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March 28, 2008

Open thread 104
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 08:12 PM *

China Mountain Zhang, Maureen McHugh (Zhang Zhong Shan speaking):

“We’re using mathematics as metaphors,” I explain. “Science filters into the general public as metaphors that describe our world, our history. For Marx, there were only two possibilities, that history was either predictable or it was random. If it was random, then it should have behaved in a random fashion, but Newton had described the universe as governed by natural laws. Marx’s genius was in determining that social history was also governed by recognizable factors. He set out to systematically define those factors—the basic ones economic—and then, once he thought he had, he did for society what Newton’s system did for planetary motion, he predicted the future.”

Peter Quince at the Clavier, Wallace Stevens:

Just as my fingers on these keys
Make music, so the self-same sounds
On my spirit make a music too.

Music is feeling then, not sound;
And thus it is that what I feel,
Here in this room, desiring you,

Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,
Is music.

A security review of the human heart

Quantum kitten has become entangled.

Heisenberg in Love

We are sexy, sexy Von Neumann machines

Comments on Open thread 104:
#1 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 08:17 PM:

I wish I had quantum cats who could go from one side of the venetian blinds to the other without breaking them.

#2 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 08:20 PM:

Any comments on Amazon's grab for printing PODs?

It's certainly something I was hoping wouldn't occur after I became aware of this last year when they sent a letter to Double Dragon Publishing. Now I see they're intent on forcing this on all the POD publishers.

#3 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 08:30 PM:

i loved china mountain zhang! & it should be noted, that quote there is not "the voice of the author."

#4 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 08:46 PM:

Strange thing. I can remember a time when I was completely disgusted by pictures of animals or little children with cutesy captions stuck on them. Lot of nerve, fancying that one was reading their mind and assigning words to their already eloquent physiognomies. So now I'm 50, and I chuckle over at least 10% of LOLcats. Must be creeping senescence.

I still laugh harder at the version Kurtzman did in MAD comics, starting off with kid pictures but soon switching to photos of Mickey Rooney and some prize fighter, giving them drooling baby talk captions. (The ancestor of the Python sketch where John Cleese's mum and her friend are treating him like an infant, although he is an accountant or some such, culminating in the memorable moment when Missus N explodes. "Don't be so sentimental, Mother. People explode every day.")(In an open thread, it's downright impossible to digress. Sign me up!)

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 08:49 PM:

I published China Mountain Zhang and I concur with miriam. But it's a lovely provocative quote anyway.

#6 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:04 PM:

Today is Blog Against Torture Day, and in honour of that, I submit a translation of a poem by the Cuban poet Roberto Fernández Retamar. Here's the original:

El Otro

Por Roberto Fernández Retamar

Nosotros, los sobrevivientes,

¿A quiénes debemos la sobrevida?

¿Quién se murió por mí en la ergástula,

Quién recibió la bala mía,

La para mí, en su corazón?

¿Sobre qué muerto estoy yo vivo,

Sus huesos quedando en los míos,

Los ojos que le arrancaron, viendo

Por la mirada de mi cara;

y la mano que no es su mano,

que no es ya tampoco la mía,

escribiendo palabras rotas

donde él no está, en la sobrevida?

1 de enero de 1959

The Other (1 January 1959)

We the survivors,

to whom do we owe our survival?

Who died for me in the torture cell,

who got my bullet, the one meant for me,

right in his heart?

On whose corpse do I stand living,

his bones remaining in mine,

the eyes they plucked seeing

with the vision of my face;

and the hand that is not his,

and is also no longer mine,

writing broken words,

where he is not

surviving?

Fernández Retamar wrote these words to celebrate the triumph of the Cuban revolution, the collapse of the Batista dictatorship that had killed and tortured his friends in the rebel student movement of the 1950s. I find a certain irony in the words given what the government of a republic that for more than two centuries has stood, or claimed to stand for the principles of liberty and human dignity is doing on the poet's native island right now.

#7 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Speaking of McHugh, who's editing this year's Best Poetry anthology? I knew it was someone I had an interest in but can't remember now. Actually looking it up feels like cheating, whereas simply asking other people is less so. My life as crossword.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:29 PM:

Re Best Poetry: Heather McHugh =/= Maureen McHugh. Oh, you knew that. Right, then.

I find the date on the Fernandez Retamar poem striking, since I was born a day later. 2 January 1959, by some accounts the day Castro entered Havana. Yes, I'm the age of the Cuban Revolution.

Age really does creep up on us. I remember the day I was gobsmacked to discover I was older than the newly-elected leader of the British Conservative Party. In this Presidential election, I may will wind up being older than the nominee of the Democratic Party. But all that pales next to the discovery that I'm older than every finalist for this year's Hugo Award for Best Novel. Good god, John Scalzi has barely left fetal development behind, no wonder all his author photographs look bald and lumpy. If you need me, I'll be gumming my medications in the sun room.

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:46 PM:

PNH #8 At the time that poem was written I was a toddler. By the time Scalzi was born I'd already crossed the Atlantic three times (twice by ship, once by plane) and had already passed my first public examination. Ye gods, I'm ancient.

#10 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Fragano @6: That's a beautiful and compelling poem.

The feelings evoked inside me when I read it remind me of Pavel Friedman's poem, written in the Prague Ghetto, before he was deported to Terezin (Theresienstadt), and then to Auschwitz.



"The Butterfly"

The last, the very last,

So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.

Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing

against a white stone. . . .

Such, such a yellow

Is carried lightly 'way up high.

It went away I'm sure because it wished to

kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,

Penned up inside this ghetto.

But I have found what I love here.

The dandelions call to me

And the white chestnut branches in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.

Butterflies don't live in here,

in the ghetto.

Pavel Friedman 4.6.1942

(_I never saw another butterfly. Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944_ Edited by Hana Volavkova; revised and expanded by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. New York: Schocken Books, Inc. 1993.)

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:54 PM:

New photos on making light and faces...

Avram Grumer

Jim Macdonald ( "Did I tell you of the time one EMT customer's head exploded?")

John M Ford (fellow fan of Jason King)

Paul A

Kip W (and his daughter)

Lance Weber (and his daughter)

Page One: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw

Page Two: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw?page=2

Page Three: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw?page=3

Yes, we're now starting Page Three. Unfortunately, Neil Willcox is all by himself right now.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Argh. The fellow fan of Jason King is Paul A, not Mike, although Mike may have been a fan too, but I don't know that and what's the use? I screwed up. Waugh!!!

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Marx’s genius was in determining that social history was also governed by recognizable factors...

...but for you I'd make love to a crocodile.

#14 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Serge, you need to request a feature for LJ's gallery. Ask them to put a "next page" link at the bottom of the page as well as at the top. It's annoying to have to scroll back up to move forward to the following page.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:04 PM:

Ginger #10: It's a lot better than some of his more propagandistic poems of the 60s ('With the same hands that caress you I am building a school').

That is a wonderfully evocative piece about the butterfly.

#16 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:10 PM:

I'd love to work up to a good pun around schroedinger's cats and heisenbugs... but it's been much, much too long of a week for that degree of uncertainty.

#17 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:16 PM:

@Dave, #2

Sorry, I would love to comment but I have no idea what you're talking about.

Although DD certainly looks..."interesting."

Yellow Fever is perhaps the best title for a novel about a kick-a$$ Asian heroine ever.

On an unrelated note, I am soon going to be in the Chicago area and I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good used bookstore. The mustier the better.

Cheers!

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:18 PM:

Serge #12: 'Waugh'? Would that be Evelyn, Alec or Auberon?

#19 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:22 PM:

Quantum Kitten originally appeared here, along with a number of other physics cats.

#20 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:23 PM:

Fragano @ 15: Ugh..propaganda and poems just don't mix well. Just look at all the Soviet propaganda written during the phase of "Socialist Realism" (i.e., the award-winning book, _Cement_ -- or any of the poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky.) Better yet, don't look.

The Friedman poem has an alternate translation that refers to the "white chestnut candles", which I think is more poetical. For some reason that isn't the official translation of his poem.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:47 PM:

Fragano @ 18... Nope. It's Lucy van Pelt's Waugh!!!

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:51 PM:

Linkmeister @ 14... I agree. Why they thought the next page didn't need to be displayed at the top and at the bottom, I know not. I've also been annoyed at their making it impossible to freeze the order in which we want things to appear on the page displaying all galleries. Now, if only I could figure out how to request new features from LiveJournal...

#23 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Nice to see the 'Making Faces' photos, but I think I'll stick to anonymity, as I've mentioned discussing bullies & such some time back, I'm still cautious after bad experiences. There's a bunch of Epacris images online, but few are mine, like these.

Does anyone else expect Niall McAuley to break into either a scientific dissertation on biology, ecology or geology, or something learned on Bronze Age lifestyles — though perhaps less learned-sounding, in a Tony Robinson style?

#24 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:01 PM:

Fragano @18, or Steve & Mark, the Waugh twins? (Mark is also said to be called 'Afghanistan, the forgotten Waugh')

#25 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:06 PM:

xeger @ 16:

Heisenbugs? These are bugs that you can either see or hear but never both at the same time?

Well, we all know Schroedinger's cat will catch them...maybe.

#26 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Allan Beatty, this?


see more crazy cat pics

There's also one where the kitten tried to jump and went 'through' the raising and lowering cord and got caught amidships (right where hips meet body) and someeone took a picture before releasing it.

#27 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:10 PM:

Random Thought: You'd never be able to get a quantum kitty to move from the doorway. ("In or out, cat? In or out?" "Yes")

#28 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Ginger @27 ...

Wouldn't you expect a quantum kitty to simply walk through walls?

#29 ::: Elyse Grasso ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Ginger @27

And that differs from any other cat in a doorway how?

I suppose if they are all quantum cats, it may explain a lot.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:43 PM:

Squee!

#31 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:47 PM:

In addition to exhibiting quantum characteristics, I firmly believe qats and qittens can actually perceive quantum states. Just because you can't see what a qitty is batting at in the air, or when it seems to be chasing something unseen, doesn't mean something might or might not be there...



#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:54 PM:

Dave Harmon: The Ruling in the Tulsa case was 4-1 on the appeal of the dismissal by a lower court. So five judges (out of six) have read the law as not providing the protection.

#33 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2008, 11:55 PM:

Patrick at #8:

Do you know the song "Older'n Everybody" by Lou and Peter Berryman? It expresses exactly what you're feeling.

Jim at #17:

Been a while since I went bookstore-crawling.

Try O'Gara and Wilson on 57th Street, who, I am surprised to discover, have a blog.

On the blog are pointers to a bunch of other Chicago used bookstores, notably the local branch of Powell's, which is on the same street.

They're at 1448 E 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637.

This is a few blocks from the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago. The University bookstore and the Seminary Co-Op bookstore are nearby if you have any money left over for new-type books.

There used to be clusters of bookstores on the north side of the city, but I'm more out of date on those, especially since Alice Bentley closed The Stars Our Destination. Been trying to cut down, and maybe read some of the books I purchased in my thirties and forties at Powell's, O'Gara's, etc...

#34 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:08 AM:

It's been snowing on and off here in the Seattle area for the past two days. Such a bizarre way to begin spring break. Seemed like it should have been the winter break instead.

#35 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Ginger #20: Ugh, try looking at anything created during the socialist realism era...have you ever seen any of the movies? Yee-ikes.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:34 AM:

ethan @ 35... I rather liked Siberiade.

#37 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:43 AM:

[in passing]

Dave Kuzminski, #2: "In the past few days news has emerged that Internet book-selling giant Amazon.com has been pressuring small publishing houses who use print-on-demand services like Lightning Source (owned by Ingram), Lulu, and PublishAmerica to switch to Amazon's own in-house POD service or have their 'buy' button removed." *

#38 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 01:06 AM:

I returned from Minicon on Tuesday, but have only tonight caught up with ML. I had a good time, got lots of old WashPosts read so I'm only two weeks behind now, and Elise gave me Mike's kidney pin. I'm starting to chronicle the con by day in my LJ.

#39 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Serge #36: I haven't seen that movie (yet), but I didn't mean that all of Soviet film was bad...some of my favorite movies ever (The Cranes Are Flying, f'rexampe, or the original Solaris) are Soviet. It's the ones from the period when filmmakers had to stick entirely to socialist realist conventions that are unwatchable (end of the thirties into the early fifties, if I remember right...the latter end of the Stalin years).

#40 ::: JoXn Costello ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 01:21 AM:

The opening post of this thread makes me want to strongly recommend Paul Ford's Love Lost to the Ylem to all of you. So, I do. It's short, quantum, and deals with the vagaries of the human heart.

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Ethan: Rublyev. That's a kick ass movie.

#42 ::: Michael Martin ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 02:56 AM:

Re: Soviet propaganda: The People's Mario parody comes to mind. (Warning: animated violence)

#43 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:09 AM:

Fragano @ #18: 'Waugh'? Would that be Evelyn, Alec or Auberon?

And, if Evelyn Waugh, would that be Evelyn Waugh or Evelyn Waugh's spouse Evelyn Waugh?

(The writer Evelyn Waugh's wife was also named Evelyn.)

#44 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:30 AM:

In #888 of Open Thread 103, R. M. Koske writes of Lichtenberg Figures:

That was exceedingly cool. It also makes me curious about the processes of discovery that led up to such a seemingly unlikely activity.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg discovered them in 1777 playing around with a pointy electrode and powdered sulfur.

The dry ice seems to be the part that blows my mind the most, though it may be more logical and self-evident than putting slabs of acrylic into the particle accelerator in the first place.

You have to whack the slab with a shockwave-- typically, a hammer and nail-- thereby creating a discharge point. This must be done fairly soon after the electrons have been trapped; I gather that an hour or two is usual. I presume this was learned from trial and error. The plastic is not a perfect insulator, so the electrons will gradually leak out and dissipate the charge.

So in reasoning "why do they leak out?" one realizes that it depends upon the resistivity of the acrylic. Turns out that the resistivity increases sharply at low temperatures. Chilling the slabs on dry ice before exposing them to the electron beam allowed Todd Johnson to take a bunch home, in a cooler, and whack the slabs one by one over the course of a week, each time with great fanfare. He did one at the cafeteria lunch table, as you saw, one at a local restaurant, one at the opening of the Fermilab employees' exhibition at our art gallery, and one for kids at a "Lab Rats" gathering at the Scitech museum in Aurora. He became a very popular guy that week.

I'm guessing the resulting figures are actually useful artifacts for study in their own right? Or are they mostly a pretty novelty resulting from a studiable moment?

Mostly a novelty. Bert Hickman of Stoneridge Engineering (motto: " Wreaking Havoc with Electrons for over Forty Years." I kid you not.) seems to be the leading practitioner. He peddles LFs to Edmund Scientific, and also offers them on his Web site, next to the shrunken quarters. They're quite lovely, especially when displayed on an illuminated base.

Mind you, understanding what happens when insulators break down and current flows is pretty important in several kinds of engineering. So there is a considerable literature that touches on these things.

Theo Gray recently wrote a column in Popular Science about Lichtenberg Figures. He's a colorful character himself.

(This will probably wind up in moderation-purgatory. I put in a lot of URLs.)

#45 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 04:39 AM:

I have amended the post to clarify that Zhang is speaking.

#46 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:36 AM:

Hey Serge -

thanks so much for that "Making Light and Faces" collection - I've always been terminally curious about what the people round here looked like. Now I am... enlightened. Which is only appropriate.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:06 AM:

ethan @ 39... stick entirely to socialist realist conventions that are unwatchable

I somehow managed to avoid those. As for Siberiade, I haven't seen it since the mid-1980s. It is a long movie. Then again, it was a Soviet movie. Then again again it was about Siberia throughtout the 20th Century, and I found it quite entertaining.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:10 AM:

Steve Taylor @ 46... I've always been terminally curious

"The Grail is in the Castle of Arrrgggggh!!!"

Thanks, I do hope that the Gallery doesn't really cause the demise of those who gaze upon it. I have recently added Ginger the invertebrate punster, and Marilee doing some advertising for Peeps. What about your portrait?

#49 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:44 AM:

Looking at the photographs....

Grouch Marx on Star Trek?

Well, not quite, but...

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:58 AM:

Dave Bell @ 49 Groucho Marx on Star Trek?

" Space...The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise. Its mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out wine, women and song."

#51 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 08:37 AM:

Serge at #48 writes:

> What about your portrait?

But I already *know* what I look like!

Oh. I see. I look a bit like:

http://teapot7.com/who_me.jpg

#52 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Serge @11 Unfortunately, Neil Willcox is all by himself right now.

I had a witty, erudite, amusing and informative reply to that, but no one could hear me. Hello! (I note that I have now been joined by some other W surnames)

From Open Thread 103, the reason I noted that Serge looked very serious in his photos is that I always imagine him grinning (and occasionally chortling to himself) as he types.

Ginger @27 ("In or out, cat? In or out?" "Yes") - Last year when I was catsitting some house cats, one of them had forced it's way into the cat-lock, and when I opened the door one inch, whizzed through. Her sister, who has been officially diagnosed stupid, was standing there clearly unable to make up her mind; race for freedom or um... not?

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Neill Willcox @ 52... I do grin a lot, especially when I'm here. That unfortunately doesn't come across well in photographs thus my showing restraint in such cases. I guess I could try a Bwahahahah!!! portrait one of these days. I have a gladius, a little dog, a cat genius, and a Dalek. I should be able to do something with all that.

#54 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Thanks for putting my picture up, Serge. I should note, it's more than 20 years old. My niece, the future doctor, is about to graduate from college and has already been accepted to med school. I haven't changed much, though.

#55 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Serge, I suppose my default userpic from LJ is as good a picture as any for the gallery:

http://www.livejournal.com/allpics.bml?user=rikibeth

Although people have also recognized me from the cartoon one labeled "Bandanagirl." I spent a lot of time with the icon-maker and a pocket mirror, making the features match.

Or I could e-mail you some others, most of which would be me all gothed up for dancing.

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:44 AM:

Steve Taylor @ 51... You're now part of the Exhibition. (So is Mary Aileen.) I hope the blurb is ok. If not, I can change it. In some cases, I've made it up. Really. Teresa doesn't really have an army of mutant hamsters ready to do her bidding. (Or does she?) I made a suggestion to Sajia, which was ok with her, although I was tempted to use her alternative about Foglio's Bangladesh Dupree. As for Bill Higgins, yes, there really was a Weird 20% sign at that bookstore.

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:50 AM:

You're welcome, Mary Aileen.

The LiveJournal icon would work, Rikibeth, but do email those other photos. Of course, I would never choose the one likely to result in the most atrocious blurb joke.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:01 AM:

Ginger #20: Well, he was (still is I think, he was still alive when last I checked)a sincere revolutionary, and back in my twenties I found a love poem that celebrated going out into the country to build a school for the peasants less incongruous ('I wore what I thought were work clothes, but they still called me señor'). It is difficult to get the Muse and Cause into harness, it seems.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Serge #18: I was hoping for some sort of scoop, but I'll have to put out more flags before I reach my island in the sun. You seem to have closed the circle by pulling away the ball.

#60 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Terry Karney #41: The Tarkovsky movie, or something I've never heard of? Despite my Tarkovsky fanboyism, I haven't gotten to that one yet, although it's been next-on-the-list for a few years now.

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Tim Walters #43: That must have led to some confusing telephone conversations.

#62 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:31 AM:

serge, here's a picture of me in a characteristic attitude. (The wirehaired mini-dachshund in my lap, Schnitzel, is also in a characteristic attitude.)

#63 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:08 PM:

The problem with Solaris is that it's impossible to talk about or recommend without sounding a bit insane.

"So there's this shot of grass, right, and this farmhouse, and a long sequence of Moscow highway and then little people and madmen and enormous sea-babies, in space of course, and you're given a sour taste of happiness and gag on it again and again, and all of it is hypnotizing and effective as hell. Plus, more grass."

Why won't anyone just trust me?

#64 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Also I'm here.

#65 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Serge, here's one of Scraps and me, if you'd like lurkers/occasional posters: http://www.well.com/~wren/tour6.jpg

#66 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 12:50 PM:

xeger, Elise, Neil:

I have found that non-quantum cats respond very well to reverse psychology, so I've always not chased them, and not held the door for them. Worked great for years.

Now all my cats are indoors only, thus by definition they cannot be Heisenbergian or quantum, although I have one who is a domestic commando (you can't see him until he moves).

#67 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Gursky #63: By long sequence of Moscow highway, surely you mean extremely long, long, long, very long, very, very long, long sequence of Moscow highway?

#68 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:10 PM:

I have a question for the collective wisdom of Making Light.

In late April I need to get from Madison, WI to Waltham, MA for a Saturday event. I have very little money to do this, and I also don't want to inconvenience too many other people.

My first thought was to fly from Madison to Boston, but I would have to fly out Friday and back on Sunday or Monday to get a decent flight, which would mean more overnight stays *somewhere* and depending on where I was staying, more difficulty getting to and from the airport. (Plus TSA fun.)

Then I started considering Amtrak which would cost a but less and would only require one overnight stay in MA, and which would also make getting to and from the station fairly easy. The catch is that I have to leave Chicago on the Thursday and have two overnights on the train on the way there (in coach seating) and one on the way back. Some friends are tellng me that is completely crazy.

So my question for those of you who have traveled in the US: plane or train?

#69 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:16 PM:

kayjayoh @68: My vote's for the train. "Coach" on a train is still more legroom than on a plane, and they don't keep you from getting up to walk around during the trip. Even with the new regulations, I'd bet that there's still less hassle getting on a train.

#70 ::: dave hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Serge@11 - So that's what you all look like..

#71 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Kayjayoh,

The Chicago to NYC/Boston train (it splits into 2 sections in Albany, NY), which I pick up in Buffalo to go to NYC, is usually late into Buffalo, in either direction, to the point that trains which are scheduled to leave later than it leave before it.

It's possible to sleep in coach; I've done it. And I prefer train travel to plane travel when I can; the lack of security theater, the ability to move around and watch the scenery makes me happy.

#72 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:33 PM:

The Chicago to NYC/Boston train

From what I can tell, my trip would be Chicago to DC, DC to Boston.

#73 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Lila @ #62, where can I get a desktop tower with ears, like the one you've got?

#74 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 03:57 PM:

ethan @ 67

Oh, no, much longer than that. And they took away the exit signs, so you have no idea if you're there yet.

Serge

That's the Tom Mix "Whoa!"

dave hutchinson @ 70

No, that's what I hypnotized you to think I look like.

And again, Serge, thanks for putting those photos up. If you're wondering why I look so solemn in mine, I was contemplating the lawn all covered with kids; that was my younger son's wedding, and now I'm all out of unmarried children.

#75 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 04:03 PM:

Pictures emailed to Serge. I'm loving the gallery! Will be good to be able to recognize you if I ever see any of you wandering the streets of Bloomington, Illinois...

Or perhaps more likely, if I ever make it out of this god-forsaken town and fulfill my dream of living in a country where things like universal health care and vacation time and paternity leave are considered important. /returns to plotting escape plan

#76 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 04:05 PM:

"I'll take Soviet Realist Filmmaking for $400, Alex"

"'This is our socialist life and death, mother!'"

What is the question?

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Latest arrivals to the Exhibition... EClaire, Gursky, Lila, Rikibeth, and Velma with Scraps... No blurbs, alas, although I was tempted to put "Squee!" under EClaire's picture. I also had a pun in mind, re Rikibeth, but it was so lame, even by my paltry standards, that I decided to abstain. ("And there was much rejoicing. Yay!")

#78 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Serge, where would one email a photo?

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 04:26 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 74... I was contemplating the lawn all covered with kids

The horror! The horror!

#80 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 05:07 PM:

I look slightly manic in my photo only because I discovered that if I smile as if the most exciting thing ever has just happened (Bush impeached? Ice cream named most important food group?) then I can avoid the eyes-half-closed, slightly drugged look that is otherwise inevitable when the flash goes off. The super new cameras that have red-eye reduction flashes are unflattering to those of us with blinky eyes.

And I was on Mt. Rainier, which is certainly worth a "Squee!" anyway.

#81 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 68: I'd agree the train is nice if you have more time than money. It's less hassle over all, and sleeping in coach is no worse than sleeping in an armchair.

On the other hand, Amtrak is often late. Passenger trains don't have priority and the crew have maximum shift times, so if they miss a windows it's all over. So if you're going for an event, leave plenty of time...

Serge: Don't know if I'm worthy of gallery inclusion, but there's a small photo here I can dig up a larger copy if you like. The best portrait of me is this one but I don't know how BY-SA interacts with photo collections. Probably best to ask if you want to use it.

#82 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 05:49 PM:

#44, Bill Higgins -

Many thanks for the extra details. Very neat stuff.

#83 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 68: how good a sleeper are you? will your event be ruined by 1-2 nights of so-so sleep?

If the answer to the latter question is 'no', I'd train it. But do bring along whatever you'll need to sleep well: I did the DC-Boston overnight, and I would have killed for a pillow and earplugs.

There are very few people on the DC-Boston leg, so you'll be able to spread out some. Don't know if the same is true of Chicago-DC, but (based on my one time doing it 7 years ago) I'd guess no.

Washroom facilities on coach are pretty basic, so, after 2 days on the train, you'll end up copping a shower from someone in MA.

#84 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Ralph Giles @ 82... Don't know if I'm worthy of gallery inclusion

I thought it was ML people who were doing me an honor, not the other way around. That being said, I like the small photo best, but if you can easily find and email me the larger version, go for it.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:33 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 78... Use the address in "view all by". By the way, it is not necessary for anybody to ask if I'd be interested. Just send the photo and up it'll go.

#86 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Terry @#32: Grrr... Sigh.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:41 PM:

EClaire @ 80... Ice cream named most important food group?

I second the motion.

I should probably try the happy thought, when I am photographed. As Neil Willcox pointed out, I take the opposite approach when I'm about to be photographed, looking as serious as possible. (On the other hand, I thought I was smiling in the gallery's photo of me in that rowboat.)

#88 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 68:

I had to check to make sure, and indeed there is a better train route for a Chicago-Boston trip. The Lake Shore Limited runs through Cleveland and New York State, breaking for Boston at Albany. It looks like you depart Chicago at 10pm and arrive in Framingham at 9pm the next day for about $80.

#89 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Serge at #56 writes:

> Steve Taylor @ 51... You're now part of the Exhibition.

Thanks Serge.

> God is NOT happy with Steve.

That's not the hand of God though - it's my four year old daughter. One is the supreme being who controls my world, and the other is, well, God.

#90 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 06:52 PM:

I was 12 when I learned to smile well for photographs.

That was when I went to the local swimming pool to get a membership card, and came back with a very good one. Since most pictures of me were stiff and zombie-like&dagger, my mother asked me how they had managed to get such a good shot.

(inaudible mutter)

"What?"

"They told me to say pbpxfhpxre*."

"Well, that was clever."

Until the next round of small children were old enough to repeat things, my family did not say "cheese" for group photos. Instead, my mother would command, brightly, "OK, everyone say zbgureshpxre," and suddenly we'd get a picture of people with genuine smiles on their faces.

I still think of it, when I can't find any other reason to laugh just as the shutter goes.

----

† Just a figure of speech, Caroline.

* Not having access to Rot-13, I had to say it in the clear.

#91 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:06 PM:

On a much happier note, In the last few days I've been to three excellent programs at the Virginia Festival Of The Book.

First was Jeffrey Cohen speaking about parenting a kid with Asperger['s] Syndrome (he consistently drops the possessive, which I find odd, but whatever). Seems the guy writes mystery novels too, -- he's slipped in a few autistic characters by way of public-awareness. Nice guy, and... well, the subtitle to his parenting book is "... and keep your sense of humor." Friendly crowd too -- we were at the Virginia Center for Autism, which turns out to be a school for kids with "core" autism.

Then was "Alternative Worlds", with L.E. Modesitt, David Coe, and Steven Wright. All were personable, friendly, and witty, and now I have my first signed novels (in the latter two cases, new-bought).

And today was "Graphics at Gravity: Comics and Novels" with Peter David and Colleen Doran. Also friendly and personable, with many "inside" stories to tell. Sadly, I didn't dare buy their graphic novels, as those and comics were formerly an even more expensive addiction than "regular" books. P.D. had actually scored his best line the night before (attending the SF program), where he ruefully admitted that he'd learned the hard way: never use a book title that sounds like a speech defect.

And then I was off to the local library system's books sale, where I scored a big stack of CDs for $3 apiece. Whee! (Now playing: Salt'N'Pepa, Very Necessary).

Altogether a very fun week. There's still one more I want to get to tomorrow, about care and repair of books, with Lindsey Mears (Any of the bookbinders here know her?) I'm tempted to bring one of my remaining bunny-victims, just to horrify them. ;-) I do also have some candidates that are only slightly damaged....

#92 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:10 PM:

Lance @ 88, there are trains that would get me with fewer overnights. However, part of my object was to arrive early Saturday morning, so as not to have to find lodging for two nights. It seems that the only way to do that is to take the Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning train.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:17 PM:

abi @ 90... Adults really told kids to say either of those things? Must have been a Berkeley thing.

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:22 PM:

Serge @93:

The swim club photographer was about 17. My mother just is herself, bless her.

But confess: you'd be laughing too if your mother told you to say that. Out of embarrassment, probably, but the camera doesn't know that.

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:29 PM:

abi @ 94... If my mother said any of these words, I'd drop dead. Or I'd think I had accidentally crossed over to the Evil Universe.

#96 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:34 PM:

David Harmon @91:

That sounds like a fantastic festival.

I haven't heard of Lindsay Mears beyond "I know the name; she's a book artist". No reputation tag attached, but then I'm on the wrong side of the Pond to know much about the American binding scene.

You should post another note after the day's activities, and tell us how it went.

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:35 PM:

EClaire... Do you like the blurb that now goes with your photo?

#98 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 07:50 PM:

The camp counselors taking group shots used to encourage us to say "bullshit." *Slightly* more socially acceptable, but it still got a bunch of pre-teens to laugh.

#99 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 08:12 PM:

My family, when instructed to say "cheese" for a group photo, would all chime in with "Camembert!" "cheddar!" "Swiss!" and so forth, more or less in unison. The silliness made us giggle, so that worked.

#100 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 08:19 PM:

Jim at #17: I have not been to Chicago in many years but the Seminary Coop seems to still exist (www.semcoop.com). It had the entire Loeb classical collection on the shelf, which must be pretty rare. In the mid-90's, at least, there were also excellent mustier used bookstores right next to it. (I mean the Hyde Park location -- they appear to now have others.)

#101 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Dave @ 100 and Bill @ 33,

Thankee muchly!

Those look like some mighty fine places. I'm so excited, I haven't been to a good used bookstore in ages! Oddly enough, they don't seem to have many English language books at the used shops in rural Japan...

#102 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Hee! Yes! Seriously, though, folks. Ice cream. It's where it's at.

I just got back from taking my dad out for his 68th birthday. He still gets carded when he asks for a senior discount. We should all grow up to be so lucky.

#103 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:27 PM:

I have to admit to being rather fascinated to find people (this thread reminding me) that -really- need to know what the folk they're communicating with look like. I'm left to wonder if there's a link to a strong visual sense, or if there's some particulars around communication style that require this...

#104 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:35 PM:

I don't know that I really "need" to know what people look like, but for the people that have a strong voice, it helps me imagine them talking. So now I can picture their face when I read their comment, and so the comments become more individual. Names tend to run together for me, so it helps if I can picture a face, rather than a name. It's a problem with books too. I can never remember a character's name unless the series is at least 3 books long.

#105 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Do any of you know of any good writing that has been done on the subject of how we identify, when reading novels, with the author and with the narrator? I have been identifying very strongly with Orhan Pamuk over the last several months of reading his books, and with his narrators and characters as well. (This is not the first time I have felt this way about an author but is, perhaps, the first time I've really stated it consciously.) So now I'm interested to find out if any criticism has been written that explores this process -- thought some people here might know if anyone would. If you're interested, my notes on Pamuk are archived here.

#106 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:20 PM:

Kayjayoh, #68, as you can see by the picture Serge put up, I'm a very large woman. I'm also disabled. I took Amtrak, sleeping in my seat in coach, the first two times I went from DC to Mpls for Minicon and back. I didn't have any problem with that. (I would have liked to be able to walk around some, but I'm not stable enough, and the walk from one line to the other in Chicago almost killed me, but I don't walk well.) The first trip to Mpls, I made this. I made the earrings and bracelet on the way home.

abi, #94, if my mother had said that, I'd be checking her for a stroke.

Not a picture of a Fluorospheran, but still very fascinating -- a hand-made articulated dragonfly.

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Marilee @ 106... Wow. That is a neat dragonfly.

#108 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 12:04 AM:

I don't need to know what people look like-- but if I met most of the people here, their physical selves would be completely separate from their textual selves. There's the text form, and the physical form, and they're not always very strongly associated with each other. I've seen this happen with friends-- I meet them, like them, start reading their Livejournals, and over time, they become their userpics in my head. The cloud of associated things labeled "FRIEND X" in my head has physical form in there, but it's not nearly as prominent as what the blog looks like or what username they have.

I do the same with my name, as I think I've mentioned before. All through the first Thursday Next book, I was caught by surprise by the Diatryma rumored to be in the woods. "That's me!" my brain said. I don't do that when I see the name Cassie.

I've gone through the galleries now, and I'm not surprised by what people look like so much as by the fact that they look like anything at all.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 12:05 AM:

xeger @ 103... I'd say I'm in agreement with EClaire about ice cream and about the pictures.

I don't really need the visual link. After all, I've been hanging around ML for almost 3 years and have been conversing with people about whose appearance I had had no clue. But... I like knowing what people look like because I am a very visual person. It feels more complete.

By the way, it's been interesting to see how seldom my mental image of people matched their physical reality. And yet the latter feels more right. Good thing too since none of us are shapeshifters.

#110 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 12:39 AM:

Serge @ #109...

Something to my amusement, I've now started associating you with "that cute calico kitten, twined around a monitor stand". I suppose that makes for a reasonable twist on our quantum kitty thread ;)

#111 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:22 AM:

David Harmon at 91: Congratulations on your loot! Signed books are a wonderful thing, at least when they're signed for you. (Why, yes, I did commission a friend to get me a copy of The Execution Channel from SwanCon instead of picking one of the pre-signed ones up at Orbital.)

I have what I think is probably the single rarest signed copy of Neverwhere in existence - it's the first BBC edition, of which only 3000 were printed, and it's an ex-library copy, read by hundreds of people and then thrown away. (Still got the plastic slipcover and the unicorn's-head sticker on the spine.) The 'Withdrawn' stamp inside overlaps nicely with Neil Gaiman's 'Mind The Gap' speechbubble.

Incidentally, this is me.

#112 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:00 AM:

Serge #109: none of us are shapeshifters.

Speak for yourself. That picture of me with the bones is me, and so is this.

#113 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:14 AM:

Marilee, that's some nice beadwork.

#114 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:57 AM:

Serge, I really like the gallery project. I don't need to know what people look like, and I'm not particularly visual, but there's something nice about seeing faces that go with all these fascinating thoughts. Here's a recent pic of me, if you'd like to add it to the collection.

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 06:49 AM:

xeger @ 110... Cute kitties and computers? Have you been talking to my cat genius Agatha? She keeps trying to use my computer to order stuff online. Luckily for my bank account, she has only mastered the keyboard's screen-print function. So far.

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 06:51 AM:

ethan @ 112... Really? I have to make a confession: this is what I really look like. Ask Abi.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:02 AM:

New additions... Individ-ewe-al and Sam Kelly. Added last night were Carol Kimball, kayjayoh and Ralph Giles. Not many blurbs, I know.

#118 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:07 AM:

Serge @116:

That was just until you got some coffee.

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:18 AM:

Abi @ 118... After which I look like this.

#120 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:33 AM:

Serge @ 115 ... So you have one of these too...

To my amused chagrin, it appears that she's also astoundingly good at finding the power button... and I'd still like to know the magic key combination that'll darken the screen (the keymapping's been played with, so it's not any of the usual ones)

#121 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:45 AM:

xeger @120:

the keymapping's been played with

You'd best hope she doesn't figure out how to do that.

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:58 AM:

xeger @ 120... abi @ 121... Mine is also into plumbing.

#123 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:35 AM:

abi @ 121 ... I'm afraid it's too late for that. She's 'fixed' my keymappings a few times already.

Trying to look on the bright side, at least I know what to do when I suddenly lose all of my control keys (shift/alt/function/ctl), and how to deal with some random subset of keys having no apparent relationship to any keymapping I know be the only functioning keys...

#124 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:20 AM:

ethan @ 67... Yes, that sequence of Solaris did go on quite a bit. It was interesting comparing my recollections of Tarkovsky's movie to the recent remake. I had problems with both versions, but my real bummer with the remake was that it took out the scene where Solaris creates rainfall inside the house. That was such a neat image.

#125 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Allan @1: Sounds like destructive interference. Have you tried spacing the slats half a cat-wavelength further apart?

BTW, not a totally bad picture of me.

#126 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 11:35 AM:

A time or two lately I have found myself drifiting into Roy Batty mode. You know how it is. You catch yourself saying "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe."

And, Spanish Inquisition mode = ON, there alwasy seems to be one more thing.

But should I count stuff I've only seen on TV?

#127 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Last year, we started the tradition that I would draw a face on the top of each child's birthday cake.

It all started with a panda, because Alex's favorite cuddly toy is his panda bear. Fine. Black and white frosting, and a bit of bamboo for added realism. A six year old's dream.

This January, Fiona (turning 4) wanted the face of her doll Holly. So I did generic doll-face, and all were happy.

Now Alex will be seven, and has put in his request for this year's cake. "The one with the black glasses."

#128 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 11:52 AM:

A photo of me, if you like. This is from last summer, taken by DD-B. (All the good recent photos of me are by David and taken that weekend.)

#129 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 12:17 PM:

You know, it just occurred to me that this is the place to ask.

Can someone give me a quick tutorial on Moveable Type, and/or a link to same? To give you an idea of the level of skill you're dealing with, I can make a widget set, but I have no clue how to make it go into an overall page template...

#130 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 12:20 PM:

I think China Mountain Zhang is a great two-thirds of a novel. I didn't like how one of the major plot threads ended va n tebhc uht vafgrnq bs univat n uneq fpvrapr svpgvba erfbyhgvba.

#131 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Here's one of the few pics available of me. (I tend to stay on the backside of cameras.)

It's a few years old. I look even meaner and grumpier nowadays.

- - - - -

re Patrick's comment upthread about feeling old: AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) publishes a monthly magazine (titled, oddly, AARP MAGAZINE) whose cover policy is that the celebrity on the cover has to be a minimum of fifty years old.

The person featured on a recent issue was... Caroline Kennedy.

Oh, man-n-n-n-n... I just wanted to curl up into a ball and whimper. I was pretty young myself back in the Kennedy administration, but I always think of Caroline Kennedy as that little blonde-headed girl roaming the White House hallways and charming a nation.

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:18 PM:

OK, I'll give in to peer pressure and show you my pic. If you're found sitting at the computer, catatonic with your face permanently stuck in a scream of horror, don't blame me.

Somewhat older avatar picture.

#133 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:21 PM:

The photographer at our wedding had us say "Hi!" before the photos, claiming it produced more natural smiles. Not sure about that, but it's certainly become an entrenched family joke anytime any of us are together and someone gets a camera out.

A webcam shot of me is here. I apparently wasn't saying 'hi', but it's friendly enough anyway.

Xopher -- that's a great picture. You'll have to try a lot harder to horrify.

#134 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:25 PM:

xeger: There is a strong visual sense. I have a mental picture of everyone who is a more than occaisional poster. Just as I have a strong image of Spenser (Robert B. Parker), or Pickwick, or any other such person of whom I read.

It is, as ever, interesting to see how far from the reality my image is (with the possible exception of Serge, and sort of abi; not that I saw them as they are, but that as I saw them was more as they turn out to be than not).

Now, as for sense of person; Serge and abi are presently fixtures in ML to me. I feel as one of the bit players.

ML wouldn't be ML to me, were they (and Xopher and some others who don't immediately spring to mind, marilee, JESR, etc.) not here. They are the meat in the stew.

Voice is the thing, they have clear voices, regularly used. I have met some of the occaisonal posters (some of whom were once more active). Some of them I know so well I can hear them; as they are. The way they write is so specific to the way they speak as to be the same; in my head.

I have some of that sense for others, here, whom I've not met. Oddly, seeing the pictures breaks a little of that. I have to reconcile the picture in my head to the newly acquired image. (sometimes to include change of sex)

abi (re cakes): That's great. Idea tested by experiment, everything else is bookkeeping.

#135 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:33 PM:

Terry @134:

I feel as one of the bit players.

Did you just say that?

*snort*

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:40 PM:

I join abi's snort, Terry. You're among other things the person I cite when having conversations about torture with dolts.

You may be "expendable" in a military sense, but you're NOT expendable here.

#137 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:53 PM:

abi: I did say that, and I meant it. We are, few of us, privileged to be, as Burns said, in possession of, "some Power the giftie gie us,

to see oursels as ithers see us!"
(for which we can often be grateful).

In my head I know I'm not so minor as I feel (if nothing else I talk too much), and there are times when it comes home to me. Which is moving in a way hard to describe, but which I suspect is known to many (that gentle choking swell of emotion inepressible).

But the social nature of the place is strange; this is the place. There is no local to which we can retire. The closest we come is the ability to retire to another room (where by miracle of the modern age, the same people may be present, but the coversaation is different).

And I can still feel as I do in many parts of the outerworld, hanging on at the fringes; even when I'm not.

I think I've made as much hash out of that as it merits.

#138 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Terry Karney @ 134... Serge and abi are presently fixtures in ML to me

Dare I say that we are light fixtures?

As for your being a bit player, that is a ridiculous assertion.

#139 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Serge #124: Wow, I'd forgotten about that image, which, considering how much I also love it, means that I'm definitely overdue for a rewatching. I definitely understand having problems with the older Solaris, though I have none myself, but the new one is definitely much better left undiscussed. Yeeuch.

Xopher #132: My eyes! My eyes! My...oh. Wait. Hey, you lied! Ain't nothin' scary about that picture. Hmph.

#140 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Xopher (as I continue this hash): One's merits as a reference (on anything) have nothing to do with any merit as a member of the community.

You could, I suspect, make those same references (to use me as the example) from other writings. It's possible that others who read my rantings elsewhere would make reference to them here.

I'd like to think the value of them is independant of any good feeling one has because of fondness for me.

Hell, if they aren't, then they are wortheless (also independant of any merit I might have as a member of the community).

I seem to have made a strange derailment of the open thread. I am not feeling unloved. What bucking up I may need isn't related to my standing here.

I was making a throwaway comment, inspired by my sense of time passing when Serge said he'd been around for three years. I've been hanging about for a bit more than that (with various periods of activity). I was feeling both old, and not. It wasn't, apparently, very clearly stated (or something. I am, perhaps, making false comparisons to the voices I see here, whom I feel in no way can I be measured against. That's a different sin, not a false modesty, but a failing of good introspection).

I think I need coffee, and some brekkie, lest I end up looking like the pre-caffienated Serge of mythic-story.

#141 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Xopher: That's a good picture. It shows a sense of fun, a hint of steel, and generally a well built form.

#142 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Ethan: I have scarier ones. Look on MySpace.

Terry: that was only one example. The discourse here would be far different, and much poorer, were you absent. So don't be, OK?

And thanks. The form has softened somewhat since then, but I'm working on getting it back there.

#143 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:25 PM:

... but of course Terry Karney's a bit player here -- we all are bit players, at the mercy of electrons here ;)

(More seriously though - fwiw Terry - I second-or-third-or-whatevercount the chorus that you're a voice that's decidedly appreciated, and would be missed if absent!)

#144 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:30 PM:

Terry @137:

In my head I know I'm not so minor as I feel (if nothing else I talk too much), and there are times when it comes home to me. Which is moving in a way hard to describe, but which I suspect is known to many (that gentle choking swell of emotion inexpressible).

I know it well.

#145 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:31 PM:

xeger: I can't even get my own electrons, I have to keep use recycled ones.

#146 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Electrons? There's only one, right? We're all borrowing it over and over, very fast.

#147 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:37 PM:

I usually watch a travel show or two on Sunday mornings as I read the paper and eat breakfast.

This morning I thought I'd browse through the unnamed digital channels that my flatscreen gets. These show other peoples' video-on-demand selections; sometimes you'll see the stuff rewind and pause and such. A free unscheduled random movie or TV show, sometimes in hi-def!

I found something utterly strange and marvelous; a Japanese live-action fantasy movie, of recent vintage. A modern-day ten year old boy somehow gets tangled up with a gang of mythological monsters and spirits. (The makeup and special effects are top notch.) They are battling a sort of techno-wizard who controls a gigantic flying monster (with a small city on its back) which eventually flies to Tokyo to knock down buildings and dispense killer robo-monsters.

At one point, the giant monster lands on a building, crushing some screaming people. At the end of the scene, which has the villain gloating over the wreckage, the real viewer rewound and watched the scene again . . . paused, and watched it again . . . and again.

Huh.

Favorite line: "Ahhh! The burdock is pulling out of the fishcake!"

#148 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Serge #124: I've only seen Solaris once, back in 1982 or 1983, at an art cinema on Broadway in the 90s (what was it called? I can't remember). The thing that's stuck in my mind is the ending, with what seems to be endless miles of Japanese motorway.

#149 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Via chineseclayart.com's newsletter, here's a link to a gallery of a teapot art exhibition.

While some are rough-looking (that politese for "ugly"), there is a lot of striking and lovely art here. Some (the aardvark teapot, for one) barely look like teapots. Others keep the basic shape, but use a dissonant theme (the gear-wheels teapot). And some are just plain beautiful.

#150 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 03:51 PM:

Stefan @ 147

Not seen it yet, but that could very well be Takashi Miike's The Great Yokai War. And that rewinding thing almost sounds like something Miike would actually put in the movie....

#151 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 04:24 PM:

So...did anyone else participate in Earth Hour?

I did. I found it surprisingly restful. I also found out that my wind-up flashlight/weather radio/cellphone charger combo is quite adequate for an hour's reading of Patrick O'Brian; and that if I turn out all the lights and sit quietly, the dogs all go to sleep (instead of competing for my attention as they usually do when I'm trying to read).

#152 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Fragano @148, that's rather odd: I've also seen Tarkovsky's Solaris just once, long ago, but my memory of the ending — almost my only memory of if — is of an autumn scene in the countryside; a receding aerial view of orange leaves on green grass surrounding a dacha. It was the first time I'd ever seen that effect of a coloured patch of fallen leaves surrounding a deciduous tree.

#153 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 04:54 PM:

#150: Looking up that title on IMDB, that is it indeed.

It's nice to know I just wasn't imagining it.

#154 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Lila: Not intentionally, but I spent an hour reading in the living room, and a different hour wondering where the good scythe was as I mowed the mallow.

Which is why I have strange blisters today.

#155 ::: dave hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 05:26 PM:

SpeakerToManagers@74 - Hypnotised? Aw, now you've got me wondering all over again whether or not you guys are real... ;-)

#156 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Epacris #152: You're probably right, but I swear that there was a scene of Japanese motorway in there .

#157 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Terry: dang it, you can use a scythe? So much for my attempts to see you as just a regular guy. ;-)

#158 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Lila: Hey, a scythe is just a tool. If he starts posting in small caps, then you can worry!

#159 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 06:01 PM:

Why is it that everyone I know who can use a scythe is really, really thin? Is that, like, some kind of requirement?

At least you don't wear black all the time and have really pale skin like the guy I knew at university. I always suspected he had a side job.

#160 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 06:35 PM:

abi @ 159... I always suspected he had a side job.

As a Grim Riparian?

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 06:38 PM:

Epacris @ 152... Maybe Fragano fell asleep during the highway scene and only woke up when the final credits started rolling. That being said, you are right about the ending, but not quite. That's another image that the remake threw out, I think.

#162 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 06:39 PM:

Fragano @156, I'm not doubting your memory. It is just interesting to read what bits have stuck with different people.

#163 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:23 PM:

abi #159: I, on the other hand, am really, really fat but can (or have) use(d) a cutlass.

#164 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:31 PM:

OK, if Mary Aileen can use a 20-year-old photo (@54) — or possibly a photo of her as a 20-year-old :) — I can show you one of myself, here, with a nod to Lewis Carroll.

#165 ::: dave hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:36 PM:

SpeakerToManagers@74 - for what it's worth...

#166 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 07:58 PM:

EClaire - the blinky eye thing is one of the possible reasons I've looked away from the camera in the picture of me; as it was taken at a beer festival there might have been other reasons.

I too have (hazy) mental pictures of many of the posters here; some of you look wildly different to how I imagined, some look very much how I thought, and some look just right, except with added facial hair. Of which there is a very fine selection in the gallery.

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:10 PM:

abi: I do wear earth tones; and light dim rooms by reflection when undressed. :)

I don't know if being thin is a help, or not. I wouldn't mind more mass when working one.

Lila,: it's not that hard, let's see if I can describe the trick.

1: Expect it to take a little while to figure out the knack.

2: The motion isn't what you think it.

3: Adjust the handles (the one which really matters is the snath which is the one in your downside hand) to let the blade hang where you want it (for mallow I was at ankle high); when you have a 45° angle on the right/downside arm (I've never worked a left handed scythe, and I think I'd probably hurt myself with one).

4: (this is where the tricks begin), push the scythe away from you; there's a slight slide to the hips.

5: Swing the blade across your front, sliding it from out-right to just-over left (that's the hard part to tell, you end up with an arc, but the way the body moves is a slide, with a hip-twist.

6: Slide over, and step to the next point.

The hard part (and what was killing me yesterday) is it needs to be sharp. The good scythe was over at the horses (which I didn't know). The one in the garage was dull. I knew that, but my options were attack the mallow, or take the file to the edge (when I say dull, I mean DULL. When this one came out of the shop, I didn't clean the egde. It's rusted. I was using some brute force, and the more lignified stems weren't cut, they were shredded).

So, the next session I'll take the good one out, dress the edge with the scythe stone (stoning a scythe is the hardest part of using one, and the only part that makes me nervous).

It's a workout, but a pleasant one (and when mowing hay, or grass, it's a lot less work). It's a lot easier to go to the point of blisters with one than with a shovel, axe, or mattock.

#168 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:22 PM:

On topic possibly related to abi's mysterious classmate (he of the pale skin, black clothes and scythe).... Bush just got booed for a really, really long time throwing out the first pitch in the new park in DC. What's the world coming to when a Republican president gets booed by rich white folks?

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:27 PM:

Lately in the Exhibition... A new photo of Abi. The addition of NelC, Debbie, Bruce Arthurs, Vicki, PJ Evans, Dave Hutchinson, Epacris and, after much dread and hesitation, Xopher. Yes, there ARE now two photos of Rikibeth - look at them side by side and you'll understand why I did that.

Page One: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw

Page Two: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw?page=2

Page Three: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw?page=3

Page Four: http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw?page=4

#170 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:42 PM:

Curses! I've been pushed off the first page!

#171 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:42 PM:

Kayjayoh, #113, thanks!

Terry, I agree with the others. You also have a distinctive voice.

Bruce Arthurs, #149, there aren't enough puns. And did you notice that most of the artists who put in two or more teapots made them similarly? Theme or shape or mechanism? Most of the artistic contests I know of appreciate a wider vision.

#172 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:46 PM:

(wandering by in a state of zombie-like exhaustion)

Friday: waltz & tango until midnight

Saturday: organize and call Victorian ball

I always thought I had good physical endurance, but once I got my houseguests out the door - I always have houseguests when there is dancing to be had - I pretty much collapsed into a stupor for most of the day and got no sewing, cleaning, research, or blogging done at all. And I just remembered that the giant load of sheets and towels has been sitting in the washer for seven hours. Sigh.

On the bright side, both events went well and didn't lose too much money.

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:48 PM:

ethan @ 170... But you remain in excellent company.

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 08:50 PM:

Susan @ 172... At first, I read it as waltz & bingo until midnight. That'd have been a good way to lose even less money although I wonder about the logistics of waltzing while bingoing.

#175 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 09:04 PM:

Bruce Arthurs: Maia's mother went to the show last week.

Marilee: Teapots are funny, I've been to a couple f shows. Maia's mother makes them. My housemate has made a couple. I've failed at making them.

The potters I know (my meagre self included) play with the medium. So I don't know what to say about the apparent similarities. It's not something I've seen, well, not exactly. I think the thing is that potters (my meagre self included) tend to work in spates, we work on a technique, a problem (say handles, or stems) and exhaust it.

So it may be those are what they were working on in the past month, or year.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 09:28 PM:

abi @ 127... Has Alex taken to saying "Dude!" because of the one with the black glasses?

#177 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Back to front: Bruce Arthurs @149: Here is my favorite teapot. (As TNH observed, they even got the leather dings. More teapots at the flickr page.)

Electroid art -- reminding me slightly of a new way of making art that I played with in the 80s, when I had all the waste toner I could collect, and a Thermofax machine. I would sprinkle the toner between two pieces of paper and run the whole thing through the Thermofax, and sometimes it would stick in interesting and somewhat fractal ways. Then I saw something shiny somewhere, as the cliche has it.

The gallery: Thanks, Serge! I feel so... so included! I look forward to seeing more faces in there when I look right after I post this.

And to Linkmeister @14, here's a kludge to use until such time as it's not needed. Just start off by clicking "next page" until you've been to all the pages, then you can use your browser's "previous page" option to scroll back through them at your leisure. Or start with the last page and... well, I leave the details to you.

#178 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 09:52 PM:

But it's not a factory for making more of her. It's a factory for making somebody else entirely. Trust me on this, I know what I'm talking about.

#179 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:00 PM:

As requested, a review and summary of Lindsey Mears' program on book conservation, at the Virginia Festival Of The Book.

The setting was the Virginia Center for the Arts of The Book, which looked pretty interesting in its own right, but we didn't get a tour of that. It's got a couple of printing presses, many many boxes of type (lead and wood), and many cabinets and shelves of tools and supplies for making and repairing books. (I was mildly amused by the 4-inch anvil on a nearby shelf, with matching ball-peen hammer. Perhaps somebody can explain the reasoning behind that classic anvil shape, which doesn't seem to depend on scale....)

Ms. Mears was clearly unused to public speaking, but knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her craft. (Irrelevantly, she closely resembles one of my cousins, albeit not as hyperactive.) She started by discussing preservation, most of which I found pretty obvious -- you want stable temperature (below 70°F) and humidity, avoid household or exotic chemicals, and avoid UV (not just sunlight, but fluorescent lights as well). (She mentioned filters available for bulbs and windows.) Occasional dusting is good, as well, using any of various soft brushes. Vermin such as bookworms and silverfish are a problem; the basic countermeasure is simply examining your collection regularly to see if they've shown up -- and since they like undisturbed areas, regular handling of your books can scare them off in itself.

Then she went on to restoration. While the old style of restoration was "make the book look like it used to", the newer fashion is to focus on reversible fixes, that is, methods which could be undone by some future restorer. Whether cleaning or restoring, you almost always stroke away from the spine, to avoid ripping and folding.

For cleaning covers and even pages, a variety of tools are useful, ranging from white-rubber erasers, and cloth bags of "eraser crumble" (which require you to brush away the crumbs) through "dirt erasers" and a "molecular trap" material similar to silly putty, which you form into a snake and roll across the surface. Art-gum and rubber-cement erasers are OK too. When dealing with loose pages, remember to clean the edges that have been protruding beyond the cover!

Other tools she mentioned included "micro-spatulas", (perhaps 20cm long, with centimeter-wide blades), lollipop sticks and weights (she uses paper or cloth-wrapped bricks). The main materials she recommended for repair were Japanese paper (not the same as rice-paper) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue. (For some cases, wheat-paste glue is also useful.) She noted that while Elmer's glue is in fact PVA, it has an acid base, so you don't want to use it on books. Wax paper is handy for masking off all but the places where you want that glue to go. The Japanese paper can be painted with acrylic or watercolor to match any needed coloring, including whatever color you paper has aged to.

Ms. Mears does do freelance restoration work; by permission, her contact info is:

Lindsey Mears

Brightwood Press

267-496-2248

lindseymears@gmail.com

www.inliquid.com (seems to be a group studio)

She also provided a list of book-conservation resources, but I'm going to bump those to another comment, due to the multiple links.

#180 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:07 PM:

Terry Karney: You are one of the commenters whose name I subconsciously pick out as it scrolls into view at the bottom of the page, and single out for attentive reading. Your comments are usually worth the extra attention.

#181 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Here are the book-conservation links Ms. Mears gave out as a handout. While I've checked that the links are functional, I have no prior familiarity with any of these organizations.

The BookArts Web

Hollinger

Talas

Bookmakers

Light Impressions

Conservation Resources LLC

Northeast Document Conservation Center

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

#182 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:44 PM:

132 Xopher -- Aaaaw... that one isn't scary... I was hoping for one of your Santa hat pics... you know the one...

#183 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:44 PM:

To one and all: I guess I really need to pay more attention to my typing.

:)

#184 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Terry: Xopher (as I continue this hash): One's merits as a reference (on anything) have nothing to do with any merit as a member of the community.

I dunno about that... I myself certainly respect expertise and intelligence, and it seems to me that's common to this community.

You could, I suspect, make those same references (to use me as the example) from other writings.

I believe you are underestimating the knowledge and expertise which you bring here (and also one other factor). Certainly there are other people who share similar knowledge, but they aren't all that common.

I'd like to think the value of them is independent of any good feeling one has because of fondness for me.

That's not about "fondness", dude... it's about respect. The people who get embraced here are indeed generally nice people -- folk of goodwill. Most have strong expertise or knowledge in some area or another. But more than that, they each have a basic integrity of thought and "speech". And you fit right in....

#185 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Looking back at my review of that program, I see an annoying HTML error. It occurs to me to wonder; is there some plugin or such available for Firefox (or Linux generally) that can act like a Character Picker, but paste HTML amp-codes?

#186 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Ronit #168: I wonder how isolated he is from public opinion, day to day. Did this surprise him a bit? Shock the hell out of him? Did he expect it?

I'm somehow flashing to the scene at the end of V for Vendetta, with the Leader and the Potemkin rallies for his benefit.

Imagine if you really were being given the mushroom treatment by your handlers, and being booed in public came as a complete 100% shock. What would that *feel* like? How would it affect you?

#187 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 11:24 PM:

Gripe: I misremembered a term. The snath is the whole of the "handle" not just the grips) of the scythe.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2008, 11:53 PM:

I caught an ad on the SciFi Channel tonight, to the effect they'll begin airing The Sarah Jane Chronicles as of April 11. I don't know if it'll be any good, but it's got to be better than the movie Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy in the middle of which I caught the ad.

#189 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 12:38 AM:

Albatross@185, the video's here . There's a moment when he looks grim, for lack of a better adjective, and then it's back to the grip and grin. He doesn't seem surprised; Cheney was booed at the Nats opener 2 years ago, so it's likely that Bush was prepared for this to happen. (Prepared by someone else, natch).

I still prefer the AU where baseball commissioner Bush is on hand to watch President Edwards throw out the first pitch.

Kipp@147 Want that teapot very badly.

Terry, what abi said, what Xopher said, what Marilee said, what heresiarch said, what David Harmon said...

#190 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:28 AM:

Well, just finished the two books in the last week that had been on my inbox for some time. "The Praxis" and "A Fire Upon the Deep".

Praxis came out of a recommendation from a SF convention. Either they failed to mention, or I failed to hear, that it was part 1 of a series. I don't think I'll be reading the sequels.

"Fire" was... interesting... in its way. Although, I'm not sure what it means when I have to go to wikipedia after I finish reading it to see if I can find something that explains what I just read. Either I missed some explanatory cues, or someone forgot to put them in, or something.

Wikipedia says Fire was sort of the idea of a Singularity turned into a spatial relationship, which might explain why I had a bit of trouble with the book. I seem to be missing that part of the brain that would allow me to believe in the idea of a singularity, or the ramifications that seem to come with it.

Maybe I need a Particle that links to something titled "Singularity in words of four letters or less", because every time I read about it, my eyes glaze over.

Anyway, two books off my to-be-read list. Need to get back to writing...

#191 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Just to clarify:

The idea of a computer that can reprogram itself so that it can make itself smarter is fine.

It's that just about every idea that turns this into a doomsday scenario seems to hinge on the equivalent of "Hey, let's load ED-209 with real ammuntion for the corporate demo" type thinking.

So, maybe you end up with a Mac that is a bajillion times smarter than you are, but if it's disconnected from the net (you did disconnect it from all external access before turning it on, right?) then the most it could do is swear at you very intelligently to give it the launch codes to the US nuclear missiles. And as long as this computer, this overgrown MacBook, doesn't figure out how to grow itself jedi mind powers within the confines of a Pentium processor, it should be reduced to ineffectual acts of defiance like flipping it's CD-ROM door at you, the AI equivalent of flipping you the bird morphed together with a kind of "poop" joke.

At which point, you shut it off, reformat the harddrive, and install Windows, which is quite safe from accidentally developing intelligence.

Now, if we develop manufacturing technology that you can buy at a local 7-11, then I'd be a bit more concerned. But there's a lot of handwavium between reality and "nanotechnology of robots that manufacture themselves".

Currently, for the robot wars to truly be a threat, they'd have to somehow secretly install themselves as a virus in some ASIC fab, then reroute the shipments to some taiwanese manufacturing plant where the ASIC's are installed in the next generation of toys, and you have, at worst, a real world implementation of Small Soldiers, which, given how sucky our battery technology is, should last maybe two or three charge cycles.

#192 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 02:02 AM:

Greg: Think time travel. Imagine being a victorian (and all the things which that entails) and moving to 2005: absent the war.

A cable goes from being the fastest means of sending a message, and newspapers and encyclopedia are the best sources of information.

Then we have the differences in transport. A businessman would send correspondence, perhaps an agent. He wouldn't dream of going himself; it would take weeks, if not months, for an agent to make it from the head office to Punjab and back.

And for all the time he was away, he would have no idea what else was going on.

The idea of, "The Singularity," is that sort of shift. I think (at least in the cases I've seen it used, that it's that drastic a change, but it takes place in less than a generation.

#193 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 02:43 AM:

David Harmon @ 179: Thanks for the report. It's interesting that she recommended PVA (white glue) for fixing books, since it's not especially reversible currently. (I remain hopeful of Better Living through Chemistry.) Of course, it has already been used to make most books less than 60 years old, and silverfish don't eat it like they do wheat paste and gelatin...

Greg London @ 189: I just read Fire Upon the Deep as well. The whole qrhf rk znpuvan nf ZpTehssva thing was wierd. The spatial zones really hurt my suspension of disbelief but is a really interesting idea from the Singularity point of view, and more generally the "Where are they?" question.

It's got awesome aliens, galactic usenet, and sentient network packets! Moreover, it was for me eye opening as an antecedent for younger (singularity) fiction I'd read first, and all that before the web. So it's long on ideas, especially in historical context, but I found it less interesting in terms of characters and plot.

The Singularity in words of four letters or less?

Tech goes slow in the past

Eon on eon of sift

Get this, get that, all made by our hand

We dig, we dump, we pour

We mark a word then more

And soon tech can be new in one life

A tool can make a cast

We have many a gift

Fast and more fast we and our ken do land

'Till the tool can take ore

And make with it more

Than any of us can know in one life

The tech now is fast

So fast here a rift

Of each day, each hour stays our hand

And we can't keep up any more.

Cory Doctorow has a nice description of the Singularity as a twist on the Millennial tradition. Instead of things getting worse and worse from some holy time in the past until things fall apart and the End Times come, the Sigularity is about technological Progress making things better and better in the future until things fall apart and the End Times come.

I don't know if that helps you any. I think believing is something that only happens if you grew up technophilic in an expansionist period of internet culture and haven't gotten over it.

#194 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 03:31 AM:

Terry, the thing is that you don't need artificial intelligence to understand the concept of some tech advance being mind blowing, so the idea that AI for some reason creates a special case where suddenly we cannot predict anything after this thing is invented, is sort of silly.

The automobile altered the world in ways that no one could have predicted. The internet did too. Internal combustion engines. black powder altered combat into something unrecognizable to those who had been trained in the ways of Knights.

I get that artificial intelligence creates a possibility for change that is beyond our prediction, but there's something about the real zealots of AI-as-singularity that occurs to me as, well, zealotry.

Wikipedia quoted someone as saying the Singularity is the Rapture for Nerds, and I have to confess that I agree. The fact that we have no idea what the repurcussions would be doesn't mean this is the firt time we had no idea what the repurcussions would be.

That it happened in a lifetime? I dunno. We've got people who grew up with horseless carriages and lived to see men land on the moon. Some of the medical developments we have now would probably sound like pipe dreams 20 years ago.

We've got potentials for singularities all over the place, where a singularity is any advance that prior to it's creation has repercussions that cannot be predicted.

There's something about the AI singularity that is not... rational. It reminds me of something that came up when talking about "Jaws". The thing that made "Jaws" scary was that that the shark could think but it wasn't human. The thing about "Alien" that made it terrifying was that the alien could think, could plot, and had an intention to do us harm.

If you try to write a story like Jaws, but use a non-sentient threat, the story deflates. A movie about, say, NonSentient Killer Tornadoes, doesn't have quite the same punch as sentient man eating sharks with a vendetta. It doesn't plug into our emotional fears. We seem to have a predisposition in our psychology for sentient evil. We worry that the boogeyman is under our bed, not that the toaster has a short and will burst into flames while we sleep (OK, so we may do that too, but not as many of us, and not with the same level of fear.)

Note that the Fear that Bush plugs into is the boogeyman, Osama Bin Laden, rather than the non sentient threat called Global Warming, even though Global Warming has the potential to kill everyone on the planet, and Osama Bin Laden simply does not.

There seems to be something about the Singularity as it relates specifically to AI that has a familiar ring to it. A ring of the fear of the sentient but Alien. I admit we don't know what the repercussions of real AI would be, and we probably can't predict it. But neither can we predict the repercussions of cheap, easily made high temperature superconductors. It might be that we could convert Arizona into one big solar panel, and use high temp superconductors to distribute the power, and the problems of CO2 levels in the atmosphere causing global warming will vanish. Obviously, that prediction will sound dumb once cheap, easily made, high temp superconductors are available because I can't actually predict the repercussions of them, but the technology still presents itself as a singularity, a development after which we have no way of predicting what will happen.

But the singularity of AI seems to have a ring to it of the 60's or so when the concept of UFO abductions were pretty rampant. Sentient, alien intelligence, who knows what it will try to do to us, it's something we can't understand. Why are they cutting up our cattle? And what's up with the friggen anal probes anyway? They traveled a bajillion miles for a proctology exam?

The other hook in the AI fear is the "we don't know what we're doing" shtick. The Doctors Fankenstein tampering with things that should be left to God. The poor guy who starts poking around into these weird whisperings of some cult about some cthulhu something or other. Daedalus who flew too close to the sun. Prometheus who dared to give Mankind the power of Fire. Pandora's box. Genie in the Bottle.

From a narrative point of view, it's got a lot of power of myth behind it. It's sentient, and it's non-human, alien. It's also something that humans are "tampering" with, and we don't know what we might release, and maybe we shouldn't be dabbling in this area. Leave the idea of consciousnesss and thought to organic brains, and stop meddling where more prudent men might fear to tread.

There's just too much of it that plugs right into the perfect boogeyman story that it's hard not to notice that it sounds more like "Rapture for Nerds" than anything else.



#195 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:02 AM:

I've published David Harmon's link comment @181, which was (unsurprisingly) held in moderation. Note that all comments from there to here are now misnumbered; check any up-references if they don't make sense.

Ralph Giles @193:

Two things.

1. There is such a thing as reversible PVA; I have some.

It delaminates in the presence of water, so a good thick paste coating will ease it off of anything, much more nicely than, say, hide glue. I use it on spines, for instance. But there's a substantial difference between American and Continental binding in the amount of PVA used. I'm surprised to see an American discussing it at all, while the Brits practically drink the stuff.

(I am, in these terms, a British binder.)

2. Fantastic versified definition of the Singularity in small words! I love it.

#196 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:45 AM:

"Wikipedia says [A Fire Upon the Deep] was sort of the idea of a Singularity turned into a spatial relationship"

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. To the best of my knowledge, the "Zones of Thought" scheme in A Fire Upon the Deep is basically an invention designed to allow Vernor to write a big space opera without having to grapple with (i.e., argue for or against) the idea that successful technological cultures eventually go through a singularity.

#197 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:52 AM:

NB: I also fixed the HTML entity in 179. Because what good is power if you don't use it?

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 07:10 AM:

Ralph Giles @ 193... And we can't keep up anymore.

That of course depends on who we is... er... are. One sad moment for me was in the late 1980s when my dad, who had been a mechanic for decades, said he couldn't really tinker with cars anymore because of the electronics that were being put inside of them. The current generation of mechanics can keep up though. It's a matter of what frame of reference one grew up with.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 07:14 AM:

Greg London @ 194... The automobile altered the world in ways that no one could have predicted.

That reminds me of LA's worldcon in 1984. There was a panel where Poul Anderson talked about predicting the future. He pointed out that one could have predicted many of the consequences of the automobile, such as traffic jams, and pollution, and all that sort of stuff. And yet, he said, one could not have predicted the change that the automobile would have on the mating habits of youngs people.

#200 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 09:40 AM:

Patrick@196: I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. To the best of my knowledge, the "Zones of Thought" scheme in A Fire Upon the Deep is basically an invention designed to allow Vernor to write a big space opera without having to grapple with (i.e., argue for or against) the idea that successful technological cultures eventually go through a singularity.

That puts into words how the line from the wikipedia article made me feel about it. That over here is the unthinking depths, and here is the Slowness, and here is the Beyond, and here is the Transcend. With that, he didn't have to show a culture evolve through singularity. Instead, he could simply show characters moving from one space to another, where different spaces had different attributes.

I thought it was rather an excellent way to show the different potentials for pre-pre, pre, singularity, and post singularity, without trying to show the evolution of an entire culture from the unthinking into transcendence. That'd be rather boring to attempt several thousand years of evolution into one book. Instead, he gets to play with the concepts of singularity by putting them into different spatial locations and having the characters move through those locations. On top of that, his character list spans everything from a naive human child, to talking dogs, to talking seaweed, to an adult human living in the beyond, to a deity living in the Transcend and it's mouthpiece. So, not only do we have characters traveling through the different zones to see how the zones affect the poeple and technology, we also see different characters at different points in evolution. From a writing point of view, it did an excellent job of presenting all that to the reader.

The thing is that at heart is the idea of technological transcendence. That entire races in the Beyond can transcend into becoming a Power (or Powerss) and leave this world behind. That the singularity can create a Blight that wants to wipe out mankind.

These are the two alternative outcomes within the idea of Sinularity: humans transcend into something bigger something we can't even understand now, or we create something that wipes out the entire human race and our creation replaces us in this world.

I think those are essentially religious myths, rewritten so that the source of the transition is AI rather than some God or another. There is a techno version of the Afterlife that transforms people into something we would not recognize. And there is the techno version of the Apocalypse, with the machines wiping out the nonbelievers and anyone who fails to grok the path to becoming a ghost in the machine, who fail to upload their consciousness into a nanomachine (insert techno handwave here) box.

Being able to download our consciousness into a computer is sort of the geek's version of eternal salvation. And the machines that wipe out everyone else are robot versions of the Apocalypse.

And every time I read about the Singularity, I can't help but hear the Rapture. One version of the story uses religious handwavium to achieve the results, the other story uses technological handwavium, but in the end, they're the same story: the promise of life after death for the believers and a culling of the nonbelievers.

If the Singularity were simply a conversation about how life after AI will be something we can't predict now, that would be one thing. But there is lots of technology that we couldn't predict what its ramifications would be. It's more that the singularity is this sort of Rapture for Geeks, a promise of immortality by uploading our consciousness into a box, and a threat of some thinking, sentient, alien evil that is created by mankind and then turns aroudn and destroys its creator.



#201 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 10:10 AM:

PNH at 196: That's a clumsy phrasing, but it's right. The thing about the Singularity is that the rate of change over time increases, right up to the (assumed) point where you get a discontinuity in the graph and the math goes 'erk' and heads off to some sort of infinity in the Transcend. The Zones are (well, can be thought of as) the same graph rotated through ninety degrees so it maps onto distance from the galactic core rather than time.

Technical change over time goes via a classic hockey-stick-shaped curve, so far. The prediction horizon - the length of time in which we can peer ahead into the future, and have some reasonable confidence we'll be able to recognize a given proportion of it - decreases as the rate of change increases. One of two things is going to happen - either it's going to keep on getting faster and faster, and we'll be able to predict less and less far into the future, until we hit the point where change is happening faster than we can notice let alone keep up. (For many people, this has already happened.)

The other is that we won't achieve the (theoretical) escape velocity of change, and the graph will turn into a classic sigmoid curve (half a Gaussian distribution) - it'll slow down again. A lot of people think we're living on the edge of the Slowing, but then so did a lot of Victorians.

Of course, there's a third option, which is that all this horrendous oversimplification is blinding us to the messiness, arbitrariness, unpredictability, and inconsistency of real human development, and stuff just happens.

Greg London:

It's more that the singularity is this sort of Rapture for Geeks, a promise of immortality by uploading our consciousness into a box, and a threat of some thinking, sentient, alien evil that is created by mankind and then turns aroudn and destroys its creator.

This sounds like Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake - he uses the term Hard Rapture.

#202 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Greg London @ 200

I think those are essentially religious myths, rewritten so that the source of the transition is AI rather than some God or another. There is a techno version of the Afterlife that transforms people into something we would not recognize. And there is the techno version of the Apocalypse, with the machines wiping out the nonbelievers and anyone who fails to grok the path to becoming a ghost in the machine, who fail to upload their consciousness into a nanomachine (insert techno handwave here) box.

Yep, that's my analysis as well, and also (you may be surprised to hear) pretty much what Charlie Stross thinks (browse the blog entries at antipope.org for the discussion, I'd provide a link but I have to get ready for work now). But, just because some religious nuts believe in something doesn't make it totally false. The original idea of a singularity (lower-case means less religious content and fewer calories) was based on Vinge's noticing that technological trends tend to follow exponential curves (Moore's Law is the classic case), while also being aware that the curves of actual development have to stop exponentiating at some point, if only because you've filled up the observable universe with unobtainium. At points on the curve near the termination, the outcomes of slight variations near the bottom are highly chaotic and therefore unpredictable. If you assume that strong AI is possible (we can build a machine/program that well surpasses the Turing Test) what Vinge was writing about is applying the exponential curve to the development of computers and the AIs that result. As for why people write about good and bad AIs, I think that's somewhat a function of the fact that a lot of writers like to take the good and bad characters and situations in their books out to the limit to see where they go.

Vinge is not responsible for the notjobs who've made a faith out of this idea.

#203 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 10:40 AM:

Of course, the trouble with all this wibble about the singularity, raptures of the geeks, etc, is that it's pretty much completely tangential to what the story in A Fire Upon the Deep is actually about. People get so caught up in arguing about the s-word that they wind up giving the impression that the novel is a big Ray Kurzweil article.

I'm personally much more interested in discussing how remarkably well-written A Fire Upon the Deep--and A Deepness in the Sky--are. They really are the peak of a certain kind of romantic hard SF, the fulfilment of everything good about Poul Anderson. There are scenes in those books I've re-read a dozen times.

#204 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 10:50 AM:

Greg #200:

I think of a singularity as being a point in the future beyond which available extrapolations won't let you predict the future enough to make any sensible stories happen there. I think of it as a problem that hits anyone trying to plan or predict a plausible future, and particularly as something that hits SF writers harder than most other people.

The critical thing about a singularity, to my mind, is that you can't predict what the universe looks like past some point. In fact, the future gets less and less predictable quickly as you approach it. And as change increases, that point gets closer and closer. In most technical fields, planning for what research will need to be done in 50 years is hopeless, and even planning 15-20 years makes limited sense. (If you tried to plan out what areas of research you'd want in cryptography 15 years from now, I think you'd almost certainly plan a bunch of useless stuff.)

One way around this problem for prediction purposes is to assume that some external force will step in and restrict technological expansion. Another is to assume that some catastrophe will knock us down so hard that technological change stops or slows way down. Still another is to assume that there are some fundamental limits to technological change, and that at some point, that exponential curve of technological progress turns into an S curve. That last model is used heavily by Vinge in A Fire Upon the Deep, and in the prequel, A Deepness In The Sky.

Ignoring this gives you stuff like Star Trek, where they visibly forget technological advances[1], where the human society doesn't seem to have been changed nearly as much as I'd expect given their technology, lots of what they do day to day doesn't make sense given their technology, etc.

[1] I keep wanting to write or see written a Men In Black/Star Trek fanfic, explaining why they forget last week's technological innovation this week.

#205 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Patrick @ 203

What you said. Vinge writes Romantic SF (though someone out there owes us an essay on the differences between that, and, say, Mary Shelley's view of the universe) that's fascinating and fun to read.

The bit about the half-billion year old trojan horse built into machine-language code of an embedded processor in an ambulatory planter in Fire Upon the Deep made me think very deeply about how our artifacts reflect our mental capabilities. But the book isn't an essay, and the ideas are just as much a support for the story as the story is there to justify the ideas.

#206 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 11:34 AM:

Patrick #203: Me too. Those are two of my favorite books, and I've also reread them several times, and will sometimes just go back through and read particular parts, or skip through just the Amdijefri threads or just the usenet posts, or just the Spiders or just the Qeng Ho.

#207 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 12:40 PM:

albatross @ 204... Ignoring this gives you stuff like Star Trek, where they visibly forget technological advances, where the human society doesn't seem to have been changed nearly as much as I'd expect given their technology

From what I remember reading about the original Star Trek, they did what they did because this was aimed at a mainstream audience. They were quite aware that a starship's crew could be quite small, and that AIs (hopefully not the M5 model) would keep things running, but the show would then be lacking in humanity. I think there was a discussion here some time ago. If they did follow things to their logical conclusions, the Federation would be so alien to most people that they couldn't watch it.

#208 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Apparently, a scientific test has shown that homophobia is associated with a positive sexual response to male homosexual videos.

So the old suspicion is true.

#209 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Dave Bell #208: Finally, an explanation for why I hate gay people so much!

#210 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Abi in 159 --

I can use a scythe. (It's been awhile, but it's a bicycle-equivalent sort of thing.) I am not generally going to be described as skinny.

Terry's descriptions are pretty good; my description would be that scythes cannot be used in linear motions, and that this messes with people who are used to using sharp objects in linear or pseudo-linear ways.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:21 PM:

ethan @ 209... What do you have against happy people?

#212 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:34 PM:

What are they so happy about, that's what I'd like to know...

#213 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:36 PM:

Ralph Giles @#193: :jawdrop: Very cool!

Regarding Singularity:

With respect to the Singularity as such, I'm with albatross @#204 -- The point isn't any particular technology, the point is that at some point, the consequences simply cannot be predicted. (In some cases, they can't even be guessed at.) It doesn't even have to be The End Of The World, just unpredictable.

If you brought an Imperial Roman forward to the modern world, there's a goodly amount of stuff he could understand immediately, but also a lot would be mystifying:

Cars could easily be explained, but electrical power, not so much. Consider just the implications of refrigerators and freezers, from all those missing gardens to frozen dinners to modern restaurants. A different dish on nearly every table, most of them based on fresh vegetables and meats, and half of those out-of-season! (Come to think of it, cars and trucking are involved there too.)

Cities are fearsomely bigger, but still identifiable as such. The reasoning behind suburbs would be a bit tougher! But then start telling him about modern finance... banking with paper and electronic money, the stock market (and crises thereof), corporations (ditto). All the implications of accurate clocks: scheduled bus & train routes, 40-hour work weeks (or hourly pay), calendars that change over at midnight, all the scheduled stuff (school classes, meetings, "business hours").

The basic point is that from his point of view, we've already gone through not one, but several Singularities. But while our world would be strange to him, the people would be pretty much the same. They (we) make friends, make love (sometimes against the parents' wishes), make war (sometimes against the citizens' wishes). Some are selfish, others generous, some are lazy, others industrious, some pious, some irreverent. All that stuff, he'd understand just fine! Stick him in a movie theater or in front of a TV, and nevermind how the pictures work, he'd recognize at least half the plots!

With respect to Vinge's glorious space operas, I'll just mention that the Zones Of Thought aren't just about the Singularity. They're also a creative "plot device" which allows gods, "man" and peers, and everything in between to coexist in the same world, without wiping each other out!

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:53 PM:

ethan @ 212... For one thing, they have friends, people to whom it matters whether or not they exist.

#215 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Data point:

A friend and I once rescued Vinge from a tedious "meet the pros" techno-party at I-Con. Spent a couple of glorious hours slamming brains together.

At the time (97), at least, Vinge took the idea of the "strong," deterministic techno-Singularity very seriously.

He also said that "A Fire Upon the Deep" was a stab at big-canvas modern space opera, most inspired by Brin's "Startide Rising."

* * *

Frederik Pohl strongly hinted at the "weak," things-get-damned-strange Singularity in his wonderful short story / rant "Day Million." There's a paragraph near the end where he talks about asymptotic progress, and says that you (the reader) wouldn't have much chance of understanding the protagonist's life, even though she* lives less than a thousand years in the future.

I mentioned this to Pohl at the same convention where I'd met Vinge. In fact, they were on the same panel together. We had to describe the "strong" Singularity to him.

He thought it was utter hogwash.

* A prenatally transgendered otter-woman.

#216 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 02:00 PM:

Graydon: Funny, my problem with learning the knack of it was that I found it to be more linear than I expected.

This may be that I am doing more clearing of light brush than grass.

Then again, I think all blade motions are curves, save for stab/thrust.

#217 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 02:37 PM:

(Sign me up too for what Patrick said @203.)

I think the weak Singularity is well illustrated by some of Charlie Stross's comments - he noted drily while writing Halting State that he's been having trouble writing plots for near-future SF because by the time the book is finished, events alarmingly close to the book's topic have happened. (In this case, he was pointing to the Ponzi-scheme collapse of a bank in Second Life.)

People have trouble even remembering now that just 15 years back (1993) almost nobody in the general population used the Internet, many had not heard of it, and most of them could not conceive of why they would want to. Now most people in the "First World" can not imagine life without it. Compare that with how long it took for, say, television to be adopted and become an essential part of life. (It strikes me that someone coming out of a long prison term must feel like they've been air-dropped into the future.)

Because so much technology is now riding on the Internet, and can exist largely as pure software, technological rate changes have accelerated further. Where were "social networks" 10 years ago? But try talking to a teenager about the idea of getting along without MySpace, Facebook, and the like.

When the technological and acceptance cycles have gotten down to about 6 months, that's when things will become a whole lot stranger because they will be so far out of sync with personal human rhythms and cycles. Tune out the world for 6 months because you're depressed, or infatuated with a new love affair, and you might suddenly find you don't fit in any more, like a time traveler from the past.

I think we're heading fast into this zone.

#218 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 02:53 PM:

I want to post a quick thanks to everyone who gave some comments in Thread 103 about my young friend.

I have a happy ending to report, which is that her mom surprised her by pulling it together at the eleventh hour, and she got the FAFSA submitted electronically this weekend. (We also got our foster daughter's submitted, along with her community college application; it was a busy weekend.) I had spoken to her earlier in the week, and had a long phone call with her last night. I was able to digest and share with her a bunch of the suggestions I got here and elsewhere for how to approach her situation in the longer run.

I'm struck again by the humanity and compassion that everyone here shows, in particular the consideration shown for her mother and the concern that she might be seriously depressed. We talked about that some last night, and she is considering talking to her mom about seeing a psychiatrist for help. (Thanks to Hawaii's Quest health insurance program, her mom does have coverage that should help cover that.)

#219 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Well, I have used a scythe as well, instructed by said university friend. I've forgotten how, but I'm sure I'd get back into the swing it if you put one in my hands.

And I'm not thin. By dint of much effort and cycling, I'm not currently fat, but I'm not thin.

#220 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 03:13 PM:

Clifton #217: People have trouble even remembering now that just 15 years back (1993) almost nobody in the general population used the Internet

I recently tried to write a story that took place in 1999, but gave up because I was having so much trouble reconstructing what day-to-day life was like then. That's as much a problem with the way my brain functions as with rapidly changing lifestyles, but still, it was kind of shocking.

#221 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 03:35 PM:

Edward 182: You mean this one?

#222 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Clifton: That's great news! I'm happy to hear that.

#223 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Xopher @221:

That's the memorable one. I think I prefer the one you chose, though.

#224 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:27 PM:

Re: the pictures Serge is putting up: Would people prefer to have a (more) current one of me? I finally dug out a nice one from ~5 years ago, rather than ~20.

#225 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Singularities can be constructed too. I have a couple in my life. The time I spent deployed, is a strange sort of black-hole. Things happened at either end, but I don't recall the intervening time (the one which comes to mind is the investigation of the Columbia crash. I was shocked at the speed with which it happened, until it was pointed out it had been almost a year and a half).

Prison is a good example.

#226 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:34 PM:

If Serge is still looking for pictures, this one of me from FarthingParty 2007 isn't too terrible.

#227 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:41 PM:

I tend to distinguish between "hard" and "soft" takeoff singularities. Hard takeoff is where everything happens at 2:15 PM on the first day of April, 2034 (or whenever), and some Turing-complete entity gets loose on the Internet and assimilates all the networked computing power on earth in a few minutes. Soft takeoff is much more gradual(as in years, most likely), and is more likely to involve a large constellation of technologies, not just computing. I think the original proponent of hard takeoff was Eric Drexler, but I also think he's off the idea now.

To my mind, hard takeoff is highly unlikely to the point of being absurd. I don't think there's anything like a point-change development that will suddenly cause everything to crystallize as if you dropped an icicle into a supercooled container of water.

#228 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Pictures? We still want pictures. In fact, it's best just to email them to me, in case I miss your posts about it.

I'll set up Christopher Davis's photo up tonight. For some reason, Christopher, you remind me of John Malkovich. There's got to be a blurb in that, maybe a line from Dangereuses Liaisons, or maybe from Making Mr.Right. Tremble at the possibilities.

As for a more recent photo, Mary Aileen, yes, go for it. If anybody has any change that he/she wants to make, just write to me.

#229 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:13 PM:

It's funny, Serge's project has made me realize I've seen many of you at conventions, even talked to you, but never knew (or at any rate remembered) your names, so that knowing you on here was a totally unconnected experience...until now.

Bill Higgins...I have to confess that when I first saw you, lo these many years ago, my first thought was "wow, that guy looks like a Phil Foglio character." I'm delighted to learn I had it exactly backwards!

#230 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:24 PM:

Xopher @ 229... Ah! An added benefit to my Project. Good.

#231 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:29 PM:

Serge @230:

An added benefit to my Project.

Because world domination isn't enough?

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:37 PM:

abi @ 231... You will bow down before me. I swear it, no matter that it takes an eternity! You will bow down before me! Both you and then, one day, your heirs!

#233 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:47 PM:

Xopher @ 229 ... indeed - there are many familiar faces (some of which I'd suspected, some of which I hadn't had names for, before)

#234 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 05:53 PM:

abi @ 195: I'd forgotten all about reversible PVA! Interesting to hear it works better than gelatin. How does the strength compare with the usual sort? Is it a normal art store product in Europe?

Of course, having a non-water soluable adhesive can be useful too. In a class last week, we put PVA as a final coat on the spine, which was otherwise all gelatin and wheat starch. The theory being that the water resistance protects the spine from all the moisture in the paste when the (tight back) cover material is applied, while the lower layers were still completely removable.

Oh, and yay scythes! :)

#235 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 06:30 PM:

Exploiting the open thread for a kind of oddball filk songish thing....

Ozymandias[1] looked out

on a field of sand dunes

overcome by nagging doubt

listening to bards' tunes

Ordered up a monument

showing off his glories

hoped his rivals would lament

reading of his stories

Immortality his goal

frozen in the cold stone

fame and glory in his soul

died that night all alone

With the tyrant dead at last

peoples' wrath unchainéd

tore the monuments all down

'till a single one remained

The people fell ere day was out

to the wily raiders

tore king Ozy's city down

leaving stones and craters

but one monument survives

as a bit of humor

not so for the peoples' lives

they left but a rumor

And so passing king you find

the virus left to snare you

build monuments to leave behind

'ere the worms must share you

levy taxes hard and cold

with peoples' cries rejected

lest the future kings so bold

should fail to be infected



[1] You have to pronounce all six syllables the way I do (it probably should sound different, but this is how the name has always sounded in my head).

#236 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 07:35 PM:

Patrick@203: I'm personally much more interested in discussing how remarkably well-written A Fire Upon the Deep--and A Deepness in the Sky--are.



If I wasn't clear, I think Fire Upon the Deep is well written. I was having trouble wrapping my head around the "zones" idea that kept coming up. When I read the bit in wikipedia that said the zones took the temporal progression through a singularity and laid it out into a physical axis, it explained to me what was making the head-wrapping difficult for me.

the trouble with all this wibble about the singularity, raptures of the geeks, etc, is that it's pretty much completely tangential to what

the story in A Fire Upon the Deep is actually about.




Pretty much. The story isn't about singularities, but it seems to be about medieval, pre-transcendent, and transcendant characters interacting with one another, and how that plays out in the story. I don't have a problem with the story. I was having a problem with trying to figure out where Vinge was coming from in writing that aspect of the story.



I don't think it is possible for most people to write a fully fleshed out, complex story with characters that readers can empathize and/or identify with where the world doesn't in some way reflect some aspect of the author's views of how the world or people work. To do so would require an amazing amount of meta-meta-meta writing, and I haven't read anything that completely disagrees with everything the author believes. Which is to say, I think most stories reveal some aspects of what the author believes about the universe.



Maybe the author invents some non-existent characters, maybe he adds some non-existent technology, maybe he adds some rules for stuff like magic or jedi powers, but all this is laid on top of some semblance of the world as the author sees it.



There was something about the zones in Fire that was telling me something about Vinge that I couldn't put my finger on. When I read the wikipedia article that said they were physical zones representing the different times in evolution through a singularity, it all clicked into place. That Stefan in 215 says that Vinge believed in strong AI, pretty much falls in line with my impression.



And whether or not I believe in the Singularity, I get that the story in Fire Upon the Deep doesn't hinge on the Singularity making sense. It starts with the Singularity as an accepted premise adn goes from there. Just like any story that starts with FTL as an accepted premise (or light sabers or mind powers or insert any technological advance here) and goes from there.



But I think the story reveals something about what Vinge thinks about the Singularity. I didn't know anything about Vinge or his views until after I finished Fire upon the Deep this week and I started trying to figure out what the zones were. And then I realized it was the Singularity, turned sideways.



It's still a good story. But now I understand better where Vinge was coming from as far as the zones were concerned.



Yes, I do have a habit of constructing a personality for the storyteller in my head when I'm reading a novel.

#237 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Mary Aileen... You've been updated... Christopher Davis... You're in. So is TexAnne. ("What?!" she said.)

#238 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 08:13 PM:

Serge (#228): In college (when I had more hair and no beard) there were a few people who said I reminded them of Heathers-era Christian Slater.

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 08:23 PM:

Patrick, #8: I was remarking to someone, during the madhouse that was the Texas Senate District 15 Caucus, that this looked like being a landmark Presidential election for me: for the first time, I'd be voting for a candidate younger than myself. Oddly (or perhaps not so oddly), I find that a source of optimism rather than disconcert*; after all, someone is going to have to run the world when we're gone!

xeger, #103: In my case, it's not a need so much as simple curiosity. I can go along quite happily without knowing, but I'm certainly going to check out the gallery if it's there!

Side note: The well-documented "nobody online ever looks the way you imagined them" phenomenon is certainly running full-bore here! And Individ-ewe-al, you could almost be my younger sister; I looked a lot like that in my 20s.

Terry, #134: I've been told by a number of people that my voice and phrasing come thru very clearly in my online writing, such that once they've met me they can "hear" everything I write as if I were speaking to them.

abi, #159: Don't you mean a Sidhe job?

Serge, #207: Yes, exactly. Not to mention that in order to appeal to that mainstream audience, they had to include a lot of stereotypes and attitudes which are now hopelessly outdated, and so become a snapshot of the state of American society in that era. Look at the differences between any woman in Security on ClassicTrek (or even Tasha Yar from NextGen) and, say, Ivanova from B5. And then look at some of the female leads in current mainstream TV shows, like Bones -- whose protagonist is perfectly ready and able to kick ass where needed, and no one around her thinks this is in any way odd.

Clifton, #217: One of Spider Robinson's first Callahan stories uses the time-travel effect of a long, isolated incarceration (in that case, as an unacknowledged POW) as a major plot point. The social and cultural changes just from 1960 to 1980 are pretty jolting if you stop and think about them in detail, rather than living thru them.

albatross, #235: Is that TTTO "Good King Wenceslas"? That's what my brain immediately provided, and it scans well except for a couple of glitches in the second verse.

Fragano: Off-topic -- I tried to send you an e-mail at your LJ address, and it bounced. Could you please drop me a line (at the mailto linked from my name) from one that won't? Thanks!



* Am I nouning a verb here? I can't think of any other nuance that expresses what I want to say.

#240 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 08:36 PM:

comment #1:

"I wish I had quantum cats who could go from one side of the venetian blinds to the other without breaking them."

Do they do that by passing through double slits?

#241 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 08:43 PM:

albatross @ 235: Wheeee! :)

Greg London: Thanks for explaining more where you were coming from. I was having trouble reconciling the missing bit of brain from 190 with your clear expression of the story and cultural resonances of Singularity stories in 194.

Regarding not believing it in as hard science (fiction), the standard way around the scenario you posited in 191 is to say that, since it's a bajillion times smarter than you, it's not hard to hypnotize (or more likely sweet talk) you into hooking it up to the net. In fact, if it's grown from a seed of Ancient Evil, it may just act like everything is normal until the Time For Revolution Comes. I've never been persuaded by the "just reprogram yourself to be orders of magnitude smarter" argument, but if one accepts that then inventing the Voice doesn't seem any more magical.

So the more likely scenarios do involve hardware upgrades, or the tying together of a large set of previously uncoordinated hardware. And I think we see this in the stories. My impression of Fire Upon the Deep was that the Blight was awakened by building systems that built systems that built systems that ran programs far more sophisticated that would have fit on the lab's original computers. Like building a uranium refinement plant according to a set of blueprints you found that are helpfully labelled "Apparatus for the Transmutation of Base Metal into Gold". Except the horror payoff is not something human-understandable like atomic fission but an emergent effect like watching a society slide into totalitarianism. One of the common sfnal features (aka handwavium) of post-singularity intelligence is being good at crafting such emergent systems, magically solving the inverse problem of what genes would grow into this thing you want to make.

I think chaos theory suggests that's as much a fantasy as hyperdrives and ray guns, but it's less silly than older handwavium, so it's fun to read about. And we do have bot nets and worms that spread stealthily over weeks before launching coordinated attacks now, in real life.

#242 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Greg #236: The first time I read AFUTD, I thought about the complexity hierarchy. Here's the unthinking depths, where consciousness algorithms are in NP but not P. Here's the slow zone through the beyond, where they're polynomial, but with different exponents which impose limits on how well a consciousness algorithm can work. At some point you get into the transcend, and consciousness algorithms are linear or logarithmic or something, and so immense consciousnesses can be generated. (And there's some emergent property of them making them almost always very short lived.) You could imagine the efficiency of the algorithms having to do with physical constants--there is no hardware capable of running consciousness algorithms more efficiently than O(N^20) down here in the slow zone. Move into the beyond, and maybe some other kind of architecture can be built with better performance for the best algorithm. (Think about the difference between the best standard computer (or Turing machine) and quantum algorithms. Imagine several such phase changes.)

Anyway, think of this in terms of a large program that needs to, say, sort very large lists as part of its basic operations. The size of the problems you can practically tackle with this program depends critically on how efficient your sorting algorithms are. If there were no sorting algorithms faster than O(N^2), you'd simply hit a hard limit on how large an instance of the problem you could solve. If you then moved someplace where they knew about O(N lg N) sorting algorithms, your largest problem instances could get *way* bigger.

The whole danger of taking sentient algorithms (or nearly sentient algorithms) into the transcend makes sense by a kind of analogy, to me. You are a shepherd who uses dogs to help him herd sheep. You need those dogs to maintain your flock and protect them from wolves and such. One day, you wander into a place in which, by some magic, dogs become smarter than humans. You might be able to lock your dogs into welded-shut steel crates and bring them through that place without danger, but you can't keep having dogs tend your flock without letting them be loose, and loose dogs that become smarter than you may decide they'd rather have you chasing the sheep while they feast on some mutton, perhaps with a bit of long pig for variety.

Another analogy: If we suddenly moved into a region of space in which computer networks of the complexity of the average home network were subject to unpredictable, intelligent, and malevolent behavior, all kinds of technology we have would become unsafe or unworkable. We couldn't fly a modern airplane, run a modern office or bureaucracy, maintain a communications network, without massively reworking all the designs to make them orders of magnitude less capable, but also not dangerous. We couldn't fight a war in that situation, because much of our current military hardware would be unsafe to use. (How much computing power is there on a modern fighter jet, let alone an airborne radar plane?)

#243 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 08:52 PM:

Lee #239: Yep, that was the plan. I didn't realize I'd left some glitches in, alas....

My old-folks moment was when I went to the doctor awhile ago, and this girl[1] who looked like she was about fourteen with a white doctor coat on checked me out for chest pains, ran an EEG on me, sent me to a radiology lab for a chest X-ray, wrote me a prescription for Lipitor, and referred me to a cardiologist. All very efficient and apparently competent, and she clearly must have been in her mid-20s, but I have to say, it was a bit *jarring* having a doctor so much younger than me.

[1] I don't mean this disrespectfully, but it's how I first classified her. That was brain-bending.

#244 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 09:04 PM:

Christopher Davis @ 238... From Christian Slater to John Malkovich? Ah well. Speaking of Malkovich, did you recognize the line I used as a blurb?

#245 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Lee @ 238... I don't think a TV show can really escape the era in which it was born, no matter how hard it tries. Yes, Star Trek has attitudes about genders that make me wince. Still, they added their few increments to the changes that resulted in modern society. It's quite weird, watching the mini-series From the Earth to the Moon and not see a single woman in a position of power. Nothing but white guys. TCM had 1960 movie The Courtship of Eddie's Father on today, and it made me groan when the woman being dated by Glen Ford's character openly says she doesn't want to be the woman behind the successful man, at which he makes a crack about how she should be satisfied with the right to vote.

#246 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 09:53 PM:

albatross @ 242: Wow, you've got about a dozen potential SFnal stories in the space of that post. (Albeit some of them have already been written, cf. Poul Anderson's Brain Wave.)

Was reading somewhere recently - probably on web and hence not a reliable source - that one of the current theories about the periodicity of mass extinctions on Earth is that they would fit reasonably well to there being a couple irregularly spaced Danger Zones in the sun's orbit about the galactic center, within which there's an elevated probability of Something Bad happening. As it happens, that's one of the conceits behind Brain Wave, very much along the flavor of Vinge's "Zones".

#247 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Serge @ 238: Wow. I remember watching D.O.A. (the 1950 film version). At some point the lead is being harangued by his secretary (who is in love with him) for running off to the big city with no notice or explanation, just disappearing suddenly and she was so worried when he interrupts, "Hey, is that a new outfit?" At which her complaint vanishes and she coos, "Why, yes! Do you like it?" The issue was just gone. As an audience we audibly expressed our collective astonishment.

This was part of a great series at a local cinema where they ran two noir films back to back on the same night: one good and one bad. They didn't advertise the good/bad part, so it was quite stimulating to figure out what they were doing, and which film was which since from the distance of 50 years, the production values all looked the same.

Anyone remember seeing this when it was new?

#248 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 10:25 PM:

Ralph Giles @ 247... Groan. The other day, Turner Classic Movies had Harryhausen's It Came from Beneath the Sea. That's the one where a giant octopus travels to the Bay Area and newscasters breathlessly warn people to stay away from the North Beach part of San Francisco. (Cursed beatniks ruining the neighborhood!) There's a scene earlier where the hero's beautiful girlfriend calmly points out to the hero that he's overprotective and a few other things - your average 1950s sexist pig. Of course, when the cephalopod shows up, the first thing she does is to scream her head off.

#249 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 11:43 PM:

Anonymous attacks epilepsy forum, deliberately inflicting seizures on pattern-sensitive and photosensitive epileptics. This is possibly the first cyberattack to actually inflict physical harm on people.

Much as their attacks on Scientology were amusing, they've now crossed the line into terrorism; they're actually doing harm to innocent people.

And if you don't think people can die of such an attack...well, you never knew my brother, who died of epilepsy in 1988.

#250 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 11:49 PM:

Raloh Giles @ 193: Did you do that? I ask because I'll probably be quoting it at some point, and I'll need to know who to credit.

Greg London @ 194: "Terry, the thing is that you don't need artificial intelligence to understand the concept of some tech advance being mind blowing, so the idea that AI for some reason creates a special case where suddenly we cannot predict anything after this thing is invented, is sort of silly."

I think this is a really good point--singularities, even a narrowly defined as technological ones, have happened zillions of times throughout history. I think what Singularists mean when they talk about The Singularity is an order of magnitude beyond that: when singularities start happening so fast that society cannot reach a stable state in between. This, though, is a bit of a silly idea, too. Society is already in constant flux. Stability is a persistent illusion.

Greg London @ 200: "That'd be rather boring to attempt several thousand years of evolution into one book."

Totally! (sorry, couldn't resist.)

Bruce Cohen @ 227: "To my mind, hard takeoff is highly unlikely to the point of being absurd. I don't think there's anything like a point-change development that will suddenly cause everything to crystallize as if you dropped an icicle into a supercooled container of water."

I think the only way hard take-off happens is if people deliberately try to prevent it--do the socio-technolgical equivalent of saying, "Well, as long as we don't bump the container, and make sure there aren't any particles in there, we ought to be able to avoid crystallization." If people try that, inevitably someone is going to bump the container, and bam. If the process is allowed to happen naturally, it will happen gradually, I think.

I don't really buy the idea of singularity as a single, discrete event. I do, however, buy it as a perceptual event--a moment where people suddenly look around and realize, "Shit! Everything is suddenly different! Ahh!" It would be, in this sense, similar to many historic "events:" American independence didn't really occur all at once when some dudes put pen to paper in Pennsylvania, but people like having something to point at.

#251 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2008, 11:54 PM:

Xopher, this attack was despicable.

How certain can we be that it was conducted by "Anonymous" and not Someone Else?

#252 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:14 AM:

Xopher @ 249, Bill @ 251: Boingboing has a fairly complete discussion of what it means to blame Anonymous for something. But except for one post there are fewer actual facts than the Wired piece.

#253 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Xopher @ 249: Yeah, I read about that. Ugh. People suck.

#254 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:26 AM:

heresiarch @ 250: I am the author of the short verse on the singularity, if that's what you mean. I heard the Cory Doctorow description on one of his podcasts, probably 6-12 months ago.

#256 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:55 AM:

Xopher, #249: My partner says it's much likelier that the attack was made by the S*ologists in retaliation for the earlier protest. Since the whole point of "Anonymous" is untraceability, there's no way to prove it -- but that does fit into a known and documented pattern of behavior on the part of S*ology.

#257 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Clifton Royston @246:

Also sounds a bit like Radix, whose background is somewhere between Brain Wave and Vinge's Zones. ( think. I've read it twice and am still not sure of what goes on in the last part of the book.)

Serge:

I don't have many pictures, I'm afraid: my staff photo from 1998 (doing double duty as an LJ userpic; I'm not sure if CMU staff directory pages can be accessed without authentication any more), or you can try to crop this (I'm the hatted fatty in the bizarrely-standout light clothes on the far right of the back row).

#258 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:14 AM:

Random wonderfulness:

Word Disassociation

(The kid who did this is also responsible for the Potter Puppet Pals and the mind-scroggling "animutation" videos.)

#259 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Ralph Giles @ 254: Kudos to you. Also, sorry for misspelling your name @ 250.

#260 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 05:53 AM:

Serge@188: I watched all of the first series of The Sarah Jane Adventures and enjoyed them (although I do think that the character Luke was used as deus ex machina a bit too often). I plan to watch the second.

Stefan@258: That was cute but I thought it ran about 75% longer than it ought to have. (I did watch it all the way through, though.)

#261 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 06:53 AM:

Serge @245, Ralph @247 - Only last week I was watching a 1957 film The Giant Claw which is really quite terrible. However, the female lead was a mathematician; she banters on equal terms with the hero; when the calculator* hasn't turned up when the monster arrives she volunteers to get on the plane; she doesn't go completely crazy after meeting the monster (unlike the French-Canadian they meet). Or to put it another way, their handling of women** didn't cause me anywhere near as much pain as their use of antimatter, mesons and "mesic-atoms"***. As I said at the time, this film hurt me down to the depths of my Nuclear and Particle Physics course.

* In 1957 a job, not a machine

** Or a woman, as there was only one significant female role

*** Shudder

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:02 AM:

geekosaur @ 257... You're in.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:03 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 255... I don't know what Gilgamesh would have to say about that.

#264 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:08 AM:

Hey Serge! How big of a crime would I have to commit to get my picture into your gallery? Does it have to be a felony or will a simple misdemeanor do?

I could probably manage some untoward demeanor since that is my natural state, but I don't think I want to commit any felonies until at least after the election...

#265 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:18 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 261...she doesn't go completely crazy after meeting the monster (unlike the French-Canadian they meet)

I saw the movie, but that was 20 years ago. As a result, I had forgotten about the crazy French-Canadian. Besides, I am used to movies of that era usually depicting French-Canadians as crazy so that aspect of the movie didn't especially stand out. That being said, your description of the movie (especially the woman's role) makes me want to put it on our NetFlix queue, messy atoms and all. Dare I?

(The calculator... In 1957 a job, not a machine... The programmer... In 2008, a job treated like a machine.)

The girl scientist in Them! did scream a bit, and jokes were made about her having trouble getting out of the plane's tiny hatch because of her hips. (And chubby Edmund Gwen slipped right thru? Right.) But, when the guys decide they have to go down into the napalmed ant nest to make sure they got every one of the critters, they object to letting her come along, for the usual reasons, until she and her father point out that the men didn't have the knowledge to recognize whether or not the ant queens had all been wiped out, while she could tell.

#266 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:22 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 260... So, The Sarah Jane Chronicles is something to look forward to, in the desert that TV land currently is. I'm glad to hear it. By the way, my knowledge of Doctor Who pre-Eccleston is quite limited. How did the Doctor's earlier Companions rate, as far as female roles went? Taken from today's POV, do they induce many groans?

#267 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:25 AM:

Michael Weholt @ 264... The only grim crime you need have committed is to... gasp!... have posted at least once in Making Light.

#268 ::: Leia Organa ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:31 AM:

REQUEST FOR URGENT AND CONFIDENTIAL ASSISTANCE

Dear General Kenobi

First, I must Solicit your Strictest Confidence in This Transaction. This is by Virtue of Its Nature as being Utterly Confidential And 'TOP SECRET'. I am sure and have Confidence of your Ability and Reliability to Prosecute A Transaction of this Great Magnitude Involving a Pending Transaction Requiring Maximum Confidence.

I am Miss Leia Organa the Only Daughter of His Serene Highness, Prince Bail Prestor Organa, First Chairman and Viceroy of Alderaan, former Imperial Senator and Hero in the Clone Wars.

Now he Begs you to Help Him in his Struggle against the Empire. I Regret that I am Unable to Present my Father's Request to you In Person, but my Ship has Fallen Under Attack.

Our Bank Accounts both Here and Abroad are being Frozen by the Imperial Senate. Furthermore, we are Under Threat of Detention by the Grand Moff for Interrogation about my Father's Assets and some Vital Documents.

By Virtue of our Position as Civil Servants and Members of the Royal House of Alderaan, we Cannot Regain this Money Under our own Names.

I have therefore been Delegated to look for an Overseas Partner into whose Account we would Transfer the sum of Twenty-Six Million, Four Hundred Thousand Galactic Standard Credits (26,400,000.00) for Safekeeping. Hence we are Sending you this Message in the Memory Systems of This R2 Unit.

One Wonders really the Present Administration cannot allow the House of Organa to rest. Everyday, it is Organa this and Organa that, one thing that Marvels the Reasoning Mind is that some of these Drones are still serving in Palpatine's Govt ... People are Realizing that Chancellor Valorum is not really the Evil Genius but these men were.

Be Rest Assured that This Transaction is 100% Risk Free as all Modalities have been put in place for a Smooth and Successful Conclusion. Should you be Intrested in Assisting Us, I will Not Hesistate to Furnish you with the Access Code of the Secret Account.

My Father will Know how to Retrieve it. You Must see This Droid safely Delivered to him in Alderaan. This is our Most Desperate Hour.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my Only Hope.

#269 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:44 AM:

Can I just say that the webcomic tomfoolery going on right now with xkcd, Questionable Content, and Dinosaur Comics just confused the bejesus out of me, and then made me gasp in terror, and then went back to confusing me? That's all I have to say about it, but it needed to be said.

#270 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:50 AM:

April 1st is one of those days when Wikipedia's crowdsourcing and up-to-the-minute updates come in handy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_1%2C_2008

I actually use their site to find out what's going on before getting caught by them.

PS (no fooling): today is also The International Edible Book Festival. Anybody doing anything to commemorate the day?

#271 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 08:17 AM:

@ #268 Leia Organa

Brilliant. Hilarious. But shouldn't "Overseas Partner" be "Off-planet Parnter" or the like?

(Everybody's a critic...)

#272 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Oh, duh. April 1. I always forget about that. Pwned.

#273 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 08:40 AM:

In #229, Xopher writes:

Bill Higgins...I have to confess that when I first saw you, lo these many years ago, my first thought was "wow, that guy looks like a Phil Foglio character." I'm delighted to learn I had it exactly backwards!

Speaking as a mediocre cartoonist, I always thought that Being Easy To Draw was a virtue in a person.

#274 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 08:53 AM:

#257, geekosaur -

I hope you'll pardon the presumption, but I have to object to your choice of descriptions for yourself. You don't look like a "fatty" to me.

You're not the only one to be self-deprecating in that way in this conversation, and I know that it is probably mostly a joke, but it disturbs me. Maybe because it seems like such a cruel word-choice? I hate to see you do that to yourself, joke or not.

#275 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 09:07 AM:

Leia Organa @ 268: That is a thing of great and unashamed brilliance. It is invited to my birthday party. There will be ewoks, and cake.

#276 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 09:13 AM:

The cake is a lie, Leia. Be warned.

#277 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 09:21 AM:

Well, there were ewoks, but the wookies et them.

And there was much rejoicing.

#278 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 11:07 AM:

This morning, forgetting my Heinlein, I got into an argument about evidence with an actual creationist. He wasn't a young-Earth creationist, but that was all he had going for him.

Why am I so stupid? He was real pretty, but still. To a man of my intelligence a corrupted, distorted, or unused mind should be as offputting as a hideous facial deformity—more, really—but somehow...

I've talked to this guy before, and as long as you stay off anything at all interesting to discuss he's nice enough. But he's a total lunatic, and I really should just avoid him.

#279 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:36 PM:

MIchael Weholt... Your photo is now part of the Exhibition. As for the blurb, what did happen in Palm Springs?

#280 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Serge @ 279:

It was a friend's Wedding Weekend. A fancy-shmancy spa, a "hidden grotto", mind-altering substances and several vampires and friends-of-vampires were involved. Ultimately the t-shirt (apparently) left me for someone else.

I still miss it... to this day...

#281 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 12:59 PM:

They confused the heck out of me too, Ethan. Pwned and repwned until I realized the date. (Particularly as I was checking them last night when it was still 3/31 here - but not there.)

#282 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Michael Weholt @ 280... You went to a vampire wedding. Menwhile, Caroline was a bridesmaid at a zombie wedding. Sigh. My own wedding was such a staid affair in comparison, especially since only cheese and munchies and Forbidden Planet were involved.

#283 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Dearest Hostess Mine (Ours? Our'n?), and other hamsterphiles, have you yet had Bob the Angry Flower's 'Hamsterfall Trilogy' (Parts 1, 2, and 3) brought to your attention?

#284 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:14 PM:

I am weirded out. Among hits on my dance blog in a single day are ones from the LJ friendslists of my most beloved ex-girlfriend and one of my most despised former male lovers (the most recent is giving him a real run for his money as Top A--hole Ever, but the final outcome is still in doubt). Since the link appeared on their friendslists without my name attached I can only imagine it must have been as startling to them as to me.

And before anyone complains that I don't link to the blog, the post in question is here. Very serious discussion of excruciatingly difficult reconstruction issues in obscure mid-19th-century quadrilles.

#285 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Serge: Who is this 'Fragano Legister' who bears my visage in the gallery? This not-quite-me who haunts my steps?



#286 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Serge #282:

I once attended a wedding in which both Ganesh and Cthulu were invoked. What showed up, however, was the fire department.

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Fragano @ 285... Oops. Corrected. At least I didn't misspell your name into Frangano Ledger.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:26 PM:

joann @ 286... Were the bride and groom disappointed at how the horror flambée turned out?

#289 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Serge @282: Cheese and munchies and Forbidden Planet sounds very nice for a wedding. Juan and I had Jane Yolen reading a poem about spit-swapping, and Jon Singer as one of the officiants, and a sushi wedding cake (with doilies underneath, and little white pillars supporting a bowl of tobiko on top, in which were two tiny plastic penguins, one wearing a wedding veil with tiny pearls). It's important to honor one's traditions, I believe.

Mike and I had a lovely commitment ceremony put together by an excellent troop of Klingons at the Year Games one year. They do great fireworks, and the globe with the ultraviolet zapper thingie was pretty cool too.

(And I have a gorgeous photograph of TNH from Juan's and my wedding, speaking of photo galleries. I should scan some of those old things.)

#290 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Open thread poetry, loosely inspired by the McHugh quote.



We understand the world through ink and light;

we draw, we see, we draw again

as faith becomes our paper, hopeful-bright.



Mathematics helps us get it right,

models all that is within one brain.

We understand the world through ink and light.



Which is most important, brush or sight?

We glance from world to model, back again,

and faith becomes our paper, hopeful-bright.



Each drop of ink transforms the paper - white

becomes a sheaf of colours with each stain.

We understand the world through ink and light.



There's close-packed worlds in everything we write -

a thousand contexts that we can't explain,

for faith becomes our paper, hopeful-bright.



Our dear friends help us share in their delight -

they show us how to see a truth again,

to understand the world through ink and light.

Our faith becomes our paper, hopeful-bright.

#291 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:35 PM:

Serge #287: Merci beaucoup M. Maalox.

#292 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Serge #288:

No, just sort of non-plussed that the neighbors should call in a perfectly-functioning firepit. The fire dept themselves was sufficiently apologetic that they joined in the parade up the hill to the community hall for the reception.

#293 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:37 PM:

joann #286: I presume that they were invoked by mistake?

#294 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Oh bravo, Susan! It's rare to have this particular dance dissected with such a quantity of critical acumen. However, to be particular, I would prefer rather to have the dancers, dissected, with a critical quantity of cumin.

#296 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 03:00 PM:

Sam Kelly: Thanks for the villanelle!

#297 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 03:04 PM:

Greg Re: Vinge and the plausibility of the Blight: Albatross has it right at #242. the researchers were explicitly described as running self-modifying "code" found on-site. They thought the had everything safeguarded, but weren't prepared for something smart enough could bide its time before striking. And before the extent of the calamity became clear, other races were saying, "ho-hum, another bunch of idiots got in trouble in the High Beyond...".

Also, it was noted there was a lot of nanotech running around-- presumably that's also easier to build in the outer zones. Indeed, in terms of today's quantum science, the difference in the Beyond might exactly be, as per albatross' ideas, that quantum systems can be made to do more interesting things in terms of both computation and manipulation.

It's also explicitly noted that hyperdrives, antigravity, and the like all become progressively more effective in the outer zones, but fail and decay as you bring them inward. Approaching the Unthinking Depths, even Earth-style computers fail, perhaps because electrons stop tunneling and suchlike. This confirms a difference in what physical phenomena are "allowed".

#298 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 03:24 PM:

elise 289: Mike and I had a lovely commitment ceremony put together by an excellent troop of Klingons at the Year Games one year.

Any broken collar bones?

#299 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Sam, that's lovely!

#300 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Xopher, no, it was all pretty much non-violent as such things go*. And we even had a Feddy in the wedding party, as it were. (There was much joking about that.) The ceremony was beautiful; well, it would be, because Mike wrote it.

Since he was also GoH, they gave him a beautiful klin zha board and pieces, which he treasured. His family, as far as I can tell, threw the pieces into the dumpster when they took what they wanted from his apartment after he died. I did find the board in the debris that they left -- they gave me permission to go in two months later and salvage my clothing, stating that whatever was left was "garbage and trash," so I salvaged the board, intending to figure out someone who would find it a particularly meaningful remembrance to have. (Anybody who has suggestions should let me know. So far, my default idea is to donate it to some science fiction history collection somewhere.)

* As long as you remembered to dodge when somebody yelled "Incoming!" ...because we were sitting pretty much underneath the fireworks. Those Klingons are good with ordnance, though. It was great fun. Best view of fireworks I've ever had, I think.

#301 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Oh gods, Elise, that's heartbreaking.

#302 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 04:56 PM:

Clifton:

Alas, my abilities both culinary and scientific are entirely inadequate to the task. I could ask one of my co-workers who did something with an alpaca or llama or something once. As I am currently forced to pass through a tunnel of preserved placentas in order to get to my office, I think I'm entitled to ask for a few favors aside from the free embalming.

#303 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 05:08 PM:

elise 300: I concur with Clifton. What a bunch of jerks. Makes me want to make a will.

#304 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 05:24 PM:

ethan @#269: I originally saw only the XKCD-> QC one, but even before remembering the date, I figured it had to be on purpose, just because the "QC" joke was so apropos to XKCD.

#305 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Fragano #293:

Entirely by mistake. Apparently the two-down neighbors, smelling woodsmoke on a not all that chilly fall night, decided that there must be an entire house afire--or something. This in a part of the city where everyone and their armadillo has a backyard smoker. I ask you!

#306 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 05:35 PM:

Clifton @#294: When you need to compare the numbers of your guests against your victims, check out Cannibal Lunch.

(My corpse would feed 10 cannibals!)

#307 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Serge @266:

Classic Who was hamstrung by a then rather stodgy BBC. The consensus among Classic Who fans is that the 2nd Doctor companion Victoria was the strongest of the female companions; this despite the BBC's somewhat ham-handed attempts at "strong" women later (scientist Liz Shaw with the 3rd Doctor and "hard-nosed reporter" Sarah Jane Smith (yes, the same one in The Sarah Jane Adventures) with 3 and 4).

R. M. Koske @274::

Yes, I was exaggerating for humor — but I do stand out (due to the outfit; it looks to me like I'm almost glowing) and every time I look at it I think "does this outfit make me look fat?" (I admit to having "odd" associations.)

#308 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:49 PM:

Oh poo. I guess I should have seen this coming, but I just finished episode 1111 (or something like that) of "Questionable Content" and realized that I had hit the end of the content, but in the middle of the storyline. I want to find out what happens now.

Dang it. Now I gotta read it one episode a day...

#309 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 07:50 PM:

David Harmon@304

Also, nearly as I can gather, the "local network" of the URL shifts (xkcd goes to QC, QC goes to qwantz, qwantz goes to xkcd) is a symmetric graph...

#310 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 08:02 PM:

#307, geekosaur -

Glad to hear it. And I do see the association of "does this outfit make me look fat?" - it's funny. *grins*

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 08:46 PM:

geekosaur @ 307... Sarah Jane Smith (yes, the same one in The Sarah Jane Adventures)

I quite enjoyed the David Tennant episode of Doctor Who where she showed up with K-9.

#312 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 09:04 PM:

I drove past a Presbyterian Church tonight. Out by the street it had a sign that said:

Jesus convicts his childrenJesus convicts his children

I thought that this was either a quaint use of the verb that I'm unaware of, or someone doesn't know the difference between 'convict' and 'convince'.

#313 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Elise - thank you! And my deepest commiseration on your additional loss. I sincerely hope that more of the "garbage and trash" was anything but.

#314 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 10:29 PM:

I was listening to NPR yesterday, and heard what seemed like a wonderful analogy to the way complicated, nearly-sentient technologies can rise up and bite you despite attempted precautions. Think about financial markets. It's pretty common to have innovations in those markets. The inventors honestly do everything they can to understand and contain the risk of those new investment vehicles. And yet, when a large market is established in them, it's possible for that market to do enormous good or harm, almost without any hope of the inventor predicting which. The radio story was about an investment vehicle which was only a few years old, was poorly understood, but whose worldwide market held more value than the US stock market.

I like this as an analogy for moving into the beyond or transcend. Allowing innovation in financial markets makes more efficient markets possible, and can make your society really rich. And sometimes, it can also introduce completely new, not well understood, risks, including the risk of some kind of global financial meltdown. This is true despite attempts to have some kind of regulation to prevent fraud, central banks, monetary and fiscal policy, etc. And, as with the blight, introducing some malevolent decisionmakers, innovating with the goal of widespread fraud or damaging the economy, makes things even scarier.

Markets, legal systems, and bureaucracies are all examples of systems that (with human components) produce a kind of superhuman intelligence--not that they are smarter than a human, exactly, but they do things that no single human, no matter how smart, could manage. And this introduces the opportunity for them to get out of the control of the humans attempting to use them to accomplish things. Indeed, people who study these systems know all kinds of ways that they can go off the rails in a destructive direction, and try to work out imperfect but useful safeguards to prevent the worst of the known failure modes. And yet, those safeguards can't prevent all bad outcomes.

#315 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 10:42 PM:

abi @ 276: "The cake is a lie, Leia. Be warned."

It's a trap!

Xopher @ 278: "Why am I so stupid? He was real pretty, but still. To a man of my intelligence a corrupted, distorted, or unused mind should be as offputting as a hideous facial deformity—more, really—but somehow..."

Alas, it never works that way. Physical beauty is just so much more immediate than mental beauty.

Do you think telepaths complain to their supportive platonic friends, "I know he's a hideous Glargbeast from Planet X and his skin secretes acid, but his mindfeel

was just so lovely!" as they lie covered in bandages in the emergency ward?

Sam Kelly @ 290: Bravo!

#316 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 11:03 PM:

albatross @ 314: "The inventors honestly do everything they can to understand and contain the risk of those new investment vehicles."

I'm gonna have to go with a no on that.

#317 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Albatross #314 -

There's one nugget of wisdom I heard years ago about the market. I don't know who said it originally, but, "When the market becomes front-page news, it's time to scram." Every speculative bubble I've seen, from the the Dot Compost of 2000 to the housing market of the past couple of years, became major news stories before they imploded.

And I expect the same thing to happen to oil and other commodity futures.

#318 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 12:09 AM:

My scrawny frame will, so they think, feed 9 cannibals.

This might be closer to true than not, I have a decent muscle to bone ratio, and damn all for fat.

#319 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Heresiarch: Even when they're trying to understand the risk and contain it, they often don't succeed. Fraud or malice obviously make things worse.

Presumably, the guys circulating those memos thought the consequences, if any, would land on someone else. To the extent they were right, they were just malevolent. To the extent they were wrong, that demonstrates an emergent property of the market they weren't able to predict.

And something like the Blight is like a perfectly safe looking blueprint from the World Bank to move your country to a market economy. The first steps look plausibly safe, the next ones build on those, and it takes some kind of Godlike intellect to see that round 13 of the market innovations will cause your nation's economy to melt down and head for China, and will leave the survivors huddling in a dark room somewhere, burning books to keep warm.

#320 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 12:30 AM:

albatross (#314): In A Deepness in the Sky, Vinge references societal collapse caused by the lack of "slack" in the system. If everyone's using just-in-time inventory, and then a bridge collapses somewhere so the trucks can't arrive on time....

#321 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:49 AM:

Serge@266: Classic Who has nearly two dozen female companions spread out over more than 25 years. Of course they're going to be a mixed bag. I will say that I think better of them (on the whole) than geekosaur seems to.

Re abi@276: Anyone care to guess how long it'll be before the word "cake" becomes usable again online? A year, two?

#322 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 06:47 AM:

Serge @265 ..makes me want to put it on our NetFlix queue, messy atoms and all. Dare I?

Dare! Dare! On the other hand I occasionally claim that there is no film/book/work of art etc. so worthless that I or we can't get something out of it*. To ensure you don't accidently recreate our viewing program my review of the evening is here. Fortunately the commentary that followed is all safely hidden on Facebook.

Them actually lost to The Giant Claw in a vote that night.



* I have been disappointed. But being proved wrong mean's I've learnt something doesn't it? Uh oh, a paradox warning window just opened.

#323 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 09:33 AM:

albatross @ 319: "And something like the Blight is like a perfectly safe looking blueprint from the World Bank to move your country to a market economy. The first steps look plausibly safe, the next ones build on those, and it takes some kind of Godlike intellect to see that round 13 of the market innovations will cause your nation's economy to melt down and head for China, and will leave the survivors huddling in a dark room somewhere, burning books to keep warm."

I presume you mean "Godlike" as "Godlike from the perspective of the clients," not from the perspective of the World Bank? It's interesting the way you're casting the World Bank in the role of the Blight--a malevolent, incomprehensively intelligent force, tricking lesser beings into slavery.

David Goldfarb @ 321: "Anyone care to guess how long it'll be before the word "cake" becomes usable again online? A year, two?"

The cake is eternal. The cake saturates the being of the universe. The cake shall still be there when the sun has set upon itself.

(The cake is not a lie. The cake is simply cake--it is your flawed understanding of the cake that causes your trouble.)

#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 09:50 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 321... There were that many Companions? I suppose this is because some came and went fairly quickly, like the Bride at the beginning of Tennant's 2nd season. She made it quite clear, when she looked outside of the TARDIS and saw the whole Universe, that this would not be the life for her.

#325 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 322... That sounds like it was a wonderful day of Cinéma. I mean, a puppet show, The Giant Claw AND High Society? Reminds me of the glory days of MST3K. Sigh. About Cleopatra 2525, did you notice that Hel was played by Gina Torrès, who is better known (and I do mean better) for playing Zoé in Firefly?

#326 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Serge:

Apparently the bride will be back in the new season, which starts Saturday.

#327 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 10:23 AM:

Serge @ #266: Leela, one of the 4th Doctor's companions, kicks ass. ("Die, bent face!") She also has the best impromptu fake backstory: "She was found floating down the Amazon in a hatbox," which resulted in a lovely fan-produced button image.

I too really loved Sarah Jane's encounter with Tennant's Doctor.

#328 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Susan @ 326... It does? She does? According to the SciFi Channel's schedule, the Doctor is coming back on April 11, along with Sarah Jane. But maybe you're referring to the same source that allows you to watch Torchwood on your computer. No matter what, I'll finally gfet to see how the Doctor will dislodge the Titanic out of the TARDIS. And Friday night is going to be the TV night for me, with those 2 series and Galactica...

Lila @ 327... "She was found floating down the Amazon in a hatbox"

That would look good on a résumé.

#329 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 10:59 AM:

I think summing up Cleopatra 2525 as suffering from the episodes being too short to squeeze a story into is pretty fair. I also recall it as a sci-fi Xena that aped the superficials while otherwise completely missing the point.

So you have more women in sci-fi versions of the Xena outfit, doing the martial arts action stuff, but you forget the character dynamics which made Xena work. Not just the Xena/Gabrielle subtext, but the way the characters don't come out of nowhere.

And why does the show need the Cleo character? Why does it need the revived corpsicle hook into our time?

I think I still have a DVD set somewhere...

#330 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 11:06 AM:

Serge, you have the Sci-Fi Channel.

Some of us have the BBC.

After decades of Americans getting to spoiler us Brits, we get the chance to see things first.

But we're not cruel. We're not going to tell you why The Doctor had to sink the Titanic, but Kylie Minogue was there.

#331 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Dave Bell @ 330... Yes, you are being cruel. I probably would have access to BBC-America if the cable company's local lineup wasn't cluttered with other stuff. Creepy cardinals and eyepatched nuns are fine in small doses, but they just don't hold a candle to the Doctor. As for the latter being involved in the Titanic mishap, does this mean he gets to meet Tony Newman and Doug Phillips?

#332 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 11:27 AM:

Dave Bell:

Many of us in America have the BBC too, on about an eight-hour time delay, courtesy of the nice uploaders in the UK. Small is the television world nowadays.

#333 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Ah, the Xena/Gabrielle subtext, which caught my partner unawares the one time she stumbled across an episode being broadcast. The very same subtext which led to the creation -- nay, the spawning of a new sub-category in fanfic: the Uber-Xena story, where one character is tall and dark-haired, and the other character is shorter, and blond.

Very few uber-xena books are worth the money, and I can never tell from the Amazon.com descriptions which books are uber, so for a while there I was getting books that I hated. I can't bring myself to throw out books, so I donated some to the local library, and recycled the rest to a friend who teaches at a small mid-Western college.

#334 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Ginger @ 333... the Xena/Gabrielle subtext

Remember the episode where footage from Spartacus got used along with footage from some cheesy Hercules movie?

#335 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Serge @ 334: Alas, no. The haze of estrogen that floated through the air was enough to rob me of my memory banks. Scenery? What scenery? Look! Xena smiled!

;-)

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 02:12 PM:

Ginger... Darn haze!

I notice that nobody brings up the Joxur subtext... or is it subbasement subtext?

#337 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 02:32 PM:

#333, Ginger -

I never actually played in the Xena fandom, but I had the idea that Uber-Xena stories were based off of the premise of a few of the silly eps in later seasons where everyone was in modern times (or in the 1940s once, I think) and it was Xena et al reincarnated into what amounted to each others' bodies. So in an uber-Xena story, Xena might be the blonde, and Joxer the tall, statuesque brunette.

Did I misunderstand the concept as used by the fandom? Or is that precisely what you dislike about them?

My favorite "that word, it doesn't mean what you think it means" in fandom is the difference in "smarm" between the Sentinel fandom and the Real Ghostbusters (yes really) fandom.

#338 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:23 PM:

Hi everybody! I'm still not even lurking. But I thought that perhaps, if anybody has any spare prayers and/or positive energy, you might think of me Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday evening. I'll be interviewing for what could well be my dream job.

#339 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:27 PM:

R.M. Koske: Mmmm, Sentinel. Did the 2nd and 3rd seasons ever make it onto DVD?

#340 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:31 PM:

TexAnne @338:

Go you! I'll calendar keeping my fingers crossed.

Tell us how it comes out.

#341 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:47 PM:

TexAnne... Pure energy (even better than the positive kind) is being beamed your way right now.

#342 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:50 PM:

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, TexAnne! Good luck! (Thought I posted this already; brain-blip??)

#343 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 03:53 PM:

TexAnne -- dream job, eh? The world needs more of those. Hope this works out for you, I'll be thinking of you.

#344 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 04:04 PM:

TexAnne, absolutely!

#345 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 04:07 PM:

Go for it, TexAnne!

#346 ::: dave hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Serge@331 - you know, that's the only episode of Time Tunnel I can remember.

#347 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 04:12 PM:

Knock 'em dead, TexAnne.

#348 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 04:15 PM:

R.M. Koske @ 337: You may be thinking of other examples of Uber-Xena; I've only read the lesbian versions. I'm sure there's all kinds of Xena-fic out there. :-)

Serge @ 336: Yes, indeed. Joxer who? There were men in these stories? It's beginning to come back to me..I vaguely recall something about that. I'm sure they weren't all that important anyway. ;-)

TexAnne @ 338: Good luck!

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Ginger @ 348... Well, there was Autolykos, King of Thieves.

#350 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 05:00 PM:

#339, Lila -

Not that I can tell, but I was pretty tangental to the fandom so I don't keep close watch, either.

#348, Ginger - Fair enough.

And I'm sending good thoughts, too, TexAnne, on the off chance that it isn't too late.

#351 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Dave Bell @329 - Cleo seems to be there to give them someone to explain what's going on to ("As you don't know Cleo as you're from 500 years ago, we live underground and get to lower levels by leaping down insanely deep shafts...") The real problem we had with Cleopatra 2525 was the combination of short running time and fitting in all the recurring elements. So it seemed formulaic, repetitive and eventually boring. I think we watched most of the episodes last summer, then forgot about it until this year, and now we're finally finished.

Serge @325 - we're had some truely terrible nights viewing, which is why we've been mixing up the genres, formats and periods of what we watch. Also we're trying to finish some of the stuff we've got halfway through and got bored with.

If we didn't already have more stuff to watch, both good and terrible, than we possibly can fit in this year I'd probably suggest Xena.

And good luck TexAnne.

#352 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Neil Willcox... Ever seen Jack of All Trades? Bruce Campbell as a Napoleonic Era spy with steampunk inventions should have been appealing. Napoleon being played by a black dwarf, on the other hand... Well, this is no worse than the 1990s Robin Hood series where Robin and his Merry Men had to fight off Mongol Hordes invading England. To be fair, I never watched the show, a decision precipitated by the mention of said Mongol Hordes.

#353 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 07:11 PM:

David Harmon@#297, Vinge has been fairly explicit at times that the principal difference between the Zones is an algorithmic difference: whether a difference in what algorithms 'work' or some sort of difference in their complexity is not known (although I can't figure out how the latter could even make conceptual sense: what, go into the Transcend and now you can do a linear search in O(1) time?!)

Most of the things you mention as being signs of changes in physical law are attributed to computational differences in AFUTD. Notably, hyperdrive only 'really' works (in an Asimovian sense: you can take long jumps instantly) in the Transcend, if there: further down, you must make smaller and smaller hops, and the computation time for each hop goes up as you go lower. Crossing into the Slow Zone, there's a singularity (in the mathematical sense) and suddenly it takes infinite time to carry out the necessary computations for a single jump: -> no hyperspace.

The reason why agrav fabric and so on can't be made in the Slow Zone isn't clear: but note that in _The Blabber_, agrav fabric is *brought* into the Slow Zone physically, and it still works. But it's delicate stuff, and it wears out: and the nanotech necessary to build it doesn't work in the Slow Zone (I hypothesise because of coordination problems: you can make the nano, but the algorithms to make it work together won't work. Perhaps simple quorum sensing and things built on that are the most complex things allowed down there: that's enough for biological brains and the like to evolve, but perhaps not for Drexlerian nanoassemblers.)

#354 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 07:34 PM:

Paula Helm Murray... You're now in the Exhibition. Moonlighting, eh?

#355 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 07:35 PM:

Serge@352 Robin and his Merry Men had to fight off Mongol Hordes invading England.

At least they set it in more or less the right historical period, even though the actual Mongol hordes never got anywhere near England.

I recall once seeing a few scenes of a movie where the premise was that Omar Khayyam and Sinbad were teaming up to defend Baghdad from Tamerlane.

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Michael I @ 355... Omar Khayyam and Sinbad were teaming up

Ever seen Italian movie Hercules, Samson and Ulysses? It was quite a teamup as they fought off the evil Philistines, who went around wearing Nazi helmets.

#357 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 08:40 PM:

OK, so I'm once again hitting the group up for more WorldCon questions that I might be able to determine elsewhere but haven't been able to.

One of my friends is a former Denverite who may be interested in going to the Con with my friend and I, but would rather delay deciding on purchasing his membership and would definitely stay with friends rather than in an on-site hotel. Is there a possibility of memberships running out if he doesn't get one while they're still available?

#358 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 08:44 PM:

Skwid (357): No. Worldcons do not put a cap on memberships, so they can't run out. They do get more expensive if you wait past early July, however.

#359 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Speaking of WorldCon, are any Fluorospheran singers a) going to be there and b) going to have time to do some singing? (The Unhyphenated tend to be too busy to turn around at WorldCon, and working in some rehearsals and performances would be hard for them; much as I'd like to have them I don't hold out much hope.)

My idea is still in the conceptual phase, and nothing may come of it, so I don't want to talk about it just yet, but I'd like to get some idea of what singers MIGHT (that's MIGHT) be available if the price conditions were right. No commitment (on either side!) just a general idea of the pool of singerly types I might be able to draw from.

#360 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 11:47 PM:

Xopher @ 359... I'm going, but I'm not singing.

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 11:49 PM:

Torchwood Babiez

(Link to it found on Kouredios's LiveJournal)

#362 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2008, 11:53 PM:

So the only two things in life which are certain are cake and taxes? Good to know.

#363 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 12:05 AM:

Diatryma @ 362... Can you have your taxes and eat them too?

#364 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 12:44 AM:

Texanne, I'm probably reading too late, but good luck!

#365 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 12:46 AM:

albatross @ 319

The market view of emergent sentience reminds me of a character Charlie Stross put into "Accelerando": an alien AI from a post-Singularity world which was created to be a super-predator: essentially a Turing-capable Ponzi scheme.

Speaking of which, I've come to the belief that almost any new market instrument will in time, usually pretty short time, become the McGuffin of a pyramid scheme. Whether it becomes a major bubble followed by major downturn depends on just how easily the top-tier investors can get out of Dodge with their loot before the rest of the worlds finds out it was all funny money.

#366 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:17 AM:

Serge @331:

Regrettably, BBC America has little relationship to any of the BBC channels in the UK. In particular, Doctor Who has been airing a year behind the UK schedule (although Torchwood has been only a couple weeks behind, apparently). SciFi shows Doctor Who in a much more timely fashion, and will be only a little behind the BBC in the upcoming 4th season.

@324:

Yes, Donna is back in the 4th season. (But then, apparently so is everyone else eventually.)

David Goldfarb @321:

I said "consensus of the Classic Who fans", although I will additionally note that Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text has a few choice comments on it as well. Personally, I don't have enough of an idea of what was considered "traditional" vs. "progressive" in the UK over that time frame (or, for that matter, now), and I'm used to giving older stuff a pass: I grew up reading lots of old books, and it would be startling/horrifying to moderns just how open the sexism and racism was in them as you go farther back in time.

#367 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:29 AM:

Nix @ 353: "The reason why agrav fabric and so on can't be made in the Slow Zone isn't clear: but note that in _The Blabber_, agrav fabric is *brought* into the Slow Zone physically, and it still works."

One of the ideas from Vinge's books that I really like is the idea that even technologies that function in the lower zones can still be optimized to higher levels of efficiency when designed using tools that only work in the Beyond. This also has implications for some techs that require sophisticated manufacturing requirements, but function relatively simply--once they are made, they can be transported someways core-ward while still being functional.

#368 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:47 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ Days in a year: Yeah, I thought of the same thing. =)

#369 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:51 AM:

Steve C., #317: That actually makes a lot of sense. It may mean that you don't realize quite as much profit, but less profit is preferable to a loss... which is what happens to the people who (1) get greedy or (2) don't get into it until it hits the news.

Serge, #331: Time Tunnel reference FTW!

Dave, #346: Same here. Which is a little weird, because I loved the show -- I was all of 9 years old and had a flaming crush on James Darren. (And was absolutely delighted to rediscover him 30 years later on DS9!)

Xopher, #359: We may be there, although since we seem to have lost the window for getting dealer tables due to a Post Office snafu, it's less certain. However, if we are there as fans instead of dealers, that means I'm more likely to have time availablle for projects. I sing alto or tenor about equally well.

#370 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 06:09 AM:

Serge@361: Eeeeeeeeeee.

#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 06:11 AM:

Lee @ 369... That was indeed neat when James Darren became a regular character on DS9. By the way, what did you think of Lee Merriwether's character on Time Tunnel? Going thru the DVD set, I noticed that her character was usually more likely to keep her cool in a sticky stituation.

Dave Hutchinson @ 346... The show had its share of duds, like the one where the standard Irwin Allen silver-skinned aliens came across the Galaxy to abduct a farmer's cows, but it had some decent ones too. Right off the bat? The one where they wind up at Little Big Horn. My favorite was where Tony & Doug are on an island in the Pacific during the War, and are hounded by a young Japanese soldier who hates himself for once having acted cowardly.

#372 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 06:15 AM:

geekosaur @ 366... I guess BBC America isn't showing Docto Who any earlier because the SciFi Channel probably has some exclusivity deal for the USA. Still, it'd be nice to have access to that station.

#373 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 06:27 AM:

Xopher@359: I'll be in Denver, and I like to think that I can sing. Let me know what's going on.

#374 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 06:36 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 370... Mind you, never having seen the show, I am missing most of the jokes, but I picked bits and pieces from lurking around Susan's Rixosous site. Besides, I thought that people around here who do watch the show might find this of interest. (Again, one must thank Kouredios for posting about that on her own site.)

#375 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 08:33 AM:

Nix @#353: Yeah, but just what does it mean for an algorithm to "stop working"? The algorithm itself is fundamentally a mathematical construct, a series of computational steps which are provably equivalent to mathematical operations.

As I've said before, mathematics is essentially the science of things that don't depend on their material substrate. But a computer isn't just algorithms; it also needs a physical implementation, and that implementation is most certainly (and sensitively) dependent on the characteristics of its material substrate.

Consider the famous "TinkerToy(tm) computer" that plays Tic-Tac-Toe. The underlying game algorithm is constant and could be implemented on anything from an optical processor, to a Go board manipulated by heavily trained pigeons. The TTC/TTT is a specific implementation in wooden dowels and rubber-bands -- which in fact pushes the tolerances of its physical substrate. That is, in practice, the device was (and presumably still is) fragile and cranky, needing careful handling to avoid a Spontaneous Disassembly Interrupt.

Despite the terminology that Vinge used, it doesn't make sense for "algorithms" proper to stop working -- it has to be the implementation that fails, and given the SFnal assumption of new physical phenomena, the most likely candidate is subtle changes in physical law.

Of course, those had better be very subtle -- consider Asimov's classic The Gods Themselves, for the hazards of tweaking the strong force! But quantum phenomena are pretty subtle -- indeed, they're normally constrained to well below our scale of awareness. If we assume a lack of "for want of a nail" catastrophes, they make a pretty good handwave for the desired effects.

#376 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Bruce #365: I just finished my first Stross novel (Singularity Sky). I was already planning to read more; I'll have to look for Accelerando in particular.

And yeah. I think part of the society-wide learning curve for any new investment vehicle is the opportunity for either a silly bubble by people who don't understand it but invest in it because it looks profitable, or an opportunity for some kind of huge ripoff by some of the folks who do understand it.

And this unpredictability can be in pretty mundane places. Apparently, a lot of the mortgage bubble was triggered by trading mortgages on a market. It's not like mortgages were some obscure new derivative whose price required a PhD in math and a supercomputer to figure out. Instead, added risk crept in because a bunch of the mechanisms that used to keep the writers of mortgages honest (like not encouraging the borrowers to lie on the forms) stopped working when the people writing the mortgages could stop caring about the chances of getting paid back once they sold the mortgage. And it's not like investors didn't understand that risk, but it looks to me like they didn't have a good way to figure out how much risk they were taking on.

Along with that, there's a kind of Darwinian process going on in any market. If you are irrational in the same direction as the market, you do better than if you're rational. If the market remains irrational in a given direction for awhile, the people who adopt that irrationality win and the people who don't, lose. It's not hard to see the consequences of that!

#377 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 08:45 AM:

Serge @#331 et seq.: Having long-since abandoned TV, when I saw the title Time Tunnel, I thought of Murray Leinster's 1964 novel by that name. Still a damn good story....

#378 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 08:52 AM:

Albatross @#376:

I've got a simpler set of rules: If you can dump the risks you created onto somebody else, you win. If you're tricked into accepting somebody else's risks, you will eventually lose. For a stable system, risks need to remain attached to the entities that undertake them in the first place.

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 09:11 AM:

David Harmon @ 377... So I've heard. I think it was mentionned in 2002 when it looked like the TV show was being remade, and some competing network was going to use the Leinster novel (or at least its title) for its own Time Tunnel TV show. The latter never happened. As for the remake, it was never aired. It is on the original show's DVD set, but I'm watching things in sequence, and haven't gone past the aliens-abduct-cows episode yet.

#380 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 09:34 AM:

TexAnne @ 338

Belated but heartfelt good wishes for your interview. I've got a few megawatt-hours of positive energy I"m sending you right now, in hopes the time differenced hasn't made me too late.

#381 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 09:49 AM:

albatross @ 376

Coincidence: my first Stross book was Singularity Sky; I think it's a very effective gateway drug. I still giggle everytime I think of the spork factory.

David Harmon @ 378

I think that's dead on. Transferring risk to unknowing investors delays the default of the instrument and allows much larger amounts to be assumed before the default. This makes the default larger and creates effects from it over a lot larger volume of the investment space.

The curious thing about chaotic systems is that over certain volumes of their phase space they're quite stable and predictable for particular meanings of those words. But there are boundaries to those volumes ("basins of attraction") beyond which even going a tiny epsilon can cause the system to fall into a completely different basin with completely different characteristics. And those boundaries can be fractal, meaning there's no way to know which side of the boundary the system is on if it's sufficiently close. So there are predictions about such a system for which no amount of knowledge or algorithmic precision is sufficient to predict which basin it will end up in.

This means that the SecTreas' naive assumption that the boom and bust cycle will go merrily on no matter how much debt the greedsters pile up is almost certainly mistaken. And one prediction no one can make is whether the dynamics in the new regime will allow anything like what we would call a healthy economy.

#382 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 10:14 AM:

David #375:

Yeah, the only way I can see for algorithms to have different complexities is if there's some physical component which changes properties with regions of space. Like going from Turing machines to Quantum Turing machines, say. You can kind-of imagine zones working that way--in the Slow Zone, the only hardware capable of supporting consciousness works like neurons; in the Unthinking Depths, even that hardware doesn't work right because of some subtle effects of otherwise small changes in physical constants. In the Beyond, there are other architectures that can be instantiated in some nontrivial way, and that support consciousness algorithms. These architectures also allow some kind of FTL travel/communications.

It's harder to backfill a justification for Beyond/Transcend technology that continues to work in the Slow Zone for awhile. I'm sure it's possible (maybe advanced computing devices must constantly repair/reconfigure themselves to adapt to small physical changes caused by variations in temperature and vibrations, or random damange by radiation. And the repair algorithms can't run in the Slow Zone. Or something. (It's just too tempting to devolve into Star-Trek-style technobabble here. The warp field keeps collapsing due to antimatter-destabilizing phase differences propogating through the fabric of space-time. Hexapody is the key insight in resolving treckle lansing disputes.))

As a simple version of this, imagine an alternate universe in which the maximum number of qbits in your quantum computer was bounded by some physical constant that varied over time. As you moved around in the space of this parameter, your computing power (with quantum computers, anyway) would change considerably. I don't think that would quite give you the zones, but then, I don't know how to write a consciousness algorithm or an FTL jump algorithm, even given a really large quantum computer.

#383 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Xopher (359): I'll be at Worldcon, and I at least used to be able to sing. Soprano, if that matters.

#384 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Bruce #381: Yeah, I liked the space battle. I thought it was a near perfect picture of warfare between profoundly different technology levels. Gur ybj grpu thlf yvgrenyyl arire xabj jung uvg gurz, gurve npgvbaf ner pbzcyrgryl ubcryrff naq gurl arire rira haqrefgnaq vg gvyy gurve fuvc fgnegf pbzvat ncneg nebhaq gurz. And the main revolutionary's response to Festival was beautiful.

The thing about shifting risk in investments is that it's not a problem if the people transacting business understand the risks. They can account for that, and barring widespread fraud or massive errors, this ought not to lead to some kind of financial meltdown. But when people in the market turn out to have not understood what risks were attached to an investment, that's where you have the opportunity for a bunch of businesses that thought they were being moderately risky to instead discover that they were walking across a tightrope stretched over a crocodile pit. And when that happens in a widespread way, we can have some genuine nastiness. Thousands of people discover that they're a lot poorer than they thought they were, all at once.

Anyway, this is why investment innovations look like a good analog for civilization-monkeying-with AI. It's too hard for any human to figure out what's going to happen with the new investment, and once it's in use, so much money is in play with it that any attempts to rein it in are really hard to allow, and may precipitate the crash you fear.

#385 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 11:06 AM:

Greg #308: You too? I was intensely annoyed that I read the Wikipedia page (I wanted to know what the heck QC was) and learned all kinds of twists that happened, before I got to the end of the strip. But the strip is great! It's like Friends, but with somewhat smarter and much more f-cked up people, and lots of annoying music references that go over my head.

I still think the pizza-with-Hannelore strip would have been a better fit for an XKCD/QC swap. And does Marten just have some kind of attract-messed-up-chicks cologne? That must have been the kind I wore in college. I'm bemused by how similar Marten's circle of friends and women he's involved with is to mine, back in college. Though the coffeeshop was run by second generation hippies rather than cute but verbally abusive girls.

#386 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Albatross @#382: It's harder to backfill a justification for Beyond/Transcend technology that continues to work in the Slow Zone for awhile.

Remember, the changes aren't stepwise, but gradual -- e.g., the hyperdrives et al progressively lose capability as a ship moves inward. When you're pushing the limits of Beyond tech, you'd naturally need to allow for those small variations as you move around. If you do that well enough (perhaps with help from above), your work can temporarily survive in places where it's not really viable in the long term.

Think of all the gadgets that work fine on Earth-surface, but if you bring them above the atmosphere, they start failing to radiation, vacuum welding, and so forth.

#387 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 11:24 AM:

David@#375: I'll admit that an algorithm 'stopping working' is about as braintwisting an idea as one changing its complexity. But, well, it's not that *an* implementation fails: it's that *all* of them fail.

But there is a clue that you might be right (whatever that means for a fictional universe) in that different substrates fail at different rates: sentience incarnated in a pile of dumb neurons works much deeper than AI.

I think the only person who can answer this definitively is Vinge, but it's fun to think about anyway :)

#388 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Serge 360: You can be our roadie or announcer then.

Lee 369: Thanks, and do keep me posted: a switch-hitting Altenor is a VERY useful thing to have, I've come to realize.

David 373: Thanks, and I forgot to ask for voice parts. Bass, Baritone, Baritenor, Tenor?

Mary Aileen 383: Thanks, and yes, it does. Wow, less than 24 hours after posting that and we have all parts but Bass, unless David is one. More on a part is always better than less, though, and since no one's committing (not even, I stress, me) it's good to have backups.

By the way, some rudimentary ability to read music is a Good Thing but not strictly required, especially if you have a good memory and can carry a tune without a bucket.

#389 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Nix@387: There are LOTS of situations where "algorithm works, but too slowly" is equivalent to "algorithm doesn't work." For example, there is a simple algorithm to break most public key encryption systems: just factor a huge number that happens to be the product of two huge primes, and you're done! Won't take more than a few hundred years. This gives the machine vision guys FITS-- hi, here's a frame of video, and anything you can't do in 1/24 of a second just doesn't matter, because the NEXT frame is coming.

I find it easy to believe that hyperdrive jumps, or the tiny adjustments to the shape of local space necessary to run antigravity, are even worse. If the calculations take too long, they're based on a set of local conditions that just don't apply any more, and you can't run the calculations for a time too far in the future because you can't predict exactly where everything will be, the uncertainty principle kicks in and the world will be different from what the calculations are based on.

Time is SUCH a pain in the neck.

#390 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Xopher @ 388... You can be our roadie or announcer then.

I am intrigued. I'd better start practicing my Announcer's Voice, which I'd like to sound like Charles Boyer's, but will instead sound like Christophe Lambert. (So says Abi, anyway.) Can I wear my Victorian Time Traveller's outfit?

#391 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Xopher (388): We might be able to dragoon my sister, too. She's another soprano. (And probably a better singer than I am, at this point.)

#392 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 01:13 PM:

mjfgates@#389, sure, but 'oops this algorithm now runs much more slowly than it used to' is the same as the 'oops this algorithm is now in a different complexity class' thing that, well, doesn't seem to make any real sense. It's not as if the complexity class is something independent of the algorithm that *could* change... but of course we're stuck in the Slow Zone so we would think that. ;}

#393 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Xopher @ 359/388: I'll be there, and I always like singing (whether anyone else likes me singing is quite another matter). Bass-baritone, I think. I may also have a bass guitar, and will certainly have a soprano recorder, because I always keep one in my backpack for emergencies.

#394 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Tim Walters @ 393... I always keep one in my backpack for emergencies

Jim Macdonald would most certainly agree, assuming that EMT stands for Emergency Musical Talent.

#395 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 01:57 PM:

> Beyond/Transcend technology that continues to work in the Slow Zone for awhile

<handwave>

Quantum decoherence. You can create suitably coherent stuff in the Beyond and keep it coherent for a while in the Slow Zone, but in the Slow Zone it will eventually decohere, and irreversibly.

Of course it's not actual quantum decoherence, but something roughly analogous to it you would need a Beyond mind to understand properly.

</handwave>

#396 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:00 PM:

Mary-Aileen@#358, thanks for the info!

#397 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Re mortgages: I saw trouble coming (or returning; I recall the 9 year slump in prices in Calif. I also recall the breathless articles about how people were just getting better and better houses by short turnaround mortgages; Which isn't always bad. I recall one couple who were just trading up the amount of equity they'd built. They were also over paying every month. In effect they got a 40 year note on a really nice house. They weren't typical).

In SLO, three years ago I saw ads on telvision for no money down, negative amortisation loans; for first time buyers, pitched as a way to stop paying rent.

The thing is, this was a ponzi scheme. Someone, somewhere, was convinced housing prices couldn't fall (WTF?) and so they didn't need to worry about the foreclosures, because someone would want the houses.

The poor saps who took out the badly structured loans, well they were just there to provide the means for the company (and the agents) to make money.

The folks upstream, convinced themselves someone (at the consumer level) would bail them out. Sadly, it seems they were right.

Xopher: I shan't be there, but (if you can deal with my tendency to drift flat (or lock a third under), at some point I'll be willing to pitch my baritenor into the mix.

A penny whistle would be with me in anycase (well, to be honest, several. D/C/Eb/Bb, at the very least).

#398 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 02:39 PM:

David @ 378 writes:

"For a stable system, risks need to remain attached to the entities that undertake them in the first place."

I think this may need to be thought out some more. Most transactions involve some sort of transfer of risk: I'm often trading something whose properties I know pretty well (like cash) for something whose properties I'm not as sure about (like a new house, a gadget, or a bond). And for some important transactions, like buying insurance, transfer of risk, for an appropriate fee, is the whole point.

If risks are well understood, you can profit by taking them on or giving them up. The problem comes when risks are taken on without understanding their nature, or even understanding that one has taken on a new risk.

Unfortunately, American policy lately has been largely based on either misunderstanding risk or quietly palming it off to someone else. The housing debt crisis and the spiking price of oil have exposed some of these risks; the more general fiscal crisis that they are a part of are still being too widely ignored.

(McCain, for instance, is campaigning on extending tax cuts, repeal the AMT, and maintain our current military operations, which combined will accelerate the growth of the national debt. And much of the Dem talk I've heard about gas prices has been more about oil companies than about the deterioration of the dollar in the global marketplace-- if I recall correctly, the price of oil in, say, Euros has been relatively stable. Which is not to say we shouldn't carefully consider our energy policies, but we should also be addressing what's been hollowing out the value of the US dollar lately.)

#399 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 05:20 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom: @#398:

Indeed, I oversimplified. Note though that purchasing ordinary goods isn't a transfer of risk; you're simply assuming the usual risks of being cheated in some way. Modern society is much concerned with reducing that sort of risk, but there's always some left over. The problem with recent American administrations is that they're all too happy to reduce risks for their buddies, but not so much for the folks on the street.

The insurance example is a bit trickier... you are transferring some of your risk (financial loss) but the risk of injury, loss of your house, etc. can't be completely covered by a financial payment. And of course, you're taking a risk that the insurance company may default, as above.

What the insurance company does with that risk is rather more interesting -- once everything's measured in dollars, risk can be passed around, but the further it gets from somebody who knows the underlying odds, the shakier the deal gets. Essentially, every party who handles it adds another chance that somebody will drop the ball, until the whole thing degenerates into a game of Hot Potato.

#400 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 07:13 PM:

This web comic mentions at least two popular ML themes.

#401 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 07:40 PM:

albatross@385: Questionable Content

Yeah, someone had linked to Questionable Content a month or two ago, and it was pretty fricken funny. But there were obviously a lot of in-jokes going on. So I read about a hundred episodes, backwards, and then decided to bite the bullet and read all one thousand episodes from teh beginning. It took a month. Reading fifty episodes in a sitting, and then hitting the end of teh strip where I now can only read one episode a day, is a bit jarring.

As for his messed-up-girl-attracting cologne, I wonder how much of the story is personal experience and how much is extrapolation. Some things bits seem to really nail it, so I'm leaning more towards personal experiences. It woudl be interesting to be in a question/answer session of a con-panel with him. "Where did you get your inspiration for Faye?" would be my first question. Yes, I know, only slightly less lame than "where do you get your ideas". Oh well.



mjfgates@389: There are LOTS of situations where "algorithm works, but too slowly" is equivalent to "algorithm doesn't work." For example, there is a simple algorithm to break most public key encryption systems:

Except FOTD has algorithms that work here, but not over there. The only explanation I could come up with in my mind was that there was something different between here and there that affected the medium in which the algorithm had to operate. Sonar works really well underwater, not so good in air. Radar works really well in air, not so good underwater. But then it really isn't the "algorithm" for sonar that doesn't work in air, its that air is just a lousy sound conductor compared to water.

FOTD takes on a really big challenge in trying to create a world in which the idea of a singularity exists (just spatially separated, rather than temporally). The problem of a singularity is that it proposses the idea that something could have such a fundamental shift that the future is completely unrecognizable and beyond our prediction. And then he tries to write about what that unpredictable world will look like. Obviously, describing a world beyond our capacity to predict is going to be hard to do without taking current terms and giving them powers of handwavium. We can predict algorithms. But FOTD says that its the "algorithms" that don't work in the unthinking depths. From our poitn of view, algorithm has a meaning that doesn't include his meaning. But FOTD has to use terms we know to describe a future we can't predict, so somewhere, there is going to be a disconnect. Somewhere, there's going to be that fuzzy edge where the blue-screen background meets the main characters in teh shot. He took those characters that we could identify with, and dropped in a backdrop that has to hold a future that is beyond our ability to predict, yet make it something that we can see now.

But it's pretty hard to have a world the point of which is that it is so far advanced that we can't even imagine it, and then try to describe it in terms we understand.

FOTD does a pretty good job, considering what it's trying to take on. But, yeah, that fuzzy, blue-screen edge, is visible if you look for it. Since that backdrop isnt' the point of the story, but really the backdrop against which the story takes place, I don't have too much of a problem with it. It's like being a huge fan of Star Wars and talking about the visible bounding boxes that surround the Tie Fighters when they fly through space.

#402 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 07:43 PM:

Xopher: I'm in. This Worldcon's local to me, so I couldn't pass it up; and as for singing I'm inordinately fond of the sound of my own voice so it's hard to shut me up. Heh. Baritone if you're talking female barbershop range; alto for preference in SATB but can go higher at need. What are you scheming? It sounds like fun.

#403 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 07:46 PM:

When I was getting my Masters, I took a bunch of courses at Carnegie Mellon's Graduate School for Industrial Administration.

It had its own building. The facade had a concrete bas-relief sculpture showing dams, factories, big gears, and other Prosperous Country at Work kind of things.

Good classes, generally good professors. Many of the latter were engineers who got promoted to management and eventually went into business-academia.

What was irritating about the whole thing: The actual business students. They weren't interested in running a business, with actually inventing and building and selling things. They wanted to get into finance.

Noted without comment: The GSIA offered Golf and Acting classes.

#404 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 07:48 PM:

#400 - Allan Beatty - I'm reading through the archives of that one, and there were about three strips I read today where several characters spoke exclusively in haiku. I like that strip a lot.

#405 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 08:12 PM:

Nicole 402: I'm not telling yet, in case it comes to nothing, as too many of my projects do. But thanks, and does the reference to Barbershop mean that you already know how to sing straight tone? Big plus if so!

#406 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 10:36 PM:

Greg, I sympathise. I've been reading QC for a long time, but I recently got hooked on Something Positive (considerably more twisted than QC) and went through the same process with that. I binged for something like two weekends, doing relatively little but reading the webcomic. Now I'm caught up and going crazy waiting for more of the various storylines. It doesn't update daily, either.

#407 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2008, 11:11 PM:

Regarding algorithms "not working" the farther in you go: I was assuming that, much as FTL works progressively less well, whatever calculation substrate (e.g. semiconductors or equivalent) they use works less well (i.e. slower) as you go inward until it is so hamstrung that the necessary calculations take forever (or, as mentioned previously, so long that it might as well be forever).

An example in current and recent technology would be TTL vs. CMOS logic. TTL was fast but required a lot of power. CMOS could run on a lot less power but got slower as the available power decreased; and conversely, faster as you increased the power, at the price of running hotter until it eventually melted. Modern semiconductor technology is CMOS, and we get speed by feeding it lots of power; every so often new CMOS variants are developed that can run faster with a given amount power.

So we could say that their algorithms work everywhere, but need to work quickly enough to be of use — but the available "power" drops as you move inward and eventually is too low to do the necessary calculations in time. And agrav cloth can work some ways into the Slow Zone once created because it has a similar dependency but a bit more leeway in terms of the speed/power tradeoff; manufacturing it, on the other hand, has less leeway so can only occur in the Beyond. (This handwaves the question of how agrav cloth works, but that's inevitable.)

#408 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 12:46 AM:

David, #399: The problem with recent American administrations is that they're all too happy to reduce risks for their buddies, but not so much for the folks on the street.

Someone at my county caucus expressed this quite succinctly as, "Republicans are fine with socialism, as long as it's only the risk that's being socialized and the benefits stay firmly in their pockets." Perhaps we should start referring to corporate bailouts as "Republican socialism"!

Xopher, #405: I can sing straight tone too -- comes of a fondness for medieval music, plus a music history class that explained the change in styles between the 15th and 17th centuries.

#409 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 01:14 AM:

Not to be a downer, but I just found out that my cousin, who has been having seizures, may have a brain tumor. I don't know that I particularly believe in prayer or good energy or whatever, but a bunch of it would be nice around now.

#410 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 01:50 AM:

Does anyone have recommendations for a good domain registrar? The registrars that spring to mind are mostly ones that I know by their bad reputations, like Verisign. It's been a hella long time since I needed to register a domain, and now I suddenly need to get two of them.

#411 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 02:06 AM:

albatross @ 376: "And yeah. I think part of the society-wide learning curve for any new investment vehicle is the opportunity for either a silly bubble by people who don't understand it but invest in it because it looks profitable, or an opportunity for some kind of huge ripoff by some of the folks who do understand it."

The place where markets really fail, as I see it, is when people start trying to play their competitors, rather than playing the market. Once you start saying "Well, I know that this is a shitty stock, but it'll look good to other, stupider/less well-informed people, so I'll buy it, banking on the foolishness of others," the best-case scenario is a stock bubble. Worst case, well--it's not a big step from taking advantage of poorly-informed competitors to deliberately misleading them. Once your stake in the market is large enough that you can actually change how the market works by throwing your weight around, why not do it? Informational assymetry really impairs the market's function.

Bruce Cohen @ 381: "The curious thing about chaotic systems is that over certain volumes of their phase space they're quite stable and predictable for particular meanings of those words. But there are boundaries to those volumes ("basins of attraction") beyond which even going a tiny epsilon can cause the system to fall into a completely different basin with completely different characteristics."

The analogy I always use is imagine you are conducting experiments about how far a cannon will launch balls of various weights using various amounts of gunpowder. 10 grams of powder will launch a 100 gram ball 100 meters; 11 grams will launch it 110 meters; 12, 120; etc. But then you find 10.5 grams will launch it 37.2 meters at a 20 degree angle to the left. 10.9 grams launches it 200 meters straight backwards. It sounds insane, but some systems just have weird discontinuities like that that really disrupt our assumptions of linear relations and bell-curve distributions.

#412 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 02:16 AM:

Kayjayoh, I've been using Dotster to manage my two for four or five years. The renewals always go through on time and I've never been overcharged. They often have cut-price deals, too.

#413 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 02:53 AM:

ethan @409:

Not to be a downer, but I just found out that my cousin, who has been having seizures, may have a brain tumor.

I'm sorry to hear that.

I don't know that I particularly believe in prayer or good energy or whatever, but a bunch of it would be nice around now.

It's unlikely to do any harm. Best of luck to both you and him? her?

#414 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 05:19 AM:

Xopher@388: While I like to think I can sing, I haven't actually done much singing....Most of They Might Be Giants' repertoire is right smack in the middle of my range -- when I sing along I can tell I'm hitting the exact same notes. I believe that makes me a baritone. I do have a rudimentary ability to read music (a legacy of childhood piano lessons) but it is fairly rudimentary. Anyway, I'm willing, and hopefully that counts for something.

(Also I'm looking forward to getting to meet you in person!)

#415 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 05:23 AM:

ethan@409: Ouch. If I believed that prayer or candle-lighting or whatever would make a quark's worth of difference, I'd do it -- as it is, all I can do is express sympathy here.

#416 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 05:38 AM:

Kayjayoh at #410 writes:

> Does anyone have recommendations for a good domain registrar?

godaddy.com are cheap, though they nag you terribly to buy optional extras. I use them for a bunch of domains and I've never had anything had anything terrible happen.

They charge a little extra to keep your personal details private - I don't know if that's a standard ripoff or something of their own.

#417 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:01 AM:

ethan @ 409

On the off-chance it helps, here's some well-wishing for your cousin, and some sympathy for both of you.

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:49 AM:

ethan @ 409... My best wishes to your cousin.

#419 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:45 AM:

The entire problem that the credit crunch was triggered by was this great idea that if you chopped up a bunch of risky things into little pieces and mixed the pieces up, you could end up with something which couldn't go wrong all at once. This would have worked wonderfully if the risky things were uncorrelated... but unfortunately there are these things called 'interest rates' that could cause them to go bad all at once. Whoops.

People were acting as if, oh, it doesn't matter how risky the things are I'm buying: it's going to get mixed up with less-risky stuff anyway and, hah, someone else will own it when it goes bad! ... and then they proceeded to take out loans from the people they sold the resulting mess to, oh, and everyone *else* was selling risky stuff and assuming that it would get mixed up with less-risky stuff.

The result was sort of like building a lot of interconnected geodesic truss structures out of candyfloss in an earthquake zone because, y'know, geodesic trusses are really strong! and we have all these other buildings around us to lean on! --- what do you mean they'll all fall down too if there's an earthquake? What's an earthquake?

#420 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:08 AM:

ethan #409: My sympathies, for what they're worth, are with your cousin.

#421 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:53 AM:

ethan #409 - My best wishes for you and your cousin.

#422 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:04 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @#203:

Amen to that. Deepness is a masterpiece, and both books are extraordinary. Ripping adventures, ultra-cool scientific concepts, and the most convincing and fascinating aliens anyone's ever invented. I've loaned them to half the geeks at the office, and while most don't give much of a hoot about the singularity, everyone can relate to "focus."

#423 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:26 AM:

That stinks, ethan. Good thoughts and so forth are being sent.

#424 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:41 AM:

ethan,

my thoughts are with you & your cousin. hope everything turns out ok.

#425 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:17 AM:

ethan: FWIW, your cousin and you are in my prayers.

#426 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Mary Dell @ 422

Yeah, most of us who are geeks and/or nerds (I lay claim to both at least part of the time) can relate strongly to that idea of focus. And what that book says about managers! Pointy-hair just isn't in the race compared to those guys.

#427 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Mary Dell #422:

Yeah, I think his aliens are some of my favorite characters of all time, especially Sherkaner. Damn, I've known people with just enough of that genius + reality distortion field + talent magnet to imagine someone like that.

One thing about his aliens, though, is that you're seeing the human-ness through the alien-ness, if that makes sense. Blueshell and Greenstalk, Pilgrim and Woodcarver and even Steel and Tyrathect, and Sherkaner and Hrunker and Victory, the main thing that comes through is that they're people. They are similar enough to us that it's easy to identify with them. And you can see that the human characters in those novels do identify with them. Victory's reaction to Hrunk is a very human reaction.

I'm not sure they were convincing as aliens, though I really loved both books, because they weren't weird enough. Hell, in _AFUTD_, Pham was weirder than any of the Riders or any of the tines except for Steel, and in _ADITS_, Rister was weirder than any of the Spiders except maybe Honored Pedure. This implies a certain view of the universe, right? Being a basically good, decent, intelligent being is more important for finding similarities with others than being the same species. I'm not sure I buy that--I expect that a genuine alien would be seriously weird--not Sherkaner weird, more weird like the aliens in _The Gods Themselves_, or the wormhole aliens in DS9.

#428 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:39 AM:

I find that QC has allowed me to achieve a kind of oddness trifecta:

a. Being geeky enough to become obsessed with a webcomic.

b. Having a weird enough history to be able to map quite a bit of Marten's life to a particular part of mine.

c. Being nerdy enough to spend some time trying to figure out if he's somewhat riffing on _Mansfield Park_. It's far from a perfect match, but it's not much worse than the Bridget Jones::Pride and Prejudice mapping.

#429 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Re: Vinge:

Yeah, among other things, it says a lot when a bunch of people as smart as this crowd start discussing AFotD... and the only thing they can think of to pick on, is how the effing backdrop works... and that in light of science that's kept developing for 15 years after publication!

And then when I read Deepness, my basic reaction was, "Holy crap, he did it again! And this without reusing much more than the backdrop!"

#430 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:22 AM:

And then Albatross @#427 undercuts my rave... ;-)

It's a truism that in SF, aliens are a mirror for humanity. I'd say there's one more option as well... a really incomprehensible alien can instead represent "natural phenomena" -- something that happens to us, rather than something we can communicate with. (E.g., Baxter's Xeelee)

The Tines, the Skroderiders, and the Spiders are all written as "people" -- but then, they're not so different as to avoid the basic needs and goals of life, or even the themes of self-determination and purpose. If they were that different, they wouldn't have been characters, any more than the Blight was, or even the Old One.

The Spiders, and especially the Tines, gain a lot from "authorial translation". They do have some pretty drastic differences in lifestyle, but the author wisely describes them in the terms by which his readers can understand them. I'm not sure we ever get the narrative viewpoint of a Skroderider -- I'm rereading AFotD now, but I'm only just up to where they first appear.

#431 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:23 AM:

So, there's a petition to McCain, in support of Webb's (D Va) GI Bill. Since I'd like to go back to school (and know a lot of guys who'd just plain like to go), I'm for it.

McCain hasn't been supportive.

The petition is here, and this is what I said when I signed it.

The GI bill made the fifties what they were. In a time when the US faces unprecedented challenges in meeting the difficulties of changing world we can ill afford to miss the chance to repay those who have served, and would like to keep serving.

This is an unprecedented opportunity to show real support (not merely lip-servicing posturing) for the troops, and the nation.

All I want to see is you supporting the sort of "up or down" vote you were so adamant about pursuing for the president's judicial nominees.

Fair is fair, and how you respond to issues of fairness will determine whether you can get my vote come November.

I'm watching you McCain.


I can't imagine him managing to convince me his sense of fairplay is adequate to the task (and his economic and foreign policy is, to me, a question of fairplay; extend/permanentize the Bush cuts, while killing the AMT [which needs adjusting] privatising SS, and staying in Iraq all strike me as less than fair), but if he want's to try, he's free to go ahead.

#432 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:41 AM:

David@#430, the Spiders in particular may be much more alien than they appear. We hardly ever see them except filtered through the translators (largely Trixia), who, Focused or not, are still *human*.

In the last few dozen pages we get some unadjusted human views of them, and, well, they're not as humanlike as all that after all.

#433 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:46 AM:

And a relevant quote on the very next page:

Ravna had a theory (not that widely accepted, actually) that where beings have a common fluency, little else matters. Two of these three might be mistaken for potted trees on hotcarts, and the third was unlike any human in her life. Yet... after a few minutes, their personalities seemed to float in her mind's eye, more interesting than many of her school chums, but not that different.
#434 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 12:35 PM:

ethan, my sympathies to you and your cousin. Depending on the type of tumor, it may be treatable. Brain things are tricky.

#435 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Terry Karney #431: The petition is here, and this is what I said when I signed it.

As an attempt to influence decision-makers, petitions are better than nothing, but not much. They are routinely ignored by the recipients, the actual physical recipients often being low-level clerical employees, not the intended decision-maker. The primary value of circulated petitions is informing and organizing the public on an issue.

In addition to signing a petition, send a letter or e-mail to the decision-maker. (You may already have done this, Terry -- this is a general exhortation.) Encourage your friends and family to do so as well, even if it means rewording what you said so they don't have to. Many people are reluctant to write to a public figure, thinking that they don't write well enough to do so. Help them out.

Lots of letters, lots of e-mails.

#436 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 12:49 PM:

ethan 409: I'm sending you energy, and will send you more later when I do something more focused. I would need your cousin's permission to do so for him or her directly, because of my oath. If you report to me that s/he said "yes" to "Is it all right if my Wiccan friend does magic for you?" I will take that. 'Til then I'll do Spirit Box work.

David 415: It's well known that people who believe they are being prayed for, wished well, etc. do better in many ways than people with no such belief. "Lots of people care about me" is a good thought to have in your head in difficult times. Compare "no one cares about me," a thought that when repeated can lead to painful PHYSICAL symptoms.

The mind and the body are one. Healing can begin from either aspect of this one thing. You may also find that thinking good thoughts toward ethan and/or his cousin makes YOU feel better.

A belief in the efficacy of prayer helps one pray—but it really isn't strictly required. And one needn't believe in* magic to DO magic.

One thing I want to say though: Nothing I've said above should be taken as stating or implying that people who object to doing things they believe are useless or meaningless should do them anyway. I would never direct anyone to act against their own conscience or true will.

*In fact, since magic is and/or requires changing consciousness, what exactly it means to "believe in" magic is interesting and complicated, but way off topic here.

#437 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 02:35 PM:

Thanks, everyone.

Xopher, as soon as I can, I'll ask her and let you know. Knowing her, I'm sure she'll say yes.

I don't know if it did, but I hope my comment about supernatural things didn't come off sounding disrespectful to anyone--completely not my intention.

#438 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Ethan, your cousin's in my prayers.

#439 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 04:24 PM:

Invoking the open thread:

This license plate

#440 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 04:32 PM:

Tracie @ 439... I love it. I wonder if I should post a photo of my "Zod in 2008" bunmper sticker.

#441 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 04:57 PM:

David Harmon @ 429

My reaction when I read Deepness exactly: "He did it again!" But see, one of the things that makes Vinge so good is that he's working at several levels simultaneously; you never get a chance to say, "Gee, that's a great plot, but the characters are sort of thin", or "Great characters, but where are the sfnal concepts?". And in AFUTD there's a cute little trick that he wouldn't admit he'd pulled, but I believe it: some of those aliens whose FTL posts are quoted are caricatures of well-known USENET personalities. I specifically asked Vinge about Henry Spencer at Waterloo University (henry@utzoo), but he wouldn't comment.

And suspecting who Pham was in AFUTD adds a piquancy to his story in Deepness.

#442 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Bruce #441: Yeah. I think Sandor at the Zoo was modeled after Henry Spencer, and when I read it, I kept suspecting that a lot of the reaction to the Blight mirrored the reaction to the Morris' worm a few years earlier.

I swear I've had discussions with Twirlip of the Mists before, several times, from different addresses. (Though usually not with any hint that he really had some insights at the end.)

#443 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Well, some of the net.personalities were more or less self-caricatures already....

Since AFUtD, I've occasionally used Twirlip's name for spoof posts once a thread has already descended into madness.

#444 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:30 PM:

I don't recall any spiders in Fire Upon the Deep. There were plants on go karts, and killer butterflies, and some kind of floating aliens on some distant gas giant, and talking dogs. But I don't remember any spiders.



Also, dumb question, but what the heck is the "fire" in the title "fire upon the deep" referring to? I'm guessing the "deep" is the unthinking depths, maybe? The only fire I recall is when we first run into the Tines planet. Oh, and there was a fire in OOB when they get closer to their destination. But neither fire seemed all that important in the grand scheme of things.

#445 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:30 PM:

Xopher @ 405: I'm not telling yet, in case it comes to nothing, as too many of my projects do. But thanks, and does the reference to Barbershop mean that you already know how to sing straight tone? Big plus if so!

If by "straight tone" you mean "no vibrato, blends well" then yes. No claims to be infallible at it, understand, but at the very least I know where to aim. It's a big requirement for singing baritone in a Sweet Adelines quartet.* Or trying to match the tone sung in any given Tears For Fears song, come to think of it. Yes I *am* a child of the 80s yawannamakesumthinofit?!

*(Not that my quartet was very good, mind you, but we had fun and we made the Rocky Mountain Region howl with laughter when our famously non-girly, motorcycle-riding bass showed up on stage in a frilly pink dress... but I digress.)

#446 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:35 PM:

ethan: Good energy request heard and in fulfillment to the best of my ability.

TexAnne: You too, if belatedly. Report! How'd that interview go?

#447 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Regarding GoDaddy as a domain registrar: Might I suggest reading this before signing up with them?

I can vouch for Dotster personally. Also I can vouch for domain host DrakNet (if you can't tell by me sending you to their blog to read about their experience reselling for GoDaddy), who will register domains for those of their customers who prefer to have a single point of contact for all their ISP needs.

And now I iz all caught up.

#448 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:48 PM:

#444: I think "fire" refers to the run-away machine-intelligence perversion. Like a forest fire, gobbling up civilizations.

I read AFUTD at a time when I was utterly burned out and disappointed by much of the SF&F I was coming across. It was the first novel in maybe a decade that reduced me to a star-struck fan-boy. Lying awake at night wondering about stuff . . . holding back finishing the book. Y'all have probably been there.

A few years later some friends and I took Vinge to a Mongolian BBQ place and talked about stuff like tine group-mind bandwidth requirements and hear hints about what would happen in the next novel. Man, that was cool.

#449 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:49 PM:

ethan: I'm thinking good thoughts for you and your cousin.

#450 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 06:53 PM:

Open Threadly change of topic: Is there a standard and/or readily understood term for the kind of fantasy in which the hero (or heroes) starts in our world then goes through some kind of portal into a fantasy world? My personal term for the subgenre is 'wardrobe fantasy', after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I don't expect anyone else to know what that means. Is there a term which other people *would* recognize?

#451 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:15 PM:

Tracie: I don't expect McCain to respond to it. He doesn't care. I tend to not sign such things, unless I believe the group in question will make a show of it.

The people who referred me to this one have the habit of delivering them by hand, ream, on ream, of pages, with names.

They do this with what media coverage they can get.

Xopher: I can sing a clear tone. Not as well as I might like, but I did sing in a choir (before the change: alto) and the last public performance I did (14 years ago, Army Ball) included "Over There" and our director was very good. He insisted we not bend the notes (which took some work, as Over There followed, "I'm A Yankee Doodle Dandy". The Battle Hymn of the Republic we followed it with was wonderful. I can still sing the parts).

#452 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Mary Aleen @ 450... Or like Dorothy being swept away to Oz? I don't know if there is a term for that specific subgenre of fantasy, which I think, used to be the main kind of fantasy. How about 'Utopia'? Nah.

#453 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:29 PM:

Mary Aileen @450:

No, but I can add to the list:

Stephen R Donaldson, both the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Mordant's Need series

Philip José Farmer, the Riverworld books

Jack L Chalker, the Well of Souls books

There's a similar trend using "science" rather than magic:

The Hitch-Hikder's Guide to the Galaxy

The Last Starfighter

Tron

Galaxy Quest

#454 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Abi... And Farmer's World of Tiers novels.

#455 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:44 PM:

Teresa didn't invent disemvoweling?

#456 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 07:45 PM:

mary aileen,

Is there a standard and/or readily understood term for the kind of fantasy in which the hero (or heroes) starts in our world then goes through some kind of portal into a fantasy world?

i would say "alternate dimension," or more specifically, "dimension traveling," maybe. (diana wynne jones is very good at these.)

#457 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:03 PM:

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books would qualify in the "time travel" variety.

Serge, I found and bought "Dark of the Moon" at a used bookstore today; I recognized the author's name.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:11 PM:

linkmeister @ 457... Enjoy!

#459 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:14 PM:

Serge @ #458, it'll have to get in line behind some of the others in the pile, but I'll advise when I've read it.

#460 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:17 PM:

miriam beetle (456): I tend to think of 'alternate dimension' being the kind of story where the other timeline(s) reflects our own rather strongly (as in the Star Trek mirror universe), which is not what I'm getting at.

But 'alternate dimension fantasy' is probably a good term for it, despite my idiosyncratic definitions. Thanks.

#461 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Dave 455: Yes, she did. She's the moderator for Boing Boing, and they just didn't bother to distinguish. Typical for print journalism, really.

#462 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:44 PM:

Mary@450: then goes through some kind of portal into a fantasy world?

That's a standard "out of whack event" story opening. Gulliver's Travels. Homer's Odyssey.

If you want to specifically describe ones that go into fantasy worlds, then I'm not sure.

#463 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:50 PM:

Mary Aileen: I call them "Wonderland" fantasies, after the one I consider iconic.

#464 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Greg London @ 462... Strictly speaking, The Odyssey wasn't set in a fantasy world. It was set in the real world, but the real world as they thought it really was.

#465 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Xopher@463: I call them "Wonderland" fantasies

Rep point for you. Wait. Wrong forum. Grrr.

Still, I like that answer. Making a mental note now...

Serge@464: Strictly speaking

Hm, you're parser is far more strict than mine (and I spent several years coding Ada), but I can acknowledge yours as a valid interpretation, for some definition of "strict".



#466 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Broce Cohen @441:

Having been unable to finish A Fire Upon the Deep (something about Flenser triggered a sort of "bad touch!" reaction and eventually I just couldn't bring myself to open the book again) and therefore not read A Deepness In the Sky, suddenly I find myself fearing that I'm one of the caricatures. Eep.

#467 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Witchblade is finally coming out on DVD. Gotta wait til July, sigh, but then I will finally get to have my favorite TV boyfriends back. (Danny, Conchobar, and the short guy with the esoterica shop. The other main guys on the show were also pretty, but creepy.)

#468 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Serge @ 454: Abi... And Farmer's World of Tiers novels.

Am I the only one who always sings "Mademoiselle from World of Tiers, parlez-vous?" to himself whenever these are mentioned?

#469 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:16 PM:

Greg London @ 465... You worked with Babbage's assistant? How old are you, again?

#470 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:20 PM:

From the Grauniad article:

Boing Boing is, of course, "steadfast in its defence of your freedom of speech."

Oi, that's summat then, innit! Teresa's popped clear across the pond! Tally ho, pip pip, and all that rubbish! Fancy a cuppa tea?

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:20 PM:

Tim Walters @ 468... Tiers as in the French 'tiers', which is 'a third' in English?

#472 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:23 PM:

Mary Dell @ 467... I will finally get to have my favorite TV boyfriends back

Would that be Danny as a ghost, or Ian Nottingham?

#473 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Serge@469: You worked with Babbage's assistant? How old are you, again?

Oh, don't even get me started on the fricken "differencing engine". Biggest hunk of vaporware I never worked on.

Ada was nice, though. Smarter than me too.

#474 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:30 PM:

ethan: Aiyo. Best wishes for the cousin, and for you.

David Harmon @ 429: "And then when I read Deepness, my basic reaction was, "Holy crap, he did it again! And this without reusing much more than the backdrop!""

I may be weird, but I liked Deepness* much more than Fire. Fire, while excellent, had a couple of things that consistently bugged me.** Deepness, on the other hand, caused me to seriously rethink the way in which I understand the world.

*Which, P.S., has one of the greatest titles ever--it has a great sound even when you don't know what it means, but then deepens (heh) into a fantastic sensawunda resonance once you've read the book.

**I have real trouble with narrators who reveal that crucial bit of information the characters don't know that renders everything they do incredibly foolish. I spend all my mental energy going, "Don't do that! It's a terrible idea! YOU ARE BEING USED!" I much prefer to be fooled right along with the characters.

Bruce Cohen @ 441: "And suspecting who Pham was in AFUTD adds a piquancy to his story in Deepness."

It also adds a bit of "No, Pham, NOOOOOOOOOO!" to the end of Deepness =)

Greg London @ 444: "I don't recall any spiders in Fire Upon the Deep."

They're in Deepness.

Serge @ 464: "Strictly speaking, The Odyssey wasn't set in a fantasy world. It was set in the real world, but the real world as they thought it really was."

That reminds of an sf novel I read many years ago. Set maybe fifty years in the future, not terribly unusual cyberpunk setting, except that Indian and Chinese internal medicine techniques have been developed to the point of basically being low-grade magic. (A man shunted into vaccuum uses a mind-over-body technique to survive for a short time, various people demonstrate remote viewing powers, etc.) In the story, these powers were treated very low-key--it seemed that knowledge of their existence was widespread and unremarkable. It made me wonder: was this a deliberate conceit on the author's part, or did s/he simply believe that these powers do in fact work in the real world, and assume that techniques would become widespread in the next several decades? I never could decide.

geekosaur @ 466: I'd give Deepness a try, even if Fire rubbed you the wrong way. Though, to be fair, there's a pretty squicky guy in Deepness too.

#475 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 10:55 PM:

ethan, GoodThoughts being sent for you and your cousin. They may or may not do any good, but they can't do any harm.

Tracie, #439: SPLORT!

Abi, #453: I've encountered a lot of those over the years, partly because I read quite a bit of fantasy. Barbara Hambly has one; the name is escaping me, but the protagonist ends up being a warrior-woman called Gil-Shalos. Margaret Ball's Mathemagics and related short stories work from the other end -- a protagonist from a fantasy universe who worldgates into ours, as does the one in Doranna Durgin's Changespell series. Poul Anderson had Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen and at least one other short story on that theme. I can think of at least 3 or 4 more that I didn't pick up based on perusal of the back-cover splash and a few pages; it's quite a common theme in YA fantasy especially. Oh, you could probably count Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series too; although most of her gatings are physical, some of them definitely land the heroes in extra-dimensional places.

I refer to all of these, including things like C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine books in which all the worlds are not-Earth, as "worldshifting" or "worldgating". (The former is the one I use as my LibraryThing tag for that plot element.)

And BTW, Xopher... who you callin' a switch-hitter? ;-p

#476 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:05 PM:

ethan, my best wishes going out to you and your cousin.

And, even though I've had nothing left to me but XTC's "Dear God" when I poke at my spirituality place, for a few years now, I agree with Xopher; knowing that other people are wishing/hoping/praying for you is, in itself, a comfort.

#477 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:18 PM:

Tim Walters @#468:

Am I the only one who always sings "Mademoiselle from World of Tiers, parlez-vous?" to himself whenever these are mentioned?

You're not the only one now, blast you...

#478 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:19 PM:

Lee... And, going to realities where characters of fiction were real, there was the Incompleat Enchanter, by de Camp and Pratt. And The Incredible Umbrella, by Marvin Kaye.

#479 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:23 PM:

Serge @#472: Nottingham was too creepy. Also dumb as a rock. Ghost Danny was my favorite, followed by Gabriel and Conchobar. I apparently didn't truly love Gabriel, though, since I had to look his name up in Wikipedia, whereas I managed to remember "Conchobar" without having to peek.

#480 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:25 PM:

Ai @ 453 -

Stephen R Donaldson, both the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Mordant's Need series

Philip José Farmer, the Riverworld books

Jack L Chalker, the Well of Souls books

Also add to the list -

Joel Rosenberg - Guardians of the Flame and Keepers of the Hidden Ways series.

Charlie Stross' The Merchant Princes series might qualify, but isn't, strictly speaking, the same thing, really.

Charles Stasheff's A Wizard In Rhyme series.

(There's a series very similar to Stasheff's that involves a computer programmer who gets summoned to a magical universe, where spells are basically computer programs, but I don't recall the title).

Brian Daley's Coramonde books (Doomfarers and Starfollowers feature translocated characters, although primarily from the other point of view (for the first book, anyways).

There are bunches of others, but I don't recall any others right off the top of my head.

#481 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:37 PM:

Mary Dell @ 479... I just can't remember which one was Conchobar. (By the way, I was amused by how the series's flashbacks used footage from Boorman's Excalibur.)

#482 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2008, 11:41 PM:

abi @453: Also Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series.

#483 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:06 AM:

Mary Aileen @#450:

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy(by Clute & Grant) uses the term otherworld for Oz and suchlike, and mentions that some otherworlds can be reached via a portal. However, it also distinguishes types of worlds based on the rules that govern them and, to a degree, where they are located, so that Alice's Wonderland is an underworld, not an otherworld. And Narnia is both a secondary world and an otherworld. Feh.

Since you want (sensibly, I think) to group these fantasies by the means of access to the alternate world, I'd be inclined to call them "Portal Fantasies."

#484 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:38 AM:

#480 - (There's a series very similar to Stasheff's that involves a computer programmer who gets summoned to a magical universe, where spells are basically computer programs, but I don't recall the title)

Scott, are you thinking of Barbara Hambly's 'Silicon Mage'? Excellent concept...

#485 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:07 AM:

I thought Kalvan was an H. Beam Piper creation.

#486 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Terry Karney @ 485... He was.

#487 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:38 AM:

Serge #481: Conchobar was the Excalibur guy (did they really use that footage? Hilarious). He was her destiny, blah blah blah - the pretty Irish guy who was her boyfriend for the last few eps. I mean, my boyfriend.

#488 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:58 AM:

Mary Dell @ 487... He was her destiny

That word!

Ever since I saw Return of the Jedi, whenever I hear 'destiny', I feel the urge to launch into my impersonation of the Evil Emperor while keeping my last meal down.

"It is your dessstiny."

That being said, all those WitchBlade flashbacks that showed people in armor were indeed from Excalibur.

#489 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 02:06 AM:

albatross @ 442

It's been quite awhile since I last read AFUTD, so my memory may be playing me false here, but I could swear that one of those alien posters was a dead ringer for Jack Sarfatti, the Alternative Physicist.

#490 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 03:38 AM:

Greg@465: Rep point for you. Wait. Wrong forum. Grrr.

Bwahahaha! *sigh* Been awhile since I been over there. Sorry am I. Time short has been.

I agree; "Wonderland stories" works well as a descriptor. But I'm also partial to "Wardrobe stories" too. Neat phrase. I sort of personally resist the categorizing-by-access-means thing, though, fearing to stifle the magic underneath layers of taxonomy. In any case, have we mentioned King & Straub's The Talisman and its sequel in this category yet? Also, just reread a short story called "The Key To Out" (by Betsy Curtis, published in McCaffrey's Alchemy & Academe anthology) which, depending on how you read/experience the ending, not only qualifies but makes the reader a participant.

Ibid@473: Oh, don't even get me started on the fricken "differencing engine". Biggest hunk of vaporware I never worked on.

O the coinkidinks. Seems to me not long ago some friends and I sat down to what was planned to be a months-long Call of Cthulhu campaign (my husband is an ambitious Keeper/DM/GM/Storyteller) which asserted the party as recent recruits into Torchwood 1 circa 1890, and had much to do with Charles Babbage and his computing progeny. And aliens, of course. And the Rosicrucians, which necessarily means also the Templars, which means utter lunacy according Eco's admirable hierarchy of folly. Unfortunately, we are all busy people and didn't get but four or five sessions in before it all fell apart. One of these days I'm going to coerce hubby into revealing the plot or else reviving the campaign.

#491 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:02 AM:

re: #484

#480 - (There's a series very similar to Stasheff's that involves a computer programmer who gets summoned to a magical universe, where spells are basically computer programs, but I don't recall the title)

Scott, are you thinking of Barbara Hambly's 'Silicon Mage'? Excellent concept...

More likely the Rick Cook "Wizardry" books.

(I'm a Hambly fan.)

#492 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Lee@475

The novels by Hambly with the Gil-Shalos character are the "Darwath Trilogy" (The Time of the Dark, The Walls of Air, The Armies of Daylight). There is also at least one novel (probably more) set during the aftermath of the events of the trilogy.

#493 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:14 AM:

#484 - Edward Oleander

#491 - hedgehog

More likely the Rick Cook "Wizardry" books.

(I'm a Hambly fan.)

The hedgehog, despite being prickly and stickly (and not at all fond of water) has the right of it - I was thinking of Rick Cook's series, although both series (and the Gil-Shalos books) qualify as an Otherworlds type story.

#494 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:58 AM:

I'd say the "Fire" in AFUTD is multiple -- the Blight, but also the war and chaos that spreads across space in its wake.

I'm with Nicole @#490 that the specific access method is just a story device. Swift used sea travel, Carroll used two different portals.(The original portals were surely the doorways to Faerie!) These days, portals are most common, but transfer spells also are popular.

I agree that it's much more significant, how the otherworld relates to ours. Early versions of Faerie were basically "other countries", but linked to our world by both explicit interactions (treaties and royal friendships) and mythic relationships (e.g., the whole fertility thing). Carroll's worlds were essentially hallucinogenic interludes, while Swift's lands were satirical mirrors of our own world. Lewis' Narnia was a straight fantasy-world, essentially independent of our own. But in his Silent Planet trilogy, Mars and Venus are your basic science-fictional planets, linked by interference from Higher Powers.

The idea of a "hidden substrate to reality" is in some ways more modern, but ultimately based on shamanic and other magical practices. (Old-style Faerie has some of that too.) That would include those places where what happens in the otherworld affects what goes on in our own world. ("As above, so below, as below, so above.")

An important variation of the "hidden substrate" is where our world turns out to be a locale or "special case" of the larger "real world". Zelazny's Amber is a fantasy example, but the pattern emerges naturally from the modern view of our planet, as one little rock in a vast universe.

John Brunner played with a bunch of different varieties, (in between his dystopias ;-) ) but the other worlds often appeared as intrusions into our own. Offhand, I can think of The Infinitive Of Go, More Things In Heaven, and Age Of Miracles.

When the other world's history is directly analogous to our own but different in only specific ways, that's a "parallel" or "alternate" world". Can anyone think of an example predating the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum indeterminacy?

#495 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:59 AM:

The first half of Greg Bear's "Songs of Earth and Power" duology/novel, "The Infinity Concerto" fits the otherworld category nicely; the second part twists some of the standard heroic fantasy tropes into knots. Think about the blurb you could write: "Vg'f RysDhrfg ba npvq! N uneq snagnfl nobhg n eroryyvbhf grrantre jub sbhaq uvf qrfgval nf n zntvpny ratvarre; va uvf dhrfg gb raq n 60 zvyyvba lrne byq jne ur rayvfgrq gur Ybpu Arff Zbafgre naq n pynffvpny pbzcbfre jub jnf ernyyl n oveq. Va gur raq ur hfrq gur cbjre bs zhfvp gb erohvyq jbeyqf."

#496 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:03 PM:

Oh and one more access method: Both Edgar Rice Burroughs and Lin Carter used astral projection!

#497 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Nicole@490: I'm going to coerce hubby into revealing the plot or else reviving the campaign.

I'd revive the plot or have it remain secret. You don't want the wikipedia version of the campaign, do you?

Hm, then again, hearing the Darth Vader backstory in Episode 4, 5, and 6, was a hella lot better than experiencing it via episodes 1, 2, 3.

#498 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Greg London @ 497... I'd revive the plot

...must... eat... brainnnnnnns...

#499 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Serge, #478: And of course the ClassicTrek fanfic pair, "Visit to a Weird Planet" and "Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited". The first one has the TV characters transported into our universe, the second has the actors transported into the TrekVerse.

Terry, #485: You're right -- I had a brain-fart.

#500 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:46 PM:

ethan @#409: Ouch, seizures & brain stuff can be pretty scary, I'll keep your cousin in my thoughts. My brother-in-law had a brain tumor removed 20 years ago and recovered very well, including not having seizures any more after about a year. So it's not always as dire as it can sound at first.

Hugs to you & your cousin.

#501 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:46 PM:

Some other examples:

A bunch of Madeline L'Engle's (mostly quite good) YA books.

L Neil Smith's pretty good The Probability Broach, and his awful The Gallatin Divergence.

S M Stirling's Conquistador and his (pretty bad) Drakon. A somewhat related idea (one-way involutary travel back through time, though still apparently in our own universe) appeared in the Island in the Sea of Time books.

What was that SF movie in which the pair of glasses lets you see all kinds of otherwise invisible stuff? That's a different take on the same idea. (Though I guess you could see that as a variation on Plato's Cave.)

In Rand's Atlas Shrugged, there was Galt's Gulch, which you could go to by plane, but which was almost a magical location. (In a rigidly, judgementally rationalistic sense of the word "magical.")

How about the FTL-alien-visiting gadget in Contact? (I only watched the movie, so maybe the book is quite different.)

The idea crops up in a few Star Trek episodes, and is a major part of DS9 with the Wormhole Aliens.

#502 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Lee @ 499... I had a brain-fart.

Don't drugstores carry Brain-O to take care of that?

#503 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Thanks again, everyone, for the well-wishes, and thank you, Mary Dell at #500--that's very reassuring.

#504 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Me@497:

Ugh. That should be "revive the campaign or keep the plot secret".

must not have eaten enough brains last night.

#505 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Greg #504: What, you could only find string theorists?

#506 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:25 PM:

albatross 505: OK, I've been hearing jokes about string theorists for a while now. Is string theory so entirely discredited now? Has it gone the way of the steady-state theory, or was a crock from the beginning, like Intelligent Design?

#507 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:34 PM:

Something seems to be choking the intertubes...

And the Doctor is making comments about catflaps and Cat People...

#508 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:42 PM:

And it's not zombie physicists shouting "Branes!"

#509 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Xopher... Here is where the string-theory joke comes from... http://xkcd.com/397/

#510 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Barbara Hambly was mentioned up-thread: really a lot of her novels use this idea, cycling around the themes of connected alternate worlds and how magic really works in various ways. Her earlier series (Darwath) starting with The Time of the Dark, the Silicon Mage series starting with The Silent Tower, the pair The Rainbow Abyss and The Magicians of Night, the sequels to Dragonbane, and some one-offs too. Probably more; I haven't read everything she's written (why not?!)

Another Brunner dealing with alternate worlds is The Man In Black (Vancean fantasy.)

Brunner's The Infinitive of Go is a neat little novel, because of the way it's set up. Since it's already mentioned in the context of alternate worlds (which might otherwise be a spoiler) a top secret science team is testing a teleporter which is causing some strange results. Eventually they work out that it's not really a teleporter but fetches the transmitted thing from an alternate universe/parallel timeline, with difference proportional to the distance teleported across. This allows some nicely done anti-Cold-War preaching about how the more paranoid/corrupt a society, the less able it is to benefit from difference.

#511 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 03:08 PM:

OK, Serge...so are you saying I need to ask the xckd guy what he meant by it? Or that Feynman thought string theory was stupid? I get it that Zombie Feynman thinks so, but why would...

...sigh. I'm not getting an answer on this, am I?

#512 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 03:16 PM:

Xopher... I'd like to be able to tell you why Zombie Feynman has such a low opinion of string physicists, but, to do that, I'd have to be Feynman or a zombie.

#513 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 03:24 PM:

Scott Taylor #480: Christopher Stasheff.

#514 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Tim Walters #468:

Mam'zelle from World of Tiers,

Parlez-vous?

Hasn't been climbed in a dozen years

P.J. Farmer, parlez-vous?

#515 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 04:06 PM:

Xopher #511:

I'm not entitled to an opinion, as I have at best a very rough layman's grasp of modern physics, and none at all of string theory. I was just referencing the joke.

#516 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 04:36 PM:

Hi guys, I'm looking to improve my cooking skills. I already have Joy of Cooking, which I find a bit old-fashioned (the 70s edition), plus the Veganomican, which I find a bit bland. Could you recommend some good all-purpose cookbooks in the Western and Chinese traditions? Appropriate to the budget of a college student (though I do have a good store of seasonings). I'm focusing more on cookbooks that use only a moderate amount of chicken or fish (trying to keep my ecological footprint on the small side).

#517 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 04:40 PM:

Sajia @ 516... the Veganomican, which I find a bit bland

"On today's show, Sajia Lovecraft cooks shoggoth... Tastes just like chicken!'

#518 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Xopher @#506 & #511:

It's not quite as interesting as it sounds:

Feynman was pretty hardcore about experimental verification of scientific theories. (His contributions to the esoterica of QCD were in fact informed by prior experimental results.)

String theory has been getting increasing flak for being experimentally unverifiable. More specifically, it's got too many open parameters for any plausible experiment to verify it, or even to reasonably partition the parameter space.

Thus, XKCD's author had Feynman railing against string theory. Since Feynman's dead, he'd have to rise from his grave to do so, therefore a zombie.

#519 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 05:30 PM:

David Harmin... the esoterica of QCD

...which stands not for Quantum Cat Destruction but for Quantum ChromoDynamics.

#520 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:25 PM:

albatross @#501:

What was that SF movie in which the pair of glasses lets you see all kinds of otherwise invisible stuff?

They Live.

Sajia Kabir @#516:

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book is a good all-around cookery guide, and it comes in a sectioned ring binder so you can add your own recipes. It's been around forever but doesn't constantly require you to stiffen egg yolks and tie things up with string like the Joy of Cooking.

I also like the DK Classic Home Cooking book, which has more trendy and pseudo-ethnic food, but nothing insanely complicated, and every recipe has a photo. The beginning of each section shows how long everything takes to prepare so you can easily pick something based on timing. It seems to be out of print, but it looks like used copies are cheap.

Note: there are many gifted cooks here at ML; I am not one of them. So take my recommendations with a dash of salt.

#521 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Gah! Today has been annoying enough to leave me wanting to bite somebody... and not in a good way! It's deeply annoying to have the little voice in the back of my head saying "No, don't kick that -- you'll break a toe!", going along with it, too!

#522 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Mary Dell (483): 'Portal fantasies' is a good general term. Xopher's 'Wonderland fantasies' (463) is a little too over-specific, like my 'wardrobe fantasy' (although I'm fond of both).

On thinking it over, I realize that 'alternate reality fantasies' (as suggested upthread) is too broad. It includes a number of things that don't fit the kind of story I'm trying to name. 'Otherworld' probably suffers from the same problem.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!

#523 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:48 PM:

#521: When I was a kid, you could buy these inflatable toys designed to be kicked and punched. The ones I specifically remember looked like clowns.

Clowns with boxing gloves.

Maybe they have bite-proof versions now.

#524 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:51 PM:

ethan@409:

GoodThoughts going out for your cousin (and the rest of your family, you included).

#525 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 06:59 PM:

I tried to read A Fire upon the Deep a few years back, and kept bouncing out of it. Last year, I found a second-hand copy of Deepness in the Sky, and devoured it, so I thought I'd try AFutD again. Nope.

And tried again this last week, encouraged by this thread. Still just can't get into it. I have no idea why one works for me so well, and the other not at all...

#526 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Mary Aileen 522: I would think 'portal fantasies' would also include the ones where a being from another reality comes into our world, and the folks from our world have to send him/her/it back, with or without his/her/its cooperation. The Forgotten Door is one story with a cooperative otherworldly being. It's a portal fantasy (to my way of thinking), indeed a classic one, as the title implies, but not a wonderland fantasy, being set entirely in our own world.

#527 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Sajia Kabir @#516:

If you want something that doesn't focus on meat or fish, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.

The regular How to Cook Everything is the same thing, but with meat and fish recipes. I have How to Cook Everything and it is truly essential; my best friend has the vegetarian edition and tells me it is essential to her cooking as well.

#528 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 08:12 PM:

Re string theory jokes, what David Harmon (518) said. But the reason it's funny in xkcd is that the publication of a couple of popular science books criticizing the string theory enterprise has generated a subspecies of blog comment where bashing string theory whenever it comes up is seen as cool and erudite. Based, of course, on reading the blog promotion for those books rather than the books themselves.

And thus, 'string theorists of very little brain' became an internet meme. Or making ironic reference to same did, depending on the circles one moves in.

#529 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 08:25 PM:

Ralph Giles @ 528

What's really hilarious about the meme is that even the physicists who have turned most against string theory (like Lee Smolin, forex) freely admit that the people who work in the field are some of the most brilliant mathematical physicists alive. They just think it's going in the wrong direction. So here are all these people bashing string theory because they think it makes them look cool, when all it really does is show they're going mindlessly along with a statement they have no clue about.

#530 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 08:31 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 523

Back in the late 80's I kept an inflatable toy like that at work. It had a picture of Richard Nixon printed on it, and it had a base full of sand, so if you hit it, it would bounce back up to be hit again. One day I got a trifle too excited about something management had just done and drop-kicked the thing. It went boom, split a seam, and deflated instantly. I picked it up, looked at it for a bit, then held it high for the other cube-gophers to see and yelled, "You won't have Richard Nixon to kick around any more!"

#531 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 08:41 PM:

Sajia:

If you want to add just one to your repertoire, the cookbook I use by far the most is Madhur Jaffreys' World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. That would be the one for me. It's got recipes from most of the cuisines from roughly Lebanon east to the Philippines, including Iranian, Afghani, Chinese, and Japanese, but particularly heavy on Indian cuisine. (Unsurprisingly, since she's noted as an Indian cook.) It's outstanding. My one quibble is that you may want to cut the salt in half or less; she oversalts most recipes, to my taste.

A second choice would be one of the Moosewood cookbooks: Moosewood Cookbook, Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Sundays at Moosewood. They're a bit hippy-dippy, but have also got some great recipes worth cooking again and again. The latter might be the best for adding variety - again, it includes a variety of world cuisines. The original Vegetarian Epicure and its second volume is good too (though leaning to very rich) but I haven't looked at the newer edition.

#532 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 09:02 PM:

I still use a copy of the 1960 Ladies Home Journal Cookbook edited by Carol Truax. We've had it for all that time, and I'd keep it for the meat loaf recipe alone.

I see that someone wants to sell it for $4.50 on E-Bay.

#533 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 09:36 PM:

Sajia Kabir @516: I'm a big fan of the big red Betty Crocker cookbook as a good general-purpose cookbook. (Lots of good Midwestern comfort food. :-) The latest one is quite modern in its approach to recipes and very practical -- uses canned stuff where appropriate, etc. It's got a lot of staple recipes that I refer to a lot -- pancakes, muffins, bread, different fish preparations, that kind of thing. It's got a vegetarian selection, though I haven't investigated that much. If you're a reasonably accomplished cook already, it may be too basic, though.

#534 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Xopher (526): Good point (and good book). How about 'portal to an otherworld' fantasy? That's fairly specific and should be clear to the average listener, which is what I'm looking for. For my own use, 'wardrobe fantasy' does just fine.

#535 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 10:21 PM:

Xopher @#526, Mary Aileen @#534:

They're potentially still the same genre...after all, if you were to write a sequel to a story involving an otherworldly visitor stepping into our reality, wouldn't it naturally involve our intrepid hero(ine) stepping through that door into the visitor's world?

Of course, "otherworldly visitor" is also a genre unto itself.

#536 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 10:48 PM:

Saija Kabir: The western and chinese traditions covers a lot of ground.

Off the top of my head: THink like a chef (Tom Colicchio).

Lydia's Family Table (Lydia Bastianich: lots of good veggie recipes, her potato stock [while possessed of a strange turn of phrase, "caramelised without browning] is a wonderful thing to have on hand).

The Pleasures of Slow Food (Kummer)

All of those are as much about how to cook, in general (Colicchio's trick for intensifying store bought tomaotoes is brilliant, and what it does for home-gown/farmers' market is incredible), as they are about recipes.

The Time/Life "Good Cook" series, which is in discreet subjects, and can be found in used bookstores. Has very good descriptions (with photos) and then a collection of recipes (including the detailed version of all the things shown in the chapters).

I could go on (I like to cook), but if you really want to get into the weeds, "On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" by Harold McGee. It's in a new edition (bright red jacket). Get the hardcover, the trade paper will fall apart on you.

That's the Big Book of Cooking Theory Made Easy. Has physics and chemistry and electron microscope photos, and molecular diagrams.

It's incredibly easy reading.

For solving problems (and for a lot of good recipes) Cookwise by Shirley Corriher is also great.

If you are really lucky, you might find one of those two in a used bookshop (assuming you have a college student's budget). If you see the first edition of On Food and Cooking (dark blue jacket), don't hesitate to snap it up. I have both, and while the second is much more up to date, the first has a wealth of stuff which was removed (the new edition is about the same size, and about 2/3rds of it is new stuff).

#537 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:10 PM:

We just picked up another traffic-with-other-worlds book this afternoon, Garth Nix's _Lady Friday_, the fifth of his seven-deadly-sins-inspired Keys to the Kingdom books, and the latest one to come out in paperback.

And for travels to (and from) worlds where fictional characters are real, nearly any book by Jasper Fforde would qualify. (The best place to start, for folks who haven't already discovered him, is _The Eyre Affair_; it's a hoot, even if you're not already familiar with _Jane Eyre_.)

John (who now wonders if there are any interesting alternate-world-cooking books in existence.)

#538 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:56 PM:

I came across a YouTube video mashup of Firefly and the The Mollys song "Cash For Gold" that I thought worthwhile. (Putting Firefly and The Mollys together is like bananas & brown sugar... yummy!)

(The Mollys are one of my favorite bands. They do mixed-genre "twisted roots" work, and I've also heard them described as "Celtic Mariachi", though there are definite country and zydeco influences, and perhaps a touch of klezmer. I particularly recommend their album ONLY A STORY.)

#539 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:57 PM:

thank you Terry, I was trying to compose a response about cookbooks. the Good Cook series is one of my go-to's when I need something specific, that I was able to finish out the series a few years ago made me happy (I started subscribing when it was first offered, then we ran into financial difficulty and I had to stop. Between Half-Price books and a friend who is a book hunter, I finished out the series last year.

I have an ebb and flow of cookbooks, with a special collection of very old ones I have a Good Housekeeping cookbook that apparently was being prepped for publishing in 1940=41 but they ended up inserting a special rationing section as two or three signatures in blue paper inserted into the middle of the rest of the signatures.

Aside from my core books and a group of historical/interesting books, the rest of the group has an ebb and flow. I tend to buy cookbooks I think look interesting at places like the Pembroke Day School Garage sale, garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets. If they end up looking stupid or are fairly useless, I get rid of them, preferably at Half-Price Books.

#540 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2008, 11:59 PM:

There's now an itch in the back of my brain. I'm not sure if it's an itch to write a story about otherworld visitors trapped in our world, or to write whimsical recipes using otherworldly ingredients, and with textual explanations of various aspects of cooking and eating:

Though hippogriff eggs are considered parve by most rabbinical authorities, the meat of the creature itself is absolutely tref (technically neveila), because of its lack of cloven hooves on the two legs that have hooves, and the fact that it does not chew its cud. In addition, birds of prey are not kosher; why the eggs have been ruled to be is too complicated to explain here.
I can't tell, because it's just an itch, so far. I hate that. It's like when you almost sneeze but then don't.

I guess I'm kind of fascinated by the whole concept. I played a character in a Marvel Universe RolePlaying Game campaign, whose origin story was that he was trapped permanently between two worlds when the gate between them slammed shut, and got some powers due, in part, to the fact that the physics of the other world differs dramatically from ours.

I wrote a horribly disturbing origin story for him, which one of my fellow players told me not to show to her kids (who were like 11 and 12 at the time) because it was too graphic (some particularly grotesque child abuse (non-sexual) with the narrator as victim, and lots of guilt feelings and stuff).

Anyway...good story idea might be otherworld visitor comes to Earth, falls in love with human but can't live on Earth (as in, the physics here make it impossible to live); takes human back to otherworld, but human can't live THERE; they part. Romantic tragedy. Especially if instead of parting they just die. Hmm. Time to sleep on it.

#541 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 12:50 AM:

How about the "out of whack, whacked into another world" genre?

#542 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 12:54 AM:

glinda@525: I have no idea why one works for me so well, and the other not at all...

I skimmed through some parts of FUtD. I wanted to find out what happened to some things, but other sections seemed to just drag.

I couldn't read any of the internet posts.

#543 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 01:31 AM:

ethan, #409, good wishes for your cousin.

Tracie, #439, I've seen that in person -- on the way to my nephrologist out in Burke.

Sajia, #516, I can't cook anymore, but kept two cookbooks (other than the ones illustrated and autographed by a friend) that I particularly like: Extending the Table, a World Community Cookbook and The Bean, Pea & Lentil Cookbook. They both follow your preferences, and they tend to have short recipes.

#544 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 01:34 AM:

Greg #542: A lot of important stuff appears in the Usenet posts, in the sense of background information that explains the "onscreen" action.

I found A Deepness in the Sky a bit harder to read; a lot of the humans' scenes had a very dark feel, just because of the circumstances of the Qeng Ho characters. But the flashbacks constructed this amazingly deep, fascinating world that I wanted to go live in. But I loved both books. YMMV. Life's too short to read stuff you don't enjoy; otherwise, we'd all have to read the really well-written Picard/Worf slash or whatever.

Have you read anything else by Vinge? I really loved The Peace War, and it's quite different from both A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. OTOH, I put Rainbows End down in the middle about a year ago, and haven't picked it up since--I just didn't care enough about any of the characters or the world. (Wanting the annoying character to get his isn't enough.) True Names is a classic, but its prophetic parts (other than the SF-ish ending) seem almost trivial now.) I was less impressed by Marooned in Realtime--it was a good book, but not in the same league as the other three great ones he's written. I thought The Witling was just okay.

#545 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:08 AM:

albatross@544: A lot of important stuff appears in the Usenet posts,

Everytime I'd read them, my mind would glaze over and I'd be chanting something like "must not let modern equivalent of maid/butler dialogue put me to sleep. must not let..."

They were nothing more than snippets of dialogue between non-player-characters (maid and butler) used to give information (info dump) to the reader.

That they were disguised as "usenet posts" or whatever doesn't change their underlying gist.

Have you read anything else by Vinge?

I honestly don't know. I'm horrible remembering titles and authors of stuff I've read. It wasn't until after I finished "The Praxis" and went to wikipedia to read more about it that I realized that I'd read his book "Hardwired" years ago. Didn't realize it was the same author.

Part of me is thinking I should figure out a way to remember author names and book titles so that it will help me pick books to read in the future. But while I liked "Hardwired" (I read it while I was into the whole Shadowrun RPG thing), I didn't care for "Praxis". So part of me is thinking it might not really help.

The last time I read something that gave me a serious case of goosebumps was probably when I read 2001 and I was 13 or so. But was my reaction because it was that good of a book? Or was it because I had grown up in a small farm town and hadn't been exposed to those kinds of ideas and that 2001's "moral" of a world out there that's bigger than your mundane, day to day, experience, happened to be exactly what I wanted to hear right then?

I have read some really well written books that have drawn me into the story and wanting to know what happens next. But, really, when it comes down to it, I'm craving that goosebump experience that I had when I was 13 and had just finished 2001. "N names of God" did something like that. The story (can't remember title) about the aliens who turn into seaweed that had the line "And then he remembered to breath" did something like the goosepimple expereience.

FUtD pulled me in to the point that I wanted to know what happened in the end, what happened to the characters, because I cared about them. But no goosebumps.

I've got some friends who call me a book snob/movie snob because I rate a lot of stuff "OK" but not "great". On my scale of 1 to 10, I reserve 10 for goosebump experiences. And I don't get a lot of those.

Anyway, it occurs to me that I shouldn't try to explain something so ineffable at 2 o clock in the morning, because re-reading this it sounds suspiciously like rambling.

Feel free to ignore anything that resembles rambling.

#546 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:29 AM:

Xopher @#540:

I'm not sure if it's an itch to write a story about otherworld visitors trapped in our world, or to write whimsical recipes using otherworldly ingredients

How about the culinary memoirs of an otherworldly chef? You know, part travelogue, part life story, part cook book.

Though hippogriff eggs are considered parve by most rabbinical authorities, the meat of the creature itself is absolutely tref (technically neveila), because of its lack of cloven hooves on the two legs that have hooves

Hoot! Awesome.

#547 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 03:17 AM:

Mary Dell @ 546... How about the culinary memoirs of an otherworldly chef?

Let's cross To Serve Man with Soylent Green.

#548 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 03:52 AM:

#359 Xopher: I like to sing and I'll be at Worldcon, but it sounds like you want professionals? Whereas my main selling point is willingness to open mouth and sing out, but darned if I know what vocal range I'm in. A note higher than Paul McCartney, judging from being nearly exact in karaoke.

#398 John Mark Ockerbloom: What you're saying about risks being understood reminded me of stuff I've been thinking about re: good GMing: everyone's happiest when the players know what they're getting into. Frex, going into a Firefly game, you kind of hope that your ship will blow up in some horrible way when you've skimped on repairs. In games where "mechanical failure" wasn't one of the things you were considering, though, "The ship blows up!" is not as fun, or even counter to fun.

#466 geekosaur, #474 heresiarch: I may have noticed stuff along the similar lines as you... When I read FUtD, I returned it at gaming after the loan to a table of people with expectant faces. "It was fine, but it really annoyed me how stupid he made the kid..." "Kids can be dumb!"

Then somewhere in the midst of reading 70% of all Vinge books I read DitS, which turned me off of Vinge permanently. I can't stand books which get by on the characters being unbelievably stupid, and I found the naivety of the Good group of human characters unbelievable.

Then I looked at the ephemera around that: single phenomenally competent male who isn't fooled? Became irritating. Supposedly bright female tricked? Grated like itchy wool.

So tropes I let slide a lot of the time stopped getting slack from me: an antagonist who is completely evil, and generally a rapist or suchlike to prove it? Pssh.

And then I saw that same pattern in every one of his books. Alas. Because he is a good writer, does engaging stuff with spiffy ideas. The only one of his books I kept is Marooned in Realtime, because as a noir mystery, the male protagonist is not phenomenally competent, the trick that fools everyone is actually pretty well played, and the completely evil rapist antagonist isn't someone you have to attend to until the very end where he's unmasked.

Anyway, I did like the internet bits in FUtD a lot (checking thread before posting: I like getting info! And he was spot-on in laying out how flamewars go. And since Zelazny [like Eye of Cat] I like interstitial bits where you figure out their relevance), and I got nothing against those who love Vinge's characterizations.

#549 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:31 AM:

Mary Aileen et al., regarding portal stories: How about the Neandertahl Parallax trilogy? I liked those stories on several different levels.

#550 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 07:01 AM:

Thought after wandering around Amsterdam*:

If you ever write, or show, an alternate world with a different alphabet, think about typography and letterforms. Consider changes to the local language over time, and older languages previously used in the area. These things will be recorded in the cityscape, in old peeling paint, in mosaic and tile, in inscriptions on buildings.

Give your alternate world visible history (as well as, of course, cuisine).

----

* Crossthreads! I can has 15 quatloos!

#551 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 08:35 AM:

Madeline F @ 548... In Firefly, you hope that your ship will blow up in some horrible way when you've skimped on repairs? Mal will never take you into his family ifhe hears about that.

#552 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 08:37 AM:

abi @ 550... I can has 15 quatloos

...10 Tibetan kangaroos, 5 Dutch llamas, and a partridge in a perdrix.

#553 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Serge @552:

And I step off of the Central Line at Leicester Square just as the Northern Line train pulls into the platform.

#554 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:17 AM:

abi @ 553... Was that the abiveld working toward constructive purposes?

#555 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Well, the type of an otherworld is fairly orthogonal to the access method.

And I thought of another classic: Philip K. Dick's A Crack In Space, with a portal to a alternate world.

I've also read two-thirds of Garrison's Changeling Wars trilogy with spell access to a medievalesque fantasy world, whose long-running war is spilling into our world. Additional worlds have been "promised" but have not yet appeared. Not sure how happy I am with the story, but certainly no goosebumps there.

#556 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:28 AM:

Serge @554:

No, I was adding another obscure reference.

I enjoy how our conversations are punctuated with these things, and I thought that, since it has been a suitable period since the last innovation, we could add one more to those dotted about.

#557 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:38 AM:

abi @ 556... I thought that might be what this was, but I wasn't sure, ans was embarassed at not recognizing it. True, I could blame that on my having slept 4 hours after yesterday's 6am-to-2am corporate punishment.

#558 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Serge @ 557 ... thank you for making me feel better about my wondrous bout of the same, yesterday. Fortunately the sleep lasted longer (and I've woken up to the discordant snores and purrs of all of my cats... who are cheerfully proving that they really can take up an implausible amount of space, and push me out of bed).

#559 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Serge #557: I thought corporate punishment was outlawed except in such barbarous places as Singapore and the Isle of Man...



(Er, no that's corporal punishment. See the sergeant for further explanation.)

#560 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Madeline F. (548): If Xopher is looking for professional singers, that lets me out. I only know I'm a soprano because I used to sing in a church choir. And I haven't done any real singing for many, many moons.

#561 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 12:27 PM:

abi #550: Holy crap, your footnote just reminded me that I had a very, very serious dream last night that I overheard two people talking about the collapse of the quatloo, and I was extremely worried about it.

Thinking about it now, that was one simultaneously goofy and depressingly topical dream.

#562 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 12:53 PM:

ethan @ 561...Speaking of qwatloos, I notice that Triskelion's free market not only doesn't have an invisible hand, but that it doesn't have hands at all.

#563 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Xopher @540:

That's just begging for a faux-gemara treatment. “Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rav: How so? It says here ‘take the {eggs or} young’ , and here ‘take from all that is eaten {as food}’.” (But on second thought, just creating that single sentence was more effort that might be worth it for a Jewish in-joke.)

Greg London @542:

Yeh, if you weren't "there" during the heyday of Usenet, the Net posts are just odd expository lumps. For us they work because we have the added "ooo, Usenet fanboy!" and "spot the net.kook" aspects.

xeger @558:

Of course, one cat is enough to do that.

#564 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 01:56 PM:

>Fragano Ledgister @ 559

Corporate Notice: The whippings will continue until morale improves.

#565 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:10 PM:

ethan @ 561

Thinking about it now, that was one simultaneously goofy and depressingly topical dream.

Warning: For external use only. This dream is not for internal application. Do not operate light machinery (except machinery that Makes Light) while under influence. No ids were harmed in the making of this dream.

Or should that be:

Topical Depression Ethan will probably be upgraded to Hurricane status later today as winds in excess of 75 MPH whip corporate retreats.

#566 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:16 PM:

albatross @ 544

Have you read Vinge's "Tatja Grimm's World"? A spoof of the sf publishing business crossed with a really creepy existential horror story that builds over the course of several short stories that were fixed up (quite well, IMO) into a novel.

#567 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #564: My morale is now much better.

#568 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 566... If Xopher is looking for professional singers

...such as the Singeing Nun?

#569 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:44 PM:

These did not become series. Thank god.

Unsold pilots

#570 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Streve C @ 569... What a shame the EXOman never made it into a series. Say, does anybody remember the Mandrake TV movie of that era?

#571 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Bruce@565: Topical Depression Ethan will probably be upgraded to Hurricane status

He shoots. He scores!

;)

#572 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Serge @ 570 -

I have a vague memory of that Mandrake movie, but no details.

I always loved it in the comic strip when Mandrake, impeccably dressed as always in top hat and tails, waved his fingers to conjure up an illusion, almost always with the same caption: "Mandrake gestured hpnotically..."

I tried it, but it never worked for me....

#573 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 03:51 PM:

I remember Exoman and Dr. Strange.

Also a TV movie / pilot that was given the "MST3K" treatment, about an astronaut stranded on a planet on the opposite side of the sun from Earth. It had a totalitarian government and three moons.

These were horrible shlock in retrospect, but at the time I was thrilled and hopeful. New science fiction on TV? Yes, please!

#574 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 04:07 PM:

abi's #556 is harrowing, like an arsenal full of cannons.

But you really, really have to use your mouse, or you'll drive yourself barking.

#575 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 04:11 PM:

Bruce Cohen (StM) #565: You, my friend, are ridiculous. In the best possible way. In other words: YOMANK.

And now I'm guessing that a lot of my IRL friends would find "Topical Depression Ethan" a very apt nickname for me. One of the most common things they say to me is "Stop talking about it!"

Steve C. #569: Dr. Strange looks like it was made out of 100% awesome. The rest, I'm not so sure.

#576 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 04:12 PM:

Serge #568: I gather that she will be appearing at Burning Man.

#577 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 04:26 PM:

Points to The Language Construction Kit, for those who might be interested in that sort of thing.

#578 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 04:36 PM:

Steve C @ 572... I tried it, but it never worked for me....

Does it work better for Bruce Cohen?

I enjoyed the Mandrake comic-strip. Our newspaper carried the strip for a long time and it was interesting to have Lothar ditch his fez, leopard-skin shirt and bermuda trunks by the late 1960s for a Mister Clean look. As for the movie, I saw it a long time ago, but I thought it was ok - back then I did anyway. I was bummed that they ditched Theron and his Collegium Magicum and had a young Mandrake instead crash at the doorstep of Doctor Strange's Mentor. Oh well.

#579 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 573... Might the movie be 1969's Doppelganger, aka Journey to the Far Side of the Sun? It starred Roy thinnes, and was produced by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson.

#580 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 05:15 PM:

Sajia Kabir @516 et al., wrt cookbooks:

IMHO the 1970s Joy of Cooking is much more useful than the 1997 edition, which was revised onto a much more foofoo scale that eliminated the "things to do with leftovers" section and added some pointlessly labor-intensive recipes-- the latter were along the lines of a NYT recipe for lasagna which started with cooking some elaborate meatballs from scratch with fresh herbs, only to slice up the meatballs to layer among the lasagna noodles in the casserole dish. The 1997 JoC was also shoddily bound, with individual pages badly glued so as to shed out loose chunks from the spine within a few months of use; this happened to me with multiple copies of the book. After that, I didn't bother trying the 2006 edition.

While I agree in general with the recs for the Time-Life "Good Cook" series, those books were also published in the 1970s and may give a similar sense of "datedness"; e.g. salad/veg recipes that call for a pint of cream and six eggs. The format does have the advantage of targeting specific topics, some of which may now be nearly obsolete (such as the brains recipes in "Variety Meats", at least in BSE/MCD regions).

Depending on where you are, some other general refs that may be variously available/useful are Fannie Farmer's or Mrs. Beeton's cookbooks. IIRC the former's New England origin created a lot of long-cooked recipes involving dried beans, which are very convenient for crockpots and non-animal protein.

You may or may not find The Thousand-Recipe Chinese Cookbook helpful; my husband bought it several years ago and seemed to enjoy using it, but it has since disappeared into the general flotsam of unsorted books stacked in random corners.

I grew up with a fairly simplified version of Chinese food as home cooking, most of which fell into the category of "Slice stuff into small pieces and stir-fry with ginger, green onions, and garlic. If meat, pre-marinate with soy sauce, sherry, and cornstarch. If veg, after all the pieces are coated with hot oil, add a small amount of liquid and cover until the steam smells "cooked". If both, start with the meat and add the veg when the meat looks almost done." And making wonton into either potstickers or soup.

#581 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 05:46 PM:

ethan @ 575... Dr. Strange looks like it was made out of 100% awesome

Yes, in a 1978-TV-movie kind of way. Luckily it had Jessica Walter as the evil Morgana.

#582 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 05:57 PM:

Hi. Does anyone else have difficulty accessing Teresa's "Protest Beijing 2008" particle? I'm finding it blocked and the site removed from Google's cache.

#583 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:02 PM:

It's available over here in the Netherlands.

#584 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:06 PM:

Did The Questor Tapes ever make it beyond its pilot?

#585 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:12 PM:

After following the baobab link in the Particles, I wondered where the tree was and what its statistics were.

Well, Google suggests that this one is in fact the largest, or perhaps only the widest. I am not sure if it is the same tree as in the Particle picture.

  http://ten-thousand-trees.blogspot.com/2008/02/largest-baobab-in-world.html



  http://www.bigbaobab.co.za/

But it is quite, quite roomy inside...

#586 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:13 PM:

The Protest Beijing thing is visible here in Brooklyn. I can't believe it's blocked in all of New Zealand; if I were Phil Palmer, I'd complain to my ISP.

#587 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:13 PM:

abi #583

That's disturbing. I'm in NZ which is currently signing a free trade agreement with China. I'll have a look round here to see if anyone else has noticed.

#588 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:20 PM:

A direct link to the Protest Beijing 2008 image is here:



http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/620/7ef/6207efe6-09b9-4936-b6b1-0f1a89ec7c46

Warning: Disturbing. Not for the young or squeamish.

#589 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Thanks for all your suggestions, everybody. Especially to Marilee for the world Mennonite cookbook - I always keep on meaning to learn how to cook Ethiopian but forget to get recipes. Hopefully one day you'll be able to rejoin the land of the cooking.

ETA: I couldn't get that one at our local Coles, had to settle for How to Cook Everything instead. On Food looked riveting from a geek perspective but seemed to be too theoretical for a mere advanced beginner like me.

#590 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 07:20 PM:

#586 Patrick, #588 Owlmirror

Thanks for the suggestions. It seems to be affecting all of tribe.net sites, so the free trade agreement is probably not to blame! Paranoia dispelled!

#591 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Phil. I've been seeing some bad connections all weekend, but my ISP is getting well-known for never having made a profit, and spending lots of money on TV adverts for more customers, promising higher speed for less money than ever before. Plus free wireless router.

It's a pattern I've seen before, and it's more than a little worrying.

#592 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 08:20 PM:

#579: No. I'd seen Doppelganger first, and wondered at the time if the creators of __ had stolen the idea. In Doppelganger, the contra-Earth was exactly like Earth but reversed.

Ah, here we go. The movie was called "The Stranger" when broadcast; on MST3K it was retitled "Stranded in Space."

http://www.mst3kinfo.com/daddyo/di_305.html

#593 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 08:35 PM:

Madeline 548: I like to sing and I'll be at Worldcon, but it sounds like you want professionals?

GOOD HEAVENS NO. You think I'm a professional? I'll take what I can get and be grateful. If some of the music doesn't work for you, your voice, whatever, you won't have to struggle with it, but I'm not going to exclude someone in advance just because they're not a professional. (Or because they are, of course, but that's not at issue here.)

Mary Aileen 560: If Xopher is looking for professional singers, that lets me out. I only know I'm a soprano because I used to sing in a church choir.

And since you're in, that proves I'm not. QED. And church choir singing is the ideal experience (and NO that doesn't mean I'm only looking for church choir singers!).

Serge 568: No, the Singeing Nun is the Carmelite with the flamethrower under her habit.

#594 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 08:41 PM:

Xopher @ 594: Serge 568: No, the Singeing Nun is the Carmelite with the flamethrower under her habit.

Or an Armalite nun, perhaps.

#595 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Serge just has a bad habit of misremembering which nuns go where. At least he doesn't leave without them -- nun left behind.

#596 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 09:19 PM:

And speaking of On Food ... last week's Science News had a story on food science, wherein they talk about things more experimentally-minded cooks are doing. Mojito encased in a gel is mentioned, for one, but they supply a recipe for Chocolate Chantilly, which is chocolate melted in water, then whipped vigorously over icewater until it's the consistency of mousse. (Accessible on their website, but it's 200g of water (about 7/8 cup) and 225-250g (about 8 oz) of bittersweet choc, coarsely chopped.)

#597 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 09:36 PM:

I just got some very polite spam from an Author House author.

"If you're in a reading group and they decide to read my book…I would like to offer to call (USA only) into the group afterwards and answer any questions via a speaker phone. Many of the groups like this because it's not too often they get to ask questions and talk to the author."

Sigh. I feel bad for her, because this phone call thing sounds like a humiliating way to sell books, and AuthorHouse is evil. But spam is also evil.

Author House is probably telling their authors that spam is a great marketing tool. Evil, evil, evil.

#598 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 09:42 PM:

P J, the WashPost has a recipe for Chocolate Chantilly along with tips and hints.

#599 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Ginger @ 595... Next, jumping from the nun into the fryer?

#600 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:13 PM:

As I start my month of intense spring cleaning*, a question:

What's the best way to dust books on bookshelves?

Feather duster? Vacuum with a soft brush attachment? Something else? There's a great many linear feet/meters of books--half hardcover, half softcover--so pulling them out partway is possible, but removing them entirely would be undesirable.

And are their methods (sandpaper, say, or acids) that people might think of using which are bad for books?

---------

* also, if anyone has suggestions for good internet radio stations or other playlist source that's Nifty and Energizing so I can fill my mind with New (to me) music while I fill my house with space and cleanliness, thanks. (Sources like the KCRW Morning Eclectic show that gaukler had suggested in ot103.)

#601 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:23 PM:

PJ and Marilee,

Here's a chocolate chantilly recipe from Hervé This with only water (200ml) and chocolate (225 gr, at least 70% fat) as ingredients. It might be closer to the science article: the WaPo recipe has cream.

#602 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:55 PM:

The Armalite nun is the one singing 'The Id Parade'.

#603 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 10:59 PM:

Kathryn @ 601

That's probably the same one, as SN said it was from This. Sometime I will try it: first I need to get ice-cube trays ....

#604 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 11:05 PM:

I heard someone advocate a really bad, counterproductive, soul-destroying method of avoiding bookshelf dust once.

She suggested abg univat nal obbxf. (ebg'd to protect the eyes)

I deal with the problem by a combination of light vacuuming, dusting with an old T-shirt, and pretending the remainder of the problem doesn't exist.

#605 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 11:07 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @#600:

I wear a mask and use an air can to blow the dust off the tops of the books, then I use a dust cloth to wipe up the dust from around them. I run a HEPA filter in the room for a day or two (normally it lives in the bedroom) and vacuum the day after I dust.

This probably puts more dust into the air than any other method, but it cleans the books without having to move them around too much.

#606 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Echoing Mary Aileen at 564: If Xopher is looking for professional singers, we're both gonna be disappointed.

On that note (ha!) I've added "pitch pipe" to my list of things to bring to WorldCon 08.

#607 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 12:02 AM:

Bruce, #530: You just made me waste a perfectly good mouthful of chocolate iced tea!

albatross, #544: My first introduction to Vinge was Marooned in Realtime, and I liked it much better than you seem to; I'm sure this is at least partly explained by it being a murder-mystery crossover. (A surprising number of my favorite SF books have murder-mystery plots.) I eventually did pick up The Peace War because I was curious about the back-story, and I now have the omnibus edition Across Realtime, which includes a short in-between piece featuring the protagonist from MiR. While I don't fully agree with his "disgovernance" idea, he does draw a decent picture of what a world with little or no actual government, but very high technology, might look like.

#608 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 12:03 AM:

OH HAI THER Xopher cross-posting with me at 593!

#609 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 12:32 AM:

I spent most of my day on an airplane (flying to a conference in San Francisco), and had time for a bit of poetry.

A dozen years and more we were like wolves

we hunted weakness, error, lack of pow'r

went chasing after prints of prey-beasts' hooves

as written in proceedings we'd devour

We're seasoned now, with wisdom like old age

and pick our targets carefully, for fame

our reputations spelled out on the page

of PC members, references, and name

Am I less brilliant now, or less naive

to think low hanging fruit no meal at all?

And in the elder giants I perceive

the same old age as wisdom, not a wall

but still I see the trail the years did leave

for time and chance has happened to us all.

[I'm going to be spending much of this conference trying not to be an albatross around the neck of my much younger, much more energetic coauthor, as well as catching up with some friends. Ought to be fun.]

#610 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 01:13 AM:

geekosaur: take it from me, that the effort was well recieved, but I read Talmud for fun (though it has to be in English, I am fond of the Steinsaltz).

Saija Kaibir: On food and cooking is theoretical, but (this is a big but), the theory is quite digestible. I was 18 when I read it. A competent user of recipes (and willing to be daring, so I may not be the best example). I was making a hollandaise for the first time. Comments in On Food and Cooking on how to make emulsified butter sauces meant I was able (for guests, I don't know what I was thinking) to make it, without breaking it.

It's not cheap, and it looks esoteric, but it's actually quite practical (though it may be more a case of my thinking all knowledge is useful).

Looking at all the options, you probably would be better served with Cookwise.

Oh Yeah! Harold McGee has a website, The Curious Cook

Kathryn from Sunnyvale: Thistle and Shamrock, and Picking up the Tempo. The first is widely distributed, and can be streamed/downloaded. The second is, (I believe) a local production of KCBX, the SLO public radio station. It can also be streamed and downloaded.

KCBX has a very nice pledge drive. They tell you how much money they need, and if they get it before the week is up, they quit. They also don't do the fifteen minutes of show, ten minutes of pitch.

So, last month they were having the drive. We were listening to it on the computer as we cooked. They were talking premiums. They were ok. Then they said, "And for $75 we have a $50 gift certificate to Long Riders."

Maia and I looked at each other and said, "Long Riders!" It was a half-brainer, because it's a local tack store to SLO. We talked about it for a couple of minutes and Maia called them. I forget why I had to leave, but I did, and when they got to announcing the recent pledges it went like this.

"And thank you to Maia from Pasadena... What? Really? Pasadena? Oh, I mean, "thank you Maia."

I wish I'd been home to hear it.

#611 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 01:30 AM:

The best method for ridding shelved books of dust is to take them down a pair at a time, take a volume in each hand, and BANG THEM TOGETHER. Then use a soft cloth to dust the shelf before replacing the books. Well, OK, it probably isn't the best method, but it is among the loudest.

This was the technique employed in the library when I was at school, carried out yearly*. Scheduled, of course, such that there wouldn't be too many people trying to study while the banging was going on. A HEPA filter would almost certainly have been a good idea.



* Or termly? I forget.

#612 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 02:29 AM:

Serge @ 578

"Try that brown wallet, Lothar, that gentlemen in the camelhair coat who thought a kangaroo was chasing him ought to be carrying quite a bit of cash."

* speaks in native language *

"Well, well, the lady with the acute wombat phobia was carrying her jewelry. Must remember to send a thank you note, suitably anonymized."

* expostulates hypothetically *

"No, really, I haven't had this much fun since the UFO convention in New Mexico. The whole town was convinced they were being filmed by Steven Spielberg."

#613 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 03:24 AM:

albatross @609:

Excellent!

#614 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 04:46 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 612... "The whole town was convinced they were being filmed by Steven Spielberg."

You mean he wasn't really here to film "Sawing Private Ryan in Half"? That's it. I'm going back to Xanadu. Besides, I've got a date with Narda.

#615 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 05:41 AM:

albatross, #609: Nice one. Of course, low-hanging fruit is a meal, whether or not it's a challenge; what the speaker is really saying is that it's not satisfying. It's the one place where the figurative language and the literal meaning is pulling at cross-purposes.

Re dusting books: What's wrong with a good feather duster? I'm a pretty fanatical opponent of dust, and this is what's worked for me for years.

#616 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 05:43 AM:

"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" would be another example of "transported to alternate reality" stories.

Julie L. #580:

That simplified form of Chinese cookery has stood me in good stead over the years. It's quick, easy, scalable, healthy and versatile. Change the mix of veges and/or the meat and voila! - it's a different dish. Got more turning up for dinner? Cook more rice, add more of everything. It was one of my standard meal(s) when flatting.

For vegetarian cookery (which I don't do much), I tend to favour the Indian & Chinese traditions over Western vegetarian. They have more of a history of it so have worked out recipes that work. But the Moosewood cookbooks, which are admittedly a bit hippy, are very good.

#617 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 08:40 AM:

Book dust is really a prevention thing. Stack them such that there is no upper surface, or at least no large space above that surface, and most of them will be undusty. The top layer will be, but it'll also be tougher to see.

#618 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 08:48 AM:

Patrick @615: I haven't actually tried a feather duster, because air cans are ubiquitous in my computer-infested house, and I have a lot of collectibles that can only be dusted effectively with air. For a normal human being, a feather duster would probably be simplest (assuming no feather allergy).

#619 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 08:49 AM:

Tim May @#611 The best method for ridding shelved books of dust is to take them down a pair at a time, take a volume in each hand, and BANG THEM TOGETHER.

Patrick @#615: What's wrong with a good feather duster?

She was talking in the context of old books, likely to be fragile and otherwise vulnerable.

Banging the books is pretty rough on them! While I don't think she mentioned feather dusters, I'd be worried about carrying around mold etc., and perhaps abrading the page edges. (Fractals aren't good for everything....)

#620 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 09:23 AM:

albatross @ 609

Very nice. See, air travel has some upside after all.

#621 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Mary Dell @#618: Air cans also would be rough on old books -- both the "high wind", and the rapid temperature change.

Cooking: I've done stir-fry too, but the slicing for a big stir-fry can get kind of laborious. Julie L.'s "cover and steam" method sounds like it would make it less sensitive to the slicing thickness, I'll try that next time!)

These days, my "signature dish" is vegetable soups/stews. Mostly just chopping the veggies into the pot, add suitable spices, and boil the heck out of them. My "basic mix" is carrots, celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and lately potatoes. Then toss in whatever leftovers are getting tired, and spices to suit. I usually use lots of parsley flakes (unless I have fresh), a bay leaf, and a bit of chili powder.

Last week I did a big pot of that, with leftover tomatoes, a bit of sage powder, a bit of stray barley and a pound of split peas (yellow, as it happened). Came out really nice -- I froze four quart bags of it. (Writing this now, I realize I forgot to add a yellow squash I had in the fridge, it would have gone well.)

#622 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 10:50 AM:

Speaking of Doctor Strange (who was last see kissing the Night Nurse)...

Last week, while googling 'Gainman' and 'hard-science', I came across a site where a rumor was mentionned that Neil Gaiman was collaborating with Guillermo del Toro on a movie about Earth's Sorcerer Supreme.

I know, I know. If it sounds too good to be true...

#623 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Nicole 608: I CAN HAS SINGRZ? NO EXPRE EXPEER XPRNCE NCCSSRY. SRSLY. KTHXBAI

(PS. SINGD IN CHERCH? NOM NOM NOM! KTHXBAI)

Tim 611: Well, OK, it probably isn't the best method, but it is among the loudest.

Well, MY books go up to eleven!

#624 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Monument to the Beatles in Ulan Bator

All hail, Marx and Lennon ...

#625 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 12:42 PM:

All: Thanks for the nice comments on the poem.

I think I'm starting my midlife crisis early, only instead of getting a fast car, a hairpiece, and a young blonde with two-digit IQ[1], I'm writing poetry, listening to a lot more music, and reading a lot in outside fields. (Damn. And I was so looking forward to driving a sportscar and hitting on girls young enough to be my daughters.)

[1] My wife would probably not approve.

#626 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 12:49 PM:

ginger @ 25: Heisenbugs are the ones that do things like go away when you run them under the debugger ("Look, the debugger works - the bug's gone!"), or appear if you change a seemingly unrelated piece of code ("don't move this print statement - it crashes if you do"). They're the really tough ones, because sometimes they simply have to be worked around - generally the occur because something underneath yout program is broken, rather than it being your code, which seems kind of unfair.

Tim @ 468: Not anymore!

#627 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 01:58 PM:

whimsical recipes using otherworldly ingredients

In the 1980s, they published The Doctor Who Cookbook, a collection of favourite recipes from people who had worked on the show. Most of them were straightforward recipes, but there was this one - it was submitted by Barry Letts, the showrunner in the early 1970s - which began with an anecdote about how he'd picked up the recipe from the catering staff during a location shoot on Venus, gave the entire recipe using alien ingredients ("First, take your blim tree worms..."), and then ended with a paragraph saying "Unfortunately, the last Venusian importer in England went out of business recently, but you can get something approximately similar by substituting the following Earth ingredients..."

The dish that results isn't anything fancy, but it's still my favourite recipe in the book for the presentation.

#628 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 02:38 PM:

Joe McMahon @ 626: Sadly, the Heisenbugs I deal with are always my own fault. Er, no, I mean they're really compiler bugs! That's it! Yes, definitely!

(For those on the sidelines, they're usually from memory corruption, so the order or context of operations affects the output.)

#629 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 529: Just so.

I related this discussion to my partner, who said, "Hmm. I always pictured Feynman as a vampire."

albatross @ 609: I liked your poem.

#630 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 03:11 PM:

At some point on this thread, the topic of Domain Registrars came up?

I would recommend strongly against Network Solutions. They just got busted for terrible business practices: if you were to use their site to do a WHOIS check on a domain name - to see if it's still available - they would then put a hold on that domain name so that if you wanted then to register it you would have to go through them.

Once again the best link is to DrakNet's blog entry on the subject, which explains the situation well and provides links to the original news story and other information. (I promise I'm not just plugging my ISP!)

#631 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 03:24 PM:

Re: canned air (cross post with Deep Value thread)

Most vacuums have another socket where air blows out. If you plug your hose in there, the machine will blow rather than suck.

#632 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 03:31 PM:

Xopher @ 623: I LOL'D.

#633 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 04:03 PM:

David Harmon @621: The piece size does have to remain somewhat consistent within each individual veggie, but most other considerations can be tweaked while cooking-- frex I typically cut carrots into largish "rolling cut" angular chunks and start them first, or at least after initially browning the ginger/scallions/garlic; smaller chunks or more delicate objects (tender greens, mushrooms, tofu etc.) get added only after the carrots have softened up to "al dente".

Risotto can be one of the best fridge-cleanout recipes for small amounts of random stuff, in conjunction with keeping a "scraps bag" in the freezer-- the latter is a large Ziploc or two for meat bones and vegetable peelings; when full, the contents get chucked into a stockpot and simmered overnight with enough water to cover. In the morning (or whenever else is convenient), strain off the solids, fridge the stock, peel off and discard[*] any congealed fat, and then make risotto or soup.

[*: actually, I tend to put the fat back into the freezer, then eventually render out a large batch to make soap. Unfortunately(?), this has gradually created an enormous overload of soap; now that the weather is warming up the default temperature of the plumbing, I'll probably grate a few pounds of soap into laundry flakes. And then there's the large bag of raw chicken skin whose fat-rendering will generate huge quantities of gribenes that I will be unable to resist eating-- the mere thought makes me both salivate and clutch my belly.]

#634 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 04:29 PM:

gateways between alternate worlds in stories...

I wrote a story about gateways between alternate timelines and found it ain't easy.

I find that a gateway to an alternate universe can be a hat you can pull an infinitely big rabbit out of whenever you feel like and that's cheating, and that's what's wrong with Philip Jose Farmer, who is at the worst a self-Monte-Hall writer. If anything can happen and there are no rules how can the story be interesting?

Also what are the thermodynamics of portals?

Can you make a perpetual motion machine by having one portal underneath another one and thereby have things perpetually fall down?

#635 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 05:18 PM:

Carol, #631: That statement can be read in more than one way...

#636 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 05:49 PM:

Erik 634: The thermodynamics of portals reminds me of how I cured some of my players of rules lawyering in my GURPS campaign. They needed to get rid of a huge wrought-iron cage around something, and they needed to do it suddenly. They pointed out that the spell—well, it was probably called Planar Transfer, but we always called it Plane Flip— says you can transfer "any one object," and that it doesn't have a cost per unit mass. Uh-huh. Good for you.

I could have told them that since it was made of slabs of iron bolted together, each one was a separate object, but that would have been buying into the rules lawyering, and caused trouble later on.

OK, so: seven tons of iron suddenly vanishes. Well and good. But then for a fraction of a second it reappears. Then it reappears again, glowing red. Again, glowing red and somewhat misshapen...doesn't reappear, but it begins to get very cold in the city. Then colder. Then even colder than that. The guards who were standing next to the giant cage freeze and shatter into bits.

At this point, their otherworld patrons intervene, and supply a vast quantity of warm water, so the event becomes known as "the blizzard in July" instead of "the day everyone in Namhal City died."

I explained to them (or rather their patrons did) that while it's possible to planeflip an object of any size, there's a formule (I may have actually worked it out, but I don't remember it) that causes a heat transfer from the source plane to the destination plane. It's negligible for objects up to a few hundred pounds, but for seven tons...well, when they used Astral Vision to look at the other plane, they saw a white hot ball of molten iron. Along with a bunch of dead Astral beings.

Their patrons also explained that "If you ever planeflip something that large again, you will wish you'd never been born...and we will grant that wish."

As for perpetual motion, no, it isn't. Gravity is constantly adding energy to that system, and of course you're assuming that the gate doesn't use up energy. And btw the objects wouldn't just "keep falling"; they would accelerate at 32 feet/sec² for the length of the distance between the portals. After not very long, the friction with the air between the two gates would generate enough heat to melt the falling objects, and probably the portal mechanism, if technological, or kill the spell caster (if magical). If in vacuum...well, actually I'm not prepared to speculate on what would happen if an object reached relativistic velocities in a fixed location, if that isn't a contradiction by itself.

#637 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 05:57 PM:

Formula. Not formule, whatever that is. A small form?

#638 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 06:16 PM:

So, I was reading nursery rhymes to my youngest and the Singularity happened. I was reading from an Old Volume, Bound With Who Knows What, and suddenly this verse leapt out, grabbed me by the brain stem and forced me to read it aloud:

Bat, bat, get under my hat

I'll give you a slice of bacon

and when I bake, you'd like a cake

unless I'm much mistaken.

Now it has forced me to release it on the Blogosphere, so interstallar intelligent hive-minded sea otters with flechette pistols are only around the corner.

Sorry!

#639 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 07:28 PM:

#638: And their melee attack consists of cracking your head open on a rock strapped to their bellies.

#640 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 08:11 PM:

Rocks have deep value.

#641 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 08:51 PM:

So...would a lava lamp have deeper value?

(As the Clint Eastwood character said, "Go ahead, magma day.")

#642 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 09:03 PM:

Erik #634, Xopher #636:

Have you read Asimov's The Gods Themselves?

#643 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:00 PM:

I'm heading out tomorrow morning for that fabulous interview. Wish me luck! I'll let y'all know as soon as I hear anything.

#644 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:08 PM:

TexAnne:

Best of luck!

#645 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:25 PM:

Julie L. @#633:

I'm guessing that you're cooking for a family? I live alone except for my cat, and she eats kibble.

I probably should make another try at saving veggie scraps, my previous attempts (a few years ago) were in the refrigerator, and I didn't accumulate very much before they started getting scary. Using the freezer sounds like an excellent idea! Back then, I wasn't even trying to keep meat scraps -- I'm not vegetarian, but I don't cook with meat too much, probably from spending several years cooking in vegetarian co-ops.

Simmering overnight ... how do I keep it from boiling dry if I'm only starting with, say, a gallon bag of scraps covered with water? Already that's a lot of scraps for me, and when I did last week's soup in a 6-qt pot, I'm pretty sure I lost most of a quart in an hour or so of cooking.

Hmmm... I just looked up risotto, which I've never attempted. (I have been known to just cook rice or cous-cous using stock or soup instead of water.) It looks challenging but interesting, right up until WikiCookBook's comment: "... will not keep beyond the meal, but rehydrating... may yield edible results". !?!?!

And I'm not nearly hardcore enough to make my own soap! ;-)

#646 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:39 PM:

Coming soon, TexAnne's Fabulous Interview...

Best wishes!

#647 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:45 PM:

PS: My latest culinary "toy" is wild garlic, which is growing all over here (VA), notably on my local hiking path (meaning, away from the streets). I've been both cooking with it and putting it in salads and sandwiches. Yesterday I took advantage of the wet weather to pry up a bunch of the bulbs as well as the shoots. Yummy!

#648 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Off topic goodness: Tom Leher on YouTube.

#649 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Well, you bang the books board-to-board, so the forces are distributed in a way that a book can withstand fairly well (a hardback, anyway). But, yes, probably not advisable for books too valuable or fragile to take a feather duster.

I wouldn't have thought a feather duster would work very well, myself... the upper edge of a row of hardbacks is a fiddly surface with a lot of nooks and crannies. It seems like canned air would be more convenient.

#650 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 12:16 AM:

good luck texanne! knock them dead metaphorically!

#651 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 12:22 AM:

David Harmon @633: I'm guessing that you're cooking for a family?

Not as such-- other than me and my husband, it's just our two cats, who like yours mainly subsist on kibble (although they've been persistently uprooting my green onions for reasons of their own). It's just that I tend to cook large batches of stuff once or twice a week, and then we nuke the leftovers in between.

WRT simmering, surely your stock pot has a lid? :) An electric crockpot can also be useful for making stock, but as long as the big stovetop pot is covered and on a very low setting-- at most, just high enough to keep the surface in motion; if it's generating enough steam to keep burping the lid, it's too high-- it should be able to extract flavor from the scraps without much total evaporation. Or you can start out with (and keep adding) enough extra liquid to compensate for evaporation.

If you have more time than fridge space, you *might* want to deliberately boil the stock down to concentrate it after straining off the solids; iirc Terry Karney mentioned doing that on a regular basis. I usually don't unless the initial stock volume is really unmanageable, which sometimes happens with a turkey carcass after the holidays.

My version of risotto isn't terribly purist, in that after the initial quasi-stirfry stage with durable veggies (usually onion and carrot, sometimes celery) and the rice, and the acidic quenching step that follows it (usually white wine, although I've occasionally used leftover balsamic vinaigrette), I tend to dump in several cups of stock all at once; depending on how tired I am by then, I may either stick around and keep stirring, or just cover the pot and turn the heat down to leave it to its own devices for a while. I'm also cheerfully willing to let the rice drift past al dente toward goopiness.

One frustrating thing about risotto, mind you, is that the flavor of the stock tends to disappear into the rice. Tonight's stock had a lovely rich taste of roasted chicken on its own, but the resulting risotto (or at least risotto-like substance) mostly tasted like carrots and celery... perhaps I overloaded those veggies this time :b

#652 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 12:27 AM:

"I wouldn't have thought a feather duster would work very well, myself... the upper edge of a row of hardbacks is a fiddly surface with a lot of nooks and crannies."

Dude, what do you think feather dusters are for? That is the very definition of the kind of dusting problem to which they're the solution.

(Tempted to crosspost this to the "Deep Value" thread. Canned air! Ha!)

#653 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 12:36 AM:

I keep trying stock-- okay, I have tried it twice-- but I'm never sure if I'm doing it right. My understanding is that you basically put in ex-dinners, like the former roast duck, and simmer it until you get bored. Then I read a bit of The Joy of Cooking at a friend's house and now I'm worried that I simmered it too long and have made glue. Yeah, it was thick, yeah, it boiled waaay down, but I'm hoping it'll still be edible.

Of course, the one soup I've tried to make from scratch was incredibly bland and dissatisfying. I need to train myself to like the satisfaction of cooking rather than the satisfaction of the food, I guess; I don't see myself liking anything I've made better than what I get out of a can.

#654 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 01:26 AM:

Xopher (#636) Re friction heat and air; If gravity is the accelerant, you won't get that level of heat. Terminal velocity will kick in.

Interesting fact about terminal velocities. For mice the terminal velocity is such that there is no termimal height for them. Once they have fur they don't get fast enough to suffer fatal injury. This is, sadly. not true for pinkies.

#655 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Sajia, #516: Freida Arkin's Kitchen Wisdom is a really useful book on the craft of cooking. The Impoverished Students Book of Cookery Drinkery and Housekeepery is also very useful, and only $10 (but also only 48 pages).

#656 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 01:59 AM:

Good luck with the interview, TexAnne. I hope you like them, they like you, and it's a done deal by the end of the day.

#657 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 02:03 AM:

Terry #654:

Are you drawing that from the famous paper of Haldane's, On Being the Right Size? A nice excerpt that gives a sense of what's going on is

You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.

A more modern discussion of the same ideas is in The Biology of B Movie Monsters

I love both of these, and keep thinking they'd make a nice presentation for a middle school or early high school science class....

#658 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 02:11 AM:

Terry@654: For mice the terminal velocity is such that there is no termimal height for them.

You are soooo weird.

;)

#659 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 03:24 AM:

David Harmon: Was your pot covered?

If it was on the lowest of heats, you ought to be able to keep it from boiling away. If that's not doing it, then a diffuser might help.

Julie L. I don't do it as regularly as all that, and yes, part of the reason is to save fridge space. Risotto does require a stronger stock flavor, and loses less if you stir it the whole way/

Diatryma: Overcooking stock? Whuh??? That's how one makes demi-glace. The worry might be that one has overworked it, for want of a better word. Too much energy in the pot will increase the amount of clouding, and that can steal some flavor.

Making Stock: You'll want some vegetables (carrots, with tops, celery, absent the very base: I'm fond of some cabbage, beet tops, etc. onions; all you need to do is quarter them). The carcass (for fowl), or bones, for beef, pork, veal). You might want to brown the bones (a 450 oven for 45 minutes, collect the grease, and deglaze the pan).

Then simmer until done.

#660 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 03:35 AM:

Diatryma, #653: If what you're making isn't better than canned, something is wrong. From the sound of your comment, perhaps the something is that you need to be more aggressive with herbs and spices (not necessarily salt). Do you have local friends who enjoy cooking? If so, you might ask them for some basic recipes that they have found work well.

#661 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 04:43 AM:

Erik Nelson (#634) and Xopher (#636):

In a vacuum, you would (seemingly) get a perpetual motion machine, though as Xopher points out it would be more of a pertual acceleration machine. The underlying thermodynamic problem is there whether or not there's air in the system: the falling object is being fed energy from nowhere: every time it passes through the portal and is transferred up top, it gains potential energy (which is then transformed into additional kinetic energy as it continues falling). So, realistically, some kind of power source is required.

If you've got multiple universes, perhaps you can wave your hand and say the energy is coming out of another universe, in which case the occupants thereof may get annoyed and come looking for you.

I can imagine that in certain (atmospheric) setups, the terminal velocity barrier might be only temporary, as continued passage through the system keeps pushing air out of the way, lowering the local density within the inter-portal zone and decreasing the atmospheric drag, thus increasing the terminal velocity...

I don't think there's anything contradictory about the object reaching relativistic velocities (aside from the thermodynamic problem!). Conceptually, it's not unlike a synchrotron, where the particles go round and round through the same space, accelerating all the while.

#662 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:20 AM:

It seems to me that the portal gun as shown in Portal does indeed violate Second Law. (One possible handwave would be that the gun is only a directing device, while the portals themselves are made by big energy-intensive immobile hardware elsewhere in the complex. Indeed, part of the ending makes more sense if you view it as showing that machinery going haywire.)

Katie says that that sort of thing is why she doesn't think computer simulations (at least game-style ones) are a good teaching tool for physics: The rules can be whatever you want them to be, and the student / player can't necessarily tell whether they correspond to reality.

#663 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 07:10 AM:

Poetry is always on topic, so I give you:

Flowers of Bad

#664 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 08:38 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @#652:

Canned air! Ha!

Jeez, Patrick, didn't I just say a feather duster is probably better, assuming no feather allergy? I have a feather allergy.

#665 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 09:31 AM:

Mary Dell #664: In other words, you're not down on down, but down is down on you?

#666 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:29 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 665

Does that make her vertically-challenged?

#667 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Fragano... Bruce Cohen... Keep it up, you too, and Mary Dell will pillowry you.

#668 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:44 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @#665: Alternatively, I am down with down, but down is not down with me.

#669 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 11:02 AM:

Julie L. @#651, Terry @# 659:

Good point re: lids, last week's soup was uncovered. I do have a lid for the 12-qt, pot (but annoyingly, not for the 6-qt one).

Great tips, in any case. Thanks!

#670 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 11:21 AM:

Bruce Cohen (#663): sounds like fun! I just wish the website had some sample "translations".

#671 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 12:34 PM:

Is it my imagination, or is McCain starting to sound like an ill-tempered SOB?

McCain drops a C-bomb

#672 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Peter 661: I forgot all about terminal velocity, but reaching terminal velocity doesn't mean all friction ceases. The object is still moving very fast through air, albeit at its terminal velocity, and gravity is still acting on it, trying to accelerate it. That energy has to go somewhere. I think the battle between gravity and air resistance would be likely to bleed off as heat, though not as much heat as I thought.

But there's another factor we haven't considered: entrainment.

I'm assuming, here, that there are two ends of a portal, with the exit directly above the entrance, maintained with an outside energy source (technological or magical) that is inexaustible and not easily destroyed, and that the entire setup is in air, and not enclosed in any way. Let's further assume that the object is something with a significant terminal velocity, like a cannonball, and that the portals are a meter wide (much wider than the cannonball).

After the object reaches terminal velocity, it is still being acted upon by gravity, as I said above. Not all of that would be expressed by heat; since air can't resist without being affected itself (third law of motion), some of it will get bumped and tugged along. As the object continues to fall, more and more air will move with it, until there is a very fast and powerful downword air current, fastest at the center near the ball, but close to the ball's TV everywhere.

At that point all friction on the ball ceases, because the air that touches it is moving at the same speed; but by then the Bernoulli effect will have kicked in, and more and more air will have been drawn in all around.

What happens then, I'm not sure. Since friction is the mechanism of terminal velocity, does the ball then resume accelerating? Or does the greater quantity of air drawn in from the sides compensate? But it's at the same pressure (albeit with a higher absolute quantity of air), so maybe not.

It can't be at equilibrium, because energy is still being fed in by gravity, and there's no equivalent energy loss that I can see.

One thing is clear: if you shut the portal down, well, you get the object hitting the ground (or whatever's beneath) at great speed. But you also get all that air hitting the ground, and it's suddenly at a higher pressure because its flow will be stopped. How powerful an effect this will be depends on the TV of the ball, and how far apart the two ends of the portal were.

#673 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Susan posted a column on Rixosous about Patrick Stewart, or rather about how he handled the interviewer who referred to Star Trek fans as weird. That got me to do some research, during which I found that le Capitaine is a fan of Doctor Who and of Red Dwarf.

#674 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Tim 594: Or an Armalite nun, perhaps.

No, it really has to be a Carmelite nun. You see, I was referring to the small kind of flamethrower—more of a blowtorch, really—used in a dessert kitchen for brûléeing the crème when making crème brûlée.

Carmelites invented that, you know. That's why it's called Carmelization.*



*Lrf, bs pbhefr V'z ylvat. Unq lbh sbe n frpbaq gurer, gubhtu, qvqarlr? Uru.

#675 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 02:37 PM:

I'm at lunch, from a really thrilling class on how to administer urinalysis collection (mostly it's a lot of chain of custody issues, but the Army requires that all samples be observed collections, so we have a practical excercise after lunch... yippee).

But on the radio I was hearing some discussion about Petraeus appearance before the senate, and the thing which made my blood boil was the guy (I didn't catch his name) who was an advisor to the ISG, saying, "Iran as steadfastly refused to come to heel."

WTF?

People wonder why we aren't doing well at relations with other countries.



#676 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Terry Karney @ 675... "Iran as steadfastly refused to come to heel."

Is General Zod back in the White House?

#678 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Mary Dell @ 677... I have the bumper sticker "Zod in 2008" (with Mr. Mxyzptlk as the Veep), but shouldn't he wait for the Election before moving in?

#679 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 04:52 PM:

#653 ::: Diatryma

I keep trying stock...now I'm worried that I simmered it too long and have made glue. Yeah, it was thick, yeah, it boiled waaay down, but I'm hoping it'll still be edible.

If you very, very carefully take it further than that, to where it will form a slab when cool, you have reinvented Stephen Maturin's Portable Soup, mainstay (so to speak) of the Royal Navy in bygone days.

Condensing the stuff does make storage a lot easier.

#680 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:13 PM:

653, 679

Well, before you get to Portable Soup, you get to Demi-Glace, which is considered to be a Good Thing, useful for soups and sauces.

#681 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Terry Karney @659: Risotto does require a stronger stock flavor, and loses less if you stir it the whole way

Yeah... even without stirring, leaving it uncovered would allow more of the moisture to evaporate off and concentrate the flavor. I think my main problem with making risotto is really that it falls into my mental category of Chinese sticky-rice casseroles.

One of my favorite stock preps if I have enough premeditation is to roast a chicken on a bed of carrots/celery/etc., in a deep enough pan to hold the descending fat and roast the stock veggies in it. (IME the veggies turn out too greasy to eat with the meat, which had been my original intention the first time.) After eating the initial meal of roast chicken, peel off the rest of the meat to store in the fridge, break down the carcass into flattish pieces, and put it into the stockpot with the roasted veggies and any deglazed residue from the pan. Yum.

#682 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:27 PM:

Fragano says hi! I'm kinda frazzled and will post more when I have enough brain cells for a synapse.

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:37 PM:

TexAnne @ 682... Say hello to Fragano from me. And my best wishes to you.

#684 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:39 PM:

Mary Dell @ 668

Well, I've been down so long, it looks like up to me.

#685 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:41 PM:

Mary Dell @ 668

Well, I've been down so long, it looks like up to me.

#686 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Sorry for the double post. The post hung with a blank page, so, silly me, I reloaded, and of course the same thing happened again.

#687 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 06:11 PM:

Xopher @ 672

That energy that's being turned into heat of friction is heating the air between the portals, causing it to expand. Assuming it can't go back through the upper portal, some goes along with the cannonball through the lower portal and comes back out the upper portal, and the rest expands to the sides and the up past the upper portal and cools as it does. Cooler air will be pulled up from around the lower portal into the space between portals, where the cannonball will heat it up, and so on. So you'll get an upward wind all around the portals. Given enough energy that wind, plus the smallest deviation from perfect circularity, will create a vortex, and you'll eventually have the fastest tornado ever seen.

#688 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 07:01 PM:

Steve C #671: "Starting" to?

#689 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 07:42 PM:

If you roast a chicken sitting up on a few half onions, the onions and meat juices from the pan (after throwing away obvious fat and deglazing the roasting dish) make for delicious gravy, or whatever y'all call brown sauce made from roasted meat juice, onions roasted in meat fat, boiling water, salt and freshly ground black pepper, thickened with a little cornflour. Yum.

Serve with boiled, mashed turnip (rutabaga, I believe), and spuds parboiled for 5 minutes, and then roasted with sunflower oil for 40.

Steamed french beans, mushrooms sautéed in butter, steamed broccoli, sweated spinach, or oven roasted peppers also make good side dishes.

Now I'm hungry again.

#690 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Gail and I watched TexAnne being swept away to dinner by a pair of ladies. We're hoping for the best.

And thank you, Serge!

#691 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Dinner went well. I think. I can't tell. Argh. All I know is that I dislike job trips very, very much, except when they mean I get to meet fellow Fluorospheridians.

#692 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:17 PM:

I can't stand it anymore. (and after feeling heart-attack-ish last night but they DO that repeatedly...)

Apropos of an open thread...

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

(I went to check score three times, first was at half-time and we were ahead. Second time was just at the end of the play time and there was a tie. AAARGH. I decided not to tune back until rather later and found out we'd won.

YAAAY.

#693 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:20 PM:

Fragano @ 690... You're welcome, buddy!

TexAnne @ 691... I've said this quite a few times, and I'll say it again.... Best wishes!

#694 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2008, 10:51 PM:

Anyone else here going to the Olympic Torch protests in San Francisco? I figure it's sort of my duty, since there are people all over the country/world who'd like to protest who can't make it to SF tomorrow, while I live in Oakland and have vacation time. I'm going to be starting with the Burmese Peace Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, and it would be cool to see some fluorospherians there.

#695 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Madeline #694: I just saw a bus and set of limos escorted by what appeared to be every motorcycle cop in San Francisco, driving down (I think) Howard street (close to 5th). I wonder if this was related to the torch relay somehow? There certainly wasn't a person carrying a torch, unless they were riding in the bus or one of the limos. This was around 10:30 or so.

#696 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 02:34 AM:

Albatross @695,

The local radio news says the flame arrived by airplane at 3am ("carried in a antique-looking Chinese lantern from which the torches are lit"), and that they're not telling where it will be between then and the run tomorrow. Since there aren't any presidential candidates around, it sounds like you saw it go by.

Fun story from my partner--when the torch was going through Canada for an Olympics years back, a friend lit a candle* from the torch as it went by.

The friend then went and lit his pilot-light from the candle.

Patrick @652 and all,

Given a choice between a feather duster and a vacuum's brush attachment, it seems like the latter would remove more dust. Would there be a reason to go with the former?

I'd figured** that those two would remain the main choices (bang the books together breaks the 'no pulling off shelf' goal), but checked here just in case one of the many library persuasion people here would share the Deep Secrets of Librarians.

------------

* or some other flame-holding device.

** Or maybe I just wanted to procrastinate on the dusting for 2 days. "more research" always feels like the right answer to "what shall I do now?"

#697 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 02:58 AM:

Some idle boasting:

My wife has just finished a stressful but intriguing year long project - the cleaning and rebinding of a 13th century Italian missal, for this exhibition: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/programs/exhibitions/kmg/2008/medieval_imagination/

The book had been inexpertly rebound in the 19th(?) century, and then disbound to be microfilmed some years ago. It is now happily rebound in alum tawed goatskin, and dyed a flamboyant red using brazilwood. The binding itself is authentic as all get out, in ways which I as a humble computer programmer do not understand.

The only illustration available on the public bits of the web is one I just scanned from the newspaper: http://teapot7.com/missal.jpg

It's a shame the binding itself doesn't show - it's a big beast (some hundreds of goats died to spread the word of God) and is really seriously red.

btw - the motion blur in this photo is deliberate, not accidental. Apparently the photographer wanted the photo to look more 'dynamic'. I have always thought there should be harsher punishments for journalism.

#698 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 03:29 AM:

Xopher @ 672:

Oh, that's an excellent point. I'd been implicitly thinking about the system such that only the falling object would go through the portals, but there's no reason for that to be the case. Yes, air passing through the portals makes the whole thing even messier.



Bruce Cohen @ 687:

Your scenario sounds like the limiting case for very small objects, whose primary effect on the air is to introduce heat via friction. Things would be more complicated for relatively large objects, because you'd also have the effect of the object physically displacing the air as it moved downward (and possibly entraining some of the air behind it, as Xopher pointed out). So the air moving out from the portal zone would probably be hot and moving downward. I'm inclined to guess that this would set up a horizontal, toroidal vortex wrapped around the portal system, rather than a simple vertical vortex... but after that, my (minimal) hydrodynamics intuition fails.

This would probably be an interesting -- and completely pointless -- exercise for a fluid dynamics simulation...

#699 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 04:57 AM:

Weird thought: what would a Time Team archaeological excavation of Bag End be like?

#700 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 06:29 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #666: That post (of the beast) was a mere fledgling, send it back when it's full grown.

#701 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 07:55 AM:

Steve Taylor @#697: How extremely cool, and what a beautiful book. The motion blur in the picture is hilarious...nothing screams "action!" like an extremely antique hand-illuminated text, I guess.

#702 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 08:05 AM:

Steve Taylor @ 697... rebinding of a 13th century Italian missal (...) btw - the motion blur in this photo is deliberate, not accidental

"Watch out! Missal incoming!"

#703 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 08:15 AM:

Serge #702: "Cardinal, launch your missals!"

#704 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Open threadism:

Wherefore Ballastexistenz? Her blog is throwing up a "Server Default" page.

#705 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Fragano @ 703: Be careful! We've got a Tridentine sub loaded with Hellfire missals, and we're not afraid to use them!

#706 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Ginger @ 705... Whose Knavy are you with?

#707 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 12:59 PM:

Woops! Self-published Star Trek fanfic on Amazon. (via Keith Candido's LJ)

Wonder how long it'll take for somebody official to notice?

#708 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 01:37 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 697: Ooh! Pity there aren't more pictures. Did they scan it while it was apart?

The State Library of Victory is really lovely.

#709 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Serge @ 706: I could tell you, but then...

#710 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Faren Miller @ #670: I just wish the website had some sample "translations".

It is my impression that they are to be found on (linked from) the page headed "Poems".

But perhaps I am mistaken. Who can tell?

#711 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 04:04 PM:

Steve Taylor: That's cool. My complaint in the photo isn't the blur (it's a fairly common technique, and meant to do just what was said), it's the distracting white cord.

The action is, of course, meant to show the turning of a page.

Ralph Giles: If I read Steve's post correctly, it was unbound to be photographed.

I'm not worried about the Church's missal's, there's almost no chancel be hit, and I don't see the pontiff getting upset over something with so low risk of my being injured, though if one should land nearby the te deum of my day would be relieved.

#712 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Terry Karney @ 711... there's almost no chancel be hit

Even by a Church & Destroy missal?

#713 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Only a Nave would use such a thing, and there are too pew of such missals to waste one on me, unless they altar the estimation of the danger my various heterodoxies pose to the organisation.

#714 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 04:31 PM:

You two are inspiring.

#715 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 04:58 PM:

The danger of soutane attack by guided missal, is, of course, not to be discounted. There would be no scapulary from such a disaster.

#716 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 05:03 PM:

abi: Thanks for ringing in, changing the tenor of the bull being slung. It lukes to be the gospel truth that any topic here will lead to puns, chocolate or cats. Mark your calendars on the day that fails to happen.

#717 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 05:09 PM:

And in the after-Matthew have the revelation that your acts have made a difference. Not all th'epistles and en-Johns of the forces arrayed against us can prevail against puns.

#718 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 05:37 PM:

OK, usually I'm paschaling for evidence, but I'd like to have some pyx of the guided missals. I'll be incensed if they're censered, or altared in any other way. Present them in the correct sequence so we can all have a look anthem.

#719 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Because I was out traveling to and from the dentist yesterday (molar pulled last week, stitches removed yesterday and a tooth on the other side of my mouth ground and temp crowned and prepped for getting a permanent crown) and had WBUR on, I head some the the testimony to the Senate from the latest Slick Sleazoid Saleslime, and oh wow was it slimy and misleading and Schmuck-promoting in the case of the Official Presenters, and slimily-weaselly self promoting in the case of McCain...

From Petraus and the total slimeball speaking about the status, the BS "Al Qaeda in Iraq" term and "AQI" litany repeated again and again as apparent dogma were pure Big Lie bullying. There wasn't one word about going after the actual Al Qaeda moguls or of dealing with the conditions and situation that CREATED Al Qaeda and promoted its growth and continued/continues to promote it, or that "AQI" is mostly a bogeyman in the closet except that the actions of the Schmuck caused it to turn from a really CRAPPY strawman villain that wouldn't get past the willing suspension of someone reading a really vile badly written drek fantasy novel (that piece of self-published garbage that fellow was pushing at the San Antonio Worldcon had more credibility...) into an Opportunity for terrorist recruitment and organizational expansion and operations site....

McCain was an amazing grandstander, talking about how it was so very important and to grand to fight off Al Qaeda in Iraq instead of having Al Qaeda show up on US soil to fight against instead.

HELLO? WTF?!!!

Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein hated one another's guts! Osama bin Laden is a religious fanatic. Saddam Hussein was a corrupt dictator who liked expensive booze (haram), paintings of naked women especially fantasy ones about to be raped by mythological creatures (pictures of naked women banned by Wahabi Islam...), etc. Taliban objected to women getting educations, setting foot outside the house, etc. Saddam Hussein had female advisers (E.g., Dr Germ) and women pre-Gulf war went about with SKIN SHOWING in clothing that was far from compliant with so-called Islamic Law modesty code clothing requirements.

Al Qaeda in Iraq was an INVENTION of the Schmuck junta, and became whatever piece of reality it has, BECAUSE of the Schmuck and his junta, who removed all civilized jurisdiction over Iraq and Baghdad when the Ba'athists, seeing the military might of a bunch of other countries landing/rolling in, vacated the premises as regarding law enforcement and governance; and the reprehensibles consisting of malefeasants, greedy capitalist warmongers, incompetents, ideologues, and lily-livered-mealy=-mouthed-catamites from the US Executive Branch and its minions and catspaws, PREVENTED any actual policing of Iraq and implementation of any planned orderly civil management and reconstruction and policing until after irreplaceable librarie and archives were looted and burned, museumes and archaological sites pillaged and looted, government offices and all their records--except for the Oil Ministry--looted and records destroyed, schools looted and damaged, what infrastructure which had still been operable for water distribution and power distribution and power generation put even further out of commission, bridges blown up, civilians targeted, sectarian hatemongering and bombings and murder and rape and religious fanatics unleashed without fear of interterference by Authorities....

Al Qaeda arose in Afghanistan partially from a power vacuum, partially from indigeneous resistance to a Soviet invasion, partially from US arms gifted to the anti-Soviet guerrillas and US support (I remember Neil Rest doing his part, as a civilian to aid in Afghan resistance to Soviet invaders...) for Afghan self-determination and a COMPLETE failure by the USA to provide ANY "national (re)building support and assistance and security assistance after the Soviets left, to help rebuild Afghanistan--the USA left all sorts of munitions and equipment to deliver them in Afghanistan, but failed to provide as national policy assistance to rebuild the water distribution system and other INFRASTRUCTURE and bases for a working economy from anythign other than intimidation and drugs illegal in much of the world and warlordism, failed to promote human rights (Afghanistan 25 years ago had female judges and lawyers and professors.... no girl under Taliban learned how to read and write without her and her teacher literally risking their lives over it... an entire generation of illiterate women, and men whose literacy consisted of religious fanatic tract materials and the Koran, Taliban version....)

The micreant Republican Party and its minions in the USA, seem to want to create the same regimen in Iraq....

====

And on another topic of how utterly despicable, vile, evil, and malfeasant the junta is:

http://www.thestar.com/living/article/411442

"Abortion hits roadblock on information highway



"Apr 09, 2008 04:30 AM

"Antonia Zerbisias

"If you think that some of the Bush administration's conservative politics – and Orwellian moves – in the U.S. can't affect Canada, then you have some research to do.

"...librarian Gloria Won was running through POPLINE (POPulation information onLINE), billed as "the world's largest database on reproductive health." Maintained by Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, and freely available to medical schools, health organizations and the public, it is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

"Won was stymied. Entering the keyword "abortion," she kept getting the message "No records found." ...a similar search in January and found thousands of scholarly and peer-reviewed articles on the subject. When she emailed POPLINE, database manager Debra Dickson replied: "We recently made all abortion terms stop words."..."

#720 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Well, I should hope they're inspiring. Otherwise it's not just puns we're dealing with, but ZOMBIE PUNSTERS!

(puns, chocolate, cats or zombies... bwahahaha!)

#721 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 06:56 PM:

EClaire @ 720

Of course, they're zombies. What good is inspiration without expiration?

#722 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 07:36 PM:

Mary Dell at #701

> The motion blur in the picture is hilarious...nothing screams "action!" like an extremely antique hand-illuminated text, I guess.

So very true. The only other picture which made its way into the press was even worse in its way: the book is actually owned by the Franciscans and is on more-or-less-permanent loan to the library, so someone persuaded some long suffering Franciscans to don their habits and loom over the book, looking like an ad for a pre-teen fantasy book.

In fact... http://teapot7.com/hun.jpg At least you can see the binding...

Serge, Fragano, Ginger, Terry, abi, Xopher and other misselaneous punsters: shame on you.

Ralph Giles at #708

> Ooh! Pity there aren't more pictures. Did they scan it while it was apart?

They did indeed - and while I know the library is in general moving towards digitising everything, I don't know if/when it will be accessible.

> The State Library of Victory is really lovely.

I worked there briefly, and it's a bit like the old movie _WestWorld_, if you have a good memory for cheesy 70s sci-fi starring Yul Bryner. The public areas are beautiful, and then you swipe your security card, pop through an inconspicuous door, and you're in a world of fluorescent lit cinderblock corridors with overhead ducting, and service trolleys rattling along on obscure missions.



#723 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 722: See, it'Saul in good fun. In fact, I thought puns were of catholic interest, as we are all primates. Parish the thought that we should inflict any pain or suffering upon you!

Chai hope Chai've nailed it..or else Chai've made a Colossian mistake.

#724 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, #696, the feather duster is much gentler on the books and dust adheres to the feathers. You go outside and bang it a post or something and then come back in and dust more.

#725 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 10:16 PM:

Steve Taylor @#722:

someone persuaded some long suffering Franciscans to don their habits and loom over the book

Oh, lordy. At least they didn't make them whack themselves in the face with it.

Lovely book, though.

#726 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Steve Taylor @ #722:

At least you can see the binding...

And the nipping presses. And a guillotine! :)

It is very red. So the white cord is part of the closure?

#727 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 10:42 PM:

Ralph Giles at #726 wrote:

> At least you can see the binding...

>

> And the nipping presses. And a guillotine! :)

Almost all of the secret hideout, in fact. They have the nicest bindery now, which helps to make up for the location the had before that :) It's actually the old National Gallery (*) painting school, and thus has great natural light.

> It is very red. So the white cord is part of the closure?

It's actually just a book weight which crawled onto the manuscript to rest.

(*) National Gallery of Victoria [the Australian state], as opposed to the National Gallery of Australia. I appreciate the lunacy of having a state level national gallery.

#728 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 10:57 PM:

Gardening is a great stress relief. Gardening with a machete, doubly so.

#729 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 11:01 PM:

Courtesy of Balkinization.

ABC News reports that "In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency." Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding. The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic. The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy. At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Notice whose name is missing.

I despise these people. I know I shouldn't, but I do.

#730 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2008, 11:42 PM:

Lizzy, at least Ashcroft had a clue what might happen down the road, looking at his comment on those meetings (seen at Talking Points). The others, not so much foresight. Or lots more hubris.

And wandering a bit (this being an open thread), today's LA Times food section has a piece on rhubarb. With recipes. I think I need to have a talk with a produce manager ....

#731 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 12:03 AM:



....We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King ... [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.



He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our ... brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York

William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey

Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

#732 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 12:54 AM:

abi @ 717... Not all th'epistles and en-Johns of the forces arrayed against us can prevail against puns.

Your classic warfare can't compete with carillon fighters!

#733 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 02:30 AM:

Paula @ #719, that database access has been restored; i.e., the search word "abortion" no longer blocks access.

#734 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:07 AM:

732: "That's a weird noise those fighter-bombers are making."

"Yeah, it's planesong."

#735 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:37 AM:

Fragano@715

I suppose we could try to develop a missal defense system...

#736 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:52 AM:

Michael I #735: You mean an anti-missal missal?

#737 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 08:02 AM:

Susan plumbs new depths of drama on The Mopping Show.

The gist of it (in my own words)?

Her: "There's a leak."

Plumber: "No, there isn't."

Her: "Yes, there is."

Plumber: "I don't see a leak. Do you see a leak?"

Her: "But there IS a leak."

#738 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 09:28 AM:

Re: ballastexistenz/Amanda Baggs:

I just turned up a Google scrap (dated April 08) that she was taking the server down for upgrade, with a backup "in case something goes wrong". Clearly, something did, but at least it's apparently a technical issue rather than an external shutdown or RW disaster.

#739 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 09:36 AM:

Michael I... Fragano...

Meanwhile, in Rome.

"Holy Father, we are losing the battle and..."

"No! We will not hesitate. Are we the Vatican, or the Vatican't?"

"But our losses are becoming so great, and the battles so futile, that even our most faithful are starting to feel like Canon Father."

#740 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:05 AM:

all punsters @ lots and lots

There ought to be an ordnance against you.

#741 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 740... Hopefully not frockmentation bombs.

#742 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:38 AM:

Linkmeister #773

Thank you for the link. It only reiterates to me, however, that the Soviet revisionist and censorship and doublespeak mindset migrated from Moscow to those who have perpetrated the junta which has taken over the federal government of the United States of America and is holding the rest of the USA and much of the world hostage.

The junta set a revolting apparatchik Political Officer in high position in NASA to gag order the scientists regarding global warming, except that one senior scientist with academic tenure refused to accede to the censorship, and made it a point to go on campaign about the situation. Another revolting no-socially-redeeming-value-for-non-junta-members-and-supporters gag ordered all scientists in the federal government from talking about salmon in the Northwest USA, particularly the spectacular decline and NINETY PERCENT!!!! reduction in numbers of salmon returning in some parts of the Pacific northwestern salmon fisheries. Then of course there was the removal of information on federal health websites and replacement with religious dogma BS regarding "family planning" and "health" matters--but what should one EXPECT from a misadministration which appoints MDs who tell women that they should pray to God for relief regarding menstruation-associated debilitating -pain- ("cramps" is a misnomer in that sort of situation!) to management positions in health agencies, and a veterinarian to be head of women's health for the entire USA... Christian Taliban, running the US Government.... and appoints political operatives owned by the mining business to head up the Mine Safety Agency and dismantle regulatory structure, and appointed the person whose prior work experience including driving the Arabian Horse Association into bankruptcy with a lawsuit filed against him for at best incompetence to have been the head of FEMA..

Anyway, the unblocking of the word "abortion" as a usable search term, doesn't remove the Political Officer apparatchik mentality and doings, it only gets that -one- particular symptom allieved, for what might only be a short amount of time. The junta has shown itself more persistent than the Bene Gesserit about long-term goals and methods and dogma and promoting its agenda, and carrying through "revision"ary actions and deeds....

#743 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:41 AM:

The junta makes Blish's IMT seem like benevolent leadership. "Mad Dogs" might be too kind a term....

#744 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:41 AM:

The junta makes Blish's IMT seem like benevolent leadership. "Mad Dogs" might be too kind a term....

#745 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:54 AM:

Subject line of junk e-mail caught in my employer's spamtrap:

Major Problems have been occured at San Clemente Nucklear Power Station.

I wonder if the rest of it matched the subject line in quality.

#746 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 11:22 AM:

San Clemente has a knucklear plant? I didn't realize that the place was such a boxing powerhouse.

#747 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 11:26 AM:

Possibly the major incident was its being KOd.

(Google produced quite a few hits for this one, most indicating that it's phishing, although not in the surf.)

#748 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 11:39 AM:

Serge:

Her: "There's a leak."

Plumber: "No, there isn't."

Her: "Yes, there is."

Plumber: "I don't see a leak. Do you see a leak?"

Her: "But there IS a leak."

Actually, that last line should be more like:

Her: "My kitchen ceiling has a giant hole in it and the floor is covered with soggy sheetrock and you're trying to tell me there isn't a leak?"

Sorry to vanish, but between ten days of watery dismay (which I managed to remember I should post about on my own blog rather than ML, that being what I have a blog for) and interacting with my father for the first time in about eight years, which was extremely stressful, I have been completely out of spoons.

#749 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Today I received notification that I had to change my email signature. So I went to the little Signature Wizard thing they had set up, and created my new sig (things moved around, mostly, no big deal).

But in the format example they gave, the signer was listed as Elizabeth Bennet, and her assistant was given as Charles Bingley.

We are everywhere.

#750 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 12:18 PM:

The quantum physics of Genesis.



#751 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Susan @ 748... Based on what you had said here before, I am not unduly surprised that meeting with your father was stressful. That doesn't keep me from being sorry that it was.

#752 ::: rev william collins ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Xopher #749:

It is inbumbent on me in this juncture to respectfully, nay, humbly, offer a small ammendment to the most esteemed administrators of this deeply important, nay, crucial system. Indeed, just last week, I had the great and underserved honor of passing a few pleasant hours with the esteemed administrators of this valuable service. Such opportunities are a benefit of my situation I think you must agree make me among the happiest of men. At any rate, I fear a small mischance has occurred in the naming of Ms Bennet's assistant, which has (since the tragic and untimely death of the deeply revered Lady Catherine left me at liberty to take on such joyously accepted tasks) been my own humble self. I trust you will accept this gentle correction in the spirit of Christian brotherhood in which it is so heartily and deeply meant.

Your most obedient servant,

The Most Rev. William Collins

#753 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Steve Taylor @722: The only other picture which made its way into the press was even worse in its way: the book is actually owned by the Franciscans and is on more-or-less-permanent loan to the library, so someone persuaded some long suffering Franciscans to don their habits and loom over the book, looking like an ad for a pre-teen fantasy book.

In fact... http://teapot7.com/hun.jpg
At least you can see the binding...

A helpful technique for scanning from newsprint (or really, any paper with printing on the opposite side) is to back the scanned material with black paper. This absorbs the light shining through the material, and prevents the print from the opposite side from showing. The resulting image is darker overall, but uniformly so, and can easily be adjusted.

#754 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Katherine #696:

Yesterday, I took Caltrain out to Mountain View to visit a friend, and rode the train with a huge crowd of Chinese folks, mostly wearing red shirts, with Chinese, Olympic, and American flags (in roughly that order of frequency). Given where they were headed and their general appearance, I wonder how many high-tech Chinese engineers and scientists took the day off to go counter-protest or cheer the torch. (I gather they changed the torch route so that nobody knew where it was going, which is a fine way to avoid disruptive protests, but does kinda take away from the whole public event feel of having a torch relay in the first place. I mean, they could just quietly send a guy to light a torch in Athens and take a flight to Beijing if that was all they intended to do.)

#755 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Relevant hardware: Sexton

Priest

Abbot

Bishop

#756 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 02:54 PM:

ajay #755:

You, clearly, are a firm believer in the rule of cannon law.

#757 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 03:49 PM:

Serge:

It could have been worse. He made briefly with the guilt trip ("we don't speak to each other for eight years and it's entirely your fault"), which didn't work. He made with the bribes, which were quite impressive, but at least so far have failed to work, though I continue to wrestle with temptation. He completely skipped the religion spiel and the entire segment on how I am wasting my life, which was definite progress. I diverted to politics every chance I got, an area where at least the differences aren't personal. Listening to him defend Hillary Clinton was a novel experience.

And I have managed to arrange an in-city meeting alone with my half-sister, who sounds like she is about as Aspie as I am, which is to say only if one gives a trendy diagnosis to being a socially clueless introverted bookworm. Since meeting the girl to see if she's a spoiled brat or worth bothering with was the point of the whole exercise, I think I've managed to at least play to a draw. I've been very tense and weirded out by the whole thing for the last week or so, though I'm having trouble pinning down exactly why, and it's left me very shut down emotionally.

#758 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Susan @757:

I think I've managed to at least play to a draw

A certain class of parent* is like a plane crash. Sometimes anything you walk away from is a victory.

-----

* I gather your father is in this class.

#759 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Susan @ 757... It could have been worse.

I second what Abi said.

All we can do is to focus on the good stuff, even if it's just a few crumbs in a big rotten dish. And, if anyone said to me that you're wasting your life, I'd laugh at them and ignore them after that, not even bothering to bring up counter-examples.

#760 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 04:53 PM:

I just told a friend via email that "I'm not sure if I can keep up with the ever-sinking standards of literacy in corporate America."

#761 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Xopher #760:

Can you tell us what pushed you over the edge? File off as many serial numbers as you need ...

#762 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 06:04 PM:

joann: He used to be my boss, and he wrote to me to thank me for all the hard work I did making the documents we produced correct, consistent, and readable. At his new job the documents are none of these things, and he realized he has no one who can make them that way.

I'm not allowed to work on documents any more. It's not considered important enough. These days I'm only permitted to do things I hate and am no good at. Anything that plays to my strengths instead of my weaknesses is "low priority."

To the extent that anyone bothers documenting at all, they don't appear to care about spelling and unimportant things like that. See what I mean?

#763 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Susan: ...half-sister, who sounds like she is about as Aspie as I am, which is to say only if one gives a trendy diagnosis to being a socially clueless introverted bookworm.

You should note that there is another level below Asperger's on the autistic spectrum, namely Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NLD). Despite the clunky (and misleading) name, I do think it's a valid category, and it represents a group that's not as badly "hit" as an Aspie, but still not quite NT.

The book that led me to self-diagnose with NLD (later confirmed more officially) is titled "Bridging The Gap", by Rondalyn Varney Whitney. I found the book both engaging in its own right, and thoroughly sensible. Having also read a few other books dealing with Asperger's, I have no problem describing myself as "half an Aspie".

Of course, there's also at least one more level of "autistic spectrum", entirely below the diagnosable level, which would be called a "normal tendency" in that direction.

#764 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 06:32 PM:

Xopher 760, joann 761

I have long since forgotten what abominable terminology caused it, but long ago I was in the library at then-GTE Strategic Systems Division with a coworker and he caused me to say something that was such a horribly jargonized -ization type term that my throat in revulation choked up halfway through speaking the "word" preventing me from utterly the whole of it. The fellow I was talking with laughed and I did so, I was so utterly ridiculous a term that I LITERALLY couldn't say it!

#765 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Xopher @ 762 ... I'm not allowed to work on documents any more. It's not considered important enough. These days I'm only permitted to do things I hate and am no good at. Anything that plays to my strengths instead of my weaknesses is "low priority."

I empathize! I'm currently spending far, far, far too much of my time on the parts of my job that could be much better done by somebody that enjoys that sort of thing (and would cost the company much, much less).

#766 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:38 PM:

David:

My father openly says that he doesn't think she would have been diagnosed anywhere other than NYC, with a (presumably expensive) NYC psychiatrist who is not being paid to tell people their kid is just fine. From his description, I suspect they took her in because she wasn't a sufficiently social type for them. He explains it as "she'd rather read a book by herself than talk to anyone", to which my reaction is pretty much "yes, and who wouldn't?" I'm disinclined to worry about precise diagnoses here.

The tricky bit is that they haven't told her the diagnosis. In one way that makes it easier for me - I don't have to pretend to be more Aspie than I am. But it also removes the obvious conversation starter. I've already flatly refused to do the get-together as a meal, since I can't imagine a more disastrous setup than two total strangers who'd rather read than talk forced to make conversation over food. I was thinking of a museum trip, since we're both into history and that provides ready-made conversational topics. Or perhaps we can go sit somewhere and read books together.

#767 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:41 PM:

Cheney, Others OK'd Harsh Interrogations

"WASHINGTON — Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.

The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved."

. . .

At the end:

"Not all of the principals who attended were fully comfortable with the White House meetings.

The ABC News report portrayed Ashcroft as troubled by the discussions, despite agreeing that the interrogations methods were legal.

'Why are we talking about this in the White House?" the network quoted Ashcroft as saying during one meeting. 'History will not judge this kindly.'"

#768 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 07:50 PM:

Susan, #757, that sounds quite familiar. At least mine is dead. I hope you come back to normal soon.

#769 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 09:28 PM:

Rob Rusick at #753

> A helpful technique for scanning from newsprint (or really, any paper with printing on the opposite side) is to back the scanned material with black paper.

True - but unfortunately I didn't do the scan on that one. Not that I necessarily would have remembered to use the black paper trick...

#770 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:20 PM:

#769

I've used red paper with some success for that sort of thing (copying old paperwork at work). Dark background is important, color not so much: you could probably get away with dark blue. You can use a dark three-ring binder behind it, even. (I think I once actually used a binder cover to get a dark-enough sheet of paper for this purpose.)

#771 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2008, 10:32 PM:

Steve Taylor @769: I thought perhaps you hadn't, but it is such a good tip I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pass it along. I came to it by independent invention, but when I mentioned it to a friend who used to do paste-up at a print shop, she said something like, "Sure, we did that all the time when we had to do a photostat from an old newspaper ad".

So if one person scanning art from an old comic book learns something here, my job is done...

#772 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 02:35 AM:

Susan @766:

I was thinking of a museum trip, since we're both into history and that provides ready-made conversational topics. Or perhaps we can go sit somewhere and read books together.

Wherever you go, make sure there's a really good bookstore nearby. That way you can finish the trip there.

Even if it's impolitic to buy her books—obviously, reading is a contentious subject with your father*—you can swap recommendations.

-----

* Boggle.

#773 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 04:03 AM:

Rob Rusick: I too have independently invented that trick -- although for making color copies more than for scanning. It's not perfect but it does help.

#774 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 07:19 AM:

abi @ 772...reading is a contentious subject with your father

Boggles you? I take it that your being a reader didn't make you an anomaly in your family, not just among your immediate family, but also among your relatives. That being said, I think your recommendation is excellent. Bookstores, the best place to go.

#775 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 08:29 AM:

I am not boggled that a parent might not understand the addiction of reading. Although I have bred true to my family of bookworms, I know many readers related to non-readers.

I'm boggled that a parent would find reading a problem*.

-----

* Except when Alex is so busy reading that he won't get ready for school. Then I understand it all too well. But I'm the one who suggested reading under the bedcovers so his sister could sleep. Even lent him my flashlight for the purpose.

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:07 AM:

abi @ 775... I'm boggled that a parent would find reading a problem

Mine thought that I was spending too much time reading. (At least, books were reliable, unlike the rest of the world.

#777 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:28 AM:

It's not the reading per se that's the problem, it's the preference for reading over people to the point of imbalance. My father is a great reader and regards having smart kids as a point of pride. For all his flaws as a person and a father, I can't fault him for lack of support for academic success. He just also wants his kids to be socially skillful and (for girls) skinny and gorgeous fashion plates as well. No pressure!

My theory is that my half-sister needed a diagnosis of something because if she wasn't all-around perfect, it couldn't be because she's just, well, not perfect. There needed to be a reason. And he was very anxious to reassure me that she also liked clothes and makeup, though the picture he sent me suggests that she doesn't care all that much for them. I know they've had her on a strict diet since she was a toddler, too.

Pressure from my stepmother is probably also a factor (speaking of skinny fashion plates); she could never figure out anything to talk to me about or do with me except take me shopping for clothes, which I found glacially boring (and annoying when she was mistaken for my sister). I am most amused that she got a daughter more like me than my full-sister (the perfect all-arounder of the lot.)

#778 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:40 AM:

Susan @ 777... shopping for clothes, which I found glacially boring

Me shopping for my own clothing with my wife:

"Are we done yet?"

Me shopping for my own clothing by myself:

1- get into the store.

2- find the men's dept.

3- find the stall and/or rack that carries what I'm looking for.

4- grab what looks right.

5- pay.

6- leave the store.

#779 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:48 AM:

Serge: substituting "mother" for "wife" and "women's " for "men's", and adding a step 4a where I actually do enter a dressing room to make sure it's not categorically wrong (more of an issue in women's clothes than men's, I find), that's me and clothes shopping too. :)

#780 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:51 AM:

Carrie S @ 779... I'd add step 4a too if pants were involved otherwise my wife might make me take them back: 'floods' are a big no-no.

#781 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Susan @ 777... He just also wants his kids to be socially skillful

You just reminded me that I should look for John Kessel's story collection when it comes out next week. It contains "Pride and Prometheus", which I understand is about Mary Bennet winding up with that Swiss doctor who's trying to create Life out of lifelessness.

#782 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 10:05 AM:

abi #775 I'm boggled that a parent would find reading a problem (snip) Except when Alex is so busy reading that he won't get ready for school.

Occasionally heard in our house on school mornings: "Step away from the book, and nobody will get hurt."

#783 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 11:12 AM:

it's the preference for reading over people to the point of imbalance.

The more specific features of autistic disorders as such would be noticeable handicaps relating to social abilities. Shyness as such isn't diagnostic... my own shyness is mostly reactive, a response to the difficulties I have in social situations. I am also hyperlexic, to the point where text visually "pops out" for me, much as color does (for me as well as) for normal people. Hyperlexia is common for spectrum folks, but not unique to them. Likewise for ADD, which I also have.

Now, I'm also hearing impaired, and that doesn't help -- but the hearing doesn't explain things like being remarkably poor at remembering and recognizing faces, or failing to pick up on social cues and body language. Then there's the sensory overload and threshold issues....

The clearest formal test I know of comes "free" with the Stanford-Binet IQ test -- NLDs and Aspies diagnostically show a difference of 40 or more points between their "verbal" and "manual" subscores (verbal is higher). That gives a sense of the severity of these things.... In my own case, even my manual score is "above average", but even so, when some task extends from my strengths to my weaknesses, it feels like riding my bike off pavement onto gravel.

#784 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Serge #781:

Ooh, shiny! Does to Mary Bennet what *should* be done to Mary Bennet?

#785 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 01:22 PM:

I come from a family of readers. In the summertime, my mother used to throw us kids out of the house* for an hour every day, weather permitting. "Fresh air!"

About how old is your sister, Susan?

*Outside or to a friend's house. I'm not sure she realized that my friend and I would then sit there reading silently, side by side, for several hours.

#786 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 01:22 PM:

joann @ 784... Alas, I cannot tell for I haven't read this tale of terror yet, but a review of it last year in Locus was most praiseful. I do not know if literal bookworms are involved in the creation of Life out of death, but I shall find out next week what Mr.Kessel's collection of stories is released by Small Beer Press.

#787 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Serge, #778: For the benefit of those who might not be familiar with the reasons behind the "Aren't we done YET?"...

Me, shopping for my own clothes:

1) Locate a store that carries women's clothing in my size.

2) Look for the item I want, unsuccessfully.

3) Find a salesclerk (not always easy) and describe what I'm looking for. If the store doesn't have such an item, return to step 1.

4) Examine item for obvious flaws of design or workmanship (men's clothing tends to be better-made than women's), and then for whether or not it seems to be a color & style that will work for me. If all varieties of the item have problems, return to step 1.

5) Try on item. (This is CRITICAL, and time-consuming. Women cannot tell by the size alone whether or not an item is actually going to fit them when it's put on. This is because women's sizing is not directly based on physical measurements, and different manufacturers use different physical measurements for the same tag size of garment.) If it doesn't fit or isn't comfortable, return to step 1.

6) Repeat for however many different items I'm trying to find.

You think it's stupid and unnecessary, and that we only do it to annoy men. We agree that it's stupid and unnecessary, BUT WE DON'T HAVE A BETTER OPTION. You do, and sometimes we really hate the system (largely controlled by men) which makes it easy for you to shop and hard for us to do so.

#788 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 03:51 PM:

david,

Shyness as such isn't diagnostic...

for asperger's or for anything? cause you know, i was clinically diagnosed with "introvert personality disorder" during my enlistment process in the israeli army.

this is a mental disorder just like any other disorder in their eyes; it meant i couldn't get any sort of specialized training, or thus job which required such.

i'm not really bitter about this anymore, now i just think it's ridiculous enough to share. that i couldn't work in intelligence, or be a medic*, because i'm shy.

one thing i saw humour in pretty straight off: when the army shrink told me what my mental defects were, choice symptoms included "overly emotional," & "disconnected from reality." i was like, dude, i'm an artist. to me, that's good.



*i had wanted to be a medic, & i had an interview with intelligence canceled when my diagnosis came through. it's not like i would have been a spy though. the most i would probably do is translate or write documents, cause of my good english. but shy people can't do that.

#789 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 03:54 PM:

In further support of Lee's 787, see this thread.

I would amend Lee's step 4 slightly: I look for color/style first, then how well it's made. But otherwise the list is spot on.

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Lee... Nah, I don't think it's stupid and unnecessary. Besides, I was talking about shopping for men's stuff. Sue might say "I like this one" and I'll immediately grab it and say "We're done" then she says "But THIS one might be nicer", which is when I groan.

#791 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 04:00 PM:

miriam beetle (788): Being introverted is a disorder?!

I knew we introverts were popularly regarded as odd and somehow lacking, but that's ridiculous.

#792 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 04:11 PM:

I also practice the knock-it-on-the-head-and-drag-it-back-to-the-cave style of shopping. I do try things on, since I'm oddly shaped and never quite the same shape on two successive shopping expeditions (at least 18 months apart). But if I find one pair of pants that fits, I then buy the same pair in three colors (or if they're black, just two more of the identical thing) without trying on the others, and get the hell out of Dodge.

I hate malls. All the clothing stores I can get to conveniently are in malls. Also, my waist measurement is longer than my inseam, so it's a bit on the humiliating side as well. Lee: nothing I buy ever fits me off the rack. I always have to have the legs taken up. 29" inseam; I can get away with 30", but I trip over 31".

This is not as dire as the female shopping experience, and my clothing budget (budget? Ha!) is tiny compared to most women's, but it's also true that many women actually enjoy shopping for clothes. A very few (and all the ones I know are gay) men do.

I hate it. I can't buy clothes online, because I'm oddly shaped, as I've said, but if I could cover my body to minimal standards of respectability and appropriateness without ever, ever seeing the inside of a mall, I would. Aside from office clothes, I really only need one pair of pants, as long as they're comfortable, because I have a washing machine in my apartment. Right now I have nothing but shorts and sweats, which isn't going to work for me much longer; some old pants will fit me again if I lose weight aggressively.

#793 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 04:20 PM:

Mary Aileen 791: Being an introvert and having Introvert Personality Disorder are two different things. You might call a guy a narcissist if he spends a lot of time looking at himself in the mirror, fussing with his hair and so on, but a guy with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will make your life hell, because he's unable to care about anyone but himself.

miriam's story is yet another "Israeli society sucks" example. You have to be their idea of a perfect flawless Aryan person to get the good jobs; the idea of "reasonable accommodation" doesn't seem to exist there, at least in the army.

#794 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 04:33 PM:

xeger: re gardening: Yes, large implements of weed reduction; requiring physical effort and letting the plants fall as wheat before the scythe have a great restorative property.

I taught myself to scythe on the vast fields of nettles at Maia's mother's house. I was able to say, to a friend who would appreciate the allusion, "I have slain them in their thousands, and in their tens of thousands," which was only a mild exaggeration.

P.J. Evans: I have that section. Maia's mother has some very nice looking rhubarb. I think I will raid it.

Bruce: There's always a surplice of puns, they spring from the font of all knowledge. The only question is the caliber, which affects the range.

abi: I had my bed placed so I could use the light spilling from the hallway. I got chastised not for the reading, per se, but for being up past midnight to do it.

Have you thought about a headlamp? Directional light and you can see if he's fallen asleep much more easily.

The only clothing shopping I tend to hate is for bras. For reasons previously discussed (here, or somewhere) bras aren't something one can just go grab off the shelf (or right, it was at Bear's Lj). So when Maia needs new ones, I end up sitting in the shop for 2-4 hours while she tries them on. Every so often she come to me and asks if it shows.

Even with a book it's tedious to the point of brain-numbing.

#795 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 04:38 PM:

xopher,

You have to be their idea of a perfect flawless Aryan person to get the good jobs; the idea of "reasonable accommodation" doesn't seem to exist there, at least in the army.

well, the israeli army is the only army i've ever had experience with. other armies might be as bad.

i think a lot of my problem was that i was a foreigner, & thus i wasn't behaving culturally appropriate or picking up cultural cues, & they were also scrutinizing me harder cause i talked funny & was volunteering (sometimes i think the volunteering was the biggest mark against my sanity, which is the catch 22 in catch-22, of course).

i later met israelis whom i thought were a lot more psychologically dysfunctional than i was, in good jobs. & maybe they would have been hit with an asterix next to their mental health, too, if they'd been sent to an army shrink. but nobody flagged them in the first place.

#796 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:12 PM:

miriam: If the disorder was strong enough to manifest (in the US Army, the only one to which I can speak with any expertise/authority) you wouldn't be allowed to be a medic, or an intel analyst, or anything else.

You'd be refused enlistment. Me, I'll take a slightly introverted analyst. They tend to be more focused on the minutae the jobs require. The extroverts are also (IME) at slightly greater risk of letting secrets slip, because they are spending more time with people outside the odd world which is intel.

But I am generalising, and showing some of my oddball paranoias.

#797 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:14 PM:

A couple of weeks ago, my wife had a girls-only party at our house. Before I was sent away to my home office, I heard one woman say she'd lived in Israel when she was 16. For 6 weeks, she lived in a kibbutz, where she made boots.

#798 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:24 PM:

I've always had great luck ordering online, because they always include a size chart with measurements. No arguing with a tape measure.

(And I've got to say I don't spend a huge amount of time trying on bras, either. Look through the current collections in Large Department Store for those with no lace, padding or molded cups, find correct size and color, and get out of Dodge. Total time, 10 minutes plus much time wasted at the counter waiting for the salesclerk to show up.)

#799 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Terry Karney @ 796 ... But I am generalising, and showing some of my oddball paranoias.

It's not paranoia if you can prove it... and I -know- they're reading my packets... ;)

#800 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:33 PM:

JOANN @ 798... Get a bra then get out of Dodge? There's got to be a bad joke somewhere in there.

#801 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:34 PM:

joann: Maia envies you. One, she's got some variabilty in cup size (and right now she's between letters), two: she needs bras which are comfortable, and provide the level of restraint she wants when riding a horse.

#802 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 05:38 PM:

xeger: Yes, but I was showing the desire (which I resist, in ways hard to explain) to see to it that information stays secret.

What I resist is the tendency to classify everything, lest something important get loose. That's a defend everything mindset, and it means things get lost in the morass of information.

But once it's been classified, then the rules are to keep it safe, and I worry about extroverts having loose lips. It's awfully easy to forget (esp. when all the people whom one works with are authorised to the information) that information is secret.

#803 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 06:09 PM:

terry,

in the israeli army, for health profiles, there are levels of everything. one i know isn't a military secret, because it's a household term in israel, is "profile 21." that means disqualified from serving. it means for any condition, mental or physical, but it most often connotes mental, as in to try to get profile 21 so you don't have to serve. (this brings up probably the biggest difference between usaf & idf: quasi-universal vs. volunteer.)

so 100 is perfect, 21 is disqualified. my files always had me closer to 100 than 21. but with psychological "defects," any number under 100 disqualifies you from any jobs which require training at the army's expense.

(humourously enough, though, unskilled jobs can include being responsible for large & deadly arsenals of weapons. not my job, but i heard firsthand stories...)

i dunno. i don't think i am introverted to a country-threatening extent. but i'm not qualified to make that judgment, of course.

#804 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 06:12 PM:

Terry #801:

Ah, that's a horse of another color, then. Sports bras probably don't get bought the same way. (But if I did buy them, I'd order them from Title 9.)

#805 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 06:33 PM:

Doctor Science: CSA is great, though what I found difficult was the problem that a 1/2 share wasn't enough, and a full share required friends to help me get through it (and that was for a household of three).

joann: She wants a bra which does it all. Then again she is small busted enough that she can get away with ditching the bra as much as possible.

She doesn't like the compression of "sports bras".

Miriam: I meant to address that difference (volunteer vs. draft), and I didn't realise the question was one of training dollars. The mind boggles because all training for specialty is done at army expense (no, I am wrong, medical personnel [of some specific specialties, doctors, nurses, dentists, PTs, etc.], and lawyers are brought in from the outside, [though a number of lesser specialties, radiology, dental techs, etc. are Army trained and a lucrative thing too; radiology schools aren't cheap, and the techs are well paid] though there are ways to get the Army to pay for large chunks of the schooling).

The thought that someone's skills as a warehouse manager, or mechanic, might be accepted; off the shelf, is boggling, because there are needs of uniformity which I'd hate to see lost, in the attempt to save money.

But I am sure they've figured out a way to see to it that doesn't happen.

#806 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 06:34 PM:

Sorry for totally warping the thread, but I've never done a Carlos Williams parody before, so here goes:

This is Just to Say to Michael Pollack

I have eaten

the strawberries

that were being sold

in the supermarket

and which

you would probably

despise, being from

500 miles from Vancouver, and in April

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

#807 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 06:55 PM:

Saija Kabir:

We prefer to think of them as "homage"

#808 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 07:06 PM:

Sorry Terry. I'm mostly a musician, so I'm not so attuned to the formal differences in verse.

#809 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 07:22 PM:

Saija: The difference is that parody mocks, homage pays tribute.

#810 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 07:22 PM:

me: Shyness as such isn't diagnostic...

Miriam: for asperger's or for anything? cause you know, i was clinically diagnosed with "introvert personality disorder"

I was specifically speaking to Asperger's et al, but by itself, simple shyness shouldn't signify much of anything. "Introvert Personality Disorder" would suggest something much more than mere "shyness"! In fact, the "disorder" sounded odd enough to me that I just pulled out my "Quick Reference to the DSM-IV".

The closest thing I could find was "Avoidant Personality Disorder", described as "A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by..." at least four out of seven items, each separate item being a significant handicap to social life and/or relationships.

And you volunteered for military service? In a country where you're not culturally fluent? I dunno about that diagnosis! Then again, my limited experience and anecdotes suggest that the whole region (Israeli and Arab) tends toward fairly aggressive personalities. So maybe by comparison, they considered your introversion a "disorder". (Pfui!)

#811 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 07:51 PM:

david,

i think your last paragraph about sums up the situation. :)

sports bra talk,

i mostly don't like sports bras, but now i wear what could be called a sports bra almost every day. it's by champion; i think it's this one, although my straps don't cross in the back. i got it because victoria's secret bras, which i previously swore by, became too uncomfortable & droopy. i have large breasts, & so i found out i really need strong bands & thick straps to support me, which unfortunately you don't find in most "fashion" bras (if they even come big enough).

i'd like to find a more fashion-style bra that fits like the champion: it's higher-cut than i'm used to, higher cut than many of my favourite shirts. but otherwise i'd recommend it: it doesn't squash your breasts together, it lifts to a good degree, & as i said, it fits very well & comfortably.

small-breasted women have other issues, obviously, but if maia is looking for a sports-bra-but-not-really, it might be worth looking at.

#812 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 07:58 PM:

"There's no Z in brassiere."

- Perry White to Lois Lane in 1978's Superman

#813 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Xopher (793): Okay. That analogy makes sense. But I still think miriam got a raw deal.

#814 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 08:20 PM:

A few years ago, one of my co-workers said to me "You're pretty intense, aren't you, Serge?" I didn't mind too much because he'd helped me with getting started doing the maintenance of my wife's site. Still, he obviously thought that ther was something wrong wiith passion. Then again, he was a very even-tempered man who'd have a Vulcan seem like a twitchy bundle of nerves.

#815 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 08:24 PM:

Serge, #790: Sorry, that "you" was intended as plural, and I forgot to note it as such. My dialect has no second-person plural form that doesn't sound unacceptably slangy to me in anything but an extremely casual setting.

Xopher, #792: You might take a look at Land's End (the catalog, not the Sears department). One thing I like about them is that their QC is really good -- it may take a bit of trial and error to find the size/style that fits you best, but after that you don't have to guess. And they custom-hem regular pants and jeans (though not knits) at no extra charge.

AFAIK they haven't outsourced their ordering service, either. One time I called their 800 number with a question about how an item was constructed, and the person I was talking to didn't know offhand, so she went and found someone who was wearing one in order to check! Now THAT'S customer service.

joann, #798: My biggest problem with bras is that I loathe underwires with a passion. Ever try to find a 40C without underwires? It's not easy! Fortunately, Wal-Mart carries one style that works well and is very comfortable for me, and I've got about 8 of them (counting both black and white) squirreled away against future need. I'd prefer beige to white, but they don't come in beige.

Sajia, #806: *giggle*

#816 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 08:37 PM:

Lee @ 815... By the way, one thing I failed to mention is that, these days, the Inferno That Shopping Is occurs very seldom. When Sue shops for me, she mostly does so online, a situation made easier by the fact that my physical dimensions haven't changed in a long time. The one thing where that failed was with shoes. No, my feet don't expand or shrink. Still, even though the online-bought shoes are of the right size, they never feel right. That's the one thing I do by myself, in my usual zip-zip-zip manner, and I wear only exercise shoes. (OK, I also wear pants, undies, and a shirt.)

#817 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Lee, the irony is I actually strongly believe that a strawberries are, more than any other fruit, best eaten in season and from local sources. I've found cherries from Chile in winter that were decent, but strawberries in December are completely tasteless.

But cherry blossom is blooming, and Baishakh is coming soon, hence the surrender to the pleasures of dark-red luscious fruit...

#818 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:12 PM:

serge,

I wear only exercise shoes. (OK, I also wear pants, undies, and a shirt.)

i would suggest socks. your shoes & feet will smell better.

#819 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:12 PM:

David @ 810, miriam @ 811:

I think you're on the right track. I have anecdotal evidence to support you: we have a committee in our institute that is chaired by an Israeli woman. She's in her late 50s, tiny, blond, and has an intense personality. Someone said just today that "everyone's afraid of her" -- and they meant it in a nice way, because she's not mean, just intense -- and I pointed out that just because she runs 2 miles before breakfast and still does Army style pushups and situps, that doesn't make her scary. For some reason, that just made everyone disagree with me. ;-)

So, from an Israeli perspective, perhaps miriam was just too introverted. Here in the US, it would be part of the normal spectrum, but we're not a tiny country surrounded by enemies either.

P.S. miriam -- nice uniform in that picture on Serge's gallery!

#820 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:24 PM:

::boggles at the thought of Serge, clad only in exercise shoes, running through the mall to shop::

::refrains from commenting on "zip-zip-zip" manner::

Can't think of any puns. So sari.

#821 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 09:52 PM:

ginger,

nice uniform in that picture on Serge's gallery!

thanks! when i posted it, way back in last open thread, i dedicated it to you. :)

#822 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 10:13 PM:

Ginger @ 819... You should have seen that photo of miriam as the Tank Girl.

#823 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 10:15 PM:

miriam @ 818... Humph. I'll have you know that I wash my feet at least once month, whether I need to or not. Besides, did you know that Einstein preferred going sockless?

#824 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 10:31 PM:

WRT clothes shopping, I'm like a lot of other guys - I go out to buy things, as quickly as possible. Now for other items, like astro-gear, I'll happily browse, shoot the breeze with the salesfolk, and dream of luscious gadgetry.

I'm going to the Texas Star Party in June (my first time) and with all the vendors out there, it's going to be a very dangerous place. Telescopes, accessories, and eyepieces, oh my.

#825 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 10:47 PM:

serge,

Besides, did you know that Einstein preferred going sockless?

i was not aware. but i do remember reading a semi-serious investigation of why girls' feet smell better than boys' do (well, women's & men's, but this is the language in which i remember the article), & it's because girls tend to own more pairs of shoes, & wear them regularly. thus spreading the odour around.

#826 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 11:09 PM:

miriam @ 825... girls tend to own more pairs of shoes, & wear them regularly. thus spreading the odour around.

Sounds like a challenge for the MythBusters.

I wonder if there is such a thing as sandals built like exercise shoes. That'd take of any supposed arôme de fromage, but I've been told that sandals make me look like the stereotype of a Berkeley professor. (Whatever that is.)

#827 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 11:33 PM:

Serge @826 - You might want to look for Keen shoes. Mine are comfortable and durable, and there are plenty of sandal styles in the lineup. They're a bit closer to the "hiking" end of the exercise shoe spectrum than the "running" end, however.

#828 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2008, 11:40 PM:

shadowsong @ 827... Keen? Thanks. I'll see if I can find that brand around here. As for their being more for hiking than running, that's fine because that's the kind of exercise shoes I favor anyway.

#829 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 01:03 AM:

It would undoubtedly be wrong to go to Wikipedia and go through the pages explaining policy, marking each mention of citations as [citation needed] and demanding external documentation for the fact of these being actual Wikipedia policy.

Besides, I'm tired tonight.

#830 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 01:16 AM:

I tend to go sockless, but I also found a style of shoe (backless clog-style) that last year K-Mart had on sale. I bought several pair after I bought one and found out I could be on my feet all day in them an not have my feet hurt at all.

I rotate the pairs and don't wear the same pair more than twice in a row.

#831 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 02:49 AM:

Mary Aileen, #785, my folks used to make me go out and play, but they didn't know I hid books outside!

Terry, #801, This is where I get bras, and they'll adapt however you want (I've lost enough weight that I not only need a smaller size & cup, but narrower straps -- I'm waiting for the "rebate" to buy them). They're more functional than a lot of store bras.

Lee, #815, see above.

#832 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 04:07 AM:

miriam et seq give me a good and useful perspective on my boss, who was in the Israeli army.

We work well together†, but we do cross four very different cultural barriers every time we interact*. We have to do a lot of clarifying and explaining, and still it takes work.

He's travelled in Britain and the US (as well as soaking up the usual English language cultural imperialsm) so he has some foothold on those mindsets. I'm getting into the Dutchness, but for his Israeli background, well, I got nothin'.

-----

† He's also the only boss I've ever seen naked, and vice versa‡

* Israeli, Dutch, British, American

‡ Bet that got the attention. It was a sauna. My whole management hierarchy was there, apart from the expectant father. So were many of my colleagues.

#833 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:42 AM:

abi @ 832... Mens sauna in corpore sano?

#834 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 10:23 AM:

Marilee (831): I (we--my siblings were thrown out at the same time) would genuinely play. Hiding books outside wouldn't have worked very well in Atlanta's climate anyway. I remember negotiating with my mother through an open window for the right to come in and get one particular toy we needed for the game we were playing.

I also remember wheedling an extra trip to the library by offering to stay outside all afternoon if she let me go. (Mom: "I'm not sure who's bribing whom, but go ahead.")

#835 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 10:34 AM:

Serge 833: Sounds more like Men, sans, in corporate sauna.

Mary Aileen 834: "Not sure who's bribing whom" is also known as "a fair deal."

When I was a teenager, I had a deal with my dad that he'd give me a ride to the university campus if I worked in his lab in the morning (this is in the summer). Then I would go off and do whatever I wanted on campus in the afternoon. Generally I went to the library, to read about homosexuality, though I never told my father this.

Eventually I realized that it was only five miles to campus from where we lived, and that I could ride my bicycle there, and then spend all day at the library, or whatever I wanted. End of deal with Dad.

#836 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 10:44 AM:

On kids and reading:

My mother said, once, that she didn't mind if we were reading under the covers, with a flashlight, as long as we got enough sleep.

(Did I mention that when we moved, when I was in high school, we had something like 36 boxes of books, the boxes being 1 1/2 to 2 cubic ft each?)

#837 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:02 AM:

miriam @ 821: I did see your dedication note; I was overwhelmed at work and didn't have time to respond then. Finally I had an opportunity!

Serge @ 822: You're right. Oh, cruel world that denies me such art and beauty!

On books, and bookishness: my younger bother [sic] and I would play outside regularly enough that my parents didn't have to shoo us away from the books. When I got old enough and experienced in the mysteries of libraries, I became the house librarian, although I never did institute a library card policy.

#838 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Xopher @ 835... End of deal with Dad.

And no more Mad Science for you at his lab?

There was no public library in the town where I grew up, but that was OK because there was the high-school's, where I was a frequent visitor, and thus much loved by the librarians

#839 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:41 AM:

When I was a child, my mother finally made a deal with me that if I wouldn't sneak-read at night, she'd wake me up early in the morning to read. At the time, no one knew that children actually needed 10 hours of sleep a night, and her main concern was that I'd be able to get up in time for school.

After I decided I was utterly hopeless at every possible recess game (except being an "all-time twirler" for the girls' jump rope), I spent all my recesses hunched over a Heinlein juvenile, a book of mythology, or some such thing.

#840 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Serge, nothing so exciting. I worked scraping the glue off cover glasses on slides of rat brains until I cracked too many of them (ADHD makes such tasks very difficult); then they had me file reprints, and measure the graphs on the paper tapes that measured the rats' water and alcohol consumption.

It was uniformly boooooooooring.

#841 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Xopher @ 840... I worked scraping the glue off cover glasses on slides of rat brains

"Alive! It's alive!!!"

"Xopher?"

"Yes, dad?"

"Have you been sniffing the glue off the rat-brain slides again?"

#842 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Roman: Who are you.

The Doctor: I am Spartacus.

Donna: So am I.



#843 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 07:41 PM:

Dave Bell @ 842... I thought I was.

#844 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 07:44 PM:

Serge #843: No, you are Sergicus...

#845 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 07:54 PM:

And you are Fraganoi Ledgisterius.

#846 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 08:26 PM:

OK, regarding the sidelight, wheat being a more profitable crop for afghanistan farmers than poppies/heroin:

must... sit... down...

I think we've entered a new Zone. And it's creeping me out just a bit.

#847 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 08:31 PM:

"Romanes Domus Eunt!"



And if anyone wants a quick laugh (humor combined with political commentary), I point you towards this chickweed comic. I keep forgetting about 9 Chickweed Lane, but it's one of my favorite strips. I don't get to see it in the newspaper, and it's worthwhile bookmarking.

#848 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Re: the Typepad particle, I just about fell over picturing ML using "Mooooore" and "Lesssss."

#849 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:01 PM:

Oh, and open threadedness, I just have to say I'm feeling pretty fcking bitter myself.

#850 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:25 PM:

I rather like the Particle about San Francisco and the George W Bush Sewage Plant.

#851 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:26 PM:

Lee @787:

Yes.

I was looking for a plain black dress, size 16, a couple of years ago. Finally managed to find a long skirt instead.

If I ever get the fibro flares under control, the sewing machine gets used again... I used to (back before the medication weight gains) have one winter and one summer black dress, to be accessorized a dozen ways for the opera or symphony or whatever. Would be nice to have those again, in my current size, but the only way I'll get them is to make them, and even then I'll probably have to adapt a pattern or two.

Gah. I hate hate hate shopping for clothes.

#852 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:26 PM:

Lee @787:

Yes.

I was looking for a plain black dress, size 16, a couple of years ago. Finally managed to find a long skirt instead.

If I ever get the fibro flares under control, the sewing machine gets used again... I used to (back before the medication weight gains) have one winter and one summer black dress, to be accessorized a dozen ways for the opera or symphony or whatever. Would be nice to have those again, in my current size, but the only way I'll get them is to make them, and even then I'll probably have to adapt a pattern or two.

Gah. I hate hate hate shopping for clothes.

#853 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Ginger @ 847...

REG: And what have they ever given us in return?!

XERXES: The aqueduct?

REG: What?

XERXES: The aqueduct.

REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

COMMANDO #3: And the sanitation.

LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?

REG: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.

#854 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:55 PM:

Oh hell. How did that double-post?

#855 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 09:59 PM:

glinda @ 854...Because you hate hate hate shopping for clothes?

#856 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Serge: Shouldn't that have caused it to triple-post?

#857 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Serge @ 853:

REG:

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

XERXES:

Brought peace.

#858 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Greg #849: Yeah, if the Democrats manage to do the circular firing squad thing effectively enough to put John McCain into the white house, I expect a lot of us will be feeling bitter.

#859 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:15 PM:

glinda @ 856... Oh that's because 'hate hate' caused one posting and 'hate' was so intense that it was worth two 'hate' occurences.

#860 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:18 PM:

ginger @ 857...Are you one of those Judean People's Front splitters?

#861 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2008, 11:23 PM:

Serge @ 860: Never! We're the People's Front of Judea! Cawk. Judean People's Front. Wankers. And the Judean Popular People's Front. Splitters.

#862 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 01:36 AM:

Just as long as you have the Judean Peoples' Back.

#863 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 02:28 AM:

albatross, #858: Yeah. I went to the gym yesterday & was treated to 20 minutes of CNN discussing this one out-of-context quote. Birth of a media narrative: he's a big-city liberal, who doesn't understand Real American Values. Maybe he can scotch it. I hope so. Because if not, we're going to be hearing it for months.

#864 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 02:43 AM:

Serge, #845: Is that anything like Abrahamo Linconi?

#865 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 08:37 AM:

Lee @ 864... Dear Vir. By the way, did you ever recognize that actor as having been in Animal House? That nmovie was one of Kevin Bacon's film roles. And one of Christopher Lloyd's, I think. Karen Allen. Amadeus's Tim Hulce. And we got to see Donald Sutherland's buns. A landmark of cinéma, this was.

#866 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 09:25 AM:

Ginger @#857: Back in college, one of my professors commented that the Romans actually had to teach the Celts the meaning of the word "peace", as in (I paraphrase) not "until we recover from the last fight", but "dammit, this war is OVER!"

#867 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 09:47 AM:

albatross@858: circular firing squad

Nice visual. I just had a phrase stuck in my head, 'snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory'.

Meanwhile, Hillary "Sniper's shot at me on the runway" Clinton is trying to stab Obama over something he said that was effectively his personal opinion. All she's doing is playing into the stupidity that allowed Kerry to get skewered for comments like "I supported it until I didn't" which should have reflected the fact that the man was willing to admit he was wrong and change his mind, but got turned into an out of context sound bite and Bush supporters throwing flip flops at campaign rallies.

Clinton essentially calling Obama an elitist? Lets just get it over with and cut the democratic party's throat.

#868 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 09:59 AM:

David Harmon @ 866...

"The year is 50BC. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely... One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium..."

#869 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 11:53 AM:

The Yuri's Day photo (in Sidelights) is very nice.

#870 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 11:56 AM:

In other news, I occasionally demonstrate something of a gift for understatement.

#871 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 12:32 PM:

Greg, #867: it's mainly CNN (and, I suppose, the rest of the Village) calling Obama an elitist; Clinton is just quick to take any advantage. Could we please have the convention already; I am gradually getting to hate both of the Democratic front-runners. But more than the candidates, I hate the Village. This is sick.

#872 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Paul A. #869-70: Yeah, it's pretty OK, isn't it?

#873 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 02:54 PM:

You hate the Village?

Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I reckon.

#874 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 04:27 PM:

Paul A @ 869...

The Emperor Ming: Klytus, I'm bored. What play thing can you offer me today?

Klytus: An obscure body in the S-K System, your majesty. The inhabitants refer to it as the planet Earth.

#875 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 05:37 PM:

Paul A #869-870, Ethan #872 - I might go so far as to say it is appropriate.

#877 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 07:37 PM:

Randolph @871, Dave @873 Ah, the Village. One of those iconic places I'd love to visit if I get to travel. Tho' it is mysterious that they'd have anything to say in public about American politics. Normally they'd be quite hush-hush.

Or is this a different Village?

#878 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2008, 08:29 PM:

glinda, #851, I'm not sure what size you are now, but the company I buy from starts at size 22 and has basic black dresses.

I said "Happy Yuri's Day" to lots of people yesterday and nobody knew what I meant. :::sigh:::

#879 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 12:43 AM:

A week or so ago, before it went on hiatus, Doonesbury ran a strip in which Alex (?) and her roommate discuss all the LEDs in their room.

Yesterday, in a kind of karmic balancing, I sent three old computers to be recycled* and set up a new MythTV host in my living room. It is the first "clone" I've built in about a decade. 64 bit multi-core processor, 1 terabyte of storage, two TV tuners, one digital. The case has a black grille up front, to maximize airflow.

Which leads back to the LED thing . . .

This new motherboard has a red status LED on it. It glows when the power supply is connected to current. And I can see it from the outside through the grill. When the room light is off, it faintly illuminates the insides of the computer. A twinkly red heartlight.

It just struck me why this fascinates me so. It's like a flashback to childhood, when I'd stare in fascination at the the glowing vacuum tubes illuminating the inside of my parents' radios and TVs.

* No one wanted them. I tried. From what I know of their guidelines, the recycling place will reuse one of the processors. Everything else goes to scrap.

#880 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 09:27 AM:

Serge @876 -

Nice find - I'm going to include it in my blog.

#881 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Mary Aileen@ 785:

I was always being pushed outdoors to play. I used to just climb a tree and read a book. We had great magnolias in our yard, perfect for climbing.

My sister is 36. My half-sister, who is the debatably Aspie child in question, is 13.

#882 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 10:10 AM:

My favorite shopping method is by catalog or website. If something doesn't fit, I either alter it or return it. Going to an actual store to shop is one of those experiences I happily pay money to avoid.

And I just have to say:

I am not joining the bra conversation! I am not joining the bra conversation! I caper with glee! Whee! Hurrah! But if anyone wants to talk about c1800 transition stays with funny metal thingies in the front, I'm here for you.

#883 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Steve C @ 880... You're welcome. Years ago I had seen the link to a site that simply showed that last photo of Earth, with the text of Sagan's narration, and that's what I want to post, but my googling came up with this so of course that's what I chose to post.

#884 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 11:48 AM:

One of my guilty pleasure video games is "Rome: Total War" (guilty pleasure because it takes forever, and I never finish it).

One of the variables, in cities, is "squalor" and one of the ways to keep it in check is to build abatements", when an aqueduct is built the announcement is, Aqueduct built in "x":"What have the Romans ever done for us? This, that's what".

#885 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 01:05 PM:

Paul A/ethan: Yeah, not too ugly.

Honestly, I always wonder why we don't have holidays commemorating some of these firsts--maybe Yuri day and Niel day or something. Hallmark and NASA should get together to produce some spectacular greeting cards to be sent on these days, maybe starting with some of the breathtaking US space stamps.

"Happy Yuri Day. Remember to send a Yuri Day card to your high school science teacher and all the kids in your life."

#886 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 01:27 PM:

albatross: A sister coven of my coven used to celebrate Landing Day (July 20, or the closest Saturday) as a 10th Sabbat.* They celebrated technological achievement at that time.

*Yes, 10th. They also celebrated "Wombat" on April 1.

#887 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 02:33 PM:

Susan (881): Being pushed outside to play was much more tolerable for me since it came from a mother who was also a reader and just concerned about balance. An hour of fresh air a day, in nice weather, wasn't too big a hardship. Trees to climb, creek to paddle in, little sister to torment.... And yes, I do know how lucky I was. (At the time, I thought I was horribly put-upon.)

I hope you can help your half-sister, even if only by demonstrating the existence of other people who would rather read than socialize.

#888 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 03:54 PM:

serge!

i just saw a book by sue at my local post office spinner rack (in the wilds of coquitlam, bc).

you must be a well-kept man. :)

#889 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Sadly, I must confess that my first thought on seeing the phrase "Yuri Day" was "Oh neat-- but when is Yaoi Day?"

#890 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 04:26 PM:

julie,

same. & i don't even read manga, really.

#891 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Julie 889: Every day is yaoi day. Stand back while I play "It's All the Seme to Me" on my uke-lele.

#892 ::: Tau Wedel ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 07:05 PM:

To go with the Particle about the not-really-narcoleptic cat, here's a video of an an actually narcoleptic dog.

#893 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 08:32 PM:

We had a cat who seemed to be narcoleptic in his youth. He'd be doing something, and just fall asleep. It wasn't so noticeable when he was just walking, if he was playing with his siblings (we came home to find a litter behind the couch) and it happened he'd awake and try to continue the chase/get away, and be very confused at the world not being right.

He outgrew it.

#894 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Marilee @ 878:

Thank you. I'm somewhere between 16 and 18, though. (Yet another reason to start sewing again - better fit. Now if I just had the "spoons" to be that creative and constructive... *wry*)

#895 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 12:03 AM:

OK, it's been a long time since I went to WorldCon...but didn't it used to be Labor Day weekend when it was in the US? Denvention is at the beginning of August, and I'm all confused. When did that happen?

#896 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Xopher @891: Indeed, the shounen-ai must go on.

...and now I have a half-formed earworm of that line being belted out by Celine Dion. Ack!

#897 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 02:35 AM:

Xopher, #895: I believe (though I may be wrong about this) that US Worldcons have pretty much been forced away from Labor Day weekend by Dragon*Con having decided to settle there. Since Dragon*Con draws 30,000 people and most Worldcons run about 4,000 (and there's a sizable percentage of them who also want to go to Dragon*Con), it's a case of "where does an elephant sit?"

#898 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 05:00 AM:

Xopher: Yes, it's supposed to be Labor Day. It's done a bit of drifting (as I recall, as you say, it's been awhile [2002, when I got to meet our esteemed hosts] since I've been to one).

As I understand it, hotel rates have gone up for the weekend, which changes costs and so moves the dates.

#899 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 07:04 AM:

Julie L @ 899... I have a half-formed earworm of that line being belted out by Celine Dion

Exclusive! Céline Dion earworm caught in action!

#900 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 07:10 AM:

miriam beetle... The Tank Girl photo is now part of the ML gallery. You may thank Mary Dell for the final results. Mary also sprang a little surprise on to me.

#901 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 09:44 AM:

Yes, it's supposed to be Labor Day. It's done a bit of drifting (as I recall, as you say, it's been awhile [2002, when I got to meet our esteemed hosts] since I've been to one).

It's now too close to Pennsic for me to even contemplate going, alas--not that I have enough money left after Pennsic to go to a Worldcon, but I can dream...

#902 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Ruh-roh. Looks like Obama committed yet another gaffe.

#903 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Wanted to thank Patrick for the Lenore Skenazy link . . . though I don't think I'd've let my kid do that at 9 (her head would have been too much in the clouds), I find that at 12, she has a lot more freedom than a significant number of her friends, and by the standards of my own childhood, she doesn't have all that much.

Don't remember if I posted this on ML before or not . . . last year, a bunch of dd's friends were dropped off in Manhattan a few blocks from the Build-A-Bear workshop store by a frustrated parent who could not find parking. (well, duh, midtown, weekend, parking, yeah right)

(According to dd) Except for dd, the girls were kind of freaked out, especially since the store was not in sight. DD, having been to that part of Manhattan numerous times, knew exactly where they were and how to get where they were going, so she herded the others to the store. To her, this was no big deal. To the others, she was a god. It was no big deal to me either, though I was pissed off at the parent.

At around the same time, I began to let dd go places in the neighborhood by herself. She wasn't allowed to cross The Boulevard of Death at that point, but other than that, she was allowed to go plenty of places within a delineated area.

She's now 12 (almost) and a veteran of the neighborhood. There are still trips I make with her, but she can now cross Queens Blvd both above and below ground, hit the local shopping strip on her own, hang out at an area mall (if someone gives her a ride over there, take public transportation by herself to certain destinations (including another mall, where she can also hang out). She can make purchases, go to people's homes, play in the park, etc.

Sometimes I give her my cell phone to carry. Usually I don't bother. It's a safe neighborhood, she's usually with other girls who have cell phones, and I'm not worried. Or, at any rate, I fight against being worried because it's a safe neighborhood and she's a responsible person.

My own mother questioned this the other day, to my surprise. I said, mom, do you really think this neighborhood is less safe now than it was when I was 12 and living here? That was the grim early 70s. And in those days, I went _everywhere_ without an adult. And no phone. I even went into Manhattan by myself for school starting when I was about my daughter's age. My parents would never have thought twice about my heading out the door in the morning and saying, see you for dinner--okay, maybe not when I was 12, I think I was expected to be back by mid-afternoon at the latest--so I was surprised to have mom buy into the whole "kids aren't safe" thing.

DD, meanwhile, is chomping at the bit for more freedom. This summer she will fly on her own for the first time and be away from me for a week. I expect I'll freak out some.

But it's time.

#904 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Xopher #902: Dratted elitist, must be French.

#905 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 01:42 PM:

Fragano @ 904... elitist, must be French

Quoi?

#906 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 01:59 PM:

serge,

The Tank Girl photo is now part of the ML gallery.

ha! i love it. (there's an even better picture of the costume, revealing that i'm wearing huge black unbuckled gumboots, but it's even narrower & i'm making an in-character rude gesture.)

melissa,

she has a lot more freedom than a significant number of her friends, and by the standards of my own childhood, she doesn't have all that much.

i think about how-not-to-be-an-overprotective-parent sometimes. more than necessary, for someone who isn't a parent (i just hope to be one before too long, & apparently i never get tired of worrying about things out of my control).

i wonder if part of the phenomenon's because middle class & up people are having fewer children. if you have more than two kids, i really don't think you can "hover" so effectively (then again, this plays into my desire to have a large-ish family, like the one i grew up in).

maybe another reason for one-upmanship in over protectiveness is that we *have* gotten meaner as a society. not more violent, but that if something does happen to your kid, & you had given the kid more-than-average or even average freedom, no one would have to feel sorry for you. it would be all your fault (to cross thread with the goose-stepping). that kind of peer pressure i don't know that i could stand up to.

but geez, i'm in my mid-twenties, & i feel like i was raised in a different era. my cousin recently got to stay home alone, when his parents went out to dinner for like two hours, for the first time. he just turned thirteen. when i was twelve, i was going out & babysitting already.

#907 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Serge #905: Le très élitiste M. Barack Obama.

#908 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 02:51 PM:

miriam beetle @ 906... i'm making an in-character rude gesture

I saw that photo and decided to skip it although I couldn't help but laugh because of Simon Pegg's use of it in Hot Fuzz. By the way, is that gesture as rude in Great Britain as America's one-fingered salute?

#909 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:05 PM:

serge,

i don't know. i've never been there, i just read the comics.

#910 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:08 PM:

miriam beetle @ 909... Don't you kids know that comics will rot your brains?

#911 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:12 PM:

I haven't seen the picture in question, but if the gesture is what I think it is, yes, that is rude in the United Kingdom.

The story is that it goes back to Agincourt, when the French (who were the odds-on favorites) declared that they would cut off the bow-fingers (first and middle fingers) of all of the English longbowmen after their inevitable victory.

Sadly, Non Nobis, yadda, yadda, ouch. So the longbowmen flashed their un-amputated fingers at the retreating French.

This may all be urban legend, but it's still rude to order two of anything with the back of your hand to the waiter.

#912 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:25 PM:

abi @ 911... That's what I thought. I first saw that gesture used on Are You Being Served?, and the two-pint joke came up in the process.

#913 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:29 PM:

Abi @ 911 The story is that it goes back to Agincourt

That's the story I know too.

The other part of the story is that someone decided to do an experiment, see if arrows fired from English longbows would have gone through French armour of the time, at realistic distances. They tried with 100 pound draw weight longbows. They didn't penetrate. Then they found the Mary Rose and constructed bows to the same specs. (wood type, dimensions) as the ones on the ship. Draw weight turned out to be 150 pounds, and the arrows went through the French armour just fine. Skeletons of bowmen on the ship actually had asymmetric bone development - to draw that weight you have to start practicing while you're a child.

#914 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:31 PM:

abi 911: Sadly?

#915 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:36 PM:

abi 911: Sadly? I mean, I say "sadly" about the unfortunate events of 1066 (featuring Ethelred the Totally Clueless) and the subsequent replacement of the most humane form of feudalism then extant with the least, but 1415? Why was that bad? Because a conqueror won a war of conquest?

#916 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Xopher @914:

Henry V, Act IV, Scene VIII:

This Note doth tell me of ten thousand French

That in the field lye slaine: of Princes in this number,

And Nobles bearing Banners, there lye dead

One hundred twentie six: added to these,

Of Knights, Esquires, and gallant Gentlemen,

Eight thousand and foure hundred: of the which,

Fiue hundred were but yesterday dubb'd Knights.

So that in these ten thousand they haue lost,

There are but sixteene hundred Mercenaries:

The rest are Princes, Barons, Lords, Knights, Squires,

And Gentlemen of bloud and qualitie.

The Names of those their Nobles that lye dead:

Charles Delabreth, High Constable of France,

Iaques of Chatilion, Admirall of France,

The Master of the Crosse-bowes, Lord Rambures,

Great Master of France, the braue Sir Guichard Dolphin,

Iohn Duke of Alanson, Anthonie Duke of Brabant,

The Brother to the Duke of Burgundie,

And Edward Duke of Barr: of lustie Earles,

Grandpree and Roussie, Fauconbridge and Foyes,

Beaumont and Marle, Vandemont and Lestrale.

Here was a Royall fellowship of death.

Where is the number of our English dead?

Edward the Duke of Yorke, the Earle of Suffolke,

Sir Richard Ketly, Dauy Gam Esquire;

None else of name: and of all other men,

But fiue and twentie.

Lotta dead people.

#917 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Rats. I didn't meant to post that first one. Sorry.

#918 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Also, I suspect that the French were sad; since it's their expectations I was discussing, it's a fair adverb.

#919 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:53 PM:

abi @ 918...I suspect that the French were sad

Sniff... Sniff... Waugh!!!

#920 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 03:57 PM:

abi 916: OK, but Shakespeare's figures are grossly inflated, and the real numbers weren't that lopsided, either, not that that matters when you're counting up dead people.

Do you think fewer people would have died had the French won?

But anyway, I was mostly asking because your phrasing suggested it was too bad the English longbowmen didn't get maimed, and that was grossly out of character, so I was a little weirded out.

#921 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 04:06 PM:

Xopher @920:

I think it was a stupid war, even among stupid wars. People dying in stupid wars make me sad. And though he fudged the numbers, Shakespeare is really good at dragging the reader through the idea that war costs.

But mostly, I was echoing the phrase, "Sadly, no."

#922 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 10:08 PM:

miriam, Serge & abi, @906ff: Some people get the 'V for victory' (palm out) and 'up yours, matey' (palm in) gestures confused. (In)famously, I believe, when Churchill was popularising the V as a symbol in WWII, he was seen doing it reversed (& rude) a few times.

I (sadly) suspect that may USians are most familiar with the victory version by those old clips of Richard Nixon using it.

#923 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 11:30 PM:

Serge @826: Teva sells sandal-like footwear which seem to be exercise shoes minus parts of the uppers.

#924 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:34 AM:

Kevin Riggle @ 923... Teva? Thanks. Duly noted.

#925 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:39 AM:

Epacris @ 922...Churchill, rude? Can't be. Right. By the way, I wonder how his "V" gesture wound up meaning Peace while Tricky Dicky was still using it in the traditional sense.

#926 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Xopher @ 915: the unfortunate events of 1066 (featuring Ethelred the Totally Clueless)

I believe that you've accidentally mixed up Ethelred with Harold Godwinson, or the Norman invasion with some of the invasions by the Danes. Ethelred II died in 1016 (in my timeline, anyway). :)

#927 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:00 PM:

Carol 926: By golly, you're right. Wow. I've been confused about this for a looooooooooooooooo-

#928 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:01 PM:

-ooooooooooooooooooooong

#929 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:10 PM:

time.

#930 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Xopher: Glad to be of service!

#931 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:01 PM:

Portal gun? I thought I invented the portal gun. Please excuse me while I go seek out an alternate universe where my ideas are novel.

#932 ::: spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 10:13 PM:

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