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December 14, 2007

Open thread 97
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 11:19 AM *

We’re going through Open Threads like a toddler through Christmas chocolates. Munch on this Book Arts clicktrance, and don’t get fingermarks everywhere.

Some people have fun around bookbinders. No room for that in my bindery.

Brian Dettmer’s Book Autopsies.

The sad demise of the card catalog turns out to be proximate cause for art.

A gallery of end papers.

Six centuries of bookbinding.

Comments on Open thread 97:
#1 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:39 AM:

I've been having a week of highly unsettling health problems, and have the beginnings of a scale for describing the literary complexity of one's health. But I need help filling in the gaps.

Level 0: Mickey Spillane. Your circumstances are very simple. You may actually be too healthy for your own good.

Level 1:

Level 2:

Level 3:

Level 4:

Level 5: Gene Wolfe, William Faulkner. Your situation is very complex. Important truths are hidden in multi-level allusions, and very little (if anything) is as it seems.

What should go in the intervening slots?

#2 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:48 AM:

The Wreck of the Old 97.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Your bindery looks... ah... cozy, Abi.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Can a necktie bind a book? Maybe not as well as Abi does, but people often talk of the ties that bind.

#6 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:00 PM:

97 is the largest two-digit prime number.

#7 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:01 PM:

If you go look at the livejournal linked in particles as "Two kinds of dead stubborn", you will find (rare) evidence of JMacD being WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Like so many others, I am a fanatic on one side or the other of this question.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Dawno @ 5... Eek.

#9 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:16 PM:

#5: Well, there's a webcomic that won't have a Wikipedia entry much longer.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:25 PM:

I was watching 1965's Charlie Brown's Christmas Special when I noticed how strange it was that some of the original characters are now gone. And some hadn't shown up yet. Like Woodstock. And Peppermint Pattie. I think she was my favorite, which is probably why I married her adult counterpart.

#11 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:31 PM:

fidelio, 2,

The Wreck of the Old 97.
ObOffTopic:
I wonder how modern day casemodders and pimp-my-ride types would build steam engines, were they in use today?

#12 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:42 PM:

BSD 7: Under what posting name?

I cannot type without putting two spaces after a period. I just hate the way it looks with only one. I even do it when I KNOW html is going to take out the extra.

See my comments elsewhere about learning to type on a manual typewriter. In a fixed-pitch font, no less. I am scarred for life.

When preparing a manuscript for submission, I just have to globally replace dot space space with dot space. I cannot type that way ab initio*, and I probably won't ever learn.

*abi nitio?

#13 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:44 PM:

"Brian Dettmer carves into books ... " He cuts up books? Somewhere inside, I am bleeding. At least the people who cut prints out of library books don't destroy the prints when the steal them.

#14 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:45 PM:

In re: Bruce Baugh @ #1:

Level 2: Hunter Thompson. You may or may not be healthy, but you're not feeling any pain.

#15 ::: Kristi Wachter ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:50 PM:

When they decommissioned the card catalog at the San Francisco Public Library, they took 50,000 cards and had people write quotes from the corresponding books (or related books) on the cards, then they papered the walls of the new library with them.

It's pretty cool.

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Manny @13:

So you're not going to like it when I do my binding of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, then. When I can find a clothbound* copy of Hamlet, I'm going to take it apart and use it as binding materials.

-----
* gotta be clothbound. I need to unravel the cloth for thread to sew the book.

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:59 PM:

The LA Central Library has some elevators wallpapered with former-catalog cards. And the elevators tell you the Dewey Decimal Numbers for the floors.

#18 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:06 PM:

I'm still hanging on to an old card catalog at my place... This is giving me some very good ideas...

#19 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Speaking of end papers, here's some eye candy featuring a demonstration of Turkish marbling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgg0GIfbszg

And let's not forget the relevant Arcimboldo still life.

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Xopher @12:
abi nitio?

There's no word nitio in Latin; I presume you meant niteo, which means "I shine, I sparkle", with a secondary meaning of "I am charming."

You also missed a comma.

So, rephrased,

abi, niteo?

To which, Xopher, the answer is nites* You are shiny.

-----
* because there is no Latin word that means "yes", you restate the verb to agree with the question.
† we are entirely ignoring the Latin requirement for question words or suffixes, because it's not entertaining to add them in.

#21 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:19 PM:

abi 20: Et nites. Way more than me.

#22 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:27 PM:

So...would "Io, nitet!"* be a good Latin translation for "Ooo, shiny!"?


*fix ending if needed; trying for "that shines" or something.

#23 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Nitemus! I think. I'm extrapolating from Spanish.

Which leads to Nightmouse, and they can make mice fluoresce. I'm thinking a very nerdy brandname for a very nerdy pet.

#24 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Those autopsied books are beautiful. I totally want one these book purses, but I know my archivist roommate will evict me if I ever used a book violated in that manner as a handbag.

In other news, last night I saw a movie that I can say objectively was a great movie that I didn't like one bit. Very interesting experience.

#25 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:39 PM:

So I've brought it up most everywhere else, but I figured the Fluorosphere might have its share of special insights.

My company announced to me a couple of weeks ago that, Surprise!, I get to look for a new job, as they no longer want my group around. So anyway, I get some severance as condolences for the lay-off, but I haven't looked for a job in almost 8 years. Any advice for a (relatively) young man in the tech (specifically Oracle & Crystal reports, with a side dish of Office VBA automation) field who hasn't done this in a while?

Example discussion fodder: the one page resume is, according to some, a relic of by-gone days. Do you agree? Why, or why not? Is this an artifact of the Tech Industry, or more broadly applicable?

#26 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Bruce Baugh @#1

Level 2: Jane Austen. Although there are some complications, by sticking with a reliable formula, everything will turn out as it should.

Level 3: Tolstoy, Henry James: You will eventually understand what's happening, because your ailment is fairly straightforward. Still, it will not end well for you.

Level 4: Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco: You can't possibly understand what's happening to you, but it's meaningless and will have no perceptible effect, so don't worry about it.

#27 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:43 PM:

I've been saying that my current parenting set-up is the worst of all possible worlds: my still-teenage daughter is away at college, and my fully adult son is living at home while he works (at a job that often has him driving when the bars close) and goes to school. All of the worry, none of the solitude.

I love them both without limit, they are remarkable people for their ages, but they are still people of their age, and I am a woman of my age and would prefer a bit more private time and a lot less cooking.

And for the next month, starting tonight, both of them will be home.

#28 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:49 PM:

I too learned to type in a formal setting on manual typewriters; the last class of the day my junior year in high school. I always tried to get one of the Smith-Coronas; the Royals the school used didn't feel right.

I've always been glad I learned to touch-type back then; it kept me in beer money in college typing other people's term papers. Then I was ahead of most other recruits when in Navy Radioman school I didn't have to learn my way around the TTY keyboard.

Oh, and Xopher, I double-space after periods and colons too.

#29 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:49 PM:

JESR, I don't know how my parents are going to handle our house for the holidays. This year, they've had just themselves, the big yellow dog, and the fiercely territorial cat (and a snake, but she's not important). Soon, my siblings Baby Sister and JM both come home, one of them bearing the entire contents of her dorm room (she's transferring to the community college) and one bearing his girlfriend's ferrets, Flower and Bubba. Then I come home, which puts us at something like nine cars fitting into the house and streets, and I'm bringing another cat. We will also have JM's friends and girlfriend over quite a lot.
And the house is all Christmassed up. This could get very interesting very fast.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:54 PM:

JESR: Make them cook. Tell them that from X time to Y time you need to be left entirely alone unless the kitchen is on fire.

Give them specific cooking assignments. Don't have a backup meal.

#31 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:55 PM:

Skwid, 25,
Example discussion fodder: the one page resume is, according to some, a relic of by-gone days. Do you agree? Why, or why not? Is this an artifact of the Tech Industry, or more broadly applicable?

Disagree. If I* meet you outside of a tech environment, and I'm interested in you, how do we exchange data? A one page advertisement for you that tells me what you do and how to get a hold of you is going to be way more useful than...pretty much anything I can fit into long term memory.

If I'm interviewing you, and I decide I want to hire you, but I have to convince the rest of the commitee, then having that sheet of paper I can photocopy and pass out at our next meeting is great. If you didn't bring that sheet of paper with you to your interview, then you have to count on me remembering to find it on the company's (buggy) HR webapp.

Arguably, if you can fit the essentials of what you know how to do, and where you did it, onto a single sheet of paper, that's awesome, because nobody is ever going to want to read more than that.

I'm thinking the question isn't "are resumes still useful" but "what are resumes actually used for?" As far as I can tell, all of the scenarios mentioned above, plus the data in them is useful for sorting out who not to call back. That step may or may not be taken over by crappy HR webapps.

*I = hypothetical hiring person

#32 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Diatryma, your parents obviously win, and would win on points for either the ferrets or total dorm-room dump, let alone both. I can only hope their house is much, much larger than mine.

And speaking of houses, let me pass on a piece of hard-earned life wisdom on the same scale as never create with a bulldozer a problem you will later have to solve with a shovel: If you are of the Christmas/Yule/Solstice tree persuasion, DO NOT SIGN THE MORTGAGE PAPERS ON ANY PERMANENT DWELLING UNLESS YOU KNOW PRECISELY WHERE A CHRISTMAS TREE WILL FIT.

Fourteen years here and we've yet to find a place that doesn't entail terrible inconvenience.

#33 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Xopher @21:
Gratias ago tibi.

& @22:
Less sure about the Io than the nitet, which is correct.

But I'm not up on my Latin exclamations.

Diatryma @23
Nitemus means "we are shiny", in both the visual and Firefly senses. Spanish is a good extrapolation here.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:02 PM:

The people I work with want resumes, because that's how they decide who might be worth calling in for an actual interview. Notes get made on the paper copy, too.

(Also, it separates the people who are really clueless about work history and resumes from those who have some competence. I saw one once where the misspellings and inverted dates alone would have killed any possible interview, if the history of frequent job changes hadn't done it first.)

#35 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:08 PM:

When I saw "autopsied books", I immediately thought of the books bound in William Burke's skin, some of which are on public display here in Edinburgh.

#36 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Xopher, in actual fact the "make them cook" stricture has been in force for a decade or so. The problem is that making the elder do more than he's doing now (which includes his own laundry, feeding cattle, 35 hours a week on the job and full-time college) offends my sense of fair play. The younger is six hundred miles away most of the time; she cooks when she's here, but that leaves a whole lot of dinners when she's not.

Privacy is a tricky thing; we've yet to negotiate a common definition.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:10 PM:

If the book is a biography, will it be biopsied?

#38 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:15 PM:

@22, #33--Ecce, nitet!

#39 ::: DarthParadox ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:16 PM:

I really like the way you've got the workbench set up for natural lighting. I'm going to have to keep that in mind when I move into a house...

#40 ::: Monica Toth ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Bruce #1 and Mary #26, Is there room for:

Level 4.5: Umberto Eco, David Foster Wallace. The diagnosis is written in English, but you need to read it three times and consult two encyclopedias before you can begin to tease out the meaning.

#41 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:18 PM:

We have a very large house. This is why all three kids are such terrible packrats: there's always room to put a box of post-bedroom possibly-trash. Since I'm living relatively on my own now, Baby Sister has taken over both my room and hers, as well as most of the front of the house. My parents walk through the front of the house to get to the front door, but otherwise live in the great room.
Besides, a lot of what Baby Sister is bringing home started out there, and it is dwarfed by what she left behind.

The first Christmas in the house, we put the Christmas tree in the big picture window in the music room. It was disappointing, not least because even then, the front of the house was for kids, and the back was for adults. The next year, we had to figure out a way to get a tree into the great room, which has a two-story ceiling and a perfect place for a tree, right next to the stairs going up to the second-story kitchen lofty thing.

Do you know how big a tree will fit in two stories?

Do you know how interesting it can be to get a fifteen- to twenty-foot tree into an interestingly-shaped house?

#42 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:24 PM:
My company announced to me a couple of weeks ago that, Surprise!, I get to look for a new job, as they no longer want my group around. So anyway, I get some severance as condolences for the lay-off, but I haven't looked for a job in almost 8 years. Any advice for a (relatively) young man in the tech (specifically Oracle & Crystal reports, with a side dish of Office VBA automation) field who hasn't done this in a while?

Example discussion fodder: the one page resume is, according to some, a relic of by-gone days. Do you agree? Why, or why not? Is this an artifact of the Tech Industry, or more broadly applicable?

When I saw your question I assumed that the distinction was between one-page resumes and longer resumes, but I see others are making a different assumption.

I would say that yes, you need a resume, but it doesn't have to be a single page. Mine isn't. Of course, I've been employed for 14-22 years, depending on how you count it. If you have only been employed for a few years you can probably fit everything onto one page. If not, I would at least make sure that the most important information is on the first page - for example, don't lead off with your education, since unless you just got a degree that's not critical.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Diatryma @ 23... they can make mice fluoresce

A fluorescent hamster, now that would be a great mascot for this neighborhood.

#44 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Dan is correct, I was unclear. I don't think many people would question the need for a resume of some sort, the dilemma is whether one should bend over backwards summarizing so as to keep everything on one page. This was the advice I most often received a decade ago (countless horror stories about bored HR reps going through stacks of resume slush, throwing out anything of more than one page unexamined), but my sources these days are saying that one should be much more specific and spill over onto a second page. For now, I've still got my cramped one-pager, but I really think I should have an expanded version if it should be requested, at the least.

#45 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:55 PM:

The worst resume requirement I saw for either grad school or a summer research program wanted my CV in four hundred characters. It was possible, but only barely.

#46 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Skwid, in my experience the usefulness of the one page résumé depends on who/what is hiring. At big bureaucracies/governmental organizations/universities we usually are not allowed to qualify someone for an interview unless we can prove it from the résumé. And arguing with HR is ... umm... well, there's a reason Catbert is the evil director of HR.

Private industry usually has more flexibility, and the one pager is usually more appropriate.

Résumés are like other things, where it's not size that matters, but demonstrable skills. ::grin::

Good luck!

#47 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:12 PM:

According to my own experience reading resumes, the best practice is still to have a one-page resume and a cover letter which addresses your fit for a specific job; sending multi-page resumes to HR departments without seeking a specific job is a great way to end up in the round file.

Two pages is on the cusp. Better a two-page resume in readable format than a one pager in eight-point.

#48 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:19 PM:

In the tech companies where I've been involved in hiring, there are three distinct hurdles to get past. (This is all talking about "individual contributor" tech positions -- I have no idea how or if the process differs for management or non-tech positions).

First, you have to get to the hiring manager. There's someone else, either a headhunting company or an internal recruitment staff, who's doing first-run triage on resumes. They generally don't really understand what the team is looking for, so more often than not this comes down to comparing the resume against some keywords the hiring manager has suggested. So for this, you need a resume, and you need to have guessed some of the right buzzwords.

Next, you have to look interesting enough to the hiring manager for it to be worth a technical person's time to talk to you. The resume's all this decision is based on too, so it still matters: obvious lying and a complete lack of communication skills are bad here, but other than that as far as I can tell it largely comes down to luck.

And finally, you talk to people. From here out, the resume is primarily just a starting point for conversations, and doesn't matter much. Do be careful that if you claim to be an expert on a subject that you can back that claim up, though.

Good luck! Where are you located?

#49 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Skwid, when I hire folks for my team, I tell our HR recruiter what we're looking for, both in terms of personality and specific tech skills. And I give her a job description that's got some key phrases in it like "unix admin experience a plus" or "SQL knowledge required." She goes on dice.com and some other industry looky-see places and does keyword searches, and she puts the word out to recruiters, using the same phrases, etc. Then she reads through all the resumes and gets me anything that seems to match.

When I get the resumes, I go through with a highlighter and mark off anything that matches up to what I'm looking for, and I also look for a pattern showing width/depth of knowledge, since different positions call for different things. For example, a help desk person needs a broad base of shallow knowledge; a db architect needs in-depth expertise on one thing. I also look to get an overall sense of the person's level so I can figure out if they're in our salary range.

So, from a manager's perspective, I think the best resumes are the ones that show a pattern of activity and experience, and are liberally peppered with specific accomplishments and technologies. If it's 3 pages long, no problem, since I'm just skimming anyway. Whereas if it's 1 page long and doesn't happen to list the one odd thing that will catch my eye, you could miss an opportunity.


#50 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Bruce Baugh #1 -

Level 4: Thomas Pynchon - even when you know you what you have, you have no idea where it came from.

Level 4.01: J.D. Salinger - whatever you got has been hanging around for 50 years.

Level 1.02: Michael Chrichton - even if you think you have it, you don't have it, particularly if you think you have a fever.

#51 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Skwid @ 25: I think Rands' take on this is very useful: your resume needs to make an impression in 30 seconds or less. His take on what he's interested in: your name (because he's about to Google you, or he knows you), who you worked for (know the company? good guess at what you do. don't? scans for keywords), job description and history (what have you been doing, how long, any inconsistencies), and finally other interests and extracurriculars (how is this resume different from the last 50 I saw?). And that's the 30 seconds.

Highly recommend reading the whole article.

#52 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Skwid @ 25: Any advice for a (relatively) young man in the tech (specifically Oracle & Crystal reports, with a side dish of Office VBA automation) field who hasn't done this in a while?

Also relatively young & techie, I've hunted jobs twice in the last 12 months. (Contract expired followed by dot-bomb collapse.) I found the following to be effective:

1. Post your resume on Computerjobs.com, Monster, and careerbuilder. MS-Word format is standard for recruiters, but some of the job sites want you to jump through a few site-specific hoops. Throw in as many buzzwords as you feel comfortable asserting competence in. Recruiters will begin phoning about 5m after you post.

2. For each of the above web sites, do an a.m. scan of the new postings. If something looks particularly choice: 1) send an email with attached resume 2) follow-up 1h later with a phone call.

3. Resumes should be as long as you need to communicate your skill set. My last one ran well over a page and no one blinked.

4. Based on my experience on the hiring side of the desk, the following translation table applies. You may wish to fluff your resume accordingly:


claim="1 year experience" --> actual="I've heard of it"
claim="2 year experience" --> actual="6 months. knows the basics."
claim="5 years experience" --> actual="either actually competent or a gifted bullshitter"
claim="competent" --> actual="very good indeed but still modest"
claim="expert" -->actual="incompetent AND arrogant"
claim="less than 1y" -->actual="hasn't sent out resumes in a while"

Oracle is still pretty happening. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding something. Happy hunting.

#53 ::: Kristi Wachter ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Skwid, let me recommend LinkedIn. I know a number of tech folks who have gotten interviews through LinkedIn - since you know someone who can vouch for you, you tend to get past the slush process and at least to the phone interview stage a lot faster.

For getting the resume down to one page, I suggest using the heading "Relevant Experience," which indicates that you have plenty of other experience, too, but you've been thoughtful enough to highlight just the bits your reader will care about.

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Iain @35:
Out of curiosity, are you a geocacher? Not because I know you from gc - I don't hang out there any more - but because if you are one, are in Embra, and are interested in Burke & Hare, I have a recommendation*.

-----
* yes, blowing my own horn on this, but it's relevant.

#55 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:59 PM:

I have a summary resumé for initial contacts and a longer one to take with me to interviews.

The "Relevant Experience" paragraph makes a lot of sense.

#56 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:25 PM:

abi @16: Brilliant, I love it!

Manny @13: I still feel queasy hitting books with hammers, rounding and backing. It's getting better, but I think it will be a few more years before the horror has completely left.

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Ralph Giles @56:
I'm still looking for a copy of Hamlet to tear down, of course, but I'm glad you like the idea.

If you find rounding and backing feels like beating up books, have you tried Jim Brockman's technique of concave rigid spines?

#58 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:36 PM:

I have a thermal mug question. Here in the high country, I like to take a mug of tea with me if I'm going to be sitting outside in the cold somewhere for longer than an hour or so. I have a few thermoses and insulated mugs, but I prefer my tea with milk, and without exception, the tea tastes nasty from the plastic lined thermal device. I also like blackcurrant flavoured tea with some sugar, which tastes fine from the thermal things, but does anyone know of a thermal mug or flask that doesn't make tea with milk taste weird?

#59 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Speaking of bookbinding...

#60 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Abi @ 54:

I'm not a geocacher, but thanks for the recommendation. Sounds like a good wee walk for a dark winter's evening.

#61 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:53 PM:

I'd like to make mulling spice sachets to give away for mini-presents this winter. I have cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, and cardamom pods. I also have fresh ginger slices and fresh orange zest strips. What should I do to those last two things (or substitute for them) to ensure that the spice sachets have a decent shelf life?

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Lee @59:
Oooh...nice.

But I note they used a pre-made headband. Should have sewn it by hand.

#63 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:55 PM:

There are steel/aluminum-walled thermos-type objects, but I don't know whether they might give your milky tea a "metallic" taste. Generally I've had excellent experiences with the Nissan/Thermos brand.

#64 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:02 PM:

If I downloaded OpenOffice onto a PC clone running (yes, I know, I know) Vista, could I read .xls files?

Eventually, I would like to take up the church newsletter again, which would also mean downloading OpenOffice because my new computer has nothing more complex than WordPad. I pride myself on creating elegant, readable pages. And I go into FROTHING RAGE when I download one of those cute little "fill-in-the-middle" frames or word bubbles or what have you and I can't actually PUT ANYTHING IN THE BLANK PART IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PICTURE. What good are they?

#65 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:03 PM:

xopher @ #22, I think I'd go wth "Eia, nitet!"

nerdycellist @ #24, I've had that experience. With Osama, for example.

#66 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:05 PM:

JESR #32: DO NOT SIGN THE MORTGAGE PAPERS ON ANY PERMANENT DWELLING UNLESS YOU KNOW PRECISELY WHERE A CHRISTMAS TREE WILL FIT.

Amen, sister. This is our fourth Christmas here, and I'm still not happy. We're of the "put the tree in or near the front window" persuasion, and we've got a doozy of a window, a huge bay. Unfortunately this is also the obvious/OneTrue place for the couch. So for three years we moved the couch, with a resultant furniture arrangement that turned out to discourage guests from even entering the living room. (It damn near discourages me!) My husband, swearing that he will never move the couch again (it has a queen-size bed inside and is more than just quite heavy) insisted last year that after Christmas the couch stay where it had been temporarily placed. The tree looks good, but that couch has been bugging me for a whole freaking year. And will continue to do so. (My personal theory is that the tree would look great in the equally-large upstairs bay window in the bedroom, where it wouldn't discourage anything bu maybe the cat, but carrying the tree up the stairs would be, umm, difficult in several senses of the word. Alas.)

#67 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Jenny @ #64, I don't know why Vista would make any difference. I just opened an .xls file using OO with no trouble whatsoever. The only caveat I can think of is retaining it as an .xls file after working on it. If you want to, be sure to save it as such, because OO defaults to its own spreadsheet format (.ods, I think).

#68 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Also, OO uses semicolons instead of commas to separate arguments in a function, and is incapable of using an entire column or row as a range. For example, Excel would say =COUNTIF(b:b,a2) and OO would say =COUNTIF(b2:b2000;a2). And if the text in A2 contains parentheses, that COUNTIF function will return 0 no matter how many matches there really are. ARGH.

Trying to use OO after spending more time than is technically healthy for me dinking around with Excel 2003 is infuriatingly not quite right.

#69 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Skwid@25 ...
When I'm hiring[0], I don't care if the resume is one page or 16 pages (academic resumes *sigh*). What I -do- care about is being able to figure out if you're interesting enough for me to want to read further after the first page.

What that means (for me, slightly incoherently, since it's been a long week):

(1) There should be something that tells me what sort of job you want to have ("UNIX administrator" is useless - do you want to build genome sequencing clusters, or would you prefer a highly predictable 9-5 job, where you're responsible for specific, well understood things).

(2) There should be something that tells me what you can do for me, vis-a-vis your previous work experience and skills. ("Normalized a database of ten billion entries, reducing end-of-month reporting time from 3 days to 3 hours" (spurious example, but hopefully clear enough) "Negotiated a 15% reduction in support contract costs", yada, yada).

(3) I don't have to work at figuring out what's on the page. That means no fancy fonts, no smushingeverythingtogether, so it's unreadable, no murky acronyms, IYKWIM.

It's (hopefully) obvious, but having your name and the page number on each page of your resume makes it obvious if a page has gotten lost, as well.

Unlike somebody further up the page, I'd never recommend padding your resume - the reason I suggest the "what you can do for me" section is that it highlights what you can do, which is completely separate from the years you've been doing it.

[0] Tech industry, everything from no experience through to senior level experts

#70 ::: kyubi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:35 PM:

nerdycellist@24:

It's possible that the artist used just the boards (aka covers), and the textblock/book itself* lives on in a less attractive but more durable library binding, although it's hard to tell whether that's the case** here or not.

I'm not sure whether or not that would mollify your roommate. I'm always a little ambivalent about these sorts of things, myself.

* -- I'm not entirely comfortable with calling this "the book itself". It's *most* of the book, but its original binding served as something more than just a container for its information, unlike this.

** -- unintentional bookbinding pun

#71 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:47 PM:

joann, the best place for a tree in my house, from the traffic-flow and seating viewpoint, would be in the corner bay window in the kitchen. Kitchen? Who puts the tree in the kitchen? And anyway that's where the orchids live. In fourteen Christmases we've had it on the dining room table (which makes entertaining guests impossible), on the entry table (which makes entry a challenge), and jammed in the corner of the living room (which is now the location of a stack of boxes my sister insisted on getting out of her house, just because it was our stuff. Imagine!).

I'm stuck with this house; even if we wanted to swap it out (it's a double wide; we're real farmers, in that way) it would involve digging up and storing out of the way some giant irreplaceble landscape plants, and I'm not up to the job. I have yet to win the argument for a teeny tiny tree, and somehow no-one wants to talk about getting a fake one and hanging it from the dining-room ceiling.

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:54 PM:

Hey!

Where did all these fellow bookbinders come from? Cool! How long have you been binding? What kind of binding do you do?

I'll have been binding six years come January; I'm self-taught and bind mostly in leather. I do fine binding and some designer binding, mostly traditional structures. But really, I just do what interests me.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Not a sonnet, but stimulated in part by Avram's thread on childhood memories:

dark seedpod sword nature's provided toy
what worlds were dreamt in that forbidding place
with pleasures of the bloodless hunt and chase

it took such little things to bring true joy
as all unthinking we created grace
dark seedpod sword nature's provided toy

yet far too swiftly each discards the boy
too much to do though different in each case
and far too fast deep lines will groove the face
dark seedpod sword nature's provided toy

#74 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Skwid @25,

Having gone through Silicon Valley searches, I think the single most important thing is to have a really good cover letter. And cover letter system.

Your CL connects the dots between their reqs and your skills. It also lets gatekeepers know-- or at least leave them unable to vote against you-- that you are qualified, even if they don't understand the details (and they often don't). By gatekeeper I mean the HR or recruiter who'll send resumes on to the actual hiring manager.

I made sure that even 10 seconds of reading- or even glancing- on their part would let them know that I met their main reqs.

For example, If they needed 4 years of experience in XYZ, my resume might have those 4 years at 2 different companies in 2 different industries / languages / etc, so the reader couldn't automatically see it. The cover letter, in contrast, could have "4 years..." as the 1st bullet point. The resume is proof of your qualifications, but the CL is your claim.

More later, and I'll email an example.

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:14 PM:

fidelio 38: "Look, shiny!" Useful too (and will appear here before long), but not quite what I had in mind.

Lila 65: 'Eia'!!!! That's the word I was looking for. Thanks!

#76 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:38 PM:

I meant to link to this page about types of Chinese bookbinding found in the Dunhuang caves on one of Abi's earlier bookbinding threads, but I don't think I ever did.

Incidentally, does anyone know if it has ever, anwhere, been a common practice to bind books with the spine horizontal rather than vertical in the field of view of the reader? I.e., such that one turns the pages from bottom to top rather than from right to left (or vice versa)? And does that orientation have obvious disadvantages, or did things just happen to work out this way?

#77 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:38 PM:

Skwid:

My advice, in a direction somewhat orthogonal to the general flavor of advice you're getting, would be that now is a good time to diversify. For your next job, hunt a job which uses some of your existing skills - so they'll hire you - but builds on them in a new different direction. If you've got experience with Crystal Reports and Office VBA automation, for example, hunt for a job where you're using that in a .Net programming context, and then leverage it into doing VB.Net and C# or J# programming. (MS .Net programmers will be in demand for quite a while, I think.) Or get a job which uses your Oracle reporting skills and find a way to take on DBA responsibilities and pick up DBA skills in that job. Etc. In the short term it's easier to get hired by having lots of years in one thing. However when the industry suddenly changes course, as it does from time to time, and nobody is using X/Y/Z any more, that can turn deadly to your career. Better to keep adding new skill areas from time to time.

I agree with the general flavor of the advice up thread, especially from Mary Dell and Katharine - use a couple pages if it takes that to comfortably fit in all your buzzwords, but be ready to summarize it in a less-than-one-page cover letter.

Advanced play: Classify the jobs you are going after into discrete niches, and have a custom version of the resume for each niche, emphasizing different skillsets as primary. You may even wish to tweak your resume a little for each job you're applying to.

#78 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Oh, also I found Dice.com to be the most useful site to post your resume to for relevant queries. YMMV.

And IMNSHO never ever pad your months/years of experience - that's just the kind of thing that will throw you right out the door of a job you might otherwise have had. One of the absolute worst things that can happen during the hiring process is if the interviewer suddenly finds a reason to suspect your moral character - they are likely to drop you like a hot potato and go for someone less qualified but who they think is more trustworthy. I have had to drop candidates like that myself, when our reference checks cast serious doubts on claims they'd made.

P.S. Kathryn, not Katharine. Excuse me! It was right there above my post, too!

#79 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Jenny: Yes, OpenOffice will do fine with .XLS files. However, the formula language is different as noted upthread and if you are experienced in writing Excel formulas, that will drive you insane; I can rant and rave at length about this. The word processor and presentation program (Word and Powerpoint clones) are pretty acceptable.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Clifton @ #77, "However when the industry suddenly changes course, as it does from time to time, and nobody is using X/Y/Z any more, that can turn deadly to your career."

(Flashing red lights, bells...)

Fat lot of good managing a mid-sized IBM S/34 and its data entry personnel for nine years has done me.

#81 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Lee @59: Pretty, and at least somewhat appropriate to the aesthetic of her other books. Do you know if she hand-wrote each copy, or are the others facsimiles?

abi @72: I started taking occasional classes about 4 years ago, but am only now trying to put together some of the larger tools so I can do things at home. I just bought myself some gold and hand tools. Still getting the hang of warming them on the kitchen stove...

Pictures of some of my books.

I've heard of the concave spines but never done one. About the instructions you linked: What does he mean about "the...top board may be cusioned"? And I'd only heard of a yapp on the fore edge. Is that what he's describing, or is he putting them on the tail as well? I guess if it filled the square at the top of the foredge it would also help support the book block.

Thanks everyone for the various binding links!

#82 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:35 PM:

Scott H #52 typed:
"Throw in as many buzzwords as you feel comfortable asserting competence in."

Be careful. Not sure of the laws where you are but we had a high profile case of that ended with a jail sentence.

#83 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Lee, #59, This is the official link, if people interested in bookbinding and self-publishing want to check out the Amazon page for their recently-purchased copy of one of a very limited edition. (Several rather large images.) Some other background and detail are in the newspaper story, with links, here (you can read this while you're waiting for the other page to load if your connection is slower).

#84 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Skwid, I'm job hunting too. Got laid off Wednesday, ave severance etc. sufficient for a bit.

Last time this happened, I had a new job before the severance ran out.

Unfortunately I'm just a power user, not a programmer. But that may not be a bad thing.

#85 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Clifton @79: Have you ever tried Gnumeric? It's supposed to be a closer clone, but the Windows build isn't nearly as well supported. Just curious, but I prefer it to the OpenOffice.org spreadsheet on Linux.

#86 ::: ink cannery girl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 08:07 PM:

I want to take this open-thread opportunity to thank Serge for his comment a couple days ago in the inner-lives-of-rodents thread that linked to the Girl Genius webcomic. I have now read the whole thing, am utterly addicted, and have put the book collections atop my to-buy list. ( www.girlgeniusonline.com )

yay!

#87 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Linkmeister @ 80 ...
Fat lot of good managing a mid-sized IBM S/34 and its data entry personnel for nine years has done me.

Hmm... any idea how transferable your S/34 skills would be to the AS/400 ? I know the AS/400's theoretically the successor to the S/34, but that doesn't tell me much about how related the skillsets are.

#88 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 08:26 PM:

@52: Recruiters will begin phoning about 5m after you post.

There are still recruiters? I thought all of them moved over to be real estate salesmen.

#89 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:01 PM:

xeger, I dunno, and to be honest, I haven't done the managing systems thing in about 15 years. I should have used a different tense in my bad-tempered grouse above.

There was another aspect to job-hunting that always hurt me, too: unwillingness or inability to relocate. Hawai'i is a fairly small job market, and there weren't a whole lot of S/36 or AS/400 machines installed here when I left my last DP job. In fact, through various user organizations, I knew a lot of the people managing the ones that did exist.

No, my gripe has always been that employers looked at "data processing manager" on a resumé and focused on the DP part and not the manager part of the title. The degree was in BusAd, not IT/IS.

I've been freelancing as a researcher for about ten years and have forgotten most of my programming skills, which were all self-taught and in a dead language (RPG II).

#90 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Linkmeister @ 89 ...
xeger, I dunno, and to be honest, I haven't done the managing systems thing in about 15 years. I should have used a different tense in my bad-tempered grouse above.

How about this sort of grouse? ;)

There was another aspect to job-hunting that always hurt me, too: unwillingness or inability to relocate. Hawai'i is a fairly small job market, and there weren't a whole lot of S/36 or AS/400 machines installed here when I left my last DP job. In fact, through various user organizations, I knew a lot of the people managing the ones that did exist.

I understand - the largest concentration of organizations doing the type of work that I do/enjoy/like are assuredly not where I live, nor where I'd want to live. The advent of telecommuting as a viable option certainly hasn't hurt anything, however.

No, my gripe has always been that employers looked at "data processing manager" on a resumé and focused on the DP part and not the manager part of the title. The degree was in BusAd, not IT/IS.

Ahhh! I'd have said "Manager, Data Processing" - but that's far too much time spent dealing with organizations that make ASN.1 seem flexible and unconscious of hierarchy.

I've been freelancing as a researcher for about ten years and have forgotten most of my programming skills, which were all self-taught and in a dead language (RPG II).

Neat! Any chance you'd comment about how to do[0] freelance research?

[0] Get paid for...

#91 ::: Melissa (oddharmonic) ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Skwid @ 25: my husband went through that last year. He recommends playing up your experience with Crystal Reports and that if you have/can gain MS DBA certification you've got it made. The medical IT company where he works just hired someone with a Crystal/MSDBA mix of experience. He was very impressed with the applicant throughout the hiring process.

If you'd like a few recommendations of IT recruiting firms we'd work with again, contact me via e-mail.

#92 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:15 PM:

The demise of the card catalog is *not* sad. The online catalog has many many many benefits for library user and librarian alike.

More than one person can search the same general area -- no waiting until the guy doing a bibliography of books about George Washington finishes with that drawer.

It can be quickly, easily, and cheaply updated to fix mistakes, add new materials, enhance searching.

And about that enhanced searching -- you can have as many entry points to an item as you and your catalogers have the time, energy, and storage for. And storage is waaaaay cheaper than more card catalog cabinets and drawers. Not to mention the cost of the cards themselves.

I can acess the online catalog remotely to determine if the library has the item I need, which branch it's in, and whether it's on the shelf before I leave home.

Terminals take up lots less space than bulky catalogs and can be anywhere in the library.

No looooong waits for filing to get done.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

MKK--former cataloger

#93 ::: kyubi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:24 PM:

abi@62

It kind of goes with the hollow back/case construction and the false raised bands, I think.

#94 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:40 PM:

xeger @ #90, here's my self-marketing website, with explanations in the FAQ.

First you have to find clients, which means network with people who know people who might find your services useful. This is unquestionably the hardest part of the process. The second-hardest is getting paid on a timely basis, particularly if you work for startups. In the biotech/pharma business the startups are the ones who need this kind of service, but they're also the ones who have terrible cash flow.

It's an up-and-down business.

#95 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:43 PM:

Linkmeister, #80: Sympathies. That's one of the reasons I'm now a jewelry designer -- 15 years on S/3, S/34, S/36, got laid off and couldn't get hired for AS/400 work because it was based on the S/38 OS, which was nothing at all like the S/36 and with which I had ZERO experience. I even tried going back to school for an AS/400 certification -- which turned out not to be about the machine, but about "Programming 101 on the AS/400", which was... less than helpful, and not what I needed, which was a crash course on the operating system.

xeger, #87: Not. See above; IBM made some major OS changes from the S/36 to the S/38, and the AS/400 is successor to the latter. The system architecture and command language are completely different.

#96 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:34 PM:

skwid@25: I was last laid off 13 years ago; the placement agency my company hired said 1-pagers were uncommon. I've seen a handful of resumes (my company hasn't been hiring much for the last 6 years) and they've all been multi-page, even in the web age. Kathryn@74 makes a \good/ point on cover letters; if you have a lot of time you can tailor the resume itself, but the CL lets you match their bullets. And extending Dan@42, consider putting the whole thing in reverse-chronological, with the degree at the end; even if you don't have the mismatch I had (SWE with a degree in chemistry), it's not just history but theory -- it doesn't tell what you can \do/.

abi@33: my first reaction was it should be nitent, since the number is unclear; but I don't think I ever learned what Latin does in that case....

Xopher: agree on "ecce" (involves a 2nd party), but I thought "Eia" was noisier than "Ooo". (But not really sure, since I'm recalling it used in medieval Italian).

#97 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:16 PM:

CHip @96: Latin doesn't have unspecified number any more than English does. In practice you'd want to use "nitent" if there were multiple shiny things. As far as the interjection goes, my Oxford Latin Dictionary says that (h)eia is for various attitudes, including astonishment. It even gives the quote "Heia ut elegans est!" from Terence's Self-Tormentor. So I think "Eia, nitet!" is pretty good.

#98 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Open Thread and all...

The NZ SPCA has a Christmas CD single designed for dogs - recorded at frequencies audible to dogs but not humans.

#99 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Abi, thank you for the marvelous links! The video of the nonsense-filled bindery made me laugh, but yours looks a very nice place to visit; I now lust after purses decorated in the same styles as the à la fanfare, Jacques Anthoine-Legrain, Pierre-Lucien Martin, and Henri Creuzevault examples; and I am both fascinated and slightly appalled by Brian Dettmer's art (mostly fascinated, but still...those are BOOKS!).

Thanks also to Debbie @ 19 for the video on marbling--I just wish I could have examples of the finished products!

Like Xopher, I'm a period-space-space typer. The "single space after the period" development irks the bejeebus out of me: there's not enough white space to nicely delineate the beginning of a new sentence.

JESR @ 71--As long as you have a sturdy but decorative hook screwed into the ceiling's equivalent of a stud (a joist? I dunno...), and a hook-and-four-straight-wires version of a hanger for plants in plastic pots, you can hang a small live tree from the ceiling. My mom and I did so for many years, as a means of thwarting the lummox dog (who nearly knocked down the tree to see out the corner window behind it) and the climb-the-trunk, bat-off-the-ornaments cats.

It worked well, not only in those capacities but to enable the stringing of lights and tinsel garland--just spin the tree one direction, then the other! (Slowly, of course.)

#100 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:04 AM:

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.

#101 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Bill Moyers is interviewing Keith Olbermann on his Friday-evening show.

Might be in some web archive or other.

#102 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Re the dog-only CD: does the CD audio format really support that, and if so, why? It's been a long time since I really knew this stuff, but if memory serves, if we ignore harmonics[1], accurate reproduction of frequency X requires sampling of 2X. CD audio is sampled at 44.1 kiloherz, allowing accurate reproduction up to 22.05 kiloherz. Humans vary, of course, but Wikipedia suggests that 20hz-20khz is a reasonable rule of thumb for what "humans can hear", with young people in particular able to hear somewhat above that range.[2]

That only leaves the range 20khz-22khz usable for doggie music. A full frequency doubling is required for an octave; I'm not sure how to figure out how much of an octive that gives, but it can't be much, maybe not even a full note.

So...am I missing something fundamental here, or are doggies not going to be getting much out of these CDs either?

[1] and that simplification may be where I go off the rails
[2] I used to be able to hear when a computer monitor was powered on but not getting a signal; I no longer can. Do new ones not make sound or is that another sign I'm getting old?

#103 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:39 AM:

ink cannery girl @ 86: "One of US, One of US..."

As a fellow heterodynaholic, I send my sympathy (and, of course, sinister laughter).

#104 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:51 AM:

I do a touch of bookbinding myself, ever since I took a class from this brilliant fellow at Evergreen. Coptic stitch and sewn-on-cord -- I haven't the patience or space to make many covered spines.

It may very well be addable to the list of 'things which people interested in Making Light are often also interested in.'

Yangzhou has a block printing museum which I'm going to be taking some students to see -- maybe next weekend, or in any event whenever I've got this kitten in good enough shape to rehome.

#105 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:52 AM:

Todd @102: Sounds (hee) odd to me too. Mastering equipment can often record at 96 or 192 kHz these days, so It's certainly possible to record and playback (assuming appropriate mic and speakers) sounds well above human hearing. But people mostly do that to avoid artefacts in the harmonics when the sound is manipulated digitally. As you say, on a CD it's downsampled to 44.1 kHz.

Google (and dog whistles) suggest dogs can hear up to around 44 kHz, so above CD (and normal stereo amplifier) frequencies. Maybe dogs can just pay attention to noises above 14 kHz, which we mostly hear mostly as timbre anyway.

Pretty much all CRTs do whine in my experience, but it's much less common for the newer LCDs to do so. (The LCD itself is silent, but they usually have a florescent backlight that isn't.) Also, nowadays CRTs are often driven at higher resolution, which raises the frequency of the whine and makes it harder to hear, I think.

#106 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Todd Larason @102:: I can, in my early-mid 40s, still hear CRT flyback transformers. LCDs don't work the same way, but I can sometimes hear them if something's going wrong with the backlight (normally it's far outside human hearing range).

Also, older LCD monitors could behave "interestingly" with an out-of-range or absent/floating signal, but modern ones (mostly) detect that early and put the display into low-power mode or substitute an internally generated signal.

#107 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:58 AM:

Lee @ #95, I knew there were other people in my shoes!

The last DP job I had was at a major Waikiki hotel. I left it in 1993, when they were still running two S/36s, one for front-office and one for back.

#108 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Todd Larason @ 102: That only leaves the range 20khz-22khz usable for doggie music.

Not even that, really, since you only get all the way up to Nyquist if you have infinitely steep filters, which we don't. (That's why DVD-A, running at 96kHz or 192kHz, sounds better* than CD--not because people can hear frequencies up to 96k, but because the designers can use better-sounding filters.)

My guess is that the CDs have tones in the upper half-octave at a fairly low level, which is going to be hard for humans to hear (maybe impossible in a noisy environment, or if the humans went to too many punk shows in their youth the way I did), but easy for the dogs.

I sure hope they come with warnings not to play them too loud...

*In principle. Implementation counts.

#109 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:33 AM:

Syd, #99 (and several others): I seem to be alone among my age-group in strongly preferring the single-space style. But then, I never had typing in school; back then (early 70s), it was being strongly suggested that women who wanted careers NOT learn how to type, because that would condemn you to the secretarial pool no matter what your other qualifications might be. I do recall being told, at some point or other, to put two spaces after a period, but it made no sense to me and so didn't stick. My typing skills came about because of a programming position that involved typing text to be printed, and space was at a premium (monospace font), so adding extraneous spaces was frowned on there as well. If I copy-and-paste something and happen to notice that it has extra spaces after the periods, I'll take the time to edit them out; they don't look right and never will.

#110 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:34 AM:

Level -1: See Bruce puke. Oh no! Bad dog, Spot, bad dog!

#111 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 02:06 AM:

I took typing class in the Seventies, learned to type two spaces after periods and colons, worked as a secretary for several years typing that way, and... I think it looks like ass. I decided one day not to do it any more, and after a week or so, I rarely did.

#112 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:29 AM:

Mary Kay @92:
The demise of the card catalog is *not* sad. The online catalog has many many many benefits for library user and librarian alike.

Since I work in the library catalog search software world, I don't see the demise of the card catalog as being entirely sad. I think there are insanely neat things you can do with an online catalog.

But I am also nostalgic for the physical presence of the card catalog. When I was at UC Berkeley, I took a Library Science course because I wanted to get a stack pass*. One day the instructor mentioned that there were still a few handwritten cards in the drawers, and I decided to find one. I spent several hours looking up books that I thought might be obscure enough that they had not been replaced since the advent of the typewriter. And I found one.

I still recall everything that was in my field of vision when I saw it (for a mid-19th century translation of the Argonautica). I even remember the color of shirt I was wearing (olive green).

Much as I love online catalogs, that experience is irreplaceable.

-----
* If anyone doesn't understand the appeal of spending time in the stacks, I cannot possibly explain it. It's like jazz; if you have to ask, you won't understand the answer.

#113 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:49 AM:

Ralph @81:

You do some lovely work. I'm almost embarrassed to link to my sites. I think it's obvious how much you've benefitted by real instruction, no matter how much fun I've had figuring things out from books.

What does he mean about "the...top board may be cushioned"?

It means chamfered, in this context. A lot of fine bindings will take the right angles off of the edges of the boards to increase the appearance of delicacy.

And I'd only heard of a yapp on the fore edge. Is that what he's describing, or is he putting them on the tail as well?

I'd never heard of just putting one on the fore edge. I'm fairly sure he meant all around.

You can see some of his, and his son Stuart's work in the [British] Society of Bookbinders gallery pages. (Actually, those pages are have lots beautiful bindings, organized by binder. The Events > Bookbinding Competition pages are also full of amazing work*).

My question on concave spine books has always been what the fore edge of the text block looks like. I don't like the thought of a convex text block.

-----
* mutter mutter frames no deeplinking mutter mutter

#114 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 05:12 AM:

Tim May @76

I meant to link to this page about types of Chinese bookbinding found in the Dunhuang caves on one of Abi's earlier bookbinding threads, but I don't think I ever did.

Eia, nitet!*

Incidentally, does anyone know if it has ever, anwhere, been a common practice to bind books with the spine horizontal rather than vertical in the field of view of the reader? I.e., such that one turns the pages from bottom to top rather than from right to left (or vice versa)? And does that orientation have obvious disadvantages, or did things just happen to work out this way?

In Western bookbinding, which is derivative of the horizontal scroll format, there has never been a tradition of top-binding until the advent of the stenographer's notebook.

In Japanese bookbinding, certain book types (account books**, primarily) appear to have been bound across a short edge, but even there, they appear to have been used with the spine perpendicular to the reader/writer. This book has one photo of a receipt book (hantori cho) that looks like it was used like a steno notebook, but the text isn't clear either way.

-----
* singular in reference to the link, or to the webpage, or to the collection of items
** which were traditionally bound by professional ledger binders, rather than bookbinders.

#115 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:18 AM:

abi @ 113, start here to get deep links to the Society's competition pages. What browser do you use? Most or all of them have ways to let you find that, but they're different enough and it's late enough I don't think I could write general instructions.

#116 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:25 AM:

abi @112 -- If anyone doesn't understand the appeal of spending time in the stacks, I cannot possibly explain it. It's like jazz; if you have to ask, you won't understand the answer.

Oh, I understand that very well! In grad school at Undue Perversity P.U., I spent many an hour exploring. It was there I found Merrill Moore's "Clinical Sonnets"*, a number of pages of which I photocopied. But I am equally happy for the advance of electronic cataloguing and online used-book-selling, which led me to Alibris, where I can find said book.

*illustrated by Edward Gorey, no less!

#117 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 07:33 AM:

Not infrequently, where I work, we'll get presentations to print out that are in landscape orientation. (PowerPoint seems to encourage this.) Since most bindings we have are designed to go on the 11" edge of the paper, the presentations get bound on top. If they're printed double-sided, the back sides get rotated 180 degrees from the front, so that you can read a double-page spread without having to turn the book -- this is called "military flip" (opp. "top-to-top").

#118 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:39 AM:

Florescent Cat

The making of the GoshWowOhBoyOhBoy Bible, otherwise known as St. John's Bible. This is the first completely hand-lettered on vellum, gold-leaf illuminated Bible to have been made in over 500 years. 24 1/2" x 15 3/4", 9 years, New Standard Revised Version, over a million dollars, commissioned by Benedictine monks in Minnesota, and utterly gorgeous. I recommend getting the book--the website doesn't have nearly enough images from it, especially of the calligraphy.

Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky, who's spent his adult life rescuing Yiddish books. Jewish history is sadder, funnier, and weirder than I knew.

And an employment question....I know a CPA who would like to work for a company which is law-abiding and honest. I don't know how much of this is conscientiousness and how much is irrational pickyness, but I've brought up the possibility of looking for a company with the desired traits, and gotten told that it just isn't feasible--you pretty much have to take the jobs that are available. Are things really that much a matter of luck?

#119 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @118 - Law-abiding is easy, because criminal prosecutions or regulatory infractions are usually public record. Honest is more of a value judgement, but most of the places I've worked seemed fair.

Every year Fortune published their list of the 100
best companies to work for. That would be a start.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 09:13 AM:

ink cannery girl @ 86... You're welcome.
heresiarch @ 103... BWAHAHAHAH!!!

#121 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 09:29 AM:

Nancy @118:
Technical note: when putting URLs into an <a href... tag, be sure to start with the http://. If you just start with www, the blogging software tries to find it as a relative reference on Making Light (in other words, sticks a http://www.nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/ onto the front of the URL.

I've fixed them.

#122 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Open thread linkiness:

Inspired by the incident of Mitt Romney's favourite novel, the New York Times suggests two sf books to each Presidential hopeful: one that reflects the way he (or she) wants to be seen, and one that seems appropriate from a more objective viewpoint.

I particularly like the latter suggestion for Giuliani: “The War of the Worlds,” by H. G. Wells: During a cataclysmically destructive event, an observant bystander happens to be in the right place at the right time and thereafter never stops talking about it.

The synergy between the two books suggested for McCain is also nice.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 10:02 AM:

Every Christmas Turner Classic Movies airs a montage of movie-related people who died that year. They just showed the one for 2007. Always sad to think of all those who are gone even though they still 'live' thru their films.

#124 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Nancy Leibovitz (#118) -- you beat me to a link for the Fluorescent Cat! But I'm just glad others can see it now. They showed it on some TV news shows yesterday, and I was gobsmacked. (From way upthread, I see there's a glowing mouse to go with it. Scientists are having way too much fun these days.)

#125 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Paul A @122:
Wow...that gives me the idea for a parlor game.

But we've had two in short order. I'll save it for a little while, develop it further.

#126 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Serge #123: The other day I was listening to Johnny Cash, and was struck in a way I never had been before by how weird it was that I was hearing this dead guy's voice singing so powerfully.

#127 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #118: The making of the GoshWowOhBoyOhBoy Bible, otherwise known as St. John's Bible. This is the first completely hand-lettered on vellum, gold-leaf illuminated Bible to have been made in over 500 years.

No freaking way would I ever pay $115,000 for a bible, nor $695 or $595 ("genuine" vs. "bonded" leather for the reduced size editions). That's ludicrously expensive. I suppose a wealthy performance artist could make a run at the Turner Prize by doing something unspeakable to a copy of the $115,000 "heritage" edition; that would be newsworthy.

#128 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:08 PM:

ab1 @ #114

Thanks for the information*. That's pretty much what I thought, about the western tradition, & it does does make sense that if you started making codices by folding up horizontal scrolls, you'd end up with vertical spines by default. Which I suppose raises the question of whether anyone ever used vertical scrolls much. I guess the Chinese had horizontal scrolls because that was how the bamboo-slat books went... perhaps if they'd developed a script written in rows rather than columns, they'd have used horizontal slats, vertical scrolls and top-bound codices.

In Japanese bookbinding, certain book types (account books, primarily) appear to have been bound across a short edge, but even there, they appear to have been used with the spine perpendicular to the reader/writer. This book has one photo of a receipt book (hantori cho) that looks like it was used like a steno notebook, but the text isn't clear either way.

Very interesting. I remember finding something about Japanese bookbinding on the web once... ah, here it is: Japanese Bookbinding (link goes to the page which includes the ledgers). Certainly the characters on the covers are oriented with the spine at the top, but there isn't any information about the orientation inside. They look to me as if they might be hung up by that tassel, which would be a reason for the cover to orient that way even if the pages didn't.

Interestingly, I have a modern perfect-bound Japanese children's kanji workbook arranged on the same kind of pattern: bound across the shorter edge, cover art oriented with the spine at the top, internal text oriented with the pages turning left to right. I hadn't thought of it in terms of historical continuity until today.

* And for the term "top-bound". It's difficult to talk about this kind of thing concisely and unambiguously when one lacks technical vocabulary.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:29 PM:

ethan @ 126... This goes to show that our world is full of wonders.

#130 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Thank you all for your great comments on résumés and job-hunting in general. I'll try and address some of the specific comments later; right now I've got to go get my costume ready to Rampage!

Any of you New Yorkers see the Santacon last Saturday? Or if you're bored tonight and live in one of these cities, you should see if you can get involved at the last minute: Atlanta, Baltimore, Bangkok, Calgary, Detroit, Dallas (obviously), Helsinki, Indianapolis, London, Nashville, New Orleans, Ottawa, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, or Wilmington.

#131 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:40 PM:

About Dennis Kucinich and his UFO sighting:
I'd like to direct your attention to this photo* which is of lensatic clouds over the peak of Mt. Rainier at approximately the angle of Shirley McClaine's Washington property. When Kucinich finally said where he saw the "UFO" everything clicked into place.

Although UFOs likely have been spotted since biblical times, the first major reports started on June 24, 1947 when Pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted nine disk shaped objects near Mt. Rainier, Washington. (from http://www.ufosnw.com/history.htm).

My husband from Texas via LA, was sure he was seeing a fleet of flying saucers the first time he saw The Mountain the day before a low pressure front roll in; he still jokes that if there are flying saucers they use lensatic fleets at Mt. Rainier as camoflague. Visitors from the midwest often refuse to "read" the Cascade volcanoes as mountains, prefering to see them as misshapen storm clouds; seeing lensatic clouds as flying saucers is just another way that mental sets determine perception.

(Indulge me my pedantry; my brain is made of old oatmeal, these days).

*Which made it on to the net labeled Mt. St. Helens. Believe me in this: it is The Mountain. It looks no more like St. Helens than Grand Coulee Dam looks like the Space Needle.

#132 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Tim May @128:
The Japanese Bookbinding book I have has a picture of an opened account book (Daifuko cho), which clearly indicates that it was used with the spine perpendicular to the writer.

According to the author (Kojiro Ikegami), the tassels at the top had a specific purpose.

Completed ledgers were often strung together and tied with a long cord so that in case of fire -- a common occurrence in crowded Japanese towns -- they could be flung into a nearby well and later retrieved without damage to either paper or ink.

#133 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Paul@122,

GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States, Should tell reporters he’s read “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card: A gifted child from a privileged family defeats a race of inhuman warriors without ever having to leave the comfort of his war-simulator machine.

bwhahhahawhaahwhbwaw!

#134 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 02:21 PM:

JESR #131

Mount Shasta, in far Northern California, is known for its lenticular clouds.

But of course those aren't clouds, they are the ships of the Lemurian people-- the earlier race of Mankind who once lived in lost Atlantis-- as they travel from power-point to power-point (the intersection of power-lines) across the earth. The great city within hollow Shasta can also be reached via the wormhole inside the uncountable depths of nearby Castle Lake, a lake also known as the control lake for the UC Davis scientists studying Lake Tahoe, an unbelieving group who claim Castle is only 400 feet deep and 10,000 years old, a mere product of the last ice age.

I've been told.

#135 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 02:49 PM:

ethan #126: I know what you mean.

#136 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 134... Are we supposed to believe that Shasta's nearby undergound tunnels are really lava tubes? Lava tubes. Suuuure.

#137 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Serge #129, Fragano #135: On that occasion I was torn between being creeped out and thinking it was a lot like necromancy, and being thrilled that it was possible and thankful that I live when I do.

Kathryn #134: Isn't Mount Shasta one of the places that allow access to the Earth's hollow interior, and the paradise therein?

#138 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:36 PM:

etna @ 137... thrilled that it was possible and thankful that I live when I do

And you have access to these necromancy-like feats without having to sell your soul to Santa. As for Earth's hollow interior, and the paradise therein, you've never seen the movie At The Earth's Core, obviously. It reveals the little-known truth that Earth's interior is not a paradise, but a hell ruled by cheesy rubbery pterodactyls.

#139 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:42 PM:

etna

I see what you did there!

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:48 PM:

ethan @ 139... How appropriate, if only completely accidental.

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:56 PM:

Serge is right, æthan. Mahars are not overlords anyone would welcome, even on The Simpsons.

#142 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, I suspect that there are inumberable mysteries up and down the Cascade cordillera, else there would be fewer hidden mountains within it.

One of my favorite memories is taking the Coast Starlight north from the Bay Area on a day when a freight line worker had "accidentally" locked it on a siding and gone home for the night, making it run eight hours late. Instead of going through Dunsmuir in the dead of night we passed through the Shasta area in broad daylight. I'd seen Shasta from I-5 before, but never that close up. The tracks run through a lava field which I want to examine close up some day.

#143 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Re #122: MIKE HUCKABEE [..] Might also consider reading “A Sound of Thunder,” by Ray Bradbury: A clumsy milquetoast with a shaky grasp of science goes hunting for dinosaurs and ruins the future for everybody.

IIRC, stepping on the butterfly in the past swung the results of an election in the present, so that the more belligerent, unstable candidate became President.

I had been wondering how many stories you could put together that would have an election as a major plot point. The Eighty Minute Hour by Brian Aldiss for one. There had been a short story I recall (but cannot recall author or title) where a pair of scientists shift themselves into a parallel universe where 'the Judge' wins the election against a militant fascist, only to find that in this universe the Judge is a militant fascist (I don't think I would be able to find this in the box library in the attic; I'm pretty sure I sold the book I read the story in years ago).

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:26 PM:

ethan #137: That's about my mix of feelings too.

#146 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:36 PM:

One of the scans of endpapers hit me right in the nostalgia plexus: this one from a 1954 Tom Swift, Jr. book. I remember that image!

http://drawger.com/show.php?show_id=27&image_id=926


#147 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Skwid @130,

One of the reasons I love San Francisco is the history of Santacons. The third year was when 40 Santas flew to Portland to join the festivities there. 40 on one flight.

#148 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Todd Larason #102:
According to the website, it's recorded at the highest frequencies the technology allows for CDs (NB: I'm no expert).

Tim Walters #108:
I bought a copy for a 'Secret Santa' present and yes, it comes with a warning to not play at excessive volumes.

Local TV & radio have been testing it on canines of various sorts & some anecdotal evidence suggests that dogs can hear and respond to it. For all I know, it's a whole CD's worth of actual silence, but it's for a good cause.

#149 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Paul, #122: That pair of selections for Huckabee? Oh, SNAP!

ethan, #126: Sometimes technology gives strange epiphanies. One of mine was back in 1998, looking at the pictures from Mars online. I thought I was accustomed to my computer being a "window on the world" -- but to have it suddenly be a window onto another world was just plain awe-inspiring.

Greg, #133: Perhaps more importantly... at a critical juncture in his training, he CHEATS. I strongly suspect that the choice of Ender's Game for Bush was made with the assumption that the people who have read the book would also make that connection.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Lee... Ethan.. Fragano...

xkcd on the modern world. I know how that feels, in spite of Dubya.

#151 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Just saw "I Am Legend."

Overall, very good. Will Smith does an excellent job playing The Last Man On Earth; the dog actor is splendid as well. Manhattan is very credibly deserted and grown over.

Caveat: A wrenching story . . . traumatic at times.

Missing: The whole notion that the lead character is viewed as a fearsome anti-vampire by the sickly night-dwelling survivors.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 05:39 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 151.. Someone had said that "I Am Legend" has more to do with "Omega Man" than with Matheson's novel. That's also the impression I get from your comment about what is missing from the new version.

#153 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 05:44 PM:

shadowsong @ 61: while fresh ginger and orange peel will probably dry reasonably well on their own, in the sachets, without molding or mildewing and thus spoiling the other ingredients, it is a non-zero risk. You could try drying them beforehand in a low oven, but for a real treat, you might also consider candying them.

Did you want instructions? I'd have to look them up, and while Joy of Cooking probably has useful ones, my pro baking textbook, which I KNOW does, is at work right now.

#154 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:00 PM:

abi @113: You're very kind. Your own site has been of great help and inspiration when I was trying to figure things out. At the time there was hardly anything on the web. Fortunately there seems to be more and more now. Maybe there's a renaissance going on?

A lot of fine bindings will take the right angles off of the edges of the boards to increase the appearance of delicacy.

Ok, thanks for explaining. I've done that before; I just thought it was to reduce the strain on the leather.

The first I'd heard of a Yapp edge was in a class Dominic Riley taught this year in Seattle. We did a limp vellum binding, where we just folded the cover over the fore edge.

My question on concave spine books has always been what the fore edge of the text block looks like.

I've not found any pictures. One could trim them flat after backing, but that might also look a little strange. Especially if you didn't take it into account in the imposition. (I did this once by mistake. It doesn't look strange on the self given how most contemporary books are flat, but it does look slightly off as you flip through.) I don't see you you could ever get a concave fore edge with a concave spine. Maybe clamp it really hard and go at it with a chisel?

Thanks for the SOB links. Amazing stuff!

#155 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Serge #150: I love that xkcd, because I totally do exactly that same thing. I'm astounded that we're about to enter the ninth year of the future (I don't care what the alt-text says, we entered the future the moment the first digit of the year changed to a 2).

#156 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:18 PM:

ethan @ 155... That's how I determine the century's beginning too. Remember those innocents days when many conversations were about the century's starting minute, and what the first decade would be called? Then Dubya happened and nobody cared about that anymore. I almost find myself waxing nostalgic for Y2K.

#157 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Serge @150, nahte @155,

Me too. And about that fluorescent cat- it isn't just a fluorescent cat- it's a fluorescent cloned cat. As soon as I saw it, I knew it had to become one of my precious user icons (one only gets 15, so it can be a big decision).

We've been looking at haze in the atmosphere of a hot Jupiter planet 63 light years away. 21st century moments, yay.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 157... Another 21st Century moment would be early teens with cell phones, who probably think of the years when one wasn't connected all the time as primitive.

#159 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 07:14 PM:

#127 ::: Earl Cooley III

The seven volumes seem to cost about $40 each at amazon, but that's still $420 for the set, which is pretty steep.

As far as I can tell, the St. John's Bible is of more interest as art than as religion, though one of the purposes of it is to encourage contemplative reading, and I think it would work for that.

If you just want a good solid dose of "Ooooh, Shiny!", Illuminating the Word is officially $40, but I found a $20 copy online.

#160 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Serge #150: Indeed!

I keep waiting for the regular PanAm flight to the moon.

#161 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:00 PM:

I heard an interesting Flamer Bingo term of art today: "whore account", which is a sockpuppet that gets passed around from troll to troll, in online venues where the trolls are self-aware enough to have a sense of community among themselves. Although, as always, use of such accounts is subject to analysis for traffic and word usage patterns, it has the strategic advantage of not silencing any particular troll if the account happens to be deleted by a moderator.

#162 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Surely Giuliani should have had "Cities in Flight" by James Blish as one of his? "The Italian-American Mayor of New York uses cunning strategy, deception and violence to pilot Manhattan through a dangerous universe, and ends up becoming God".

As for UK politics, the Labour Party came up with the slogan "Not flash, just Gordon" after Brown took office; it is a damn shame that the Lib Dems didn't respond by describing their then-leader, Menzies Campbell, as "Not merciless, just Ming".

I think Mr Langford pointed out that Osama bin Laden might have been inspired by the Foundation series: a genius sets up a dedicated order on a remote planet in order to rule the galaxy after the inevitable collapse of the decadent Empire, and communicates with them by regular posthumous video recordings... (also al-Qaeda means "the base". Or "the Foundation"?)

#163 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@159: How is that $420 and not $280?

Rob Rusick@143: First Lensman, by Doc Smith. "Franchise", by Isaac Asimov. Probably Double Star, and if memory serves me right Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad.

#164 ::: Manny Olds ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:49 PM:

Government drone here...

The government has a $intensifier LOT of rules for handling job apps. I just had to be on the team to score a stack of applications and to do the interviews, so I am happy to turn my pain into good for someone.

For the US govermnent, a one-page resume would not meet the minimum requirements. If you look at the position announcement, it describes the position, lists some education/experience requirements, and then lists "KSAs", knowledge/skill/ability requirements. A lot of applicants seem not to grasp that these are the heart of it. You have to address--in specific detail--how you meet each and every one of these KSA requirements.

Each KSA point is scored separately, so if something you wrote in #2 is also applicable in your response for KSA #4--repeat it.

It is also very important to explain much mojo of each KSA you have. (NB: "Mojo" is not a government term.) How independently did you act when you did things related to the KSA? How wide was the scope of your action? How broad was the effect? Did you make recommendations or decisions? Did you develop new things or figure out how to apply old things? All these go into the grade you get for how well you meet the KSA.

Another tip: the graders are not allowed to infer. If you say you did A and C, the graders are not allowed to assume you passed through B en route. If it's not in your package explicitly, it doesn't exist.

Also, it's useful to know that http://www.usajobs.gov/ is a database of all federal job postings, in all parts of the country. You can even set up agents to mail you new postings that meet your criteria and apply on line through the site. It fails to suck.

#165 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:54 PM:

I ended up double ordering some books from SFBC recently: Postsingular, Halting State, and Axis. If you'd like one or two or all three of them, please email me (ohdawnoATgmailDotcom)and I'd be thrilled to send them to a good home.

#166 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:17 AM:

re:165 Dawno, I've just sent you an email.
mark

#167 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Totally off whatever topic we're on, but since this is an open thread I figure it's okay: I finally decided that I want to learn more about the Mormons, and I'm about to read Fawn Brodie's biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History, which I am told is still the definitive biography. I've been influenced in this decision by some of the commentary I've read here, by what I've heard elsewhere, and of course by the current political situation.

Books I've read in which the LDS church figures prominently are Under the Banner of Heaven and a book by Martha Beck called Leaving the Saints. (She writes well but boy, does she have issues. Talk about an untrustworthy narrator...)

Comments and suggestions gladly considered.

#168 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:36 AM:

One more extra book to add (I'm cleaning up my office and it's amazing what one finds if one just gets around to sorting through the piles). Apparently I bought two copies of Stephen Baxter's Emperor as well - and neither were book club editions. Same offer, just send me an email if you'd like it.

Oh, I didn't mention this - but all four are hardbacks.

#169 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Sorry for the serial post - Halting State has been spoken for. BTW, I'm not trying to sell these - they're free (including shipping).

#170 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:50 AM:

Crap. Now I'll be delving into genetics and glowies all night.
I blame ML for my obsessions.

#171 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Paul A., #122, Itzkoff misses the obvious connection between Romney and Battlefield Earth. He can't be that dumb; think he's on Romney's side?

JESR, #145, from my college dining hall (Seattle Pacific), we could look one way and see the sound and the other way and see Rainier.

#172 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Manny, thanks for explicatig that. I have filled out one such application, probably inadequately.

And usajobs.com is way better than even a lot of the corporate, expensive Web job-hunting sites.

Getting more expensive quickly. Job hunting will be my full-time job starting Monday (I have severance, sufficient until mid-March but no insurance once the new year starts. I have my meds refilled until then too).

#173 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:15 AM:

Marilee, I suspect that I'm fast approaching the day when I'll be able to see the Cascades and Olympics from the pasture, since all that's blocking my view of the Olympics now is a few tall doug firs on property that could be subdivided.

I have mixed feelings about the possibility.

#174 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Free book update: Axis has now been spoken for as well.

#175 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:45 AM:

Speaking of fluorescent mammals... What's next? A clone army of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?

#176 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 02:31 AM:

John @146: Wow. Now that you mention it, I remember that one too. Read some of the series at my grandparents house; I think they were my father's when he was a kid.

Very rocketpunk, that image.

#177 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 03:06 AM:

David Goldfarb #163 (re Nancy Lebovitz@159): How is that $420 and not $280?

By the way, the prices I refer to in my #127 ($115000, $695 and $595) were for various editions available directly from the publisher's website, and not Amazon prices.

#178 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 03:56 AM:

Tim May said:
Incidentally, does anyone know if it has ever, anwhere, been a common practice to bind books with the spine horizontal rather than vertical in the field of view of the reader? I.e., such that one turns the pages from bottom to top rather than from right to left (or vice versa)? And does that orientation have obvious disadvantages, or did things just happen to work out this way?

I took "Vocational Typewriting" classes in high school, during the 70s, double-spaces after full-stops, etc, and all. All of the workbooks we had to use (with titles like "Practical Secretarial Typewriting"), from the good people at McGraw-Hill, were bound across the top. I've never come across that kind of binding in books anywhere since.

The curious thing about these books was that you read down the first page, flipped it upwards, and the next page was printed on its back, upside-down, so that you could read a two-page spread from top to bottom. It was a useful way to arrange pages when you had to copy, say, a long legal document, etc.

#179 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 07:52 AM:

David Goldfarb #163:

Oops on the price--no doubt a combination of arithmetic error and pessimism about the cost.

#177 ::: Earl Cooley III:

Why give the publisher prices rather than what a lot of people are likely to pay?

#180 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 08:02 AM:

David Goldfarb @163 [..] "Franchise", by Isaac Asimov.

I was describing an Asimov story to someone recently, and that is probably the one! In brief: computers are used to find the most representative voter in the country, who is then asked a series of questions. Based on his answers, the outcome of the election is calculated; the ultimate winner remains unknown even to the 'voter', until the results are announced.

<joke>I suppose the bad news would be that the computers were built by Diebold.</joke>

#181 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:50 AM:

In Solar Lottery, Philip K. Dick imagined a future where election outcomes were determined by polls and surveys. Their techniques had become so accurate, using sample groups that were becoming smaller and smaller that, by the beginning of the novel, the outcome of the election could be determined by one single person.

I read the novel more than 30 years ago, but I seem to remember that the story didn't live up to its premise's promise, with the Voter winding up hiding somewhere near Pluto. And there might have been aliens waiting once he got there.

#182 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 10:34 AM:

There's an election in The Probability Broach. I csn't remember whether there was an election in The Rainbow Cadenza, but sexual orientaion was an explicit part of how the government was organized.

#183 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Dave@163: Double Star definitely -- it has a detailed description of a campaign and election. I don't recall one in BJB -- maybe just the sense that politics is involved

Nancy@182: I don't recall an election in The Probability Broach; one of points of that book is that they don't have elections. IIRC, the "Congress" involves anyone willing to show up with tags indicating the number of people willing to delegate to the critter at that moment. (There may be some foofaraw about how the chair is elected, but that's still in-camera.)

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 11:02 AM:

I seem to remember a short story where a wing-nut politician, disgusted with the undue influence of liberal areas of the land, somehow manages to get the country to change the voting system: one single part of the country, one representative of the electorate, will get to vote. Can you imagine his horror upon the Bay Area's voters being chosen to decide the fate of the country?

#185 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 11:42 AM:

How many of you have seen Eisenstein's October, sometimes known as Ten Days That Shook The World

After various title-cards, the opening shot is of a statue of Alexander III. There's a brief scene of a running crowd, and then the imagery is of men climing the statue, using ladders and ropes, and preparing to topple it.

Sound familiar?

So, way back when the Republican invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam, they seem to have pretty deliberately emulated Soviet propaganda. True, Eisenstein's imagery is so powerful that it has been influencing revolutionaries ever since the film was released. It's one of those essential narrative memes.

And isn't spooky to see that communist propaganda and to recall it being recreated by the US Army.

#186 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:03 PM:

#183 ::: CHip:

You're right--it's a campaign with voting, but not an election.

#187 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:49 PM:

One of Neal Stephenson's pseudonymous collaborations involves a presidential campaign in a near-future US. Ah, here we go, "Interface" originally published as by "Stephen Bury".

John Dalmas' "The General's President" may have included an election; I can't remember for sure if the title character came to power via the normal route or not.

The election is off-camera, but one of the early Vorkosigan books has repeated mentions of an election on Beta colony where nobody will admit to having voted for the winner; I've never been sure whether to interpret that to mean that the winner's popularity has decreased significantly since the election, or that the election was rigged, or simply that Our Heroes move in minority-opinion circles.

#188 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:54 PM:

Following up on the sidelight about China, here are a couple of photos of magazine racks in the public library of Wuxi, taken in March, 2003. I managed to remember to pick up a humor magazine and a modest pile of used comics while we were over there. Afterward, I realized I should have bought three times as many of the comics, but that's hindsight for you.

#189 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Todd @ 187

I took it to mean the first or the last of the three (possibly both at once), but that was before this crowd was in office.

#190 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 02:56 PM:

While checking out the Washington Post Book World online, I discovered their new discussion blog topic: Sci-Fi for People Who Don't Think They Like Sci-Fi. Just the title is enough to annoy a lot of people here, but some fine writers *have* been mentioned by now.

I couldn't resist making my own comment, where one of the writers I touted was Jo Walton with her latest two books (from Tor). Has anyone else ignored the lousy heading and checked out that discussion?

#191 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #179: Why give the publisher prices rather than what a lot of people are likely to pay?

To ridicule the ludicrously high prices for a bible that represents money that would be better spent on the EFF or ramen noodle soup. I understand that it would be useless to attempt to affect your enthusiasm for the project, though.

#192 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Faren @ 190... I have often thought of the new version of Galactica as space opera for those who don't like science-fiction.

#193 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Serge @181: It has been quite a while since I've read Solar Lottery, but it was a confusing complex book. IIRC, everyone had a card which gave them a chance to be 'elected' in the lottery, but you could sell off your card to anyone you chose; somehow the current ruler was able to manipulate this to stay in power.

There was a short period of time after a lottery drawing where an assassination attempt was allowed; the new ruler could evade or kill the assassin. Some critic pointed out an interesting inversion in the story: the ruler was determined by random chance, and a convention was held to select his assassin.

I would think a system like that would create figurehead rulers, with the actual power residing in the institutions. But you probably can't use logic on a book like this*. I wonder if this had been one of the books PKD did on a speed-fueled writing binge.


* Again, IIRC, the elected assassin turned to be an android capable of space-flight; this is why the new ruler had been hiding out on Pluto. Oddly enough, I don't think there were any aliens in this story.

#194 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 07:36 PM:

#187

One of Neal Stephenson's pseudonymous collaborations involves a presidential campaign in a near-future US. Ah, here we go, "Interface" originally published as by "Stephen Bury".

Which reminds me of Bruce Sterling's similar* Distraction. I don't recall if an election actually takes place in the course of the novel, but the protagonist is a campaign manager or similar.

* I've not read Interface, but I've seen them compared.

#195 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 08:55 PM:

#190 ::: Faren Miller

Sci-Fi for People Who Don't Think They Like Sci-Fi.

I, for one, am in danger of turning into one of those people. Every now and then I pick up something and try to read it, and it turns out not to be as fun as it looks at first.

So the question is, where should I look in order to find stuff that is worthwhile so I don't start expecting things not to be worthwhile and quit?

#196 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:01 PM:

Bruce Baugh at #1:

Level 7, Robert Anton Wilson and Thomas Pynchon:
You know that something is majorly wrong but you don't know what it is because you don't know that you know what you know, and it's all a cover-up anyway.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:12 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 193... You remember way more than I do, but it seems to confirm what I do remember, which is that there were some neat satiric ideas in there that could have been better used.

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:36 PM:

Faren Miller@190: Sci-Fi for People Who Don't Think They Like Sci-Fi.

Hm. I looked at the recommendations in the user comments. "Ender's Game" came up numerous, numerous times. And so did "Left Hand of Darkness". Maybe I'm not actually a sci-fi person, either.

ROT13'ing the spoilers.

Ender's Game:

Gur jubyr gvzr V jnf ernqvat "Raqre'f Tnzr", V pbhyq abg trg cnfg n fvk lrne byq orvat orggre ng fgengrtvmvat aniny onggyrf guna fbzrbar jub'f npghnyyl orra va gur anil sbe gjragl lrnef be fb. Gur jubyr guvat pnzr bss nf n tvnag Tnel Fgh sbe zr. Ohg vg jba nyy fbegf bs njneqf naq nccneragyl rirelbar ryfr ybirq vg.

Left Hand of Darkness:

Yrsg Unaq bs Qnexarff qvqa'g qb vg sbe zr rvgure. Gur frpbaq gvzr gur YUbQ zragvbarq gung Trayl qvqa'g npprcg fbzr cneg bs Rfgenina, (naq tvira gung Trayl nyjnlf eryngrq gb Rfgenina nf vs Rfgenina jnf n znyr, engure guna naqebtlabhf), V thrffrq gur ovt gjvfg jnf tbvat gb or gung gurl unir frk. Gura gur raqvat jurer Rfgenina raqf hc trggvat xvyyrq sbe ab erny checbfr frrzrq n qhzo jnl gb xvyy bss fbzrbar fb erfbheprshy. V pbhyqa'g oryvrir Rfgenina jbhyq qb fbzrguvat fb cbvagyrff.

Actually, I haven't read anything lately, from any genre, that I was particularly enthralled with.

#199 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Rob, #193: Not exactly about an election, but your comment reminds me that one of the subplots in Diane Duane's The Door Into Sunset is that once a year, the ruler of Darthen must come out into the city square, unarmored, and hammer out his or her own crown from a block of pure gold; and while this is happening, any citizen with a grievance may approach and try to kill the ruler. The nobles and palace guards are forbidden to interfere, but the commoners may do so; and the attack must be made with a hand-to-hand weapon, no arrows or thrown spears allowed. It's an interesting method of measuring a leader's public reputation and effectiveness, and of course in the book someone has figured out a way to game the system and Our Heroes have to stop them.

#200 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 11:42 PM:

I put this on the old open thread and meant to put it here:

A commenter on Andy Wheeler's blog* brought up this WashPost blog post Great Sci Fi for People Who Think They Don't Like Sci Fi because the WP writer lists only fairly old books. I skimmed down the long list of comments and noticed that there are very few books by female authors listed until you get to Faren Miller's post at the bottom.

*Andy was complaining that Itzkoff's piece on SF books for presidents doesn't actually require Itzkoff to have read SF recently.

#201 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:10 AM:

I want to note that today/tomorrow is potentially the last day to stop retroactive legality for all-out warrantless domestic spying*. This is what Cory was writing about Friday in Senate set to forgive telcos for spying on Americans, and it's happening Monday Dec. 17.

As the NYTimes article shows, and G.Greenwald highlights, this has never really been about 9/11 or foreign surveillance: those were just the retroactive excuses.

Please call your congresscritter / write speeches for Dodd's fillibuster / consider donating to the EFF*.

-------
* It's a member-supported non-profit which gets results as if they were much larger than they are**. They've been fighting AT&T for nearly 2 years, and I suppose AT&T finally recognized it could only win by buying a win in Congress. Bleh.

** Yes, I'm biased- I know the people at the EFF. They're very effective and efficient, but they're limited by how much money they get in donations (and they don't have nearly as many members as some people might think).

#202 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:18 AM:

To the LJ Fluorospherii: thank you for your wonderful gift.

#203 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:40 AM:

Serge #158 . . . yes, but what do they do with all of that connectivity? I have tried to figure this out ever since the local early-teens started getting their own cell phones. What benefit do they confer that did not previously exist?

#204 ::: anatidaeling ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 02:19 AM:

Lizzy @ 167

From Housewife to Heretic by Sonia Johnson

#205 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:10 AM:

JESR @142,

And one of my favorite* memories came after a blizzard shut down I-5 and slowed the Coast Starlight so that it didn't arrive in Dunsmuir until 6am.

The stretch from Dunsmuir to Lake Shasta had places with over 3 feet of snow**. That against a brilliant blue sky made for near-numinous beauty.

* although the waiting on the empty platform*** from 3am (the original "we've been delayed but we'll get there") until 6am ("this time we really mean it") got too cold. Other people who arrived at the station at the much more realistic 5am let me stay in their car and regain sensation in my feet.

** 3 feet from the blizzard, more from before.

*** Now they have a heated waiting room. Not then.

#206 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 04:22 AM:

Having heard this was the "Book-binding" thread, I am trying to find that discussion. So far I've had no luck searching on the terms Shepherd, bondage, BDSM, Inara, domme, Serenity, Firefly;* and I want to know whether this is how Book's hair got short between the last broadcast episode and the movie, perhaps due to re-enacting the Samson scenario.

(* I did get a hit on shiny, but it wasn't related.)

#207 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:50 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 203... What benefit do they confer that did not previously exist?

I guess they get to hear the latest teenage gossip as it happens.

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:02 AM:

I had four hours of sleep last night and, provided Sue doesn't ask me to bring the kitchen sink along, we'll be hitting the road in a couple of hours and be on our way to the Bay Area. Hopefully it won't snow at Tehachapi before we stop for the night in Bakersfield. Wish us a safe trip.

#209 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:10 AM:

abi @ 114 writes: In Western bookbinding, which is derivative of the horizontal scroll format, there has never been a tradition of top-binding until the advent of the stenographer's notebook.

Children's pop-up books are the only examples I can think of.

#210 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:55 AM:

Safe trip, Serge. Ping us when you get there so we know all went well.

#211 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:11 AM:

#195: I've been struggling to find really good science fiction lately, too. (As opposed to really good fantasy, which exists in abundance.) In theory it's my favorite genre. In practice, I have a hard time finding anything exciting; I read the latest Dozois Year's Best anthology and kept quitting halfway through stories I saw no point in finishing.

Two books I actually did find worthwhile recently were Spaceman Blues by Brian Slattery and Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff. In the past year the only other science fiction books that made an impression on me were the last couple of Company books from Kage Baker, Erasing Sherlock by Kelly Hale (part of an obscure but amazingly good small press series that began as a Doctor Who spinoff) and Blindsight by Peter Watts, which I enjoyed despite an aversion to depressing books. (I'm chronically depressed, and dystopias or otherwise grim stories make me feel worse--so they have to be really, really good before I'll read more than a couple of chapters.)

(Oh, and Charles Stross's Halting State was fun, too, if not quite up to the standard of Accelerando.)

#212 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:44 AM:

I've enjoyed Alexis Glynn Latner's Hurricane Moon a lot so far, but I'm afraid it's going to morph into a romance novel any page now. heh.

#213 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:48 AM:

The return of holiday music from Fleming and John.

#214 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Safe trip, Serge. Don't take risks.

#215 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:59 AM:

@181, 193, re: Solar Lottery: Dick is quoted in the biography by Sutin as saying "van Vogt in such works as The World of Null-A wrote novels. I did not. Maybe that was it; maybe I should try a SF novel."

Looks like he said to himself after reading Null-A, "I can do this", and proceeded to do so.

#216 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Nancy #182: In the _Rainbow Cadenza_ there's an election, and this leads to people important to the plot moving around a bit. And I loved the way they'd shifted around rules regarding sexual orientation (a straight guy seen cavorting with a man was assumed to be having a good time, but a gay man seen cavorting with a woman was a scandal).

I'm curious: Have any Wiccans/pagans read the book? A big thread of the book involved something like Wicca as a very common religion, at least in the US, but I have no idea how close the book is to any reality, since I know very little about Wicca.

#217 ::: Terry (finally home again) ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:32 AM:

That was as a miserable trip.

Forget the two-hours of sleep. Forget the 0530 bus to the Nünberg airport to get a flight which left at 1100.

Forget the gal at duty free who didn't know enough to let me buy the schnapps I wanted to pick up.

Forget the fact that I hate the Frankfurt airport.

Forget that I couldn't upgrade and had 12 hours from FRA to SFO in an inside inside seat (though, to be fair, my seatmates were very nice and as such horrors go, this one wasn't too bad).

Forget that my bag was opened, by those mysterious, "supplemental" screenings people behind the scenes..

Forget all that; and accept that customs in SFO was as pleasant as customs ever gets.

Forget even that I lost a mitten from my jacket; and that it had the kinderegg I'd been hoarding since it arrived in my boot on St. Nicholas morning.

No, some bastard stole my assorted marzipans. Took it from my duty-free bag in the overhead bin.

But, I'm home. Saw some people at the party Maia hied me away to from the airport. Played come carols at meeting yesterday, did some more socialising last night (the calendar she sent me is booked, until Friday). I am, I hope, slept out and past jat-lag.

It's good to be home.

#218 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Erik Nelson (#195): So the question is, where should I look in order to find stuff that is worthwhile so I don't start expecting things not to be worthwhile and quit?

Apologies for tooting my own employer's horn, but the February 2008 Locus will have the usual Best Of lists and reviewers' comments on SF, Fantasy etc. from this year. Though at present, we're all still arguing over what will go on the list, the final version should include a lot of good stuff, and the comments will mention other personal faves.

I don't get to see much SF myself, but Jo Walton's last two do qualify as fine books. I also liked Slattery's Spaceman Blues, which Wesley mentioned above, and hope it will make one of the eventual lists.

From my own reviewerly perspective, fantasy of many kinds is where things are really "happening" at present. Not to knock SF, though, for it certainly hasn't lost its relevance as we've moved into another century.... (Etc., etc., and I'll cut the blather now!)

#219 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 12:06 PM:

On my list of weirdness - just had somebody[0] come door-to-door, promoting their self-published book...

[0] Unknown to me...

#220 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 12:27 PM:

xeger: Yes, it was How to Get Your Book Sold, and selling it yourself door-to-door was step #4, right after hiring an agent (out of your own pocket), paying a Scottish ghost-writer (who will plagiarize someone else's work), and of course paying for all the actual publication itself.

Self-Determination. It's the American Way.

#221 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Terry, that is a miserable trip indeed. Welcome back.

#222 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Terry, welcome home. Damn them all, especially the dirty bastard who stole your marzipans. I hope s/he chokes on 'em.

#223 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:00 PM:

The discussion of bookbinding spines' relative orientation is making me wonder whether a flexagonal format would be plausible-- the article does seem to indicate that the tetraflexagons preserve some consistent textual directionality, whereas the only versions I've ever played with in person have been the hexaflexagons (which I keep thinking would make for a really nifty pillow or scarf or something).

#224 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, at 205 and *** therein, mentions unheated train stops: the worst one, ever, was the East Olympia Amtrak stop, which was a three-sided shed built largely of recycled railroad ties, facing into the prevailing winds, an unwalkable distance from anywhere useful. It was replaced in 1994 by the Centennial Station built with donated funds, staffed by railroad buffs, which is right up there with Emeryville for modern comforts and public transportation service.

My daytime trip past Shasta was in mid-May, and very different from yours; wish we could swap memory-files so that we could know both extremes, but I get hung up describing the jackrabbit I saw at dawn that day, flying along even with the train beneath a broad rainbow at the last flat before entering the foothills.

#225 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Senator Lieberman endorses Senator McCain, presumably for the Republican nomination, though Lieberman is not a Republican. How peculiar.

#226 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Bill 225: Lieberman is not a Republican. How peculiar.

Indeed, that's the only thing I don't understand about Lieberman.

#227 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Serge @ 207 . . . Wow. I may be a member of the last generation ever to be cautioned against wallowing in gossip.

I would also find the little thing dingalinging in my ear or buzzing in my pocket all the time incredibly annoying. I would have had to confess to my mother that I had gotten sick of the stupid thing and flung it out of the bus.

#228 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Terry #217: Welcome back. That was an awful trip. I hope whoever stole your marzipan discovers that they're allergic.

#229 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Jenny Islander @203, the youngest kids I know who have cellphones have them to reclaim something their elders (some times, in some places) took for granted: the ability to contact their caretaking parent at any time of the day. This is especially true given the utter lack of working and affordable pay-phones in most public places.

#230 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 02:03 PM:

In #146, John D. Berry writes:

One of the scans of endpapers hit me right in the nostalgia plexus: this one from a 1954 Tom Swift, Jr. book. I remember that image!

I loved that illustration, too, in my day. But the Endpapers to End Endpapers were created by Alex Schomburg for Winston.

(Interestingly the Tom Swift illo seems to have been contributed by Jackson Publick, one of the creators of The Venture Brothers. TVB is a vicious and frequently-tasteless parody of Jonny Quest but it is also frequently hilarious.)

#231 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 02:40 PM:

#230: Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer may be sick puppies, but they adore the subject matter.

#232 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 02:42 PM:

More knitterly than bookbinderish this morning, I offer this hilarious tidbit, related to Mafia as reportedly played at Virtual Paradise: "Sock Wars!"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119766934184930123.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_page_one

-hee.

#233 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:00 PM:

I've always thought cell phones were partly for utility-- I've flown to an unknown city without one, and it wasn't pretty, not with the kind of delays I had-- and partly for connectivity. If something happens, you can call someone else. It's like checking your email every ten minutes; you want to know what's happening now. Where are your friends? What are they thinking? What if you miss something?

I'm trying to get away from that kind of thinking. A week at my family's house, fighting with their computer, will do a lot to put me back in my own head, rather than the communal one.

#234 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:01 PM:

albatross rang
Alarm bells on
spam from "bang"
And now it's gone.

[posted from 202.45.119.133]

#235 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Jenny 203: They can arrange meetings and events without ever having to talk where they might be overheard. They can talk for hours without tying up the parental phone lines.

They can also say "OK, well they have two kinds of chocolate icecream here. One is called Double Fudge Chocolate, and the other is called Chocolate Chocolate. Which kind do you want?" A feature, I might add, that I have personally found useful.

They can also call home and say "Daddy, I'm on a dark road in the country and I have a flat. I'm scared."

There are more.

#236 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:19 PM:

...and now my normal name is back.

#237 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:25 PM:

I recently passed on a couple of the Tom Swift Junior books to my 10-year-old nephew. Problem is, now he wants more, and those were the ones I had!

#238 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Xopher @235,

They can also call home...

In short, they can avoid every TV and movie plot line that can only take place without the existence of cellphones.

EvilDude: "Hey, kid, your dad's been in an accident and your mom asked me to pick you up. Hop on in."
Kid: "OK, but let me call my mom first."

#239 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Kathryn 239: Exactly so! And a good thing, too.

#240 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:44 PM:

I think I discovered, in Germany, that so long as one doesn't click the "don't make me type this again" that a sinlge post is unique for names.

#241 ::: Xopher wonders if Terry's right ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:46 PM:

I suspect so, because I've never had the problem with my spamcalling name persisting.

#242 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Yep, looks that way.

#243 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:49 PM:

NJ did it, the Gov signed, and the death penalty is outlawed.

#244 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Cell phones: I help out for a long time, and then got one so I could meet up with people at ComicCon a few years ago. That's by far the main benefit in my opinion. Remember the days when you would have to carefully arrange meetups in advance? "Ok, we'll meet at the council hall at 2:00. Everyone got that?" And then there you'd be, and 20 minutes would pass, and you'd have no idea what happened, and people would be stuck in traffic or on the other side of the building or their watch stopped or they just forgot...

Those are days of the past, now.

#245 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Right again, Terry.

#246 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Current lead story on the front page of cnn.com: SCARY CHILD MOLESTERS will no longer be killed in New Jersey! The horror!

Current lead story on the front page of msnbc.com: late-night TV shows are coming back on the air, without writers.

Currently missing entirely from the front pages of either site: Turkey's attacking the PKK in Iraq. Chris Dodd's filibustering in the Senate.

#247 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Wow, that's pretty obviously slanted on CNN.com.

#248 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Giant rat found in New Guinea, not Sumatra:
CNN story

#249 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Clifton Royston #249: I wonder if it's been named after Holmes.

#250 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Open thread telling of tales:

After my annual appraisal‡ this afternoon, my boss dashed off (on his cycle) to catch the ferry south across the Ij to his home. I was packing up my bike more slowly when he came back. The ferries weren't running in our area. Two boats had collided, three people had gone into the water, and the river was closed for the search & rescue*.

The ferries were running further east, so he was headed that way. I joined him, not because I live east of the office (I'm to the north), but because it just sounded like fun to cycle hell for leather through the darkened streets of Amsterdam Noord.

So I rode with him, and it was as wild and as crazy† as I expected. We pulled up, laughing and breathless, just as the ferry arrived to take him south. I then turned and rode back the way with the flood of cyclists coming off the boat, many of them going back toward where he and I had come from.

There was a great feeling of unity in that group of cyclists, and very good manners. It was as crowded as the Tour De France just after the starting line, but slower and more generous. The group split and resplit as different people headed off in different directions.

I found myself, after a time, in a group of four riding in a line. We were up on an old dyke, built up on either side now, but still the only high ground in the area. The bike path was a little apart from the road, but there weren't any cars anyway, just the four of us, all but silent in the frozen night air. I was second from back.

And then the woman behind me began to sing.

I only caught snatches of it, though her voice was clear and lovely in that chilly air. It was in Dutch, and so incomprehensible to me, but it sounded old - maybe 16th century.

And then she finished the song, and fell silent, and I found myself thinking about the people in the river back behind us. And it seemed like a scene from a story, the four strangers travelling together in the dark and the cold, and the singing, and the stopping, as though the death in the river had reached out and taken one of us as well.

I glanced back, and she was fine, riding under the streetlamps. Our little group split up shortly afterward. Eventually I was alone in the darkness, far from any houses or lighting, with just my bike lights to show the way.

And I started to sing**, and didn't stop until I came into the lights of my village.

-----
‡ which went very well, and included the handing over of the permanent contract.
* air temperature freezing, water warmer, and the fire dept reckon up to 3 hours' survivability. It's been 4 hours now, and I only know of two who got out of the river.
† but, I hasten to add, not dangerous
** Greensleeves

#251 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:39 PM:

abi...and you didn't post this on the front page because...?

#252 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:47 PM:

...I didn't see how to turn it into a thread. What does anyone say to something like that?

#253 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:48 PM:

and you didn't post this on the front page because...?

She's too modest, as most great people tend to.

#254 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:50 PM:

abi @ 251:

What an incredible thing to have for a memory. (Not the death part, of course, but the sense of community, and the singing, and the riding in the dark.)

#255 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Do the _NH's control what ads they get in the right-hand column? Because I saw one for the new book by Josh Henkin, "Matrimony". Haven't read it yet, but I went to school with Henkin's brother, and he & I used to belong to the same small synagogue.

So it's nice to see his book getting advtg on a literary blog.

I read his first book, "Swimming Across the Hudson", which was pretty good. It was clearly a first novel, since, knowing the family, I can see a lot of similarities between Henkin's family and the family described in the novel.

#256 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Clifton @ #249:
The world is not yet ready.

#257 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Jenny, #203: Based on the experience of my partner's daughter, one major benefit is being able to adjust plans on the fly when Murphy's Law strikes. And you probably know that teenagers' plans have a fairly high cat-herding factor...

Earl, #212: That one's in my TBR stack, so I wouldn't mind a brief (spoiler-free) opinion about it when you're done. It won't bother me a bit if it turns into a romance; I enjoy well-done genre crossovers. A fair number of the books on my Desert Island list are SF/mystery or SF/romance.

Xopher, #235: Or a real-life example: "I wiped out on my bike, and I'm bleeding. I'm at the corner of 34th and $STREET. Can Dad come and get me?" (Fortunately, no real harm done, though she needed 3 stitches in her chin. And a nice gentleman on a motorcycle, who'd seen it happen, stopped and stayed with her until my partner arrived.)

#259 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:51 PM:

abi 253: They tell stories from their own lives that this reminds them of, or comment on that feeling of singing in the face of death, or in the darkness and solitude. Some write about bicycling. A subthread geeks out on different kinds of bikes; a sub-subthread geeks out on the physics of bicycles ("Actually the gyroscopic effect contributes relatively little to keeping a moving bicycle upright," or why it turns out that tightening all the spokes on a wheel to exactly the same degree is actually not optimal compared to some complex other pattern, who knows).

Another subthread starts up on boating, hypothermia, and/or drowning, with many tragic tales and copious references to Jim's Annual Hypothermia Lecture.

Others of us, the ones who started out talking about singing, might branch off into discussing our favorite walking tunes and chants, or into the fertile/futile topic of Why "Greensleeves" Is Better Than "What Child Is This," and/or other abominations of great songs made into crappy Christmas carols.

It would approach the thousand-post singularity in no time. I encourage you to promote it.

#260 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:54 PM:

Lee 258: I think the grief- and worry-saving capacity of cell phones should not be underestimated.

#261 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:19 PM:

One more thing about mobile phones in general, but that "youngsters" take advantage of - they facilitate spontaneous gatherings. Rather than arranging a time and place to meet, teenagers always seem to say "I'll call you when I get there".

(Also I had to reeducate a friend on the concept of an arranged rendezvous at the age of 30 when he moved to a town with very patchy coverage at the bottom of the hill (where the pubs are))

#262 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:25 PM:

I am moved to kick off the bicycle subthread... When I was in the Netherlands this summer, one of the best parts of the whirlwind tour was the chance to bicycle through Edam on rented Dutch bikes. It was very "Muppets Take Manhattan", the big group of us cycling around.

It demonstrated to me the clear superiority of the Dutch style of bike to the American styles... The Dutch bikes, you sit completely upright and can look around and chat easily; in America, both mountain and road bikes involve you crouching over the handles to various degrees. The Dutch way is far more comfortable for me (Ahh! The American leaning on the wrists being jolted by the road thing! It hurts and stings!), and better suited to the 2 miles on flat steets to and from work: I'm more visible and I can see better around me.

I wish there was someplace that sold cheap Dutch-style bikes in America.

#263 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:37 PM:

Madeline F @263 -

Ask and ye shall find. :

http://www.dutchbikes.us/

Dutch Bicycles in US

#264 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:39 PM:

But, not cheap.

#265 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:26 PM:

And while I can't speak to cheap, I know the REI in Portland had bikes with the upright handle design (even with baskets!), if you looked for "Comfort" bikes, as opposed to "Road" bikes. Looking at their website, there are still a few with the seat level with the handlebars, but it at least gives you something to look for...

#266 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Xopher @ #260, "Some write about bicycling."

Ok. I got my first two-wheeler when we lived in New London, CT at the Navy's Underwater Sound Lab (on the Groton River, across from the Sub Base) in 1956 or 1957. I learned to ride it on the grinder (massive parking-lot sized gravel-coated macadam piece of land) outside the front door of our quarters.

I think the Sound Lab has been closed.

#267 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Not American/Dutch style so much, as comfort/efficiency. Zoetemelk certainly didn't ride upright like that.

#268 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 09:38 PM:

Madeline F @ 263 ...
(Ahh! The American leaning on the wrists being jolted by the road thing! It hurts and stings!)

For some reason nobody ever mentions that you're not supposed to lean on the wrists - the majority of your weight should be supported by those nice firm abs and back muscles, and your wrists/hands should be unloaded, lest they become damaged.

#269 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Madeline F @263, the buzzword you're looking for is an "upright riding position". In my understanding, you can get some of that from standard-issue hybrid or touring bikes, and mountain bikes are better for that than 'road' bikes, which take their cues from racing bikes. Nowadays bike manufacturers are starting to make what they call commuting bikes, which also feature a more upright riding position, the better to spot cars and other hazards of urban cycling. (Also, if your wrists are hurting when you bike, your bike may be sized or adjusted incorrectly -- see http://sheldonbrown.com/pain.html#wrists and follow the links from there.)

There are a few American specialty manufacturers making bikes on that Dutch model you speak of, which is also the model of the old English three-speeds -- Broadway Bikes in Cambridge, MA is one of them (http://broadwaybicycleschool.com/mastermodel.html). Rivendell Bicycles in Walnut Creek, CA may be another one (http://www.rivbike.com/) -- their descriptions don't pay explicit homage, but they have the right attitude. You will pay handsomely for the privilege of owning a bike like that, however, since at least here in the US they aren't mass-produced bikes. (You may be able to find them used, though, since they seemingly last forever -- partly due, I suspect, to the internally-geared hub and solid steel construction.)

Then again, if you're like me, that $3000 bike doesn't look nearly so expensive when I figure that the bike will last me the rest of my life. Myself, I'm still lusting after the Tout Terrain Silkroad -- http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/tout-terrain.asp.

#270 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Terry @217: [..] some bastard stole my assorted marzipans. Took it from my duty-free bag in the overhead bin.

Maybe they thought it was almond-flavored C4.

#271 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:04 PM:

Hmm. I just posted a comment with a measly four URLs, and it was held for approval. Either there's been a malfunction in the churning and grinding machinery of the blogging software or the line in the welcome box ("Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval.") should be changed. :-)

#273 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Same here. I have a bad neck. The only handlebars available were the ones that curve downward, and you have to lean down to them and crane your neck to see ahead or around. That hurt.

There's a reason for the handlebars, of course. It's because the crouched riding position offers less wind resistance, which is important as average speeds get up to around 40 kph. If you're a fit, whippet-like road racer, fine. If you're not, and you're only trying to get some exercise and burn calories rather than fossil fuels, too bad, loser.

I couldn't stay on the bike.

#274 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:53 PM:

I've had the same job for ten years and a few months, but as of today have done it under FOUR employers.

Just a handful of layoffs this time . . . five out of maybe 200 in the office.

Tomorrow I put out tins of Christmas fudge to help everyone get over survivor's guilt.

#275 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:07 PM:

Madeline@263: The Dutch bikes, you sit completely upright and can look around and chat easily

perhaps a Recumbent Bike?

Not cheap though. But I always thought it would be neat to own one.

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:49 PM:

OK, I just spent the whole evening looking for the (small, flat, nearly transparent) scraper part from my chocolate-tempering machine. I had given up and was starting to look for the spares I know I have...somewhere...

I had reorganized my utensil drawer (why I was keeping those flimsy but very sharp knives I'm not sure, but I threw them out) when I realized: last night I had the whole counter covered with chocolate-covered parchment paper, which I balled up and shoved in the trash*, greatly expediting my cleanup.

Fortunately, I had put a new bag in the kitchen garbage. I pulled out the ball of parchment paper and started unrolling it, hardly daring to hope...and there it was. It was covered with chocolate, so it blended in. OM GANESHA.

But I didn't get ANY chocolates made tonight. And I'm much too tired to begin—plus it was my exhaustion that nearly let to my sabotaging my entire operation last night. So I'm going to bed.

But here's a picture of what I was working on last night. Those are fresh-ginger buttercreams in bittersweet chocolate, and yes that's real gold dust. The ginger is very strong, and to me it tastes exactly how gold looks, so I think it really works.


*Yes, that means I threw away a fair amount of chocolate. After several evenings of working chocolate, you feel like you never want to see it again at the end of a work session. I'm happy to report that this bizarre sensation fades by morning.

#277 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:50 PM:

Greg, I agree; recumbent bikes are way cool. Expensive though. I hate bikes with dropped handlebars for all the reasons Madeline F gives.

When I first rode bikes they were all made with upright handlebars except those used by professional racers. I did a bike tour through New England, six weeks, from Springfield MA to Canada and back when I was sixteen, riding a 3-speed Raleigh with upright handlebars. I loved that bike, and except for one nasty spill in the Green Mountains which required some patching (me, knees; bike, brakes) the trip went gloriously well.

"Comfort" bikes, eh....?

#278 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:02 AM:

My current bike is an antique we found in the Goodwill store for the princely sum of $10. It's a 1970s-era 3-speed with "racing tires", but without the damn upside-down handlebars because they hadn't become popular yet, and it's just like the one I rode in high school.

Xopher, #276: Sorry, but I'm not going to get a MySpace account just to look at pictures of chocolate, no matter how pretty. This is not the first time I've encountered that particular roadblock; apparently MySpace won't let you look at anything without logging in first.

#279 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:50 AM:

Xopher @276 -- I pulled out the ball of parchment paper and started unrolling it, hardly daring to hope...and there it was. It was covered with chocolate, so it blended in. OM GANESHA.

Shouldn't that be OM GANACHE?

#280 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:43 AM:

The first recumbent bike I ever saw was Steven K. Roberts' Winnebiko II at an Austin BBS picnic about twenty years ago.

#281 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:59 AM:

Nota bene:

I have released Kevin Riggle's message from captivity. All quoted numbers from 270 till now are suspect*.

-----
* Arrest on sight.

#282 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:11 AM:

Good grief. I stayed up till four o clock in the morning to finish reading "The Watchmen" for this??? What a complete load of infatuated-with-violence bullocks ending that was. I feel like I've regressed back to Hobbes' Leviathan. Any abuse of power by the Leviathan is accepted as the price of peace. Fear is the motivator. Might makes right. Ends justify the means. Three and a half centuries of philosophical progress, as if it never happened.

un-believe-a-bull.

#283 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:11 AM:

I have a bottom of the line touring bike, which is a minor oddity in the Netherlands. The gears mean that I can keep up with even the craziest cyclist (like my boss) on a normal bike. The handlebar shape does make it look like it's a much more expensive bicycle - Dutch people look at it and think "sport bike".

This means I do not take it into Amsterdam proper, where it would get stolen in a heartbeat. Even in the areas I do take it, I use a Dutch ring lock and a thick cable lock.

I've made it seem less desirable by fitting it with a set of large, practical, and entirely unsporty panniers. They're another feature of Dutch cycling - about 40 Euro for a good set, which will take my laptop and bag for work, or - in combination with a backpack - a whole shopping cart full of groceries. I've even brought a (mini) crate of beer home in them once.

I love my bike. I call it Vera.

#284 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:14 AM:

Xopher @260:
I think the discussion has taken root here. But I'm glad you liked the description.

I'll be less shy next time.

#287 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:30 AM:

abi@285: I'll be less shy next time.

You shouldn't just bind books, abi, you should be writing them. Your story @251 is wonderful.

#288 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:15 AM:

Bruce Baugh @ 1

Level 10 - Phillip K. Dick:
God hates you and smites you; as you lie dying you find yourself the object of worship of a cult of androids who will carry the battle to Heaven. You still die.

#289 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:39 AM:

Greg London@283: I take it you missed the clues indicating that Veidt was wrong to do what he did, and that it won't work anyway? Here's one for you: The "Black Freighter" story ends with the narrator swimming towards the eponymous ship. Near the end, Veidt speaks of dreaming about swimming towards something black. Given the identification between Veidt and the narrator that this gives us, compare Veidt's actions to the narrator's.

There are others. Alan Moore is much more subtle than you are giving him credit for.

#290 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:00 AM:

I love my bike. I call it Vera.

You will love your bicycle! You will give your bicycle a girl's name! Because it is the only thing you are going to get your leg over from now on! This machine is your wife - and you will be faithful!

(I also love my bike. I have just spent far too much money on a Steve-Austin-scale refit after the axle broke in Trafalgar Square. I call it The Beast.)

#291 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:00 AM:

#290 - Alan Moore is much more subtle than you are giving him credit for.

Without wanting to get into another round of Greg London vs. Alan Moore fans, I'll note that this is one of the potential problems with reading things into the early hours of the morning; you miss things. Amongst other things Watchmen is a critique of superheroes. Irvqg, orvat n fhcreureb, gevrf gb fnir gur jbeyq hfvat ivbyrapr; gur qvssrerapr vf ur hfrf vg ba n ynetre fpnyr. Gur zbeny ceboyrz bs hfvat ivbyrapr gb fbyir ceboyrzf vf vyyhfgengrq ol gur zntavsvpngvba sebz orngvat hc ivyynvaf gb qrfgeblvat cneg bs Arj Lbex; vf gur jbeyq ernyyl orggre sbe vg?

Ba n gnatrag, jr xabj ubj gur-jbeyq-havgvat-nsgre-na-nggnpx-ba-Arj-Lbex jbexrq bhg va erny yvsr, juvpu znxrf zr jbaqre jung Yvaqrezna gubhtug ur pbhyq qb orggre va Urebrf.

(Next time I name an alien city it will be Arj Lbex)

#292 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:57 AM:

Steve C. @ #264, that "conference bike" makes my head hurt.

Greg @ #276, my husband rides a recumbent and is very pleased with it. He mainly rides shortish, leisurely rides around the outskirts of town (30 miles or so), but he did a double century on it a couple of years back. He has back problems, but finds the recumbent very comfortable.

#293 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:04 AM:

David@290: Alan Moore is much more subtle than you are giving him credit for.

subtle, shmudtle. I got all the clues. They're irrelevant.

There is an idea in writing called "show me, don't tell me." When judging the war-porn-ness of a story, I base it off of what the author shows me on screen from beginning of story to end. Not what the author tells me happens off screen, or hints will happen after. If Moore wanted to get scored for the fact that the plan wouldn't work out in the end, then he ended his story too early. He should have shown that part. He should have figured out a way to have another chapter showing the world five or ten years after his version of the story ended. Given that the series of 12 comic books spans across 20 or 30 years, no reason he couldn't have pushed the timeline out to show us 10 years after chapter 12. He didn't. So he doesn't get credit for it.

And that doesn't even get into his absolute infatuation with torture via Rorschach. Rorschach repeatedly tortures people and gets the information that tells him where the proverbial ticking bomb is. Torture works in Moore's world. It worked transformational miracles on Evey in "V for Vendetta", and it works like "24" in "The Watchmen". I thought "V" showed an infatuation with torture. But "Watchmen" goes way beyond "V".

#294 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:26 AM:

WRT the Vista/XP sidelight, I point with trembling finger at the OS-tan family.

#295 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:31 AM:

#92, Mary Kay -

More than one person can search the same general area -- no waiting until the guy doing a bibliography of books about George Washington finishes with that drawer.

I'm not really arguing against your point, more like making a tangentally related gripe--My local library has four computers that have card catalogs on them. They also all have internet access. If you want to use the card catalog, you have to sign up on the waiting list and wait for your turn in the queue, and you only get fifteen minutes, because there's always someone who wants to get online. Aargh.

#276, Greg London -
I have a vague fear of recumbent bikes, ever since my uncle severely broke his leg on a home-built one*. I don't even know the details of the accident (it was quite some time ago) but he's the only person I know who broke a leg** on a bicycle and also the only person I know who had a recumbent. It makes the anecdotal evidence against them pretty strong. Can anyone comment on whether they really are any more dangerous?

*Yes, the "home-built" part might have been a major contributing factor. I don't know.

**He's actually the only person I know of who broke a bone of any kind, but I'm betting I could ask around and find many fractured wrists among my more adventurous friends, so we'll limit it to "the only person I know who broke a leg."

#296 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:16 AM:

296: I have a not-vague-at-all fear of recumbents, based on seeing them in London traffic in the evening. It's bad enough being on an upright. But lying down in the gloom with my head at tyre level and trusting my life to the reflexes, eyesight and bonhomie of a London bus driver? No thank you. Maybe if I lived in a civilised city like Abisterdam where there are proper cycle paths (ie not shared with buses).

#297 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:30 AM:

War pr0n score for "Watchmen" is +685 points. right up their with "300".

Alternatively, one might argue that the civilian deaths don't count, and that drops the score to +385, which is still pretty high. But I think they count.

Either way, it's up there.

#298 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:40 AM:

#216 ::: albatross :

Nancy #182: In the _Rainbow Cadenza_ there's an election, and this leads to people important to the plot moving around a bit. And I loved the way they'd shifted around rules regarding sexual orientation (a straight guy seen cavorting with a man was assumed to be having a good time, but a gay man seen cavorting with a woman was a scandal).

I'd missed that last. I obviously need to reread the book.

I'm curious: Have any Wiccans/pagans read the book? A big thread of the book involved something like Wicca as a very common religion, at least in the US, but I have no idea how close the book is to any reality, since I know very little about Wicca.

I'm a fairly non-observant neo-pagan, so I can answer that.

The book is very far from reality. Everything in the neo-pagan/Wiccan range involves few people, little money, and practically no political influence.

There's been one political win lately-- it's now possible to get pentacles on graves in National Cemeteries.

As for Rainbow Cadenza, I was unhappy with the portrayal of Wicca in it, and I finally figured out that Wicca in the novel was completely aligned with the very creepy government.

#299 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:40 AM:

Recumbents scare me. The nature of them is such that I don't trust myself to clear them well in a wreck. They are also harder to see.

I've been in some hairy bike-wrecks (two of which involved cars) and on a recumbent, one of them would probably have been fatal, even with a helmet and body armor.

#300 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Greg London, despite what your scoring system says, and despite your apparent belief that every single possibly consequence of a story needs to be explicitly spelled out for the reader, can you imagine anyone reading Watchmen and deciding, based on it, that torture is great, and what Rorschach does is fantastic, or that what Veidt does is justified? Because I can't.

#301 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:51 AM:

I really like my bike-- it's old, kind of rickety, I meant to have a friend look at it and tell me it's okay, but it works. No gears, pedal brakes (why yes, I did choose this bike on the basis of similarity to my childhood ones!), a couple bags big enough for groceries, and things for lights.
I need to gain some biking confidence, though. I know I should have a helmet, but haven't so much as seen one that would work with a high ponytail... which means that instead of riding the bike, I walk. I've internalized helmet rules in spite of never having worn one, and now feel like if I bike to the library without a helmet, I not only will die but I will deserve it. Not reasonable, not rational, but also not vulnerable to either of those.
Anyone know of a helmet that can handle not-going-to-faint-in-the-heat summer hair?

And now what I actually wanted to ask! I think I broke my home computer monitor. It's a big CRT, and while I was plugging something into the back of the computer, it made noises like it was turning on, turning off, switching back and forth, then turned off. And now it won't turn on again. I think static may have had something to do with it. Is this a completely broken thing, or is there something I can do to check?

#302 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Thank you, whoever brought up Rainbow Cadenza. I now have an earworm singing a medley of "Rainbow Connection / Rainbow Cadenza" in Kermit the Frog's voice (Jim's original version, not Brian's), with occasional commercial messages from some furniture store singing "Rainbow Credenza".

AUGGGHHHHHHH!!!!
* runs into the night pursued by counter-tenors *

#303 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:00 AM:

#263 I wish there was someplace that sold cheap Dutch-style bikes in America.

Madeline, the other keyword is 'Cruiser', e.g.:

Raleigh Bikes
They are very comfortable to ride, especially with the new gell seats!

Unfortunately, not so cheap; I managed to get a second-hand one for myself, though. You might try EBay or Craigslist.

#304 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Terry,

May marzipan thieves be consigned to the fieriest pits of Eblis. But, however bad it was, even a bad trip home is still a trip home. Welcome back.

#305 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:11 AM:

A few quick comments before running off to work.

abi,

Please, when you write a story like the one about bicycling in Amsterdam, post it so we can enjoy it to the maximum, by embellishing it with threads and subthreads, relevant and not. It's the best way to honor storytelling.

ink cannery girl & heresiarch

At some point we may need to discuss a 12-step program. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy Agatha's adventures as much as possible.

All,

I've been a dim ghost of my usual online presence lately, but I'll be coming back, now that we've got our younger son safely married off. I'll post some pictures and reminiscences on my blog (click my username above) later, probably tonight.

#306 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:23 AM:

#302 Diatryma
Anyone know of a helmet that can handle not-going-to-faint-in-the-heat summer hair?

I've never seen anyone wearing a helmet over a high ponytail. I have long hair, and I french braid it. Fits under my helmet fine (although I had to search around for a helmet that would fit my weirdly big head).

Maybe you could find one of those helmets with multiple vent holes, and fit the ponytail through the hole?

#307 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:32 AM:

We seem to have strayed onto elections here.
So, my SF election related question- anyone work out what a "DemoPol" is, in Frank Herberts "Dosadi"?
I think it is some sort of polling system which is structurally corrupt, but it is unclear. The book is one that would have been improved with a lot more words, and I don't say that about many books.

Also, anybody got a reaction to the Bali talks apart from "Thats what I expected, we're doomed now"?

#308 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Greg London: I'm not going to try and convince you that you ought to like Watchmen - you certainly have the right to your own reactions, whatever they may be. I would, however, point out as gently as I can that a number of very smart people have taken something fom that book that is entirely at odds with your analysis; do you feel that they're being disingenuous, or just wrong?

I do have to take exception, though, to the assertion that only that which is explicitly shown on the page (or onscreen) matters in a story. What isn't explicit can matter just as much as what's shown (or told*); sometimes it's more so. And I don't think the implicit things need to have definite answers, either - indeed, one of the things I find worthwhile in Watchmen is that is IS ambiguous in many ways, which makes its resolution all the more troubling (and being troubling is very much its point).

Have you read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics? While some of his overall theory is somewhat contestible, one of the more brilliant observations in it is that the magic of comics (in particular, but it applies to other media as well) happens in the gutters - that it's what the reader brings to the action between panels that makes comics work, because otherwise it's just disconnected images with no through-line at all. To take an example from the work under discussion, one of the most powerful and terrifying bits of Watchmen is where Rorschach figures out what happened to the little girl - which we're not told in so many words, or shown explicitly, but we see the flashes of images as Rorschach puts it together and are allowed to experience that moment of horror along with him. It doesn't work unless the reader is engaged in solving the puzzle on their own from the clues given (and, like the best horror, it relies on the reader's complicity for its impact, because you're going to come up with something much more awful in your head than anything that could possibly be drawn on the page). When Rorschach's narration points out that it's not God that ohgpuref puvyqera naq srrqf gurz gb gur qbtf, it's us - that resonates on a meta-level, because it's we the readers who have imagined it for ourselves without having to be "shown."

I wonder if it's a variation of engaging with story on that level, where it's expected that the reader will fill in narrative and thematic gaps, that's the source of disconnect in many of these thrashes with people who like things that you find distasteful or problematic and who are seeing things that to you obviously aren't there. For good or ill, that level of story can't be codified or rated on a scale - but it makes all the difference in the way many, many of us react to narrative that can't be accounted for solely by tallying the body count or the depictions of unpleasant behavior by the protagonists.

*"Show, don't tell" is, IMNSHO, one of the more dangerous bits of advice ever elevated to artistic gospel - not because it's wrong, but because adherence to it as a Rule creates just as much flawed and awkward work as the alternative. Sometimes you need to just tell something and get on with it. And sometimes you need to neither show nor tell, but leave the important parts in the lacunae between what's being told and shown and let the picture emerge for the reader in that negative space.

#309 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:21 PM:

I thought "V" showed an infatuation with torture.

So did I, and I only saw the movie. Thank you, Greg. We are a lonely minority, but proud. I've never been able to figure out why my otherwise sensible, totally anti-torture friends approved of V.

#310 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:43 PM:

To all and sundry... yes, I have been wishing any myriad of horrors and curses on whomever it was that stole my marzipan.

It's a funny thing, I've never before been quite so annoyed at a petty theft. Perhaps it broke some sense of the compact I feel for my fellow travellers.

Regardless, I am more glad to be home that I am angered by the loss of my sweetmeats.

#311 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:47 PM:

I have now added Dan Layman-Kennedy sockpuppeting to my duties as a nonexistent person.

#312 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #306: Congratulations!

#313 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:58 PM:

I have no idea who said it first, but,

"I thought "V" showed an infatuation with torture."

I thought rather that it showed an infatuation with revenge, tempered with an awareness that revenge is limited, and problematic. Torture happened once or twice, but frequently it was of the happened through karma kind, if that makes any sense.

#314 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Nancy #299:

Thanks. I wonder if Shulman was trying to carry off the same kind of transformation of Wicca that happened to Christianity, when it went from a small ridiculed or persecuted or ignored cult to a powerful religion aligned with the state. You get very different kinds of people interested in those two different kinds of religions, different doctrines that seem interesting or important, etc.

#315 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:59 PM:

I miss riding a bike- for the mobility, more than anything, but also for the fun and fitness- only when I see souped-up late model Accords fly by the end of my driveway going 70mph, I'm reminded why I gave it up in the first place.

(Actually it was having a logging truck making a left turn at about half that speed, close enough to leave bits of bark in my hair, that really did it).

#316 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:17 PM:

#315 ::: albatross:

It seems reasonable to me that Shulman was reversing the status of paganism and Christianity-- I was annoyed that there were no pagans who were opposed to the larger society. There are always Christians who aren't happy with the compromises Christianity has made with power.

#317 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Guthrie #314:

Well, Rirl'f genafsbezngvba sebz n sevtugrarq, natel puvyq vagb n shyyl pbzcrgrag jbzna jnf pneevrq bhg ol gbegher, qbar ol I. Vs lbh gbbx I nf fbzr xvaq bs zbeny nhgubevgl, gur vzcyvpngvbaf jrer frevbhfyl anfgl, evtug? Nabgure jnl gb ernq guvf vf gung I xabjf bayl bar jnl gb sbetr Rirl vagb uvf fhpprffbe--gur bar hfrq ba uvz. Ohg ubarfgyl, V qvqa'g pbzr njnl jvgu gung frafr.

In Watchmen, one thing about Ebefpunpu'f hfr bs gbegher vf gung vg bppnfvbanyyl frrzrq gb lvryq vasbezngvba, ohg ur jnf pyrneyl orngvat nafjref bhg bs qbmraf bs crbcyr va trareny gb trg bar nafjre--vg'f abg yvxr vg whfg zntvpnyyl jbexrq.

Watchmen didn't seem like war porn to me; there were lots of morally ambiguous enemies and heroes, gur nccnerag tbbq thl jnf thvygl bs n ybat fgevat bs crefbany zheqref bs crbcyr ur xarj, phyzvangvat va n ubeevoyr znff zheqre. V fher qvqa'g jnyx njnl sebz gur raqvat guvaxvat Irvqg jnf nal xvaq bs pyrne tbbq thl. Vg jnf cbffvoyr ur'q fnirq gur jbeyq, ohg jr qvqa'g svaq bhg.

#318 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Nancy #317:

Fair enough. There were certainly mainstream characters that were sympathetic. ISTM that the big breaking point was whether the mainstream character was a Marnie; for example, I think her uncle and mother were not, and were repulsed by what they did. (But maybe I'm projecting what I wanted to think about the sympathetic characters.)

#319 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:24 PM:

guthrie @308, if memory serves, the DemoPol is much like the Delphi Pool in Brunner's Shockwave Rider- a betting line more than an election.

#320 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:55 PM:

Albatross- I don't speak bird.

And this pseudo-disemvowelling of potential spoiler stuff is beggining to annoy me.

JESR- that might be right, it would explain the dangers of manipulation, i.e. the powerful change the odds so that people think "Oh well, he's going to lose anyway" or something like that. I have yet to read "Shockwave rider".

#321 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:05 PM:

http://clevercycles.com/?p=193 is a pretty good description of typical "Dutch" style bikes, but doesn't really help with finding a cheap US supplier.
Recumbents come in a huge variety, and while some do put your head at tyre height (in August I saw an M5 Carbon Low Racer being sold second hand because the owner had bought it for commuting and had his sanity return after a few short rides), but at about the right height to make eye to eye contact with car drivers isn't uncommon. Many users report that being unusual more than makes up for any reduction in visibility (but others still prefer upright bikes in heavy traffic).

And nothing to do with bikes, and passed on without comment, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/13/wikimedia_coo_convicted_felon/. Apologies if it's been mentioned already.

#322 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Guthrie, it's not disemvowelled; it's rot13'd. That is, every letter is replaced by that 13 places off in the alphabet, so A=N, B=O, C=P, etc.

If you don't want to do it by hand, rot13.com is a nice simple page with a textbox and a button.

#323 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Xopher @277: chocolate porn, and no actual recipe?

[wants]

#324 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:19 PM:

I've read "Watchmen" a few times, but it completely failed to click with me-- it's not so much a matter of like/dislike as the Eight Deadly Words ("I don't care what happens to these people"); although I forged on to the end anyway, I simply couldn't keep track of the story or characters. I've also never read or seen "Vendetta". I do own omnibus reprints of "From Hell" and "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" so at least I have some exposure to Alan Moore's work, but I really don't have any meaningful qualifications to discuss "Watchmen" or "Vendetta".

However, recent discussions have made me wonder-- although I hesitate to project onto Greg, and apologize for the presumption-- whether like me, he doesn't really grok the technique of unreliable narration. Oh sure, I know that it exists in the abstract, and I can be pointed toward its (supposed?) clues and subtext, but I almost never even *see* the unreliability factor on my own, and tend to distrust/dislike the technique because to me it feels like "cheating". The author has abused my naive faith in the straightforward presentation of the story-- if I can't trust a significant aspect of the overall narrative POV, why should I believe *any* of the plot that's conveyed through it?-- and is trying to have things both ways, rather like people who fire off an insult and then instantly deny it with "Oh, I was just joking; you can't possibly have thought I *meant* that?"

#325 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Julie L, I think unreliable narration is, like most techniques, a spectrum thing. I range from 'wow, that was effective' to 'oh, that's just LYING' depending on several things. A great deal of it seems to be whether or not I can see the twists coming-- if I can, and it's well done, I'll have a lot of fun with it. If I can, but I take a moment to think about it and realize the story doesn't support it, then it's being unnecessarily misleading. Hiding the important information is okay; keeping it from me entirely is not.
Some of it is also whether I think the story is saying, "Ha ha, got you!" or not. Perhaps I overpersonify a bit.

#326 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Bikes: My old bike in Cambridge (MA) was a three-speed Frankenstein Special, courtesy of the Broadway Bike Shop. It was very heavy by modern standards, but I couldn't deal with racing handlebars, nor with 10-speed levers that required taking my hands off the handlebars. Unfortunately, when I moved down to NYC, I found the traffic just too aggressive, and I set the bike free to "join the Rainbow" -- or whatever scraps it could find in the big city....

Down here in Charlottesville, I got a Schwinn Voyageur -- straight handlebars, with the gearshifts integrated (you twist the inner parts). Probably lighter than the prior bike, but not after loading it with all the accessories and equipment! Unfortunately, 10+ years of not-riding (and not much other exercise) have left my stamina and leg strength completely shot, so it's going to be a while before I can make lengthy trips on this thing.

I also got put off by the onset of winter, but now that I just got my sweaters and heavy coats out of storage, I might take another shot at it. (Yes, it's been warm enough here that I'd managed without gloves or toques so far!)

Recumbents look cool, but they simply don't fit into a traffic stream increasingly dominated by SUVs and trucks.

Helmets: Looking at my helmet, it could handle a low ponytail, but not a high one, as there's a fastener in the way. On the other hand, I remember there were several different models. I'd suggest swinging by a bike shop or two and trying on every distinct model you can find.

Watchmen: Greg, I can certainly appreciate your finding Watchmen disturbing -- so did I -- but it was meant to be dystopian!

Abi's tale: come on folks, she scatters poetry and insight all over (heck, she zaps spam in verse), gets adopted as a moderator, and now you're giving her grief for not being prominent enough with her work?

Be grateful for gifts, and Abi's brought a lot of gifts to this blog! (And yes, it's a very sweet story, thank you Abi for sharing it.) One of the things I love best about this blog is that you can be reading along in some "ordinary" thread, and suddenly you find treasure....

#327 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Lee 279: I believe that changed recently, but I'll repost it from Photobucket when I get home (can't get the picture from work).

Debbie 280: For that pun you will be cast into the Outer Dark-Chocolate-ness, where there will be wailing and ganacheing of teeth.

Greg 283: Fear is the motivator.

I must fear. Fear is the Motivator. Fear is the little death that lets you know you're alive. I will cower in my fear. I will allow it to possess and control me. I will turn the mind's eye inward and take no action. And when it is done I will be nothing; only It will remain.

The Litany in Favor of Fear. Don't say it out loud.

Dan 309: *"Show, don't tell" is, IMNSHO, one of the more dangerous bits of advice ever elevated to artistic gospel - not because it's wrong, but because adherence to it as a Rule creates just as much flawed and awkward work as the alternative. Sometimes you need to just tell something and get on with it. And sometimes you need to neither show nor tell, but leave the important parts in the lacunae between what's being told and shown and let the picture emerge for the reader in that negative space.

Hear, hear! I recently had a friend pick up a story of mine, read a page and a half, then put it down, saying "I don't have time to read a story that breaks rules from beginning writing classes." (He's young and rude. I make allowances.)

My "mistake"? The sentence 'She cried a little, and he comforted her as best he could.' I was supposed to go into details about him comforting her, relate that part of the conversation. My friend's writing teacher told him "show, don't tell," and he thought it applied there. I glossed over it on purpose because the story is in limited 3rd, and the character was focused on his own goals for the conversation, and is the kind of person who does the comforting thing on autopilot.

But none of that matters, you see. You have to show everything at all times, so that your reader has to wade through acres of description and page after page of unimportant dialogue to get to the meat of the story you want to tell. Barf.

Julia 324: No recipe exists. I dusted the mold, used a standard shell-molding technique, filled them with ginger buttercream (half a stick of butter, cup of powdered sugar, cream together, splash of cream, beat, add freshly-squeezed ginger root juice to taste), capped them. That's it.

Julie 325: Wow, I really disagree—if that's even the right word for something that's so clearly a matter of taste and preference. I LOVE unreliable narrators. I love Amelia Peabody ("'Why are you doing that?' I calmly inquired. 'Well, there's no need to scream,' he quite unreasonably replied.") and the limited 3rd in Dhalgren, whose main POV character is stark raving bonkers.

One of my favorite books has a 1st who partway in says "OK, I never did X and Y, and I don't have a dog. Maybe I'll go back and rewrite and take out all the lies. I'm not going to tell any more," and by then you know how much he WISHES he had a dog (the scenes with the dog are just as vivid as anything else in the book), and what he wants people to think of him, and that he's going to TRY to tell the truth. It's a profound insight into the character.

I guess I like figuring things out. I like stories where the writer doesn't tell you what the characters can all assume knowledge of, so you have to figure out that they're using the word 'book' in a very different way than you're used to (or even the words 'he' and 'she', as in Stars In My Pockets Like Grains Of Sand, though in that case he does tell you eventually), or that the main POV character isn't quite aware that Jerusalem is an actual place on Earth, as opposed to in Heaven.

I love to read stories like that, and I TRY to write them. Thanks, though, because now I'm aware that some people just. hate. that, and remember not to be too dense with it.

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Somehow I left out 'will try to' in the last sentence of the excessively-long post above.

#329 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:06 PM:

#325 & #326: Re: unreliable narration:

And then there's the stories where the narrator is not who or what they think they are! I encountered that most recently in Brust's Cowboy Feng's..., and while I generally love Brust, I didn't think he managed the Reveal too well there. By comparison, Alistair Reynolds pulled it off perfectly in Chasm City,

#330 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Xopher #328: Don't forget Triton, with one of the most unlikeable narrators ever, who is completely oblivious to how awful he is.

This is where that awful deconstructionist jargon about "reading protocols" seems to actually apply. I think the people who simply don't get or can't stand reading books with unreliable narrators, books and films where all the important events take place "off-screen", etc. and the people who love them - as you and I clearly do - are going through a completely different reading process.

In Watchmen not only does much of the most important action take place offscreen, in between panels, and so on, but arguably the most important single event of the book is not the climax, but what one can "see" will take place just after the last panel of the book, and what one may infer will slowly but inevitably follow from that.

#331 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:41 PM:

For me, I think the success of the unreliable narrator technique depends on whether the author clearly trusts the reader to figure out what isn't being said (IOW, treating the audience as conspirator), which is fun; or playing a Gotcha! game that seems to assume the reader is stupid or easily manipulated (IOW, treating the audience with contempt), which isn't so much.

Not hard-and-fast, if only because a clever reversal can be done that is both unexpected and not just the author smacking down the reader. While Watchmen isn't an unreliable-narrator story as such (except in the sense that Rorschach gets some time in the caption panels, but that part's conspiratorial - it's clear from the start that this guy is a paranoid nutcase), it ends with a plot turn that subverts the expectations of the mainstream superhero-comics-reading audience. For my money, I didn't feel punished by that development, but I could understand to an extent why a reader might feel more or less cheated by it. I happen to like deconstructive, subversive, uncomfortable stories (as well as the other kind, I should add), but it's certainly not everyone's thing, nor should it be - which is why I don't take offense that Greg didn't like Watchmen, I just reject that there's a measurable, objective set of criteria that you can use to "score" a narrative on how much it fits some arbitrary and objectionable category. (I don't especially care for Mary Sue quizzes, either, for much the same reason.)

ethan: Only the best puppets for my horde of minions! Bwahahahaha!

#332 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Clifton 331: Delany really gets into the UNs, doesn't he? Triton is one of the Delany books I only read once, because books with NO sympathetic characters just depress me. But then it was...30 years ago? Something like that. Is that the one that ends with the far-future historian explaining that the stories of the "Beatles" having their clothes torn off by screaming girls is just a later folktale version of the story of Orestes being torn to pieces by maenads? I really LIKED that part.

And I think you're right about process. I can't think of a way to characterize their reading process that doesn't sound derogatory (this is NOT because I think theirs is "wrong" but because I so strongly prefer mine) or to characterize mine without sounding like I'm elevating it.

I have to say, Watchmen, much as it may have lots of brain-working narrative (a big plus in my book), sounds like it might be too depressing a read for me.

#333 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Thank you Carrie, suddenly everything makes so much more sense.

I can now agree wholeheartedly with Albatross's comments about Watchmen.

Clifton- I managed to read Triton on the 2nd attempt. I was feeling in a funny mood at the time, I can't explain it exactly, and I think I could see how at times I could be like the central character.

By the way, is Delaney going to finish "The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities"?

#334 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Dan 332: And yet there are stories like Pbaavr Jvyyvf' "N Yrggre sebz gur Pyrnelf," which have a "Gotcha!" moment, but don't feel like we're being treated as stupid at all, or at least I didn't feel that way. Maybe it's because of the way the style and the content are woven together in that story and stories like it.

#335 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Clifton: Your analysis of Watchmen could apply almost word-for-word for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, another book I love beyond all reason. And in both cases, my reaction to the revelation that gur fgbel jr'ir orra sbyybjvat vfa'g gur vzcbegnag bar was "ohmigodWOW" - but I do have some sympathy for readers who might feel robbed of their investment in the narrative so far.

Xopher: I haven't read the story you refer to, but I can completely imagine that author pulling off what you describe. I should clarify that even a surprise twist can be conspiratorial; it just has to assume that the audience is going to in some way appreciate the revelation, rather than treat their gullibility as something to be taken advantage of. I don't know if I'm making much sense with that distinction, but (to use a sort of naughty illustration) it's the difference between "Surprise! Morning sex!" and "Surprise! I took naked pictures of you while you were drunk!"

#336 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Albatross at 318- I forgot to decipher the first section. Here is my reply:


Uzzz, V qba'g erpnyy gnxvat I nf n zbeny nhgubevgl, naq V guvax gung jnf engure gur cbvag bs gur fgbel. Ubjrire V qb guvax gung ur znl unir bayl xabja gung zrgubq bs "sbetvat". Gung gur qrgrpgvir oybxr znantrq gb qb vg ba uvf jba, jvgu n srj qehtf sbe uryc, znxrf gur fgbel zber pbzcyrk. I jnf znavchyngvat crbcyr nyy gur jnl guebhtu gur fgbel, juvpu qbrfa'g dhvgr nppbeq jvgu zhpu nanepuvfg gurbel...

#337 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:15 PM:

David @290- re Watchmen- V gubhtug gung gur fvzcyrfg cbvag jnf gur raqvat, jvgu gur perngher juvpu pbhyq frr sbejneqf naq onpxjneqf va gvzr nffhevat gur Bmlznaqvnf svther gung guvatf punatr, naq Irvqg fvgf onpx hapbzsbegnoyl, naq ernyvfrf gung vg vf gehr naq srryf gur qvfpbzsbeg gung rirelguvat ur unf qbar znl jryy unir orra va inva. Gurer vf nyfb gur dhrfgvba bs ubj pna lbh vzcbfr crnpr ol ivbyrapr, juvpu unf orra gnyxrq nobhg orsber. V nffhzrq gung Zbber nyfb gubhtug gur ernqre vagryyvtrag rabhtu abg gb unir gb fcryy rirelguvat bhg, rfcrpvnyyl jung unccraf va gur shgher. Jura V jnf lbhat, fhpu obbxf gung yrsg guvatf unatvat naablrq zr, ohg abj nf na nqhyg gurl qba'g, fvapr gurl yrnir gur jbeyq gung jnf perngrq va gur fgbel zhpu zber bcra naq erny.

#338 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Of course, one problem with discussing unreliable narrators is that frequently the mere fact that the narrator is unreliable is a major spoiler. I normally try hard to avoid spoilers but don't see any way to avoid it here -- Xopher, what was the book with the narrator who didn't have a dog? Maybe by the time I get around to reading it, I'll have forgotten why I picked it up...

(minor LibraryThing update: all my shelved books are now indexed. Of course, that just makes it depressingly obvious how many books are left in boxes, stacks, piles, heaps, closets, drawers, cubbyholes, and miscellaneous forgotten-about storage areas.)

#339 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Today's inquiry for the flurorosphere: can anyone identify
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in
? As usual I'm catching up in blocks; I can ignore most of Jon Carroll's signoff lines, but this (from 10 Dec) looks like something I should recognize and I can't. (First thought was "Beep", but I'm sure not even if it weren't too heartfelt for Blish. Anderson?)

kevin@270: not all that new; the last bike I bought (21 years ago) was a "city" bike, with the child/old-standard level wide handlebars and a frame that crossbred mountain and racer styles.

albatross/Nancy: what I got from Cadenza was that their "Wicca" had been specifically created/supported to supplant Xianity, which would not have tolerated government-run brothels. It's a Swift-style satire on other beliefs, possibly arguing that no religion can survive being Established but not a commentary on most present forms of paganism.

#340 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:43 PM:

CHip,

That's Roy Batty (Rutger Hower) at/near the end of Bladerunner. My favorite quote from one of my favorite movies.

#341 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:43 PM:

CHip @ 340

Babel-17. (And my copy is in one of the magic boxes, too.)

#342 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:51 PM:

[[blinks]]

Bladerunner was quoting something else?

#343 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:05 PM:

...tears in rain.

I understand that Rutger Hauer created that line himself, and Ridley Scott liked it enough to use it.

#344 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Nancy #343: That's a Google false-positive: a member of an Unreal Tournament 2004 gaming forum named legacy-Babel-17 quoted Roy Batty of Bladerunner in a message, and someone else named legacy-Blue mentioned the quote from "Babel 17". Attribution slippage.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:08 PM:

abi @ 210... Ping!

#346 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Earl,

I didn't google it; I remember it from the movie, which is why I was surprised!

#347 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Serge, you're alive!

#348 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:42 PM:

ethan @ 348... Alive! I'm alive!!!!! Bwahahahah!!!

#349 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Mmm. My classic example of why I dislike unreliable narration is from Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude (which I already hated before I ran across the following info, so yeah, I have no particular illusions that my taste nec'ly matches anyone else's or is any assurance of quality), and his comments in this interview (way toward the bottom; emphasis added)--

interviewer: And Remedios the Beautiful? What gave you the idea of sending her to heaven?

GGM: I'd originally planned that she would disappear while in the house embroidering with Rebecca and Amaranta. But this almost cinematographic trick didn't seem viable. I was still going to have Remedios around. Then I thought of making her ascend to heaven, body and soul. The fact behind it? A woman whose grand-daughter had run away from home in the early hours of the morning, and who tried to hide the fact by putting the word around that she had gone up to heaven.

For me, that last part was definitely an "Oh, that's just LYING" moment as per Diatryma, esp. considering the book's entire reputation of "magical realism"-- if there's no real magic in there after all, then what's the point?

#350 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:50 PM:

#339 todd Larason- how exactly did you index your books? I have somewhere near 3,000 of them on shelves, and have been pondering the problem for a while. I know of one or two solutions, but was wondering what you have done.

#351 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Nancy #347: No, the Babel-17 reference was the false positive I was talking about, not the Bladerunner reference.

#352 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:08 PM:

LizzyL @ 278:

...riding a 3-speed Raleigh with upright handlebars. I loved that bike,

I had one of those, in the early '70s; gave it up when I moved to California in early '75. Loved loved loved that bike; I've owned others since, but never been as happy with them.

With the wrecked knee, I'm in There Shall Be No More Riding of Bicycles land, alas. I'm on a relatively flat part of Bainbridge, too, it would be an easy ride to the library, bank, post office, grocery stores - and bead store.

ObPreviousThreadReChristmasKitsch:

My rubber ducky nativity and angels arrived. One set is on the edge of my bathtub, the others are going to be given to the friend who inflicted their image on me.

#353 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:09 PM:

Julie L. @ 350: I don't read that interview snippet as saying that Remedios didn't really ascend to heaven in OHYS, but rather that he got the idea from a real-world incident.

#354 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:19 PM:

Guthrie @351 -- I, um, mostly typed in ISBN numbers. For books which didn't have them, I typed in LC numbers. For books which didn't have those either, or where they didn't work (side question: why wouldn't those work? Is the LoC catalog incomplete in some way?), I typed in titles and authors.

It didn't take as long as I expected it would, but I've only done ~1300 books so far. I have another ~1000 or ~1500 left to unbox or otherwise find and do.

I have three different bar code readers, too -- a CueCat, a Handspring Visor card, and an older-model Intelliscanner. And if I find any of them before I finish unboxing books, I might try using them, but I'm actually enjoying the hands-on typing, refreshing my memory of some books I'd forgotten about.

#355 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Julie 350: I read that the same way Tim did.

#356 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Terry Karney @ 300...
Recumbents scare me. The nature of them is such that I don't trust myself to clear them well in a wreck. They are also harder to see.

Interesting - I think you're the first person I've known to hold that rationale about clearing recumbents in a wreck, other than me.


#357 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:24 PM:

#340 ::: CHip

I didn't see _Rainbow Cadenza_ as a comment on modern paganism. However, it's a ritual system I like, and I don't enjoy seeing something I like turned into something subtly nasty.

#358 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Steve C., EClaire, Kevin Riggle, Cheryl: Thanks very muchly! People here are great.

#269 xeger: I imagine one would get nice abs from sitting solely on stools, and yet, office chairs have backs. I'm not in the business of getting abs, I'm in the business of getting from place to place.

Dave Luckett, Lizzy L: Preach it, my fellows! I don't have a bad neck, but I don't want one either, and avoiding craning it while jolting along on the crummy roads here sounds like a good first step.

#276 Greg London: I see a reasonable number of recumbent bikes around the Bay Area, but that's because I have good eyes. As others have said, lorblessme if I'd trust my life to commuting in one of those... Hard enough to see and be seen when you're at eye level.

#322 Alan Braggins: Wow, now that's a useful darn link. I'll repost it in case people missed it first pass: http://clevercycles.com/?p=193 He has little stick-figure sketches and discussions of the riding positions of various types of bikes: apparently cruiser/comfort bikes still aren't quite Dutch bikes. Anyway, thanks! I have enough friends in Portland that I might pop up on Southwest to look at/maybe even buy a bike from this shop as part of a weekend...

The trouble, though, is that bikes are transitory organisms where I live. They will get stolen, it's only a matter of when. Bike for life, alas, no.

As for Tannhauser Gate, I just saw a reference to a song with that in Blade-Runner-based lyrics. But cannot find the link again, like water from a dried stream.

#359 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Clifton @331: I think the people who simply don't get or can't stand reading books with unreliable narrators, books and films where all the important events take place "off-screen", etc. and the people who love them - as you and I clearly do - are going through a completely different reading process.

I can deal with logically extrapolating from existing material to figure out what happens offscreen. I have trouble with unreliable narration (esp. via outright "factual" falsification rather than omissions or subjective value judgements)-- which for me overlaps a bit with a slightly different technique which perhaps should be called "ironic narration", wherein a main viewpoint character has a clearly, consistently defined mindset, which the author is in fact lampooning in expectation that readers will recognize that character's utter folly. Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" is one of the more obvious examples; since I was fairly young the first time I read it (6? 8?), I honestly don't remember whether I took the surface argument seriously.

Hopefully I'm a bit better at that sort of thing now, but I still have trouble with more subtle applications-- e.g., in Richard Adams' The Girl on a Swing, the narrator thinks of his wife as an avatar of a Gravesian pagan goddess who is ultimately brought to grief by discordance with the prevailing Christian virtues, and I've always accepted the book on that level, but recently an alternate reading was suggested to me wherein Adams is "really" saying that the narrator created his wife's tragedy by maintaining such an unrealistic, idealized view of her. Again, on an intellectual level, I can see the validity of the latter interpretation, but it makes me think that in that case, Adams has played me *and* his narrator as fools.

#360 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:34 PM:

Tim @354 & Xopher @356: ...oh. I'd completely missed that interpretation. Now that you put things that way, I guess I can kinda see it, though it still feels counterintuitive to me. (See what I mean? :b )

Don't mind me; I'll be in the corner under the dunce hat.

#361 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:54 PM:

I haven't read Rainbow Cadenza, but just last week I read Rachel Pollack's Unquenchable Fire, which also depicts a pagan America, and I loved it. Her vision of paganism is positive (or so it seemed to this non-pagan), but clear-eyed and sentimentality-free (not to mention very strange). It was sort of like a cross between James Morrow and Angela Carter... but only sort of.

#362 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:59 PM:

My take on narration: if a book is written in the first person, then I want the narrator to have a distinctive voice and point of view. This may or may not involve actual duplicity, but if the narrator isn't serving as a filter of some sort between the story's events and the reader, why bother with first person?

#363 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Madeline F @ 359 ...
#269 xeger: I imagine one would get nice abs from sitting solely on stools, and yet, office chairs have backs. I'm not in the business of getting abs, I'm in the business of getting from place to place.

As somebody who sits on the floor to work, I can vouch that the lack of a chair back doesn't appear to have anything to do with getting nice abs ;) My point however, painfully learned on my part, is simply that it's worth finding out the 'correct' way to do things, if one's at all prone to injury due to bad technique, or to repetitive stress type injuries.

#364 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:08 PM:

Re: Unreliable narrators

Bloody Postmodernism.

It's this sort of thing that turns Beowulf into an angst-ridden git who bonks creatures he should be killing.

Still, great dragon.

#365 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:14 PM:

(Meanwhile, I reiterate that no one should ascribe any of my specific readerly quirks to Greg unless he actually does claim them.)

#366 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:27 PM:

I can deal with logically extrapolating from existing material to figure out what happens offscreen.

Didn't that used to be called fanfiction :)

I have trouble with unreliable narration (esp. via outright "factual" falsification rather than omissions or subjective value judgements)-- which for me overlaps a bit with a slightly different technique which perhaps should be called "ironic narration", wherein a main viewpoint character has a clearly, consistently defined mindset, which the author is in fact lampooning in expectation that readers will recognize that character's utter folly.

Would Browning's _My Last Duchess_ be an example of that? I can remember people in one of my lit classes uterly failing to be ouraged by it, when I wanted to hit the narrator, which was not pleasant at all. Getting mad at fictional characters is the most futile of exercises. They never change. They don't even listen to reason. Except in fanfiction ...

#367 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Dan, #309: I can point to at least one very good use of breaking the "show, don't tell" rule. It happens in the Bablylon 5 episode "A Late Delivery from Avalon". Our guest star is confronting a bunch of thugs down in Brown Sector, and one of them threatens him with, "You better back off, buddy, 'cause I've got friends." And then a voice offscreen says, "So has he!" and G'Kar makes his entrance.

HARD CUT (actually, commercial-break) to Our Heroes in the pub afterwards. "And did I mention that they hit the ground with a most satisfying THUD?"

Now obviously, this was done for cost-saving as well as narrative reasons. But did the writer actually have to show us that there was a fight in between those scenes? Of course not! We're perfectly capable of filling in the gap -- and in some ways it's a courtesy to the audience to grant them that ability.

Graphic novels partake of some of the conventions of TV and movies as well as those of text. I don't think it's a bad thing for them to leave similar contextual gaps for the reader to fill in.

Julie, Diatryma, Xopher, et al: I'm not sure I've ever read a story with what you're describing as "unreliable narration"; OTOH, it's definitely possible that I have, and what I got from it instead was, "WTF? That doesn't make narrative sense!" From the various descriptions, I suspect that if I figured it out it would feel like cheating, and if I didn't it would feel like really poor writing.

Oh, and that Amelia Peabody quote? Yikes, that's my mother... with all the relevant emotional baggage from someone who rewrites reality with that sort of facility. The whole "I AM NOT RAISING MY VOICE!!!" thing.

Vian, #367: Re fictional characters not listening to you... this is one of the reasons that I don't like reading stories with irritating protagonists*. I don't mind an unsympathetic protagonist that's well-written**, but if the reader is expected to identify with the hero at all, said hero had better not be someone I keep wanting to smack upside the head!

* Or an irritating major secondary character. I gave up on an otherwise-enjoyable mystery series when I found myself repeatedly indulging in self-insertion fantasy for the specific purpose of having my Mary Sue POV character break up with the romantic interest.

** My canonical example of this is John Barnes' Kaleidoscope Century. The protagonist is a vicious, amoral thug***, but we're not being asked to identify with him, only to accept him as a narrator, and his internal motivations are all understandable and yet never presented as admirable. The difference is subtle, but important.

*** Sort of a cross between Karl Rove and one of the out-of-control Blackwater mercenaries, with a taste for torture.

#368 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Tastes like chickenhawk....

#369 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:58 PM:

If by chance the Administration were to throw this country into a stupid and senseless war, and if by chance, the very next day they decreed that the media shall not show pictures of American troops dead or wounded, that they shall not report exact casualty figures but give rough ranges like "heavy", that they shall be embedded with military units and their survival dependent thereon, that non-embedded journalists shall be deemed enemy combatants in the war zone, would it matter that all that information has been taken off the TV screen, off the newspaper, and off the computer screens?

No doubt, all of you folks will be able to read between the lines, read between the frames, and read between the stories.

But does no one here think that downplaying the costs of a war, downplaying the deaths, downplaying the wounded, downplaying the monetary costs, downplaying the schedule, downplaying the messiness generally associated with war, while simultaneously upplaying and demonizing the enemy, does no one think that such an approach by the government has no effect on maintaining support and sympathies among the general populace longer than would have happened if the facts were laid out bare, on the screen, in ink and paper, and so on?

The "war pr0n" score is little more than a measure of how far removed the "tale" of war being told by the public mouthpieces is from the actual war on the ground.

In the case of fiction, replace the White House with the Author, replace the Newscaster with the Narrator, and replace the Public with the Audience/Reader/Viewer.

The war pr0n score is an indicator of how far the author is subverting the truth to maintain sympathy for his characters and his story. It doesn't matter if the narrator is unreliable, the author picked the narrator just like the White House picks the Press Secretary. It doesn't matter whether it is a dystopia or utopia. And it's not a matter of enforcing "show, don't tell" as some iron clad writer's advice.

It's an indicator of how the author chooses the narrator to relay the facts of war and violence to the reader, versus how much the author chooses to conceal the uglier facts from the reader to maintain their sympathies for a little more.

So, it doesn't matter if Rorschach is an unreliable narrator, what matters is Rorschach is giving us a Fox News story version of how useful torture is. He eventually gets useful information. We are seldom shown completely innocent people being tortured. We are never shown false information throwing him off the trail. The author choose to show us that torture works and that's an unrealistic representation of violence.

It also isn't simply a matter of body count. If you show nameless black hats getting killed, you get 3 points per dead body. That can add up pretty quick. However, if you show us the cost of that battle by also showing us nameless white hats getting killed and churned into cannon fodder, then you subtract 3 points from your war pr0n score per dead, nameless whitehat.

So, if you show us the good guys going in, guns blazing, wiping out the bad guys, and none of the good guys get hurt, you're going to rack up a high war pr0n score for minimizing the cost of war.

If you show a number of good guys getting killed, show us on screen like you so eagerly showed us the black hats getting killed, then you show us the true cost of the war, you let the reporters show pictures of our dead and wounded, and you may not get a high war pr0n score.

Is the Narrator a Fox News style newscaster? Or is he someone with a slightly more realistic outlook on the costs of war?

Yes, of course, none of you are fooled. You see the pictures and you read between the frames and you think how terrible war really is. But that's you watching Fox News announce a US invasion and you shake your head in despair. You know what the cost is and you fill in the information missing from the Fox News newscast.

What the war pr0n score is, is an objective look at what's comming off the network, not how you or someone else managed to fill in the blanks. It is an objective measure of what is being put on the channel, and that score can give you a sense of whether you're watching Fox News or whether you're watching PBS.

It is a measure of the narrative coming out of the channel, not a measure of how you, the highly well informed, were able to fill in the missing informaiton.

And based on this score, "Watchmen" is broadcast on a Fox News style channel.

#370 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Greg, if what happens at the end of Watchmen happened in Moscow, would the score be different?

#371 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:17 PM:

greg,

so it occurred to me, when someone asked upthread if you "hold with" (i was gonna say "believe in," in the religious sense, but there's the inevitable baptism joke) unreliable narrators...

do you hold with moral ambiguity in literature? or do you think it's bullshit & betrays (or could even lead to) muddled morality in real life?

#372 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:20 PM:

maybe "believe there is room for, or could be a call for" is a clearer way of putting my question than "hold with."

#373 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:28 PM:

Just saw the particle 'Speaking of "transformative works"...' - for those who enjoyed it, this comes from the old Australian TV show 'The Money or the Gun'.

Every week they'd have a guest band on - and every week they'd perform _Stairway to Heaven_, very often "in the style of ___".

Pure joy for cover version fiends (like me). The CD is on Amazon (but what's this strange new American cover?) at http://www.amazon.com/Stairways-Heaven-Various-Artists/dp/B000005J65

or you can just go and have a listen to much of it at the world's finest music blog: http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2006/05/stairways_to_he.html

#374 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Greg @370: Rorschach is presented from the beginning as a psychopath. I can conceive of a reader brought into the middle of the story getting the idea that torture is being supported as a valid means, but if someone has been following from the beginning the torture is just more evidence for Rorschach's amoral character. You can even see why he would decide to do it, but it was fairly clear that this was the working of an unbalanced mind.

Should it be forbidden to try to show a view into the mind of a psychopath, because someone might take it as an example to be followed? If so, what is the extent of forbidden narrative?

#375 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:54 PM:

geekosaur at #375 writes:

> Should it be forbidden to try to show a view into the mind of a psychopath, because someone might take it as an example to be followed?

I don't think so, but it certainly disturbed me when I saw _Clockwork Orange_ at the movies, and the mentally unbalanced guy in the seat behind me was very very visibly excited and happy during the scenes where Alex and his droogs went head kicking. Lots of jumping up and down and punching fists into palms and happy little cries of "get him!"

Not making a political point either way here - just sharing the creepiness..

#376 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:59 PM:

ethan@371, nope. same score. I actually explain those particular points in the scorecard here. There is a question of whether 300 points (out of 685) should be counted or not. I think they count as paper targets, but if you don't want to count them, then the score is +385. V for vendetta only got +112 points. The movie "300" got +612 points. So, either way, "Watchmen" is pretty high up there.

miriam@372: if you "hold with" unreliable narrators

They don't affect the score. The author chooses the narrator, the way the white house chooses the press secretary, or the way the prime minister in V chooses the "Voice of England".

do you hold with moral ambiguity in literature?

morality doesn't enter into it.

I don't think torture works. If you write a story where torture works, you win ten points for war pr0n. You get 10 points every time torture produces useful information from a guilty party. You subtract 10 points everytime your characters unknowingly torture an innocent victim or everytime torture produces bad information that is difficult for the characters to determine if it's accurate or not.

If you show torture, but you bring in innocent people as often as guilty people, if you torture them all equally, if it produces piles of useless information and false positives, then your overal score will be around zero.

Torture is still morally wrong, but if you portray it accurately in your story, then you don't get any war pr0n points. So, it's got nothing to do with the morality of the act. It's got to do with the accuracy, or lack thereof, of how the act is reported to the reader by the author.

You could even write a story that shows the characters riding the cusp of whether torture is right or wrong or that they don't care or whatever moral ambiguity you want to put into it. That isn't what triggers the war pr0n points. It's whether or not you portray torture accurately or not, the innocent tortured with the guilty, the false positives it generates, etc. Show that, and you can do whatever you want with it in a story, and you won't accumulate war pr0n points.

#377 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:09 PM:

greg,

allright, never mind. serves me right anyway.

i promise, & everyone can hold me to this, never to try to engage with you again when you have a website to push.

#378 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:10 PM:

geekasaur@375: but if someone has been following from the beginning the torture is just more evidence for Rorschach's amoral character. You can even see why he would decide to do it, but it was fairly clear that this was the working of an unbalanced mind.

I get that Rorschach is supposed to be unhinged. It doesn't affect the score. What affects the score is that the character uses torture and keeps getting useful information.

If good intel is a needle in a haystack, then torture is a hay-producing process, not a needle producing process. Torturing 20 people should produce 20 claims that are difficult for the characters to weed out and wastes far more of their time than is worth.

Your character could be as nutty as a fruitcake, or as sane as they come, it's not the torture that gets you the points or that some crazy guy is doing the torture, it's that the torture consistenly yeilds useful information rather than swamping them with fodder.

If they showed Rorschach torturing an innocent person and getting a false positive that leads them on a wild goose chase, then subtract 10 points from the war pr0n score.

#379 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Greg, if the location of the event at the end has no affect on your scoring, then your scoring system is broken*. Do you not see the vast difference having that happen in Moscow rather than New York would make?

Also--did you not notice that Rorschach is on a wild goose chase for the entire length of the book?

I guess I'm not sure I understand why you score things. What's your goal?

*Not to mention that any "war porn" scoring system where Watchmen and 300 can get the same score is broken from the get-go.

#380 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:24 PM:

miriam: allright, never mind. serves me right anyway.

Did I not answer your question? Morality has nothing to do with it. Torture is morally wrong. But you don't get points for showing torture, you get points for showing torture in an unrealistic manner.

i promise, & everyone can hold me to this, never to try to engage with you again when you have a website to push.

Yeah, cause the only reason I'd post a ten thousand word post on my own website would have nothing to do with... the grief I'd get for posting a ten thousand word post here. Or the fact that I can't edit something I post here if I screw up my math or something.

I answered your question and didn't even mention my website because it had nothing to do with your question. I mentioned it to ethan because I had already wrote up an explanation of the specific thing he'd asked about.

#381 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Fiction isn't news. We don't ask our fictions to obey journalistic integrity any more than we ask the news to follow narrative structure. (And a narrator is most definitely not the same thing as a press secretary for the author, even if from time to time their viewpoints are in sync.) I don't think drawing a parallel between them is useful or illuminating, and I particularly don't think it's helpful to assume that people who expect different measures of things which serve very different purposes are somehow lacking in integrity.

(But I will say, without contradicting the above, that, yes, the ability to make sense of the lacunae in story, including figuring out unreliable narrators, is indeed a not-dissimilar skillset to being able to spot propaganda. Both require asking what it is that you're not being shown.)

Greg, at the risk of dragging all this out longer than is warranted, two things:

1) The trouble with the War Pr0n rating is that you've developed an instrument for detecting the presence of a certain thing, except that the whole process by which it's measured rests on a number of circular, begging-the-question assumptions that certain things mean what the scale says they do. I do admire the thought and effort that you've put into it, and the principles it wants to uphold, but neither effort nor principle is proof against the possibility that the work is flawed. Consider that it may be detecting things that are correlative but not causative to the issues that it is concerned with, and that the way it's calibrated may be giving you false positives.

2) Please please please drop the sarcasm. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I entered into this discussion in good faith. I hope I've made it clear that I have no intention of browbeating you into agreeing with me, and I would like it very much if you could extend the same courtesy. If the subject matter is something that you can't engage with people who disagree with you on it without anger and dismissal, perhaps it's time to withdraw from the debate.

#382 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:27 PM:

(And not to hammer on about this, but...)

Greg, you say in your summary of Watchmen that the main characters agree that what happens at the end was necessary. Which is entirely untrue--they agree that now that it has already happened and they can't do anything about it, revealing the truth behind it would only make it even worse. Those are two very different things.

#383 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:49 PM:

ethanGreg, if the location of the event at the end has no affect on your scoring, then your scoring system is broken*. Do you not see the vast difference having that happen in Moscow rather than New York would make?

rot13

gur pvivyvnaf va Arj Lbex ner xvyyrq gb sbby gur jbeyq vagb guvaxvat Rnegu vf haqre nggnpx sebz fbzr nyvra sbez sebz nabgure qvzrafvba. Gur vqrn gung guvf nyvra nggnpx jvyy pnhfr gur ovpxrevat vagreangvbany eryngvbaf gb fgbc gurve fdhnooyvat naq svaq crnpr. Va gung erfcrpg, vg qbrfa'g znggre gb Irvqg, Qe. Znaunggna, Avgr Bjy, be Ynhevr, jurer gurfr pviyvnaf ner. Gurl ner n zrnaf gb na raq, gurl ner cncre gnetrgf gung arrq gb or xvyyrq gb ernpu gurve hygvzngr tbny bs srne vaqhprq jbeyq crnpr. Gurl pbhyq cebqhpr gur fnzr srne unq Irvqg ynhapurq uvf nggnpx ng Zbfpbj be Ybaqba be Orwvat be jurerire. fb, gurl jbhyq pbhag gur fnzr.

Also--did you not notice that Rorschach is on a wild goose chase for the entire length of the book?

Avgr Bjy naq Ynhevr ohfg Ebefpunpu bhg bs wnvy. Avgr Bjy naq Ebefpunpu tb gb n one, Ebefpunpu gbegherf n thl naq trgf fbzr vasbezngvba nobhg gur nffnffva gung jnf uverq gb xvyy Irvqg. Avgr Bjy gbegherf n thl naq trgf vasbezngvba gbb. Guvf gura vzzrqvngryl (jvguva n pbhcyr ubhef) unf gurz svther bhg gung gurl arrq gb pbasebag Irvqg ng uvf nagnegvp onfr.

I guess I'm not sure I understand why you score things. What's your goal?

It's a study in how language misdescribes violence, war, and the use of force, anything from "they will greet us as liberators" to Rambo going back to Vietnam and settling old scores. And I happen to have a bit of a pet peeve for people who misdescribe violence, so I wanted to come up with some objective measuring system.

But the numbers don't mean anything unless I have bunch of different works scored to compare them too. The first movie I did was "V" and it came out at +112. And I had no idea how high that was. So then I did "300" and it got over 600 points. so a scale is forming so you can see where a work lands in the numbering system.

I figure if I can score a whole bunch of movies and they land at relatively understandable places on the scale, then that would prove the scoring system.

*Not to mention that any "war porn" scoring system where Watchmen and 300 can get the same score is broken from the get-go.

One thing that came up for me is that the scoring system was made for movies, so I'm not sure how to score certain things for comic books. If you see a persian paper target get stabbed and killed in "300", that was 3 points. But comic books can't have motion, so you don't see the stabbing or shooting or whatever. you see moments before or after, usually.

you can subtract 300 points if you'd like, and give "Watchmen" a score of +368.

The 300 points come from gur arj lbex pvivyvnaf xvyyrq ol Irvqg'f gryrcbegrq zbafgre. Gurer ner sbhe be svir cntrf nsgre gur nggnpx gung fubj abguvat ohg qrnq obqvrf. Gurl dhnyvsl nf cncre gnetrgf, ohg V unira'g svtherq bhg ubj gb pbhag gurz va n pbzvp obbx, fvapr vs lbh tb nyy gur jnl vagb gur onpxtebhaq, lbh onfvpnyyl frr fgvpx svtherf. V'z abg ragveryl fher ubj gb qrny jvgu gurz, fb srry serr gb vtaber gurz sbe abj naq hfr n fpber bs +368.

If I can figure out how to deal with that scene, I'll readjust the score.

#384 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 11:57 PM:

ethan: Greg, you say in your summary of Watchmen that the main characters agree that what happens at the end was necessary.

I had to check a couple of times, but I couldn't find the word "necessary", including alternate spellings. Was that something I posted here and rot13'ed it?

#385 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:11 AM:

Forgive me, Greg, I forgot that when summarizing what you've said, I have to use exactly the same words you did or else I'm lying and wrong.

#386 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:18 AM:

I'm sorry, that was snippish and rude.

#387 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:31 AM:

ethan, I said they become complicit because they agree to go along with it after the fact. They didn't think it neccessary before hand, but they think it is the best course to follow after the fact and they go along with it. that wins them 30 points. Doc Manhattan then gets another 10 for sealing the deal.

If I'd said they thought it neccessary, that would have been a typo I'd need to fix. So I was asking.

#388 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:52 AM:

Steve #374, This is what the original Australian CD of Stairways to Heaven looked like. It uses imagery from the introduction to "The Money or the Gun" Australian ABC show it was excerpted from, as you mentioned.
I acquired the VHS tape (then backed it up to DVD for safekeeping). I think that worked a bit better than just the audio, because the presentations were quite amusing, and compensated for some sonic shortcomings. I don't know if the US version appeared on VHS. It's possible Andrew Denton has made sure that it hasn't been reissued, especially the video version, since he was seen being young & silly.

All I know about The Watchmen, not having read comics since childhood, is from assorted references to it around the internet & blogosphere.

#389 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:04 AM:

ethan@386: I have to use exactly the same words you did or else I'm lying and wrong.

Dan@309: you feel that they're being disingenuous, or just wrong?

Hm, I'm not sure why this is landing as if I must either be calling everyone a liar or stupid, (or that I'm just pushing a website). I know I never said anything like that. But if that's how this is occurring for people, then the conversation is already lost.

usually at this point, I'll attempt to explain further, but I've yet to see that actually work. Once it's done, it seems to be un-done-able.

So, I'm done. Anyone who wanted to continue the conversation with me, I'm perfectly happy to continue on email.

Goodnight Gracie.

#390 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:15 AM:

Greg, a few problems with your analysis of Watchmen, in no particular order:

1. Lbh qrsvar "cncre gnetrgf" yvxr fb: "anzryrff, urnegyrff, rzbgvbayrff urapuzra, jubz gur cebgntbavfg pna xvyy jvgu fhofgnagvnyyl yrff rzbgvbany onpxynfu guna vs gurl jrer shyyl syrfurq bhg punenpgref." Lbh qrfpevor gur crbcyr jr frr xvyyrq ol gur gryrcbegngvba nggnpx nf cncre gnetrgf, rira gubhtu gur pebjq vapyhqrf: gur gjb Oreavrf (gur arjfiraqbe naq gur pbzvp-ernqvat xvq), gur yrfovna pbhcyr jr'q frra nethvat rneyvre, naq gur cevfba cflpuvngevfg naq uvf jvsr. Gurfr ner uneqyl "anzryrff, urnegyrff, rzbgvbayrff" abaragvgvrf.

2. Lbh artyrpg gung jura Ebefpunpu hfrf gbegher gb svaq gur zvffvat tvey (juvpu ur qrfpevorf va Puncgre 16), ur gbegherf 14 crbcyr jub xarj abguvat, svefg. V qba'g xabj vs guvf znxrf vg orggre be jbefr sebz lbhe fgnaqcbvag -- vg'f na nqzvffvba gung gbegher hfhnyyl qbrfa'g jbex, ohg gur snpg gung ur uvgf cnlqveg jvgu gur 15gu ivpgvz pbhyq or frra nf whfgvslvat gur 14gu bguref.

3. Lbh pbafvfgragyl zvffcryy "Zbybpu".

4. Va Puncgre 6, jura Ebefpunpu erpbhagf univat orra orngra nf n puvyq, lbh qrfpevor guvf nf n "cbvagyrff qrzbafgengvba bs rivy". Vg'f cerggl boivbhf gb zr gung guvf jnf sne sebz cbvagyrff -- gung gur bevtva bs Ebefpunpu'f vanovyvgl gb srry ybir vf fubja va guvf fprar. (Gur pbaprcgf bs frk naq zrepl ner yvaxrq va Jngpuzra, naq Ebefpunpu vf hasnzvyvne jvgu obgu. Ba zl uneq qevir V'ir tbg gur ortvaavatf bs n ybatre rffnl ba guvf gbcvp.)

5. Lbh'er jebat nobhg Fnyyl Whcvgre jnagvat gb or encrq. Erernq gung frdhrapr (Puncgre 9, cntr 7). Fnyyl zbpxf gur abgvba gung fur jnf encrq nf fbzr xvaq bs Cragubhfr yrggref-pbyhza snagnfl. Fur fyrcg jvgu Rqqvr orpnhfr ur jnf tragyr gbjneqf ure. Erzrzore jung V fnvq nobhg frk naq zrepl?

6. Fbzrubj, lbh pbhag gur fprar jurer n tnat bs Xabg-Gbcf xvyyf gur ryqre Avgr Bjy ntnvafg Zbber, rira gubhtu vg'f na nethzrag ntnvafg ivtvynagvfz.

7. Lbh zvfhaqrefgnaq Qe znaunggna. Ur qbrfa'g unir tbq-yvxr vagryyvtrapr -- vs ur qvq, ur'q nyernql xabj ubj gb vfbyngr n tyhvab. Ur qbrfa'g unir tbq-yvxr jvfqbz -- vs ur qvq, ur'q haqrefgnaq uhzna orvatf orggre, naq jbhyq unir xabja gung gur zhygvcyr-obqvrf frk gevpx jbhyqa'g cyrnfr Ynhevr. Ur'f rira yrff pncnoyr guna Irvqg vf bs yrnqvat gur jbeyq gb n ynfgvat crnpr. Gb gur rkgrag gung Qe Znaunggna flzobyvmrf Tbq va gur fgbel, ur flzobyvmrf n qvfgnag, Qrvfgvp Tbq, abg n hgbcvna npgvivfg zrffvnavp Tbq.

8. Lbh zvff gur ragver cbvag bs gur fgbel! Va Puncgre 11, jr frr n svtug oernx bhg nzbat fbzr crbcyr ba n ALP fgerrg pbeare, naq jr frr beqvanel Arj Lbexref nebhaq gurz fgnegvat gb vagreirar -- znlor gb wbva va gur svtug, znlor gb oernx vg hc. Naq gura gurl'er nyy xvyyrq ol Irvqg'f fhcre-cyna! Gur Tbeqvna Xabg gung Nyrknaqre phg guebhtu -- gung'f fbpvrgl, uhzna phygher va nyy vg'f gnatyrq, shpxrq-hc tybel.

#391 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:30 AM:

Epacris at #389 writes:

> Steve #374, This is what the original Australian CD of Stairways to Heaven looked like. It uses imagery from the introduction to "The Money or the Gun" Australian ABC show it was excerpted from, as you mentioned.

Oh yes - I'm Australian and I watched it on TV when it first happened. I was just a bit startled to see the "wrong" CD cover.

> It's possible Andrew Denton has made sure that it hasn't been reissued, especially the video version, since he was seen being young & silly.

Nah - I don't think Andrew Denton feels shame. Not about silly music anyway. Last time I saw him on TV he was pretending to be Steve Irwin, wrestling a wild armchair into submission.

#392 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:45 AM:

Unreliable narration is more than a stylistic trick or a way to present a literary puzzle to the reader. It allows the writer to present more information about what is going on than can be easily done with either a reliable narrator or third-person omniscient. The additional information is in the comparison between what the narrator says and what the narrator and other characters do (where that can be disentangled from how the narrator tells us about it).

I'm in the middle of reading a good example right now: Ken MacLeod's "Learning the World". There are two main groups of characters, human and alien, who know very little about each other, but who make large assumptions based on their own experience. Individuals in each group have very different backgrounds and agendas, and all of them filter their perceptions through both the agendas and the assumptions. Because we see some actions through more than one viewpoint, we get some parallax that a single viewpoint wouldn't give. Because the narratives are each told from limited knowledge, seeing that the narratives don't jibe tells us that the actual situation is different; and frrvat gung nyy gur aneengvirf fgvyy bayl tvir hf n cnegvny ivrj bs jung'f tbvat ba gryyf hf gung fbzrbar, creuncf nabgure punenpgre jub vfa'g CBI, ohg vf fubja va gur onpxtebhaq, vf npghnyyl znavchyngvat riragf.

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:53 AM:

Got lost in Oakland on my way to tonight's ML gathering, but eventually we found our way there and had a great time. May post photos on my blog unless the bribes start pouring in.

#394 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:24 AM:

While I deeply disagree on moral and aesthetic grounds with what Greg's doing, it's actually really quite an interesting project. If Greg remembers that the scale is imperfect, and could quite possibly give perverse results, I'd be quite interested in future developments.

Dan, miriam just accused Greg of being out to promote a website in what looked to me like an attempt to delegitimise Greg's status as a party to a dialogue. Seems a bit much to me to expect people to get that thrown at them and just ignore it.

As to the specific Watchman discussion, I have no opinion on it, except to note that if you've read Tom Brightwind, or How the Fairy Bridge was Built at Thoresby (and I know at least two people apart from me reading this have, because I can read acknowledgements as well as the next man/woman/Fairy Prince) Greg London and David Montefiore have a great deal in common. I forget the exact quote, but it's something like, `having been much improved by argument himself, he thought that he could argue people into a better nature.'

(Note: Greg, this is a compliment. If you take offense, I pre-emptively withdraw and apologise.)

#395 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:39 AM:

Having seen Greg's 390, ignore my vain attempt to contribute to a productive conversation. Clearly this isn't a topic conducive to such.

#396 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:43 AM:

Serge @ 394: It was a great time indeed, and if I didn't cavil at those pictures of me in a dress at Burning Man, I'm not going to complain about yours.

#397 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:52 AM:

Miriam, #378: *blink* Where the fleep did that come from?

#398 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Julie L already mentioned Dean Swift's 'Modest Proposal' in discussing unreliable narrators at #360. I've seen critics accepting Lemuel Gulliver's opinion on humans and other races as simply reflecting Swift's, but I got the impression that we were meant to regard Gulliver's story as filtered by his own experience & opinion, which might be regarded as 'unreliable', rather than omniscient. Is there a generally accepted view nowadays?

Oh, and as mentioned, "I've seen things … lost, like tears in rain." is one of the all-time classic SF quotes, from Ray Batty in Blade Runner. If I'm not already crying, that bit does it. There are numerous MP3s of it across the internet, along with other BR quotes — I got a phone call today to tell me that my new Blade Runner DVD release is at the shop ready to pick up, so there may be a rash of new ones from a possibly better soundtrack. If I ever hear it as a ringtone, I'll have to destroy the phone/drop it into deep water so I won't beat the owner to death with it. With losses over the years, and things that are memories only for me in the world now, it's become more, rather than less, stronger over time.

#399 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:02 AM:

I am pleased to report that the DVD set of Doctor Who series 3 has the necessary Easter Egg.

#400 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:48 AM:

I'm reading Gene Wolfe's In Green's Jungles, and the narrator is so unreliable that I don't believe him when he flat-out tells me he's lying.

The first unreliable narrator I remember spotting was John Carter, who was so obviously lying when he said he wasn't proud to be the greatest swordsman on two worlds. He was always yakking about it, and always telling me that it was just a simple fact that no-one who had seen him fight would doubt, but even an eight-year-old could tell he loved bragging about it.

#401 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:51 AM:

lee,

*blink* Where the fleep did that come from??

greg was talking about objective tests, & i'd just found one: if there is a subject to which greg has not devoted a website, i can speak to him sensibly about it, & he will answer straight questions with honest answers.* if greg has devoted a website to or near a subject (the evil of alan moore, copyright terms), i cannot speak with him sensibly or get answers that don't lead directly back to his theory.

& this argument i certainly shouldn't have gotten back into. last time i asked him (yes, paraphrasing) if he would take my impression of the way he was conducting his argument at face value, he said no, because i'd admitted to being an alan moore fan, & so would say anything to disparage someone who dares criticize moore.

so now when something relating to moore has come up again i should, & no i really do**, know that all my opinions & arguments are meaningless.

*not that i don't get into arguments with him still; there were some in, off the top of my head, slash-fic & the sky is evil threads, & in the latter i think he even conceded a point to me, though he didn't say so explicitly.

**no, i really do. i'm not being ironic. i regret everything. i could be totally wrong that answering your question is better than leaving any vaguely related argument the f alone, because i can't get away from people's convictions that i'm pissy & motivated by malice.

#402 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:47 AM:

Since its pretty much finished now, I thought I would make my own comment on the war porn thing, which is that, going by what has been said on this thread, the scale is objective only within specific moral rules which greg holds, and which may or may not overlap with a great many other people. Plus the difficulty in critiscising a work of art/ literature/ entertainment is that different people see the same thing in different ways.
Or in other words, it's all a mess from the start.

#403 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:55 AM:

miriam @ #402: i can't get away from people's convictions that i'm pissy & motivated by malice.

I certainly don't think you come across that way, but then I thought "Oh-oh!" as soon as Greg
wheeled his hobby-horse out back at #283.

#404 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:01 AM:

Not to distract from a good argument (or a bad one), but hi, I'm wandering by to share this week's semi-random freakout. Surgery in six hours. I have decided that while I am not particularly fazed by being cut up, I am terrified of general anesthesia, which in the whole unconscious-and-paralyzed oblivion thing strikes me as a whole lot like being dead, and occasionally has complications like being just paralyzed but not unconscious (aaaaah!) or, um, actually getting dead. I've also been fighting a cold for ten days and while one of the various doctors at the day job (being surrounded by doctors all day occasionally has its uses) assured me that I can't actually choke and drown on my own post-nasal-drip phlegm while under anesthesia, I can't quite shake the fear of dying by drowning in mucus.

This is all probably terribly irrational; an anesthesiologist said I had more chance of dying in a car wreck driving to the hospital than under anesthesia. This might be more reassuring if I wasn't planning to walk over.

And while it's really a silly idea to back out at the last minute after months of prep and fighting the health plan to get them to actually approve and cover this and going through the ups and downs of their approved/not approved/approved game, I can't help wondering if I am just being kind of wimpy. Is relief of discomfort and pain worth elective surgery? Am I just being a wimp? I mean, I live with pain all the time - what's a little more? Maybe it's not enough pain to justify this? Am I doing this for stupid reasons? Is it worth the chance of dying? Was this all a really BAD decision? And is it too late to change my mind? Gaaah!

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled argument. Talk to y'all later, or not, as the case may be.

#405 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:18 AM:

Greg,

I'm trying to pick apart why these "war pr0n" discussions always turn toxic, in the hopes of reducing that effect in future.

I understand your point about the glorification of violence, and the desensitizing effect that it can have on us. To a certain extent, I agree with that point. But you seem to be contending that this robs a work of all of its validity, and that's where you lose me (and, I expect, a lot of us).

Have you tried scoring the Iliad? It's full of death and violence; it celebrates killing people. Yet I, personally, would not be the same person had I never read (and wept at) the description of Hector's body being dragged around the city walls of Troy. But that episode comes wrapped in a poem that glorifies war. Am I supposed to treat it as war pr0n?

Have you ever scored a work you really like? Have you ever liked something that scored high, or been strongly moved and changed by one that did? If so, what was it?

When you only score works you don't like - and that is all we have seen you do here - you seem to be attempting to give your own personal taste some kind of absolute validity. You conflate aesthetics and morality when you start a discussion with how you hated the Watchmen, and then go on to explain its war pr0n score. It reads as a bullying tactic, in effect calling everyone who disagrees with you a bad person.

This effect is magnified because you invented the scoring system yourself, and you are its only advocate. Thus, it seems even more like an invented stick to beat people with. Worse: it's a moral code where you are the arbiter of what is good and bad. That pushes people's religion and evangelism buttons, and this crowd pushes back.

If you want people to accept war pr0n as a valid concept, a valid way of evaluating a work, you need to divorce it from your aesthetic views and find a way to get broader acceptance for it.

Otherwise, if these discussions continue, and continue in the vein they have so far, I'm going to have to consider some form of moderator intervention. This is going nowhere, and getting there faster every time.

#406 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:32 AM:

Susan @405:

What I always do on the eve of momentous and scary things - moving countries comes to mind - is trust my past self. At a time when I was able to be calm and rational, I made a decision, after weighing all the risks and considering the costs and benefits. So when it's time to take the plunge, and my emotions kick in, I know that I've already done the thinking.

Trust yourself.

You made the decision to have this surgery for good reasons. You fought for it because you believed that it was worth doing. It's not wimpy, because long term pain is not good for you; the cumulative effects are greater than the degree of pain at any given moment.

Drop us a line when it's done; we look forward to hearing from you.

#407 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 08:22 AM:

#362 ::: Tim Walters

It's been a while since I've read Unquenchable Fire, but I remember it as a lot of fun, especially the bit where the doctors using conventional magical methods carefully explain the dangers of using anything else. And we get a heroine who is cranky about it all instead of plucky.

#377 ::: Greg London

Another problem with the way torture is commonly portrayed is there are no consequences except the gathering of information. You don't see the longterm effects on the victim, who is usually only in the story for the torture scene, or any emotional consequences for the torturer.

And I was revolted by the bit in the New Sun books where Severian says he abolished the Order of Truth and Penitence because it caused good people to do bad things. Maybe this is just the way Severian would see it, but if he realized torture was a bad thing, is it implausible for him to make the leap to realizes it was bad for particular people?

I was very disappointed in Watchmen--I'd been going along, emotionally involved and impressed with the intelligence shown in the details, and then we get to The Big Event, and it's a cliche. Isn't Veidt supposed to be smarter than that? On the other hand, I haven't been able to figure out a better Big Event.

IIRC, Sturgeon wrote a story about a similar Big Event, and it worked as badly as a reasonable person would expect.

#408 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Terry Karney @ 300...
Recumbents scare me. The nature of them is such that I don't trust myself to clear them well in a wreck. They are also harder to see.

#357, Xeger - Interesting - I think you're the first person I've known to hold that rationale about clearing recumbents in a wreck, other than me.

My vague memory of my uncle's accident leads me to think this is a reasonable fear. I think he lost control going down a hill and didn't fall well, with no one else involved. I'm not positive, though.

I hadn't even considered ajay and David Harmon's perspective about traffic, which is a truly excellent point. But that's partially because I simply can't imagine myself riding in traffic. A handful of people do it in this area[1], but I'm not confident I won't get into an accident in my bright red car that protects my precious limbs, even on my tiny five-mile commute[2]. If I ever switch to biking it, I'll be on the sidewalk, laws or no laws[3].

[1] I see perhaps one bicyclist in traffic every two or three weeks.

[2] There have been two nearly-head-on collisions at an intersection I pass every day in the last month. I probably wouldn't take the same route if I were biking in traffic, but yikes.

[3] There aren't enough of either pedestrians or bicyclists in this area for the police to bother enforcing that law, anyway.

#409 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:13 AM:

#405--Susan, I remember feeling a lot of the same things just before I had my gall bladder out. I was at an early point in the course of gall bladder problems, as these things go, and I could have tried treatment via drugs first instead, but decided to go with the surgery and just put an end to it. All the way to the hospital, I found myself thinking the sort of thoughts you're thinking. In fact, I thought them all the way up to the point the anesthetic took over. I'd be very surprised to find out that most people didn't have at least a qualm or two at such times.

I think this is because we are capable of rational thought and have (at least most of us) the capacity to question our actions, which is a thing that helps keep us honest, even though it's not much help at times like these. I don't believe you make serious decisions lightly, and trusting the choices that led you to this point is safe. Have faith in your own wisdom.

Best wishes for a good outcome, and a recovery that does not screw up your holidays.

#410 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:20 AM:

#269, #359, bikes and abs - essentially the options are:
Be a powerful fit cyclist who can adopt an aerodynamic leaned over position without much weight on his/her hands and wrists because the torque reaction from the legs supports the weight.
Sit in an upright non-aerodynamic position and ride more slowly.
Have weight on your hands and wrists.
Sit in a comfortable and aerodynamic position on a recumbent whether you pedal hard or gently.

None of these solutions is ideal for everybody, all of them work for somebody.

#411 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:24 AM:

There seems to be an epidemic of gall bladder issues with consequent surgery in the SF community--Mike Resnick mere days ago, Gay Ellen Dennett and I think Sharon Sbarsky and maybe others in NESFA a year or two or three ago, Jennifer Roberson a couple years ago, and I forget who else. Jim Benford's got removed some while ago. Etc.

Anyway, it my be perception to me only, but it seems that there's been a lot of it going on in the SF community in recent years. The good news is that everyone I can think of who went through of it, came out of it as reasonably as one can expect when one's hide is getting cut into and flesh removal occurs.

#412 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:30 AM:

Susan: You're not being wimpy. Steps taken to live without pain (or with less pain, even) are worthwhile.

My wife expressed some similar sentiments over the summer before having carpal tunnel release surgery (in her case, part of what was freaking her out was that the last time she went under the knife was a back operation, with all the attendant awfulness that entails, and her rational mind couldn't convince the other part that this was not the same thing); it turned out to be very much worth the trouble and worry, and I expect your procedure will too. Don't give in to the grim Puritan nonsense that tells you it's better to grit your teeth and suck it up. It's not. You didn't make a bad decision, and it isn't silly in the least.

That said, what you're going through is a natural reaction to having made momentous decisions - it's the instinctive "ohshitohshitohshit" that kicks in the last few steps before the leap. As abi said, trust the self that made the decision and that it was weighed and rational and with your best interests in mind. Like depression, you can't talk it away, but you can ride it through if you're able to keep a little distance from it and understand that it's an event, not an argument.

Best wishes to you, and let us all know how it goes.

#413 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:43 AM:

Susan @ 405... Others have better said what I'd like to say. Let us know how things went as soon as you can. Take care.

#414 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:48 AM:

abi has already written what I would have liked to say about the war pr0n issue, had I the wit to put the words together in that way, but I will add this: assigning scores and numbers to works of art is a path frought with peril. (I say this as someone who's spent more time than I should admit doing RPG writeups for character from books, so I'm coming from a position of having a certain measure of sympathy for the impulse.) Because it must to a certain extent ignore context, tone, subtlety, irony, and a host of other things that fuel the engine of story, any system of that sort is going to produce false equivalencies at some point, which suggests to me that its use as an analytical tool is, well, limited. A Mary Sue litmus test may tell us that Carrot Ironfoundersson scores close to Princess Fion'a Raven Stardragon in the things it's designed to measure, but it increases our understanding of Men at Arms not at all.

#416 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Hi abi,

Have you ever scored a work you really like?

I just started doing this a little while ago. I only have three things scored so far. V for Vendetta, 300, Watchmen.

I liked 300. I have to roll my eyes here and there knowing a bit about where it diverges from history.

I was thinking of doing Kill Bill next. I liked KB and it didn't make my eyes roll. It'll probably be through the roof for a war pr0n score. I'm fine with that.

Have you ever liked something that scored high, or been strongly moved and changed by one that did? If so, what was it?

Have I ever been strongly moved or improved by a story?

That's actually a really interesting question.

Star Wars. But I was just a tyke and very impressionable. Did it move me? Yeah, I was a Lawful Good farmboy who suddenly wanted to grow up and fight the Evil Empire. Slight problem with target acquisition somewhere along the line, though. Didn't have my own Obi Wan Kenobi whispering in my ear.

A story that improved me was "2001, a space odyssey". Read it in high school. It got me to realize that there is more to the world than I might be able to see or know or ever know. No idea what it's war pr0n score would be. I don't recall any misrepresentations of violence.

A story that moved me as an adult was "The Old Man and the Sea". probably score a zero on war pr0n, the little violence I remember it showing is realistic. Actually I think a number of Hemmingway's stories show war in a fairly accurate light. Women are raped and scarred long after it happened. Innocent people are killed. Plans don't go accordingly. sometimes the choices are limited to the lesser of two evils. He shows that kind of stuff.

But I don't recall any of his stories as showing violence as being superior to social structures, to diplomacy, to society. I don't recall any of his stories being unrealistic in showing violence for what it is and what it isn't. Maybe he glorified it a bit and maybe he'd get some point, but I doubt any of his stories would be over a hundred points. And he had issues with representing female charcters honestly, but that's a different scorecard.

#417 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 10:45 AM:

The only time I've been under general anaesthetic was to have my wisdom teeth out, and that went extremely well. If I were in pain and surgery could fix it, you bet I'd go for surgery. It's not wimpy at all.

Unreliable narrators-- okay, Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief and The Queen of Attolia. The first one made me angry, the second one made me feel like part of the book. In the first, the unreliability was in character with the first-person narrator, but at least twice, I thought I had it figured out and changed my mind when I considered what I had read. The ha-ha-GOTCHA moment annoyed me because it felt like the book had lied to me, not just the narrator. I'll reread it to see where the information came in, but I'm not sure I won't still be annoyed. In Queen, it's third-person, so the sneakiness is not due to narrator. Again, I'd have to reread it to see if all the information was there, but I felt like the story was treating me as an equal instead of a dupe.
It's the difference between, say, The Sixth Sense, where you can watch it a second time and appreciate it, and The Village, where the movie goes to increasing lengths to amaze you with its trickery.

This may only work with trickster stories, though. Unreliable narrators who are wrong or working from bad data are usually fine by me. Narrators that say one thing over and over and over while the story says another are great if they're done well.

Am I strange in breaking up opinions as things the author says, things the character says, and things the story says?

#418 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:04 AM:

Susan: Amen to abi's (and Dan's) comments. This wave of fear is a natural response, but that doesn't mean you should yield to it. Fear and anxiety tend to knock out our intellect ("Fear is the mind-killer..."). So have faith in the decisions you made before the fear kicked in....

#419 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Susan: I feel your pain. My mother has a similar fear, so great that when she had to have an ovary out she did it under a local, chatting with the gas-passer and generally enjoying herself.

In the vein of the strange, while the surgeon was working he looked over the curtain and asked if she wanted her appendix out, "while I'm in the neighborhood" and so it was done.

Best wishes.

#420 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Susan, I have the same fear of general anesthesia. I didn't have it until I woke up from surgery and realized there was a whole chunk of time that was just missing. Where was "I" during that time?

But I'm fine, my surgery was a Very Good Thing, and you will be and yours will be. Bright blessings!

#421 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Susan at 405: General anesthesia scares me, too, but two years ago when I had knee surgery I chose to have it (when I could have had a local) and was entirely not sorry. Yesterday morning (6 am, yow) I took a friend to have abdominal surgery under general anesthetic and was impressed and comforted by the kindness and professionalism of the anesthesiologist who came to see her prior to surgery. (She called me five hours post-surgery, a bit fuzzy but pain-free and fine.) Your fear is natural, but as others have said, you made a clear and rational decision. Acknowledge your fear, observe it with a clear mind and open heart, and don't act on it. I'll pray for you and for your doctors, and I will wait to hear from you when all is done.

#422 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Xopher #328:

Would the buttercream recipe work if, instead of covering in chocolate and molding, you hand-rolled them and covered in a powder such as cocoa or confectioners with lots of ground ginger?

I ask because while my chocolate truffles last week were deemed excellent, they are a bit too strongly chocolatey to go with the high-end champagne that's the focus of the party I'm making desserts for on Friday. And yet I really don't want to lose the idea of green-tea infused *some*thing (I'd used white chocolate for this) rolled in ginger, or (conceptual idea) Earl Grey-infused something with lemon. Nor am I confident of my dipping abilities, not being desirous of investing in a tempering gadget.

#423 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:58 AM:

I wish I had someone to take me for surgery - the downside of living alone is that I'm having to take myself and it kinda sucks. I will have someone to pick me up (they won't release me w/o a caregiver), but I'm scared now. Maybe I'll bring a stuffed animal.

The bed is nicely made with clean black sheets, the better to absorb any stray blood. Twenty-four novels have been piled neatly on one side of the bed. (That wouldn't be enough if I was going to do nothing but read, but it's probably generous for this - I bet I don't get more than 15 of them read in ~two weeks of housebound time.) Dance research paperwork (mazurka!) likewise in bed. Laptop in bed. Fridge stocked. Laundry done. Christmas tree raised. Really Good Painkillers acquired along with alarming medical supplies (gauze sponges, surgical tape, Q-tips...what exactly I'm going to do with the latter I am sort of afraid to ask.)

I'm running late enough that I shall take a cab.

#424 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Susan #405: Pain hurts; avoiding it, even by surgery, is a good idea. Good luck!

#425 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Good luck, Susan. Preparation is one of the best remedies for anxiety. Wish we could send a ML emissary to drop in on you after the surgery and see how you're doing.

#426 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:09 PM:

Truth, fiction, stranger than, department of:

A fire broke out this morning in the Old EOB next to the White House where a lot of the staff have offices, including Cheney's ceremonial offices. Remember, only destroy documents and media using equipment specifically designed for that purpose -- old fireplaces simply can't handle it.

Of course there is the question of just what kind of ceremonies were going on in Cheney's offices.

#427 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Xopher @#328:

One of my favorite books has a 1st who partway in says "OK, I never did X and Y, and I don't have a dog. Maybe I'll go back and rewrite and take out all the lies.

What book? Want!

#428 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:34 PM:

re Watchmen: I'm afraid I'm going to have to come down on the pr0n side. I have the same reaction to The Dark Knight Returns, and for exactly the same reason. In spite of all the moral ambiguity expressed towards all the violence, the story, as it were, still stops and stares. (In DKR the camera does flinch once.)

There is a definite problem in being graphic about violence, in that even when it is supposed to be made repugnant through one's sympathy for the victim or antipathy for the aggressor, those emotions are not obligatory, and the violence can be "appreciated" for its own sake. There are, for example, connoisseurs (as it were) of particular kinds of scenes in movies. It's an abuse to do so, of course. At the same time when we are being shown "repugnant" violence at length, and being asked to continue watching, there is a decided mxed message. I have never read Maus, and I'm never going to, just as I will never see Saving Private Ryan. There's no way to get rid of the way in which the (for me) truly repugnant beyond toleration can be reconciled with the fact of it being an entertainment. I have the same discomfort with Watchmen, but it is within limits of toleration, and a substantial chunk can be pushed off into the superhero fantasy land. The more it insists on being read as "real", the more pr0no graphic it gets.

#429 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:41 PM:

joann 423: I didn't dip them. I made shells in a mold, then filled and sealed the shells.

I think powdered ginger should be considered an entirely different spice—or rather fresh ginger isn't so much a spice as a vegetable. I learned the shell-molding technique because the amount of fresh ginger juice required to make the buttercream flavorful enough for my (admittedly intense) tastes rendered the buttercream too runny to dip, even frozen. Shell molding also gives a much thinner layer of chocolate around the filling, so that's a plus too.

I THINK I might be able to do it without a tempering machine, but I haven't tried.

Now, if you want to try a thicker buttercream flavored with dry powdered ginger, go ahead. I haven't ever done that, so I don't know how it will turn out. Please note two things: the ginger will gain flavor as it rehydrates, and as it does, the buttercream will thicken.

If I were going to try this, I would make the buttercream about frosting texture, mix in enough ginger powder so that it tastes strongly but not overwhelmingly of ginger, then cover it (plastic wrap directly on the surface) and let it sit undisturbed at room temperature for several hours, perhaps overnight (buttercream has too much sugar in it to spoil quickly).

Then I'd take out chunks of it, or mix in additional powdered sugar if it were still too thin, and roll them in shaved bittersweet chocolate.

But it's your invention. You can't do the above with my runny buttercream, though I suppose you could thicken it back up with more sugar.

I would never use dried ginger to roll something in, but then I don't really like dried ginger very much.

#430 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Todd 339, Mary 428: The Boys on the Rock, by John Fox. Gay teenager in 1968. Warning: there are several sexually explicit scenes in this book, though it is by no means pornography, and the narrative voice is strong and consistent throughout.

Todd, the dog thing isn't a big spoiler.

#431 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:54 PM:

abi @#406:

Greg,

I'm trying to pick apart why these "war pr0n" discussions always turn toxic, in the hopes of reducing that effect in future.

I think any discussion in which something that one person regards as art or literature, is labeled "pornography" by another person, is toxic at its heart.

There are typically 2 paths for the discussion to take:

1. (No it isn't!) (Yes it is!) (Nuh-uh!) (Yuh-huh!)

2. (I like pornography.) (Then you must approve of the behaviors depicted therein.) (No I don't!) (Yes you do!) (Nuh-uh!) (Yuh-huh!)

In this case, Greg's focus is on violence instead of (primarily) sex, but "WarPr0n" appears to be a classic morals-in-literature campaign. I suppose it's possible to discuss one of those without it immediately degrading into zealotry and namecalling, but I have yet to see it.


#432 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Xopher @ 430... I might be able to do it without a tempering machine, but I haven't tried.

Tamper with the tempering machine and risk its temper, you fool!

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Tim Walters @ 397... No photos shall be posted. They really sucked, and I wouldn't inflict their public distribution even on my ennemies. OK, maybe on my ennemies.

#434 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:10 PM:

good luck susan, & wishing you a complete recovery. i say why not bring a stuffed animal, if you have one you like.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Mary Dell @ 432...

Why do people have anything against war prawns? Afraid they'll lobster grenade from inside the aquarium?

#436 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Xopher #430:

Thanks. I wasn't sure what the physics were for this, so it's good to get a summary. I might experiment on a very small scale, if I can squeeze a bit of time this afternoon, and then do it for real tomorrow if the results are satisfactory. The tea infusion is with the cream, so it doesn't increase the general runniness, as long as there's cream anyway. If you see what I mean.

#437 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Xopher, thanks for the details. Shell moulding I know, but wasn't sure how one would make a fresh ginger filling of the type you were describing.

#438 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Serge @#436:

Thereby leaving their enemies doubly shell-shocked.

#439 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Serge #436: That might be a challenge for someone's intellectual mussel. However, I'm feeling too crabby to take it on, and thus must shrimp out.

#440 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:52 PM:

A question for the Latinists here (hi, Abi!). What's the best translation of 'ad vitam aut culpam'? I would say 'during good behaviour', but I'm not convinced that this is the best rendering into English.

#441 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Mary Dell (439)... Fragano (440)... Oyster-tainly hope not.

#442 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Fragano @ 440 -

So, yer saying yer going to clam up, then?

#443 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:05 PM:

I think I saw that movie....Fishtar

#444 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:10 PM:

I hate to mussel in on the conversation, so I'll clam up and leave it to others.

#445 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:13 PM:

One person's prawn is another one's oyster.

#446 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Scott Taylor #443: Well, let's just say I'm feeling squid.

Serge #442: I'd be careful not to fall into an écrevisse...

#447 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:16 PM:

I missed the post that inspired the puns, but I conched my head on the desk laughing. Now I feel all limpet, and I can't figure out why we're playing with mollusks and arthropods.

#448 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Don't forget that landmark SF story & movie, Anenome Mine.

#449 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Please don't anyone be shellfish and calamari-torium on these puns, they're too much fun!

#450 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Steve C. @ 449: Is that by the same guy who wrote Starship Groupers?

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:34 PM:

I can't lie. Trout is, I'm feeling crabby.

#452 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Stop, I'm piscene myself!

#453 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:38 PM:

The first James Bond movie I saw was Goldfishfinger. That's the one where the bad guy tries to fluke Fort Lox.

#454 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:39 PM:

Tim Walters @451 - Yep. Later on he went to document the adventures of amphibians in Glory Toad.

#455 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:39 PM:

I don't want to bait you guys, but I'm worried about the net effect of so much punning.

Know what I mean, chum?

#456 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:40 PM:

I preferred A View To A Krill, myself....

#457 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Serge, you might not want to move to a submarine environment where it's krill or be krilled.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:48 PM:

I'm floundering.

#459 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Fragano @441: "Best" in what way? I think "'til you f**k up or die" might be good, but I doubt that's what you're looking for. "To life or fault" is more literal, but not as clear to an English speaker.

#460 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:51 PM:

Watch out for Octopussy..er, wait, that one's real.

#461 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 02:57 PM:

One of my cats just emailed me: "bring home foooooood pleez". His spelling is better than I would have expected.

#463 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:04 PM:

It was good to see Serge etc. last night in Oakland, but this will be briefish since my monitor's backlight has gone wonky and I'm already courting eyestrain.

vian @367: Unfortunately, Browning's "My Last Duchess" is another one of those works which I first encountered sufficiently long ago (and probably youngish, maybe in the 12-14 range) that I don't clearly recall my initial interpretation of it. But offhand, I *think* I was able to at least separate out the "facts" of the situation from the narrator's subjective explanation of how/why they'd happened. Then again, I could be retconning my memory :b

Offboard, someone[*] has suggested that Greg's war pr0n scale is currently very similar in implementation to CAPalert's movie scoring system, in terms of registering the presence of certain factors without mitigating them for context. To me, this seems like a very interesting angle from which to approach the discussion in relatively abstract terms, as long as the mere mention of CAPalert doesn't instantly raise hackles...?

[*: I'm not naming the source in case (s)he doesn't want to be publically identified, esp. since (s)he has so far refrained from personally posting the comparison. I don't want to sound too weaselly about that disclaimer because my gut instinct is to agree with the comparison; basically I'm just noting that I can't claim credit for that potential insight and haven't yet made any attempt to rigorously work out the parallels.]

#464 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:16 PM:

Mark Moskowitz #460: 'Best' in that it conveys the meaning of the phrase in idiomatic English. 'To life or fault' sounds odd in English, but while 'during good behaviour' conveys the meaning (I think), I can't help feeling that there's a better way of putting it.

Also, the eminent Victorian I'm citing might have found your first translation a bit too blunt.

#465 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Miriam, #402: Okay, now that you've explained it, it makes more sense. But your original comment read to me as "cheap-shot ad hominem attack and flounce out the door," which didn't seem like you.

Susan, #405: Talk to your anesthesiologist; let him/her know about your concerns, even if they seem silly to you. When I had shoulder surgery 5 years ago, I made sure the anesthesiologist knew that I have a deep horror about breathing something that isn't air, and that I wanted to be OUT before the mask went on. They're used to hearing things much sillier than anything you've said.

Be prepared to have the first thing you eat come back up, even if you wait some hours before trying food; that's apparently a common side effect of general anesthesia, and has happened to me twice.

Xopher, #421: There's a comment I'd like to make in response to what you said here, but I'm a little afraid that it might freak you out. If you'd like to hear it anyhow, say so.

#466 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Lee 466: Curiousity easily overcomes fear in this case. Freak away please.

#467 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Greg @417:
Thank you for answering the direct question in my comment to you. I trust you've read the rest of it, and considered some of my other points as well. I really am quite serious about them all, particularly the last paragraph.

I was thinking of doing Kill Bill next. I liked KB and it didn't make my eyes roll. It'll probably be through the roof for a war pr0n score. I'm fine with that.

This surprises me, considering how much you use a high score to cast aspersions on works you don't like.

#468 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:47 PM:

C Wingate @429:
There is a definite problem in being graphic about violence

The thing is, Greg's scales aren't really about graphic violence, but about "how language misdescribes violence, war, and the use of force" (Greg's comment 384). As far as I can tell from the scaling, vividly depicted violence with realistic consequences and implications is OK, while a passing reference to torture working (for instance) is not.

I haven't dug in enough to do the numbers, but I suspect that a lot of the Old Testament would come out as war pr0n in this scale. Exodus, for instance, probably scores quite high.

#469 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Fragano @465:

How about something flowery, like "so long as life and honour last?" Honour is not, of course, a real translation for culpam, but it's one way of putting the sentiment.

#470 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Xopher, #467: Where are "you" when you're asleep? (Either naturally, or as the result of using a sleep aid.) I wake up every morning with a whole chunk of time just... missing. Personally, I don't see any significant difference between that and general anesthesia.

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Julie L @ 464... It was good seeing you too.

#472 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:22 PM:

C. Wingate: I think your criticism that Moore's "camera" sometimes dwells on the violence is entirely reasonable. I like Watchment despite that, because there is so much more to it. I dislike Miller's Dark Knight books because in the end, I don't think there's so much there besides the violence.

Maus might surprise you; it's been a while since I read it, but IIRC substantially less than half of it is about what actually goes on at Auschwitz. A great deal of it is looking at his father in the present day and his style of life, at the author's prickly relationship with his father, at his own grappling with his mother's suicide, and at his trying to figure out for himself how much of his father's cranky and irrational behavior (hoarding matches, constant kvetching) is due to his time in Auschwitz and how much of it's "just the way he is". (Come to think of it, the narrative doesn't even get to Auschwitz until the second volume, 'And now my troubles began.')

#473 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:46 PM:

lee,

But your original comment read to me as "cheap-shot ad hominem attack and flounce out the door," which didn't seem like you.

yeah, i can see that. i think a lot of times i'm not terribly clear, & it's a mixture of wanting to use interesting/evocative/impressionistic language & the fact that, as an intuitive thinker, i assume people know what i'm talking about (or what i'm thinking) far more than they do.

thanks for saying it wasn't like me.

#474 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 04:55 PM:

clifton,

Maus might surprise you; it's been a while since I read it, but IIRC substantially less than half of it is about what actually goes on at Auschwitz.

true, but different people have different triggers. my paternal grandparents are both survivors (my grandpa of hitler, my grandma of stalin, when they divided poland). my grandma devours modern jewish literaure, a huge percentage of which relates to the holocaust. my grandpa won't read holocaust books, because, as he says, he already went through it once.*

*he really enjoyed schindler's list, though, partly because he had been put in a factory. & he participated in spielberg's memory project after the movie.

#475 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Greg's War Porn site reminds me strongly of those christian sites that rate movies and TV programmes according to their adherence to a somewhat arbitrary interpretation of biblical rules. I get the overwhelming feeling in both cases that the website owner is completely missing the point. However strongly they feel about the issue reflected in the scores, for the rest of us it's only one dimension in a multi-dimensioned space where we could represent our appreciation of fiction.

Such a christian site is obviously a stick to beat the godless (or those who don't have quite the same religious orientation as the website owner), and Greg's site feels just the same. The scoring is arbitrary and uncalibrated, there's a sense that a movie has to be completely devoid of the scored violence to be approved of, there's no recognition of context, and sometimes a seemingly wilful ignorance of what might make a fiction worth experiencing to a normal human being. I feel I'm being beaten for liking such-and-such a story, or rather, being beaten for liking the violence in the story when it isn't the violence or even the resluts of it that I'm enjoying.

#476 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:20 PM:

In other news, trolling in verse.

#477 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:31 PM:

re 469: I hope it was clear that I was judging on a complete different basis from Greg's scale. But....

re 464: There is a certain validity to looking at these things and ignoring context (or at least stereotyping context, which is really what I think is happening). I'm dubious about the purity with which we apply context, because I'm pretty sure that maybe most of the time we are seeing the material as more than pure narrative and thus suppressing the context.

re 473: The big issue is that I have a really difficult time with patently unjust story action. I tend to stomp around the room and get wound up beyond reason. I don't know how I made it through Holocaust, but I doubt I could do it again.

#478 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Xopher @431 -- Thanks, added to the queue.

#479 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 05:57 PM:

abi #470: Thanks! That works very well, since it is not as drily legal as 'during good behaviour' which had been my placeholder. The text I'm examining is anything but dry, and anything but legal. The Victorians* assumed their readers would have a classical education.

*This particular Victorian would not have believed me capable of reading English, but that's his bad luck.

#480 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Serge @181: no, Solar Lottery is nothing like this. The only thing that is determinable with such accuracy in the political system in the book are the chances of a successful assassination pretty much. Also it is one of the worst Dick books ever, I think only Dies Irae was worse, probably because him and Roger Zelazny together was not a winning combination.

#481 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Fragano @480:
Now you've got me curious. Can you say who and what this is?

#482 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:30 PM:

bryan @ 481... I didn't remember Solar Lottery as being particularly well executed either. As for my remembering the details wrong, oops. Then again I read it when I was in college, studying to become a programmer, in the days of card punchers.

#483 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:45 PM:

Sometimes you just gotta ask . . .
Whaaaaaaat?

#485 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 06:54 PM:

Re Bikes: I've never really been a fan of recumbents, since I'm big on hopping road hazards if I have to. Then again, I used to race, so I'm also a little crazy.

My favorite all around bike is an old redline cyclocross racer. friction 7sp in back, chain guards in front. The geometry is a little laid back and the fork is really soft, so it's really comfy on longer rides. Light enough, handles well, and doesn't get scary at stupid fast speeds. (see hopping potholes going downhill at 45mph). Also, it has room for fenders.

It's biggest problem is now I have to tow a kid + trailer most of the time, and the gears just aren't there for that in a hilly area.

#486 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Marc Moskowitz #482: Sure. Thomas Carlyle's 'Shooting Niagara: And After?'

#487 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Strange, wonderful, terrible service up for bid on eBay:

A guy going on vacation in Poland will send a friend or relative a series of postcards containing deranged rants that incorporate personal details you supply:

Postcards from the edge

#488 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 07:37 PM:

I have just received word that Susan is back home and resting.

Yay.

#489 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 07:50 PM:

abi #489: That's good news!

#490 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Vent:

I have a typepad account. I got it as a verification service to make posting in various blogs (e.g. Slacktivist and Majikthise) easier.

Now, once I sign in, I have to fill out a catchpa. WTF... the whole point of using a verification service is to verify one is a real person.

end rant

#491 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 08:29 PM:

Abi, thanks for telling us. Good to know.

#492 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Good for Susan!

#493 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Lee 471: The time isn't so seamless in ordinary sleep for me. I can remember the transitions in and out of sleep, and sensations I experienced during sleep, and bring back a few dreams. In addition, even absent all that I'm acutely aware that my brain has been doing something.

Not so with anesthesia. I remember the anesthesiologist saying "OK, I'm starting now," feeling slightly woozy, and then BANG, the next thing I know I'm waking up. No memory, not even vague; no half-perceived sensations; no dreams; no sense that my brain was doing ANYTHING.

Much scarier, at least for me.

#494 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:31 PM:

I am so happy that the seafood punning crays is finished.

#495 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:37 PM:

Abi @ 489... Thanks for letting us know. Please let her know that we're happy that she is doing fine. Yay indeed!

#496 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Dave Luckett: I think you are just fishing for more the same. Me, for the halibut, I'll oblige, but it's hard not to keep making the same sorts of puns, it's ailimentary to just rise to the bait, but a rising tide lifts all boats and some day I'll ketch up, at which point you'll want to keel me.

#497 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 10:02 PM:

I'm glad Susan is okay.

I have a horror of anesthesia because I do remember panicking as a very small child while being held down with the nasty-smelling mask being forced down on my face.

I got burned on my back as an infant and until I grew enough (12-year-old) they had to go in every couple of years to release the scar so it wouldn't make me grow crooked. At 12 they did a graft, I got to spend Christmas in the hospital because there were some minor complications.

Since my Wisdom teeth (which is it's own story), I've not had to be put out for anything again. I might ask for an anti-anxiety drug to take in advance so I don't spike blood pressure or such other bad side effect of anxiety.

#498 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 10:21 PM:

spoilers:

abi@468: I really am quite serious about them all, particularly the last paragraph.

Yes. At #390, I became aware that what I think I'm talking about and what others think I'm talking about may not be much related.

Me: I liked Kill Bill.

abi: This surprises me, considering how much you use a high score to cast aspersions on works you don't like.

There's a quote on the right side of Making Light that I've always liked:

"The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature." --(Arthur D. Hlavaty)

I don't know if it's true or not, but I believe it is. I think that social structures are an improvement over individual strength. Anarchists might disagree or not, I don't know; I'm not an arnarchist. I think social structures lift us out of the mud and make us better than we would be without them.

What the war pr0n score represents, essentially, is how much the story reflects the notion that social structures are an improvement over raw violence, the simple use of force, and so on.

There are many, many social structures, but a fundamental one is the state. And part of the structure of the state being a function of society is whether it is representative of the people, whether it is subservient to the people, whether it has limitations on its power, whether the people have fundamental rights that the state cannot infringe.

Of the two Moore stories I've scored, "V for Vendetta" and "Watchmen", the social structure in his worlds as far as the government is concerned is either a Tyranny (VfV) or Impotent (W). And the backbone of both stories hinges on a character using violence to overcome the social structures.

In VfV, the government is an absolute Tyrrany and the only way to fix that structure is to blow up a building, kill certain men, and inspire a cowardly public to stand up to the jackboots that are prepared to blackbag them, execute them, and dump them anonymously in a back alley somewhere.

In W, the government is completely inept at stopping the ever increasing advancement of the Doomsday clock to armageddon. WW3 is about to erupt. And the governments are practically non-existent in the story. We witness them briefly when Nixon and his staff fly into SAC with the nuclear football and wait to launch the missiles that will start WW3. That is their response, do nothing but wait to push the button. Luckily for us, men like Veidt are willing to do what is neccesary to pull these inept governments back from the brink of doom. The death of several million innocent civilians will scare the world into uniting against a non-existent target out of fear of their own destruction. (the destruction from self-inflicted armageddon wasn't enough to stop them, but the destruction from alien armageddon, now that's cause for world peace.)

So, it seems to me that the backbone of both V for Vendetta and for Watchmen is that "Violence is Superior to Social Structures".

Trying to discuss this immediately erupted into disagreement. OK. Fine. That's too broad a judgement and too subjective and too open to interpretration. So, I made up the war pr0n test.

Pretty much every item in the war pr0n test adds points to the score if the story shows violence as accomplishing something that the social structures in the story can't accomplish. Show violence as being superior to social structures, win a prize. The test also subtracts points every time violence is shown to be inferior to social structures.

example: protagonist tortures someone and gains useful information. plus ten points. Protagonist tortures someone and gains false information that they have to spend time and energy trying to figure out if its true or not. minus ten point. The protagonist tortures someone and it turns out that person was innocent. minus ten points.

The social structure in question here is the police (for criminal investigations), the FBI, CIA, and so on (for international investigations), and military interragators (for military interrogations, obviously). There are ways that these structures can be designed to produce good intel. Maybe not perfect intel, but it will be better intel than if we simply regress to the rack and the iron maiden. Why do we have limits against torture? All the moral reasons, but also because torture produces false positives, and because a lack of due process will end up torturing innocent people. Those are the things that social structures are meant to prevent. Violence without social structures produces bad results.

So, every time a character uses violence, i.e. torture, and produces good intel, you win ten points for war pr0n. Every time a character uses torture and ends up torturing an innocent person, you subtract ten points from your score.

Shows like "24" that show torture producing the intel needed to find the ticking bomb, they are telling a story whose implied moral is that the structures in place against torture are pointless and getting in the way of justice.

Due process is another example of a social structure. It doesn't produce perfect results. But it certainly produces better results over the long run than lynch mobs and vigilantes will.

If a story shows a vigilante neutralizing a bad guy that the police couldn't catch or couldn't convict, you win ten points for war pr0n. If a story shows a vigilante killing a suspected criminal and it turns out the person was innocent, then subtract ten points.

Vigilante stories tell stories that have the implied moral be that the laws are impotent, that due process gets in the way of justice, and that the only way to give it to the bad guys is to take the law into your own hands. In short, they're implying that the social structure of due process is a hindrance and a violent vigilante can produce superior results.

So, the war pr0n test is a bunch of things that indicate whether the story shows violence as superior to social structures (add points) or violence as inferior to social structures (subtract points). Pretty much everything on the list is an indicator of common tricks in fiction that authors will use to try and show how violence is needed in their particular instance to overcome some injustice that some social structure created.

criminal set free due to a technicality on due process. laws against torture prevent us from beating the truth out of someone we know is guilty and we know has the information we need. evil armies ready to crash into our borders and rape our wimmen unless real men stand up and fight them. inept governments heading to WW3. Tyrannical governments that need to be overthrown. We can win the war if we just had the willpower, if the media would stop focusing on the negatives, stop showing the dead bodies, stop talking about the cost.

The thing is that you could, no doubt, come up with a specific example where this instance would be true. where there is some tyrannical government and it must be overthrown.

Which is why each item only awards 1 to 10 points. If you have a tyrannical government that needs to over thrown by violence, you win 10 points. Sorry. That's the way it is. But you can EASILY counteract those ten points by showing that your revolution is going to get a bunch of paper targets in white hats killed.

But in V for Vendetta, V operates essentially alone. While V kills something like over a dozen paper targets, V manages to go in, A Team style, and no friendly anonymous troops on his side pay the ultimate price. It is a relatively clean victory.

In the movie "300", the spartans are portrayed as the only group with the willpower to fight the persians. All the other nations in Greece are shown to be weak and cowards. While we watch on screen while something like 150 anonymous Persians are killed, we only see something like 12 anonymous Spartans killed. The cost of that victory is downplayed, while the enemy is demonized, and their deaths are relatively guilt free.

A story get 3 points for a single anonymous black hat killed on screen. If you show an anonymous white hat killed on screen, you subtract 3 points. One shows guilt free killing, the other shows a war's bloody cost.

3 points for a paper target. 10 points for effective torture. 10 points for instances of violence being superior to social structures. Minor points each.

Rack up something like 300 or 600 points, though, and it seems fairly obvious which way the story is leaning as a whole.

One can argue about what the moral of the story is supposed to be, but the idea of the war pr0n test was to measure what the moral of the story is based solely on what the story shows us.


#499 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Hurrah for Susan's recuperation!

Meanwhile, having been inspired to go back and re-read "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", I noticed a passage of interest in Jess Nevins' book of annotations Heroes and Monsters: the Unofficial Companion to 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', page 58. It's an excerpt from an interview in Tripwire magazine (Nov. 1998) where Alan Moore discusses his presentation of rape and racism in tLeEG.

The scene where the Egyptians try to rape Mina is nasty but comical though. Rape is serious, the idea of rape is a horrible thing and there's no intention of trivialising it. However, one of the unspoken pillars of Victorian fiction was the notion of the 'fate worse than death'. Human sexuality, screwed up as it is, is a big part of Victorian fiction, as is the racism. When you see the Arabs in the first issue and when you see the Chinese in #3, I'm sure they'll be portrayed in the same way. This is what we wanted. We're not talking about real Arabs, real Chinamen, or even real women.

I suppose people could accuse me of wallowing in those elements under the guise of postmodernism and they'd probably be right. [...] It's more British attitudes that're being pilloried rather than the targets of those attitudes. What makes it funny is the absurdity of the Victorian vision, this idea of a supremacist Britain than ruled the entire world.

I'm reminded of the way that many of Paul Verhoeven's mainstream movies have been described as postmodern satires of their nominal genres, taking all of the standard tropes and then turning them all the way up to eleven.

#500 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:13 PM:

Xopher, #494: Okay, that makes sense. I usually don't have much sense of falling asleep or waking up, and when I'm soundly asleep I'm not even remotely aware of things around me -- more than once my partner has come back home from a road trip after I'd gone to sleep and I never heard him come in or felt him hit the bed.

Cross-connecting to the "unreliable narration" subthread... recently (as in, the past couple of years) I've begun to realize that sometimes I dream about being awake; for example, if I'm trying to nap on the futon, I may feel as though I've been awake for the whole time when there's objective evidence that I've actually been asleep for at least part of it. Talk about not being able to trust what the "narrator" is saying!

#501 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:43 PM:

I tend to do the same thing, Lee. If I didn't actually wake up when my alarm went off, I often found myself dreaming that I was getting ready for, or had gone to, work. Which meant there wasn't any little voice in the back of my head telling me to get up for work... very dangerous!

#502 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 11:49 PM:

One time I found that I couldn't turn off my alarm. The snooze button didn't work, and neither did the off switch. I turned it over to at least turn the alarm volume down, then said to myself "...wait, my alarm clock doesn't have an alarm volume control."

Then I woke up.

#503 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:30 AM:

Greg, there's a major flaw in the philosophical underpinnings of your "war pr0n" concept: War is a social structure.

States are built on violence. This is the definition of "state" in modern political science: the state is the entity with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given region. (It's a delagatable monopoly -- that state can grant non-state actors the right to use force in some circumstances.) War is something states do to each other. (Or sometimes, in the case of civil war, to themselves.)

In a condition of anarchy, war is impossible. That's not to say that violence is impossible, but the large-scale hierarchical organization necessary for war is missing.

So right away, V for Vendetta is screwed. It's about an anarchist who overthrows a working fascist state, so right away your philosophical preconceptions bias you against it. Even though you present your scoring system as an objective measure, it's actually just a way of saying that you're opposed to the philosophical ideas Moore is talking about.

To compound matters, Moore is fond of using irony. Your scoring system is blind to irony, and assumes that anything portrayed must be something the author advocates.

Furthermore, your method for totaling up the deaths of "paper targets" guarantees that a movie that portrays war in a realistic fashion (one where lots of enemy soldiers get killed) will get a higher "war pr0n" score than one that shows a fantasy war where super-human heroes can take out enemy commanders without causing massive enemy deaths.

And lastly, even though you claim to be deriving your scores "based solely on what the story shows us", you seem to miss important details. For example, you claim 300 shows the non-Spartan Greeks as "weak and cowards", while it actually just shows them as not being full-time professional soldiers.

#504 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Greg:

So, it seems to me that the backbone of both V for Vendetta and for Watchmen is that "Violence is Superior to Social Structures".

And that is where I think - at least with Watchmen - you have got it exactly, completely, and 100% backwards. The book is to a very great extent about the moral bankruptcy of all violence, and how the means poison the desired end, rather than the end justifying the means. I can't argue V because I don't own a copy and it's been too long since I read it for me to say anything intelligent, but in the case of Watchmen I am quite prepared to say you have got hold of entirely the wrong end of the pointy stick.

Avram's analysis at 391 points to some specific, concrete details which you've misinterpreted or misread. I think however that you've more fundamentally misread that Watchmen is holding events and "heroes" up for admiration, when it instead is holding them up for a kind of horrified clinical examination, if not contempt. The implied final nemesis (in the Greek sense) is merely the cap on the overall story.

Hence my comments up-thread about "reading protocols": I think in some sense you read a completely different book than I and others did, and have mistakenly scored most of your scoring rules accordingly.

#505 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Heh. A fine pair of complementary and concurrent posts there.

#506 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:44 AM:

abi, thanks so much for passing on that Susan's OK.

Susan: Post again soon! Post early and often!

#507 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Avram@504: Furthermore, your method for totaling up the deaths of "paper targets" guarantees that a movie that portrays war in a realistic fashion (one where lots of enemy soldiers get killed) will get a higher "war pr0n" score

No. I've mentioned this before, you get +3 for every anonymous black hat killed in combat. You get -3 for every anonymous white hat killed in combat.

What that means is that something like Rambo 2, where you've got one white hat against an endless stream of anonymous Vietnamese targets, you start racking up points pretty quick. Something like the opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan", you are shown a realistic portrayal of war, numerous unnamed Americans getting killed in a meat grinder. And the score for that scene would probably be pretty low, at least for paper targets. (I haven't scored it yet, and it's been a while since I've seen it, so my memory might be fuzzy.)

Show the cost of war, show people dying on your side, low war pr0n score.

Show Rambo going in alone and taking out the entire Vietnamese army, and no one in a white hat gets hurt, high score.

a fantasy war where super-human heroes can take out enemy commanders without causing massive enemy deaths

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any movie like this. The paper target scoring system was meant specifically to pick up movies like Rambo 2 and separate them from movies that show that war has real costs. Movies like Rambo 2, or 300, just line up the bad guys to be shot. So, count the dead anonymous bad guys. And you can easily separate out the realistic movies because they'll show anonymous white hats getting killed too.

If hollywood starts cranking out war pr0n films that have a total body count of 1 dead general and the war is over, then I may have to retool the test. Until that happens, I don't mind catching the ones I can.

#508 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Avram: For example, you claim 300 shows the non-Spartan Greeks as "weak and cowards", while it actually just shows them as not being full-time professional soldiers.

When Leonides meets the other Greeks at the hot gates, in reality, he was joined by 7,000 greeks from numerous cities. He brought 300 spartans. His comment in the movie was "I brought more soldiers than you did". And the movie said he was met by only 1,000 greeks.

The movie never makes mention of the fact that when Athens asked Sparta for help against the Persians during the Battle of Marathon a couple years earlier, Sparta declined to fight at all. And 10,000 athenians did just fine against 40,000 persians without his help.

For that omission of fact, the movie won 3 whole points.

You think three points was unfair for that bit of missing information? Maybe. Maybe not. The final score was 600 points. While we could debate individual awards for specific scenes, I believe in the end, the final score is in the proper section of the ballpark.


#509 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:02 AM:

Avram@391: These are hardly "nameless, heartless, emotionless" nonentities.

I removed all the points from that scene. For various reasons. Mostly because it doesn't fit any measure I have exactly.

he tortures 14 people who knew nothing,

First of all, we aren't shown any of those 14. There are something like 5 torture scenes that produce useful intel. we see Rorschach torture one innocent man. Telling me about 14 others that came up empty while showing me 5 that hit pay dirt, doesn't fly. Telling us, rather than showing us, distances us from the negative effects.

Second, none of those 14 gave him any false inforamtion just to stop him from torturing them. None of them sent him on a wild goose chase.

you count the scene where a gang of Knot-Tops kills the elder

The knot tops are anonymous. We see a number of them get punched. +1 point for each non-lethal paper target hit.

I suppose I could take off some points for misidentification. Since its an anonymous mob, rather than any of the main characters, Moore distances the effect of this from the main guys, so it'll probably count for half. i.e. minus 5 points.

You misunderstand Dr manhattan. He doesn't have god-like intelligence

I didn't give him points for that. I gave him points for the things he did.

The Gordian Knot that Alexander cut through

No, I got the point. I'm familian with that bit of history. When confronted with a conundrum, violence is the solution. That is pretty much why the story got so many points. Moore doesn't get to declare "no touch backs" simply because he's trying to portray a character as worshipping a man who is famous for conquering the world by war. Having the "Gordian Lock Company" show up in several different scenes doesn't change the score.

The score reflects how much a story shows violence as superior to social structures. That's exactly what alexander showed with his solution for the gordian knot. The complexities of the knot can be solved with a sword. If I recall correctly, there were people in alexander's day who thought his solution didn't count.

#510 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:14 AM:

Open Thread.

I got some very unhappy news earlier today. My friend B in Nashville lost his wife last week. She was 40 years old, and he's about the same. I don't know what happened; he sent me an image of the obituary notice, but it didn't mention cause of death.

I can't do much for him from here, but I can at least ask for people to send GoodThoughts and positive energy in his direction. Helluva thing to have happen right before Christmas.

#511 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:50 AM:

Oh, no, Lee, I'm so sorry to hear that.

#512 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:40 AM:

That openiong shot in the Torchwood trailer is going to trigger a lot of whacko reactions in the USA.

OK, it's camera angle, but it looks like a black woman being crucified. And then you get one of those optical-illusion moments. like the faces turning into a vase, where it flicks between blasphemy and bondage.

I think it's quite possible to argue that Russell T. Davies has some sort of chip on his shoulder about GLBT issues. What is worth noting is that, in the UK at least, it hasn't provoked much outrage.

(Side thought--the significant racist issue in the UK at the moment may be the migrant workers from the new EU states in Eastern Europe, because they're a) stealing our jobs and b) look just like us. [And it is a bit creepy when you learn that half the HR staff in a company are from Poland. It feels unbalanced.] Think pod-people and reds under the bed.)

#513 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:06 AM:

Greg's War-Pr0n system is certainly measuring something.

But it is only one measure.

The movie Dirty Harry has several 10-pointers in it, and quite a few paper targets. But, although the torture doesn't achieve the desired result, and is largely off-screen, it does work. It does get good information. I think that part of the movie's score is justifiable.

But I wonder if the paper target elements can cope with police and criminals. There's a moral imbalance between the sides, of a sort which doesn't apply to the battlefield (Nazi Germany was wrong, but did that make any difference to what people did on Omaha Beach?).

Maybe the famous "Do ya feel lucky" routine takes things out of the anonymous target class.

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:32 AM:

Dave, #513: It's much easier to argue that Davies has racism issues. I have a couple of Who-fandom folks on my LJ friendslist, and there has been an absolute shitstorm going on for months about the way the non-white Companions are being treated on the show. (Among other things, Davies actually said that he "always meant for Martha to be second-best." O_o ) I don't know what the American/UK split on it is, but believe me, people are noticing.

#515 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 06:35 AM:

Oh, I think that comment about Martha makes sense, and it doesn't matter whether she's black, white, or a small green furry thing from Alpha Centauri. Rose is an incredibly hard act to follow, and I think part of why Martha acts as she does, at the end, is that she realises that, and doesn't feel she can meet the challenge.

(And think of this: Captain Jack, and Rose did that by accident!)

And part of the tragedy is that the Doctor is seeing her as different, rather than better or worse, and has already shown that he trusts her as much as he did Rose.

#516 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:10 AM:

Greg -
Your WarPr0n scale has many places that I disagree with (and, I'm sorry, it still seems way, way, way too much like some sort of CAPAlert system for violence - and is the sort of thing that all too often leads to nasty behaviors - even when they originator did not intend it to), but I'm going to concentrate on one bit -

Nasty Black Hat gets killed - +3
Virtuous White Hat gets killed - -3

This, again, makes no allowances for situation. In Black Hawk Down (which is semi-historical), dozens and dozens and dozens of Somali irregulars are killed on screen, and comparatively fewer US Army regulars are shown injured or killed. By your scoring system, this immediately would result in a high WarPr0n score.

In the real world, 18 US soldiers were killed, and 73 injured, along with 1 Malaysian KIA, 7 Malay WIA, and 2 Pakistani WIA. Somali casualty estimates range from a (rather ludicrous) 130-someodd killed (an estimate made by the Somalis) to a (possibly ludicrous) 1500 killed, and possibly three times that many injured (enemy casualty estimate made by US military). The reality is likely somewhere around a 20-30:1 kill ratio - that is, the US Army inflicted 20-30 kills (and likely 3 times as many injuries) for every KIA they suffered) - but I doubt anyone will know for sure.

Why the huge disparity? Because it was not a case of relatively equal forces operating against each other, as with the D-Day invasion (Saving Private Ryan) - it was a case of a relatively small unit of very heavily armed, extremely well-trained and disciplined soldiers operating against a much larger force of semi-trained, erratically armed irregulars. One side had helicopter gunships loaded with rockets and miniguns - the other side had technicals with RPGs, some light mortars, and heavy machineguns. Force disparity, technical disparity, training disparity - the only advantage the Somalis had was home turf, numbers, and "fighting for the home team" - and one can argue that "Esprit De Corps" balances the latter out.

This is not the only example I could drag up (Zulu, for example). When one side is (relatively) Uber, and the other side is (relatively) Not, there frequently will be massive disparities in casualties inflicted - not to the level of, say, Rambo II, but certainly more than a 1:1 ratio that you seem to think is equitable. By your scale, many movies based on actual historical events would fall under WarPr0n status, even though accurately reflecting the situation as it happened.

#517 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:20 AM:

#510: The score reflects how much a story shows violence as superior to social structures.

The problem is it's not taking into account why violence might appear (perhaps only superficially) superior to social structures.

In Watchmen's case, it's because Watchmen is a criticism of superheros. That entire genre presents violence as superior to social structures; the base assumption is that without the extralegal vigilantism of Batman (or Spiderman, or Ambush Bug, or whoever), society is helpless to defend itself. Watchmen is Moore's argument about where that assumption ultimately leads.

#518 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:27 AM:

#476 - I found Greg's discussion of some of the techniques of othering and distancing interesting*. I'm not too keen on his scoring, which looks highly personal. With only 3 works scored it doesn't yet have a calibrated scale to compare against.

The argument made there seems to me (in part) to be that we are equally titillated and desensitized by what goes on on screen (or page) whether we're watching say Delta Force, 300 or Zulu**. The part of us*** that responds to the the violent action on screen isn't interested in whether there is a problematic approach; that the story is ironic; that it shows productive and unrealistic violence as a means to critique it; that the (non-violent) conflict within groups is as well presented as the conflict between groups is. It just goes "Yeah!". When we sit calmly in front of our keyboards and type about it later, we may be missing part of this visceral reaction.

I'm not sure how much I agree. In my case I react to the tension and excitement onscreen, and at the same analyse what it means.


* Although sadly in some cases I thought "that would be an interesting way to present a scene"
** Zulu would be interesting to score. I'd be interested to see a score for Delta Force, but sitting through it again myself would be a step too far.
*** Which I'm now thinking of (for those of us who have one) as an inner Clockwork Orange fan as described at #376

#519 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:34 AM:

More great moments in crossposting! Although Scott brought up Zulu at the same time as I did, I can assure you that we are not each other's sockpuppets.

Clearly Wesley isn't my sockpuppet either, although he makes a better case of the Watchmen as superhero critque argument than I have*; he calls it a criticism rather than getting all posh like I have with the word critique.


* I meant to have a go at it last night, but Avram made lots of good points and I was too dozy.

#520 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:41 AM:

#486 recumbents ... big on hopping road obstacles

Yes - there are people who ride off-road on recumbents, but that says more about what people will do if they are determined than the suitability of the bikes (and there are limits, I haven't heard of recumbent cyclocross).
Suspension on recumbents is more common than on upright road bikes for that reason (and because recumbents often have smaller front wheels), but it does add to the weight and expense.

I used to use a trailer-cycle a fair amount, but my children have grown out of that (and I was using a 21-gear hybrid in a flat area, so no problems with not having low enough gears).

(Googling, I do find a reference to recumbent cyclocross "right after the unicycle races". I stand by my "says more about what people will do if they are determined than the suitability of the bikes" comment, but am happy to generalise "bikes" to include unicycles. Also recumbent unicycles.)

#521 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:51 AM:

#516: Rose is an incredibly hard act to follow, and I think part of why Martha acts as she does, at the end, is that she realises that, and doesn't feel she can meet the challenge.

This is exactly the vibe I get from the series. To a long-term Who fan, it feels very odd: why should Rose be a harder act to follow than, say, Sarah, or Romana? (Or, for those of us who followed the books while the series was off the air, Bernice?)

The thing that bothers me about the treatment of Rose and Martha is that both of them were attracted to the Doctor. As a result, in the new series the companion seems coded as "the Doctor's girlfriend." There's less of a sense that someone might travel with the Doctor for their own reasons unconnected to their relationship with him. Evan though Rose and Martha are stronger characters than previous TARDIS crew, in some ways they've been made to look less independent.

#522 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Apropos of nothing prior, I just stumbled across Zompist. Interesting political and philisophical speculations, and a good bit of fantasy-geekery.

Had you folks seen this guy before?

#523 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Wesley @ 522 -
This is exactly the vibe I get from the series. To a long-term Who fan, it feels very odd: why should Rose be a harder act to follow than, say, Sarah, or Romana? (Or, for those of us who followed the books while the series was off the air, Bernice?)

That was the vibe I got as well. I was a little put off, but not drastically so - it was pretty clear that

The thing that bothers me about the treatment of Rose and Martha is that both of them were attracted to the Doctor. As a result, in the new series the companion seems coded as "the Doctor's girlfriend." There's less of a sense that someone might travel with the Doctor for their own reasons unconnected to their relationship with him. Evan though Rose and Martha are stronger characters than previous TARDIS crew, in some ways they've been made to look less independent.

It's definitely a new twist - I mean, there's sometimes been sort of an undercurrent of "are they or aren't they" at least with some of the companions, but this is about as explicit as they've ever made it (at least since the Dr. Who movie with McGann). I'm not a huge fan of it (although, since they went that way with Rose, I can utterly understand Martha being discomfited by it), because it does seem to make the companions less of a travelling companion, and more... something else.

(Although I do like the fact that recent companions are much less cast in the "not really all that useful in the end, except occasionally", and more in the "vital member of the team" role - both Rose and Martha have been really important in some episodes, and have proven themselves much more capable in general than many* earlier companions).

*Sarah Jane, Leela, Romana, and Nyssa being notable (but probably not the only) exceptions - I suppose probably Ace as well, but I never really watched any of the Sylvester McCoy episodes, having been somewhat soured on Who by Colin Baker, and the show going off the air locally not long after Sylvester started.

#524 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:35 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 306: "At some point we may need to discuss a 12-step program. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy Agatha's adventures as much as possible."

Why, we already have one! Haven't you heard?

The Heterodynaholic's Twelve Steps:

1. Admit that we are powerless over Agatha--our obsessions have become unmanageable.
2. Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves--Agatha Heterodyne--could give us control over our madness.
3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Agatha and mad science.
4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of our mechanical, biological, and chemical supplies.
5. Admit to Agatha, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our obsession.
6. Be entirely ready to have Agatha remake all these aspects of character--surgically, if necessary.
7. Humbly ask Her to remove our shortcomings (hopefully with the addition of wicked cool implants).
8. Make a list of all persons we ought to harm (they doubted me! ME! They shall SUFFER), and become willing to exact horrible, but fitting, revenge upon them all.
9. Take direct vengeance to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure--nope, scratch that, pretty much whenever.
10. Continue to take personal inventory (of our growing stock of gadgets and weapons) and when we are wronged promptly administer sweet, sweet revenge.
11. Seek through study and research to improve our conscious contact with Agatha as we understand Her, grasping only for knowledge of Her Will for us and the power (and weaponry) to carry that out.
12. Having had a scientific awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to heterodynaholics, and to practice these principles in all of our experiments.

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:55 AM:

heresiarch @ 525... Do you think that, among Agatha's many followers, there is a jaeger named Mick?

#526 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Had you folks seen [Zompist] before?

Dunno about anyone else, but I have. I found his page years ago because of his Language Construction Kit, being interested in conlangs.

#527 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:58 AM:

Lee #511: My sympathies.

#528 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Scott@517: In Black Hawk Down (which is semi-historical),

In "300", it's the same problem. Only thing was that the movie went so far out of its way to distort the truth that it racked up a couple hundred points without even counting paper targets.

In Black Hawk Down, I seem to recall the movie at least did a fairly good job of showing that violence wasn't superior to social structures. But it does present us with plenty of guilt-free on screen killing.

I wonder why we must be shown every shot on screen, though. There seems to be some fascination with killing that is being appealed to. The simple test would be how would audiences have reacted if either (1) the killing had been taken off screen and shown Dr. Zhivago style, where we see the protagonist grimacing at the killings, or (2) some number of the paper target being killed had been shown to be human, have a name, have families, etc, so they weren't made out of paper anymore.

Taking the killing off screen would have upset some segment of the audience because they'd be denied their voyerism. And humanizing the Somoli's before they get killed would have taken away some of the guilt-free pleasure of seeing these nameless foreigners killed.

On the other hand, the whole problem with BHD could be solved by simply showing the helicopter gunships firing machine guns and rockets into civilian areas chock full of houses, and showing unarmed civilians being killed because they're caught in the crossfire.

Then you could keep the guilt free killing of all the paper targets and show deaths in proportion, but you could compensate for that high score by showing that US troops killed unarmed civilians in the operation. And then it isn't quite so guilt free anymore, not so much about voyerism anymore.

A lot of the tricks in war pr0n, a lot of the things that the score card try to detect, are all the ways in which the story tries to maintain the sympathy of the audience for the story. I think most would agree that the number of people who sympathize with the movie would probably go down if we saw a representational number of unarmed civilians getting killed by americans.

I don't recall seeing any shots of unarmed women or children huddling in a house when it's strafed by machine guns or rockets from a helicopter because a group of armed Somalis were just outside shooting at American troops on the ground.

I'm pretty certain stuff like that happened in the actual battle. You can't operate that kind of firepower in a dense urban area like that and not kill bystanders. Had they shown it in the movie, it would have reduced the war pr0n score. But they didn't. I can only assume the movie was working your sympathies by not showing you parts of history.

You're right in that it was a semi-historical movie. Had it been historical, showing the numbers of unarmed Somali civilians killed by Americans in proportion to all the others shown killed on screen, then it probably wouldn't have had a high war pr0n score. But that would have been a very different movie.

#529 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Abi... Any recent news regarding Susan?

#530 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Greg, in your Universe, did the marines in Black Hawk Down all have black goatees?

#531 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:44 AM:

As others have noted, there are lots of real-world events (Thermopylae among them) where the balance of casualties is going to create a false positive on the War Porn Scale.

The Battle of the Somme, by way of example, if filmed in detail, will give a negative score (from the British side) or an unbelievably hig positive score, if filmed from the German side; that's not a function of the inherent message of the film, but from the relative "white/black" hattedness of the dead.

At that level it become mechanistic to the point of non-untility.

#532 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:15 PM:

Quick question on a convention in ML and elsewhere:

What does "(via)" mean? For example, currently the last item in TNH's particles is "Two kinds of dead stubborn. (via)".

TIA.

#533 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:40 PM:

Niall@531: did the marines in Black Hawk Down all have black goatees?

;)

No, I think goatees would be against marine corps regulations.

Scott was arguing that BHD was historical and would have an unfair high war pr0n score. But the movie doesn't show any civilians killed in the crossfire by American troops. Unless you are arguing that no civilians were killed in the crossfire by American troops, then we agree that BHD is only partially historical. And by adding scenes that show civilian casualties, making it more accurate, you would automatically reduce the score, possibly to zero.

If you are arguing that the Americans killed no civilians as an outcome of the battle, then we have more fundamental issues. It isn't that American troops hunted down unarmed women and children and killed them Mai Lai style. But American bullets and bombs and rockets were being fired in a dense urban area, and some of those bullets, bombs, and rockets, ended up killing civilians.

The war pr0n view of war is that war can be clean, that there are no inadvertant negative side effects, that the white hats remain purely white. So, not showing collateral damage being caused by your own troops deserves a higher score.

Terry@532: As others have noted, there are lots of real-world events (Thermopylae among them) where the balance of casualties is going to create a false positive on the War Porn Scale.

Except the movie "300" got probably half of its points from stuff not directly related to casualty numbers. It got points for showing the persians as demons. It got points for showing Sparta as the only ones strong enough to stand against the persians, as standing alone against the persians. It got points for showing the spartans as the sole greeks left at the pass to slow down the persians. It got points for failing to mention the vastly outnumbered Athenian navy that held off the Persian fleet, and kept the Persians from sailing around Leonides. It got points for showing the Spartans fighting alone, as showing the other greek cities as weak, when in fact it was the equivalent of a multinational force that fought against the persians.

It got points for ignoring the social structures, the league of greek cities that united together to fight persia, and portraying the events as if only Sparta had the will and the power to fight Persia.

The Battle of the Somme, by way of example, if filmed in detail, will give a negative score

War movies seldom show just the battle. Black Hawk Down did, but it failed to show any collateral damage. "Saving Private Ryan" spent the first 20 minutes showing the battle of normandy, but after 20 minutes, I think a lot of viewers had had enough. There wasn't much story there. It's after that battle scene, and when we get into the story of "SPR" that the movie picks up some points for war pr0n.

On the other hand, the 80's was just popping all over the place with war pr0n movies like Rambo, and actors like Stallone, Shwartzneger, Tom Cruise, Norris, Van Damme, Segal, and Bruce Willis (a la Die Hard). Since then, the movies have tried to become a little more sublte, but they still use a lot of the same tricks.

If Hollywood starts cranking out historically accurate portrayals of battles and the war pr0n scale fails to address those movies, then I'll have to figure out how to correct the scoring.

However, arguing that the scoring will fail to properly score non-existent (or extremely rare) historically accurate movies doesn't seem like a valid argument to me.

It isn't a perfect scorecard, but it picks up a lot of the crap that Hollywood is more commonly known for producing. Yeah, maybe theoretically, Hollywood could start cranking out lots of really accurate battles that occur away from civlian populations and where an accurate portrayal of that battle would lead to an unfairly high war pr0n score. But I haven't seen many of those kinds of movies to be too worried about false positives just yet.

A hypothetical movie that accurately shows the battle of thermopylae might get an unfair war pr0n score. But that wasn't the movie that hollywood ended up making. When that hypothetically accurate but high war pr0n score movie comes out, I'll worry about it then. Until then, it's a hypothetical problem as far as I can see.

And probably the important thing is that a high score isn't an absolute judgement of value. I liked "Kill Bill", but I'm certain it has a high score. I'm aware that I'm watching something totally unrealistic with a high score, but I still like the movie. It wasn't the best movie of all time, but I'd give it a thumbs up.


#534 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Brenda, I believe it means that they got the link from the linkee of the '(via)'. In other words, someone else blogged it or mentioned it first, rather than it being a find of TNH's own webcrawling.

#535 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Brenda, the "via" refers to the site from which someone on Making Light discovered the link in the first place. it's sort of saying "this is a cool link, and I found out about it from this other blog here (via)."

#536 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:46 PM:

"Via" means it came from somewhere else-- "Here is a thing I found via BoingBoing! Enjoy!"

#537 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Terry Karney @#532:

As others have noted, there are lots of real-world events (Thermopylae among them) where the balance of casualties is going to create a false positive on the War Porn Scale.

Can you really have a false positive in measuring something subjective?

Greg, I'd be interested to hear your definition of Pornography, by the way.

#538 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 01:08 PM:

Teresa, I think you (and others) might enjoy:
Enough is enough: A thinking ape's critique of trans-simianism
(by Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak)

#539 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 01:24 PM:

War prunes are the pits.

#540 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Mary Dell, #538:

Don't know what Greg thinks, but C.S. Lewis said pornography is literature which creates the sensation it describes (he was talking about Donne's Elegy 16: On Going to Bed.)

#541 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:01 PM:

I'd be interested to hear your definition of Pornography, by the way.

I actually got the idea for war pr0n a few years ago. I was at a SF convention somewhere (can't remember the year or the place, and I've tried to find it), and Teresa Nielsen Hayden was moderating a panel that included James Macdonald and some other SF authors. The exact title of the panel escapes me, but it was something about the "romantic" view of war in fiction and does it affect our real world view of war. Or something. (I've looked around at several convention websites and checked out their old schedules and I can't find it, so, that's as accurate as I can remember.) I think the other people on the panel were all authors, and I believe most of them had been in the military. I recall one had been in the infantry in the Vietnam war.

Anyway, the panel started out with a really great question that was basically the title of the panel, i.e. does the romantic view of war in fiction affect our real world view of war? Like most panels, it veered around to different, tangental, but related topics, and I don't think it ever really answered the question.

But it got me to thinking, what is the "romantic" view of war? And how would you measure it? What I've come up with so far is a number of generalities about war, violence, and the use of force. These are assumed to be true: For example, using torture to get intel produces bad intel. Avoiding due process and resorting to violence in an attempt to get justice will on average create more injustice than due process creates. War is not an easy, clean, victory. We will not be welcomed as liberators, we will be resisted as the occupying force that we are. Fighting a war around civlians means both sides will end up killing civlians (and does not require a goatee).

The "romantic" view of war is a view that says some of these items are no longer true. That the opposite is true. Torture reliably produces good intel. Circumventing due process willl correct injustices without creating new injustices. War can be easy, clean, and of minimal cost. We will be welcomed as liberators. We can occupy a civilian population and not cause collateral damage.

Now there's a "romantic" view of relationships, and this view is often portrayed in actual romance novels. It's not an accurate portrayal of relationships, but its an enterataining one.

It's just that when I watch Rambo running through the jungles of Vietnam and mowing down entire divisions of nameless Vietnamese soldiers, while it is an unrealistic portrayal of war, the term "romance" doesn't really fit for me. So I used the term "porn" instead.

It's an unrealistic view of war, violence, and the use of force. And it is forwarded in the story so that viewers can be entertained, so that the guilt of war doesnt' get in the way. Much like the way the cost and dangers of unprotected sex with random anonymous strangers is generally completely off the radar screen on a porno movie.

Having the sexy, buxom blonde in a negligee, in some porno movie, find out she's got AIDS right after she just had sex with some anonymous construction worker is a bit of a buzz kill. So porno movies generally avoid that danger, minimize the threat, downplay the costs, or just don't mention it in their stories.

So, I would define "war pr0n" as a romantic view of war, in the sense that it hides certain fundamental truths about war so that the audience can be entertained in a guilt free fashion.

Can any single, objective test properly filter war pr0n from non war pr0n? probably not. An objective measure can't measure subjective, so all you can do is look for common objective patterns that the subjective view produces. I geared my test to detect the sort of movies that Hollywood is prone to make about war and separate them from the more rare movies that don't hide the costs of war.

But anyway, that's what I mean by "porn".

#542 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Is the good stuff "warotica"?

#543 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Greg London @ 542... War is not an easy, clean, victory.

That reminds me of something I once read in Rod Serling's biography, where he recounts how he felt watching a John Wayne WW2 movie set in the Philipines, and how the latter made it seem so easy. Serling's own experience didn't quite match the movie's depiction.

#544 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Hmm, Companions...

Romana, as another Time Lord, is something of a special case.

I'm not familiar with Bernice, or other characters if the interregnum. But when the Doctor meets Rose, he's alone, the last of the Time Lords. We don't know how long it has been since anyone else travelled in the Tardis. And right from the start Rose making a difference. It's possible she saves his life in her first episode. And she does remarkable things, even being prepared to die.

The biggie, of course, is how she uses the power of the Tardis.

Martha has to follow that, and we see the Doctor depending on her. He trusts her. He relies on her courage and ability. But does he love her?

In the end, she's not sure. And she knows her family need her support. They've had a grim experience that nobody else has had. It's chosen, rather than forced, and maybe it's a choice that a desperately lonely Time Lord wishes he could have made the same way, long ago.


#545 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Serge #540: Not only that but they'll give you the jnefuvgf.

#546 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Greg, I don't think I can discuss this with you any further without losing my temper. It's as if you're incapable of reading the sentences I actually wrote.

#547 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:32 PM:

May I humbly suggest dropping the subject of war pron? Last night, this being the Holidays, my wife and I watched Quatermass and the Pit.

#548 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:37 PM:

I said false positive because of the way in which I have noted Greg's use. Movies which have a high score are (to date, even with the prognostication of Kill Bill, films he thinks are morally corrupt... I agree on the subject of Private Ryan, but, I think, for completely different reasons).

So if a movie, which is otherwise, "moral" gets a high score, then it appears, based on the numbers, to be a "bad" movie.

If the numbers aren't useful in so evaluating the films (which is completely different from the merits of the film. If I manufacture a system, which lets me tell people of a like mind how they will [in a general way] react to it, then the system works. It's when I try to make others abide by that system that my judgements become subject to scrutiny) then one gets false postives/negatives, in that one will make assumptions about the message of the films (which to be honest is what I see Greg trying to shore up when he mentions such a score... High Score = Bad Film).

I think part of the problem is that we don't have a good idea what is being measured, and the name is loaded.

#549 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Avram: Greg, I don't think I can discuss this with you any further without losing my temper.
It's as if you're incapable of reading the sentences I actually wrote.

I read them. threaded conversations via text messages can lose a lot of feedback and connotations and corrective ability that is available voice to voice. I'll email you my cell number. Maybe I can figure out what it is I'm saying that is upsetting people. And maybe I can answer the question you really want answered.

#550 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Susan, I hope you're recuperating thoroughly.

Lee, I am so sorry. My condolences.

Serge, in the spirit of the holidays, I am going to be reading either The Stupidest Angel or Lamb. Solstice is coming, and I need to be prepared.

Oh, and for the next day or so, is anyone wants to call 907-488-1111, listen to the recording, and feel a little bit of sympathy for me... well, I wouldn't mind. Brr. Winter is finally here. It's supposed to warm up to 15 below over the weekend. Hurrah!

#551 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Greg, if some of the war porn scoring system is about the extent to which the story "others" people, how is it that you say the big event at the end of Watchmen would get the same score no matter where it happened? I'm sorry if I seem obsessed with this, but it makes such a huge difference that I'm kind of flabbergasted that you don't seem to see it.

Also, you keep bringing up Saving Private Ryan as a movie that would score low on the scale, when to me if any movie is war porn, it's that one. Start out with a very realistic portrayal of lots and lots and lots of people dying so that later on you can have people prancing about in front of flags saying "Tell me I'm a good man!" Disgusting. But since your scoring system ignores anything surrounding the portrayal of violence in favor of just the violence itself, it misses all of that stuff. It's one of the many major flaws in your system.

#552 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Tania @ 551... I'd strongly recommend reading Connie Willis's "All Seated On the Ground" except that that issue of Asimov's is gone from the stands.

#553 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:47 PM:

I'm shocked to find out that literature is not a mirror-perfect representation of reality.

#554 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Missing that one issue of Asimov's is what finally motivated me to get a subscription. I'd been doing really well with going to the bookstore, but then stopped because of Thanksgiving. I am ridiculously disappointed in myself.

#555 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Diatryma,

I can lend you my copy, if you want and are willing to mail it back to me when you are done.

email is my lj name (see the link attached to my name in this post) at juno.com

#556 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:21 PM:

steve c,

I'm shocked to find out that literature is not a mirror-perfect representation of reality.

right. & if a historical piece is selective about what it shows, it is not historical, but "semi-historical." which logically means that no work ever created was ever historical. which makes me wonder why the term exists.

#557 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:28 PM:

I have a stack of Connie Willis collections from Subterranean Press riding around in the car, I can always dip into one of those for inspiration.

We don't get Asimov's anymore, but I think I know where I can snag an issue. Thanks!

#558 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:30 PM:

Does Olivier's film of Henry V have any footage of actual battle scenes? It's been over ten years since I saw any of it, and I don't recall.

Branagh's version does, of course; and it should be noted that Shakespeare makes little or no effort to depict the battle of Agincourt onstage (which, as you know, Sir Robert, is why the Chorus needs to come on and apologize beforehand), making the decision to film it of necessity a deliberate one. It's an interesting test to the warn pr0n equation, since Olivier's version is unmistakably pro-war jingoism and Branagh's (which is almost certainly the more violent of the two) is not - but no matter how messy and costly you make Agincourt, you're stuck with an outcome that leaves thousands of ("cardboard") French soldiers slaughtered to a handful of English casualties. In this case it isn't a matter of "context" (since that idea has been met with some derision) but tone - Branagh manages to take the same words and make them mean something else by the way they're delivered, both by the performers themselves and in the way they're filmed.

I don't know if there's an answer to the entertainment aspect of violence; I don't know if there needs to be an answer. We're a violent species by inclination, and while I'm not advocating any sort of fuzzy EvPsych "that's just how we are, no need to try and change the status quo," I also think it's perilous to gloss over that impulse. Like sexual desire, it seems to want some kind of release, and if it doesn't get a healthy one, it will settle for what it can get, healthy or not. Which side so-called war pr0n falls on is still, I suppose, very much up in the air.

I do have to take issue with the idea that we shouldn't depict real-world atrocities in fiction just because someone might be entertained by them in a way we might not approve of. That, to me, is letting the discourse of literature, and its boundaries, be controlled by the least healthy members of the culture. And it has the effect of papering over horrors that might be better understood, and better dealt with, by shining light on them rather than treating them as taboo.

Also, in light of this discussion, I found this to be of no small relevance.

#559 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Dan @ 559... Non-Christian worldview or false religions, such as Mormonism or legalism

Legalism is a religion?

#560 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Serge @ 548: Last night, this being the Holidays, my wife and I watched Quatermass and the Pit.

A newly beloved Christmas tradition of mine is Bad Santa, and I've got high hopes for Black Christmas.

For the 4 or 5 years leading up to this one, Joe Haldeman put a novel out around Christmastime. That was always nice & Christmas-y, with a fire and some chex mix. This year he published in the summer (The Accidental Time Machine) and I couldn't wait. Haldeman is the bee's knees, IMHO, and I think he gets better with age. I loved Old Twentieth, and TATM was almost as good.

#561 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Greg London @550:
Maybe I can figure out what it is I'm saying that is upsetting people.

You're saying that works that they like a lot are porn. Furthermore, you're saying it in a way that makes it sound like more than just your opinion.

It is that simple.

#562 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Serge: Yeah, I know. Nobody knows what the hell that means. Including, I wager, the folks at Movieguide.

#563 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 03:57 PM:

I seem to have misread something.

I think Private Ryan a terrible film. It's doing all right up to the last little bit, where the wheels come off and it becomes another rambo-esque paean to the good guys are good because they are the good guys, and not because they are good.

Those who fail to live up to some idealised standard are worthless/shameful as opposed to merely human and mercy is denigrated.

That last combat scene undoes all the ambiguity the middle of the movie has, and completely flips the realness (ignoring the bullets that fly through water as though it were air) of the opening sequence.

If I had to pick a film which romanticised war (in a really bad way) Private Ryan is high on the list because it does so as a justification for all the horror it managed to earlier show.

#564 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Terry, have you ever seen Terrence Malik's The Thin Red Line?

#565 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Greg, IMO Starship Troopers (the novel) is not war pr0n, but almost anything by John Ringo is; YMMV. For me, it's whether the gory descriptions sound like necessary parts of the story or just there to be gory descriptions. (Ringo has other faults that add to the pr0n factor.)

#566 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Nancy: Yes, bored me to tears. I almost left the theater, several times.

I found the grinding sense of the internal monologue was just oppressive as all get out, and the cinematography affected.

For my tastes the film was too aware of itself.

#567 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Serge #560: Legalism was one of the Hundred Schools of classical Chinese philosophy. (Legalists taught that human beings, being naturally selfish, could not be swayed by appeals to virtue but could be made to behave by strict application of laws.) I can't see it as a religion, though.

#568 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:13 PM:

# 463: Many thanks for that link to the KSR interview -- and the blog itself is chocked with fascinating information relevant to this changing world.

Also for all of you participating in the war pr0n discussion.

Last summer I read James Michner's Tales of the South Pacific for the first time. I also watched the movies, the first one, which replicates the stage musical so faithfully, and then the made for television one of Glenn Close.

That the American military in the Pacific is stocked with rapists is a theme in Michner's novel, that no one has ever mentioned as far as I know. The staging is very clever in the suggestions of it in the movies -- and quite blatant in Close's staging as she changed the order of some of the song and dance numbers.

"There Ain't Nothin' Like a Dame" is terrifying to watch, if you're a woman, as the population of the men on the island go through their verses while these desperately outnumbered nurses are being taken around and briefed on their gig.

In Michner's novel, "Bali Hai" is the island to which all the women and girls were removed for their safety because the soldiers had gone on a rape rampage, not the romantic Catholic girls' school of the musical and movies.

#569 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:16 PM:

I note that one of Fred's commenters clarified that "Legalism" in this context probably means salvation by works instead of faith. Because we can't have with telling people that God cares whether or not they're actually, yanno, good (to each other or otherwise, I suppose).

#570 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Greg @#642: I wasn't asking for your definition of "war porn," but for your definition of plain old regular porn.

In your explanation in #642, you seem to equate romanticism and pornography, to a degree. You talk about the lack of realism in pornography as if that is its defining characteristic. But typically pornography is characterized first and foremost by extreme and/or explicit sexual content, and its lack of realism is just a by-product.

I suspect many of us would agree with something like Lewis's definition, which rams quotes in #641...to paraphrase, [sexual] pornography is designed to create sexual excitement or desire. Or perhaps, more broadly, it is designed to make the viewer eager to do what they see on the screen.

THAT definition of pornography lends a weight of implication to the term "war porn" that perhaps you don't intend. I'd suggest discarding the term and returning to the initial concept of the Romance of War, and see if it nets you better conversational results.

#571 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Dan @ 563... No matter what, if Pat Boone is good enough to get a crystal bear, so am I. True, I don't play the accordeon like he does, but at least Earth's magnetic field never yanked my instrument away from me.

#572 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:29 PM:

Serge @#548:

Last night, this being the Holidays, my wife and I watched Quatermass and the Pit.

A movie with so many great things in it, I can't count high enough to list them. My favorite scene, though, is the one where they put the brain helmet on the secretary. The greatness:

1. Here's a machine with a helmet that you put on your head, and it shows images from your brain on the screen. Good thing we have that handy.

2. [blurry image of running grasshoppers] Ah, I understand now, gurer jrer gjb snpgvbaf bs znegvnaf, naq gurl unq n jne, naq gur ybfvat snpgvba pnzr urer. Obviously.

3. "Hold me! Hold me! Oooh! Hold me!"

#573 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:36 PM:

I'd also go with war r0mance, Greg.

#574 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:57 PM:

abi on why people are upset by Greg:
"You're saying that works that they like a lot are porn. Furthermore, you're saying it in a way that makes it sound like more than just your opinion.

It is that simple."

well, it's a little more complicated.

He's saying the works they like a lot are porn, but a particular part of porn meant to glorify violence and violent solutions to complex problems requiring intelligence and encouraging moral depravity of the worst sort (probably the only kind of porn he could describe these works as that would be worse for the MakingLight crowd would be if he described them as racism-porn, but that's not certain). Furthermore he's saying it in a way that sounds like he has a system worked out for verifying the absolute truth of his opinion(although this does not actually seem to be what he thinks, just what the general implication seems to be), the actual rules of which system can seem extremely arbitrary.

Finally when he describes these works he often seems to have interpretations of the meaning of constituent features of these works that are highly at variance with the normal range of interpretations of these constituent features. Everyone that argues with him on the interpretation of these constituent features seems to feel that he does not honestly respond to what they say, while he seems to feel that people twist his statements around when arguing on these matters. I suppose I do not have to go through and get examples from the last few threads on these subjects.

This may be extremely impolite on my part but I feel the history of torture as war porn in popular genre fiction - From Watching to Watchmen to Killing Bill has become as irritating a critical narrative as the kinds of earnest and accidental trollery which argues that Hitler was a Man of the Left.

#575 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Mary Dell @ 573... Yes, the helmet was awfully convenient, and Quatermass reaches amazingly accurate scientific conclusions just from looking at the helmet's recordings of Martian locusts hopping around.

#576 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:04 PM:

The Doctor Who thread -- Rose is RTD's Mary Sue (though a better written and less annoying Mary Sue than was Wesley Crusher, IMO). So of course Martha is going to be second-best. It doesn't matter what her skin colour is, she's second-best because she's not Rose Tyler.

#577 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:08 PM:

anyway on a lighter subject, I am currently in Naples and I am going to have to say that considering the quality of the weather today that Greg made a big mistake not booking that cruise. Perhaps not as big a mistake as considering The Watchmen to be war porn but close.

#578 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:08 PM:

re 559, 571: I just saw both Henry V versions. The general filth level in the Branagh is higher, of course; otherwise the battle scenes are somewhat similar except for one exceptionally bloody scene in the Branagh in which York is killed. That scene sits right on the edge of pr0n; to (fairly jaded) me it is shocking and nearly repugnant, but from a plot perspective it is unneeded (the death is listed by name later). The Olivier version omits a hanging (not especially graphic) which is in the original text. There's also the atrocity scene of the French raiding the English camp, which is bloodless in the Olivier version; that bloodlessness is hardly relevant though.

Henry V is certainly a war romance, unless it isn't. Which is to say: if you think that a play which glorifies a war of aggression is a bad thing, then it is; if you think of it as glorifying a triumph under really bad odds, then it isn't. The difference I see between a romance and pr0n is that in the former the plot is the point, and it relies on sanitizing some of the details; but in the latter it's those details that are the point, and the plot is just a way to get those scenes on the screen. Older war movies tend to be romantic; but there is a pr0nographic quality to many recent ones because there's increasing focus on making the action graphic because war footage should be that way, no matter what the story is. That's the same tendency I see in the graphic novels: that they lean hard on the wrong sense of "graphic" and edge into showing violence for the sake of showing violence.

#579 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:18 PM:

I remember Martha Soukup, in her GEnie topic, referred to Dirty Dancing as girl porn, because it so obiously targeted a stereotypical unrealistic fantasy, the good girl falling for the bad boy. Now, I thought the movie was entertaining, but I think Martha had it nailed.

#580 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Mike Ford used the term "kill p0rn" [hmm, I really dislike the visual look of "p0rn" -- what about writing it "pourn" ??

#581 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:26 PM:

The Pourn Supremacy?

#582 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Mary Dell @ 573... That being said, I'd put Quatermass and the Pit Up There in my personal list of the best SF movies. I think someone wanted to remake the movie 10 years, by the way. Probably just as well that it never happened. ("I've got this GREAT idea! Keanu Reeves as Bernard Quartermass.")

#583 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:39 PM:

Quartermass and the Pit had a different title -- 5 Million Years to Earth -- when it was shown on WOR and scared the living snot out of me as a kid.

Great Christmas film, though!

Something I'd like to see again: The Box of Delights. Velly British miniseries, shown on PBS many years ago. I recall Patrick Troughten, a magic box, and gangsters that drove around in a black limo that could fly.

It ticks me off that the various cable stations with special Christmas schedules are showing, more or less, a) Rankin Bass cartoons, b) The Polar Express, and c) Wretched sappy Christmas-themed TV movies apparently aimed at women.

A more adventurous scheduler would seek out wonderfully strange stuff like The Box of Delights.

Or maybe a marathon showing of all of the versions of "A Christmas Carol." That would be a trip.

#584 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:41 PM:

Serge @ 583 - I like Quatermass and the Pit as well. Did you ever notice the similarity between that movie and Lifeforce? Both of them had this kind of orgy of violence generated by alien intelligence at the climax of the film.

Perhaps the presence of Mathilda May has influenced my liking of Lifeforce.

#585 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 584... a marathon showing of all of the versions of "A Christmas Carol."

Of course it'd have to include the Blackadder version.

#586 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Steve C #585

The Pourn Supremacy?

It seems that way sometimes, especially with the all the Lolitawear and spike heel stuff some Sauron-associates promulgate and promote as Appropriate Attire.

#587 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 06:18 PM:

ethan@552: Also, you keep bringing up Saving Private Ryan as a movie that would score low on the scale, when to me if any movie is war porn, it's that one.

I don't know what the final score of SPR would be. I said the opening scene would be a fairly low score because you see Americans killed on the battlefield. And not just private Joey who just got the letter from his wife with a picture of his son who just turned two. Anonymous American soldiers.

The movie as a whole seems to have as it's moral the idea that if you're given the chance to kill your enemy, show no mercy, or it will come back to haunt you and all those around you. what the final score is, I don't know. But that moral, though, is a misrepresentation of violence being superior to social structures, morals, what not. and it would definitely win some points.

#588 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 06:43 PM:

I'm floored and at a loss for words. Have you seen this?

The Lakota have seceded.

#589 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Actually, I'm not sure that the signers of the declaration have the standing in the tribe to make such a declaration, but by God, it still leaves me breathless.

At the very least, I hope it brings attention to the way people are suffering and living in brutal misery on the reservations, and some remedy to it.

#590 ::: Sian Hogan ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Stefan Jones@584

I don't know where you are, but in the UK the Box of Delights is readily available on BBC DVD (with a couple of extra features).

I grew up watching it on taped-off-the-telly VHS (almost literally- I was born in the same year it first aired). About six years ago, that tape was snaffled by my cousins, so we bought it on video. Just about a week ago, we bought the DVD. I've just finished watching the third episode. It is awesome. Completely Christmas-y, totally surreal, oddly disturbing and generally just made out of midwinter.

I don't really know what Christmas movies I'd like to see aired. Too much sweet sentimentality, I think. I don't mind nostalgia, but I've never got along with sweet. Sad sentimental, I'm fine with. (Um, is "the Snowman" on this year? I'm a sucker for that.)

#591 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:14 PM:

#581, Paula Lieberman -

hmm, I really dislike the visual look of "p0rn" -- what about writing it "pourn" ??

Most of the folks I know reverse the positions of the o and the r when they use a zero. So they spell it pr0n, or else they spell it porn. Unless it's being done here to get past a spamblocker?

#592 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Guess not.

#593 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:16 PM:

I'm not sure this is the best thing to write, but War is Violence to the Social Structure as a social structure, and that aspect of the scale is, I think, poorly structured.

War has it's own rules, and they are at great variance to the norms those who inhabit war generally live by, outside of war.

Read, "The Men of Company K" and learn the difference between taking someone to the road, and putting them on the road. Find out that one is entitled to kill one's own prisoners, but anyone else who does that is risking being shot, by the person who took the prisoners.

War is a world apart, and trying to make non-war judgements on what is/isn't good depiction of violence, outside of war, is fraught with peril.

However, since most directors/writers aren't really writing from inside war, but merely using war as a vehicle to make a social point (or merely to entertain) we can't help it.

Which is why things like the ending of Saving Private Ryan so offends me. But I don't think (honestly) that the opening scene would rate any differently, in my book, if it were a film about the Kaiser's Offensive in 1917, and those were Germans getting killed by the case lot (in a film from the US/British perspective).

I think the context in which nameless death is presented makes a huge difference, not just that it's "bad guys" or "good guys" buying a farm.

#594 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:19 PM:

On Christmas and possibly New Year's Eve as well (I usually stay home that night, I don't drive or party) I expect to be watching whatever disc Netflix has sent me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm queu'ed up for the entire show, and am currently viewing the last disc of Season 2.

#595 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:21 PM:

#591: Amazon only offers a Region 2 DVD. I'll keep looking around.

The IMDB listing notes that one of the principles of Box of Delights worked on the Really Quite Decent made for TV Narnia adaptations, which explains a lot.

"The Snowman", and another cartoon by the same folks about how Father Christmas spends the rest of the year, were both sweet and funny. They were shown on PBS for many years. I'll check the listings.

I've seen some good Christmas movies, but most are just awful. One good one I just barely recall had a title like "A Christmas to Remember." Depression-era story about a city kid sent to live with his grouchy, childless Midwestern relations. Bad Stuff in their past turned them off of Christmas; the kid and some local friends help figure things out.

For that matter . . . the very first "Waltons" story was a Christmas TV movie. Sharper and grittier than the TV series.

#596 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Lizzy L, you're "currently watching" the last disc of Buffy Season Two and managing to post here? When I'm watching that disc, I'm glued to the television by my tears.

#597 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 08:24 PM:

#524: I mean, there's sometimes been sort of an undercurrent of "are they or aren't they" at least with some of the companions

A lot of fans like to assume that the Doctor and Romana were lovers because the actors were in love at the time themselves, and it came out in their performances.

Sarah Jane, Leela, Romana, and Nyssa being notable (but probably not the only) exceptions

Ian and Barbara are notable, too. At first, the idea was that they were the heroes--the Doctor was the unreliable old inventor who got the crew into danger. As a result the early stories have an interestingly different dynamic from the rest of the series.

There's also Liz Shaw, who was around for the third Doctor's first season and was pretty much treated as his babysitter.

I never really watched any of the Sylvester McCoy episodes

You may have missed something--the last couple of years (from "Remembrance of the Daleks" onwards) included some of the best episodes of the original series.

#598 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Pourn Elle?

naaah. I don't want to go there.

#599 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Serge @ 560: I've often thought the fetish for legal liability, especially in the US, is functioning as a religion.

* "We have to put warnings on all packaged products or the gods will be angry!"

* "We can't let you climb that wall, it would anger the gods."

* "You must make a ritual mouse click before installing this software, so that our god is respected."

* "What really got the board moving was when Sue pointed out how the impropriety risked the gods' anger."

Where for "angry gods" read "liability." Pet peeve, I guess.

#600 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 08:36 PM:

ethan, I'm not "currently" watching as in Right Now this minute. I'll be watching the last episode around 9 pm tonight -- about 3 and 1/2 hours from now. I watched the penultimate episode last night. I hadn't seen it before. It was good. Tears? Not so far. Some cheering, though. Definitely rooting for Giles to whack on the demonic Angel some more. And I am totally intrigued to know what Spike is planning. The only negative is that I don't have the next disc in the queue: it probably won't arrive until Saturday. Bummer.

#601 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Nancy@408: can you remember details of the Sturgeon? I know at least one story in which the lead very carefully creates a threat (the worst violence is a bomb on an uninhabited mountain top) that succeeds in pulling the world together; there's a definite point that the "aliens" have done \nothing/ for which vengeance is appropriate, so humanity can concentrate on uniting rather than mourning, bloviating, ...

#602 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:42 PM:

Stefan Jones @#596:

I've seen some good Christmas movies, but most are just awful.

Our favorite Christmas flick is Die Hard.

"Now I have a Machine Gun. Ho Ho Ho."

#603 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:17 PM:

The canonical Christmas movie in the UK is The Great Escape. I have no idea why Dickie Attenborough being machine-gunned should be considered central to the festive spirit, but there you are.

#604 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Greg: The fundamental flaw of the War Pr0n scale is that it takes as a given that people can be easily divided into white hats and black hats. But those sorts of clear distinctions are themselves a construct of the War Pr0n genre: in a non-War Pr0n story, it is doubtful whether such distinctions are even valid. The more a story explicitly denies the glory of war, the less likely those distinctions are to have any weight.

Watchmen is an excellent example of this problem: I, and many others, would argue that it is a critique of the "violence is the answer" tendency of the superhero genre. Accordingly, clear moral distinctions are few and far between. None of the characters are held up as moral exemplars, and none of them are demonized either--they all have reasons for what they do. The clues it gives you for figuring out who's good or evil are all tricks, designed to make you stop trusting anything other than a person's actions as a guide for their morality.

And then, when you look at their actions, you're met with more ambiguity. Is Rorschach a hero or a villian? Ozymandias? The Comedian? Dr. Manhattan? By the end of the story, there's enough evidence for and against each to hang them or win them the Nobel peace prize. Which of their sins is direr? Which of their virtues is more radiant? It's a decision forced on the reader--there aren't any guides to help you. The point of all this is that dividing things into good and bad is really fucking hard in the real world. There are no easy answers; certainly violence isn't one. If that isn't an anti-War Pr0n message, I don't know what is.

Question: You, like many other readers, ended V for Vendetta thinking that V is a crazy terrorist. Why are you so sure that that isn't what Moore wanted you to think?

#605 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Iain Coleman @ #604, on the radio today I heard an interview with a guy (in Glasgow!) who's managed to get It's a Wonderful Life released into UK theaters this year, and in its first weekend it grossed $150K, more than recovering the $120K it cost him to do it. So there may be a new iconic film ahead.

Personally I'm very tired of that movie; if I want to see Jimmy Stewart, I'd rather see Rear Window or Vertigo.

#606 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Diatryma, #555, you can buy the issue at Fictionwise if you can read it online.

Serge, did you know your wife is quoted on the Lee/Miller website?

Linkmeister, #606, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Open Threadish

Michael Bishop's suggestion for Virginia Tech is being put into place (although VT isn't acknowledging him).

How To Shelve A Kitten

#607 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:10 AM:

Saving Private Ryan--I'm in two minds about the framing story. It destroys the ambiguity of the main ending.

And, of course, it's all manipulative. Omaha Beach, and then the mother back in the USA, for instance. That doesn't make the film bad, but the whole thing does drift in the real-to-Rambo direction. Characters who we've followed all through the film do die. And, realistic though it is, the enemy are anonymous.

And there are bits and pieces which might make sense as practical film making (what German tank can we easily fake?), but it took a week for the first Tiger unit to reach Normandy (schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101 from Beauvais, north of Paris, first seeing action at Villers Bocage).

Band of Brothers was much better--more screen time and a real story rather than something contrived from some reality. And not every German tank was a Tiger.


#608 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:16 AM:

Open threadful request/idea:

I'm going to try and finish my xmas shopping early this year, that is, by the 22nd or so. I haven't spent much time looking at things, especially the "small useful items" category of things. Do you have recommendations on useful things you've seen/ used recently?

Things I've liked and can recommend as gifts:
1. Silicone oven mitts--waterproof, dishwasher safe, grippy. Much better than cloth mitts.

2. oxo kitchen set--various tools. Ergonomic design makes cooking more comfortable.

3. Cooks Illustrated line of cookbooks.

#609 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:56 AM:

Greg @ 588: The movie as a whole seems to have as it's moral the idea that if you're given the chance to kill your enemy, show no mercy, or it will come back to haunt you and all those around you.
You got that from SPR? I always thought that Upham's final actions were intended to show that even as gentle and decent a person as he can be utterly demoralised, dehumanised and driven to acts of madness and evil by the horror of war. You seem to suppose that we cheered when ur fubbgf gur cevfbare. I did not, nor did I feel that Speilberg and co were trying to portray that act as even slightly right.

That said, I have to mostly agree with Terry's comment at 564. When they stripped out the ambiguity in the final battle it lost a lot of what it built in the first two acts. Not a terrible film, just 2/3 of a good film with a non-great ending.

#610 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:58 AM:

Fans of Quatermass and the Pit may enjoy

[Orchestra: science-fiction-type fanfare]

[GRAMS: over music: The Thing sound effect–a mysterious echoing electronic effect]

The Scarlet Capsule.

#611 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:15 AM:
Ian and Barbara are notable, too. At first, the idea was that they were the heroes--the Doctor was the unreliable old inventor who got the crew into danger. As a result the early stories have an interestingly different dynamic from the rest of the series.
All of the companions of the first two Doctors fall into one of three categories:

1) The strapping lad who can hit somebody if violence is called for.
2) The innocent girl.
3) Barbara Wright.

...and I don't think it's coincidence that Barbara was one of the very first characters introduced.

Actually what I think they were going for at first was a family unit, with parents, a child, and a grandparent. (The way Susan called the Doctor "grandfather" is a clue there, to be sure.) Over time the focus shifted, and with the debut of Jon Pertwee things shifted even more.

#612 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:34 AM:

wooze wooze
i can has oxywhatsit
wooze wooze

#613 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Hey, Woozy Susan is here!

Have some drugs for me, I have to drive.

#614 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:15 AM:

Welcome back, Susan.

#615 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:22 AM:

Taking advantage of the open thread for a bit of randomness:

They just replaced my PC at work - I had a Windows 2000 machine, and needed XP to run a new program, so they brought me an XP machine and moved everything over.

I get the infamous "no error" error message every time this new computer boots. It is an error dialog box, with the title of "Error" and no text. There's the little triangle exclamation mark icon, and an ok button.

I'm still not sure if I want to laugh or cry.

(And how much do I love it that this place doesn't automatically generate "you should use Linux/Apple instead" messages when you post about Windows troubles? A lot. A whole lot.)

#616 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:27 AM:

I can't believe nobody else has brought up the Irn-Bru snowman ad. (Which, IIRC, I first encountered at ML.)

#617 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:38 AM:

yay Susan!

I was thinking that the upside of being bedbound for the near future would be a surplus of time for fluorecsing.

#618 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:58 AM:

Lila, what on *earth* were they thinking?

#619 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:07 AM:

Susan! Hooray!

Here's hoping for less pain, less wooze, and getting plenty of good stuff that makes you happy done as you recuperate!

#620 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:27 AM:

So, I wanted to respond to the post linked in the Particle "The Day I Sold My Wife", but Blogger's little verification image thingee is timing out. I'll just share my response here:

From China, I sympathize. I dreamed last month of walking into a bookstore and finding boxes and boxes of English books. They were library sale discards, trashy novels I wouldn't normally nod to on the street, and they were selling for prices like 200 RMB -- the price of a new hardcover in America. And in the dream I filled my arms in a frenzy, making a stack big enough it was hard to balance. It was this pure, beautiful, sensual pleasure. Like eating chocolates, except they take longer to get sick of. I woke up so disappointed.

Fortunately I have loved ones who send me books when necessary... John just introduced Caitlin Kiernan's Daughter of Hounds to me by way of an expensive package and I'm digging in.

#621 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Terry@594: but War is Violence to the Social Structure as a social structure, and that aspect of the scale is, I think, poorly structured.

I'm trying to catch instances in stories where violence is shown to be superior to social structures. Torture is shown to be more effective than legal interrogation. Vigilanteism is shown to be more effective than due process. War is shown to be more effective than diplomacy.

where "more effective" means produces better results at a lower cost, in shorter time, and has minimal negative consequences.

However, since most directors/writers aren't really writing from inside war, but merely using war as a vehicle to make a social point (or merely to entertain) we can't help it.

The other thing I tried to take into account was how the author can play mind games by presenting information about their characters and world, but use distancing of narration to minimize negative information.

In Watchmen, we see on screen four or five scenes where a main character tortures someone and gets useful information. We see one instance on screen where a main character tortures someone who doesn't know anything. At some point we are told that a main character had to go through 14 people before getting some useful information.

Some folks argue that this makes the representation of torture accurate. But I think that seriously downplays the effects of Moore's choices in narration.

You can have a story where ten bad guys and ten good guys are killed. But how you narrate that story can have a big difference in the "point" the author is trying to make. Show all ten bad guys getting killed on screen, but inform the viewer of the ten good guys being killed by telling them about it after the fact, and that will have a different focus than a movie that shows characters from both sides getting killed on screen.

The Battle of Thermopylae happened only one way, involving hundreds of thousands of people, each with their own point of view.

But to transform the Battle of Thermophylae into a story that you sell to the public, you have to find a small set of point of view characters. If it turns out that all those characters are on one side of the war, then the author is probably trying to make a different "point" than some author who tries to choose POV characters on both sides.

Which means choices of narration made by the author are important in trying to figure out what point he is trying to make. And that's why I count only the things that we are shown on screen. The Battle of Thermophylae had the casualties that it had in history. But I'm trying to measure how the author tried to represent it, what point is he trying to make.

In Watchmen, we are shown on screen 5 scenes where a main character tortures some anonymous character and gets useful information. We are shown on screen 1 scene where a main character tortures an anonymous character who doesn't know anything. We are told after the fact that a main character had to go through 14 people before he was able to get useful information.

Folks can argue that Moore did that simply because he didn't have time to show all fourteen that failed. But he didnt have to show all five that worked, either. WHether he made these choices consciously to make some point about war, I don't know. But his choices in narration, standing by itself, without people trying to post-insert explanations into the narrative that aren't actually shown in the narrative, tells a story that torture is an effective method for producing information.

Folks can argue that Moore was trying to show these heroes were really anti-heroes, that they're not good people, whatever, but Moore does this inside a narative that shows us that torture works.

If Moore wanted to show me that these folks were anti-heroes, fine. Then to keep the war pr0n (or whatever you call it) score down, he would have to do it in a way that showed torture being ineffective, producing many more false leads than positive ones, showing us more of those innocent people beign tortured on screen.

Same thing goes for vigilantiesm. While folks argue that Moore wanted to show these guys as anti-heroes, what Moore shows us in the narrative is that vigilantism works. We are never shown or even told about a scene where Rorschach killed an innocent person that he thought was guilty. We are shown Rorschach committing lethal vigilantism against a number of people, and they're all guilty. We are never shown cases of misidentification.

With Comedian, we are shown two instances where he commits violence against an innocent individual, but in both cases he is "off duty". Neither are vigilantisms gone wrong. Both are his own amoral behaviour coming out. But we are also shown that the backstory of the Comedian is that he alone went in and ended the Iranian hostage crisis, apparently without the death of a single hostage, since it was enough to silence all of his critics at the time. So while Comedian is shown to be an amoral anti-hero capable of being violent against innocent people, the one act we are shown on screen of his vigilantism is super successful.


So, the score with Comedian gets +10 points for the Iranian Hostage bit and -5 for the two violent acts we see him commit against innocent people. With the Comedian, the score goes to zero. Probably the number you want for an "amoral superhero" story.

Rorschach, though, gets numerous points for his vigilantism against guilty parties. And there are no negative points because he never misidentifies and kills an innocent person. We are shown one instance of him torturing an innocent persion, and that subtracts some points.

But we are shown far more instances of violence being more effective than social structures than we are shown violence being inferior to social structurs, that the final score ends up being a large positive number.

Whatever Moore intended to tell us with his story, I don't know. But what he shows us is a world where torture works, where vigilantism works.

#622 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:41 AM:

flergh. *fluorescing*

#623 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:42 AM:

AJ Luxton @610:
I have bookstore dreams.

I dream of huge, complicated stores on multiple floors, selling both new and used books. They smell heavenly, of course.

And somewhere in the shop, I always find a wonderful book. Physically, it's beautiful, with something about the binding that is too complex, too magical to be able to see quite right in the dim light. The content is always intriguing as well; I flip through it and know that I'm going to enjoy poring over every page.

Sometimes I'm walking to the cashier when I wake up. Sometimes I've bought the book and am just about to walk out the door.

It's a terribly empty feeling, though, waking without that book. Whatever book it is.

#624 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Paul@610: You got that from SPR? I always thought that Upham's final actions were intended to show that even as gentle and decent a person as he can be utterly demoralised, dehumanised and driven to acts of madness and evil by the horror of war. You seem to suppose that we cheered when ur fubbgf gur cevfbare. I did not

I saw it at the theater when it first came out. a large number of people in the audience cheered at that scene.

rot13

Vs Fcrvyoret'f cbvag jnf abg "Vs lbh fubj Zrepl gb lbhe rarzl, gura onq guvatf unccra gb lbh", gura jura ur fubjrq Zrepl va uvf svyz, gung Zrepl fubhyq abg unir oebhtug hcba gur Nzrevpnaf gurve bja qrnguf.

Gung gur cevfbare jub jnf fubja zrepl raqf hc orvat gur fbyqvre jub xvyyf nyy gur nzrevpnaf ng gur raq (jura nal Trezna punenpgre pbhyq unir orra hfrq), Fcrvyoret vf fubjvat hf gur pbafrdhraprf bs fubjvat zrepl gb bhe rarzl. Gurl pbzr onpx naq xvyy hf. Ur pbhyq unir pbzcyrgryl haeryngrq, arire orsber pncgherq, Trezna fbyqvref xvyy gur nzrevpnaf. Ur qvqa'g. Ur hfrq gur Trezna jub unq orra fubja zrepl ol gur Nzrevpnaf gb xvyy gur irel Nzrevpnaf jub unq fubja uvz zrepl.

Vs Fcvryoret jnagrq gb fvzcyl fubj hf gung Jne gheaf tragyr Nzrevpna vagb znqarff naq rivy, gura gur Tragyr Nzrevpna fubhyq unir orra fubja fubbgvat n pbzcyrgryl enaqbz Trezna cevfbare, ABG gur irel bar gurl unq cerivbhfyl fubja zrepl gb, jub erprvirq zrepl naq pnzr onpx naq xvyyrq uvf sevraqf. Ol xvyyvat gur cevfbare jub unq erpvrirq zrepl, Fcrvyoret vf fubjvat n eribpngvba naq naq pbaqrzangvba bs Zrepl.

#625 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:00 AM:

Susan @ 613... Welcome back.

#626 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Marilee @ 607... I remember Sue giving that quote for one of Sharon & Steve's books, but I didn't realize they had posted it on their official site. Yay!

#627 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Re Xmas movies: We've already discussed it, but anyone who missed the two-parter of Hogfather can see it in one showing this weekend, if they can manage to wade through all the commercials (or speed through the tape later). Not perfect, but I'd take it any day over It's A Wonderful Life.

#628 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:05 AM:

abi, I've had that dream too--only I wake myself up by laughing in delight. Once, I made it all the way to the cashier AND PAID. Then I realized that I was awake and in Powell's.

#629 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:05 AM:

Susan, welcome back. I see you've discovered the upside of major medical treatment: industrial strength drugs. Enjoy them while they last.

#630 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:23 AM:

I once dreamed that I had in fact died and gone to Heaven. I have no idea why my sleeping mind placed me there. I am generally of the opinion that if there is a Heaven, and therefore (it is a necessary counterpoise) a Hell, I would be damned.

Heaven consisted of a schoolroom, where if one finally gave the right answers they let you out, into a sort of wilderness that was actually the Big Rock Candy Mountains. In my case, I left out the cigarette trees, but the other elements were all there. Above all, there was the certainty that this would go on forever. The thanatophobia that dogs my days and haunts my nights was gone, evaporated. It was like having a small pain that was always part of me, always present, not important but always there, departed forever.

But the dream ended.

The last time I got into a mood like this, it was down to the Lagavulin 16 that I unwisely indulged in when alone. That isn't the case now. It's the MacAllen 18 yo. I can't afford this very often, thank the Lord.

#631 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:32 AM:

I dreamed a lot about my dad after he died. He'd just be standing off to the side, quiet while people went about their own activities. Then one day I gave him a hug, said goodbye, and I never dreamed of him again.

#632 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:53 AM:

lila @617 -- thanks for the link. My daughter watched it with me and started picking out the song on her guitar. I love it when she does that.

abi @624 --I dream of huge, complicated stores on multiple floors, selling both new and used books. They smell heavenly, of course. I was in one just exactly like that the day before yesterday, fortunately not a dream. Buchhaus Stern-Verlag in Düsseldorf. Highly recommended (and a very good cafe.)

Susan -- welcome back and I wish you a speedy, comfortable recovery.

Greg London -- um, done any baking lately? ;)

#633 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Thanks to everyone who suggested books in the "New York Times... drop dead" thread. A Christmas present apparently doesn't exist (sigh) and I need at least one book for Dad. I have a lot of good ideas now.

#634 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:59 AM:

#629 TexAnne:

"Six Flags over Burbank."

Greg #622
I think that the USA has a public cult of gratuitous violence glorification and worship going on. The Schmuck at the top is a key icon of it, but it's permeated all the way down through the entire society. Go into the Romance section of a bookstore and what does one see, hordes of paranormal romances ranging from Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight in which the male lead engages in dominance games over the female lead and she likes it, JR Ward novels with big huge badass violent homicidal maniac male leads except when they find their True Loves turn into wussies for and ONLY for that one True Love, gazillions of Alpha Male brutal lead male protagonist vampires and werewolves and other shapeshifters... all violent, often lots of torture... go elsewhere in the bookstore, see the urban fantasies in the SF/F section full of violence and such... whatever happened to the ideals of the 1960s of -peaceful- resolution of disputes, of the ideal of working together, of conflicts other than lethal contention and hatred and torture to get information....

And what's on TV? Reality shows jiggered to make maximum conflict and upset, soaps full of nasty scheming murderers and marriages that aren't supposed to be open relationships which nonetheless the spouses in are having sexual relations with other people (never is there a happy consenting adults menage in those things....), Fux New shills yelling at one another as if this is any sane way to convey -information- and opinion--it's pure emotion-rape is my view of it, doctored data and infotainment with "news" being a profit center carefully crafted to maximize ad revenue and minimize politically-driven FCC and other government agency negative involvement (translation, say anything about the Schmuck and his administration that's other than flattering and her come Problems, praise the Schmuck and get perks....), show nothing which can help SOLVE social problems, show the Social Problems and don't finger the Schmuck and his buddies for causing or exacerbating them and very carefully avoid giving any hint that there are people who have been BLOCKED by the Schmuck from even trying to mitigate misery and lack of healthcare etc. ...

#635 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:08 AM:

Debbie #633: Buchhaus Stern-Verlag in Düsseldorf

I think that I always will associate the word "verlag" with Grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik's Computers, Chess and Long-Range Planning, published by Springer-Verlag.

#636 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Greg @ 625: It's been a while since I saw SPR so maybe I'm remembering it wrong. V qba'g erpnyy gur eryrnfrq cevfbare xvyyvat nyy gur Nzrevpnaf... V guvax ur zvtug unir orra gur bar jub fubg Gbz Unaxf ohg V qba'g erpnyy uvz orvat cerfrag va gur onggyr orsber gur irel raq. The way I remember it, Hcunz svaqf uvzfrys jvgu n ahzore bs Treznaf va uvf fvtugf. Gurl fheeraqre. Gur sbezre cevfbare ortf Hcunz sbe zrepl, nf ur qvq unys n svyz ntb. Hcunz fubbgf uvz gura yrgf nyy gur bguref tb. Onq guvatf zvtug unir unccrarq nf n erfhyg bs fubjvat zrepl gb gung bar cevfbare ohg zrepl pbagvahrf gb or fubja gb rira terngre ahzoref bs rarzvrf. (In the theatre where I saw it, nobody cheered.)

#637 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Earl -- Springer's still around and going strong. One of these days you may be hearing of "Harper Collins Verlag", if Bertelsmann, another huge German publisher, verifies the rumors and buys them out.

#638 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Paula Liebeerman @ 635... I take it that you are not acquainted with my wife's own paranormal romances. It's kind of funny that, when SF people bring up romance, they almost always quote the worst of the field. It amuses me because that's what people outside of SF used to do (and still do) about SF itself.

#639 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Dear Oregon,

If you are really serious about being impeccably green and decreasing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas output, it would be a really good idea to put some damned street signs up especially in Hillsboro. It would, in addition, be nice if those street signs in some way resembled the names and route numbers on any of the maps one can buy while lost in Hillsboro.

Thanks, people who once again got lost looking for Burgerville in the dark.

P.S. It is possible that the only cure for Beaverton is to make an entirely new street system, ruled by the radical concept that if you can see a business sign you should be able to get to the business without turning around, getting back on 217, and taking another exit. Hillsboro, I fear, is incurable.

#640 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:15 PM:

Anyone go any idea what Moore intended with "Watchmen"?

As for it showing that violence works, thinking about it, I think it actually shows that yes, violence can work in the short term, and as revenge, but violence itself is not an answer to the violent society.

(And every vigilante was shown doing good things. But they they got old and corrupted and the world changed and got worse.)

So I think Moore has an obsession with violence, but probably no more than an unhealthy percentage of society.

#641 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Debbie@633: um, done any baking lately? ;)

I baked a couple of different loaves of bread for Thanksgiving, which was at our house. Apparently, the family tradition is to eat Pillsbury Crescent Rolls during thanksgiving and christmas. And my bread went uneaten. I'm still pecking at an oat/wheat loaf I made more recently. I think I've got the system down now, and the loafs generally fluff up as expected.

I'm cooking for Christmas. Need to find a glaze recipe for the ham, and maybe something for the roast. I've already stocked up on crescent rolls and I won't be bothering with homemade bread.

Paula@635: paranormal romances

Everytime I see those two words together, I have to stop and readjust some mental images.

Paul@637:

I don't know what Spielberg intended. I only look at what he chose to show us on the screen.

Gur trezna cevfbare jub jnf fubja zrepl naq eryrnfrq pbzrf onpx naq xvyyf frireny bs gur Nzrevpna fbyqvref jub ner gur znva punenpgref. Ng bar cbvag, gung Trezna fbyqvre vf svtugvat jvgu bar Nzrevpna naq Hcunz vf npgvat yvxr n pbjneq va gur arkg ebbz bire. Ur xabjf uvf sevraqf arrq uryc, ohg ur pna'g oevat uvzfrys gb tb vagb gur svtug. Gur Trezna fbyqvre svanyyl xvyyf gur nzrevpnaf, naq Hcunz vf yrsg pbjrevat, jngpuvat uvz jnyx njnl. Hcunz jnf gur znva punenpgre gb nethr sbe yrggvat gur Trezna fbyqvre tb va gur svefg cynpr. Ur vf yngre fubja gb or n pbjneq juvyr gur zna sbe jubz ur nethrq zrepl vf frireny srrg njnl xvyyvat Hcunz'f sevraqf. Gur arkg gvzr Hcunz frrf gung Trezna fbyqvre, gur fbyqvre vf n cevfbare, naq Hcunz, univat frra gur reebe bs uvf jnlf, zheqref gur cevfbare rkrphgvba fglyr, eribxvat gur zrepl ur'q tvira uvz rneyvre.

Hcunz oneryl npxabjyrqtrf gur rkvfgrapr bs gur bgure Trezna cevfbaref. Zl zrzbel bs gung fprar vf gung ur jnyxf ol gurz, vagrag ba svaqvat gur Trezna fbyqvre gurl unq yrg serr rneyvre naq xvyyvat uvz. Unq gur fprar pbagvahrq vagb greevgbel jurer gur dhrfgvba bs zrepl gb gur erznvavat Trezna fbyqvref jrer gb pbzr hc, vg frrzrq pyrne gung Hcunz jbhyq abj nethr sbe rkrphgvat gurz.

Va nal rirag, jung jr ner fubja ba fperra vf gung fubjvat zrepl gb lbhe rarzl jvyy pbzr onpx naq trg crbcyr ba lbhe fvqr xvyyrq, gung gubfr nqibpngvat zrepl ner gur bayl barf jub jvyy fubj pbjneqvpr ba gur onggyrsvryq, naq nalbar rkcbfrq gb gur "gehr" ubeebef bs jne jvyy ernyvmr gung zrepl vf n jrnxarff.

#642 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:29 PM:

for whatever its worth, based on various feedback on certain scenes, I've readjusted some points for Watchmen, and the score is now down from 387 to 314.

#643 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Greg -- yikes, what a letdown. Glad your bread's turning out to your satisfaction. Let 'em have the crescents and save the good stuff for yourself!

#644 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:34 PM:

I just got a pair of jolts about how far from mainstream culture I must be.

As I passed though the elevator lobby on the way to lunch, I saw on the AP crawl that "...Sean Taylor was put in a sock and thrown in the Everglades." I have no idea who Sean Taylor was, and wondered what bit of his personal property was important enough that we'd care it had been put in a sock* and thrown in the Everglades.

It turns out he's a football player who was murdered recently, and it was the murder weapon that ended up in the sock. A bit sobering after I'd spent lunch giggling over the idea of a small man in a sock.

Then on the sidebar of the page that answered my questions about Sean Taylor, I learn that "Tila Tequila chose the boy, not the girl." What? I follow the link, and discover that there was a reality show about whoever this person is, and the last two finalists consisted of one male and one female. I haven't bothered to find out why we'd care what Tila Tequila wants.

Not knowing anything about either of these people weirds me out a bit. It feels like I've slipped one universe over and I won't recognize any of the major news events.

I avoid reality TV and most news as much as I can. Apparently I'm succeeding admirably.

*The sock is the real hook of the story, apparently, because all the news items about it include that detail. And it is hook-y. A sock? It leads you to imagine the murderer(s)** standing on the edge of the swamp and deciding somehow that wrapping the item would make it harder to find, and someone went home wearing only one sock.

**Should I say alleged when we know for sure that someone did murder the man, and I'm speculating about that person, whether it is the accused or not?

#645 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:36 PM:

JESR, I still have occasional nightmares about how lost I got driving from the airport to my hotel in Beaverton, the night before a job interview in 1996. I eventually found it, and they hired me, but even after living & working in the Portland / Beaverton area for years, I was never able to figure out where I'd been that night.

#646 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Todd, we go to Oregon as often as once a month, and there was a stretch of time in the past when it was once every two weeks. Even the latter is insufficient to deal with the rate of new building in Beaverton and Hillsboro.

Thanks be, they've now built a Burgerville in St. Helens, so we can go home without having to forage for food along 217 and 26. Cornelius Pass and the Lewis and Clark Bridge are a great alternative to 5 and 205 both.

The good news is that the new-ish Powell's in Beaverton is still Powell's, with the kind of choice and staffing one depends on in Powell's, although very tidy, shiny, spacious, and well lit. The book of "staff recommendations" at the entrance included a Charles Stross book I'd been looking for, to give to my son. Under one end of the table there were containers full of silk yarn. I took it as a sign.

I-5 N to Portland was hammered, and 26 eastbound at 217 was a parking lot; Over the last seven or eight years, the only times I've gotten to the Real Powell's, I've come in to Portland by Amtrak and walked to the store. I'm not saying anywhere else is any better- Seattle is worse- but I keep hoping that with the Tri Met and all those jammed bused, things will be better, somewhere.

(I must note that the reason we were in Portland at all, instead of Seattle, was that I'd failed to find the Field Guide I was looking for, to give to my nephew for Christmas, and also wool to make myself a nice walking skirt, so trips to Powell's and Fabric Depot were nexessary. It was in no way merely a result of trying to avoid sales tax; with gas at $3.05/gallon, we didn't buy nearly enough to make that relevent, even before we spent an hour of hopeless wandering with the blue lights of Intel always in the far distance).

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:55 PM:

(cont'd from # 639) Paula, my apologies for the cranky post.

#648 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:58 PM:

I suspect that this group is somewhat misnamed, but they're fabulous.

#649 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Belatedly replying to C. Wingate's comment yesterday: I never quite know what to make of the death of York in Branagh's film. It is, undoubtedly, the most violent sequence in the movie, to the extent that it almost seems like an effort to balance the books: yeah, we pretty much butchered the opposition, but when we lost one they sure killed him but good. I don't feel any particular revulsion to it, but it is an especially ambiguous sequence in a work that is already ambiguous in its outlook on the uses of force, which continues to suggest to me that trying to assign objective abstract ratings to this sort of thing is a slippery proposition at best.

#650 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:19 PM:

May I humbly suggest dropping the subject of war pron?

There is no escaping war pr0n. Just the other day I was scandalised at the unrealistic treatment of violence in Beatrix Potter's "The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit", which has for some reason disappeared from here.

Last night, this being the Holidays, my wife and I watched Quatermass and the Pit.

Great film. Just the right level of cheese.

#651 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Adrian Smith @ 651... I was scandalised at the unrealistic treatment of violence in Beatrix Potter's "The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit"

As for myself, I am scandalised at the unrealistic treatment of physics in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Of course, I brought my DVD set to corrupt my 6-year-old nephew's mind.

#652 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Greg : Whatever Moore intended to tell us with his story, I don't know. But what he shows us is a world where torture works, where vigilantism works.

I think this sentence, more than any of the other explanations is why you are having so many problems with people's take on the scale.

It's not what Moore shows us but rather what he showed . Other's mileage does vary and you are dogmatically telling them they don't get it.

It's been about twenty years since I read Watchaman. I don't recall getting any of those messages. I might now, as I am sensitised to some of those themes more than I was.

But telling people (and esp. this crowd) that there is but one meaning which a work can have; and then ascribing what you (as one reader) took from it, as the intent of the writer, well it's not going to go over well.

Look at the SPR moment. The same scene, and two very different reads on it (and I have a third, based on my experiences, and readings. Uphams reactions are all in the realm of normal for combat zones. There are accounts of just such behaviours. Ascribing intent to Spielberg, for what you took from it is problematic (since, to the best of my knowledge he's not spoken on the subject), it becomes moreso when you try to tell us what we are supposed to take from it.

#653 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:53 PM:

In about an hour and a half we are leaving to SF for Dickens' Fair. I don't know if I'll be online again sooner than Christmas.

For those who are in the Bay Area, feel free to drop me a line (an anon-comment to my Lj will be screened, so you may post contact info, should you so desire) if you want to try (with absolutely ZERO guarantee I'll see it before Christmas) on Saturday (plans are not not yet made, so dinner might be doable).

In any wise, best of the season to one and all.

#654 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Terry Karney @ 654... I wish we could meet, but it looks like it'll have to be later. Have a safe trip.

#655 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:56 PM:

R.M. 645: I don't think you need to say 'alleged' there. The fact of a murder necessarily entails the existence of a murderer, and the fact that something has been thrown into a swamp necessarily entails someone throwing it.

#656 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 01:59 PM:

basically the rules say that if Moore wants to write an anti-violence bit or a critique of the comic book world or whatever, he better do it Greg's way.

It is a mystery why nobody seems to understand this simple requirement of aesthetic quality.

#657 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:04 PM:

Greg: I'm sorry, I didn't look at the preview, and that made it look ugly.

****
It's not what Moore shows us but rather what he showed you.
****

After that it wan't supposed to be in Ital.

R.M. Koske/Xopher: re "murder".

For issues of libel, you might want to say alleged, but it's less needful than saying the accused is the alleged murderer. If the Coroner has determined it to be a murder, than it was. If the Coroner hasn't, then you might want to hedge.

#658 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:17 PM:

#656, Xopher - Thank you, that's what I thought.


Serge, you and your wife might enjoy Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It is a blog about romance novels by a pair of women who don't think that romance novel reader = braindead. They review novels (new and old), mock some of the more terrible covers, and discuss the perceptions and stereotypes the mainstream media has about romance novels and novel readers. It is pretty entertaining.

#659 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:21 PM:

#640: You should visit Pittsburgh sometime. The problem there is too many street signs. And a street plan that was Three Dimensional non-Euclidian.

I live in Hillsboro and work in Beaverton. Fortunately, it's a "leave parking lot, get on a road, drive straight on that road, enter parking lot" commute.

For others: Portland has a strange street labeling system. N, NE, NW, SE, SW plus a street number. It extends out to the suburbs, and even beyond the urban growth boundary, so you'll find a NW 185th running through farmland.

Hillsboro has a similar system. Which makes sense for a little downtown. But it has grown explosively, and its numbering system is starting to collide with Portland's. So you can pass NW 231st avenue, drive two miles west, and pass NE 25th avenue. I'm pretty sure there are places where the two systems are even more intertwingled.

#660 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Terry,
I can correct if you want me to.

all,
I think the war prawn discussion is grinding us down a good deal. Are we still getting anywhere, or should it stop? I don't want to cut off a valid exchange of views, and everyone has done very well at it, but tempers are fraying.

Mindful that there are other threads, and mindful that no one is required to continue a given discussion (tell me more about your bikes instead, or other inadequately signed cities*), should we cut off this matter now, or let it run?

What say you?

-----
* Amsterdam, for one. We† had to waylay a pizza delivery guy to help us read our map for the work night out on Tuesday.
† Well, not me, obviously, since the entire transaction took place in Dutch.

#661 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:25 PM:

#658, Terry Karney

I think the coronor has said it was murder, but I haven't delved into it enough to know. I just know the prosecutor says the murder weapon was put in a sock et cetera, et cetera. If there's a prosecutor, there's a murder, I'm thinking. (I don't really want to dig into it any more than I have, because I don't like that kind of news story. It's upsetting without actually doing anything to help me make it better.)

But your advice is helpful. Thank you.

#662 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Lila, #617: Wow. You'd NEVER hear a boy soprano in any American ad!

Dan, #650: Given that York begged for the honor of leading the forces in the field, that scene always read to me like "Glorious Destinies get you Glorious Funerals." This guy wanted to be a War Hero, and look what happened to him.

#663 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Abi @ 661... What say you?

Is that a trick question?
Off with it.

#664 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:35 PM:

RE shopping dreams:

Many, many, old-time model rocket nerds have had this dream:

You're driving. You see a hobby shop. Maybe it has a "going out of business" sign, maybe not.

You go in. It's an old fashioned place, stuffed to the rafters with . . . OH . . . MY . . . GOD. There, on a shelf: A Centuri 1/45th Scale Little Joe II, still shrinkwrapped. (That's the rocket nerd version of a Gutenberg bible, with a letter from Abraham Lincoln used as a bookmark.)

Bins of rare balsa nose cones and fittings.

An MPC Vostok.

A rack of B14 motors, last produced in the 1970s.

An Estes Maxi Pershing missile kit, the one they lost the molds for.

And Sweet Jesus, a Cineroc, the tiny Super 8mm movie camera payload.

The shop's proprietor is an old guy. Maybe a little senile. He doesn't know what the Internet is, much less eBay. The prices on the stuff haven't been marked up in a decade or more.

You start piling stuff on the checkout counter . . . and that's generally when you wake up.

#665 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:36 PM:

As far as signs go, do other cities have Boston's rule where when two streets intersect, only the smaller street has to reveal its name?

The discussion of signs also makes me think of the MIT Mystery Hunt puzzle The Road Signs of Unspeakable Chaos from a few years ago.

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:37 PM:

The plumber of the Beast?

#667 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Serge @664:

It's not a trick question. Sometimes these difficult discussions lead to worthwhile places. I'm trying to get a sense of whether this one is still worth pursuing.

Unusually for Making Light, I want to draw some stated conclusions on the close of it. But only when we've come to that close.

#668 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:43 PM:

If you want a night full of technicolor tangerine marshmallow weirdness, wear a nicotine patch at night. I did when I quit smoking, and the warning about vivid dreams is dead on.

#669 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Abi @ 668... Oh, I know that. It's just that, to be honest (and my apologies to Greg), I don't think that the subject of war pron ever has gone anywhere.

#670 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 02:57 PM:

R. M. Koske #645: If it makes you feel any better, I quite enjoy immersing myself in mainstream culture, and I had no idea who either of those people were. I guess I picked the wrong parts?

#671 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 03:21 PM:

abi: Re crustaceans... I think I've done with it. I didn't chime in earlier, because it seems the sort of discussion which runs round in circles.

Then I saw the chance to explain what I saw as the points of divergence. Having done that, I think I've come to a fruitful ending. That, and, I'm not likely to be around until after the point is done.

As for streetage.... Seattle is sanely impossible, with a set of grids, all named alike, so that one has to know what quarter of town one is in, and then there are the oddities like Aurora and the independent grid which lives around the Space Needle, and the area which is called something like, Crazytown (because it's laid out like something done from the paths of drunken goats).

All of this would be fine, save that the locals will tell you it's laid out in a completely rational manner.

#672 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:00 PM:

As A. Braggins mentioned above:

The Wikimedia foundation didn't do a background check before promoting a felon from bookkeeper to Chief Operating Officer. Her record: Hit-and-run, DUI, shooting her boyfriend, and THEFT and WRITING BAD CHECKS. And they put her in charge of financial management.

The foundation said it had no indication Doran did anything improper with donors' money. However, the organization's most recent audit is incomplete, despite a goal of completing it months ago.

Hoo boy. And the Greenspun quote dismayed me:

Philip Greenspun, a computer scientist who recently gave the foundation $20,000, said he wasn't surprised the foundation would stumble on a background check, something that "isn't core to their mission."

"I would be more dismayed," he said, "by a lengthy server outage."

#673 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Abi @ 661 -

Unfortunately, such arguments just tend to resurface and resurface again unless -

1 - dealt with to some level of decisiveness.

2 - everyone burns themselves out on arguing the given topic (either by realizing that a particular individual is never going to change their mind/opinion/stop evangelizing their position when given the opportunity to, or just burning out on the entire topic altogether).

3 - moderators step in, stomp the discussion flat and buried - and then continue to do so every time it rears its head with ruthless alacrity.*

Greg's WarPr0n formula/testing scheme has come up at least four times here - and the reaction has been increasingly allergic.

My personal problem, I finally figured out - it's a measure of how ashamed people are supposed to be about watching/enjoying an entertainment - Greg's continuous references to "guilt-free" viewing seem to bear this out.

If one were to reverse it, and measure movies based on sex**, with additional points for "deviant" practices (insert what some puritan would think is "deviant" here), and minus points for people getting aids, unwanted pregnancies, bad/abusive relationships, etc. - we would be up in arms, and rightly so.

Between this, and Greg's apparent belief that all stories told should be "Just So Stories" with morals to teach and important information to disperse to society, is what rubs me the wrong way about the War crustaceans. I'm perfectly capable of figuring out for myself what I'm supposed to be ashamed of.

*rpg.net has had to do this three times - once for a particularly offensive card game, once with Fr*d Ph*lps, and once with the whole "copying/file sharing is/isn't theft" discussion.

** CAPalert does this, but goes so much further as to be its own particular flavor of monstrosity.

#674 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:08 PM:

#671, ethan -

I don't feel especially bad for not knowing, not really.* It's more that usually I see these things and have an inkling, you know? "Oh, yes, that football player that was murdered," and so on. This time there was nothing. They could have been made up as a prank and I wouldn't know any better.

I'm betting that (with all due respect to Mr. Taylor) there are far more worthwhile aspects of mainstream culture that you and I are in tune with just fine.

*Heck, I'm proud of myself for not knowing about Tila Tequila. So much reality TV is junk, and the dating programs strike me as worst of all.

#675 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:08 PM:

re - me at above

That being said, I think I'm done as well. There's simply no profit in it, really.

#676 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:13 PM:

I'm working in San Francisco right now, where the rest of the team is. The floor's various groups came together and set up a Christmas Tree. Of course, since everybody here is an Information Tech person, besides the usual glass ornaments, they added dead CDs and stress balls.

#677 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Terry Karney, well, Seattle is hard to get reallylost in, mostly on the "go downhill and find water" principle. As long as we exclude the "too many tiny fjords" problem which makes West Seattle such an adventure, and remember Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure and that Capitol Hill contains both 14th and 14thE. Portland and its southwestern and western suburbs, now... there's parks where roads just end with no easily apparent way to get around them, there's the matter of rivers, streams, and wetlands which do not necessarily have lots of bridges, and then there's the whole "Silicon Forest" mess, where wonderful pie cherry and hazelnut orchards have been replaced by tech businesses, without an increase in signage nor connecting roads. And, more important from the out-of-state visiting shopper's perspective, there's all sorts of new retail development in Beaverton which has been imposed on the old suburban sprawl layout of cul de sacs and interfingered strip mall parking lots.

And, of course, there's the matter of four adults in a Camry, all of them hungry, and the driver obsessed with Burgerville. Which we now know we can visit in St. Helens (another thing to praise it for, in addition to being Katee Sackoff's home town). We could have gotten there in about a third of the time we spent wandering around on the wrong side of the Hillsboro airport, and would have been nearly thirty miles toward home, to boot.

#678 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:32 PM:

JESR @ 678... four adults in a Camry

...and a partridge in a peartree.

#679 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:39 PM:

"We could have gotten there in about a third of the time we spent wandering around on the wrong side of the Hillsboro airport"

Ah, you were looking for THAT Burgerville, NE 25th and Cornell. Where you were instead was two neighborhoods over from me, right near the Largest Costco in the World.

#680 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 04:42 PM:

I don't know which parts of the crafting blog world our folks here visit, but I found some cute hamster Christmas ornaments on the Craft:zine blog.

#681 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Stefan, that one, indeed, although why, since they do not have french-fried sweet potatoes this year, he was so obsessed with Burgerville is beyond me.

Of course there was a moment earlier in the day when he had an attack of Whattaburger craving. Myself, I was in a state of gastronomic disgruntlement caused by psyching myself up for beet and herring salad only to find that the Portland IKEA does not provide that manna. Burgerville's lack of sweet potato fries was a known failing, at least.

The Beaverton Powell's is better than any mere bookstore, I found very nice wool at Fabric Depot, and Fry's in Wilsonville (not Woodburn, reversals strike again) provided the things we needed if not the custom egg sandwich toaster I was hoping to give my son. And going up Oregon 30 at night was an education in just how heavily industrialized both sides of that stretch of the Columbia is, something one can overlook in daytime.

#682 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:26 PM:

JESR... IKEA provides salad? It sure has changed since 1985, when Sue and I got married and went there for inexpensive dismantlable (?) furniture.

#683 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:33 PM:

I dunno; seems to me that a world where sex is always a magical experience, where you don't need to worry about condoms, or about abusive relationships, or about long term relationships full stop, is a pretty good first approximation description of porn.

It's actually pretty easy to imagine a certain type of feminist working out a scale of just how objectifying porn is -- you know, five points on per degrading act, five points off for whenever the women's enjoying herself, etc. And I'm not sure people would find it hugely offensive; they might find it a bit reductionist, and a bit simplistic, but the idea that art isn't just for art's sake isn't anathema.

I also think it's perfectly legitimate to criticise works on the grounds, not that they show immoral acts, but implausible acts. In hard sf, you can have a genocidal maniac who wants to engineer a master race of Aryan super humans to take over the galaxy, but if he does this by rubbing a comet against a galaxy to work up friction, you'll get laughed at.

Greg is, I think, saying certain works use violence as handwavium, which might be OK, except we know quite a lot about the properties of violence. If you used wood to build a space ship in sf, people would laugh. Why, if you use violence in equally laughable ways, do you get a pass?

#684 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Serge: they've always had a restaurant.

But I really came in to mention a new phrase/argument in the World of Trolldom.

There's a thread at Majikthise about an Israeli Magazine which is asking her to donate a picture, because they don't pay for images which have been posted to Flickr (though they do from other online, "image clearing houses).

But I gladly accept the "troll" label these days, since it's been redefined to mean "Person who Rationally Disagrees and We Can't Match Her Arguments Rationally."

#685 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Kier: The problem is... who defines degrading?

And now I am for the road.

#686 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:43 PM:

bryan@657: basically the rules say ... better do it Greg's way.

You know, I'm pretty sure that my comments have been directed solely at the stories I've read, and trying to come up with a way to explain why they did or didn't work for me.

I'm pretty sure that you won't find a statement in my comments that say "If you like this, you're a bad person". I know I've said I liked some high scoring movies like Kill Bill and Predator. I even liked Aliens, which went so far as to turn the bad guys into bugs.

I've certainly not made any personal comments about anyone here for liking "Watchmen" or "V for Vendetta".

The idea of the scoring thing was to be able to discuss what happens in a story without getting into whether you like it or not. Did we or did we not see 5 instances of torture that produced useful information in Watchmen? Did we or did we not see 150 Persian paper targets and 12 Spartan paper targets in "300"?

These are yes/no questions that describe the film, not describe whether you like it or not, and say nothing about you either way whether you like it or not. There are probably a hundred paper targets killed in Kill Bill, and I thought it as a pretty decent movie.

I was trying to talk about what happened in the story at a level where it didn't matter whether you liked it or not.

And yet, comments like bryan's keep coming up about me personally.

I'm not saying how anyone should write a story. I'm looking for a way to describe certain kinds of stories. You want to make them, fine. I want to be able to describe them, compare them to one another. I like some of them. I don't like others.

I do believe that nowhere in anything I've said here, or anything I said on the war pr0n site will you find me saying stories should be written to get a low score.

but that's all bryan will hear. And that's all he will allow this discussion to be about. And he's perfectly willing to remind people more than once that that is what this conversation is all about just in case they forget it.

Some people keep telling me that what I think about Watchmen has nothing to do with what Moore actually wrote. And it's my opinion that its a number of those very people who are doing that exact same thing with me.

I thought if I avoided the more subjective questions and stuck with things like "how many times did we see torture work in Watchmen?" that I could have a conversation with people and it wouldn't matter if we liked the story or not.

But Avram has accused me of not reading what he wrote and people have clearly attributed words to me that I didn't write. So, I think the conversation actually died some time ago. I just didn't realize it till bryan's last personal dig.

#687 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Terry Karney @ 686... Again, I wish you a safe trip.

#688 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Marc #666:

That's the most cogent summary I've seen. Usually I just say "why do they never put signs on main roads?" but your formulation allows for the possibility of no signs at all, if the two intersecting streets are of equal size.

#689 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Keir @ 685: Why, if you use violence in equally laughable ways, do you get a pass?

You don't. But if you commit number pr0n (a romantic view of quantification that attributes unrealistic magic powers to it), you don't get a pass either.

Or, to be less snarky: Greg, I think you're getting at something worth discussing, but your faux-objective numeric system is at best a distraction, and at worst an active disincentive to taking your concerns seriously.

#690 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:08 PM:

There's a scene in Key Largo where Bogart, who plays a veteran of the War, quotes someone else about battling ancient evil, at which Lionel Barrymore's character remembers about having heard those words before. Does anybody know what the exact quote is? I can't find it on IMdb.com. Also, who is it that originally spoke those words?

#691 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:11 PM:

R.M Koske @ #659: Serge knows about SBTB. He congratulated me when I was awarded the coveted title of Marquise de Swissheboucle back in June. Winning the title made me giddier than usual.

The better romance novels have come a long way from the ones I read growing up. You don't see as much of the "ooh I'm a girl, I must be protected by you big strong strapping menfolk", unless that's what you're looking for. And if someone is looking for that, I suggest they leave me alone and go read some Sharon Green or John Norman.

Susan, keep on recuperating, ok? I'm ready to read your blog when it springs forth. Fully formed, of course.

#692 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Greg @ 6342: Gur trezna cevfbare jub jnf fubja zrepl naq eryrnfrq pbzrf onpx naq xvyyf frireny bs gur Nzrevpna fbyqvref jub ner gur znva punenpgref. Ng bar cbvag, gung Trezna fbyqvre vf svtugvat jvgu bar Nzrevpna naq Hcunz vf npgvat yvxr n pbjneq va gur arkg ebbz bire.

I just watched those scenes on DVD to check if my memory could possibly be that faulty. It isn't. In the scene you describe it is a very different German. During the fight at the bridge, the former prisoner is one of a small group of German soldiers close to Upham's position. Jr frr uvz sver n pbhcyr bs fubgf. Bar bs juvpu vf sbyybjrq ol na Nzrevpna cncre gnetrg snyyvat sebz gur oevqtr. Gur frpbaq uvgf Gbz Unaxf. This is the first we see of the former prisoner after his release half a film earlier.

Hcunz oneryl npxabjyrqtrf gur rkvfgrapr bs gur bgure Trezna cevfbaref. Zl zrzbel bs gung fprar vf gung ur jnyxf ol gurz, vagrag ba svaqvat gur Trezna fbyqvre gurl unq yrg serr rneyvre naq xvyyvat uvz. Unq gur fprar pbagvahrq vagb greevgbel jurer gur dhrfgvba bs zrepl gb gur erznvavat Trezna fbyqvref jrer gb pbzr hc, vg frrzrq pyrne gung Hcunz jbhyq abj nethr sbe rkrphgvat gurz.

Hcunz ubyqf n tebhc bs fvk Treznaf ng thacbvag, fubhgvat ng gurz nyy va Trezna. Gur sbezre cevfbare nqqerffrf Hcunz va Ratyvfu. Hcunz fubbgf uvz, cnhfrf n zbzrag nf gur zhfvp trgf nyy fnq, gura gryyf gur bgure svir gb tb, znxvat irel rkcyvpvg "trg gur uryy bhg bs urer" trfgherf jvgu uvf evsyr sbe gubfr bs hf va gur nhqvrapr jub qba'g haqrefgnaq uvf Trezna. Ur jnf abg bayl irel pyrneyl njner bs gurz nyy, ur jnf nyfb dhvgr pbafpvbhfyl serrvat nyy gur bguref.

#693 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:43 PM:

abi, I decided to shut up about the time Avram posted that he was going to. (I just wrote a bunch of frustrated comments and then deleted them again, because it feels cheap to take "parting shots", however correct I think they are.)

I think it is both possible and useful to say and discuss things critical of Moore's work and of its depictions of violence, as C. Wingate for one did above, but this clearly is not the way we can succeed in going about it.

I haven't watched a lot of the Simpsons, but I think there was an episode long ago, where somebody says at the end, "Well, I think we've all learned something today", and Marge says "Well, I don't think we learned anything - it was just a bunch of stupid stuff that happened." That pretty much sums up my feelings on the net results of this discussion, like the last previous, and the last before that...

#694 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 06:45 PM:

That last post should, of course, be referring to Greg's post at 642. Damn those tiny little keys for being so close together so early in the morning.

#695 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Serge @ 691 - There's a quote from a Churchill address to Congress in January 1942:


"We are fighting today for security, for progress and for peace, not only for ourselves, but for all men, not only for one generation but for all generations. We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills. We are fighting as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God."

Is that it?


#696 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:09 PM:

The funny thing here is that Greg is making a point I tried to make earlier this year (scroll down to #62, and then especially down to #204), and even stating it more clearly, but then he goes on to derive the opposite conclusion from it.

Greg sees that Moore is portraying a world in which torture is useful and therefore counts this towards a "war pr0n" score. I see that Moore portrays successful torture (not in the bar, but later), but also see that he counter-balances this in characterization and narration, by portraying the torturer as repulsive and fundamentally mistaken.

This is the flaw in the supposedly "objective" scoring system. There's no objective reason that an undetailed description of actions, striped of supporting context, is superior to a description that does take context into account. It's a fact that Rorschach tortures a man in Harry's Bar in the first issue of Watchmen. It's also a fact that Moore uses irony to show that Rorschach is severely misguided in his quest to find Eddie Blake's killer. Neither of these two facts is a more objective thing to take into account when judging Moore's portrayal of Rorschach.

#697 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:12 PM:

#602 ::: CHip

I won't swear it was a Sturgeon story, but here's what I remember of it: A clever person sets off a weapon which leaves a seething pool of radioactive magma(?) in the hopes that everyone will be inspired to declare peace.

Instead, various governments declare war, leading, I think, to more pools of radioactive magma.

The last scene is of a severely mutated human next to a magma pool.

Along the way, there were many paragraphs in italics.

#698 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Keir @684:
Picking the finest of nits, purely because I am married to a collector.

If you used wood to build a space ship in sf, people would laugh.

The Wooden Spaceships, by Bob Shaw.

#699 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Steve C @ 696... That's the very quote. Thanks!

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Abi @ 699... I am married to a collector

Of nits?

#701 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Dan Simmons's treeship in Hyperion should qualify as a wooden spaceship. And you could stretch it a bit for Niven's The Integral Trees.

#702 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 07:37 PM:

Tania @ 692.. Thanks.

#703 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:01 PM:

OK, herewith, some observations, conclusions and suggestions*.

- o0o -

Observation: I think the attempt to score works as "war pr0n" is too coarse-grained to yield useful results in discussion. In the process, it attaches a pejorative label ("porn" and all its variants) to works that some people in these discussions are fond of. This increases the tension level, entirely pointlessly.

Conclusion: If Greg's scoring system is supposed to improve understanding of a story, and convey that understanding to others, it is a failure. It lowers the signal:noise ratio. It fails to persuade. It exasperates. Do not want.

Suggestion: Greg, feel free to develop the scoring system to aid your own understanding. Anyone who wants to help is welcome at your site, I assume, but the term should not come up here again. When discussing a work, talk about the things that bothered you ("torture was assumed to work", "too many paper targets"), but leave the numbers and the word "porn" at the door.

- o0o -

Observation: Interpretations of works of fiction vary enormously. We're still getting new readings of Shakespeare and Homer

Conclusion: Tastes vary. And any interpretation with which everyone can agree is likely to be so anodyne as to be useless. Accept that you will not persuade everyone to your views, or don't join the discussion.

Suggestion: I recommend frequent and sincere use of the YMMV tag, surely an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. And sometimes, you may have to simply accept that the other person will not be persuaded.

- o0o -

Observation: These discussions often grind on because everyone wants the last word.

Conclusion: Some schoolyard habits follow us all our lives.

Suggestion: If you don't want the discussion to continue, don't continue it. You may have to leave your poor opponents stewing in their ignorance; shake your head pityingly and move on in dignified silence. Trust the wise and intelligent people here to see through their tactics and be impressed by the essential rightness of your position.

-----
* If violating these suggestions causes endless grinding discussions like we have had of late, you will find that they have the force of law. If violating them has the effect of creating interesting discussions, then they have the force of wet tissue paper in a hurricane.

#704 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Serge, the IKEAs I've been to all have restaurants near the main entrance and a snack bar near check-out; I suspect there would be need for rescue parties otherwise.

#705 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Serge @701:

Of Bob Shaw books and stories.

#706 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 08:34 PM:

Steve C @ 702: You could probably also stretch it to the stage trees in several Niven short stories - organic solid-fuel rocket boosters grown as trees.

#707 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:17 PM:

#692, Tania -

I thought you guys might already know about SBTB, but it never hurts to be sure. (Congratulations on your title!)

#708 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:27 PM:

Abi @ 706... Heheheh... By the way, I think I once went to a worldcon where Shaw was the guest of honor. It might have been Atlanta in 1986. Anyway, I think his speech involved, among many other things, his experiences with an airplane-designing outfit whose products had a tendency to achieve what he called a negative rate of ascent.

#709 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:28 PM:

Inspired by JESR's lost in Hillsboro, I stopped to pick up a burger, fries, and shake at Burgerville.

Planning on eating at home, knowing I had a bottle of ketchup in the fridge, I declined the offer of little ketchup packets.

Dinner went fine.

I noticed, when cleaning up, that the ketchup bottle label -- the Safeway house brand -- looked old. Not weathered or yellow or torn, but an old-fashioned design.

Mind you, it tasted fine. There were no moldy chunks in it.

It was just the label design that made check the expiration date.

November of 1998.

I threw it away. Just in case.

#710 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:29 PM:

IIRC, Donald Moffitt (_Second Genesis_, _Genesis Quest_) has spaceships with wooden beams grown in microgravity.

#711 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:29 PM:

The new PODdy Mouth at URL https://poddymouth.wordpress.com/ announced today that Airleaf Publishing went out of business yesterday.

Airleaf Victims continue to press legal action against the defunct company's owner.

#712 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Elise just pointed to this in her LJ: Your God is Too Small. Inspiring.

#713 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Marc Moskowitz @666: Oh my. That explains *SO* *MUCH* about Boston's roads. Argh.

This boy from the sticks is used to roads that always meet at right angles, and towns small enough that their numbering schemes don't meet in urban areas. Navigating Boston -- really all of New England -- is an Adventure. (A friend got lost in downtown Boston, always an easy thing to do. After some frustration, he discovered that he had a book with him -- Newton's Cannon, by J. Gregory Keyes, I think -- which had in it a map of 17th century Boston; and that map got him home just fine.) At least now the Big Dig is mostly done, so the roads are in the same place come morning as they were the night before, and the signage is 50% less full of lies.

#714 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:35 PM:

(Argh, forgot to include this in my last comment...)

abi @282: Thanks!

#715 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 11:55 PM:

I had to share: canned squirrels.
http://www.internet-grocer.net/squirrel.htm
Warning: the pictures are of cute, live squirrels.

#716 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 12:05 AM:

Please, abi, Don't, NO, Please.

I mean that deeply, sincerely. Do Not Start Banning Ideas. Please, please, I've seen so many boards stifled, walked away from so many places where moderators set themselves apart and then got all tragic and alone and felt they needed to defend themselves from a populace that somehow no longer was super happy with them...

Greg is a test case, because he talks in awkward ways and has built up various people who may have reason to blow him off. You've only heard from the people arguing against him, people I note who are either still interested enough to discus with him or bored and away anyway. You've set a chilling precedent.

Every time you've mentioned something like "as a moderator", it's like a hamster walking across a grave. You're a moderator because you're a wise denizen. Your wisdom is all that you need, not any label. Wisdom is enough status here. If we've lost abi and gained a moderator, our loss is enormous.

If a subthread bores you and you wish it would die and you don't think it's going anywhere, just say so, like you once did, like we all do sometimes. Start other subthreads. Be a person, here, with us. Do things a person can do.

Don't ban things unless we rise up and cry out against them. You've seen us working; you know the poetic howls that appear, the riffs on brtn. We don't need someone to manage how we talk. We occasionally need someone to manage people, but never ideas.

#717 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 12:25 AM:

Madeline F @ 717 ...
I mean that deeply, sincerely. Do Not Start Banning Ideas. Please, please, I've seen so many boards stifled, walked away from so many places where moderators set themselves apart and then got all tragic and alone and felt they needed to defend themselves from a populace that somehow no longer was super happy with them...

I think we're reading abi quite differently. I'm reading her as saying that Greg's welcome to discuss the -concepts-, but is requested to leave his website, and the loaded term 'warp0rn' out of the discussion. That's definitely not stifling the idea by my standards - that's saying "When the discussion is framed in the following way, it blinds the possibility of dialogue".

If I'd started this comment with "You're just some namby-pamby liberal apologist...", we'd end up spending time discussing whether the description was reasonable, rather than discussing the intended content (whether ideas are being suppressed or not). I'd rather skip the loaded language, and talk about the ideas :)

#718 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 12:26 AM:

R.M. Koske @ #708 - Thanks! It was one of my goofier and prouder moments of genre geekery.

Me, I have an internet crush on Candy @ SBTB, because she lists James Morrow as one of her favorite authors.

#719 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 12:27 AM:

I have nothing to offer the war p0rn discussion, but I've begun to imagine all the ROT-13 text as being voiced by the evil space monsters who chase after Spaceman Spiff in Calvin & Hobbes: "Blurrga Wurrga Spiff! Gur trezna cevfbare jub jnf fubja zrepl Spiff!" And they probably sound like the Vogons.

#720 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Because its fingerprint powder contains asbestors, a CSI Crime Investigation Toy is being recalled.

I mention this here to balance my karma. I DONATED one of those kits to a toy drive!

#721 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:04 AM:

abi @ 704: "Suggestion: If you don't want the discussion to continue, don't continue it. You may have to leave your poor opponents stewing in their ignorance; shake your head pityingly and move on in dignified silence. Trust the wise and intelligent people here to see through their tactics and be impressed by the essential rightness of your position."

I think that needing the last word is an admission of weakness: if your opposite's arguments no longer require a riposte, you have won.

When I actually manage to follow this rule, my arguments are both shorter and much more satisfying.

#722 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:16 AM:

The war aprOn is proof that war is Hell and if you can't stand the heat, stay out of he kitchen. Or something.

#723 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:18 AM:

Serge, #709: Ray Bradbury was the GoH at ConFederation. You must be thinking of a different con.

Stefan, #710: Egad. We don't use a lot of ketchup around here, but we still go thru a bottle much faster than that!

Aspirin, OTOH... (Quoth the person whose last run thru the medical supplies, about a month ago, discovered tubes of various ointments with expiration dates in the 1980s. O_o )

#724 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Serge @ 723 ...
I presume you have to wear the war aprOn in order to deal with the war prAwns, heating, in the kitchen?

#725 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:31 AM:

xeger @ 725... Yes indeed. And war prawns remind me of that warning from Sole-on...

Caviar emptor!

#726 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:36 AM:

Lee @ 724... I think you're right about Bradbury being the guest of honor in 1986. Hmm... Could Shaw have been that worldcon's fan GoH? Or was he the GoH at 1990's worldcon in San Diego?

#727 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:02 AM:

I have a spice cake recipe here, from an ancient (not actually ancient, just old. '50s?) cookbook belonging to my mother, called something like Cooking the Scandinavian Way which is a testament to the indestructible nature of some recipes. This is the recipe:

Parson's Ginger Cake
2 eggs
6 1/2 oz sugar
1/4 pint sour cream
3 oz butter, melted.
5 oz SR flour
2 tsps cinnamon
1 1/2 tsps ground ginger
1 1/2 tsps ground cloves

Beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, and then add the butter and the cream. Fold in the dry ingredients. Bake in a buttered and lined or breadcrumbed pan for about 45mins at 375F. Allow to cool in pan, before turning out.

I have mis-made this recipe any number of times, misremembering the proportions of everything, using different spices, mis-converting the quantities, and every time, the cake is delicious. Different every time (that I mess it up), but still delicious.

#728 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:08 AM:

But I should mention that that much ground cloves, imo, is really way too much (and for the record, that I made a cake this afternoon, substituting 1/2 tsp ground allspice for the cloves, and I think that was too much, too).

#729 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:22 AM:

flowerytops, I suspect that many old recipes are written for slow-transportation long-storage spices. I made my first batch of pickled onions with fresh pickling spice from a specialty shop, according to a recipe I found online... I'll be soaking the result in plain water before I loose them on any unsuspecting guest, as they are what one might call aggressively seasoned.

#730 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:26 AM:

I hadn't thought of that, and it makes perfect sense. Thanks!

#731 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:15 AM:

Harking back to the discussion about chocolate a few open threads back:

I've just taste-tested Hershey's Extra Dark 60% (which is not the same thing as Special Dark) against Ghirardelli's 60% dark -- taking small bites of each several times in turn, with sips of tea between.

They are remarkably similar. There is a very slight difference, which I can only really describe as a bit more tart edge in the Ghirardelli; the Hershey's has a flatter, smoother flavor. This could result either from the varietals used or from slight differences in the manufacturing process. But if I hadn't been looking out for even subtle differences, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

My opinion: Hershey's Extra Dark is a good entry into the ranks of boutique chocolate. If 60% cocoa solids is acceptable to you, you'll probably like this.

#732 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 05:05 AM:

Madeline F @717:

I am sorry that I've given you the twitches; I never intended to. I think, though, that you're not reading comment 704 very clearly because of that. xeger has a clearer reading at 718:

I'm reading her as saying that Greg's welcome to discuss the -concepts-, but is requested to leave his website, and the loaded term 'warp0rn' out of the discussion. That's definitely not stifling the idea by my standards - that's saying "When the discussion is framed in the following way, it blinds the possibility of dialogue".

My argument against Greg's scoring system is not that it is bad, or that the concepts behind it are bad. They're not, but even if they were, that is not a reason to write what I did. What the scoring system and the term are is ineffective and even inflammatory. I'd say it's like speaking out against strawman arguments, except that straw men are used with malice and this is not.

Please reread the comment again. Read it aloud. Note the use of the word "suggestion" Pay attention to the footnote as well, which is carte blanche to ignore everything I've said if it leads to interesting discussion.

Note, as well, that there has been a fair amount of "rising up and crying out against" the war pr0n idea. That's why I'm even talking about it.

One other point from your response:

moderators set themselves apart and then got all tragic and alone and felt they needed to defend themselves from a populace that somehow no longer was super happy with them...

I've actually only used my Super Moderator Powers to zap spam*, or in one case, to ROT-13 a spoiler when another method of disguise didn't work. I've actually done less conversation commentary than I generally do, because I'm painfully conscious that people will take me more seriously. I've written several comments and deleted them unposted because of that.

But the real reason I haven't been commenting much is not that I'm setting myself apart. It's actually that my life is very complicated and busy just now, and I'm riding the edge of mortal depression because of the winter. It doesn't make me playful.

But Patrick and Teresa aren't around much at the present moment either, and we've had a few discussions that do need someone watching them (gun control, dysfunctional families, the death penalty, and this). A really unpleasant discussion in one thread spills over into others. People can't switch off their anger as fast as they can switch tabs.

What's really making me feel alone is that you're now reading what I write differently. Only the footnote of 704 differs from what I would have written before I started posting to the front page. But it's the second thing I've written that you've read with a diagnostic eye, looking for faults. I appreciate the feedback - you had a good insight on that other matter - but it is isolating.

I'm sure this will improve, on both sides. Any change feels like a new pair of shoes for a while, with fresh rubs and blisters. We'll settle in.

-----
* replacing it with rhyming couplets. I'm testing a theory about whether or not there's a power in the 'verse can stop spam.

#733 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 06:21 AM:

Re me above:

Rereading 704, I might have phrased the first suggestion a little more diffidently in the past. More along the lines of (additions in bold):

Suggestion: Greg, feel free to develop the scoring system to aid your own understanding. Anyone who wants to help is welcome at your site, I assume, but maybe the term should not come up here again. When discussing a work, you could talk about the things that bothered you ("torture was assumed to work", "too many paper targets"), but it might be best to leave the numbers and the word "porn" at the door.

But that phrasing was always, essentially, an invocation of the invisible moderator - guessing what Teresa (in particular) would dislike. I appear to have guessed right a few times in the past, since now here we are.

Thing is, Greg* is in an unusual position here. He has previously asked for clarity about what does and does not work in these conversations. So I hope that I can speak more bluntly to him, because I happen to think this particular suggestion could improve the experience that he (and others) have in these threads.

-----
* I apologize, Greg, for speaking about you in the third person.

#734 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 07:08 AM:

Greg M @ 720: I always think of "Cu'atyhv ztyj'ansu Pguhyuh E'ylru jtnu'anty sugnta" and other similar things when reading rot-13's text.

Flowery Tops @ 728 (and other posters of recipes): Last month, while we were suffering under the last major troll incursion, I insulted someone with a recipe. I hadn't made it before so I really couldn't vouch for it as anything but a way of making fun of a paranoid troll. Well now I have baked one and the two weeks of brandy soaking are due to end Christmas morning. The bits I have picked off the cake while soaking it are already verging on spectacular. The aroma alone is enough to set visitors drooling.

#735 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 07:20 AM:

For what it's worth, I think you're doing a fine job as moderator, abi.

#736 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 08:50 AM:

LinD @ 715 - interesting website, looks like they're catering to some of the off-the-grid or survivalist crowd.

Which made me wonder. Isn't it a tenet or guideline for Mormons to have a year's supply of food in their home? There would be a question to ask Romney -- Hey, Mitt, how much food you got?

#737 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Oh fluorospherians, I beg your accumulated wisdom:

Do any of y'all know a good catalog/online store for cooking enthusiasts that does gift certificates?

I have a relative whom I don't really know all that well and I need a fast Christmas present for him. Pretty much the only useful insight I have into his interests is that he likes to cook.

#738 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Abi @ 733... 've actually done less conversation commentary than I generally do, because I'm painfully conscious that people will take me more seriously.

Don't let that stop you. We want you around more, not less.

As for your feeling isolated...
Don't.

#739 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 10:15 AM:

bi @ 624:

I still experience a deep sense of loss -- like a grand-canyon echo in the soul -- when I recall the dream I had, about nine years ago, in which I had copies of Zelazny's third series of five Amber novels sitting on my shelf.

It's not just that I woke up and they weren't there; it's that I discovered their absence hours later, after going through my day in that quiet bliss of having read the right books. And by the time the realities diverged again, I could no longer remember what was in them, as it had been too long since I'd woken up.

...Do you ever wind up in the Dream Library? The one with stacks that go out to Borgesian dimensions, or alternately the version which has people living in it?


--

Re: Quatermass, perhaps I'm chiming in a bit late on this one, but the guy who wrote it -- Nigel Kneale -- also did a wonderful, little-known horror film called The Stone Tape, a science-fictional ghost story. I had the good fortune to catch it on the big screen at the H.P. Lovecraft Film festival. The subtext between the characters is the best part; I'll always remember the film's female lead as the best example I've ever seen of the stock "token girl in the horror movie" character being driven by reasons that were real, visibly implicit, and terrifying.

#740 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 10:19 AM:

The name at the beginning of the comment was meant to be 'abi'. And it *was*, when I checked it.

Blink blink. The greeblies! Them's stealin' my alphabets!

#741 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 10:33 AM:

various: thanks for all the responses; I also saw the quote identified from some other context before I could get back here. Carroll may have been riffing in the recently-released final cut?

me@602 / Nancy@698: the Sturgeon story I was thinking of (now that I'm within 2 floors of my library rather than 10 miles) is "Unite and Conquer". There is at most one magma pool (not really a pool since it's the top of a mountain); at the end, the hero is worried about how history will regard him -- but that's the only indication that anything might be wrong, versus the general massive improvement in world conditions. There's a Reynolds story on the same theme, "Last Warning" (aka "The Galactic Ghost") published the same year; my guess is neither influenced the other, given publishing lag times (and the fact that the Reynolds was so obscurely published he didn't even realize it had been printed until we found it 30 years later) I wouldn't assume Nancy's was a Sturgeon story; as commonly noted in another context, Sturgeon was an optimist.

Linkmeister@606: he's only made back his costs if he's got an even more outrageous deal than first-run movies get in the U.S. (where the theater gets << 50% of the gross)

guthrie@641: did the vigilantes change or did the world change? Or did our view of the world change? The earliest "superheroes" were mostly human vigilantes (like all the Watchmen except Dr. ?? and maybe Veidt) -- ordinary people who decided to take extraordinary action. Even the ones who sometimes worked with the system could be vicious bastards (cf the early Saint), but that was the sort of story people appreciated. Now, \some/ of us expect more subtlety and nuance (though some still like Shrub's black-and-white universe); I'm not sure whether Moore buys into the 1930's as some sort of better age or simply wants to make sure we accept how terrible the here-and-now is.

abi@661: why does not speaking Dutch prevent you from (a) waylaying, or (b) getting directions? I'm not much of a linguist and no people person at all, but I was able to get usable directions for Vaxjo: -> Orrefors from a Swede with whom I had no language in common (at least, once I figured out that the words for "right" and "left" were swapped from what they sounded like they should be).

Lee@724 etc: The long list of worldcon data says that in 1986 Bradbury was the pro GoH and Carr the fan; Shaw was the toastmaster. (IME "the GoH" isn't commonly used, since there are so many \s\e\s\u\c\x\e labels conventions can offer for guests; e.g, Chicon 2000 had author, artist, editor, and fan. "toastmaster" either is or isn't a GoH depending on (inter alia) the phase of the moon. although the above link avers that it isn't.) There has never been a Worldcon in San Diego; "ConDigeo" (rude name given because of the number of typos in publications; sometimes extended even more rudely to "Condigeo Montoya") was the 1990 NASFICC.

#742 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 10:45 AM:

'I've certainly not made any personal comments about anyone here for liking "Watchmen" or "V for Vendetta".'

grotesque example follows:

The reason why I don't like Huckelberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or any book by Mark Twain is the pervasive atmosphere of classism and approval of Racism as a true representation of the reality of the world, namely that upper class whites are cultured and intelligent, that lower class whites are violent drunkards, and that black people are cowardly, superstitious, and have the intelligence and moral attributes of dogs. I realize that some people might take exception to this viewpoint of mine, it is only my personal viewpoint but I have studied these texts closely and have a simple scale developed for detecting when an approving classist or racist statement is made.

If a book has a black person referred to by a negative slur, and that black person within a slight space of time reacts in a way that could be used to reflect approvingly on that slur the book receives +40 points for racism. If a black person reacts in a way meant to show that they possess any of characteristics generally negatively associated with black people in racist literature the book receives +20 points. If the black person performs in a way that might be supposed to undercut a racist understanding of them the book receives -10 points

.....(further scoring on race and long explanation of scores for classism cut in interest of cutting to chase)...

Now I realize that people may hold different opinions on this matter than I do and I don't want to say they are wrong for liking racist or classist literature, I for one have a deep appreciation for Faulkner. I just want that when people are reading or writing racist or classist literature that they not deceive themselves as to the nature of what they are reading and I think my scoring on this matter can help.
....could go on in this vein for a long time but cut it back....

end of grotesque example.

It is my opinion that the structure of the comments on War p0rn etc. are so structured so as to slur anyone that likes these works, to slur the works (IMHO, as I do not find them war p0rn and to suggest they are seems a slur) at the same time trying to do a linguistic sleight of hand in suggesting that the slur is not meant as a slur but as a value-free term, even though the term has a long history of being used as a slur and nothing else. You can of course say that is not so used and that any interpretation of it as being so used is a personal attack on you whereas you are innocent of ever personally attacking anyone else, but I don't think this is so.

In fact I am reminded of a friend of mine who, whenever he had some comment of a negative nature to make would start it off with the statement "I'm not trying to be rude", and then, secure in the knowledge that he had absolved himself of rudeness would make the statement ten times more rude than it had any need to be.


So in short I find your argument offensive, and one of the more offensive parts for me is the continuing statement that the value-laden terms you use are not meant to indicate in any way that the people who like the things you are criticizing are bad for liking them.

If I believed a book was pro-torture or war porn then the correlation would be that I had a negative opinion of those that liked it. Like if you told me you loved Mack Bolan novels I'd think you were something of a knuckle-dragger until shown otherwise, just as if you liked reading real racist literature (obv. not my examples above, although they have the benefit of actually having been called Racist in the past although you are, AFAIK, the first to call Watchmen and V for Vendetta pro-torture war porn) then I would think you were a bad person until shown otherwise.

ok, I will stop responding on this matter, although I am sure something will come up that will cause me to think I am being attacked. but what the hell I probably have more important things to do.

#743 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:03 AM:

One thing I'm pretty certain of is that at some point in the future some of today's most praiseworthy literature or theater or cinema will be deconstructed to show how racist, sexist, classist, specieist, it is.

#744 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:37 AM:

bryan @743:

That's a very vivid description of how the war pr0n discussion made you feel. I know you're not alone in that, which is why I waded into this matter at all.

But I think you're wrong to assume bad faith. I've interacted with Greg* a lot over time, and I believe that his heart is in the right place. He's just very focused on what he's saying. Sometimes it makes him forget to whom he is saying it.

I'm asking him to do a difficult thing right now -- to take a conceptual framework he's worked on and not apply it to discussions where it is arguably relevant. As you can see, I'm getting some stick for doing so.

So now I'm going to ask you to do a difficult thing too. Don't assume that Greg is being deliberately rude. Give him the benefit of the doubt, not just in this conversation, but in general. The fact that you're irritated at him right now will probably affect your interactions with him in other threads. So balance that unconscious irritation with some extra conscious tolerance.

-----
* And again with the talking about you in the third person, Greg. I am sorry.

#745 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Abi: Best wishes dealing with the SAD, I know what it's like.

Regarding being misinterpreted in your moderation -- I think you've just been re-introduced to the dependency of communication upon context. Things sound a bit different when coming from a position of authority.... That said, I think you're doing fine, it just takes a little while for people to adjust.

Regarding the war-p0rn/censorship foofraw -- I didn't think Abi was even thinking about banning the whole topic, much less the inestimable Greg -- it's just that this particular pet meme of his has shown a tendency to scratch people, so she politely asked him to leave it at home.

I'm sure I've got similarly ill-behaved peeves, but of course it's harder for me to recognize which those are! So it goes....

#746 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:49 AM:

bah, I need to work on my self-editing. Sloppy grammar....

#747 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 12:04 PM:

[piglet mode]
Could Our Mr Macdonald be persuaded to produce a post on whatever might qualify as a go-bag for a hangover? I foresee more mornings like this one in my immediate future, alas.
[/piglet mode]

#748 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:05 PM:

David Harmon #747: bah, I need to work on my self-editing. Sloppy grammar....

Many is the time I wish that I could go back and edit or even delete my own posts. I'd also wish that we could refer to the posts of others in a dynamic fashion instead of the static numbering that does get out of place when posts are deleted.

#749 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:18 PM:

An urgent message from my inner ten-year-old:

A much snappier title for The War For Children's Minds: Liberal Values And Why We Should Defend Them would be Don't Rear The Freeper.

That is all.

#750 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:27 PM:

abi, I sympathise. FWIW, I've seen no change in you, and I appreciated your "wet tissue in a hurricane" postscript.

Years back when I became the president of the ISP we'd started, I had no idea how much it would change people's reaction to me and their interpretations of my behavior. To my mind, I was acting and choosing the same as I always had - but suddenly all my words were being examined for signs of authoritarianism, and I was constantly being found wanting.

#751 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Earl @749:
Although I have the power now to edit or delete my own posts, I don't use it. I can't see how it would be anything other than grossly unfair to do so.

(Though I did once see Patrick clean up one of his accidental double posts.)

If we could go back and change our posts, it would make it hard to tell, later, what people were reacting to.

static numbering that does get out of place when posts are deleted.

The only place where posts were being deleted on a regular basis was comment spam at the ends of old threads. But even then, we've started cleaning the text and posting the originating IP address.

The real threat to thread numbering is actually reinstating comments that were held for excessive linkage. If the thread has moved a good deal before a moderator sees it, there's a tough call to make between comment content and thread continuity.

#752 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:20 PM:

all:

Thank you for the expressions of both support and concern. This is a pretty freaky thing for me to be doing here, and external views are always valuable. This is particularly the case in winter, when my perceptions of my own effectiveness are skewed.

When Patrick asked me if I wanted to do this, I told him I was happy to on one condition. If I arse it up, he and Teresa are to tell me so, and take the keys away if they feel it's appropriate. He agreed to this*.

So please - don't worry too much that I'm going to ruin the whole community. The real bosses will pull me up short if I get it too drastically wrong.

-----
* Yes, telling Patrick to be blunt is like telling water to flow downhill, but I wanted it explicitly agreed to.

#753 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Since this is an Open Thread, please pardon my Happy Dance:

My husband and I have a tradition of givibg each other a present or 2 on the weekend before Christmas.

He gave me "Making Book!" ;D

#754 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Melissa Mead #754: Which edition?

#755 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:45 PM:

joann @ 748 moaned ...
[piglet mode]
Could Our Mr Macdonald be persuaded to produce a post on whatever might qualify as a go-bag for a hangover? I foresee more mornings like this one in my immediate future, alas.
[/piglet mode]

Heh. I'm not Mr. Macdonald, but - be sure you have plenty of water beside the bed before you go to bed (there's the inevitable 5-6am wake-up, when you're both thirsty, and often in need of a trip to the loo).

I've found that saltines and lukewarm water help with the initial misery, and settle my stomach down enough to make slow, carefully considered movements not too unreasonable.

Sunglasses, even if you don't wear them normally are a blessing both indoors and out.

It may or may not work for you, but I like to have a solid meal as soon as I'm able to tolerate it - the food seems to settle things down, overall.

Gentle exercise sometimes helps (a genteel stroll, not a whirlwind race), but sitting vertically can sometimes be much, much, much too much effort.

I don't tend to take painkillers, or much by way of caffeine for a hangover - they don't seem to improve the hangover, and sometimes create a horribly synergy.

Oh - and fluids... plenty of fluids, of the not-too-acidic, not-too-sugary, generally-good-for-you variety :)

#756 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 02:46 PM:

CHip, #742: Thanks for doing the lookup I was too tired/lazy to bother with last night. IME, the unadorned "GoH" generally means "author pro guest", the Big Name on the first line. Modifiers are used when people want to be more specific. This is analogous to the way "con", with no modifiers, means general-interest con; media-cons, gaming-cons, filk-cons, lit-cons, comic-cons, etc. get modifiers to indicate their specialty area.

#757 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 03:29 PM:

If you scroll down a bit to the Slylock Fox commentary on this page, I think you'll all find an appropriate coda for the war seafood discussion.

PS: I'm pretty sure he's not serious.

#758 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:12 PM:

abi,

FWIW, I think you're doing a fine job. As a mostly-lurker, I've followed the 'Police-action crustacean' discussions from when it was about the torture scene in the 'V For Vendetta' movie. I've typed and deleted comments unposted, watched subsequent rounds of it go nowhere rapidly, casting a shadow. What you've suggested is wise and sensible.

P.S. The idea of using rhyming couplets to zap spam fills me with glee.

#759 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Soon Lee @759:

The idea of using rhyming couplets to zap spam fills me with glee.

Since we replace the name and email address fields of spam comments with a ".", you can actually find all my spam doggerel here.

#760 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:34 PM:

abi #759:

Thank you! They're delightful!

#761 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Bryan: I'm pretty sure Fragano's talked about the racism in many Victorian novels here. I can't remember, but I think it was in the context of the Caribbean?

I also think we've had the racist Tolkien argument, and there's an awful lot of people here who like Tolkien an awful lot.

If you can't separate criticism of one aspect of a work from criticism of everyone who enjoyed that work, it's going to have an incredible chilling effect.

I think that abi's right about the specifics of this discussion.

I also think abi's doing fine as a moderator.

I am also duly impressed by the trees-in-space, even if it is the slaying of a beautiful metaphor by an ugly fact. (With apologies to Huxley.)

#762 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:45 PM:

On Davey, Goliath, and metaphysics.

Peter Alway referred to this as "an animated conversation about an animated conversation."

#763 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:53 PM:

abi @ 704 et seq.:
Madame, I kiss your hands and feet.

The romanticization of war (and of violence, in general, as a solution to problems) is a pertinent issue, especially given some of the reasons I've seen put forward in support of many current US policies, and it merits serious consideration and discussion. I think we've reached the point here, though, where the war pr0n concept is getting in the way of the discussion, rather than aiding it. When a framework for a discussion proves so unhelpful that good people end up at each others' throats over the framework, we all need to consider abandoning that framework and finding another one.
I say this as someone who has resisted the urge, so far, to tell both Greg and others that as far as this topic is concerned, we're all starting to look as if we're trying to give opera lessons to pigs. (Yes, I too have deleted several potential posts, as well as making up others in my head and then not typing them.)

#764 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Re: #755
There's more than one edition? It has proofreader's marks on the cover, and it's paperback, if that tells you anything.

#765 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 05:15 PM:

JESR @ 640,

Oregon will probably not answer, and Hillsboro and Beaverton are stone deaf, so they won't even hear you. I live in Southwest Portland, work in Hillsboro, and commute through Beaverton every day. I've been around these towns for almost 30 years, and I think I can say with some confidence that nothing short of burning it down and starting it over will fix Hillsboro. Beaverton might take less, but at least the mass trial and execution of the County Commissioners will be necessary, possibly followed by a wide-area exorcism and deportation of all land developers in Washington County back to the hell they came from. Oh, and the mandatory inclusion of bike lanes in all road designs.

#766 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 05:20 PM:

Melissa Mead #765: I was referring to this. I should have said "printing" rather than "edition."

No matter which version, though, it's a fantastic book, and an excellent gift (I got my copy--third printing--for Christmas, too).

#767 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Keir #762: I wrote about racism in Trollope's travel writing. True, he was a Victorian novelist, but it wasn't his novels that concerned me.

#768 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 05:51 PM:

"If you can't separate criticism of one aspect of a work from criticism of everyone who enjoyed that work, it's going to have an incredible chilling effect."

I figure this is a new subject, so I can reply to this and not break my original vow not to talk about the other subject any more.
I agree with the sentiment, but if I meet someone and think they seem reasonably intelligent and nice and we start talking and I ask what is your favorite book? And they reply The Turner Diaries, I will probably have the knee jerk reaction of eewwwwww, however if they really seem to be really cool other than that I might perhaps respond with a Really, that's interesting. What the fuck is wrong with you?!?!

I don't know how many people this would be the case for, but I am of the opinion that it would basically be the same reaction for pretty much everyone that knew what the book was and was not a racist.

In fact I would have a hard time believing anyone possessing the characteristics listed above that told me this would not be their reaction (unless they told me they would have a more extreme reaction [actually I'm pretty certain I would have a much more extreme reaction but I figure it is not polite to describe in excessive detail some sorts of reactions]).

#769 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 06:03 PM:

joanne @ 748:

This is what generally works for me, based on anecdotal evidence from one of my mom's friends bolstered by similar recommendations from health-related newscast many years ago--as with all such remedies, YMMV:

1) While at your event, for every alcoholic beverage you drink, drink one glass of water--alcohol will dehydrate you, and that's part of the cause of hangover symptoms. (I usually trade off, it's easier to keep track.)

2) Have food with your alcohol to slow its absorption rate.

3) Before going to bed (and particularly if you haven't been punctilious about following the first two suggestions), drink one or two servings of a naturally sweetened, non-caffeinated clear soda (at the time of the newscast, regular 7-Up was about the only thing that fit the bill, but that may have changed--I don't drink much soda). This helps stave off the dehydration, and also helps your blood sugar levels, which alcohol screws up.

4) Avoid acetaminophen-based pain relievers as they put additional stress on your already stressed liver. I don't stock any pain meds and am therefore unable to advise as to whether plain aspirin is better, or if iburophen-based substances are preferred for this use.

FWIW, the anecdotal evidence was: before going to bed after a night of heavy drinking, drink three glasses of water and eat a bowl of ice cream. (The last is an idea I can support under any circumstances!)

I expect that any info from Jim will be far better than this!

#770 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 06:09 PM:

joann, 748: I bet Uncle Jim will tell you to drink Gatorade until it tastes nasty.

#771 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 06:09 PM:

Re: "unreliable narrators". Has everyone here seen the new Beowulf yet? Preferably the 3D version?

As he tells of having fought sea monsters, the flashback visuals track exactly with his telling... until a certain point, after which his words simply must be taken in an altogether different sense than he wishes his listeners to take them.

This divergence from literal truth has the paradoxical effect of verifying his entire tale up to that point.

It also shows, early on, what he'll lie about, and what he can be tempted by, foreshadowing later events -- so it's a true (and important) character note.

Not to disinter expired equines for further knouting, but most of Beowulf must get a negative warp r0n rating, since the only real "bad guys" are the three monsters, while there's a high (and mourned) death rate among the "good guys". Besides, Beowulf's fighting on behalf of such social order as there is, for Hrothgar and later as king himself. I suppose Dirty Harry would get the same free pass.

No "spoiler" rot13ing in the above, because most of the story is a thousand years old.


As an aside to abi: no fears. If you need someone to quarrel, quibble, or engage in endless point-twisting rodomontade with you, just to assure you that modding hasn't set you aside, you will have at least one volunteer -- and doubtless many others if it would really truly help you feel better. Folks here can be compassionate that way.

See, now don't you feel better already?

#772 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 06:29 PM:

TexAnne #771:

Eeeuuww. Just sayin. (My opinion on Gatorade is that it tastes nasty to begin with, so that would apear to be a no-op.)

Syd #770:

As it happened, I wsn't in serious pain, just feeling a bit fragile this morning and a bit spacy. I generally try *not* to drink anything just before I go to bed, so three glasses of water would not have occurred to me, much less ice cream after various plates of nibblies throughout the evening that included my very own tiramisu. I'm not supposed to take NSAIDs in any case.

Red wine is more likely to put me in the ditch than white, or any color champagne; does this match other people's experience?

#773 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 07:01 PM:

abi, I think you're doing fine as a moderator.

I originally had this metaphor I was going to post, about how the moderator in a nuclear reactor is the carbon rod that they stick in to absorb extra neutrons when the pile is getting too hot, and how an online discussion is like a nuclear pile, too much moderation and you don't get useful energy out of it, too little and you get a meltdown. But first I looked up nuclear reactors on Wikipedia, and it turns out that the moderator is something other than what I thought it was. Crash, tinkle, oh my beautiful metaphor!

#774 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen, The Book of Athyra arrived Thursday. Thank you very much.

#775 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Through methods I won't go into here, I'm watching Box of Delights.

The special effects are very low budget. Video manipulation and superimposed cel animation.

On the other hand, in the first fifteen minutes, the hero gets cheated out of his pocket money by two werewolves disguised as clergymen, meets a thousand year old Punch & Judy man with a magic box, sees a phoenix, meets up with an ancient priestess (I'm guessing) and another shapeshifter. And the episode ends with a bit of time-travel.

I like.

#776 ::: Sian Hogan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Stefan Jones@ 776.

Yeah, the effects are... not shiny.

But the rest is good. A thousand-year-old Punch and Judy man who know's what the hero is going to get fed for tea... in advance. For some reason, that may be the spookiest thing of all, because it's never really explained.

The attitudes to the police and the reporting of crime which develop are also... interesting.

Syd@770, and others on hangover-prevention. As well as drinking plenty of water and having something to eat before going to bed, it is also a good idea to thoroughly wash face/hands/any skin likely to hold on to any potentially disturbing odours. Which odours may include stale perfume/aftershave, spilt drinks etc. Nothing like a chemical scent to make it all a bit worse in the morning.

#777 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 08:04 PM:

joann @773: Gatorade does taste nasty... except when you need it. Your body knows when it needs those electrolytes.

#778 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 08:40 PM:

#777 ::: Sian Hogan:

Maybe the Punch and Judy man is an Arisian.

Which thread has the discussion of dysfunctional families?

#779 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 09:17 PM:

The book Box of Delights by the now-neglected John Masefield is fabulous. I've had it since I was 8 or so. (Moreover, that Punch and Judy man is not just any ancient magical Punch and Judy man, it's gur terng nypurzvfg Avpubynf Synzry jub qvfpbirerq gur Cuvybfbcure'f Fgbar.) I've read the earlier book, The Midnight Folk but don't have a copy; it's also good and unusual, but it never grabbed me quite the same way.

#780 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Geekosaur @ 778 - Brawndo! It's got electrolytes!

#781 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 10:19 PM:

Avram @ 774: Crash, tinkle, oh my beautiful metaphor!

I had to laugh. I know how that feels.

#782 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:03 PM:

Bruce Cohen, StM about Beaverton and Hillsboro: I fear you are correct. Many's the time I've fantasized about the possibility of dropping a major reality modification bomb centered at about Tanisbourne Center. It may be that my family and I need to find a nice cozy Park and Ride along 205 and take the TriMet downtown when we want to go to Powell's, since we have not been able to find a parking space within acceptable walking distance since about the turn of the century. Be a pity to give up going home via Cornelius Pass, though, since that would mean dealing with Clark County twice each trip.

I need to go tell our friend down the road I understand, now, why he turns such an unaesthetic shade of green every time Intel talks about closing the Dupont operation.

#783 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Just read James Clemens' Hinterland -- quite excellent! Despite being the middle of a trilogy (at least -- the first was Shadowfall), I'd say the book stands pretty well on its own.

Avram: Hmmm, my metaphors seem to go pfft, bloop. Maybe I need to use more structure....

But yeah, moderation is important -- and its very importance is interesting, in that it shows how you just can't build social structures out of exclusively technical constraints. Whatever given technical structure you supply for a forum, the inhabitants will promptly invoke the Harvard Rule, and insist on social structures on top of the technical.

If leadership doesn't come from the top, then the community will either pick its own direction (i.e., not what the creators planned) or collapse entirely. I've seen both happen....

#784 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:32 PM:

#733 abi: I am sorry that I've made you feel singled out. I'm not specifically looking at you with a gimlet eye, though it's true I might not have bestirred myself to comment on the death penalty thread otherwise. I just tend to notice it when people mention moderation. I agree that we'll all settle in and be happy... I'm immensely happy already that the Solstice has passed and the days will start getting longer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. I mean, no kidding about the darkness and the hiding-in-holes-ness. Anyway, again, apologies. Um... I have a great recipe that involves ground cloves?

Spicy Hermits (cookies)

.5 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbs instant coffee powder
.5 tsp soda
.5 tsp ground cinnamon
.25 tsp salt
.25 tsp ground nutmeg
.25 tsp ground cloves
.75 cup raisins
.5 cup broken walnuts

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar. Add egg; beat well.
Stir in 2 tbs water. Sift together dry ingredients; add
to creamed mixture. Stir in raisins and nuts. Drop from
teaspoon 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Makes 42.

(from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Adding coffee to cookies: so excellent.

#785 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:34 PM:

#783: Please do not drop a reality modification bomb there, as it might alter my extremely simple commute. Also, it might turn the Trader Joe's into a "Shop & Save."

There's a MAX station with a large parking not far from the intersection of Cornell and Cornelius Pass. Drive west on Cornell, to the fourth light, in the middle of the faux downtown of Orenco Station. Make a left. Station is at the end of a short bit of road.

It's a safe area.

#786 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:47 PM:

This is the dead of the year for us, too, but it's because Sol Invictus has invicted to such an extent that nothing can live with him. The grass is brown, the sky is that endless aching blue, and the wind comes sighing in the razor-edged afternoon, scented of dust and distance.

We wait, and remember the rain.

#787 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 12:04 AM:

#783. You know, having grown up and learned to drive in northern Nassau County, Long Island (an area where roads wind around old estates there isn't the slightest concept of a grid), and lived in the Squirrel Hill district of Pittsburgh and the Peninsula south of San Francisco, I don't find Washington County roads especially difficult to grasp.

What is horribly inconvenient are the inaccessible areas between Cornell and Route 8. As mentioned, there are parks and creeks there, and north-south connections are relatively few and sometimes wind around a bit.

#788 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 12:15 AM:

David Harmon @ 784 ...
Avram: Hmmm, my metaphors seem to go pfft, bloop. Maybe I need to use more structure....

Maybe you should consider winding them up like the linens of a long-dead egyptian mummy, filled with hot desert air, which will raise them up like carnival balloons, into the great blue sky?

... or maybe I should stop reading Bulwer-Lytton entries :)

#789 ::: ethan is drunk ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Drunk. And sexually frustrated. Maybe not the right place to mention it, but merry Christmas.

#790 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 12:50 AM:

Avram @ 774: now you know how I feel about my nice wooden spaceships comparison.

Fragano: Thanks for the details.

#791 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 12:52 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, #609, I don't celebrate Christmas so don't have any suggestions, but I do want to comment that the silicone oven mitts are too big and too inflexible for me to use. Cloth mitts are much easier for me.

Faren, #628, Amazon has the Hogfather DVD for $13.99 for preorder. Due by early March.

R.M. Koske, #662, Sean Taylor was murdered (coroner said so) and all four kids have confessed, including the one who shot the gun. This is a big deal here because Taylor was a Redskin and there's something about the murder pretty much every day in the news. (In the early days, way too much about it -- the local NBC station even dumped regular programming to show the funeral in Florida live.)

Lila, #738, King Arthur has gift cards for bakers and Williams-Sonoma has gift cards for basic kitchen & cooking stuff.

#792 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:02 AM:

King Arthur has gift cards for bakers


When good King Arthur ruled this land,
he was a goodly king;
He stole three pecks of barley-meal
to make a bag-pudding.

A bag-pudding the King did make,
and stuffed it well with plums,
And in it put great lumps of fat
as big as my two thumbs.


A better role-model for bakers than King Alfred, I suppose.

#793 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:11 AM:

Sian Hogan @ #777: A thousand-year-old Punch and Judy man who know's what the hero is going to get fed for tea... in advance. For some reason, that may be the spookiest thing of all, because it's never really explained.

Does the television version not end the same way as the novel, then? (The last twist of the novel explains everything, in such a way that one rather wishes it hadn't. John Masefield, in my experience, was a wonderful writer but never wrote a sequel that he didn't screw up somehow.)

#794 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:52 AM:

Dave 787: No, no, what you need to say is Nox Invicta. Dark is returning, even though this is the brightest hour; no one can hold back the dusk.

In the land of the patagorang, the people are upside down. Sol Invictus for you is in late June.

#795 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:58 AM:

ethan 790: Sorry you're drunk and sexually frustrated. Merry Christmas.

When you're sober, learn to flirt.

#796 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:03 AM:

Keir #791: Heh. Even worse for you, when I scrolled up and read that port, I immediately thought of two other SF stories that had wooden spaceships in them.

#797 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Avram @797: Does James Blish's "Surface Tension" qualify for the wooden spaceship category?

#798 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:07 AM:

Avram, #774: That metaphor would have made sense to me as well. Perhaps we're thinking about an earlier generation of nuclear reactors?

Dave, #787: That's a lovely and evocative prose snapshot!

To all and sundry: Is anyone interested in the book How to Make Your Own Alcohol Fuels by Larry W. Carley? My partner just culled it out of his library, and it occurred to me that someone here might want it, or know someone else who would. If that would be you, drop me an e-mail (at the link from my name) with your name and address. First e-mail gets it.

#799 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:23 AM:

Kathryn & Marilee: instead of the big inflexible silicone oven mitts, which are too unwieldy for my mother, I got her a couple pairs of Ove Gloves, which are much easier to use. I just got her the new style ones pictured on the link, so we don't know how they're work, but based on the old style, they should work fine up to about 500F, which is hotter than she ever turns the oven.

#800 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:30 AM:

I see Syd at 770 has reccmoended ice cream for hangover cures. I agree. I once felt rather peckish after coming home from an evening out, and ate what would be for the USA'ians around a pint of ice cream. Add this to the water I drank, and the enxt day I didn't feel bad at all.

If I drink more than 2 pints I feel pretty ropey the next day, and if I have my maximum, around 5 pints, then I feel tired, slow, ill and generally useless until the evening. However careful drinking of water, fruit juice and sometimes milk, in the hour before i go to bed, usually makes a difference.

#801 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 06:58 AM:

For myself, I really don't care about the solstice; what matters to me is Sunreturn -- my name for the day of earliest sunset. Which is a couple of weeks earlier than the solstice, I think this year it was December 9. Sunrise keeps getting later, but so what? I'm asleep then.

#802 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:03 AM:

I'm now part of a preacher's ass.

Anti-Spam Squad, that is. I started reading Real Live Preacher back when Patrick linked to his writing on Salon. Lately, it seems he has collected a bunch of comment spam...for values of "a bunch" that run into many tens of thousands. He's finally putting some anti-spam measures into place, but the archives want cleaning up. I'm among those who've volunteered to do it and have been given moderation power.

So I spent much of today descending on comment spam with fire and sword. It's more fun than Freerice. I feel like I need to watch out for RSI though.

#803 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 08:57 AM:

guthrie @ 801

You need to not eat the ice cream too quickly, however. Adding brain freeze to a hangover is not a desired consequence for any value of "desired".

#804 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 09:13 AM:

#792, Marilee -
I did wonder if someone had confessed. In the Everglades, sock or no sock, it seems like it would be pretty difficult to find a gun tossed in the drink without guidance.

#805 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 09:19 AM:

abi

Having gotten out of the habit of checking the open thread at least once or twice a day because of the press of fun things to do in RL in the last couple of weeks, I now understand the real downside: you're late when your friends need you. I think you've been doing a terrific job of moderating, while keeping the tone of your own comments (though I fear we may see less of your poetry over time). Please continue as you have been doing.

Most especially, I think your comments and actions on aggressive crustaceans have been dead on. It's not a discussion I'm personally willing to get into because it pushes too many of my buttons; it's far too tempting to post in heat and regret it. But I agree that the problem is in part structural, that is, most of the argument is around how the subject is presented, which is not terribly useful in the ground-level discussion, and a good part of the heat is generated by the outcome* of previous discussions. Controlling the use of terms that block or obfuscate discussion is definitely part of a moderator's responsibility, nor is it censorship of ideas. So it's reasonable for you to respond to a post with: "Please put down the shrimp and step away from the podium".

In respect of SAD: I can't wave a wand and lift th gloom, sorry. I've been there and others have tried for me and it doesn't work. But just knowing there are others there sometimes helps, and we are here.

* or lack of it

#806 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 09:19 AM:

The wooden spaceships I designed in 2nd grade were all powered by grinding flashlight batteries, which I figured would release the energy stored in them (compressed like a spring) all in one go.

3rd grade saw perpetual motion drives (generators powering motors which ran the generators, producing power to spare). The Time/Life book on 'Energy' convinced me this was a blind alley.

4th grade I was designing uranium ion drives (it's got more electrons).

That was pretty much my peak in spaceship engineering, but it didn't stop me from drawing pictures...

#807 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Public Service Announcement

http://www.fiskars.com needs better security and website handling and clues.... Scum from Asia left a note on one of the pages indicating that the Asian scum had broken in....

[I am not repeating the bragpiece left or the name on it because I don't believe in enfaming scum....]

[refraining from giving in to the desire to go on a full as opposed to prologue rant about what shit TCP/IP is and why do people persist in using escaped lab experiment never-intended-for-commericial-use-LAB-EXPERIMENT technology for civil and commercial use?!]

#808 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:02 AM:

ethan @ 790... And a happy New Year to you, young one.

#809 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:11 AM:

[Giving in to the urge, as regards doing a partial acrostic...]

DECENT Internet protocols would help deter and provide defenses and traceability against:

Assholes from Asia
Badasses from Baghdad
Chiselers from China
Dumbasses from Des Moines
Exploitationists from Eastern Europe
Fraudsters from Florida
Gremlins from Germany
Hatemongers from Hattiesburg
Idiots from Iowa
Jerks from Jakarta
Kooks from Kansas (Westboro Baptist Church springs to mind)
Lunatics from Louisiana
Mobsters from Moscow
Nasties from Nigeria
Obstructionists from Ohio
Pimps from Pamplona
Q ??? from Qatar
Rabid rats from Reading
Script kiddies and spammers from Sarasota
Trolls from Tripoli
Uglies from Uzbekistan
Virus writers and Viagra pushers from Venice
X ...
Y ...
Zealots from Zaragoza


#810 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:18 AM:

abi: you well deserve the praise you've been getting! (Just try to find some time and energy for poetry writing as well, if you can.)

Though I tend to dislike the arguments that break out on threads, they're inevitable among articulate people who also happen to be human. I just wait for someone to bring on the poetry, puns, or totally off-topic posts to break the tension. (Links to kitten pictures always help too!)

#811 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Faren @ 812... I just wait for someone to bring on the poetry, puns

...must... resist...

#812 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Yesterday night, we watched another Christmas movie on DVD, The Andromeda Strain.

#813 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Serge, 813: It only stanza reason--you'll succumb to temptation sooner or later!

#814 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:39 AM:

TexAnne @ 815... Begone, temptress!!!

#815 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Serge, 816: Oh, but I'd soooo much rather be a villanelless than a temptress!

#816 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Correcting myself @ 815: I beg your pardon, I mistyped "sonnet or later."

#817 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Things are clearly going from bad to verse.

#818 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:46 AM:

Spock! Set rhymer on pun!

#819 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Bruce #806:
"Please put down the shrimp and step away from the podium".
You aren't talking about incidents at the 2006 Hugo Awards Ceremonies, are you?

ethan #790

Drunk. And sexually frustrated. Maybe not the right place to mention it, but merry Christmas.
Social skills commensurate with posting the above, contribute to one being regarded as "a fate worse than celibacy" by anyone with much in the way of standards who isn't otherwise unavailable.

#666 Marc
Boston puts up more street signs than stay up.... There are a plethora of college students in the vicinity, may of whom college street signs... I think I actually saw some in situMassachusetts Avenue street signs crossing over from the Harvard Bridge heading to Boylston Street on MassAve, in Boston, on intersections. They were gone within 72 hours, if they even lasted that long, presumably to student dormrooms I suspect.

#740 ::: A.J
I still experience a deep sense of loss -- like a grand-canyon echo in the soul -- when I recall the dream I had, about nine years ago, in which I had copies of Zelazny's third series of five Amber novels sitting on my shelf.

Could they have been of Corwin seeing what the Pattern he created, led to for Shadows?


#820 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Serge, that's Thomas the Rhymer, not Spock. The latter wasn't Jewish....

#821 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:08 AM:

Paula @ 822... Are you sure that Amanda wasn't Jewish?

#822 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Some of us have a pen-chant for punning rhymes (I have to confess that I took that from Thomas Hood).

#823 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:34 AM:

I suspect that winter festivals of light were invented out of the necessity to prod people out of bed and make them light the fire else they would turn over and go back to sleep and let the house fill up with mold and rising damp before the sun rose high enough to warm it.

Haven't we progressed beyond that, yet? Timed thermostats and so on?

(Church, cheese, and children's gifts are on my list today).

#824 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Xenophobes from Xanadu?

#825 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Marilee @ #792, thank you!

#826 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Sorry about the outburst up there. Carry on, carry on.

#827 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:08 PM:

the problem with recovery is being forced to choose between lying around in moderate agony and lying around in a drug-induced stupor, neither conditions being much fun or conducive to accomplishing anything except wondering whether i have been put back together again all wrong and that is why it all hurts

on the bright side, was officially issued one (1) Tin Foil Hat in the operating room...they found it very peculiar that my last words before going under (and some of my first when coming out (after HURTS and being put back under again)) were to INSIST that I get to keep the hat, which is now safely next to my bed in case of aggressive conspiracies...they just don't understand the need for a tin foil hat nowadays in politics

depressed

#828 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Paula @ #821 re. ethan @ #790:
way to go, make a space ethan obviously feels safe enough to share feelings in into a hostile place, that's really just so helpful

social skills, standards, who meets them, pot, black, etc.

#829 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Paula @ 811: Yutzes from Ypsilanti?

#830 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:46 PM:

W00t!!!1! Hogfather is on Australian TVY: Calloo, Callay! First 2-hour episode was earlier tonight; final one tomorrow, on Christmas Eve.

Because it's on a commercial station (7), & I've been a bit too busy to keep track of such things, it was only when a friend I was talking to earlier in the day mentioned it that I found out. Lucky for friend, too, since if they'd known & not told me, well, there might be extra work for the Tooth Fairy once I'd found out.

For safety's sake I recorded it as I watched – tho I hope to get the 'special edition' DVD when it's finally eventually released here; the vanilla version is available now – which turned out to be a Good Idea, because once I sat down quietly to watch, I fell asleep several times (exhaustion does that to you; apart from busyness, etc, recent muggy weather adds to it) & had to review the bits I'd missed after the end. My main disappointment was that I only have a small portable TV, & many scenes would have benefited from a more sweeping big-screen style experience.

For those that enjoy the summer & its holidays Christmas & the solstice/midsummer marks the beginning of those 'lazy, hazy days'. Personally I dislike the heat & hate the humidity, & don't have holidays this time of year, but do like to decorate my house & office, & love to give things that people will like & sing all the lovely old songs.

Faren @812. If you search in Flickr & say you're happy to look at "less-safe" results, they give you a choice to go on and see the pictures, or, as an alternative, "Take me to the kittens!", which does just that.

#831 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:47 PM:

I'm off again* and I probably won't have access for a couple-three days. Happy whatever, y'all!


*I heard that, Serge!

#832 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:50 PM:

TexAnne @ 833.... I'm off again

They kept you in the fridge past your due date again?

#833 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Paula @ 811... Quacks from Qatar.

#834 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:52 PM:

In re #834: See? SEE?? I heard Serge looking innocent before I even hit "Preview"!!

#835 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:53 PM:

ethan @ 828... That was an outburst?

#836 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:55 PM:

TexAnne @ 836... Serge looking innocent

Not gill-cup!

#837 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Susan @ 830... social skills, standards, who meets them, pot, black

Rinnnnnggg!
"Yes?"
"Is this Karen Black?"
"Yes. Who is this?"
"I'm Cliff Potts."

#838 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Ethan: I dare say most of us have been there many times. Actually blurting it out takes a certain level of lowered inhibitions, which may feel embarrassing in retrospect but is nothing for anyone to feel surprised about.

Warning, platitudes follow: If it's gotten bad enough to blurt out, maybe it's time to think about the reasons for the frustration. Reasons always depend on circumstances; it's for you to figure out which circumstances and whether you want to change them. (If say, the reason is that you have high standards, maybe you don't want to change that. If it's "too shy to talk to", maybe you do. Or maybe for you the answer is totally other.)

#839 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Susan, it's good to see you again, even if woozy with (pain|drugs) [choose one], and it is just awesome that you have an official issue medical-grade Tin Foil Hat. That's almost better than the prescription narcotics.

#840 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:38 PM:

David at 803, you are performing a mitzvah, for sure.

#841 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Susan, thank you for putting my problems with Paula's superfluous smackdown of ethan in words.

Luckily for us mere humans, it's not actually necessary to be flawless and inerrant to deserve a partner.

#842 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:32 PM:

#823 Serge

When I posted,
Serge, that's Thomas the Rhymer, not Spock. The latter wasn't Jewish...., I typed "latter" instead of "former" I meant to type "former."

It was an erratum on my thought-->what I typed interface, and failure to catch on the mandatory review....

Not quite Mrs Malaprop, but...

#843 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:32 PM:

I just wrapped my Christmas presents, and luckily remembered last year's Making Light post on How to wrap a package before I started, rather than afterwards. I didn't have the energy to attempt Furoshiki wrapping techniques this year, but now that I've been reminded they exist, I really want to start playing with them.

Therefore, I wanted to remind anyone else who may be wrapping today or tomorrow that that post existed.

While wrapping, I broke down and turned on the all-Christmas radio station. There are certain things that just Must Be Done in my household because It's How I Was Raised, and listening to Christmas music while making Christmas preparations is one of them. I'd really like to put together an iTunes Christmas playlist with all the songs I actually enjoy, and leaving out the ones that drive me up a wall, but that's another one of those things I didn't have the energy to do this year. So I had to put up with a certain amount of "Christmas Shoes" to get to the Ronettes' "Sleigh Ride."

(Apologies in advance to anyone who loves "Christmas Shoes" or hates the Ronettes' "Sleigh Ride.")

#844 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Well, maybe only funny to parents: Happy Birthday, Monica (requires free registration)

#845 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Susan, ditto JESR on Paula/ethan.

I'm appalled that you're thinking about "accomplishing anything" right now. The only thing you need to accomplish is HEALING. And I highly recommend the stupor option. Frustrating now. But afterwards it will feel like you've had a rest.

#846 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Paula, I very much doubt that Spock was Jewish, either, unless you subscribe to the theory that the Vulcans are the Ten Lost Tribes. The green blood is going to be hard to explain though.

Kirk wasn't Jewish either.

The actors who played them both were, though.

#847 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Paula, your comment to Ethan was rude, cruel, and unnecessary. If that's your idea of being helpful, then keep your helpfulness far away from me.

Ethan... can't help with the sexually-frustrated part, but if you need a sympathetic ear, my e-mail is always open.

#848 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Ethan, I could help with the sexually-frustrated part!!

Oh, wait, you have standards. Never mind then. :-)

#849 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Paula @ 844... Drat. There goes my joke.

#850 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:16 PM:

It's starting to feel like Christmas. I just came back from the grocery store. (To quote Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes, it's a madhouse, a madhouse!). I just put together an exercise bike that my Stanford-graduate father-in-law bought for his wife. And Sue gave me am early present: The Lost Fleet: Courageous, by John Hemry (writing as Jack Campbell). Yay!

#851 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:16 PM:

ethan @790:
In some alternate universe, I was nearby enough to give you a hug right then.

Sorry it wasn't this one.

#852 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:18 PM:

How odd. I am sure I have "THe box of delights" somewhere, left over from my childhood, yet I cannot recall a thing about it. Unfortunately I cannot recall where in my library's childrens book department it is.*


*i.e. up in the attic.

#853 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Susan #830

#830 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Paula @ #821 re. ethan @ #790:
way to go, make a space ethan obviously feels safe enough to share feelings in into a hostile place, that's really just so helpful

social skills, standards, who meets them, pot, black, etc.

After all the crap I can dredge up from my past regarding many shitloads of emotional abuse, I consider what I said MILD.

An couple of the tamer examples that spring to mind:
college--one of my dormmates didn't even like me. He got drunk at a dorm party and tried to persuade me to come to his room and have sexual reactions. "You don't even like me!" I objected, astonished. "You'll regret it in the morning."
"I don't care,' he replied, "I'm drunk."
I wasn't sober, having downed three and a half beers and weighing about 100 pounds at the time, but I was sober enough to refuse.
That was hardly the only case in my life where someone who disliked me or wasn't sure they didn't dislike me, made a very public pass at me which they never would have done sober, in front of people in the same living group or who were in close working proximity.
There are lots of other stories that involved some degree of sordid situation--people with such social graces as a colonel who was a commander of the 46th Flying Training Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, which gave the Air Force Academy cadets their "dollar rides" in T-37 primary jet trainer aircraft, and flew T-33s as target planes in which pilots stationed in Colorado Springs at Peterson flew out fighter interceptor squadrons all over the continental United States to play targets in exercises, and which the planes of were the planes that the "headquarters wienies" officers assigned to Aerospace Defense Command Headquarters flew to keep up their flying currency.

ANYWAY... The particular colonel pretended I didn't exist when any of his subordinates were around, in the Officers' Club. The instant they were absent, however, he was doggedly chasing my tail around, and the specific partiucular colonel on one occasion when I was ignoring -his- existence and sitting with some other people talking around a table, actually dragged the seat I was in away with me in it.... but let someone from his squadron show up, and I didn't exist again. I was no older than 23 at the time and young for my age, and having a senior officer was roughly twice my age hitting on me with an on/off switch based on who else was around to notice, was extremely unpleasant and not something I had any experience to cope competently with....

Subtlety was entirely wasted, particularly> upon the drunks who weren't likely to remember anything the next day or week or month or year.... Flat out, "Go to hell, I am not interested!" barely dissuaded some persistent types, even.

Anyway, that's what was behind my comments. WAY too many self-centered sorts hitting on me at their convenience and the hell with how I felt about the situation.

Chip on shoulder, I wonder who WOULDN'T have one treated that way?! [Another regime of the equation, there were people I refused to date because I figured that I'd metaphorically walk all over them.... I badly hurt the first two people I dated in college, who had been no more socially ept than I was, out of both my, and THEIR, sheer social ineptness... and I didn't want to do that EVER, ever, EVER again.... why is it anyway the society -demands- social grace from women and generally blames them more if things get unpleasant--e.g. consider this past year's NASA debacle. The fellow in the middle of the triangle got very little attention or excoriation from the news media, and his role in effecting the situation got downplayed completely. Eventually NASA threw him out back in to the Navy's direct jurisdiction to deal with, but it was months after the scandal filled the airwaves and newspapers and magazines.... ]

#854 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Linkmeister @ 775

Good, glad you got it. As synchrony will have it, I've just, quite by accident, found the copy of Yendi I was planning to send you, that disappeared for several weeks. I swear it must have crept off to hide in a corner for all this time. Well, better late than never. This time of year it will take awhile to get to you, but I will put it on the boat tomorrow.

#855 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:50 PM:

A verse for the consideration of the community:

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.*

Myself, it's a tendency I strive against.

-----
* Philip Larkin, This Be The Verse.

#856 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Tonight--the evening of the 23rd--the Moon occults Mars, for those sufficiently North. (And if you live on a narrow line (stretching from Portland to western Turkey) you could even see a grazing occultation.)

But for everyone it will be a bright full Moon right by a bright full Mars, the brightest highest Moon in decades, and the two will travel together all the night.

Happy Festivus!

#857 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Paula@855: And your reasons for thinking that Ethan would ever behave in any way like your (admittedly disgusting) examples are...?

#858 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:06 PM:

In cse anyone is now in need of pictures of kittends, I have none, but can offer a few views of Belle, the most peculiar of the cats at our house. She's been coming out from under the bed more often these days, which means that I can get more of her in the picture than weirdly glowing eyeballs.

If that's not enough, I have some of Jemmy wearing a collar made from cable ties. He's about as happy about it as you'd expect.

#859 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Paula 855: ethan didn't do anything like that. He didn't hit on anyone or imply that he MIGHT hit on anyone. Certainly he didn't engage in any inappropriate behavior (at all, but especially within orders of magnitude of the kind of wretched behavior you describe).

Your past is no excuse for mistreating someone today. Unless you're saying that ETHAN behaved that way toward you at some time in the past, you owe him an apology (IMO).

#860 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Erratum in #855
I suppose the term "boyfriend" was a more accurate description in #856 than "dating." There were two people who were sort of boyfriends my freshman year in college, never really did much in the way of actual "dating" going off to events/places, then or in all the years since. I have -never- for example had an escort or gone with another person to any formal occasion, or any dinner dance that I can ever recall. I went to a Dining-Out, -once-. Going solo to couples-oriented events is not what I consider a fun worthwhile time. In the 1980s I actively avoided going to movie theaters for the most part because I would get infuriated sitting alone when all the damned couples and families and groups of people would be doing groups of people or couples things, and there I would be sitting -alone-. It got to where I basically put movie theaters as out of sight, out of mind, and out of consideration as existence unless I went far of out of way to pay attention to the existence of something in theatrical release and overcome all the mental blocks I had arranged to avoid awareness....

[Oh, in the previous post I'd forgotten about out all the 'get hit on by married men and men otherwise in serious relationships, most of it of the nature "wife is around, you don't exist. Wife isn't around, it's HUNTING TIME!" Bleeecccchhhhhhh It's really (major sarcasm) ego gratifying to be accorded what is tantamount to Disposaable Darling status.... Or then there were the, "Hi, I just flew into a base an hour and a half away from where you are, and even though it's 11 PM why don't you come pick me up..." "Ahem, it is 11 PM and I have to WORK tomorrow morning and I am NOT driving an hour to go pick you when I have to be at the office in eight hours...." sorts....

#861 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Bruce @ #856, I've been cringing about Christmas this year because we declared a moratorium on book-giving since we all have too many unread* (that may be observed in theory rather than practice, I hope), so you're brightening up my Christmas considerably with the earlier arrival and the knowledge that Yendi will turn up soon.

Thank you very much.

*My initial response to that suggestion was "Yeah, so?"

#862 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:41 PM:

Paula Lieberman... Remember that ethan is one of the good guys. That being said, I am so very sorry that you were treated so badly. I know about wondering why the loneliness, and maybe there is something wrong with me for being alone. I probably shouldn't have said anything, but I can't stand by when there is unhappiness. That's who I am.

#863 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 05:55 PM:

#857 ::: abi

A verse for the consideration of the community:

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Myself, it's a tendency I strive against.

Beautifully put, Abi. Gentle, appropriate, and a needed reminder.

#864 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 06:04 PM:

Neil Gaiman provides a sneak peek at the movie Coraline.

#865 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 06:26 PM:

fidelio #860:

She's *gorgeous*! Glad she's not under the bed.

In local feline news, Sophie enlivened things at some time in the middle of last night by waking us up with cries of "Oh, woe! Oh, I can haz doomz!" and then declaring unilaterally that it was cat-racing season, rather uncommon for a 15-yr-old cat. The umm, high point of the performance/sporting event came when she vaulted to the top of the tub surround and performed an aria in some language I'd never heard before.

It all must have been pretty loud, since I am reliably informed that I later managed to sleep through the latest incident involving our neighbor's daughter, home for the holidays, who let the dog out without first disarming the burglar alarm.

#866 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 06:28 PM:

On the eclipse of Mars:
If you live in northern/eastern Europe (Scotland and etc.), here's a list of when Mars disappears and reappears. The former starts around 3-3:30 UTC.

#867 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 06:31 PM:

#866: Thanks Marilee! I listened to the audio book last fall. A nice creepy story.

I hope it's out in time for Halloween.

#868 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Joann @867,

Sam, also 15, must have been tuned to the same cat-aether channel. I half-woke to her "Hwæt! Hwæt Hwæt!" but fell back asleep as she told us more--something about defeating the ribbon-king. The previous night it was "Yfelic catte: do not næft! Comfort me with Tuna!*" more than once.

--------
* the two cats each consider the other to be evil, but Bizou is trying to take over Sam's territory.

#869 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:02 PM:

#59 David

I've now been steadily employed in the same job for more than a year. Last time that happened was fall 1998-summer 2000, changed jobs and then April 2002 got hit in a fifth or six wave of layoffs from a company that heading into Chapter 7 bankruptcy (dissolution) as a dotcom with the market for its products and services on hold and the customer base having stopped ordering... 3 years later the demand was back, but the company was gone. There followed mostly being out of work until fall of 2006.

I may or may not go into work on Friday--I'm signed out for Paid Time Away for Friday, the rest of the work week is official company holiday. And what am I doing the rest of the week? Answer--mostly being unsociable except in email I think.... all those years of being out of work on my own -alone- (laid off in round 6 or so of mass layoffs of GTE Government Systems, which got sold off the General Dynamics sometime in the early 1990s when Bell Atlantic and GTE merged--GTE had never been part of the Bell System, so Bell Atlantic actually was reaching out to agglomoerate phone system business that had been outside AT&T before the breakup) from 1989 to 1998 underemployed when I wasn't outright unemployed effected differences and acclimatization over time to being solitaire.

#870 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Paula Lieberman @#855:

After all the crap I can dredge up from my past regarding many shitloads of emotional abuse, I consider what I said MILD.

But do you really want to measure things you say to your friends or acquaintances on the scale of emotional abuse? Ethan was just whining, the way I might whine about heartburn*. You weren't having a fight and he wasn't hitting on anyone. The normal response around here for mild whining is to offer advice or favorite remedies. In the case of sexual frustration, advice for the lovelorn is probably in order**, but preferably not, you know, the mean kind.

*because, crikey, that pizza I had for dinner last night is still killing me.
**the more colorful sorts of advice about how to vanquish sexual frustration probably belong on a different sort of blog, alas.

#871 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Paula, forghodsake, STOP DIGGING. How would you react to a man who was that mean to women at random, who offered up "what his psychobitch ex-girlfriend did" as an excuse?

You owe Ethan an apology. In fact, now you owe him two apologies -- one for the original comment, and a second one for equating him with the scum who mistreated you.

#872 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:37 PM:

Thanks, joann--she's still annoyed with the other cats--last night she was aggravated by the fact that the other cats wanted to sleep on the bed too, and growled like a Rottweiler for an hour. I hope she doesn't decide to take on a night-racing routine as well.

Kathryn, I rejoice that things have not reached that level of violence here, though the eight months or so that Belle decided that her kingdom was on top of a bookcase in the hall one of the other cats, who has a poor learning curve, looked like the perennial loser in a German student dueling society.

#873 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Mary and Lee (872 & 873): I couldn't have put it better myself.

Jeez.

#874 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Here's the Moon and Mars conjuction that Kathryn mentioned earlier (plus one curious cat checking out this Christmas business).

Moon, Mars, Christmas Cat

#875 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Paula at 855: unless you are suggesting that ethan's drinking and his expression of sexual unhappiness was abusive, and specifically, abusive of you, then I simply don't understand your post. Some drunks were abusive to Paula; ethan is drunk; ethan is abusive to Paula makes no sense. You are not being attacked. ethan's being drunk isn't harming you.

ethan, if you need them, I think there are some hangover remedies around here somewhere...

#876 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Tracie, #800, I tried the originals without the non-slip and they're still too big for me. I have unusually small hands and most gloves have at least an inch of finger length beyond my fingers.

R.M. Koske, #805, yes, not only were the kids (and they're all teens) upset by the murder, since they'd planned on burglary, but they didn't know at the time that they'd killed a well-known pro football player. Apparently Taylor's house is on a street with other well-to-do houses, but not the mansion many players have. I'm not sure that's the best reason to be sorry for killing a man (in front of his girlfriend and daughter), but it does make the trial simpler.

Susan, #829, I usually choose the moderate agony over the drug-induced stupor. The pain meds make me loopy all day and nothing happens. I can usually at least read and spend some time online with the pain. You were depressed before the surgery and even the tin foil hat (however cool!) isn't going to make it go away. Do you see someone about it? My old SSRI stopped working so I'm seeing a psych while we find one that does work.

Paula, #855, I've certainly had weird things happen like that, but I wouldn't have said to Ethan what you did. You seem to be assuming that he was propositioning the blog.

Fidelio, #860, did Belle get the lid off the food by herself in that last picture?

#877 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 09:37 PM:

Finished watching "Box of Delights" last night.

Great for kids, as long as they're not expecting non-stop action and slick special effects.

A question for folks who have read the book:

Ubj qvq gur obbx raq? Gur fubj raqf jvgu lbhat Xnl jnxvat hc ba gur genva urnqvat ubzr sbe Puevfgznf.

Juvpu jbhyq or xvaq bs fhpxl, rkprcg gur ynfg gjb yvarf ner:

Xnl'f thneqvna: "Qvq lbh unir n unir n onq qernz?"

Xnl, raguhfvnfgvpnyyl, abg n ovg qvfnccbvagrq: "Ab, n JBAQRESHY bar!"

Mild disappointments:

Anear gur Uhagre naq gur Byq Jbzna ner abg gubebhtuyl rkcynvarq be gnxra nqinagntr bs. Anear pbaqhpgf Xnl guebhtu n funcrfuvsgvat nqiragher naq n onggyr va Xvat Neguhe'f gvzrf. (V guvax gung'f jura gung jnf.) Ohg gurfr qba'g nzbhag gb zhpu. V'z thrffvat gung gurl ner zber vzcbegnag va gur obbx.

And:

Noare Oebja nccrnef gb or zreryl n fpurzvat tnatfgre sbe zbfg bs gur gnyr. Gura, va gur ynfg rcvfbqr, JUNZ! Ur bcraf hc n uvqqra qbbe naq jr frr fbzr vaperqvoyr fghss:

N lbhat zna vzcevfbarq va n jngresnyy jub npgf nf na benpyr.

N oenmra urnq.

Qrzbavp freinagf!

Noare unf pyrneyl unq fbzr nprf hc uvf fyrrir.

Ohg jul jnvg hagvy gur ynfg rcvfbqr? Gurve nofrapr qvqa'g uheg gur fgbel, ohg vg frrzf nfunzr gb unir abg uvagrq ng gurz rneyvre ba.

and:

#878 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Marilee #878

No, Jemmy did that (I may have mentioned he's a pirate); he figured out the lid to the food stash some time ago--both flipping the entire top off, and hitting the button to make the flapper fly up (I use a trash can, the kind with a separate lid with a release button in it, for the cat food--it was cat proof until Jemmy started work). He's good at plundering yarn stashes, too, the blasted beastlet.

#879 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Paula 871: Yeah? So what? Lots of shitty men out there. Most men, even. ethan's not one.

I can't believe you think you're justified. You "consider what you said MILD," do you? For someone who was hitting on you or implying he might, maybe. But the emotional trauma you've suffered doesn't justify your treatment of ethan.

There are words I would consider MILD now, but I'm not going to use them. I prefer to keep my vowels.

#880 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:10 PM:

Susan @#829: sympathies! Healing from surgery is a drag. I'd choose the drugs + rest over pain + lack of rest, but YMMV. My husband got so queasy on post-surgery narcs that he got better rest by doing without...but his was an easy-to-heal incision (elbow).

Anyway, rest is key, as long as your depression isn't getting into the danger zone. You'll start feeling physically better within a couple days, I imagine, and then you can revisit the assorted choices.

#881 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:17 PM:

While I might quibble with "most", what Xopher said, basically.

You owe Ethan an apology, Paula. At minimum.

#882 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Iambic-inning to understand the strange attraction of punning. Now that I've started, I canto stop. What's the meter with me!?

#883 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Well, I picked the wrong time to be away from the computer all day long...what a silly thing to have caused a kerfuffle. My apologies.

All: Thanks for the support and well-wishes.

Paula: I'm torn between being awfully offended that you seem to be calling me a rapist-in-waiting and being sorry that I gave you that impression, which was certainly not at all what I intended. I will not go into my own history, but I've been only-available-support-network for the kind of thing you describe enough times that the prospect of someone having that idea of me makes me a bit ill.

Susan: Recuperate, for Pete's sake. And don't wear out the tin foil hat, you'll still want it once you get better.

#884 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Paula: You are apparently feeling that because you experienced emotional abuse, you are now entitled to be verbally and emotionally abusive yourself, to someone who has done you no wrong, and you still get to be in the right.

Nope, it doesn't work that way. Acting abusive drops you into the same category as the people you complain about.

Nonetheless, abrasive and unpleasant as you can often be here, I think we can also see something of your good sides. Please don't take this as a slam, but as an invitation to show your virtues as well as your anger. If you can grow out of that sense of entitlement and resist the urge to lash out when reminded of your hurts, your life will improve immeasurably.

#885 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:33 PM:

bryan @ 743: "ok, I will stop responding on this matter, although I am sure something will come up that will cause me to think I am being attacked. but what the hell I probably have more important things to do."

I'm thinking that maybe we need to come up with a "leaving in a huff" Bingo card. We've got three squares right here!

It might be trickier to get a bingo, though. After all, you usually only get one shot at it. (Usually.)

#886 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:43 PM:

Open threaditude: I'd like to recommend my favorite album of the moment, Burlesque by Bellowhead. Many worthy bands have mixed the English folk and brass band traditions (New Victory Band, Brass Monkey, Blowzabella), but Bellowhead rules them all and in the darkness binds them.

#887 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Marilee, #878: If I'm reading the news items right, those young men most certainly did know who Sean Taylor was; one of them did yardwork for him, and another was dating someone who was close enough to him to have attended a party in his house. They timed their invasion for a day when Taylor wasn't supposed to be home because he'd have been playing, but he was at home recuperating from an injury.

All: Happy Solstice!

#888 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:00 AM:

You know, if you happen to have a girlfriend who has ferrets, it is nice to offer to keep them for her over break. It is not as nice if you know your mother is not a Creature Person. It is really not nice if you let them loose in your room, because however little you care about your room (and it is plenty little) your older sister will be the one going in and grabbing them so your mother does not completely flip out.
Sweet little ferrets. Annoying little brother.

Somewhere upthread, there was a mention of liking objectionable material. Like many things, I see this as a spectrum-- one of my favorite Disney movies is Lady and the Tramp, which has the Siamese song, among other things. Part of why I like it is that it's objectionable; I can see what used to be okay, and compare that to now. I can understand how something with that quality would not be okay, though.

#889 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:12 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 870... the same cat-aether channel

Tonight, on Discovery Health, catheters and the felines who like them too much...

#890 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:18 AM:

Stefan, your last query got missed out, after the "and:".

I can answer two of your questions for you - va Gur Zvqavtug Sbyx, gur rneyvre obbx, jurer Noare Oebja svefg nccrnerq, ur jnf gur jvmneq yrnqre bs n pbira bs rivy jvgpurf nsgre cbffvoyl-cvengr gernfher ohevrq ol Xnl'f tenaqsngure. Guhf ur jnf rfgnoyvfurq sebz gur ortvaavat nf ehguyrff, zntvpnyyl cbjreshy, naq terrql sbe tbyq. Vs V erpnyy, ur cbfrf nf n pbzzba tnatfgre zbfgyl orpnhfr vg'f rnfvre gb trg guhttvfu sbyybjref gung jnl - gur pbzzba tnatfgre qbrfa'g oryvrir va zntvp. (Gurer'f n ybiryl ovg gb gung rssrpg va gur obbx.)

Naq lrf, qvfnccbvagvatyl vg nyy ghearq bhg gb or n qernz va gur obbx.

Ol gur jnl, V whfg chyyrq gur obbx bhg, naq qvfpbirerq gung V'q erzrzorerq jebat. Pbyr Unjyvatf gur Chapu naq Whql zna vf n xvaq bs vzzbegny jnaqrere, abg Avpubynf Synzry, naq gur nypurzvfg naq perngbe bs gur Obk vf Neabyq bs Gbqv, nabgure snzbhf nypurzvst.

#891 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Diatryma, the worst trouble I got into during my teen years (yes, really, I was a nerdy bio geek and didn't date much) was when I brought a small selection of classroom rodents (a hamster and two mice) home for Christmas break. Without consult or approval from parental units.

the hamster got loose. I had to 'fess up. I was in deep shite. And the hamster fell between the joists and ended up in one in one of my parent's two closets, where dad had to carefully cut a small hole in the drywall for it to come out. Which it did. i had no idea my mom was so afraid of rodents. She's just as afraid of snakes....

They all ended up healthy and back in the classroom. But i was grounded for a month. And I deserved it, I guess.

#892 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:48 AM:

#802 David Goldfarb: That is brilliant. Sunreturn! I'd noticed that, too, but didn't know what was up with it. Perfect excuse for a party! Though it regrettably falls in office-party season. Still, can be astrologically plotted in advance, and perhaps people could skive off of office parties if they had a previous commitment. Would be a good excuse for those LED ice cubes and martini glasses.

Open thread: for the past few days, at home for the holidays... On dialup. It actively makes my thinking more muffled, to be constantly thwarted, no more "hoom I'll look this phrase up" or "time to chill out for a moment or so and check icanhascheezburger" or "I'll just pop up another tab to help compose this message". V. sad.

However, today I learned to knit, and I can now knit while I wait for pages to load. Fascinating, how the ancients managed!

#893 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 01:02 AM:

#748: [piglet mode]
Could Our Mr Macdonald be persuaded to produce a post on whatever might qualify as a go-bag for a hangover? I foresee more mornings like this one in my immediate future, alas.
[/piglet mode]

At out-of-town EMS conferences I've been to, you see EMTs starting IVs of normal saline on each other and breathing 100% O2 with non-rebreather masks as hangover cures. A liter or two of NS really does seem to help (so I'm told).

The number one cause of the signs and symptoms of hangover is dehydration. Drink a lot of water.

#894 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Also, sad news for those who haven't heard it. I know there are a lot of Amber fans here, and a lot of roleplayers, and who knows, perhaps people with fond memories of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG, which I hear was an extremely entertaining entry to roleplaying for many...

Erick Wujcik was diagnosed a couple weeks ago with end-stage pancreatic cancer, and was given a prognosis of perhaps weeks to months to live. My understanding from people who have spoken with him is that he's not in pain, and is in fact still planning on doing interesting things. A website is up where recollections and thoughts can be shared with him and all the others who knew him: http://www.erickwujcik.com/

On the subject of ghost stories etc, this is a story I heard him tell a few years back, so I might not have it remembered perfectly. It involves authors, though, so seems like it fits here among other places.

Erick was travelling through the southwest; this was I believe in 1997, after Roger Zelazny's death. He stopped to crash and spend some time with Jane Lindskold, who he'd met while working with Zelazny on the Amber Diceless Roleplaying book. He rolled in late, strung out from the road, but Jane and the fellow she's married since welcomed him warmly and fed him dinner. They lived in a house with enough cats that it was hard to track them all, and the way their dining table was set up, there was an end table in the corner behind Erick's elbow that was high enough that a single cat sitting on it could survey the whole scene without being visible to Erick unless he turned his head. The cats cycled through this prime location as the people stayed up until the wee hours talking, and he didn't pay too much mind to the feline stream, save for one: there was an old grey cat with three legs that seemed to watch them with particular interest. And of course, the three leggedness stood out distinctively when Erick would glance back.

Eventually they all crashed and late the next day Erick was alone fixing his breakfast while Jane and her fellow were at work. The cats, of course, were all over him as he poured milk for his cereal, and he decided it would be a nice gesture to give them some milk, too. The grey cat never showed up with the rest, though. He asked Jane about it that evening... Was it just shy? She seemed baffled. "The grey cat? The three-legged one?" he tried.

"That cat died two years ago. It never even lived in this house. That was Roger's favorite cat..."

#895 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:39 AM:

heresiarch at #887:

This situation doesn't fit the normal usage of 'leaving in a huff'.

I said at the end of that comment I would stop talking about the particular subject because everyone was getting pissed off about it although it wasn't me, I believe, that was pissing everyone off; actually I seemed to be mainly getting under the skin of the person that was. In fact it seemed to have been decided by everyone not to talk about it anymore, and I just wrote the last comment on the subject mainly because I thought the last comment aimed at me had been insulting, probably because I am easily insulted.

#896 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:40 AM:

speaking of insults and similar things, as I was writing the above comment I thought wow, this thread seems to be suffering some sort of holiday rage.

#897 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:43 AM:

Finally I should note that a gentleman never leaves 'in' a huff, he leaves on top of a huff borne by four heresiarchs. Whipping optional.

#898 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:45 AM:

Posting once more to correct my correction of myself on The Box of Delights: V jnf pybfre gb evtug guna V gubhtug va zl gur svefg pbzzrag. V oebjfrq guebhtu gur obbx n yvggyr zber guvf riravat. Pbyr Unjxvatf, Chapu & Whql zna, vf npghnyyl gur cuvybfbcure Enzba Yyhyy, erzrzorerq va cbfguhzbhf yrtraq nf n terng nypurzvfg.

#899 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:58 AM:

Open Threadiness - My husband received his four months late birthday package yesterday. So now we're watching Black Sheep. The note included said this is payback for sending Blood Freak as a gift last year.

My husband worked with sheep when he was younger, hopefully he won't find it too traumatic.

#900 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 04:16 AM:

Finding that my youngest and nearest and dearest uncle has had some very bad reactions to medication in the week since his knee transplant is not conducive to sleep. Nor does it make me more kindly disposed to December, which every year accumulates more snares and pits on both sides of the tiny glittering spark of hope at Christmas.

#901 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 04:18 AM:

bryan @ 899: classy!

#902 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 06:54 AM:

Please can we stop snarling at one another? bryan, your post at 899 is an example of what you describe at 898. heresiarch, I didn't think bryan was "leaving in a huff" either.

#903 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 07:01 AM:

I shall gingerly tread back onto the topic of dating and meeting people. I, as well as seeveral friends, have been single for years. The difficulty now is that being 30, most of my friends and relatioves are settled down and don't apparently know any single people. My social events have not yet yielded many single women, if any at all, and newspaper singles ads seem fairly empty as well.
Apparently there are nice single women with the same problem, but meeting them is difficult.
Moreover, I can hardly stop women in the street. Firstly, because I am acutely aware that I am over 6ft tall and in a winter jacket look pretty huge, and thus am likely to set off some kind of flight reflex first. Secondly, I am very shy. So I'll probably end up at some dating agency or speed dating or suchlike.

Anyone got any advice?

#904 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 07:12 AM:

Tania @ 901... An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorize a sprawling New Zealand farm

How wool the heroe stop the bloodshed?

#905 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Guthrie @ 905 - Get involved with groups and clubs that you're interested in. I met my wife at a writer's group. If you aim to make friends, then sometimes something deeper can blossom.

#906 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:34 AM:

JESR @#902: Best wishes to your uncle. We like to celebrate chistmas with surgery around here, too*. It's nerve-wracking as hell but as long as nobody gets their immune system too suppressed by the holiday excitement they generally rally by January even if December is bleak. Hopefully time & nature will get your uncle on track with his healing.

*this year it's mom and hernia repair. She's 80 and had the surgery 8 days before her 6 grandkids and 3 great-grandkids started trickling into town. She keeps hugging them. And picking things up off the floor that they dropped. ARG

#907 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:39 AM:

#894, Madeline F -

When I was in college, I had five roomates, and we had the expected lack of cleaning skills.

For the short period when my computer with dialup internet was in the kitchen, it stayed remarkably clean.

Click a link, go clean the kitchen.
Read the page.
Click a link, go clean the kitchen.
Read the page.

And so on. It makes the modern time-crunch a little more logical when you realize how many of those tiny, useful spaces of time are gone.

#904, Xopher -

Are your numbers correct, here? Because I thought #899 was funny.

#908 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:49 AM:

R. M. 909: It was the "whipping optional" that made me think it wasn't so funny.

#909 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:53 AM:

#910, Xopher -

Ah, I missed that part.

#910 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Did you know there's a comic-book out there where each issue adapts a separate story by Cory Doctorow? So far, they've done Anda's Game then When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, and Craphound. I don't know how well the adaptations work, because Sysadmins is the only one where I had read the original story, but I especially liked Craphound.

#911 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 09:57 AM:

[much deleted]

Happy Holidays, bryan.

#912 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 10:46 AM:

leaving in a huff

Someone came in with Tania Huff and left her behind?

#913 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Serge @ #906: John has now been exposed to the violence of the lambs. I'm hoping our friend is feeling sheepish about sending the film, but I do like to ovine on things.

#914 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Groucho sez:

"If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff."


#915 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Guthrie at 905: what Steve C at 907 said. Go do something. It doesn't have to cost money, only time. Do you like to ride a bike, or walk, or sing? In my neighborhood I can find organized groups to do these things with. Google is your friend. Do you have a skill you can share? Can you teach other people to do something useful? Check out volunteer groups which might need someone to teach those very skills. Is there something creative you want to learn? The local community college may provide classes in it, and the range of people who attend those classes might surprise you. Good luck!

#916 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Guthrie, #905: Having tried both methods, I definitely endorse doing things you enjoy and hoping to meet someone compatible thereby rather than dating services, personal ads, etc. I guess the latter might work for someone who is dead-on mainstream and has no unusual interests, but for me... well, I had a lot of first dates, and finally concluded that I was just plain Too Weird for the average guy in a dating service.

If it makes you feel any better, I was 31 when I got married and 40 when my marriage disintegrated, and despite my conviction that I wasn't likely to get lucky a second time, here I am happily partnered for 9 years this month.

Hanging out in online communities where your interests are generally shared does tend to help, because it increases your pool of potential partners. That's how I met my current partner, and how about a dozen of my friends met their SOs/spouses. OTOH, it also means that sometimes somebody has to pack up and move; you should consider how you'd react to that possibility.

#917 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Serge #906: It will be shear excitement from beginning to end.

#918 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Paula Helm Murray, I once, um, misplaced a snake. It was our snake, but Mom's Non-Creature status meant that it lived in Dad's classroom during the school year and a friend's house during the summer. The friend had two kids, which I babysat, and they liked that I liked Medusa (gorgeous snake, now much neglected because it's hard to get her cage to school and no one's followed through on taking her). I sat reading to them in their father's recliner, snake around my neck, and then finished the book, looked for Medusa, and... well.
Steps were taken to isolate their cat, I felt horrible because I had put up the recliner without realizing there might be a snake in there, and I ended up putting the kids to bed without finding her. Soon after, she slithered out, was swooped down upon and scooped back into her tank, and life went merrily on.

#919 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 11:58 AM:

This thread's been dramatic, but like most, the themes get drawn out too long.

I'm not going to talk about dating in this forum, and have had already my ins on the bellicose crustacean front, so just want to wish all a happy, peaceful holiday.

#920 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Heresiarch at #913: Happy Holidays too.

As for the whipping optional I figured that made it sound funnier and classier, it is a comedic decision I will have to stand behind, despite the criticisms of others.

:)

#921 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Guthrie, you should totally stalk women on the Internet! At least that's how my wife claims I met her. (Of course I claim she was stalking me, and a more neutral observer might think we were both just "hanging out in online communities" and gradually becoming friends, as Lee advises.)

#922 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:11 PM:

"Someone came in with Tania Huff and left her behind?"

yes; and I was singing Spinal Tap the whole way as I left her behind.

#923 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Serge @ 914

OMG! Where's the rest of her?

#924 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Re Black Sheep... Maybe the hero (with Claudia Black as the heroine of course) defeat the sheep thru knit-picking or needling.

#925 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Diatryma @ 920... Mom's Non-Creature status

"Mom!"
"What is it, Victor?"
"Pull yourself together!"

#926 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 02:10 PM:

OK, I want to get back into my Blogger account so I can update Egghead Geek. Now you have to have a Google account to use Blogger. It's nice, they convert it and all, but it won't let me create an account.

I'm typing the right letters for the CAPTCHA, and the password I'm entering is rated as Strong, and I'm sure I'm typing it the same both times. They suggest clearing my cache and my cookies, and I did both. It still comes back with red messages under both password blanks AND the CAPTCHA.

Anyone know?

#927 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Xopher @ 928: Caps-lock key or num-lock key? (I've done ISP tech support; you would not believe how many über-geeks make that mistake from time to time and forget to check it.)

#928 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 02:16 PM:

A bit of random humor:

Psychiatric Christmas Carols.

#929 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Clifton 929: No, the CAPTCHA isn't case-sensitive, and it displays anyway. The password fields are starred out, but since it's the initial account creation it's irrelevant whether it's upper or lower, as long as it matches.

#930 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 02:57 PM:

In re #931
Are you using some kind of script blocker that might interfere?

#931 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:12 PM:

guthrie @#905: My two best friends got divorces fairly recently, and both of them have had good luck finding dates online. Both of them, in fact, have settled down with new fellas after a few rounds of talking/dating/etc. One of them found her guy through a posting on the well, the other on match.com. Finding an online community like the well that's mainly for people in a single geographic area is a good way to make friends and socialize online anyway, even if it doesn't result in a date.

Online dating seems to work well if you're articulate - you start off by emailing, then move along to talking on the phone, then meet in person. I have a family member who's dyslexic and extremely shy so he bypassed that route and met his now-girlfriend through a dating service.

In any case, this sort of dating requires a lot of up-front time--you meet a lot of people that you don't actually click with--but it seems to net good results, depending on what you're looking for. However, I second the advice about going out and doing things you enjoy, and making friends in those settings. You never know who you're going to meet.

I'm absolutely dreadful at dating, and don't enjoy it at all, and never had a lot of luck with it anyway. I met my now-husband at work, and he was as inept at dating as I was, if not more--almost too shy to talk to me. However, we were both good at playing Duke Nukem so that gave us an excuse to hang out, and everything after that was fairly easy. So my personal take is to see if you have a female acquaintance (friend's sister, someone's roomate, the odd gal at work...) who's also unattached, and try hanging out with her a bit to see if you click more than you initially thought.

I guess what I'm saying is...try everything. Not that it's bad to be alone, but if you're tired of it, you can treat it like a career change, and just try every venue that comes to mind. Except the ones that charge a heap of money up front--try the cheap stuff first! :)

#932 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Xopher @#928:

Is there any chance they already created your account when they switched the blog over? That is, maybe the account already exists and you don't know the password.

#933 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Cheryl: I don't think so. Firefox warns me when it blocks something, and it didn't.

Mary: It has a different error message if the account exists already, and I didn't get that one.

#934 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Madeline F @785:

Recipes with cloves? Mmmmm....I love cloves, but the Hub doesn't find them magical and special. I haven't used my spice cake recipe (ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice) in years because he'd rather have chocolate.

Clove oil, BTW, is my preferred preservative for bookbinding paste (wheat flour plus water, heated till gummy - it's prone to yeastiness). My bindery smells wonderful when I'm working with wheat paste.

and @896:
Erick Wujcik? Ah, nuts.

I did Amber Diceless RPG for years - helped organise Clan Amber way back when, went to (and ran games* at) Ambercon UK many times. I've never met Erick, but I have a few friends who are going to be pretty floored.

Drat.

-----
* favourite: Red Amber, which posits that the books are propaganda and the Amberites incompetent tyrants. People of Amber unite! You have nothing tolose but your chains.

#935 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 06:48 PM:

OK, thanks for the comments people. I have been hoping to run into someone in my various hobbies for a few years now, but no such luck. Time to get more serious.
Merry Christmas.

#936 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:22 PM:

guthrie @ #905:
Learn to dance in any couple dance form; the gender odds will then be in your favor and the worst that happens is that you learn a new skill and become more graceful.

#937 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 08:38 PM:

Today is my second day avoiding pain meds except for sleeping, and things are definitely improving on every front except, well, pain. Despite having my reading slowed to a crawl by bleariness and a tendency to doze off, I have finished five books (including the whole Golden Compass trilogy) in the last two days. I have showered and braided my hair and changed my dressings without feeling like I was going to black out. Today a friend came and took me Out on an excursion to pick out a tree for herself, then brought me home and decorated my tree while I put hooks on ornaments (the merger of all last year's hooks into a giant Ball'o'Hooks is, she says, evidence of the overall malignancy of the universe). My cats are sulking over this new tendency of their former permanent warming lump to rise from bed and move about, but I feel much more human overall, though I am now safely back in a bed newly stocked with Dr. Who videos to recover from all this frenetic activity.

Xopher: 3.75 days lying in a drugged stupor is more than enough for me. I need to accomplish things. Healing is inadequate. Move and live, be still and die.

Marilee: I think I am entitled to a measure of situational depression in this, well, situation and would be more in need of head shrinkage if I wasn't depressed at being trapped in bed, alone, semi-dumped, in pain, minus gigantic amounts of stray body tissue, multiply and gorily incised, and woozy, at Christmastime.

Also, my friend brought me yet another astonishingly spiffy present: a 1915 dance manual from Italy with some actual technical descriptions of several dances (tango, one-step, maxixe, furlana, a waltz)! And it's one that no one else I know owns! I now get to have the fun of reading a chapter on tango in which the dance steps are given in Spanish, helpfully translated into French, and then explained in Italian.

Tomorrow my mother returns for two days and then Thursday I plan to have a small party. No time to waste lying around!

#938 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 09:05 PM:

NORAD tracks Santa in Japan. Complete with the special formula for determining Santa's speed by use of the shinkazen.

#939 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Guthrie, #937: I heartily endorse Susan's suggestion at 938. So many men refuse to dance that one who will is in high demand! For someone at the beginner level, I recommend starting with contradancing, because you don't have to bring a partner and women don't hesitate to ask men to dance. Look here to find a group in your area. This will also give you connections to groups that do other kinds of dancing (such as international, Cajun/zydeco, and swing), which you may want to explore later.

#940 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 09:42 PM:

Susan @ 939 - I don't know who said it, but the saying was, "There is no feeling quite like feeling good after you've been feeling bad."

Here's to eventually feeling good.

#941 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 09:56 PM:

Greg London @276, Terry Karney@300:

I'm really hoping to be able to afford one of these someday. The front rider is recumbent, and the back rider is upright, so everyone can see the road (and the drivers can see the bike), and the riders' heads are close enough to talk. We had a tandem when I was a kid, but the whole bigger-person-in-front thing means the smaller rider can't see much; and it's tricky to get a frame that works for riders who are of drastically different sizes (I'm a good 35cm taller than my wife).

I gather that some people even take the Sunday crossword out for a nice long ride, since the recumbent rider has their hands free.

Cheryl @307:

I have pretty long hair (I haven't measured recently, but I'm 2m tall and I can sit on it), and I can fit my (Trek) helmet over a low ponytail or small (6cm diameter) bun. Mine has a fairly high rear harness (or whatever the technical term is) -- I've also seen some that have a lower harness, with a space for a ponytail to come through above it.

I'd suggest going to a bike store and trying helmets on with your hair up: the staff may have fitting suggestions, as well. That may mean buying a new helmet, but you're supposed to do so every 4-5 years anyway (or whenever you've been in an accident).

eric @486: You have a trailer hitch that you can jump potholes with? Dude.

Xopher @494: I actually had a similar experience with sleep once as a kid. From my viewpoint, my mom tucked me in for a nap, walked to the door, turned around, and walked back and shook me. An hour just disappeared with no transitions at all. I was going to say that it freaked me out, but I mostly just didn't believe that it had happened.

#942 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 01:39 AM:

Lee, #889, that could certainly be possible. I'm more than three weeks behind in the WashPost and the TV news is not usually as thorough.

JESR, #902, I hope things get better for your uncle, and in general.

guthrie, #905, the classic advice is to volunteer, to join groups and clubs, and to stop worrying so much.

#943 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 08:32 AM:

In re Stephen @943
Thanks; I was actually replying to Diatryma @302, since my helmet fits over my braid just fine, but I guess she can use your advice :-)

Happy Holidays!

#944 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Ethan #885

Paula: I'm torn between being awfully offended that you seem to be calling me a rapist-in-waiting and being sorry that I gave you that impression, which was certainly not at all what I intended. I will not go into my own history, but I've been only-available-support-network for the kind of thing you describe enough times that the prospect of someone having that idea of me makes me a bit ill.

No, the images your original post about being lonely and drunk and horny did not include rapist in training. I emphatically do not have that as any image of you. The evoked images rather included:

o fellows in bars sitting crying or merely whining into their beer and trying to use my shoulder to sob all over (can't show emotion to any other -males-.... this was back years ago) regarding any of
1) wife/girlfriend was out of town for a couple days or they were away from the wife/girlfriend on a trip and couldn't deal with having to run the emotional aspects of being alone,
2) dumped by wife/girlfriend, often very justifiably for having taken the departed for granted and not treated the dumper as valued and cherished and appreciated, again having glommed onto me mostly due to my gender, and expecting/demanding a sympathetic ear and often trying for a mercy f*ck,
o general cases of sob stories not even necessarily true ones looking for sympathy and attention, if no also "action."
o fellows were who temporarily depressed and glomming onto me expecting me, as someone female, to be someone to cheer them up.
None of them, of course, was ever anything to bulwark me when lonely, depressed, etc.--reflexivity/reciprocation did not apply in that universe, it was all one-way expectation and demand, the Southern Baptist mentality universe of female is submissive, male is master.

Anyway--

The automatic social role stereotyping of "female is supposed to be the keeper of making other people happy and doing whatever the other people expect/want/need to minister to their emotional state and wants and needs and expectations" (the Clorox Mama-the-Happislave- proudly-relating-on-radio-how-she-so-happily- cleaning-the-bathroom-bowl-pissed-all-over-by-her- strapping-sons-and-husband was one manifestation of social mandating of that role)and never questioning, never objecting, never having any life other than revelling in subservience and apportioned-entirely-to-her-housework, includes the "cheer up the depressed, however much it may or may not be deserved."

So, I flashed back to all the old emotion yanks and those scripts above and got irritated and lashed out--case of mini-PTSD basically. [Seriously. I have been seeing a psychologist in 2007]

#945 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Kathryn@858: I \knew/ I should have been keeping up! I would like to have seen that pass; sounds like the most amazing since the ~0.1-degree meeting of Moon and Venus (February 1987(8??) -- close enough that you could see movement in a few minutes).

Regrettable (belated) news (the local paper sometimes takes a while with obits): Bill Strauss, co-founder of the Capitol Steps and doer of good works, died 18 Dec aged 60 of pancreatic cancer. (They say heart disease is a bigger killer than cancer. From what I've seen, cancer may be on fewer death certificates but costs more good years.) The Steps usually show up here around Thanksgiving, often with Strauss leading; we kept going until it became impossible to laugh at Bush. (Yes, I know that's not good for one's sanity, but some things I'm too old and creaky to do any more.) At least the group will still be around.

#946 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Chip #947

It's not just that cancer costs more good years, it's that pancreatic cancer, in particular, costs more good people.

#947 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Lila: Penzey's Spices does gift cards.

#948 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 10:42 PM:

Marilee, thanks- he's home and off the bad meds, and every day is a tiny bit longer, and once I get past tomorrow I expect things will be brighter quite quickly.

#949 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Susan@939: Aaaa! Another Annwn fan! Yay!

#950 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2007, 12:31 AM:

All - there's a new open thread up yonder.

Hope everyone's day was/is merry and bright.

#951 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2007, 03:13 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 951: Count me in, sorta. I don't know Annwn's music well, but I did some recording with Leigh Ann, and really enjoyed her playing and singing. I was very sorry to hear of her death.

#952 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2007, 04:30 AM:

Paula @946:
I am sorry that anything on Making Light upset you so deeply. There is clearly a lot of pain for you in that area, and I'm glad you've found a way to tackle it.

I do wish, however, that you seen your way clear to include the phrase "I'm sorry" or one of its many synonyms in your explanation.

#953 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Terry @ # 949: Thanks!

#954 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2007, 08:33 PM:

David @ #951: Wow, another Annwn fan! I think you're the first person I've ever had recognize that quote completely out of the blue, and I've been using it for...well, long enough that I picked it up off the cassette tape.

Tim @ #953: Leigh Ann was such a wonderful fiddler and generally amazing person; a great hole was left in the world (musically and otherwise) when she died.

#955 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 08:15 AM:

abi @ 936:

Red Amber, which posits that the books are propaganda and the Amberites incompetent tyrants. People of Amber unite! You have nothing tolose but your chains.
That last also makes a surprisingly plausible Red Windmill (Moulin Rouge) scenario: "You have nothing, Toulouse, but your chains!"

Would that be better done as a poster painted in the Toulouse-Lautrec style, or as a photo with John Leguizamo in character (and chains)?

Which would make for a better show? Doctored Oeuvre, or Star-Lautrec?

#956 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Steve @ 942:

I don't know who said it, but the saying was, "There is no feeling quite like feeling good after you've been feeling bad."

Just this morning, my daughter whacked her knee jumping onto the couch. After the crying, the icepack, and the juice (cranberry-grape, not gin), she asked me if I knew the best part about getting hurt. I didn't. "When it's over, you feel better."

#957 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Pyre...*holds nose and flees screaming*

John 958: "Why are you pounding your head with a hammer?" "It feels so good when I stop!"

Actually I suspect that the euphoric effect of the endorphins may outlast the pain they're designed to combat. I don't know if any studies have been done of this, however.

#958 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 02:16 PM:

John & Xopher: There's also the very nice part of having been cared for during the pain -- the ice-pack and cran-grape juice were doubtless accompanied by hugs and comforting assurances, the warm memory of which lingers long after the knee has stopped hurting.

Xopher: *wide evil grin*

#959 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Pyre @ 957:

Unlike Xopher, I do not flee screaming, but rather applaud and ask for more! (I always did have questionable tastes, though... ;)

#960 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Excuse me, Syd, holding one's nose and fleeing screaming IS applause and a request for more.

One would think you'd never met a punster before...

#961 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Syd & Xopher: I thump the Gospel on this topic:

Punday Night is a weekly attraction at Callahan's — if that's the word. Folks who come into the place for the first time on a Tuesday evening have been known to flee screaming into the night, leaving full pitchers of beer behind in their haste to be elsewhere. There's Sunday, see, and then there's Monday, and then there's Punday. ... Once a topic is established, it goes in rotation clockwise from Doc Webster, and if you can't supply a stinker when your turn comes up, you're out. By one o'clock in the morning, it's usually a tight contest between the real pros, all of them acutely aware that anyone still in the lists by closing gets his night's tab erased. It has become a point of honor to drink a good deal on Punday Night to show how confident you are. When I first noticed this and asked Callahan whose idea Punday had been in the first place he told me he couldn't remember. One smart fella, that Callahan.

    — Spider Robinson, "The Time Traveller", in The Callahan Chronicals
Note the terms "stinker" and "flee screaming", emphases added above. These are terms of high praise for puns and punsters. If you can get your audience to hold their noses and flee screaming, you've attained the punnicle of achievement.

#962 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 09:18 PM:

More Spider Robinson, this from "Have You Heard the One..." in Time Travelers Strictly Cash:

People grade a pun by their reaction to it. The very best, of course, as Bernard Shaw said, is when one's audience holds its collective nose and flees screaming from one's vicinity. Immediate laughter or groan is a lesser approbation. And in between these two is the pause, followed only after five or ten stunned seconds by cheers and jeers.

#963 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Although, given the topic of the final line in #957, I should resign myself to getting a reaction of:

*sigh* "Fie!"

#964 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 09:28 PM:

... and being pelted with pieces of fake cheese and unglossy artworks, i.e. rubber Muensters and matte paintings.

#965 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 09:38 PM:

... or you folks could just throw spare coins from your pocketses. You have nothing to lose but your change.

#966 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 09:53 PM:

... and for the first volley I'll keep track of whether they go into the hat head-first or tail-first. The second volley I'll make more challenging by holding the hat as I keep jumping in place. After that, if I can afford it from the money on hand, I'll start throwing small sugar-coated chocolates back at you as a distraction.

More briefly:

The first time is coin-side-ins, the second is hopping-stance, but the third time it's M&M-y action.

#967 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Xopher: Actually I suspect that the euphoric effect of the endorphins may outlast the pain they're designed to combat. I don't know if any studies have been done of this, however.

They certainly do! Nevermind studies, that's technology... just ask any SM "player"!

There's even a quick DIY demonstration:

Obtain a few classic-style (spring at the fulcrum) clothespins. Line up a half-dozen or so down your forearm, pinching the skin, with the pinches running down the length of your arm), Take a minute to adjust to that, then use the other hand to sweep the lot of them off, all at once. Enjoy the rush....

#968 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 11:35 PM:

Having been pelted and punted with impunity by the prodigious puntificator, I prostrate my person before Pyre. I consider myself a pretty punny sort, all things considered, but I got nothin' to compare at the moment.

And may never again. Egad, the shame...

Xopher, apologies for not knowing one's proper response to horrific puns should resemble that used when entering an abode where Liederkranz has recently been consumed!

#969 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2007, 04:11 AM:

Susan@956: I first ran into Annwn when the Flash Girls were playing a club in San Francisco; Annwn opened for them. Katie and I subsequently went to a number of their concerts, and I own all of their CDs. (And even a few of the tapes, although I don't currently own a working tape player.) I was shocked and sad to hear of Leigh Ann's death.

#970 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:47 PM:

re 251: You recall to me the Saturday morning in high school when the lake was completely shrouded in fog, and my friend and I were heading to the music building when we stopped abruptly and one of us said, "Do you hear bagpipes?" It was neither Gene Kelly nor Syd Charisse, but it was bagpipes.

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