an Employment Agency that they only people who they put forward for user support jobs either have experience, or have done user support while at school.

They didn't have computers when I was at school, I've worked on PCs with a soldering iron, I can sport a hard drive with dodgy bearings, and I don't have a single magic piece of paper.

Side thought: I know some of you have done freelance work supporting publishers: what qualifications did you need to get started?

(Yes, I am feeling snarky about some things.)

#410 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:29 AM:

I have not yet touched Vista. My Windows XP laptop was on its way out (hard drive intermittently failing), and I found a used Macbook Pro at a very good price, so I switched operating systems. I now understand why Mac people act so annoyingly cultish about their OS. Because I really like it. Most of the little annoyances that I didn't even notice in Windows XP are noticeable by their absence on the Mac. And I was never, ever partisan about my operating systems; I figured as long as it worked, I didn't care. But now, it's just so nice....

(My MD/PhD labmate needles me about it constantly. "You've gone completely over to the Mac! There's no PC left in you!" But even he admitted to being impressed with Scrivener, which I am presently employing to write a paper about a system for simultaneous optical recording of voltage and calcium from cardiac tissue, although it's intended more for novelists.)

#411 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Jon #407, Dave #408

Microcenter is in arguably in one of the geekiest areas on the planet--within a radius under two miles there are MIT, Harvard, BU's about the same distance (it's got a remote sensing lab section for satellite remote sensing, Northeastern and Wentworth aren't that much further away, and there are all the researchers and electronics engineers and scientists and computer nerds in the general facility at the schools and at the businesses located for proximity.... and they want stuff that works for them, not the masses.

I run XP in classic mode, and most of the machines I work on are in XP in classic mode. Who wants to play games with the OS when trying to get -work- done?!

#412 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:03 PM:

(Belatedly) I also appreciate those recommendations for Lulu. My Mom has a family history -- ancestors, many of them French-Canadian immigrants to California, who ran a hotel for gold miners and such in a Sierra town that no longer exits -- presently typed and crudely stapled together, but she'd love to have it as a genuine bound book for current family members. When I told her about Lulu, she was quite interested. Now, all I have to do is find their website, and that shouldn't be too difficult.

#413 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Dave @#408:

My background's in physics/math, I spent time writing MATLAB code at WPAFB.... now I do user support at a tiny liberal arts college.

The biggest concern they had during my interviews wasn't whether I knew my stuff? But whether I had a thick enough skin to deal with the users.

#414 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Ummm... folks, extreme geeks with PC hardware run Linux. As to Vista, Dell (like most manufacturers) tried going Vista-only on new machines, but last spring, they resumed shipping XP on even home systems because Vista was losing them sales, and as of right now, they still are, though not on all models. (I'm pretty sure they're not the large manufacturer that resumed XP shipments, but I'm a bit too rushed to Google around for others).

Microsoft is Not Pleased...

(BTW, this is not an endorsement of Dell; I haven't bought anything from 'em in years, and vaguely recall hearing mutters about their customer support that I'd look into before buying again. Just the first one I thought of...)

#415 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Bruce Cohen #401

The most notable thing about the girl to me was that she apparently doesn't possess nipples. The cutout in the center of her costume was definitely exposing some places that shouldn't have been as featureless as they were.

#416 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Make that "I'm pretty sure [Dell's] not the *only* large manufacturer that resumed XP shipments." Sigh...

#417 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 12:37 PM:

For fans of Hayao Miyazaki, and knitters, may I present: knitted forest creatures.

#418 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Terry 376: I assume you mean this jackhole. This is the same person who, later on, says "Scratch a liberal, one invariably finds a fascist." Then in yet another post, "I never made claim to any infallibility, however infallible I may be or appear to be." She also goes on record as opposing "reasoned dialogue," in so many words.

This is not a sane person. This is a person who is in the grip of serious mental illness.

OTOH, I can also be quite unreasonable when people wish my friends (like you) dead. I flame her here.

A J 381: As long as I get to be Xopher Prime, go ahead and start your cult. If not, I'll get my big brother Optimus after you!

Essex 402: I don't understand what you mean. I'm not talking about sexually unavailable; I'm talking about a complete lack of physical presence at any point. That, I think, would matter to anyone of any gender.

#419 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:32 PM:

"And here, ladies and gentlemen, is Xopher Prime in his prime. Over there, in his villain's gallery is Bizarro Xopher, and Lex Xopher, and..."

#420 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Caroline #409:

I do wish you hadn't given a link to Scrivener. I write novel-shaped things, have written a Java application to help me track/change scene order, and totally fell in love with Scrivener just from looking at the page. There's one small problem--my Mac laptop, not used since sometime in 1999, cannot run anything later than 7.5.x. I run XP Classic and am reasonably satisfied with it. Or was until just now, blast it.

#421 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Stefan #345:

Would you feel any happier if I pointed out that "panicing" may be read as "pan icing"--IOW, "everything freezes"?

#422 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Bill, #412, I suspect they don'r want a script-reading robot, which I reckon is one of the really big factors in making users and staff frustrated with helpdesks.

It's the repetition of "reinstall Outlook Express" and "I don't use Outlook Express" which does no good to either side.

Even sales is, in a very definite way, a search for a solution. Ideally, it's a solution which involves the customer spending money in your store, but any customer who will come back is worth something.

The problem is when management mistake a script for a checklist, and plonk their staff into the uncanny valley of psudo-human robots (or pseudo-robotic humans).

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:49 PM:

When shopping for laptops, I deliberately did not consider one of the Mac variety.

Not in spite of loving recommendations, but because of them.

I'm taking Bruce Sterling's observation that laptops are like hamsters to heart. There's no sense investing too much in a hamster, given that they don't live all that long.

Or pay so much that you're afraid to carry your hamster with you . . . well, the analogy kind of flops on that point.

#424 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:54 PM:

#413: Ummm... folks, extreme geeks with PC hardware run Linux.

I am eagerly anticipating Ubuntu Linux's latest release "Gutsy Gibbon" next month. From what I hear (and, please correct me if I'm wrong) it will include graphics card support that will automatically configure one's system, or, at the least, default to a minimum standard, without forcing the non-techie to go through the command line. Once that's there, it's goodbye XP.

#425 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:54 PM:

joann 419: I see what you mean. Scrivener itself is dead cheap, but I can't afford to buy a Mac right now.

____ 420: I thought "pan icing" was the frosting for pan cakes.

#426 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:55 PM:

tips on XP vs Vista vs. Mac OSX:
one workaround not discussed yet is running Windows XP inside its own little window on your Macintosh, in a virtual machine. (VMware makes one that has a nifty tool that lets you clone your current computer and run it on a Mac.)

The really handy part of doing this is that the virtual machine is just a file you can do anything to it that you can do to a file. Run multiple versions. Make backups that actually work. Open files in the ancient version of Word that created them, instead of using a (flawed) import filter.

Most importantly, if you really like Windows, you can take it with you intact when you get a new computer. Virtual Machines can run on Windows XP, Vista, OSX, and Linux, so you can choose what operating system you want to be tied to. If you are diligent and organized about backups, you could one day, be able to go back not just to a specific document, but the precise setup of your computer the day you created it.

Caveats:
1. VMs mostly run well only on new multi core processors, and run okay on older hardware, where older == 2003.
2. Changing your current xp or win98 computer into a VM requires some technical expertise.
3. Running a virtual copy of xp on Linux (Ubuntu) is probably the most cost-effective way to go if you want new hardware, but requires the most technical expertise. The alternative trade off is buying a muti core Mac.

#427 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:56 PM:

#413, there's something called "practicality." Linux is not what Most of the World Is Using for daily work.... I learned my lesson hanging onto being an Amiga user for way too many months, I would have spent a lot less time unemployed had I migrated to Windows instead.

#428 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 01:59 PM:

One thing can be forgotten: does that machine/OS run the software you want to use?

There are work arounds. Things are getting better. Intel Macs are very good at running Windows software at need. I'm less tied to Windows/Intel than I was a year ago.

#429 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:01 PM:

#420, joann,
Would you feel any happier if I pointed out that "panicing" may be read as "pan icing"--IOW, "everything freezes"?

Or everything is covered in buttercream frosting.*

*yum!

#430 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Gah. I keep reading that Particle as "Ballad of Modernism."

#431 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:24 PM:

TexAnne #429:

Here you go.

All of our houses are machines for living,
machines for living, machines for living;
all of our houses are machines for living,
that is the mode of le Corbusier.

We build in hard concrete, it's brutal and simple;
we don't need to use any natural wood;
our buildings rise truest, without a dimple,
we're for good living, and that's the great good.

All of our houses &c.

The 20th century's the age of eruptions
we'll build a new heaven without any pause;
avoiding the tricks, and all the corruptions,
construction must follow by linear laws.

All of our houses &c.

We'll house the hard workers in tall-rising towers;
the metro and buses collect and disperse
the ones who in sanitary, well-lighted bowers,
will be educated and rarely will curse.

All of our houses &c.

Later generations could never demolish,
the towers we have built here of solid concrete;
we've made things correctly, given them polish,
but made them unsuited for soft human feet.

All of our houses &c.

#432 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:41 PM:

I bought a MacBook as a work computer for telecommuting, once my ancient and crochety Kubuntu laptop reached the point where I wasn't willing to use it anymore. And I really seriously intended to only use my MacBook for work, and the occasional road trip, while I stuck to my nice Windows XP desktop. After all, I didn't really like the Mac OS, I was used to Windows, all my games run on Windows...

I haven't turned on my desktop machine in nearly two months now, and I'm planning on buying an iMac when I finally decide to replace it. I'm currently looking for an old copy of XP to use with Parallels so that I can still play all my Windows games, but if I can't dig an old disk out of storage I'll just buy a new copy of XP. (Like I'd buy Vista? Ha!)

The only part of all this that irritates me is how amazingly smug my husband is about all of this. He's a power Linux user and programmer, who told me years ago what I really wanted was a Mac with a Windows emulator so that I could still play my games. And it turns out he was right all along. If only Macs weren't so darn expensive to upgrade; getting a gaming machine to a decent 4 gigs of RAM costs more than a Mac Mini alone.

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:51 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 414... That's one of the reasons they are what Kathryn Cramer calls improbable breasts.

#434 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:51 PM:

OK stupid question, but I honestly haven't looked into this: everybody's listing all sorts of ways you can virtually run Windows on your Mac. Is it possible to do this the other way around? I've got a 3.5 lb Dell laptop I love dearly (just my size, says Goldilocks), and there's not really any more money where the moolah for that one came from, but would like to run the occasional mac program starting, obviously, w/ Scrivener.

#435 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Fade Manley @ 431: If only Macs weren't so darn expensive to upgrade; getting a gaming machine to a decent 4 gigs of RAM costs more than a Mac Mini alone.

Only $250 at The Chip Merchant.

#436 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Jules @ #385, thanks for that link to the Admin password recovery article. I haven't had the problem, but I've been wondering how I might solve it if I did.

I don't recall the sequence of events when I opened the box and began installing this machine, but it evidently didn't include writing down whatever password it was I used to start. I am occasionally too impatient for my own good.

#437 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:54 PM:

The Macintosh Way is something that my nightmares rejected as unreasonable (and my nightmares used to be really horrible things, there are horror novels which the Horrible Things were pleasant in comparison... nightmares involving charnel house horrors, lakes of blood and gore, severed limbs... all in vivid color. Ick.). It never occurred to me in nightmares, even, that the user interface models prescribed by Apple, were ways that people would consider reasonable to do things/think. {I wanted the user interface stuff that e.g. Xerox had that was diagrammatic and links entities to one another, showed topological in effects maps of how objects related to one another, and allowed the user to define all sorts of different links and connectivities and grouping, and treated drawings, bitmap images, text documents, and mixed mode documents, all as linkable entities. I wanted hypertext etc., not (ugh) icons that I looked at and had the reaction of "What the fuck is that supposed to me/do?!

(My ancestor fled out of Egypt millennia ago and have been using an alphabet-based written language for at least that long, alphabet yes, icons, yetttccccchhhhhh! I could read at 3, and use words, not icons, as paradigm, and always have as symbolic language.)

#438 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 02:59 PM:

What an Apple employee means if he mentions he's being "Sent to Mordor".

(Now I really want to see pictures of the place!)

#439 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Fragano, you are my hero.

#440 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Here's an interesting article about why the Employee Freedom of Choice Act would be a better cure for our economic ills than draconian policies on illegal immigration. Some of the numbers he quotes made my eyebrows go up -- not in the "I think that's bullshit" way, but in the "If that's really the case, then there's cause for serious concern" way -- but I wouldn't have a clue where to look for confirmation. Can anyone shed some light?

#441 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Lee #439, It sounds to me like that legislation does not sufficiently address the needs of America's downtrodden millionaires. For the Greed Is Good Tribe, spaying the Unions is a top-of-the-fold bullet point. The only practical use for such legislation is to provide politicians who cater to the Union vote a hand-wavy thing to point to and say "see, we tried!"

#442 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Paula #403: ...all the help is Simon Says Do/Try This serial linear crap--and I am not a serial linear sort (INTP, not FSJ and such, who apparently are ferociously serial-linear in nature as regards reactions and cogitation

Now that's an interesting thought: documentation versions written to cater to various Myers-Briggs Type Indicator categories. heh.

#443 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 422

You may have outsmarted yourself. I've been buying Macs since 1991, so when I decided I'd buy a laptop for my primary computer in 2000, I bought a PowerBook. It's still running seven years later, has the latest OS 10.4.10 installed. But it's only a 400 MHz G3 processor and I can't put any more memory in it (replaced the hard disk twice with larger disks).

Now, I took that 'Book everywhere with me, to work, on planes, on a 2 week stay on the beach in Florida*, and I have never had a hardware problem with it except that the keyboard got a little flakey with age (and a tech showed me how to fix that by popping the keys off and fiddling with the mechanism).

I'm keeping it around to make a server out of, now that I've got a brand new MacBook Pro. I'd say that's a pretty good lifetime for a hamster.

* That was actually my son's wedding, and the laptop got a workout as logistical records keeper, photo repository, speech composer, slide presentation projector, etc., etc., both on and off the beach.

#444 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:15 PM:

R. M. Koske @ 414

Yeah, I noticed that, and thought "Hmm, maybe a misguided attempt to stay PG-13?". But as I said, my immediate thought was that someone who's putting her skin in the way of large, sharp objects really ought to be protecting said skin a little better. Unless she's wearing invisible armor with a very negative armor class, in which case I guess the skin will distract some of her opponents.

But I suppose we'll never be rid of the Warrior Babe image as long there's a new crop of 14-year-old hetero boys every year.

#445 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Regarding Windows->MacOSX switching:

There's one significant file gui difference that switchers need to be aware of:

Folder replacement (i.e. dragging a folder from one place to another place where a folder with the same name already exists) has replace semantics and not merge semantics.

In Windows, when you do this kind of operation, the contents of the two folders get merged, with windows popping up a window with every duplicate file and subfolder in the destination folder asking whether you want to overwrite the existing file. Files in the destination folder that don't overlap with the source file are kept in the new, merged destination folder.

In Mac OSX (as of 10.3.9, I'm uncertain if Tiger or Leopard fixes the lack of notification or lack of undelete problem), there is only one query for confirmation for the folder being moved. If you answer yes, the contents in the destination folder are replaced entirely with the contents of the source folder, and any additional files in the destination folder that did not overlap in the source file are gone as far as Finder is concerned. Completely. With no undelete.

The proper way to execute a merge in Finder is to go into the folder, select the contents of the folder, then drag and drop them into the destination folder. Of course, subfolders suffer the same problem as described, so you have to manually do the same to each subfolder if you want to preserve merge semantics in the subfolders.

Fortunately, I figured out this semantic without losing too much data. Just a couple of days of notes when I was trying to merge the contents of my Mac OSX laptop with my Windows desktop using Finder on my laptop. On the other hand, if I use my Windows desktop to move files off my laptop, it still preserves the merge semantics.

This is also not one of the things OSX mentions in their switchers guide (at least the last time I checked), but if you are used to doing folder overwrites as a poor-man's multi-computer sync, as opposed to using some proper syncing or version control software, this semantic change from Windows is something to be aware of.

#446 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Speaking of Macs, I just discovered a neat Easter Egg in my MacBook Pro. I bet it's been in OS X for awhile and I just didn't notice. Point the cursor somewhere on the screen with a lot of detail: small text or a photo or something. Hold the Control key down, use the 2 finger scroll technique on the trackpad (which I love; it allows 2-D scrolling, doesn't require me to move my hand someplace else, and is much more reliable than most trackballs or scrollwheels I've used). As you scroll up, the view will zoom in towards the cursor; as you scroll down, it will zoom back out. Max zoom appears to be about 12X; the anti-aliasing is quite good; text which is unreadable at normal size is readable at full zoom.

It's so much more convenient than magnifying glass utilities, and doesn't have to started up; it's always there. Between zoom and Free Ruler, a free app that puts a ruler on the screen, you can do precision measurements in apps that don't support it.

#447 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:36 PM:

@423: Actually, graphics card setup is already automatic for most supported hardware in Ubuntu (and any other half-decent Linux distro). What's new in Ubuntu Gutsy, IIRC, is a last-ditch fallback mode which gives you some kind of graphical feedback in case you have to manually set parameters to deal with some particularly weird monitor, or some other issue like that. If you're worried, I'd recommend either googling around to see if anyone else has put up a page describing the tweaks needed to make Linux run well on your particular model, or just booting an Ubuntu LiveCD and playing around a while, before installing to the hard drive. (And having someone experienced around for guidance can't hurt --- particularly if you've never installed an OS from distribution media before. Even Windows installs are no damn fun, which is why it almost always comes preinstalled). Most desktop machines these days work fine, particularly with Ubuntu.

(BTW, the things I particularly look for when I'm reading installation reports, in addition to the graphics hardware, are how well the wireless works, and for laptops, suspend to RAM).

@426: To steal a line: Reasonable people adapt to their environment. Unreasonable people persist in adapting their environment to suit themselves. Therefore, all progress depends on unreasonable people. Extreme geeks are not reasonable people --- though they will occasionally deign to run OpenOffice.

#448 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 04:50 PM:

#446: That is exactly what I need, because I have some sort of funky graphics card (a low end NVidia) that won't go into display mode when Ubuntu boots up. I'd like to have the system run along in a default graphics mode long enough for me to get the proper drivers installed. Thanks for the help.

#449 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 443... we'll never be rid of the Warrior Babe image as long there's a new crop of 14-year-old hetero boys

If that is indeed the reason for that lady's appearance and accoutrement(*), to whom were the giant flesh-eating bunnies supposed to appeal?

------

(*) I am certain there are other reasons. I just can't remember what they are right now.

#450 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Bruce Cohen #445: I just tried that out, having never heard of it. Unfortunately, in my excitement I forgot that the scroll-ball thing on my mouse is broken and will only scroll up and side to side, not down. I tried everything I could think of to get my display back to normal, but ended up having to shut the computer off. Whoops!

It is cool, though.

#451 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 05:37 PM:

TexAnne #438: Thanks. I blush.

#452 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:03 PM:

I just typed this sentence into a Microsoft Office email composition window:

"I’m working on a doc which will eventually be provided to service."

It flagged the word "which" with the squiggly green underline that means I made a grammar error.

I right clicked.

It suggested I replace "which" with "who."

Which is correct if by "doc" I meant an M.D.

(Slaps forehead, glances at clock.)

#453 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Serge @ 448

Giant flesh-eating bunny eating carrots?

#454 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:16 PM:

ethan @ 266: Yeah, I had the very same item in my Netflix queue and had noticed it dropping to "Very Long Wait" (do they have an "Excruciatingly Long Wait" category?), but hadn't noticed that it had dropped into the "Saved" category until you pointed this out here. I guess that's what they do when the last copy gets lost, stolen, broken, or something. Do they have some kind of triage system to decide whether such things are ever worth buying another copy of or should just stay forever in the unavailable column?

I've had "Clerks: Uncensored: Disc 1" at the top of my queue for ages, and while it sometimes shows "Available Now", it keeps switching to "Very Long Wait" and I never manage to get it. Below it in the queue is "Clerks: Uncensored: Disc 2", but their system seems to be smart enough not to give you the second disc of something when the first disc is ahead of it in the queue and unavailable, so they don't send that either even though it's always shown as "available now". Also, "Star Trek: The Original Series: Vol. 9" is down in "Saved; unknown" even though volumes 1 through 8, and 10 through 40, are all in the queue and available now (but there's other stuff ahead of them so none has been shipped yet).

#455 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:17 PM:

Stefan Jones, fighting withtoo-helpful WP software above:

I've come to the conclusion that a lot of the persistant irritating interruptions and wrong-headed "helpfulness" of WP software is a sign that the people who write the specs find basic composition an onerous task, and cannot imagine anyone writing for fun, fluently, playfully, with no terrible grinding angst and struggle.

The idea that constant correction could spoil the flow is foreign to their experience.

#456 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:29 PM:

#451 ::: Stefan Jones @#451

It sounds kinda porny with "who," too.

#457 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:37 PM:

Dan #453: When on Earth is Netflix going to get the season sets of TOS rather than those stupid two-episode "volumes"? Doesn't matter to me, because I bought the season sets, but it's very silly of them.

I e-mailed Netflix asking what the chances are that they'll get Forbidden Planet again, but haven't heard back--I think they've gotten tired of hearing from me because I write them so often to complain about how the "watch it now" feature is inaccessible to Mac users.

#458 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:41 PM:

ethan: That reminds me, I need to complain about the PC-centrism too.

#459 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 06:52 PM:

That ethan...

#460 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Netflix "Watch It Now" doesn't work in the Mozilla browsers either, and I refuse to switch to M$IE for them.

#461 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Dang. Netflix moved Truly, Madly, Deeply to my Saved list...so I poked around a little and discovered that it seems to be out of print. Waaaaah!

#462 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:01 PM:

TexAnne... That's a great movie, and with Alan Rickman as the romantic lead, to boot.

#463 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:06 PM:

After dinner, I switch from figuring out how to make Vista less sticky and cloying to upgrading the Linux box that runs my PVR.

Kind of like going from trying to get work done in a room crowded with nosy and obnoxiously solicitous Care Bears to juggling rusty flatware.

#464 ::: eliddell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:40 PM:

joann@433: I looked into that about a year ago for reasons I'm not going to get into here, and as far as I can tell, the answer is that it's theoretically possible (some people have successfully installed development versions of Mactel OSX inside VMWare running on Linux or Windows machines), but too difficult to be worth the effort from a practical standpoint, and illegal in most places as well (you can't just use an OSX install CD--you need a specific hacked disc image).

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 08:53 PM:

ethan... I'll reiterate my offer once more. (Re-reiterate?) If it turns out that I want to watch Forbidden Planet before you've gotten around to it, I'd then ask you to send it back, if that's ok with you. Interested?

#466 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Oh, my.
The Particle in Swedish? The first few photos are amazing, and it just went on from there. I must learn Swedish so I can figure out what happened.

#467 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:44 PM:

I've got a friend who just turned ten (son of a friend, also a friend), and he has recently gotten into Diskworld in a big way. So I've sent him to the diskworld cakes particled here occasionally, and he's getting a lot of fan stuff for his birthday. Now, I've been a loyal SF reader ever since "Dar Tellum: Stranger From a Distant Planet" in second grade, but somehow never managed to go to any conventions. Friends went, told me about them, I read about them here, but never got around to acting on the info.

So I'm hoping some of you can tell me, are there any conventions that would be suitable for a precocious ten year old who likes Terry Pratchett? If it were commuting distance to eastern Massachusetts, he'd be more likely to get an adult to bring him. I know that people here have talked about bringing kids, but you/they are examples of adults who know which ones to go to (with friends who will be there), bringing kids, not newbies bringing newbies. And the point of wanting him to go is so that he found kindred spirits to talk with, not a chance to feel isolated.

For that matter, while I'm wishing, is there a website sort of like ML but for the much-younger set? SF, hobbies, word games and even news but by people whose experiences started in the '90s?

#468 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 09:59 PM:

Is the game still running? May I suggest toilet water, bookkeeper, hotel de ville (at least, it confused me for way too long). Zoonoses (but only if you mispronounce it). My son just misunderstood handicap (in racing) as something jockeys wear that is mysteriously helpful to them.

And if there is "universal remote" surely there is "universal joint"

#469 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Wow. SciFi's Flash Gordon figured out how to make the Hawkmen stupider. An impressive feat.

That was the dorkiest episode yet. OTOH it also had the most shirtless men. I give it a C+ overall.

#470 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:08 PM:

joann @ 443 and eliddell @ 463 - (running OS X on non-Apple hardware)
I looked into that about a year ago for reasons I'm not going to get into here, and as far as I can tell, the answer is that it's theoretically possible (some people have successfully installed development versions of Mactel OSX inside VMWare running on Linux or Windows machines), but too difficult to be worth the effort from a practical standpoint, and illegal in most places as well (you can't just use an OSX install CD--you need a specific hacked disc image).

It is almost certainly illegal - Apple's TOS agreement specifically states that OS X is to be run on Apple hardware*. It does, however, work, for certain values of "work" -

They call the varmints Hackintoshes for obvious reasons.

At least some of the reports I've seen say that you need some reasonably mighty hardware Fu to pull this off, even with a haxxored install CD - getting it to run, and getting it to run reliably, or well, is another matter. Getting a truly stable version might well require building a new machine to meet a "best standards" spec - which would sorta defeat the purpose, since for a couple hundred bucks more (at most), you could get an Apple of some flavor anyways.

So, yeah - it can be done. If you're doing it as an experiment in anything other than pure hackerdom, lolz, or desperation, I'm really not sure it's worth it, as eliddell pretty much points out.

*The various questions of how moral/ethical/legal/intelligent/whatever such a restriction is/might be/could be/will be and whether or not it might be moral/ethical/legal/intelligent/whatever to circumvent it (and under what circumstances) have/are/forever will be argued in places that think they/might/do have more of an understanding of the implications, etc. of the question to the point where I'm really not interested in discussing various questions of morality regarding this. Besides, it will only end in tears, because it always does. kthnxbai

#471 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:17 PM:

JESR, #362, I used mine before I got sick, too, but usually on indoor things.

Terry Karney, #376, maybe she belongs to Westboro Baptist Church.

Bruce Arthur, #399, first of all, Vista is Windows. Just the most recent release. Secondly, I wouldn't be able to use a good subset of my software from small now out-of-business companies on Vista.

R.M. Koske, #414, exactly what I thought.

Dave Bell, #421, I was without DSL for 23 days of the first month (free, so no comp) because Verizon has this lockstep requirement to go through series of techs. The actual guy who fixed it, fixed it in about 12 minutes. Almost all the recordings (which I figured out how to get around) would tell me to reboot the modem and computer. They weren't the problem!

#472 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Diatryma @#465: There's a "more info" or "about" link at the top of the page that has an English-text explanation.

I'd get the exact link for you, but then I'd have to go to the picture page again, and I'm still brushing phantom crawlies off of myself from the first time.

#473 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Thank you-- I'd looked at the text at the top of the page, but only enough to see 'not English, not Spanish' and then on to the pictures. I wonder what would happen if you put the moths and the Texas gigantic-collaborative-web spiders together?

#474 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:28 PM:

Rob Rusik @ 378: "Is it still possible to buy a new XP install disk?"

This might be the time to start using "The Great TiVo In The Sky," as our illustrious host put it. I did a quick search and had no trouble finding some torrents of XP. (Personally, I don't mind buying things, but I do hate it when they make me buy it twice.)

Serge @ 391: "What? No sonic screwdriver?"

Pshh. Sonic's for wusses. Laser's where it's at.

*tap tap tap, tap tap tap, tap tap tap, tap tap tap*

#475 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 11:50 PM:

I'm drooling over this

#476 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Oh dear Ghu-- did anyone else follow the link from the caterpillars' English-language info page to the tent caterpillar wine? (Do not read if consuming, preparing, or even thinking about normal foodstuff.)

#477 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Mary Dell @ 471

Gee, thanks. I saw your comment, got curious and went back to Diatryma's post for the link. I scrolled down through the photos, and when I started getting grossed out (about where we see all the caterpillars crawling on the bicycle), I tried to close the tab I had opened the page in, when, of course, Firefox froze and left me staring at the bugs. Ick! I had to kill Firefox and didn't dare re-open the session; I just would have ended up staring at the bugs again. Now they're crawling on me.

#478 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:07 AM:

Hearing drums, are we?

#479 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:12 AM:

The caterpillars are the stuff of nightmares. Really awesome nightmares. I have a list of people who shall get that link soon.

#480 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Excuse me while I use the open thread to bubble over a bit. I just watched the Doctor Who episode "Blink" that I recorded earlier. It's at least as good as everyone who'd seen it in England said it was. Really, really, really nicely done.

Vg'f bar bs bayl guerr qenzngvp cebqhpgvbaf V xabj bs jvgu gvzr geniry cybgf juvpu npghnyyl trg gur jnl na npnhfny ybbc jbhyq jbex evtug; gur bgure gjb ner "12 Zbaxrlf" naq "Cevzre". Naq V ernyyl yvxr gung va guvf frnfba bs gur Qbpgbe gurl'ir orra cynlvat jvgu gur fgehpgher bs gur fgbevrf, gelvat gb oernx bhg bs gur fgnaqneq sbezng. Va guvf bar naq n pbhcyr bs bguref gurl'ir chg gur Qbpgbe bhg ng gur rqtr bs gur npgvba naq sbphfrq ba bgure crbcyr. Naq znxvat vg n fhfcrafr/ubeebe fgbel jbexrq jryy; gur fgbel zbirq nybat irel dhvpxyl.

#481 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:51 AM:

After all this OS talk I have to gripe about something and ask if there's a polite term for it. Here's the setup: recently I visited a popular web site where there was a posting that involved a popular short animated film from the National Film Board of Canada, The Log Driver's Waltz. The link at the site was for a crappy-quality YouTube copy, but I remembered seeing a news article that the NFBC had put together a collection of their 50 most popular animated shorts for on-line viewing in nice, crystal-clear copies.

Since that short is a favorite of mine I hit the official site. Trying to play it on my Mac in Firefox or IE doesn't work--I choose the resolution and then it asks me to choose the resolution again.

I drop the original poster a note mentioning the crystal-clear version at NFMB so the poster can let his readers know it's out there. I mention that I can't get it to run on my Mac.

I get a nice little note back from him saying that Ubuntu Linux will run just fine on a Mac and will play it just fine.

(Insert long pause here where Bruce fights the urge to throw a lamp through the wall.)

As you can see, it's not an unfriendly answer. However, it has nothing to do with helping me with my original problem and would actually make my life a little worse since there are some packages on this Mac that do not have an equivalent in the Linux world. As "Cecil Adams" once put it, "When we are talking about the price of mangoes in Sumatra, I am not interested in having you drag in your opinions on the temperature of spit in Wichita."

My question is this: is there a term in English for well meaning advice that gives you the urge to walk out the backdoor, aim your face to the sky, and scream YOU'RE NOT HELPING! or do I need to start checking Yiddish and German dictionaries again?

Oh, and I'm using a web tablet that fits in your hand a lot lately. For some reason half the Linux developers working on this model keep coming up with command-line based programs rather than point and click interfaces. This is much more efficient in theory, but sucks a Buick through a garden hose when typing/writing using the standard screen font means you'd need a magnifying glass to do anything lengthy. This is not helpful, either.

#482 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:52 AM:

Xopher: I'm gladdened, and saddened, that you waded in.

Saddened because the response was more of the same (in both tone, and content). The tail end of that, with Virgil, troll, and JB all giving each other ego-boo for being pure, and justified was past offensive, and into downright surreal.

What irked me, as I look back, ties into the comment on expendable I teased you with earlier. Bear with me.

I am expendable. If sending me someplace I am likely to be killed will gain a real advantage, the commander is right, even duty bound to send me.

I can live with that.

Jill doesn't see me (or my fellows) as expendable, but rather disposable. That's not something I can live with, nor even abide.

But, and here is where it gets amusing, she wants to see the US lose (whether or not we can win is a different question; I think that were our winning more likely her vehemence would be stronger).

And those who are following orders, are traitors, because we aren't working to see the US lose.

That's in Humpty Dumpty land.

#483 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:48 AM:

Bruce (#479) 'Blink' was on here just 2 weeks ago, so it's still quite fresh in my mind. It was very good, even getting to me physically — watching some parts through each eye alternately. It's interesting that in the 'modern' series, they seem to be probing more at some effects and consequences of time travel, rather than using it simply as a way to get to the next story.

Tonight I'm looking forwards to 'The Sound of Drums' after the climax of 'Utopia' last week. Should I assume that it's not entirely coincidence or autosuggestion that I think 'Harold Saxon'/John Simm bears some resemblance to Tony Blair?

<reminiscence> It was 10 years ago that my late partner & I travelled through Europe & the UK, arriving just after the Blair Government was elected and leaving shortly before the death of Princess Diana. 2007 has been a year of some emotional richocets with assorted 10th and 5th anniversaries and connexions to those times.</reminiscence>

#484 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:02 AM:

Terry 481: I fully expected to get sandbagged by these egomaniacs, and I was not disappointed.

I explained to her that she cares nothing for the Iraqi people, but only for her own ego. I explained to that other Troll that he's not pure, he's just indifferent to the real consequences of his vote.

Should be some fireworks, but I may get bored fast. They'll pull out all the stops now.

#485 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:06 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #480: is there a term in English for well meaning advice that gives you the urge to walk out the backdoor, aim your face to the sky, and scream

Well, I have two words instead of one, for that kind of thing: obliviously patronizing. That's also where we get infuriatingly irrelevant anecdotal evidence such as "it works fine for me!"

#486 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:16 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 480

Sadly, it's a universal constant of human affairs that it's hard for one person to understand the needs and priorities of another, and next to impossible for the kind of highly-focused mind that flourishes in the development of innovative technologies. If command line interfaces are more intuitive for some people (and they are, it's just a different way of thinking and working from most people) those are the people who won't be able to understand why they are not more efficient and useful for everyone else.

So even if there is a word in English that means "Kindly stop being helpful, it's not at all helpful" it's likely the people you want to use it on won't understand the concept.

At the risk of starting a runaway subthread, I'll draw an analogy with Grief Counseling. There is a common evolution of the emotional states of grief which some counselers have decided has the force of natural law, and they will insist that you follow that pattern, whether it works for you or not. They're only trying to help.

#487 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:25 AM:

Serge #464: All right, you convinced me.

#488 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:29 AM:

Karen, #466: Just about any convention that lists multiple authors as guests would probably be suitable, because Pratchett is popular enough to have a good following at any lit-emphasis con. You might take a look at Arisia, which is a long-running con with a good reputation; I've never been there myself, but a significant number of my friends go every year and think highly of it.

I poked around a bit looking for an online con listing, but didn't come up with anything useful; for example, the NESFA list is still showing "upcoming" cons from 2006! [Side note: someone really ought to nudge SFWA about their "convention listings" links, which are seriously outdated!]

#489 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:30 AM:

Mez, #482, I don't think they chose the actor entirely for his looks, and there is a sort of politician-uniform effect as well.

But you can be sure they knew how it would look.

People have been saying how odd it is that Tony Blair seems to have so completely vanished. It's not just the quietness of professional courtesy.

#490 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:40 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #480: There's a Korean word for being burdened with the kindness of others, but that's not quite it. I bet there's something in German, surely? They have a word for everything, those Germans.

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:39 AM:

ethan @ 486... Anything to corrupt young American minds... That being said, don't feel rushed into watching it. It might ruin the enjoyment.

#492 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:40 AM:

Open thread material:

Girls, as we all hear, "aren't interested in science". Or if they are, "it's because they're tomboys".

The pink princess, aged 3, just came running up to me, after we'd spent a little while looking at garden beasties. In one grubby paw nestled a very small earthworm, maybe 5mm long, twisting and untwisting.

"Mom!" cried she, "Look at this tiny earthworm! Isn't it cute?"

Heh.

#493 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 08:25 AM:

Serge, 461: I know. That's why it was on my Netflix queueueueueue* in the first place. I don't suppose you have a copy you'd be willing to lend me? :-)

Bruce, 479: I have never been frightened by anything fictional on television before. But there I was, squeaking and curling into a little ball. I haven't yet stopped looking very carefully at rirel fgnghr V cnff. (The end of Utopia is also entirely awful, even though I was expecting it.)


*thx, ethan

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 08:29 AM:

abi @ 491... Good for Fiona. As for the cliché... A few months ago, Intel's Science Fair was held down the street from where I work, and probably half the booths held by young ladies (quite a few of them Middle-Eastern too), and not all of those projects related to biology, In fact, I think one of the most popular was a girl's project about lightning.

#495 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 08:41 AM:

TexAnne @ 492... Alas, my DVD is spoken for. But I'll send it to you when ethan is done. Anything else you'd care to borrow that's an old classic? I might have it.

#496 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Serge--I thought ethan was borrowing Forbidden Planet, not Truly, Madly, Deeply. Of course I'll be delighted to borrow FP when he's done with it...

#497 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Sorry for the confusion, TexAnne. FP indeed is what I'm lending ethan. As for Truly Madly Deeply, alas, I don't have it. I probably should.

#498 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 09:41 AM:

#473, Heresiarch,
Rob Rusik @ 378: "Is it still possible to buy a new XP install disk?"

Yes. Technically only until January - but the supply might dry up sooner. Newegg stocks them. If you are planning on buying xp to dual boot on a mac, this is your last chance. If you are planning on running xp in a virtual machine, you should be able to import a disk image from an existing computer you already own.

#499 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Terry@376, Don't let crazy people get you down. I read some of her posts. She's some kind of nutcase.

#500 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 10:18 AM:

karen @#466: I believe Boskone, coming up in February, would be your local con out there. For others, googling the name of your exact town and "SF Con" or "SF Fan" can turn up a lot.

Even if he doesn't find many people who share his particular obsession, he will find kindred spirits galore. And the nice thing about SF fandom (and comics fandom and gaming, in my experience), is that people make friends across generation lines, so being the sole kid in a group doesn't mean being lonely.

I'm a lifelong SF fan but am just gearing up to go to my first con this fall. I have been to comics conventions, though (lots). My experience with the comics and gaming scene is that the smaller the con, the more likely you are to make friends. Wizard world is a blast, but wading through thousands of people to get your stuff signed isn't the same thing as meeting 4 geeks your own age and sitting down on the floor to share comic books.

So if there's a tiny Bi-Mon Sci-Fi Con right by home, that's probably the best place to make friends that you (and he) can hang out with regularly.

#501 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Those of you who didn't get the chronic wiggins from the caterpillar particle might get a kick out of this.

#502 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Bruce 479: I agree. That was one of the best ever, if not THE best. A real time-travel story for once!

#503 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Greg: Yeah, seeing more of her postings (and the style in which she puts them) she's not wha I would call completely rational. It may be nothig more than am overdevelped sense of true believerism, seasoned with greyscale blindness, but it's off.

I'm not sure if her being able to find like minded persons on the net is good, or bad.

#504 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 12:04 PM:

In no particular order, catching up after being away for a fortnight:

Tom, my sympathies on your separation, and best wishes to both you and Other Change of Hobbit.

Xopher, happy belated birthday. And, well, there's clearly something to be said for indulging yourself on birthdays. As well as for doing one's civic duty--at least one person who hangs out here wasn't at work on 9/11 because she stopped to vote on her way in. Knowing that won't stop her, or me, from voting in primaries.

As for "real names," if I do a google image search on my full name I get all sorts of nice photography, none of it either by or of me. I don't have one of your common names: until I heard from another, I idly assumed I was the only "Vicki Rosenzweig" in the United States. I do wonder what those people would do with my friend for whom none of the first million Google hits are her: tell her she can't sign up under any name because they already have a Mary Smith but don't allow pseudonyms?

#505 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Terry 502: She claims that she "may" be infallible at one point, in a sentence where she says she's never claimed to be infallible. Definitely rubber-room time. I'm ignoring her ongoing rants, mostly because I think that will annoy her more than responding.

Vicki 503: Thanks, and they'd make her sign up as Mary Smith 343 or some such thing. They do understand the need for disambiguation.

Don't they?

Maybe not.

#506 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:00 PM:

xeger #474: I would feel strangely compelled to don robes, hat and staff before going to most of these places...


Bruce Cohen #485: ...and next to impossible for the kind of highly-focused mind that flourishes in the development of innovative technologies.

While I certainly (and whole-heartedly!) agree that this characterization applies to a segment of the techgeek population, I would argue that there is at least one additional segment whose creative engines are driven by the motto "Now I'm going to show you something really cool". These are the technology experience creators who are, at heart, story tellers from the future. Which is why I think they* are drawn to SF writers who are cut from the same cloth.

*Okay, okay I'll come clean: "we", not "they"

#507 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Dave Bell @ 488

Sorry to have to tell you, Tony Blair is very visible these day, just on another stage. He's the chief Gang of Four — or whatever they call that international alliance that thinks it knows what to do about the Muddle East — representative to the Israeli-Palestinian talks. Of course, in this venue he has immense scope and possibility to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, should he be so lucky as to get any where near victory in that mess.

#508 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Vicki @ 503: I idly assumed I was the only "Vicki Rosenzweig" in the United States.

Are you the Vicki Rosenzweig who contributed to Our Gang back in the day? (I think I should be asking the same question of Nancy Lebovitz and Arthur Hlavaty as well...)

#509 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:13 PM:

In no particular order, cause I'm so late...

Faren Miller (#308) :Since the whole thing about zombies came from Afro-Caribbean culture, are there any genuine (so to speak) songs or chants relating to them? Do any of ML's many scholars have info on this?

Would Fela Kuti's Zombie work ?

xeger (#474): Oh my God ! That drool is contagious. And the contagion can spread through blog posts !
So many keyboards doomed.

Greg London (#498): Don't let crazy people get you down. I read some of her posts. She's some kind of nutcase.

Grumble... I resent the implied deprecation of nutcases.

*Goes to cry in a corner, then plays with tears exquisitely radiant in the warm late afternoon lazy light. Thinks of playing marbles, but cannot find enough dust to replace sand. Comes back.*

Only let [please insert adjective if needed] people get you up.

Seriously though, the comments, from what I could get, sounded more infantile and incredibly - to the point of blindness - self-centered than anything else. Sad, but not worth troubling oneself other.

----

Been lusting after Scrivener ever since it was released. Too bad I won't get a mac just for it. I must say computer world has me in a strange situation: the thing I want most out of my OS, being able to run French and Japanese applications flawlessly at the same time, only is available in OSes that cannot run the software I want this for, except for the text editor...

Bruce E. Durocher II (#480): that's one often observed behavior that depresses me with Linux apologists.

@Dave Bell (#386): Where does the word "padawan" come from?

My personal fantaisist franco-english ethymology: Pas "Da One".
Given the origin of the word jedi, I've been asking like crazy to people in other departments of the INALCO, but to no avail.

Fragano Ledgister (#430):

*Removes gloves. Claps hands appreciatively. Put gloves back. Resumes loving strangling of Modernism.*

To Xopher Prime Sigma (and Serge if I'm not mistaken): Happy Birthday ! (I'm not late. You cannot prove I'm not lost in a pocket of alternate - alternative ? - time... or can you ?).


Being in love with someone who's emotionally unavailable is bad.
Being in love with someone who's physically unavailable is worse.

Beats not being in love, or so I hear. Guess that must mean you've got luck erupting amidst those unfortunate patterns.
Hope you'll get more soon. Seems to me like you deserve it.

And for what it's worth: glad you're still here. The world wouldn't be the same without you.

Also, up there, for a minute, I read "Landmine is my favorite retronym."

Whoa ! Time to go cook something.

#510 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:33 PM:

MD²... Thanks. We'll just say that you were 51 weeks early. Besides, mieux vaut tard que jamais.

#511 ::: Lurking Maggie ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:44 PM:

#480, Bruce E. Durocher II: I'm delurking because I've actually used the word "hlep" to describe that phenomenon. It's superficially like help, it's meant to be help, but it totally fails to be actual help.

I'm sure this comment has been very hlepful.

#512 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Bruce E Durocher II: I suppose one could call it helpy.

But it's not quite right either. That's how I (and those I've contaminated with it) refer to someone who comes along, and makes more work, out of a sincere, but misguided attempt to help.

The three year old who sees you arranging the upper cupboard, and so empties the lower one, so you can straighten it out too.

Helpy.

#513 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Lurking Maggie and Bruce, I've seen 'helpiness' at As the Tumor Turns.

'Landmine' is a retronym, but it's a retronym from the future, when 'mine' means an asteroid rather than a hole in the ground.

#514 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:03 PM:

#480, Bruce E. Durocher II -- I've lived in Germany for 20 years and speak the language fluently (and everyone here certainly understands the concept), but neither I nor my friends could think of a German word.

You're right, the Germans have great words for soooo many things, but sometimes texts get awfully mangled in translation. I just happened to read Asimov's 'The Last of the Foys' in German, and had to google to find the real punchline (#29). The German is considerably less exciting.

On the other hand, the German version of Dr. Seuss's Lorax is great, rhymes and all.

#515 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:11 PM:

MD² 508: Oh, yes indeed it does! And we kind of had a breakthrough the other day. "Wonderful Guy" keeps running through my head.

If it works out I will be a very happy Xopher Prime indeed.

And thanks.

#516 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Lance Weber @ 505

Yes, there are such people*, though they're not as common as the garden variety technogeek, if my experience is any indication. I've met several of the ones who've really had an impact on the way we use technology, and, though I recognize something of what I see in myself, it's a much hotter and brighter flame than burns in me or most of the people I know. They're really exciting to be around when they're working at full steam.


* as us, I consider myself one too.

#517 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:23 PM:

MD2 @ 508

Resumes loving strangling of Modernism.

Damn, leave enough to interrogate! I'm sure there's a pony in there somewhere, and I need to know where to find it.

#518 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Vicki #503: I, however, am reasonably safe in my assumption that I am the only 'Fragano Ledgister'* in the solar system.

* Thanks be to the Noodly One!

#519 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:45 PM:

Fragano @517
I am the only Abi Sutherland currently active on the Net, but given the current popularity of my forename in the land of my surname*, I am probably not the only one in the world.

I cherish the notion of what my still-offline namesake(s) will think when she/they get old enough to Google. Bookbinding? LOLcatz? evilrooster? huh?

-----
* by marriage

#520 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:48 PM:

I can't believe I missed this!

Faren Miller #308: In the eastern Caribbean (or those parts of it that formerly were ruled by the French or had, for other reasons, a Francophone -- Creole-speaking -- populations) the revenant dead are called 'jumbies' and there are many songs and stories about them. (E.G.: A mi wan a walk a road/Jumbie come an knock mi down.)

I have always been more taken, though, with the being called in Trinidad La Diablesse(which, sadly, does not translate as 'Ann Coulter'), a bewitching creature with the appearance of a very attractive woman, but with only one human leg -- the other leg being bovine.

#521 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 03:51 PM:

MD² #508: Thank you!

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 04:01 PM:

I just googled my full name and, much to my surprise (for it was quite rare in my youth), there are a few others similarly called, including a writer, a farmer, a champion of trucking rodeos, etc. It's only at the end of Page Two that I show up.

#523 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Abi #518: I can see a future Abigail Sutherland developing an inferiority complex as a result. Especially after the sonnets -- those awe me.

#524 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Since I started writing reviews for an internet magazine, I've gone from the first google result that's actually me being halfway down the fifteenth page (a thank you on a friend's library activism website) to being on the first page. Woo hoo!

And, whoa! Holy crap! The Ethan Robinson that's a "man who loves his fraternity" so much that he brands the Greek letters on himself on a regular basis, who's been the first result for my name at least since 2000, when it first occurred to me to google myself, is now on the second page! I wonder what happened?

Lordy lord, I'm writing some over-complicated sentences right now.

#525 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Terry--

That she's a loon doesn't mean you should have to put up with strangers wanting you dead because of who you are. I don't consider it acceptable, or dismiss it as harmless lunacy, when someone wants me dead because I'm queer or Jewish; it is equally vile and unacceptable that one of our fellow citizens (or so it seems) wants you dead because you're a U.S. soldier.

#526 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 05:14 PM:

I'm the only Mary Aileen Buss that comes up in Google, although there is currently* a Mary Aileen playing lacrosse at my alma mater.

*unless she's graduated by now

#527 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Fragano 519: I have always been more taken, though, with the being called in Trinidad La Diablesse...a bewitching creature with the appearance of a very attractive woman, but with only one human leg -- the other leg being bovine.

Hence the term "Don't halve a cow."

#528 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Xopher #526: To be in the proper, ahem, spirit it should be 'Don't halve a cow, man'.

#529 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Fragano @ 522

I agree about the sonnets, but when I first read "future Abigail Sutherland" it resonated with the thought I'd had on reading abi's comment, that we should all act so as to induce at least a little WTF reaction in our own future selves.

#530 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Lots of people share my name. I share my name with multiple academics, a high court judge, a columnist for the Independent and a variety of business people. But I do turn up on the first page of google results for it (albeit a brief reference to me with out-of-date contact details on a site I've never heard of before today).

#531 ::: MC Pye ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:13 PM:

VCarlson and ethan (341, 342) almost exactly my reaction.

The email may still be in a file somewhere, tho it's some systems back now. Trying to pick my way through conversations, particularly with American co-workers, following it, was difficult indeed.

#532 ::: MC Pye ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:13 PM:

VCarlson and ethan (341, 342) almost exactly my reaction.

The email may still be in a file somewhere, tho it's some systems back now. Trying to pick my way through conversations, particularly with American co-workers, following it, was difficult indeed.

#533 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:14 PM:

eliddell #463, scott #469:

I was afraid of that. Because my Windows box isn't a box but a laptop, it's not on the hacking menu, alas. Oh, well. (If it were a desktop, there's more than enough hacking fu to go round, but laptops iss tricksy, they iss.)

#534 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:16 PM:

My first appearance as "Christopher Hatton" in Google is on page 8, which is sooner than I was expecting. The first pages are mostly the Elizabethan courtier and his relatives, or the guy who worked on Star Trek, neither of whom is me.

My first appearance on Google is from ML, of course, before I started using Xopher all the time.

As "Xopher" I'm the 7th entry, and mirabile dictu it's my own blog (which I can no longer access for some reason).

#536 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:30 PM:

There's three names that I've used on the net, since I started, two of them starting as still-active characters in games,

Only one of those names is an easily-found lead on Google, and it's not Dave Bell.

#537 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Now I'm puzzled. I Google my real name and get the top five hits on page one, but they're all from the linkmeister.com pages or various other places (including a 2005 mention at ML in the main post as a result of an e-mail I sent our hosts). My other site, stevetimberlake.com, doesn't appear even when I Google for that name specifically. It does turn up at the top if I leave out the space between first and last names. Hmm. I gotta figure out how to fix that.

#538 ::: MC Pye ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Apologies for that double post. I hadn't even finished editing and given one click, but the clicky-bit on my system has been behaving strangely of late.

My first post (back in 2004, my how time flies) was about my own true name and how, altho named after a specific person, I seem to be the only one with this binomial still extant. Google hits are by far theirs (I'd love to see his memoirs or a biography), rather than mine, but at the moment there are some entries relating to me on the first page of results.

#539 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 06:57 PM:

I have the same name as the firefighter who, along with Rufus Robinson, first championed the technique of smokejumping back in 1940.

#540 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Since the question's in the air I've taken the occasion to re-Google myself.

Thanks to a commonplace first name and the proliferation of anti-Bowling for Columbine messages I've moved down from page 4, where I was for years, all the way to 17. The first source that turns up (and the only one for the couple more pages where I've looked) seems unlikely, but there it is.

#541 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #528: Now that sounds like the premise for an interesting story.

#542 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Bruce, #480 and Diatryma, #512: I was just about to suggest "helpiness"!

Ethan, #523: Bearing in mind that I know squat about how Google actually works... maybe he changed his domain name, and so a lot of links that used to point to him are now broken and don't count any more?

Vicki, #524: Hear, hear!


#543 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 528... I agree about the sonnets, but when I first read "future Abigail Sutherland" it resonated with the thought I'd had on reading abi's comment, that we should all act so as to induce at least a little WTF reaction in our own future selves.

Tonight, on the Skiffy Channel... The Man Who Googled Himself

#544 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 09:01 PM:

I think I need to start a band called The Tim Walters with Tim Walters and Tim Walters.

#545 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Lee, Mary Dell and Joann: Thanks, looks like great advice, and the two near home might just be convenient enough to work well. He'll enjoy knowing there are potential friends of all ages, that's always a big deal to an only child. This might work out well.

#546 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2007, 11:28 PM:

In the year or so since I last googled myself, the first hit for me as "Bruce Cohen" has fallen from second page to 3rd, and instead of several hits there, the next hit is somewhere past page 20. It's only fair, most of the hits are for the Bruce Cohen who is Dan Jinks' partner in producing such movies as "Big Fish" and "The Forgotten".

On the other hand googling "SpeakerToManagers" doesn't find even one of my many imitators :-)

#547 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:02 AM:

I wonder if this is a generational thing. If I google myself, either name, I get either my one published story or a series of articles from junior high and high school. My local paper hasn't been online very long, so people a few years older than I am wouldn't be written up in it as much. Between that, a few Making Light comments under my own name, and that Krahe is not a terribly common surname, I'm googlable.

#548 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:07 AM:

The nice thing about choosing a new name was that I got to pick an uncommon one. The first two pages of Google hits are only me, and I would be surprised if anyone else had the same name. (Last name Manley, sure. First name Fade, and not changing the last name to something more kewl? Unlikely.)

I'm slightly weirded out to find that the fifth hit for my name is a link to my Making Light posts, though. I didn't think I actually spoke up all that often in here.

(This all reminds me that I really ought to get around to filling out the legal name change paperwork before I buy a house, just to keep the number of important official documents using my old name to a minimum. And I'm almost looking forward the epic confusion I've been assured will be caused by "Yes, my name has changed. Yes, I got married. No, I changed my first name, not my last name...")

#549 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:11 AM:

Lee #541, Yes, helpiness sounds like a good fit, especially since it resonates with truthiness.

#550 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:42 AM:

I googled my full name -- Marilee Joy Layman -- and there's none of those. I would have thought I'd put it somewhere, and come to think of it, this post will do it. Then I googled Marilee J. Layman and those, even to the 14th page, are all me. I googled Marilee Layman and I knew there was a woman named that (through marriage) who lived here in Virginia and she had four links (three complaining about Amway and one about Fullers) and the rest were mine. "mjlayman" was also all me, all the way to the 15th page.

#551 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Regarding recent dates to hit the calendar, and their import on personal versus national levels: I just got a call from my mother.

Apparently I have forgotten her birthday two years running now. It was Sept. 13.

I think I know what the problem is: I have gotten so very sick of the jingoistic patriotic exercises surrounding Sept. 11 that in recent years I've begun to sort of turn off my awareness of what numerical day of the month it is come September. So Sept. 13 was to me simply Thursday. (Also the day on which Charles de Lint's signing tour brought him to a teensy tiny bookstore in Fort Collins where we all sat around a card table in a space cramped by a gazillion book shelves and had a great chat for a couple hours. That was fun!)

Note to self: Program cell phone alarm to go off on morning of Sept. 13, 2008. Also, reassign Sept. 11 in mental calendar so that the dominant association is no longer "9/11 anniversary here we go again" but instead "Xopher's birthday! And, ooh, two days before Mom's birthday! Time to make cake!"

That should help.

(Happy b-day, Xopher!)


...(On another topic: a previous post to this thread by me, made Thursday, seems to have gotten stuck in the moderation queue. It was very linky, but not, I thought, incompatible with the spirit of an ML open thread... should I be worried?)

#552 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:25 AM:

karen #544

A word of caution (probably unneeded, but...): Attending an event described as a "Science Fiction Convention" and deciding that it isn't what you want would best be treated like reading a book and deciding that you don't care for it.

The problem for (and with) a 10-year-old at a con is that most of the others in that age category are just the children of Fans, not really Fans themselves, though they're likely to be intellectually precocious and reasonably good company. (Okay, I remember Buck Coulson once reviewing a fanzine as being (marginally) better than his, then moaning that "...and she's not even a teen-ager yet", but things like that extremely rare.) The canonical age for young neofans is 16, and I suspect there may be, in this context, a greater difference between 10 and 16 than between 16 and 30.

On another tentacle, a pre-teen kid who delights in Terry Pratchett's books is likely to find a lot of fascinating things at almost any general s-f con.
He's already lucky, and I wish him more of it.


#553 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 03:38 AM:

Speaking of cons, and Boskone in specific (someone did), does anyone have an opinion on whether it would be a good First Con Experience? If it influences anything, I'd be attending by myself, if I went, because most of my real-life friends give me Looks when I mention wanting to go to a convention.

Lee #541: I don't think so--it's an article on a website that looks like it may not have been updated since the 90s. Weird. I guess minor Washington Post staffers, University of Minnesota journalism students, and people who comment on Chicago Tribune blog posts have just been getting shitloads of links in the last year or so. Or something.

#554 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 05:10 AM:

Fragano @522, Bruce ManagerSpeaker @528:
I never really know what to say to such comments, except "thank you". Coming from the two of you, who write so well yourselves, it's very much appreciated.

Bruce ManagerSpeaker @528:
we should all act so as to induce at least a little WTF reaction in our own future selves

To quote Calvin, "I like to make everybody's day a little more surreal."

What amuses me about my Google results is not that Making Light is after my 3 own websites in 4th place (the LOLCatz thread, which has my name on it), but how far through the net the postings from that thread go. That sonnet is even quoted on a dialect listserv, in a way that makes it clear it's been forwarded privately a good deal as well.

#555 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 06:57 AM:

Is PostSecret gone? It appears to have been replaced by a blank blog template for someone named "nicole", a blogger since September 2007.

Over 3,800 people have been to look at the blank profile, I see, so it's probably not just me being thick.

I'm missing my weekly dose of Reasons I Love People.

#556 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:39 AM:

I'm seeing last weeks secrets, Abi. Something weird happened with the update then, too.

#557 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Diatryma @555:
Check your cache - you may be seeing a cached page. I still get nicole's page, and the Wikipedia article appears to be updated to reflect this.

#558 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Nine out of the first ten Google results on my full name are me. This is largely due to my hometown newspaper's online edition.

#559 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Okay, Abi; I thought that refreshing it would do, but now I'm getting the same thing. I wonder what happened.

#560 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:29 AM:

abi #553: You're most welcome. I find your poems amazing, clear, lucid, and powerful. I'm always torn between admiration and envy.

#561 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:34 AM:

About half of the references to my name on google have something to do with me; the other half are other people with my name or variants thereof. The first reference is to the Wikipedia page for Mary Dell-Chilton, a scientist. Fair enough.

Of the links that actually point to me, the leader is my amazon profile (odd, because I don't have reviews or anything), then my flickr site, then my personal site, and number four is to the previous ML thread where we discussed our names.

#562 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Serge -- every couple of days something strange appears, beginning with a worm with wings and a halo. Vg gheaf bhg gung n tyvgpu va gur ivrjcbvag'f pryrfgvny yvabglcr vf pnhfvat gur yrggre 'r' gb fubj hc bar be zber punenpgref rneyl -- ur frrf na natryjbez vafgrnq bs na natyrjbez, fbzr jvygrq sybjref ba n pbeq ghea hc juvyr ur'f frnepuvat sbe n tbys onyy ("onq yvr" -> "onq yrv"), rgp.

Paula@367: when you were putting in the new work, did you drill pilot holes? Working in well-aged wood is almost impossible without them -- screws will either get stuck or split the wood.

JESR@371: Many years ago I was on the fringes of a project to move a cider mill (built 1811, but in a style Henry Tudor would have considered soundly conservative). The leads haunted old-estate sales to come up with enough of the ancient framed brace-and-bit sets that were the best tool for replacing blind mortises.

Terry@372 -- linoleum on top of old hickory?!? Well, that's the 1950's for you; a house here just got rid of kitchen linoleum, sanding and sealing the beautiful wood underneath.

assorted: it appears that Vista is a demonstration of the saying that if you build a foolproof system, only fools will want to use it.

Paula@410: you forgot to mention BU's stereolithography machine. Building unmachinable solids out of formless liquid, \without/ Words of Power, is seriously geeky. (The rest of the advanced machine tools lab is pretty cool also.)

Karen@466: Boskone is more book-oriented than Arisia (e.g., the major seller-of-books-at-conventions does about the same business at the two, although Arisia has ~2x as many attendees); it has a programming track aimed at older kids, but I haven't looked to see what Arisia has. (I know about the Boskone track because I've been on the committee for >30 years.)
     NB: If they're thinking about Arisia, they should buy advance memberships; at-the-door membership were limited last time due to having had to move to a smaller site. (The twit who owns their previous site wanted a higher class of customer; he'd need to gut that old monument and rebuild it to match even the 2nd-tier convention hotels.)
     I also like Readercon, but it may be a bit much for even a precocious 10yo; see the program tab at the above address. I've been to a bit of one Vericon; lots of gaming, not much program, not there long enough to gauge the conversation (or how well college kids would work with a 10yo).
     Lee@487, thanks for the finding; I've emailed the out-of-date link to a couple of people who can do something.
     ethan@552: what makes a good first con depends a lot on the individual. Boskone provides a lot of space where people can hang out / socialize / debate / argue / ...; Arisia is denser but more varied (more gaming/costuming/media), so you'll run into more people but they may or may not share your interests. Arisia is sometimes spoken of as a younger crowd, despite having several former senior Boskone people involved; I haven't seen reliable numbers and don't know where in them you would show up. I'm too introverted and have been going to both way too long to guess which would be a friendlier place for a first-timer going solo.

And all this Googling provoked my vanity, of which I have an excess; my legal name ("Charles Hitchcock") first appears in the middle of page 2 (random chance suggests that I'm ~12th cousins with half the people mentioned), but by nickname / use name I'm first and frequent, presumably due to the long time I've been hanging around techno-savvy SF fans.

#563 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:06 AM:

N. Secure Computing

In a story that ties into the "how Gmail goes around the world" particle, apparently gmail was involved in the leak of 700MB of internal email from MediaDefender. MediaDefender is paid by corporate lightning rods like the MPAA and RIAA to give grief to those who want information to be gratis (and probably libre).

Wackiness ensued.

#564 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Well, well. The second hit for my name is now my Pegasus Award nomination! And there are 5 or 6 other hits that are actually me in the first half-dozen pages, all of them filk-related. That's a lot better than I used to get.

There seems to be someone with my name writing for Seed Magazine, who is the first hit and several more downpage from that.

#565 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:14 AM:

I haven't egoGoogled in a long time, mostly because I'm pretty confident I'm the only one of me out there, and I'm not sure I want to know what other people might be saying about me. Which isn't to say I think I'm that damn important, only that in almost nine years on the Internets, I'm bound to have gone and gotten on somebody's nerves.

#566 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Tim @ 507:

Yes, the same Vicki Rosenzweig. And the same Arthur and Nancy as well. You wouldn't by any chance be in touch with Honey these days?

#567 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:50 AM:

CHip, I myself have a lovely old brace-and-bit, although "old" here is new enough to have the earliest version of the Craftsman mark. It gets used mostly to drill holes for hanging gates on new fenceposts.

I finally followed the example of my betters and googled myself; the first fifteen pages on my legal name are almost all for the first female translater of the Bible, although there is the usual internet dryer fluff of geneological sites (none relevent). Then comes the comments I've made here, a few pages later my membership in the National Shorthorn Association, with my sister's address, and that's it.

A search on the AOL screen name I've used for fifteen or sixteen years goes a long was to explain why I get so many AIM pings from people I don't know, although one of the first pages contains two links to Resistance is Futile, the official newsletter of the Borg Intergalactic Conspiracy, which started on Prodigy and contains much funnier stuff than what I wrote for it.

#568 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:57 AM:

abi @ 553

Thanks are all you need to say. And you are very welcome. I can't speak to the quality of my own work*, but I figure it's got to be getting better from studying Fragano's and your examples. I don't want to slight other poets here, there are some excellent ones, but you two frequently and consistently post poems of quality and substance, giving me lots of chance to study good work.


* not humility: I really can't tell how good they are** by reading them because the words are too familiar to me, and I'm not yet experienced enough to judge by the way the process of writing a given poem went.

** except in terms of rhyme and scansion which are only the most basic measurements ***

*** I did pick up the nested footnote habit from you; if I didn't use it my prose would look like lisp code from all the parentheses.

#569 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Oh, and by the way, instant Quonset hut, just add water.

#570 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:14 PM:

I'd never even thought of ego-Googling before, but (benefit of a weird first name) the top results are all me -- maybe the others too, but I didn't go past page 1, and I expect the later pages have a lot of miscellaneous Millers.

Naturally, Locus reviews show up a lot, but it's interesting that my rock'n'roll diaries of the Sixties (typed and put online after 9/11 temporarily pushed me away from modern times) are first, and my so-so fantasy novel from the early Nineties makes an appearance too. Plus, of course, comments on Making Light!

Going further upthread, thanks to Fragano (and others) for info on zombie songs that aren't American pop.

#571 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 12:46 PM:

CHip @ 561

Our current house is circa 1957, with reasonably nice oak floors in the bedroom, den and kitchen, and a horrible washed-out-beige carpet in the living room and the downstairs. We knew we weren't going to get rid of the downstairs carpet anytime soon because it was laid over concrete; but imagine our surprise when we moved in to discover that the entire upper story had been floored with the same oak, and some owner in the '80s had apparently been told by someone that carpets sell houses.

You can bet that carpet is coming up as soon as we get the bathroom remodeling done.

#572 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Vicki @ 565: You wouldn't by any chance be in touch with Honey these days?

Unfortunately, no.

#573 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:14 PM:

CHip (561): I don't think you can blame a fifties mindest on my grandfather; he being almost seventy when he put in the plumbing and did the floor.

Sealing it is basically what they did. No poly-sealants back then, and the kitchen got a lot of traffic, since the cellar was gotten to from it, and my grandmother was still using a coal fired furnace until '78, or so. Keeping a hardwood floor would have been a lot of work.


#574 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Chip @ 561
That reminds me of a cute book called "The Letter Bandits" by D L Polonsky where the bandits keep stealing letters of the alphabet, stealing the letter T to turn the city of Stuttgart into a pile of sugar, for example.

The inflatable quonset hut (Bruce at 570) reminds me of David Macaulay's inflatable cathedral.
It also occurs to me that if you allowed that material to set upside down and then turned it over you'd have catenary arches.

#575 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:24 PM:

CHip @ 561... Speaking of worms, I fondly remember overhearing a conversation at NASFiC between Phil Foglio's wife, Kaja, and their young son, where she explained that meal-worms are not worms you eat as part of your meal. When I asked her on her blog about that conversation, she was surprised she had said that because she feels she would have told him that those are worms you can eat.

Now I know where Girl Genius gets its inspiration.

#576 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:37 PM:

I see that PostSecret is back.

I wonder what happened.

#577 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 01:47 PM:

Hell, I wasn't even the only Jen Roth who entered my Master's program in 2004. That was a touch inconvenient.

#578 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Terry Karney and, earlier, CHip- wood floors are a perplex, on the whole. Around here, they were always doug fir, which is soft and splintery and quickly abraded by routine sweeping; one of the "kids' jobs" in earlier generations was going around carefully tapping in nails which rose above the eroded floor surface. In logger's houses, replacing the back porch and kitchen floors was a constant maintenance project, thanks to cork boots (those with steel caulks let into the soles, for better traction on bark. Someone mentioned ruptured achilles tendons in the trauma thread: getting one's caulk's stuck in bark and damaging the achilles tendon was a common on-the-job injury).

It was worse in dairy farming houses; until far into my childhood, many farms still did the work of sanitizing equipment in the farm kitchen, and painted or varnished wood was a complication, hard to keep really clean, hard to dry, and hazardous when wet. Affordable linoleum was met as a gift from beneficent providence.

#579 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:02 PM:

my prose would look like lisp code

Written in Thee++?

#580 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:03 PM:

(pronounced, of course, 'thee pluth pluth')

#581 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:04 PM:

This just came to my attention and may be of interest, judging by recent conversations: Leonard Cohen performing Who By Fire with Sonny Rollins on saxophone. Very nice.

#582 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:19 PM:

Xopher... pronounced, of course, 'thee pluth pluth'

And, if you're Welsh, written 'thee pludd pludd'?

#583 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 573

Dept. of Appropriate Citation:
The inflatable quonset hut was mentioned in Randolph Fritz # 568, not by me.

#584 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 02:46 PM:

I'd like to believe it would be Uncommon Lisp.

#585 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 03:47 PM:

JESR: And Hickory is odd stuff. It gets so hard that to work it requires it being green, which means it warps.

But before it sets up, it's soft, and tends to scars and wear.

If he were doing it now, he might rent a floor sander, and try to level it out, but yeah, linoleum was a godsend (this was a farm house; of, for a farm house opulent nature) before it was moved.

And the linoleum, still has lumps.


#586 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Serge 581: And Old Norse programmers would write 'Þee pluþ pluþ'.

#587 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Happiness is finishing your afternoon dog walk just before it starts raining.

#588 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Terry, douglas fir cups, unless the top and bottom surfaces are kept at equal humidity. Vapor barrier being unknown until quite recently, the houses I grew up in all had at least one floor where the linoleum was broken by the edges of boards warping underneath it.

On the other hand, the first house I can remember, up on the Mountain Highway just below Eatonville, was one of those big pre-WW1 farm houses with a porch extending across one eave end, a glassed-in laundry room on the south gable wall, and a kitchen about the size of my current house. Nothing since has quite measured up to it, literally or figuratively.

#589 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Uncommon Lisp, the language the Laundryverse was written in.

#590 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Terry (376, 382, 481, 502): I'm sorry you ran into Jill Bains. If she's real, she's a malign crazy. If she's fake, she's still a nasty piece of work. I don't know why Digby, Majikthise, and other lefty bloggers haven't banned her. She shows up in comment threads all over the place, and she's always a blight on the public discourse.

Assuming she's an elaborate troll: Whoever is running the "Jill Bains, neurochemically impaired neo-Leninist" persona is deliberately having her use sentiments and terminology that are as upsetting and discreditable as possible. It's supposed to hurt. You're supposed to loathe her and all her kind, whatever you conceive them to be.

Of course, even if you knew for certain that she was a fake, what she says would still hurt. That's one of the biggest reasons I disemvowel nasty comments: knowing that the person who made them is crazy or a jerk doesn't take the sting out of them.

Assuming she's real: She's deranged. Her comments consist of reshuffling habitually used abstract signifiers. They're pattern-driven, emotionally disengaged, use a curtailed language set, and in some absolute sense mean about as much as a spread of dominoes. Her chosen topic is the rottenness of America, but she could just as easily have chosen to rant about Vatican conspiracies or alien abductions.

For my sins, I've played games with people like that. If you make syntactically complex statements that use their key words to convey some unaccustomed meaning, they'll respond to the key words and miss the rest.

Either way: I find it helps if you don't imagine that someone who's as human as you are, and uses language the same way you do, said what Jill Bains said. Painful data can be worth having if it says something true about the world. This is false data. Throw it away with the rest of the garbage.

#591 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Xopher @ 585... And Old Norse programmers would write 'Þee pluþ pluþ'.

When Thor hammers the bugs out of his code, Uru-lly does a thorough job of it.

#592 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Xopher @ 585

Bjarne Stroustrup is an old Norse Programmer these days.

#593 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Jill Bains? Yep. An Eliza program. I'd like to see the data on what IPs "she" posts from.

#594 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Teresa @ 589

I've dealt with people who say those sorts of things before, usually old Stalinists masquerading as Marxist-Leninists by taking the letter off their jackets while still talking the same talk. I don't recall seeing the level of damage that you describe. Oh, they were batshit crazy, but more in the way of having an elaborate set of slogans with which to ward off the world and the people in it. Of course, I was much younger, and tended to take things and people at face value, so I might have missed it.

On second thought, I have seen people like Jill Bains, but they weren't mouthing political slogans. The worst case I ever saw was a young woman (probably about 20 or 21 at the time, but it was hard to tell) who had completely fried her brain on LSD. The word on her was that she'd taken more than 100 doses in the year previous to my meeting her*. My impression of her was that of a tornado: wild, destructive winds surrounding a vacuum where a core personality should be. She said some really hurtful things to everybody around her, but they didn't seem connected to anything she was actually feeling. I must have subconsciously connected that old memory of an acid freak with Bains when I said upthread that she seemed to me to inhabit a universe all on her own.

* Medium reliability information; some was from th person who was probably her most frequent source for the acid.

#595 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #593: 100+ doses of acid in a year?!! That's diving down the rabbit-hole and pulling it in after you.

#596 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 08:34 PM:

I just accused Jill Bains of being "a right-wing rage generator of some kind (that is, a program someone wrote to produce text that the right can use against the left, and post it on liberal blogs), rather than the neurochemically-impaired neo-Leninist 'she' attempts to portray."

Actually I only said I heard she was, and that I didn't know whether it was true or not.

#597 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Re Jll Bns: doesn't that make her a useful 'live' version of a strawman? — or perhaps an agent provocateur. The right-wing can point to and quote what she says as an example of the vile rhetoric and beliefs of the left. Like those "violent demonstrators" in Canada recently found to be disguised police. I think that was linked here, but can't search it out.

I haven't read her — my nerves are a bit raw for that — and am just going from comments here. Using 'live' in case Jll Bns isn't actually 'life as we know it'.

#598 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 08:59 PM:

#564 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy mused:
I'm not sure I want to know what other people might be saying about me.

... whereas I'm not sure I want to know what I said. That said, I'm reliably among the first hits for any of me that I search on. What that says, I decline to speculate upon.

#599 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:12 PM:

Erm. Connection is laggy today and I missed some of those comments. What he said.
"Right-wing Rage Generator" is a nice, and quite apposite phrase for a number of things I can think of.

#600 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:32 PM:

TNH@#589: Thank you, you've just expressed succinctly my own (learned) response to such hate-flamers.

It also helps to remember that many of these are likely to be non compos mentis -- they're literally raving, even if it's via keyboard! Ignore them just like you'd ignore the crazy guy swearing a blue streak down the sidewalk. (Social workers and such should feel free to choose another metaphor. ;-) )

The idea of the Rethuglicans siccing AI provocateurs on liberal forums is chilling; not that I'd put it past them, but I hadn't thought their net-savvy and social-control program were that strong.

When I first Googled myself, the dominant results led to a namesake in Washington DC, who's around my age, but has a family and has written a couple of books about ecological diversity. Given my own lack of achievements, I found that rather depressing.

#601 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:37 PM:

David Harmon @ 599... Ignore them just like you'd ignore the crazy guy swearing a blue streak down the sidewalk.

Is there a Tourette Test that's equivalent to Turing's?

#602 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 09:43 PM:

James D. Macdonald #592: Jill Bains? Yep. An Eliza program. I'd like to see the data on what IPs "she" posts from.

My guess would be RNC PsiOps.

#603 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:16 PM:

I'm seeing news being reported here and there that Robert Jordan passed away.

And even wikipedia appears to have found a reliable source for the announcement.

#604 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Serge @600: I thought about working Tourette's in there, but the thing is, Tourette's people can be nice and polite in between the swearing....

Lis Raba @602: now Jordan? damn. Now we'll never get to Tarmon Gai’don.

#605 ::: Ed Greaves ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Lis @602: I just got a notice from my RSS feed of his blog, where his cousin posted to announcement his passing.

http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/?p=90

#606 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:53 PM:

When I google myself, I'm on the first page of hits -- but I have my pages set to 100 hits per page. The first one that's me (I have a fairly common name, but have been on the net a long time) is #37 on the list. Curiously, it's my profile on the now-disused maps.hitherby.com, the bulletin board for the now-disused (alas) Hitherby Dragons.

#607 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 10:54 PM:

About the first 15 google hits on my name are me. And under "Nancy C. Mittens" the first few are me.

And ethan, since I won't be going to Denver in August, I am hoping to make Boskone this year. We should meet if we each do go!

#608 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Musing about what changes google ranking over time, and whether there might in fact be a generational effect as Diatryma suggests, I realized that all of my posts that have been popping up in the third or fourth page in the past, and that were nowhere to be seen yesterday were to various usenet newsgroups in the mid-90s, mostly sci.nanotech and such. I wonder if a bunch of archives have gone away.

#609 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:38 PM:

David Harmon @ 603... True.

#610 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2007, 11:58 PM:

JESR, #566, during those years on AOL, did you frequent the OMNI forums? (I keep running into people I knew on AOL by their screennames but I hadn't known by their real names.)

Faren, #569, Nalo Hopkinson frequently uses zombies in her stories. You might ask her.

Bruce Cohen, #570, my condo is on the concrete slab and the laminate I had put down is working really well. I couldn't have managed hardwood, even though it's cheaper, and my breathing is much better.

#611 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens #606: Ooh! Now there's a strong vote in favor of going...

#612 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:27 AM:

Marilee, I hung out mostly on the Garden boards and in the ADHD, Education Reform and Medical Debate boards. I'm not even sure what OMNI was?

#613 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:35 AM:

Bruce @593:

In college, I slightly knew, for a while, someone who was well down a similar road, taking acid at least a couple times a week. One friend said he had heard him say, perfectly seriously, "I've got kind of a headache today. I guess I should take some acid." He just kind of faded out, dropped out of school before long - you can't keep up at a college like U. of Chicago in that condition - and before long had just dropped completely out of sight. Sad. Some people will not believe it can be bad for you. More recently, I've known some people who likewise could not believe that taking E almost every weekend could possibly be bad for you. Again, I felt like I could practically see their personality slowly eroding.

... and Bruce again @607:

I have heard of other indications that Google's somehow seriously screwed up their search function for the Usenet archives in recent months, presumably due to one of their ranking algorithm changes. It only erratically and inconsistently finds things earlier than the past year or so; I don't know how their QC could have failed to catch it. A little bird has told me that at least some people in Google are aware and are trying to make the responsible group notice that there's a real problem.

#614 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:48 AM:

More on auto-Googliation:

I'm seeing a very interesting change too. The first hit for my name is now my personal company's website, where most of the hits on my name used to be various technical mailing list postings.

I strongly suspect that's due to using it as my personal URL anchor for my postings here, and occasional link submissions to Boing-Boing over the last few years. Then again, it might be that the domain is old enough now that their algorithms think it fairly sure not to be a spam site.

Whatever the reasons, I sure can't complain about that.

#615 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:44 AM:

ethan (#552) / Nancy C. Mittens (#606): I'm also planning to be at Boskone next year and would love to get together with other ML comment posters.

#616 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:57 AM:

ethan #552

There are a number of people who tend to attend Boskone who participate in Making Light--CHip, myself, Teresa and Patrick, Jim Macdonald, Kathryn Cramer, and scads of lurkers--that means that if you go, there are people whom you already have connections with, via Making Light. And of CHip, Teresa and Patrick, Jim Macdonald, Kathryn Cramer, and myself, chances are if you ask someone working on the convention if any of us have been seen around lately, the person will be able to tell you either where one of us is, or how recently we've been seen around that area.

[note, speaking for myself here, not for NESFA/Boskone, do not take what I write below as policy of Boskone or NESFA....] Regarding a ten year old at a convention--Bruce Coville is a Special Guest for the 2008 Boskone, Tamora Pierce usually attends Boskone, and there's programming aimed at ages below adult... but nobody's restricted from attending the general program based on age. The issues though are 1) social considerations/obligations regarding "free range children" --Suford Lewis attended her first convention, as her own decision, at the age of eight--but that was back in a time where there was a lot less concern about minor children being out and about on their own. There have been head of companies who couldn't get into tradeshows in the past decade and a half or more, because the tradeshows restricted attendees to having to be age 18 or above, and the company heads were under 18. So, anyway, SF conventions these days, for a number of reasons, including laws and liability , tend to restrict membership such that children below certain ages should have a parent or responsible adult at the convention when they are, and not be running loose around the convention unattended to/unaccompanied.

(That said, there are children going about the convention to a degree on their own, being responsible--Macdonald's offspring grew up going to conventions and doing lots of things at convention, however, they were known and their parents were known and they weren't therefore all that exactly free-range.)

Another factor is that the typical attendee at Boskone is probably middle-aged. There are children at the convention as noted, including children of committee and staff and program participants, but the group that runs the convention, NESFA, the average age of the members who go to meets is probably somewhere in the late 40s to mid 50s... 35 years ago there were high school students who were NESFA meetings who were active, but that was way back when.

One of the things about kids is that they grow up, they don't have the level of one-year-merges-into-another that hits once one's been an adult for a while, and "which year was that convention anyway?" that builds up. "You haven't changed much in the past 20 years" is not something that applies to someone who's under 30, but applied to a lot of people from mid to late twenties forward for 30 years or so.

I'd rate Boskone as a more child-safe convention than Arisia in some ways--Arisia one year had on Dealer's Row, a fellow in BDSM underdressed state sitting mostly in a large cage--his legs were too long to cram into the cage, so they were sticking out of the cage. That sight didn't repeat the following year, and there's a lot less overt fetishism in evidence out where anyone can see it at Arisia, but still...

Boskone has children at it who are staff or committee members' children or grandchildren, I can think of six immediately, but I'm not sure of their ages (all six are definitely under 18, some are still single digits in age, and they form their own grouping hanging about with one another ) There are also kids who are the children of program participants. Arisia,, has children/grandchildren of committee, staff, and program participants.

=============

abi: I think you have a budding biologist there, future biologists tend to show their their career path early that way.

#617 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Arranging meetings at conventions--there are several ways to do this. One of them is that someone throws a party and gives the designation of the party (e.g., single author fan groups that throw parties, post the party time, room number, and their group name on the party board, conventions throwing parties at other conventions to promote their convention put the convention name on the board, bid parties put e.g. "Arkham in 2011" on the party board, etc. ). Another is to arrange that people all meet someone to go to lunch or dinner or some such together. Yet another is picking a program item to go to, or
"Teresa is going to be on [name of program item] at[location, time]. How about all going to h/e/c/k/l/e listen and talk after the program item's over?" Or there's "meet in the lobby (day, time...).... It's easy to miss people if not setting up things ahead of time.

One tried-and-true way to meet people at a convention is to volunteer to work on it, and show up on Thursday night to e.g. help set up the art show. That normally is a good way to -see- CHip, though he's usually preoccupied with constructing the art show, so the verbal interchanges consist of, "on the count of three, everyone pick up a pole and move it three inches to the left" or, "You hold that, you put the bulb in," or "Halt!"

The Sunday before Boskone there's almost always a worksession involving making badges, packing, etc., at the NESFA Clubhouse, Wednesday night is truck loading there, Thursday is truck unloading, art show setup, etc.

=======================

Hmm, I wonder, could whoever is doing ribbons for Boskone, be persuaded to do a Making Light ribbon?

#618 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:24 AM:

When I've seen them, there's always been a few unofficial ribbons floating around.

Since some of the uses for ribbons are relatively serious I'm not sure that unofficials are a good idea. But some sort of Making Light insignia would be nice: the Combat Blogger Badge of the War on Incivility.

(Teresa gets to wear the Gold Troll Assault Badge, with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds.)

((Yeth, I know the hithtorical alluthion. I'd better go back to footnoteth.*)

*Sister Suzie's sewing shirts for soldiers... That's better.

#619 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:41 AM:

Very much to one side of the Robert Jordan thread:

Of course people use a pen-name, but, quite apart from obituaries, I've been coming across them on places like Project Gutenberg. With some works from the 1950s coming out of copyright in the USA, because of a failure to renew before the switch to Berne-style copyright management, I'm getting sights of names I don't recall ever seeing elsewhere.

What strikes me as odd about it is that sometimes the pen-name is just a selection from the full name, as if I was published as George Bell instead of David, or it's a Harry substituted for Henry. But sometimes it's a quite ordinary name and there's no obvious reason for the change.

Which suggests that somebody might not have wanted their real name plastered over that sci-fi stuff. 40 or 50 years later, it may not matter, but I now have some images of a sort of Cohen-ish group of geriatric mobsters turning up to settle an old debt because of Project Gutenberg.

(I mean, you thought Marlon Brando was talking funny as Don Corleone, but at least he had his teeth in.)

#620 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:15 AM:

Watched My Name Is Modesty last night, the Modesty Blaise movie reputedly made so as to hold on the film rights. Not dreadful: the flashback scenes worked better than the here-and-now sequences. The actress playing Modesty wasn't up to the basic conceit of Modesty telling the bad guy a story to buy time. And she couldn't really handle the fight scenes.

But it put me very much in mind of the British TV escapist action adventure of the sixties and seventies. I could imagine Roger Moore spinning a yarn to delay the bad guys. Or Tony Curtis leading the good guys with gun. It had the same look of mostly-studio, with a few geographically anonymous locations.

And now I really want to see the Willie Garvin/Jason King Deathmatch.

#621 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:41 AM:

Dave bell @ 619... I really want to see the Willie Garvin/Jason King Deathmatch

I'd pay good money for that.

#622 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 07:14 AM:

Well, that tears it; I don't know if I'll actually be able to, but I will do my damnedest to attend the next Boskone.

#623 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 07:17 AM:

I caught (most of) My Name is Modesty last night as well, and (mostly) agree; good idea let down by the central actress. Not that she was bad, but she needed to be more fascinating and charismatic. But I felt it made itself worthwhile at the moment where she tears open her ankle-length skirt for some high-kicks. "That's Modesty Blaise" I said*.

On Googling, the first hit for me is on the first page, but it's me saying foolish things on Charlie Stross's blog. I should probably put both my names on all of my internet presence (when I first had photos on the internet, there had been threats against where my Dad works so all the names are nicknames and all the locations are descriptions, and finding me amongst all the Neils and NeilWs of the world is very difficult)

* To myself, which is a bit sad.

#624 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 07:58 AM:

Ethan I will do my best to make it to Boskone in 2008, so that I can be found there!

Also, I will be in NYC for Thanksgiving; does anyone want to have dinner or something the day after?

#625 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 08:02 AM:

Dave Bell @ 619... But what I'd really like to see is a Joe 90/Alan Tracy Deathmatch.

#626 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 08:50 AM:

Damn, I wish Boskone weren't right after APTA Combined Sections--I'm unlikely to be able to get time off for both. ML + Boston + Tamora Pierce = a powerful lure indeed.

Oh well....maybe in '09.

#627 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Dave #617

You probably then haven't seen some of the really silly "official" ribbons, then... there was one made up once for a fellow with a particular sort of color blindness that almost worked to make the letters invisible to him against the ribbon's background color....

War on Incivility warriors? Er, um, to a degree I'm bemused at never having had one of my posts here disemvoweled, given that when it comes to Social Intelligence and Graces, don't look in my direction for a role model to emulate!

#628 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Lila #6254

How far away do you live? There are one day memberships available if you can day trip for Saturday or Sunday (the convention officially starts Friday and ends on Sunday; showing up for worksession and truck loading/unloading, setup and teardown and reloading the truck and reunloding and unpacking back at the NESFA Clubhouse, are activities that count for volunteer membership--people who work a sufficient number of hours get a membership for the following year's convention in appreciation.

[ http://www.nesfa.org/rules/report0507.html

"...To encourage volunteering at Boskone, anyone (including Committee, Staff, people with non-paid memberships, and non-members) who works on the convention for a sufficent amount of time will be given a free non-transferrable membership in the following Boskone. [11/04.]...."

[working before the convention starts and after the convention ends gives extra credit towards the number of hours worked... this happens with a number of conventions, to encourage people to help out before and after, when there are a lot fewer people around to help out than during the convention itself. There are other rewards for working on conventions that can include t-shirts and/or other merchandise, each convention has its own volunteer incentivies, short of a rollover membership for the following year. Some reimburse volunteers the membership fee they paid, Worldcons do that if there is a surplus allowing it, after the convention.)

#629 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 10:02 AM:

PDX Fluorosphere:

miriam beetle, now libicki, tells me she's going to be in Portland on the weekend of Sept. 29th and 30th. We're going to try to get together sometime in there, anyone else interested? Her schedule is likely to be tight, so we should plan for it to be somewhere in the Lloyd Center area, as she'll be at the Stumptown Comic Fest, held at the DoubleTree Hotel. I'd like to try for dinner Saturday night if possible; we ought to aim high and hope for the best. Please send me email if you're interested.

#630 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 10:15 AM:

#617: someone has to produce a MKNG LGHT ribbon.

#631 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:13 AM:

A ribbon would be nice, especially if we could come up with a larger, higher-res version of the passing eclipse icon.

#632 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Or a little heap of shed vowels, like raked-up leaves in the fall.

#633 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:29 PM:

It was almost a year ago, but Mr. Scalzi's pie inspired me to develop a similar recipe for cookies. I forgot to write the recipe down then, but I decided to make them again this weekend (with a raving reception; they were rapidly devoured) and remembered to write out the essentials this time:

Schadenfreude Cookies
(makes about 30 cookies)
Ingredients:
1 cup multi-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
honey
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
5 oz. cinnamon chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips

Highly recommended:
an insulated cookie sheet
parchment paper
cooling racks

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, keep to the side. In a small dish, combine the cocoa powder and honey until it resembles paste more than it does dough. In a mixing bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla, adding the egg and beating until creamy. For texture, I highly recommend that the butter be kept cold; stick butter can be cubed into smaller bits to make the mixing go somewhat easier, but it will doubtless take longer to get a smooth mixture. Once the mixture is creamy, add the cocoa-honey paste and mix thoroughly, then mix in the flour mix bit by bit until a consistent dough is formed. Add butterscotch and cinnamon chips and mix with a spoon until they are more or less evenly distributed in the dough (Note: this is a LOT of chips...don't be surprised).

(Ideally, the finished dough should be refrigerated for an hour or two before being measured out, but this is optional)

Place heaping tablespoon portions of the completed dough on parchment paper cut to fit your cookie sheet (failure to use parchment paper may result in cookies which are inseparable from the cookie sheet; you have been warned). Bake for 9-10 minutes at 350°, then remove the cookies (you can leave them on the parchment paper) and place them on the cooling racks. They can be pulled off the parchment paper after about 15 minutes.

Enjoy...darkly!

#634 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:35 PM:

We've got your vowels in the neatest pile
your message is still there, though hard to read,
and you are less annoying, you'd concede
through what would have to be a most forced smile.
Enough of that! Our task this little while
is rather how to honour the good deed
of one who's standing by to help at need
and keep us safe from trickery and guile.
We rarely think, when we write in this space,
of all the work that's done to keep it neat
and make it a safe harbour for our thought.
And so we ought to thank the one whose grace
keeps it from being just a brawling street
and helps us learn without our being taught.

#635 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 12:43 PM:

#618 ::: Dave Bell: but I now have some images of a sort of Cohen-ish group of geriatric mobsters...

Umm... what?

#636 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:04 PM:

On autogoogling: For my full name without quotes, all but eight hits on the first four pages are me, with the first one being my homepage and the others being a mix of fannish activities and professional stuff. Nothing embarassing, fortunately, since a clever job applicant googled me last week. The other eight hits are all my evil stepmother, who apparently has a "friend" with my first name. If I add the quotes, my stepmother vanishes. If only it were so easy in RL.

#637 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Teresa #631:
a e i o u but NEVER why

#638 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Does anyone know if there's a significant difference in flavor or Scovilles between the Day-Glo™-orange habaneros and the cherry-red ones?

#639 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Boskone: probably not for me, unless (1) I don't get hired to teach that weekend and (2) someone gives me a really compelling reason to travel to Boston two weekends in a row and make it three consecutive weekends on the road in the winter.

For me, cons-definitely-upcoming: Philcon, Darkover (Tamora Pierce will be there again), Arisia, Lunacon, Denvention. Possible additions: SMOFcon, CostumeCon, Balticon, Readercon.

#640 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Baking question for the experts:
I was making pound cake (from a typical sort of pound cake recipe which I have used many times before) in one of those mini-loaf pans, which I have likewise used before. For some reason, instead of the usual darker but still cakelike outer portion of the cake, I ended up with a wafer-thin crispy-crackly outside layer that as actually a cm or so separated from the rest of the cake - I could break a hole in it and there was air underneath. I ended up breaking it off all of the mini-loaves, and the cake underneath tasted pretty good but, um, why did this happen to me?

#641 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:31 PM:

I was thinking about Robert Jordan and his work...

Teresa said she doesn't want "why we liked the books on the memorial thread, so I'm putting it here.

What struck me about the WoT was this: He took the almost New-Agey concept of a Pattern of Fate, and the overdone idea of a hidden God facing off against an all-too-present devil -- and by damn, he made them work! Even with no explicit identifications whatsoever, it gradually became obvious that his "Creator" was still in the game, and had been from the beginning. (Three heroes where one was prophecied....) And he did this with "fantasy" more causal and self-consistent than a good number of books that get called "science fiction". Really, he set a new standard.

#642 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Xopher @637 -- there are a bunch of variants out there, all sold more or less indiscriminately as 'habañeros' -- so your experience may vary even between batches. I haven't noticed a lot of inter-pepper difference that correlates with color for commercial peppers. They're all really hot, with a nice fruity flavor once you get past (or extract with ethanol) the hot.

#643 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Welcome back, Susan. So, you live in a pink house, and you have an evil stepmother? Your life is a fairy tale.

#644 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Susan #639:

Did you change the butter from salted to unsalted or vice versa? This has turned out to make a similar (but nowhere as big) difference in madeleines, which if anyone asks for the recipe, I say "It's poundcake cookies."

#645 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @#631:

Or a little heap of shed vowels, like raked-up leaves in the fall.

If someone can direct me to a picture of what these ribbons are supposed to look like,* I can take a crack at a design.

*Yes, I am a cave dweller and have not yet been to a proper con, sorry

#646 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Xopher: Not really. There are some quirks wrt to habañero. here are a couple of closely related peppers (Scotch bonnet, from jamaica, comes immediately to mind). The difference in Scovilles isn't likely to be detectable.

But, when those peppers are crossed to a lesser Scoville pepper the heat isn't stable. The "Red Savina" variety (huge peppers, the size of a bell) were listed as the hottest variety of habañero. But the heat was unstable, and large numbers of them reverted to the lesser Scoville value (I grew some which were about the size of a poblano, had no heat at all).

But that's all interesting side notes. The small ones all ought to be about the same.

Susan, you got an air bubble. Either a quirk of the shortening, a strange aspect of the pour into the pan or a slightly different amount of moisture. The last can come of a varition in the mill run, different brand of flour or quirk of weather.

#647 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:39 PM:

Terry: an airbubble which extended over eight separate mini-loaves? And there's no shortening in the recipe - it's a pound cake, so just sugar-flour-eggs-butter and a bit of vanilla for flavoring.

joann: I'm pretty sure I used my usual butter, but not 100% as I was baking in a sort of drugged-up haze of illness. I will check.

#648 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Serge @642:
Susan...Your life is a fairy tale.

Oh, you have no idea. I have it from reliable sources* that she had eleven sisters, each more lovely than the last. The cobbler was so overworked making shoes for them to wear through every night that he handed some of his business over to a glassblower‡.

Sadly, one of the tailors supplying the family with their appropriate period costumes** went postal and killed seven of them with one blow***. He fled then on the back of a dragon†. So she and her five remaining sisters cut their hair and dressed themselves as men to avenge their sisters††. Each chose a direction to seek for a year: the eldest went west, the next youngest north, the next youngest south, and the next east. Sundry adventures followed, involving the ability to tramp firmly on peas and not run shrieking in delight toward spinning wheels.†††

When the time came for Susan, the youngest, to go, drew a drop of blood from her little finger, a strand of hair from her head, and an ember from her hearth fire. From them she created a gryphon as bright as the sun and as dark as midnight. She sprang upon its back and rode straight upward into the sky until she breached the clouds and encountered the Four Seasons.

They each promised to help her in her quest to avenge her sisters' deaths, in exchange for certain tokens. The Lord of Winter offered icy winds to freeze the dragon into his nighttime form, in exchange for two snowflakes just alike§. A rock-hard treacle tart lies discarded on a roadside now.

Spring swore to turn the road beneath the fleeing tailor to mud, but demanded a flower that is finest in the wind and worst in still weather§§. Summer promised twining vines to trip him in exchange for "the pounding of blood in the veins"§§§.

Autumn wants a cake fit for an emperor‡‡ before she blows Susan and the gryphon, like two fallen leaves, to where the tailor lies entangled and muddy. So once Susan finshes in the kitchen, that tailor is toast.

-----
* the birds of the air and the beasts of the ground‡‡‡
‡ who later moved to another kingdom where his vitreous footwear became all the rage
** including foundation garments, naturally
*** he was muttering about mice sewing buttonholes for weeks beforehand, but no one thought he would go off like that.
† it was only a dragon during the day; at night it turned into a kind of treacle tart. Not ideal, but needs must.
†† and make their way in the world, as is the tradition
††† Not something the Making Light readership will understand, but they had a distant cousin who suffered from a rare form of contagious narcolepsy triggered by sharp objects
§ which she supplied with the aid of a sophisticated computer system for comparing complex shapes
§§ that was easy - she went to the supermarket and bought flour
§§§ which turns out to be the translation of the Tuscan-dialect name of an obscure Edwardian dance form that she just happened to have researched. Summer tripped over his feet a few times learning it, but is satisfied.
‡‡ "pound" is of course an Imperial measure
‡‡‡ I have eaten of the white snake.

#649 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Susan, reaching back in time to my 4H Baking project days, I dredge from memory this possibility:

The outside of your loaf pans have darkened over time, so that the crust forms more quickly and is discontinuous with the crumb structure of the whole cake.

#650 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:08 PM:

abi's Fractured Fairy Tales...

#651 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:24 PM:

There are some peppers that look like habaneros but would be very disappointing to e.g. Walter Jon Williams.

#652 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:26 PM:

Paula @ #627, alas, about 1000 miles away. I'm down here in DragonCon land (note: NOT a good con for kids; there tend to be a lot of people walking around NSFW).

xopher @#637, the other thing about peppers is that even genetically uniform plants grown under dissimilar conditions can produce wildly different heats. Dry weather can up the Scovilles quite a bit.

#653 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Serge 649: Fractal Fairy Tales, I'd call them.

#654 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Sounds like I'd better sample the batches before I decide how many to put in my daikon pickles. Thanks all!

#655 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Mary Dell @ 644

I found one here.

#656 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Susan: Ah, I didn't realise we were looking at so many.

Which makes me think it's either the pans (though I assume they are the same pans you normally use for this), or the flour being less absorbtive. Lessee if "Cookwise" has an answer. I'll have to go get it, so that will be in a moment (I, btw, am having fun trying to figure it out).

Xopher: Yes, sample them. You might also ponder the vinegar you plan to use. I'm getting ready to take this year's crop of peppers (szechuan, cayenne, cascabella, pasilla, chile de arbol/thai and california [i.e. ripe anaheims] with some poblano from a couple of years back) and make "hot sauce".

So I'll be using champagne vinegar. If I can find it (in storage) I have some vinegar I used to make pickled habeñeros with a few years back.

That will be for the friends who like the really hot stuff.

Me, I like Chollulla/Tapatio level hot sauces, so a little habañero vinegar goes a long way for me. I like the flavor, but the heat is too much.

#657 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:49 PM:

abi @ 467

That was beautiful. Oh, if only Boris Artzybasheff were still alive to illustrate it!

#658 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Xopher: Forgot to mention, I prefer to use champagne vinegar for hot sauces, more fruity, less sharp; which lets the flavor show further forward.

#659 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:07 PM:

lila @651

Ah-ha!! This explains why I've grown hot peppers this year that have been too hot to eat!

We've had nothing but drought this summer...

#660 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:22 PM:

I'm using some pretty generic white vinegar...in the quantities I'm making, it's really what I can afford. Mixing it 1-to-1 with tamari, and pouring it boiling hot over the carefully sliced and arranged (with whatever else) daikon.

I'm making three kinds this year:

1. Habanero (maybe I'll put in some rosemary this time)

2. Garlic & black pepper

3. Ginger & lemon

These were the kinds people liked last year. The plain ones were boring and the wasabi ones didn't acquire any flavor from the wasabi powder, which was a disgusting mess. Not doing that one again!

#661 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Just a minor quibble:

...she had eleven sisters...

...killed seven of them with one blow...

...she and her five remaining sisters cut their hair and dressed themselves as men...

I suspect that the extra sister was actually her younger brother disguised as a woman disguised as a man. A cat I met on the road said he was the lost heir to the kingdom, but frankly that would be silly.

#662 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Does ML award No Prizes? If so, a No Prize for Neil Wilcox!

That is, if I'm authorized and/or qualified to do that sort of thing.

#663 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Neil Willcox @660
Well, beat me with a stick until I give up your stolen gold-spitting donkey and self-laying table, you are correct. I got the count wrong.

The thirteenth sister was indeed a brother, the thirteenth cross-dressing offspring of a thirteenth cross-dressing offspring. This gave him the power to understand the speech of all birds except the parrot, to determine which swineherd would not marry a princess, and to drink milk past its sell-by date.

He shabbed off of the revenge quest, knowing his sisters well enough to predict the outcome of the whole thing, and went to Hollywood to seek his fortune in a less pre-industrialised Germanic way.

And the cat is, well, not a liar precisely, but somewhat detached from consensus reality.*

-----
* it ate of the white snake too

#664 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Willcox, I thought I'd put in both of them. Drat. Sorry Neil.

#665 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Alex @ 634: cf. Cohen the Barbarian and the Silver Horde. Pratchett, Terry, various refs.

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 04:46 PM:

abi @ 662... the thirteenth cross-dressing offspring of a thirteenth cross-dressing offspring

Does that make your story, not a Fractal Fairy Tale as Xopher suggested, but a Fructal Fairy Tale?

#667 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Neil, the 'She and her' should be 'the'. Fixes it.

I assume the seven sisters who were killed were all flaxen-haired, while the five remaining ones were raven-haired beauties (the other four of them, I mean...I already know Susan is).

The birth order, in terms of hair color, would be

Flaxen
Raven
Flaxen
Flaxen
Raven
Flaxen
Raven
Flaxen
Flaxen
Raven
Flaxen
Raven

And, of course, the raven-haired girls would be brighter than their paler sisters, if not quite as well-endowed.

If this allegorical tale confuses you, read this: Gur robal fvfgref ner funecre naq synggre guna gur vibel barf.

#668 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 05:14 PM:

And if you want another hint before you peek at the answer, obyq naq vaqrag gur enira fvfgref va gur ovegu-beqre yvfg, naq ybbx ng vg ntnva.

#669 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Xopher @ #666: I'm brown-haired and rather average-looking, actually; your memory is playing tricks on you. Neither raven- nor flaxen- am I.

I am, in general, bemused and honored at being graced with still more of abi's overwhelming talent. Words are insufficient.

#670 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Xopher @666:
Your additions to the tale are noted.

(And a good use of a significant comment number!)

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 05:25 PM:

Xopher... No Blixen?

#672 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Susan 668: Shhhh! You'll spoil everything! But I think you underestimate your attractiveness. I saw you in the throes of a bad cold and was still quite impressed.

abi 669: I couldn't believe you left out those key facts. Next time feel free to use me as a sounding board before hammering out your tale and stringing it together. I promise I won't dampen your enthusiasm or try to improve the action.

#673 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Bruce Cohen @#654: Thanks! So, I assume the thing that gets customized is the shield icon thingy at the top?

#674 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Xopher (666 et seq):

Qvq lbh zrna gb chg gur fvfgref va N Nrbyvna? Be jnf gung fvzcyl na nppvqrag?

#675 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Xopher #666: Gur robal fvfgref ner funecre naq synggre guna gur vibel barf.

Xopher said barf!

#676 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Mary Dell @ 672

I assume so. I started a mockup during lunch, but I'm sort of hammered this afternoon and don't have time to play with it until probably well after dinner tonight. So have at it, and we'll compare notes later.

#677 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Betsey Langan @ 673

I thought it was quite natural.

#678 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Betsey 673: V unq gb fgneg fbzrjurer. Beqvanevyl crbcyr fgneg ba gur ab-xrl-fvtangher znwbe xrlabgr, fb V fgnegrq ba gur zvabe bar vafgrnq. Naq bayl gur synkra fvfgref ner Nbyvna. Gur enira barf ner cragngbavp!

Earl 674: Yes, that was about the most pronounceable rot-13 I've ever done. The only word that's even hard to pronounce is 'fvfgref'.

#679 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Xopher @ 671: Yeesh, I think you must be kinda wired, dontcha think you're harping on abi in a major way?

#680 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Tania 678: I thought it was a pretty organic process. Wait until you see me really pull out all the stops!

#681 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 08:38 PM:

Xopher, I think you struck a chord. I'll get back on the bench, relax with a nice pipe, and leave these things to clavier people that can claim posts like this are their forte.

#682 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Xopher @ 679

I hope you don't mind me piping up about this. This all seems like such a manual process, getting the notes down. And when you're done, are you going to pedal them?

#683 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 09:32 PM:

Sarah S: The drought, per se, won't raise the Scovilles.

The trigger is stress. If you keep the plants watered, they won't get hotter.

I live in S. Calif., for all practical purposes I have a drought from a little while after the plants go in the ground, until they die off for lack of light.

Mine are tolerably mild (though absent a constant drip they do get a trifle warm).

I know people who keep them at a state of permanent wilt. I know others who cut of half of every leaf. Me, I end up raising the stress, whether I like it or not, by doing constant harvest (the plants seem to think this is bad. Since the capsaicin is a defense against mammals they don't care if birds eat them, that actually seems to be the distribution method).

But lots of water, some shade, and adequate fertilizer and the plants won't be at the higher end of their range.

#684 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Tania @ 680... I'll get back on the bench, relax with a nice pipe, and leave these things to clavier people that can claim posts like this are their forte

I'm not so sewer that's the right thing to do.

#685 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 10:38 PM:

JESR, #611, the magazine OMNI -- we had a pretty big active forum and then AOL changed the way they paid and we moved to the web, where the magazine closed when Kathy Keaton died. OMNI (and Longevity) were part of Bob Guccioni's empire, but Kathy had started both of them. It's interesting, so many people type the magazine name as Omni, but I see Ellen Datlow (now on LJ) is also still trained to type it in all caps.

#686 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Abi #647: Luckily, I'd put down my drink before reading that. Wondrous, marvellous!

#687 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Fragano @ 685... She's good, isn't she?

#688 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Marilee, Oh, OK, that OMNI- strangely enough I actually had a hard copy subscription to that magazine for years.

No, as I said, I was mostly writing about garden stuff back then, and trying to make sense of living with ADHD while parenting a highly gifted ADHD daughter, so those were my major venues.

#689 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:44 PM:

My first crack at a Making Light logo thingummy is up on flickr. My skills aren't quite equal to drawing a heap of letters (on a work night anyway), but this is thematically on-target, and kinda pretty. I dunno if it'll work well on a ribbon or not, but it's CC licensed, so help yourselves if you like it. Disemvoweled version...Emvowelled version.

If anyone wants to try this text effect at home, it's very simple with photoshop or equivalent, but make sure to choose a font where the letters all line up at the bottom (no dangly bits*), and put the text on a transparent layer over a white background. Then copy your finished text layer to a second one, make it 50% opaque, and use free transform & transform/perspective to stretch the shadow letters down and out.

*I suspect someone here knows the proper name for this.

#690 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:50 PM:

Serge @355

Did you ever the story of the man who sold his soul to Santa?

I've always liked that one. Hadn't realised, though, that keyboard dyslexia was contagious before. You must've caught the stronger strain - it's gobbled up an entire word there, not just one letter. My apologies.

I am reminded of a story told by someone I know from Northern Ireland - one day he saw a slogan painted on a wall by one paramilitary group or the other, and it said, "Durg dealers out!" (So it's not just keyboards that carry it, but paintbrushes and aerosol cans too...)

Regards
Jo


#691 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Drat, I see at full size that I didn't cut the letters out cleanly. Here's a fixed disemvowelled version. I left the original in place so as not to break the link.

#692 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2007, 11:55 PM:

Owlmirror @ #361: I do hope that really is the story you remembered. Your plot synopsis for it just rang bells in the back of the brain.

Regards
Jo

#693 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:37 AM:

Mary@690: Bahwhawhawhawha! It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. Disemvowelled text with voweled shadows is perfect.

:)

#694 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 03:34 AM:

Mary Dell @ 690

I like the disemvoweled version. Very surreal. My ribbon is quite different in concept, I think yours is a little more elegant. Mine is here.

#695 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 03:44 AM:

Mary Dell @ 690: I don't know if that would fit on a ribbon, but it looks to me like it would make a dandy T-shirt.

#696 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 04:49 AM:

Mary Dell—690: Descenders are the bits that go down, ascenders that go up, unless my memory fails me.

#697 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:01 AM:

Abi @ 647: I believe that was an 8.4 on the richter scale of Win. With adjustment for relative magnitude, possibly 8.6. I'd call it a catastrophic Win!!! event.

Especially the last footnote.

#698 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:07 AM:

Re Sister count: Sorry. Can't help but poke at inconsistencies in stories. Especially interesting ones. Especially especially numerical ones. One day I'll tell the story of how I tracked down a missing £6,000,000 at work that never existed (embarassingly I found £6,750,000 of it the first time, and didn't have time to check where I'd gone wrong before having to report it).

I don't take offence at mispellings of my name, but after occasionally having to explain that the bookings for Neal Wilcox and Niall Willcocks are the same booking, and neither is right I'm very pleased when it's spelt correctly.

#699 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:13 AM:

Jo MacQueen @ 689... Curses!

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:17 AM:

I'll second David Goldfarb's suggestion of a t-shirt with Mary Dell's disenvowelled logo at #690.

#701 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Serge #686: Absolutely!

#702 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:45 AM:

Jo MacQueen #689: I, for one, would be afraid of those who deal with Durga.

#703 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 08:27 AM:

Bruce Cohen @#693: ooh, nice ribbon! You got the heaped-up vowels perfectly.

David Goldfarb @#694, Serge @#699: I was thinking web graphic, but now I want to see it on a tee shirt too! (I will not put it on a tee shirt, however...if Teresa likes it she can take the image for her cafepress store).

#704 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 09:04 AM:

Mary Dell @ 702... I want my t-shirt in the XL size.

#705 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Mary Dell @ 702

Thank you. I spent more than an hour last night trying to get a decent piled letter effect in Photoshop* and then gave up in disgust and did it in ten minutes in Expression. That's a single path that I drew and then typed the letters onto.

* While watching an episode of Dexter that I recorded 3 weeks ago. Luckily he didn't slice anyone up this week, so I could pay attention to what I was doing and the screen. I'm sadly behind in my TV watching. The real world and the web keep intruding.

#706 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 10:26 AM:

It's a pity there doesn't seem to be a way to also make reference to the local obsession for poetry.

#707 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Nice, Mary Dell and Bruce. What popped up in my mind, though I don't have the skills to do it, was a block of text, perhaps Lorem Ipsum, with the vowels raining down.

#708 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 10:49 AM:

John Houghton @ 706

I'm trying to think of some way to do that without making it look like the poem is being disemvoweled. On the other hand, I like the idea of a pair of knitting needles off to one side making something useful out of all those discarded vowels.

#709 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Mary 688: *I suspect someone here knows the proper name for this.

Descenders. And the sticking-up bits are called ascenders. The space between the top and bottom of the average letter, excluding ascenders and descenders, is called the minim for that script. A script with no (or very few, I think) ascenders or descenders is called a majuscule; one with many is called a minuscule. (On a personal note, it was learning the word 'majuscule' that finally let me spell 'minuscule' correctly.)

Majuscules are often written within a larger minim than minuscules, though the minuscules may actually take up more space because of the need to allow for ascenders and descenders. So you see that most fonts for the Roman alphabet consist of two scripts; a majuscule for the "capital" letters (so called because such letters went at the top (head) of a column (the structural kind)), and a minuscule for the rest.

(I assume everyone here knows how the majuscule/capital letters became known as the "upper case" and the minuscules as the "lower case," so I won't go into that.)

This is not true in Cyrillic (named in honor of Saint Cyril (Kyril) who invented, not Cyrillic, but Glagolytic), by the way. While Cyrillic handwriting is a mixture of maj- and minuscule, just as ours is, Cyrillic printing (at least in Russian) just uses a smaller majuscule (that is, the same shapes within a smaller minim) for the "lower case."

___, 690: I WANT THAT ON A T-SHIRT!!!!!

Fragano 701: I doubt that you'd be very afraid of me, in person. And I've been known to go around chanting "Durge, Durge, Durge je je ma" for extended periods. Durga is regarded as a gentler version of Kali in many circles, though her sound defeat of Krishna means she's no blushing flower herself.

#710 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 11:24 AM:

"Bizarro" cartoons (espec. on Sundays) have lots of little icons floating about. A T-shirt graphic that was also some kind of scene (a bookshelf? a computer screen?) could sneak in plenty of ML-specific ones -- maybe even a tiny pair of sodomizing dinosaurs!

#711 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:03 PM:

albatross @ 705... It's a pity there doesn't seem to be a way to also make reference to the local obsession for poetry.

... and with knitting.

#712 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:07 PM:

John 706 - that was my mental image for the disemvowelment, too.

If it's a poem being disemvowelled, I think we need a commisioned poem specifically for this - the active space is pretty small, so it's got to be short. I've joined Bruce and Mary in doing mock-ups- see what I'm talking about here.

#713 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:16 PM:

#693: I like this, but I think the main text should be "M K NG L GHT", with the pile of vowels underneath.

#714 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Mking lght -
mking lghtmkng
lght

#715 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:35 PM:

And on top of the vowel heap, Teresa stands proudly, with letters still dripping from the disenvoweller held firmly in her hands.

#716 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 12:55 PM:

serge #714:

I'm not really clear on what a disemvoweller looks like. A muchness?

#717 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:08 PM:

joann 715: It looks like a combination apple corer, eggplant seeder, icecream scoop, orange peeler, umbrella, and sometimes yardstick.

#718 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:15 PM:

disemvoweller

I thought it looked something like a flaming sword. (Or maybe a flaming pen.)

#719 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:16 PM:

The flaming pen is mightier than the flaming sword.

#720 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Can somebody please point me at the verse about Thermopylae that somebody wrote in the style of "Casey at the bat".

I'm sure it as posted somewhere in these parts.

#721 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:51 PM:

I'd suggest something Middle English, if we're looking for a short poem. Like this (first two lines are Chaucer, second two are, well, not)

We ben shrewes, every wight
And han delyt in wikkednes.
We trollen hire on Maken Light
And finde us selues nou vowel-les.

Although perhaps disemvowelled Middle English is a little arcane.

W bn shrws, vry wght
nd hn dlt in wkkdns.
W trlln hr n Mkn Lght
nd fnd s sls n vwl-ls.

#722 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Dave Bell - Casey at Thermopylae was back in March*.

*I forgot to mark down the number when I grabbed the link, I think it was Open Thread 82.

#723 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Tania @721
Close: OT 83.

#724 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 01:59 PM:

abi @#720: Maken Light, conforta me...

#725 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:03 PM:

#716: Here it is.

#726 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:19 PM:

jon #724:

ooohh, that's ... vile. Looks a trifle complex to all fit on a ribbon. A tshirt would be great.

Note for ribbon designers: it's got to be very simple, capable of being parsed at three feet, even though you only get about 1.5 inches square. Brand logoistic-type things work best.

#727 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Following myself up at 725: in other words, think desktop icons, although even they sometimes get too fancy to be easily read.

#728 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Xopher: Only in the proper hands (Bulwyr-Lytton gets a stranger rap than he deserves; he had a lot of quotable stuff, buried in the dreck).

#729 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:26 PM:

joann @ 726

Ah, MKNG LGHT. With the vowels at the bottom of the ribbon (or as close as can be printed), preferably looking dropped.

#730 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:36 PM:

On the topic of Making Light ribbons and buttons...

Has Lee commented on this yet?

I recall she was making some for a con earlier this year, and several of us were talking about them in context of the Fluorosphere party at the Denver WorldCon next year.

#731 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 02:57 PM:

I am reminded of a story told by someone I know from Northern Ireland - one day he saw a slogan painted on a wall by one paramilitary group or the other, and it said, "Durg dealers out!" (So it's not just keyboards that carry it, but paintbrushes and aerosol cans too...)

Even correcting for the typo, I find myself wondering "When will they have more in stock?"

#732 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Xopher #708: Most of the orthodox (for want of a better word) Hindus I've known have expressed horror at the Kali puja.

#733 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 04:32 PM:

There was a competition on a 3D artists' site.
With a theme of ancient heroes, and their valour in a fight.
So your correspondent reckoned to depict MacDonald's verse,
But hadn't reckoned on site rules, and the famous Spartan curse.
One mustn't be offensive is a tenet of the site,
Yet fifteen score of Spartans stood out on Making Light.
More than that, the valiant naked are besmirched with splattered gore;
And the ground is strewn with debris of that savage ancient war.
So how may I show the heroes, within the rules draconic?
Perhaps a line of ancient verse, an epigram laconic?
Go tell the Spartans, stranger, who now freely passes by,
Leonidas and his warriors, still hold Thermopylae.

#734 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 04:49 PM:

I'm here to note that there's another way
we can the tale of Thermopylae tell,
not just the Spartans who there died well
but others fell there on that fatal day.
The popular report has naught to say
about the others in that deadly dell,
the ones who chose to face a certain hell:
The silent Thespians at Thermopylae.
Spartans get credit, thanks to their PR,
for fighting nearly solo at the wall;
the Thespians are an unmentioned fact,
they don't get mentioned at the nightly bar,
but on that fateful day they chose to act.

#735 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 04:57 PM:

733: Another curtain call, please!

#736 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Are there no Scots here who could write similarly of Glencoe?

#737 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:26 PM:

I am looking for a word. Is there a term for explanations that are retrofitted onto the facts? Sort of just-so stories, but I'm looking for something a bit more specific.

In the last couple months, I've noticed this taking over a lot of weblog discussions of the invasion of Iraq and Bush Administration policy in general. Like "Yes, all the reasons they and their fellow travelers and useful idiots gave for the invasion were wrong, but here's a complicated conspiracy-theory-like explanation for why all those decisions really made sense." Followed by an explanation that somehow makes all the apparent missteps into brilliant elements of a subtle strategy that's done just what was needed.

I wonder if there's a concept like this in totalitarian countries with big propoganda operations. "Our clever generals have got Ivan right where we want him; now the ill-equipped Russian army will have to face us in winter, and on their own territory, too."

#738 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:31 PM:

albatross 736: Historical revisionism?

And on another topic entirely: on Cafeteria Rusticana today, a synopsis of 400: A highly heroic adventure movie.

#739 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:35 PM:

albatross:

Sounds like a species of retcon to me.

#740 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:38 PM:

The first word that springs to mind for me is "retcon", but that's not really what you have in mind. Though creating retroactive continuity sure as heck is what they're doing!

#741 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 05:38 PM:

The first word that springs to mind for me is "retcon", but that's not really what you have in mind. Though creating retroactive continuity sure as heck is what they're doing!

#742 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Dave Bell @732:
I'm glad Fragano has something, because I'm clearly not into the heroical stuff tonight.

The oarsmen on our quinqueremes were ill,
Malarial, and not inclined to row.
The grub was short, and that makes soldiers slow,
Lethargic when they should be keen to kill.
To make it worse, the enemy was fit
Well-armed, prepared, supplied with every need.
While we could barely reach our ramming speed,
Their far-shot arrows slaughtered all they hit.
If we could bring some order to our fleet,
Regroup, attack the weakest of their ships!
But then she breaks the line. His right hand grips
The railing as he watches her retreat.
At Actium, we thought our cause was strong
As love and life could make it. We were wrong.

#744 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Stefan Jones... Awr, awr!!! And that reminds me I still haven't found a photo of Albert Salmi as a space pirate (with robotic parrot on his shoulder) in an episode of Lost in Space.

#745 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 07:31 PM:

Xopher, sounds like you were hitting all the stops there...

Abi, I just woke up from a nap, and Lucien says you've got a book overdue... I think the title was, um... Ben Grimm's Fairy Tales for Young Mutants. ;-)

Albatross @ 736: The word you're looking for is rationalization.

#746 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 07:36 PM:

albatross #736: Wait, let me check my reverse dictionary, I know I've seen something like that in there...

Ah, here it is: assy assiness. It's a compound word!

#747 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Jon Meltzer #734: *Bow*

#748 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 08:07 PM:

albatross@736:I wonder if there's a concept like this in totalitarian countries with big propoganda operations. "Our clever generals have got Ivan right where we want him; now the ill-equipped Russian army will have to face us in winter, and on their own territory, too."

It isn't just totatiltarian countries, during the Revolutionary War, when the British army captured Philidelphia, Benjamin Franklin, who was in France trying to convince the French that funding the American Revolution was not a lost cause, put it thusly: "The British have not captured Philidelphia, Philidelphia has captured the British."

As it turned out, occupying the city basically tied down a large chunk of the British army in the North, which may have helped Washington's army survive the war.

The French eventually helped fund the colonies fight the British.

I believe the word you might be looking for is "spin". Although, it seems that you'd rather have something with a slightly more negative connotation.

A term I've heard to describe someone who wanted one thing but when its clear they're getting something else, they suddenly act as if that's what they really wanted in the first place: "Pulling an Eddie Haskel".

Or, "crazy" might do it as well.

#749 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 08:10 PM:

Abi #741: *Applause*

#750 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 08:38 PM:

I'd like to disemvowel Bill Maher. What a jackass.

#751 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Down by the Hot Springs Greeks of all sorts fell.
Of Spartans and Thespians, all have heard.
But scarce we hear of others undeterred
as Spartans by the scrum's pell-mell.
Thebans, prisoners, the Spartans spurred,
Their helots of Lacon also, are interred
there where the marker asks us to tell.
Scarce 300 Spartans made immortal on that day,
faced the Immortal Medes. Thebans broke, fled,
cut down as they ran, helots stood and died.
900 slaves with honor served and lay
upon the bloody ground, their case not pled
for glory as their masters, just beside.
It is not meet their honor should decay.


#752 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 10:11 PM:

JESR: "brace-and-bit" was my inaccuracy; it used the same style bit, but was cranked (imagine a drill driven by bicycle pedals) and framed to hold the bit perpendicular to the work. The last ones were probably made a long time ago.

Bruce: my parents were induced to put wall-to-wall on top of narrow-plank oak (14 years old and \very/ well maintained) in the 60's. Sometimes I think Eliza could be more sentient than the average real-estate agent.

Terry -- I would have thought sanding would work even in the 50's, but I don't know whether hickory is as hard to sand as it is to work.

Paula: that's "Hold!", not "Halt!"; maybe my SCAdian past is showing, but it seems more effective.

Bruce's design looks most likely to work on a standard ribbon, although I'm not sure whether it will read (at any distance) when printed on a rough absorbent surface. I've emailed an expert for info on costs and artwork size; this is less printed area but more art than we usually do.

#753 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 11:02 PM:

King Leonidas asked us, when we met,
How many soldiers we had brought with us -
And true, fell Persia had not bled us yet,
Though we opposed the son of Darius.
The Spartans sneered and beat their shields and roared,
For we were artisans and men of craft;
My hands knew potter's clay but not the sword;
I hung my head when Leonidas laughed.
I would not now, for all that later songs
Would praise the deeds of the proud Spartan king;
My wheel awaited me, afield too long,
When silence took the spear and the bowstring.
A craftsman's craft's his home, come days of peace,
But where should Sparta go, should battles cease?

#754 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 11:05 PM:

Bruce @ 750, I suppose that's what often happens to people who are too laconic.

#755 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 11:19 PM:

Hey, everybody!

I just wanted to stop and let the world know that I am still alive. I haven't posted here or even on my own blog in weeks. I've been buried in projects. I've also been reading Steven Brust's works (I'm up to Athyra), which, as many of you know, can dominate quite a bit of one's time (I'm stealing as many ideas as I can).

And since I'm in the middle of a writing project: I've put in several hours on the piano, advanced one of my City of Heroes toons from 36 to 42, and have been doing pretty much anything else I can find to do other than writing. I did, however, complete the Food Stamps Newsletter Staff Spotlight interview, and my editor was so pleased that she asked me to write more articles. I've also been asked to write policy action memos for the Food Stamps program for the County Welfare office. So, yea me.

Lizzy @ 749, I agree with you. I will admit that seeing a woman breastfeeding in public makes me uncomfortable, but I totally accept that that is my problem (usually embarrassment), not hers. Bill Maher is occasionally funny (of course, he has a writing team) but he is more often a dick head.

Good night folks! I'll talk to y'all later.

#756 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Hairspray, the movie, mark II. The movie made from the Broadway musical based on the original movie.

Not awful. Not great. Not up with, say, Grease by way of musicals with high school settings. I liked it, but. Emphasis on the "but":

Changing the balance of the show to make the adult (played by moooovie stars!) the main focus, not so clever.

Musical soundtrack, A+.

Travolta playing Edna straight, um, well, I guess he couldn't be as good as Fierstein no matter what he did, but this wasn't a good thing to do. Also, his accent is from a different planet than everyone else in the cast.

Removing the quintessential Baltimore dance, the Madison, very bad.

Fake circle skirts, very bad. In all the early scenes, the circle skirts, well, aren't circular. When the dancers spin you can see that they are gathered tubes by the way the skirts (fail to) flare. Wince. The designer seems to have gone nuts for border prints at the expense of hang. The black kids have real circle skirts, and in the final scene the skirts are right. Of course, by the final scene Tracy is dressing a decade ahead of the rest of the cast, but let's not let these little details get to us.

Adding a seduction subplot among the adults. Wince. Why?!?! Oh, right, we hired Travolta and Pfeiffer, we must therefore write extra stuff for them to do even if it pulls these characters front and center over the ostensible protagonist.

Multiple appearances by giant Hugo rocket. Um, huh? Using Hugo rocket as a transport device. Um, huh? WTF?

I kept having these moments of "but that wasn't in the show!" followed by "and that's because it wasn't needed!"

The amazing thing is that it more or less works anyway. It's just lost most of the charm, verve, and momentum it had as a B'way show and which even as the original movie had in spades. Needless to say, it's lost its edginess, despite some fairly lame attempts at double entendre and what I believe was a John Waters cameo as a flasher, and it feels more than a little disjointed, but it does work.

#757 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

#758 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:25 AM:

Aaaaaaayyyyyyye!

#760 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:57 AM:

Polly want a piece of eight!

#761 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 01:06 AM:

Teresa, I can't believe you list Miss Snark's index in the Particles but haven't commented on Andrew Plotkin's concordance to The Dragon Waiting!

(I'll ARRRR at the lab techs tomorrow.)

#762 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 01:23 AM:

albatross @ #736:

The term that comes to mind for me is "post-hoc analysis", which is the statistical (sometimes mal-)practice of collecting the data first and then deciding what pattern you're going to look for.

#763 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 01:28 AM:

"Tea!!!!!"

CHip: Hickory is hard to sand.

More to the point, in the '50s power sanders weren't easy to come by, imagine sanding 180 sq ft of hardened hickory, by hand.

I'll stick with the lumps (we always referred to the floor as wrinkled).

#764 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 01:43 AM:

CHip @751, I understand that description; I don't think I've ever seen one live, though, not even in Uncle Ott's barn, which was built by the Hudson Bay people and had a buggy hung up in the rafters. Had a oval plate one leaned one's chest on, and a double handled crank?

#765 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 01:59 AM:

I seem to be in doomed to paraphrase Clarke's Law today. The version in the "Lying in the Name of God" thread came about as a kind of corollary, because earlier today I was talking to the new software guy at work about how some software has such unpredictable behavior that the seemingly most rational programmers are often reduced to the level of the joke where the Software Engineer wants to take the car back up the hill to see if the brakes will fail, and it will crash into the guard rail again. I had an epiphany at this point, which came out of my mouth as:

Any sufficiently unreliable technology is indistinguishable from superstition.

#766 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 02:20 AM:

Fragano @701: Hmm, the price would probably be too high for me...

Regards
Jo

#767 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 02:20 AM:

Did anyone else who looked at the cartoons linked from the "Who is your Savior?" Particle think the fan window on the door behind the Whovian was sited just right to look like a halo in a Renaissance biblical painting?

Oh, and yes, it's really hilarious. Almost convinces me to convert. I"m just having a little trouble accepting the the Doctor's had more regenerations than he's supposed to; what effect does this inconsistency have on whovian eschatology?

#768 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 02:31 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy #52: Now, that's a really good one. The last line's a cracker. Fragano, would you agree?

#769 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 02:38 AM:

Epacris @ 753

I ignored it for as long as I could. You get a loud groan and Bronx cheer for that one.

#770 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 02:38 AM:

Kathryn, #729: That was buttons, and I still have some. (Yikes! Teresa, I still need to mail yours, I'll try to get them out before we leave for FenCon.) They aren't nearly as elegant as the designs I'm seeing here, and please count me in for Mary Dell's design on a T-shirt too, size L. But if anyone wants to pick one up at FenCon, look for me at the Starcat Designs booth in the dealer room.

The thing about buttons (or T-shirts) as opposed to ribbons is that they're reusable. The ribbon is stuck onto your badge, and if you want to wear it at another con, you have to get another one. The button, you just unpin and pin to another shirt. Mine is now in the stuff that travels with me all the time, so I don't have to worry about whether I remembered it or not.

albatross, #736: There's a very good one that will only make sense to Marvel Comics fans: "Give that man a No-Prize!" No-Prizes were awarded to people who (1) spotted a plot hole or consistency error and (2) came up with a plausible line of BS that would explain it away. Very much retrofitting the argument to the facts.

#771 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 03:14 AM:

(cross-posted from the Robert Jordan memorial thread)

They will come like heroes from far away,
And build worlds of words inside your mind
Filled with numberless beasts, both strange and fey
And True things for the smart and brave to find.
And they will stand like gods before your eyes
Shaping with words your dreams in the night
Whisp’ring secret tales beneath pale skies
Teaching you truths, both of darkness and light.
Then they will go, and things will change. Stories
will flutter to life inside you, unsought
To speak them seems somehow prideful and strange
Yet they demand release, these vagrant thoughts.
So with pen and paper you set them free to roam
For what you’ve wove is not, in truth, your own.

#772 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 03:51 AM:

Bruce, I'm glad to be of service. <curt'sies modestly>

#773 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 03:58 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @752:
Without disparaging the other contributions (which were excellent), I have to say that I found your sonnet deeply satisfying. Well done.

#774 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 03:59 AM:

(NB: Crossposted to By the pricking of my thumbs, and to Open Thread 91.)

This just in, from the Department of "No, I won't just let it go.":

I happened into my local library, and noted a little table set up for Banned Books Week (Last week of Sept; Sept 29 - Oct 06, 2007). There was a small stack of booklets; a reader's guide from the National Endowment for the Arts, with a very familiar title on the cover: Fahrenheit 451.

"Aha," says I. "I wonder if Bradbury says anything about the book in there? And if so, when he said it?" So I open it up, and behold, among other things, the following:

On January 5, 2005, Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, interviewed Ray Bradbury in Los Angeles. An excerpt from their conversation follows.
[...]
DG: What was the origin of the idea of books being burned in the novel?

RB: Well, Hitler of course. When I was 15, he burnt the books in the streets of Berlin. Then along the way I learned about the libraries in Alexandria burning five thousand years ago. That grieved my soul. Since I'm self-educated, that means my educators—the libraries—are in danger. And if it could happen in Alexandria, if it could happen in Berlin, maybe it could happen somewhere up ahead, and my heroes would be killed.

(emphasis mine)

The full interview is online at:

http://www.neabigread.org/books/fahrenheit451/fahrenheit451_04.php

Just because I'm a grumpy pedant sometimes.

#775 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 05:46 AM:

Just wanting to comment that the new open archives for the New York Times is a delight. I'd forgotten what it feels like not to run into the 7-day news wall.

While one of the two large local papers where I live has had open archives (San Francisco Chronicle), those only go back to 1995. But 1981 = over a decade of pre-wwweb news.

#776 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 05:55 AM:

Oops, 1987, not 1981 as I'd misread it. Most of the articles on the Challenger explosion are behind the $4 gate. Still, 1987... "blog" was only a last name, and "google" a cartoon.

#777 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 06:37 AM:

Jo MacQueen #765; Wouldn't that depend on how many pairs of arms you have?

#778 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Dave Luckett #767: It certainly raises an interesting question.

#779 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 07:49 AM:

Re: 'Talk Like A Pirate' day.

At the risk of sounding spammish, I'd like to point to a project that a friend has worked on. It's a pirate-themed card game. Apparently, the art has been so well received that they have also created a set of pirate playing cards too.

#780 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 08:10 AM:

Okay, who's going to write us a poem for Talk Like a Pirate Day? (Abi, Fragano, Dan? Start your engines)

I should take a crack at it myself, but I just woke up, and my muse has (obviously) spent the last sevaral years playing with photoshop instead of rhyming, drat her.

#781 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 08:13 AM:

Arrr! D'Oh! I forgot Bruce Cohen (and most likely many other superlative poets, but I'm a particular fan of Bruce's) in my invocation...again I plead "just woke up."

#782 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Dave, abi: Thank you. It's an honor, and humbling, to be among such company.

I enjoyed the heck out of 300, despite the several ways in which it's problematic, but that bit in particular has been itching me for a response for a while now.

#783 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 08:34 AM:

Susan @ 755... It's just lost most of the charm, verve, and momentum it had as a B'way show and which even as the original movie had in spades. Needless to say, it's lost its edginess

I'm glad that the Hairspray remake managed to work for you in spite of that. I didn't see the Broadway show and all I had to compare this version to was the original movie's over-the-top looniness. As a result, I came out of the experience with a big shrug. Oh well.

#784 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 08:48 AM:

Bruce #764 writes:

Any sufficiently unreliable technology is indistinguishable from superstition.

This is a great line, because it's so true. If you don't understand how to get the technology to work, you either live with blinking twelves, or you come up with some ritual which somehow makes it work. Don't run program X before you run program Y, that seems to somehow make it more likely to crash. And always start the program in just this way....

I think part of this is unreliability, and the other part is incomprehensibility to the user. To a person at some level of sophistication about the workings of the technology, most people who are much less sophisticated seem to be using it in a ritualistic or superstitious way. To me, wiggling the mouse in a certain way before starting up the program is superstition, but being careful about which programs I run before the crash-prone one is sensible. To someone else who understands the program that's crashing better, this probably looks just as nonsensical, and there's probably something I could do that would be much smarter,if only I knew it.

#785 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:05 AM:

I've been the superstition-inducing one for my family before, but only because I was the one who spent so much time on the computer I could notice patterns. If Internet Explorer started doing a certain weird thing, everyone else would wait for it to get better, because that's what you're supposed to do-- give it a minute or at least five seconds because sometimes the computer just hiccups. I was the one who realized that by opening a million Internet Explorer windows, I could 'induce a seizure', as I put it, and get it back to normal.
I can't help interpreting the computer as a combination of clockwork and biology, with a tinge of maybe-it's-sentient psychology to ward off any impoliteness.

#786 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:08 AM:

#764: "The BBC reports that Nepal's government-owned airline fixed a jet that has electrical problem [sic] by sacrificing a goat."

And, like (I'm sure), many techies, my response was "they didn't use a chicken?"

#787 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:18 AM:

756-759: With cat-like tread ...

#788 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:25 AM:

Jon Metlzer @ 785... And, like (I'm sure), many techies, my response was "they didn't use a chicken?"

That really gets my goat when they do that.

#789 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:29 AM:

Jon Meltzer #785 & Serge #787: I have seen a goat sacrificed to propitiate the powers of internal combustion. No joke.

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Why did the goat cross the moat? Because the chicken was on the other side.

#791 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @#781: We just watched 300 recently and my husband spent the next week around the house saying things like "This! IS! A SANDWICH!"

#792 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Mary Dell @ 780

* bows humbly in thanks *

And I would like to say that I greatly enjoyed Dan's, abi's, and Dave Bell's poems (and if I forgot anyone, blame it on ADD), but I most especially liked Heresiarch's @ 770. Thanks for cross-posting that; I haven't been watching that thread much since the first couple of dozen comments, it's just too sad, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on a poem that speaks so much truth about something that means so much to all of us.

#793 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Mary Dell @ 790... That's pretty much what I did when the ads for the DVD came out. I've been thinking of speaking all the time with my jaws clenched, but the back of my head would probably wind up in an intimate encounter with a frying pan. I think I'll stick with talking like a pirate. If not for yesterday's arthroscopic knee surgery, my wife would probably join me, but it'd sound less like Arrr! Arrr! and more like Owww! Owww!

#794 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 776

Forewarned is four=armed.

#796 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:01 AM:

This bit of filk/doggerel is now stuck in my head. I have to admit, I started making this up after a visit to my mother's house....


There is a house in the midwest
they call the blinking twelves
there sits the ruin of many a tech toy
a blinkin' on the shelves

...
Coders....tell your students
not to do the things I done
Spend your life on making stuff
that ends up blinking twelves

#797 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:11 AM:

albatross # 783

One of the experiences that led to that epiphany was that, many, many years ago I programmed on a development system that consisted of an Intel microcomputer, a metric shitload of memory (for the time), and a pair of 8 inch floppies*. When I came into the office every Monday morning I put a boot floppy into drive 0 and hit power on the computer, and every Monday morning the computer obliged by eating the format on that first disk. The next one always worked. If that's not a ceremonial sacrifice, I'm the ghost of A. E. Waite.

* For the morbidly curious, I also had a hard disk: 2 platters, one fixed, one removable, total 10 megabytes. The platters were two feet in diameter, the removable weighed about 15 pounds.

#798 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Mary Dell, you and your husband may appreciate this, though I refuse to be responsible if you find yourselves saying things like "My panties are made of solid gold!" at inopportune times.

Bruce Cohen, I am in agreement in re. Heresiarch's poem; that's as lovely and moving a description of the transmission of the story-virus as any I've seen.

The Promethean act isn't a history; it's an inheritance.

#799 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:17 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 785

Did they do it the way Mal sacrificed that obstinate thug at the end of the first ep of Firefly?*

* Contraindicated, according to the Firefly class maintenance manual. Cleaning the residue off the blades of a high-speed turbine is a bitch of a job.

#800 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #793: If your god is only four-armed then you didn't pay the sculptor enough.

#801 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 798... When you refer to Firefly's first episode, do you mean the first one that was shown, or to the pilot, which was shown at the end of the series?

#802 ::: Carl Caputo ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:28 AM:

I'm sure they just made Jayne clean 'em. He's their public relations guy, right?

#803 ::: Doonbogglefrog ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:33 AM:

More likely, Kayley cleaned them while Mal and co. complained about the downtime, and didn't listen at all to her explaining why it was a really bad idea to use engines as blenders.

#804 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Serge (#792): Best wishes to your wife for a quick and full recovery from that surgery -- sounds like a true "owwww"!

#805 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @ 797

The Promethean act isn't a history; it's an inheritance.

Beautifully said.

#806 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Serge:
I'm glad that the Hairspray remake managed to work for you in spite of that. I didn't see the Broadway show and all I had to compare this version to was the original movie's over-the-top looniness. As a result, I came out of the experience with a big shrug. Oh well.

The Broadway version (at least with the first cast) is excellent. But having the actors right there in front of you provides much more energy than just seeing them on screen. (They were really right in front of me - I had a front-row seat.) And you can pull stuff in a theater that would just seem silly on-screen.

Also, Harvey Fierstein just rocked as Edna. Turning her into a character rather than a caricature was actually unhelpful - Travolta was playing a woman, and the role is written for a drag queen.

I'm tempted to go see the show again now, though the loss of the first cast has weakened it.

#807 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Serge @ 800

The first one shown. I was referring to the bit where the thug refuses to carry a message back to his boss, and insists that he will hunt Mal down and kill him, anywhere in the 'Verse. Whereupon Mal kicks him into Serenity's engine's intake, turning him into confetti or less.

#808 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Re technology and superstition: I think at the root of a lot of mumbo-jumbo is an absolute refusal to acknowledge the existence of randomness. The fact that sometimes things just happen is anathema to many, many people. (I'm not talking here about a failure of causation, just about randomness; things like an intermittent electrical fault, or the fact that a precariously balanced rock does not pick a special time to fall.)

#809 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Susan @ 805... Travolta was playing a woman, and the role is written for a drag queen

Yeah... Having Travolta in that role felt very self-conscious. On the other hand, I liked Christopher Walken, and got a kick out of X-MEN's James Marsden playing the host of Corny's Corner.

#810 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 806... Ah, that thug. I wasn't sure if you meant the pilot's scene, where one of the passengers turns out to be an Alliance spook and he's holding the crew hostage with a gun to their head. Mal just briskly walks in and shoots the guy's head off. Just goes to show... Never mess with Mal's patched-together family. (Creating a family... That's why I loved that show.)

#811 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Faren @ 803... Thanks. She's sleeping right now. With our three dogs curled up in bed with her.

#812 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:44 AM:

A sysadmin at a place I once worked at did actually sacrifice a chicken as part of his repair of the file server, with much audience participation.

*It was a rubber chicken.
**The file server was going through the final ten or so minute boot and complete system check cycle, so there wasn't much else to do other than watch the blinkenlights. This lull was after a couple of hours or so of hard working techies being impatiently watched by frustrated code access-less developers.
***My boss walked in right at the peak of the ceremony. He blinked, said "Carry on", and left.

#813 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 811... That sounds like a scene from a sequel to Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.

#814 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Susan #805: Travolta was playing a woman, and the role is written for a drag queen.

I didn't see the new movie (haven't seen the Broadway version, either), but I found Travolta's remarks in interviews about how he didn't want Edna to be campy profoundly disrespectful, to the character, Divine, John Waters, the original movie, and me and anyone else who's gotten anything valuable out of the original.

#815 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:00 PM:

I heard that when one US-built supercomputer was being sent to Japan, a Shinto ceremony was performed before shipping to drive out evil spirits and protect the machine on its trip. The (Japanese) customer paid for the officiant's trip to Minnesota. (I'd say 'priest', but I'm not at all sure that's the correct word. 'Shaman' might be better.)

#816 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:12 PM:

#812: I'm sure Cory has heard much better stories.

#817 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Serge @ 810

Good, best wishes to her, and tell the dogs they're doing a good job.

#818 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:21 PM:

ethan at 813: Disrespecting Divine is unforgivable, especially since he was three times the actor Travolta can ever hope to be.

Movies, addressed to the assembled multitudes: my son and my beta, at diametric corners of the US, saw the same movie yesterday. We are now randomly doing this call and response: "Carrots?" "Carrots!" (name that movie)

#819 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:22 PM:

Jon Meltzer @ 815... I'm sure he has too. Heheheh...

#820 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Serge, best wishes to your wife for speedy healing. I have to admit that none of the stories I hear from people with knee surgery make me eager to have it done, although limping is getting old and I've misplaced my cane again.

#821 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 778: Thank you! I think I now know what I'm getting my husband for his birthday.

#822 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Bruce Cohen, JESR... Thanks.

#823 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 03:58 PM:

A meteorite lands in Peru and turns into a Lovecraftian story: link here.

#824 ::: tfmpoc ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 05:36 PM:

SpeakerToManagers requested I post this here. A little ditty written in response to a friend who opined "most of the pirate dialect doesn't sound very romantic..." on September 19th, 2007.
---
"How do I love ye, fulsome wench?
Aaargh! Let me count the ways.
I love ye to the depth of Davy Jones' rum barrel, drinkin' me fill,
and the height of the crow's nest, spyin' a helpless ship,
to the breadth of a sail full of wind, chasin' some lubbers to board,
and the length me sword can reach, plungin' thru the heart of some filthy bilge rat.
I love ye freely as a moonless night, a-sneakin' up on clueless victims.
I love ye purely as the sound of two heads breakin' together in a fight.
I love ye with a passion put to use plunderin' gold and jewels from a rich man's dame.
And Calypso be willin' I shall love ye better after I'm hangin' from some damn judge's rope."

#825 ::: J MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Fragano @#776, arms? How about tentacles instead. That could be where the LOLthulhu site comes in and I bow gracefully out...

Regards
Jo

#826 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 06:39 PM:

J MacQueen #824: That would make her more like Neil Gaiman's Victoria Gloriana in "A Study in Emerald".

#827 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 07:24 PM:

And the latest from Wikipedia: Elf Sternberg isn't notable.

It must have been someone else I've been reading for 17-odd years...

#828 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 09:06 PM:

Fragano @ #825: Divine! Mozt divine!

(And now I have to read the story properly, drat it - it's been on my to do list for some time now...)

Regards
Jo

#829 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 10:06 PM:

tfmpoc @#823: Yay! Pirate poetry! And bloody good stuff, too. Thanks for posting it.

#830 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 12:22 AM:

Living without memory.

Fair warning: Do not click that link right before going to bed if scary stories give you nightmares. It's the most terrifying thing I've ever read... because it's real.

#831 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:44 AM:

Re: World Beard and Mustache Championship Particle

The guy who came in 2nd in the English competition works at my usual grocery store, he's incredibly nice and very helpful.

#832 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 03:00 AM:

Lee, that is one of the most horrible things I have ever seen. Much worse than any horror story I can think of. I honestly can't imagine being able to live like that for more than 20 years and not committing suicide.

#833 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 03:12 AM:

#823, #828: The Besties, Pirate Song

I hope the link works; if not, try here: http://music.download.com/thebesties/3600-8620_32-100400663.html

I love this song - it's an incredibly sweet little love song. (Very very twee.)

#834 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 07:52 AM:

Jo MacQueen #827: Just watch out for dangerous criminals named Holmes...

#835 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 08:12 AM:

Lee & Bruce yes; the situations that the different people described are in are disturbing and distressing, but what extraordinary things they *are* capable of, and what strange aspects of knowledge, consciousness and how humans (& perhaps other animals) function their capacities throw some illumination onto.

Sometimes I feel that what I'm aware of as 'self' is like a little sailboat scudding along over sunlit wavetops on a wafer-thin surface — a bit like a scale diagram of the biosphere in relation to the size of the earth — while all kinds of life and currents are going on unseen beneath.

#836 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 09:08 AM:

Bruce, Dan Layman-Kennedy: Thank you both. =) I've posted silly poetry on ML before, but nothing like that. I'm glad it found a home.

Lee @ 829, Bruce @ 831: Maybe I'm weird, but what I come away from that article with isn't horror, it's wonder. He's lost his memory of everything. He can't even remember his wife's name half the time--yet he can still remember that he loves her.

He would rush to the door when he heard her voice, and embrace her with passionate, desperate fervor. Having no idea how long she had been away—since anything not in his immediate field of perception and attention would be lost, forgotten, within seconds—he seemed to feel that she, too, had been lost in the abyss of time, and so her “return” from the abyss seemed nothing short of miraculous.

He still has her, and music:

Clive’s performance self seems, to those who know him, just as vivid and complete as it was before his illness. This mode of being, this self, is seemingly untouched by his amnesia, even though his autobiographical self, the self that depends on explicit, episodic memories, is virtually lost. The rope that is let down from Heaven for Clive comes not with recalling the past, as for Proust, but with performance—and it holds only as long as the performance lasts. Without performance, the thread is broken, and he is thrown back once again into the abyss.

I cannot claim that his illness is anything less than catastophic, but he and Deborah have found a way to survive, together, that is brave and beautiful.

#837 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 09:55 AM:

Epacris @ 833

Increasingly, over the last few years, I've been coming to believe that the concept of "self" as we know it in common folk psychology doesn't exist. Mmm, maybe a better way to phrase that would be to say that it doesn't map to any real entity or operator. Between the various theories of a "Society of Mind", the temporal incongruities* between perception and action that appear to leave no room for decision-making**, and the discoveries that some of the things we do† are not as deep or complicated as we thought, while others‡ are quited different from our previous conceptions, "I" just doesn't look much like me anymore.

* As evidenced by high-temporal-resolution fMRI during task performance.
*+ At least on a naive view of the human mind that assumes that the single-threaded "consciousness" we perceive through introspection is the entity that makes decisions.
† Astonishingly, music composition, for instance.
‡ The making of analogies, central to human thinking and language, may be a much more "fuzzy" process, with much more slop in it, than we once thought.

#838 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Heresiarch @ 834

And in the warm light of day I have to agree that there is much to (admire, be encouraged by?) in that story. Last night I found myself concentrating on what it would feel like to be Clive, and it scared the living hell out of me. My brain does occasional things that make me aware of the gulf between "me" and the physical world, and how fragile the structure that connects me to the world really is; it's not a great leap to believing that something like what happened to Clive could happen to me.

I wonder if it isn't his music that provided the anchor Clive needed to hold on through all that. In effect, he's been cast adrift in time, and music, the most temporally engaging of human activities with the possible exception of dance (for the performer, certainly) may be the thing that kept the very existence of time a reality for him.

#839 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:15 AM:

The thing that spooks me the most about that article is the times when Clive, memory and consciousness reset once again, seems to be describing what he sees as an experience of oblivion--when he talks about going weeks with no sensation, deciding he must be dead. How absolutely horrific feeling that way must be.

#840 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:26 AM:

I haven't read the article, but the bits Heresiarch quoted made me think of nothing so much as my dog, who if I leave the room for five minutes and return comes running in paroxysms of joy ("Where WERE you? I was SO WORRIED!"), and at the same time seems to know when it's the weekend and he's not supposed to be left alone in the house.

I try to be reasonably cautious of anthropomorphizing, but exposure to a variety of other critters makes me wonder an awful lot whether we humans put too much stock in the uniqueness of our big old brains.

#841 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Researchers asked something like 300 people where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the Challenger disaster very shortly after it happened. The researchers then followed up three years later, asking the same people the same things. A lot of them gave different answers than they had originally. The three years later responses were quite reasonable ones, but apparently what was going on, was that the people whose answers did't match their original answers, were coming up with answers that rather than being memories of where they actually were and were actually doing, were reconstructions based on what would have been reasonable for where they generally were and what they were generally doing around that time.

#842 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:38 AM:

Lee @#829: an unusual and potent argument for the teaching of the liberal arts. Brrrr.

Also, what Heresiarch said.

And a good book for those interested in the "self as sailboat" phenomenon is Phantoms in the Brain, which incidentally has a foreword by Oliver Sacks.

#843 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Paula #839: Specifically, people's memories changed to include watching it on TV as it happened. A lot of people were, in fact, watching it, but a large number of people who were not remember it that way. Marita Sturken's Tangled Memories has a really good section on this stuff. And is really good in general.

(Hoping someone who knows more than I do about this stuff won't come along and say "You read that trash?" I think the book's awesome, but I'm also pretty generally ignorant about its subject.)

#844 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Bruce, #831: I don't think he could complete the thought of committing suicide, let alone the act. That's part of what makes it so horrible.

#845 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Paula and Ethan,

I've commented on that study- The Ecological Study of Memory- on my blog post about it as one of my favorite research articles ever.

What I find fascinating is how people react to it. The conclusion one has to have is that pretty much everyone has inaccurate flashbulb memories. But so many people will say "No, I know that every deeply felt memory I have is pure and how dare anyone imply otherwise. [glare]."

#846 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 01:06 PM:

So Kathryn, if your blog's a lek for ideas, does that mean you're going to eventually pick just one? :)

#847 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Carrie @844,

No, because the ideas are lekking- it's just something they do amongst themselves. I'm just the... naturalist who shows up to tag them because they're gathered in one convenient observation spot.

#848 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale... I'm just the... naturalist who shows up to tag them because they're gathered in one convenient observation spot.

You really should change your ML profile so that clicking on your name will take us to your blog. By the way, I'm looking forward to your posting photos from Burning Man. Hint, hint...

#849 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Kathryn #843: Argh, this stupid computer I'm working on displays your site unreadably (I'd known before that things looked different on different computers, but never to what extent...Making Light and my own blog look positively idiotic, but legible, here at work). I'll have to read it when I get home. And yeah, I try hard to understand that my flashbulb memories might not be reliable, but it's hard to believe it.

#850 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 843

People are even more disturbed by the studies that show that motor action in response to some stimulus begins many milliseconds before conscious awareness of the stimulus, and that therefore the decision to perform the action cannot have been made consciously (at least as we normally understand consciousness).

Most people flatly reject the obvious explanations: either we're not really conscious,* or consciousness isn't a simple serial process**, as we perceive it introspectively, or "now" doesn't mean what we think it does†. They're absolutely sure their minds work they way folk psychology tells them they do, they can feel it!

* Nobody here but us zombies, boss.
** "I" contains multitudes.
† We are smeared across more than 300 milliseconds in the "now", with no way to determine sequence or casuality unambiguously within that.

#851 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Ethan @847,
That's odd, because I'm using a basic LJ template. Of course that means I was relying on LJ's template testers (if such exist) for compatibility tests.

What browser and OS are you on? I've only tested my site on Firefox / Ubuntu.

#852 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:16 PM:

I'd like to ask for a spot of sympathy / support for having gotten caught up responding to a troll.

This was elsewhere, and I should know better, and I was trying to be helpful against the one troll... and I didn't see that there were two trolls- or one troll, two puppets- because trolls are like that.

Now my friend (at the trolled blog) is stressed because I validated the 2nd troll. I'm stressed because they're stressed. The troll is probably laughing. Flacking trolls.

#853 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Kathryn @850:
I'm sorry that you got into that situation. That's the worst of trolls - that they poison not only interactions with them, but interactions with others as well.

Don't, to paraphrase, let trolls rent space under your bridge.

I hope you can make peace with your friend again. What the troll feels is irrelevant here - don't waste the time thinking abut that. It's what it wants you to do.

#854 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Kahryn... What Abi said. Even if you don't respond to what a troll says, you're still feeding if you keep thinking about it. Frak them indeed.

#855 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 02:36 PM:

Regarding the latest of the Schmuck's candidates to get public attention (as opposed to all the under the attention of the news media ones):

Two hundred twenty nine years and ten months ago:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/105.html

Thomas Jefferson to William Smith
Paris Nov. 13. 1787.

persevering lying. the British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. yet where does this anarchy exist? where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? and can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. they were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. god forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. the people cannot be all, & always, well informed. the past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13. states independant 11. years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it's natural manure. our Convention has been too much impressed by..."

When does the Library of Congress site get redacted (or more redacted...)by the fascists? They did it to NIH and all sorts of other federal websites, "revising" or removing outright material that didn't fit their values and attitudes and opinions.

#856 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Serge @846-

I will. Right now I've had to flock the site temporarily (all but the memory article), so it isn't an interesting site for the not-yet-friended.

#857 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Kathryn, that's poopy about the trolls. Sorry.

As for the computer at work, it's some kind of slightly-elderly Windows system, with stupid Internet Explorer (i.e., a program I'm kind of unfamiliar with on an OS I'm kind of unfamiliar with), and on top of that it's a shared computer in an office full of people who don't know anything about computers, so who knows what kind of things they've done to it.

Your LJ came up, like, excruciatingly tiny, and nothing I did changed it. Which is odd, because most of the weird differences between sites on my work computer and on my home computer involve text suddenly being HUGE no matter what I do. Anyway.

I have very distinct memories of 9/11, from getting up late that day and thinking "wow, everyone looks as miserably tired as me" on the way to class, to getting roaring drunk that night. I have no idea how accurate any of them are, but they sure feel accurate. Embarrassingly, I think the only other flashbulb memory I have is of when Princess Diana died.

#858 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 04:46 PM:

Dear lord, the things you can find. Who wants to be the first to break it to these guys that turning in someone else's work with your name on it constitutes plagarism whether the actual author wrote an original piece or not?

#859 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 04:47 PM:

ethan @ 855... stupid Internet Explorer

A few weeks ago, my wife and I watched our DVD iof 1997's Contact. It was strange to see people using Netscape.

#860 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Elf Sternberg? Christ.

Wikipedia is a public park, with different areas given over to different botanical and horticultural enthusiasts; and unless your Gardening Club is big enough and determined enough to defend its turf, there's not much point doing anything more than picking up the odd piece of litter on the sidewalk, because otherwise someone, at some time, is bound to run their lawn mower right through your patch of ground, or decide that the plants which you were carefully nurturing are really just weeds after all.

And that is why the vast majority of my last several hundred edits have been to articles on women's soccer: First off, there is lots of work to be done there; but, more importantly, information within the ambit of the soccer "community" has enough protection that I can be relatively certain that the article I create today about Homare Sawa will still be there in six months when I go looking to add something to it.

#861 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #850: Oh dear! All I can say is that honourable people make mistakes for honourable reasons, and that certainly fits your case. Don't beat yourself up over it. Trolls aren't worth heartburn.

#862 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 05:07 PM:

@855: Embarrassingly, I think the only other flashbulb memory I have is of when Princess Diana died.

Heh. I should probably have access to a pretty solid record of what I was doing and thinking at that time because I think I was reading and posting to RASFF through the whole thing (as well as scifi.com — didn't it break during the Hugo Awards ceremony? I seem to recall it coming up during the live online chat coverage* of the ceremony).

Google is the new checksum for everybody's memories.**


* I was, of course, logged in as Deathmaster5; and who could blame me for that?

** In the future, I suppose it will be Twitter; but I'm not l33t enough for Twitter yet, given that 90% of my entires would be "Whhuuu? I'm, uh, awake, sort of. I think."

#863 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Bruce@835 --- Do you have cites on the research you mentioned? I recognize most of it, but the music composition reference is a new one on me.

FWIW, the observation that normal, neurotypical people can have ludicrously bogus theories of their own behavior is at least as old as posthypnotic suggestion. My current personal theory is that the "conscious self" is a person's model of their own behavior, which isn't necessarily accurate, but is good enough for planning purposes (the way Ptolemaic astronomy isn't necessarily accurate, but can still be good enough for navigation). When it actually gets used for planning, that's deliberation. But when that's not happening, the rest of the brain does whatever it does, and then the "conscious mind" gets an update, backdates it, and fantasizes that there's some causal connection between the thought and the action --- even when the action came first.

Unfortunately, I don't think we're to the point yet where neuroscience can offer any clarity (basic perception and motor control are rather poorly understood, and that has to come first...)

#864 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 05:14 PM:

...And speaking of RASFF (and archived memories), to bring everything back full-circle, that's where I remember the Error Correcting Modem, the Stud Finder, and the Universal Remote Control from. I think I recall TNH, PNH, myself, Michael Weholt, and Loren MacGregor at least in that discussion (Gary, too, I imagine).

And if my personal archive of RASFF hadn't been severely diminished by the sudden evaporation of my C: drive last Christmas, I'd be easily able to grab exact cites.

#865 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Bruce, #848: Could there be thiotimoline in the nervous system, do you suppose?

Kathryn, my sympathies. I had one pop up on my LJ a few months ago (although I don't think it was a garden-variety troll, I think it was an astroturfer) and had to ban it. Never fun.

I did wonder why you were suddenly making your journal friends-only, but didn't want to ask. Usually IME that means a bad experience with a net.stalker, so that tends to be my default assumption. (Note: I'm still not asking; you don't have to say anything about it if you're not comfortable.)

#866 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 06:30 PM:

"Charles Dodgson" @ 861

The first mention of it I saw was in an article by Douglas Hofstadter. The actual work, plus a lot of commentary, is detailed in
Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style

I'm sure there are journal articles out there, but I haven't had time to poke around for them.

As I recall, Hofstadter was very upset by this work. He's a very accomplished pianist himself, and sets great store by the level of creativity in the best classical music, so he didn't take it well when he found out just how little depth the algorithm for composing "in the style of" needs to be for good imitations.

#867 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Ray Radlein, where the heck have you been?!

#868 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Lee @ 863

Could there be thiotimoline in the nervous system, do you suppose?

Could be, or maybe it's the gold foie gras.

#869 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 07:07 PM:

"Embarrassingly, I think the only other flashbulb memory I have is of when Princess Diana died."

how extensive must a flashbulb memory be? I remember I was in school when Reagan was shot but I am not exactly sure what class or teacher. In fact to figure out which school I should really do some calculation. That would probably help me figure out if the teacher I think it was actually was the teacher.

so if that doesn't count as a flashbulb memory then I have none.
s

#870 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 09:57 PM:

JESR@763: no, this was even more ironmongered: it had an L-shaped frame ~6" deep, half of which you sat on to hold the other half steady while you cranked. Never seen one before or since.

A note on ribbons: the expert says $30 for a full-size die, a few bucks for "art cleanup" (they always manage to come up with this, she says), and $.37 each for 100-500 of the cheap type with a spot of adhesive on the top. (pin types are $.47 each for 100-500.) (There's also shipping charges, but I suspect I could hide those by joining the Boskone order.) I'm considering fronting this, or at least a piece of it, just for the hack value; how many are interested?
NB: My guess is that Bruce's design would work better with larger type for "Making Light" and fewer letters; see "flat ribbons" at hodgesbadge.com for samples.

#871 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Bruce @848
Have you read Blindsight? Best SF book this century, even if it didn't win the Hugo this year. Darned good book. Don't finish it after sunset or away from other people, though- it has a kick. Encapsulated memes that...hatch.

Lee,
One of many arguments I have about some folks' desires to force True Names Everywhere is that some names are rare names. Rare surnames connect everyone in a family, and in the 21st century that can have interesting twists. And let's just say I really, really wish I knew an expert on tracing IP addresses.

#872 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 10:59 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 869... I really, really wish I knew an expert on tracing IP addresses

I wish I could help you with that.

#873 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 12:18 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 869

No, I haven't read Blindsight yet, but as you're about the 5th person to recommend it highly to me in the last week or so, I'm going to get a copy and read it. It's going into slot 2 of my current stack, with the Tiptree biography the only thing in front of it (I've been trying to get to that for almost a month now, and I'm determined that it will happen).

If you're serious about wanting an IP tracer, I can check around. I used to work with one of the best network guys on the planet (he helped wire a good part of Eastern Europe to the Net in the 90s); I haven't seem him in a while, but he just accepted an invitation to my LinkedIn contact list, so I know he's still around.

#874 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 12:38 AM:

Life in incomplete again. Stephen Fry Blog link goes to 503 error page.

#875 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:06 AM:

I almost wept when I clicked the broken Stephen Fry link. His whole website seems to be down.

#876 ::: nike ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:27 AM:

You know how a lot of tech was 'inspired' by Star Trek? Well, maybe the writers should have left some things out of the script. Hello, agonizer and agony booth.

#877 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 02:13 AM:

#874: I'm sure the Raytheon Pain Ray (tm) will only be used in a legal manner to protect our freedom.

#878 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 02:27 AM:

This is discouraging. I thought I had some things to say about software development and process, but it looks like xkcd has had the last word.

#879 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Kathryn, #869: If Bruce's friend can't help you, ping me. My partner is something of a hotshot at that, and he knows people who are much better than he is.

Nike, #874: *speechless with horror*

Teresa, your Fluorosphere buttons were mailed today; you should have them by Monday. My deepest apologies for the delay -- I kept getting distracted, and then I forgot.

#880 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 06:43 AM:

Nike #874: You know how a lot of tech was 'inspired' by Star Trek?

Sperry-Rand mainframe documentation is laced with Star Trek references.

#881 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @#869:

One of many arguments I have about some folks' desires to force True Names Everywhere is that some names are rare names.

My original name is like that (Dell is my married name). I probably would use my real name online anyway, but I would have to think over the decision differently.

It's interesting - because I use my real name, I am very careful what I say online, and my blog is a lot duller than it would be otherwise. But I'm much more relaxed than some of my friends who strive to be anonymous online.

Which isn't to say I'm never pseudonymous, because some communities are better enjoyed that way, but I don't see it as a way of concealing my identity, so much as not sullying my name in google searches.

#882 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 08:26 AM:

#874, I love "you always have the option to get out of the way". What, does the Human Rights Fairy make it not work if you turn it on someone in a confined space?

Meanwhile, here in the US the taser is still being used on rude students, handcuffed prisoners and even less likely candidates.

There are some serious problems with these "nonlethal weapons": inadequate training in their use; the belief, in spite of the evidence, that they can't kill; and the "I've got a hammer and everything looks like a nail" phenomenon.

Mind you, police in my hometown were once so terrified of a naked, unarmed, mentally ill man that they shot him dead...

#883 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:25 AM:

On an entirely new Open Thread subject, here in the final stretch...

I'm going to be in The City this weekend and I'm planning to go to Saturday's Whisperado show (assuming it's still on, natch).

Are there any other Fluorospherans who plan on attending?

#884 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:40 AM:

New Scientist on Wikipedia planned attempts to improve reliability. Still seems to rely on the flawed "higher number of edits == better editor" assumption though.

#885 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Problem: use calculus to find the identity of Batman.

#886 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:59 AM:

Lila @ 880

And if that's the case I'm thinking of, the review of the shooting concluded that it was justified because "the police were in fear of their lives". Although they did recommend additional training in dealing with mentally ill and substance-impaired people. I'm really curious how they determine that the police were justifiably afraid; in another case where a cop shot a woman who was driving a car at him, the cop was censured for violating procedures and unnecessary use of force.

That's the fundamental problem with issuing any weapon to police or any other civil scurity force: they need to be trained properly in how to use them, and that almost never happens, for a variety of reaseons. And the hammer and nail problem occurs at an even higher level: the only tool they have is physical force, and it escalates rapidly.

#887 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Dan @ 881:
I may be at Whisperado. Depends on whether I have a Really Stupendously Good Afternoon or the opposite sort. Also, whether I'm still awake.

#888 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Lila #880:

In Kingston, Jamaica, in the mid-1970s there was a well-known homless madman called 'Road Runner' from his habit of running from Papine to downtown Kingston in the nude. Other than that he was harmless.

One day he was shot dead by a policeman. The policeman claimed that he had shot in self-defence after being threatened with a concealed weapon.

#889 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Stefan Jones (#872) and ethan (#873):

Life is complete again. Stephen Fry's blog is back up.

And it has an LJ feed for those who may be interested: "fryblog".

#890 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 10:30 AM:

UPDATE: Thoroughly spoiled Harry Potter (July 22, 2007) is currently at 738 comments. It hasn't been updated since 9th August. I've been scanning it thru' squinted eyes, because I plan to read the book on loan sometime, but it doesn't seem to have strayed far from the subject. Neither has it seemed to generate poetry, tho' there is poetic prose.

#891 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 10:32 AM:

Fragano @ 886

So being happy to see someone is a shooting offense? Hardly a concealed weapon.

#892 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Bruce and Fragano: His name was Edward Wright.

#893 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Susan at 885: Cool. If you do end up going, and want to say hi, I'll be the chubby nerd in the ponytail, dressed in black* (there, that should narrow it down).

*A more-or-less-current photo here. Also, I'll probably have my official bright yellow LL YR VWLS messenger bag, as a sort of Beacon of Dorkitude.

#894 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Fragano 888: Wow. Even if he were NOT naked, you can't claim self defense AND that the weapon was concealed, can you? For self defense you have to believe you're in serious danger from the weapon.

Of course, they could be sticking it out of a pocket without really showing it. In that case the fact that he was naked IS relevant.

So did this murdering scumbag of a cop get away with that bullshit?

#895 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 864: As I recall, Hofstadter was very upset by this work. He's a very accomplished pianist himself, and sets great store by the level of creativity in the best classical music, so he didn't take it well when he found out just how little depth the algorithm for composing "in the style of" needs to be for good imitations.

I heard this program's output on the radio one time. The DJ played three pieces--one by Mozart, one by a human imitator of Mozart, and one by Cope's program--without saying which was which until the end. I mixed up the humans, but had no trouble picking the algorithm. And I don't even like Mozart.

Of course, I might have just been lucky, and bolted on the perception of ease after my guess was confirmed. But it's a data point.

#896 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Dan @ #891:

Me - tall, dark brown hair, glasses, accessorized by a glass of orange juice. Probably sleepy from getting up at 5am.

#897 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Lila @ 880: Enh, if you want to apply microwave radiation to someone you've already got locked in a cell, you can get the necessary equipment at Fry's (ha ha) for fifty bucks (plus five bucks for a screwdriver to jimmy the door safety). Which is not to say I approve of the Microwave Pain Ray; I just don't think it's likely to make a difference in ease/frequency/horror of torturing prisoners.

I think it's going to take a lot more guts to attend a protest or political rally in the future, though.

#898 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Susan #894: You'll be sleep-deprived, eh? Maybe you'll think Patrick's guitar is an alien vessel!

#899 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Ray@858: congratulations. You've written some of the most offensive content ever seen in a deletion discussion. *rolls eyes*

#900 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 01:54 PM:

Tim Walters @893

IIRC, he wasn't so much disturbed by the quality of the composition as how little was involved in closely describing a particular composer's style. The compositions may not have been good, but the style was immediately recognizable. The implication is that style is a very shallow structure, consisting of a few tricks of melody, harmony, and orchestration, rather than a deep structure with a great deal of individuality.

#901 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 02:17 PM:

I just noticed a peculiarity of Irish Gaelic. (Yeah, yeah, among many, ha ha.)

Languages like English have articles ('the' and 'a(n)'). Languages like Russian do not.

Irish is the first language I've encountered that has definite articles ('the') but not indefinite ones ('a(n)').

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the other Gaelics have a similar characteristic, but I don't know. And I'm curious about the Brythonic Celtic languages (Cornish, Welsh, and Breton).

Does anyone in the fluorosphere know? And does any of you know of a language outside the Celtic family with defs but no indefs? Or vice versa, equally interesting?

#902 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Xopher @ 899

To the best of my (minimal) knowledge, Welsh also has definite articles, but not indefinite ones. The sentence structure is also odd - it's not your usual subject-verb-object word order. The verb usually seems to be on the front end, pulling the rest of the sentence. Which inverts the locations of adjectives and nouns.

#903 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 03:00 PM:

#876: XKCD reference point reached! We have parity!

#897: "Offensive?" Are we even looking at the same comment? Heated, yes, strongly worded, yes, but offensive? Does he include some euphemism for goetse behind words I'm too naive to parse correctly, or something?

#904 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 03:00 PM:

863, 894, 898: That's very interesting; it's been a long time since I read "Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity" (and I was probably too young when I did to really appreciate everything that was going on in there), but the central metaphor of knob-twiddling imprinted really strongly on me, and I found the effort to pin down and quantify a fairly mysterious and intuitive process fascinating. I recall that one of his concluding notes was that he didn't mean to make it look like the creative process was easy or simple. The idea that imitation of style might be something much easier to express mechanically has to intersect with that in some truly eyebrow-raising ways.

ethan, 896: At this point, I'm going to be vaguely disappointed if it isn't.

#905 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 03:02 PM:

And does any of you know of a language outside the Celtic family with defs but no indefs? Or vice versa, equally interesting?

Does Hebrew have an indefinite article?

#906 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 03:19 PM:

To the best of my (minimal) knowledge, Welsh also has definite articles, but not indefinite ones. The sentence structure is also odd - it's not your usual subject-verb-object word order. The verb usually seems to be on the front end, pulling the rest of the sentence. Which inverts the locations of adjectives and nouns.

That's called being "head-initial"--the "most important" word of a phrase or sentence comes first. The theoretical most important part of a sentence is the verb; the most important part of a noun phrase with an adjective is the noun, etc etc. VSO (verb-subject-object) languages tend to be head-initial.

By contrast, Japanese is head-final, so the verb tends to come at the end of a sentence and modifiers tend to preceed the words they modify.

#907 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Re - Elf Sternberg
How much notoriety does someone need before they become "notable"?

And, btw, is there any easy (or relatively easy) way to find out how many AfD discussions burntsauce has been involved in, how many of them are relevant to his/her/its professed areas of expertise, and how many of them have been overturned for being as bald-facedly stupid as this one is?

#908 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy

That article brought home to me for the first time that the notion of closed systems generating variations from a fixed set of elements with a finite set of operations doesn't describe evolution of any sort, biological, cultural, design, etc. And in particular it doesn't describe art or science, one of the reasons that we are unlikely to run out of new things to discover in either.

For one thing, that realization finally gave me a rationale to reject Schönberg's tone rows and other forms of serialism as the failed experiments I always thought they were*. Similarly for a lot of other modern art.
For another, it gave me a large brick for the structure I've been building in my head since I was a teenager: a theory of the nature of beauty and what it means to create it. I really didn't know just how ambitious a goal that was when I was 15; I've actually found out something about the subject since, but I suspect I'm much farther away from any strong conclusions than when I started.

The discovery about music fits with the other research I talked about in #835 to suggest to me a somewhat humbling hypothesis: the human mind and the things we do with it are the actions of relatively simple processes which will be easy to understand individually once we've teased them out. The complexity comes from the scale on which they're applied (massively parallel operation on massive amounts of memory, for instance), and the nonlinearity of their interactions.

* I'm not a musician, but I hung out with jazz musicians and classical composers in my youth, and I had to learn to respond to a lot of shop talk.

#909 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Marilee @865: Ray Radlein, where the heck have you been?!

Right here, in the same place.

Almost literally: I make it past the end of our driveway only once or twice a month (remove medical and veterinary visits from that list, and it may be less than once a month on average).

I have just made my Saving Throw vs. Data Dump, and so will spare you the full rundown on My Life and Hard Times. These days, most of my functional internet presence is on Daily Kos, although substaintial traces of me can also be found at Flickr.

A few years ago, a friend invited me to join his group blog, which suited me as I was deathly afraid that if I started my own blog, my health would lead me to disappoint people by being unable to keep up with it; by joining a group blog, I felt reassured that there would be less (self-inflicted) pressure on me to carry the load, as there would be other people contributing.

Which is how, some months later, I wound up in charge of the blog.

Needless to say, I drove it straight into a ditch, as contributions from the other participants all waned over following months at the same time as I myself did; my last post (regarding the vital topic of Lesbian Dalek Bondage Porn) was on January 6 of last year (Will Frank, who also comments here from time to time, soldiered bravely on with a couple of further posts over the next few months).

Eventually, the original owner, who still held the domain name it had been using, let us know he was pulling the plug; undaunted, I moved everything back to Blogspot for hosting, and planned a major relaunch late last year — just in time for Blogger to lock me (and everyone else) out of our own blog as a side-effect of their "upgrade." My best guess as to what happened is that despite the fact that he was no longer a part of it at all, Blogger still associated the blog with its original owner; so when everything got reset in the upgrade, he was the only one who could open the door to let us all back in to the blog. However, since he had moved on long before, he did not have a Blogger "2.0" logon. I submitted a support ticket to Blogger, mentioning that I (the blog's "owner") and all of the other editors were now locked out of our own blog; several months later, they got back to me with a reply, saying, basically, "Hey, that's too bad — you really should get the owner to let you back in!"

(For what it's worth, I think that he may have finally gotten himself a Blogger 2.0 login, because from looking at the blog just now, it seems like Blogger thinks he's associated with it again: so theoretically, I could e-mail him and get him to unlock the doors, although the only real point in that by now would be to retrieve a couple of never-posted drafts I had sitting around)

Anyway, a few months ago, I decided that it was time to do what was, at the time, the only thing I could do, and set up my own blog, and manually move all of my old posts over to it (if for no other reason than to have them somewhere with internally consistent links). I figured that once I had the entire archive moved over, I could start making new posts, liberated by the notion that I couldn't fail any worse individually than I had already failed as part of a collective.

So far, I only managed to relocat my own blog posts up through March of 2005 before bogging down again: Copying over giant chunks of HTML from the old site, combing through them to make the internal links consistent, tagging them, and re-posting them under the correct old date and time stamps on the new site is the exact type of careful, detail-oriented work that my brain is just plain unwilling and incapable of doing in significant doses these years. I've almost decided to go ahead and start posting new stuff when the fancy strikes without waiting to move the archives over; my big fear is that, knowing me, once I do that the archives are likely to remain unmoved.

On the other hand, knowing me, the archives are likely to remain unmoved even if I don't start posting new material.

Wow. I sure am glad I made that Saving Throw vs. Data Dump. That's me — master of the pithy one-line reply.

#910 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Scott @905: Click on Burntsauce's name to get to his user page, then on the left side there's a toolbox with a link for user contributions.

The answer seems to be: quite a few recently. Interestingly, the latest contributor to the discussion, Gavin Collins, is also hot for AfDs, having nominated several RPG articles for not being notable enough. I think AfD for notability is the latest fad among the wikitrolls, replacing the formerly popular "Citation needed".

#911 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Bruce Cohen:

I'm about to be visibly out of my depth here, as my knowledge of most formal artistic theory (especially musical) is shamefully limited for a would-be Creator of Creative Stuff, but anyway.

I'm reluctant to reject modern art out of hand, as I have more than a few inclinations to the avant-garde myself (one of my preferred aethetic modes being, as I'm wont to describe it, "creepy, atonal, and pretentious"), but I don't have much use at all for any variety of one-true-wayism. What experiments (even failed ones!*) properly do is expand the available palette of elements and techniques, which, if I understand you right, is part of the realization that art is not a closed system with a finite set. The image that sticks most with me out of "Variations on a Theme..." is that of the act of twiddling knobs itself bringing more knobs into existence while making others disappear; it helps me to remember that the act of creation is always protean, always dynamic, and, if you're paying it the right attention, always threatening to break out of its own boundaries. If I were to try to build my own theory of beauty (not a wall I find I have much inclination to pound my head against for long at a time, for the reasons you hint at), that's the foundation it would rest on, such as it is.

What I do find useful and interesting about avant-garde experiments like serialism (much to the consternation, I'm sure, of their most dedicated True Believers), is the way they provide options to limit the number of choices available in formal ways. Since the creative act, in my experience of it, happens somewhere in the intersection of "the infinite and ever-changing array of possibilities" and "a set of interesting constraints," twiddling the knob on the nature of the second one is a vital part of making Creative Stuff happen; it's just that I'm, well, a dilettante and a natural syncrete, and feel free to adopt and discard any system that seems like it might be fun to play with.

All of which may actually be sideways to the point you were trying to make, there, and may actually be going off the path even of an Open Thread, but there you have it.

*I'm a big believer in the idea that it's often necessary to find out where Too Far is before you can know how to get to Far Enough.

#912 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Scott, NelC

Do you suppose any of the participants in this particular wikibash have realized that the lack of google hits on Elf Sternberg is probably related to the recent changes in google's recognition of references in old usenet postings? If all of my own usenet references have disappeared from the first 20 pages of hits, I'm not surprised that Sternberg's results are weak.

#913 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Garrett @897: congratulations. You've written some of the most offensive content ever seen in a deletion discussion. *rolls eyes*

I have to assume that Burntsauce was referring to my characterization of deleting a perfectly valid article as "vandalism." If that's not it, then I really have no freakin' clue.

#914 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Nicole @901: Does he include some euphemism for goetse behind words I'm too naive to parse correctly, or something?

Perhaps Burntsauce has some misconception about the nature of the "gob" being smacked in my comment.

#915 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 05:41 PM:

P J 900: Irish is VSO too, and most adjectives follow the noun they modify.

Sounds common Celtic to have those traits.

I'm not so sure about head-initial. Tá Brían ag siúl, "Brian is walking," glosses as [is] [Brian] [at] [walk]; the is the least content-bearing part of the sentence.

#916 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Xopher

I think that's the bit that makes it present tense, rather than past or future. Because the usual in Welsh is that you get a piece of real verb and an infinitive - they're big on periphrasis, or something. The one that looks like the simple present ('I go') tends to be used for soem kind of future, where present is more like 'I am going' (done as something like 'I-am to-go', IIRC).

At least that book isn't in one of the magic boxes - I can look it up when I get home from work.

#917 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 06:05 PM:

xopher, jennifer,

hebrew doesn't have 'a/an' & does have 'the.' i can't say with certainty that it has definite articles & doesn't have indefinite articles. maybe the indefinite articles are invisible to the naked eye. i am not a linguist.

#918 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Ray, NelC -
Do you suppose any of the participants in this particular wikibash have realized that the lack of google hits on Elf Sternberg is probably related to the recent changes in google's recognition of references in old usenet postings? If all of my own usenet references have disappeared from the first 20 pages of hits, I'm not surprised that Sternberg's results are weak.Do you suppose any of the participants in this particular wikibash have realized that the lack of google hits on Elf Sternberg is probably related to the recent changes in google's recognition of references in old usenet postings? If all of my own usenet references have disappeared from the first 20 pages of hits, I'm not surprised that Sternberg's results are weak.

That may be part of it (which is why I brought up the groups.google.com hits - although, apparently google hits don't matter, even though everyone brings them up anyways when talking about internet personalities).

Part of the problem, of course, is that Google itself is unsure of what is a "substantially alike" link and what is not - if you do a basic google search on "izzylobo" you get 8 hits - but if you do the expansion, you get more than 800 - and while some of those are hits off of friendslists in livejournal, and the like, it also includes hundreds of postings to rpg.net, archived messages on the exalted wiki, and a number of other sources.

groups.google is the same way, but in reverse - searching "izzylobo" first says over 2500 postings - but if you actually try and run out to the last one, you end up with not quite a thousand.

(looking through histories, burntsauce doesn't appear to be an afding fool - he's got as many "keeps" as "deletes" and only seems to have a handful of started rfds out there. zihr and mssr collins, otoh - collins especially seems to be in the midst of a deleting frenzy, and it is centered around SF and gaming (the rfd to nuke *all* GURPS topics other than the core GURPS article was, to say the least, a little over the top).

#919 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Scott at 915, today's big push is to delete any Farscape related articles (including Moya!) and Dyson Aliens. One of the editors pushing hardest for those is deeply involved in the Star Wars and Star Trek wiki projects.

I admit, when I'm feeling uncreative, to going out in search of online war-zones,but at least I only observe and analyse; some of the people heavily involved in AfD show evidence of wanting to suggest the articles which will cause the biggest conflict.

#920 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 07:38 PM:

miriam 914: 'The' is the definite article in English, and 'a/an' is the indefinite article. So if there is no word corresponding to 'a/an' and there is one (or more) corresponding to 'the', it has defs but no indefs.

#921 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 07:57 PM:

Bruce at 835: if you haven't -- surely you have -- you might find it interesting to read some Buddhism. The Buddhist doctrine of no-self [warning -- I am not a Buddhist nor a teacher of Buddhism, at least, not in this life] states that there is no entity which corresponds to "the self". Our experience of "self" is simply shared repetitive sense experience glued together by memory. All mind is universal mind; we human beings are temporary phenomena of the universal mind, utterly transitory, as precious and ephemereal as the foam of the sea. Once we truly understand this, cravings fall away and we are free.

Shakyamuni was a neuroscientist before such a discipline existed.

#922 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Funny, as I was looking through old rassff posts, because I was doing the silly thing; and looking for my first entry... which I couldn't find I came across that thread (Stud-finders, et alia).

#923 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 08:11 PM:

PJEvans #913:

Clearly those "magic boxes" are miscalled. They sound like "evil boxes" to me, in that they hide all the useful books and don't let you at them.

#924 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Jesr @ 916 -
Scott at 915, today's big push is to delete any Farscape related articles (including Moya!) and Dyson Aliens. One of the editors pushing hardest for those is deeply involved in the Star Wars and Star Trek wiki projects.

I admit, when I'm feeling uncreative, to going out in search of online war-zones,but at least I only observe and analyse; some of the people heavily involved in AfD show evidence of wanting to suggest the articles which will cause the biggest conflict.

Heh. I noticed that. I found it hard to believe there was actually a question about whether or not Moya is notable.

Of course, now one of the Great and Mighty editors has noticed that I have only a handful of edits to my name, and pointed this out. I've called him on it - let's see if he's willing to actually stand up and say that my opinion is worthless because I've only a handful of edits to my name.

#925 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 08:16 PM:

I'm not so sure about head-initial. Tá Brían ag siúl, "Brian is walking," glosses as [is] [Brian] [at] [walk]; the tá is the least content-bearing part of the sentence.

But--as I vaguely recall from my semesters of Gaelic in college--"tá" is the verb in the sense that it's the bit that gets conjugated. I'm pretty sure that being VSO is part of the definition of being head-inital, but it has been a while since my lingusitics classes so I may be recalling incorrectly. :)

#926 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Xopher: Russian has definite articles, but they are partitive; This/that.

House, as a term is just that, a house or houses and context will lead one to how many.

It's kind of like states of being. To be doesn't need to be used in the present tense, because if something isn't then the conversation would be about the theoretical (or dead) nature of it.

But time, in Russian, is funny, and things can flop in and out of definite/indefinite status.

#927 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:29 PM:

CHip, #868, I'm interested. I agree with your recommendation of Bruce's if we get a vertical ribbon, but you can get horizonal ribbons and those would work for Mary's. I think I'd need several because I keep my badge and ribbons for each con intact in a folder with all the stuff from that con. I'm not going to Boskone, so I'd pay shipping and such from you to me, too.

nike, #874, the pain isn't permanent? Maybe not in your skin.

Bruce Cohen, #909, Google is screwing up usenet searches again. I looked for my earliest on Wednesday and the earliest it found was 2006. I've been on usenet since 1991.

The WashPost has noticed problems with Wikipedia editing, particularly with Fred Thompson's page. I emailed Zev to see if he's the Zsero in the WashPost explanation/illustration.

#928 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:33 PM:

Ray Radlein: I think the offensive part of the post is that you are saying this is a typical example of what's wrong with Wikipedia today.

The accusation of vandalism is probably seen as a direct attack on the credibility, reliability and character of the person in question.

I don't think it's all that out of line; heated yes, but passion isn't the same as insult.

I've certainly seen worse things said of me, so it strikes me as thin-skinned, esp. since the public making of such an argument/statement ("you sicken me") is at one level much the same as accusing someone else of vandalism (which I take to be term of art in Wikipedia, and one that has some decidedly negative connotations) seems much of a muchness with the comment being complained of.

#929 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Marilee @ #924, I left you a comment in the trauma thread, here. It's probably better suited for this Open Thread, though.

#930 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 10:31 PM:

#874: IMO, the big problem with the pain ray is not so much its nature (as has been pointed out, there are already plenty of markless torture methods) as the fact that some of the people given control over either won't know what they're doing at all or will panic when they wind up in a pickle. (This is assuming that they're reasonable people to begin with, not the sort of cowboys I've heard of Blackwater using.) This will be aggravated by insufficiently-experienced Command telling them "It's not lethal; run it until they all run." I suspect the best way of dealing with a mob is to treat it like a forest fire: confine it and work from the edges. But if this is implemented a couple of poor bottom-rankers are going to be sent into the middle of a mess and wind up killing people with overdoses.

#931 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Marilee: I wanted to mention that I responded to your "Where the heck have you been?" earlier today, but my comment is apparently trapped in moderation Limbo at the moment; presumably I miscounted the number of hyperlinks it included (I could swear I only used seven). So anyway, I imagine that it will appear eventually (I used to be able to see it by doing a "view all by" on myself, but right now all that accomplishes is an SQL error page).

#932 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 12:25 AM:

Ray: I think the hyperlink detector is in hyperdrive at the moment (I had a short post with just 2 zapped yesterday) and I also suspect the moderators are a bit swamped in checking the pool.

#933 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 12:27 AM:

Dan, Susan, I'll be there. Or so I devoutly hope, anyway.

#934 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 12:58 AM:

Re Comments in Limbo: I have a comment over in Alien Abduction that's either lost entirely or in moderation. *sigh* Dunno if I should try to post it again. I'll hold on for a little longer still, except maybe I'll repost the first paragraph, which doesn't have any links.

#935 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Lizzy L. @ 918

Hah! I wouldn't be child of my time if I hadn't studied Buddhism at least a little bit. Theoretically, I'm a Child of the Book, but early on I realized there's an unbridgeable gulf, often very narrow, but still there, between the Word and the Thing, and the Book is made of Words, not Things, so it's the wrong tool for the job of comprehending the world of experience.

This sounds strange coming from somone whoae education was scientific and technological and who has spent most of his life working in technical fields, but there is a difference between knowing and experiencing, and I think both are important. Also, I've always been almost as much interested in art as in science, and there are aspects of art that are neither rational nor amenable to precise description in words.

#936 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @ 908

I missed this comment earlier, or I would have replied sooner. I agree with almost everything you said; the only comments I'd make are:

1. Experimentation in art is essential; how can you know something will work until you've tried it? However, failed experiments shouldn't be treated the same as finished works. Too many Modern artists felt that the failed experiments deserved equal exposure to the audience as the successful pieces, and this detracted from the finished work. This was especially true of artists who called their work "Experimental", like the Experimental Filmakers of the 1960s and 70s.

2. Not all Modern Art was bad or ill-conceived, by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm sorry if I gave the impression I believed that. But there were several themes that were important parts of Modernism which failed because they were poorly-conceived attempts to change the nature of art in ways that often resulted in the creation of works that were either unsuccessful or were not really art. I'm thinking particularly of Conceptual Art.

3. I agree completely that good art must be concerned with constraints. That's one of the reasons I write sonnets. But over-constraining your work can be deadly to art. I think serialism was overconstraining; Schönberg produced very few tone row pieces because so few can be created that adhere to all the necessary constraints, and producing even one often took him years. And I, for one, don't believe the end result was worth it.

A last word about experiments: one of my favorite artforms is abstract animation, especially the works of Norman Maclaren, Alexeiff & Parker, Len Lye, Larry Cuba, and Halas & Batchelor. Almost all of the work involved was experimental and it's fascinating to see the tests and experiments they performed and then didn't show to an audience.

#937 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:44 AM:

Carrie 922: Grammatically it's the verb, of course. Semantically it doesn't carry a lot of information.

Terry 923: 'This' and 'that' are demonstratives, not articles. One way to tell is that an article never appears without a noun (or nominal adjective in languages that are strongly typed), and a noun in the same phrase. 'This is my house' uses 'this' as the subject. Compare *'The is my house', which is not grammatical in English.

Yes, you can also say "This house is mine," because demonstratives can be used attributively to specify a particular instance of a noun, but that still doesn't make the word an article. Compare 'These houses are ugly' and 'Pink houses are ugly'. (But also, admittedly, 'The house is ugly' and 'This house is ugly', which shows that the demonstrative isn't perfectly analogous to an adjective, either.)

Russian uses the equivalent words similarly. 'Eto moi dom' translates as "This [is] my house," even though the verb to be has a zero realization in the present tense. There's no word that attaches to a noun phrase in the way articles do in languages that do have them.

#938 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Xopher @ 934... Yes, you can also say "This house is mine,"

And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

#939 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Xopher @ 934... Yes, you can also say "This house is mine,"

And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

#940 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Serge 935-6: But you may not tell yourself *'The is not my beautiful house' or *'The is not my beautiful wife'.

#941 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Ce n'est pas ma belle maison! Ce n'est pas ma belle épouse!

#942 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Dan, Susan, Elise et al -- I'm hoping to get to Whisperado tonight, too.

(back to lurking)

#943 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Found another Flamer Bingo gobbet in the wild today: "pwmed". A poster on another forum recently apologized for misspelling "pwned" as "pwmed", so I helpily explained that pwmage was like pwnage except that the victor demonstrates dominance through poetry.

#944 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Ray, I ended up googling "cruft" just to make sure it meant what I thought it meant.

Maybe what he meant by "is most offensive" was, "the post I have taken the most personal offense at." Had he said that, I wouldn't have reread your note three times trying to find the stealth obscenity.

#945 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Ray, #928, it showed up in view-all-by. You have pictures from Dragon*con! And I'm so sorry about Merlin. The link to your new blog wasn't made right -- give it again? As it happened, I took a picture of my kitties in the recliner tonight. Shiva is the stretched out tuxedo, Giorgio is the white one, and Spirit the little striped one. (That tacklebox has my beading tools in it.)

#946 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 12:30 AM:

re the photo-link in #942:

Gosh, a dogpile of cats.

#947 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 02:51 AM:

It's interesting to me that this thread has, since last I read it, contained discussions of consciousness and Buddhism, and a reference to Wile E. Coyote via this xkcd strip. Because a day or two ago I had an epiphany in which I viewed the Roadrunner cartoons as a Buddhist allegory. The Coyote is us, pursuing the illusions of the world as encapsulated by the Roadrunner. (The Roadrunner being an illusion explains why it can stand on air, and run down tunnels that are only painted on a wall, et multa cetera.) This pursuit results in suffering, and ultimately in death and then rebirth. I imagine an unaired "last Roadrunner cartoon" in which Wile E. finally achieves enlightenment and gives up his pursuit, going on to lead a contented life...fade to black, leave the Wheel, no more cartoon mayhem ever.

#948 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 08:39 AM:

Bruce@932: My BA is in Chemistry, but IMO there is nothing mystical in recognizing that words are not things; with enough words(*) you can encompass a thing sufficiently precisely to work with it for now, but that doesn't mean it won't surprise you later. (Make that words and care; I've read that when somebody finally pointed out that there were only 23 pairs of chromosomes in the standard human cell, other people looked at their old pictures and concluded that they really didn't show 24 pairs.) You may learn more, requiring more words -- or worse, discover that words for this thing aren't nearly wide enough to wrap around the larger set of similar-but-not-identical things that you thought were all the same; cf Newton being a subset of Einstein, or the limits of valences (or classic definitions of acids and bases) to describe (let alone predict) chemical reactions.

Sometimes the universe reminds us of this; Sturgeon's "Bulkhead" has a wonderful paragraph on the difference between words and knowledge, talking about dropping a huge copper disk through a magnetic field.

(*) For "words", read "words, numbers, symbols, cabalistic gestures, ..."

#949 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 01:07 PM:

CHip @ 932

And where did I use the word "mystical"? Buddhism contains a lot of concepts, and many of them are not religious or mystical in the sense that people raised in cultures where the dominant religions are based on the Word (meaning all of the Judeo-Christio-Islamic creeds) ordinarily mean those words.

The way of thinking we're talking about is a superset of the conventional "non-mystical" thinking that is normally considered "rational". It adds a recognition that, at some level and in some regions* of some spaces, the "differences" between objects become insufficient to distinguish among them accurately. Some of these situations are familiar and accepted†, frinstance: what's the difference between my love from my beloved, and your love for yours?, others are unknown to most people, and most who do know about them assume that additional thought will remove the problem, such as the question of where the boundary of a living cell lies.

I probably wouldn't have realized that the two ways of thinking were related but for two subjects I needed to study:

1. As an object-oriented software designer, I found I needed to have at least a basic understanding of ontology in order to know how to design objects which were different in ways appropriate to the program they were designed for.

2. As a life-long student of theories of organization and complexity††, I stumbled across Hierarchy Theory, a sort of collision between mathematics and biology, a basic tenet of which is that where you place the boundary of a region is not arbitrary, but is greatly dependent on how you analyze the region, and on what scale.

* of space, of time, of categorization, in fact, of every space** we use to distinguish and characterize objects by their attributes.

** THe mathematically-inclined might think of these as vector spaces over objects of interest, which may or may not have a metric, but which are spaces because they do have a topology.

† and because of their familiarity, most people IMO don't think sufficiently about why these ontological problems exist in these realms.

†† Because I was sure this was fundamental to a theory of art, which, as I mentioned before, I had the chutzpah to want to develop.

#950 ::: Essex ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Something emerged out of insomnia after all, late, but here it is anyway. As to the initial ideas of this thread:

1. Phantom Pain - hurting for what you don't have (anymore). It probably was eaten by zombies.

2. A third arm. Wouldn't we all want one, sometimes? Again, those zombies… Would it work, regardless of the asymetry?

3. Toothbrushing equiment, whether electrical or manual, and regardless of walking around while using it, or being rooted to the wash basin. Is there anybody else out there who hates the feel of that runny, smarmy foam seeping down their arms? The bloody soak dripping down? That wetness, the goo… Any ideas about anything to stop this? I've been thinking of a kind of plastic funnel like those that are put on sick pets to stop them from scratching after surgical treatment. But that would probably stop me brushing my teeth as well…

4. Virtual / imaginary Phantom Pain - hurting for what you don't have that didn't or does not work anyway. Almost none of the things you did not need anyway were left when you arrived at the sale. Thwarted desire.

5. Sentimentality - entirely virtual by definition (a very greedy zombie).

6. Pain itself does not work, either. It's pain, after all.

True names: Essex is so close a representation of my real name that it should get you to my place in my town on request - when spoken aloud and if you knew where to put the dot, that is. I think. But what is a true name? Is it only cats who have those, and no man may never know.

I did like the 'error-connecting modem'. But what on earth is a stud finder? Google gave me some ideas, but not enough to dispel the vivid imagery.

#951 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Essex: A 'stud-finder' is a device for finding the studs (the wooden uprights which hold up an interior wall) so that nails and screws can be driven into them.

#952 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 08:39 PM:

If you want to refer to the religions that accept Abraham as a patriarch, there's a word for that: Abrahamic.

In point of fact, Buddhism, as in the rarefied form of the early Indian period, is very much non-mystic -- Buddhism in that form has a certain disdain for faith, for non-rationality, for things unseen.

It isn't non-metaphysical, and it admits some stuff we'd think tosh as science, but it has a reasonable epistemology, and mainly accepts the need for it.

#953 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2007, 08:59 PM:

David Goldfarb @944: I remember seeing a Roadrunner cartoon which ended with the Coyote catching the Roadrunner by the neck, and then with his other hand producing a sign reading "Now what?".

#954 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 08:32 AM:

You may be misremembering. The only Roadrunner cartoon I know of in which the Coyote catches the roadrunner does indeed end with him holding up a sign saying "Now what?" - but it's because there's just been some business with a shrinking-and-growing device, with the result that he is now struggling to reach the roadrunner's ankle, never mind its neck.

#955 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 08:52 PM:

Essex, just how are you brushing that the foam comes out of your mouth accidentally? Mine stays in until I spit. How much toothpaste do you put on the brush?

#956 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 01:41 AM:

Marilee, #955: Some people apparently are taught to dribble the foam out of their mouths. I remember watching my father brushing his teeth when I was a kid, and that was how he did it. It was totally gross and made him look like a rabid dog, which is probably why I went so far the other direction. I swallow the foam -- you know it has to be safe for consumption! -- and don't spit anything until I'm rinsing my mouth with water.

#957 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Standing up, leaning against the sink, and brushing my teeth without having to stop to rest part way through was an early fatigue milestone during my recovery from quadruple bypass surgery a few years ago. At that stage, the little victories mean a lot. I don't have a strong opinion on the to dribble or not to dribble question, except that I would be ashamed to dribble in front of witnesses, even if they happened to be medical professionals.

#958 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 07:30 AM:

Lee (956):
Swallowing toothpaste residue as an adult probably won't give you any problems, but make sure that no young child copies your habit — the fluoride in most toothpastes can cause significant problems for a child (mottled teeth, kidney problems, other toxicity issues).

#959 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 08:26 AM:

Nicole @ #944: I was pleased to learn the word "cruft" so that I could appreciate this.

#960 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 11:24 AM:

To many people, especially Britishers, the word 'Cruft(s)' would tend to have other connotations altogether.

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