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January 20, 2008

Why, this is the whale, nor are we out of it
Posted by Patrick at 09:59 AM * 202 comments

There’s plenty of reason to doubt the idea that globalized capitalism will deliver us into a wonderland of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. For Moloch whose mind is pure machinery we’re not an end but a means to an end; “borrowed masks, and lenses for a peering Eye.” The optimates who imagine they’re quick on the uptake are actually out of their depth; if there’s an invisible hand, it’s not to human scale. Usura doesn’t actually care if the line is thick or thin, or whether or not we like our work.

And yet, the knowledge that YouTube contains not just one but two TV commercials featuring Koreans breakdancing to Pachelbel’s Canon in D—performed on traditional Korean instruments, beatboxes, and turntables—fills me with joy.

Comments on Why, this is the whale, nor are we out of it:
#1 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Yeah, my heart’s about a size and a half larger, now. —Fuck tha Western canon!

#2 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Wow. Just .... wow. I still say I'm gonna like this century. Pachelbel with Korean break dancers just tells me I'm right.

#3 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:03 AM:

Damn, Patrick, the second one's way better -- it explicitly makes the point that it's deriving modern creativity from our rich cultural heritage (instead of just doing it.)

Well. I actually like the dancing better in the first one, though. It's a toss-up.

#4 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Hybrid vigor in the arts.

make it so.

#5 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:30 AM:

I saw Ginsberg in, I guess, '76, at the Rolling Thunder concert at CSU (the one they filmed for TV). He read something that I presume was his poetry. I say "saw" rather than "heard" because I was walking around at the far end of the stadium at the time, and all I could be sure of was that somebody was standing and saying something. "Ginsberg," somebody said.

I had similar luck with the streaker, a wiggly little pink blob that ran across the mud-paved field in front of the stage, climbed a sound scaffold, and vanished. I had my monocular handy and could determine that it seemed female.

I kept wondering when Dylan would come out, but finally realized that the unfamiliar-sounding voice coming over the amps was, indeed, the headliner.

#6 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:36 AM:

This post was a work of art. Part anthology, part expression, intellectually engaging and utterly soulful. Thanks for this. I spent a half-hour reading the links, reading wikipages that referred to the references, and experiencing an increasing sense of awe.

It feels like we are at the cusp of a dawning awareness in this country that change is here, that change happened so much faster than we expected it to, that we're living almost in a post-change culture, which is why the candidates don't know what to talk about.

The wheels came off their economic models, their wars, and their culture, all at once, and confusion for once has replaced anger as a reliable political hot button.

That last line in your post, about the joy of those commercials is, in my opinion, the deep down DNA of a progressive. A conservative feels the disorientation of change and reacts with fear. A progressive feels that same uneasy dislocation, and finds joy in it.

In different times, each has its failings, but I'm firmly in the progressive camp for better or for worse. I loved those ads too, and I'm also bracing myself for the change that CDOs, rising oil prices, and foreign policy catatrophes have wrought. There's a strong headwind, and it's as exhilarating as it is terrifying. Thanks for this fantastic meditation on globalism.

#7 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Ah, much love for Teresa's explanation of anarcho-capitalism!

It is another of those names that seem silly if you think about them: anarcho-capitalists are effectively aristo-capitalists, because their anarchism is a hierarchy in which wealth wins. But then, that's also true of the Libertarian Party, which proposes that all libertarianism is right-libertarianism and believes the greatest liberty is to be found in the purest plutocracy.

#8 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 12:30 PM:

A conservative feels the disorientation of change and reacts with fear. A progressive feels that same uneasy dislocation, and finds joy in it.

Sean, something similar has been noted before, in grimmer tones:

It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.

At this point, I don't know which worries me more, the ones who want to break the barometer, the ones who want to hide the barometer from the rest of us for their own advantage, those who imagine they can build a better barometer that will give them information they like better, or the ones who want to say the barometer just doesn't matter.

But not only are the Koreans making commercials using Pachelbel's Canon in D, they're making telelvision shows inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen--because, you know, they can. It's not the same story, but it's a story that might not have appeared if the people behind it hadn't had Andersen's work to think about.

#9 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Patrick!, referring to an unlinked phrase in your post, Inside the Whale and other Essays (with this cover (ah, nostalgia)) was one of the most influential books I read (& re-read many times thereafter) as a child — sometime in the first part of High School, aged 12-15 years.

It's packed in a box somewhere, but the thoughts are still in my heart & mind, a base & foundation for my beliefs. Probably a good exchange for not being introduced to the Narnia stories, tho' I wouldn't have minded knowing Dr Seuss when young. I don't think I've ever heard anyone else refer to that title when not specifically discussing Orwell's essays.

Still a highly recommended book.

[And English, she is great because she is the exemplar of hybrid vigour, a mongrel 'rifling the pockets of other languages'. These Korean ads (& other things, I'm sure) may give hope for something similar in other fields. Thank you, Patrick.]

#10 ::: Martin GL ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Actually, the canon is in D major, not minor.

#11 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 01:11 PM:

Arrgh! My comment on Inside the Whale and other Essays (see also online) only had 4 links, but was held over.

I want it mentioned ASAP, so I'll just put in those two links with a strong recommendation, and also say that the Pachabel/Asian/Breakdance is another example of Teresa's "fanfic, force of nature". From my experience of reading archaeology and art history, the 'filking urge' is one of those basic human characteristics along with 'narrative' or story. Probably one of the things that brought us a lot of advances over time.

#12 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 01:11 PM:

Is it worth pointing out that many felt the whole invention of "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" was itself part of a capitalistic ploy to sell IDIC-themed trinkets, or was that part of the point being made here? It's still early morning in the America of my mind right now, so my synapses might still be in bed.

That said: "Hi, all!" I was just validating links for my Blog Glob, and saw that the lights were on (even if mine might not be), so I figured I'd do one of my periodic brief random reappearances.

Things are still what they are for me; our current cat count is nine (oldest, still, Aurora, at 15; youngest, Mercury, at 1.5), and current family count the same as before. After the slow-motion crash-and-smolder that characterized the whimpery end of the perhaps presumptuously-named group blog I found myself in charge of, I finally decided to get back up on the rocking-horse, and opened my own new blog, because I certainly can't fail any worse on my own than I already did as part of a team.

I began by moving over all of my old SFBlog posts; but copying them and re-checking and re-formatting the old links is exactly the type of thorough, detail-oriented work that really is medically proven to make my brain switch off and my body break down, so I stalled out on that several months ago, somewhere back in March of 2005. Coming to the realization that, if I waited to move over all of the old archives before posting any new material, there would never be any new material, I decided to throw confetti to the winds and plunge back in with all-new material here in 2008 (as a partial validation of that approach, I have found myself with the renewed enthusiasm to get me through the end of April 2005 now in my archive move).

If I can browbeat my brain into coughing up some serviceable thoughts on the subject, I intend to post a review of "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," the first episode of season two of Torchwood, which has already aired in the UK (and in my living room), but won't hit BBC America until next Saturday (short, non-spoiler version: "Yummy").

What else? Let's see: My monitor has decided that "GB" is just as good a display format as "RGB," so I won't be posting any pictures to Flickr until a new one appears on my doorstep (I already gave James Marsters the complexion of an Oompah-Loompah once when using an unreliable monitor to prep my photos when posting from Dragon*Con; that's quite enough of that for me, thank you). I finally got Fedora 8 installed and running on my computer, as a replacement for Fedora 7, which never did achieve the second half of that combination when I installed it. Oh, and I have successfully delayed cleaning up my computer room long enough that the local drought has caused all of the nearby divertable rivers to dry up. Hah! Take that, heroic chores!

Oh, and as part of my "Don't Call It a Comeback" blogging tour, I managed to get not one, but two different "Recommended" diaries on Daily Kos, out of the three that I've written since ending my nearly three year long diary drought there. As I have been known to say: Woo, woo.

#13 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Ah, crap. One major problem with only occurring here once every third blue moon is that I have so much verbiage to spill as a result that I wind up with enough URLs to trigger the "delayed gratification" filter here when I post.

So let that serve as notice that there is a long thingie of text from me lurking in the cache somewhere.

Keep watching the skies!

(That way I can sneak up behind you and steal your wallet)

#14 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 01:44 PM:

Oops! Canon title fixed. Also, the blocked comments have been released.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 02:19 PM:

will shetterly #7: I second that. Teresa summarises very neatly everything that's wrong with anarcho-capitalism.

The idea that liberty needs nothing but wealth and private space to sustain it is one of the more extraordinary delusions of the modern (or post-modern) world.

#16 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 02:33 PM: know, I think I'm finally old enough for Auden. Thank you for the epiphany, Patrick!

#17 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Mez #11: the Pachabel/Asian/Breakdance is another example of Teresa's "fanfic, force of nature"

Wait, if it's fanfic it can't be Canon!

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 05:08 PM:

Patrick, did I tell you about Korean breakdancing, or did we stumble upon it simultaneously? If the latter, it's not as astonishing a coincidence as you might think. If you're idly browsing "Hard Gay" in YouTube, Korean breakdancers are only a couple of related videos away.

(There's a game to be had there. I never saw much point to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but tracing related video linkages in YouTube might map something.)

My current rules for working in this new world:

1. Make something other people can use.

2. Respond to existing conversations.

3. Buy real.

4. Use your best material.

5. The neighbor you beggar is a customer you've lost.

6. You own a share in the world, your country, your government, your laws, your economy, your community, your public discourse, and in the well-being of its citizenry. Do not let yourself be tricked into despising it. The share you abandon will be snatched up by the same people who are telling you it's worthless.

#19 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 05:16 PM:

For me the Paillard arrangement of the Pachelbel Canon is the definitive version, and I distinctly remember the first time I listened to it. Up on the third floor of the UMCP undergraduate library (whose abbreviation in the course catalog in those days was UGLI, I kid you not) was the media library for the whole campus, and one of the things they had there was a slew of carrels, each with a little Advent cassette player. So it was that one day I checked out the cassette for the Canon and was listening to it while in a room nearby, I could see some black and white samurai movie being screened. The juxtaposition was ineffably surreal, particularly during the scene in the film where the cherry blossoms were floating down the stream.

I have to say that I was disappointed in the clips. There's not much of the canon in them, beyond the bass line. I think it would have been far more effective without all the percussive filler.

#20 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 05:52 PM:

When I got out of bed this morning, my husband asked, "Do you know what day this is?" I thought. Eventually I said, "Inauguration Day." "Yep." So mote it be.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Ray, that's you and Steve Brust both starting new weblogs, so best of luck and we'll put you in the list.

#22 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Huh. I'm a progressive, and scared to death. Where do I fit in?

(Not scared by the Pachelbel/Korean breakdance combo, no, but by climate change; by the increasing gap between us and our food and energy supply; by the widening distance and suspicion between rich and poor, between white and brown, between Christian and Muslim; by the resurgence of racism and sexism as acceptable public behavior; and by the crumbling of our already-inadequate systems for health care and mental health.)

#23 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Teresa at 18, Respond to existing conversations.

Oooh, I like that. As opposed to, for example, having shouting matches over topics no one real is talking about, like John Edwards' haircuts, and whether Hillary Clinton is laughing or crying and What It Means.

#24 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 07:03 PM:

I never saw much point to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but tracing related video linkages in YouTube might map something.

I think the value of the Kevin Bacon game, and why people relate to it, is that it helps us realize that all of us in this lifeboat Earth are more closely related than we think.

(BTW, while it's not in the same league with your discovery that your mother was marrying Linkmeister's uncle, I just realized recently that he used to work directly for my best friend Kit Grant.)

#25 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 07:08 PM:

About ten seconds into the first dancing video, having not clicked on anything else for fear of losing a night to brainmelt, I thought, "I am stealing this for a story."
That was about half of exactly what I needed tonight. Many thanks.

#26 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 07:29 PM:

Ah, yes. `Borrowed masks, and lenses for a peering Eye', indeed. That gave me the impetus to read those last few astonishing paragraphs of that otherwise somewhat disappointing book: I think I see what they were driving at, now.

(And, wow, what writing: overblown but excellent. If only the whole book had been written with that hat on.

I suppose we have something like that, now: Hal Duncan's _Vellum_ and _Ink_.)

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 08:13 PM:

I feel like you do, Nix. Up until its end The Difference Engine is far from my favorite novel by either author. Then the the last chapter kicks my ass so hard I'm in the next county.

(Note that I'm a big fan of both writers, and indeed I think they've both done their best work since that early collaboration.)

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 08:18 PM:

Damn, I'm distressed to see that a correction I made shortly after posting this...somehow didn't take. The "borrowed masks" line was supposed to link to this. Fixed for real now, I think.

#29 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Lila, I think there are some things that ought to scare, or at least worry, anyone with a lick of sense. The things you mention are among them. Can we get out of the way of our own folly? Can we patch things together well enough to muddle through while we work on the Big Fix-up? How bad will it be while we do this? How many will suffer?

Fear is normal, and can be healthy; cowardice is hiding under the bed and doing nothing, or trying very hard to pretend there's nothing wrong, or refusing to change anything, because it's easier to give into the inner two-year-old screaming "Don't wanna!"

Maybe it's better to say the progressive faces fear, and goes forward, trying to make things better.

#30 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Lila, this is small comfort, but see Growing class gap divides black Americans, which "asked whether blacks "can still be thought of as a single race." Fifty-three percent said yes while 37 percent said no."

The race gap is narrowing within the classes, and the class gap is widening within the races. People are increasingly seeing the real problem, and that's the first step to finding a real solution.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Teresa @ 18... I never saw much point to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Well, it's a reasonably fun workout for one's memory. But yes, YMMV. Besides, it could be useful if one wanted to write a story about someone who jumps throughout human history and human space by hopping a ride from one person's timeline to another's, the only requirement being that they were in close physical proximity at some point.

#32 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 09:44 PM:

Will? You know that notion of yours, that race is not actually an issue in the United States, and that people who think it is are really arguing about class issues?

With all due respect -- no, with more than all due respect -- can we please not have that argument again? Not here, at any rate?

#33 ::: Robert Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 10:15 PM:

I agree that a ton of anarcho-capitalists (well, if there are enough out there to weigh that much) get very starry-eyed. Their political philosophy goes from being the "fairest" or "most just" or "most effective" system, to being the "perfectly fair and just and flawless" system.

That said, I used to self-identify as one. I wouldn't now, but that's only because I haven't worried much lately about applying a label to my political philosophy--it's been tinged with some "left-libertarianism" over the past few years, but it's still way out there in the land of Nuts (TM Penn Jillette).

Not trying to start any back-and-forth on issues with this comment--but not discouraging that, either. Just saying my piece.

#34 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 10:46 PM:

Teresa - your post at #18 on "My current rules for working in this new world" sounds good to me, except for #3,

> 3. Buy real.

which I cannot parse.


#35 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:14 PM:

Mez, #9, you might have also wanted to link "and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary".

#36 ::: Tamago ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:28 PM:

The Korean videos gave me much the same glorious feeling that these two boys dancing Lindy together did, which was "here are people who are really enjoying what they are doing!" and the urge to run out and find my own happy activity.

#37 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:39 PM:

#36 Tamago: ...these two boys dancing Lindy together...

That was brilliant. Thank you.

#38 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:46 PM:

I'm just sitting here giggling because of the way the Lindy boys used the music. I can't believe the cameraperson was able to hold it steady.

#39 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:12 AM:

FYI Patrick at #28, as of when I first checked this post around eleven AM CST today, the link you intended is what was there. Didn't recheck the links later to tell you when things might have reverted to something unintended.

#40 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:16 AM:

Teresa, I have never said that race is not an issue in the USA. If I misremember, I would be very glad to have that pointed out.

#41 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:35 AM:

Clifton @ #24, "to work directly for my best friend Kit Grant"

Well, no. Kit was Art Director, I was DP Guy. I worked for the Controller. We sat in endless meetings together, though, and we got along fine.

I left when the company couldn't decide to act after 9 months of my evaluating possible computer systems and recommending one.

#42 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:37 AM:

Tamago, those guys are brilliant! I loved it.

#43 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:41 AM:

Teresa, in the hope of clarifying this, let me put it very simply: race is still an issue in the USA, and racism is still with us, and racism is wrong. I get annoyed when people claim I think race is not an issue. My parents could not get fire insurance because the word was out that the KKK would burn down their business. That's left me a bit sensitive to suggestions that I'm blind to racial issues. Please note that I only said the racial divide is narrowing. That hardly means that race is not an issue.

Now, it is true that I think class is a greater issue in the US. It's why I keep wishing people who focus on race would notice the Pew report on race and class. But since you'd rather not have that discussion here, I'll pursue it elsewhere.

#44 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Steve, #34: I'm not Teresa, but my interpretation of that was, "Eschew artificial substitutes where possible." Buy clothing made of cotton, silk, wool, or linen* rather than polyester; buy food that you can recognize as being meat, vegetables, fruit, or dairy products instead of things like "pasteurized process cheese food" and "potted meat product"; buy furniture made of wood rather than particleboard; things like that. It could also be extended to, "Support locally-run businesses and locally-produced goods when you can" -- instead of buying mass-produced goods from sweatshops in China and India at giant chain stores.

* I consider rayon in the same category because it's made from cellulose, but some people don't.

#45 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:26 AM:

Teresa @21: Ray, that's you and Steve Brust both starting new weblogs, so best of luck and we'll put you in the list.

Ah. Me and Steve Burst both? So, no pressure at all then.


PS - I actually went to post this early enough that it wouldn't have needed the back-pointer, but our internets was havin' none of it, and then there was the football, and then my dad called to tell me that I was officially the only Ray Radlein in the world now (as far as we or Google can tell), as his brother had passed away up Chicagowards (Palatine or Des Plaines? How can I not keep these things straight?) last night.

Which, well, it is the very whale, isn't it? Albeit a smallish one.

At any rate, thanks for the kind links; now I really have to get cracking on that Torchwood review.

#46 ::: Ray Radlien ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:29 AM:

Steve Burst? All die. O the embarrassment. I shall ritually mangle my own last name now in penance.

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:54 AM:

#26, #27. My favorite part of The Difference Engine is the flash forward to Rqjneq Znyybel'f qlvat rcvcunal, zbzragf nsgre frrvat fxrgpurf bs sbffvyf sebz jung jr pnyy gur Ohetrff Funyr.

#48 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 02:40 AM:

Ah, OK. I knew she was directly supervising operations at one point, and I made a mental leap. Lion had so much going for it, but (from my outsider's perspective) Jim D. was just a bit too nuts in how he approached decision-making.

#49 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 04:39 AM:

Allow me to chorus slightly about the Hip-Hop Lindy. (yay!)

But more importantly, the Korean Breaking videos are just another straw of proof... No matter who you are, where you're from, or what you're normally into, when it comes to "Pachabel's Cannon in D", the D is for "damn good music."

#50 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 06:01 AM:

Patrick@27, it's odd, because the `last chapter' of _The Difference Engine_ isn't exactly a chapter at all: it's a collection of historical snippets. But *what* snippets!

Stefan@#47, that was a nifty bit, too. (The demonstration of the power of 'line-streaming' was fairly good but not up to the standard of those two pieces, both of which are fairly surreal, now I think of it. How many books describe an event in detail, ending in the protagonist's death, and then say 'That chain of events does not occur' and proceed to describe something quite different, ending in the same thing?

I'm fairly sure that a lot of effort went into the narrative voice used in that book: it's just a shame that I don't quite understand what they were driving at, other than a distancing effect. Perhaps if I understood what they were trying to do I could figure out why it's so oddly inconsistent.)

#51 ::: gdr ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 09:28 AM:

An interesting commentary on the economic argument of Ezra Pound's Canto XLV is this piece by Daniel Davies.

#52 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 10:29 AM:

I'm pretty sure either Teresa or I have in fact linked to that Daniel Davies piece in the past. (Short assessment: Davies is right.)

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Will, my apologies for misrepresenting your position. Thanks for not getting upset about that.

Ray Radlein, I thought Burst/pressure was intentional.

Steve Taylor (34), "buy real" was first taught me by my grandmother, who had a semi-hardscrabble upbringing, no pretensions whatsoever, and a great eye for art. For instance, she started collecting Navajo blankets and Santa Clara pottery back when they were still priced for tourists. Her rule was that a small specimen of the real thing is still good, still the real thing; but a cheap knockoff is never going to be anything else.

I meant something broader, something I've also learned from shopping in discount stores when we lived in poor neighborhoods, and from stoop sales and thrift shops and watching what New Yorkers leave out on the sidewalk for anyone who wants it. Which is: many consumer goods are only made tolerable by the purchaser's habitual and unconscious assumption that later on, they'll swap it for something better. We are kept poor by floodtides of marketing-driven crap consumer goods.

Look at photos of domestic interiors in the 1960s and early 1970s. Whatever you think of the objects they contain, the fact is that there are far fewer objects overall.)

(Tat, trash: goods which are signifiers and stand-ins for the goods we really want. The resemblance is superficial. What we get for our money is little value, and less satisfaction.)

Lee got it right at #44. Discarded particleboard furniture goes begging on the sidewalk, unless it's an especially good piece and hasn't broken, which it usually has. Solid wood furniture gets snapped up, even if it needs some repair. A good wool coat lasts years longer than fake fur. Real materials stay real.

When I was a kid, we had Main Street, with its one haberdashery, one five-and-dime, and two drugstores. Then a mall opened near our house. For a while, it seemed like an Aladdin's Cave of retail. Then, gradually, I realized how much duplication there was from store to store, and how much of what got sold there wasn't very good when you looked at it all by itself. On one memorable occasion, when I'd saved up to buy myself a winter coat, all the stores had trashy plush and fake fur and machine-embroidered tat -- the rich hippie/retro peasant look had just come in -- but no solid plain wool coats. I refused to buy anything there, and later found the coat I wanted in Goldwater's, which was the upscale department store in Phoenix. It lasted years, of course, which meant that in terms of cents per wearing, it cost far less than the coats at Tri-City Mall.

So much of what we're offered these days isn't meant to last. At bottom, it will always be tat, and the cumulative cost of replacing it again and again with other tat will eat up our discretionary budgets. Meanwhile, we have systems like the annual change in fashionable colors to guarantee that even if we buy something solid and long-lasting, we won't be able to match it a few years down the road. (And the fashion industry wonders why they can't pry us away from basic black.)

A second-hand Coach bag outlasts five or six purses from Wal-Mart, looks better, and cumulatively costs less.

There are whole catalogues devoted to tatty seasonal decorative items for your home. The prices they charge aren't far below the cost of a piece of art glass, a good piece of pottery, a small print or tapestry.

And so on and so forth The only point at which I differ with Lee is that I don't care if the thing you buy is made India, as long as (1.) it's real, and well-made; and (2.) the person who made it gets a significant fraction of the price you pay for it. That's a part of being real: that the profit is made by producing something of value and selling something of value, not by generating hype and hot air for specimens of "this year's styles" that only pass muster if you don't look closely.

I hope that works for you. I have no time to make it more coherent. I'm late for work as it is.

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:40 AM:

TNH @53:

A second-hand Coach bag outlasts five or six purses from Wal-Mart, looks better, and cumulatively costs less.

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they manged to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, where they were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the carboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kinds of boot Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socio-economic unfairness.
#55 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:49 AM:

Teresa, re "buy real": oh yes. And the availability of "real" in secondhand and thrift stores is actually pretty good, though it violates your rule about the maker's receiving a share of the purchase price. I wear much, much nicer clothes than I could afford to buy new, thanks to Goodwill.

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:52 AM:

On buying real, in general:

We have nothing* on our walls but original art. Paintings, letterpress printing, photographs, limited edition lino and woodcuts. No reproductions, no prints of famous works.

Some of our paintings are art factory works, but even those are genuine oil paintings. The majority of our art is unique or limited edition.

We've spent some money on art, but not very much. Most of what we own is gifts: my parents both paint in acrylics, my father prints, Martin has a photographer friend, I know a couple of professional painters, we got some as wedding presents. Some are trades for hand-bound books, from various artists I've met over the web.

Some of it is, artistically, more naive than great. But I'd rather have real second-class work than a copy of the best, just as I love live music and stage drama. Some things just don't survive the copying process.

* One exception: a small print of cute bunnies in the kids' room.

#58 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Teresa, I try to follow Al Gore's example: on the internet, some people will keep saying you said you invented the internet, and not even can stop them, so you should just ignore them and keep doing what seems right. But I slip up now and then.

#59 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:19 PM:

The list in #18 immediately made me think, "Teresa for President! (Or presidential advisor.)" But I know those jobs are really for politicos, not the completely sane.

#60 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:20 PM:

In re: buying real.

1. I have a specific recommendation. Columbia sportswear seems to be immune to entropy. In 1989 I bought a pullover for about $50. Not only has it not faded or ripped after 19+ years of regular use, it may actually be healing itself. I clearly remember ripping the sleeve slightly sometime during Clinton's first term, but I can find no sign of that rip today. (Actually, I'm wearing it now.) I fully expect that when the heat-death of the universe finally arrives Death will bring Tim Hunter my pullover so he doesn't get chilly.

2. Art. I take your point, but there are limits. An ersatz Van Gogh is a lot easier on the eyes than an original velvet Elvis.

#61 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:23 PM:

me @ #60:

s/faded or ripped/faded or frayed/

#62 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:36 PM:

A brilliant post Patrick. Thank you so much.

Re: A Difference Engine, I couldn't believe that it took until the end of the book to get the damn thing self aware. The suspense was good, sure, and the portrayal of politics pretty great (ooh, also I loved the deadly air in the coal-powered subway), but I wanted a bit more of clackety steam-driven intelligence.

Teresa you are, yourself, spot on. Quality still can be inherent in an object itself, rather than just as commodity. Something-at-all is no replacement for something actually worth having. And yes, New York streets can be miraculous when it comes to getting some few things of worth on a bookseller's budget.

I'm reading Anne Carson's meditation on Simonides and Celan Economy of the Unlost right now, and Marx's discussion of reification has come into it quite a bit. I recommend it to any and everyone. Some of the only literary criticism I've ever honestly loved rather than just admired.

#63 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Also, watching the Korean B-boy commercial, two desires kept lindo-ing through my brain:
I wish i could hear what those stringed instruments actually sound like,
I wish I could pull off those muscular hopping windmills.

#64 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Argh. Lindy! The Lindy! Maybe if they were doing it under a pole it would be the Lindo.

#65 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Clifton @ #48, I'm not sure if that was Jim (and I'm sure Kit knows better than I) or Adrienne. In my 9 months inside Jim seemed pretty hands-off; it always looked to me like it was Adrienne's screwy management theories that held sway.

We should probably have a cup of coffee somewhere and take this out of Teresa and Patrick's comments section.

#66 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:20 PM:

Apropos of Teresa's post #53, I found this blog post when trying to track down where this quote in question had come from:

"Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate.
- Victor Lebow, 1955"

The blog post has the original article, available in libraries! (Yes, places with paper books)

#67 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 01:43 PM:

It is better to end then to mend.

#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Stefan 67: If memory serves, that's n ulcabcbrqvp cyngvghqr sebz Oenir Arj Jbeyq, right?

#69 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Gursky @63: Those instruments look like the eastern harps the Japanese call koto, so I imagine that this will give you a good idea what it sounds like without the break-dancing beat.

#70 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Teresa at 53 talks about buying real, which leads to a cascade of land use thoughts about the results of buying cheap tat:

One of the most common commercial developments near me is the storage rental unit blob- each around an acre in size, on average, hundreds of garage size units. Random dead bodies and stolen antiques and garage bands without other contex rehearsing and writing songs aside, what those things mostly contain (according to people I know who clean them out when the renters stop paying for them) is worthless tat: acrylic blankets with pictures of wolves, particle board chests of drawers full of seasonal table linens of the "dry clean only" sort, gaudy Christmas sweaters with light-up LED Rudolph noses, fragile, poorly fired life-sized ceramic squashes, gaudy resin turkeys and rabbits and red-white-and-blue stars. Miles and miles of Christmas lights neatly stored in plastic containers. An acquaintance of mine admits to paying rent on four different storage lockers, full of old Christmas decorations and cheap patio furniture, in four different Army post towns.

Of course the downside to buying real, especially if you're the sort of bargain hunter that I am, is that eventually you have a large amount of Perfectly Good old clothing which is boring and out of fashion, but luckily St. Michael's has an active clothing bank. I'm getting better at donating stuff that I won't wear again, even if it is silk or wool and the only thing wrong with it is I'm sick to death of wearing it.

#71 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 04:16 PM:

JESR @ #70, I am paying rent on one now. It contains stuff we moved out of my mother's house a few months before she died, and I haven't had the heart to go through the stuff.

#72 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Faren Miller @ 59

Teresa for Éminence Grise?
(With all due respect, plus a bunch, Teresa, I'm white-bearded and gray-headed myself.)

#73 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 04:43 PM:

abi @ 57

Mostly I agree with you about buying real art, except that it is possible to buy reproduction art that is high quality* and where the sale benefits the original artist. Forex, I have several prints of Michael Parkes' paintings and lithos (not struck directly from the stone), which can only be purchased from dealers who buy from the artist, guaranteeing him his return.

But then again, we have a lot of ceramic work, mostly pots, plates, and figures, that we have bought directly from the artist or from a gallery dealing directly with the artist; and each of them is a unique and individual piece.

I think it should be much more common for people to make their own art, too. There's no magic or mutant ability involved; most people can learn to draw or sculpt acceptably, and adults love having their work admired just as much as school children love to see their drawings on the refrigerator door.

* If it was made with the artist's consent and cooperation, it will often be a much better reproduction than if the original was bought for a few dollars and reproduced as cheaply as possible.

#74 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Lila, that's an honorable purpose; we rented one when we were having a house transplant fourteen years ago (the wonder of mobile home living: stay at the same address, get a different house) and it kept us from imposing on relatives for storage of stuff too delicate to put in the barn.

On the other hand, I listened to a woman in a grocery-store check out the other day complaining that she had to rent another storage unit because "my Christmas Village stuff won't fit in the old one;" she had a cart full of 80% off Christmas decorative objects, including a set of giant (10inches to a foot each) mercury glass or equivalent ornaments.

I'm in one of my "going to sell everything and live in a tent" phases, though, so I may be an unreliable measure of how bad the situation has gotten.

#75 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Guthrie @#66: Could that article, or something similar, have been the inspiration for the Midas World stories? ISTR the timing being about right....

And yes, I agree with the "buy real" sentiment too (indeed, Teresa's whole list there).

#76 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:32 PM:

#68: Yes.

We don't have hypnopoedia, but crappy, cheap, and rapidly unfashionable clothes seem to be the mode.

#77 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:37 PM:

I understood "buy real" even though I have more than my own share of tat, plus deep storage (not all of it paid) in at least three off-site locations.

I learned "buy real" from watching my mother in thrift stores. She would walk down an endless rack of cloths, trailing her hand along the edge of the fabrics and not even looking. Only when she felt "real cloth" (wool or cotton, no blends) would she look.

She clothed four children on mostly thrift store bargains, and she made quilts (with anything 100% cotton she found in pleasing colors) and braided rugs (with anything made of real wool that wasn't wearable by the family). We slept warm, had warm floors, and dressed warm, but if anybody in the family ever got a *new* article of clothing she did not thrift or make from thrifted cloth, I don't remember it (blue jeans excepted).

#78 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:39 PM:

Lila (55), the only retailer that makes money off Goodwill is Goodwill, plus the occasional vintage clothing reseller. Besides, any system that emphasizes good products well made has to have mechanisms for transferring items from one satisfied owner to another. People change sizes, homes, jobs, and climates. If you've permanently retired to Tucson and will never wear a small again, your size 10 heavy sheepskin coat needs a new home.

Further remarks on buying real:

Here's another way to model the notion: imagine that you can never get rid of anything you acquire unless someone else is willing to take it from you, and they're similarly obliged to keep whatever they buy or accept. You can compost stuff, but only if you do it in your own backyard. Dead gadgets have to be disassembled and the parts sorted in order to be recycled as glass and metal. Plastic, you have with you always. You can only burn stuff if you burn it in the middle of your living room, with the windows closed.

I started using that scenario as a way of thinking about the problem of waste. We live on this planet, in company with everything we've ever made. If we burn garbage, the smoke and gases and ash go into our air. Our current waste disposal methods are best modeled as throwing our trash into the yards of whichever neighbors aren't in a position to complain.

However, the scenario also works as a way of thinking about the value of consumer goods. A while back, Patrick and I were GoHs at Vericon, Harvard's annual SF convention, and were put up in rooms that are normally used for visiting scholars. Everything in the bathroom was large and sturdy: towel racks, claw-footed tub, shower curtain support cage, et cetera. I noticed that at the spot where you naturally grab your towel off the rack, the chrome or stainless steel had worn off, and that underneath it was heavy-gauge brass.

It takes many long years of towel-grabbing to wear fixtures like that down to their underlying brass. I don't know whether those towel racks were older than my grandmother, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they were older than my mother. And then I thought about the wall-mounted towel racks I've known all my life: shallow, ill-made things (you get your choice of pot metal or plastic) that always break, and always pull out of the wall. They undoubtedly cost less, on a one-time basis, than fixtures comparable to the ones Harvard used. They don't cost thirty times less.

Why do we buy the cheap towel racks? In some cases, because we have to have a towel rack and can't afford anything else. For others, it's because it'll do for now, and we don't think we'll have to live with it forever. But suppose we did? Suppose that even if we're renting, or we sell the house, we'd have to carry all our old towel racks with us? I think we'd make different decisions.

In our current retail universe, it's hard to be conscious of the stuff we purchase. Shopping is a light trance state, and store and mall designers know it. If you're shopping for a specific thing, you're supposed to make your choice from the versions of it on offer at that location, even if none of the options are what you really had in mind. What gets you past that moment of disappointment, makes it tolerable enough to keep you from walking out of the store, is that background assumption that you and this object are not entering into a permanent relationship.

This is the moment to imagine having to spend the rest of your life with the broken and unrepairable carcass of a piece of particleboard furniture (particleboard always breaks), or cartons full of grubby, broken-down plastic appliances. It 's exactly the wrong thought for the delicate retail moment they've created, and disrupts the shopping brainwooze.

Escape! Run away!

#79 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:45 PM:

JESR at 74, I spend a lot of time in that mode of thought. The older I get, the more stuff I seem to be willing to throw out. Some of that has to do with having had to dispose of my mother's belongings, after she died. She was not particularly a pack-rat (unlike my dad, who was) but after spending weeks getting rid of her stuff, I formed the firm opinion that less is better.

Don't want to go live in a tent, though. Too cold. I hate cold.

Buy real is good. To it I append, Buy less. Leave less. Live lightly.

#80 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:51 PM:
Shopping is a light trance state, and store and mall designers know it.

I wonder if the awful fluorescent lights help here? (I know I'm largely immune: the trance state combined with the population density crush just makes me feel sick and stressed, not the condition the designers were aiming for!)

#81 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Funny you should ask that, Teresa. I just bought a cheap towel rack bar a few days ago. Plastic. It was what they had in the store, and I could cut it down to size myself with the saw blade on my Leatherman. And it was lightweight, easy to carry home.

I wouldn't even know where to go to get a brass one.

#82 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Re shopping: people use accumulation to make themselves feel better. I ward off a case of the icks by going to a bookstore. These days it's a used bookstore, but it wasn't always. I can make myself feel really good by giving myself permission to buy a new book. Expand this to many many people giving themselves permission to buy stuff they can't afford, have no place to put, know will break, will hate in a month, etc. etc. and you have present-day American consumerism.

#83 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 06:21 PM:

Bruce Cohen, I share your love for the Michael Parkes. What a lovely body of story and character that artist has given the world! We have the one with the gargoyles chasing the soap bubble above our hearth. It makes my heart happy to look at it, regardless that it's just an expensively-framed poster. (And regardless that I have some minor quibbles with the way the main gargoyle's front limbs are drawn--shouldn't they be reaching out to their full extent, not half tucked in like that? But I digress.)

The art is real, even in reproduction. Heck, we can't all own the original manuscript of our favorite book; what's wrong with art reproductions that isn't wrong with mass-market paperbacks?

#84 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 06:30 PM:

I have Entirely Too Many stuffed animals, in part because, as Lizzy notes, we buy* things to make us feel better. Sometimes I look at one six months later, think, "what was I thinking?" and give it to the local toy drive at Christmas. Others make me smile every time I look at them; those are worth every penny.

*I make them, too, which doesn't help.

#85 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 06:35 PM:

Lizzy L. @ 79 -- Quite so.

One thing that will move you in that direction is clearing out a parent's house after their death. Some things either my sister or I wanted, but there was a lot to dispose of. After that, especially if you have no children of your own, you want to get rid of it yourself and not leave it to strangers.

In buying real, someone already mentioned real food. This means you learn how to cook, and if you cook now, learn more. I am shocked by the number of people I know who are frightened by an unpeeled potato. That goes with the recent news that cookbook writers now have to dumb-down recipies because too few know, for example, what "fold" means. Cooking has been a basic survival skill and it remains one now.

Good pots and pans last all but forever. (Not an exagerration -- archaeologists might wonder about the fashions for a particular age, but we almost always know what people cooked with) We inherited many of the pots, pans, implements and plates we use today. Most of the less expensive stuff we picked up on our own has worn out. On the other hand, we have to figure out who we will leave the set of pots to.

#86 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Just to add to Avram's comment at 81: we have the ceramic mounts for the towel bar embedded into the bathroom wall, so he was constrained in what he could purchase even if something better was available for sale.

#87 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 07:16 PM:

I want to praise a book: Michael Pollan's new one, In Defense of Food. Fine, fine book. Main thesis: Eat real food; not too much. Mostly plants. And then he tells you why.

I am not much of a cook, but over the last few years I made the decision to avoid fast food of any kind, and I try to eat very little processed food. (No, I don't make my own noodles.) Pollan says: Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. I'm following that advice as best I can.

It's a good book...

#88 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 07:40 PM:

Claude @85, they don't make iron skillets like they used to. Perhaps the best $30 I ever spent in an antique store was on a skillet with a surface as sweet to touch as a lover's skin.

#89 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 08:24 PM:

The art is real, even in reproduction. Heck, we can't all own the original manuscript of our favorite book; what's wrong with art reproductions that isn't wrong with mass-market paperbacks?

Because no method of reproduction existing today can reproduce the paint surface of a painting accurately.

A mass market paper back is identical in essentials - in the text - to the original. In the peripherals - typography, etc. - it's probably better than the original manuscript.

That's just not true of a reproduction of a painting, even one which is true to scale, and everything else. Short of a working fabricator, the paint surface won't be there, and for many artists that's a loss.

Still, I'd personally prefer a reproduction of Guernica or Whaam! to anything I've a hope in hell of buying, because those works are so much better, even in reproduction, than any originals I could afford. Better a reproduction of a Mondrian than a real Kinkade. One is utterly brilliant no matter what; the other is tat no matter how authentic.

#90 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Pachelbel, one could argue, strikes us so deeply not because of the ornamentation but because of the chord progression. That particular chord progression can be found everywhere

#91 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 09:16 PM:

I find Pachelbel much more tolerable with a lot of action going on above it. I've been idly looking for years for the recording my first Spanish teacher had, which was quick and bright with trumpets.
I have a thing for brass. We have been over this.
So far I have a string quartet and a chamber bit with a harpsichord. Very swaying, very restful, but no energy.

#92 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 10:07 PM:

Diatryma, 91: The best recording I've found is by Hesperion XXI, on Ostinato. The whole thing plus its associated Gigue takes about 4 minutes. It's incredibly dancy!

#93 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 10:37 PM:

I made a cross-stitch "painting" in 1989 (I just went to look) that's now on my workroom door. It says:

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Do without

I've tried to work that way for a long time.

Unfortunately, I can't cook anymore so my food is not as real as could be, but I can't afford a cook, either.

#94 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 10:51 PM:

This was originally formulated for media fandom rather than for music, but (with suitable apologies to Ogden Nash's l(ll)amas):

The two-N canon, that's official.
The three-N cannon shoots a missile.
But any more goes far past fanon;
There isn't any four-N cannonn.

#95 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:06 PM:

Julie L, #94, the first half of that is nearly identical to one I wrote a back in '99:

One-N canon, that's official.
Two-N cannon fires a missile.
I've not seen, nor do I plan on
Seeing any three-N cannnon.

(Yeah, I know, the final N, blah blah.)

#96 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:30 PM:

my most agonizing music event ever was at a friend's wedding, long ago in Tulsa (OKC? it was in Oklahoma).

String quartet was main music at start, the Canon, and they were all off a quarter note. From one another. All a different key slightly. And whether they realized it or not, they didn't stop, regroup and start over, they just soldiered on with the agony. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Considering all the different music I've seen and played in in my life, that was the absolute worst.

#97 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Because no method of reproduction existing today can reproduce the paint surface of a painting accurately.

A mass market paper back is identical in essentials - in the text - to the original. In the peripherals - typography, etc. - it's probably better than the original manuscript.

That's just not true of a reproduction of a painting, even one which is true to scale, and everything else. Short of a working fabricator, the paint surface won't be there, and for many artists that's a loss.

OK, I'll buy that argument. I'll even throw a sheepish "err... I knew that" grin into the bargain.

I'll also agree with you that an original [insert respected artist here] is far out of the price range of most admirers, which is why we have a few poster reproductions of beloved artworks in our house rather than bare walls.


I would love to hear a little expansion on Teresa's Rule #6, if there is time and inclination. I've been thinking about it all day, applying it to various scenarios in my head, and finding it a full, rich, worthy thing to meditate on--but not something that's particularly amenable to soundbytes.

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2008, 11:39 PM:

Teresa, #53: We don't even really differ on India, hence my reference to "sweatshops". I'll happily buy direct from an India merchant, or at one step removed by patronizing a direct importer. (Living in Houston, the latter is easy -- any shop along Harwin is probably a direct importer!) What I don't buy are "Made in India" products in chain stores.

Lila, #55: I found a London Fog heavy raincoat at Goodwill... for $20. There was another one there in my partner's daughter's size, so we called her and told her about it. Shopping in thrift stores near the upscale part of town yields tremendous bargains.

Gursky, #64: How lo-o-o-w can you go?

Lila, #71: My deepest sympathies. We helped a friend go thru one of those after the death of her husband, and it was traumatic in multiple ways. Not least of which was her eventual calculation of how much money she'd paid, over the course of about 15 years, to store all this stuff that was now going straight into the trash. (Which is politely to suggest, don't put it off for too long.)

#99 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:57 AM:

Watching the chaos progressing around the globe from east to west as stock markets tanked one by one while Wall Street remained closed for MLK, I realized that I either had to rewrite the ending of "The Nine Billion Names of God," or turn once again to my favorite well of inspiration, all things related (however tangentially) to "To His Coy Mistress," namely "You, Alan Greenspan":

And here face down upon your desk
Watching through the waiting night
You feel the coming of a test
The gathered rising of a blight

You feel creep up the curving east
The earthy chill of loss and woe
Upon the world's markets the vast
And ever climbing shadows grow

So first in Tokyo the breeze
Carries now the scent of change
The Nikkei sinks down to its knees
Buried beneath a mountain range

And now in Korea the state
Of markets sunk in deep despair
Slumps slowly as the whispered fate
Of recession hangs in the air

And Hong Kong too begins to fall,
The gains of these last years soon gone
And through all Asia the pall
Of evening deepens and steals on

It deepens, too, in Mumbai's street
Where watchful eyes mark the decline
The shuffling of nervous feet
Marks the mocking march of time

And later still in Frankfurt, then
in Paris comes the dreadful blow
As to the west the eyes of Men
Turn, fearful, seeing sands run low

And London, last to feel the weight
Of failure through the far-flung lands;
Crushed downwards, it too meets its fate
Beneath the Invisible Hand

Comes now the cold light on the sea...

And you, facing the night so long,
Await, with dreadful certainty
The market opening at dawn...

#100 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 05:46 AM:

Claude Muncey @ 85:

Good pots and pans last all but forever. (Not an exagerration -- archaeologists might wonder about the fashions for a particular age, but we almost always know what people cooked with)

Yes, because they made so damn much of it. Up through the middle ages, most cooking was done in pottery vessels, which would break, or get saturated with food. They'd have to be replaced every couple of months. Disposable goods are not an invention of the modern age.

(Also, of course, they tended to make their clothing out of more perishable material than their cooking vessels. Note that non-perishable material =/= non-perishable object. See also, plastics.)

#101 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:09 AM:

Naomi Libicki @100:
Disposable goods are not an invention of the modern age.


On what was the southern edge of ancient Rome there stands a hill, not one of the Seven*. Its modern name is the Monte Testaccio; in Latin it was the Mons Testaceus. It's a good 100 feet tall and over 250 feet in diameter at its widest point.

It's entirely artificial. It stands on what was a piece of waste ground behind the warehouses that lined the bank of the Tiber, receiving shipments of wine, vinegar, olive oil and honey from all over the Empire. The amphorae in which these were carried would become saturated with their contents, which would then spoil. Pottery soaked in rancid oil and sour wine doesn't make for good containers. So the vessels were broken up and piled in a heap that became, over the centuries, a hill in its own right.

Waste is not a modern thing.

* by any of the reckonings; the list of seven hills varies by source

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:16 AM:

Abi @ 101... Another reminder that all knowledge (or a large part of it) can be found in the blogosphere. Say, what does 'testaceus' mean?

#103 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:29 AM:

Serge @102:
what does 'testaceus' mean?

Made out of pottery. A pot is a testa (whence the French word for head, tête).

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:36 AM:

Abi @ 103... Thus my tête is a pot.

#105 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:49 AM:

abi, 103: And the really cool thing is that "teste" was the slang term in Old French--the proper term was "chief" or "chef," from "caput."

#106 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 08:05 AM:

Only now I want to learn to breakdance, to learn to tell gravity to sod off.

#107 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 08:13 AM:

Diatryma @91:
Have you heard The Canadian Brass's version? It may very well be the version from your memory. They're very playful, and as their name implies, they're all brass. It's on their "Best of..." CD which is full of other good playful brass versions of... stuff.

Re. cookware:
Coating metal in heat-intolerant plastics for COOKWARE just still doesn't make sense to me. I mean... I still use teflon (or something like it) for frying an egg, but other than that... *shudder*

I have 1 piece of cast-iron cookware (a wok with about a 3-inch flat section (the flat-part I could do without, but I bought it when I was young and foolish?)) and even though I almost lost it to rust before I really figured out how to care for it, it's easily my favorite cooking instrument. A well-seasoned iron skillet it a useful and wonderful thing. I'll get around to it eventually...

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 08:53 AM:

TexAnne @ 105... "teste" was the slang term in Old French--the proper term was "chief"

Dare I say that it all comes together?

#109 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 09:23 AM:

JESR @ #74, ah yes, the "being crowded out of your house by your stuff" phenomenon. I have come dangerously close myself.

Daniel @ #77, I've used that technique before. Saves time and eyestrain.

Teresa @ #78, the other thing about "buying real" is that when you no longer want/need an item, it still has some wear in it for someone else. Also, re shopping in a light trance state: I have noticed that retail stores play whiny depressing music ("Ugh, I feel crappy. I'll buy something to make myself feel better.") while thrift stores tend to play more cheerful stuff ("Oh, who cares if it's missing a button, that's easy to fix!"). I'm willing to bet this is not a coincidence.

Lizzy L @ #87: I second the recommendation. For those without the money or time to buy / read the book, it boils down to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I also recommend The Omnivore's Dilemma, also by Pollan.

Lee @ #98, the best example of "shop the rich people's thrift stores" from my family was my sister's find of a Victorian silk velvet crazy quilt in a thrift store in California (San Diego?). Several hundred dollars, but still way less than its actual worth--and she did manage to get it home on the plane without damage.

Re "testaceus", I have that associated with oysters for some reason. Is there some kind of oyster shell-pottery link, or is it the resemblance of oysters to, um, mountain oysters that's to blame?

#110 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 09:37 AM:

A test is a shell, so 'testaceous' also means 'having a shell' or 'associated with shells'.

My main problem with cast-iron cookware is that I was raised Teflon, and it is intimidating. It seems like the kind of thing you can't learn without screwing up horribly, and I'm not willing to spend three days soaking and washing and scraping at a pot because I did it wrong the first time. I have read about seasoning and why you can't wash cast iron at the same time as everything else you eat from, but I have no incentive to try it. Why buy cookware I am afraid to use?

Of course, when it comes time to inherit the old Dutch oven and its companion broken-handled pot, I expect there to be blood. Three siblings. Two pots. Fight's in the kitchen, so access to all sorts of interesting weaponry.

#111 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 09:57 AM:

Avram @95: Oh dear. Great minds get stuck in the same rut?

WRT thrifting, I cannot for the life of me figure out how the shops around here determine their prices. Lately I've been poring over the sweater racks, where nasty pill-strewn acrylic things may be priced twice as high as pure cashmere in perfect condition; the only sense I can make of that is that the multicolored acrylic looks flashier than the monochrome cashmere. Not that I'm complaining, esp. since this way I don't worry nearly so much about tossing the cashmere into the washing machine (in a mesh bag on gentle cycle)-- a considerable "hidden" factor to a garment's original price can be whether it demands to be professionally dry-cleaned. But after all, cashmere has been around a lot longer than dry-cleaning, and I'm not going to panic over something that only cost $5 to start with.

#112 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 10:13 AM:

Ray Radlein @ 99

Sun shows wrack from market fray,
and finds Bernanke deep in shock.
Reaction before end of day:
put 75 basis points on the block.

#113 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Diatryma @ 110, cast iron is not nearly as scary as it seems.

How to care for a cast iron pot:

* For a new pot, a pot that's been seriously abused, or a pot whose history you don't know: scour it, rinse it, dry it, coat it with cooking oil using a paper towel or a rag, put it in an oven for about forty minutes to bake in the oil finish.

After that, it's easy:

* If it's only oily: Wipe it out with a paper towel and put it away.

* If wiping won't clean it: Wash it quickly in soap and hot water using any utensil you like, rinse it, dry it, and put it away.

The only serious rules are don't soak the whole pan, and dry it right after you clean it.

Non-stick pans are disposable junk. A pan that will last a lifetime is only about twice as expensive, if you shop wisely.

(If I sound arrogant about this, apologies. I live extremely cheaply. Part of the way I do that is by making sure the things I use will last.)

#114 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Nicole et al., I've got nothing against good reproductions. Why should rich people and museumgoers be the only ones who get to see the high end? What I can't stand are "seasonal" or "theme" or "collectible product line" decorations that are neither cheap nor disposable nor tolerable for any extended period of time. (Note: The catalog that first caused me to formulate this opinion is still there, and it's as bad as ever.)

Ray (99), nice one. I particled the Kos version.

Naomi (100): Why would you have to replace a pottery vessel that had gotten saturated with food? Just re-fire the sucker and it'll all burn off. Or maybe that's the ancient world's equivalent of our failure to recycle glass and metal: sure, you could do it; but it's easier to just throw it on the midden out back.

Diatryma, Scott: when I read that description, I too thought "Canadian Brass." D., do check it out.

#115 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:18 AM:

If there's a kitchen equipment store near you that sells to restaurants, go take a look. I've found some good stuff at Manning Bros. A restaurant can't afford to replace its frying pans every few years.

#116 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:19 AM:

Well...there are some processes that just don't work in anything but a nonstick pan. Boiled cream, for example. At least I don't think so.

I recently boiled cream with honey to make a honey ganache. After I poured the mixture over the chocolate, I set the pan aside and forgot about it. When I came back to it, the droplets of honeyed cream were very firmly stuck to the nonstick surface of the pan. (They were also delicious, but that's another story.) Hot water an a dish sponge dislodged the ones I didn't scrape off and eat, but I'm far from certain that a non-nonstick pan would have been so easy to clean.

#117 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Teresa 114: Wow. That catalog is impressive. The coughing ashtray that shows up on several of the pages you cite is macabre yet tasteless. But the line that will haunt my nightmares is "Note the real chain mail in the clear lucite [toilet] seat!" OK, they meant the lid. But "brr" and "oww" both spring to mind!

#118 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Teresa @ 114 -

Oh. My. You did a bad thing showing that to me. Not bad for me, of course. Just bad for all the people I know with upcoming birthdays.


#119 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 12:11 PM:

Nicole et al., I've got nothing against good reproductions. Why should rich people and museumgoers be the only ones who get to see the high end? What I can't stand are "seasonal" or "theme" or "collectible product line" decorations that are neither cheap nor disposable nor tolerable for any extended period of time. (Note: The catalog that first caused me to formulate this opinion is still there, and it's as bad as ever.)

Ray (99), nice one. I particled the Kos version.

Naomi (100): Why would you have to replace a pottery vessel that had gotten saturated with food? Just re-fire the sucker and it'll all burn off. Or maybe that's the ancient world's equivalent of our failure to recycle glass and metal: sure, you could do it; but it's easier to just throw it on the midden out back.

Diatryma, Scott: when I read that description, I too thought "Canadian Brass." D., do check it out.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Speaking of durable things... My HP LaserJet 6L just kicked the bucket, right when its expensive cartridge was running out of ink. How fortuitous. I shall shed a few tears for the decade of fairly reliable service it provided me with.

Honors, up!

#121 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Naomi @ 100: Quite so.

Abi @ 101: Another example from coastal Lousisana are so-called shell islands, oyster middens, or oyster reefs. Aboriginal Louisianians preferred oysters when they could get them, and they apparently just tossed the shells when they were done. On St. Vincent Island, there are oyster middens 5 to 10 feet high, and up to a hundred feet wide along the coastline.

There are some smaller islands, made up entirely of oyster shells where sombody in some kind of watercraft anchored, gathered oysters, and after eating them threw the shells over their shoulders. As oyster shells are rather like limestone, give it a few centuries and you get an island.

#122 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:07 PM:

From 2004:

Spelling Advice To A Fifth Grade Boy Concerning His History Paper (apologies to Ogden Nash)

The 2-n canon's a church official
The 3-n cannon fires a missile
But for the paper you've been plannin'
There's no such thing as a 4-n cannnon
(In German it's 'Kanone')

#123 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Serge #104: And 'testa' is 'head' in Galician and Portuguese to this day.

Hmmm. I always suspected you were a pothead.

#124 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:18 PM:

C Wingate @ 121 -

I heard something similar with another word -

A one-l Lama is a holy man
A two-l llama is a beast of burden
A three-alarmer is really big fire

#125 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:20 PM:

For some reason, a line from one of Derek Walcott's 'Tales of the Islands' is running through my head: 'They catch he wife with two tests down the beach'.

#126 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Re: teflon versus cast iron -

Danny Seo not long ago reviewed some new product that is supposed to be nonstick and more environmentally friendly than teflon, and compared it to his old cast-iron skillet.

The test? Frying an egg with 1 tablespoon of butter. Cast iron lost, and I'm not surprised. I can fry an egg in a teaspoon* of oil in my cast iron, but butter evaporates and disappears.

It made me want to shake him.

*For those of you in sensible countries where they use the metric system, a tablespoon is three teaspoons, so I can use 1/3 of a tablespoon of oil to fry an egg.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:25 PM:

Fragano @ 122... I always suspected you were a pothead.

Not a crockpot nor a crackpot? Your affirmation jars me.

#128 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Serge @ #119, Do not, on pain of serious aggravation, look seriously at Lexmark as a replacement printer supplier.

I bought an all-in-one flatbed Lexmark machine a year ago. Upon its first ink cartridge replacement, a little (3/4 inch) plastic lever came off when I lifted the lid. This lever holds down a microswitch which informs the printer that the lid is open; when it's not there the machine refuses to do anything until that switch is closed.

Closing it involves removing the cover, the glass, and fiddling the lever back into place. This takes at minimum three hands while prying the glass mechanism's hinges open, and there's no guarantee the lever won't come off the next time the ink cartridge needs to be replaced. Electrical tape may be required.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:36 PM:

linkmeister @ 127... Duly noted. I'll probably stick with HP.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:36 PM:

linkmeister @ 127... Duly noted. I'll probably stick with HP.

#131 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:36 PM:

Julie, #111: I'll bet another factor in the pricing is that wool of any kind says "Dry Clean Only" to a lot of people. I would never even think about throwing a cashmere sweater into the wash, or even washing it by hand. (But then, I don't wear wool sweaters anyhow; they're itchy. Yes, even cashmere -- I've tried it. And WTF was with the salesperson a few days ago who tried to tell me that cashmere isn't wool???)

Will, #113: Non-stick pans aren't "disposable junk" if you care for them properly. Caring for them properly isn't hard; it mostly consists of getting a few plastic utensils and a plastic scrubbie, so that you don't scar the non-stick coating. We have a couple that are going on 20 years old, get regular use, and are still in perfectly good shape.

#132 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:44 PM:

Steve C., #123: That's a takeoff on the original Ogden Nash poem.

The one-l lama, he's a priest;
The two-l llama, he's a beast;
And I will bet a silk pajama
There isn't any three-l lllama.*

* The author's attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.

(Doing it from memory, so there may be a word off here or there.)

#133 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Serge #126: You are, clearly, of more than common clay.

#134 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:08 PM:

Serge - newer HPs are variable in quality. Avoid their new inkjets - we've had bad luck with them where I work. Their corporate printers are (as always) very good - the home/small office printers I am not as impressed with. Not that they are bad printers - but they do not recall to mind the shear awesomeness of the early HP printers.

I bought a Brother hl-5250dn last year (replacing an HP LJ5L that I'd been using for quite a few years), and have been very happy with it so far. It's sturdy and has chewed up every print job I've thrown at it - it's not the quietest printer out there, nor the fastest, but it's pretty solid (and is both networkable and duplexing, both requirements of mine). I've used it with both Macs and PCs, and the drivers have been rock solid.

#135 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:17 PM:

Scott Taylor @ 133... Thanks for the tip. This sounds like a good printer. If my manager is willing to foot the bill, I'll mention it.

#136 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Lee, 130: No, the salesperson was right. Wool is from sheep, cashmere is from goats. Saying that cashmere is wool is like saying that cherries are apples because they're all round red fruits that grow on trees.

#137 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:23 PM:

Teresa @ 114:

Most people wouldn't have access to a kiln. And even if you did, re-firing a pot consumes resources -- fuel, time and space in the kiln -- that could be devoted to making new pots, which are worth more.

Much easier to toss it in the midden and get a new one.

#138 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:27 PM:

R.M. @125, I'll help you shake him. I find that for most things in my skillet, a little bit of olive oil is all I need--and it's better for you than butter.

Serge @129, we've had excellent luck with Epsons.

Lee @130, thanks for reminding me that the care issue isn't so simple with Teflon and cast iron. I've seen far too many non-stick pans gouged by people using metal utensils, and too many plastic utensils melted by people who didn't pay attention to heat. The argument could be made that cast iron is actually easier to care for than non-stick.

#139 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:32 PM:

One of my very favorite internet comments ever, from commentor Pastabagel, on Metafilter:

"Coveting possessions is unhealthy. Here's how I look at it:

All of the computers on Ebay are mine. In fact, everything on Ebay is already mine. All of those things are just in long term storage that I pay nothing for. Storage is free.

When I want to take something out of storage, I just pay the for the storage costs for that particular thing up to that point, plus a nominal shipping fee, and my things are delivered to me so I can use them. When I am done with them, I return them to storage via Craigslist or Ebay, and I am given a fee as compensation for freeing up the storage facilities resources.

This is also the case with all of my stuff that Amazon and Walmart are holding for me. I have antiques, priceless art, cars, estates, and jewels beyond the dreams of avarice.

The world is my museum, displaying my collections on loan. The James Savages of the world are merely curators.

As I am the curator of their things, and thus together we all share the world."

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:35 PM:

will shetterly @ 137... Thanks.

#141 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 02:54 PM:

Serge @139: Also, our attempts at refilling ink cartridges have not gone well, but we've been pleased with refilled cartridges bought online. (We use Printpal, but I'm sure there are other good companies around.)

#142 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 03:25 PM:

Scott Taylor @ 133
...they do not recall to mind the shear awesomeness of the early HP printers

This was a deliberate decision by HP, who were getting creamed by cheap garbage (Lexmark, anyone?) in the SBHO market. According to a product development text I'm reading at the moment the critical change came when one of their managers stood on a Deskjet while explaining to the development team the difference between a printer and a footstool. Pity - back when we had an old-style HP plotter at work I used to routinely use it as a ladder to access high shelves; it was one of its more useful features.

Which brings us back (from beneath) to Vimes' "Boots" theory

#143 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Xopher @116: Some years ago, I made a few batches of dulce de leche. The process[*] was surprisingly similar to making jelly from fruit juice: add sugar (and random other flavorings) to milk and reduce the volume by about half by slowly simmering/stirring over a long period of time. I used a nonstick pan-- after which a narrow ring of unstuck lining gradually became visible near the final liquid level (I assume that it was initially loosened at the time and then gradually flaked away).

By that time, I had given most of the dulce de leche away to various other people who had already eaten it. I decided not to tell them, but also have not attempted the recipe ever again, in any sort of pan.

[*: or at least the process I used. There's an alternate one which is the direct cause of the warning on cans of condensed milk not to boil them, though I gather that can be semi-safely modified by heating them inside a pressure cooker instead of at atmospheric pressure.]

Lee @130: My sympathies for the wool-itchiness. I remember being like that too, even through intermediate layers of other fabric (no, I don't know why that stopped for me).

Oh-- further Fun With Thrifting, especially for smallish people in search of warmer garments: sometimes, wool sweaters are injudiciously stuffed into the dryer and shrink way down into impermeable felt that's several times smaller. Impermeable wool felt is *dang* toasty, and can also be (slightly) stretched back out while wet.

#144 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Xopher @ 116, all I have to use at work is an induction burner, so all I get to use is stainless steel, and my holiday Florentines involved boiled cream and honey, taken all the way up to soft ball (240 F).

Hot water and a stainless steel mesh scouring pad removed the residue without trouble. I wish I could install one of the high-pressure sprayer heads like I have at work in my home kitchen; they're the best.

#145 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 03:44 PM:


Plastic, you have with you always.

If it's thermoplastic, it can be reheated and reshaped. It might become practical to turn old plastic into new shapes on a small scale.

(Yes, I realize the context was imaginary. And the various difficulties. I just find it a Neat Idea.)

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 03:55 PM:

will shetterley @ 140... I've never tried refilling cartridges, for the same reasons I stay away from plumbing(*). I don't throw them away though. I stack them up until I have enough to fill up a big box then I sned them to HP using its prepaid UPS mailing labels.

(*) I can(!) dig all the way down to the pipe, but I let the experts take over from then on.

(!) And did, last week, in very cold and very wet mud(#).

(#) But I digress.

#147 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 04:04 PM:

The printer issue is actually the same as the general point Teresa has made: Buy cheap and spend more.

The trick is not so much the brand, it's to buy a printer that's designed for heavy use, not marketed to the home. A data sheet listing expected numbers of pages/day or pages/year is a good indicator.

My first laser printer was an HP LJ IV-something built way-back-when, cost quite a bit, lasted a long time. (It died because a colony of large ants repeatedly set up shop in it.)

After that, I saw how cheap laser printers had gotten, and bought a succession of cheap laser printers and all-in-one copier/scanner/printers all of which died after a year or two and required me to spend more money, until I wised up. I then bought an office-grade Oki networked laser printer, which cost closer to $1000 than $100, but is bidding fair to last as well as the HP did.

#148 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 04:14 PM:

In defense of my buying an inexpensive Lexmark, the first cartridge got me ~75 pages of printing. It took a full year to get up to that number.

(Full disclosure: the Canon bubblejet I previously owned still works fine, so I used it for basic print jobs* during that year.)

*Maybe 50 pages all told.

#149 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 04:15 PM:

#138, Jeremy Preacher -

Brilliant. Thanks for sharing that discovery.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 04:15 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 147... In my case though, my manager would have to pay for the printer. She's not tight-fisted, but she's not the opposite either.

As for paying more upfront... We did that with an iron. The darn thing broke down just as fast as a dirt-cheap model, which is why I insisted upon a dirt-cheap iron the next time around.

#151 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 04:23 PM:

About 3 years ago I bought andHP all-in-one (scanner/inkjet printer/copier/fax) machine because I got $100 off. Up to that point I had been using separate Epson inkjet printer and scanner, which I was becoming very unfond of because I couldn't get the printer to register reliably and the scanner was v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. Turns out the HP hardware is terrific; prints with great registration, does well with photo paper, and scans pretty well too. And, as I say, it's lasted through some periods of heavy use (all kinds of papers for all the guests of one wedding for instance) for several years, and shows no sign of wear. But ... the driver software (for a Mac) sucks large irrigation pipes. It crashes, it needs to be reinitialized constantly, the default printer type is actually the scanner ... the list goes on. Bet the amortized cost of doing the software right was higher than buying halfway decent parts.

#152 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 04:56 PM:

(tl:dr version - Inkjets more expensive. Lasers cheaper. All-in-Ones are stupid unless you live in a closet - literally. Make exceptions for limited or special purpose devices. Figure out cost of consumables over lifespan of printer before buying. Printers are something of a scam job.)

Clifton Royston -
Printers in general (and inkjet printers in specific) are increasingly falling in to the razor blade mode of economics - make no money on the printer, make all your scratch on the consumables.

Laser printers (even color ones) usually end up costing far less, in the long run, than buying a succession of inkjets - even though the initial cost is higher, and the individual toner units are as well, you go through so many fewer toner cartridges and other consumables, that the laser costs a lot less in the long run.

(The initial expense can still be a show-stopper, of course - I can't justify the cost of an HP LJ4700C, because I just don't do enough color printing in the course of a year to care. In this case, buying an inkjet, and keeping the toner cartridges locked up in an airtight container when not in use can be cost-effective - you waste a page of paper an ink recalibrating each time you load the ink cartridge(s), but at least they don't dry out between jobs.)

All in wonders (you wonder why anyone would buy them...) are even worse - anything on the damn thing breaks, you're stuck with a semi-functional (at best) piece of clutter - or a more-expensive shipping bill when you send it in for service (since repairs on consumer printers are almost always done by a service depot).

Unless you're working in a very (very) limited amount of space, it's almost always better to buy individual units (printer, scanner, fax machine - if you really actually need one, rather than a cheap "fax from desktop" application) rather than an all-in-one, up until the point where you're buying a workgroup-level Multi-Function Device (which are more reliable - but can be a lot more expensive to repair).

#153 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 05:08 PM:

I love HP printers. During tax season my HPLaserJet 1320 churns and churns. Yes, the cartridges are expensive, but in the 20 years or so I have been using HP printers I have almost never (once? maybe) had to have one repaired. I believe I have upgraded 4 times, so that's a new printer every 5 years. I usually spend about $300 on it, and I upgrade not because the old machine is broken -- hasn't ever happened -- but because I want more speed, memory, etc. Oh, and I have never owned a color printer. Black and white only.

#154 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 05:30 PM:

We each have a Brother HL5170DN, and so far they've behaved quite well. Mine jams about once a year, but other than that, no problems in three-four years.

After we bought our first laser printer, we never again considered using an inkjet for anything other than color printing of photographs, because of the speed difference. It's so nice to just have the pages appear instantly.

#155 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Julie 142: [*: or at least the process I used. There's an alternate one which is the direct cause of the warning on cans of condensed milk not to boil them, though I gather that can be semi-safely modified by heating them inside a pressure cooker instead of at atmospheric pressure.]

I have a giant stewpot I use. I put a round cooling rack in the bottom, stand four sealed cans of condensed milk on the rack, and add cold water to an inch or more above the tops of the cans. Then I bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it boil for four hours, inverting the cans with tongs midway. Then I uncover the pot, turn off the heat, and leave it overnight. In the morning I have sealed cans of beautiful dulce de leche. I've done this several times, and now that I have a confection book it recommends the same procedure (minus the precautions I take).

I can't think why anyone would expect the cans to explode. Water doesn't get any hotter than 212° F while boiling (at sea level pressure). Concentrated milk with lots of added sugar (i.e. condensed milk) boils at a higher temperature than that, so it won't boil just by being in boiling water. Plus cans are sealed at very high temperatures, which is why there's typically a sucking noise when you open them; at room temperature the pressure inside the can is LOWER than the outside.

If you put the cans in a pressure cooker, that would make the water boil at a higher temperature. I can't imagine that would make it safer to boil the sealed cans, but I still can't work out why they would explode. Implode, maybe. The only advantage of pressure cookers that I can see is that they have thicker sides, and that only helps if you think the cans will explode with very great force indeed. Oh, and it might be faster.

Still, they do have that warning on the cans. Proceed at your own risk. Certainly if you see milk in the water at any point, abort the operation at once.

Also, my way you don't get nonstick lining in the finished product, which keeps forever if unopened, and quite well in the refrigerator afterwards.

Rikibeth 143: Oh, I wrote that unclearly. When making the honey ganache I only brought the cream-honey mixture to a bare boil, and poured it over the chocolate. When I make "boiled cream" I boil and boil and boil it, stirring the whole time, until it thickens; then I pour it into molds and chill it (after reading my confections book I may let it cool to room temperature before chilling from now on). My concern is less about cleaning the pot than about the cream sticking and burning. You're obviously a professional: you don't think that would happen? If not, I'll stop worrying about it.

#156 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Xopher 153: if you're stirring constantly, you really shouldn't need to worry about nonstick pans. If I were working over a gas range, I wouldn't even bother with finding the one stainless pot in the house; I'd just use a standard aluminum saucepan. Stainless is very much a necessity for making caramel, though. The aluminum pans promote crystallization something awful.

#157 ::: Donald Delny ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:08 PM:

#137, will shetterly,
Lee @130, thanks for reminding me that the care issue isn't so simple with Teflon and cast iron. I've seen far too many non-stick pans gouged by people using metal utensils, and too many plastic utensils melted by people who didn't pay attention to heat. The argument could be made that cast iron is actually easier to care for than non-stick.

Agreed. For most things, if I have a residue that I know won't come off stainless easily, I plan on adding wine, vinegar, or tomato sauce after I'm done to make a sauce. I still keep a tiny, 8" mystery-coated aluminum skillet for doing omlettes though. Eggs are funny to deal with.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:09 PM:

Rikibeth @ 154... Xopher 153: if you're stirring constantly... should you go see primary-care physician?

#159 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:18 PM:

I haven't gotten my money's worth out of my printer, but that's largely because I got it for college and then realized that library printing was not only free but two-sided. Mine is a good little printer, but the paper-grabbing mechanism is misbehaving. It makes sending out stories a bit interesting.

Thank you for the tips on cast iron, Will, but it's all things I already knew: I cannot treat cast iron the way I do the rest of my cookware. It's on the list of housekeeping things to experiment with, but it'll take a few years before I'm worn down by the cast-iron proponents.

#160 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:32 PM:

I have a few pots and pans -- frankly, salvaged from the trash -- of what I suspect are European origin with an unfamiliar non-stick coating. Dark, hard, pearly stuff. It seems much more durable than Teflon(tm).

One nice little pot, apparently discarded because the knob on top was partially melted, is wonderful for boiling oatmeal. The end product "plops" out leaving almost nothing behind. What is left behind wipes clean.

#161 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:41 PM:

(Sticking my head up here rather in the clutter thread because I'm, like, here already and it's a busy day).

In fact, very little of it- minus a stack of books or so- is my clutter; rather a lot of it is clutter inherited from my husband's family, unsorted, not terribly valuable, but not garbage so much as Midcentury Midwest Middle Class Tat.

And, up until yesterday morning, a whole lot of it was laundry; I'm on the tenth load of the stuff, drying on the line, because making it from dry day to dry day on towels and shirts and underwear is more energy and dollar efficient than drying clothing in the electric drier on rainy warmish winter days.

#162 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:51 PM:

JESR #159

I don't know about the no-dryer thing. I lived without one for a whole fall in Venice, and never really did get anything dry; it kept raining after I hung stuff out, and the ironing board doubled as a drying rack for underwear and stuff that hadn't dried during the day. (Besides, just getting to the line was dangerous, requirng me to lean a couple feet out of a fourth-floor window.)

#163 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 06:52 PM:

Xopher #153:

Of what book on confections do you speak? Calories notwithstanding, I'm beginning to get a bit interested in the subject.

#164 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 07:00 PM:

joann, thing is, if one has a drier, and can get things mostly dry on the line, it's the difference between a load of towels taking an hour or more to dry, and taking twenty minutes or less.

Also, it strikes me that Venice, if we're discussing the one in Italy, isn't a good place to get anything dry, by any means.

#165 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 07:16 PM:

Regarding lines vs. dryers, the apartment complex I once lived in in Tucson had a washer and no dryer. It had a clothesline set up next to the fence around the landlady's house at the edge of the parking area.

Trouble was, that parking area was unpaved. Every car which drove in kicked up a lovely dust cloud. If I hadn't had most of those clothes stolen while overseas, I'll bet I could still smell Arizona dust in some of the fraternity t-shirts that I might have kept this long.

#166 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 09:19 PM:

in the printer discussion: i have an epson stylus photo 1280 (colour, large-format) that is very trusty for my purposes, which include making art prints & arty experimentation (shoving all sorts of paper through it). but now, after, i think, four years, it's taken to printing rows of teeny blue lines in greater & lesser quantities over everything i print.

what this brings us to, is "ending is better than mending" all over again. i can't find any listings for printer repair in my town. even with as fancy (well, i thought it was fancy when i bought it) printer as mine, i'm supposed to junk it & get a new one??

#167 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Another reason to love cast iron: it actually adds a small amount of iron to the food you cook in it. A nice bonus for me, as my kids are vegetarians.

#168 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 10:03 PM:

Xopher, #153: Apparently there was at least one occasion when my mother's sister* was boiling a can of condensed milk for Caramel Pie and it exploded, creating a terrible mess all over the walls and ceiling of the kitchen. However, that's the only verifiable incident of that nature I've ever heard about -- so I'm inclined to put it down to a flaw in the can rather than an inherent danger in the cooking method.

* Not my aunt, because I formally disowned her (in writing, yet!) some 20 years ago. It's a long and unedifying story.

#169 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Lila, thanks for adding that! Here's another:

Cast iron pots won't dent or warp. You can drop an iron skillet and not worry about whether its lid will still fit. (On the other hand, drop one on your foot, and you'll wish you'd gone for flimsy.)

#170 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:07 PM:

miriam beetle -
what this brings us to, is "ending is better than mending" all over again. i can't find any listings for printer repair in my town. even with as fancy (well, i thought it was fancy when i bought it) printer as mine, i'm supposed to junk it & get a new one??

Epson Service centers for Postal Code V5Y 1V4

Gotten from the service center referral link on the Epson support website. (Guessing at the Postal Code, since your LJ says "Vancouver" - but that's sort of like saying "Rochester" - it's a big area, if not exactly a big city, and a lot of people say "Rochester" when they mean "Brockport" or "Orleans" or something).

Unfortunately, depending on what's wrong, it might, actually be cheaper to get a new one, than to get the old one fixed. But those are the folks you would want to talk to.

(Obscure computer repair fu. This is what I do).

#171 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:22 PM:

joann 161: Chocolates & Confections, by Peter P. Greweling, CMB. He's a professor of baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America. That's why I call it my CIA candy book!

It's actually a bit above my level. He assumes you have a guitar cutter and a refractometer and all sorts of other expensive stuff, and that you know all kinds of words he doesn't ever define. That said, it's got some great recipes in it (if you don't mind weighing everything and scaling down if you don't feel like making 250 pieces), the illustrations are clear and helpful, and the pictures of the candies will make your mouth water.

Lee 166: It might have been a flaw in the can, or in the person. Since you formally disowned her, presumably for a good reason, maybe it was just sheer bad karma that made the can explode!

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2008, 11:25 PM:

miriam, #164, I have an Epson stylus CX4800, which is different from yours, but I'm used to seeing blue lines when I run the printer tests. Anything in the booklet about that?

I can't lift cast iron pots. I have stainless-steel, non-stick, dishwasher-safe pots and pans. They're heavy enough and at least they're non-stick and go in the dishwasher.

#173 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 12:52 AM:

As seems to be a natural law, YMMV. About half the printing I do is final printing of color photographs, and for that even a color laser printer just doesn't do the job. What I'd really like to do is get a large drum or bed inkjet, professional photo quality, but those cost several thousand dollars, and I can't afford to spend that amount of money on a printer*. So an HP inkjet is probably the best I can get for what I do.

* Or at least not and have a camera as well, which sort of defeats the purpose.

#174 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Marilee, I've got something very similar- a Wolfgang Puck signiture brand, which I've been buying cheap at Marshall's. I swear the stuff makes me a better cook.

#175 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 06:15 AM:


thanks! akiciml, indeed. i've actually moved out to the suburbs, but this should be a great help.

#176 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 07:02 AM:

Bruce Cohen -
As noted, special needs/purposes dictate exceptions/exemptions. For general purposes, a laser is pretty much always more cost-effective - and more durable - than an inkjet. But there are areas where they do better, and color reproduction is one of them (until you get to comparing high-end color lasers to crappy consumer inkjets).

(At work, we buy non-laser devices for three basic purposes - plotter/large format devices, high-resolution/quality desktop photo printers for the publicity, publishing, and training departments, and a singular HP Officejet that we've started purchasing for some sales reps because one of the business units demanded an all-in-one be available for their remote reps, and we found one that will install without barfing four hundred megabytes of semi-crappy scanning, faxing and photo-manipulation software onto our nice, clean, relatively stable laptop image...).

#177 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 07:54 AM:

will @ # 167: on the down side, I actually managed to split a cast-iron skillet in half by accidentally leaving it (empty) on a burner turned up to high. It made a truly impressive sound.

#178 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 09:50 AM:

Lila, excellent!

Continuing the iron pot fandom: if you'd done the same with non-stick, you would've had evil, evil fumes, and I can't guess what the pot itself would've done. Melted? Burned?

#179 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Lila @ 175... I actually managed to split a cast-iron skillet in half

To quote Merlin after Arthur broke Excalibur on Lancelot's heart:
"You broke what could not be broken."

#180 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 10:54 AM:

will @ #176: re nonstick--yes, I've overheated a nonstick pot too (I blame the counterintuitive knobs on my electric stovetop--WHY can't they be arranged in a way that is homologous to the arrangement of the burners?) and it stank to high heaven. My daughter managed to melt the enamel coating on a teakettle this way. (Do you sense a pattern?)

#181 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 11:14 AM:

Lee @166: Although I've never personally incurred a condensed-milk explosion, I think structural flaws in the can could certainly be a contributing factor, along with the question of how much air was left in the can. PV = nRT (the ideal gas law) makes hot air want to get the hell outta Dodge City.

IIRC my mother once mentioned the regular practice at her nursing school of making condensed-milk dulce de leche by leaving cans in the autoclave overnight. Can't recall whether she reported any explosions in there, but if so, it would've been a lot of no fun to clean up.

#182 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 05:44 PM:

re 179: To really get a good explosion you have to heat the can up enough so that releasing the pressure puts the contents on the wrong side of the liquid/gas line in the phase diagram.

#183 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2008, 07:40 PM:

abi #57: We have nothing* on our walls but original art. Paintings, letterpress printing, photographs, limited edition lino and woodcuts. No reproductions, no prints of famous works.


Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #73: we have a lot of ceramic work, mostly pots, plates, and figures, that we have bought directly from the artist or from a gallery dealing directly with the artist

I'm coming late to this but I just wanted to say "thank you" to the pair of you. My husband has been trying to make it as an artist for the last three years, and it's people like you who've kept him going.

#184 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 01:12 AM:

JESR, #172, I can't actually cook much anymore. What I use the most is the 3.3 liter pot and lid for popcorn. I like making mine with peanut oil on the stove. But they're great stuff and they do let me do things like make popcorn and heat tortillas where I couldn't with things that had to be washed by hand or were heavier.

Madeline Kelly, all of the art I have is handmade, too. I know several of the artists and I wish I had money to buy more from them.

#185 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:18 AM:

Printers: Mine is a HP Laserjet 4L, made in June 1993 (it says so on the back) and still going strong.
It sits on my grandfather's desk, which is so solid that I can climb on it to look at the back of the printer, without so much as a creak (from the desk) - and I'm no lightweight.

#186 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Out of curiosity I asked our works welder and metal basher (over 30 years in factorys near Glasgow) about how you would mend a cast iron skillet. He reckons a bit of stainless steel welding would do the trick. Or silver solder.

#187 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 03:54 PM:

There is a weird disconnect with my generation and original art. A lot of artists work in the digital to start with - there ARE no original sketches, or at least not things recognizable as finished art. You can go to a con and find gorgeous, glossy digital prints that are as original and real as anything with a few ounces of oil paint on it. One of my most prized pieces of art is a limited edition Penny Arcade digital print of Tea With The Moon.

Not that I won't spend more for the real, visceral thing with a few ounces of oil paint. I used to be an acrylics painter myself, and there's nothing like a real painting. But prints are a 'different' thing than they used to be, in some cases.

I also mean to someday have a wall decorated with comic convention artist sketches, neatly framed (or at least matted). Has anyone here ever done something like that? I like the idea, but have little idea how to execute it attractively.

My one possible avenue of wandering away from 'real' things is my great fascination with Gachapon, the tiny, indescribably intricate Japanese capsule collectible toys. I have several hundred of them, only about 25-50 of which are on display at any one time. I'd like to get some sort of wall-mounted lightboxes and do something cool with them someday... someday.

#188 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:35 PM:

Leah Miller #185: Not that I won't spend more for the real, visceral thing with a few ounces of oil paint. I used to be an acrylics painter myself, and there's nothing like a real painting. But prints are a 'different' thing than they used to be, in some cases.

Yeah, that's one of the problems my husband's come up against. His main interest is in creating layered, evocative, abstract images using Photoshop, which are then printed onto canvas and stretched over a wooden frame. They're original works of art, in that the design is all his, but multiple copies are available. He hasn't yet found a way of marketing this or explaining it properly. The moment he says "canvas prints" most people assume he's talking about stock photographs, or those massive sunset prints you can buy on Ebay. Traditional art galleries won't touch him because the artwork was created digitally.

In fact, while I'm here complaining I may as well ask: does anyone have any idea how/where he could be selling these pictures? After two years of minimum wage, and one year of sub-minimum wage, he's getting close the point of giving up. [And there were several sentences here, none of which worked, and all of which boiled down to me saying DO NOT WANT.]

#189 ::: Donald Delny ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Madeline Kelly, 186,
I would call them digital prints and be done with it. It's every bit as legitimate as, say, lithography, which has long been regarded as a legit high-art plus mass-production medium. Perhaps there are some galleries that specialize in prints that would be interested?

However, I would skip the canvas printing. Stretched canvas is an expedient solution to a certain kind of technical problem with painting. Printing on canvas is, um, imitative of a process that wasn't used to make the art. That imitativeness is a marker of fakeness in some contexts, thus the problem you describe. (I intend this not as an insult, just as an explanation for the communication problem.)

If the texture of the canvas was not part of the original design decision of the artist, then I would not want to purchase an image put upon it. I would be more interested in a perfectly flat, archival, heavyweight paper that was appropriately mounted (and framed), so that nothing would come between me and the image, and so that nothing would screw it up later.

(If you have patrons who want their prints on canvas, great! Give them what they want.)

#190 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2008, 12:44 AM:

Donald, the benefit of the canvas is that the picture stretches over the edge of the frame. It's not neatly stuck in a frame, it's all there, right in front of you.

Madeline, what about limited digital overall prints? I used overall to mean the picture over the frame edges. There's probably a better word for that. And making them limited may make people more interested. I think they're great, but as before, I don't have the money now. I really like the leaf one. It would fit my green condo quite well.

#191 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2008, 02:45 AM:


I would try checking back "issues" (i.e. archives) of Boing-Boing, for some of the artists that Mark, David, Cory et al. have admired who work in digital media and art prints, see what galleries and agents represent their work, and contact them. I know a number of their raves have been artists doing work in similar digital-printed media to your husband (not necessarily similar content.) If you talk to those galleries or to those artists' agents, they may like your husband's work or they may not, but at least they'll have an idea what he's doing in terms of media.

If he can find a good agent, even just to talk to for a while, he might get some advice about how to approach it as a business. I would assume for instance that there's a good reason most artists produce only limited editions of most of their work, and make a point of destroying the original after X # copies have been made; I would assume it both maintains scarcity value and establishes urgency in a potential buyers mind, but I have only guesses. A experienced artists' agent would know.

Also... do you know a good commercial copy-writer? Please don't take this wrong, but I think there is something just a little bit off in the choice of words in the website you linked which gives the wrong impression. Referring to his artwork as "Product", or displaying results as "products meeting the search criteria" gives me the initial impression from the website that it's mass-produced in the same sense as ... I don't know, greeting cards or something. I'm pretty sure that's not what it's intending to convey. Just my opinion, FWIW.

#192 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2008, 08:20 AM:

Thanks for the advice! I knew I could rely on ML.

Donald Delny #188: Yeah, we've been looking for digital print galleries for the last couple of years. I find it hard to believe they don't exist, but they do seem to be very good at hiding.

My husband's tried selling heavyweight paper prints but he's only sold a handful, compared with almost 300 canvas prints. The people have spoken!

Marilee #189: I think they're lovely too. The irony is that we also wouldn't be able to afford them if they weren't -- aside from the printing process -- home-made. He gave me this one for my birthday last year. Whenever I see it, I'm transported to a forest pool.

Clifton Royston #190: Ooh, lots of good ideas! I have had a skeet at BoingBoing before now, without success. Clearly I'll have to search deeper in the archives.

You're right about the language. I think he used OSCommerce's default text for a lot of things. I've convinced him to make sorting that site out a priority. Having explored it a bit more yesterday, I can see that a lot of the links aren't logical, and the front page doesn't work the same way as the main shop pages. And so on.

Right. I'm off to visit BoingBoing...

#193 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2008, 02:54 AM:

Madeline: As a third alternative, Joe Decker ( has done some things with getting his large digital photos mounted on aluminum sheet, which I remember looking quite stunning in person.

#194 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 01:18 PM:

#119 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden :

Naomi (100): Why would you have to replace a pottery vessel that had gotten saturated with food? Just re-fire the sucker and it'll all burn off. Or maybe that's the ancient world's equivalent of our failure to recycle glass and metal: sure, you could do it; but it's easier to just throw it on the midden out back.

It takes the same amount of wood to fire an old batch as a new. I'm thinking of the huge areas deforested by occupations that used wood (ceramics, glass-blowing). And as fewer potters would be employed reprocessing, and as they'd be the ones doing the sorting and refiring, we can guess why they preferred to make and sell new.

Also, some of the contaminants volatilized might affect other stuff in the kiln.

[now going to read intervening posts]

#195 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2008, 07:27 PM:

Madeline Kelly @188 - Lots of places do just say "Digital Art Prints", but others use "giclee" (ideally with a tic mark over the first "e"), which means "invented french word for ink-jet print":

#196 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2009, 11:21 PM:

Don Simpson: The Iris printers on which the process was coined (and there is interesting involvement in their design, on the part of Graham Nash) aren't the same as my Canon i9900.

Which is why the set up cost for a print on them runs from 50-200 dollars. Yes, it's a form of inkjet, but the range of color and the detail of resolution is a trifle different.

Looking at the various links it seems the ka

Then again I am annoyed at photographers who make a point of, "Silver gelatin" prints, because that's all photo-paper is.

Leah Miller: A "digital" print isn't any different from a printed photograph. I tend to do limited editions... since I work from .RAW format it's easy, I just delete the edited versions when I've finished the print run. In that regard it's both easier, and harder, than when I do a limited edition of a negative (to be sure I don't repeat, I have to write down the details of the enlargement, which means I can reproduce the same image. Once I delete the edit file, there is no way I can do better than get close).

Madeline Kelly: I will disagree with Don. If the image looks good on canvas, then it looks good on canvas. I have some images which canvas treats really well. Maia got me a giclée of some grapes at the point of harvest which is stunning. It's on canvas, and demands a textured surface. Art is what it is. As to where to sell... try Photographer's Market, and look at the Galleries listings.

Then it's just like selling books, you have to get them in front of the "editors".

#197 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 09:14 AM:

Terry Karney@196

"seems the ka"?

#198 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 09:32 AM:

Terry @ 196: Then again I am annoyed at photographers who make a point of, "Silver gelatin" prints, because that's all photo-paper is.

I also find it annoying except when the photographer is using it to distinguish the print from one made by any of the myriad other processes. Most photographers who use the term are using it as way of not saying "print made on ordinary photo-paper". That sounds kind of cheap and everyone knows silver is valuable. However, I know people who love dabbling in archaic or just plain weird processes and when the say it they mean "not a cyanotype, salt print, or whatever other process I might have been playing with that week."

#199 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 01:12 PM:

"Buy real" could also be good stock market advice: buy stock in actual manufacturers (or service providers, whatever), rather than derivatives.

Direct investment supports those companies, whose survival and success in turn repays your investment.

Derivatives are only a side bet, and ultimately you don't know who'll end up repaying you or whether they will -- witness the crash in credit default swaps.

#200 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 07:11 PM:

Sorry, "seems the case that the term is drifting to, "high quality ink-jet", rather than the more expensive; and subtle, use of professional printers with greater range and resolution.

Most photographers who use the term are using it as way of not saying "print made on ordinary photo-paper". When they use it that way they are lying. The "ordinary" for photo paper is silver-gelatin. If it's a traditional process black and white print, that's the paper it's on.

When I see that I think, "pretentious git,", because there is no need to make the distintion. If one is doing cyanotype, daguerrotyope, salt print, etc. the thing to mention is the exception.

What it looks like to me, when someone says, "see, I am using the default" is an attempt to get the less aware to spend extra money, not on merit, but from implication of extra effort.

The only real exception to that is the phrase, "hand coated", if they are making their own papers, then knowing what the emulsion was matters.

It's not that I expect the average viewer/customer to be able to recognise a platinum print from a silver, but that it's inflating the apparent value of the baseline.

#201 ::: David Harmon sees likely spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 10:13 AM:

A speed complaint on a 3-year-old thread? Link doesn't load.

#202 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 09:17 PM:

Julie L at 94 and Avram at 95:

The one-n canon, that's an ordinance
The two-n cannon, that's an ordnance

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